Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Other links from today - market transformation, cleantech investing, and global risk

A few other items of note today:

Utilities amp up push to slash energy use: Great article in the Journal today (subs. required) about the California "carrot/stick" approach to incentivize utilities to push energy efficiency, mandating a reduction of equivalent to three power plants...or else:

The state has designated $2 billion in utility customers' payments to be spent over three years on conservation programs. The utilities need to spend that money to find ways to avoid another $2.7 billion in energy costs, by reducing demand enough that they can buy less power or build fewer plants. If they come close enough to the target, regulators award them a cut of the savings; if not, they pay a penalty...
As one would expect, PG&E (California's biggest utility) is emphasizing the easiest and cheapest method to reduce energy consumption: compact fluorescent lightbulbs. So far the utility has spent $116 million on rebates and subsidies, which has helped contribute to CFLs selling for $0.25 to $0.50 (10 to 20 times less than in 1999). All told PG&E subsidized the sale of 7.6 million CFLs last year, and up to 20 million this year.

No doubt the outcome of this experiment in market transformation will be extensively studied. If it proves successful in generating long-term, sustainable energy reductions, while allowing CFLs to finally supplant incandescents, this is a good example for other market-based renewable efforts to follow.

F.T.C. Asks if Carbon-Offset Money Is Well Spent: following up on Monday's post about the FTC hearings on green marketing, the carbon-offset portion received a good deal of press. Some good examples of green business within the article.

Cleantech funding rising, may overvalue sector: I always enjoy the articles that rely exclusively on anecdotal evidence to prove a headline. I definitely believe certain sectors are over-valued, but I'm not ready to call it a "bubble" just yet.

WEF warns 2008 uncertainties may hurt climate fight: I mentioned this here, and its something I'm looking at closely. What happens to the momentum around climate change, renewable energy development, green business, if a particularly nasty recession hits? The report itself has a scary list of risks for 2008 focused on four areas: financial security, food security, supply chains and energy.

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