Global Climate Action Summit Practitioner Workshops
I was happy to attend the Global Climate Action Summit Practitioner Workshops for Parabukas on September 11 and 12. The workshops took place in San Francisco, California, at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Van Ness Avenue. The conversations focused around removing carbon, increasing equity, and maintaining economic prosperity all in the face of climate change. The workshops were an opportunity for CPUC and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the California Energy Commission (CEC) to collaborate with those agencies who are taking concrete actions that implement and manifest in real ways the goals implied under the Under2 MOU. CPUC, CARB and CEC shared their progress in decarbonizing in the building, electric, and transportation industries as well as allowed other regulators and agencies who manage programs to present their best practices and achievements, as well as the many lessons learned over the course of each agency’s varied experiences.
Panel 1, which focused on Decarbonization, Decentralization, and Digitalization, discussed the rapid transformation of the global energy sector and the challenges that come with this transition. Panelists discussed possible regulatory strategies that have the potential to accelerate decarbonization without impeding on reliability or affordability.
Panel 2 discussed the opportunity of integrating zero-carbon resources into the grid while also highlighting the incidental challenges. Panelists discussed the need for flexibility in planning and reforming pricing mechanisms by discussing flexible approaches that have been implemented in California as well as in Washington state to encourage integration of such zero-carbon resources into the grid.
Panel 3 discussed energy efficiency, which has a remarkable history of success in the U.S. as well as other regions. Panelists explored how the use of clean electricity to displace fossil fuels for heating and other building purposes has begun reshaping the energy efficiency space in places such as Oregon all the way to China.
The second and final day of the workshops consisted of three more panels, the first being Clean Energy Technology Financing. Though capital costs of renewable energy have significantly dropped in recent years, lenders are still hesitant to finance some renewable energy projects due to high upfront costs associated with the needed infrastructure, regulatory uncertainty, and in some cases technological risk, unless such projects have proven to amount to a steady revenue stream for debt service. Panelists discussed how to finance such clean energy technologies in the face of such regulatory uncertainly, and also mentioned possibilities for commercializing these technologies.
"Adaptation and Resiliency" was the fifth panel topic, and discussed how the world is seeing global changes such as droughts, coastal storms, more wild fires, sea levels rising, dramatic changes in temperature, etc. These changes have caused problems in the sector that include but are not limited to undue strain on transformers, increased line losses between electric generators and load, and an increased demand for more electricity. Health risks due to the increased temperatures will lead to substantial need for air conditioning to be more thoroughly installed in public establishments as well as homes. Though adaptation has not been as much of a focus as mitigation for policy makers, some panelists agreed that we need to take a heavier approach on adaptation strategies. Other panelists stated the importance for setting protocols that utilities must follow up with in terms of notifying communities in advance of climate emergencies such as wildfires that will inevitably come into contact with power lines. Overall, open communication between the utilities and local governments and emergency responders was mentioned as a very important factor that deserves more attention.
The last panel was Women in Clean Energy, and hosted six panelists who have been successful in the clean energy field. Panelists discussed their backgrounds, what path they took to be in the position which they are currently in, and ended with their advice to women as well as men.
The Practitioner Workshops were a great way to kick off the Summit, which commenced directly after the end of the workshops. It was a more intimate group of people who are heavily involved in regulatory agencies responsible with implementing policy changes state wide and thus provided Parabukas with various perspectives and ideas in the renewable energy realm.