Green advocates say loss of PACE financing has slowed pace of green jobs and building

Slapping a solar panel on the roof sounds so alluring. You can produce your own energy, slice your carbon footprint in a big way and not have to fret so much about vacillating energy costs. You’re home free.
Except that solar panels are far from free. While the cost of solar photovoltaics has come down considerable, a solar rooftop array remains in a rarifed price household category, right up there with cars. It will run in the ballpark of $15,ooo-$20,000, maybe more, even with home energy tax credits.

Wind and labor leaders unite to push for jobs and clean energy

Clean energy advocates and labor leaders are calling on the U.S. to step up its commitment to wind energy and wind-related manufacturing — or risk losing thousands of jobs to China, Europe and India.

American wind urgently needs strong supports, such as long-term investment tax credits and a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), to show investors and domestic and global companies that it believes in the sector, the leaders said at a Monday news conference. A RES would signal that the U.S. wants to incubate developing firms and build everything it needs — from wind towers and blades to the highly evolved nacelles that keep the turbines turning.

Stimulus plan puts green into green; the details so far…

From Green Right Now Reports:

In a alert released this afternoon, entitled “Congress Gets It Right — Recovery Deal to Spur Clean Energy Economy”, the Natural Resources Defense Council praised the compromise stimulus package hammered out by Congress for the ways it steers the American economy in a greener direction.

“Congress really got it right with this economic recovery package that will deliver jobs and green infrastructure to America. The bill makes smart investments that will jumpstart the economy, help sustain future growth, and meet the challenges of the 21st century,”effused Wesley Warren, director of programs for the NRDC. “We need to put America on a path to a clean-energy economy, and Congress has taken a big step forward in heeding this call.

The American Renewable Energy Act, an AREA with promise

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Moving to create clean energy jobs, fight climate change and set America on a path to energy independence, Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Todd Platts (R-Pa.) on Wednesday introduced the American Renewable Energy Act, which would require America to generate one-quarter of its energy from “clean energy sources” by 2025.

“With our economy in crisis, renewable energy can create hundreds of thousands of new green jobs, revitalize declining manufacturing sectors and decrease global warming pollution,” said Rep. Markey, chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, in a news release.

Garbage to gasoline, Texas plant gears up to make fuel from waste

By Barbara Kessler

Biomass technology promises what few other alternative fuel schemes can: energy from waste. Given the controversial use of corn (and other food crops) for biofuel, which is turning out to be less of a greenhouse gas saver than once thought, waste is looking pretty attractive.

A new plant in Central Texas, dedicated last week, promises to take sewage waste, organic garbage, grass clippings and manure, and convert them into gasoline.

Initially the plant, designed as a large-scale demonstration project, will use forage sorghum as its base material. Forage sorghum, unlike other varieties grown to produce sorghum seed for food products, does not steal directly from the human food chain. It is used as feed for cattle, but even so, it’s more renewable than corn because about twice as much (5-7 tons) can be grown per acre.

A Greener America: The next four years, the next first steps

By Barbara Kessler

The cork is off the champagne on the presidential election – and many environmentalists who’ve felt stifled by the Bush Administration’s indifference, hostility or lukewarm interest in ecological issues, including global warming, are giddy with new possibilities.

Frances Beinecke, head of the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council, sounded buoyant in an address on the NRDC website: “Barack Obama’s election is a huge win for everyone exhausted from playing defense. Count us among them. It rekindles our hope that environmental protection may be restored to its rightful place as a treasured American value.”

Gene Karpinski, head of the League of Conservation Voters, was no less ebullient. “America embraced change today. And the planet will be better for it,” he announced.

Karpinski noted that, along with Obama, the nation also elected some environmental-minded senators, such as cousins Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), from a family with a long conservation history.

Green vs. green

By Barbara Kessler

Disturbing reports haunt the news lately, suggesting that the faltering U.S. economy could stall environmental progress or even force a digression on climate change programs.

Two U.S. wind energy companies and several corn ethanol projects have been delayed for lack of financing, The New York Times reported this week in “Alternative Energy Suddenly Faces Headwinds“.

A similarly upbeat piece “Environment will wither whoever wins US election” from The Times in London, notes that “environmental groups are already bracing themselves for delays or disappointment on action to tackle global warming”. The article postulates that post-election political leaders will face opposition to environmental programs from job-starved states in the Rust Belt reliant on coal and other heavy industry. American’s immediate need for cold green cash, it warns, could trump green growth.

University of Houston to train carbon trading experts

By Julie Bonnin

The U.S. energy policy may be in flux and economic uncertainty at an all time high but a “cap and trade” policy on greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. is likely to be a major initiative not long after the upcoming presidential election.

While emissions offset trading is active in Europe and Asia, and some voluntary trading has begun in the U.S., American energy corporations are anticipating tougher emission reduction regulations and a corresponding need for traders, lawyers and other business people to work within the system as it evolves.

Thus far no one’s come out with “Carbon Trading for Dummies.” But the University of Houston, through a joint program of the C. T. Bauer College of Business and UH Law Center, will offer what is thought to be the country’s first comprehensive carbon trading course in spring of 2009.

Steeling A Green Future

By Barbara Kessler

The United Steelworkers have been busy constructing a new green future for themselves, building wind turbines, for instance, at existing mills that might otherwise be suffering in the economic downturn. Now the labor group wants to, shall we say, buttress that future, by promoting green energy and jobs all around.usw.jpg

Working with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the USW today announced an American green jobs initiative that will promote renewable energy and independence from fossil fuels, an endeavor that could create more than 820,000 new green jobs nationwide, according to the press release.