Friday, May 30, 2008

Liveblogging at API/Newsweek Energy Series (Part V)

Our energy system is changing, and the panelists discussed the ways their respective businesses are strategizing for it:

Trae Vassallo of the VC firm KPCB lamented, “"Private investors are spending more than government on this issue - that's a problem!" Forty percent of all of KPCB’s investments are going towards energy. Their “greentech” portfolio emphasizes three areas: Clean electricity, energy efficiency, and clean transportation.

“This isn’t going to be a winner-take-all energy market. There are going to be lots of solutions to the problem.”

Paul Siegele of Chevron believes we should focus on three areas: Supporting rational energy policies, expanding current supplies, and conserving natural resources:

“Global demand for oil is straining the energy system. The world’s not running out of oil, but there are accumulating risks to the ability to deliver the demand. The American public shouldn’t be asked to trade off prosperity to cut greenhouse gases or diversify the energy supply. It’s unreasonable to expect other countries to expand their access to energy for our needs when we restrict our own.”

Jackalyne Pfannenstiel of the California Energy Commission noted later in the discussion that California has kept its energy consumption flat since the 1970s, thanks to energy efficiency. And its GDP has kept up with the nation as a whole. It’s not necessarily a trade-off.

To clean up their energy system even further, California is focusing on two big strategies: Energy efficiency and renewables. CA has a law that says businesses can’t have a long-term contract (longer than five years) with coal companies because of the risk of impending carbon regulation that could skyrocket fossil fuel prices.

David Victor of Stanford said that there’s going to need to be a political strategy too, and that’s something Silicon Valley isn’t used to. We need figure out what sort of regulatory strategies need to happen in tandem with all of this innovation.

1 comment:

Al Fin said...

California uses creative rolling blackouts and brownouts to keep its energy consumption flat. Future energy planning for California consists of first, generating even more creative ways to create brownouts and blackouts. Second, create a labyrinthine environment of regulatory and tax complexity so as to drive most large industry out of the state. Third, replace large industrial employers with fast food stands and street corner vendors who do not present such large energy loads.