Bloomberg turns his attention to modernizing America’s power grid

a field with a powerline

Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Heising-Simons family announced a new program last Wednesday called the Clean Energy Initiative to accelerate reform of the U.S. electricity grid. Spaced out over the next three years, $48 million in grants will be doled out to state-based stakeholders with the goal of easing the transition towards a more sustainable energy future.

“With the price of clean power falling, and the potential costs of inaction on climate change steadily rising, the work of modernizing America’s power grid is both more feasible and urgent than ever,” said former NYC mayor and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg in a statement. “These grants will help states meet new federal clean power requirements in ways that save money and lives.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first proposed its Clean Power Plan in June 2014, which targets emissions from existing power plants. A final rule is expected by June 2015.  As currently conceived, the Clean Power Plan would mandate that power companies cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The regulations allow for significant state-level flexibility in reaching these targets.

It is here that the Bloomberg/Heising-Simons Clean Energy Initiative aims to add value, providing grants to organizations such as the Institute for Energy Innovation in Michigan and the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University to provide state-specific policy assistance.

“The Clean Energy Initiative taps into the spirit of entrepreneurialism unleashed by new opportunities such as distributed generation, demand response and energy efficiency programs,” said Dan Scripps, President of the Institute for Energy Innovation. “As states implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan over the coming years, they will be able to tap into tremendous opportunities to save consumers money while cutting carbon.”

Since leaving office after three terms as New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg has been busy with a number of ambitious philanthropic endeavors. A few years ago, Corporate Knights even listed him as part of a “billionaire league of justice.” He’s now donated over $3.3 billion throughout his lifetime (as of 2014), and appears to be picking up the pace in recent years. In 2013 alone he gave nearly $500 million to various causes both in the United States and abroad.

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