CESA Program Areas
CESA’s Projects fall within several Program Areas that all serve to advance clean energy market transformation.
Some Projects can broach several programmatic areas, as you will see below in a compilation of CESA’s Programs and related Projects, which are listed alphabetically by Program name. Projects within the 10 Program Areas are hyperlinked to the Project’s webpage on CESA’s website.
Heating and cooling buildings accounts for nearly one-third of a building’s overall energy use.
Displacing fossil-fuel heating and electric resistance heating is an essential element of states’ long-term clean energy and climate goals. Transitioning the building sector to cleaner thermal energy solutions is a key way to decrease climate impacts and improve air quality. CESA is supporting its members to advance programs and strategies that remove barriers to building decarbonization and speed-up the market penetration of clean heating and cooling (CH&C) technologies. These technologies include advanced pellet biomass boilers, solar thermal, and high-efficiency electrification technologies such as air source and ground source heat pumps. CESA has two projects under this program area:
- Building Decarbonization and Clean Heating/Cooling (CH/C) - CESA is working with several states to develop and promote new programs and strategies that transition homes and business toward clean heating and cooling technologies.
- Cost & Carbon Savings Calculator for Clean Heating/Cooling - CESA is working with several Northeast states and utilities on the development of a regional cost and carbon savings calculator tool for homeowners. The tool is currently under development and is expected for release in the summer of 2020.
Clean Energy Finance
Much of CESA’s work addresses the need for states to develop and implement creative strategies to make it easier to make investments in clean energy project development.
Clean energy finance strategies are a frequent topic for CESA members at the annual National Membership Meetings. Among current projects, the following have an especially strong finance component.
- Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities – This project seeks to identify and replicate promising financing strategies aimed at three subsets of the LMI solar market: single-family homes, manufactured homes, and multifamily affordable housing.
- Clean Energy Finance (leveraged project) – CESA’s sister organization, Clean Energy Group (CEG), supports the deployment of resilient solar+storage as it works with foundations to develop new financing approaches and funding resources to accelerate project pipelines and attract private-sector investments for solar+storage systems in under-served communities.
States can play an important role in ensuring that the clean energy marketplace remains consumer friendly.
CESA has produced a variety of materials on consumer protection for distributed clean energy resources. Some materials CESA has released on this topic can be used by states to educate their residents about solar energy or other clean energy technologies:
- In 2017, CESA released three short videos for solar consumers—Rooftop Solar Financing 101, Choosing a Solar Installer, and Will Solar Panels Save You Money?. The videos were produced by the George Washington University Solar Institute. They available for states and other market participants to share on their websites.
- CESA published A Homeowner’s Guide to Solar Financing: Leases, Loans and PPAs, which aims to help homeowners navigate the complex landscape of residential solar financing. The guide is available in both English and Spanish. States are welcome to share the guide on their websites. CESA has also worked with officials in Massachusetts, New Mexico, and New York to publish state-specific versions of the guide.
Other consumer protection resources CESA has produced provide guidance to state officials, including:
Energy storage is a game changer for the energy sector.
Energy storage is a game changer for the energy sector. It can enable higher penetrations of renewables, provide critical infrastructure resiliency, contribute to grid modernization and microgrids, reduce the need for fossil-fueled peaker power plants, increase grid efficiency and provide financial benefits through demand charge management and peak shaving. CESA has over a decade of experience in energy storage policy and technology, as well as direct experience supporting energy storage projects across the country. Our current efforts support deployment of large-scale energy storage, small-scale distributed battery storage paired with solar PV, and the development of relevant state policies, programs, and regulations.
- Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) – ESTAP’s objective is to accelerate the pace of deployment of energy storage technologies in the United States through the creation of technical assistance and co-funding partnerships between states and the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Energy Storage Policy for States – CESA's state energy storage policy project supports a number of efforts aimed at helping states to develop and adapt policy in support of energy storage deployment and market development.
CESA also collaborates with Clean Energy Group on the Resilient Power Project. Solar combined with energy storage is a key component of this work, which focuses on small, behind-the-meter, islandable systems in under-resourced communities. The Resilient Power Project website has links to the project’s numerous reports and webinars, as well as resources such as a project map, featured installations, and a resilient power toolkit.
Information Sharing and Networking
CESA’s members represent some of the most innovative and influential public funders of clean energy initiatives from around the country.
CESA supports this network of states by providing opportunities and implementing communication strategies to promote shared learning and adoption of best practices. Information exchange is one of the key services that CESA provides to its members and to clean energy stakeholders, and we accomplish this through the following activities:
- CESA Webinars – CESA hosts frequent webinars on wide ranging clean energy topics. All webinars are free, and most are open to the general public. Upcoming and archived webinars are posted on the CESA website’s Webinars page and are archived on relevant CESA’s Project pages as well.
- CESA Newsletters and the CESA Brief – CESA produces seven e-newsletters; one that is exclusive to CESA members and the rest that offered to the general public. Newsletter topics are of interest to state policy makers, including solar+storage news, resilient power, low- and moderate-income solar, 100% clean energy goals, offshore wind, and The CESA Brief, which highlights CESA organizational news and news about our members. Please you can sign up for CESA’s newsletters here.
- CESA National Membership Meetings – CESA hosts an annual meeting for our members, and a different member state co-hosts the meeting each year. These meetings are an opportunity for members to network, to hear from clean energy experts from across the country, and to increase their knowledge about clean energy topics. Meeting materials are archived on the CESA website’s Members-Only pages.
- State Leadership in Clean Energy (SLICE) Awards – CESA hosts these biennial awards to highlight the successful and innovative work of our members. In addition to the awards, the winning programs are highlighted in a case studies report and are featured in an accompanying webinar series.
- Clean Energy Champions reports – CESA’s 2015 “Clean Energy Champions” report and follow-on “Returning Champions” report, released in 2019, highlight the essential role that states are playing to develop and implement effective policies and programs. The reports describe the range of strategies and initiatives that states are using to grow clean energy markets, and they provide readers with a concise overview of clean energy trends at the state level.
- The CESA website – CESA’s website is a comprehensive source of information on CESA’s projects and resources, including reports, case studies, webinars, and blogs. The website provides information about CESA’s members, its Board of Directors, and CESA staff.
- Social Media – CESA is active on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The Offshore Wind Accelerator Project has its own Facebook and Twitter pages, and CEG’s Resilient Power Project has a Twitter account. Connect with us!
Integrating Renewable Energy into the Grid
Renewable energy resources are playing an increasingly important role in electricity systems across the United States.
When these resources are deployed optimally, they can offer benefits to the customer, to the grid, and to utility ratepayers. Optimized renewable energy development can reduce grid congestion, help defer or avoid grid infrastructure upgrades, and offer public safety and other social and environmental benefits. By planning and encouraging the optimized deployment and integration of renewable energy resources into the grid, states can help protect their communities and ratepayers and can help ensure the reliability and resilience of the electricity system.
- Locational Value of Distributed Energy Resources (completed project) – Under this project, CESA worked with five states—Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin—and the District of Columbia to advance state decision-making for identifying high-value locations for the for the development of distributed energy resources, such as solar, solar-plus-storage, and demand response.
- Energy Storage Peaker Replacement Project (leveraged project) – Clean Energy Group’s Energy Storage Peaker Replacement project is a collaborative effort in partnership with local community and environmental justice groups to fight and win peaker plant replacement battles. The initiative is developing the analytical basis and strategies to support policy and local advocacy efforts to replace fossil-fuel peaker power plants with battery storage and other clean energy technologies nationwide.
Low- and Moderate-Income (LMI) Clean Energy
As clean energy markets have grown, many states have developed programs to ensure that clean energy’s economic, health, and safety benefits are accessible to under-resourced communities.
Low- and moderate-income (LMI) households face barriers to adopting clean energy, including difficulties obtaining financing, frequent address changes, language barriers, and the reluctance of some contractors to serve the low-income market. Since 2014, CESA has been actively engaged with states and other stakeholders in clean energy markets and in LMI communities to better understand the challenges, opportunities, and best practices for equitably advancing clean energy and to design effective programs for this market segment. CESA has two current projects focused on this topic:
- Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities – This US Department of Energy-supported multi-year project seeks to accelerate the development of solar projects for three subsets of the LMI solar market: single-family homes, manufactured homes, and multifamily affordable housing.
- Solar with Justice: Connecting States and Communities Project – Supported by funding from US Department of Energy and The Nathan Cummings Foundation, this project is focused on helping state energy agencies and frontline community-based organizations learn from each other and forge partnerships to promote LMI solar.
In addition to these projects, CESA produces a monthly newsletter, the Solar Equity Digest, which includes news and resources from around the country on bringing the benefits of solar electricity to LMI communities. CESA has produced a variety of other LMI clean energy resources as well:
- Solar with Justice Report – In December 2019, CESA published a major report, Solar with Justice: Strategies for Powering Up Under-Resourced Communities and Growing an Inclusive Solar Market. The report aims to accelerate the implementation of solar in under-resourced communities in ways that provide meaningful, long-lasting benefits to those communities. It was written by CESA in partnership with the Jackson State University Department of Urban & Regional Planning, the Partnership for Southern Equity, PaulosAnalysis, the University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, and The Solutions Project.
- Directory of State Low- and Moderate-Income Clean Energy Programs – CESA has published an interactive online directory of state LMI clean energy programs. The directory lists and describes state clean energy programs for LMI residents and communities. It contains only those state programs that feature strategies targeted specifically at LMI residents or communities. It focuses primarily on clean energy generation, but also covers energy efficiency and thermal energy programs that include clean energy technologies.
- Expanding Access to Solar for Low-to-Moderate Income Households and Communities: Lessons Learned for State Agencies – From 2017 to 2020, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia worked with CESA as part of its State Energy Strategies project to develop and implement innovative strategies for expanding access to solar for LMI households and communities. CESA produced a dedicated webpage to share lessons and resources that emerged from the project, including case studies, reports, webinars, and other products developed.
Additionally, CESA is working on clean energy equity through its 100% Clean Energy Collaborative Project and through its sister organization, the Clean Energy Group, and its Resilient Power Project, which is focused on accelerating market development of resilient solar PV and battery storage (solar+storage) solutions for affordable housing and critical community facilities in under-resourced and vulnerable communities.
CESA’s work on solar photovoltaics (PV) is focused on two broad, multi-year projects.
In recent years, CESA has developed a focus on solar PV for under-resourced communities, in response to the needs expressed by the states and to an increasing national focus on broadening access to solar. CESA has similarly developed a focus on solar consumer protection, helping to ensure that a growing solar industry maintains positive relations with the people and communities it serves. Together with the ongoing work on solar+storage performed by Clean Energy Group, these program areas prepare us well to assist our members on solar PV program and policy matters moving forward:
- Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities – CESA is leading a wide-ranging initiative to accelerate the development of solar projects that benefit low-and-moderate-income (LMI) households and communities. The project focuses on three distinct subsets of the LMI solar market: single-family homes, manufactured homes, and multifamily affordable housing.
- Solar with Justice: Connecting States and Communities Project – Supported by funding from US Department of Energy and The Nathan Cummings Foundation, this project is focused on helping state energy agencies and frontline community-based organizations learn from each other and forge partnerships to promote LMI solar. This project builds on prior work that CESA has conducted examining the solar landscape in under-resourced communities through its Solar with Justice report.
Additionally, CESA produces several newsletters on solar topics, including the “Solar Equity Digest” and “Solar+Storage News.”
State Clean Energy Goals and Standards
Clean energy and climate mitigation goals and targets are important drivers of social change and market transformation.
For state policymakers, having clear metrics can be a good way to track programmatic progress. For decades, there have been various state goals related to clean energy, but recently there have been many new and ambitious targets announced by states. CESA is working with its members and other states to help share information and experiences related to program implementation and best practices. Through communications facilitation, knowledge sharing, networking, producing reports on lessons learned, and offering technical assistance with program design and implementation, CESA’s projects in this area aim to assist all states with clean energy goals and targets:
- 100% Clean Energy Collaborative – Launched in 2020, this initiative helps those states that have embraced 100% clean energy goals to share experiences and work cooperatively as they plan to achieve those goals.
- Renewable Portfolio Standards – From 2008 through early-2020, CESA managed the RPS Collaborative, a forum for the exchange of experiences and lessons learned regarding the implementation of state RPSs. CESA continues to produce reports and webinars on topics related to RPSs and to maintain a well-used compilation of the most recent state RPS annual reports and compliance reports.
Wind power has the potential to provide massive amounts of clean energy to the US electrical grid.
Wind power has the potential to provide massive amounts of clean energy to the US electrical grid. CESA has worked with its members to develop policies and programs for both offshore and land-based wind. Our current focus is on bringing offshore wind to scale in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic regions. The offshore wind resource in these two regions represents the largest potential source of renewable energy. Its development will provide thousands of US-based jobs, enhance the region’s energy security with American-made power, and reduce carbon emissions. CESA is leading two main projects to advance offshore wind.
- Multi-state Offshore Wind Initiative – This initiative engages state clean energy offices across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and California to discuss innovative policies and programs that are bringing offshore wind to scale.
- Offshore Wind Accelerator Project (OWAP) – OWAP has two main objectives: 1) engage with states to highlight their efforts to advance offshore wind, and 2) implement broad-ranging communication efforts about offshore wind news and developments. OWAP produces an e-newsletter, periodic webinars, and various reports related to offshore wind policy and developments both nationally and internationally.
In addition to this work on offshore wind, CESA has managed several completed projects that advanced land-based wind, including the Northeast Wind Resource Center, a US DOE-funded project which provided salient, unbiased information on offshore and land-based wind energy in the Northeastern United States. The NWRC produced a regional roadmap for offshore. CESA also worked with several states to create and maintain the Interstate Turbine Advisory Council (ITAC), an alliance of clean energy programs and utility incentive providers working jointly to tackle the challenges and promote the potential of the small and mid-scale wind market. ITAC published a list of turbines that met its eligibility requirements for clean energy program incentives.