New York is spending $1 billion to help residents conserve energy — and lower their bills



  • As people shelter-in-place due to the ongoing pandemic, utility bills are rising as the summer heat intensifies 
  • The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the state’s investor-owned utilities are working to provide clean and energy-efficient solutions to more than 350,000 low-to-moderate income households 
  • These services would include increasing insulation, efficient cooling and heating, education, and community support programs
  • An investment of $1 billion for programs will run through 2025 for energy efficiency in affordable multifamily buildings, increased energy efficiency access to low-income homeowners and renters, and capacity building with community-based organizations
  • The energy efficiency improvements help filter out air pollution, provide long term solutions to rising bills, and will ultimately help New York reach its net-zero greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2050

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform advocates for a formal California State commitment by 2022 to 80% below 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions and net negative emissions by 2030, including the phase-out of fossil fuels and a transition to clean energy

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Wind, solar to dominate new power plants in 2020


  • As of January 1, 2020, new houses in California are required to install rooftop solar.
  • “One utility, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, has asked regulators to approve a plan that says builders in its territory can comply with the solar mandate by subscribing to the utility’s community solar programs instead of putting solar on every new rooftop.”
  • “Microsoft said last week it intends to be “carbon negative” by 2030, meaning it will take actions to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that will exceed the company’s own carbon emissions and the emissions from its supply chain.”
  • Arizona Public Service plans on providing 100% carbon-free energy to its residents by 2050.

by Dan Gearino, InsideClimate News

In California, rooftop solar is now a standard feature for new houses. The state’s new building code, which took effect Jan. 1, requires solar on new construction, with few exceptions.

This is a big step for the country’s largest market for rooftop solar. But for the builders who must follow the rules, the shift is more routine. They are used to the building code being updated every three years, and have had plenty of time to prepare, said Brandon De Young, executive vice president of De Young Properties in Fresno.

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A New Day for Energy Efficiency

By Chris Cone, Negawatt Market Project  |  September 30, 2015


When it comes to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, nothing
beats energy efficiency. Compared to generating energy (including with
renewables), efficiency costs less and delivers more climate protection per
dollar invested.

Energy efficiency is currently undergoing a paradigm shift.
New developments in data sharing/analysis protocols mean that units of unused
energy can now be metered as a commodity,
just like electricity and natural gas. As a result, building owners and efficiency
vendors will be able to sell, and utilities to buy, metered efficiency in a
pay-for-performance market.

On September 24, the The Climate Center and Negawatt Market Project hosted
a briefing with Matt Golden and Matt Gee, architects of the Open Energy Efficiency Meter, a free
open-standard, open-source, open-data platform that meters efficiency units. Developed
as part of a California Public Utilities Commission project to standardize a
transparent commodity-grade process for measuring efficiency, the Open EE Meter
uses national data protocols, utility data from upgraded buildings, and
statistical principles to reliably measure efficiency results.

Rather than receiving a one-time rebate based on an estimate
of energy savings, in a metered efficiency market building owners making
efficiency upgrades are paid for actual results over time. This aligns
incentives with results and promotes projects that produce longer lasting,
deeper efficiency. In addition, a metered efficiency market encourages business
model innovation based on accountability to results.

This paradigm shift is reflected in SB-350, the Clean Energy
and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015.

  • Metered efficiency
    The new law requires meeting State efficiency targets based on
    “normalized metered electricity and
    natural gas consumption” in addition to current methods that estimate savings
    using energy modeling techniques.
  • Pre-upgrade
    Efficiency results will now be based on the difference between a
    building’s energy use before upgrades (or baseline)
    and lower use levels as metered after upgrades. In addition, existing rebate
    programs can now count all efficiency units resulting from upgrades to
    buildings that are not currently compliant with energy code (which is most
  • Pay-for-performance
    The law also authorizes current efficiency rebate programs to
    directly link incentives to measured energy savings.

In addition, companion bill AB-802 tasks the California
Energy Commission, which oversees energy policy and planning, to incorporate
metered efficiency into the development of State goals, portfolio cost-effectiveness,
and budgets. It also allows the Commission to include efficiency resulting from
improvements that bring a building into conformance with energy code.

Taken together, the ability to meter efficiency and base
programs and markets on actual metered results constitutes a significant step
toward achieving speed-and-scale GHG reductions in buildings.


The Sun is Rising on a New Day for Solar in Sonoma County

by Geoffrey D. Smith

The recent ‘marriage’ of Solar Sonoma County (SSC) with The Climate Center (CCP) is, well, a match made in heaven. SSC has been responsible for a significant increase in installations of photovoltaic (PV) solar throughout the region. SSC has advocated on behalf of hundreds of homeowners and businesses by connecting them with qualified local vendors to get the job done. In their support of the solar vendor community, SSC brought installer companies together for forums and collaboration, and served as their voice in local and state government. SSC’s work to standardize the permitting process across jurisdictions vastly improved efficiency. In short: Solar Sonoma County ROCKED!

In July of this year, SSC became a program of the CCP. I have the good fortune of being the person hired to coordinate the new Solar Energy Program. I can think of no issue on the planet more important than climate change. Ending our dependence on fossil fuels is the critical component in the mix of strategies needed to achieve climate protection. Solar is a big part of this solution. I’m so excited about this work, in fact, that my wife and I are installing solar panels on the roof of our home this summer! (Stay tuned for a blog about that.)

Three core SSC programs will continue to grow under CCP:

Clean Energy Advocate (CEA) – The program supports prospective solar customers who call us with their questions about solar installations. If you’ve put off your solar decision due to questions about technologies and financing options, delay no more! We can help you determine whether your home is a solar candidate and connect you with three Qualified Vendors who will provide competitive bids for your job. Call us if you’re thinking of going solar: 707.654.4350.

Qualified Vendor Program (QVP) – Utilizing a detailed annual vetting process, we evaluate the skill sets, customer satisfaction and quality of work performed by each of the vendors in the pool. We develop personal relationships with the vendor teams, and host regular ‘Vendor Meetings’ at which we discuss technology trends in the industry, pending legislation and rule-making that affects solar ownership, and other topics of mutual interest. When we send referrals to our solar prospects, we can stand behind them!

Certified Local Program (CL) – The ‘CL’ brand serves as a means of easily identifying local contractors and service providers, with the goal of encouraging governments, consumers and other businesses to choose local first when it comes to both large and small renewable energy projects. Sonoma County residents support local business!

I am very upbeat about the future of solar in California! We’ll work to ensure favorable rules governing small-scale distributed solar generation at the state level. We look forward to assisting residential and commercial solar generators to be their own advocates for fair rates and policies. As solar is the flagship renewable energy technology, we’ll engage statewide to serve as a resource for emerging Community Choice programs.

As our marriage ‘made in heaven’ matures, the new combined forces of Solar Sonoma County and The Climate Center are sure to make a positive impact on how we view our heavenly resources – the sun and our climate.

Geoffrey D. Smith is the Solar Energy Program Coordinator for The Climate Center. Email Geoffrey for more information about the Center’s solar programs.