In addition to investing, I’m also a consultant for the Energy Efficiency Busisness Coalition for regulatory matters. This work has spawned a series of articles, looking into what it really takes to make an energy efficiency business work, and what constitutes progressive regulation. Here they are:
Archive for Politics
I’ve written a series of articles over the past few weeks focussing on what a green investor can do to prepare for and profit from peak oil:
We’re way behind the curve on climate change. Only after we have a new President is the US likely to take action to limit greenhouse gasses. Meanwhile the artic ice sheet is vanishing faster than any of our models predicted, and the world is emitting more carbon than even the most pessimistic IPCC projections.
Given that backdrop, it’s too late to wait for some new technology to come along and save us, be it cellulosic ethanol or carbon capture and storage. Investors should keep that in mind, too.
When the world wakes up to the urgency of Climate Change, more money will be spent on near term solutions than research into new technology.
The scale of the problem is daunting, which is why I believe there is such a temptation to invest our hopes in new technology, as opposed to investing our dollars in the technology we have today, which can take us most of the way we want to go, if only we can muster the political capital (the cost is negligible, because the efficient use of energy almost always than pays for itself and then some.)
That’s why I’m calling for a Clean Energy Marshall Plan.
A trip down to the local national party offices to participate in a press conference asking the presidential candidates to pledge their support for clean energy legislation got me thinking about the candidates… I wasn’t sure which candidate has the best clean energy platfom. So I spent a day reading thorough thier platforms, and came to a surprising (to me answer).
You can read how I think the candidates’ platforms compare on clean energy here.
I had just written an articles for the Colorado Renewable Energy Society’s e-newsletter CRES Clips about goings on at the Colorado Public Utilites Comission (PUC), when a piece of big piece of PUC related news came out:
Why should every advocate in Colorado care? Because it’s great to have another sympathetic ear!
What follows is the article I wrote for CRES Clips, to give readers unfamiliar with the PUC an idea of why I think this is so important:
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission: Where Energy Policy is Implemented
2007 was a banner year for the
lawmakers when it comes to energy policy, and with all the successes. While it would be tempting for clean energy advocates to declare victory and go home, getting good laws passed is only the beginning. When it comes to implementing laws that pertain to investor-owned utilities, the responsibility falls on the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to interpret the legislation and ensure that our state’s public utilities comply with that interpretation. Here, “public utilities” means Xcel and Aquila , since rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities are generally exempt from PUC regulation.
The PUC accomplishes its business in a series of “dockets” in which various “interveners” submit testimony (and respond to other interveners’ testimony) for the PUC to consider. Individuals can become interveners, but it is time consuming and requires
knowledge of PUC procedure. Public interest groups with an attorney can also intervene, with various expert witnesses submitting testimony on behalf of that group.
CRES is not currently intervening in any dockets, although several members of the Policy Committee (including myself) are involved in one way or another. Given those inherent conflicts of interest, CRES is not currently endorsing any particular intervening group.
What follows is a quick summary of some of the most important dockets before the PUC this year, and the groups who support Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency who are intervening, and whom you can support or contact for more information about their activities. Also, it is possible that the PUC will combine some of these dockets.
07A-447E Xcel Resource Plan. These dockets will determine the mix of new generation and energy efficiency resources with which Xcel plans to meet our anticipated electricity needs in the coming years. Anticipated/ current interveners: EEBC, IEA, RUC, SWEEP, WRA.
DSM Plan in which the PUC will review Xcel’s proposals for electricity DSM policy including energy savings and DSM budget goals, DSM program cost recovery, and incentive to the utility for implementing effective DSM programs. This docket was initiated in response to DSM legislation enacted last year, HB 07-1037.
Renewable Energy Plan in which the PUC will review Xcel’s plans for complying with the recently doubled Renewable Energy Standard. Interveners: CoSEIA, WRA.
Plan on Transmission. Transmission is essential to bringing the power from renewable energy sources to population centers. This docket will determine much of when and where transmission is upgraded or built, and so will have a long term impact on what Renewables can be developed. Current Interveners: IEA, WRA.
DSM Rules. This docket will determine the key policies governing gas utility energy efficiency programs, including energy savings goals and how utilities will be compensated and rewarded for reductions in natural gas usage. Current Interveners: EEBC, RUC, SWEEP.
to Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advocacy Groups intervening at
the Public Utilities Commission (alphabetical.)
CRES has not reviewed the testimony of any of these parties, and their
opinions are their own. Their
information is included because they are known to be aligned with CRES’s
mission of promoting Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in
Solar Energy Industries Association
Lynn Hirshman, Executive Director
lynn at coseia dot org
Trade association for the Solar industries in
Energy Efficiency Business Coalition of
Paul Kriescher, President
PaulK at lightlytreading dot com
Industry Association of Energy Efficiency Businesses,
dedicated to promoting Energy Efficiency in
Craig Cox, Executive Director
cox at interwest dot org
Group of RE businesses and advocacy groups promoting RE project
development in the West.
Gina Hardin, Attorney
ginahardin at msn dot com
Nonprofit advocating for responsible and accountable
energy at the PUC.
Southwest Energy Efficiency Project
Howard Geller, Executive Director
hgeller at swenergy dot
Promotes Energy Efficiency in Southwestern States
Western Resource Advocates
John Nielsen, Energy Project Director jnielsen at westernresources dot org
Nonprofit dedicated to protecting and restoring the
natural resources of the states of the interior west.
Here’s a disturbing article about how Colorado Governor Ritter, who has done great things revitalizing Colorado’s renewable energy and energy efficiency economy, but is also a fan of Alberta’s Tar Sands, and Shell’s plans for extracting energy from Colorado’s Oil Shale.
If extracting Tar Sands has a massive carbon footprint and environmental impact, the Oil Shale is likely to be much, much worse.
UPDATE: Thanks for all your help! The zoning comission upheld Co Bioenergy’s recycling permit, allowing them to get back to the business of taking used oil and trap grease and turing it into something useful again.
A local biodiesel company is in danger of losing its permit to recycle used vegetable oil in an industrial area of north Denver. Please send the following requests to anyone you know who might be willing to help out with an email of by showing up to the meeting tomorrow morning.
Doing any of the following will help!
When: Tuesday, October 2nd at 11AM.
Where: Web Municipal Office Building
201 West Colfax Ave. Room 2.H.14
2nd Floor ask for the Board of Adjustment Hearing Room
Who: BioEnergy of Colorado, LLC 4875 National Western Dr. (303) 887-6997
Opponent: Elyria Neighborhood Assoc., Tom Anthony, President
More information from BioEnergy of Colorado:
In February of this year, the neighborhood assoc prevailed at the 1st BOA hearing where the board ruled that the Zoning Administrator erred when, in October 2006, he issued BioEnergy a conditional-use-permit to make biodiesel. Of particular interest though, they also ruled that we could continue to operate until our permit expires on October 20th, 2007 (about 3 weeks from now).
As a back-up plan to achieve some utilization of the assets already in place, we decided to shift our business model. We applied for a use-permit to recycle used vegetable oil at this facility. In anticipation of this new application, we sought the help of the Denver Fire Department and they signed a letter of support on our behalf. We submitted the permit documentation for a ‘Recycling Facility’ about 2 months ago and we were awarded an ‘unconditional-use-permit’ which means that this activity is allowed in this zone district. No need for public hearings or special meetings with the Board of Adjustment.
Much to our amazement, the neighborhood association, once again, appealed this decision, saying that the zoning administrator erred. Their reason will astound you. In the technical paper work that we provided the Denver Fire Department, the term ‘esterification’ (not transesterferication) was included. Esterification is the chemical reaction that occurs in the recycling process.
Here’s the Neighborhood Association Statement;
The Zoning Code forbids a use not specifically authorized. The applicant’s filing documents stating “the waste oil recycling process is technically known as an ‘esterification process’.” “Esterification Facility” is not authorized as a use in the Zoning Code and therefore the administrator erred.
Denver’s Board of Adjustment decided to take this appeal and we need your support by attending this hearing in big numbers. The neighborhood association’s tact has been to attack us, our business practices, and even us personally. This is not a hearing about BioEnergy of Colorado; it is a hearing whether a recycling facility can be located in an I-2 Zone district. The next hearing could and probably will be about your expansion plans in the area.
What’s at risk: The most valuable resource, time, that we all have spent to pave the way toward a greater use of biofuels. The many million$ invested in technology, capital equipment, infrastructure and marketing trying to get the word out about our great businesses. The local market is at stake. The Denver Biodiesel Coop can buy fuel from out of state from someone who bought it, from someone else who made it, and pay all the foreign markups and transportation costs. Or, they can buy it directly from a local supplier….a neighbor …and, much more.
BioEnergy of Colorado, LLC
Cell (303) 887-6997
TommyFoley AT Comcast DOT net