Albany College of Pharmacy opens Vermont campus today

first_imgFollowing nearly two years of planning, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences opened its Vermont Satellite Campus today, welcoming 70 students in the inaugural class. The campus, located in scenic Colchester, Vermont, is home to the only pharmacy program in the state.The ACPHS-Vermont campus offers a four year program culminating in a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). The Pharm.D. is the degree required to practice pharmacy in the United States. Students entering the program have completed a minimum of two years of college coursework, with prerequisites that include biology, chemistry and physics.The members of the incoming class were selected from more than 1,200 applicants. They represent 20 states (including three students from Vermont) and 16 countries. Their average age is 25 years old.“When we announced plans to open the campus, Vermont was one of just three states without a pharmacy program [Delaware and Alaska are the others],” said Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences President James J. Gozzo. “Now that the campus is established, we look forward to becoming an important contributor to the state’s growth by helping address Vermont’s existing pharmacist shortage and conducting advanced pharmaceutical and biotech research.”Research will be an important part of the teaching and learning taking place at the College. Many of the 12 ACPHS-Vermont faculty are actively pursuing grants and awards. The College has also joined the Vermont Biosciences Alliance and hosted that group’s first event in June 2009. The Alliance seeks to strengthen Vermont’s bioscience industry by helping facilitate collaborations among researchers in higher education, health care, government and the private sector.Robert Hamilton, Pharm.D., will serve as the Vermont campus’ Associate Dean and Chief Administrative Officer. He will be responsible for all academic, professional and community activities for the campus. Dr. Hamilton has served many roles during nearly 30 years at ACPHS, including chair of the department of pharmacy practice, director of the post-baccalaureate Pharm.D. program and director of the College’s continuing professional development program.“We have assembled an exceptional group of students and faculty and provided them with resources that are on a par with the best programs in the country. Everyone on the campus is excited about being involved with a program that has the potential to positively impact the health of Vermonters and people throughout the country,” said Dr. Hamilton.The College plans to add 70 students in each of the next three years, bringing the total enrollment to 280 students by the 2012-13 academic year. Additional faculty and staff will be hired as new classes are enrolled.About Albany College of Pharmacy and Health SciencesFounded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is a private, independent institution committed to the advancement of health. The College has academic programs and research activities spanning the full spectrum of pharmacy and health sciences – from drug discovery to patient care.  Nearly 1,600 ACPHS students are pursuing a wide range of career pathways in health related fields through degree programs in pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, biomedical technology and health and human sciences. The College’s main campus is located in Albany, New York; its satellite campus is in Colchester, Vermont. For more information, please visit www.acphs.edu(link is external). Source:  Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Colchester, VT. – August 31, 2009 –last_img read more

UVM, Middlebury top schools for green practices and policies

first_imgFor the third year in a row, the Sustainable Endowments Institute has ranked the University of Vermont among the top schools nationally for green practices and policies, giving the school an overall grade of A- in its just released College Sustainability Report Card. Also receiving an A-, the highest grade given by the institute, were twenty-six other schools including Harvard University, Middlebury College, Brown University, and the University of New Hampshire.The institute graded the 300 U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities with the largest endowments (plus 32 others that applied) in nine categories and then awarded an overall grade. Its aim is to show a correlation between an institution’s green practices and its investment decisions.In addition to its overall grade, UVM received A’s in the subcategories of Administration, Food & Recycling, Green Building, Transportation, Endowment Transparency and Shareholder Engagement. The University received B’s in three other subcategories.A number of specific programs helped boost UVM’s score. Among many strengths noted on the Report Card were the fact that UVM purchases only Green-Seal certified cleaning products; its innovative Office of Sustainability; strong efforts to improve energy efficiency; sourcing local foods from 60 suppliers; UVM’s commitment to building all new construction to LEED standards; strong student involvement in GreenHouse, UVM’s environmentally-themed residence; and the Eco-Reps program.The College Sustainability Report Card 2009 is the fourth such report from the Sustainable Endowments Institute, and is published as part of the Institute’s broader effort to encourage discussion on sustainability in higher education.The full College Sustainability Report Card 2009 is available on the Sustainable Endowments Institute website :http://www.greenreportcard.org(link is external).Source: UVM. 10.8.2009last_img read more

Governor Douglas to sign e-waste bill in Williston today

first_imgGovernor Douglas will the the recently passed e-waste bill into law at the Chittenden Solid Waste District’s Williston Drop-Off Center on Redmond Road. The signing is scheduled for 3 pm.Attendees at this event will include legislators who worked on the bill, Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Jonathon Wood, CSWD staff and board members, VPIRG, and other interested parties. This event coincides with Earth Day week.About 1.5 million tons of electronics are collected for recycling each year in Vermont. Currently, municipalities shoulder the burden of providing facilities and moving these mountains of electronics. The bill (S.77) would require manufacturers to take on that burden and provide free and convenient recycling of electronic waste to residents, charities, schools, and small businesses in the state. The bill received tri-partisan support in the House and Senate, now awaits a stroke of the pen by Governor Douglas to become law.Vermont is the 21st state to pass this type of legislation for electronic waste. Europe, Canada and Asia also have producer responsibility laws for electronics as well as other products.In addition to requiring that manufacturers play a role in dealing with their own products at disposal time, producer responsibility programs also provide powerful incentives for manufacturers to design their electronics to last longer and to exclude the toxic materials that make recycling so difficult and expensive. The popular LCD TV is perhaps the “poster child” for how electronics are not designed with recycling in mind, because of both material selection and physical design. Inside a typical 40-inch LCD flat panel TV, there are 22 thin, fragile lamps containing mercury, which light the TV screen. The entire TV must be disassembled to get access to these bulbs, making replacing and harvesting them for recycling difficult and expensive. (Source: Electronics Takeback Coalition)”In Vermont, municipalities, solid waste districts, and taxpayers bear the financial burden of grappling with e-waste”, said Jen Holliday, Environmental and Safety Compliance Manager for Chittenden Solid Waste District, and Chair of the Vermont Product Stewardship Council. “We have no control over how these products are designed, manufactured, marketed and sold, but ultimately it is local government that is left with trying to capture and recycle these products when they are being discarded. This legislation changes that model and provides the consumer with a convenient and consistent state-wide collection system that we lack today.”Source: CSWD. 4.19.2010###last_img read more

State treasurer announces new financial literacy program for Vermont elementary schools

first_imgState Treasurer Jeb Spaulding will announce a new statewide financial literacy program for elementary-age children Wednesday, June 3 in Burlington at 11:15 am. The Reading is an Investment program aims to increase school book collections in personal finance, give teachers and librarians related curricular resources, and encourage students to read books that teach money concepts.Spaulding will be joined by C.P. Smith School Library Media Specialist Shannon Walters and teacher Sue Clark and her third grade class. Phil Daniels, Market President for TD Bank, also will speak.Money is on the minds of our children. The Harris Interactive Youth Pulse 2009 survey reports that one of the top three worries for kids 8 to 12 years old is not having enough money. Such worries are reflected in the lives of adult Vermonters. Spaulding will share some state-specific data from the National Financial Capability Study the first comprehensive national study of the financial capability of adults in the United States. The study was commissioned by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. The foundation plans to release complete state results in late summer.Following the program announcement, a short exercise with a class of third-graders will be held in the library.last_img read more

Sanders amendment would end big oil tax breaks

first_imgSenator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today urged the Senate to repeal $35 billion in oil and gas industry tax breaks. In a letter to colleagues, Sanders made the case for his amendment to a tax bill now before the Senate. The same loopholes were targeted for elimination by President Obama in his proposed budget for next year.“Over the last decade, the five largest oil companies (Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP and Shell) made more than $750 billion in profits.  These profitable companies simply don’t deserve tax relief,” Sanders said in a letter to other senators. “With a record-breaking $13 trillion national debt and an unsustainable federal deficit, the last thing we should be doing is giving tax breaks to oil and gas companies that have been making enormous profits.”The Sanders amendment would devote $25 billion of the savings to deficit reduction. The remaining $10 billion would fund an Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant Program, a Sanders proposal created by the 2007 energy bill. “The energy-efficiency investments would lead to the creation of at least 140,000 jobs and would reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Sanders said.The amendment is cosponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). Organizations supporting the amendment include the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, MoveOn.Org, Union of Concerned Scientists, Public Citizen, Physicians for Social Responsibility and others.“It is beyond comprehension that, according to reports, Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in the world, not only paid no U.S. taxes last year, but also received a $156 million tax refund,” Sanders said. Other companies that took advantage of tax loopholes in 2009, according to reports on file at the Securities and Exchange Commission, include Chevron, which received a $19 million tax refund; and Valero Energy, which received a $157 million from the IRS. Independent oil and gas companies which made a combined $3.7 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2010 and $25.7 billion in revenue also received generous tax breaks from the IRS. “This amendment is a win for deficit reduction.  It is a win for job creation.  It is a win for the environment.  And, it is a win for consumers who will save money on their energy bills because they will be consuming less energy,” Sanders said.Source: Sanders’ office. WASHINGTON, June 15, 2010last_img read more

$8.5 million federal transpo rescission will not affect projects

first_imgA spokesman for the Vermont Agency of Transportation has clarified Congress’ recent decision to rescind nearly $8.5 million in funding from the Vermont Agency of Transportation. There has been some concern among the public that this cut will have an effect on bicycle, pedestrian, trail and enhancement programs within the State of Vermont. However, John Zicconi from VTrans said in a statement that this is not true because the money simply was never budgeted.Zicconi is the Director Planning, Outreach & Community Affairs for the agency. His statement, issued August 19, 2010, reads: “The way in which Congress appropriates and routinely rescinds transportation money is very complex, but the pertinent issue here is that the federal government on paper provides the state millions of dollars in transportation money that it never actually gives the Agency of Transportation the authority to spend. And because VTrans never receives permission to spend this money, it is never actually budgeted.”The $8.5 million that Congress took from Vermont this week is part of a nationwide $2.2 billion rescission in federal transportation funds. But here in Vermont, the money will come from the pool of money which VTrans never received permission to spend, and therefore never budgeted. As a result, no state transportation programs of any kind will be affected. The $8.5 million rescission is nothing more than a financial paper exercise that the state unfortunately must go through with the Federal Highway Administration.”To put this in perspective, the Agency of Transportation since 2005 theoretically received $915 million from the federal government to fund various programs as a result of the most recent federal transportation authorization bill. However, in that same timeframe Congress only has given Vermont the authority to spend $825 million. In other words, on the books, the feds have given the state $915 million, but only allowed Vermont to access about 90 percent of it. VTrans anticipates this, and never actually budgets the remaining money it knows it will not receive. In fact, the Agency cannot budget this money because it is never given federal permission to obligate these funds to any project.”The obvious question is what happens to this remaining money? Recently the trend has been that each year Congress, to help fund some other program, “rescinds” most of the transportation money it never actually gave Vermont the ability to use. This is exactly what is happening now with the $8.5 million: it is money VTrans was never given permission to budget.”This financial exercise has become common in recent years. Since 2007, Congress has rescinded from Vermont a total of $58 million in federal highway funds, which includes the $8.5 million cut announced this week. VTrans, however, has never canceled or delayed any projects as a result of these “cuts” because all of the money came from the pool that Congress never gave the state permission to spend.”As a result, no programs are currently at risk. The state’s current $595 million transportation budget is sound, and no projects, including those related to bicycle, pedestrian, and trail facilities, as well as enhancement grants, will experience a shortfall as a result of Congress’ recent actions.” – 30 –last_img read more

VHFA offers lowest home mortgage loan interest rate in its 36-year history

first_imgVermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is offering a new low mortgage interest rate: 4.125% APR for a 30-year, fixed rate loan with no points for qualified borrowers.The new rate, which became effective yesterday, is the lowest ever offered by VHFA.”This new rate means the dream of homeownership is within the reach of more people,” said VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “Market conditions have never been more challenging for organizations such as VHFA, so we can’t say how long we’ll be at 4.125%. But we remain committed to providing Vermonters with the lowest rates we can.”The new 4.125% rate is part of VHFA’s Government Guaranteed Home Loan Program, which includes loans from USDA/Rural Development, the Veterans Administration, and the Federal Housing Administration.VHFA loans are made even more affordable, because VHFA borrowers can save up to $625 at closing. This is the result of VHFA mortgages being exempt from the Vermont Property Transfer Tax on the first $110,000 of the home purchase price.VHFA offers a variety of mortgage loan products with different interest rates. Rates are subject to change. Prospective borrowers should contact their local lenders for more details. A list of participating VFHA lenders is available on the Agency’s Web site: www.vhfa.org(link is external).The Vermont Legislature established VHFA in 1974 to finance and promote affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Vermonters. Since its inception, the agency has provided low-cost homeownership financing to approximately 27,000 Vermont families, and financed the construction or rehabilitation of approximately 7,700 affordable apartments. Equal Housing Opportunity.Source: VHFA. 10.7.2010Vermont Statewide Housing Conference: Thursday, November 18 REGISTER ONLINE NOW! http://www.vhfa.org/conference/register.php(link is external)last_img read more

Shumlin names Ross, Miller, Powden, Noonan to key administration posts

first_imgChuck Ross, Secretary of AgricultureChuck Ross has been the State Director for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy for the last 16 years. In addition to his management responsibilities he has focused on the issues of sustainable development, energy and emerging business opportunities, including opportunities relating to agriculture and food systems. During this time he has also helped manage his family’s farming interests in Vermont and Iowa. Prior to being employed by Senator Leahy, Ross worked on his family’s farms and served as the State Representative from Hinesburg. As State Representative he served on the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee and concluded his service as Chairman in 1994.Ross has served on various boards in Vermont including The University of Vermont (UVM); Shelburne Farms; Fletcher Allen Health Care; The Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources at UVM; and Leadership Champlain. Currently Chuck serves as a liaison to the Vermont Council of Rural Development.  Ross graduated from UVM with a BA and an MA in from University of Washington, Seattle WA. where studied agricultural land use changes in Vermont and the nationally. He lives in Hinesburg with his family. As Secretary of Agriculture, Ross’s annual salary will be approximately $109,000.Annie Noonan, Commissioner of LaborAnnie Noonan has more than 33 years professional experience in labor relations, government and legislative lobbying in Vermont and New England, including a long tenure as the Executive Director of the Vermont State Employees Association. She worked for 5 years for the University of Vermont Career Planning and Placement Office assisting students, local residents and (Vietnam) veterans with job placement. She is currently working for the University of Connecticut Professional Employees and is in charge of labor relations, arbitration and health and safety division.Over the years, she has been appointed by Vermont governors and legislative leaders to serve on study committees for government accountability and efficiency; public pensions; PTSD in public safety workers; revamping public sector contract funding; telecommuting; the council on diversity and affirmative action, and the joint labor-management committee on child and elder care.Noonan graduated South Burlington HS, the University of Vermont (BA), and the University of Massachusetts (MS in Labor Relations & Research). Following graduation, she served as graduate researcher and taught labor law to women in non-traditional (’trades’) occupations. Annie lives in Montpelier and has one daughter, Colleen Noonan. As Commissioner of Labor, Noonan’s annual salary will be approximately $94,000.### Much like his first round of high-ranking appointments last week, Governor-elect Peter Shumlin announced key appointments to his cabinet today that contained a couple of surprises. The Governor-elect announced that Lawrence Miller will be the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development. Miller will work closely with Patricia Moulton-Powden who will be the Agency’s Deputy Secretary. Chuck Ross will be the Secretary of Agriculture and Annie Noonan will be the Commissioner of Labor. This team will work together closely with one shared mission, Shumlin said, job creation.  Shumlin made these appointments a top priority in his transition as economic development and the creation of good paying jobs in Vermont will be his administration’s primary focus.Pictured from left: Pat Moulton-Powden, Lawrence Miller, Governor-elect Shumlin, Annie Noonan and Chuck Ross. Photo by Vermont Business Magazine. Press play to listen to press conference.While Ross and Noonan were among those much anticipated to join the Shumlin administration, the governor-elect strode to the podium with a couple of surprise selections. Just as naming state Treasurer Jeb Spaulding as administration secretary was the biggest story in the first round of appointments, Shumlin’s selection of Pat Moulton Powden as the number two person in the development agency was perhaps the biggest this time around. She served under both Democratic and Republican administrations and most recently was Governor Douglas’ Labor Commissioner. She recently went to the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and now is back in an agency where she once ran Economic Development. The other surprise was Miller, who has been a longtime entrepreneur and business executive. The announcements were made in Burlington at UVM’s Davis Center.‘I am thrilled that each of these talented individuals has agreed to join our job creation team,’ said Shumlin. ‘Vermont has a bright jobs future. Agriculture, manufacturing, renewable energy and efficiency, technology, and tourism will be job creators in a new Vermont economy if we have the vision to transform the way we do business. These four appointees are uniquely suited to seize that opportunity.””Agriculture is a critical engine of economic growth and there is a direct connection between our farms, our vibrant communities and a strong economy,” Shumlin continued. “The Agency of Commerce will work closely with the Agency of Agriculture to seize the job creation opportunities that sustainable and conventional agriculture represent. The Agency of Labor will play a critical role in developing workforce training initiatives that support small businesses and create good jobs. Lawrence, Pat, Chuck and Annie will make a great team, and I am grateful to them for accepting this challenge.’Lawrence Miller, the Secretary-designee of Commerce and Community Development, is a Vermont entrepreneur who in 1990 founded Otter Creek Brewery Following the sale of Otter Creek, Lawrence became involved with Danforth Pewter and moved into the role of CEO. He has been involved with creating economic development strategies for Vermont through his work on the Vermont Economic Progress Council and the Clean Energy Development Fund.For the past 20 years, Patricia Moulton-Powden, the Agency’s Deputy Secretary-designee, has been on the front lines of economic development. She has served in a number of state roles, including Commissioner of Economic Development and Commissioner of Labor, and is well known and respected by the Vermont business community.Chuck Ross, the Secretary-designee of Agriculture has been a key member of Senator Leahy’s staff for sixteen years. He has been highly involved in the Senator’s extensive efforts to preserve and support our dairy farms and encourage business development across Vermont. In recent years he’s been part nearly every major discussion about a Vermont agricultural renaissance.Annie Noonan, the Commisioner-designee of Labor, been working in labor relations for 30 years, including as Executive Director of the Vermont State Employees Association. In that role, she was often called upon by legislators for her wisdom and good judgment. Annie is passionate about creating jobs that can keep our young Vermonters here and that expand opportunities in the trades sector.While announcing his job creation team, Shumlin also acknowledged the important role that Vermont’s higher education institutions play in any successful economic development endeavor. Dean Tom Vogelmann, Provost Jane Knodell, Vice President Domenico Grasso and Dan Smith of the Vermont State Colleges were all present for the press conference, which was held at UVM.Biographical and salary information for appointees:Lawrence Miller, Secretary of Agency of Commerce and Community DevelopmentMiller was the founder of Otter Creek Brewing, Inc. As owner, CEO, and Brewmaster Lawrence grew Otter Creek from a single-person, draft only brewery to a leading Regional Specialty brewer from 1990 through the successful sale of the company in 2002.After selling Otter Creek, Miller developed an independent advisory practice focusing on manufacturers of consumer products including start-ups, high growth companies, and turnarounds. During this period Lawrence also served on the Committee of Operating Executives at Worth Mountain Capital Partners and as a Peer Advisor with the Vermont Peer-to-Peer Collaborative, now housed at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. In 2007 he accepted the position of Chairman and CEO at client company Danforth Pewter where he has led a migration strategy from wholesale to multi-channel consumer marketing, including acquisition of compatible pewter brands.Miller has direct experience with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. He currently serves on the Oversight Panel for the reform of State and Regional Economic Development and Planning services, which was created as part of Challenges for Change. From 1997 to 2006 he served as a Board Member of the Vermont Economic Progress Council, the last two years as Chairman. VEPC was tasked with long range economic development planning and administering the state’s tax incentive programs in support of a vision of ‘Vermont as an economically and environmentally healthy place to work and live.’ He was also the first Chairman of the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, and currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the new VSJF Flexible Capital Fund. He has also been a member of the North Country Angels investment group for several years.Miller earned his undergraduate degree in psychology in 1987 from Reed College, in Portland, Oregon. From 1997- 1999 he completed the Birthing of Giants Entrepreneurial Leadership program at MIT, in Boston. Miller is a resident of Ripton and is married to Ginger Dowling Miller with two children ages 14 and 9. As Secretary of ACCD, Miller’s annual salary will be approximately $109,000.Patricia Moulton Powden (pictured with Chief of Staff Bill Lofy), Deputy Secretary of Agency of Commerce and Community DevelopmentPatricia Moulton Powden joined the Vermont Chamber as the Vice President of Public Affairs in July 2010. Prior to joining the Chamber, Pat served as Commissioner of Labor for four years under Governor Douglas. Prior to her position as Commissioner, she was appointed by Governor Douglas to serve as the full-time Chair of the Vermont Natural Resources Board.Prior to her environmental regulation and policy work, Powden spent 22 years in the practice of economic development on the local, regional, and state levels. Working for several different local and regional development corporations, Powden helped many companies start-up, expand, and relocate to Vermont. In 1990, she was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic Development by Governor Snelling and subsequently appointed Commissioner of Economic Development by Governor Dean. Powden also ran her own economic development consulting company for several years. She is a native Vermonter born in Rutland and educated in public schools in Montpelier and Hartford, Vermont. Powden is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She is married to Timothy Powden and lives in South Londonderry, Vermont. As Deputy Secretary of ACCD, Powden’s annual salary will be approximately $98,000.last_img read more

State of Vermont extends ‘Vermont Fuels Your Vacation’ $100 gas card promotion

first_imgThe Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing is extending its fuel-themed tourism promotion to encourage visitors and Vermonters to explore the Green Mountain State during the spring and summer months. ‘Vermont Fuels Your Vacation’ offers a $100 gas card giveaway every week. Vermont residents and non-residents can register to win at www.VermontVacation.com/fuel(link is external) and gas cards may be used at participating gas stations in Vermont. ‘Historically speaking, there is not a strong correlation between gas prices and a consumer’s decision to travel to Vermont for leisure,’ said Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Megan Smith. ‘Still, the ‘Vermont Fuels Your Vacation’ promotion provides a positive twist on this issue and encourages Vermonters and visitors to explore our wonderful state.’ The promotion kicked off in February and has received more than 3,000 entries from the United States and Canada. For more information, visit www.VermontVacation.com/fuel(link is external).last_img read more

Editorial: A Renewable Energy Boom

first_imgEditorial: A Renewable Energy Boom FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the New York Times:Some world leaders, especially in developing countries like India, have long said it’s hard to reduce the emissions that are warming the planet because they need to use relatively inexpensive — but highly carbon-intensive — fuels like coal to keep energy affordable. That argument is losing its salience as the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar continues to fall.Last year, for the first time, renewables accounted for a majority of new electricity-generating capacity added around the world, according to a recent United Nations report. More than half the $286 billion invested in wind, solar and other renewables occurred in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil — also for the first time. Excluding large hydroelectric plants, 10.3 percent of all electricity generated globally in 2015 came from renewables, roughly double the amount in 2007, according to the report.The average global cost of generating electricity from solar panels fell 61 percent between 2009 and 2015 and 14 percent for land-based wind turbines. In sunny parts of the world like India and Dubai, developers of solar farms have recently offered to sell electricity for less than half the global average price. In November, the accounting firm KPMG predicted that by 2020 solar energy in India could be 10 percent cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal.These are all hopeful signs. They suggest that reductions in carbon emissions can be achieved more quickly and more cheaply than widely believed. And they provide hope that nations will be able to achieve the ambitious goals they set for themselves at last December’s climate summit meeting in Paris — to keep warming below the threshold beyond which the world will be locked into a future of devastating consequences, including rising sea levels, severe droughts and flooding, widespread food and water shortages and more destructive storms.Replacing coal-fired plants or avoiding new ones will have major health benefits as well, especially in heavily polluted cities in China and India where ground-level pollutants like soot and smog make the simple act of breathing a major undertaking. Those benefits will be even greater as gasoline-powered cars are replaced with electric vehicles that draw power from wind and solar farms.Formidable obstacles to the cleaner energy future envisioned in Paris remain. One is technological: Batteries capable of storing energy for use when the sun is not shining and the wind isn’t blowing are still quite expensive, though their costs are falling. Another is financial: Despite increased private investment in renewables, the United States and other industrialized countries have not lived up to their pledge at the Copenhagen conference in 2009 to provide $100 billion a year to underwrite climate projects in poorer countries. Negotiators in Paris gave themselves until 2025 to come up with a new financing goal.A third obstacle is political. It’s clear that imposing a price on fossil fuels would encourage investment in cleaner fuels. A carbon tax has cut emissions in British Columbia; India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proposed doubling a tax on coal; China has promised a national emissions trading system. But carbon taxes remain a nonstarter in the United States.The falling cost of renewables is a clear plus. The prospect of keeping energy affordable while saving the planet should inspire leaders to bolder action.A Renewable Energy Boomlast_img read more