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Posts Tagged ‘green jobs’

Freight ShuttleOn September 9th, Adrian Shelley and I went to Bryan, Texas, to watch the unveiling of the Freight Shuttle System (FSS), a technology  currently being built and tested by Freight Shuttle International. Dr. Stephen Roop, chief scientist at Freight Shuttle International and and professor at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, opened the unveiling with a press briefing sharing his vision. The FSS is an electric, autonomous shuttle powered by a linear induction motor, providing low friction to the steel wheels running on steel lines, similar to train tracks. The FSS combines elements of truck and train transport – single shuttles run on a track similar to a train track, and according to Dr. Roop’s vision, those tracks would be elevated from other modes of transportation to reduce congestion, provide a strong level of predictability and non-stop service, and reduce infrastructure damage often associated with truck transportation. 

Dr. Roop noted the emissions of the FSS are tied to the source of power. What that means is that the FSS itself would generate no point-of-source pollution like the cancer-causing pollution created by diesel engines currently on the road. Furthermore, because the FSS would operate under DC voltage, it could be tied easily to renewable energy. In that way, the FSS could take advantage of the increasing access to renewable energy in Texas and potentially be net zero in terms of carbon pollution.

Adrian and Stephanie with Freight Shuttle

Adrian and Stephanie with Freight Shuttle

The FSS is not designed to transport hazardous or toxic materials, and although it could possibly be used to transport people, it is intended now to be separate from people – that is to be contained within a separate line so that the roads and highways can be used for people, not cargo.

The Port of Houston Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with Freight Shuttle International and is planning to use the FSS to transport cargo between its container terminals, Bayport and Barbour’s Cut. Freight Shuttle International stated that the FSS line could be operational within 3 years.

 

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Back in the 1990s, the EPA introduced rules to stop acid rain by cutting the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Critics thought it couldn’t be done, but inventive engineers came up with new and better ways to scrub the pollutants out of the smokestacks.

Now the same is believed for the newly proposed EPA regulations on carbon emissions, but there are many reasons to disagree with the skeptics. Many opposed are saying that the new regulations will bring elevated electricity bills and even plunge the nation into blackouts. But, in reality, emissions cuts have already been achieved in some states and those states are faring better economically than many other parts of the United States.

The new EPA carbon rules in a nutshell:

  • EPA logoBy 2030 the EPA seeks to reduce America’s carbon dioxide emissions 30% from 2005 levels.
  • States will have until June 30, 2016 (with the potential for some extensions) to come up with a plan on how to implement the rule and reduce their average emissions per megawatt-hour of electricity. If they refuse the EPA says it will impose its own plan.

Success Stories:

One way that some states have got a foot up on meeting the emissions standards is by joining the Northeastern cap-and-trade program known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which first put in a carbon cap in 2009. In the cap-and-trade system, the participating state governments placed an upper limit on total carbon emissions and issued permits for those emissions, which companies bought and sold from one another.

Nine northeastern states have already entered the program and have substantially reduced their carbon emissions in recent years. At the same time, those states have had stronger economic growth than the rest of the country.

Since 2009, the nine states have cut their emissions by 18 percent, while their economies grew by 9.2 percent. By comparison, emissions in the other 41 states fell by 4 percent, while their economies grew by 8.8 percent.

The states in the program reduced emissions faster and more efficiently than was previously assumed, and this gives a ray of hope to the rest of the United States. The sharp cut in emissions in the Northeast did not inhibit the economy there from doing just as well as elsewhere.

What’s the Problem, then?

Martin_LakeSome of the biggest opposition to the new regulations comes from heavily coal dependent states. However, many of them have been given more moderate goals to meet with the new regulations due to their reliance on coal and their limited renewable energy resources. But even in states that have made big cuts, the Obama plan is inciting some wariness with officials in those regions, who are pointing out that the plan would burden them with rigorous targets requiring them to go further in reducing emissions.

There are many different options that states can choose between when determining how to cut carbon emissions though. While cutting emissions in general is the goal, the ways of achieving those cuts can either push progress forward even more or just do what little needs to be done in order to meet the requirements. By choosing to rely on energy storage and renewable energy sources states will be able to not only cut emissions but help the world to move forward in a more sustainable way, with economic benefits for those states.

Why is Energy Storage a good option?

Energy storage has the potential to not only cut costs, but also allow us to keep energy in reserves for the future and times of emergency. Energy Storage systems are also fuel neutral, which means regardless of how the energy was generated the storage systems can save it.

Energy storage cuts costs primarily by lowering the overall cost of electricity. It also allows customers to avoid premium pricing when demand for electricity is highest. But most importantly, energy storage helps to reduce the amount of power outages and equipment failures that take place as well as limiting the amount of time the power is out. This not only helps to save time and money but it also can help to save lives.

Why are renewables a good option?

solar installationRenewable resources are inexhaustible. They can be utilized without any fear of depletion. Unlike the burning of fossil fuels, which spew dangerous greenhouse gases that lead to global warming, wind and solar farms are emissions free. That is just one of the many reasons to convert to renewables. By switching there is also a great increase in job creation. In total there were 142,698 solar workers in the U.S. as of November 2013. This is a 20 percent increase over 2012 figures and ten times higher than the national average employment growth rate, which was 1.9 percent. Veterans also make up about 9 percent of the solar workforce compared with 7.5 percent of the national economy. These numbers are all very optimistic, but while the U.S. could see million of new jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency, this will only happen with the necessary leadership, research, development, and public policy at the federal and state levels. The new EPA regulations took that first step.

The potential ways of meeting the new EPA emissions regulations are in abundance, but the only way we will start seeing change is if we begin to implement those solutions. By turning to renewable energy sources and supporting energy storage we can make sure that our country is not only able to meet the EPA regulations but goes above and beyond and to help clean up and protect our earth to make it safe for our children and their future. It is already evident that states can cut emissions and still see economic growth, so what are we waiting for?

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It wouldn’t be a Texas legislative session without some truly backwards bills.  Today we have House Bill 2026 by freshman Representative Sanford of Collin county that would eliminate our state renewable energy goals.

BeachWindIn 1999, the state of Texas made a commitment to renewable energy in the form of the renewable portfolio standard (RPS).  That decision played a major role in spurring the development of the wind industry in Texas.

We have now exceeded the renewable energy goals established in the 2005 update to the RPS and Texas has more wind energy capacity than any other state.[1]  On the surface that may seem to indicate that the RPS has been 100% successful and is no longer needed, but that isn’t the case.

One of the major reasons for establishing the RPS was to encourage diversification of our energy sources, which ultimately makes us more resilient to physical and economic forces that can impact the availability and price of energy sources.  While wind energy has increased from zero percent when the RPS was first established to around ten percent today, other renewable energy sources are still largely absent from our energy portfolio.

With more solar energy potential than any other state, Texas should be the center point of the solar industry as well.[2]  Instead we are lagging behind states with far less solar resources, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania,[3] and are paying the price in missed opportunities for job growth and new generation capacity that can produce during peak demand.

Solar companies invest in California and other states, because smart policies created attractive markets in those places.  California has 1,505 solar companies compared to Texas’ 260. Even New Jersey has more, with 382.[4] Texas should be doing more, not less to attract solar businesses to our state.

SolarInstallProjections showing that we won’t have enough electricity to meet demand by 2020.[5]  The maximum wholesale price of electricity has been set to triple by 2015, without even determining what the cost to consumers will be.  There have been workshops and meetings to consider the prospect of implementing a capacity market in Texas, which would raise costs even more.  But little time has been spent considering simpler, cheaper solutions such as expanding efficiency and demand response (where customers get paid to reduce there energy usage for short periods of time when demand is high) and getting more solar capacity built in Texas.  Solar is most productive when we need it the most – on hot, sunny afternoons.

The RPS should be retooled to focus on solar and other renewable energy resources that are most capable of producing during peak demand.  Millions of dollars could be saved in the wholesale electric market if we had more solar panels installed.[6]

Solar, like wind, also has the benefit of needing very little water to operate.  Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations need an occasional cleaning to keep performance high, but the amount of water need is minimal in comparison to fossil fuel options.  Coal-fired generators need billions of gallons of water to operate each year[7] and while natural gas-fired generations consume less water than coal-fired generators, they still use more than solar, even without accounting for the millions of gallons of water used to extract the gas with hydraulic fracturing.[8]  Including more renewable energy in our portfolio will make our electric grid less vulnerable to drought[9] and will free up water supplies that are desperately needed for human consumption and agriculture.

Abandoning the RPS now would send a terrible signal to renewable energy companies that are deciding where to establish their businesses.  Our state made a commitment that isn’t set to expire until 2025 at the earliest.  There is no good reason to abandon the policy now.  We should be moving in the opposite direction of what is proposed in HB 2026.  Instead of giving up on a policy that has been successful, we should be looking at ways to build on that success and benefit our state.


[1] AWEA. “Wind Energy Facts: Texas.” Oct 2012. http://www.awea.org/learnabout/publications/factsheets/upload/3Q-12-Texas.pdf.

[2] NREL. “U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS Based Analysis.” July, 2012. Pg. 10-13. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51946.pdf.

[3] SEIA. Solar Industry Data. http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-industry-data#state_rankings.

[4] SEIA. State Solar Policy. http://www.seia.org/policy/state-solar-policy.

[5] “Report on the Capacity, Demand, and Reserves in the ERCOT Region.” Dec 2012. Pg 8. http://www.ercot.com/content/news/presentations/2012/CapacityDemandandReservesReport_Winter_2012_Final.pdf.

[6] Weiss, Jurgen, Judy Chang and Onur Aydin. “The Potential Impact of Solar PV on Electricity Markets in Texas.” The Brattle Group.  June 19, 2012. http://www.seia.org/sites/default/files/brattlegrouptexasstudy6-19-12-120619081828-phpapp01.pdf.

[7] “Environmental impacts of coal power: water use” Union of Concerned Scientists http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c02b.html

[8] http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/energy-and-water-use/water-energy-electricity-natural-gas.html

[9] Wu, M. and M. J. Peng.  “Developing a Tool to Estimate Water Use in Electric Power Generation in the United States.” Argonne National Laboratory – U.S. Department of Energy. http://greet.es.anl.gov/publication-watertool.

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algae-open-pondChlorella sp. is a species of algae that has a significant proportion of fatty acids to its body mass. For humans, this can be a problem. But, in a world needing more clean energy, fatty biomass is considered a promising option by many scientists and engineers.

Why algae? Algae can grow in a body of water almost anywhere. We don’t need to use any of our precious farmland to grow it. Water conservationists may initially be concerned, but a group of scientists found that Chlorella sp. thrives in our waste water. Not only that, it cleans up the water, removing ammonia and a host of toxic metals. According to their report, the algae could be used to help clean up waste water at municipal water treatment plants then harvested for biofuels.

graph_algaeI had a chance to speak with Dr. Martin Poenie, Associate Professor in Molecular Cell & Developmental Biology, at The University of Texas at Austin. The Poenie Lab is helping to develop a technique for harvesting the oils from algae that could greatly reduce cost. Dr. Poenie also told me algae can be a significant source of phosphates, which we use in fertilizers. One of the most significant things about algae biofuels, is their small carbon footprint and high energy content. CO2 is sequestered during the growth phase of the algae and it is not released until the fuel is burned. On the whole, biofuels from algae look promising, and the variety of products that can be derived from it will make algae farming even more profitable.

Texas could do more to capture the energy and job benefits from this home grown energy source. Texas Legislature should act to strengthen renewable energy goals. HB 303, SB 1239, and HB  723 would all be good steps in the right direction.

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Texas Capitol - north viewTwo bills have now been filed in the Texas House that would expand the state’s goals for renewable energy.  Representative Rafael Anchia‘s bill, HB 723, would establish goals for growing renewable energy installations other than large-scale wind through 2022.  Similarly, Representative Eddie Rodriquez‘s bill, HB 303, would establish a goal for solar installations and increase the existing goal (which was met 15 years ahead of schedule) for all renewable energy for 2020.

We applaud these efforts and the leadership that Rep. Anchia and Rep. Rodriquez are showing by filing these bills.  These proposals recognize that success is a good thing and something we want more of.  You wouldn’t think that would need saying, but when a state agency recommends tossing out a successful policy, I start to wonder.  Texas’s renewable energy goals have been extraordinarily successful.  Not only have the goals been met ahead of time, but they have spurred development of the wind industry in Texas, bringing economic benefits to rural parts of West Texas, as well as to manufacturing centers.  On top of that, wind energy is helping to keep electric bills lower.

A carpenter doesn’t throw away her hammer just because she finished building her first book shelf and Texas shouldn’t repeal it’s renewable energy policies, just because we’ve met some of our goals (remember, the non-wind goal was never enforced).  Wind energy does now makes a substantial contribution to meeting the state’s electrical needs – it contributed a record 26% this past Christmas day, but solar energy is still very underutilized (accounting for less than 1% of energy on the ERCOT grid, which serves 85% of the Texas population) and the geothermal energy industry is still getting off it’s feet.  As Rep. Anchia and Rep. Rodriquez’s bills show, this successful policy tool can be adjusted to keep moving Texas forward.

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Advocates fault PUC for turning a blind eye to industry as Texas falls behind

Solar energy backers rallied outside the Texas Public Utility Commission [last] week seeking enforcement of a seven-year-old law that would boost electric generation from geothermal, biomass and the state’s ample supply of sunshine.

Public comment [ended Friday]on proposed rulemaking at the PUC, which has been reluctant to embrace the non-wind portion of the so-called renewable portfolio standards passed by the Texas Legislature in 2005. With those standards calling for generation of about 500 megawatts of renewable power from non-wind sources by 2015 and 3,000 megawatts by 2025, the Clean Energy Works for Texas Campaign sent petitions to the PUC urging it to carry out the law’s provisions. The group estimates that more than 6,000 individuals across Texas and 50 businesses or organizations lent their signatures in support.

“Why aren’t we seeing the clean energy we’ve demanded from our legislators? Why aren’t we seeing the thousands of new green jobs, new energy businesses and new tax revenues for our underfunded schools?” asked activist Dave Cortez of the Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance. “Four words: The Texas Public Utility Commission – a government agency run by unelected commissioners who have the power to take state law and misinterpret it, sit on it, lambast it, everything but implement it and ultimately say, ‘No, sorry. We don’t like it.’”

The PUC’s stand, as articulated by Chairman Donna Nelson, stresses the fact that wind power’s success has eclipsed the minimum renewable standards set in the law many times over. And, she argues that the law’s instructions on non-wind energy are not mandatory, a point of contention with solar backers. Moreover, she has said propping up solar power would increase electric bills and that the commission is not in the business of favoring one type of energy generation over another.

Executives from two Austin-based solar companies who attended the rally said each had respectively grown from only two employees to at least 25. And, with the business climate unfriendly to solar in Texas, they said, both companies are making upcoming expansions in a state more hospitable to their interests.

“The bad news is we’re in the process of opening a second office, and the second office will be in California,” said Tim Padden, founder of Revolve Solar. “I would rather be in Dallas, San Antonio or Houston, but the reality is California has taken a stand to support the development of the solar industry seriously by setting statewide goals and local support for their solar companies. I want to see this happen here in my home state. These could be Texas jobs.”

Stan Pipkin of Lighthouse Solar, an Austin-based solar design integration firm said his own company has shown an almost identical job growth and will also be opening offices in California.

“I’m deeply concerned that Texas is not taking advantage of the energy resource we have in most abundance,” he said. “Texas is currently 10th in solar capacity. This is absolutely confounding given our solar resource, our electric demand and our shortage of reserve capacity. It just doesn’t make sense.”

By Polly Ross Hughes

Copyright September 14, 2012, Harvey Kronberg, www.texasenergyreport.com, All rights are reserved.  Reposted by TexasVox.org with permission of the Texas Energy Report.

The PUC has put the non-wind RPS on the agenda for its open meeting this Thursday.  We need you to be there to show your support for moving forward with the rulemaking process.  Please email kwhite@citizen.org if you are interested in attending.  The meeting will be in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room on the 7th Floor of the William B. Travis building at 1701 N. Congress Ave, Austin.

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Yesterday, Clean Energy Works for Texas – a coalition consisting of Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance, Progress Texas, Clean Water Action, Environment Texas, North Texas Renewable Energy Group, North Texas Renewable Energy Inc., SEED Coalition, Solar Austin, Solar San Antonio, Texas Campaign for the Environment and  Texas Pecan Alliance – filed a petition with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) asking for a rule-making to implement the non-wind renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

A law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2005 established that at least 500 megawatts (MW) of the electricity used in Texas would come from renewable energy sources other than wind by 2015.  The PUC, however, has failed to establish rules to ensure that this goal is reached.  Clean Energy Works for Texas calls on the PUC to fulfill its statutory duty and create rules to ensure that the goal is reached.  The petition also proposes and expansion of that goal to 3,000 MW by 2025.

The non-wind RPS would provide a level of certainty for investors considering Texas for clean energy projects.  While the wind industry has thrived in Texas, thanks, at least in part, to the RPS, other renewable energy industries have lagged behind.  Implementation of the non-wind RPS would send a signal to investors that Texas is open for business.   At at time when nearly a million Texans are looking for work, developing 21st century industries here in Texas should be a priority.

Texas has immense solar resources, as well as substantial geothermal resources that, if developed, could be providing the State with additional electricity that it needs.  Electricity market regulators and policy-makers have had numerous discussions about electricity generation shortages over the past year.  The petition filed by Clean Energy Works for Texas offers a solution – and it’s one that can be expanded upon in the coming years.

Please visit www.CleanEnergyWorksForTexas.org to learn more and send an email to to the PUC in support of the non-wind RPS.

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Joe Shirley Jr., President of the Navajo Nation

Joe Shirley Jr., President of the Navajo Nation

I’m not (by any stretch of the imagination) an expert on Native American affairs, but there is an interesting and rather sad drama playing out in the Navajo Nation (a semi-autonomous Native American homeland covering parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico). The Nation also encompasses the Hopi Reservation, represented by the Hopi Tribal Council. Here is a USA Today article of September 30, 2009, in part:

PHOENIX — The president of the Navajo Nation joined other Native American leaders this week in assailing environmentalists who have sought to block or shut down coal-fired power plants that provide vital jobs and revenue to tribes in northern Arizona. (more…)

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Republicans keep rejecting the success of the stimulus package but that is nothing new, being opposed is just a Republican thing to do nowadays. President Obama said yesterday that even if he said the sky is blue, Republicans would disagree. Despite all that, in Texas, the stimulus seems to serve its purpose just fine, especially in the field of energy. Unlike what Republicans claim, it has provided incentives for small businesses with incentives to grow, save money, and it has also helped create jobs.

The Austin American Statesman shared a couple of stories about small businesses that have benefited from the stimulus. First is the Dog Ranch in Pflugerville. The owners wanted to install solar panels atop the ranch roof, a move they figured would save them some money on energy bills. The panel cost $87,000. With the stimulus funds(Grants from the Department of Energy) the owners received and Austin Energy’s rebate program, they only had to pay $10,000. For the Ranch owners, this deal saved them a lot of money since they only pay one third of the energy bill they used to pay before installing the panels in addition to the tax credit they get from installing the panels, “We just expanded in December, and we wouldn’t otherwise have had capitol to do it,” Said the Dog Ranch owner.

Longhorn Solar is the installation company that set up the Dog Ranch solar panels. The company too has taken advantage of the stimulus money and now it has 10 employees and many more installation projects. Louis Petrik, the CEO of Longhorn Solar said “It (the Stimulus) allows us to put a lot of jobs in the pipeline and go out and actively hire,”

A part of the stimulus money was given to states to have at their disposal to run their own programs (And they say the Feds want to take over local governments). To track the federal stimulus funds, the Texas Legislature appointed the Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding. According to its website, The Committee “monitor[s] actions of the federal government, including legislation and regulations, related to efforts to promote economic recovery by providing federal funds to the states.”

On September 1st, the Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing in Corpus Christi where major stimulus fund recipients such as Centerpoint Energy and Iberdrola Renewables presented in what project they are using the stimulus money and how they are going about meeting their goals. Documents from the hearing are provided on the Texas Stimulus Funds website or you can access them by clicking here.

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Local energy storage company Xtream Power inks a deal to supply the Tres Amigas project with their technology. CH2M, another firm with central Texas connections (who has been hiring some of Austins finest green talent) lands the construction contract. Will local green engineers Kurt Lyell (one of the original founders of Austin Bio-fuels) or John Hoffner (KOOP radio Shades of Green) be working on this gem?

CH2M Hill lands contract for managing construction on the project. Will one grid rule them all?

A 22.5-sq.-mile site in the small town of Clovis, New Mexico is the only place in the United States where the three grids that service the western states, some eastern states, and the entire state of Texas all meet.

Tres Amigas Super Station in Clovis new mexico

TresAmigas Superstation

Sort of. The three grids come close to each other, but they aren’t connected. This prevents electricity from being transferred between the Eastern Interconnection (which services states like New York), the Western Interconnection (which services states like California), and the Texas Interconnection (well, this one is obvious).  In that sense, it’s like the nation’s fragmented roads in the 1950s, before the Interstate Highway System linked the country.

With Tres Amigas, California conceivably will be able to siphon off excess wind capacity from Texas. At the current juncture, that is physically impossible. The transmission structure doesn’t exist and energy storage technologies — flow batteries, compressed air, sodium batteries — aren’t yet economical enough to start planting them en masse in the desert.

CH2M Hill is overseeing the construction of Tres Amigas SuperStation, a project that will change all that. The project will connect the entire power grid across America for the first time. The initial phase of the project will cost $600 million, but the hub is expected to make money by buying and selling electricity to utilities (and could make some $4 billion in revenue every year).

In the last 20 years, blackouts have increased to 124 percent in the United States. Smart grids could predict a potential outage and send electricity to the places where it is needed. (more…)

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Ted Glick,  policy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network was just sentenced for his demonstration on September 8.

I am on one year’s probation, I need to pay an $1100 fine, I need to do 40 hours of community service in D.C. and if I’m arrested over the next year I automatically go to jail for 30 days on each of the two misdemeanor counts I was convicted of.

What was Ted’s heinous crime? He hung two banners saying “Green Jobs Now” and “Get to Work” in the Hart Senate Office Building. (more…)

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From the Austin Business Journal:

The finalists include Ronald Davis, Larry Weis and David Wright.
  • Ronald Davis (Burbank, Calif.) Davis has worked 30 years in the electric industry and has led Burbank Water and Power for the last 12 years. Burbank Water and Power is a municipal utility in urban Southern California with a 2009 budget of $410 million and a peak electrical load of 308 megawatts. The company adopted a 33 percent renewable energy portfolio standard in 2007.
  • Larry Weis (Turlock, Calif.) Weis is the general manager and CEO for the Turlock Irrigation District, one of the 30 largest public power utilities in the U.S., which provides water and electricity to Central Valley California. He has 29 years of experience in the electric industry, including 20 years as a general manager. TID is currently supplying 28 percent of its annual energy requirements from renewable resources.
  • David Wright (Riverside, Calif.) Wright is the general manager for the City of Riverside’s public utilities. He’s worked in the sector for more than 22 years. The Riverside Public Utilities group serves more than 300,000 residents with an annual budget of more than $500 million. He is a Certified Public Accountant and former finance director for San Diego County Water Authority. He was also city controller for Riverside before taking joining Riverside’s public utility.

As the energy industry changes rapidly, this hiring decision is critical. We will look forward to hearing more about these candidates in the coming days.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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One point we often forget when debating climate change strategies is the major economic case for changing our economy to new, clean technology.  A new study has been released on the impacts of the Kerry-Lieberman bill, which we’ve never been so hot on, but it shows that despite what the chicken littles at the Chamber of Commerce might spew about how a carbon cap is a jobs killer, it’s anything but.  From the NY Times articles on this story:

The Peterson Institute for International Economics said in its 18-page report that the bill from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) creates the new jobs between 2011 and 2020 because of its mandatory limits on greenhouse gases, which will prompt $41.1 billion in investments per year as the nation shifts away from traditional fossil fuels like coal and oil and toward new nuclear power and renewables.

So, good news, right? 

Looking closer at the study itself, we see something very interesting.  Michael Levi of the CFR points out that it looks more like this is a nuclear jobs bill than a climate bill,  echoing what Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocum has said repeatedly about this bill.

And indeed, here is average ANNUAL net job creation by industry from 2011-2020 according to page 12 the analysis:

  • Nuclear: 165,000
  • CCS: 96,000
  • Renewables: 19,000

Yikes.  Overall, this is a bad deal. And, this assumes that carbon sequestration is economical, safe, and practical.  But more on that later.

The sad thing is, we know what we need to do to create more jobs in renewable energy.  (more…)

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Texas is growing.  In fact, we’re one of the fastest growing areas of the country.  Growing communities and growing business usually means building more power plants, which would add to our already significant air quality problems not to mention all of the greenhouse gases we would spew.

But, rather than building Megawatts, we should be looking at Negawatts, or “creating” energy by simply using less of it, or at least so says a new study from Duke University’s Nichols Institute and Georgia Institute of Technology.

This would save us from not only pollution and global warming, but also from the cost of building new power plants.  Efficiency gives a double payback, because not only are you not paying for more oil, gas, and coal, you save money on your electric bills because you use less electricity.  And no, efficiency doesn’t mean turning off your air conditioner more in the summer so you sweat more– it means properly insulating your home to keep the cool in and the hot out, or vice versa in the winter, and it means using a better a/c unit that gives you more chills for less bills.

How much money? Well, investments in efficiency would save  $13.7 billion  in 2020 and $21.5 billion in 2030. These savings are equivalent to the amount of energy used by almost a million Texas households, or an average savings of $330 per household a year.  Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, we also get Jobs, Jobs, Jobs:  96,300 jobs by 2020, and 132,100 new jobs from efficiency in 2030.

And how do we get these magical green jobs and billions in savings? Why, through efficiency mandates, similar to the ones proposed in federal green energy bills like Waxman-Markey.  Unfortunately, those goals were too weak to really produce the type of change we need, so it’s up to the Senate to do better.  Early word of a draft bill by Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman doesn’t look promising, and could even be WORSE than the anemic efficiency investments and mandates in Waxman-Markey.

(more…)

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Next Friday, March 26, Good Company Associates and the Texas Foundation for Innovative Communities are hosting a free Green Jobs Initiative Conference from 8:30 to 12:30 in Austin, Texas.

There will be panels led by industry experts in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and smart grid focusing on workforce development issues. The agenda has been posted on the registration page. The event is free, but you still have to go register.

The Green Jobs Initiative Conference will be held in the Capitol Extension Auditorium which can be seen on this map and parking information can be viewed on this map.

This looks like a great opportunity for all interested parties. Check back with us after the conference and tell us how it was and what you learned!

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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