At the federal level of government, environmental standards for power are being rolled back and regulation is being reduced as fossil fuels make a rebound. But, at the local levels of government, green energy is one of the hottest top priorities. City leaders, with great support from citizens, are moving aggressively to launch green energy projects.
Some are creating community solar gardens – centrally located solar power systems which allow individuals to subscribe and purchase energy credits. A few cities, St. Louis for example, have pledged to remove fossil fuels completely. The support for renewable energy has increased contracting opportunities exponentially.
Five U.S. cities have switched to 100 percent renewable power over the past decade. Aspen, Colorado; Greensburg, Kansas; Burlington, Vermont; Kodiak Island, Alaska; and Rock Port, Missouri, are leaders in renewable energy commitments. And, in just this past year, 46 more cities committed to using only clean power sources.
Solar and wind power are projected to become the cheapest sources of electricity by 2030 and as city leaders embrace sustainability, even more renewable energy projects will be launched. The contracting opportunities will open doors for firms that specialize in planning, consulting, professional services, financial assistance, construction, engineering and technology.
Projects related to renewable energy will be much easier to fund because there are numerous sources of revenue. One attractive source is green bonds, which were created by Congress to encourage environmentally friendly projects. Green bonds not only attract outside investors but they also keep projects accountable because of the metrics they require. This month, California’s Trinity Public Utilities District issued a $20.37 million green bond to finance the conversion of 100 percent of its electricity to hydro-electric power. Contractors may want to check this out.
Hawaii’s Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP) for Hawaiian Electric will offer opportunities as it implements renewable energy over the next five years. Hawaii has already released drafts of proposed RFPs for market feedback. The state expects to start a procurement process in 2018 for three projects but there will be many more.
City leaders at Wolcott, Vermont, are discussing plans to convert a former landfill into a solar power array. The community plans to lease the land to a private company for 25 years in exchange for development of a solar panel site. Early studies estimate the site could produce half a megawatt of energy per hour which will be used locally. Planners hope to solicit bids in the very near future.
New York’s Green Bank announced last week that it will seek $1 billion in additional private-sector funding in order to expand the number of clean energy projects that can be launched. The bank is a mechanism for third party entities like pension funds and insurance companies to invest in sustainable infrastructure projects. It will issue an RFP by the end of the year for advisory services to evaluate options for structuring and facilitating the financial request.
Ocean City, Maryland, is moving forward with a billion-dollar plan to construct 140 wind turbines. The wind turbines would sit just 14 miles off the coast and would generate 120 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power 35,000 homes. The city will seek an environmental impact study and expects to launch the project in 2020. Illinois Power Agency (IPA) released a long-term resources procurement plan. It allocates $650 million for renewable energy credits to be purchased through 2021. The plan also outlined the competitive procurement of yearly renewable energy credits, which are issued when one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity is generated and delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy resource. The state will purchase 200,000 solar energy RECs annually and the goal is to reduce 25 percent of the retail electricity sales by 2025.
Companies that offer solutions to renewable energy projects should be ecstatic about a marketplace that is literally exploding. Citizens and taxpayers should also be happy because projects like this will reduce costs, provide clean air and ensure sustainability for decades.