Paul Joskow, MIT professor of economics
Thursday, September 22nd
University of Colorado School of Law
Wold Law Building, Wittemyer Courtroom
This event is free and open to the public. You must be registered to attend. More information and registration available here
Electricity generation accounts for about 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. While emissions have declined by about 20% in the last ten years, much of this reduction is due to the fortuitous availability of cheap natural gas which
has provided incentives to substitute less CO2 intensive natural gas for coal as a generation fuel. The sector faces many challenges to meet long run 2050 goals of reducing emissions by as much as 80% from 2005 levels. These challenges include the diversity of federal, state and municipal regulation, the diverse and balkanized structure of the industry from state to state and region to region, the failure to enact policies to place a price on all carbon emissions,
the extensive reliance on subsidies and command and control regulation to promote renewables and energy efficiencies, uncertainties about aggressive assumptions about improvements in energy efficiency beyond long-term trends, pre-mature closure of carbon free nuclear generating technologies, integrating renewables efficiently into large regional grids, methane leaks, and transmission constraints. The lecture will discuss these challenges and suggest policies to reduce the costs and smooth the transition to a low carbon electricity sector.
Paul L. Joskow became President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on January 1, 2008. He is also the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics, Emeritus at MIT. He received a BA from Cornell University in 1968 and a PhD in Economics from Yale University in 1972. See full biography here.
Missed this event? View PPT slides here and a video of the talk here.
A Community Discussion
Monday, August 29th
Boulder Public Library
Boulder Creek Room, 1001 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder
Clean Energy Action has pioneered detailed analysis of US coal cost and supply issues. Now we are working to get a deeper understanding of natural gas supply issues.
CEA Intern and PhD Physics Candidate Molly May will present a detailed look at natural gas cost and supply issues and invite comment and suggestions for future research.
If you want a good foundation on natural gas supply issues, this will be a great way to get it.
If you are already and expert on natural gas cost and supply issues, please come help us learn what you know!
Clean Energy Action has questioned the practice of making long-term continued investments in coal-fired power plants for years. These concerns are driven by several factors including carbon dioxide emissions which in many states make coal plants the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, emission of pollutants like mercury and sulfur dioxide, increasingly unfavorable economics, and the uncertainty of future coal prices and supplies.
The price of coal has changed greatly over the last two decades. This volatility puts continued investments in coal-fired power plants at risk of becoming stranded assets – assets that have suffered from unanticipated or premature write-downs, devaluations or conversion to liabilities. Rather than adding pollution control equipment or other investments to keep coal plants online, regulators and utilities should consider making plans to phase out coal power.
Coal plants can’t operate without a stable supply of coal over their entire lifetime, which means that the long-term stability of coal prices and supplies are essential to the solvency of a coal plant investment. In 2013, CEA published a detailed analysis of historical coal prices in each U.S. state to gain insight into their stability. The study revealed that prices rose steadily over the preceding decade, thereby continually increasing costs for coal based utilities.
In light of the recent coal industry bankruptcies, we updated this report to include more recent data and found that instability in the coal industry was paralleled by decreasing coal prices and persistently rising production costs, resulting in dangerously low profit margins. Our analyses indicate that utility commissions, utilities, and political leaders should seriously consider the unpredictable nature of fossil fuel markets when making decisions about long-term energy investments. Our findings point to the long-term economic benefits of investing in “free fuel” renewable energy resources such as wind and solar that have stable and affordable prices.
An analysis of the economic impacts of Xcel Energy’s proposed Rush Creek Wind Project indicates that the proposed investment in wind generation would produce net economic benefits for the state of Colorado. The study was prepared by the Leeds School of Business and funded by Xcel Energy.
Investing in 300 wind turbines made in Colorado that collectively produce 600 megawatts of wind energy would reduce “future generation of electricity using gas-fired and coal-fired resources.” Along with investments “in purchasing and erecting the wind turbines, the project will include the creation of access roads, pouring of foundations, installation of transmission lines, and construction of substations.” In total, the study projects that these investments will result in a projected net increase of 7,136 jobs (Table 1, page 6) in Colorado.
Reductions in operating expenditures, “notably – fuel costs,” will result in lower revenue requirements for Colorado ratepayers as wind generation lowers the projected revenue required to generate electricity by 0.7% (Table 3, page 12). From 2016 through 2040, the study projects that the combination of these savings for consumers and investment in renewable generating capacity will increase Colorado’s projected GDP by over $1 billion (Table 1, page 6).
You can access the full study here.
November 8th, 2:00 pm
The Alliance Center
1536 Wynkoop Street, Denver CO
Join CEA and the Climate Courage Resilience Circle for a film screening and discussion of This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein’s brand new climate justice documentary. Throughout the film, Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.
Join the event on Facebook!
Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change.
Directed by Avi Lewis, and inspired by Naomi Klein’s international non-fiction bestseller This Changes Everything, the film presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond.
Suggested donation: $7. No one will be turned away for lack of funds, but we gratefully accept contributions to support this initiative!
Seating is limited. Register here to attend the event.