Saturday, 6 December 2008

Pollution threatens to kill as many people as climate change in the coming years, Met Office experts will warn at an international conference next week.

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent Last Updated: 9:03PM GMT 05 Dec 2008

Representatives from more than 192 countries have gathered at a UN climate change conference in Poznan, Poland, to find a way to stop global warming.
But a delegation from the Met Office said it is just as important for the world to stop pollution, which is set to kill 800 more people every year by 2020 in the UK alone.
Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said new scientific evidence shows pollution is a bigger problem in terms of human health than previously thought.
She says that it can exacerbate the effects of climate change with deadly consequences.
This is because increased pollution not only heats the planet through the greenhouse effect but stops plants from absorbing carbon, which in turn increases pollution again.
She pointed out that polluting gases are already killing 1,500 people in the UK every year and that is expected to increase to around 2,391 deaths a year by 2020.
By the 2090s close to one-fifth of the world's population will be exposed to pollution well above the World Health Organization recommended safe-health level. This is expected to cause deaths from respiratory problems on top of the destruction caused by climate change.
Dr Pope will be lobbying the conference to try to reduce pollution as well as climate change at the conference.
She said: "It is not just a question of climate change and rainfall change and the impact of that. A lot more people suffer from air quality problems than suffer from heat. It is an additional problem that people have not really taken into consideration that now needs to be looked at as part of climate change negotiations."
The UN conference is expected to draw up the format of a new Kyoto Protocol to be decided at Copenhagen next year. It will conclude at the end of next week.
The most contentious issue is whether the US will sign up to tough targets on cutting greenhouse gas and whether developing countries like India and China will agree to slow carbon emissions.
The conference is also expected to decide on how to pay poorer countries to halt deforestation and whether there should be an adaptation fund made available to developing countries suffering the worst effects of climate change.
Also next week the Council of Ministers are due to make a decision on the EU's energy package.
The target is to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 as well as increasing the amount of power from renewables to 20 per cent in the same period.
Countries like Italy and Poland, with heavy industries, continue to stall over making a commitment and the decision is expected to go to the 11th hour, casting doubt over the ability of the wider international community to make any decisions at the UN conference.

Polluted Indonesian river to get $500m clean-up

Jessica Aldred and agencies, Friday December 5 2008 10.17 GMT

One of the world's most polluted rivers, the Citarum in Indonesia, is to get a major clean-up that is hoped to improve the lives of millions of people, the Asian Development Bank announced today.
The Manila-based lender has agreed to provide a $500m (£340m) loan package to the Indonesian government support the restoration of the river basin, which supports a population of 28 million people, delivers 20% of Indonesia's gross domestic product, and provides 80% of water supply to the capital, Jakarta.
Rapid urbanisation over the last 20 years has seen a rise in untreated household sewage, solid waste and industrial effluents, affecting public health and threatening the livelihood of poor fishing families, the bank said.
The loan package will be delivered over the next 15 years, and will support sanitation projects and construction of waste treatment plants in the river basin to provide safe water supply to poor families who use the polluted river for fishing, bathing and laundry.
"Rapid urbanisation, climate change, environmental degradation, public health and food security are all important issues challenging water resources management in Asia and the Pacific region," said Christopher Morris, an ADB senior water resources engineer.
The loan also will allow the cultivation of an additional 61,700 acres (25,000 hectares) of rice paddy, benefiting 25,000 farming families, he said.
The river management programme also aims to supply water to 200,000 more households in Jakarta. It will ultimately increase Jakarta's water supply by 2.5% yearly, and benefit millions by resolving critical water shortages in Bandung, Indonesia's fourth largest city, the bank said.
Last month new research found that severe pollution has made one-third of China's Yellow river unusable.
Known as the country's "mother river", it supplies water to millions of people in the north of China. But in recent years the quality has deteriorated due to factory discharges and sewage from fast-expanding cities.
Much of it is now unfit even for agricultural or industrial use, the study showed.

Waste could fill many of nation’s wants by 2020, says fuel report

The Times
December 5, 2008
Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter

Using waste as a source of energy instead of recycling it has the potential to supply a fifth of the nation’s electricity by 2020, a report has urged.
Ian Arbon, lead author of the report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a visiting professor at the University of Newcastle, said the public were being deceived over the value of recycling. Materials such as metals were ideal for recycling but paper and plastic were worth more as fuel.
Speaking at the publication of A Wasted Opportunity, he said that paper recycling “wasn’t worth the effort”. Paper “is a nightmare to recycle in this country whereas it burns very well”.
Mr Arbon said that it was absolutely crucial for waste to be used for energy if Britain was to meet its target of getting 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. By then, he said, every town and village should have plants generating electricity from waste.

Burning waste in combustion chambers is one of four technologies used to turn rubbish into electricity. Food waste can be broken down in anaerobic digesters and two new technologies, gasification and pyrolysis, are being developed to consume rubbish.
“The Government should abandon its focus on recycling as the only way to rid us of landfills, as this is unachievable and is deceiving the public about what is really happening to waste,” the report said. Doorstep collections must continue, despite a sharp fall in prices for recycled materials, Lord Smith of Finsbury, chairman of the Environment Agency, said last night, calling on local authorities to “hold their nerve”. He told an environmentalist group of businesses and nongovernmental groups: “There can be no return to the bad old days of sending too much waste to landfill.” Paul Bettison, of the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are already ‘holding their nerve’.” They knew that recycling had to be maintained.

Rumour of the day - Novera Energy

Novera Energy, the wind farm developer, whose shares have halved in two months over worries about financing and low energy prices, edged up ½p to 38p amid talk that it had received several offers to buy a stake in its next farm at Glenkerie in Scotland, in return for funding at less than 2 per cent above Libor. KBC Peel Hunt has “buy” advice.

The race is on to make motoring green

The Times
December 6, 2008
Martin Waller

The last vehicle that Hugo Spowers was publicly associated with was a grand piano on skis that he and a friend tried out on the slopes at St Moritz.
This was as a founder of the Dangerous Sports Club. Today, after 2 serious decades as an automobile engineer and pioneer, Mr Spowers is keen to play down his time at Oxford mixing with like-minded jeunesse dorée who took tea trays down the Cresta Run or dynamited trees in the college quad.
Yet his latest venture might make bungee jumping into water, his own speciality there, look relatively risk-free. He is trying to develop a viable, low-cost, energy-efficient hydrogen fuel cell to replace the internal combustion engine.
“Green” cars, like nuclear fusion that delivers unlimited clean energy, are about ten years or more away - and have been ten years or more away for about the past 50. But Mr Spowers starts with two advantages. He has built one working prototype already, albeit one that did not, by design, make it on to the test track; and he has the financial backing of a scion of the dynasty behind the Porsche marque.
His aim, by the end of the next decade, is a network of almost indestructible, low-polluting cars, taken out under contract like mobile phones, that will refuel on hydrogen at centralised depots. This will break the dominant business model in the industry, whereby cars are bought, driven into the ground and replaced, he believes.
Over the next fortnight, the prototype for the Hyrban, its working title, will be assembled around a one-part body and chassis at a fabrication shop at Silverstone more used to dealing with racing cars. The prototype will hit the road in mid-January.
Mr Spowers opens his laptop to show off the styling. A two-seater, it looks somewhere between a typical inner-city runabout and a 1960s bubble car.
If sufficient funding can be raised, a pilot programme will be operating in a British city by 2013, with about 50 cars and one central refuelling point.
With his floppy hair, cultured tones and woolly jumper, Mr Spowers comes over as a typical member of the privileged upper-middle classes. His father, William Spowers, who came from a monied Melbourne background, ran Christie's rare books department and, as an avid tree collector, assembled Britain's biggest arboretum of rare species at the family home near Bagshot in the Surrey stockbroker belt.
His son was interested in environmental issues from an early age - “I wanted to make wildlife documentaries. By 12 I knew what an ecosystem was.”
Paradoxically, at 15 he discovered motor racing. After reading engineering science at Oriel College, Oxford, he went to work as a mechanic on £2.25 an hour at a Shepherd's Bush automotive engineer. This was assembling a racing car for Le Mans “on a shoestring” while maintaining and repairing other such cars for private clients.
He carried on with various freelance commissions for cars in the Formula Ford 1600 and Formula Ford 2000 categories, then the entry level for professional racing. He raised £13,000 from the sale of a couple of family antiques to build a 1600 himself. Around this time, he ran into Gerald Fitzalan-Howard, part of the Arundel dynasty.
“I had a big room in a squat where I was designing this car on a drawing board,” he recalls. The two decided to set up their own company to make racing cars, one of which he still reckons was the fastest in its category. “We never raced it, so we never found out. We never got the sponsorship together. After two years we parted company. I started doing work restoring old racing cars.”
There were 1930s Maseratis and Alfa Romeos, 1950s Ferraris and any number of D-Type Jaguars. The venture just about survived the collapse of the classic car market in the 1990s.
An admitted purist, Mr Spowers explains that there are two ways of restoring a classic racer. One is to replace whatever is necessary to bring it back to mint condition, what he calls “chocolate box restoration”. This always sells best. The second is to restore it so it looks like what it is, a superlative car with a history.
“You might be throwing away a 40-year-old chassis in which Stirling Moss has sat and sweated,” he says emphatically. “If it was the car in which Duncan Hamilton won Le Mans in 1953, you don't want it to look like it was built yesterday.”
His enthusiasm for motor racing was waning, increasingly at odds with his environmentalism, and he sold Prowess Racing. “I really didn't know what I was going to do, but it wasn't going to be anything to do with cars.”
He was wrong. In 1998 he embarked on a two-year MBA at Cranfield University. His dissertation was “a feasibility study on bringing composite-bodied hydrogen fuel cell cars to market”.
By this time, he had fallen under the spell of various fringe science thinkers. They included Fritjof Capra, who tried to establish links between nuclear physics and oriental religion; Karl-Henrick Robert, a Swedish oncologist and early proponent of sustainability; and the American energy experts Amory Lovin and Paul Hawken.
Mr Spowers describes a hybrid fuel car such as the Toyota Prius as “a Siamese twin, not a hybrid”, relying on two types of motor under one bonnet. He was determined to develop a true “network hybrid”.
A little science is in order here. The average car, by using energy to accelerate and then throwing it away by braking, is inefficient. It might have a 150bhp engine for acceleration but cruise using only 25bhp of this.
Mr Spowers wanted a car that could cruise using about half its available power. One way is so-called “regenerative braking”, whereby the kinetic energy lost in deceleration is pumped back into the fuel cell for re-use. This is used in hybrid vehicles such as the Prius.
“By the time I was at Cranfield, I was pretty clear that the big barriers weren't technical, they were commercial. They were to do with the inertia in our systems - people, politics, business.”
The first project, the LIFECar, was undertaken by his own company RiverSimple, Cranfield, Morgan Cars - which built it - BOC, QinetiQ, the high-tech defence business, and Oxford University. “We haven't driven it around. It's a laboratory research project. The fuel cell was tested independently of the rest of the power train.” The project cost £1.9 million, half-prised with some difficulty from what was then the DTI. The model still exists in two pieces at Cranfield and Morgan.
So far, £3million has been committed to the Hyrban, most of it from the family of Sebastian Piech, who control the distribution of Porsches but are no longer involved in manufacture. “This is very much an investment we made as a family,” Mr Piech says. “The family agreed that long-term there needs to be a new model for providing personal mobility.”
Mr Piech is involved in various high-tech ventures in China, including a Shanghai company making hydrogen fuel cells that are being used, scaled up, in the Hyrban. The first models will have a range of about 200 miles on a kilo of hydrogen. The next vehicles will increase this to 400 miles.
At the heart of the project is the idea of “sale of service”, whereby you buy use of the vehicle rather than its ownership and the asset remains on the providers' balance sheet. This gets around the “buy and throw away” model that Mr Spowers believes is outdated.
He admits that the venture faces a number of hurdles, not least finding the funding to build the network of cars and refuelling points to the point that it is sustainable. No venture capital firm would consider such a long-term project.
He needs a Bill Gates prepared to fund such a step for posterity. Most such are already talking, one suspects, to Hyrban's American equivalents. So what chances does he give the project? “I'm an optimist. A 90 per cent chance. We would be absolutely asinine not to develop this.”
The road so far
Born: January 23, 1960
Education: Oriel College, Oxford, MA in engineering science
Career: 1982-84 ADA Engineering, mechanic; 1984-96 Prowess Racing; 1998-99 Executive MBA, Cranfield University; 2001 founds RiverSimple; 2003-08 LIFECar project; expected 2009 launch of Hyrban

US House Tax Adviser:Energy Tax Credit Changes Possible

(Adds comment from deputy staff director of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee)
By Martin Vaughan

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--The top tax staff adviser to U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Democrats said Congress may consider changes to renewable energy and low-income housing tax credits because the financial crisis has put many tax credit-financed projects in peril.
"If this is as serious a problem as it has been portrayed, you could well see Congress taking a look at the issue," said John Buckley, chief tax counsel to Ways and Means Democrats, at a tax reform conference Friday.
Large banks, including some of the biggest names buffeted by the financial crisis including Citigroup (C), and the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers (LEHMQ), have been the biggest investors in the tax credits, the lifeblood of wind and solar power production. Mortgage giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) have been the largest investors in the low-income housing tax credits.
Buckley suggested the Republican Bush administration's Treasury Department made the long-term financing picture even worse for such projects through its response to the crisis. Treasury relaxed limits on the extent to which banks can use losses from firms they acquire to offset future tax liability. That delivered a tax windfall to, among others, Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), a major investor in energy tax credits.
He said the ruling, in effect, will help Wells Fargo and other banks reduce their tax liability in future years and will have less use for tax credits.
Treasury's ruling "did more damage to renewable energy and low-income housing programs than anything else," Buckley said at the Brookings Institution tax event. "The pool of investors for these credits, to say it has shrunk is an understatement.
Solar and wind energy groups are asking Congress to make the tax credits, which Congress just renewed in October, refundable. They are pressing Congress to include that and other changes in a forthcoming economic stimulus package.
Buckley predicted the stimulus bill will be dominated by spending measures including infrastructure spending, and downplayed the extent to which tax provisions will be included.
"Spending will be a much larger part of the stimulus bill than taxes," he said. "Tax policy becomes increasingly less effective at a time like this."
That is in line with statements from Democratic officials, who have indicated tax rebates aren't likely to be part of the package, expected to reach $500 billion.
But Buckley also said business stimulus provisions like quicker expensing for small businesses and bonus depreciation may not be effective given current economic conditions. That's because firms can't get the credit they need to invest, and won't have tax liability enough for depreciation incentives to be useful, he said.
However, Bill Dauster, deputy staff director of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, said he expects both business and individual tax cuts to be a part of the stimulus package.
Dauster said temporary tax cuts for the middle-income individuals will find a place in the recovery bill. But asked what form those tax cuts would take, he said "it's too early to give an idea of how we would accomplish that."
Dauster also predicted that lawmakers would find room in the stimulus bill for renewable energy tax incentives.
-By Martin Vaughan, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9244;

Climate Change Bill 'most ambitious anywhere in world'

Published Date: 06 December 2008
By Jenny Haworth

WORLD-LEADING climate change targets were announced yesterday for Scotland – but some critics warned that they did not go far enough.
The draft Scottish Climate Change Bill would set targets to slash greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland by 80 per cent by 2050. It would also see emissions cut by 3 per cent each year from 2020, with all six greenhouse gases included.Emissions from air travel would be included in the targets from the start, making the bill more ambitious than the UK Climate Change Act.The draft bill does not, however, contain any detail on how the ambitious targets would be achieved. And there were concerns over a lack of targets for emissions cuts from 2009 to 2020. For that period, the bill only lays out plans for a reduction in emissions each year. Only from 2020 would that reduction have to be at least 3 per cent.A spokesman for the Scottish Government said annual targets would be set from 2010 to 2020, after Lord Adair Turner's committee on climate change advised what they should be.Some groups raised concerns about a lack of sanctions to ensure targets were met, and a lack of detail on whether the targets would have to be met by actually cutting emissions in Scotland, rather than offsetting them with credits bought from abroad. Stewart Stevenson, the climate change minister, said the measures "show that Scotland is at the forefront of global efforts to tackle climate change".He added: "This government has taken the bold decision to include all six greenhouse gases and emissions from aviation and shipping within an ambitious 80 per cent target. We are also setting rigorous annual targets." Mr Stevenson said new policies would be developed to drive the changes needed to meet the targets. He added: "Achieving these targets will be challenging. But I am confident that government, business and the people of Scotland are ready to rise to the challenge of climate change."Environment groups and opposition politicians were worried by potential "loopholes" in the legislation.Duncan McLaren, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth, Scotland, said: "We warmly welcome the introduction of this bill and are confident MSPs of all parties will support its principles and work to strengthen it. This would deliver genuinely world-leading legislation."Most importantly, to deliver early significant cuts in line with climate science advice, the annual targets between 2010 and 2020 must be much higher than the bill provides." Des McNulty, climate change spokesman for Scottish Labour, said: "Labour is particularly concerned that the lack of detail regarding annual targets in this bill could allow the SNP to make it easy on themselves in the short term, allow climate change to continue out of control and leave major reductions to be achieved by future administrations."The Green MSP Patrick Harvie said it was a "very worthwhile starting point" but added: "There are still too many loopholes. "I believe it can be the foundation for the most effective legislation yet on climate change anywhere in the world, but it still needs a lot of work."Richard Dixon, the director of WWF Scotland, said the target of a 50 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 looked "a little unambitious" when the UK government was considering a target of 42 per cent by 2020. But he added: "This is still the best piece of climate change legislation proposed anywhere in the world. It's better than the UK legislation because it includes aviation and shipping from the start." The bill, if passed, will enable the Scottish Government to insist on charges for carrier bags and to set enforceable targets for shops to reduce packaging. It makes controversial provisions for 25 per cent of the forests in Scotland owned by the Forestry Commission to be leased to private companies, to bring in cash to spend on measures to tackle climate change.People can plan ahead and get ready for emissions cutsTHE targets of 50 per cent emissions reductions by 2030, and particularly 80 per cent by 2050, are very ambitious. However, they have come out of a good consultation process, and they are robust.The science shows we need at least an 80 per cent reduction from nations like ours.I do think it is an exemplar bill and the inclusion of annual reductions up to 2020 and 3 per cent reductions from then on, makes it a world leader.Scotland is well-placed to achieve this, given its renewable resources and expertise.After 2020, a 3 per cent reduction year on year would be where it really does start affecting everybody. That is when we will start feeling it – industry, individuals, in the public or private sector. That's when things are going to bite.It's going to be cutting into every facet of our lives because it is ambitious. But at least we know what's coming. A great thing about the Climate Change Bill is that it means people can plan ahead and get ready for what will be quite radical emissions cuts year on year.There is huge potential in terms of low-cost reduction in emissions from retrofitting housing.Hard decisions will be needed. Even if transport gets an easier ride, so you cut emissions from transport by 70 per cent and make up for it with 90 per cent from another sector, it's still going to mean that commuting to work every day in your fossil-fuelled car isn't going to be possible.In terms of renewable energy sources, there will need to be a huge growth. They will be crucial for supporting the Scottish economy.If the international community goes the way it looks like it will in Poznan and next year in Copenhagen, we won't just be in a position of the UK having tough targets to meet but much of the world.So the demand for renewable sources of energy will increase and the price of emitting carbon will increase.This is the perfect time to look to growing our economy in a green way. If you have to pick a nation in the world to try to do this, Scotland is the one you would go for because we have got a great combination of natural resources and some of the world's leading experts in terms of technology and climate science.• Dr David Reay is a climate change expert at the University of Edinburgh.Jenny Haworth - Radical change needed along the road to 2050 to meet challenging targetsWE MAY become a nation of vegetarians, an army of under-sea turbines could be powering our homes, and we might all be driving electric cars.It is difficult to predict the changes needed between now and 2050 to meet the ambitious targets to cut emissions by 80 per cent.However, most experts agree they will have to be radical.Some research has suggested we should all consider becoming vegetarians in order to reduce emissions from the farming sector.Air travel, many believe, is likely to become a luxury, rather than a standard way to travel.And there will either be far fewer cars on the roads, or all the vehicles will be run on electricity or clean fuel.There will have to be a mass programme to address the inefficiency of millions of homes in Scotland – adding insulation, home energy devices and other measures to cut emissions.Conventional gas- and coal-fired power stations will have disappeared or have been kitted out with innovative technology – currently in the earliest stages of development – to capture the carbon dioxide so it is not released into the atmosphere.And it is likely there will be a mass increase in the amount of electricity provided from renewables. In the short term this is expected to come from huge numbers of new onshore wind turbines, but then offshore farms will start to spring up.As wave and tidal energy devices come into their own, the seas around Scotland – particularly the Pentland Firth – could be full of futuristic gadgets that capture the energy from the oceans.If Scotland grasps the opportunities offered by the renewables sector, particularly emerging areas such as marine technology, it could boost the country's economy.Indeed, some experts predict many positive outcomes could come from efforts to cut emissions. Fuel poverty could become rarer as homes become more energy efficient.People could become more likely to grow their own vegetables rather than travel to shops – producing emissions from the journey.If there were fewer cars on the roads, it could become safer to walk and cycle.And although air travel may have to be tempered, some predict a sense of community could be revitalised with more people forced to stay closer to home for holidays and their social life. Others predict innovative scientific advances will mean few changes are needed and we will all be able to continue living as normal.Nuclear fusion – where light atomic nuclei join together to form a heavier nucleus, creating huge amounts of energy – if developed could produce all the energy we could ever need, emission free.Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, summed it up. "Sitting in 2008 and trying to think what 2050 is going to be like is a fun game but you are bound to be totally wrong," he said.

Mixed report on renewable energy in U.S.

By Kate Galbraith and Matthew L. Wald
Published: December 5, 2008

NEW YORK: In hopes of slowing global warming and creating "green jobs," the U.S. Congress and the incoming administration may soon impose a mandate that the United States get 10 or 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within a few years.
Yet the experience of U.S. states that have adopted similar goals suggests that passing that requirement could be a lot easier than achieving it. The record so far is decidedly mixed: Some states appear to be on track to meet energy targets, but others have fallen behind on the aggressive goals they set several years ago.
The states' goals have contributed to rapid growth of wind turbines and solar power stations in some areas, notably the West, but that growth has come on a minuscule base. Nationwide, the hard numbers provide a sobering counterpoint to the green-energy enthusiasm sweeping Washington.
Al Gore, the former vice president, is running advertisements saying that the United States could switch entirely to renewable power within a decade. But most experts do not see how. Even with the fast growth of recent years, less than 3 percent of the nation's electricity is coming from renewable sources, excepting dams. "I think we are really overselling how quick, how easy and how complete the transition can be," said George Sterzinger, executive director of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a Washington advocacy group.
More than half the 50 states have adopted formal green-energy goals. In many states, the standards are too new to be evaluated, but so far the number of successes and failures is "sort of a 50-50 kind of affair," said Ryan Wiser, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who is co-author of a recent report on the targets.

Connecticut and Massachusetts have made their utilities pay for missing targets, and utilities in Arizona and Nevada are lagging. California and New York appear almost certain to miss deadlines that are looming in the next few years.
A few states have met their goals, or even exceeded them. One big success has been Texas, which has capitalized on a wind-power boom and already exceeded its 2015 goal. The state gets 4.5 percent of its electricity from the turbines. New Mexico's big utilities are at 6 percent renewable power, within striking distance of the state's 10 percent goal by 2011.
The structure and aggressiveness of the targets varies widely among states; some have been able to meet their goals because they set relatively modest ones in the first place. Maine set a goal of 30 percent renewable power by 2000, an impressive-sounding target that was essentially meaningless because the state was already getting close to half its electricity from sources that counted against the goal, including dams. A more recent law requires development of new renewables in Maine.
In those states that set aggressive goals and have had trouble meeting them, a big hurdle has been building power lines that could transmit the electricity, Wiser said. Another has been the utilities' inability to secure enough long-term contracts to buy renewable power.
California is the prime example of a state reaching high and falling short. Big utilities there are supposed to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010, and most are expected to miss that deadline.
San Diego Gas & Electric gets a mere 6 percent of electricity from renewable sources, and the state's other two big utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, are at 14 and 15.7 percent, which includes some dams. The Edison number is a 2007 figure; the other two are more recent.
Fines for missing the targets can run to $25 million a year, but because of fine print in the regulations, the San Diego utility and Pacific Gas & Electric said they did not expect to incur fines; a representative for Southern California Edison said he was not sure.
The utilities cited a catalog of reasons for falling short. These include stop-and-start federal tax incentives for renewable power, problems finding reliable suppliers among the many young and fragile startups in the industry, and difficulty getting transmission lines built and obtaining permits to build solar stations and wind farms.
"Not every part of the country is equally blessed in terms of having locations for renewables," said Debra Reed, president and chief executive of San Diego Gas & Electric, which is having trouble getting new transmission lines built to an area with a lot of sunshine.
Moreover, for utilities, the effective goals keep changing. As customers' electricity use rises, so does the amount of renewable-derived electricity the utilities must produce to meet their percentage targets. "When you're judged based on customer demand, you're always chasing a moving target," said Stuart Hemphill, vice president of Southern California Edison, which serves a fast-growing population.
The only mechanism the states have to force utilities into line is to fine them for not meeting the targets, but such costs would ultimately be passed on to electricity customers or company shareholders, neither of whom would look favorably on politicians who imposed such a burden in tough times.
That may explain why most of the penalties issued to date have been modest. In 2006, the payments totaled around $18 million for Massachusetts and $5.6 million for Connecticut, and virtually nothing in any other state, Wiser's report said.

Ed Miliband does not understand job, say energy bosses

The Times
December 6, 2008
Robin Pagnamenta, Energy and Environment Editor

Power industry bosses have accused the Energy Minister of failing to understand the market and of ignoring them at a time when the industry is being asked to pour £100 billion into Britain’s ageing infrastructure.
Senior industry sources said that Ed Miliband, who was appointed as head of the new Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on October 3, had repeatedly rejected requests for meetings with the heads of Britain’s biggest energy supply companies.
They also accused him of “shooting from the hip” on issues such as price cuts before he had had time to develop a proper understanding of the pressures the industry is facing. “It’s pretty clear that he doesn’t understand the market,” one said.
“He has rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way and has been frustrating to deal with, not just with us. Some of his own civil servants are complaining.”
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“So far it has not been a good relationship,” said another high-level source at one of the so-called Big Six, which comprises EDF Energy, E.ON, Centrica, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), Scottish-Power and npower. “It’s been difficult to get meetings in the diary.”
Mr Miliband is understood to have held two previously scheduled, routine roundtable meetings with all six chief executives but he is thought to have held only one formal bilateral meeting – with Vincent de Rivaz, of EDF Energy, the French company that is poised to take control of Britain’s nuclear industry through the £12.5 billion takeover of British Energy.
The two roundtable meetings were said to be difficult. At the first, Mr Miliband asked all the chief executives when they planned to cut retail prices – a question described by one as “naïve” at such a meeting, given the competitive nature of the business.
At the second meeting, industry chiefs reportedly pressed Mr Miliband on the difficulty they faced financing huge new offshore wind energy and nuclear power station projects against a backdrop of turmoil in global debt markets. They also sought his support in negotiations over a key review of price controls by Ofgem, the regulator, arguing that, unless they were allowed a higher rate of return, they would be unable to make the investments required in the network.
The Government expects the Big Six to finance the projects to help to cut Britain’s carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
A spokesman for the DECC declined to comment on individual ministerial meetings. He said that there was a good relationship between the new department and industry, which he described as “appropriate”.
However, the deterioration in relations behind the scenes reflects the tensions involved in the creation of the new department, which was set up to increase the focus of the Government’s energy policy on climate change and the environment.
Mr Miliband’s department was formed from two parts of government with a history of conflict – the climate change unit of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the old energy division of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Before its formation, the latter had adopted a far more pro-business approach and had placed greater emphasis on the security of Britain’s long-term energy supplies. Defra preferred to focus on the environmental and fuel poverty agendas.

Obama Seen Picking Energy, Environment Cabinet Next Week

DECEMBER 5, 2008, 5:41 P.M. ET

By Ian Talley

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--In step with naming climate policy as one of his top priorities, President-elect Barack Obama is expected to soon officially designate his senior energy and environment cabinet officials, possibly next week, according to people familiar with the matter.
Obama has vowed to rewrite the country's energy and environment policies, creating a low-carbon economy through strict regulation of greenhouse gases and shifting away from conventional fossil fuels to renewables, efficient and clean energy.
Transition officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said research portfolios for the Energy Secretary, Interior Secretary and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator designates had to be finalized by this Sunday. The Obama team is also still deliberating on who to appoint as head of the President's Council on Environmental Quality and whether that person should act as a special energy/climate change czar to oversee and coordinate Obama's policies between the different departments, or if a special position should be created.
As with his appointments, Obama is expected to announce the posts simultaneously.
None of the potential candidates could be reached for comment, and representatives of both the potential designates and the Obama transition team declined to comment.
People close to the Obama team said one of the top contenders for the energy secretary post is the former chairman of Edison International, John Bryson, one of the strongest advocates for moving the country's gasoline and diesel-driven vehicles to electric cars. Bryson has also served on the California Public Utilities Commission, and was a co-founder and attorney of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a powerful environmental lobby group with strong ties to Democrats.
With many of Obama's appointments coming from the public service, insiders say the president-elect's team wants to appoint an energy secretary from industry, and one with the gravitas to help steer the massive Department of Energy into a new green era. That's one of the reasons that Bryson, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm are now said to have pulled ahead in consideration in front of another contender, Dan Reicher, director of Google's climate change and energy initiatives division.
Sibelius recently won political kudos in the Democratic ranks for her successful prevention of a new coal-fired power plant approval in her state on the grounds that it would produce greenhouse gases.
The EPA Administrator in the new administration will play a much more powerful and influential role that previously, especially as the agency moves forward with drafting a rule to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
The head of California's Air Resources Board Mary Nichols was originally a front-runner for the position, but since Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., took over the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - the panel that drafts climate change legislation - having a triumvirate of Californians crafting greenhouse gas regulations has hurt her chances. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee responsible for Senate climate bills. Some fear that legislation drafted by a California delegation wouldn't be able to get through Congress wary of the impacts on the entire economy.
New Jersey's former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Lisa Jackson, is now said by several people close to the transition team to be the top pick, though they say it's far from a done deal. Jackson was also one of the chief proponents of the regional greenhouse gas program, one of the first carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programs in the U.S.
World Resources Institute President Jonathan Lash was also a serious contender, but two insiders said he wouldn't be well received because of the perception of being too closely tied to environmental groups, and not enough experience with industry.
"Clearly he was and is a candidate, but industry will tend to say, that's an extreme choice, and that's not what Obama seemed to be about," said one person close to the transition team responsible for designate recommendations.
The Interior Department appointment will also be a strategic pick for Obama, especially as the debate over offshore drilling is expected to pick up in the new year, though oil prices down to 2005 levels have helped to erode the political urgency of the issue.
Two people close to the transition said the final two candidates are Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, whom Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is said to support, and Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat whom House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants in the post.
Although, historically, the Interior position in a Democratic administration has gone to an inter-mountain western state official, California has been a vociferous opponent of offshore drilling and a representative from that state would likely play hardball on new Outer Continental Shelf exploration.
Transition team insiders say there's no decision yet on whether to appoint a special energy/climate czar. "They don't know what the job would be," said one person close to the team. "They're talking about a climate change czar, an energy czar, and a national environmental council similar to the National Security Council," he said.
He added that Al Gore is lobbying hard for the White House to instead use the existing council on environmental quality, only strengthened to better coordinate policy between the agencies.
-By Ian Talley, Dow Jones Newswires 202-862-9285;