More Federal Funding Available to Grow Clean Energy Small Businesses

Back in September, the School of Government’s Community and Economic Development in North Carolina and Beyond blog highlighted a new program from US EPA to work with small businesses nationwide to develop and commercialize technologies that tackle critical environmental problems:  the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.  Now the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has launched its own program to assist small businesses, the Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot program.  The Small Business Vouchers program links small businesses who promote clean energy technology with the DOE National Laboratories.

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Six Keys to Improve Your Water Utility’s Credit Rating – A Cheat Sheet

Water and Wastewater utilities receive “credit ratings” just as a private individual has a FICO® score. While organizations like the Fair Isaac Corporation calculate personal credit scores, for entities like local government utilities, the three groups that generate credit ratings are Fitch Ratings, Moody’s, and Standard and Poor’s (S&P). For the utility, a higher rating means better access to credit, and at more favorable terms.  S&P published the criteria it used for “Water, Sewer, And Drainage Utility Revenue Bonds” in 2008. To say that things have changed with the economy since 2008 is an understatement! In 2014 S&P solicited comments on its re-worked methods and assumptions for calculating these credit ratings. The new criteria will result in credit rating changes to 1 in 4 utilities (of the 1,600 utilities that S&P rates). Some ratings will go down. How can your utility be among the 200 that will have a higher credit rating?

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Four Steps of Effective Project Management

As the Assistant Program Manager at the UNC Environmental Finance Center (EFC), I work ‘behind the scenes’ on internal projects related to the every day management of our center. In my role facilitating organizational development at the EFC, I recently spent time researching project management best practices. At the EFC, we help communities design, implement, and finance sustainable environmental projects and programs, and not surprisingly, strong project management structure is often a critical component of any sustainable program. While some of this research was specific to the EFC, many of the lessons I discovered are broadly applicable, whether you’re working for a small water utility or a statewide initiative.  Through this post, I would like to share four easy steps to streamlined project management for any size project.

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SunEdison Falls. Yieldcos Rise.

In May 2015, SunEdison was the largest renewable energy developer in the world. The solar and wind company is headquartered in California, with projects worldwide. Now, almost a year later, the company’s stock price has plummeted from $30 per share in May 2015 to about $0.22 per share. The company recently declared bankruptcy on Thursday April 21. What caused this dramatic fall?

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Costs, Benefits or Function – What really drives water reuse?

Guest Post by Lars Hanson

For utilities across the country, water reuse has been attracting a great deal of attention recently, and with good reason. As utilities and the communities they serve grow and mature, they find themselves managing increasing pressures relating to water availability, competition, customer service needs, and evolving regulations. These pressures require the Water Resources Utility of the Future to begin paying more attention to the interrelated nature of the core water management functions, including water supply and treatment, wastewater collection and treatment, stormwater management, and flooding and flow management. In addition to more coordinated planning, new ways of managing water will be needed to coordinate these functions. Water reuse is one water management tool that allows linking these functions, while also potentially providing a financial return when reclaimed water is sold.

But what is water reuse anyway? Water reuse, often referred to as water recycling or water reclamation (and hopefully not ‘toilet-to-tap’), is a general term referring to the treatment of a ‘used’ water source followed by subsequent beneficial use. Simple enough, but that definition perhaps oversimplifies the huge range of water reuse system concepts, and why water reuse projects are built.

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