Solutions Forum

VW Settlement in Action: How Cities, States, and Businesses Can Get Involved

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1 p.m. EDTRegister Here

C2ES Webinar:

VW Settlement in Action:
How Cities, States, and Businesses Can Get Involved


October 26, 2017, 1 p.m. EDT


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Please join the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) for a webinar on upcoming deadlines and funding opportunities under the Mitigation Trust established under the $14.7 billion Volkswagen Settlement, which became effective Oct. 2. The webinar will also discuss experiences in planning electric vehicle charging strategies and related investments..



Cassie Powers
Senior Program Director, National Association of State Energy Officials

Kirk Brown
Director for Strategic Partnerships, Plug In America

Tyler Svitak
Energy and Transportation Administrator, City and County of Denver

Dan Welch
Solutions Fellow, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions


Mayors Leading the Way on Climate: How Cities Large and Small are Taking Action

Mayors Leading the Way on Climate:
How Cities Large and Small are Taking Action

September 2017

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Mayors across the country are taking action to address these real climate change threats by committing to reduce carbon emissions. A nationwide survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions as part of their partnership, the Alliance for a Sustainable Future, demonstrates that cities are pushing ahead their efforts to implement climate programs. The survey also shows that cities are eager to partner with  business and other communities to expedite carbon reduction initiatives to meet aggressive goals. 

Read case studies from this survey.


Webinar -- The Business of Pricing Carbon

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Free webinar

The Business of Pricing Carbon:
How Companies are Preparing for Risks and Opportunities

September 12, 2017, 10 - 11 a.m. ET


Increasingly, companies across sectors and geographies are turning to an internal carbon price as one tool to help them reduce carbon emissions, mitigate climate-related business risks, and identify opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy. This C2ES public webinar discusses different internal carbon pricing approaches and reviews key opportunities, benefits, experiences, and challenges drawn from the C2ES brief, The Business of Pricing Carbon: How Companies are Pricing Carbon to Mitigate Risks and Prepare for a Low-Carbon Future.
Anirban Ghosh
Chief Sustainability Officer, The Mahindra Group
Bob Stout
Vice President & Head of Regulatory Affairs, BP America
Liz Willmott
Environmental Sustainability Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation
Manjyot Bhan Ahluwalia
Policy and Business Fellow, C2ES


Webinar: TheBusiness of Pricing Carbon, Sept. 12, 2017


Getting Down to Business: Corporate Climate Leadership

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
JPMorgan Chase & Co.270 Park Ave, 50th FloorNew York, NY 10017

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Please join C2ES and JPMorgan Chase & Co. for a conversation on
business leadership on climate change at Climate Week NYC  2017

Getting Down to Business: Corporate Climate Leadership

Thursday, September 21, 2017
4 — 7 p.m.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.
270 Park Ave, 50th Floor
New York, NY 10017


This event was invitation-only.

Businesses are leaders in creating solutions that address climate change, while creating jobs and growing the economy. Leaders across a range of industries will discuss what's driving investment in actions that address climate change across their value chain—from reducing carbon emissions, to deploying innovative financing solutions, to investing in clean energy technologies. 


4:00 p.m. – Registration

4:30 p.m. – Discussion

Welcome Remarks

Marisa Buchanan
Deputy Head of Sustainable Finance, JPMorgan Chase & Co.



Kevin Butt
General Manager, Environmental Sustainability, Toyota

Steve Harper
Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel

Erin Robert
Head of Capital Strategies, JPMorgan Sustainable Finance

Bjorn Otto Sverdrup
Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Statoil ASA

Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

5:45 p.m. – Reception

Additional speakers may be announced here


JPMorgan Chase seeks to comply with applicable rules concerning meals, gifts and entertainment offered to public officials and employees, including related disclosure requirements. We estimate the cost of hospitality to be provided at Getting Down to Business: Corporate Climate Leadership to be $53 per person. To the extent you wish to pay the cost of, or to decline, the hospitality to be provided at this event please contact Pauline Chow to make the necessary arrangements.

Turning waste into a renewable resource

Blue Plains Water PlantAs in many cities, the water utility is the single largest consumer of energy in the District of Columbia. But DC Water now consumes far less power, saving money and reducing emissions, thanks to its first-in-the-nation deployment of new technology and its collaboration with the local electric utility.

The Walter F. Bailey Bioenergy Facility at DC Water’s Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant is the world’s largest thermal hydrolysis and anaerobic digestion project, and the first wastewater treatment plant in North America to generate on-site electricity using biogas. The facility, which began operating in 2015, also uses a combined heat and power plant to efficiently treat wastewater and generate clean energy.

In giving it an award last year, the U.S. Water Alliance praised the project as “a commitment to full-scale sustainability and innovation.”

DC Water treats wastewater and provides drinking water for more than 2 million people in Washington, D.C., and four surrounding counties spread across 725 square miles.

The idea for the project came about in 2011, when DC Water needed to upgrade its biosolids handling system. The utility was adding lime to wastewater to destroy bacteria before pumping the treated wastewater into the river. But Christopher Peot, director of resource recovery for DC Water, wanted a more sustainable solution.

DC Water’s award-winning wastewater and resource recovery team discovered a less expensive and more effective technology already being used widely in Europe. This led to a $470 million collaboration with Pepco Energy Services to operate the Bailey Bioenergy Facility.

At the project’s launch, DC Water CEO and General Manager George Hawkins said it “embodies a shift from treating used water as waste to leveraging it as a resource.” Pepco Energy Services CEO and President John Huffman called the project “a major step forward.”

The process starts with removing the solids from the wastewater in process tanks and then using heat and pressure -- thermal hydrolysis -- to eliminate pathogens that cause disease. The solids are then put into digesters, which are 80-foot high vessels where more bacteria microbes break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. Anaerobic digestion produces two things: biosolids that can be used as a compost-like material for farms and gardens, and methane that can be burned for electricity. The methane is sent through turbines, producing heat that is converted to steam and used for the thermal hydrolysis process and electricity -- 10 Megawatts (MW) or enough to power a third of the treatment plant.

The project has “the rare combination of being both financially and environmentally sustainable,” Peot said. The Bailey Bioenergy Facility is saving DC Water $10 million a year in energy costs and has reduced Blue Plains’ carbon emissions by 50,000 tons each year, he said.

The solution, which can be implemented elsewhere, takes what is literally a waste product and turns it into a renewable resource that can be relied on for electricity. DC Water is sharing its expertise by helping to form a consulting service, Blue Drop, which assists other utilities in making their operations more sustainable and efficient.

While DC Water uses its anaerobic digesters to generate biogas, Peot said other sustainable options are available, such as producing compressed natural gas (CNG), an alternative to gasoline. If the pipeline infrastructure already exists, utilities can clean the biogas and sell it, or use it to power other equipment on-site, such as transport trucks.

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Turning disaster into opportunity for flood resilience

Hoboken – a densely populated city on one square mile of mostly reclaimed marshland along the Hudson River in New Jersey – was unprepared for a 14-foot surge of water from Hurricane Sandy.

The surge flooded streets and knocked out power to many residents for weeks. The city’s three power substations required extensive repairs, its hospital was evacuated, and untreated sewage flowed into the river through its combined water and sewer system. Total storm damage was estimated at $100 million.

“Hoboken pretty much filled up like a bathtub,” said City Manager Stephen Marks. “It was pretty hellish.”

But local officials have turned disaster into opportunity, taking advantage of federal, state, and nonprofit funding; innovative engineering and financing; and surging political will to creatively address the city’s chronic flooding problems plus other community concerns, like the need for parking and recreational space.

Hoboken received a $230 million grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement its 2014 comprehensive urban water strategy: “Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge.” The city plans to leverage the funds to support green and “grey” coastal defense projects, landscaping to slow down water run-off, a green circuit to trap water, and pumps to support drainage.

To make the plans a reality, the city enlisted the help of re:focus partners, a design and finance firm focused on bridging the gap between the public and private sectors in sparking sustainable investment in cities.

“There are flat file drawings and master plans that never see the light of day because there is no path to financing – public or private,” said re:focus CEO Shalini Vajjhala. “Our premise is that you need to incorporate engineering and financing into pre-development to avoid that fate.”

With a $3 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, re:focus partners provided Hoboken and seven other cities selected through a national competition the opportunity to collaborate with them and their partners, including engineering work from Bechtel Corp., legal assistance from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and financing help from Wall Street Without Walls. The Hoboken effort resulted in a 2015 plan to improve the city’s resilience to flooding by redeveloping a six-acre former BASF Corp. manufacturing site into a dual use underground parking and storm water retention facility topped with green space modeled on a similar project in Rotterdam.

After lengthy negotiations, Hoboken purchased the BASF site in December 2016 for $30 million with a loan from the New Jersey Environmental Trust Fund. As a clean water project, three-quarters of the loan is interest-free and the remainder is at market rates. The financing also includes 19 percent principal forgiveness for green infrastructure, according to Marks.

The city is in the process of selecting a final design team for the Northwest Park project, which would be the largest in Hoboken. The city is opting for an above-ground parking garage and a more conventional underground water storage facility beneath green space. Parking fees will help pay back bonds for the project. The city also has been working with the North Hudson Sewer Authority on separating storm water runoff from sewage that needs treatment.

“Full sewer separation is a far better outcome than we expected, so we are thrilled that our work kick started an even more ambitious set of resilience activities for the city,” Vajjhala said.

“Our work with re:focus was catalytic,” Marks said. “They really helped the city imagine what could be done with the urban challenges we face.”

re:focus partners also helped Hoboken move forward with a smaller, one-acre park in the southwestern corner of the city that will be the first resilience park with integrated green infrastructure in New Jersey. The once asphalt-covered site is being replaced with rain gardens, shade tree pits, porous pavers, a cistern for rainwater harvesting, and an underground retention system to reduce storm water run-off and localized flooding.

By thinking holistically about city challenges – including climate change – before a disaster strikes, cities can prepare themselves to turn disaster into resilience opportunities.

Open-mindedness is key to successful projects, Vajjhala said. Marks said there also has to be the political will to seek tangible solutions to a multitude of problems. “You need elected officials who are focused on the problem and want to tear down the silos that keep people apart,” he said.

And it helps to have state and federal loan programs available to make financing less of a concern. “That really sweetened the pot for naysayers and skeptics,” Marks said. “It created a political will behind the solution.”

To Learn More:


New York State Response to Economic Challenges of the Existing Nuclear Fleet

New York State Response to Economic Challenges of the Existing Nuclear Fleet

August 2017

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Since late 2012, five power companies retired six nuclear reactors in the United States. Across the country, an additional seven reactors are scheduled to be closed by 2025, including two at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York. If this trend continues or accelerates, there could be serious climate implications. Nuclear power supplies 20 percent of total U.S. electricity production, but it supplies 57 percent of zero-carbon electricity. As all recent U.S. nuclear retirements have led to increased fossil fuel-fired generation, any additional loss of nuclear generating capacity could be expected to increase carbon dioxide emissions. Preserving the existing U.S. nuclear reactor fleet for as long as possible is a critical element in the transition to a low-carbon future.

Doug Vine

Emissions Implications of Nuclear Retirements

Emissions Implications of Nuclear Retirements

August 2017

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Since late 2012, five power companies retired six nuclear reactors in the United States. Across the country, an additional seven reactors are scheduled to be closed by 2025, including two at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, New York. If this trend continues or accelerates, there could be serious climate implications. Nuclear power supplies 20 percent of total U.S. electricity production, but it supplies 57 percent of zero-carbon electricity. As all recent U.S. nuclear retirements have led to increased fossil fuel-fired generation, any additional loss of nuclear generating capacity could be expected to increase carbon dioxide emissions. Preserving the existing U.S. nuclear reactor fleet for as long as possible is a critical element in the transition to a low-carbon future.

Doug Vine

Winnipeg partnership builds successful clean energy buses

In Winnipeg, Canada, a small fleet of all-electric buses is providing a glimpse of future public transit.

Since 2014, Winnipeg Transit has been using four purpose-built electric buses that automatically recharge on their route. With lower maintenance costs as well, the buses have shown the potential for zero-emission public transit in a city already powered by emissions-free hydroelectric energy.

What started as a four-year-demonstration has been so successful that a task force recommended looking for ways to expand electric bus use in Winnipeg. The buses are also spreading to other cities. Some are already operating in Chicago and Washington, D.C., and they are on the way to Albany, N.Y.; Boston; Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Salt Lake City. Los Angeles is working on plans to electrify its entire bus fleet.

The project’s origins date back to 2011, when Winnipeg-based bus manufacturer New Flyer developed prototypes with the help of Red River College researchers, instructors, and students, said Jose “Jojo” Delos Reyes, a program manager at Red River. Manitoba’s Vehicle Technology Center, electric utility Manitoba Hydro, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries each kicked in about CAD $1 million (USD $790,000).

After more than a year shuttling Manitioba Hydro employees between office buildings, the bus, batteries, and charging system had passed the test of operating in a harsh Canadian winter, and were ready to move into full production and demonstration. Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a foundation established by the Canadian government to fund clean-energy technology, gave CAD $3.4 million (about USD $2.65 million) to build the buses and a charging station for the real world.

The four New Flyer Xcelsior model battery-electric transit buses now traverse a two-hour, 40-kilometer (25-mile) route through the city, and to and from the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. During a 10-minute layover at the airport, the bus automatically connects to an overhead charging station using a pantograph, similar to the wire connections on trams and electric trains. The station delivers enough power to the lithium-ion batteries for another two-hour run.

“Basically, it lets the bus run continuously, 24/7,” said David Warren, the director of sustainable transportation at New Flyer. “For every hour the bus is in service, it takes [about] six minutes to charge it.”

The batteries have a total capacity of 200 kilowatt-hours, allowing a bus to operate up to five hours between full charges. Each bus has a range of about 145 kilometers, or a little more than 90 miles, Warren said, with a 200-mile range battery in the works.

New Flyer maintains the buses and chargers, which it trained Winnipeg Transit to operate. With no transmission, emissions system, or oil or filters to change, maintenance costs are far less. Warren estimates maintaining an Xcelsior battery-electric bus costs about CAD $158,000 (about USD $124,000) less than maintaining a diesel or CNG bus over its lifetime, a savings of about 30 Canadian cents per mile (about 24 U.S. cents).

The electric buses save up to 160 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per bus, per year compared to conventional diesel buses, Warren said. 

The buses returned electric transit to Winnipeg for the first time since trolleys, powered by overhead wires, were retired in 1965.

“Part of our vision for Winnipeg’s future includes supporting technology and innovation,” Mayor Brian Bowman said in a statement, “especially when it is homegrown and the end-users who benefit from it are Winnipeggers.”

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Energy efficiency: How Minneapolis is teaming up with utilities to reduce emissions

When the city of Minneapolis set out to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, it soon became clear the goal couldn’t be met without substantial help from the area’s two investor-owned energy companies.

Xcel and CenterPoint Energy provide their customers the electricity and natural gas that powers, heats, and cools the city’s commercial and residential buildings, which accounts for two-thirds of city emissions. Energy efficiency had to be part of the equation.

Utilities are largely regulated at the state level in Minnesota but cities do negotiate franchise agreements that allow utilities use of public property for transmission lines and pipelines. Under new 10-year franchise agreements with the city, the utilities agreed to establish a partnership to help the city reach its goal.

Now in its third year, the Clean Energy Partnership has drawn national attention. It won a Climate Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Department of Energy recognized its software program that helps building owners understand their energy use. Several cities – including Salt Lake City; Santa Fe, N.M.; and Madison, Wis. – have looked to Minneapolis as a model for their own emissions-cutting efforts.

The partnership has set a series of ambitious goals, including reaching 75 percent of households with energy efficiency retrofit services and cutting energy use 17 percent by 2025, and achieving a carbon-free electricity supply by 2040. Steps the partnership has taken include encouraging commercial property owners, landlords, and individual homeowners to conserve energy – as well as continuing efforts to cut the electric and gas usage of city-owned buildings, streetlights, and vehicles.

“The first two years really were a learning experience,” said Luke Hollenkamp, a sustainability program coordinator for Minneapolis. “One of the biggest accomplishments was just getting it up and running.”

Initial work included building databases of energy usage and energy conservation efforts throughout the city and creating a community Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC) – two steps that both proved crucial.

Measure first

The databases, which are managed by the city, were a key early accomplishment, giving the partnership a way to measure progress as well as track participation in its energy conservation programs down to the neighborhood.

“We had known that parts of the city weren’t participating as much in energy efficiency programs as others, but we didn’t know to what scale,” Hollenkamp said. “This gave us a way to track our progress at a more granular level.”

The city in 2013 adopted a benchmarking ordinance requiring all private commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to report their natural gas, electricity, and water usage. Meter readings are automatically uploaded by the utilities and compiled into a publicly available online tool that uses EPA’s Energy Star measures to rate buildings. Overall, the Minneapolis buildings score 74 out of 100, well above the median national score of 50.

Low-performing buildings identified by the benchmarking can be targeted for assistance and all benchmarked properties are encouraged to conserve energy. The city has established a “Minneapolis Building Energy Challenge” to reduce energy consumption by 15 percent by 2020. Participants receive public recognition for their efforts and the city will help connect owners with the technical resources they need to achieve the goal. So far, 15 of 429 eligible buildings have signed up for the challenge.

Audrey Partridge, local energy policy manager at electric utility CenterPoint, said the partnership’s current two-year plan calls for more intensive outreach to tell property managers and owners about programs they may be eligible for to lower their energy usage -- and their bills.

Engage the community

The 15-member community advisory committee – which includes representatives from the community, environmental advocacy groups, major industrial energy consumers, and technical experts – has proved crucial to the program’s success.

“One of the great things that EVAC has done was provide a template for community engagement,” said Bridget Dockter, manager of policy and outreach for natural gas utility Xcel. “That ended up being the source for a pilot program we are actually engaged in now.”

Under the outreach pilot program, the partnership is enlisting neighborhood organizations to test the best ways to reach the two populations that have historically lagged in participating in energy-efficiency programs – lower-income neighborhoods and multi-family buildings.

More than half of Minneapolis residents are renters, making multi-family buildings a key area to target. But how do you persuade property owners to invest in energy efficiency when tenants typically pay the utility bills?

In October 2015, Xcel and CenterPoint began offering free energy audits through the partnership to owners of buildings with at least five units and set up financial incentives ranging from 15 to 25 percent of upgrade costs for efficiency improvements in market-rate buildings. Rebates are available through the utilities under a state requirement.

Dockter said it’s too soon to measure the results, since it can take months after an energy audit to secure the capital for efficiency improvements. But, she said, “we’ve had a handful of buildings actually make the formal investment.”

Setting goals

Early results include an increase in Home Energy Squad visits from 731 in 2014 to 1,198 in 2015. These home energy audits include installation of energy-saving devices such as LED lights, weather-stripping, programmable thermostats, low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. For a limited time, the city offered no-interest financing to participants making insulation and air sealing upgrades.

In 2015, residential electric use decreased by 4 percent and natural gas use dropped 22 percent from the previous year. Reductions were in part due to energy efficiency improvements as well as a mild heating season, according to the partnership’s 2015 annual report.

Keys to Success

For municipalities looking to Minneapolis as a model for collaboration, Dockter says a key is having strong commitments from every partner to put in the time and resources needed for success.

“It’s important early on to recognize you aren’t going to find some bright shiny object that is the answer,” she said. “It’s a long, systemic answer that you need to build on to really change the direction and the results.”

Al Swintek, government relations officer at CenterPoint, agrees that the partners need to be committed and that the partnership be formal, with regular meetings, documented goals, and work plans so that it produces results. He recommends directly involving “those at the highest levels to help push this forward.”

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