Moniz & Karsner: Expanding California’s Leadership for a Clean Energy Future

 

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — administrations we worked for — shared a set of common, bipartisan goals for addressing the world’s climate change challenges: a rigorous, science-based approach, an appreciation for the powerful role of globally interdependent markets, and an understanding of how leadership in clean energy innovation helps advance U.S. interests at home and around the globe.

Our commitment to these goals translated into actions: support for energy and environmental policies to strengthen security and reduce pollution, particularly greenhouse gas emissions (GHG); increased investments in shared prosperity of energy innovation; and agile adaptation of technology, policy and markets to help accelerate the clean energy transition.

Fast forward to 2018. The Trump Administration has taken several steps that would slow the steady progress we have made in reducing CO2 and other GHG emissions. This backsliding includes withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, unsupported federal interventions in utility markets to prop up uncompetitive aging coal plants, removing future constraints on power plant emissions, and an effort to roll back auto fuel efficiency standards to levels behind those in many emerging economies.

Then there is California — shining light on its outsized role in addressing climate change and energy security. California represents the fifth largest economy in the world — its innovations, policies and markets have enormous influence, especially when it brings together business, labor, community, environmental and technology interests that look for a fair and equitable deal for all constituents.

Success in meeting the two-degree goal established in the Paris Accord requires significant emission reductions from all sectors — electricity, transportation, buildings and industry. California’s continued leadership in the transportation sector by protecting vehicle emissions and efficiency standards already on the books is essential, replicable and scalable.

However, electricity is the sector that has the greatest potential for early deep decarbonization, and California’s actions here are also transformative. That is why the current legislative deliberations in California on SB100, a bill that would aspire to the deepest electricity emissions reductions legislated thus far, are so consequential.

California already has a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that requires power companies to generate 50% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030, a goal that will likely be met ten years ahead of schedule. Building on this success, SB100 would increase the percentage of renewable generation to 60% and importantly establish a goal of 100% zero-emissions electricity by 2045, which should be a technology neutral “clean energy standard” (CES) that would build on the robust RPS and facilitate meeting stringent economy-wide targets.

We should not limit our options or capabilities for achieving deep decarbonization — it is the timely outcome that matters more than the technology mix to achieve it.

A technology neutral CES supports a wider range of options for reliably cutting carbon emissions steepest and cheapest. An effective CES should be system-wide zero net power sector emissions, encouraging more flexibility and innovation than mandating zero emissions from each source independently. This allows, for example, for optimizing the roles of efficiency, biosphere carbon sequestration, natural gas with carbon capture and sequestration, and market design (including appropriate credits) to make significant contributions. Maximum flexibility to take advantage of technology advances across the board will lead to the strongest portfolio of affordable solutions, not just in California but in other regions as well, and California’s success is certainly linked to regional solutions.

Meeting our climate goals and accelerating the clean energy transition will, however, require advances over time in our understanding of new technologies and the interactions between policies, public attitudes and technologies. We will need to understand better and then address issues such as the reliability, resilience and security of electricity distribution systems, long term storage to accommodate variable renewables, land use challenges associated with very large deployments of utility scale wind and solar generation, and the imperative of equitably providing affordable clean electricity for all consumers, not just those who can afford solar panels on their rooftops.

Massachusetts and California, our home states, demonstrate the value of bipartisanship, and leadership by example. We are proud of their commitments to ensuring that America’s future is clean, green, secure, equitable, healthy and prosperous. These are the benefits of an inevitable clean energy future, accelerated affordably with ambitious policy proposals like SB 100 with a CES. In the absence of federal leadership, sensible legislation is again needed from America’s statehouses to catalyze national and global action. Such legislation together with continuing strong investments in clean energy innovation will take us to the goal sooner rather than later.

Governor Brown will soon host the Global Climate Action Summit, and California legislative action in the runup can capitalize on an extraordinary opportunity for national and global leadership. Setting ambitious, but achievable, stretch goals that can be flexibly met and spur innovation and prosperity is part of that leadership. SB100, eliminating net GHG emissions from the electricity sector through a CES helps answer that call.

Ernest J. Moniz, the CEO and President of the nonprofit Energy Futures Initiative, served as the thirteenth Secretary of Energy from 2013–2017.

Andy Karsner is Managing Partner of Emerson Collective and served as the ninth US Assistant Secretary of Energy for Efficiency and Renewable Energy from 2005–2008.

 

The Economist Cites EFI's Blockchain Report

Hope, hype and heresy as blockchains enter the energy business

TEPCO, Japan’s largest energy firm, is an unlikely advocate of techno-anarchy. The firm is best known for the meltdown at its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear-power plant in 2011, during which its buttoned-down executives showed corporate Japan at its most stultified. Yet it is trying to reinvent itself as a pioneer of one of the edgiest forms of energy. It is embracing blockchain technology with an aim, no less, of overthrowing the old order in the electricity business to make it more decentralised.

Blockchains, the technologies on which bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are built, may at first appear to be an uneasy fit with the energy business. Electricity has in the past been generated centrally, run across vast physical grids, with constant management by system operators to keep power flowing smoothly. Blockchains are distributed digital ledgers, which are not managed by a central authority, but collectively by a group of users. If anything, cryptocurrency blockchains are a drain on energy rather than a support for it. Digiconomist, a blog, estimates that just one bitcoin transaction uses as much electricity as an average household in the Netherlands uses in a month.

Yet in an era when more businesses, communities and households are generating their own energy, chiefly via solar and wind power, startups and big utilities alike believe blockchains will help speed the move towards decentralisation. They are finding ways to do this with minimal energy consumption.

There is lots of hype and a degree of heresy, given that stodgy utilities are making use of an anti-establishment technology. Almost all blockchain applications are still experimental. But the scope of potential blockchain-energy businesses is so wide that there may be successes to come. The applications range from ways to promote buying, selling or trading of clean energy between individuals (also called peer-to-peer trading), to balancing wholesale electricity markets (ensuring that supply always matches demand), to trading carbon credits. Further uses are enabling households to provide charging stations for electric cars, and funding the development of solar power in poor countries.

Numbers are hazy. The Energy Futures Initiative, a think-tank led by Ernest Moniz, a former American energy secretary, says that $100m-300m has been invested in over 100 blockchain-related energy ventures. Specialists at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an American think-tank, say most investment so far has gone into peer-to-peer trading and grid-balancing applications. A “try-anything” attitude prevails. “It is like looking at cell phones circa 1995 and not knowing what the future of mobile communications will be,” says Sam Hartnett of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a non-profit venture aimed at developing core blockchain technology for the energy industry.

Read the full story here

EFI's Kenderdine joins the University of Chicago as a Visiting Fellow

The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) is pleased to welcome McKie Campbell, former staff director of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Melanie Kenderdine, former director of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis and Energy Counselor to the Secretary, as the 2018-2019 Visiting Fellows in Policy Practice. Campbell and Kenderdine will share their perspectives and expertise in a series of events, workshops and public discussions, as well as serve as resources for students and the Institute. 

Kenderdine will lecture at EPIC in addition to her role at the Energy Futures Initiative, where she remains a Principal.

“We are thrilled to welcome Melanie and McKie, whose decades of experience in energy and environmental policy will be invaluable to EPIC and the larger University of Chicago community,” says Michael Greenstone, director of EPIC and the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics. “Having played high-profile roles in major energy policy debates, their insight will help us bridge the divide between research and policy as we work to confront today’s energy challenges with practical, data-driven solutions.”

McKie Campbell, managing partner of BlueWater Strategies LLC, has more than 30 years of governmental and private sector energy and natural resource experience. Before joining BlueWater Strategies, Campbell was the staff director of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee under Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). In that role, Campbell worked with lawmakers from both parties in Congress and federal agencies on a wide variety of energy and natural resource issues and legislative efforts, including electric generation and transmission, hydropower, nuclear energy, oil and gas development, carbon capture and sequestration, mining development, land use and more. Prior to his tenure in Washington D.C., Campbell worked on natural resource policy in Alaska. Among his positions, he was deputy chief of staff in the governor’s office and the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. 

“Energy policy has profound implications for both our economy and our environment. Too often, however, policy makers and advocates substitute partisan alignment for analysis,” says Campbell. “EPIC and the University of Chicago have become national leaders in cutting through the arguments and bringing parties together for careful fact and research based consideration. I’m honored by the invitation to be a visiting fellow.”

Melanie Kenderdine, a principal at Energy Future Initiatives, held senior-level positions at the U.S. Department of Energy under two administrations. Most recently, she served as the energy counselor to Secretary Ernest J. Moniz and director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis. In this role, she wrote or edited two installments of the Quadrennial Energy Review, and provided key strategic advice on a broad range of issues across the department. Prior to that, Kenderdine was the Executive Director of the MIT Energy Initiative. Kenderdine also held several posts in the Clinton administration, including senior policy advisor to the secretary, director of the Office of Policy, and deputy assistant secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs. Prior to serving in the Clinton Administration, Kenderdine was chief of staff for New Mexico Congressman Bill Richardson. In 2014, she was named by the National Journal one of the top five women in Washington shaping energy policy and is the longest serving political appointee in DOE’s 40-year history.

“Universities are our nation’s most credible source of unbiased and evidence-based research,” says Kenderdine. “EPIC and the University of Chicago are helping to lead the charge in bringing this vital research out of academia and into government where it can make a real difference in shaping successful policies. I’m looking forward to sharing my insights from my time in government to contribute to this important goal.” 

In their role as visiting policy fellows, Campbell and Kenderdine will lead a series of events centered on the practical realities of the political landscape in energy and environmental policymaking. Cutting-edge research coming out of the University of Chicago will serve as the launching pad to frame these deep-dive conversations, as the researchers, Campbell, and Kenderdine debate ways to translate the research into policy. The first event as part of this series will be announced this fall. 

Campbell and Kenderdine join as EPIC’s Visiting Fellows in Policy Practice program marks its second year. The inaugural fellows were Jeff Holmstead, former Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Air and Radiation and currently a partner at Bracewell, LLP, and Sue Tierney, former Assistant Secretary for Policy at DOE and currently a senior advisor at Analysis Group. Holmstead and Tierney headlined events exploring the pros, cons and lessons learned from hydraulic fracturing and Americans’ attitudes toward energy and climate change policy more broadly.

 

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Ernest Moniz Receives the Inaugural Carnegie Science Public Service Award

Washington, DC: Former Energy Secretary and nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz received Carnegie’s inaugural Richard A. Meserve Public Service award in recognition of his “exemplary leadership and accomplishment in furthering public understanding of science.”

Named after Carnegie's president emeritus, the honor was created to recognize science educators, policymakers, philanthropists, and outreach-oriented research scientists who make exceptional contributions to the scientific enterprise through advancing the public’s understanding of science and its role in the betterment of humankind.

“Ernest Moniz is more than just a fine physicist, he’s also a dedicated public servant, and an effective science communicator,” said Carnegie Trustee Rush Holt, who is the Chief Executive Officer of AAAS the and Executive Publisher of Science. “He’s what they call a triple threat, so he was the perfect choice to honor with this inaugural public service award.”

Moniz headed the Department of Energy from 2013 through January 2017, during which time he led the fight against climate change, advanced nuclear security, and promoted technological innovation. He previously served as DOE Under Secretary between 1997 and January 2001, and on MIT’s faculty between 1973 and 2013. Today, he is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chair of the Board of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Futures Initiative, as well as a Special Advisor to the MIT President.

Moniz received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Boston College and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Stanford University.  He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Humboldt Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

EFI's Julio Friedmann Talks Carbon Capture Challenges with the Breakthrough Institute

 Julio Friedmann chats with Emma Brush, Managing Editor at the Breakthrough Institute and Alex Trembath, Communications Director at Breakthrough.

Julio Friedmann chats with Emma Brush, Managing Editor at the Breakthrough Institute and Alex Trembath, Communications Director at Breakthrough.

EFI Distinguished Associate Julio Friedmann appeared on the Breakthrough Institute’s podcast Breakthrough Dialogues to outline the challenges of CCS (carbon capture and storage) technologies. “We are all on the clock and winning slowly is the same as losing,” he said.  “If we want to go after carbon emissions then regulating carbon is the most obvious thing to do.”

Listen to Julio’s conversation here 

 

 

Moniz on Attending Vatican Climate Dialogue

On June 7-9, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development hosted a dialogue, “The Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home.”

The event, sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, convened leaders in the oil and gas, renewable energy, and global investment sectors. Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems emeritus, participated in the dialogue at the Vatican and had the opportunity to meet with Pope Francis.

After the event, Moniz spoke with the MIT Energy Initiative — which he founded in 2006 as its inaugural director — on a few of the main themes and takeaways from the meeting.

 

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Brazil: Growth of US jobs in energy surpasses national growth rate

Economy / The US energy sector employed 6.5 million workers by 2017, an increase of 133,000 jobs over the previous year, according to the US Energy & Employment Report (USEER) , which has just been released by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO). Half of them - 67,000 - were created by energy efficiency companies.

The growth rate of energy jobs was 2%, slightly above the national average of 1.7%. But this growth scenario is not accompanied by supply: more than two out of three companies heard (70%) reported difficulties in hiring skilled workers in the last 12 months. For 2018, the companies participating in the survey anticipated a 6.1% increase in employment, excluding the motor vehicle sector, indicating that the demand for skilled labor will remain warm.

The report looked at four sectors of the US energy industry: electric power generation and fuels; transmission, distribution and storage; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles. Jobs in the energy sector accounted for almost 7% of all new jobs across the country in 2017. 

Jobs in natural gas electricity generation have continued to grow, adding more than 19,000 new jobs as natural gas continues to rise to the number one fuel point for US electricity generation. Solar energy companies have employed totally or partially 350,000 people by 2017. This represents a reduction of 24,000 solar jobs by 2017 - the first net loss of jobs since solar jobs were compiled for the first time in 2010. 

The USEER, and its appendix providing statistical details for all 50 states, are available for download at www.USEenergyjobs.org .

 

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EFI Policy Paper: How the 45Q Credit May Spur Carbon Capture Innovation

WASHINGTON (May 23, 2018) -- The Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), the nonprofit think tank established by former Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, today released a report on how the expansion of the 45Q tax credit can potentially encourage the use and development of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies. The report offers recommendations on what policymakers must still do to maximize innovation in carbon capture in the ongoing effort to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and build a low-carbon energy economy.               

The 45Q tax credit, part of the Bipartisan Budget Act passed in February, was supported by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in Congress. In the Senate, the bill was sponsored by Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). In the House, Congressman Mike Conaway, Republican of the 11th Congressional District in Texas, led a coalition of 44 members from both parties backing to tax credit.

                ``The new tax provisions, while important and generous, are just a start,’’ said Dr. S. Julio Friedmann, an expert on carbon capture technologies who was the lead author of the EFI report. ``Our report identifies gaps that may limit deployment, and discusses the comprehensive measures that could maximize opportunity, which includes encouraging more robust investment and innovation.’’

Among the report’s findings:

  • The 45Q tax provisions represent a major policy action to reduce CO2 emissions from power and industrial sources.
  • The EFI report predicts that the fastest and largest uptake will be at industrial facilities with pure CO2 sources, like ethanol plants, refineries, and ammonia producers.
  • That there is still a need for a more comprehensive set of new policies to achieve broader deployment of CCUS in the US, especially in the power sector.
  • Overall, the extension of 45Q will spur CCS deployment that in turn will help communities, create jobs, stimulate investment and help maintain US competitiveness and innovation.

Editor’s Note: In the section ``Regulation and Permitting’’ on page 19, a passage of text regarding monitoring, reporting and verification requirements was transposed. The text was corrected on May 23 and the report was reposted, with footnote 73 noting the change.  

Download the full report

 

Sen. Maria Cantwell's Remarks at the U.S. Energy Jobs Report Launch

I want to thank the Energy Futures Initiative and National Association of State Energy Office for their help with this critical report. We are here because we know the energy sector is the third largest in the United States and is continuing to grow. We know that there are ever increasing technologies that are related to both renewables and energy efficiency that make our cars, our homes, our buildings, and even us, smarter and it all drives down costs to both consumers and businesses. 

So that is a great phenomenon, but it is also happening at the same time as another phenomenon and that is an aging energy workforce. The average age of a utility worker is 47 years old and about 47% of all transmission distribution workers will be eligible to retire in the next several years.  We know that we need to train and skill the next generation of energy workers. Our nation is embarking on one of the greatest economic opportunities, and that is a clean, efficient energy economy. I can tell you, as someone who comes from a state that has produced three to four cents per kilowatt hour rates; it continues to drive our economy over and over again. 

At the opening of our National Nordic Museum in Ballard, Washington, attended by the President of Iceland, I said, “who would have thought that you and I would be sitting here talking about Bitcoin lending and taxation for the state of Washington and Iceland?” We can compete for low prices, so we both have been taken over by that sector. 

Consumers and businesses, we know, will demand new services and new technologies along with low carbon solutions. I can’t tell you how much this is playing out in the state of Washington where every company, whether it’s Microsoft or Amazon or Google, is looking to distinguish themselves with the energy mix that they purchase. To say to their consumers that their portfolio is made up of no or low carbon energy solutions. 

We want to continue ensuring the United States is a leader in developing these [energy] technologies and in training a workforce that will help us deliver on them. One of the sectors examined by the U.S. Energy and Employment Report is energy efficiency, which already employs millions of Americans and is predicated to grow. 

Read full remarks
 

Moniz to Introduce the 2018 U.S. Jobs Report on Capitol Hill

Washington (May 10, 2018) -- On May 16, 2018, The Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), will publicly release the 2018 U.S. Energy & Employment Report (USEER). This is the third installment of the energy jobs survey established by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2016, which offers data on employment trends in four key energy sectors. 

The 1-hour presentation will be held in the Senate Visitors Center, Room 212-10, at 10 a.m. Eastern time. (To view the livestream click here.) Please note that attendees must be on the visitors list to gain entry to the event. Please email Tessa Browne at or call 202-688-0010 to be placed on the guest list. 

The 2018 USEER will be presented by former Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, President and CEO of EFI. He will be joined by David Terry, Executive Director of NASEO, and David Foster, the author of the report. The event will be livestreamed on the NASEO and EFI websites (www.energyfuturesinitiative.orgwww.naseo.org).

“The USEER has proven to be an important tool for state energy officials, who will use this unique set of `all of the above’ energy jobs data to inform policy development and planning,’’ said David Terry of NASEO.

The USEER and its State appendix will be available for download at from 10 a.m. Eastern time on May 16. It will also be available on the NASEO and EFI websites. 

Read full release here

Moniz & McLarty: 5 Ways to Modernize NAFTA by Focusing on Energy

EFI CEO Ernest J. Moniz teamed up with Thomas F. ''Mack'' McLarty III for an opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News on the importance of keeping energy at the forefront of the NAFTA renegotiations:

Surrounded by roaring crowds at his rallies, candidate Donald Trump assailed multilateral agreements and threatened to rip up NAFTA, characterizing it as "the worst trade deal ever." Indeed, Trump's suspicion of trade dates back to the 1980s when he first began to engage on the issue.

As president, he continues to be suspicious. On day three of his presidency, he withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (although he may be having second thoughts) and more recently slapped harsh tariffs on steel and aluminum imports — sparing Mexico and Canada only for now.

Despite the push to achieve an "agreement in principle" on the North American Free Trade Agreement for last week's Summit of the Americas, the temptation to withdraw remains. In a recent cabinet meeting, the president told reporters, "We are fairly close on NAFTA and if we don't make the right deal, we'll terminate NAFTA and we'll make the right deal after that."

We each learned firsthand that achieving international accords is never easy. As chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, one of us helped pass NAFTA 25 years ago. As secretary of energy under President Barack Obama, the other worked to deepen trilateral energy integration, frequently engaging our neighbors to the north and south on a wide range of energy issues.

We are confident that it's possible to reach the modernized NAFTA that the president promised, building on its foundations and expanding fair and reciprocal trade, with energy at the heart of these efforts.

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