U.S. States & Regions

States and regions across the country are adopting climate policies, including the development of regional greenhouse gas reduction markets, the creation of state and local climate action and adaptation plans, and increasing renewable energy generation. Read More
 

Webinar - Financing Clean Infrastructure: Private Activity Bonds

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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Noon-1 p.m. EDT 

Financing Clean Infrastructure: Private Activity Bonds

July 24, 2017, Noon - 1 p.m. EDT


States and cities have many tools to encourage private investment in clean infrastructure that reduces carbon emissions. Recently, policymakers have focused on expanding the use of private activity bonds (PABs). During this webinar, panelists will discuss how PABs were used successfully to build the Denver Eagle commuter rail project, and how they could facilitate private investment in carbon capture projects. After the presentations, we will have an interactive discussion on the outlook for investment in clean infrastructure in 2017.

 

 

Panelists:  

 

 


Jeff Brown
Research Fellow, Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center

Jeff Brown is a lecturer at Stanford’s Law and Business Schools for the joint Law School/Business School course “Clean Energy Project Development and Finance”, co-taught with Dan Reicher and fellow lecturer Dave Rogers. Mr. Brown was named a research fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance in June 2016. He is researching the interactions of federal energy and environmental regulation, state and ISO power markets regimes, and federal clean energy grants and tax incentives upon the financial feasibility of projects to decarbonize the power and industrial sectors.

 


Marla Lien
Partner, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell

 

Marla Lien was the General Counsel for the Regional Transportation District (RTD from 2005 through 2016), having served as Associate General Counsel from 1990 through 2005 and then as General Counsel. Marla's current practice focuses on project development including rail and property acquisition. Her experience encompasses the FasTracks Program including the University of Colorado A Line, U.S. 36 BRTD, and other commuter and light rail lines in Denver, as well as the Denver Union Station redevelopment, where she negotiated and drafted contracts with the U.S. DOT, the City and County of Denver, the Denver Union Station Project Authority, and the master developer. 

Patrick Orth
Office of Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

 

Patrick Orth advises U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on all environmental, energy and agriculture issues. Prior to joining Sen. Portman’s office, Mr. Orth was the director of federal affairs for America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), where he worked closely with Congress to advance ANGA’s mission. Before joining ANGA, He served as U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson’s (R-OH) Legislative Director from 2011 – 2015, covering energy & environment issues while also managing the congressman’s legislative team. From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Orth served as manager of corporate relations at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, focusing on member development. 

Fatima Maria Ahmad
Solutions Fellow, C2ES

 

Fatima Maria Ahmad co-leads the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative with the Great Plains Institute. Ms. Ahmad focuses on financing opportunities and policy development for energy technologies, including carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS). Prior to joining C2ES, Ms. Ahmad was a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Fish & Wildlife & Parks at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), where she helped DOI license 10,000 MW of wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Ms. Ahmad also has volunteer experience with the development of offshore wind in the United States. 

 

 

 

 

Good and bad options for changing California’s cap-and-trade program

California has been an environmental leader for decades, but still numerous cities in the state struggle with air quality. As state lawmakers debate the future of the cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, can they also find ways to reduce other air pollutants -- like ozone and particulate matter -- that make people sick?

The answer is yes. But some options are better than others.

Analysis of California’s climate policy shows that big cuts are needed to meet the state’s 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goal – and these cuts to carbon emissions will probably reduce other pollutants as well. By modifying the cap-and-trade program, California can improve the likelihood that criteria air pollutants get cut, too. Some of these options would reduce the flexibility businesses now have to comply with the program. This includes the ability to trade allowances, bank (save allowances for future years if you don’t need them now), and use offsets (verified reductions that happen at approved projects in California or elsewhere; the state sets strict rules on what counts as an offset).

The problem with eliminating these compliance options is that the program would lose elements that provide cost containment. In other words, it would likely get more expensive overall to achieve the same greenhouse gas reductions.

For example, eliminating the ability to bank allowances might backfire. Since the program is oversupplied right now (that is, there are more allowances available than emissions), banking is one of the main drivers of allowance demand and prices. If that option goes away, businesses will lose a big price signal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and emissions might increase in the near-term.

Another option is to add regulations on top of the cap-and-trade program. The state could regulate greenhouse gas emissions from refineries, which are also a large source of criteria air pollutants. The state could also enhance existing regulations for those other pollutants. It’s hard to predict how much pollution reduction either of these options would deliver compared to extending the cap-and-trade program as is, but they would at least increase certainty about criteria air pollution (though they might miss a big source of these emissions in the form of cars and trucks).

Alliance for a Sustainable Future Sustainability Questionnaire: Preliminary Results

Alliance for a Sustainbe Future
Sustainability Questionnaire:
Preliminary Results

June 2017

Download (PDF)

 
The Alliance for a Sustainable Future is a collaborative effort between The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. The Alliance is made up of Mayors and businesses who are interested in working together to develop climate solutions and create more sustainable communities. 
 
The Alliance is chaired by Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales along with Vice-Chair Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. As part of the Alliance’s ongoing work plan, mayors across the county were surveyed on their city’s sustainability efforts in the areas of low-carbon transportation, renewable electricity, and energy efficiency in new and existing buildings. The goal of the ongoing questionnaire is to develop a baseline of city efforts, determine innovative practices in these areas, identify trends, and define areas where additional technical assistance may be needed. 
 
The questionnaire was originally emailed on May 17, 2017 to approximately 80 Mayors who serve in leadership roles for The U.S. Conference of Mayors. However, when the United States announced its intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord on June 1, the questionnaire was emailed to all members of the Conference of Mayors as well as all cities with populations of 30,000 or more, approximately 1,400 cities. Data was collected until June 15. The questionnaire remains open to allow more cities to respond. The Alliance will publish a follow-on report with these additional data later this year. 
 
Responding cities represent a broad geography and range in size from 21,000 (Pleasantville, NJ) to 8.5 million, (New York City). Together, represent nearly 32 million Americans. 
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Survey finds US mayors taking action on climate protection, and planning for more

For Immediate Release
Saturday, June 24, 2017

Contacts:
Laura Rehrmann 703-516-0621, press@c2es.org
Elena Temple Webb 202-286-1100, etemple@usmayors.org
 

Survey finds U.S. mayors taking action on climate protection, and planning for more


Cities are promoting renewable electricity, low-carbon transportation, and energy efficiency to reduce emissions

MIAMI BEACH, FL – Cities across the country are showing leadership in promoting renewable electricity, low-carbon transportation, and energy efficiency, according to preliminary results of a survey jointly conducted by The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). The two organizations have partnered to form the Alliance for a Sustainable Future.

The survey also found overwhelming interest by cities in collaborating with the private sector to accelerate climate efforts, and identified several opportunities to do so.

Among the key findings:

  • 69 percent of responding cities generate or purchase renewable electricity to power city buildings or operations. An additional 22 percent are considering doing so.
  • 63 percent already buy green vehicles, including hybrid, electric, natural gas, and biodiesel, for their municipal fleets. 30 percent are considering it.
  • 71 percent have energy efficiency policies for new municipal buildings, and 66 percent have them for existing municipal buildings.

Responses to the survey have come from 66 cities, ranging in size from 21,000 to 8.5 million residents across 30 states. These cities spend more than $1.2 billion annually in electricity, representing significant purchasing power that can help shape the market.

The survey, which will be open through the summer, marks the launch by USCM and C2ES of an ongoing effort to collect information on progress cities are making in response to climate change, identify innovative solutions, and share them with mayors nationwide. Examples will include opportunities for public-private partnerships to help cities achieve their emissions-cutting goals not only within their own municipal operations and facilities but also community-wide.

The survey shows overwhelming interest by cities in working with one another (90 percent) and with the private sector (87 percent) to accelerate climate action, a finding that takes on even more importance following President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement—an agreement both organizations strongly supported.

The survey found opportunities for greater collaboration. For example:

  • Roughly half of responding cities are incentivizing energy efficiency in new and existing commercial and residential buildings.
  • Less than half have policies or programs that help citizens and businesses choose renewable electricity options.
  • 66 percent of responding cities have public charging stations, while 36 percent are facilitating private infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Read more about the alliance and a summary of survey results to date here.

“Cities and companies are making progress, but more can and must be done. Cities small and large across the country see the benefits of improving energy efficiency and deploying more clean energy and transportation,” said Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, chairman of the alliance steering committee. “But we need to create a baseline so we can measure our ongoing progress. Sustainability is a smart strategy for the future, and cities and companies need to learn from one another.”

“The nation’s mayors are poised to take an even greater leadership role in fighting climate change and protecting cities from its negative impacts. Working together with the business community, we can achieve deeper results more quickly and more broadly,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“Cities and companies both realize the risks of climate impacts and the economic opportunities of climate solutions. By partnering, they can keep the U.S. heading in the right direction toward a sustainable future,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe.

The USCM-C2ES alliance, which launched last summer, creates a framework for mayors and business leaders to develop concrete approaches to reduce carbon emissions, speed deployment of new technology, implement sustainable development strategies, and respond to the growing impacts of climate change. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales leads the public-private steering committee, with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski as vice chair. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Duke Energy, and AECOM are founding co-sponsors.

“Across America, cities are facing different climate threats and they’re deploying new clean technologies to mitigate against them and seize economic opportunities. What many cities share is a dedication to lean forward and drive innovation. AECOM is proud to be working with mayors on building a sustainable and resilient future," said Josh Sawislak, Global Director of Resilience at AECOM.

The Alliance for a Sustainable Future will discuss the survey results and showcase sustainability innovation Saturday, June 24, in Miami Beach at The U.S. Conference of Mayors 85th annual conference. Details are below.

Date: Saturday, June 24, 7:30- 9:00 a.m.

Place: Rooms Splash 9/10, Upper Lobby Level, The Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach, FL

Speakers will include: Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, AECOM Global Director of Resilience Josh Sawislak, Duke Energy Managing Director of Environmental and Energy Policy Kevin Leahy, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Dubuque (IA) Mayor Roy Buol, Denton (TX) Mayor Chris Watts, Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

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About The U.S. Conference of Mayors: The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Learn more at www.usmayors.org.

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

State Carbon Pricing Policies



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Last updated in July 2017

Compared to command-and-control regulations, carbon pricing is a market-based mechanism that creates financial incentives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making the reductions cost effective.

Eleven states that are home to over a quarter of the U.S. population already have a price on carbon and are successfully reducing emissions. Those states are California, the nine Northeast states, in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and Washington state, with its Clean Air Rule in effect in 2017. California’s cap and trade system and Washington’s Clean Air Rule are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from multiple sectors of the economy, while RGGI is aimed at reducing carbon emissions only from the power sector.

 

Action on VW settlement heating up as summer approaches

Summer is around the corner, bringing barbeques, warm weather, and road trips. U.S. residents may benefit from Volkswagen (VW) funding for those last two items (and Nissan bravely experimented with the barbeque): reducing air pollutants that cause harmful health effects in warm weather through a Mitigation Trust, and extending electric vehicles’ (EVs) driving range through a series of charging infrastructure investments. Both programs are set to take effect shortly, and cities and businesses may benefit from early action.

As a quick reminder, VW is putting $4.7 billion in two separate funds for mitigating nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and investing in zero-emission vehicles as part of a settlement for installing devices designed to bypass U.S. auto emissions tests. (The two funds are shown below and described in greater detail in this blog post.)

Mitigation Trust to Reduce NOx emissions from heavy-duty vehicles

The Mitigation Trust will allocate funding to each state to spend on reducing the NOx emissions that were created by the altered VW vehicles. The funding will be disbursed within the state by one lead agency that must be approved by an appointed trustee. The trustee, investment firm Wilmington Trust, was selected in March. Once all parties confirm Wilmington Trust, which could happen any day, the Trust Effective Date will be established. The Trust Effective Date is essentially the “starter’s pistol” that will set the process of distributing Mitigation Trust funds to states in motion. The general timeline for applying for and receiving funds is shown below, though several deadlines are flexible and may proceed more quickly than the maximum amount of time allocated.

 

Cities and businesses should contact and work actively with the lead agencies in their states to identify and promote opportunities to replace older diesel engines and vehicles. Several states have already identified their lead agencies or principal contacts and are beginning to design plans for how the available funding will be spent. Though funding can be spent over 15 years, as much as two-thirds can be spent within the first two years. Therefore, it is in the best interest of cities or businesses to engage with state agencies early.

ZEV Investment to Expand public EV charging

VW’s initial ZEV Investment is also ready to be put into action through a $200 million California Investment Plan and a $300 million National Investment Plan that covers all other states. VW submitted separate investment plans that cover the next 30 months earlier this year to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The EPA approved the National Investment Plan, which allocates $40 million to lower-powered community charging in 11 major cities and $190 million to higher-powered fast charging along selected highways across the nation. Community charging will be focused in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, Portland (OR), Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, Denver, Houston, Miami, and Raleigh. Estimated highway charging installations are displayed in Table 3 of the National Investment Plan (page 22).

Though the cities and corridors have been chosen, the sites and vendors have not. The process of selecting sites and vendors for the bulk of charging stations is scheduled for the second and third quarters of 2017. Cities identified for investments in community charging or nearby corridor charging can work with VW’s subsidiary, Electrify America, to identify optimal locations that may promote retail growth or adoption by low-income communities in multi-unit dwellings by hosting charging stations. Businesses may also benefit from increased traffic to use public charging stations (as C2ES has covered in a report on EV charging station business models) or from the opportunity to work with Electrify America to install charging stations.

CARB has not yet approved the California Investment Plan out of concerns for social equity and EV charging market competitiveness, sending a letter to Electrify America requesting that a supplemental plan reflect greater investments in low-income communities. Once CARB approves a plan, California cities and businesses should also consider opportunities to work with Electrify America to optimally site charging stations during the first 30-month round of investments. During the next round of investments, slated to begin in late 2019, proposals to Electrify America may be more successful if they incorporate CARB’s concerns and demonstrate air-quality benefits to low-income communities or a need to fill regional EV charging gaps.

With action on both VW settlements’ funding programs taking shape, cities and businesses should be prepared to identify opportunities to reduce NOx emissions and promote EV adoption .

 

Framework for Engaging Small and Medium-sized Businesses in Maryland on Climate Resilience

Framework for Engaging Small- and Medium-sized Businesses in Maryland on Climate Resilience

May 2017

By Katy Maher and Janet Peace

Download (PDF)

Many small businesses are not aware of the risks they face from changing climate conditions, and may not have plans in place to respond and recover from weather events. This issue is especially important in Maryland, where small businesses—defined as those with fewer than 500 employees—contribute heavily to the state’s economy. This report offers recommendations for both state and local officials on how to engage with small businesses, resources and information needs, and generally, how to best support businesses in enhancing resilience to extreme weather and climate change.

Key Takeaways

  • Use trusted messengers: Identify who businesses regularly engage with. Work with business networking organizations.
  • Leverage existing channels: Incorporate resilience into business activities. Expand resilience efforts to include businesses.
  • Identify opportunities: Form public-private partnerships. Develop business resilience networks.
  • Distribute targeted information: Tailor the message. Identify steps businesses can take.
Janet Peace
Katy Maher
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Connecticut seeks to support nuclear energy

For more than a year, Connecticut legislators have been working to craft a policy to ensure that zero-emission electricity from the Millstone Nuclear Power Station continues to flow until at least 2035 and 2045, when its operating licenses expire.

Millstone, New England’s largest power plant, supplied 45 percent of Connecticut’s in-state power generation and nearly all its carbon-free electricity last year. With around 2,100 MW of installed capacity, the facility generates enough power each year to meet the needs of nearly 2 million Connecticut households. Moreover, the two reactors help avoid the emissions of more than 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

But Millstone, like other nuclear power plants, faces economic headwinds. Challenges include sustained low natural gas prices, declining renewable energy costs, slow growth in electricity demand, and power markets structures and policies that don’t compensate nuclear for its environmental and reliability attributes. Mandated safety enhancements and other capital and maintenance investments are adding to plant costs. Since late 2012, six U.S. nuclear reactors have been retired prematurely, and seven more are set to close by 2025.

If this trend continues or accelerates, there could be serious climate implications. Nuclear power supplies 20 percent of total U.S. electricity, but makes up 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 would be expected to increase U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide as well as nitrogen oxides. These increased emissions will set back our efforts to fight climate change and regional air pollution. Although nuclear power enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, a federal remedy has failed to emerge, so individual states are taking action. Last August, New York established a clean energy standard to help assist its upstate reactors. In December, Illinois passed a law to support two (i.e., Quad Cities and Clinton) of its six nuclear power plants in a similar fashion. New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania are exploring options to support their nuclear reactors.

In Connecticut, lawmakers have proposed creating additional opportunities for Millstone to sell its power. In the bill’s current form, nuclear power would be able to participate in a state solicitation for carbon-free power. Under this arrangement, the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection could direct electric distribution companies (i.e., utilities) to “enter into agreements for energy, capacity, and environmental attributes,” provided the proposals are in the best interests of the ratepayers and meet other criteria. At the same time, the bill would increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 40 percent by 2040 from 27 percent by 2020. So as not to overwhelm the RPS and inhibit the growth of renewables, only a portion of Millstone’s output should be eligible under the final bill unless the ambition of the RPS is increased commensurately.

To remain economically viable, power plant owners rely on revenues (i.e., energy and capacity) they receive from participating in wholesale power markets. However, low natural gas prices continue to put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices across the country. In 2016, prices in New England’s electricity market averaged $28.94/MWh – the lowest since the market was established in 2003 and below the average total generating cost for multi-unit nuclear reactors. Owners can also enter into two-party agreements directly with power consumers or other parties. While this offers an alternative revenue stream, these contract prices tend to reflect current circumstances in electricity markets.

Power markets are challenging and do not reward nuclear power for its large environmental and system reliability benefit. In the absence of a price on carbon, we need alternatives to ensure nuclear power plants do not retire prematurely. We applaud Connecticut’s proactive approach to recognizing the carbon-free attributes of New England’s largest power source. State leadership on climate has never been more critical. With reasonable policies in place to maintain the existing U.S. nuclear fleet, it will be easier for the U.S. to reduce its emissions and achieve its climate and air pollution reduction goals.

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.”

To Learn More:

C2ES guide helps cities and businesses collaborate on climate resilience

Press Release
May 24, 2017
Contact Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org, 703-516-0621

 

C2ES guide helps cities and businesses collaborate on climate resilience

WASHINGTON – Cities and businesses both face the threat of damaged infrastructure and disrupted operations due to climate impacts. A new C2ES guide outlines ways cities can collaborate with the local business community to strengthen climate resilience.

To create the Guide to Public-Private Collaboration on City Climate Resilience Planning, C2ES brought together local government and business officials in Kansas City, Mo.; Miami Beach, Fla.; Phoenix; and Providence, R.I., to assess each city’s climate preparedness and prioritize resilience needs. Each city has a unique economic make-up and faces different climate threats, but common threads led to recommendations for any city leader to invite and promote business collaboration, including:

  • Build resilience planning on the foundation of existing public-private programs and partnerships across city departments.
  • Show businesses that climate resilience planning is a key priority, and set up a process for continual collaboration to demonstrate that business involvement is valued.
  • Work with partners, including in academia and state and federal government, to develop localized data on climate threats to emphasize the business case for resilience planning.
  • Tailor the approach depending on the industry and size of the business.
  • Explore innovative financing for resilience projects, including public-private partnerships and insurance incentives.

“Every city hit by a severe storm understands the need for resilience and fast disaster recovery,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “Businesses need climate-resilient public infrastructure to maintain business continuity. Cities need climate-resilient businesses to maintain the economic health of the community. It only makes sense for them to work together.”

Just as cities and businesses jointly suffer the negative impacts of climate change, they may jointly benefit from the economic development opportunities that come from improving resilience, according to the guide. Upgrading or relocating infrastructure, implementing energy efficiency projects, building microgrids, and restoring natural ecosystems can improve resilience and create jobs.

Cities and businesses bring complementary strengths to climate resilience planning. Businesses may have data analysis and emergency response resources that would be helpful to cities. Cities, meanwhile, often find it easier to plan for the longer term.

Expanding the stakeholders involved in resilience planning can also increase political support and the willingness to devote public resources to the topic.

The Guide to Public-Private Collaboration on City Climate Resilience Planning was created with support from Bank of America.

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