"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 firstname.lastname@example.org and watch for your photo to be featured in our "Power of Positive Example" column!