Aug
25
2015

Follow Gulf Coast Energy Forum on Live Stream

Can’t attend the Gulf Coast Energy Forum in Tampa tomorrow? Watch it via live stream on Periscope!

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To access the live stream, simply follow @GCenergyforum on Twitter. When the live stream begins for each segment of the Forum, the @GCenergyforum account will provide a link. Just click and tune in.

Beginning at 9:00 AM eastern tomorrow, the Gulf Coast Energy Forum includes a number of exciting speaker and panels. Watch live remarks from U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, SSAB Americas President Chuck Schmitt, Seminole Electric CEO Lisa Johnson, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Listen to panels featuring elected officials and regulators. Tune in for an Executive Roundtable with discussions among utility industry leaders.

Step By Step –

  1. Follow @GCenergyforum on Twitter
  2. Watch for new links from this account
  3. Click the link and follow the event live!
Aug
19
2015

California Green Measure Fails to Meet Expectations

Three years ago, California voters went to the polls to approve a measure to raise taxes on corporations and generate clean-energy jobs by funding energy-efficiency projects in schools. Sounds good, but did the program live up to the hype? Not according to a recent investigative report.

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According to a review by the Associated Press (AP), only about ten percent of the projected jobs have been created and the state has no information on projects or how the money is being spent. Some lawmakers are now concerned about how public funds for the program are being used.

“Money is trickling in at a slower-than-anticipated rate, and more than half of the $297 million given to schools so far has gone to consultants and energy auditors,” writes Julia Horowitz of AP. “The board created to oversee the project and submit annual progress reports to the Legislature has never met.”

According to AP, voters in California voted to close a tax loophole for multi-state corporations, sending half of the dollars saved to fund clean energy projects in schools. The program was supposed to generate more than 11,000 jobs per year. It didn’t. Horowitz reports that “only 1,700 jobs have been created in three years, raising concerns about whether the money is accomplishing what voters were promised.”

“It’s undeniable that Proposition 39 has created a disappointing number of jobs,” said Kirk Clark, vice president of the California Business Roundtable, which opposed the measure. “We’ve got a long track record in California of over-promising green jobs and under-delivering.”

The review shows that not only does the State Energy Commission lack critical information about where the money went, but schools also aren’t seeing the promised benefits from the proposition.

“The AP’s review of state and local records found that not one project for which the state allocated $12.6 million has been completed in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has nearly 1,000 schools,” said school district spokeswoman Barbara Jones. “Two schools were scheduled this summer to receive lighting retrofits and heating and cooling upgrades, but no construction work has been done on either site.”

California’s experience is certainly disappointing and one can only hope that state supervisors will get to the bottom of where money from this program ended up. The voters, at the least, deserve that. No one should be surprised though. On the campaign trail in 2008, the president promised voters that $90 billion of taxpayer stimulus money would create five million new jobs within a decade. Four years later, the White House estimate of jobs gained was just 200,000. The money was spent, but the jobs didn’t follow.

Missouri taxpayers can sympathize. They were promised green jobs, too, that didn’t materialize. So can the people of Louisiana, who pumped tens of millions of dollars into subsidies for the solar industry, just to rank in the bottom half nationally in solar jobs. Maybe it’s time policy makers focus on what really creates jobs – keeping power rates affordable and electricity reliable – instead of chasing the next green phantom down the rabbit hole.

Aug
17
2015

Germany’s Energy Choices Wreaking Havoc on Neighbors

In past years, PACE has written extensively about Germany’s so-called energy revolution and its effects on consumer prices and power reliability. Last year, for example, we described how massive shifts in German energy production – mostly toward wind and solar – were raising energy costs for at least five million Germans and causing significant disruptions to that nation’s industrial sector. The U.S. should certainly think twice before following Germany’s lead by abandoning fossil fuels and nuclear power.

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Now there is new cause for concern. According to a recent report by Weixin Zha and Marek Strzeleck of Bloomberg News, the changes to Germany’s power production are spilling over into neighboring countries, threatening blackouts and requiring aggressive construction efforts. The problem is that solar and wind power – Germany’s power sources of choice – are highly volatile and relatively unpredictable, leaving those responsible for maintaining the stability of the grid searching for answers.

“Poland and the Czech Republic are spending $180 million on equipment to protect their systems from German power surges, while Austria is curbing some trading to prevent regional networks from collapsing,” the article states. “On a windy day, the overflow east can exceed the output from four atomic reactors.”

“A huge accumulation of overflow increases the threat of a blackout,” Zbynek Boldis, the head of trade and international relations at Czech grid CEPS AS, said in an interview in Budapest. “The root of the situation is allowing a huge amount of electricity to be generated regardless of the capacity of the grid.”

In other words, so-called distributed generation, i.e. power production that has been left in the hands of individual consumers or operators, is wreaking havoc on the centralized electric grid. This at a time when many in the U.S., particularly voices from the solar industry, are calling for more distributed generation.

“My boss keeps asking why we aren’t buying power from Germany, but this is practically impossible,” said Henryk Kalis, the energy buyer for ZGH Boleslaw, a zinc processor controlled by ArcelorMittal. The Bukowno, Poland-based company pays more than $26 million a year for electricity.

Systems collapsing? Uncontrolled power surges? There is a place for distributed generation, of course, when done responsibly and when measured against the needs of the electric grid. Germany’s experience is showing in real time that too much, too fast, can cause real problems that affect customers and place manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage. Hopefully U.S. policy makers are paying attention to these news developments.