Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Heising-Simons family have announced the launch of an initiative to help states transition to clean, reliable energy systems.
The Clean Energy Initiative will provide $48 million in grant funding to encourage utilities to adopt solar, wind, and LED technologies and help states take advantage of clean-energy technologies. More than half the funding will be directed to some two dozen state and local partners, including the Institute for Energy Innovation and the Respiratory Health Association, while additional funds will support national organizations such as the Center for the New Energy Economy, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The initiative also will fund research on grid optimization for different power types with the aim of boosting the efficiency of the grid and making it more robust. In addition, states will receive assistance in support of their efforts to implement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels. According to Bloomberg Philanthropies, state-based policies could help achieve efficiency savings and renewable energy capacity additions equivalent to the annual output of a hundred to a hundred and forty coal plants, or between 13 percent and 17 percent of the total electricity generated by power plants in the U.S.
The EPA proposal, which requires most states to clamp down on the burning of coal for power generation while encouraging greater use of natural gas, renewable power, and more efficient buildings and appliances, faces stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled Congress, the New York Times reports. However, the falling cost of renewable energy and the development of technologies that reduce demand for electricity are making it harder for utilities to stick with coal. Regardless of the fate of the Clean Power Plan, these and other factors will lead to fundamental changes in the way utilities operate, many energy analysts have concluded.
"The science on climate change makes it abundantly clear that carbon pollution poses a deep threat to society, to agriculture, and to nature — and that early action is required to avoid these threats," said Mark Heising, treasurer and secretary of the Heising-Simons Foundation. "New technologies ensure that the solutions to climate change can be cost-effective. This initiative is designed to accelerate those solutions."