April 22, 2008 -- Commonwealth Energy Secretary Ian Bowles on Earth Day
Ian_Bowles: Greetings. Happy Earth Day, Red Sox Nation.
Sweet_Sue__Guest_: So much needs to be done so quickly to save the environment. What can the average person do to really make a difference? How can we get everyone to understand how urgent it is for us all to act?
Ian_Bowles: Start with an energy audit of your home -- it is free. Just changing your light bulbs can make a big difference -- compact fluorescent bulbs alone use 75% less energy than normal bulbs.
gore_s_buddy__Guest_: Oh, Tuesday is Earth Day. Are you doing anything special? And do have a quick, easy tip for us to save energy or save the earth?
Ian_Bowles: Yes -- Governor Patrick this morning announced the creation of a new park along the Neponset River and then he and I joined a group of kids from City Year and the Boys and Girls Club to launch Park Serve Day -- a volunteer park clean up day on May 12.
butterflyeffect__Guest_: It appears that RGGI instead of being a "cap and trade" framework, is a "cap and pay" framework. The money that will be collected from generators will not be directed to the least costly efficiency measures by a market mechanism. Instead the funds are going to be directed thourgh a state controlled trust. It is not clear what type of criteria would be used by the trust administrators to disburse the money. Since "Measurement and Verification" methodologies for efficeincy have been developed for the ISO's Forward Capacity Market, why can't the same M&V methods be used to allow generators to finance efficiency in lieu of making payments to the state for thier allowances, or shopping for offests in the Amazon? This way everyone can be assured that CO2 reductions are being made at an absolute minimum cost. The local economy would be stimulated and the government would be limited to making sure that M&V is done right, lowering administrative costs. Thanks.
Ian_Bowles: We favor putting the RGGI auction proceeds into energy investments like energy efficiency. The "least cost procurement" approach that has passed the MA House and Senate will be a major change in energy policy and allow energy efficiency to compete directly with power generation to meet our energy load. This is an important policy - and a big step forward for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
radiohead__Guest_: As an interested observer of the RGGI process I have been puzzled by the framework of these regulations and have a simple question. Maybe you can answer it and help me understand the state's thinking behind this program.
Ian_Bowles: Go ahead -- I'd be happy to answer your question.
OceanHappy__Guest_: How can we help more people enjoy our great blue open space (the ocean) for respite and for a living?
Ian_Bowles: We are doing a lot to invest in the state owned beaches -- DCR is hiring 65 new beach staff and we are cleaning up and re-investing in beaches. You can also take harbor ferries out the spectacular Boston Harbor Islands.
radiohead__Guest_: I just saw that MIT got a $10 million grant today to study solar energy and that the German thinktank is moving here to research solar and efficiency applications. How big do you think clean tech can be in the Greater Boston area? (I notice Hillary Clinton is talking about 5 million clean economy jobs nationwide -- is that realistic)?
Ian_Bowles: Governor Patrick has made the clean energy sector a major part of our state's economic development strategy. We are second only to CA in total venture capital investment in energy tech. More than 14,000 jobs currently and over 550 firms. It is a big economic opportunity and will help us to cut emissions.
katy612__Guest_: Hi Secretary. Thank you so much for chatting with us today. Lately, I've been a little confused by the admistration's position towards coal gasification. Why is this such a hot topic in Massachusetts of all places? We don't have any indigenous coal and we don't need to be investing in coal. I am particularly troubled by what's going on in Somerset. That plant was supposed to close down or repower with natural gas. Now, its converting to "clean coal." Why are you allowing this to happen? Why are you subjecting us to decades more of dirty coal?
Ian_Bowles: There are many forms of coal gasification technology. One promising one is Greatpoint Energy -- it has the potential to use biomass (or coal) as a feedstock and create pipeline grade natural gas. Interesting, new technology. As to the NRG/Somerset plant, the company agreed to cap its greenhouse gas emissions at existing levels -- the technology also will be cutting current criteria pollutants by very significant levels. We had no legal basis to deny the technology. Going forward, the RGGI process will set a price on carbon and cut our emissions much more -- it is a cap and trade system that is very promising and nation leading.
EnergyDork__Guest_: Mr. Secretary, how are you planning on celebrating this Earth Day?
Ian_Bowles: The Governor is speaking at MIT on the clean energy economy and how we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions -- it should be fun. Governor Patrick this morning announced the creation of a new park along the Neponset River and then he and I joined a group of kids from City Year and the Boys and Girls Club to launch Park Serve Day -- a volunteer park clean up day on May 12.
joe_friday__Guest_: go sox
Ian_Bowles: Ditto. Celts on a roll too.
sj2912__Guest_: Hello, what is the state doing to promote more alternative transportation use? Specifically, do you have plans to make Boston and Mass. more bike friendly?
Ian_Bowles: The park the Governor announced this morning on the Neponset will add 3 new miles of riverfront bikepath. We are always looking for cost effective pike path opportunities. MBTA has also started adding bike racks on buses. We have a lot more to do, but are working on it actively.
GreenGuy__Guest_: The earth needs us to be nice and green to it 365-366 days a year, isn't an "Earth Day" similar to using a band-aid to stop internal bleeding?
Ian_Bowles: In the space of a little more than a year, Massachusetts is back in a leadership role on the environment -- we became the first state to start requiring greenhouse gas curbs in new real estate projects. Governor Patrick has made clean energy technology a central part of our economic strategy. Candidly, the Bush Administration continues to block needed steps forward on greenhouse gases. I'm hopeful the next President will make the United States a global leader again on these challenges.
OceanHappy__Guest_: On ocean access, people used to travel by boat much much more than we do nowadays, again for fun and for business. How can we get more public water transportation and more public access boat ramps?.
Ian_Bowles: Bruce Berman -- is that you??
brill__Guest_: Mr. Secretary, What does the administration think about proposals to build more electric transmission lines that would provide access to renewable energy in Maine and eastern Canada?
Ian_Bowles: We do need to add transmission to promote reliability throughout New England. Many of the proposed renewable projects can build transmission on a market-based/merchant basis. We will look at each proposal on the merits, but share the commitment to bringing new renewable power options to our ratepayers.
Ian_Bowles: Thank you all for your excellent questions and commitment to the environment. Have a great Earth Day!