This is our future, I guess

Forcing utilities to stop fighting solar, one state at a time


Across the nation, electric utilities have been fighting solar installation as a threat to their monopoly on power. In 2019, Hawaii’s utility killed the solar net metering program, dramatically slowing installs, even though four years earlier the state’s legislature had passed the mandate to go to 100 renewable energy by 2045.

As Hawaii’s only coal plant is scheduled to shut down this September, state regulators belatedly realized they fucked up in deferring to the utility. Hawaii Electric was failing to get large-scale solar projects built and was planning to switch over to expensive oil-fired electricity and charge customers exorbitant rates. In a contentious utility hearing, Jay Griffin, chair of Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission, equated this plan to “going from cigarettes to crack.”

With the coal shutdown looming, Julian Spector reports, Hawaii’s electric utility is finally working with its solar community to speed up solar installations. “Specifically, these groups asked the state’s regulators earlier this month to approve a program to pay households an upfront cash bonus plus a monthly credit on their bills for adding a battery to their rooftop solar.”

Ka lā hiki ola!


IT’S NOT THE DROUGHT, IT’S THE DESERTIFICATION: Roger Revelle warned Congress in 1957 that the effect of fossil fuels on the climate would include turning southern California and a good part of Texas into real deserts.

And now, 65 years later, here we are: the American southwest is the driest it’s been in at least 1200 years, with no relief to come. Scientists Park Williams, Benjamin I. Cook, and Jason Smerdon have found that the exceptional drought in 2021 means this century’s southwestern megadrought now exceeds the late 1500s megadrought.

Don’t worry too much about the frackers, Lee Harris writes: “Vitol, the world’s biggest oil trader, distributed $2.9 billion to partners in just the first half of last year, averaging a $7 million bonus per partner.”

Today, the White House is unveiling the Buy Clean Task Force, with new federal procurement plans to buy greener steel, carbon, and other industrial materials that have a large carbon footprint.

Let’s get this green grid going! This afternoon, the House Climate Crisis committee has a star-studded panel on grid resiliency with policy experts Nancy Sutley, Karen Wayland, and Katherine Hamilton, and the progressive climate policy network Climate XChange has a webinar on federal funding opportunities for state climate programs with Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Joseph Kane, and Colleen Callahan.

Hearings on the Hill:

Climate Action Today:

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