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The best policies to help coal towns weather the switch to renewables

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Monday, October 3, 2022

In the face of competition from cheaper and cleaner sources of energy, coal mines and plants have been shutting down across the U.S. for the past decade. “We’ve lost 45,000 coal [mining] jobs since 2012,” said Jeremy Richardson, manager of the carbon-free electricity program at RMI, a clean-energy think tank. The energy transition “is already happening.” (Canary Media is an independent affiliate of RMI.) For towns living through this transition, it can be devastating. Coal workers lose well-paying jobs, and communities lose a bedrock of their economies. How communities weather these choppy seas depends on the level of support they receive, which varies from state to state. That’s one of the takeaways of a new report by RMI, which analyzed 16 bills passed by states since 2011, all aimed at easing the transition away from fossil fuels and into the clean energy economy. The report’s findings enable lawmakers to learn from what has been done before to support a just transition for coal communities, Richardson told Canary Media. Three states in particular stand out for their policies, according to Richardson: Colorado, New Mexico and Illinois. Here’s what they’re getting right. Colorado: Office of Just Transition In 2019, Colorado passed a bill to create a “groundbreaking” office dedicated solely to supporting coal communities, Richardson said. The first in the nation, the Office of Just Transition put together a roadmap, the Colorado Just Transition Action Plan, which clearly lays out the steps it would take to help communities transition their economies away from coal. This includes funding, which the office has started distributing this year, for specific economic development projects such as business parks and outdoor recreation. Proposed by Democrats, the office wasn’t a popular idea across the aisle. Republicans initially balked at the legislation and refused to support it when it passed in 2019. But with grant money going to their communities, some have since changed their minds — and their votes, with some Republicans now backing boosts to the office’s funding. The concept has gained traction, even in the top coal-producing states, West Virginia and Wyoming. However, bills in those states were significantly altered between when they were introduced to their final votes, and they ultimately failed to pass. “Those bills didn't go anywhere,” Richardson said — but it’s encouraging that even in states where talk of coal closure has historically been political poison, lawmakers are starting to have these conversations. In Colorado, a 2021 law enables the state’s Office of Just Transition to provide immediate relief to workers and their families. It can test “innovative coal transition work support programs,” which could potentially include temporary wage replacement or “differentials” (payments to make up for the difference between their current and former job salaries) for three years, according to Richardson. To shore up a town’s tax base — the majority of which may have been generated by the coal industry — the state also requires utilities to file plans that show how they’ll compensate governments in the wake of coal industry closures and lost tax revenue. Xcel Energy, for instance, will continue to pay property taxes to the city and county of Pueblo through 2040 to compensate for shutting down Comanche Generating Station in 2031, decades ahead of schedule. New Mexico: Just transition funds New Mexico passed the Energy Transition Act in 2019, which, according to Richardson, stands out for creating dedicated pools of funding. These are allocated for the economic development of impacted communities, assistance for displaced workers and support for tribal communities, totaling $40 million. As the RMI report states, recognizing tribal communities is important because they “must recover from not only coal plant closure but also a historical legacy of dispossession and disinvestment.” Richardson said that New Mexico was “one of the first states really to say, ‘Look, we're going to actually try to invest in the places that are going to be harmed by the shift away from coal.’” The state’s legislation also authorized $30 million for coal plant decommissioning and reclamation costs, though the timeline for implementing the law is unclear. However, when the funds do materialize, they will come from the financial wizardry of securitization — a process akin to refinancing a mortgage such that early closure of expensive coal plants results in savings. That savings can be passed on to workers, communities and utility customers. When the New Mexico legislation was enacted, securitization proposals had to be authorized at the state level. But the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act has essentially made the tool available nationally, according to Richardson. The climate law creates the new Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment Program in the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office. The new program allows utilities to apply for low-interest loans, guaranteed by the Loan Programs Office, to retire fossil plants early and invest in clean energy. The program can also finance coal site remediation, bolstering an area where state legislation has often been weak, according to RMI’s report. Illinois: Centering workers and environmental justice communities In September 2021, Illinois passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, a law backed by labor and climate justice groups. It included especially powerful provisions for displaced workers and what the state classifies as “environmental justice communities” that have borne the brunt of fossil fuel pollution. The Illinois legislation created an $80-million-a-year program for clean-energy job training hubs that prioritize displaced energy workers, residents of environmental justice communities, and underserved or disadvantaged individuals, including people who have been incarcerated or in the foster care system. To help ensure the programs lead to employment, the law requires that developers of renewable energy projects hire a workforce that consists of at least 10 percent displaced coal workers and underserved groups. It increases that proportion up to 30 percent by 2030. Moreover, the law stipulates that workers at utility-scale renewables projects be paid prevailing wages and have protections under project labor agreements. The law also calls for the state to partner with community-based organizations to get the word out and recruit for these clean energy worker-training programs. The act includes other just-transition policies that hit common pain points. It stipulates that coal plant owners give more notice of mass layoffs, raising the federally required minimum of 60 days to two years. That’s meant to give workers and communities more time to seek assistance. Illinois is also the only state so far that has tried to address the cultural dislocation of the energy transition, according to the report. Its legislation created a grant program that can be used, for example, for counseling services or projects that commemorate a community’s coal legacy — a source of pride that can span generations. “Illinois is probably the most comprehensive of any of the states” in its just-transition policy measures, said Richardson. A high bar for just transition policy Besides comparing existing transition policies, the RMI team also laid out what an ideal policy could look like, proposing a three-part strategy that tackles the problems that transitioning coal communities face over time — immediately in the wake of coal closures, in the short term and in the long term. Immediately, workers and their families need relief, including temporary wage replacement and stopgap benefits, for example. “We don't have a strong safety net in the United States; you lose your health insurance and your retirement benefits when you lose your job,” Richardson said. Local governments similarly need support to recover tax revenue lost when coal operations shut down. In the short term, coal sites need to be cleaned up and reclaimed so that they can support future economic development, said Richardson. Coal ash ponds contaminated with toxic heavy metals can leach into groundwater if they’re unlined, abandoned or otherwise mismanaged, presenting a health hazard that’s also a liability for developers. “Who wants to invest in a community where the drinking water is poisoned? Why would you buy the property and try to do something with it?” said Richardson. “You need comprehensive cleanup to set your community up for success.” And in the long term, communities need well-coordinated, sustained funding to revitalize their economies post-coal. “Economic development and diversification, to be successful, take decades,” Richardson said. “It just really takes committed and robust funding.” Ambitious policy that truly supports coal communities isn’t necessarily politically palatable in every state. But lawmakers can still take small steps and build momentum for these measures over time, Richardson said. He again cited the example of Colorado, where the Office of Just Transition garnered increasing bipartisan buy-in over the course of just a couple of years, he said. For state lawmakers looking to help their own communities transition, Richardson said, “Start at the place where the politics of your legislature will let you start.” It could be the seed that impacted workers and communities need.

In the face of competition from cheaper and cleaner sources of energy, coal mines and plants have been shutting down across the U.S. for the past decade. “We’ve lost 45,000 coal [mining] jobs since 2012,” said Jeremy Richardson, manager of the carbon-free electricity program at RMI, a clean-energy think tank. The…

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Despite tribal objections, work resumes on $10B renewable energy transmission project

It's back to work for construction crews that are clearing land and building access roads for a $10 billion project that the Biden administration describes as an important part of the nation's transition to renewable energy. Federal land managers briefly halted work on the SunZia transmission line in southwestern Arizona earlier this month after Native American tribes raised concerns about the destruction of culturally sensitive sites.

The tractors are back at work clearing land and building access roads for a $10 billion transmission line that the Biden administration describes as an important part of the nation’s transition to renewable energy. But Native American leaders have vowed to keep pushing the federal government to heed their concerns about the project cutting through a culturally significant valley in southern Arizona.Billed by California-based developer Pattern Energy as an infrastructure undertaking bigger than the Hoover Dam, the SunZia transmission line will stretch about 550 miles (885 kilometers). It will funnel electricity from massive wind farms in central New Mexico to more populated areas as far away as California.Executives and federal officials gathered in New Mexico in September to break ground on the project, touting negotiations that spanned years and resulted in the necessary approvals from the Bureau of Land Management.In Arizona, federal land managers briefly halted work this month along a 50-mile (80-kilometer) stretch of the line through the San Pedro Valley after the Tohono O’odham Nation, other tribes and archaeologists raised concerns that the BLM had not formally consulted them before work began.The Bureau of Land Management lifted the temporary suspension and work resumed Wednesday. The agency scheduled a Dec. 11 meeting with tribal leaders.Federal land managers in a letter sent Monday to the developer said the timing of the information provided by the tribes relative to the many years that have gone into planning and permitting did not support pausing work. The agency noted that the right of way through the valley was issued in 2015.“The SunZia transmission line project is an important part of transitioning our nation to a clean energy economy by creating jobs, lowering energy costs and boosting local economies, and the BLM is committed to implementing it with as little impact as possible,” agency spokesman Brian Hires said in a statement.The BLM said it had met with tribal representatives during the pause and that it would work with tribes to evaluate whether the valley could be classified as a traditional cultural property while mitigating effects from the transmission line on cultural and archaeological sites. The agency said it has not received information on any additional cultural sites beyond those previously identified.Tohono O’odham Chairman Verlon M. Jose said he was disappointed but not surprised that the federal government opted to move ahead before meeting its obligation to consult with the tribes.“It’s more than a slap in the face. It’s a punch to the gut,” he said during an interview Wednesday. “They reversed course and allowed construction to continue before the meeting could actually take place. You know, it is difficult to describe this decision as anything other than acting in bad faith.”Jose said bulldozers have been clearing roads and pads for the massive towers that will support the high-voltage lines so damage already has been done to land that contains what he described as a high concentration of sacred sites. He said tribal members are frustrated.“This means a lot to us,” he said of the rolling hills and mountains that make up the region. “There has not been true, meaningful consultation on this — all these years. And if we had worked together to address these issues, I’m sure we could have mitigated the concerns here.”He added that the Tohono O’odham people have cultural and traditional responsibilities that call for them to care for the land and for people. As part of that, he said the tribe supports efforts to address climate change but insisted that development needs to be done in such a way that cultural and historic sites are given appropriate consideration under federal laws and regulations.Like Jose, other tribal leaders have complained that the federal government often treats the consultation process as a check-the-box practice despite promises by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland that tribes would have a seat at the table. From Nevada and New Mexico to Alaska, permitting decisions over mining projects and oil and development for example have highlighted what some tribal leaders say are shortcomings in the process.Developers of the SunZia project argue that they have worked with tribes over the years and surveys were done to identify cultural resources in the San Pedro Valley.Natalie McCue, Pattern Energy’s assistant vice president for environmental and permitting activities, said the company will continue to support the consultation process between the federal government and tribes and will adopt mitigation measures that might result from the talks.More than a decade in the making, SunZia’s line would be capable of transporting more than 3,500 megawatts of new wind power to 3 million people in the West. It’s expected to begin commercial service in 2026.In New Mexico, the route was modified after the U.S. Defense Department raised concerns about the effects of the high-voltage lines on radar systems and military training operations. Environmentalists also were worried about impacts on wildlife habitat and migratory bird flight patterns in the Rio Grande Valley.There are similar ecological concerns in the San Pedro Valley. The transmission line is at the heart of a legal challenge pending before the Arizona Court of Appeals over whether state regulatory officials there properly considered the benefits and consequences of the project.__By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN Associated Press

Madras High seniors look at clean-energy careers through Green Ladders program

The central Oregon high school holds a family night to introduce families to the program, as well as help them learn ways to lower heating bills.

Madras High School seniors have been learning about working in the clean-energy sector through the Green Ladders program, which is organized by the climate-activism organization 350Deschutes.Through classes, lectures and trade fairs, organizers hope to share career opportunities with youth who may have not had any idea that they existed.“These students are motivated to work, and they’re already working,” said Diane Hodiak, executive director and co-founder of 350Deschutes. “Youth should have the opportunity to learn.”These are the kinds of entry jobs that students can do at age 18, with training but without a four-year college degree, said Hodiak.HERE IS OREGON: | Instagram | YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | TikTokMadras High held a family night Thursday to introduce families to the Green Ladders program and clean-energy careers, as well as help them learn ways to lower their heating bills by installing a heat pump.The Pacific Power Foundation was instrumental in starting the program, said Hodiak, through a Community Enhancement and Environmental Respect grant from the foundation. The Energy Trust of Oregon is also supporting the program.Students have been introduced to jobs such as designing solar installations, installing wind turbines and working as HVAC technicians or solar analysts. 350Deschutes has been working with students for the past few years, said Hodiak, but only got classes started this year.The first class, held in September, asked students to check their own homes for drafts and what types of energy they were using for heating and cooling systems. The high school hosted four classes this semester, with around 25 students participating in the first one, said Samantha Loza, college and career coordinator at Madras High School.Loza originally heard about the program last year. This year, once it was officially off the ground, she began inviting students she thought would be interested, including students in environmental science, members of the environmental club and senior Alice Belgarde.“I didn’t realize what the careers were,” said Belgarde. “I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t been pulled in, but I’m thinking more about it.”Experts came in to talk about renewable energy and wind energy, as well as discuss jobs in the clean energy field. Loza said Monday that she expected 12 students for the final class on Thursday.“Being able to apply (the material) to their lives and households helps,” said Loza.The Green Ladders program is encouraging students to attend the Central Oregon Skilled Trades Fair, run through the High Desert Educational Service District. Teachers and students were also invited to attend 350Deschutes’ Go Clean Energy Conference.Hodiak said she was excited to help high schoolers think of their future.— Noemi Arellano-Summer,, 541-383-0325

Leaked document says US is willing to build energy projects in case Snake River dams are breached

The U.S. government is willing to help build enough new clean energy projects in the Pacific Northwest to replace the hydropower generated by four controversial dams on the Snake River, according to a leaked Biden administration document.

The U.S. government is willing to help build enough new clean energy projects in the Pacific Northwest to replace the hydropower generated by four controversial dams on the Snake River, according to a leaked Biden administration document that is giving hope to conservationists who have long sought the removal of the dams as a key to restoring depleted salmon runs.Still, Congress would have to agree before any of the Lower Snake River dams in Washington state are removed, and that’s unlikely to happen in the near future.The document is a draft agreement to uphold 168-year-old treaties with four tribes in the Pacific Northwest that preserved their right to harvest fish in the river, among other things.The Columbia River Basin was once the greatest salmon-producing river system in the world, with at least 16 stocks of salmon and steelhead, according to the document. But today, four are extinct and seven are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Conservationists say dams built in the basin are primarily to blame.Conservation groups and tribes sued the federal government in an effort to save the struggling fisheries, and both sides notified the court earlier this fall they were close to reaching an agreement that could put the the lawsuit on hold. They have until mid-December to submit an agreement.Amanda Goodin, a lawyer for the environmental group Earthjustice, which is representing a coalition of environmental, fishing, and renewable energy groups in the litigation, said their goal throughout the mediation has been to prevent the extinction of salmon, restore the ecosystem and replace the energy provided by the dams.“We hope to be able to say on Dec. 15 we’ve achieved that goal, but if we can’t reach that goal or discussions fall apart, we will be prepared to resume litigation on Dec. 15,” she said in a statement. Due to confidentiality rules, she said they would not discuss the specifics of the draft agreement.In civil cases, mediation talks are generally confidential, but Washington state Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Republican, included a link to the draft agreement in a press release Wednesday. Newhouse has opposed breaching the dams, saying they are essential for agriculture, flood control and transportation as well as electricity.“It is imperative that our constituents, whose livelihoods depend on the Columbia River System, have a comprehensive understanding of this document’s contents so they can anticipate and prepare for the wide-ranging impacts that will inevitably be felt across the region should the commitments detailed in this document be realized,” Newhouse and three other Republican representatives — Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Cliff Bentz of Oregon, and Russ Fulcher of Idaho — wrote to President Joe Biden.The draft agreement says the government will help plan and pay for tribes in the Pacific Northwest to develop enough clean energy resources to serve as replacement power for the lower Snake River dams, whether or not Congress authorizes dam removal.The draft also includes billions of dollars in funding for analyzing the region’s energy needs, improving transportation infrastructure, making the power grid more resilient and restoring salmon, steelhead and other native fish runs in the Columbia River basin. Oregon and Washington would be partners in the effort along with the four tribes and the federal government.There has been growing recognition across the U.S. that the harms some dams cause to fish outweigh their usefulness. Dams on the Elwha River in Washington state and the Klamath River along the Oregon-California border have been or are being removed.The Yakama Nation and the Nez Perce Tribe declined to comment on the document, while the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation was not immediately available for comment and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs did not respond to a request for comment.Alyssa Roberts, spokesperson for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the negotiations are ongoing.“As part of the court-approved confidential mediation with Tribes, States, and other parties to develop a long-term, durable path forward, the U.S. Government is developing a package of actions and commitments that we are discussing with all parties involved in the mediation,” she said in a statement.Utility and business groups Northwest RiverPartners, the Public Power Council and the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association called the draft agreement the “greatest threat” for the region in a joint statement released Wednesday, saying dam breaching would hurt the region’s ports and farmers and could raise electricity prices.“This proposal turns its back on over three million electricity customers as well as the farming, transportation, navigation, and economic needs of the region,” the groups wrote.The pros and cons of dam-breaching have been debated for years, but only a few lawmakers in the region have embraced the idea.In 2021 Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho proposed removing the earthen berms on either side of the four Lower Snake River dams to let the river flow freely, and to spend $33 billion to replace the benefits of the dams for agriculture, energy and transportation.Last year, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington U.S. Sen. Patty Murray released a report saying carbon-free electricity produced by the dams must be replaced before they are breached. Eliminating the dams would also dramatically change the way farmers in Idaho and Washington and Oregon transport their crops, forcing them to rely on truck and rail transportation instead.The town of Lewiston, Idaho, is home to the most inland seaport on the West Coast, and many farmers in the region rely on barges to ship their crops, while others use rail. Other lawmakers — including Idaho Rep. Mike Crapo and Sen. Jim Risch and Montana Rep. Steve Daines — have argued that the government should find ways besides dam breaching to save the fish.In October, Biden directed federal agencies to use all available resources to restore abundant salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin, but Biden’s memo stopped short of calling for the removal of the dams.The Lower Granite, Ice Harbor, Little Goose and Lower Monumental dams were built in the mid-1900s. On average, the four dams produce about 1,000 MW of power throughout the year, though they can produce as much as 2,200 MW during peak energy demand, according to the non-profit NW Energy Coalition. Roughly $17 billion in infrastructure improvements, some of it forced by litigation, has done little to restore the fish to historical levels.

Nickel Ore Processing Plant That Will Supply Tesla Strikes Deal to Spend $115M in Federal Funds

Developers of a proposed nickel ore processing plant in North Dakota that would supply electric automaker Tesla have reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Energy on how to spend nearly $115 million the federal agency awarded the project last year

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Developers of a proposed nickel ore processing plant in North Dakota that would supply electric automaker Tesla have reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Energy on how to spend nearly $115 million the federal agency awarded the project last year.The recent agreement was the result of over a year of negotiations to determine how the money would be doled out to Talon Metals, the Bismarck Tribune reported Friday.The federal funding will be made available at various stages, including once the company receives the necessary permits to build and operate the processing plant in Mercer County, Todd Malan, chief external affairs officer and head of climate strategy at Talon, told the Tribune. The company already has been able to access some of the funds for planning, permitting and site work, he said.Talon plans to site the processing plant in a relatively dry part of North Dakota to reduce land disturbances and possible water pollution near the proposed mine. The decision also simplifies the complicated permitting process in Minnesota.“We understand that in trying to produce nickel for national security and battery supply chain reasons people don’t want to see us hurt the environment either; our big thing is we don’t think it’s a choice,” Malan told the newspaper. “We think we can do both, and create good union jobs in North Dakota and Minnesota, but we certainly have alternative sources of supply if the permitting process in Minnesota takes longer than we anticipate.”The mine has already encountered opposition from environmental groups and tribes worried about impacts on water and other resources such as wild rice. The sulfide-bearing ore can release harmful pollutants including sulfuric acid and heavy metals when exposed to water and air.Two other Minnesota mining proposals have encountered stiff resistance for similar reasons. The proposed NewRange mine, formerly known as PolyMet, remains delayed by legal and regulatory setbacks. And President Joe Biden's administration has tried to kill outright the proposed Twin Metals mine because of its proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

South Africa and renewable energy: a 12-year-old programme offers insights for countries moving to cleaner power sources

South Africa’s experience with renewable energy procurement provides valuable insights - what to and not to do - about management of the climate transition. The post South Africa and renewable energy: a 12-year-old programme offers insights for countries moving to cleaner power sources appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.

There are many unknowns about how societies will manage the climate transition. And the associated energy transition from fossil fuel-based energy to renewable energy. The climate transition will require significant levels of investment – estimated at US$1 trillion a year in developing markets, excluding China. This raises important questions about the mix of public and private sector investments; whether to subsidise private sector investment; how to regulate private ownership; and how to make affordable energy available to all citizens. The speed of technological change and the uncertainty about future policies makes it hard to answer these questions. But countries that have put their toe in the water offer clues. South Africa is one of them. It developed a process for renewable energy procurement 12 years ago. The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme is still considered a pathbreaker. Many have seen it as a blueprint because of its success in attracting investment by independent power producers. Without investments under the programme, the country’s electricity supply problems and power cuts would have been much worse. The experience of the last 12 years therefore provides valuable insights about policy for the future. In a recent paper we reviewed the programme. We identified barriers and blind spots that have hindered South Africa from ramping up renewable energy generation at scale and speed. We also found that the stop-start nature of the programme held back local production of new renewable technologies. And low risks for private investors did not trigger the required acceleration in the energy transition. This was related to the slow pace of government processes and the private sector’s inability to meet certain developmental obligations. Based on our findings we point to ways to get closer to the country’s key targets. These include increased capacity, decarbonisation, local development, and addressing energy poverty among lower-income households. We highlight the possibilities for an investment-centred approach in which an energy transition serves the public interest and balances competing interests. Those interests include sustainable security of electricity supply, returns to investors, improvements to local manufacturing, affordable pricing, and social needs. In this approach there is appropriate government regulation of private investment alongside public investments that focus on building a low-carbon economy and prioritising climate justice. A boost for renewable energy investment The government started the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme in 2011. The aim was to secure power supply and diversify the energy mix. Since then, bidding rounds (reverse auctions) have been conducted for specified types and capacities of power generation technologies. Winners received 20-year agreements, guaranteed by the government, to buy the power. They had to meet obligations related to local content and local development. There have been six bidding rounds. Over R200 billion (almost US$11 billion) has been invested for the construction of renewable energy. This has brought more than 6.2GW of power generating capacity to the grid. (The total grid capacity is estimated to be 58GW.) Barriers and blind spots The local content requirements failed to boost local production of renewable energy technologies. South African renewable energy producers were, in many instances, simply unable to compete with global producers on costs and scale. Delays in the timing of the bid processes caused knock-on delays and disruptions. Some manufacturing companies that supplied parts for renewable power stations had to shut down as a result. Some private investors preferred to negotiate their own off-take agreements and avoid local development obligations. Financing has been skewed by the government taking on too much risk. However private investors earned very high profits, especially in earlier bidding rounds. The analysis also showed foreign investors taking an increasing role in bidding rounds. Transnational investment accounted for 69.5% of projects. The least common type of investment was localised renewable energy ownership, at 30.5% of projects. Debt finance for these projects was usually from national or development banks. We also considered the impact of rising costs of electricity in the energy transition. We observed a new pattern of supply and demand. As electricity fed from the grid becomes more expensive and unstable, wealthier households are getting off the grid and using privately funded renewables. This leaves a smaller pool of customers to bear the costs of maintaining the national system. This private investment is reducing scheduled power cuts, but it may be increasing energy poverty – lack of access to energy and more household income shifted to pay energy bills. And it has a negative impact on health, wellbeing, overall quality of life and equality. The programme took some of the risk out of renewable energy at a time when the technology was new and there was uncertainty in the market. This was a useful first step to support investment. But a de-risking approach has not triggered an acceleration of the energy transition that is required globally to reduce emissions and prevent disastrous climate impacts. It also exposes the country to global financial shocks. Our analysis suggests that it’s short-sighted to see the government’s role purely as reducing risk for private investors. It places too much risk on the government and taxpayers. ALSO READ: Africa’s new online foreign exchange system will enable cross-border payments in local currencies – what you need to know What needs to be done We argue that an investment-centred approach would be more appropriate, particularly for South Africa and other low- and middle-income countries. Most are grappling with the energy transition while also needing to address their industrialisation, development goals, unemployment and inequality. An investment-centred approach to decarbonisation calls for state-directed and regulated investment and industrial policy. Next steps for the renewable energy procurement programme: Update regulations to account for a more liberalised electricity market. Explore opportunities that focus on local development. A regional bidders round could develop renewable energy projects in provinces where there is no renewable energy at present, but where there is grid capacity. Lessons for the energy transition: fund research and development for low-carbon technologies make support for private entities conditional, and monitor it promote energy efficiency, recycling and reduction of environmental harm in all sectors consider the broader impact of climate policy on the economy, particularly as it relates to employment, livelihoods and equitable access to basic services An investment-centred approach to decarbonisation requires a capable, transparent and accountable state. The government’s lack of coordination across state entities and a lack of commitment to one vision means a misalignment persists between sustainable economy objectives and other policies and priorities. These changes should flow into integrated regulation, energy planning, industrial policy and policy more broadly. Aalia Cassim writes in her personal capacity Aalia Cassim, Visiting Researcher, Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, University of the Witwatersrand; Imraan Valodia, Pro Vice-Chancellor: Climate, Sustainability and Inequality and Director: Southern Centre for Inequality Studies., University of the Witwatersrand; Julia Taylor, Researcher: Climate and Inequality, University of the Witwatersrand, and Rod Crompton, Visiting Adjunct Professor, African Energy Leadership Centre, Wits Business School, University of the Witwatersrand This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. The post South Africa and renewable energy: a 12-year-old programme offers insights for countries moving to cleaner power sources appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.

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