As promised, here is an update on the various energy partnership initiatives in the hemisphere.
On the US Low Carbon Communities: According to the information provided by the US Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Lab and the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program are accepting proposals under the new Low Carbon Community program, announced in Lima. The declared aim of the project is to provide seed funding for projects that aim to lower community GHG emissions through activities in energy efficiency, green housing, and cleaner fuels. Project must be submitted by governments and should include allocaton of resources by the host government.
Haiti was the first to submit a proposal – which is being refined and “shopped around” to the State Department and USAID for possible funding.
On the Chile Renewable Energy Center: In support of this proposal and under the new US – Chile MOU on Clean Energy Technology Cooperation, the NREL is researching similar centres and outlining potential designs for the new institution.
On the US – Canada Clean Energy Dialogue: The US DOE hosted the first round table on June 29-30 in Washington, DC. The main objective of the workshop was to provide the basis for a Plan of Action to be presented to the respective Ministers – Jim Prentice and Steve Chu, and from there to President Obama and Prime Minister Harper.
The meeting gathered approximately 50 people from government, private sector and academia to discuss three specific topics: electricity smart grid; carbon capture and sequestration; and Clean Energy R&D.
As for who were the participants at the table, the information is less than transparent. The Americans offered the following list:
Private sector participants were selected for their significant expertise in one of the focus areas to be discussed (carbon capture and storage; clean energy research and development in biofuels, clean transportation and building energy efficiency; and electric grid/smart
grid), based upon one or more of the following criteria:
* Expertise in a particular technology
* Knowledge of relevant regulations
* Involvement in actual projects employing some aspect of a particular technology
* Member of relevant industry association
Basin Electric Power Cooperative
Battelle Memorial Institute
Bonneville Power Administration
Electric Drive Transportation Association
Friends of the Earth
Growth Energy HDR/ DTA
Kleinschmidt National Fenestration Rating Council
NYISO PJM Interconnections Public Solutions S&C Electric Company
Schlumberger Carbon Services
U.S. Department of Energy
* National Energy Technology Laboratory
* Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability
* Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
* Office of Fossil Energy
* Office of Policy & International Affairs
* Office of Science
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Volvo Group North America, Inc.
West Virginia University
The Canadians, citing US’ government sensibilities in providing names offered a much smaller list:
Members of The Clean Energy Research and Development Working Group include:
Canadian co-chair: Brian Gray, Assistant Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada
American co-chair: Steven Chalk, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy
The Senior Business Advisor to the Canadian co-chair for this group is Linda Hasenfratz, CEO, Linamar Corporation
As well, members of The Clean Energy Technology Working Group consist of:
Canadian co-chair: Sue Kirby, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Energy Sector, Natural Resources Canada
American co-chair: Scott Klara, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Strategic Center for Coal
That is all the information available. Here again, there is no mention of allocation of resources to this initiative.
Comment: The question of how much money is available for any of these initiatives is of concern.
For instance, for the Low Carbon Communities proposal – it is unclear whether the mention of seed money relates to new funds, as opposed to funds already allocated to NREL and EERE and being sequestered for this new program. The same applies to the work NREL is doing on the Chilean initiative, as well as the discussions on the Clean Energy Dialogue.
The reality is that different departments are constantly given new assignments without allocation of funds, compromising the chances of success of any new initiative. Of course, you would not know this from reading evaluations from past programs. I am yet to see a report (at least the ones made public) that openly assess a program as a failure. To any government bureaucracy, everything they do and have done in the past, is a success…rendering learning from past mistakes an unknown process.
Learning from past mistakes would be useful for both Canada and the US regarding the lack of transparency and information coming out of the Canada/US Clean Energy Dialogue (CED). Both governments were under fire for their approach to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (a trilateral initiative of the previous US administration) – which government maintained was a useful process, which ended up being totally misunderstood by the NGO community, which claimed the process was a vehicle for direct company lobby. It is hard to see how the CED is any different.
One last issue – On any program designed for Haiti. Regardless of the merits of the Low Carbon Communities, any initiative that seeks to help the most impoverished country in the Americas deserves praise and wishes for success. Once the program is designed, it behooves the OAS and all other countries in the hemisphere to join forces and contribute in any way they can.
That’s my two bits. What do you think?