I must say, we had a really good time in Cleveland last week at the RNC. The people were wonderful and the convention went off without a hitch – logistically at least. As for the substance and political results?…enough said. Either way, we’re watching closely to see if Michelle Obama cribs from our energy update for tonight’s DNC speech.
While there was definitely some party chaos in Cleveland, the Democratic National Convention in Phily starts with similar unrest as long-time DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz resigned last night after thousands of emails leaked showing evidence that the DNC was undermining the Sanders campaign. All this has overshadowed Hillary Clinton naming current VA Sen./former Gov (and former DNC Chair) Tim Kaine to be her VP. While Kaine is known as a somewhat progressive and has some street cred with the party faithful from his time at DNC, the Sanders wing is sure to see this as the beginning of a move away from their more extreme approach, especially on most energy issues. Expect to not see the “brotherly love” tonight as Sanders and Elizabeth Warren take the stage.
Another sidebar for Phily that I thought might be of interest is a new group of Republicans – not affiliated with Democratic groups – that will be at the convention discussing their reasoning for supporting Hillary Clinton. Along with several other like-minded Republicans, former Bush 43 White House advisors John Stubbs and Ricardo Reyes launched R4C16, Republicans for Clinton after Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for President. Last Friday, John laid out his reasoning in an op-ed for the Washington Post, Why Republicans Should Vote for Hillary Clinton.
If you are going to Phily, make sure to stop at the POLITICO (historic Rittenhouse Square at 2001 Market Street, 2 Commerce Square) and the Washington Post (City Tap House Logan, 2 Logan Square) Hubs. Both places were excellent for events, fellowship and serious reporting in Cleveland so I expect the same here.
As for energy events at DNC, POLITICO’s Elana Schor hosts CO Gov. John Hickenlooper, Hillary Energy advisor Trevor Houser, WA Gov. Jay Inslee, Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack, former PA Gov./Phily Mayor Ed Rendell and Heather Zichal on Wednesday and does a Breakfast Newsmaker with Tom Steyer on Thursday. Hickenlooper also hits the WaPo’s Politics and Pints with Chris Cillizza tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. and WaPo look at the energy platform earlier in the day at 10:00 a.m. with Steve Stromberg. Finally, on Thursday at 4:00 p.m., the Bipartisan Policy Center and EEI will host Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning and DOE Secretary Ernie Moniz to discuss energy policies and priorities. Besides a speech from Sanders tonight that is certain to tap the progressive “keep it in the ground” energy issues, tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., John Podesta, WA Gov. Jay Inslee, Tom Steyer and the leaders of major environmental groups will attend climate reception at the Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square.
Other events in DC this week: today at 2:30 pm, Heritage and CEI host a panel discussion in Senate Visitors Center 215 on repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard and other Biofuel Programs, the NatGas Roundtable is hosting BG&E CEO Calvin Butler tomorrow at lunch and tomorrow afternoon USEA looks at future global nuclear growth.
Finally, overseas in Vienna this weekend, Secretary Kerry (why do we let him talk), EPA Administrator McCarthy, our friends in the environmental community and AHRI made significant progress toward locking down final efforts to limit the super-warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol. The parties reached significant agreement on key challenges and solutions, and have made great progress on ambitious schedules for freezing and phasing down HFC production and use in both developed and developing countries, and financial assistance to help developing countries achieve their phase-down commitments. The HVAC industry has been a strong player in these negotiations and AHRI President Steve Yurek was there all last week for the talks, which are the final prelude to October meeting in Kigali where parties will close the deal. It is a huge success that likely will dwarf the uncertainty of cuts that the Paris Treaty may/may not produce. There have been a number of stories on the progress, but Coral Davenport’s NYT story from Sunday captures the details.
Remember, our PRG team will be covering elections closely and offering our analysis running up to and following the November vote. So stay in touch on the topic. Sounds like maybe one more short update next week as we hit August to wrap DNC week, but then off until September.
“That Trump’s run an awful campaign, alienated every group & still within striking distance makes you wonder who’s really a weaker candidate.”
Andrews Kaczynski of Buzzfeed yesterday on Twitter
“Charging infrastructure is an important priority when getting electric vehicles on the road, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle,” said “Dollar for dollar, infrastructure is most valuable when it is accompanied by robust consumer education, public-private partnerships, experiential marketing, and support from the business community.”
Robbie Diamond, CEO of the Electrification Coalition, responding to DOE announcement of $4.5 billion in loan guarantees to expand the nation’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure
IN THE NEWS
World Leaders Make Progress on HFCs – With far less attention this past week, negotiators from almost 200 countries neared a deal that many say will be the most significant concrete action to reduce global warming in years. Parties, which will finalize the deal in Kigali in October, made significant progress toward locking down final efforts to limit the super-warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol. The parties reached significant agreement on key challenges and solutions, and have made great progress on ambitious schedules for freezing and phasing down HFC production and use in both developed and developing countries, and financial assistance to help developing countries achieve their phase-down commitments.
HVAC Industry Pushing for Strong Deal – The global HVAC industry has been one of the significant players pushing for a strong deal. They have been promoting inclusion of an HFC phase down amendment to the Montreal Protocol for nearly six years, having already successfully phased out HCFCs under that global agreement. A global agreement creates predictability for producers and manufacturers alike and eliminates the hodge-podge of different HFC reduction schemes that they would surely face as the world’s focus on climate change continues. As well, an orderly phase down schedule provides the time necessary for manufacturers to conduct the necessary R&D on the next generation of equipment using the latest refrigerant replacements for HFCs and for producers to begin making sufficient supplies of replacements refrigerants.
Will the Replacement Actually Be Ready – Replacements will be ready to go when the time comes because industry anticipated the eventual action of the Montreal Protocol parties to phase down HFCs and thus began a major research program in 2011 to identify potential alternatives, which has recently completed its second phase. Many of the most promising replacements, however, are classified as either flammable or mildly flammable and thus must be researched further to determine their performance in real-world conditions. That research is about to commence under a funding agreement by AHRI, ASHRAE, the Department of Energy, and the state of California, which will collectively contribute nearly $6 million to study these refrigerants in advance of upcoming building code updates.
NYT Reports on the Progress – There have been a number of stories on the Vienna negotiations progress, but Coral Davenport’s NYT story from Sunday captures the details very well.
DOE Promises Loans for EV Charging – On the heels of the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) first-ever Sustainable Transportation Summit, DOE announced $4.5 billion in loan guarantees to roll out a coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations. The program will provide support for federal, state, and local governments, and it will partner with Ford, GM, Nissan and Tesla.
SAFE Says Decision Should Focus on Accelerator Communities – SAFE’s Electrification Coalition said the decision to allocate $4.5 billion is an urgent priority that will sever the nation’s dependence on oil and boost American energy security. The EC notes a number of important considerations when it comes to EV deployment and charging infrastructure:
- The U.S. transportation sector relies on oil for more than 92% of its energy, a dependence that undermines national security and economic prosperity. Last year, the United States spent $500 billion on petroleum fuels.
- Public investment is necessary to decouple our transport system from the global oil market, which continues to operate against free market principles under heavy influence from foreign governments and national oil companies.
- Development of a robust charging network sends an important signal to potential buyers that EVs are a viable choice, not hindered by infrastructure availability.
- Simultaneously, 90% of charging occurs at home and in the workplace.
- Fast-charging is a key component of improving public electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
- The EC advocates for use of accelerator communities as a policy tool—targeted geographical regions for EV deployment in which everything necessary to support this important technology is deployed simultaneously.
- Experiential marketing—putting motorists behind the wheel of an electric vehicle to familiarize them with the technology—has proven to be a highly effective method of increasing exposure and boosting electric vehicle sales.
- EVs offer consumers an opportunity to opt-out of the uncertainties of the global oil market and rely instead on electricity for transportation, which is diverse and domestic in source and stable in price.
Chamber’s Energy Institute to Start Energy Accountability Series – In a new effort to educate voters about energy policy, the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy will be launching the “Energy Accountability Series.” This series of reports will explain what would actually happen if the policies proposed by candidates and groups were to be adopted. With energy issues a major part of the U.S. Chamber’s voter education efforts this fall, the new series will hold candidates and groups accountable for the statements they make on energy policy. The Chamber has already launched advertisements on energy policy in the key Pennsylvania Senate race. The Obama presidency has demonstrated clearly that a candidate’s views and things they say and do to win support of interest groups has a real impact on how policy is shaped and implemented. The Energy Accountability Series will ask the tough questions and provide quantitative answers on the full impacts and implications of these policies, irrespective of which candidates, groups, or political parties happen to support or oppose them. For more information and to sign up for updates, visit www.energyxxi.org/energy-accountability.
New Pipelines Will Force U.S. to Miss Paris Targets – Environmental groups said in a report last week that the U.S. will miss its emission-reduction targets under the Paris climate agreement if 19 pending natural gas pipelines are built across eastern states. The report pipelines are expected to move natural gas from the shale fields of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to states from Louisiana to New York would unlock at least 15.2 billion cubic feet per day of new natural gas production. Now that sounds Like a great Idea… Why wouldn’t we want to do that since increasing our natgas usage has reduce emissions by 50% already. Unless of course, you just want to block use of natural gas.
Experts Discuss Fuel Economy Issues with Platts Podcast – On this week’s Platts Capitol Crude podcast Sam Ori, executive director at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, Joshua Linn, a senior fellow at Resources for the Future, and Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners discuss the US concerns about falling short of the 54.5 miles per gallon fuel efficiency target and how low gasoline prices impacting efforts to boost fuel economy. Finally, Scheid taps that all important questions with his dad: Does driving with your windows down increase or decrease your car’s fuel efficiency?
FirstEnergy Closing Smaller Coal Units – FirstEnergy on Friday said it will retire or sell five units at two of its coal-fired power plants by 2020, citing “challenging market conditions.” The company that powers much of Cleveland and sponsors Browns Stadium will retire four units totaling 720 megawatts at its W.H. Sammis plant in Stratton, Ohio, by May 2020, and either sell or deactivate its 136-megawatt Bay Shore unit in Oregon, Ohio, by October 2020. Collectively, the 856 megawatts constitute 5.6 percent of Ohio’s coal-fired electric capacity, which totals 15,394.5 megawatts, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Three remaining units at the W.H. Sammis plant will continue to provide 1,490 megawatts in base load power.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
Democratic Convention –Democrats will head to Philadelphia for the 2016 Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center on today through Thursday. The action launches at 4 p.m. with First Lady Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders are set to address the crowd. Later in the week, headliners include President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former POTUS Bill Clinton. Other favorites include CO Gov. John Hickenlooper (who is doing a couple of energy panels), NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Cali Gov. Jerry Brown, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.
AAAS Forum to Look at Human Rights, Climate –All day today, the American Association for the Advancement of Science will hold a day-long forum on the human rights implications of climate change and the contributions scientists, engineers, and health professionals can make towards addressing these concerns. The sessions will highlight examples of scientific research that is contributing to human rights-based policies for climate change prevention, mitigation, adaptation, and community relocation. In addition, panelists will share models for collaborative climate research in partnership with vulnerable communities. Coalition meetings convene scientists, engineers, and health professionals with human rights leaders and policy makers to discuss emerging issues at the nexus of science and human rights. The Coalition serves as a catalyst for the increased involvement of scientific, engineering, and health associations and their members in human rights-related activities. The main speaker will be Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.
Heritage, CEI Look at Biofuel Programs – The Heritage Foundation hosts a panel discussion this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Senate Visitors Center 215 on repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard and other Biofuel Programs. U.S. biofuels policy is a case study in the unintended consequences of government intervention. In contrast to what politicians and special interest groups promised, biofuel policies have increased costs to taxpayers and drivers, had little-to-no impact on oil prices, hurt rural economies, and had unforeseen environmental costs. This panel will provide background on the RFS and other biofuels programs, analyzing the many harmful effects of these federal policies. Does the RFS reduce dependence on foreign oil? What impact does it have on food prices? What environmental harms are caused as a result of the RFS? Does the RFS actually hurt agricultural producers? The presenters will answer these questions and identify several critical solutions. Speakers will include Heritage’s Nick Loris, CEI’s Marlo Lewis and Dan Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research.
Forum to Look at Emissions at Chinese Ports – The Wilson Center’s China Energy Foundation (CEF) will host a panel discussion next Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. with Green Port experts as they assess how China’s new policies and on-the-ground efforts—such as port/vessel emissions inventories and emission control zones—are reducing pollution and climate emissions at major Chinese ports. Dr. Peng Chuansheng (China Waterborne Transport Research Institute) will lead the discussion in exploring how and why China is taking action on green ports. Ms. Freda Fung (Natural Resources Defense Council) will highlight Hong Kong’s successes in controlling port pollution and discuss needed incentives for green port/vessel technology development and emission compliance in China. Dr. Dan Rutherford (ICCT) will draw on a port study in Shenzhen produced for the China Environment Forum to discuss how shore power and fuel-switching offer critical solutions in reducing port emissions in China. This meeting – part of CEF’s Choke Point: Port Cities initiative – is co-sponsored with the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States.
NatGas Roundtable Hosts BGE Exec – The Natural Gas Roundtable is hosting Calvin Butler Jr., Chief Executive Officer of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), as its speaker at the next NatGas Roundtable luncheon at the University Club on Tuesday July 26th. Butler became chief executive officer of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company on March 1, 2014 after serving as BGE’s senior vice president, regulatory and external affairs.
Forum to Look at Energy Potential – Future Tense and the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute will host a conversation tomorrow at Noon at New America on what it will take for North America to fulfill its energy potential. People tend to obsess over the monthly gyrations of oil prices and the latest regulatory battle over shale or pipeline-building, but we want to look forward to 2050. What concerted steps should Canada, Mexico, and the United States be taking to ensure that North America will become the world’s leading energy power for generations? And how can this region lead the world not only in output and economic growth, but also in setting new standards of environmental responsibility and sustainability? Speakers include Sharon Burke of New America, Arizona State’s Hector Moreira (Director of Energy Model for Mexico Initiative) and Laura Dawson of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute.
USEA to Host Global Nuke Discussion – The US Energy Assn will host a forum tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. looking at the global nuclear landscape to 2040 and the US role will be. Affordable baseload electricity is crucial for countries to sustain the high level of economic growth they have experienced during the last decade. Government support, via regulations and financing, has been pivotal to the accelerated growth of nuclear energy. In China and India, as well as most of Asia and Europe, government enterprises are responsible for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants. The US cannot idly let its leadership position wither away in the global nuclear energy landscape. In the nuclear arena, leadership cannot be simply “restored” based on the old “push” model of Supply-side dominance from the 20th Century. Urban demand-side factors outside Europe and North America now are pulling nuclear power construction forward in the 21st Century to satisfy burgeoning electric demand, primarily in Asian cities, and for growing populations and water needs in the Middle East and Africa. USA and allies must redefine leadership in nuclear energy via international partnerships and alliances that are unfolding now. Speaker Andrew Paterson of the Environmental Business International will address the topic.
DEM Convention Forum Set – The New Policy Institute and NDN will host a major event at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, tomorrow looking ahead at the future of America and American Politics. This event will feature a dozen inspiring thought leaders who will offer their different perspectives on what is coming down the road for the US and our politics. The event will take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 204C, 200 Level Concourse, and run from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. If you would like to attend, please RSVP on our Eventbrite page today. The event is free and open to the public.
Podesta to Headline Enviro Event at DNC – John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, will appear with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Tom Steyer and the leaders of major environmental groups at a Tuesday reception at 2:30 p.m. at the Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. The reception, “winning on Climate Together” will also include Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, LCV President Gene Karpinski, and NRDC President Rhea Suh.
ELI Forum Look at Distributed Solar Battles – On Wednesday, July 27th, ELI will host a forum on the recent changes in net metering policies and the future of distributed solar at the D.C. Bar Conference Center. Thousands of Nevada consumers purchased solar arrays expecting to sell their electricity back to the grid at the same rates they pay for power – called “net-metering.” Solar companies expected to continue booming sales – and leasing – based on this high rate of return. That all changed last December when the Nevada Public Utility Commission significantly reduced net-metering rates. Existing customers were furious and sales of new systems basically ground to a halt. A few months later, after a similar fight, the California Public Utilities Commission reached a different result, maintaining full net-metering rates until 2019. And just this April, a coalition including Con Edison, Solar City, and Sunpower, Inc., submitted a net-metering proposal to the New York Public Service Commission billed as a breakthrough in utility-solar collaboration. The coalition claims their proposal will continue to incentivize residential solar while also providing utilities with protections necessary to insure that distributed solar will not cause the ever-dreaded Death Spiral for the utility industry. These recent developments are only a sample of the debates raging before Public Utility Commissions across the country, where numerous proposals to change net-metering policies are pending, with important implications for the future of residential solar. Please join us for a panel discussion of these ongoing developments.
Fanning, Moniz, Daschle Headline DNC BPC Energy Event – The Bipartisan Policy Center and EEI will host a forum at the Democratic National Convention in Phily. The discussion will feature some of our nation’s most influential leaders on energy innovation as we discuss the respective roles of the public and private sectors in realizing the full potential of this opportunity as well as growing congressional support for energy innovation. The event will feature Southern’s Tom Fanning, former Senate leader Tom Daschle, and Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz.
Annual Enviro Superconference Set for Austin – The 28th annual Texas Environmental Superconference is set for August 4th and 5th at the Four Seasons in Austin, TX. This year’s theme is Yogi Berra quotes and the conference is fittingly entitled “It’s like déjà vu all over again”; each topic has an appropriate quote assigned to it. The event is co-sponsored by the State Bar of Texas Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section, the Air & Waste Management Association – Southwest Section, the Water Environment Association of Texas, the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals, The Auditing Roundtable, and the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. Bracewell will be hosting an event on Thursday, August 4th during the superconference with cocktails, small bites and a live performance by Quiet Company. Speakers will include Gary Jonesi of EPA’s Enforcement office and Bryan Shaw of TCEQ, as well as Bracewell enviro experts Tim Wilkins and Kevin Collins. See more on the event here.
Power-Gen Forum Set for Columbus – Regardless of the Democratic Platform challenge of natgas, Pennwell will host Mark McCullough, Executive Vice President, American Electric Power to discuss the growing role in natural gas in power generation at the upcoming GenForum scheduled August 22nd in Columbus, Ohio. The half-day event is connected with PennWell’s POWER-GEN/Natural Gas.
Forum to Look at Environment Policies, Investments in Electricity – The Bipartisan Policy Center, the Great Plains Institute and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions are hosting a workshop in Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency on Tuesday September 13th. The event will feature experts, state officials and stakeholders from across the Eastern Interconnect for a one-day workshop exploring recent modeling analyses that provide new insights into trends in the electricity sector. The event will explore what these trends mean for state energy and environmental policy choices. Experts will present their findings and stakeholders will have an opportunity to reflect on those findings.
SEJ Conference Set For Sacramento – The annual Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) Conference will be September 21-25 in Sacramento. Of course, Bracewell’s PRG will be hosting our annual big reception on Thursday Night to welcome everyone. More on this as we get closer.