California’s Clean Energy Future, Part 1

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On Tuesday, January 25, I was in the audience at the SPUR Urban Center in San Francisco as Panama Bartholomy, California Energy Commission (CEC), and Emma Wendt, PG&E, gave presentation about California’s clean energy future.

The post below consists of Part 1 of my record of the presentation – the first part of Panama Bartholomy’s presentation. All portions are included in chronological order.

An ellipsis (…) indicates that I was not able to capture the words or thoughts skipped. The presentation is transcribed as accurately as possible – punctuation choices are mine. I also added any photos or images.

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The speakers were introduced by Raphael Sperry and Geoff Danker.

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Panama Bartholomy

I’m honored to be here… Obviously, I’m a bureaucrat. All my life I’ve wanted to be a bureaucrat. It’s true… … So I have achieved my dreams – I work for the state of California… I am here to talk about what I hope are some of our shared goals… building a  future that’s healthy for our economy, our environment, and our communities… …

I was supposed to talk about, and will talk about, California’s Clean Energy Future…  big ambitious goals. A massive document describes the process of how we’re all going to reach these goals… and how the agencies are going to work on it. In brief, it outlines very ambitious energy goals. It calls for zero net energy buildings… ways to shave peak demand… want to build carbon capture and storage in California by 2020… also want 1 million electric vehicles in California by 2020. So these are the goals. So I’m going to talk about the programs and activities behind the goals to make them a reality…

… … …

I have to give some background, then talk about efficiency…  then major market barriers around energy efficiency and what’s stopping a strong retrofit market, then renewables. Finally, I’ll talk about what’s coming from the Brown administration… …

So some energy context… I’m only going to talk about electricity and natural gas… One of the jobs of the CEC is to measure energy demand and project demand into the future… [looking at a chart] Here, you can see impacts of downturns in the economy… We’re expecting that the economy will pick up later this year or early next, then we will see about 1.2% growth in demand a year. Much of that is from the building sector… We expect to see continued increases in demand, especially from the commercial and residential sectors.

So we have several options. Do nothing. Then we get demand exceeding supply. Or we can build power plants. Or we can find ways to reduce demand… Efficiency is by far our most cost-effective choice in terms of how to meet demand.

Going back to natural gas… California only produces 13% percent of our own natural gas – the rest comes from other areas. We are at the end of the line when it comes to natural gas delivery. We are starting to compete more and more with Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico… …

Overarching a lot of activity on energy efficiency, I have to talk about California’s new climate policy… … AB 32 calls for us to reduce our economy-wide emissions levels to 1990 levels by 2020. This is about a 25-30% reduction in GHG emissions… The big player is transportation. Also, we have to look at electricity generation. The 1/4 of our electricity that we import is equal in GHG emissions to the 3/4 that we produce in-state. The built environment is the second largest wedge when we add the bits together. The built environment dictates how we need to get around, so it has a big impact… We have some work to do…

(Image credit: CA Climate Change Portal)

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Part 2 and Part 3 will be posted soon.

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End Use

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This post is part of our definitions series on “eco-lingo” and technical terms.

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Studies frequently segment energy or water use by “end use”,  or the reason the energy was consumed, in order to better understand how the resource is used. For both energy and water, consumption is often first broken down by sector (commercial, residential, industrial) and then by end use (lighting, heating, etc.)

The first graph below is of California electricity use by sector. The second graph below is of California electricity use by sector AND by end use.

The end use categorizations in the graphs above are still pretty broad categories – some analyses break them down even further. The original data in the graphs comes from a CEC staff report. I used the same aggregate categories as Flex Your Power:

  • The Commercial Misc. category includes refrigeration, hot water, cooking, and office equipment.
  • The Residential Other category includes water heating, cooking, pool/spa, clothes washers, dishwashers, and freezers.
  • Industrial Process includes process fans, heating, pumping, and refrigeration.
  • Industrial Other includes material handling and processing.
  • The “Other” category includes street lighting and other government end uses.

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What exactly does “sustainability” mean? How about “green”, “eco” or “environmentally friendly”? The truth is that these terms are just vague enough to mean many different things to many different people. With the staggering array of “green” products, ‘lifestyles’ and concepts being promoted by marketers and environmentalists alike (as well as the necessary coining of new terms to match new ideas) our definition series aims to make sense of the rising tide of “eco-lingo” and technical terms.

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California Proposition 23

Proposition 23 is the result of an initiative launched by Texas oil giants Valero Energy Inc. and Tesoro Corporation to postpone enforcement  of AB 32. The ballot initiative would delay enforcement until unemployment in California stays under 5.5% for an entire year. California unemployment is currently at about 12%.

Image source: Google Public Data

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How do Californians feel about Prop 23?

The public: A poll by the Public Policy Institute of America this month indicates that 67% of California residents support AB 32 (via LA Times).

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:  “This initiative sponsored by greedy Texas oil companies would cripple California’s fastest-growing economic sector, reverse our renewable energy policy and decimate our environmental progress for the benefit of these oil companies’ profit margins” (via LA Times).

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Meg Whitman: Whitman has not taken a formal stand on Prop 23. However, AB 32 authorizes a governor to delay some of the provisions for up to a year in the event of “threat of significant economic harm.” While campaigning for the Republican primary, Whitman stated that we would suspend AB 32 on her first day in office (via SF Chronicle).

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Jerry Brown: “Addressing  climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, something that California has been a leader on,” said Sterling Clifford, Brown’s campaign spokesman (via SF Chronicle).

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The full text of Prop 23 is available here.

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The Yes on Prop 23 campaign has filed suit against Attorney General Jerry Brown over the language that will go on the ballot to describe the proposition. The ballots of be printed in mid-August will say that the measure “Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming Until Unemployment Drops Below Specified Level for Full Year.” More information in the LA Times.

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Finding Data – The Greendex

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photo link

For the third year running National Geographic has teamed up with Globe Scan to provide the Greendex, an annual survey designed “to develop an international research approach to measure and monitor consumer progress towards environmentally sustainable consumption.”  Specifically, the Greendex is a tool to help consumers worldwide to both understand their consumption patterns and to be able to view them within context to others.

The Greendex survey questions were designed to capture the participant’s knowledge, behavior and views on environmental issues and consumer habits ranging from transportation to food choices. The study is based on a sample of 17,000 individuals in 17 countries (14 in 2008). So, while perhaps not a truly  “definitive” study on a global scale, the Greendex survey countries represent the heaviest hitters in terms of resource consumption, and the Greendex 2010 Report provides some interesting insights.

Some notables from the study:

– Respondents from 10 of the 17 countries polled showed an increase in “environmentally friendly consumer behavior” between this year and last.

– Consumers with the highest rankings for “green” choices are in developing nations. Top scores go to India, Brazil and China (in that order).

– Uh-oh USA … we’re showing slight improvement relative to ourselves last year, but we’re still at the bottom of the heap.

– The strongest changes in personal behavior that made positive impacts were in the Housing category (home energy efficiency).

Read the highlights report here.

Calculate your own personal “Greendex” here.

And finally, how reliable are self-reported behavior surveys anyway? Separate the fact from fiction with the Market Basket report.

Finding Data – GDP and Electricity Consumption

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I thought it would be interesting to graph GDP against a metric of per capita energy use (in this case kWh/capita).

(Click on the chart to see a larger version.)

There are a number of interesting things to note about this chart. First, compared to the other countries shown, the United States has a really high GDP. Counting countries individually (sometimes the European Union is counted as one entity), the USA has the highest GDP, then Japan, then China. In general, the chart indicates that as a country’s GDP increases, so does kWh/capita. If we also take the size of the population into account, this is one reason many people are increasingly concerned about the potential effects of economic growth in India and China on climate change. Exceptions on the chart seem to generally be very cold countries (Canada, Sweden, and Russia) or very hot countries (Australia and Saudi Arabia).

In the chart above, the data comes from Key World Energy Statistics 2009, put out by the International Energy Agency (data is for 2007).

Electricity consumption is calculated for the entire country as gross production + imports – exports – transmission/distribution losses. It is then divided by the population of the country to get the per capita value.