Grid threats increase daily - from foreign foes, terrorists, criminals and hackers. Utilities are tasked with guarding against a rising tide of potentially disruptive intrusions into their power grid and electronic networks. What will it take to keep the power more...
Monday Jun 24, 2013
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - USA
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ROGER FELDMAN heads the Clean and Renewables Energy Group of the international law firm of Andrews Kurth LLP. He combines 35 years of active energy project and corporate finance legal practice with current leadership industry positions as a Director of the American Council on Renewable Energy (and Co-Chair of its Climate Change Markets Group) and Chair of the American Bar Association's Energy and Carbon Trading and Finance Committee. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 662-3022.
The end of one year and beginning of another makes one think of the various theories of history. "History" is the human effort to anthromorphize time so as to hold the fear of uncertainty at bay and make interpretable sense out of messy reality. For some historians, the past has moved in cycles.
The most important of all the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the "Stimulus Act" or "ARRA") initiatives could be the reformulation of the DoE Renewable Energy Loan Guarantee Program. This could be true not because of what facilities actually commence construction before the September 30, 2011, cut off established by ARRA, but because it could be the precursor of several new forms of public-private partnerships ("P3") for alternative/renewable energy and for cleantech.
As Snow White grew older, she had more difficulty using all those new fangled labor saving and communications devices around the cottage. She began to give her seven renewable energy dwarfs helpful little hints and gifts so they could grow up and help her with them. Some like Windy and Shiny responded very well. However, one in particular, "Greenstuff," went around shaking its head saying, "I'd like to help you, Snow White but I don't know where to start." Snow White asked Dopey, who was usually very smart, what was going on.
It is the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, the Moon Mission, the Miracle Mets, and the Joe Namath Jets. Everything was possible in 1969. It was the year before the business cycle bubble burst for a decade, and energy prices became a national rather than a consumer issue, as a result of the first oil embargo. NEPA and the environmental movement were emerging green glimmers.
The proposed creation and treatment of GHG Offsets represents a microcosm of some of the more problematic issues presented by the overall cap and trade program envisioned by Waxman-Markey. Given the likelihood that these provisions will at least receive some modification in any legislation that is enacted, it is useful to consider these issues generically.
This is the moment when the public sector proponents of renewable clean energy must prove their mettle. The organizations, both in and out of government, that have been set up to promote market-based action support for cleaner technologies now have access to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("ARRA") funds.
In the absence of "Cooperative Federalism" the development of so-called "Green Infrastructure," as contemplated both by the Stimulus Package and by the forthcoming initiatives from the President and Congress in the areas of energy, security, and climate change regulation, will be thwarted.
The challenge to successful implementation of the diverse provisions -- related to renewable and clean energy applications -- of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("Stimulus Package"), is to create one or more new types of "pubic-private partnerships" which may well differ from the traditional "P3" arrangements presently in place.
Renewables have been positioned in such a prominent place in the new Administration's broadly outlined national recovery and transformation plan that, unwittingly, they may be setting themselves up to provide disappointments to their friends, and to become flashpoints of resistance for their non-friends.
Public-private partnerships are a key to preventing a chill from settling over the green ambitions of the newly capital-strapped state and municipal public sectors. The past decade has seen an increasing number of "green" program announcements from cities like Chicago and New York, and states like Virginia and Florida, laying out plans for carbon footprint reduction, which include energy efficient buildings and services, increased use of clean and renewable energy sources, application of electricity demand response, and other efficiency measures, and even carbon cap and trade programs in states like California (which in turn will require cities to develop responsive initiatives).
With the Olympics over and the World Series just out of sight, it seems that the only circus for the American people to focus on--to keep their minds off the price of bread and oil--is the Presidential Campaign.
Where are the regulators? While the American economy reels, its linkage to developments in the regulation of electricity is simply not a matter for public notice. Yes, oil is up and the dollar is down, but the lights still go on. Maybe an electric infrastructure is not geared for the necessary responses to the need for electric vehicles and the ongoing digital revolution demand for more and higher-powered data centers.
Gulliver got tied down because he was out of scale with the circumstances of Lilliput. More and more frequently we see headlines like "Thrust of Power Shortages Generating New Urgency" in several regions of the nation.
Private renewables have entered the same economic war zone as all other investments. They may be receiving superficial exaltation - the equivalent of green ribbon bow decals affixed to the windshields of hybrid cars, but the new American casbah of clean is rapidly turning into an orange zone of lurking uncertainty.
Casablanca is really the ultimate movie about energy. Rick plays "As Time Goes By"; the markets, for good or ill, lurch along. So, too, do climate change regulation proposals. It is easy to believe, especially at this time of year when energy legislation shimmers like the Northern Lights, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
Everyone has heard of tulip-mania, when flower price speculation ran rampant -- until the financial bubble burst: an historic dot.com experience that, of course, we are immune to. . . The unspoken fear today (sometimes dismissed as carping criticism) is that our scientifically plotted market-based approach to reduction of greenhouse gases could fall prey to this too-human tendency to push markets toward pure speculation.
Big Green has been filling its scrapbook with reports of global conferences, movie star catharses as to global warming's meaning, and clean tech investment reports shooting the moon. So, like every righteous movement before it in history, Big Green -- frustrated by lack of progress -- has turned to governmental power to overcome its adversaries.
Historians will look back at early 21st Century America as a time when three very different skills reached great heights, converged, and produces unintended as well as positive consequences. One was the ability to mobilize multiple communications media to instantly bring issues and propositions to the forefront of people's minds.
Energy mirror on the wall, who's the greenest of them all? For years it seemed to be natural gas: no SOX, no NOX, no waste disposal problem. Amidst the hoopla of the titanic conflict between oil and renewable tax incentives (and incidentally Federal RPS in the recent Senate Bill), the potential impact on natural gas of clean/renewable energy legislative developments has received less attention.
What a word of wonder is "Clean Tech." It captures the entire modern American spirit. It is the solution to all of the problems America faces in an increasingly competitive (not to mention frequently hostile) world.
Barbie has gone virtual -- from vinyl idol to computer-based avatar for on-line purchase by her worshipers of a whole new world of goods. Now you can go on line and shop for what Barbie likes to wear -- shop with virtual dollars that you bought with real ones. So, too, can green energy buyers.
That the tipping point in national belief in global warming's existence has occurred is not news. What it means for different facets of the energy business -- notably renewable energy -- is actually more problematic than it may seem.
In our electronic trendy society, supposed "tipping points" where there are said to be basic societal changes, come and go too quickly for good public policy as well as for entrepreneurial innovators, capital investors and companies -- both utility and industrial -- all trying to adapt their strategies to the political winds.
Energy/environment policy often looks like a "Push Me Pull You" Dr. Seuss-type fictional pooch. These days it appears that energy policy is the tail on the dog of global warming environmental policy. The paradoxical result may be that in the power generation sector it will be "business as usual," as the electric industry prepares to meet an urgent demand for supply increases in several disparate regions of the country.
Suddenly it's 1970. There's a war going on that is increasingly unpopular. Nuclear power is coming back. Air pollution (in the guise of global warming) is on the tips of everyone's tongues. The price of oil is skittering around without real connection to underlying fundamental cause of daily events. We're even talking about "energy independence" again.
Inspired by the multiple authorship of the King James Bible and just recently published hand-calligraphed and illuminated, but computer line measured copy of same, a committee was convened by (but not exclusively comprised of representatives of) the Emissions Marketing Association, the American Bar Association Renewable Energy Resources Committee, and the American Council on Renewable Energy.
2005 was the year when intelligent design (ne creationism) clashed with natural selection (ne Darwinism). It was also the year of EPACT: yet another effort by man to emulate nature by promulgating laws to govern the adaptation to change of its institutions.
The value of a year end is that it provides an arbitrary line to pause and gain perspective on what has passed, before plunging into the current of the future. In the Chinese Zodiac, each sign is, of course, a beast. What beast was it this year? What next year?
Having beat a strategic retreat from its Standard Market Design forward position on uniform national market operations criteria, FERC now has fallen back to the Market-Based Rates Regulation (“MBR”) line, defending the partially-built citadel of deregulated power competition on its own turf.
The reality of today’s power market is not pretty. Policymakers seek models that will be self-executing; businessmen seek to protect their capital structure, salvage excessive investment, or find undervalued situations whose value can be leveraged.