Carbon Footprint Analysis of Economic Recovery Package 3

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 05 Feb 2009 15:30:00 GMT

Greenpeace will release the results of a carbon footprint analysis of the economic recovery package via teleconference this Thursday at 10:30 am ET (details below). The analysis was conducted by ICF International, a leading climate and energy consulting firm for governments, Fortune 500 companies, and non-profits (http://www.icfi.com/).

  • ICF International: William Grayson and Dr. Joel Bluestein
  • Greenpeace: Kert Davies, Research Director and Steven Biel, Global Warming Campaign Director

According to several recent studies, global warming will create a major drag on the U.S. and world economies – $271 billion in the United States alone by 2025 according to NRDC, and 5 – 20 percent of global GDP by 2100, according to the U.K. government’s Stern Review. An effective economic stimulus must also reduce global warming through spending on energy efficiency, conservation, clean energy, and clean transportation options.

Teleconference participants will discuss how the different provisions of the stimulus package will affect the climate in the short and long run and will discuss the climate and related economic impact of different stimulus proposals and amendments under consideration.

Dial-in number: 1-319-279-1000
Toll free dial-in number: 1-866-399-5852
Participant pin: 1001217#

RSVP to michael.crocker@greenpeace.org; confirmed teleconference attendees will get an advanced look at the report.

Obama Recovery Plan Invests in Smart Grid, Encourages Decoupling

Posted by Wonk Room Sat, 31 Jan 2009 19:44:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Smart GridThe Obama economic recovery plan makes a major investment in the modernization of our electricity infrastructure, in order to transform an often-overwhelmed patchwork of balkanized regional networks into a national “smart grid” based on Internet-like technology. Repower America, Al Gore’s campaign to have America use 100% renewable electricity in ten years, argues that a national smart grid “will save money, increase reliability and protect consumers from outages, and make possible a clean electricity system.”

Building a smart grid requires both new technology and regulatory policy. In addition to a $20 billion investment in smart grid deployment, the recovery plan offers $2 billion in grants to promote a subtle but key shift in electric utility regulatory policy:
Policies that ensure that a utility’s recovery of prudent fixed costs of service is timely and independent of its retail sales, without in the process shifting prudent costs from variable to fixed charges.

Traditional electricity utility pricing discourages utilities from promoting conservation and efficiency—instead, the more wasteful their consumers are, the better. So demand goes up, utilities build new power plants, and still costs rise. Utility shareholders’ interests are pitted against the rest of society.

Therefore, several states have implemented policies that decouple profitability (“recovery of prudent fixed costs of service”) from demand (“retail sales”), by using public funds and rate adjustments to guarantee an expected annual profit for the utility company and to subsidize investment in energy efficiency.

Obama’s economic recovery package contains $2 billion in state-level block grants that will be released “only if the governor of the recipient State notifies the Secretary of Energy that the governor will seek, to the extent of his or her authority, to ensure” that decoupling and energy efficiency incentive programs will occur.

Because our electrical infrastructure is a vital public resource, the profits of utility executives and shareholders must not be put above the public good. As Public Citizen warns, decoupling for unregulated utilities can lead to “windfall profits for the industry.” The California electricity debacle exposed the great failure of the experiment of utility deregulation, and the recovery package does not go far enough to bring utilities back under control.

President Obama, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and legislators like Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) have stated that our entire nation needs to move to a low-carbon economy as rapidly as possible, highlighting transformation of the electricity grid as a key component.

Full decoupling language in the House-passed economic recovery package (HR 1):

SEC. 7006. ADDITIONAL STATE ENERGY GRANTS.

(a) In General- Amounts appropriated in paragraph (6) under the heading ‘Department of Energy-Energy Programs-Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’ in title V of division A of this Act shall be available to the Secretary of Energy for making additional grants under part D of title III of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6321 et seq.). The Secretary shall make grants under this section in excess of the base allocation established for a State under regulations issued pursuant to the authorization provided in section 365(f) of such Act only if the governor of the recipient State notifies the Secretary of Energy that the governor will seek, to the extent of his or her authority, to ensure that each of the following will occur:

(1) The applicable State regulatory authority will implement the following regulatory policies for each electric and gas utility with respect to which the State regulatory authority has ratemaking authority:

(A) Policies that ensure that a utility’s recovery of prudent fixed costs of service is timely and independent of its retail sales, without in the process shifting prudent costs from variable to fixed charges. This cost shifting constraint shall not apply to rate designs adopted prior to the date of enactment of this Act.

(B) Cost recovery for prudent investments by utilities in energy efficiency.

(C) An earnings opportunity for utilities associated with cost-effective energy efficiency savings.

Senate Appropriators Add $50 Billion Nuclear Spending to Recovery Plan 4

Posted by Wonk Room Fri, 30 Jan 2009 19:32:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Three Mile IslandOn Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase “clean energy” loan guarantees by $50 billion in the economic recovery package (S. 336). This sum “would more than double the current loan guarantee cap of $38 billion” for “clean energy” technology:

TITLE 17—INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM

The Committee also recommends an additional $50,000,000,000 to support the deployment of eligible technologies under the Section 1702(b)(2) of EPACT 2005 that will contribute to transforming the energy sector. This funding will add to the existing loan guarantee authority provided in other appropriations bills to support self-financed loan guarantees. The Committee is aware of the strong interest in the program and the large number of pending applications.

In contrast, the committee allocated only $9.5 billion exclusively for “standard renewable energy projects.” Although the loan guarantee program covers nuclear technology, carbon capture and sequestration for coal plants, coal-to-liquids projects, and renewable energy, the vast bulk of requested loans – $122 billion – are for new nuclear power plants. This $50 billion nuclear line item nearly matches the total allocation for genuinely clean energy in the House version of the stimulus package: only $52 billion in total for smart grid, renewable energy, and energy efficiency investments.

Unlike renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, investments in the nuclear industry generate few jobs or economic growth. The nuclear industry has developed through massive federal subsidization from research to deployment over decades. Such a massive expenditure of nuclear pork has no place in the economic recovery bill, according Brent Blackwelder of Friends of the Earth, who discovered the expenditure. Blackwelder called the appropriations “unconscionable”:
Now is not the time for another bailout boondoggle. Nuclear power is the most expensive form of energy there is. It takes 10 years or more to build a reactor, so it is impossible to claim with a straight face that this preemptive bailout has anything to do with creating jobs. Senate appropriators’ decision to include such wasteful spending in the stimulus is an example of Washington at its worst.