News & Notes

A federal appeals court in August ruled the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) must consider the Department of Energy (DOE)’s license application to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. In a frankly worded opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the president may not disregard the mandates of the Nuclear Policy Act, and that the long-standing policy debate over Yucca Mountain “is not our concern.” (The NRC is an independent agency but the president appoints its commissioners.)

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Implementing Social Media in the Public Sector

The world is moving swiftly into social media, and state and local government agencies can’t lag behind. According to a recent Pew study, more than 72% of all U.S. Internet users are participating in at least one social networking site. The demand for real-time feedback is pervasive: citizens want to reach their airlines when they are grounded on the tarmac, their local grocery stores during food emergencies, or their utility companies during power outages. The fast responsiveness people now experience in all aspects of life are putting pressure on government agencies as well. Social media has increased people’s expectations about reaching government on Twitter and Facebook around the clock.

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Closing the Solar Income Gap

Closing the Solar Income Gap

Energy can be costly for everyone, but for those with limited income, utility bills whittle away at already scarce resources. And while energy efficiency measures and renewable energy use—and incentives to encourage them—have been increasingly popular across the country, these technologies and programs may often miss people who could benefit most. Even with incentives and tax breaks, the up-front costs of solar can prevent low-income homeowners from receiving the benefits of lower utility bills.

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Getting to Zero: Notes from the 2013 NASEO Annual Meeting and Getting to Zero National Forum

The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the New Buildings Institute (NBI) have collaborated on zero net energy (ZNE) buildings work since 2011. In 2012, the two organizations hosted two meetings with more than 30 state and local government officials to discuss opportunities to advance ZNE policies and programs at the state level. Those meetings identified the need for a national initiative and discussion on ZNE and planted the seed for the Getting to Zero National Forum.

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5 Years of Energy

5 Years

For our fifth anniversary issue of State & Local Energy Report, we took a step back and looked at last five years of energy. Over that time, the United States has made dramatic changes in how it uses and produces energy. The wide adoption of shale gas has dramatically lowered coal consumption, the growth in solar has sparked a discussion of how the grid can best handle distributed generation, and electric cars gained market share. Here it is, five years of energy, by the numbers.

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News & Notes

President Obama has nominated Ronald Binz, the former head of Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Shortly after his nomination in June, Binz received the endorsement of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).

“He knows how the decisions made in Washington impact ratepayers across the country,” said NARUC president Philip Jones. “A strong federal-state partnership is essential as our nation confronts the numerous challenges ahead, and we are confident Ron, if confirmed, will maintain such a dialogue.”

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Litigation Will Drive Some State and Local Energy Policies, Hold Back Others

Energy projects and policies attract lawsuits like lightbulbs attract insects. Some of the litigation swarming around the energy world will push state and local governments to move their energy policies toward greater use of renewables and efficiency. Other cases will pull in the opposite direction.

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The Story of PACE

It is more than six years since I first wrote a memo proposing the PACE concept in Berkeley. Today, as the CEO of a company dedicated to helping our nation finance an energy transformation, I have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. There have been successes and setbacks. But we can all take great pride in the speed with which the nation has embraced PACE—and other financing innovations—as tools to reduce energy use and create jobs. Local and state leaders grabbed hold of the idea and used it to help solve problems in their local communities. Regardless of the outcome of the regulatory debates in Washington, we’ve proven that financing works, that we can make great change quickly, and that local and state governments can lead. Now it is up to us to make good on that promise.

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Residential Heating from Compost

Although we often talk about the latest new technology to hit the renewable energy markets, such as thin-film solarx or advanced nuclear technology, sometimes it is worth reexamining an old one. Composting is one of these. Common on the farm, it has been revisited on a larger scale as cities began to look for ways to reduce the amount of material being sent to landfills, the simple logic being that any reduction in the amount sent to a landfill increases its life

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Power Purchase Agreements Expand Solar Development

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The sun is usually shining across the Hemet Unified School District, which covers 700 square miles of Southern California’s farmlands, foothills, and rugged peaks. Solar power seems a natural fit, and this October the district completed a 4.4 megawatt (MW) solar project that puts photovoltaic (PV) panels at 17 sites—from…

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