Opinion

The Great Debate

Smart grid skepticism derails Baltimore plan

Maryland Public Service Commission highlighted the political resistance smart-metering advocates must overcome when it shot down proposals for compulsory smart metering submitted by Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE).

Smart grids are essential for the Obama administration’s and power industry’s plan to meet rising electricity demand while integrating more renewable generation into the grid.

Creating flexibility on the demand side to match increased intermittency in supply is the only way to maintain reliability without having to build enormous amounts of expensive back-up gas-fired generating capacity and disfigure the landscape by installing thousands of miles of transmission lines.

BGE’s initiative has already been approved by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive $200 million of federal funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the centrepiece of the Obama administration’s stimulus package. It is one of the largest grants for electricity infrastructure made under the act. Of the total, $136 million would be spent on rolling out “advanced metering infrastructure” (AMI).

SEMI-SMART GRID

But BGE still needs approval from the state public service commission (PSC) for key elements of the system. The company’s proposals, as submitted to the commission, consist of three major components:

(1) Universal deployment of smart meters throughout BGE’s service territory, replacing or upgrading all existing customer electric and gas meters.

States see pushback against carbon trading

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– John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own —

Efforts to implement cap-and-trade programs at state level are faltering, just as policymakers in Washington are struggling to generate enough support to put in place a comprehensive national system.

Recent setbacks in California and Arizona point to growing headwinds against the policy. As cap-and-trade loses momentum and becomes embroiled in bigger political disputes about the size and role of government, opponents are becoming emboldened to try to block the policy completely.

Emissions bill overhauled to secure votes

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– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

Prominent U.S. senators are set to substantially re-write climate legislation in a bid to secure the 60 votes needed for passage before Congress is engulfed by the mid-term election campaign.

According to well-sourced media reports that emerged at the weekend from conversations with aides engaged in the process:

Peak demand leaves refineries idle

– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

U.S. refiners have emerged as the biggest losers from the previous surge in oil and push for cleaner energy. The industry’s brief golden age has swiftly given way to a prolonged dark period of adjustment and decline.

What went wrong? Like other sectors, refiners have been hit by the cyclical downturn, which has cut trade volumes and the related demand for transport fuels such as aviation fuel and marine diesel especially hard.

California tilts towards cap and refund


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– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

California is set to auction all or almost all allowances under its emissions trading programme, and rebate up to 75 percent of the proceeds to households through a lump sum payment or reductions in income and sales taxes.
The proposals, contained in a draft recommendation from the Economic and Allocation Advisory Committee (EAAC) to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), are in sharp contrast to the proposed federal programme, stalled in Congress, which would give away most permits to utilities and other energy intensive industries.
Since California’s proposed programme is one of the most advanced, and would be the largest and most comprehensive in the country, with links to other states through the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), the decision gives significant impetus to proponents of the cap and refund approach, now emerging as a credible alternative in Congress.
ADVISORY COMMITTEE MANDATE

California’s Global Warming Solutions Act 2006 (AB 32) requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. CARB has developed a “Scoping Plan” detailing how the state will achieve this using a mix of direct regulations and an over-arching cap and trade programme.
In May 2009, CARB established an Advisory Committee, consisting of technical experts, to make recommendations on two key elements: (a) how to put allowances into circulation (via auctions, free distributions, or some combination of the two); and (b) how to allocate free allowances or the revenues from permit auctions.

Energy realism and a green recovery

jay-pryor– Jay R. Pryor is vice president of business development for Chevron. The views expressed are his own. —

The concept of a “green recovery” is a compelling topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum this week in Dailan, China. It stems from the United Nations Environment Program calling for investment of 1% of global GDP (nearly $750 billion) to promote a sustainable economic recovery.

A “green recovery” speaks to two of the most important issues of our time –- the efficient use of energy and the realistic understanding of energy’s role in the global economy. It’s a role that can help lift millions of people out of poverty, while addressing a healthier environment.

President Obama’s three percent solution

Jonathan Hoganson– Jonathan R. Hoganson is the deputy executive director of the Technology CEO Council, a public policy advocacy group that includes the CEOs of Intel, HP, Dell, Applied Materials, EMC, Motorola, Micron Technology and IBM. He previously was the legislative director for Rep. Rahm Emanuel and policy director for the House Democratic Caucus. The views expressed are his own. –

A few years from now, when our economy has regained its stride, we may look back to a little-noticed announcement last Monday that spurred the resurgence. Amid swine-flu hysteria and First 100 Days hoopla, President Obama quietly announced a commitment to spending three percent of the U.S. GDP on science research and development.

This is a profoundly important step, but if we are to continue to lead the world, the United States must also develop a comprehensive policy to foster innovation. For too long, the United States has lived in a “next month” mindset when it came to our economy. This short-termitis has led to sub-prime lending, credit card debt and a general lack of long-term planning. And in no place has this been more evident than in the sciences.

The green-collar economy

van-jonesVan Jones is founding president of Green For All, and author of “The Green Collar Economy,” In this interview with PopTech! he describes a plan to create millions of new jobs that can’t be outsourced, wean the country off its dependence on foreign oil, and take bold steps to address the climate crisis.

Green business and the conscience premium

bryan-welch-ogden-publicationsWelch is the publisher and editorial director of Ogden Publications, home to Mother Earth News and Utne Reader. Any opinions expressed are his own.

Green business is arguably the most important marketing innovation of the century. And it’s here to stay.

When we talk about green business, we’re really talking about the provenance of the products and services we sell. A business is green if its creators take into account its impact on the environment, and on society. Like a historic work of art, a pair of running shoes now has a provenance – a chain of collaborators, stakeholders and events that led to its appearance in your closet.

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