Tag Archives: U.S.

Banking on the sun

January 7, 2013 |

 

Last month, David Crane and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. wrote in the New York Times about the potential of rooftop solar to make the United States more disaster-resilient and energy independent and at the same time democratize electricity generation.  They rightly pointed out that in Germany, where rooftop solar is now much less expensive than in the United States, renewable energy provides dividends to homeowners and is breaking records for clean energy generation.

While Germany is a great example of success in distributed generation, the advent of solar leasing in the U.S. promises to make investing in solar even easier. 

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Supporting wind energy and saving U.S. taxpayers nearly $5 billion in three easy steps

December 18, 2012 |

 

CPI’s recent study, Supporting Renewables While Saving Taxpayers Money, showed that U.S. governments could save a lot of money by adjusting how tax incentives for renewable energy are delivered. In particular, we showed that a $21/MWh taxable cash incentive for production (TCP) for wind could provide the same support to wind projects as the current $22/MWh production tax credit (PTC) and almost halve the cost to federal and state governments.

US Government could save 4.5 billion by adjusting current wind policy

The PTC is set to expire at the end of this year. The Senate has proposed extending it by one year, but at a cost to government in excess of $12 billion – a heavy lift given budget constraints. Replacing the PTC with a TCP could reduce that cost to $7.5 billion. A similar reduction in cost would apply to any proposal to extend the PTC, including the recent proposal by the American Wind Energy Association to phase-out the PTC over six years.

How does this work?

Well, wind project developers have limited tax liabilities. That means that by themselves, most project developers can’t use federal tax benefits until years after they are received, eroding almost two thirds of the incentive value. In order to get more out of these incentives, project developers bring in outside investors who have greater tax liabilities. This is called tax-equity financing. However, tax equity financing is more expensive and complex than conventional finance, and erodes about a third of the incentive value.

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Did federal renewable incentives make a difference?

December 3, 2012 |

 

Since 2008, U.S. workers have built enough solar and wind farms to power over six million homes with clean energy. This boom was financed primarily by tens of billions in private investment – substantial financial commitments which would not have been made in the midst of a deep financial crisis without strong, sustained policy supports at the state and federal level.

But were federal incentives really necessary and are they still needed moving forward, given recent reductions in solar and wind technology costs?

These questions are especially important in light of discussion around the production tax credit for wind, which is scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

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Counting on energy efficiency: climate gains from consistent program data

November 30, 2012 |

 

Most experts agree that one of the most cost-effective places to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is in energy efficiency. Over the years, hundreds of programs have sprung up across the U.S. to encourage businesses and households to use energy more efficiently. These programs — also called demand-side management (DSM) programs — hold real promise for climate mitigation.

It’s good that many, many programs exist. It’s also good that these programs are extensively evaluated. However, as Jeff Deason discusses in more depth, each jurisdiction uses its own measurement and reporting practices, resulting in scattered and inconsistently reported data.

As an organization keen to look across evaluations to find best practices, we find this frustrating. In essence, it’s a classic case of comparing apples to oranges — and sometimes a challenge just to locate those apples and oranges in the first place.

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Keeping track of climate progress: Are countries well-placed to meet new tracking needs?

November 27, 2012 |

 

As the business school adage goes, you manage what you measure.

When it comes to progress on climate change, measurement doesn’t often capture much public attention. However, measurement and reporting play a fundamental behind-the-scenes role: They help build confidence that countries are doing what they say, and they also build capacity for countries to identify opportunities and tackle challenges domestically.

Right now, climate negotiators are gathering in Doha for the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While headlines around these meetings usually focus on the lack of progress in UNFCCC discussions of countries’ emissions reduction targets, the UNFCCC is making strides on other fronts. In the past three years, countries have agreed to significantly expand the amount of information they report on their greenhouse gas emissions and their climate policies and measures.

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Taxpayers could save on wind and solar

October 4, 2012 |

 

When something really good is advertised at half price, my first thought is “this is too good to be true.” After doing the research, if I find the deal is really all it’s cracked up to be, I spread the word to as many people as I can, so they can save too.

That’s why, when my research team discovered how much taxpayers stand to save through small changes to federal wind and solar policies, we quadruple-checked our numbers, asked other experts if what we were seeing was correct, and then made a commitment to let as many people know as possible.

It’s no secret that wind and solar in the United States are booming. Renewable electricity generation more than doubled since 2005. While this growth was financed largely through private investment, state and federal policies played a key role in helping these new, important industries expand.

Policymakers support wind and solar because renewable energy brings many benefits for the American people. But key renewable incentives are expiring just as federal lawmakers are looking for opportunities to reduce the deficit. Policymakers understandably want to balance support for renewable energy with these fiscal pressures.

It turns out there are ways to do just that. Let me explain.

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