[Episode #35] – Green Bonds

What are green bonds, and how can they help mobilize private capital to fund energy transition and climate change mitigation measures? What kinds of things can green bonds be used to fund? What are the various roles for private, corporate, and sovereign issuers? Why does the green bond market need to grow by roughly 10x over the next few years to $1 trillion a year globally, and is there even enough capital out there willing to accept single-digit returns to buy that amount of green bonds? Are green bonds an answer to the stranded assets problem in the fossil fuel sector? And what can the appetite for green bonds tell us about monetary policy and appropriate discount rates for climate change mitigation measures? We get deep into all of these questions with the CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative, an international NGO working to mobilize debt capital markets for climate solutions.

Geek rating: 5

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Guest:

Sean Kidney is CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative, an international NGO working to mobilize debt capital markets for climate solutions.  Projects include a green bond definitions and certification scheme with $34 trillion of assets represented on its Board; working with the Chinese central bank on how to grow green bonds in China; market development programs in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and East Africa; and a green finance aggregation platform with UNDP. He is co-Chair of the India Green Bonds Council.

On Twitter: @seankidney

On the Web:  https://www.climatebonds.net/

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[eLab Extra #7] – How NREL Supports Energy Transition

Full Episode

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) based in Golden, Colorado provides a wide range of research, guidance, and policy support to the whole government stack in the U.S., from the local and city level all the way up to the federal and tribal level. From supporting the rebuild of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to informing policies with things like calculating the Value of Solar (VOS) and figuring out better ways of doing demand response, NREL is helping to lead the way on energy transition. We interview Elizabeth Doris of NREL at RMI’s eLab Summit 2016.

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Geek rating: 2

Guest:

Elizabeth Doris is the Principal Laboratory Program Manager for State, Local, and Tribal Program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Liz leverages 15 years of domestic and international energy efficiency and renewable energy policy research into senior level management, specializing in supporting state, local, and tribal governments on policies and programs that drive private investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Ms. Doris has managed state and local policy and technical assistance project teams for NREL since 2006. Prior to NREL, she managed state and local efforts at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

On Twitter:

@elizabethbdoris (personal account)

@NREL_Conduit (NREL State, Local, and Tribal activities)

On the Web:

NREL State & Local Governments site

Liz Doris’ blog at NREL

Liz Doris’ LinkedIn profile

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[eLab Extra #6] – Building EV Charging Infrastructure

Full Episode

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Should utilities be allowed to own EV charging infrastructure, or should that be reserved for private charging companies? How many Level 3 high-voltage chargers do we need at workplaces and shopping areas? And how do we build charging infrastructure now that won’t become stranded assets if and when we transition to fleets of autonomous vehicles? We interview Jonathan Levy of Vision Ridge Partners at RMI’s eLab Summit 2016 to find out.

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Geek rating: 2

Guest:

Jonathan Levy serves as Director of Policy and Strategy at Vision Ridge Partners. Jonathan brings more than a decade of experience in the federal government to the team, first as a policy advisor to then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel and most recently as Deputy Chief of Staff to Ernest Moniz at the U.S. Department of Energy. Over the course of his career, Jonathan has consistently tackled some of the most difficult policy, political, and management issues facing his organization. He graduated magna cum laude from Emory University with a degree in Political Science.

On Twitter: @JonDC51

On the Web: Vision Ridge Partners | Jonathan Levy’s LinkedIn Profile

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[eLab Extra #5] – EVs and More in Austin, TX

Full Episode

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Through a variety of programs, Austin Energy, the eighth largest publicly-owned electric utility in the U.S., has led the way to an EV future in Texas, installing the first EV charging infrastructure in the region, offering rebates for installing charging stations and the ability to charge up at 250 charging stations throughout the city for a low flat rate using 100% renewable energy. Karl Popham, the Electric Vehicle & Emerging Technologies Manager at Austin Energy, explains how he did it and what other similarly positioned utility leaders can do in an interview from RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

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Geek rating: 3

Guest:

Karl Popham has been the original Electric Vehicle & Emerging Technologies Manager at Austin Energy since the team was created in 2011. As such he has had the unique viewpoint to lead the strategy, operations, business marketing, program development, and deployment for what is regarded as one of the most comprehensive utility Electric Vehicle programs in the nation. This includes the roll-out of the Plug-in EVerywhere™ network, rebate programs, marketing campaigns, the “Electric Drive” project, EV-grid integration work, a Time of Use EV rate, and winning 5 out of 5 US Department of Energy grants totaling over $7M to help fund program elements. Karl has been the US Department of Energy Principal Investigator on two successfully completed transportation electrification grants and is currently serving in this capacity on the utility’s DOE grant-funded SHINES project to integrate PV solar, storage, smart inverters, and advanced system controls. He is an active speaker, research contributor, and serves on several boards including SXSW Eco, Energy Thought Summit, Austin Forum on Technology & Society, and the Electric Power Research Institute. You can read his articles on transportation electrification and utility emerging trends in such magazines as Transmission & Distribution World and CIO Insights. Prior to his current role, he was Austin Energy’s interim Chief Information Officer and Division Manager of its Program Management Office, a Director with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, and a Captain in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Founded in 1895, Austin Energy is a fully integrated utility and the nation’s 8th largest publicly owned electric utility that owns and operates generation, transmission, distribution, and customer engagement. It has industry-leading climate protection goals to include a 55% renewable energy target by 2025 that its well on track to achieve.

On the Web: Austin Energy | Karl Popham’s LinkedIn profile

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[eLab Extra #4] – Transition in New York and the World

Full Episode

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

What are some of the ways that New York is building its resilience capacity while executing its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) energy transition plan, particularly as a response to the damage it suffered in Superstorm Sandy? Is it possible to have a successful energy transition without also securing justice and equity, particularly for the underserved and disadvantaged among us? And what is the future for energy transition in the U.S. in the era of President Trump? Eleanor Stein of America’s Power Plan, who was Project Manager for New York’s REV initiative, shares her insights from a lifetime of work on climate and justice issues at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

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Geek rating: 1

Guest:

Eleanor Stein is an expert with America’s Power Plan. She served as an Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Public Service Commission from 1994-2014; until November 2015 she was Project Manager for the Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative for a more customer-centered, renewable, and distributed energy future. In 2015 she received a Master of Laws degree with distinction in climate change law and policy from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. She teaches Law of Climate Change: Domestic & Transnational at Albany Law School and the Power Dialog at the State University of New York. While at the NY PSC, she presided over or mediated the Renewable Portfolio Standard (2004), the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (2007) and the Con Edison Resiliency Collaborative (2013-14). Her areas of interest include public policy dispute resolution, mobilizing public participation in energy matters, and climate justice. She is on the Board of EcoViva, a US-based project in solidarity with climate adaptation and sustainability in rural El Salvador.

On Twitter: @EsteinEleanor

On the Web: Eleanor Stein on Wikipedia

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[Episode #34] – Transition in the North Sea and Netherlands

The North Seas Countries’ Offshore Grid Initiative would knit together the power grids of the countries adjacent to the North Sea, and enable a far greater share of renewables—especially offshore wind—on the northern European grid than would be possible otherwise. It would also make it possible to use Norway’s substantial hydro capacity as a giant battery to balance out the variability of wind and solar on the grid. And in the longer term, it could be a key part of a European “supergrid” that would connect the transmission grids of all of Europe, and potentially even tap the massive solar capacity of the Middle East and northern Africa. These are big, bold ideas, and implementing them won’t be easy or cheap, but the benefits would be enormous… so much so that building these transmission links might be inevitable. But the planning alone has already gone on for at least seven years, and while some of the countries that would connect to the North Seas Offshore Grid are already building parts of their contribution to it, there is still much work to be done…and building the physical infrastructure might be the easy part! In this episode we talk with a Dutch expert who has been directly involved in evaluating and planning for these supergrids to see where they now stand, what their potential costs and benefits are, and what we might expect in the future.

Geek rating: 4

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Guest:

Kees van der Leun graduated from Utrecht University with an MSc in Physics in 1986. He joined Ecofys as its third employee and was involved in the management of the company ever since. At present, he is Managing Partner at Ecofys leading the development of its strategic consultancy, deploying the full value of the wide range of expertise available in the company. Kees was involved in various projects concerning the North Sea energy system, and he took part in the steering group of the work Ecofys did for TenneT on their stakeholder process for the grid connection of the new generation of offshore wind farms in The Netherlands. At present, he leads a team developing a vision on how to accelerate the integrated approach to the future North Sea energy system.

On Twitter: @Sustainable2050

On the Web: ecofys.com

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[eLab Extra #3] – Grid Modernization and DERPs

Full Episode

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Grid architecture is evolving, with loads becoming increasingly indistinguishable from generators, and local generators and other distributed resources increasingly supplying the services that were always provided by large central generators in the past. Meanwhile, an ever-evolving set of regulations for wholesale market operations is both enabling new market participants and challenging the security of old market participants. Lorenzo Kristov of the California Independent System Operator returns to the Energy Transition Show to share more of his view of the future in an interview from RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

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Geek rating: 11

Guest:

Lorenzo Kristov is an independent consultant focusing on power system transition to integrate high levels of renewable generation and distributed energy resources (DER). From 1999 to 2017 Lorenzo worked at California ISO as a principal in market design and infrastructure policy, where he was a lead designer of the locational marginal pricing (LMP) market system the ISO implemented in 2009. Areas of expertise include: wholesale market design; DER participation in wholesale markets; coordination of transmission-distribution system operations; distribution system operator (DSO) models and distribution-level markets; microgrids and energy resilience strategies; whole-system grid architecture.

On the Web: Lorenzo’s profile on LinkedIn

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[eLab Extra #2] – Hawaii’s Energy Transition

Full Episode

This is a special, free "extra" episode recorded at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in December 2016 in Austin, Texas.

How is Hawaii managing one of the most rapid energy transitions in history to variable wind and solar generators, while maintaining a balanced, isolated grid and actually reducing long-term costs? It’s no accident: They have developed a transition roadmap and they are working hard to adopt the latest technology while preserving social equity…not just for grid power, but for electric vehicles as well, toward a goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2045. Lorraine Akiba of the Hawaii PUC shares her perspective in an interview from RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

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Geek rating: 5

Guest:

 Lorraine Akiba is a Commissioner with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. She previously practiced environmental law, and has held leadership positions at a number of national and state professional legal organizations. She is a member of the Advisory Council to the Board of Directors of the Electric Power Research Institute; a member of the U.S. DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Future Electric Utility Regulation Advisory Group; and she serves on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Board of Directors and its Energy Resources and Environment Committee. She also is a member of the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action) Financial Solutions Working Group.

On the Web: State of Hawaii Public Utilities Commission

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[eLab Extra #1] – Next Generation Demand Response

Full Episode

This is a special edition of the Energy Transition Show with Chris Nelder, recorded in December 2016 at RMI’s eLab Annual Summit in Austin, Texas.

Can utilities disrupt themselves, or does it take an outside force? How can demand response technologies—including simply informing customers of their electricity usage—help reduce demand peaks on the electricity system and reduce costs for all ratepayers? And what kinds of infrastructure, like Advanced Metering Infrastructure, are needed to enable a highly efficient grid and an informed customer base. Richard Caperton of Opower (a business unit of Oracle) shares his perspective on all of these questions in an interview from RMI’s eLab Annual Summit 2016.

Geek rating: 6

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Guest:

 Richard Caperton is the Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs in Oracle’s Utilities Global Business Unit. He leads the company’s regulatory work in the eastern half of the United States, and is responsible for engagements with the federal government and the wholesale power markets. Richard also guides the company’s global regulatory strategy on demand response and electricity market design. Prior to joining Opower, Richard was the Managing Director for Energy at the Center for American Progress, where he worked on energy tax and finance and electric utility issues. He has also worked in government relations at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and served as a policy fellow at the Alliance for Climate Protection. He currently serves on the board of the Clean Energy Leadership Institute and is an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

On Twitter: @richardcaperton

On the Web: Richard Caperton’s LinkedIn page

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[Episode #33] – Fracking Follies

Full Episode

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) regularly updates its estimates for how much oil and gas might be recovered in the future, and at what rate. With the application of new technology from year to year, those estimates generally keep going up. But it’s important to remember that they are just estimates — and the devil is always in the details.

Our guest in this episode is a career geoscientist who has diligently delved into those devilish details. In his new reports, he finds that EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2016 seems to significantly overstate how much oil and gas might be recovered using fracking technology, with estimates for shale gas and tight oil production that exceed the estimates for how much of those resources are even technically recoverable. In this extended and technically detailed interview, we discuss EIA’s most recent forecasts and try to understand what’s realistic for future US hydrocarbon production.

Geek rating: 9

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Guest:

David Hughes is an earth scientist who has studied the energy resources of Canada for four decades, including 32 years with the Geological Survey of Canada as a scientist and research manager. He developed the National Coal Inventory to determine the availability and environmental constraints associated with Canada’s coal resources. As Team Leader for Unconventional Gas on the Canadian Gas Potential Committee, he coordinated the publication of a comprehensive assessment of Canada’s unconventional natural gas potential.

Over the past decade, Hughes has researched, published and lectured widely on global energy and sustainability issues in North America and internationally. Hughes is president of Global Sustainability Research, a consultancy dedicated to research on energy and sustainability issues. He is also a board member of Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE Healthy Energy) and is a Fellow of Post Carbon Institute. Hughes contributed to Carbon Shift, an anthology edited by Thomas Homer-Dixon on the twin issues of peak energy and climate change, and his work has been featured in Nature, Canadian Business, Bloomberg, USA Today, as well as other popular press, radio, and television.

On the Web: David Hughes’ page at Post Carbon Institute

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