Leaders from the public and private sectors met in Washington, DC on February 23rd to discuss ideas to reform U.S. energy
policy, and pave the wave for our economic future part 14/16.
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National Clean Energy Project Part 14/16
Michael Thaman: Thank you Senator Worth and thank you for having us join this wonderful event and this great coalition. It’s been an interesting morning. I think we've talked about some fascinating technologies on both the fuel source side, as well as the grid in the infrastructure side. I guess I’d like to take us further down the grid all the way to the home and into office building. You know the place where we sit and the place where we live.
We do believe the American people get it, but we also know from our research that less than 25% of Americans understand that the single biggest user of energy in our country is residential- commercial buildings. 40% of the energy in our country is used in homes and buildings, 74% of the electricity. So if we’re really going to take on the issue of the grid, I guess I would echo President Clinton’s comments. The first thing we need to do is start walking today on the energy efficiency of the places where we work and live.
For most of us, unless we’re wealthy enough to hire an architect to build us a home or we’re big enough corporation of government to be involved in design phase of our building, we inherit that infrastructure that we live in. And this is an important part of the infrastructure of our country and really I don’t think our policy generally deals with construction as though it’s a part of our nation’s infrastructure in fact it is.
I think there’s an opportunity through this coalition and through new policy to establish a public private partnership between good government regulation that establishes performance standards and construction that encourage us to get to higher levels of efficiency that gives incentives in existing buildings to get them to higher levels of efficiency; we’ll see that with weatherization. We are eager to get in the game. I'm trying to figure out how to get the weatherization money into the marketplace to get our economy to be more energy-efficient.
We believe with the size of this challenge that has to be a critical and visible element of any solution and definitely this coalition is up to that challenge.
Sen. Worth: Great! Thank you very much and we appreciate that Mike of Owen-Corning has certainly been a leader along with your sort of sister company I guess Corning in terms of the revolution that existed before in fiber optics.
Nat Simons, do you want to give us a window on your perspective of how philanthropy and organized philanthropy is helping to engage the public and keep the standard as high as possible?
Nat Simons: Thank you Senator Worth. I don’t have anything really prepared to say today be I really was thinking about everything that everybody was saying around the room. But in thinking about the conversation to that, I have been struck with a couple of things.
I've only been working on this issue and the issue of climate change and energy is really what we’re focused on entirely at this point. For a short time, we don’t have the perspective as many of the people in this room, and it is interesting because I remember talking to many people and the first really large thing I got involved with was with the Energy Foundation Rose McKinney James and Eric Heitz at the back there on the issue of Renewable Portfolio Standard, Renewable Energy Standard and also CAFE standard and try to push that through in ‘07 and we didn’t get the RES through as people all around this table know. We did get the CAFE through and that was very exciting and to me it was well that was good and now let’s keep going.
And to see the reaction of everybody in the environmental community and this energy community as to how dramatic that was I didn’t feel that. I'm like okay well that’s just the first step we have many things to do obviously. And I think that to see a group of people around the table and to see the consensus that surrounds this table that we have to get moving is obviously very exciting. But, as Governor Pataki so eloquently said when the rubber hits the road or I suppose when the electrons hit the grid I suppose is by word saying it, then it’s a different game.
And I think that the role of philanthropy is more than anything to just facilitate the process. There are many different stakeholders and they all have to be brought together. The Grid is perhaps the best example that we can think of I think where there are many desperate interest and to get it done quickly is going to take a Herculine effort from all sides. Because it’s not really a question of whether we move to a low carbon economy, I think it’s clear that we’re moving there and it’s clear that we’re going there. I think there is probably complete consensus around the room if that’s going to happen. The question is how quickly.
So, the role of philanthropy is really to facilitate that process in every respect because it’s not going to be ramming something down the throat of certain people. We know that that’s not going to work we’ve seen that—we’ve watched that movie before and we know it’s not going to happen. And we can’t take this momentum and let it stall. So philanthropist, foundations have a huge responsibility. They can’t put this on the ground. They can’t build the windmills. We can’t build the new generation of efficient cars. We can help to facilitate the process. We don’t have any stakeholders that we have to represent. We can represent the United States, we can represent humanity. We can do the things that need to happen to bring people together to find common ground and to move the ball forward and I think that that’s really the role that philanthropy needs to continue to do.
And on last note, again, there are many, many great work—much great work has been done by philanthropist and certainly by NGO’s and working with Carl Pope at Sierra Club and many, many others. But there just needs to be capital to move in from philanthropy. There needs to be more funders and I think that foundations are starting to understand that that they have many legacy positions, some of them are constrain by their mandate. But everything which they do is going to be jeopardized by climate change. All the good work that they do—feeding people, clothing people, educating people, trying to raise up the world from poverty is all jeopardized by climate change. So it’s in everybody’s interest this happens. And I certainly hope that more capital comes in from existing foundations and from new foundations and hopefully we can—because it’s needed. It’s really needed.
Senator Worth: Nat thank you very much, and that certainly is reflective of earlier comments from President Clinton we’re going to hear from in closing in just a minute.
Before getting to closing, let me ask Jon Wellinghoff from FERC or Fred Butler from NARUC both of them had been part of it has been discussed earlier this morning, both of them in a critical regulatory positions from the Federal Authority and the State Regulatory Authority that either of them have a closing summary comments they might like to add to the discussion. Jon.
Jon Wellinghoff: Thank you Senator Worth and again I want to thank Senator Reid and John Podesta for putting this together and having me here with this great group of people and the topics we’re addressing here.
In summary I think what we have to remember here is certainly what Congressman Markey and Robert Kennedy said and that is that the framework of the markets has to be left and right. And taking up President Clinton’s theme of not forgetting about energy efficiency in framing those markets right which forecasted responsibility over the wholesale electric markets, we need to ensure the consumers understand their part and can be part of those markets that in fact they can play a part in being integral part of the grid with the main response of what I call dispatchable conservation. And so, hopefully a good portion of the $11 billion that we have in stimulus package will be used for augmenting and encouraging this dispatchable conservation so consumers in essence can participate in the grid. Once they can participate, once that they can see how they can control their loads—we control the load in this building, we control the load to the residential building in a way they can help the grid. Ultimately that will have the effect of making consumers know that what were doing overall with site and transmission and putting renewables in is to what they are doing as well on their grid side.
And we talked about earlier needing storage, I think we have plenty of storage in this country. The thermal mass and the buildings in this country is more storage than we need. We just need to know how to control it. We have the way to control it from a standpoint of technology. We need the infrastructure, we need the communication standards and I think there is the discussion about communication standards and FERC is responsible to do standard for the Smart Grid working on NIST on that, it has to be done two-set faster. We need to get moving on that faster. If we can do that though consumers then can understand how they are part of this grid process. And being part of that grid process I think will humble the head much faster. Thank you.
Senator Worth: Thank you Jon. Fred Butler. I'm going to come back to Boone Pickens if I might.
Fred Butler: Thank you Senator. And let me once again thank the organizers of this.
It reinforces in my mind that we are living in an extraordinary time that we can sit around this table and have this discussion that we need to have. I've repeatedly said that the times we live in remind me of the opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities—it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a time of reason, it was a time on insanity.
We all know why it’s the worst of times—the economy and what we’re dealing with. But it’s the best of times because we’re focusing on some issues that we have not been able to focus on for a long, long time and that is a good thing. Now, we isolated three components of this which was planning, deciding and cost allocations. Let me focus on the planning aspect and talk about the position of the states which I represent from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in addition to being a regulator in my own state of New Jersey.
The members of congress know how difficult it is to get consensus among the 50 states. I have my own little congress of 237 semi- utility commissioners and it’s very difficult to get consensus from them. And consensus has been for the last number of years that we are opposed to federal takeover of the deciding responsibility and that continues to be the position. However, there has been a discussion that is ensued among those states that is leading to consideration of perhaps a shared responsibility but the planning process needs to start with the states and the state plans and the state perspectives and then go into sort of more regional approach then we can talk some more about who has the ultimate deciding authority. Because if you have involvement in the planning process when the line is drawn and you can say, “Yes, we realized that that level of transmission needs to be built, that that amount of transmission needs to be built and it needs to be built here.” in general here then states can get more involved and can get on board.
I also think that it helps explain to the public at large who are going to be impacted by that transmission line and believe me I have studied transmission lines and I have studied gas pipe lines and the transmission lines are the ones that get in people face and the ones that they get upset about and they come to state capitols and state commissions. So the states are moving, the states are thinking about this. I'm here to tell you that we’re willing to work and work to a solution that we can all live with. Thank you.
Senator Worth: Thank you very much Fred and you’ve certainly pointed two of the major issues that Senator Reid and his legislation are going to have to grapple with on the regulatory jurisdictional issue and deciding issue overlapping and very complicated, very difficult but absolutely critical.