Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bryan Lentz's Clean Energy Summit

This morning I went to an event in Delaware County and took notes. You may notice that they are more cryptic as the event went on. My apologies for that but my hand gets tired. As always I apologize for any errors or misconceptions. Where possible links are included so you may find more information or verify anything that does not seem clear, by checking with the source.

Pennsylvania Clean Energy Summit
Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
10:00 to 12:30
Delaware County Community College

Delaware County Community College President Dr. Jerry Parker made opening remarks.

State Rep. Bryan Lentz: The purpose of this summit is to education the public on the important of energy independence and security. We have an opportunity to make the US a leader on global warming. Soon Pres. Obama will be going to Copenhagen. We can be in a strong position with the US as a leader or a weak position with the US not able to agree on a strategy. We will begin the discussion on the national level and on the state level (HB 80). Why? First because of national security. We purchase energy from nations that don’t have our best interests at heart. In addition, the CIA, Dept. of Defense and National Security Council are now putting climate change into strategic plans, flood, famine, moving people from one area to another. Secondly, 98% of scientists agree on global warming. Thirdly, we need to stop exporting jobs and stop importing solar panels. We can make them here.

Brendan Flynn of the Truman National Security Project, filling in for Jon Powers who is in DC meeting with the president. I graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy. and used to work for Congressman Patrick Murphy. We have an over reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. The money we spend on oil, some goes to terrorist groups that we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another component is climate change. John Kerry said climate change will act like a lit match on the kindling of extremism.

Dr. Bernard Finel is not an environmentalist but a “guns and bombs” guy. If you look around the world, the political hot spots are where climate change will have the most dramatic effect. Mexico City, Darfur, where Lake Chad is drying up, and Pakistan where the Indus River may become a seasonal stream. The confluence of crises and conflicts will become more difficult to solve. In South Asia water will become scarcer. The Indus River goes through India and Pakistan, both nuclear armed states. We send $400 billion abroad every year, tens of billions end up in Hugo Chavez’s pockets and with Russian businessmen who have different interests than ours. We need to restore our economic leadership. As Tom Friedman has said, “If you love the effects of importing oil you’ll love the effects of importing solar panels form China.”

Dr. Jerry Parker, president of Delaware County Community College. This is the first community college in the nation with a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics division focused on providing training for this industry. The post recession economy will be slow to recover but will be different. Many of the lost jobs are lost forever. There will be fewer semi-skilled jobs. The remaining jobs will be higher level jobs requiring more education. Existing tradesmen need to acquire additional skills to learn green jobs aspects of existing jobs. New students need better math skills, etc. to learn HVAC, solar panels, etc.

Bryan Lentz: A portion of the trades know where their job will be, example, Boeing. If you learn new skills you probably can get a good job there. High school graduates don’t’ know as much math as they should. We need to catch up. Students need motivation – to know they have a job waiting.

Tony Girifalco, executive VP of the Delaware Valley Industrial Resources Center. There are 5,000 small and medium sized manufacturing firms in SEPA that employ over 100,000 people. Can we engineer our way into the 20th century. American brainpower created entire industries many of them here. Many employment opportunities aren’t there any more – shrinking middle class. Work with independent companies, look at their systems and make recommendations to make systems more efficient. In an innovation economy everything begins and ends with ideas. Everything begins and ends with people. Creating a new kind of citizen – independent critical thinkers. Educating people for jobs that haven’t been invented yet.

State Rep. Greg Vitali (introduction – if you ask anyone, Republican or Democrat in Harrisburg, who knows about the environment they would say Vitali): I view myself as a political technician. Went to see a film “Coal Country.” There were picketers outside with signs that said “coal keeps the lights on.” Quote from (either Sinclair Lewis or Upton Sinclair) “It is difficult to understand something if your paycheck depends on not understanding it.” We need to shift from fossil to renewable fuels. PA produces 1% of the world’s greenhouse gasses. Some local communities in my and Lentz’s districts have energy plans. Five key bills have passed in PA. Four are the governor’s energy independence strategy: increasing the % of renewable materials in fuels, the % of renewable energy from utilities, smart metering, renewable energy fund, climate change action legislation. It took awhile to get them passed – there is no substitute for tenacity. This term the most important piece of legislation is HB 80 / SB 72. 16 million tons of emissions reduced, increases renewable energy standards to 15% by 2024. Still behind NJ but still a good thing. The amount of solar from utilities increases from .5% to 3%. Much resistance from utility companies and unions. Carbon capture and sequestration, sets up framework on PA that pulls CO2 out of coal process and puts it in safe storage.

[short break]

Nathan Wilcox: of PennEnvironment compliments Lentz, like Vitali a friend of the environment. Pollution leads to health problems, asthma, premature deaths. PA has some of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the nation. Water pollution: nuclear power uses a lot of water, natural gas drilling and water pollution problems, land degradation. In PA we use 60% coal, 35% nuclear power. It is possible to build so called zero energy homes. The wind going over 5 states could power whole country. Concentrated solar panels over 9% of the landmass in Nevada could power whole country. There are some problems with transmission. If we double the use of public transit use we could cut our oil imports by (40?)%

BL: Hopes SEPTA can keep up with demand if there is another Phillies parade this year. The last three panelists will talk on jobs.

Dan Rafter of IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) local 654. (Delaware and Chester Counties). There are 700 members in Delco and they have a 700 sq ft building for a training facility. A major part of IBEW is training. Spend $400K a year. Every apprentice training in photovoltaic solar panels; journeymen also trained in [?]. There are 8000 hours of on the job training and 9000 hours of other training. We are putting solar panels on our building and hope it will pay 90% of the energy bill. Training to make sure things are properly installed and contracts are correctly written.

Eric Thumma of Iberdrola Renewables. helped craft PA Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards when worked for PA DEP. Need to talk about sustainability more broadly. Iberdrola spawned by public policy. Iberdrola is largest owner / operator of renewable energy in the world, located here for policy reasons.

Drew Devitt of New Way Airbearings. not against wind turbines, but the best winds are about 35 miles off our coast. class 6 or 8 winds, as opposed to class 4 inland. If turbines could float wouldn’t have to build foundations. Vertical axis wind turbines can be attached to moorings not foundations. Horizontal axis gets peak power, vertical axis can get broader power. One idea to bring cables to existing power plants, then can use existing grid. Horizontal not suitable for offshore. We can build vertical axis turbines right here.

BL: Summary on pending federal legislation. American Clean Energy and Security Act. June 09 passed House HR 2454 by narrow margin. now in Senate.

Questions (These are just summaries of some of the questions and answers. Some were very specific and others very general. I included information here on what seemed most relevant and what I could understand.)

Mike Fiorintino environmental attorney. to Vitali, is that 15% tier 1 and tier 2. GV 15% is tier 1 – (wind solar geothermal). (Tier 2 is waste coal, etc.) 8% by 2020, 15% by 2024. to Wilcox: cap and trade by auction (anyone can buy) or allocation (goes to existing producers). NW: ideal would be auction. Obama wanted auction. not politically feasible. will be a bit of both.

Mike Gerber’s bill on biofuels, diesel and gasoline, increases renewable content. shifting to cellulosic only for gasoline.

DEP funding a project in Erie on algae as a biofuel, part of energy harvest program

Rebecca Ross of Delco Planning Committee: recently completed greenhouse gas emission inventory. just got $3.6 million from stimulus for energy efficient projects including doing a county wide energy plan.

in schools 2nd most expensive cost in school is energy (behind personnel).

Lentz closed by thanking those attending and Janet Tirado of his staff for organizing the event.

blogger notes: The setting was very nice, although the auditorium was a Verizon dead zone and I had to go outside during the break to check my mail. People with blackberries seemed unaffected. The ferns around the speaker's table added an air of elegance and the greenery was very apt given the subject matter. Other random thoughts -- Lentz is noticeably thinner than when he ran in 2006. Nathan Wilcox's voice sounds a little like Steve Buscemi, at least to my tin ear. All speakers were white men in suits. Women made up roughly one fourth of the audience.

Final note: My thanks to the person who sent me a personal invitation, with enough lead time to arrange work and home schedule to attend.


Letitia said...

The quote is from Upton Sinclair. Molly Ivins used it frequently.

AboveAvgJane said...

Thanks! He wasn't sure which it was.