The Dernogalizer

November 17, 2010

New FHA PowerSaver Program to offer low-cost clean energy financing

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:15 am
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Ever since the PACE clean energy financing program was strangled by the lovely Fannie and Freddie, money originally slated to be loaned out by states, counties, and municipalities to residents was stopped, but it looks as though the federal government is trying to jump-start a new and similar program that avoids the problems of PACE, and still delivers results.  Lets hope the pilot-program goes well!  press release

New FHA PowerSaver Program to offer low-cost financing to credit-worthy borrowers

WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced a new pilot program that will offer credit-worthy borrowers low-cost loans to make energy-saving improvements to their homes. Backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), these new FHA PowerSaver loans will offer homeowners up to $25,000 to make energy-efficient improvements of their choice, including the installation of insulation, duct sealing, doors and windows, HVAC systems, water heaters, solar panels, and geothermal systems.

HUD and FHA developed PowerSaver as part of the Recovery Through Retrofit initiative launched in May 2009 by Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force to develop federal actions that would expand green job opportunities in the United States and boost energy savings by improving home energy efficiency. The announcement is part of an 18-month-long interagency effort facilitated by White House Council on Environmental Quality with the Office of the Vice President, 11 departments and agencies and six White House offices.

Vice President Biden said, “The initiatives announced today are putting the Recovery Through Retrofitreport’s recommendations into action – giving American families the tools they need to invest in home energy upgrades. Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle class families save money and energy.”

“HUD and FHA are committed to lowering the cost and expanding the availability of affordable financing for home energy retrofits,” said Secretary Donovan. “PowerSaver will help more homeowners afford common sense, cost saving improvements to their homes, and will create jobs for contractors, installers and energy auditors across the country.”

More homeowners are interested in making their homes energy efficient, according to industry forecasts. Yet options are still limited for financing home energy improvements, especially for the many homeowners who are unable to take out a home equity loan or access an affordable consumer loan. HUD today published a notice seeking the participation of a limited number of mortgage lenders in the two-year pilot program slated to begin in early 2011.

“PowerSaver provides lenders with a new product option to serve a potentially growing market,” said David H. Stevens, FHA Commissioner. “We believe there are a number of lenders who will be interested in working with us to help save energy and money for homeowners, while creating jobs and cutting greenhouse gas emissions”

Lenders will be selected to participate in the PowerSaver pilot based on their capacity and commitment to provide affordable home energy improvement financing. Lenders will be required to serve communities that have already taken affirmative steps to expand home energy improvements. HUD will help lenders identify such markets – which exist in many suburban, rural and urban areas across the country.

PowerSaver loans will be backed by the FHA – but with significant “skin in the game” from private lenders. FHA mortgage insurance will cover up to 90 percent of the loan amount in the event of default. Lenders will retain the remaining risk on each loan, incentivizing responsible underwriting and lending standards. FHA will provide streamlined insurance claims payment procedures onPowerSaver loans. In addition, lenders may be eligible for incentive grant payments from FHA to enhance benefits to borrowers, such as lowering interest rates.

“Home energy retrofits are good investments that save families money,” said Ginnie Mae President Ted Tozer. “As the financing arm of HUD, we are proud to support this important home-improvement segment of the housing market and look forward to working with lenders and FHA to develop appropriate secondary market options.”

PowerSaver has been carefully designed to meet a need in the marketplace for borrowers who have the ability and motivation to take on modest additional debt to realize the savings over time from a home energy improvement. PowerSaver loans are only available to borrowers with good credit, manageable overall debt and at least some equity in their home (maximum 100% combined loan to value).

To read the full text of FHA’s notice, visit HUD’s website.



October 26, 2010

Repower America’s Smart Use of Online Media

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:47 pm
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Photo from Repower America blog

I love this move by the new media people over at Repower America.  They’ve bought up a bunch of websites that say “Yes on Prop 23” which then redirect visitors to a website explaining why Prop 23 is a bad for California’s clean energy economy.  Below is a repost of their announcement of this great tactic.

The backers of the Yes on Proposition 23 campaign in California have plenty of reasons to be embarrassed:

· Their key talking points are based on lies.
· An overwhelming majority of their funding comes from oil and coal companies.
· Some of their key organizers are actually proud to be funded by out-of-state oil companies.
· Their advertisements are designed to mislead Californians.

Even more embarrassing is the fact that their entire campaign is based on a falsehood. While the Yes on 23 campaign claims that the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 is harmful to the economy, they’ve got it completely backward: clean energy solutions that help solve the climate crisis are actually beneficial to California’s economy. To help them out, the Climate Protection Action Fund has developed some new websites the Yes on Prop 23 campaign may want to consider directing their supporters to:


The new Yes on Prop. 23 sites read, “This is really embarrassing. We’ve just realized that Prop. 23 is a bad idea. It turns out you can solve the climate crisis and create jobs at the same time.”



October 19, 2010

No on Prop 23 Battle Gets Big Boost from James Cameron, Google

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:49 pm
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The No on Prop 23 battle being waged in California against the oil industry sponsored initiative to gut California’s global warming law is very fascinating.  While environmentalists and their organizations are fighting tooth and nail, the clean tech industry in California has grown to be a formidable foe to the fossil fuel industry.  They are matching big oil dollar for dollar, and then some!  Hopefully as the clean energy industry grows in other states, it will gain the kind of influence we’re seeing in California…an influence that can stand toe to toe with the fossil fuel special industry.  A recent poll shows voters are 45-34 in opposition!  The campaign to stop Prop 23 received a nice boost of recent, according to Todd Woody on Grist…

“Since Thursday, the No on 23 forces have raised more than $7.3 million as the Silicon Valley-Hollywood-environmental-industrial complex revved up for the final push before Election Day on Nov. 2.

The Yes campaign’s take since Thursday? $10,000.”

“Avatar director James Cameron attracted the most attention with his $1 million donation on Friday. But Gordon Moore, the legendary co-founder of chip giant Intel, also dropped $1 million into the No coffers that day, and so did Pacific Gas & Electric ($250,000), California’s largest utility and a leading proponent of climate change legislation. Google co-founder Sergey Brin also donated $200,000 on Thursday, and an organization of Silicon Valley tech companies contributed $125,000.

On Tuesday, a group of some 66 investors controlling more than $400 billion in assets are scheduled to hold a press conference to announce their opposition to Prop 23.

In the meantime, national environmental groups and non-profits continued to pour cash into the No campaign last week. The National Wildlife Federation contributed $3 million on Friday. ClimateWorks Foundation, a San Francisco non-profit, gave $900,000. New York’s Rockefeller Family Fund kicked in $300,000 on Thursday and the Natural Resources Defense Council, a top No on 23 donor, added $300,000 more Friday.”

Want to help?

  1. Visit the “No on 23″ website, learn the facts & sign up:
  2. Educate yourself on how California’s climate & energy laws have created companies & jobs:
  3. Tell your friends by email, on Facebook, at work, & everywhere else.
  4. Participate in the debate. Write letters to the editor and post comments on blogs & websites.
  5. Contribute (click here). The other side’s leader, right-wing California Assemblyman Dan Logue, has publicly said he expects the oil companies to spend $50 million.

October 5, 2010

Obama is going Solar! (and so is California)

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 7:16 pm
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The President continues an impressive green October by announcing solar panels will be placed on the White House to supply part of the electricity, and heat the water.  This is nice symbolic move from the President.  An even better move which won’t get as much PR is the administration’s approval of the first ever solar projects on public lands.  Below is an e-mail from Bill McKibben announcing the good news about the White House.  Bill’s organization has been pushing the Obama Administration to put solar on the White House as part of the 10/10/10 initiative.  Below Bill’s e-mail is the press release from the Department of the Interior on the new solar in California.  Keep it up Obama (more…)

October 2, 2010

A Green Start to Obama’s Month

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:42 pm
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Between heightened fuel economy standards, a Presidential Proclamation making this National Energy Awareness Month, and a clean energy weekly address, the Obama administration appears to be pushing the green theme in October.  Why?  There is some chatter and hope that Obama is gearing up for a 2011 climate push, although the success of such a push largely depends on who controls Congress after the midterms.

September 24, 2010

World’s Largest Wind Farm Opens off UK Coast

Filed under: energy — Matt Dernoga @ 11:22 am
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Spanning a site as large as 4,000 football fields, England has gotten the world’s largest wind farm spinning.  The farm can power up to 200,000 homes, and produce 300 MW of electricity and operate for 25+ years.  See the AP article for more.

Photo by: AP/Gareth Fuller/PA

September 22, 2010

Bipartisan Renewable Electricity Standard Introduced

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:42 pm
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Fifteen percent by 2021 isn’t  nearly as strong as we need, want, or are capable of…BUT given the somber mood in environmental and green business circles over the lack of climate legislation, Congress passing an RES would be a morale booster and send a positive signal to the renewable energy industry.  In short, I think if this passes good things will come, just not great things.  See Reuters for the story.  A couple excerpts are below…

“If the winds blow the way Sen. Jeff Bingaman is predicting, it will mean Congress has the fortitude, gumption—and most importantly the Republican votes—to make a 15 percent renewable electricity standard a reality during the lame-duck session after the midterm election.”

“Bingaman’s stand-alone, 43-page bill, which is so new it doesn’t yet have a number, is known as the “Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010.” Targets and timetables are similar to previous legislation. It requires utilities nationwide to deliver 15 percent of their power from renewable sources, or by ramping up energy efficiency, by 2021. Utilities selling fewer than 4 million megawatt hours annually are exempt.

This version sets the inaugural year at 2012 instead of 2011 because a year has elapsed since the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed a bill that didn’t make it to the Senate floor. Qualifying renewables include wind, solar, ocean, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, hydrokinetic, waste-to-energy and new hydropower at existing dams.”

“Brownback said he is drumming up support. Thus far, Republican Sens. John Ensign of Nevada and Susan Collins of Maine have signed on as co-sponsors of this bill, Bingaman said about gathering 60 votes to make the legislation filibuster-proof.

“People can’t get cute with this,” Brownback said, adding that he would likely pull his support if the bill becomes larded up with amendments on the Senate floor. He added, for instance, that he held off on adding an ethanol measure to the bill to keep it as simple as possible. “If things get on that are extraneous you’re going to see people shuck off of it.”

August 20, 2010

If Portugal can do it, can’t America?

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:59 am
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I just read an insightful article sent to me describing how Portugal has managed to transition to 45% of it’s grid being powered by clean energy, when just five years ago it only got 17%.

Some of the key ingredients I saw were

1.  Politicians with the guts to stick to their goals despite the backlash from utilities and some activist groups.

Indeed, complaints about rising electricity rates are a mainstay of pensioners’ gossip here. Mr. Sócrates, who after a landslide victory in 2005 pushed through the major elements of the energy makeover over the objections of the country’s fossil fuel industry, survived last year’s election only as the leader of a weak coalition.

“You cannot imagine the pressure we suffered that first year,” said Manuel Pinho, Portugal’s minister of economy and innovation from 2005 until last year, who largely masterminded the transition, adding, “Politicians must take tough decisions.”

2.  A feed-in tariff to paint a brighter financial picture for residents who want to invest in localized clean energy.

“Portugal’s distribution system is also now a two-way street. Instead of just delivering electricity, it draws electricity from even the smallest generators, like rooftop solar panels. The government aggressively encourages such contributions by setting a premium price for those who buy rooftop-generated solar electricity. “To make this kind of system work, you have to make a lot of different kinds of deals at the same time,” said Carlos Zorrinho, the secretary of state for energy and innovation.”

3.  Creative clean energy and policy solutions to maximize production for minimum cost.

“To force Portugal’s energy transition, Mr. Sócrates’s government restructured and privatized former state energy utilities to create a grid better suited to renewable power sources. To lure private companies into Portugal’s new market, the government gave them contracts locking in a stable price for 15 years — a subsidy that varied by technology and was initially high but decreased with each new contract round.”

“While the government estimates that the total investment in revamping Portugal’s energy structure will be about 16.3 billion euros, or $22 billion, that cost is borne by the private companies that operate the grid and the renewable plants and is reflected in consumers’ electricity rates. The companies’ payback comes from the 15 years of guaranteed wholesale electricity rates promised by the government. Once the new infrastructure is completed, Mr. Pinho said, the system will cost about 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) a year less to run than it formerly did, primarily by avoiding natural gas imports.”

“Portugal’s national energy transmission company, Redes Energéticas Nacionais or R.E.N., uses sophisticated modeling to predict weather, especially wind patterns, and computer programs to calculate energy from the various renewable-energy plants. Since the country’s energy transition, the network has doubled the number of dispatchers who route energy to where it is needed.

“You need a lot of new skills. It’s a real-time operation, and there are far more decisions to be made — every hour, every second,” said Victor Baptista, director general of R.E.N. “The objective is to keep the system alive and avoid blackouts.”

Like some American states, Portugal has for decades generated electricity from hydropower plants on its raging rivers. But new programs combine wind and water: Wind-driven turbines pump water uphill at night, the most blustery period; then the water flows downhill by day, generating electricity, when consumer demand is highest.”

Why can’t we do that here?

See #1

July 27, 2010

Reid Unveils Weak Energy Bill

Filed under: energy,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:16 pm
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Harry Reid has unveiled his weak energy bill that can muster the 60 votes to break the filibuster.  Absent from it is a price on carbon, climate provisions, and a Renewable Energy Standard.  Here is the 24 page summary.

Now that there aren’t some good provisions, it’s just they feel like baby steps compared to the problem we’re trying to solve.  The good parts are…

1.  A section on new regulations for offshore drilling to prevent another massive oil spill like the one we just had.

2.  A transportation section that included $400 million for accelerating electric and plug-in vehicles, along with their infrastruction.

3.  A section on Home star, which is a $5 billion dollar energy efficiency measure to help retrofit homes across the county.

4.  A section on increasing the oil spill liability cap up to $5 billion dollars.

5.  A section on fixing the Land and Water Conservation fund, which is good bill, but environmentalists rightly wonder what it’s doing in an energy bill.

The bad part is a title in the transportation section on incentives for natural gas vehicles, which is as laughable as the money we’ve thrown corn ethanol.

So like I said, most of this stuff is good, but none of it is bold.  In fact, I’m disappointed that there aren’t more baby steps included that could add up to something significant.  A few things that come to my mind is Building Star, A Green Energy Bank, and Bernie Sander’s solar bill.  A big step would be a strong RES.

July 19, 2010

General Under Patraeus in Iraq Backs Clean Energy Plan


“It’s time for our senators to choose: Pass a clean energy climate plan that makes us more secure… or let America keep paying the price.”

WASHINGTON,DC – Brigadier General Steven Anderson (Ret.), Chief of Logistics inIraq under General David Petraeus, calls for the U.S. Senate to pass a Clean Energy plan in a new television ad launched today, citing how our dependence on oil has led to American deaths in the warzone.

The ad can be viewed here:

The television spot is an over half a million dollar buy on national cable, with versions of the ad running in four states – North Dakota, Arkansas, Virginia, and West Virginia.  The full script with backup is below.

In the ad, General Anderson says, “Our troops are getting killed moving fuel we wouldn’t need if our military was more efficient — and our enemies know we’re hooked on their oil…. That’s why breaking our addiction must not only be a military priority, but America’s mission, and why the Senate needs to pass a clean energy climate plan.”

“It’s time for our senators to choose: Pass a clean energy climate plan that makes us more secure… or let America keep paying the price,” he concludes.

General Anderson’s call for more energy independence and a move off of fossil fuels is the latest in a steady stream of both active and retired military calling for a clean energy revolution.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, a memo written by deputies of Major General Richard Zilmer in 2006 called for more renewable sources of energy, in a Priority One request to the Pentagon, writing, until such energy sources are made available, U.S. troops “will remain unnecessarily exposed” and will “continue to accrue preventable … serious and grave casualties”

This year, the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review cited global climate change as a security threat, stating, “Climate change and energy are two key issues that will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment. Although they produce distinct types of challenges, climate change, energy security and economic stability are inextricably linked.”  Additionally, the Pentagon has been “war gaming” the effects of climate change, to gauge the effect environmental strife would have on our own military’s commitments around the world.

And, earlier this year, a compelling poll ofIraq and Afghanistan veterans commissioned by, found that 73 percent of them support Clean Energy Climate Change legislation in Congress, 79 percent believe ending our dependence on foreign oil is important to national security.

General Anderson, a career military officer, retired from active duty in November 2009. During that time, he served on the Army Staff in the Pentagon as the Director, Operations and Logistics Readiness, Office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, and served five years as a general officer in the US Army, including 15 months as the senior US and coalition logistician in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom is a pro-military organization ofIraq and Afghanistan veterans, dedicated to the destruction of terror networks around the world, with force when necessary.  It primarily focuses on education and advocacy on issues of importance to the troops and veterans, and holding politicians accountable for their actions on these issues.


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