Tag Archives: policy

Sustainable Transportation Speakeasy

Zeroing out Boulder’s Transportation Emissions

An evening of conversation with Will Toor and others!

When: Monday, June 16th, 5:30pm – 9pm
Where: 303 Vodka, 2500 47th St. Unit 10, Boulder, CO 80301 (map)
RSVP: on Eventbrite

Join us for a balmy mid-summer evening discussion of what it’s going to take for Boulder’s transportation system to meet the city’s Climate Commitment (an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050). Our speaker will be none other than Boulder’s own former Mayor and County Commissioner, Will Toor, who will present a new Boulder-specific look at climate neutral transportation from the Transportation program at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.

As with most climate action, getting transportation emissions under control will take a variety of aggressive strategies all working together, including creating a more livable, walkable and bikeable city, reducing overall vehicle miles traveled, and shifting away from fossil fuels in our motor vehicles.

In keeping with our Speakeasy format, Will’s presentation will be short and provocative — no more than half an hour — with plenty of time for questions, discussion and mingling before and afterward.  We will have folks representing a variety of different low-carbon land use and transportation options and organizations on hand including:

  • Zane Selvans, Will Toor and others from Better Boulder, a new civic organization advocating for sustainable, human-scale urbanism in Boulder.
  • Several members of the Community Cycles Advocacy Committee Boulder’s non-profit bike shop and advocacy organization.
  • Ryan Balciar from The Cruiser Boutique, purveyor of fine cargo bikes.
  • Nigel Zeid from Boulder Nissan, selling the all electric Nissan Leaf.
  • Karen Worminghaus, the Executive Director of eGo Carshare, Boulder’s non-profit carsharing organization.
  • Rene Goldberg from Pete’s Electric Bikes, downtown on Pearl.
  • Bonnie Lucara from Commute Matters, a new metro area commute optimization platform.
  • Adam Stenftenagel from Snugg Home, a local energy efficiency company looking at novel financing mechanisms combining electric vehicles, energy efficiency improvements, and rooftop solar into one combined product.
  • David Adamson from Eco Build, who is working to create a retrofit eco-district in North Boulder.

Featured image Creative Commons licensed by Mark Stosberg on Flickr

Colorado PUC takes the next bite at Net Metering

On April 9, the Commissioners of the Colorado PUC held a three hour informational meeting with presentations from Xcel, the collective solar parties, the Colorado Energy Office, the Office of Consumer Council, and Western Resources Advocates. The outlines of the process will start to firm up in May, but the parties laid out some general ideas for process and substance in PowerPoint presentations before a packed house.

As a quick recap, remember that this matter spun off from the 2014 RES compliance docket at the motion of the Colorado Energy Office. Their argument was, essentially, that if the value of solar was going to be debated it should get its own hearing instead of being stuck in the compliance plan almost as a sideshow. The CEO argued that severing the issues would “increase transparency and allow stakeholders from across the state to participate in the dialog related to incremental costs, net metering incentives, and solar energy rates.” (CEO motion 21 Jan 2014) The commissioners deliberated on the motion at their weekly meeting on January 29 and granted that motion shortly thereafter with much hand wringing about the structure of the new proceeding.

In response to that hand wringing, the commissioners held this informational meeting with the parties directed to discuss their “recommendations on the substantive issues the Commission should address in this proceeding, objectives the Commission should meet, and the best procedures satisfying those objectives.” (Decision No. C14-0294 in proceeding 14M-0235E) Continue reading Colorado PUC takes the next bite at Net Metering

Bright or Dark?

The City of Boulder Presents Karl Rabago

Thursday, March 13th, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
West Senior Center: Creekside Room
909 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80302

Update! Watch the presentation online:

The Q&A Session:

Are you wondering why solar is in the news so much these days? Is the industry in trouble? And what might changes mean for Boulder’s plans to draw more of its power from the sun?

We’ll be exploring these questions – and many more – on March 13 at a free and public event featuring Karl Rábago, a national leader and innovator on solar energy. We’d love to see you there!

This conversation is both relevant and timely. As part of the Energy Future initiative, the Boulder community has said it wants to increase opportunities for local generation of cleaner electricity. While initial modeling put an emphasis on wind, solar will undoubtedly be an important part of our resource mix. Boulder also has lots at stake in terms of the solar industry. Solar leaders that help individuals and businesses gain access to solar technology are contributing to our strong economy, positioning our community to make the type of environmental progress others dream about.

But regulatory changes are looming – and some worry solar’s golden era may be coming to an end. Locally, Xcel Energy has proposed significant changes in net metering as part of its 2014 renewable energy standard compliance plan. These issues have been severed into different dockets, but the decisions will be important nonetheless.

Few people understand the concerns and opportunities better than Karl Rábago. With more than 20 years of experience in electricity policy and regulation, energy market development and energy technology development, his perspective is deep and broad. Rábago operates an energy consulting practice, Rábago Energy LLC, providing strategic, policy, regulatory and market development consulting in the clean and innovative energy sectors. He serves as Chair of the Board of the Center for Resource Solutions, a San Francisco-based non-governmental organization that works to advance voluntary clean energy markets, and also sits on the Board of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

Past Positions:

  • Commissioner, Texas Public Utility Commission
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Energy Vice President of Distributed Energy
  • Services at Austin Energy Director of Regulatory Affairs for the AES Corporation and AES Wind
  • Sustainability Leader with NatureWorks, LLC
  • Managing Director & Principal, Rocky Mountain Institute

Kevin Anderson and Getting to 2°C

Reading the the Copenhagen accords of 2009, it would seem that virtually the entire world has signed up to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at levels that will keep warming below 2°C, consistent with the scientific understanding of the climate system, and on an equitable basis globally.  Unfortunately, virtually nobody is considering policies that actually lead to that outcome.  Among others, the International Energy Agency (IEA) notes that our current emissions trajectory is consistent with 6°C of warming by the end of the century, which is considered by many to be inconsistent with an organized global civilization.  In fact, even if we implemented all the “reasonable” policies we’ve talked about so far (which we’re not doing) the outcome looks a lot more like 4°C than 2°C.

Yet almost nobody is willing to either give up on 2°C publicly, or — maybe more constructively — start a serious discussion about what scientifically grounded, equitable policies that are actually likely to result in less than 2°C of warming look like.  Almost nobody, but not quite.

For the last several years Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows of the Tyndall Center for Climate Research in the UK have been trying to publicize this massive disconnect, and get policymakers and the public to acknowledge that in reality there are only radical futures to choose from — either a radical alteration of the climate, or the radical emissions reductions required to avoid it.  There is no status quo option.  Anderson and Bows are critical of both the scientific establishment for playing down this disconnect, and leaders for refusing to acknowledge in public what some of them understand very well in private.

This conversation isn’t going to go away any time soon.  Some selections:

Here’s an hour-long invited talk by Anderson at the Cabot Institute from 2012:

Continue reading Kevin Anderson and Getting to 2°C

Exploring a Carbon Price for Colorado

In May of 2013 I gave a talk at Clean Energy Action’s Global Warming Solutions Speaker Series in Boulder, on how we might structure a carbon pricing scheme in Colorado. You can also download a PDF of the slides and watch an edited version of that presentation via YouTube:

The short policy overview:

  • We should begin levying a modest carbon tax, in the range of $5 to $25/ton of CO2e.
  • The tax must be applied to the fossil fuels used in electricity generation (coal and natural gas). Ideally it should also be applied to gasoline, diesel, natural gas used outside the power sector, and fugitive methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, but those are less important for the moment.
  • New electricity generation resources must be allowed to compete economically with the operation of existing carbon-intensive facilities, and fuel costs must not be blindly passed through to consumers without either rigorous regulatory oversight, or utilities sharing fuel price risk.
  • Carbon tax revenues should be spent on emissions mitigation, providing reliable, low-cost financing for energy efficiency measures and a standard-offer contract with modest performance-based returns for new renewable generation.
  • Over time the carbon price should be increased and applied uniformly across all segments of the economy, with the eventual integration of  consumption based emissions footprinting for imported goods.

But wait… I can hear you saying, I thought James Hansen and others  were rallying support for a revenue neutral carbon tax proposal?  Even the arch-conservative American Enterprise Institute was looking into it, weren’t they?

A carbon price alone is not enough to get the job done — there are other pieces of our energy markets that also have to be fixed to get us to carbon zero.

Continue reading Exploring a Carbon Price for Colorado