Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category
As we approach conference season, with the cost of living at the top of the political agenda and green policies under attack for their cost, energy policy is guaranteed to stay in the political spotlight. Although there is a broad consensus on the measures in coalition’s latest energy bill, the dividing lines at the next election are starting to emerge. Labour are advancing towards ever tighter regulation of the “big six” suppliers, taking greater political control of the sector but also creating huge barriers to entry. Under Labour we could expect the six to shrink even further.
On the other hand, Conservatives are forging an agenda to encourage competition, innovation and greater consumer choice by attracting new entrants into the market, banking on more competition, diversity and choice to deliver a better deal for consumers.
When the UK electricity sector was privatised in the 1990s, one vast state-run monopoly became a teeming market of new firms, competing for the business of the British consumer. Thirteen years of Labour government put a stop to that. By 2010, just six energy companies controlled over 90% of the UK sector. So where do we go from here? We certainly need big, successful national energy players, with balance sheets capable of supporting huge investment in new UK energy projects, as well as of helping us compete in the global race for jobs and growth. Indeed, Britain can lead the world in offshore wind and new nuclear. But technologies such as these are an important part of a diverse energy mix, not the entire recipe.
(Greg Barker, originally published by The Guardian)
Originally published Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 4:08 PM
When the county’s $20 congestion fee on car tabs expires next year, Metro may have to cut bus service by 17 percent, which is why Metro is looking to the Legislature to allow the car-tab fee to continue or to provide another option for local revenue.
Metro’s financial problems are mostly a result of four factors: Fares cover less than 30 percent of operating costs, so more riders mean more subsidies; sales taxes that provide most of Metro’s subsidies have fallen flat; Metro serves too many high-cost, low-density routes that are politically difficult to cut; and 82 percent of Metro’s operating costs are for salaries and benefits, which are also difficult to modify. Read More…
Earlier this week, the Advanced Energy Economy held its “Pathway to 2050” summit, focused on how California can best achieve – and exceed – its energy goals over the next several decades. While the focus was on the Golden State, many of the implications apply to other states as well, particularly since all were in agreement that the path to 2050 is going to be chartered by the states, not the federal government.
Discussions throughout the day touched on such topics as energy efficiency, renewable energy, advanced transportation, and energy financing, among others. The points that struck me as most salient include:
- Energy efficiency – often hailed as the “low hanging fruit” in absence of federal renewable energy policy – is on the cusp of a transformation, according to Lauren Casentini, chair of the California Energy Industry Council. Once viewed as a cottage industry centered around a widget-based approach (think CFL light bulbs and EnergySmart™ appliances), energy efficiency is evolving into an integrated market focused on analytics-driven programs that reach the right customer at the right time to motivate behavior change. For example, clean tech darling Solar City announced its in-home software platform in late June, on the heels of the President’s Climate Action Plan.
- Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) have become ingrained in many parts of the country; next up for many in this space is advocating for Clean Energy Standards that support growth of clean technologies beyond renewable energy that can have a direct impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- The term “flexible grid” was used more than once, by both renewable energy companies and a major utility player. California may very well have enough renewable energy to achieve or even exceed its 33% RPS, but we must rethink our grid design and communications to successfully accommodate variable energy generation. Germany was pointed to as a leader in managing its grid in a flexible way.
- The key to taking many of these advanced energy technologies mainstream is exactly that – they must become just another product that first and foremost help a company increase profitability and customer attraction and retention, with efficiency and sustainability as secondary benefits.
A common theme throughout the day is that technology is ahead of policy, and that clean tech entrepreneurs – busy with business plans, R&D, and pursuit of financing – could do a better, more unified job of delivering their compelling stories to policy makers. For this audience, it’s about jobs and economic growth. Once California can back up its leadership story with solid economic proof points, other states will likely follow in our path.
On May 13th, less than two weeks ago, I, along with Steve Marshall, Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Transportation and Energy Solutions (CATES), Jan Greylorn associated with the Washington Clean Technology Alliance, and Jeff Esfeld of VIA Motors, were in the Rotunda Room of the Washington State Capitol Building for a transportation “rally” as part of the kickoff for the special legislative session. It was a packed room filled with legislators, Governor Jay Inslee, WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson, government officials, lobbyists, and interested parties. Read More…
This is a commentary that I wrote for Crosscut on the controversy about the exclusion of gays in Scouting. Outside my role with the WCTA, I serve as vice chair of the council of the Magnolia United Church of Christ. I was Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 80 for five years. My son, JT, and I are Eagle Scouts. My wife, Melissa, works for the Boy Scouts. (My daughter has absolutely nothing to do with Scouting — including a determined objection to camping of any kind.) Source: Tom Ranken, Crosscut, May 6, 2013.
My church, the Magnolia United Church of Christ in Seattle, has conflicting legacies. It has been an open, affirming church accepting of gay people for decades. It has had several leaders that are gay.
It has also been the sponsor of Boy Scout Troop 80 and Cub Scout Pack 80 since the 1940s.
Read the full story here. Please comment!
This week, I started hearing Prince on my local oldies radio station. Not old school, classic rock or R&B, but O-L-D-I-E-S, as in the last way station before commercial radio’s cultural irrelevance. Admittedly, I wasn’t just scanning the dial and happened to catch His Symbolness; I plead guilty to listening to the station, meaning that marketers are almost demographically done with me. Read More…
Commentary by J. Thomas Ranken, Washington Clean Technology Alliance
All too often, diversity has no real meaning in the success of an organization. It often has everything to do with internal politics and little to do with actually bringing people together to work intelligently on solving problems. It presumes that if you create an organization that has people with different colors, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity, you will get a superior organization with a superior result. Read More…
By Daniel J. Evans and Jorge Carrasco. Daniel J. Evans is a former U.S. senator and former Washington state governor. Jorge Carrasco is superintendent of Seattle City Light and a member of the Alliance’s Commission on National Energy and Efficiency Policy.
The U.S. should pursue President Obama’s recommendation to double energy productivity in the next 20 years, according to guest columnists Daniel J. Evans and Jorge Carrasco. Read More…
Governor Inslee released his February clean energy policy brief last week. It was full of references to clean transportation—as a means for economic development as well as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. While there are many aspects that are worthy of highlighting, I am highlighting just a few items in Governor Inslee’s brief.Washington spends more than $20 billion each year on energy. “Shrinking our dependence on imported energy and boosting home grown clean energy will strengthen and expand our economy.” Approximately ¾ of the $20 billion dollar energy goes for traditional transportation fuels. Governor Inslee wants to quickly move to electrify our state transportation system by taking advantage of clean and affordable electrical power. “We will ensure that state investments in transportation contribute to clean energy and climate solutions while we generate jobs and save taxpayer dollars.” Read More…
Be honest: if you were offered a 30 percent raise in your current pay and a move up the corporate ladder in exchange for moving to Mississippi: would you do it?
For most people, the answer would be a resounding “NO!” and the reasons are all too familiar. Mississippi has a public relations problem the size of a fast food waistline with extra corn syrup—and no one wants to be associated with it. If you live somewhere suffering from low education standards, high poverty and illiteracy rates, or a chronically obese population, the first unstated question is always, “Are we at least ahead of Mississippi?” Read More…