Most organizations continue to develop energy initiatives based upon tactical decisions and focusing on immediate concerns, rather than recognizing energy management as a strategic opportunity. Decisions concerning energy focus primarily on operating cost management. The utility bill represents a recurring monthly cost, a budget line item that fluctuates up and down over the course of the year, or compared to prior years (with all the focus associated when the cost goes up). The very fact that energy is predominately viewed as a cost and not an “input” to the operation of an enterprise pushes it to the margins of management planning. Dissecting energy into its many parts offers an extraordinary opportunity to impact the enterprise at almost all stakeholder levels.
Energy costs are a function of its metered usage—most commonly, kilowatt-hours of electricity and therms of natural gas. Fifty years ago, metered energy was a cheap and plentiful domestic resource and its impact on the environment, nati ...Read the rest of entry »
Last month (July 2010) Dan Bailey at Sieben Energy Associates created a matrix titled, "Major Energy and Climate Legislation of the 111th Congress" that outlines the various proposed energy and/or climate bills in 2009-2010. This is found at the following link: http://www.siebenenergy.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=2xBuNhlLGvk%3d&tabid=73&mid=676.
Since the time that this document was written, there have been additional attempts to garner the support needed to pass energy/climate legislation in the US Senate. The most recent bill was unveiled on July 28, 2010, which was absent a price on carbon. Instead the July 28th bill focused largely on offshore drilling and to a lesser extent domestic energy efficiency. This bill did not receive the backing needed to pass and was considered shot down within the first week of August. However, a number of articles written within the past two weeks suggest that Senate majority leader Harry Reid is still confident that an energy and/or climate bill will ...Read the rest of entry »
In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal last week, R. James Woolsey, chairman of Woolsey Partners and a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, outlined four strategies to reduce demand for oil. In the U.S., fuels derived from petroleum account for 95% of transportation needs but only 2% of electricity generation. Under the heading “How to End America’s Addiction to Oil,” Woolsey focused on strategies that are already available today:
Improve internal combustion engine electronics to better regulate fuel consumption within automobiles.
Switch to relatively inexpensive and domestically abundant natural gas for bus and interstate trucking fleets.
Begin to add compatible alternative liquid fuels (such as from waste and algae) that do not require engine modification into gasoline and diesel.
Expand and encourage the use of all-electric vehicles.
Our initial response, Woolsey says, should be to depend more heavily on electricity, natural gas, and biofuels for transp ...Read the rest of entry »
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change held an energy efficiency conference in Chicago on April 6 and 7. This year it was entitled From Shop Floor to Top Floor: Best Business Practices in Energy Efficiency and coincided with their release of a report on the best practices in corporate energy efficency.
Interesting keynote and luncheon speakers ranging from Suzanne Malec-McKenna, the City of Chicago’s Commissioner of its Department of Environment to John Rowe, Chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation, to former Senator John Warner, helped set the context for the conference—that the world is changing, and that fossil fuel-generated carbon emissions will surely become an economic factor within our society—with an associated cost borne by consumers.
Sustainability and environmental representatives of household name companies such as Toyota, IBM, Best Buy, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett Packard, Coca Cola and the Mars Candy described their companies’ efforts to establish and attain sustainab ...Read the rest of entry »
The Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute have jointly released a report that summarizes the potential for energy efficiency in buildings across all 16 southern and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia. Entitled “Energy Efficiency in the South,” the key metrics are astounding. The authors conclude that substantial (but by no means exhaustive) energy efficiency programs, implemented aggressively in businesses and homes across the entire region, have the potential to reduce utility bills by $41 billion, create 380,000 new jobs, limit the need for new power plants, and save 8.6 billion gallons of freshwater by 2020. Georgia Tech’s own press release about the study provides additional details and background about the co-lead researchers, Dr. Marilyn Brown of Georgia Tech and Etan Gumerman of Duke.
Measures to reduce energy consumption often show the least traction in southern U.S. states, where the demand for air conditioning during periods of intense summer heat pl ...Read the rest of entry »
The energy (reduction) potential in America’s building stock is a tremendous resource, equivalent to tapping a second Saudi Arabia. The energy appetite of America’s buildings is enormous, but we can begin to cut back on the excess without sacrificing comfort or performance.
Craig Sieben spoke to this theme last week before the Realty Club of Chicago in a speech entitled “America’s Building Stock – The Second Saudi Arabia.” Craig referenced the excellent work of Art Rosenfeld, an award-winning scientist, one of the earliest promoters of energy efficiency in the U.S.—and one of Craig’s personal mentors.
In his speech, Craig emphasized smart and simple examples of what building owners and managers can do to cut back on their energy consumption. Reducing the energy appetite of our buildings is one small step towards a goal of U.S. energy independence. How can this be? Let’s do the math.
In 2008, the U.S. imported 1.5 million barrels of oil per day from Saudi Arabia. We consumed about 19.5 million barrels per d ...Read the rest of entry »
On Wednesday, March 3, Jerry Burin and I will be attending the North American Energy Conference sponsored by Enbridge Gas Services. This annual event, to be held this year at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, provides background on the U.S. natural gas market—where it has been, where it is now, and where it may be going.
The first of two scheduled keynote speakers is a director from the American Gas Association. He is expected to provide fundamental analysis of natural gas supply, demand, production, and consumption. The second speaker, a vice president from United ICAP, is expected to provide a technical and financial perspective on the natural gas market and the economy as a whole. Previous conferences have provided a wealth of information. This year, it will be particularly interesting to hear what the speakers may have to say about prospects for climate legislation, including cap-and-trade.
Over the past few years, the natural gas market has certainly been in flux. Prices rose to multi-year highs in t ...Read the rest of entry »
Next week, March 3-5, the Wall Street Journal is once again hosting its premier environmental event for chief executives and policymakers "who are shaping the green business market." This year’s ECO:nomics Creating Environmental Capital Conference will be held in Santa Barbara, California at the Bacara Resort and Spa.
Just a few of the many leaders who will be participating are Dr. Steven Chu (Energy Secretary), Robert A. Iger (President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company), Peter Voser (Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell), Michael G. Morris (Chairman, President, and CEO of American Electric Power), T. Boone Pickens (Chairman of BP Capital Management), and Amory Lovins (Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute).
The Wall Street Journal describes the motivation for the conference as follows:
At this critical moment, with prospects for a global carbon emissions regime in flux, there is an urgent need for new answers. Corporate CEOs and entrepreneurs alike must alter their strategies to a ...Read the rest of entry »
Some thoughts about what the United States can expect with respect to energy in 2010 with some humor thrown into the mixRead the rest of entry »
Craig Sieben has remarked at Crain's Chicago Business on the development of wind energy in Illinois and its potential for helping advance a new energy economyRead the rest of entry »
The U.S. will agree to carbon cuts during the upcoming Copenhagen summit, but will they be enough? Concern is growing over the amount of carbon that the U.S. will agree to limit in the coming years. This concern is not a one-way battle; US law makers appear weary over too high of expectations in carbon reductions while Europe and other key climate change combaters seem skeptical of the US’s non-committal stance to be an equal partner in the fight against global warming. It is widely agreed that climate change is a global issue which transcends national boundaries and dismisses domestic political debacles regardless of their seemingly weighty importance on a sustained economy. Nevertheless, limits are in the foreseeable future for the US, albeit likely lower than the limits proposed in Europe.
Just how carbon reduction targets will affect business-as-usual is somewhat unclear, but, at least in the short-run, energy efficiency provides a mechanism to improve the bottom-line while reducing the environm ...Read the rest of entry »
The American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act of 2009, or Waxman-Markey, an economy-wide reassessment of energy and climate policy, passed the House in June 2009. A Senate version co-sponsored by Barbara Boxer (D–CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) was finally released in late September after months of planning, but in recent weeks, little traction has been made in moving the process forward. And the Kerry-Boxer bill lacks a cap-and-trade system, one of the hallmarks of the ACES Act and an important piece of the climate change puzzle for President Obama.
Any legislation that does make it out of Senate committee is likely to face a much tougher road to passage in the Senate than ACES had in the House, and further delays are certainly not out of the question. The earliest that the Senate might pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation, if at all, is early 2010.
Discussion often centers on how new legislation changes things, whether for the better or the worse. People ask questions such as, “What if Congress ...Read the rest of entry »