As we prep for the “massive” snow headed toward the East Coast (hurry up and rush out to get your bread and milk) we should remember that it is winter. Regardless, stay tuned and we’ll be ready to report to you next week regardless of the weather.
Keeping it short this week because I’m still on a birthday downer. As I get older, I just see it as another day, but I feel really humbled and blessed by all the folks who took a minute out of their day to wish me well over the weekend. Thanks for that. Presents: A great new USA Field Hockey pullover for umpiring and a new visor for my Hockey helmet. Can’t ask for more than that…other than a few more grants to help pay for Hannah’s Wellesley tuition this summer.
We are two weeks away from Iowa votes and it is getting really busy including tomorrow’s annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. The Nation’s mayors are in DC this week for the 84th Winter Meeting so you can expect to hear about climate actions and other energy issues.
Meantime, the Senate returns this week while the House returns next . A couple of good hearings in Senate Energy this week with EIA’s Adam Sieminski and our friend Jim Lucier on Energy markets today and Thursday experts on auto innovations. Tomorrow, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee digs into Iran issues following the weekend’s moves on sanctions and swapping prisoners. We can cover a lot of issues from human rights to Iran oil issues, so please let us know.
Off the Hill, FTC holds a panel this morning on emerging trends in the auto industry, such as car-sharing, connected cars, and autonomous vehicles, which will feature SAFE CEO Robbie Diamond following the DOT announcements last week for $4B self-driving car pilot projects over a 10-year span.
Kudos to Rep./Dr. Phil Sharp, RFF President and former U.S. Congressman from Indiana, who will receive the second Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security from Energy Secretary Moniz tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. Cato holds a forum at 11:00 a.m. on GMOs and the future of the global food supply and medical innovations. And the Washington Auto Show also launches it policy day on Capitol Hill that will explore how technology is making our nation’s roads and vehicles safer and infrastructure smarter and transforming the way we live, work and travel featuring Michigan Sen. Gary Peters and our friend Joe White of ThomsonReuters. Media day will be Thursday.
Also on Thursday, US Energy Assn hosts its 12th annual State of the Energy Industry Forum in the National Press Club. Senior leaders from the energy industry’s major trade associations will provide their outlook and overview of their priorities for 2016.
Finally, on Friday at 3:00 p.m., the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Wilson Center will hold its 4th annual “Year Ahead in Environment and Energy” event, where leading reporters and editors will discuss the critical issues that will shape 2016.
Call if you have questions and are not snowed in…
IN THE NEWS
Industry, Advocates Reach Agreement on AC Efficiency Standard – Industry and efficiency advocates reached an agreement last week on a new energy efficiency rule for residential central air-conditioners and heat pumps. The deal will save around 2.8 quadrillion Btu over the 30-year life of the new standard (for reference, the U.S. consumed about 97 quads in 2011). The previous version was finalized in 2011 and the Energy Department is required to complete a new standard for the equipment by June 2017 or state that one isn’t economically justified given current technology. But in an effort to keep the rule on schedule, DOE organized a negotiated rulemaking process last year between industry and advocates. While the agreement is a big deal, other approvals are needed and DOE still has to turn the details into a proposed rule.
White House Proposes $4B for Self-Driving Cars – In an announcement at the Detroit Auto Show, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says the 2017 budget proposal will include $4B for self-driving car pilot projects over a 10-year span. Among other things, the funds would cover a program to test self-driving cars on technologically advanced roads. To encourage tests, the DOT also plans to make up to 2,500 self-driving cars exempt from some proposed safety rules for up to two years, and to work with state governments to create state regulations for autonomous vehicles. Remember, last year in October, there was a NPC Newsmaker on the topic that including Google advisor and former GM exec Larry Burns, Domino’s Pizza EVP Lynn Liddle and Robbie Diamond, President of SAFE, who respectively spoke to the implications of driverless cars for the business community and the opportunity to reduce America’s dependence on oil. SAFE also formed an Autonomous Vehicle Task Force, a group of leading experts that are guiding action plans to facilitate the widespread deployment of this transformative technology.
SAFE CEO Says DOT Regs Good Start – In response to DOT Secretary Foxx’s announcement of pending regulations on driverless and connected cars, SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond said the United States is crossing the threshold into the largest transformation in transportation since the invention of the automobile. Diamond: “Driverless, connected cars will save lives, reducing road fatalities by 90 percent. They will also encourage the mass deployment of electric vehicles and lessen America’s dependence on oil through improved fuel efficiency, diversity and drastically different ownership models. With the government setting aside $4 billion over 10 years for pilot programs to put the rubber to the road, it demonstrates the need to test and prove this technology immediately on public streets. This does not, however, need to be a large, expensive government program. Any future rules at the national or state level should be minimal until proven necessary to give businesses the space to continue their investment in transportation innovation. Accelerating driverless vehicle technology will reduce fatalities and injuries, drastically lower healthcare costs, offer more fuel choice, cut congestion, and give mobility to millions of people who currently have none due to age or disability.” We can find you great resources on this topic, so please let me know if you are covering it.
Solar Jobs Expanding – The Solar Foundation released its highly anticipated jobs report, which found that the U.S. solar industry employed about 209,000 people last year. SF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2015 is the 6th annual update of current employment, trends and projected growth in the U.S. solar industry. Census 2015 found that the industry continues to exceed growth expectations, adding workers at a rate nearly 12 times faster than the overall economy and accounting for 1.2% of all jobs created in the U.S. over the past year. Our long-term research shows that solar industry employment has grown by 123% in the past six years, resulting in nearly 115,000 domestic living-wage jobs. The solar workforce is larger than the oil and gas extraction industry, which shed 13,800 jobs in 2015 and now employs 187,200 people. The oil and gas pipeline construction industry, which employs 129,500 workers, lost 9,500 jobs (U.S. BLS) during the same period. The solar industry is already three times larger than the coal-mining industry, which employs 67,929 people (JobsEQ 2015Q3). Solar employers surveyed expect to add more than 30,000 jobs over the next 12 months. The expected increase of 14.7% would bring the count of U.S. solar workers to 239,625 by the end of 2016.
Foundation Awards Scholarships to HVACR Students, Veterans – The Clifford H. “Ted” Rees, Jr., Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), today announced $60,500 in scholarship funds to 35 students, including five veterans, studying to become technicians in the HVACR and water heating industry. The awards are for qualified and dedicated students that are pursuing careers in the HVACR and water heating industry that can help close the employment and skills gaps, according to AHRI CEO Steve Yurek. Since the Rees Scholarship Foundation was founded in 2003, it has awarded almost $440,000 in scholarships to more than 250 deserving students and instructors. For a list of past scholarship recipients, click here. The Rees Scholarship Foundation was established to assist with the recruitment and competency of future HVACR and water heating technicians by awarding scholarships to qualified students enrolled in an institutionally accredited school. Eligible students must be preparing for a career in either residential or light commercial air conditioning, heating, or water heating, or commercial refrigeration.
Murkowski, Faison Set Marker for Republican Climate Energy – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and a conservative clean-energy advocate say there is vast untapped potential for hydropower across the country in a New York Times op-ed that ran last week. Murkowski and Jay Faison call on the president to back the energy bill for its hydropower provisions. Murkowski and Faison say they “believe climate change is a threat, and appreciate [Obama’s] offer to collaborate.” They argue that the president should back the energy bill because it clears away bureaucratic red tape that slows the growth of hydropower, a zero-emission power source that faces opposition from environmentalists and a costly relicensing process.
DOE Awards Southern to Grant to Lead Advanced Nuclear Tech Development – Southern Company was awarded up to $40 million from DOE to explore, develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor technologies through subsidiary Southern Company Services. The effort will be managed through a new public-private partnership with TerraPower, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute and Vanderbilt University. Housed at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the research will bolster the development of molten chloride fast reactors (MCFR), an advanced concept for nuclear generation. Researchers believe MCFRs could provide enhanced operational performance, safety, security and economic value, relative to other advanced reactor concepts. The MCFR project is one of two DOE cost-shared advanced reactor concept development projects awarded $6 million in 2016, with an opportunity for $40 million each in total funding over multiple years. A long-standing proponent of nuclear power, Southern Company – through its subsidiaries – is the only electric utility in America today developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including being one of the first to build new nuclear units in more than 30 years. The company is building the two new nuclear units at subsidiary Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle, which are expected to provide enough emission-free generation to power 500,000 homes and businesses.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
Detroit Auto Show Rolls On – The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) continues this week in the Motor City. The official press conference schedule for the 2016 NAIAS begins with Press Preview today and tomorrow. Last week was press week and to see a the full 2016 NAIAS Press Conference Schedule look under the main Press tab. In its 28th year as an international event, the NAIAS is among the most prestigious auto shows in the world, providing unparalleled access to the automotive products, people and ideas that matter most – up close and in one place.
Food, Energy, Water Conference Set –The Food-Energy-Water Nexus conference will be held today and tomorrow at the Hyatt at Reagan National Airport. The conference will feature 1,200 other leaders in science, technology, government, business, civil society, and education to create strategies and initiatives that transform ideas into action.
EIA Head to Discuss Energy Markets at Senate Energy – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing this morning to examine the near-term outlook for energy and commodity markets. EIA’s Adam Sieminski will testify along with several others including our friends Jim Lucier of Capital Alpha Partners and Ethan Zindler of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
SAFE CEO, Others to Join FTC Forum –The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a one-day workshop today to explore competition and related issues in the U.S. auto distribution system, including how consumers and businesses may be affected by state regulations and emerging trends in the industry. The event will take place in Washington, D.C. at the FTC’s Constitution Center Auditorium. The January workshop will focus primarily on exploring the competition issues arising from state level regulation of auto distribution. It also will explore emerging trends in the auto industry, such as car-sharing, connected cars, and autonomous vehicles, with a focus on how those trends will affect the current regulatory system that governs the auto industry.
Senate Energy to Look at Energy Markets – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing today to examine the near-term outlook for energy and commodity markets.
Heritage to Look at Western Lands – The Heritage Foundation holds a discussion today at Noon on rethinking Federal Management of Western Lands. Utah House Speaker Gregory H. Hughes will be the main speaker.
Forum to Look at GMOs – Cato will hold a forum tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. on GMOs and the future of the global food supply and medical innovations. The event will feature Monsanto’s Robert Fraley, North Carolina State’s Jennifer Kuzma and Marian Tupy, Editor of www.humanprogress.org. For thousands of years, farmers used selective breeding to produce more plentiful harvests and increase the usefulness of domesticated animals. Today, genetic engineering allows businesses to do the same—but more cheaply, precisely and speedily. Unbeknownst to most people, the use of genetically modified organisms is not limited to agriculture. GMO technology is all around us, helping to produce life-enhancing products, such as synthetic insulin, and life-saving medicines, such as cancer-fighting Avastin. Still, controversy surrounding GMOs persists. Join us to hear our two distinguished speakers discuss the risks and benefits associated with GMO science.
Energy to Hold Appliance Efficiency Meeting – DOE and its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will hold a meeting of the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
Moniz to Present Schlesinger Energy Medal – On Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., Energy Secretary Moniz will present the “Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security,” at Forrestal. The James R. Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security honors an individual’s distinguished contributions to advancing our understanding of the threats, opportunities and energy policy choices impacting the domestic and international energy security interests of the United States through analysis, policy or practice. The first Medal was given to Daniel Yergin on October 1, 2014, the 37th anniversary of the Energy Department’s formal opening in 1977. Wednesday, Dr. Phil Sharp, President of Resources for the Future and former U.S. Congressman from Indiana, will receive the second Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security .
Washington Auto Show Sets Policy Bar – The Washington Auto Show also launches it policy day on Capitol Hill that will explore how technology is making our nation’s roads and vehicles safer and infrastructure smarter and transforming the way we live, work and travel featuring Michigan Sen. Gary Peters and our friend Joe White of ThomsonReuters. Media Day will be Thursday.
Forum to Look at Climate, Food Security – The American Meteorological Society the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America will hold a briefing on climate change and food security in Russell 485 at 3:00 p.m.
Senate Energy to Look at Auto Tech innovations – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to examine the status of innovative technologies within the automotive industry. Witnesses for Thursday include DOE’s David Friedman, AAMA’s Mitch Bainwol, Electric Drive Transportation Association President Genevieve Cullen, NREL’s Transportation and Hydrogen Systems Center Director Chris Gearhart and Xavier Mosquet of the Boston Consulting Group.
USEA Hosts State of Energy Forum – The US Energy Assn will host its 12th annual State of the Energy Industry Forum on Thursday at Noon in the National Press Club. Senior leaders from the energy industry’s major trade associations will provide their outlook and overview of their priorities for 2016. Speakers will include NEI’s Marvin Fertel, API’s Jack Gerard, APPA’s Susan Kelly, EEI’s Tom Kuhn, AGA’s Dave McCurdy, NMA’s Hal Quinn, SEIA’s Rhone Resch, AFPM’s Chet Thompson and INGAA’s Don Santa among others.
Brookings Expert to Look at Climate Economics – Brookings Institution Climate and Energy Economics Project Director Adele Morris delivers remarks at a National Economists Club luncheon on Thursday at Noon in Chinatown Garden Restaurant. Morris will focus on climate change economics and policy.
Forum to Look at African Energy Finance – On Thursday afternoon, the US Africa Chamber of Commerce will hold a forum on the future of energy investment in Africa. The event will explore a variety of deep-dive topics related to energy investment and development in Africa, and will host attendance from both major players in various energy markets on the continent, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) currently operating within the energy sector in Africa and the U.S. See below for the panel schedule.
Green Car Journal to Announce Winner at Auto Show – Green Car Journal has announced finalists for the 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ and 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year™ awards that will be presented at the 2016 Washington Auto Show on Thursday . Focused on aspirational vehicles with exceptional green credentials, nominees for 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year™ include the BMW X5 xDrive40e, Lexus RX 450h, Mercedes-Benz C350e, Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, and Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV. Vying for the all-new 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year™ award are the Audi A3 e-tron, BMW 330e, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Toyota Prius, and Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV. Finalists previously announced for the 2016 Green SUV of the Year™ award that will also be presented at The Washington Auto Show® are the BMW X1 xDrive 28i, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. The 2016 Green Car Awards recognize vehicles that exhibit laudable environmental achievement. Along with improved environmental performance, traditional buyer touchstones like functionality, safety, quality, value, and performance are also considered. Affordability and availability are important to ensure honored models are accessible to a wide range of buyers. Honoring continual environmental improvement places emphasis on new vehicles and those in the very early stages of their model lifecycle. The Connected Green Car of the Year™ award considers these elements plus the integration of connected technologies that enhance efficiency, safety, and the driving experience.
Forum to Look at Energy, Russia Relations – The Wilson Center will hold a forum on Friday at 10:00 a.m. on how energy/environment issues impact prospects for U.S.-Russia Relations.
EPRI’s Tyrant to Address Grid Issues – On Friday at Noon at Carmines, the US Assn of Energy Economists will host Barbara Tyran of EPRI at its monthly lunch to discuss grid interconnect issues. Tyran is the principal liaison between EPRI executive management, and Congress, the Administration, the national trade associations, the national leadership of the state public utility commissions, state legislators/regulators, and the Washington energy community.
SEJ, Wilson to Look at 2016 Enviro Issues – On Friday at 3:00 p.m., the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Environmental Change and Security Program at Wilson will hold its fourth annual “Year Ahead in Environment and Energy” event, where leading reporters and editors will discuss the critical issues that will shape 2016. Jessica Coomes, deputy news director at Bloomberg BNA, will present Bloomberg BNA’s Environment Outlook 2016, followed by a panel discussion featuring leading journalists from National Geographic, Huffington Post, Bloomberg BNA, Environment & Energy Daily, and more to be confirmed. Speakers will Include our friends Meaghan Parker, Jeff Burnside and Doug Fischer.
Forum to Look at Enviro Justice Issues in GHG Plan – Next Monday at 11:00 a.m., the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will hold a briefing discussing how environmental justice (EJ) is addressed through EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The panel will explore how incorporating environmental justice concerns into the Clean Power Plan’s implementation can impact vulnerable communities. Speakers for this forum include EPA Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice Mustafa Ali.
GU Group to Look at Paris Results – Georgetown’s Mortara Center for International Studies will hold a forum on next Tuesday to assess COP 21’s results. The panel will feature GU Prof Featuring Joanna Lewis, Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director of the Georgetown Climate Center and students Norah Berk, SFS ’15 and Alexandra Donovan, SFS ’17.
Forum to Look at Paris Event – The United Nations Environment Program and the George Washington University Sustainability Collaborative will host an event on Wednesday January 27th that will highlight key achievements of 2015: the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the outcomes of the recent Paris climate conference. The event will provide an overview of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what they mean for the public and private sectors with a particular focus on implementation of the environmental dimension. It will also highlight the SDGs regarding sustainable cities, sustainable consumption and production, and climate change and their relevance for North America.
Nuclear Summit Set for Newseum – Third Way and the Idaho National Laboratory are partnering with Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to host a first-of-its-kind Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase in Washington, Dc on Wednesday January 27th at the Newseum. In North America, 48 companies, backed by more than $1.6 billion in private capital, are developing plans for advanced nuclear reactors. The influx of ideas and investment into the advanced nuclear industry has made it a burgeoning part of the clean energy sector. The Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase builds upon the conversations sparked by the White House Summit on Nuclear Energy and the Nuclear Innovation Workshops sponsored by the Idaho National Laboratory. Along with national policymakers and influencers, the Summit will establish that there is a robust advanced nuclear sector being developed by private companies and research institutions, and that government has a vital role to play in bringing the promise of the sector to reality.
CSIS to Look at GHG plan – On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the CSIS Energy and National Security Program is hosting a discussion on the future of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) in 2016. The expert panel will provide an overview of the state, federal and court level activity and planning that is likely to take place throughout the upcoming year. John Larsen, Director with the Rhodium Group and Senior Associate with the Energy and National Security Program at CSIS, will highlight recent analysis from the CSIS-Rhodium Group study regarding emissions impacts and preview forthcoming work on energy sector impacts of the rule. Kathryn Zyla, Deputy Director with the Georgetown Climate Center, will give an overview of the approaches being considered by various states and the issues that matter most to their decision making. Kyle Danish, Partner with VanNess Feldman LLP, will discuss legal challenges to the CPP and the likely timeframe and pathways for resolving those challenges. Emily Holden, ClimateWire Reporter with E&E Publishing, will provide additional perspective on the various state, regional, and congressional issues that are important to watch this year.
ELI Book Forum to Tackle Coal Grandfather Issue – On Wednesday, January 27th at Noon, the Environmental Law Institute will host a book forum to anti-coal lawyer Richard Revesz. In their forthcoming book, “Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the ‘War on Coal’”, Revesz and Jack Lienke detail the history of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the political compromises that led to exempting existing power plants, many of which are coal-fired, from significant portions of the CAA’s regulatory authority. ELI will feature an expert panel with Revesz, Lienke,, Bill Bumpers, NRDC’s Dave Doniger, and former EPA Air Administrator Bill Rosenberg as they discuss the environmental implications of the Clean Power Plan and the ramifications of grandfathering. Hear Professor Revesz and other experts in the field discuss to what degree the Clean Power Plan really reduces pollution, and the interaction between grandfathering and pollution reduction
RFF to Look at FIP, Trading on GHG Plan – Resources for the Future will hold a forum on Wednesday, January 27th at 12:30 p.m. on the federal implementation plan and model trading rules. The comments, due January 21, 2016, give stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback on the challenges and opportunities for state implementation of the carbon dioxide emissions guidelines for power plants. RFF will be joined by EPRI for a special seminar focusing on a diverse set of stakeholder comments on how the federal implementation plan and model trading rules might impact the electric power sector. This is the first event in the RFF/EPRI 2016 Clean Power Plan Seminar Series. The next event, on February 11, will highlight modeling results of how the Clean Power Plan impacts various states and regions. Speakers will include NRDC’s Ben Longstreth, EPRI’s Vic Niemeyer, RFF’s Karen Palmer and AEP’s Resource Planning Managing Director Scott Weaver.
CSIS to Host Infrastructure Discussion – On Wednesday, January 27th, CSIS will hold an expert panel discussion on meeting infrastructure demands around the world. According to the World Bank’s Global Infrastructure Facility, the unmet demand for infrastructure around the world is estimated to be above $1 trillion per year. Meeting the financing need for bankable and sustainable projects must be a priority, for both governments and the private sector, in the coming decades. In addition to financing needs, donors and the private sector must work together to build capacity and provide technical assistance that will ensure continued success long after the individual projects have been completed. Panelists will discuss ways in which infrastructure can become a driver of development and stability, and how targeted investments in smart projects and capacity building can produce measurable results to pave the way for sustainable economic growth in low and middle-income countries.
Senate Energy to Explore Innovative Nuclear Technologies – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday January 28th to examine the status of innovative technologies within the nuclear industry.
Greenest Show on Grass: Waste Management Phoenix Open – February 1st through 7th, Waste Management will host its annual PGA tour event at the Phoenix Open in Arizona. Waste Management has been a partner of the Phoenix Open for 15 years, and is dedicated to making the Open the greenest tournament on the PGA TOUR. The tournament has also become a major platform for Waste Management Think Green solutions, including the Four Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle and recover. As a regular part of the event, WM is hosting its 6th annual Executive Sustainability Forum which provides a platform to discuss how and why the circular economy is fractured. The event will identify collective challenges, and approaches to overcoming these challenges through collaboration along the value chain. Speakers will include WM CEO David Steiner, our friend Dana Perino, NYT’s John Tierney and Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter, among many others.
Sustainability Forum Set at GMU – Leaders in Energy, Association of Energy Engineers – National Capital Chapter, and George Mason University will hold an Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza on its GMU Arlington campus on February 5th.
Wind Summit to Look at Finance, Investment – Infocast is holding its annual Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit February 9-11 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego. Now that the PTC question has been settled, the Summit will focus on the critical issues and opportunities for the wind industry, including the impacts of EPA’s Clean Power Plan on Wind, long-term outlook for natural gas prices, the outlook for tax equity and debt and many other topics.
Nuclear Innovation Conference Set – The Energy Innovation Reform Project and Oak Ridge will hold a nuclear innovation conference on February 10 and 11th in Oak ridge, TN.