Author Archives Laura Arnold

US Federal Reserve says climate poses stability risks

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   November 10, 2020  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

By Reuters Staff

(Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve for the first time called out climate change among risks enumerated in its biannual financial stability report, and warned about the potential for abrupt changes in asset values in response to a warming planet.

“Acute hazards, such as storms, floods, or wildfires, may cause investors to update their perceptions of the value of real or financial assets suddenly,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in comments attached to the report, released Monday.

“Chronic hazards, such as slow increases in mean temperatures or sea levels, or a gradual change in investor sentiment about those risks, introduce the possibility of abrupt tipping points or significant swings in sentiment,” Brainard said.

Such abrupt price changes from climate-related disasters could also create difficult-to-predict knock-on effects through financial markets, the report said, particularly because not enough is understood, or disclosed, about the true extent of exposures to climate risks.

“Increased transparency through improved measurement and more standardized disclosures will be crucial,” Brainard said. “It is vitally important to move from the recognition that climate change poses significant financial stability risks to the stage where the quantitative implications of those risks are appropriately assessed and addressed.”

Monday’s report comes just days after Joe Biden won the U.S. presidential election against President Donald Trump, who has downplayed the risks of climate change. Biden has promised to put fighting climate change back on the U.S. policy agenda.

Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Alistair Bell

ICC Grants Emergency Relief to Preserve Ameren-IL Net Metering

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 02, 2020  /   Posted in Net Metering, solar, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Illinois regulators grant emergency relief to preserve net metering, order audit of Ameren's bid to end it

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UPDATE: Oct. 2, 2020: The Illinois Commerce Commission on Thursday granted an emergency motion to solar advocacy organizations urging Ameren "to provide full net metering credits to residential solar customers until an audit is completed."
The commission also directed its staff to perform the audit and determine if Ameren has reached the required threshold under state law for ending retail net metering in its service territory. Ameren says it may reach that threshold imminently.
ICC Chairman Carrie Zalewski "expressed concerns that by allowing Ameren to end net metering before the Commission approved the replacement tariff as required by statute, would be a violation of the legislature’s intent to transition smoothly from retail net metering to a successor distributed generation rebate," the commission said in a press release.

Dive Brief:

  • The continued growth of residential solar is under threat in Illinois, the solar industry said this week, with Ameren asserting a 2016 state law allows it to stop compensating home solar customers at the full retail rate for the power they send back to the grid.
  • The Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016 allows a utility to work with state regulators to replace the full retail rate, based on net metering, with a negotiated "distributed generation rebate" when the amount of distributed solar generation reaches 5% of the peak demand on the system. Ameren says it will soon reach that threshold.
  • The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has set a public meeting for today, following an emergency request from the solar industry and environmental groups asking it to order Ameren to continue full retail compensation, kilowatt-hour for kilowatt-hour, until a new distributed generation tariff is developed, as required by the 2016 law.

Emergency Motion Filed to Prevent Ameren from Devastating Illinois’ Solar Market

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 01, 2020  /   Posted in solar, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)  /   No Comments

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Solar Advocates File Emergency Motion to Prevent Ameren from Devastating Illinois’ Solar Market

Chicago – Solar industry and Environmental groups today filed an emergency motion with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to prevent utility company Ameren from devastating rooftop solar in Southern and Central Illinois. Last week Ameren told the Commission it intends to eliminate fair compensation for the solar energy homeowners and families produce. Ameren would slash the credits solar customers receive for excess clean energy, a foundational policy known as “net metering,” as soon as October 1.

The abrupt move would cost the average residential solar customer hundreds of dollars per year, wiping out savings on energy bills and putting solar projects out of reach for many consumers. Ending the policy early impacts every new solar customer in Ameren territory as well as hundreds that have already committed to installing solar but now won’t receive the full savings they signed up for. Ameren’s move would disrupt the solar group purchasing programs currently being sponsored by municipalities and advocacy groups in Champaign-Urbana Carbondale, and several Metro East counties that were expected to drive numerous residents to purchase new solar systems during the month of October.

By suddenly reducing the value of rooftop solar, Ameren is also threatening jobs at Illinois’ independent solar businesses, which have already seen 3,500 jobs disappear this year alone due to a lack of funding in the state’s clean energy program and the impacts of COVID19.

“This move is contrary to Illinois’ commitment to creating jobs, protecting consumers and expanding clean energy, said Nakhia Morrissette, Central Region Director & Counsel for SEIA. “We’re calling on the ICC to fix it urgently before we lose more solar industry jobs.”

”Our employees and customers will be directly hurt if Ameren is allowed to pull the rug out from under our market,” said Shannon Fulton, VP of Development for StraightUp Solar in Bloomington, IL. “I hope the Commerce Commission understands that this is a threat to jobs and consumers’ pocketbooks in the middle of an economic crisis. We need them to take immediate action.”

Clean energy groups argue that Ameren is distorting Illinois statute in order to avoid its legal responsibility to fairly compensate rooftop solar and help Illinois meet its clean energy goals. In July, an ICC administrative law judge found that Ameren’s calculations on net metering limits were wrong and estimated they should continue paying customers the full value for their solar energy for at least 2 more years.

But on September 24th, the ICC issued a ruling that Ameren is using as justification to continue relying on its faulty calculations and end net metering years ahead of schedule.

“Right now, Illinois families in Ameren territory are unable to make a confident calculation of the value of investing in rooftop solar, stalling the industry and stymying consumer choice,” said John Delurey, Midwest Director at Vote Solar. “The consequences are especially dire for low-income families, who would no longer have access to the solar cost savings from the Illinois Solar for All program.”

“We’re calling on the Commission to act quickly and decisively to protect the state’s cornerstone net metering policy while it continues to develop new policies to fairly compensate rooftop solar customers for the significant value they provide to the electric grid,” said Brad Klein, Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, who helped prepare the legal filing.

The emergency filing was submitted to the ICC by the Solar Energy Industries Association, Illinois Solar Energy Association, Coalition for Community Solar Access, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Vote Solar.

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