Options for Mobilizing Clean Energy Finance

Options for Mobilizing Clean Energy Finance

June 2015

By Patrick Falwell

Download the brief (PDF)

Clean energy and energy efficiency technologies are decreasing in cost and demonstrating their reliability as they are deployed around the world. Financial institutions are becoming increasingly willing to offer traditional financial structures and terms for clean energy projects. At the same time, accelerated public and private investment in these technologies is needed to meet national and global greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Patrick Falwell

Save money, help the environment with a solar power purchase agreement

We’re going solar!

Our middle-class, suburban family of five, with two children in college, two mortgages and a pile of other consumer debt, is getting a brand new, 7 kilowatt photovoltaic rooftop system worth roughly $31,000 – without us paying a penny out of pocket.

That’s right. We’re paying nothing upfront for the ability to generate up to one-third of the electricity our 1,500-square-foot split-foyer home would use in a typical month.

How’s that possible? With a power purchase agreement.

Smarter homes: comfortable, convenient and climate-friendly

States could go a long way toward meeting targets for reduced power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan just by encouraging energy efficiency. One way to do that is to deploy more “intelligent efficiency” solutions at home. Interconnected systems and smart devices could not only help reduce energy use and climate-altering emissions, but also empower consumers to make money-saving choices.

More than 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases comes from the residential sector – where we use about 1.4 trillion kWh of electricity annually to power our heating and cooling systems, appliances and electronics. Although we pay for it all, a lot of that electricity is wasted. Tried-and-true solutions like weatherization and more efficient light bulbs will continue to be common sense solutions. But increasingly, homeowners, innovators, and policy makers are looking to leverage the average home’s 25 devices to reduce that waste.

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

A homeowner installs a smart thermostat. Devices like this could be controlled though web platforms, along with water heaters, washing machines and LED bulbs with advanced controls.

Energy efficiency will play a key role in the Clean Power Plan

A new C2ES study outlines the significant role energy efficiency is expected to play in reducing carbon emissions from power plants under the proposed Clean Power Plan.

Energy efficiency can be an attractive way for states to meet the plan’s targets because, in addition to being relatively inexpensive to deploy on its own, energy efficiency reduces the need to build new, costly power plants in the future.

C2ES examined six economic modeling studies that project the likely impacts of the Clean Power Plan on the U.S. power mix and electricity prices. Despite starting with different assumptions, all of the studies project that energy efficiency will be the most used and least-cost option for states to implement the plan, and that overall electricity consumption will decline as a result.

The majority of the studies project either cost savings to power users under the Clean Power Plan or increases of less than $10 billion a year. That translates to less than $87 a year per household, or about 25 cents a day.

C2ES President Bob Perciasepe moderates a Solutions Forum panel with (l to r): Steve Harper, Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation; Alyssa Caddle, Principle Program Manager, Office of Sustainability, EMC; and Lars Kvale, Head of Business Development, APX Environmental Markets.

Our second Solutions Forum focused on how to spur more energy efficiency, especially through “intelligent efficiency” — a systems-based approach to energy management enabled through networked devices and sensors.

Bob Perciasepe's remarks at the Energy Efficiency and IT Solutions Forum





MAY 18, 2015

I want to welcome everybody to today’s session. My name is Bob Perciasepe, and I’m president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, or C2ES. We are an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together diverse interests to find solutions to our climate and energy challenges.

Today is a good example of what we try to do. We’re pleased we’re able to bring together a forward-thinking utility executive like Ralph Izzo from PSEG; leaders from innovative companies like Intel, EMC, NEST, and APX, and state and city pioneers in efficiency and sustainability from Illinois, Minnesota, and Philadelphia.

And we’re excited that the Energy Foundation and the Digital Energy and Sustainability Solutions Campaign, or DESSC, are helping sponsor some of this work.

We’re here to talk about energy efficiency and the key role it will play as cities and states look to reduce power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan.

Energy efficiency is a pretty simple thing to contemplate. Every one of us has probably done something in our lives to be more efficient. And yet when it comes to electricity, we still have significant gaps in our efficiency. We continue to waste more energy than we need to in this country and in the world.

We waste energy when we produce it, when we transmit it, and when we use it. It would be like going grocery shopping and leaving a bag of food at the store, throwing a couple of bags out the window as you’re driving home, and dropping a couple of bags on your front lawn. Then you get in the house and you’ve got one bag left. Now of course, that is an exaggeration, but it shows all along the way there’s loss.

When we waste energy, we waste money. If we save energy, we can save money and reduce our emissions. All of these impacts affect both our environment and our economy.

So, there are three things that I think we need to address. One is, energy efficiency should be a key strategy for reducing power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan both for economic purposes as well as environmental purposes. Second, information and communications technology can help us achieve energy efficiency and that’s going to be a key part of what we’re talking about today. And finally it’s going to take cities, states, and businesses working together to make this happen. That’s why we have the group of people we have today with us to talk about that.

The proposed EPA Clean Power Plan is something that’s on the front burner for a lot of states, cities and companies in the energy business. The plan sets targets for states to reduce power sector emissions, but gives them incredible flexibility in how to meet those targets. It’s clear that energy efficiency will be a key tool in the toolbox.

C2ES has a new report examining six economic modeling studies that project the likely impacts of the proposed plan. All of the models project that energy efficiency will be the most-used option to implement the Clean Power Plan -- because it’s the least-cost option. We could see an overall decline in the demand for electricity over time while maintaining our quality of life and all of the goals we have for the use of electricity.

Also, the majority of the studies we examined project either savings to power consumers or costs of less than $10 billion a year. To put that in context: That means implementing the Clean Power Plan would cost each household about 25 cents a day.

So, how do we get to this more energy-efficient future?

We have the technology – right now – that can help us be significantly more energy-efficient. We’re going to hear more today about intelligent efficiency. This is a systems-based approach looking at that drive back from the grocery store. How can you keep from leaving bags at the store or losing them while you’re driving home or forgetting them on the front lawn? How can technology and intelligent efficiency help, whether it’s networked devices, sensors, or smart grids? And how can we measure and verify that the energy savings efforts are credible?

Some estimate intelligent efficiency could help America cut energy use by nearly a quarter in just a few years. We’d be reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And we’d be throwing a lot fewer dollars out the window.

We looked at what the federal government can do by deploying more information and communication technologies across federal agencies, and we estimated the government could save more than $5 billion in energy costs.

Finally, if we have all of this great technology, why aren’t we using more of it?

We need the right policies, regulations, and incentives to integrate this technology and accelerate its deployment.

Cities, states and companies are going to be important in this whole arena. How do we bring together the businesses that are innovating in energy and efficiency with the cities and states that are implementing programs in those areas? It’s not self-implementing. It doesn’t just happen. There has to be way to get a larger penetration of these technologies.

Innovative partnerships and programs are going to be important going forward. Cities, states, and businesses can work together -- to promote energy efficiency, and help deploy the information technology that can make it cheaper, easier, and maybe even more fun to save energy.

Key lessons for successful climate partnerships

With the scale and complexity of climate challenges, it’s no wonder more companies, cities, nonprofits and others are pooling resources and expertise to create solutions together.

To recognize and encourage this collaboration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a Certificate for Innovative Partnerships and awarded the first-ever certificates at the Climate Leadership Conference this year. The two winners, the Chevrolet Clean Energy Campus Campaign and the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, shared their recipes for successful partnership during a recent EPA webinar.

While the speakers shared many valuable insights, two lessons were obvious: having a clear goal and getting the right people on board are crucial to success. These lessons are easier said than done, so let’s take a closer look:


Driving Energy Efficiency with IT: A Solutions Forum

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
9 a.m. – Noon101 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20001Watch video of the event


The technology works. So why aren’t we using more of it?

Join top experts in efficiency, technology, and sustainability from cities, states, and business as we explore the opportunities for “intelligent energy efficiency” under the Clean Power Plan.

Energy efficiency can be a low-cost option for states to meet targets for reducing carbon pollution from power plants.

How can networked devices and sensors, smart grids and thermostats, and energy management systems reduce waste and increase reliability when we make, transmit or use electricity? What are the barriers to using these technologies? And what can we learn from city, state and industry leaders?

Monday, May 18, 2015

9 a.m. – Noon
101 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20001

Watch Video

Why Energy Efficiency is Smart for States and Business

Ralph Izzo – Chairman and CEO, PSEG

Intelligent Efficiency and the Power Sector; Options, Opportunities and Challenges

Steve Harper – Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation

Alyssa Caddle – Principle Program Manager, Office of Sustainability, EMC

Lars Kvale – Head of Business Development, APX Environmental Markets

Moderated by: Bob Perciasepe – President, C2ES

Delivering Intelligent Efficiency to Consumers – Why It Matters

Doug Scott – Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Great Plains Institute

Katherine Gajewski – Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia

Jessica Burdette – Conservation Improvement Program Supervisor, Minnesota Department of Commerce

Rick Counihan – Head of Energy Regulatory and Government Affairs, Nest

Moderated by: Janet Peace – Vice President for Markets & Business Strategy, C2ES


To learn more:

Fact Sheet: Intelligent Efficiency: Achieving Clean Power Plan Goals

Bob Perciasepe's blog post: How can we use intelligent efficiency to reduce power sector emissions?

How culture shapes the climate change debate

I have an in-law who is, shall we say, rather skeptical about climate change. Any discussion on the topic usually begins with some contrarian science theory that he heard on one of his favorite talk shows (e.g. sun spots, deep ocean magma, urban heat islands), and then devolves from there.

Why do some Americans believe the antithesis of the scientific consensus on issues like climate change?

This topic is explored by Professor Andy Hoffman of the University of Michigan in his new book, How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate. As suggested by the title, Hoffman’s thesis – a distillation of considerable research from social scientists over the past several years – is that the public’s understanding of climate change, like other historically contentious issues such as evolution, acid rain, the ozone hole, and genetically modified food – is as much a cultural issue as a scientific one.

One of the key arguments is that a scientific consensus does not necessarily reflect a “social consensus,” the latter being something that the majority of society would consider to be true.  For instance, the scientific consensus that cigarettes harm human health emerged decades before the social consensus emerged.

Market Mechanisms: Understanding the Options

Market Mechanisms: Understanding the Options

April 2015

Download the full brief (PDF)


Climate change poses a significant risk for a broad range of human and natural systems. Policies to reduce emissions are critical if we are to avoid the most costly damages associated with a rapidly changing climate. Compared to traditional command-and-control regulations, market-based policies can more cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by creating financial incentives for GHG emitters to emit less. Ten U.S. states and many jurisdictions outside the United States have established market-based programs to reduce GHGs. Market-based policies would be among the options available to states to reduce GHGs from power plants under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. This brief describes the theory behind market-based approaches; their success in cost-effectively reducing GHGs and other emissions; and a range of market-based options, including: a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade program, a baseline and credit program, a clean or renewable electricity standard, and an energy efficiency resource standard.





Climate Leadership winners: Focus on your message

Photo by Ellie Ramm

Elizabeth Craig of the EPA (left) speaks with three representatives of 2015 Climate Laedership Award winners, Andy Battjes of Brown Forman, Bridgeport, Conn., Mayor Bill Finch, and Alexis Limberakis of Clorox


When it comes to climate leadership, the way a message is delivered can be the key to success.

Winners of the 2015 Climate Leadership Awards found that being creative in communicating ideas on sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions helped the message resonate with constituents, customers, and employees.

Sixteen organizations, including C2ES Business Environmental Leadership Council members Bank of America and General Motors, won Climate Leadership Awards this year. The awards are co-sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Association of Climate Change Officers, and The Climate Registry.

Three winners -- Bridgeport, Conn., Mayor Bill Finch, household consumer product maker Clorox, and wine and distilled spirits manufacturer Brown Forman – spoke at the Climate Leadership Conference about three ways to connect climate goals to your audience.

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