On November 15, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) into law after months of negotiations between the House and Senate. The $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a historic investment in the country’s infrastructure and competitiveness, with provisions ranging from rebuilding America’s roads, bridges and rails to expanding access to clean drinking water and energy efficiency while advancing environmental justice.
As we start 2021, it's time to unpack the energy efficiency implications from the November 2020 elections for our region. The election outcomes tell a story of two political realities for Midwesterners – Democrats decisively sweep at the federal level and Republicans strengthen their hold throughout the predominately conservative Midwest. While we can expect clean energy policy prioritization nationally, the majority of the Midwest will see it defined through executive action by Democratic governors and much less debate and action in most state legislatures. But we know that any lasting energy policy will require bipartisan cooperation for passage and successful implementation.
In November 2018, the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), "a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the widespread adoption of high-performing commercial lighting solutions", released the requirements for new lighting products to be registered on the plant-focused qualified products list (QPL). As of early May 2019, there are around 18 products listed on the QPL. As the list grows, it will serve as a helpful resource for those seeking information about plant-focused luminaires, especially growers in the indoor agriculture business like cannabis cultivators.
Home energy ratings are experiencing a growing role in energy code compliance. HERS Raters, in particular, often provide third-party verification services for minimum and above-code programs, including traditional compliance pathways contained in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and more recently the Energy Rating Index (ERI) pathway. In recognition of this trend, the U.S. Department of Energy commissioned a study exploring the consistency and replicability of the HERS system, and in anticipation of HERS Raters assuming a greater role in energy code compliance.
The 2018 midterm elections brought significant voter participation, with turnout breaking levels not seen since the 1960s. Nationally, this enthusiasm shifted power in the U.S. House of Representatives back to the Democrats, while Republicans increased their control of the U.S. Senate. A total of nine House seats in the Midwest flipped to Democratic-control—in addition to two seats in Minnesota changing from Democratic to Republican.
In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized their much-anticipated Clean Power Plan (CPP). This rule, proposed by the Obama Administration, aimed to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants by 32% by 2030. The CPP set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants and allowed states flexibility to comply with the emission targets.
The “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule is the proposed replacement to the CPP by the Trump Administration. While the CPP prudently incorporated energy efficiency, ACE largely ignores it, undermining the economic, environmental and health benefits energy efficiency offers.
As more and more distributed resources come onto the grid, we are coming full circle back to something that looks more like Edison’s original distributed energy system, after a century of Samuel Insull’s centralized model. Besides changes in how energy is generated, the way it is used is also changing, with energy customers becoming active participants rather than just passive consumers. The interoperability of all of the devices on the grid is essential to keeping up with the changing needs of customers and energy markets.
Energy efficiency improvements can be expensive and burdensome for residential homeowners, renters and building owners. Luckily, there are an increasing number of financial options to help cover the up-front costs of efficiency upgrades. Below, we lay out several financing options to make our homes and workplaces more energy efficient.
1. On-Bill Financing
On-bill financing is an umbrella term for a financing program where a charge is added to a customer’s energy bill to repay a loan from a utility for energy efficiency upgrades. The utility acts as the lender and incurs the upfront costs of the improvements.
How It Works