July 31, 2007 – Volume 11, Issue 5
I N · T H I S · I S S U E

Presenters Vice President Al Gore and Ted Flanigan during a break from the forum on climate protection strategies. Gore spent days digging in to issues and solutions, and he called the meeting one of the very best of hundreds that he has attended.


A Man of Passion

Back from a week in Colorado, inspired and exhausted! I'd been invited to serve as a panelist at The Aspen Institute, at the third meeting of the GreenTech Innovation Network. The Institute is known for assembling great minds: this meeting featured Vice President Al Gore, Tom Friedman (New York Times), Barbara Joseph Abby (Goldman Sachs), Steve Chu (Nobel Laureate LBNL Director), Jose Goldemburg (father of Brazil's ethanol industry), Art Rosenfeld (California Energy Commission), Jim Robo (CEO FPL Energy), Fred Krupp (EDF), and a host of entrepreneurs, innovators, venture capitalists, and bright minds from across America, plus China, India, Brazil, the European Union.

Al Gore has risen in my estimation. Sure, he may well be posturing for the presidency, but after spending three intensive days with Gore, I'm deeply impressed by his depth of knowledge, political perspective, and mostly by his passion. During the forum his face did become flush and red; a local reporter cast him as angry. But I admire the way he delivers his message of carbon imbalances again and again, fending off criticism and taking special care of naivete. Yes, the urgency of the situation alarms him. He can become an exasperated zealot; he is surely not "wooden." He carries a torch and has raised awareness globally, an undeniable accomplishment of a most worthy magnitude. And for this, I had the chance to thank him in person.

EcoMotion Updates

Toni Iseman, the Mayor of Laguna Beach, California (at right) signed the Mayors for Climate Protection resolution calling for CO2 levels to drop to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012, about a 30% overall reduction in a mere five years.

But how to get started? The City's Environmental Committee contacted EcoMotion and Ted Flanigan was asked to facilitate a town hall meeting on "first steps" for climate protection. At the close of the meeting, City leaders and concerned citizens had identified a dozen strategic steps to raise awareness, bank initial successes, and lay a foundation for a broad-based and engaging community-wide initiative.

EcoMotion is heading -- you guessed it! -- to Germany in October, leading an invitation-only solar research tour from Berlin to Freiburg. Traveling by rail, the delegation will explore the genesis and implementation of Germany's successful "feed-in tariff," will visit poly- silicon and state of the art photovoltaic manufacturing plants, as well as countless ground-mounted and building integrated PV and solar thermal systems, and through "immersion" in leading solar cities. If you know someone who should be invited, please be in touch via email or by phone (949) 450-7155.

"The planet needs a PR agent. We need strategies for affecting consciousness."
Vice President Al Gore

The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute, where Ted Flanigan spoke at the Greentech Innovation Network Summit, was the brainchild of Chicago businessman Walter Paepcke. He visited Aspen in 1945, and inspired by its natural beauty envisioned it as an ideal gathering place for thinkers, leaders, artists and musicians from all over the world "to step away from their daily routines and reflect on the underlying values of society and culture."

In 1950 Paepcke created the Aspen Institute, initially with an executive seminar on the writings of the world's great thinkers, "to help a leader gain access to his or her own humanity." The Aspen Institute also gave rise to the Aspen Music Festival and the annual International Design Conference, and later the Aspen Center for Physics, all to "extend the meaning of humanistic studies."

Today, the Aspen Institute supports 20 policy programs and partnerships exploring topics such as the prospects for peace in the Middle East; communications, media, and information policy; economic opportunity; social innovation through business; the nonprofit sector; creating smart solutions to help Americans save, invest, and own; and community initiatives for children and families.

Carbon Perspectives from KPCB's Greentech Network Summit

- "The planet has a fever."

- Our society spews 70 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day.

- Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are currently 383 parts per million.

- World leaders are fighting a battle to stabilize the climate at 450 parts per million. Al Gore says that 450 is "a serious compromise;" others call 450 the "maximum politically feasible" level.

- A Dutch research team reports that China has now surpassed the United States in carbon dioxide emissions. While some contest the finding, all agree that it's just a matter of when China takes on this dubious distinction.

- According to Columnist Tom Friedman, the United States government subsidizes solar energy to the tune of $159 million a year. The sugar industry gets $1.9 billion in subsidies.

- About 15% of carbon dioxide comes from deforestation. Placing a value on carbon, through a carbon cap and trade system, would place value on the gigatons of carbon stored in forests.

Power Purchase Agreement at Macy's

Macy's has announced that it will reduce its carbon footprint by 40% at 26 California stores through combined solar systems and energy efficiency upgrades. Macy's will install 8 MW of solar panels on store rooftops. Macy's believes that, "a successful business is dependent on a healthy environment." Macy's struck a deal with the SunPower Corporation to provide combined solar and efficiency services. SunPower's PowerLight subsidiary will install the solar systems and assist the stores with high efficiency lighting and HVAC system upgrades, doubling the solar system capacity. The combined output will offset 24 million kilowatt hours of electricity consumption annually, equivalent to removing 1,144 cars from California's highways each year.

One of the hottest trends in solar systems for major power users is an arrangement in which the consumer does not buy the solar system, but instead purchases its output. This form of "power purchase agreement" (PPA) will be used for 15 of the 26 stores thanks to the SunPower Access program, a solar services agreement. At the end of ten years, Macy's will have the option to renew the agreement, transfer the equipment to a new site, or buy the system.

PG&E: ClimateSmart and Carbon Neutral

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has launched a first of its kind voluntary climate protection program, making it easy for customers to neutralize their carbon footprints. By volunteering to participate in ClimateSmart, residential and commercial customers can help to fund environmental projects that remove greenhouse gases from the air or avoid emissions in the first place.

Customers who enroll will pay a separate amount on their monthly utility bills to remove or avoid the equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2) associated with their energy use -- thus making them "climate neutral." The amount a customer will pay for ClimateSmart will be determined after a calculation of the customer's electricity and natural gas usage. PG&E estimates that the cost for the average residential customer will be less than $5 per month.

Tom King, PG&E CEO noted that, "When coupled with our clean energy portfolio and leading energy efficiency programs, ClimateSmart empowers our customers with another tool to manage their carbon footprint." PG&E itself enrolled as ClimateSmart's first participant, committing more than $1.5 million of shareholder funding over the next three years to make the energy use in the company's offices, service centers, maintenance facilities and other company buildings completely climate neutral.

As part of the program's launch, the company opened a competitive process to solicit offers for California- based offset projects that meet criteria and protocols developed by the Climate Action Registry, providing transparency and accountability for offset programs.

The World's Largest Solar Plant

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has entered into a "landmark renewable energy agreement" with an Israeli company - Solel Solar Systems -- to purchase renewable energy from the Mojave Solar Park to be built in California's Desert. The project will deliver 553 megawatts of solar power, making it the largest solar plant in the world.

The $2 billion plant will cover nine square miles and could be operating by 2011. It will use rows of curved mirrors, called troughs, to concentrate the sun's energy onto a pipe carrying a liquid that can reach temperatures high enough to boil water.

PG&E is aggressively adding renewable electric power resources to its supply and is reportedly on target to exceed 20% renewable energy by 2010 as required by California's Renewable Portfolio Standard. For more than two decades, San Bernardino County has been the testing ground for large-scale solar projects. Plants using similar concentrating technology at Kramer Junction and Harper Dry Lake produce more than 300 megawatts of power on about 2,000 acres for Southern California Edison customers.


Photos of the car you're driving, the appliances you've installed or the actions you're taking to reduce YOUR carbon footprint. Email them to vnicols@ecomotion.us and watch for your photo to be featured in our "Power of Positive Example" column!