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State-Level Energy Initiatives are Helping Advance the Green New Deal

State-Level Energy Initiatives are Helping Advance the Green New Deal

 

In our exploration of the “Green New Deal” and its impacts on the alternative energy industry, we examined how the environmental and economic components of the ambitious plan, proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would greatly enhance efforts to slow climate change and create new green jobs. The idea has rallied many Democrats behind a federal environmental policy that has quickly become a litmus test for representatives and candidates, including those eyeing the presidency in 2020.

It’s galvanizing for those of us who have worked for years in alternative energy technology, design, and implementation to hear politicians at the highest levels of government prioritizing our work, creating opportunities for broader discussions, and signalling their commitment to environmental action. However, many leaders at the state level have been working to implement policies similar to the Green New Deal over the past several years. Their efforts, and the results, are helping advance federal policy-making regarding the environmental and economic benefits of alternative energy.

Let’s take a look at some of the state-level initiatives that give us hope for the success of a Green New Deal:

New York Leaps Forward

In New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his own Green New Deal this January. As GreenTech Media reports, the plan aims “to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040, and ultimately eliminate the state’s carbon footprint.” An update to the state’s previous energy plans, it sets ambitious goals involving the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the nation’s largest public power organization. Progress in New York foreshadows how both public and private utilities must cooperate with lawmakers and the alternative energy industry in order to achieve these new goals.

NYPA has announced its plans to invest in large-scale renewable energy with “a 20-year power-purchase agreement for 290 megawatts of wind” that will create an estimated “140 construction jobs, 300 indirect positions and around $2.5 million a year in tax payments.” Offshore wind energy is on the agenda as well, with the deployment of data collection technology in the near future informing decisions about placement and design.

In alignment with Cuomo’s Green New Deal for New York state, Con Edison has announced its plans for a $484 million rate-based investment in energy infrastructure, including charging ports for electric vehicles and energy storage installations. That utility companies, which have fought energy progress for decades, are getting involved as a result of state-level policies is a sign that real forward motion is being made.

California Sets an Example

On the west coast, California’s new Governor Gavin Newsom is continuing the work of his predecessor to meet climate goals that include eliminating carbon emissions by 2045. Long a stronghold for progressive environmental policy, California’s example now includes eliminating some tax revenue sharing for municipalities that contribute to suburban sprawl instead of increasing density of housing in areas with public transportation options.

Grist reports that Newsom also plans to reinstate the Healthy Soils Initiative, which includes soil conservation practices and “techniques to get farmland to soak up carbon from the air.” They note that the Governor will need the cooperation of state legislators to turn these ideas into policy, but that his priorities will shape the upcoming legislative session. California’s example shows that we need passionate leaders like Newsom to continually demand progress if ambitious proposals like the Green New Deal are to be successful.

Other States Join the Movement

While states like New York and California have long been on the front lines of progressive climate policy, they aren’t alone. The New York Times writes that “midterm elections in the fall brought in a new wave of governors who are now setting climate goals for their states and laying out more ambitious plans to cut emissions and expand low-carbon energy” in states like Michigan, Illinois, and New Mexico. “By advancing technologies like wind, solar or electric vehicles,” these states “pave the way for more ambitious federal action.”

State-level initiatives across the country include requiring utilities to use and invest in more renewable power sources, lowering or eliminating carbon dioxide emissions, and creating carbon pricing markets. As the national conversation around environmental and economic policy evolves, educators and activists are focusing on the states to create progress and build support for new federal policy.

From New York to California and everywhere in between, state-level policies are giving us a taste of what a national Green New Deal could mean. At Solar Design Studio, we’re excited to be part of the conversation. If you have your own renewable energy goals for your home or business, reach out to us today to learn more about how we can work together to achieve them.

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What Our Clients Are Saying

I have researched adding PV to my home for several years and have met with several PV providers in the KC area and they tend to fall into two broad categories, the new and low budget operators who got into this to ride the wave and are not that knowledgeable, and the commercial providers who have little interest in working with a homeowner and are geared to providing a much larger system where some economy of scale must come into play. Both my wife and I are architects and we wanted something different and it was challenging to find someone who was interested in doing something out of the ordinary. Neither or those types were interested in working with us as we were trying to create something a bit different. they each wanted to sell us their pre-configured solutions.

 

Fortunately we found Bob Solger. He has been a delight to work with and is incredibly knowledgeable and responsive. We wanted to create a solar carport that would provide cover and protection for our cars, but would also provide shade over part of our patio. In essence, the big idea was to create an outdoor pavilion, when, if we wanted to entertain we could move the cars out of the way and have a large covered area for an outdoor gathering. We had selected the Lumos brand of solar panels as they have a very clean look and are partially transparent so some light filters through the panels creating a mottled light pattern on the ground, similar to the shading from a tree. In addition, the system is set up to hide the majority of the connecting wires in the support beams so when you look up at the underside of the PV roof you see a very clean look. Bob recognized our goal and worked with us to ensure the project’s success. Bob identified a structural engineer to design an elegant support structure and found a fabricator to build it affordably. Finally he connected us with a contracting team to clear the space, provide the footings, retaining walls, and pad, who were every bit as careful with everything as you would hope. They were amazingly accommodating to every request and understood that there were a lot of competing challenges that needed to be resolved so we could fit this all in to a very tight location and make it look like it belongs.

 

The bottom line is that it all turned out better than we could have hoped and while it did cost more than the low ball bids received from some of the low budget operators, it was less than the commercially focused suppliers, and more importantly we got the design we wanted and a well-constructed PV carport that will give us great delight for years to come. The best part is of course the savings on our electric bill, which thus far has been averaging around $200/month. So not only do we have a new carport and entertainment patio that our neighbors have been stopping by and admiring (which given that we live in the older Brookside neighborhood and our PV carport is quite modern, we were much relieved) but, our electric bills have been in the under $10/month range.

 

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Bob and his knowledge and team for helping to create an amazing PV carport for us. I’m sure you would be delighted with whatever you engage him to help you with.

Dev & Sue Malik

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