Wildfire season is upon us. With nearly 80% of the Western US in extreme drought, fires have already scorched more than five and a half million acres this year – double the number of acres compared to this time last year.
Those fires pose an increasing risk to electric utilities. And no utility feels the urgency of that risk more than PG&E.
In 2018, PG&E equipment sparked the most devastating wildfire in California history – and it forced one of America’s largest utilities into bankruptcy protection.
The story isn’t likely to be an anomaly. As journalist Katherine Blunt writes in her new book, California Burning, the story is “a harbinger of challenges to come” as climate change threatens the grid built for a different era.
Katherine joins Bill Loveless on the show this week. She’s a Wall Street Journal reporter who covers the power industry. Her team’s reporting on PG&E was honored with multiple awards for business investigative journalism.
Bill spoke with her about the PG&E saga – and what it tells us about the risks facing utilities and the power grid in a rapidly-warming world.
Even as prices decline, the tight oil market is once again raising economic and political worries in Washington.
In July, President Biden traveled to the Middle East to meet with several Arab leaders – including Saudi Arabia’s King and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Expanding oil supply was high on the list of the administration’s diplomatic objectives.
Saudi Arabia says it has limited ability to add extra oil to the market, and it’s not clear whether OPEC+ countries agree on the path forward for oil output. All of this comes at a time of enormous uncertainty in the global outlook for oil, due to fears of a recession and concerns over Russian supply.
Now all eyes are on OPEC+ in early August. Will Biden’s overtures have any consequential impact on production?
This week, host Jason Bordoff sits down with Dr. Karen Young and Bob McNally to discuss what’s next for oil markets.
Dr. Young is the newest Senior Research Scholar at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy. She was a Senior Fellow and Founding Director of the Program on Economics and Energy at the Middle East Institute.
Bob McNally is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy. He’s the author of Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices, published by Columbia University Press. In his full-time capacity he is the founder and President of Rapidan Energy Group, an independent energy consulting and market advisory firm based in the Washington DC area.
In the wake of Biden’s controversial trip to the Middle East, Jason spoke with Karen and Bob about what it tells us about the state of the global oil market in the months ahead.
Relentless extreme heat is gripping regions around the world. Spring and summer brought numerous crippling heat waves to Europe – smashing temperature records, killing more than a thousand people, and buckling infrastructure.
India and Pakistan experienced one of the hottest springs ever, with heat waves in March and April hurting crop yields, and putting more than a billion people at risk.
And here in the US, heat waves are scorching large swaths of the country, exacerbating a western megadrought.
Every year, hot, humid conditions that can kill people are getting more likely. And scientists are getting better at attributing specific heat waves to human-caused climate change.
This week, host Bill Loveless talks with Dr. Radley Horton, a Research Professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Radley’s research focuses on climate extremes, tail risks, climate impacts, and adaptation. He was a lead author for the Third National Climate Assessment.
Bill spoke with Radley about this year’s brutal conditions that have hit Europe, North America, and Asia over the last few months. They discussed his research into heat-related mortality, where regions are becoming most vulnerable to extreme weather, and what it all means for our ability to adapt.
Europe’s gas crisis has entered a scary new phase. Last week, the biggest pipeline carrying Russian gas into Germany was closed for maintenance. And many in Europe fear the Russians will keep Nord Stream 1 closed indefinitely – putting further pressure on gas supply in the colder months.
Europeans are burning more coal, scrambling for new sources of gas, and committing to lots of renewable energy in a frantic attempt to slash reliance on Russian fossil fuels. But there are real questions about how quickly those solutions will shift the balance of power.
Meanwhile, gas prices are soaring in markets around the world – leading to fears about recession and long-lasting economic impacts. What are the possible scenarios that could play out?
This week, host Jason Bordoff sits down with Anne-Sophie Corbeau and Dr. Tatiana Mitrova to explain the state of gas markets.
Anne-Sophie Corbeau is a Global Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs; Dr. Tatiana Mitrova is a Research Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy.
Together, they discuss how deeply the gas shocks will impact Europe, Russia, and the rest of the world.
For a look at how commodities should be regulated and how policymakers think about energy supplies in a fractious geopolitical environment, host Jason Bordoff spoke with Javier Blas from Bloomberg News. He’s a leading energy columnist and commodities expert with a renowned career at top media outlets like the BBC and the Financial Times.
He’s also the author of a new book: “The World for Sale: Money, Power, and the Traders Who Barter the Earth's Resources,” co-authored with senior Bloomberg News reporter Jack Farchy.
The pair have been on the show previously to discuss the book in detail, which you can listen to here. They also participated in a recent event with Maria Jelscu Dreyfus, CEO and Founder of Ardinall Investment Management which you can watch here.
In this discussion, Javier focuses on the implications of the current war for commodities markets and the global clean energy transition.
This week, we're pleased to hand the microphone over to our colleague: Dr. Melissa Lott.
Melissa is the director of research here at the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy. And for the last few months, she and her team have been working on a new podcast, called The Big Switch.
It’s a five-part series about how to clean up the energy system -- told in a clear, understandable and fun way.
Congress has huge sums of money on the table for climate action, much of it contained within a $2 trillion dollar infrastructure plan. The bill would provide historic investments in electric vehicles, grid modernization, and renewable energy.
But a ceaseless struggle for bipartisanship threatens the bill and other types of climate legislation. Its success hinges on a small group of moderate Senators with a track record of reaching across the aisle.
Will they cast the votes that are necessary, or will party politics sabotage the push for meaningful climate action?
Today on the show, Bill Loveless is joined by Maine Senator Angus King.
Senator King is part of a small group of powerful moderates. He spends his time in the Senate actively working with Democrats and Republicans in search of climate compromise.
Senator King is a founding member of the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus and a Member of three prominent committees -- energy, intelligence, and armed services.
We spoke with the Senator about the state of play for climate and energy legislation.
When it comes to the Green New Deal, Washington is still trying to sort out what the movement means and what steps can be taken to address the dangers posed by climate change. And a similar case is happening in some states, like New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a Green New Deal and bold steps he says are necessary to achieve it.
In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Alicia Barton, the president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. NYSERDA is a public corporation dedicated to energy innovations that would improve New York’s economy and environment – and an agency that will play a big part in the state’s Green New Deal.
Bill sat down with Alicia outside the Center on Global Energy Policy’s summit in New York recently to talk about the governor’s energy agenda, including its call for an ambitious ramp-up in renewable energy deployments in New York as the state aims for 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 and ultimately the elimination of its carbon footprint. It’s not without controversy; some state lawmakers and some interest groups say Cuomo’s Green New Deal doesn’t go far enough. But one way or another, the Empire State seems likely to follow through on a plan of this sort.
Alicia has held public and private sector leadership roles in clean energy for more than a decade, including serving as co-chair of the energy and clean tech practice at the law firm Foley Hoag, chief operations officer of the global utility business unit at SunEdison, and CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a publicly supported agency in Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, she was also the deputy commissioner for policy and planning at the Department of Environmental Protection and the deputy general counsel at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
During their conversation, Bill and Alicia talked about various elements of New York’s Green New Deal, like its ambitious goals for offshore wind power, distributed solar energy and energy storage, and what her agency and the rest of the state’s government, not to mention the private sector, can do to meet them. They also touched on the growing significance of states like New York acting on energy and climate change in the absence of policy in Washington.
Just as important was their discussion of women in energy and the gender imbalance still seen across much of the energy apparatus in the U.S.
Big changes are taking place in Chile when it comes to energy, with a strong push for renewable energy in recent years. And there’s more to come, according to the country’s president, Sebastián Piñera.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless sits down with Susana Jiménez, Chile’s energy minister, who’s overseeing her government’s plan to change significantly the way the nation produces and uses energy. In the process, she aims to make her nation a model for not only South America but also the world.
The fifth largest consumer of energy in South America, Chile is only a minor producer of fossil fuels and therefore has relied heavily on energy imports. That’s changing, however, as Chile looks increasingly to solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy. In fact, renewable energy now accounts for about 18% of the nation’s electric power capacity, up from 5% just five years ago.
Minister Jiménez and Bill talked about this during her visit to the Center on Global Energy Policy in New York as well as her government’s plans to step up its transformation to cleaner forms of energy, all of which will require even more investment by the private sector and innovations in government regulation.
They also discussed Chile’s commitments to address climate change by reducing the carbon intensity of its economy. A good sign of that vow is her government’s agreement to host the next round of U.N. climate talks in December after Brazil reversed its plans to host the meeting.
Susana Jiménez holds a Business Degree and a Master's Degree in Economics from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She also obtained a Diploma in Free Markets from the same institution and a Master's Degree in Humanities from Universidad del Desarrollo. She has been a professor at Universidad de Chile, Universidad Central, Universidad Finis Terrae, and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
Until 1997, Ms. Jiménez was an economist with the Research Division of the Central Bank of Chile and subsequently she served as economic assistant in the representative office of the Chilean Treasury Ministry in New York. From 2000 to 2002 she was head of research at consulting firm Zahler & Co. Subsequent to that, she was an associate economist with consulting firm P. Rojas y Asociados, where she became a partner in 2009.
In May 2010 she joined the thinktank Libertad y Desarrollo (LyD) as a senior economist in charge of research on energy, environment, regulation, and free markets and water resources. She was promoted to deputy director of LyD in January 2017, a post she served in until she was appointed government minister.
Vicki Hollub is the President and CEO of Occidental Petroleum -- one of the largest oil and gas exploration and production companies in the U.S. and a major player in the Permian Basin. She joins host Jason Bordoff at the 2019 Columbia Global Energy Summit to discuss carbon pricing, the battle for dominance in the Permian Basin, what’s next for LNG, and the business case for advancing a lower carbon future.
Vicki Hollub is the first woman to head a major American oil company, serving as an industry leader since she joined Occidental in 1982. In her 35 years with the company, she has held management and technical positions with responsibilities on three continents, including overseeing operations in the United States, Russia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. She is the chair of the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and a member of the World Economic Forum and the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative.
On April 10, the 2019 Columbia Global Energy Summit in New York City hosted top politicians, business leaders, and academics for a variety of lively discussions on what to expect in changes to the oil and gas landscape, the latest research on powering the low-carbon transition, navigating U.S. political fields to advance climate solutions, how to assess risk and build grid resilience, and much more.
In this Columbia Energy Exchange, Center on Global Energy Policy Inaugural Fellow David Sandalow is joined by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee at the 2019 Columbia Global Energy Summit for a conversation on how to bring clean energy lessons from Washington State to Washington, D.C., what the role of nuclear power and carbon capture sequestration should be in the U.S. energy landscape, and the value of perseverance and optimism for delivering on “a goal of a clean energy economy.”
Governor Inslee is a fifth-generation Washingtonian and graduate of the University of Washington and the Willamette University College of Law. He began his political career as a State Representative in 1989, then served in the U.S. House of Representatives from Washington’s 4th and 1st Districts until 2012. He has been Governor of Washington since 2013.
On April 10, the 2019 Columbia Global Energy Summit in New York City hosted top politicians, business leaders, and academics for a range of lively discussions on what to expect in changes to the oil and gas landscape, the latest research on powering the low-carbon transition, navigating U.S. political fields to advance climate solutions, how to assess risk and build grid resilience, and much more.
Columbia University does not support or oppose candidates for political office and any opinions expressed are not those of the University.
On this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by María Fernanda Suárez, Minister of Mines and Energy in Colombia, where she manages the country's efforts to boost oil production, promote sustainability, and diversify their power portfolio to promote energy security and meet growing demand. She leads Colombia’s efforts to diversify its electricity sector from its current, largely hydro-powered composition, which is threatened by El Niño conditions.
Recorded at CERAWeek, they discuss the future of Colombia’s oil and gas sector, particularly the role shale will play, its energy transition and added renewables to its electricity sector, and the impact of the crisis in neighboring Venezuela on Colombia.
CERAWeek is an annual event that brings together 4,000 industry leaders and policymakers from more than 75 countries.
Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat has had a rich career in government: working in four Democratic administrations over the course of 50 years, his most senior roles include Chief Domestic Policy Advisor for President Carter and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and Ambassador to the European Union for President Clinton.
Eizenstat advised President Carter through the 1979 oil crisis and through a period of substantial progress on energy and conservation - they doubled the size of the national park system, passed major federal policies that helped increase renewable fuel production and decrease dependence on foreign oil, and even symbolically installed a solar panel on the White House.
During the Clinton Administration, Eizenstat served as chief U.S. negotiator for the Kyoto Protocol, which created the international treaty to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. He also gave host Jason Bordoff his first job in government, straight out of grad school.
On this episode, Jason and "Stu" reunite to discuss his new book, titled "President Carter: The White House Years." They unpack Eizenstat's unique insights into President Carter's stamp on energy and environmental policy, including deregulating oil and gas markets, conservation efforts, the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, protecting Alaska's lands, and much, much more.
Climate change is gaining attention fast in Congress as the Green New Deal makes waves. It’s a top priority for Democrats, although they may differ over the exact approach for curbing carbon emissions. And even among Republicans there seems to be more talk about backing cleaner forms of energy.
In this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless sits down with Representative Paul Tonko, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, the place where legislation on climate change begins.
In fact, the New York Democrat is well on his way to crafting bills. He’s unveiled a set of principles that will guide his actions and laid out a two-part strategy for legislation, starting with relatively modest measures with potential for widespread support, and then moving on to greater challenges, like putting a price on carbon.
Bill met with Chairman Tonko in his office the other day, amid a flurry of activity over climate change at both ends of Congress. Senate Republicans had just voted to reject the Green New Deal even as a leading Republican announced legislation for a New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy. And in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was spotlighting a measure reaffirming the United States’ commitment to the Paris climate agreement.
Bill asked the chairman what he made of all this and how he intended to navigate his way forward on this controversial issue. They talked about the Green New Deal, his legislative intentions, his look back on past attempts by Congress to deal with climate change, and his very personal insights into the phenomena taking place.
The U.S. economy kicked into high gear in 2018, and the results were evident in nearly every energy sector including overall demand, power generation, energy prices and carbon emissions. So, what does this mean for the movement to sustainable energy?
In this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Lisa Jacobson, the president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, a coalition of companies and trade associations representing the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors.
Every year, the council along with Bloomberg New Energy Finance puts out “Sustainable Energy in America Factbook,” providing annual information on key trends in the U.S. energy sectors. The 2019 edition of the report, the seventh compiled, illustrates the extent to which the U.S. energy picture is changing and what it indicates for the nation’s economy.
Lisa has headed the Business Council for Sustainable Energy for about 15 years, after having worked on Capitol Hill as a congressional aide. She is a member of the Department of Energy’s State Energy Efficiency Steering Committee, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee, and the Gas Technology Institute’s Public Interest Advisory Committee.
She has represented energy industries before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and testified before Congress. In fact, she had just appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee regarding the 2019 factbook when she and Bill spoke at her office in Washington.
They talked about the latest findings in the various energy sectors as well as a couple of questions the report raises about energy productivity in the U.S. and the absence of federal policy on climate change.
On this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Lord Adair Turner, Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Chair of the Energy Transitions Commission, and former Chair of the UK Parliament's Climate Change Committee. In November 2018, the Energy Transitions Commission published a report entitled ‘Mission Possible: Reaching net-zero carbon emissions from harder-to-abate sectors by mid-century’. The report outlines the possible routes to fully decarbonize cement, steel, plastics, trucking, shipping, and aviation – which together represent 30% of energy emissions today and could increase to 60% by mid-century. Lord Adair Turner and Jason discuss the report in detail – its findings, recommendations, and implications for the energy transition. We also hear Lord Adair Turner's thoughts on an array of issues, including climate change, the proposed Green New Deal, and the broader role of government in the energy transition.
Freeing the world of poverty is the predominant goal of the World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. And one of the most important factors in achieving that objective is providing reliable and affordable electricity to the more than 1 billion people around the world who lack it now.
In this episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Riccardo Puliti, the top energy official at the World Bank. As a senior director and head of the Energy and Extractives Global Practice at the bank, Riccardo leads a team of 400 professionals who develop policies and financing in these industries, with a portfolio of some $40 billion.
Bill and Riccardo met recently at his office at World Bank headquarters in Washington, two years after their first conversation on the Columbia Energy Exchange, when Riccardo was still new to the job. They talked about what’s happened since then, including stepped-up efforts at the bank to promote access to renewable energy in remote regions like Africa and Southeast Asia and to address the threats of climate change.
Always an optimist, Riccardo finds satisfaction in the progress that’s been made to expand access to cleaner types of energy, though he acknowledges more needs to be done. And he’s keen on the potential of new technologies like energy storage. But he also makes clear the bank’s concerns over climate change, whose potential impact is of growing concern to nations around the world.
Of course, he and Bill were meeting as the World Bank awaits a new president, following the resignation of Jim Yong Kim earlier this year and the Trump administration’s nomination of David Malpass, an official at the U.S. Treasury Department, to replace him. Will energy and climate policies change under the bank’s new leadership? Not surprisingly, Riccardo responded carefully, saying, “We have to wait until the new president comes and then see what kind of dialogue takes place.”
Prior to joining the World Bank, Riccardo was the managing director in charge of energy and extractive industries at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He started his career at Istituto Mobiliare Italiano in 1987 before moving to Banque Indosuez and NM Rothschild where he worked in equity capital markets, always in the energy and infrastructure sectors.
OPEC and non-OPEC countries will meet in Vienna this week to decide whether to cut oil production to prop up tumbling prices. This comes amid high output from Saudi Arabia, Russia and the U.S. and slowing demand for oil in several non-OECD countries.
On this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff talks to Paul Horsnell, global head of commodities at Standard Chartered Plc, a multinational banking and financial services company based in London. Previously, Paul was managing director and head of commodities research at Barclays Capital, head of energy research at JPMorgan and assistant director for research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
Paul and Jason got together in Vienna ahead of the OPEC meeting to discuss the decline in oil prices over the past few months, the impact of rising U.S. shale oil production, President Trump’s pressure on Saudi Arabia for lower prices, Russia’s role in decisions on oil production and other market developments. They addressed, too, what might be expected of this significant meeting.
U.S. oil production from shale will reach nearly 7 million barrels a day in May – roughly the same amount as the entire U.S. production of oil five years ago. Nearly half of this shale output will come from the Permian Basin, the stretch of shale in west Texas and southeast New Mexico.
To understand how the shale revolution is impacting the U.S. energy industry and what's in store for the future, host Bill Loveless sits down with Scott Sheffield on a new episode of Columbia Energy Exchange. Scott is the chairman and former CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, a Texas-based independent and a leader in shale development in the Permian Basin. He is also an advisory board member at the Center on Global Energy Policy.
Scott and Bill discuss the phenomenal growth in the Permian and other shale regions, capital discipline among independent producers, and the challenges they face in terms of insufficient pipeline capacity and rising costs. They also touch on U.S. energy policy, including the Trump administration’s efforts to deregulate aspects of the oil industry and efforts to expand production offshore and on federal lands.
Last week, in a move that took some by surprise, a leading designer and maker of solar products, SunPower, announced plans to buy SolarWorld Americas and its factory in Oregon, and build a domestic manufacturing presence. This move came after the Trump administration's decision earlier this year to impose a 30% tariff on most solar imports into the United States.
To discuss whether the Trump Administration's trade policy is working when it comes to solar manufacturing, and what an acquisition of SolarWorld would mean for the industry, host Bill Loveless speaks with Tom Werner, president and CEO of SunPower, on a new episode of Columbia Energy Exchange.
Tom and Bill discuss whether the tariffs are likely to trigger a revival in U.S.-based production, the outlook for solar power in the U.S. and government policies that support it.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics are just a few of the digital trends that are poised to disrupt the energy system in the coming decades. These developments have the potential to improve productivity, safety and sustainability, but they also raise important questions about privacy and security.
To understand how digitalization is re-shaping the energy system and what this means for policy, markets, business, consumers, and the environment, host Jason Bordoff sits down with David Turk on a new episode of Columbia Energy Exchange. Dave is Acting Director for the Sustainability, Technology and Outlooks Directorate and the Head of the Energy Environment Division at the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Prior to his time at IEA, Dave served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Climate and Technology at the U.S. Department of Energy where he helped coordinate international climate change and clean energy efforts. He served as Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change at the U.S. Department of State, and he was Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and the Senior Director for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.
Among many topics Dave and Jason discuss, several include: the impact of digital innovation on the transport sector and decarbonization efforts; the opportunities and challenges of digital technology to energy deployment in the developing world; and the role of privacy, cyber security and economic disruption in the energy sector.
Energy efficiency is one important component in the larger playbook to reduce carbon emissions and ward off the damaging effects of climate change. It is also an essential element of a reliable and affordable energy system.
On a new episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Kateri Callahan, the president of the Alliance to Save Energy, one of the leading advocates of policies that promote energy efficiency in the U.S.
The Alliance, founded by Senators Charles Percy and Hubert Humphrey in 1977 following the oil embargo of that decade, has supported various programs to save energy, including efficiency standards for appliances and motor vehicles, building codes for construction, and government funding for energy-saving technologies.
Bill met with Kateri days before she stepped down as president of the Alliance after heading the organization for 14 years. They talked about the past year in Washington – one that Kateri said was like no other in her tenure at the alliance – and how energy efficient the U.S. has become over the past 40 years.
They also discussed the political climate for energy efficiency now with the Trump administration and Congress; new campaigns by the Alliance to promote energy efficiency in transportation and electric power; and public awareness of the potential for saving energy.
To address the threat of climate change and reduce carbon emissions, many business leaders, economists, and policymakers--including prominent Republicans--have pushed for a carbon tax in the United States.
On a new episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff sits down with Glenn Hubbard, the Dean of Columbia Business School, to understand how a carbon tax might be designed and what effects it would have on the U.S. economy and business. Glenn and Jason also discuss the outlook for the U.S. economy, President Trump's tax reforms and tariffs on solar, steel and aluminum, as well as the role of business to mitigate climate change and how companies will address their exposure to climate risk.
Glenn has been a Columbia faculty member since 1988. In addition to his role as Dean, he currently serves as Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics. He was previously Chairman of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush where he was instrumental in drafting President Bush’s tax plan. Glenn has also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and he chaired the Economic Policy Committee of the OECD.