At the Grid Edge for 2019

Clean Energy Works has championed innovations in finance that can accelerate investment for any cost effective grid edge solutions, including energy efficiency, clean transit, and solar power. While these distributed energy upgrades are growing more competitive by the day, deployment is still constrained by upfront cost barriers, and traditional financing remedies continue to systematically disqualify people based on socio-economic factors that affect political support for clean energy policy. This framing provided context to our work in 2018, which featured breakthroughs on multiple fronts where we aim to expand the landscape of opportunity in 2019.

 

International progress

In February, Clean Energy Works was selected by the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance to “pressure test” the concept of PAYS for Clean Transport. Led by Climate Policy Institute analysts, our working group conducted financial modelling and completed many stakeholder interviews which lead to the endorsement of the concept in September. Lab members from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Bank of America, WRI, and more, attended the endorsement event in New York City and we have leveraged their engagement into upcoming projects – moving the PAYS for Clean Transport from the Lab to the streets.

Our work with the Lab lead directly to a Design Funding Award at the end of October from Convergence, a global network for blended finance. This grant will allow Clean Energy Works to complete the necessary feasibility work to narrow down the pipeline of cities in Latin America to a candidate city for a first implementation project.

In addition to these long term projects, Holmes Hummel had the opportunity to engage with international stakeholders through sessions at the Global Climate Action Summit; C40’s CFFactory; Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative Clean Bus Finance Academy; the Global Pilot City Forum, part of the EV Initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial, hosted by International Energy Agency; and Innovate4Climate, hosted by the World Bank

 

U.S. engagements

In the United States, Clean Energy Works focused on key states with one to two cities with conditions that appeared well suited for introducing the PAYS for Clean Transport concept, in addition to continuing our work on energy efficiency building upgrades and explore new areas such as electric school buses and solar.

Clean Energy Works was invited by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) to publish for the first time the performance data of every inclusive financing program in the United States. Co-authored by the creator of the PAYS system, the paper entitled “What is inclusive financing, and why are some of the largest states seeking it now?” was presented to a standing-room only session at ACEEE Summer Study on Building Energy Efficiency.

This paper drew heavily on our work with rural electric cooperatives, and though Clean Energy Works has begun to focus more keenly on transportation, we were keen to continue to build on our relationships with rural electric cooperatives. Electrifying school buses is a way to fulfill both these goals. However, the technology was lacking as no bus manufacturers had yet produced electric school bus models. This changed in latter half of 2018 with ThomasBuilt in North Carolina partnering with Proterra in South Carolina to make dozens of electric buses for school districts in California. Roanoke Electric promptly expressed an interest in applying PAYS for Clean Transport to school buses, possibly on a faster time frame than even the fastest prospect for transit buses. With support from the Storer Foundation and the Flora Family Foundation, Clean Energy Works will work with Roanoke Electric on the electric school bus frontier and hope to have preliminary results in early 2019.

As part of our work financing grid edge solutions Clean Energy Works has also begun to explore inclusive financing as applied to solar. Clean Energy Works was part of a team lead by Groundswell that has been awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to support research that will rapidly accelerate community solar and energy efficiency access for low-income communities. Clean Energy Works and the creator of the PAYS system will work with the other grantees as well as Ouachita Electric Cooperative which will be testing the Solar PAYS concept.

In addition to our work on established and new inclusive financing projects, Clean Energy Works continues to undertake education and outreach to build awareness of this concept and engage stakeholders in the energy, environment, and equity fields. With the support of the Storer Foundation and the Flora Family Foundation, we worked with the Solutions Project to expand the number of foundations making grants to groups engaging electric cooperatives across rural America and develop a Funder Advisory Group with more than 30 foundations expressing interest in participation.

Equity continues to be a guiding focus for Clean Energy Works, and Holmes Hummel spoke on this theme at mainstage events during VERGE Hawaii  and VERGE 2018. Green Biz recognized Dr. Hummel’s contributions to this space with a spot in the VERGE Vanguard.

 

Entering 2019

With ongoing projects internationally and in the United States, in building energy efficiency upgrades, solar, electrification, and clean transportation, Clean Energy Works is poised for another great year in 2019. After a year of outreach and refining our model, we are looking forward to pursuing projects across the globe, and continuing to accelerate investments in an inclusive clean energy economy, where cost effective distributed energy solutions are accessible to all.

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