Last week in Texas, millions of people experienced the loss of power during a recording-shattering cold snap and series of winter storms. Pundits and politicians have peddled ideologically driven narratives about what factors and energy sources deserve the blame for the catastrophic and life-threatening cascade of failures. Lawmakers and regulators have called for investigations into why the energy grid failed so miserably, and it will take some time to unpack the causes and consequences of last week’s crisis.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Cheryl LaFleur and Jesse Jenkins, two experts who have deep expertise in electricity and energy systems, for a deep dive into what we already know and what we don’t know about what happened in Texas.
Cheryl LaFleur is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE), the organization that plans and operates the power system and administers wholesale electricity markets for the New England region. Previously, Cheryl was one of the longest-serving commissioners on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), twice serving as its chair.
Jesse Jenkins is an assistant professor at Princeton University with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment. He is a macro-scale energy systems engineer and leads a Princeton Lab focused on energy systems modeling to evaluate technology and policy options for net-zero emissions energy systems. He is a coauthor of a recent study from Princeton modeling scenarios to achieve net zero emissions in the US by 2050, which you can read more about in the cover story of this week’s Economist.
Saving energy is something generally seen as a good thing as a matter of public policy and business strategy. But for all its economic and environmental benefits, does saving energy get enough attention from policymakers, especially as a means of addressing climate change? And what more can be done to bring more of those savings to disadvantaged communities?
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Paula Glover, the new president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a 43-year-old coalition of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders with a bipartisan reputation for advocating advances in federal energy policy.
Paula has more than 25 years of experience in the energy industry, including 15 years with electric and natural gas distribution companies. Prior to her new job at the Alliance to Save Energy, she was the president and CEO of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, a nonprofit association dedicated to ensuring that African Americans and other minorities have input in the development of energy policy and regulations.
Bill and Paula talked about energy efficiency as a matter of public policy over the years and the potential for more initiatives to save energy under the new Biden administration and Democrat-controlled Congress. Paula made clear that she thinks a lot more could be done to promote energy efficiency as an effective response to climate change and a lucrative source of jobs for those displaced by the transition to cleaner energy.
She also emphasizes the importance of providing underserved populations and people of color with greater access to what she sees as the enormous economic opportunities of energy efficiency.
The commitment to acting on climate change by the Biden administration is attracting much attention, as President Biden outlines his agenda and appoints individuals to carry it out across the government.
But just as important, as they have always been, are steps being taken by states to curb emissions and promote cleaner forms of energy. And no state has been more of a leader on these issues than California.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to two of the leading energy reporters in California, which has been hard hit by the pandemic even as it copes with wildfires and other environmental disasters made worse by climate change.
Sammy Roth covers energy for the Los Angeles Times and writes the weekly “Boiling Point”. He previously reported for the Desert Sun and USA Today, where he focused on renewable energy, climate change, electric utilities and public lands. He holds a bachelor of arts in sustainable development from Columbia University, where he was the editor in chief of the Columbia Daily Spectator.
J.D. Morris is a business reporter covering PG&E and the coronavirus for the San Francisco Chronicle. Before joining the Chronicle, he was the Sonoma County government reporter for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, where he was among journalists awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the 2017 North Bay wildfires.
Both Sammy and J.D. are past participants in the Energy Journalism Initiative at the Center on Global Energy Policy which helps energy journalists gain a deeper understanding of complex issues associated with the beat. CGEP is now accepting applications from energy journalists for the 2021 EJI seminar in June. More information is available on the CGEP website.
In their conversation, Bill, Sammy and J.D. discuss the impact of the pandemic in California and the implications of it for efforts to address climate change. They also delve into the status of various climate policies undertaken in the Golden State, including its cap-and-trade program and steps taken at the state and local level to promote electric vehicles and restrict installation of natural gas service in new residential and commercial buildings.
President Biden’s first days in office mark a sharp shift in US climate and energy policy, with a slew of executive orders reversing several Trump actions and directing federal agencies to pursue a wide range of new regulations in what’s been framed as “a whole-of-government approach” to the climate crisis. Combined with Democrats now in control of both houses of Congress by the slimmest of majorities, the raft of executive orders raises the question of how climate policy will advance going forward. To what extent will it advance through legislation versus executive action? To what extent will legislative action be on party lines? Will there be opportunities for bipartisan cooperation on climate?
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Rich Powell to discuss what to expect in climate policy moving forward, particularly on the Republican side of the aisle.
Rich Powell is the Executive Director of ClearPath and ClearPath Action, the DC-based organizations developing and advancing conservative policies that accelerate clean energy innovation. Rich frequently testifies before Congress on climate change and energy innovation. He served as a member of the 2019 Advisory Committee to the Export Import Bank of the United States, and is on the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center’s Advisory Group. Previously, Rich was with McKinsey & Company in the Energy and Sustainability practices. He holds a B.A. from Harvard College in Environmental Science and Public Policy, and a J.D. from New York University.