By JUSTIN GILLIS / Source: nytimes
The Ivanpah solar facility in the Mojave Desert in California. The large donation will help utilities address the demand for clean energy. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Two charitable groups will spend $48 million over the next three years to help states figure out how to reduce emissions from electricity production, an effort to seize the possibilities that are opening up as the cost of clean power falls.
The plan is to be announced Wednesday morning in New York. Half the money will come from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization set up by Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, and half will come from Mark Heising and Elizabeth Simons, a California couple who have taken a strong interest in reducing the risks of climate change.
In interviews, people involved in the project said the goal was to provide technical assistance, including economic forecasting and legal analysis, for a dozen or so states that are willing to consider ambitious clean-energy plans.
One motive for the grant is that the Obama administration is expected this summer to make final its emissions-cutting targets for the power industry. If that plan survives expected political and legal challenges, it may require extensive revamping of electricity markets that are largely regulated by the states.
In addition, the low cost of natural gas, the falling cost of renewable energy and the rise of technologies that can shave electrical demand are all putting pressure on electric utilities, especially those dependent on coal. Even without the impetus of President Obama’s plan, those factors would require adjustments in the electricity markets, many energy analysts have concluded.
In an interview, Mr. Heising said that state governments needed to seize the moment to take full advantage of the coming possibilities for cleaning up the grid — and, at the same time, to avoid undermining the economics of the utilities that Americans depend on for a reliable supply of electricity.
“The utility businesses are being heavily disrupted,” Mr. Heising said. “That’s creating some real stress for the utilities and their revenue model. It needs to be addressed in a fair and comprehensive way.”
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