Today, The Baltimore Sun ran an op-ed by T. Boone Pickens on America’s troublesome addiction to foreign oil and how natural gas provides a solution towards energy independence. The op-ed along with WMAL-AM (MD radio) previewed Pickens appearance today at the University of Maryland- College Park Town Hall. The Florida-Times Union wrote a piece on Pickens' visit yesterday to Jacksonville, Florida. The article highlights an interview completed with publication and notes the key messages of his speech including The NAT GAS Act and American energy independence. An article in the KC Tribune highlights September’s oil import numbers. Highlighted Placements (Full Articles Below)
• Time for a Different Fuel – The Baltimore Sun – 10/16/09
• T. Boone Pickens to speak at University of Maryland – WMAL-AM 630 – 10/16/09
• The Pickens Plan focuses on wind, natural gas as energy sources – Florida Times-Union –
• Pickens Warns Americans Not to Be Distracted By Falling Oil Prices – KC Tribune –
Print Placements (Full Articles Below)
• Rich Pickens: Betting on Copenhagen– Business Spectator– 10/16/09
• 'Pickens Plan' town hall set Oct. 29 in Stillwater – Tulsa World – 10/15/09
• Clean Energy Building Ontario Airport Station – Orange County Business Journal – 10/15/09
• Big power users must have input on energy future – The Star Phoenix – 10/14/09
Blog/Online Placements (Full Articles Below)
• The Sum of All Wrongs Equaled Damage to the Nation, Is the Snowe Factor a Sign of Recovery? – OpEdNews – 10/16/09
• Wind Energy Blows Strong in the Philippines – Inquirer.net – 10/16/09
• George Soros to Invest $1 Billion in Clean Tech and Fund Climate Policy Initiative– Triple
• How Boone Pickens Will Benefit For NAT GAS Act? Clean Energy Fuels Corp. –
Time for a Different Fuel – The Baltimore Sun – 10/16/09 By T. Boone Pickens
Since the surge of passenger cars following the establishment of the Interstate Highway System in 1956, America has been addicted to foreign oil. We are now importing nearly two-thirds of the oil we require, and about 70 percent of that is used to power America's fleet of cars, light trucks and 18-wheelers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 1960 there were about 74 million passenger vehicles on America's roads. There are now about 250 million. Nearly all of them run on imported gasoline or diesel. Over the years, our dependence on foreign oil has grown largely because oil has been cheap. When oil supplies have dropped, as they did during the OPEC oil embargo in the 1970s, or when oil prices have spiked, as they did in the summer of 2008, there is a great national gnashing of teeth about the need to get off foreign oil. Yet even in September 2009, in the face of a continuing recession, we still imported 357 million barrels of oil at a cost of $24.7 billion. That represents about 63 percent of the oil we used during the month. On an annualized basis that would be almost a quarter of a trillion dollars going to help the economies of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela instead of recycling through the economies of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. In addition to the economic cost of importing oil, there is an environmental cost. While Baltimore enjoys the benefits of one of the major cities along the principal East Coast corridor - Interstate 95 - it pays an environmental price as thousands of cars and trucks pump out greenhouse gasses and particulate matter. Add to that the regular commuter traffic, the number of flights in and out of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall airport and the number of ships entering and leaving the Port of Baltimore on a daily basis, it is easy to see why even a person with a passing interest in environmental quality might be interested in a different fuel source. America has a domestic fuel that can replace imported gasoline and diesel for cars and trucks. That fuel is natural gas. Just a few years ago there was general agreement that our natural gas reserves were limited. But recent advances in drilling technology have made the natural gas contained in the massive shale deposits in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and in Appalachia - stretching all the way to Western Maryland - available for commercial recovery. In fact, the total of all the natural gas reserves in the continental United States may total as much as 2,000 trillion cubic feet - a 118-year supply. We need to make the national commitment to shift from imported oil to domestic natural gas. There are two bills in Congress (H.R. 1835 and S. 1408) known as the NAT GAS Act which will help do just that. Both versions will provide tax incentives for fleet owners to gradually change over from gasoline and diesel to natural gas. Taxis, municipal and school buses, government cars, express delivery trucks, and utility fleets are all prime candidates to take advantage of the NAT GAS Act. Because of Baltimore's unique transportation infrastructure, there are other opportunities here. In the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, a significant program is under way to replace 18-wheelers that move goods around, into or out of the ports with vehicles running on natural gas. If you drive along the waterfront and see the enormous size of the Port of Baltimore, it is easy to imagine what a difference that would make here.
At the airport in Denver, nearly every ground vehicle - from tugs to baggage carts to shuttle buses - operate on natural gas instead of gasoline or diesel. And, in San Diego, there is a serious effort to get refuse and recycling trucks - which are among the most inefficient vehicles on the road because of the amount of time they spend idling and the slow speeds at which they operate - to get off diesel and onto natural gas. Baltimore has long held the reputation as being one of the best places to live in America. By adopting a major focus to make Baltimore the East Coast leader in using clean, abundant, domestic natural gas, this city will continue to set the bar high for others to follow. T. Boone Pickens, an entrepreneur and advocate for energy independence, is speaking at 10:30 a.m. today at the Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
T. Boone Pickens to speak at University of Maryland – WMAL-AM 630 – 10/16/09 00:03:27 . T Boone Pickens - you remember him? He's going to be at the University of Maryland today with that warning for America. . Pickens says that's in 10 years if we don't reduce our dependency on foreign oil. So, he's promoting what he calls the Pickens Plan. . 00:06:27 The Pickens Plan focuses on wind, natural gas as energy sources – Florida Times-Union – 10/16/09 By Roger Bull
T. Boone Pickens is an evangelist of sorts, traveling the country preaching if not eternal salvation at least energy independence. The almost-legendary oilman, financier and author (last book: "The First Billion is the Hardest") brought his sermon to Jacksonville Thursday night as part of the Florida Forum series.
In an afternoon interview with the Times-Union and speaking before an almost full house at the Florida Theatre that night, his message was the same: The United States cannot continue its ever-increasing dependence on foreign oil.
That's not a new thought, of course. Every president since Richard Nixon has promised some sort of energy self-sufficiency, Pickens said. But the problem is that none of them ever did anything about it. Cheap oil kept lulling Washington and the rest of the nation into complacency.
"We went along and I got older and richer," Pickens said. "And I realized that I was the only one who understood. But I do have a solution. I wouldn't talk about a problem unless I had a solution."
His solution, which he calls The Pickens Plan, involves alternative energy sources, particularly wind and natural gas.
He's purchased $1.5 billion worth of wind turbines that he expects to begin receiving in 2011. In 2007, he announced plans for a giant wind farm in the Texas Panhandle, but this summer postponed those plans because transmission lines were not going to be ready. He still intends to install the turbines, but wouldn't say where.
But the trouble with wind power right now is that it's too expensive, and banks won't finance it. So Thursday, his focus was on natural gas.
Sharp and fit at 81, he sat and spoke for 45 minutes without notes and then took another 20 minutes of questions. He first explained the problem:
"When the Gulf War started in 1991," he said, "I started worrying because the U.S. was importing 52 percent of its oil. Now it's 67 percent. We had 40 years without a plan. If we got another 10 years, we'll be importing 75 percent.
"And we look stupid. We've lost all credibility because we're importing it from people who don't like us."
It puts us in danger of a complete economic disaster. If Israel goes after Iran, oil could shoot to $200 a barrel within 24 hours, he said. We can drill for more oil, but putting wells throughout Alaska and up and down each coast wouldn't make that much of a difference.
"We can't drill our way out of it," he said.
The first solution, he hopes, is using natural gas to power 18-wheelers. The U.S. has the world's largest untapped supplies of it, and there are versions of the Natural Gas Act in both the House and Senate that would encourage truck conversion. Pickens said he was hoping the bills would mandate it, but he had to settle for tax breaks instead.
There are 6.5 million 18-wheelers on American roads and they are often replaced as they're three or four years old. If each of those trucks were replaced with ones that run on natural gas, we could cut our oil imports, currently at 13 million barrels a day, by 2.5 million. Pollution is only half that of gas and diesel, he said.
Natural gas vehicles are not uncommon in the rest of the world, he said.
"If you went looking for a car in Paris," Pickens said, "you'd have your choice of 40-45 models. In the U.S., we have one. General Motors makes 18 natural gas models, but doesn't sell any of them here."
Since he launched his Pickens Plan last year, Pickens has traveled the country preaching his message. He's met often with leaders, including another recent meeting with President Barack Obama.
"It's going to happen," he said. "The administration wants it, the public wants it. I need to do it for my grandchildren."
Pickens Warns Americans Not to Be Distracted By Falling Oil Prices – KC Tribune – 10/15/09
DALLAS –In his tenth consecutive monthly update on the level of foreign oil imports, energy expert T. Boone Pickens warned this week that our dependence on foreign oil shows no signs of diminishing and remains our top national security threat.
Pickens said that based on the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. imported 63 percent of its oil, or 357 million barrels in September 2009, sending approximately $25 billion, or $573,770 per minute, overseas to foreign governments.
“Continuously importing 60-70 percent of our oil each month is a major national security risk,” said Pickens. “On an annualized basis, we’re sending almost a quarter of a trillion dollars to help the economies of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Venezuela, instead of sending it to the economies of our own states abundant in natural gas—the only immediately available domestic fuel alternative. Americans can’t afford to be distracted by falling gasoline prices.”
The NAT GAS Act of 2009, H.R. 1835, was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 1 and has 89 bipartisan cosponsors. The Senate version of this bill, S. 1408, was introduced on July 8 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Pickens continued, “In 1960 there were less than 75 million passenger vehicles on America’s roads—that number is now over 250 million. Nearly all of them run on imported gasoline or diesel. Taxis, 18-wheelers, municipal and school buses, state and municipal cars, express delivery trucks, and utility fleets are all prime candidates to take advantage of the NAT GAS Act.
Since January 2009, the U.S. has imported more than 3.3 billion barrels of oil. A study released in June by the Potential Gas Committee, a group of academics and industry specialists supported by the Colorado School of Mines, estimates that we have more than 2,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, the only available source that could immediately replace foreign oil as a transportation fuel.
Unveiled on July 8, 2008 by T. Boone Pickens, the Pickens Plan is a detailed solution for ending the United States’ growing dependence on foreign oil. Last year, when oil prices reached $140/barrel, it represented the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.
The U.S. is still dependent on foreign nations for nearly 70 percent of its oil, representing a continuing national security and national economic threat. The plan calls for expanding the use of domestic renewable resources, such as wind and solar, in power generation and using our abundant supplies of natural gas as a transportation fuel, replacing more than one-third of our imported oil.
Rich Pickens: Betting on Copenhagen– Business Spectator– 10/16/09 By James Thomson
You need a number of things to get rich – a lot of passion, a healthy appetite for risk and a strong ethic. But most of all, you need a good sense of timing – the rich are experts at getting ahead of economic and social trends and making money while the rest of us get left behind.
Which is why it makes sense to pay attention to this week’s announcement from billionaire investor George Soros, who is planning to invest $US1 billion in clean energy, and a further $US100 million setting up a special environmental advisory group.
Details of Soros’ plan remain extremely sketchy. There is no word on what he’ll invest in, or even when, although he has made it clear that this is a money-making venture, not a philanthropic one.
“I want to apply rather stringent criteria to the investments,” Soros told Bloomberg. “They should be profitable but should also actually make a contribution to solving the problem.”
While many of the world’s richest investors have ploughed money into green and clean energy – Warren Buffett and Bill Gates topped The Sunday Times inaugural Green Rich List earlier this year, for example – the sheer size of Soros’ investment is possibly matched only by that of Sir Richard Branson, who has pledged to invest around $US1 billion in alternative fuels over the next four years.
But the timing of Soros’ move raises some questions. While it comes just two months before the world’s leaders will meet for the big Copenhagen climate treaty talks, it is also just a few weeks since new research showed investment in green energy has plummeted.
Data from London-based energy research firm New Energy Finance shows investment in clean energy across the globe plunged 22 per cent in the third quarter to $US25.9 billion. Investment from private
equity and venture capital sources – which is a good measure for tracking what the wealthy are doing – fell a whopping 46 per cent to $US2.2 billion.
New Energy Finance predicts the total investment for 2009 will be $US105-115 billion, which is considerably lower than the $US155 billion in 2008, and $US148 billion in 2007.
So is Branson and Soros' timing very good, or very bad?
News this week from China would certainly support the pair’s plans. Chinese magazine Hurun released its annual Chinese rich list, which revealed the nation’s 1000 wealthiest entrepreneurs. Top of the list? Two of the world’s wealthiest green billionaires.
In first place was Wang Chuanfu, owner of battery and electric-car maker BYD, which attracted investment from Warren Buffett in September 2008. Since Buffett bought his $US230 million stake, shares in BYD have almost quadrupled in value.
In second place was Zhang Yin, with estimated net wealth of $US4.9 billion. She became the first woman to take the top spot back in 2006 and her family controls a paper recycling and packaging business called Nine Dragons Paper.
The fact that the richest people in China – a nation not known for its strong climate reduction policies – can come from green industries says much about the money that can be made in the sector, particularly if you have the right investors on board.
Yet despite the emergence of these green billionaires, there is still a strong argument that green investment remains a very immature sector and, in many cases, returns remain volatile, small or, in some cases, non-existent.
The industry has also been hit extremely hard by the global financial crisis, with funding for clean energy projects and companies drying up, as highlighted by the drop in global investment reported by New Energy.
In the US, billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens abandoned plans for $US10 billion wind farm because of logistical and financing problems. And Australia hasn’t been immune to the green funding drought, as shown by the collapse in September of Solar Systems. The company was set to build the world’s largest solar power plant in the Victorian regional town of Mildura.
The flipside to this argument, of course, is that Soros and Branson will be able to get great value for their investments, as desperate clean energy companies clamour for funds. If they can pick the right companies, then Soros and Branson could get some very nice bargains.
But how much money the pair can make in the short term may well depend on the result of the Copenhagen talks.
If governments come away from the talks and set high clean energy targets and then actually put policies in place to meet them, then demand for clean energy will soar.
Indeed, Soros has clearly recognised that lifting demand by influencing government policy is crucial if he wants to make money from climate change. That’s why he will spend $US10 million a year to fund the San Francisco-based Climate Policy Initiative, which will work in the US, Europe, China, India and Brazil.
“The problem of global warming is primarily a political problem at this point,” Soros told Bloomberg. “The science is beyond dispute, but how do we achieve the objectives we all know are necessary? That is a political problem.”
George Soros is best known for making $US1.1 billion in the early 1990s betting that the value of the British pound would fall. At the heart of Soros’ bet was the belief that the Conservative government would withdraw the pound from the European Exchange rate mechanism.
Soros was essentially betting on politics then, and he may well be betting on politics now.
'Pickens Plan' town hall set Oct. 29 in Stillwater – Tulsa World – 10/15/09 By Staff and Wire Reports Billionaire hedge fund manager T. Boone Pickens will be in Stillwater on Oct. 29 to conduct a "Pickens Plan" town hall meeting on the nation's movement toward new energy strategies. "The single biggest crisis facing America today is without question our ever-growing dependence on foreign oil from hostile nations," Pickens stated in a news release from Oklahoma State University. "The time is right, and we are seeing positive movement in Washington, D.C., to reverse decades of inaction with smart initiatives to use American-produced energy sources such as natural gas, wind and solar to power our economy," Pickens said. The town hall meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena at OSU, Pickens' alma mater. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m., and parking will be available on the north side of Boone Pickens Stadium, the release stated. Unveiled in July 2008, the Pickens Plan is described as a detailed solution for ending U.S. dependence on foreign oil. It calls for investing in power generation from domestic renewable resources such as wind and using America's abundant supply of natural gas as a transportation fuel. Clean Energy Building Ontario Airport Station – Orange County Business Journal – 10/15/09
Seal Beach-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which runs natural gas fueling stations for fleets of taxis, buses and other vehicles, plans to build a station at LA-Ontario International Airport, the company said Thursday.
The station is expected to sell more than 800,000 gallons of natural gas a year to airport shuttle buses, taxis and vans, according to Clean Energy.
Clean Energy looks to build stations near airports, utility companies, universities, city yards and other places they’re likely to see a lot of use.
The company runs about 180 stations across the country. By the end of the year, Clean Energy plans to add about 20 stations for a total of 200. Forty are planned for 2010.
Clean Energy’s shares have nearly tripled since the start of the year—easily outpacing the 15% or so gain of the S&P 500 index. The company had a recent market value of about $825 million.
Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens started the company and owns 40% of Clean Energy.
Low natural gas prices have brought more business for Clean Energy as some fleet operators make the switch from diesel fuel, the company’s main rival.
Clean Energy could reach profitability this year, according to David Woodburn, an analyst for San Francisco-based ThinkEquity LLC, part of London’s Panmure Gordon & Co.
Analysts on average expect a third-quarter loss of $2.4 million with some predicting a profit of $1.2 million.
Being profitable would allow Clean Energy to finance the building of stations on its own, according to Woodburn.
Up to now, the company has raised money from investors and grants to build stations, which cost $1 million to $3 million each.
Some of Clean Energy’s biggest local buyers include the Orange County Transportation Authority, Santa Ana-based California Yellow Cab, Walt Disney Co.’s Disneyland Resort, Houston-based Waste Management Inc. and the cities of Anaheim and Irvine.
Big power users must have input on energy future – The Star Phoenix – 10/14/09 Whether nuclear power is in Saskatchewan's future, the wind can pick up the energy slack, or whether conservation or carbon sequestration is the solution, it's clear from the legislative committee hearings now underway that, for at least 35 massive customers of SaskPower, the stakes are enormous.
Officials at the Crown utility estimate the 35 customers account for 45 per cent of the electricity consumed in Saskatchewan. While their identity is kept secret, ostensibly because of privacy laws, it is a safe bet to suggest that these energy-hungry customers account for a significant proportion of Saskatchewan's GDP.
Further, they are greatly responsible for propelling this province into prosperity from its perpetual position as a have-not, population-losing jurisdiction.
And it is also safe to guess that if Saskatchewan wants to remain on the winning side of the ledger, these companies will need a long-term, predictable supply of electricity as well a realistic assessment of what power costs are likely to be in 20, 30 or even 60 years.
To that end, the provincial government and SaskPower shouldn't be debating how that energy should be produced. They should be putting in place a regime that encourages the largest customers -- and others who are interested -- to decide for themselves what technology best suits their long-term needs and to put their own money toward meeting their needs.
That is to say, SaskPower should allow these customers to take an equity stake in their future. The government's role is to ensure that the chosen option is safe, and the decision is based on science, not on reactionary fearmongering.
Although the evidence would suggest otherwise, it could be that these large power consumers would put their faith in wind or solar power, or even in their ability to convince the rest of us to make do with less electricity and allow them to continue to produce the wealth that has made living and investing in Saskatchewan an attractive option lately.
It's more likely these companies, with so much at stake, would trust in proven technology that's in growing use around the world -- such as nuclear power generation -- or gamble on the ability to capture and store underground for long periods the carbon emissions from coal generation.
The legislative committee -- like the Perrins commission looking at the future of uranium in Saskatchewan before it -- has heard from numerous groups about the dangers of nuclear power and the potential of alternative energy sources. Most of these submissions, however, ignore the reality of Saskatchewan's economy, geography and climate.
For example, the suggestion that Saskatchewan could emulate Texas, where T. Boone Pickens had pledged to build the world's largest wind farm, ignored the fact that even this wildcat entrepreneur shelved his plans in July. He couldn't raise the $2 billion needed to build the power lines connecting the wind farms to the relatively close-by Texas grid.
It may be that wind generation is the future, but it isn't those who are proposing it who risk the most with this gamble. It's the companies that have been creating Saskatchewan's wealth who have most skin in this game, based on their need for power.
Twice in the last 30 years cowardly Saskatoon governments have backed down from investing in a solid nuclear future. During those three decades, Saskatchewan parents have grown accustomed to going from kissing their babies goodnight to kissing them good-bye when they graduate from school.
It is only in the last few years that trend has been reversed, and these numbers about the large power consumption by a few dozen SaskPower customers tells the story of why.
Their future has never been so uncertain. While it is clear the world continues to beat a path to Saskatchewan's doors, that will only go on as long as this province is seen as a reliable business partner.
For example, there may be an enormous wealth of potash under Saskatchewan's soil, but as the markets showed when Russia and Israel decided to undercut the world price, the commodity is only worth what customers will pay. That means, as in other industries, the path to long-term development and success are dependent on a secure source of energy.
Once America finishes drafting a carbon pricing strategy, which Canada has committed to follow, the cost of burning coal is likely to become prohibitive. Energy experts also warn that even carbon sequestration technology, which Saskatchewan is on the leading edge, carries considerable uncertainty about its long-term viability and cost.
While it's laudable that the provincial government is allowing a broad discussion on this topic, it's worth remembering the stakes are particularly high for some. The government and SaskPower should commit to getting together the largest customers -- along with those such as the City of Saskatoon who might have an interest in investing in a predicable energy future -- and giving them a chance to put their money on the table.
BLOG/ONLINE COVERAGE The Sum of All Wrongs Equaled Damage to the Nation, Is the Snowe Factor a Sign of Recovery? – OpEdNews – 10/16/09
The United States woes, such as, the financial crisis is primarily due to the sum of self-serving decisions on the part of too many people. Only when we see a swing back to an ethical majority, doing right for our nation even in the face of opposition can we expect to progress. Senator Olympia Snowe's commitment to support health care reform in opposition to her party is a refreshing step in the right direction.
While stuck in traffic, do you sometimes think how much worse it would be if our social clocks were somehow synchronized – with everyone leaving home at the same time? It would be a horrendous gridlock like the collective lack of ethics that has imperiled our nation. When just a few of us make poor choices the effect is moderate. But with chronic widespread self-serving decisions, such as illegal drug use, consequences amplify.
So what do you think would happen if we reached a tipping point with a substantial number of persons on drugs depended upon to detect signs of danger throughout industries? Chaos! Hate to say this, but we are already there. Consider the untold mountains of drugs that regularly pour into the U.S. These drugs are readily being distributed and consumed or there would not be such a steady flow. I'd say about 1 in 7 people encountered daily are under the influence. What a mess, so many out of it, so much to do.
What's the big deal? It's affecting all of us, particularly with respect to safety and progress. From a safety perspective, just ask a parent if they mind the school bus driver transporting their kids after taking just one drag on a joint; or ask anyone if they want to be on a plane whose pilot took a drug and no takers. Many reserve the option to casually use but would restrict use to others like surgeons. Speaking of medicine, why do you think a visit to the pharmacy has become a hassle? Controls like not being able to obtain medications until you completely run out have been implemented to foil an explosion of fraudulent transactions involving painkillers.
While prescription medications like Oxycontin may be regarded by abusers as “clean” drugs, misuse can be as dangerous as street drugs. Moreover, yesterday's pain medication abuser is tomorrow's heroin addict who suddenly switches to the illegal opiate because it's cheaper. So you've got not only addicts out of it, but also their caretakers are drained emotionally and financially, spending time trying to “bring them back”. So here we are, a nation afflicted.
Most are not born craving a drug (best reason to never experiment), making addiction undeniably an illness that usually begins with a poor choice, one that is really doing us in. The compelling evidence is a lack of people stepping up to solve the mounting problems we face. Even when people do step up like T. Boone Pickens' promoting a renewable energy plan, progress can be hampered by other's unethical behavior, such as, that seen in investment banking. It is astounding that we can't find swift solutions, but what if the answers are trapped in the head of a person strung out on drugs?
I am convinced that among the God given genius in our nation from curing cancer, to restructuring the economy solutions could lie dormant in the minds of drug abusers on the path to mental ruin. Even if addicts are able to emerge from addiction with intact minds, there's a lifelong struggle to stay off the stuff as well as overcoming credibility challenges if they do have the answers we so desperately need. Few are able to play the Ironman as Robert Downey, Jr. has resurrecting a career after returning from such despair.
Drug use is but one of the poor choices some of us make that can adversely affect all of us holding an easy ethical solution. Just do the right thing, a choice that always supports the greater good. Using our example, reducing the nation's drug demand could lead to decreasing drug supply. Wouldn't it be awesome if it were only the drug traffickers suffering economic collapse because no one purchased illegal drugs? (It wouldn't bother me either if loan sharks posing as lenders making predatory “pay day advances” went away also).
You see how ethics can be so important even to the point of national security? Without progress, a nation is vulnerable. Advancement is unlikely where there exists a mentality of “everybody for themselves”.
Some say we don't need any laws or regulations, just “live and let live”. But that approach won't work because some are too greedy, high or selfish to rely upon. The only certain way to progress is for each of us to start with ourselves.
Kudos to Senator Olympia Snowe, who in the face of opposition from her party is righteously voting on behalf of the American people to advance health care. Sadly, her determination to do what is in the best interest of the country is not as common as it should be. Still, we all come to that important cross road where we must decide whether we will do what's best for the common good even if it may not seem to be in our own best interest. But standing up for what's right always works in your favor. Just consider how many accolades, including from President Obama, Senator Snowe has received in her ethical decision-making to ensure health care reform.
Choose “right” not only for yourself but for your country; it's the patriotic thing to do. With so much on our plate we need “all hands on deck” and as with any crisis, those not infected or afflicted are just going to have to work harder. So goes its people, so goes a nation; in the long run, only the ethical will survive.
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The recently held GTZ symposium on renewable energy held last October 8 at the Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street was an interesting example of how investors and the public are now interacting with our new Renewable Energy Act. The passage of the 2008 Renewable Energy Act of the Philippines has paved the way for an increase in investments in the renewable energy sector. One of the areas that have benefited is the wind energy sector. It is estimated that the Philippines theoretically has around 76,000 MW in wind energy capacity, based on studies conducted by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Philippines Department of Energy.
It was reported in the Inquirer.net that the Department of Energy last September awarded three companies four new wind energy service contracts—Energy Development Corp. (PSE: EDC) for its planned 86-MW wind farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte; UPC Asia Corp. for its 50-MW wind project in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte; and PetroEnergy Resources Corp., which bagged two contracts for a 30-MW project in Sual, Pangasinan and a 30-MW project in Nabas, Aklan. Also, Energy Logics Philippines Inc.’s pre-commercial contract for a 120-MW wind farm in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte, was converted to a wind energy service contract.
Several joint ventures between local businessmen and foreign companies and investors have also been announced in the local dailies, among those that have been reported include the Alterenergy Partners joint venture with Eurus Energy Japan and Korea East West Power Co. to identify projects in the 30 to 40 MW range; and the French wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet Group, said to be looking for joint venture partners.
The rule of thumb given is that each megawatt of capacity costs around USD $2m to 2.5m dollars. At present, aside from small isolated micro-wind installations in remote communities, the largest one at present is the 33MW wind farm in Bangui Bay, Ilocos Norte run by the Northwind Power Corporation, which contributes only 0.21% of the total electricity generated in the country, that is when the wind is blowing.
The 7,100 islands of the Philippines make it difficult to make electricity available in many areas, particularly those that are isolated from the main electric grid. Most large islands with large populations, such as Luzon, Panay, Cebu, Mindanao, and others have their own generation, distribution and utility companies to service their areas.
However, smaller islands with sparse populations or mountainous areas are a particular challenge. In these cases, sometimes the only practical solution is to use renewable energy power sources (e.g. wind, solar, biomass) or diesel powered generators.
Because wind, like solar, is an intermittent energy source, there has to be a means of storage to compensate for times when it is not generating power. In isolated off-grid areas, for smaller wind systems, this normally means a battery. In countries like the U.S., in the Texas Panhandle for example, T. Boone Pickens’s backup of choice is a natural gas turbine. But for the Philippine setting, the typical approach much like in most countries is to simply connect these large wind systems to the electric grid, and to simply sell power to the grid when it is generating. Anyway, just like in the U.S., the Philippines operates a spot market for electricity. In the case of renewable energy, a special spot market for renewable energy has been developed by the Philippine government to guarantee that there will be buyers for producers of renewable energy electricity.
One concern of some investors is the limit on foreign ownership. It is defined in the Philippine constitution that in certain key industries/sectors, foreign ownership is to be a minority, with a slight majority going to a Philippine partner. For some investors, it is not an issue, but for some it is. As former Energy Secretary and now Alterenergy Partners CEO Vince Perez mentioned during the GTZ symposium, at the moment the only choice is to look for a trusted Philippine partner to work with.
Another concern is in the way the public may perceive the Feed-in-Tariff, which is a key subsidy mechanism to attract investors to invest in renewable energy in the Philippines. During the Ramos administration, the government suddenly had to build power plants to meet a large capacity shortfall, and to do this, they had to entice investors with a ‘take or pay’ scheme meaning that even if the power was not being used, electricity utilities and therefore consumers had to shoulder part, if not all, of the cost of the unused generated power. There was such a big public outcry, especially in this country where the ‘cheapest power possible’ mentality rules, that it will sometimes if not always be difficult to pass measures that subsidize for example, renewable energy. Just like the personal computer and the semiconductor industry, renewable energy requires a steady market in order for private sector technologists to be attracted to constantly improve it. Unfortunately, the appetite for renewable energy seems to be correlated with the price of oil. If oil is cheap, the appetite for renewable energy disappears and vice versa. The Feed-in-Tariff hopes to counteract this tendency.
Personally, most people would like to see renewable energy succeed in the Philippines. The severe flooding brought about by typhoon Ondoy has brought home more awareness of the need for low carbon energy sources. Supporters of renewable energy hope that electricity consumers will actually step up to the plate and pay a little extra for renewable energy through the feed-in-tariff, in order to increase the returns for the companies and investors that go into this sector, already saddled by high upfront capital expense costs for wind (currently $2.5m per MW) and solar (currently $2/watt for silicon based photovoltaics and $1/watt for less efficient thin film based photovoltaics) and the threat of cheap oil. Besides, electricity consumers in the Philippines already pay a foreign currency adjustment charge for imported oil used in power generation. There is no reason why they should not accept a feed-in-tariff adder, given that they will no longer need to pay the foreign currency charge for that portion of the electricity bill.
Otherwise if consumers do not agree to pay the piper, then coal, the current king of the hill in terms of price, will really become entrenched as the power source of choice.
George Soros to Invest $1 Billion in Clean Tech and Fund Climate Policy Initiative– Triple Pundit – 10/15/09
I dreamt last night that Google had decided to pull out of its cleantech investments. Don’t ask.
Anyway, imagine my relief this morning when I woke up to discover that not only was Google still in the game (despite some frustrations), but George Soros, another liberal-minded fountain of money, plans to invest $1 billion in clean technology and related sectors. The Hungarian-born investor made the announcement during a speech in Copenhagen October 10th.
In honor of Blog Action Day’s climate change theme, we salute you, George Soros. And your money, too.
Soros, who made his fortune manipulating currency markets, will also donate $10 million a year for a decade to fund the newly created Climate Policy Initiative, which will be officially launched in Berlin next month.
Whether the world needs another climate policy organization is debatable. But then you can’t call yourself hip these days in certain circles without a Tesla and an initiative of some sort. Soros said the Climate Policy Initiative, which will be based in San Francisco, will “protect the public interest against special interests.”
All sarcasm aside, Soros, the world’s 29th richest person, is known as a canny investor, and it is unlikely his billion, should it actually amount to that much, will be wasted. (As Business Week notes, however, T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oilman, also made hefty promises of investment in clean energy, only to back away from them later.)
Soros said “stringent conditions” will be used in picking fundees. “I will look for profitable opportunities, but I will also insist that the investments make a real contribution to solving the problem of climate change,” he said, according to the UK’s Guardian.
Soros also came out against a carbon trading market as a way to reduce greenhouse gases, in favor of a carbon tax instead, citing the danger of manipulation of the market by investors. He should know.
Investment in the clean technology sector has been picking up, after scattering during the meltdown last year. $25.9 has been invested in the sector in the third quarter of 2009, according to New Energy Finance.
How Boone Pickens Will Benefit For NAT GAS Act? Clean Energy Fuels Corp. – GuruFocus – 10/15/09 As we discussed in an earlier article, there are four pillars to Investment Guru T Boone Pickens’s “The Pickens Plan”, namely better insulation of current building, wind power, use more natural gas, and smart electricity grid. Right now, with price for natural gas so low relative to oil, wind power is taking a break and the momentum is behind push US-produced natural gas to replace oil imported from foreign countries. According to Pickens, eliminating foreign oil means a reduction of $300 to $400 billion trade deficit for the US. His solution is natural gas, and US is producing plenty and has plenty under the ground. Natural gas is cleaner and produces less green house gas, so said Pickens (see video below).
That will bring us to NAT GAS Act of 2009. The legislation under consideration in Congress has almost all of the elements for natural gas that Pickens has been pushing for in the Pickens Plan.
-It extends the tax credit for natural gas used as a transportation fuel. -It provides a tax credit for 80 percent of the additional cost when purchasing a dedicated natural gas vehicle. -It creates incentives for the major manufacturers to sell natural gas vehicles (which they already produce for overseas markets) in the United States. -It requires that 50 percent of the vehicles the federal government buys over the next five years to run on natural gas. Other than advancing his cause, how Pickens will benefit from the new legislation. That will bring us to a company called Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (CLNE). In 1997, he formed Pickens Fuel Corp. and began touting natural gas as the best vehicular fuel alternative. Reincorporated as Clean Energy Fuels Corp. in 2001, the company now owns and operates natural gas fueling stations from British Columbia to the Mexican border. In the first half of 2007, the company went public under the symbol “CLNE”. As of December 31, 2008, Pickens and affiliates (including Madeleine Pickens, his wife) own 54% of the company. According to the company’s 2008 Annual report: Clean Energy is the largest provider of natural gas (CNG and LNG) for transportation in North America. We have a broad customer base serving over 320 fleets in the refuse, transit, ports, shuttle, taxi, trucking, airport and municipal fleet markets, fueling more than 15,000 vehicles at 176 strategic locations across the United States, Canada and Peru. Clean Energy owns and operates two LNG production plants, one in Willis, Texas and one in Boron, California, with combined capacity of 260,000 LNG gallons per day and designed to expand to 340,000 LNG gallons per day as demand increases. We also own and operate a landfill gas facility in Dallas, Texas that produces renewable biomethane gas for delivery in the nation’s gas pipeline network that can be used as a renewable fuel. Our plant is one of the largest active biomethane gas producers in the United States. Since going public, the company has yet to turn in an earning positive quarter, losing $0.20 and $0.81 per share during 2007 and 2008. In the quarter ended on June 30, 2009, Revenue totaled $27.9 million, compared with $33.8 million in the same period in 2008. For the quarter the company registered a net loss of $6.4 million, or $0.13 per share, compared with a net loss of $3.2 million, or $0.07 per share, in the second quarter of 2008. The losses concerns Pickens a bit as he is eyeing on converting the nation’s entire trucking fleet, 6.5 million strong, to natural gas powered, an issue he pushes so hard. When that happens, pioneers such as Pickens will truly make some serious money. Comments
Clean Energy is a brain child of Pickens. It took him thus far 12 years to turn a visionary idea into reality With the passing of NAT GAS ACT 2009, the fortune of the company will be turned. GuruFocus provides real time information and insights of Investment Gurus such as Warren Buffett and T Boone Picks for Premium Members. If you are not a premium member, click here to sign up or upgrade. 7-Day Free Trial is available.
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