The 7th Annual National Clean Energy Summit was just held September 4th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV. You ask why Mandalay Bay is significant? Well, its convention center, where the event was held, has a huge roof and they have loaded it up with solar panels.
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Basic NCES 7.0 Data
There were about 800 people in attendance with about 30 vendors in the exhibitor’s hall. This was not such a huge turnout by Las Vegas convention standards, but I think the event is growing yearly and it went well and seemed to have a positive impact on the attendees.
An Unexpected Highlight: Harry Reid Announced that Tesla had chosen Nevada for its Gigafactory
Early in the morning session, we were apprised of the announcement later in the day of Tesla’s gigafactory moving to Nevada, which got a strong round of applause. At this point, after reading about it for so long, I’m just happy that it’s getting underway. That is the mechanism that is likely to bring down battery prices and to increase their range, which are the “driving” factors in EVs in this time period.
Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State, was the keynote speaker. She had a great speech that didn’t relent and that strongly promoted renewable energy. Below are her comments in full (getting ahold of these comments is the reason for the delay of publication of this article–worth the wait).
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Harry Reid, US Senator (D) from Nevada, was the emcee for the event. I live in Nevada and am on Senator Reid’s email list so I hear a lot from him. I had no idea how supportive he is of renewable energy until this event. Being skeptical of politicians, I questioned if it was a bit staged for this audience, but I don’t think it was contrived; I believe that he is a sincere, very strong supporter of renewable energy.
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Amory Lovins spoke and was very well received. I’ve been following his Rocky Mountain Institute for decades and get its emails so I was already familiar with his content, which is always excellent. Some of his comments follow.
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
John Podesta, Counselor to President Obama, spoke and led a panel and later interviewed Hillary Clinton after her talk.
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Dina Titus, former UNLV professor and now US Congressperson spoke. She has strong support in the local green community.
Other speakers of note were:
Henry Cisneros, Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Arun Majumdar, Stanford University, Moderator
Dymphna Van Der Lans, Clinton Climate Initiative
Yoram Bronicki, Ormat Technologies
Francesco Venturini, Enel Green Power
Deb Frodl, GE
Kathleen Drakulich, Clean Energy Project
Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture
Neera Tanden, Center for American Progress
Paul Caudill, NV Energy
Patricia Wagner, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power
Jon Huntsman, Former Governor of Utah
Jim Murren, MGM Resorts International
Elizabeth Littlefield, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
Rose McKinney-James, Clean Energy Project
Billy Parish, Mosaic
Lyndon Rive, SolarCity
Ben Bixby, Nest Labs
Alex Laskey, Opower
Rao Mulpuri, View, Inc
In the Exhibitor’s Hall
Matt Brown was at the ARES Gravity Storage System exhibit. The company uses railroad cars laden with Nevada rocks that move up and down tilted railroad beds as energy needs to be stored and used. Watch CleanTechnica for an upcoming article on this interesting system and company.
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Toyota’s 2015 FCV (fuel cell vehicle) was on exhibit. [Editor's Note: hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aren't actually green.]
Pictured with the car is Maggie, their informative and pleasant spokesmodel.
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Toyota 2015 FCV Fueling Interface.
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
The UNLV Center for Energy Research was present, discussing their academic and research programs.
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The 2015 Chevy Volt EV [Editor's Note: we love the Chevy Volt]
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Las Vegas-based work EV company XtremeGreen was present with a couple of its vehicles. It made a compelling case for converting work vehicles from diesel to EV. Watch CleanTechnica for an upcoming article on this company.
Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute was my favorite speaker of the day.
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
A few of Amory’s comments:
“Last year, China added more solar capacity than the US has added since we invented it 60 years ago.”
Choreographing energy between the different times of day is not as difficult as the utilities would have us believe. They have already built enough storage capacity for traditional energy systems to handle the task.
Even if renewables and traditional energy sources cost the same, renewables have reduced risks, which include energy stability, national energy independence, and terrorist attack risks.
For more information about Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute, including a free newsletter, please visit RMI.org.
There were panel discussions that were lively and very informative.
John Podesta led a panel with: Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah; Jim Murren, of MGM Resorts; Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of HUD; and Elizabeth Littlefield of OPIC.
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Rose McKinney-James led a panel with: Billy Parish of Mosaic: Lyndon Rive of Solar City; Ben Bixby of Nest Labs; Alex Laskey of Opower; and Rao Mulpuri of View, Inc
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
Here are various comments from the speakers.
John Podesta: “Since President Obama took office, solar energy production has increased tenfold and wind has increased by a factor of four.” [It was not made clear if these stats refer to annual development rates or not.]
Dina Titus: “Many of my colleagues in the Congress don’t share our views on climate change. They have an irresponsible response to a serious problem.”
“Nevada is third in the nation in solar with nearly 100 solar companies that call Nevada home so we should not only be able to call Nevada the Silver State, but the Solar State.”
An editorial decision has been made to include the full speeches of Senator Harry Reid and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I consider these speeches to be relevant to everyone who works in, and cares about, renewable energy.
Opening Remarks by Harry Reid at The “National Clean Energy Summit 7.0: Partnership & Progress”
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
“Welcome to the seventh annual National Clean Energy Summit.
“Our theme this year is, ‘Partnership and Progress.’
“As we gather today we are all partners in America’s push for clean, renewable energy.
“We come from different regions, different industries, and different walks of life, but we are united in purpose.
“I extend my gratitude to the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, and UNLV for again hosting this summit.
“Over the last seven years we have succeeded in making American businesses and homes more efficient when powered by renewable energy. Looking at America today, we see that just last year, 40 percent of all new electricity installed was from renewable sources.
“We’ve made remarkable progress in Nevada. Investments in our renewable energy industry and infrastructure have been good for Nevada’s economy and good for the environment. Six billion dollars have been invested in Nevada’s clean energy economy. Nevada leads the nation in both installed geothermal and solar energy capacity on a per-person basis.
“I am incredibly pleased with the hard work that helped bring Tesla to Nevada. This is great news for Nevada, but it did not happen by accident. This is a perfect example of the partnerships between private industry and government forged here at the Clean Energy Summit.
“It is appropriate we hold this event at Mandalay Bay. MGM Resorts International is an industry leader in sustainable buildings and this very convention center will soon have one of the world’s largest rooftop solar arrays.
“Above our heads will be a system capable of powering 1,000 homes with a thousand refrigerators, a thousand stoves, a thousand televisions, a thousand washers, a thousand dryers, and thousands and thousands of lights.
“I commend Jim Murren, MGM’s CEO, for demonstrating that being green is good for the environment and good for business.
“Over the last seven years we have succeeded in making American businesses and homes more efficient when powered by renewable energy.
“Looking at America today, we see that just last year, 40 percent of all new electricity installed was from renewable sources.
“Additionally the United States now has over one-hundred-and-ninety gigawatts of renewable power capacity. That’s enough to power Nevada and all of its neighbors: California, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon.
“These numbers prove that renewable energy is being embraced by businesses across America.
“And over the last two years, investment in clean energy totaled more than one hundred billion dollars.
“Clean, renewable energy is now more affordable and available than at any time in our nation’s history.
“For example, since 2010, the cost of wind power has dropped forty percent. Today, wind energy powers fifteen and a half million American homes.
“In 2013, there were four hundred thousand separate solar panel installations – that’s a forty-one percent increase from the year before.
“Over the last eighteen months, more solar panels have been installed than in the entire history of our country.
“We’ve made remarkable progress in Nevada. Investments in our renewable energy industry and infrastructure have been good for Nevada’s economy and good for the environment.
“Six billion dollars have been invested in Nevada’s clean energy economy.
“Nevada leads the nation in both installed geothermal and solar energy capacity on a per-person basis.
“We are surrounded by the development of solar energy facilities.
“Take a trip from here to Searchlight and in what was once an ancient dry lake bed, you will see four million solar panels installed, covering more than four miles, and at this site there are more projects under construction.
Searchlight, NV Solar Project. This is Harry Reid’s home town.
“Driving across Nevada, you will find five large-scale solar projects under construction that will generate more than eight hundred megawatts of electricity.
“Thirty miles to the north of Las Vegas, the Moapa Paiute Indian Reservation’s solar generation center will be a new source of economic development for the Paiute Indians and an example to Native American tribes across the country.
“To the south, near my hometown of Searchlight, another solar power facility is under development.
“To the southwest, another solar endeavor is underway. Located near Primm, and situated next to the first solar project on public lands in Nevada, this newest project will be five times the size of its neighboring solar plant.
“And to the northwest, about halfway to Reno, a solar complex with cutting edge storage technology is being developed. Located near the historic mining town of Tonopah, this technological marvel will allow solar power to be generated even when the sun isn’t shining.
“Earlier this year, two new geothermal plants went online, bringing Nevada’s total to thirty-two geothermal facilities generating five hundred and fifty megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power over four hundred thousand homes.
“And let’s not forget about the One Nevada transmission line, which is creating opportunities for clean energy projects throughout the West.
“This transmission line is the first segment of the national smart grid, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus.
“While I was able to work with developers and federal agencies to make the One Nevada line a reality, it was incredibly difficult to get done.
“In some cases it takes decades to approve new high-voltage transmission, needed for large-scale renewable projects.
“Building and improving upon America’s smart grid should not be that difficult.
“Improving our smart grid is a necessity. Our efforts to bring America’s grid into the 21st century should not be hindered by state and federal red tape.
“The advances we’ve made in Nevada are the result of hard work and collaboration between businesses, stakeholders and policymakers. But our successes did not happen by chance.
“One of the principal factors in driving Nevada’s renewable energy push is the state’s aggressive renewable portfolio standard.
“We are privileged to have Nevada leaders with us today who worked on the state’s original RPS legislation.
“Including Rose McKinney-James, part of the private sector and Chair of the non-profit Clean Energy Project. Rose has been an exemplary advocate for a new, better Nevada.
“And Jon Wellinghoff, who has served as a member and Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an incredibly important entity.
“Of all the people who I have recommended to the President to serve on boards and commissions, I’ve never been prouder of anyone than I have been of Jon.
“And that’s not just my opinion. Recently my colleague Senator Maria Cantwell, the United States Senator from the state of Washington, told me that Jon Wellinghoff was the best presidential appointment she’s ever seen.
“But like all policies, Nevada’s renewable standard needs periodic improvement.
“Just last year, I called on the Nevada Legislature to strengthen the state’s renewable energy standard. Investment in renewables was not keeping pace with Nevada’s capabilities.
“In order to get this done I worked with Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval, Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, and State Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis.
“Our work led to the mandate to replace the antiquated Reid-Gardner coal plant with clean solar energy and natural gas.
“And we closed loopholes that were watering down our renewable portfolio standard.
“Not to be outdone by state and federal efforts, Nevada’s premier corporations undertook their own efforts to become more efficient in their energy usage.
“For example, MGM Resorts International has reduced its energy consumption by fourteen percent over the last five years, while also saving two billion gallons of water.
“MGM’s CityCenter resort earned LEED Gold certification for sustainability and powers its facilities with natural gas co-generation. MGM even uses waste heat to warm its water and swimming pools.
“Progress has been made in Nevada, but the best is yet to come.
“Later this afternoon Elon Musk and Governor Brian Sandoval will officially announce Nevada as the home to Tesla’s new ‘gigafactory.’
“The gigafactory will produce lithium batteries for Tesla’s electric cars. Most importantly for Nevada, this factory will create thousands of good-paying jobs and spur economic development.
“This is great news for Nevada, but it did not happen by accident. This is a perfect example of the partnerships between private industry and government forged here at the Clean Energy Summit.
“Just two years ago, Elon Musk was here at this very event speaking about the importance of innovation and investment in clean energy.
“And now he is putting his words into action by announcing this critical investment in Nevada.
“But there is more to the story of how Tesla came to Nevada.
“Four years ago, Tesla was awarded a $465 million loan guarantee by the Department of Energy for the construction of a manufacturing facility in California.
“This loan was made possible by federal laws to incentivize advance technology vehicles, and was re-paid in full nine years ahead of schedule.
“Tesla is the company it is today because of this loan.
“And the availability of lithium helped attract Tesla to Nevada. We are home to the only operating domestic lithium facility thanks to a $28.4 grant from the Recovery Act to Rockwood Lithium in Silver Peak, Nevada. Tesla will have access to lithium, manufactured here in Nevada, for the production of their batteries.
“I am incredibly pleased with the hard work that helped bring Tesla to Nevada. This is exactly the kind of public-private partnership that is making clean energy a reality.
“To continue advancing our nation’s renewable energy portfolio, we must repel the negative forces seeking to undermine support for clean energy.
“Huge amounts of money are being spent to mislead American consumers about renewables through a sophisticated, dishonest, public relations campaign.
“And I think you know who I am talking about. [Writer's note: he's obviously talking about big oil in general and the Koch brothers in particular. Notice that he doesn't mention them by name. Is he afraid of them?]
“These negative forces are spending hundreds of millions of dollars promoting their personal empires at the expense of the American consumer.
“These negative forces and their cronies are spending massive amounts of money to mislead every level of government, desperately trying to undermine clean energy policies and incentives.
“They have even resorted to labeling those who use solar energy as quote, ‘free riders.’
“Currently, they are trying to convince states to levy surtaxes on homeowners with solar panels. Why? Because they don’t want homeowners generating their own electricity.
“These enemies of progress, and their corporate buddies, are only focused on increasing their profits. They care about their bottom line, not our future.
“This is the opposition that clean energy faces in state houses across the country. It’s a shame, because renewable energy shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
“Here in Nevada we have a Republican governor, a Democratic state legislature, and of course, I’m a Democrat.
“All take note – we didn’t let our political differences last year get in the way of Nevada’s future and energy independence.
“Other states should follow our lead.
“So what is the path forward? How do we build upon our success and protect the achievements we’ve made?
“The answer can be found in this year’s theme – ‘Partnership and Progress.’
“I’ve never believed that government involvement is the end goal, but it must be a catalyst for growth.
“Just take a look at any map of our electric grid. It is terribly inefficient. America’s grid crosses local, state, and international borders.
“The grid is not a single system, but it delivers energy to the smallest household as well as to the largest corporations.
“As leaders in government and the private sector, we must work together in making our grid stronger and more efficient.
“Through stronger, lasting partnerships, we will advance the cause of good jobs, clean energy, and a competitive economy.
“The federal government should be a partner in creating a better energy delivery system.
“Federal agencies must cooperate with state and private industry to ensure regulations are reasonable and flexible.
“Tax incentives level the playing field for clean energy. They help make renewables more affordable to consumers, and large solar and wind projects more attractive to investors.
“These investments spur clean energy growth and create hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide.
“Yet supporters of traditional energy are calling for the end of federal renewable energy tax incentives to business and families. This is wrong.
“Efforts to renew these incentives are being blocked by Republicans in Congress. In fact, earlier this year, Senate Republicans filibustered legislation that would have extended these renewable energy tax credits.
“Letting these critical incentives expire is not an option. I will bring them up for a vote before the end of the year.
“We must keep pressure on Congressional Republicans to invest in our nation’s clean energy independence.
“We know from experience that when Congress lets these incentives expire, while leaving in place permanent tax benefits for fossil fuels, renewable energy growth suffers.
“The federal government’s role must always remain, but successful partnerships must be forged at local levels to keep building our clean energy economy.
“The key players include state and local leaders, the governments they manage, as well as utilities and major energy users.
“As this summit develops, I want you to use today’s discussions to seek out reliable partners in making clean, renewable energy available to everyone.
“Your friends, family, colleagues, employees, and customers should know that renewable energy is available to them and it’s cost effective.
“We can all set examples through leadership on clean energy.
“From the rooms of City Hall, to Silicon Valley’s most prestigious boardrooms; from the halls of Congress, to the smallest home in the most humble of neighborhoods – there are many willing partners.
“Let’s build these vital partnerships to protect the progress we’ve made and help this nation’s renewable energy capacity continue into an era of unprecedented growth.
“Our guests and speakers include the world’s leading experts who are forging partnerships to refresh America’s energy supply.
“Our keynote speaker today is someone who knows about building coalitions and alliances: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“We look forward to her insight on clean energy partnerships, as well as her perspective on global affairs.
“Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is here to talk about issues of the utmost importance – climate change, drought, and the wildfires that are ravaging the West.
“We’ve seen what the disastrous combination of climate change and wildfires has wrought in Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Arizona.
“I welcome Secretary Vilsack and his expertise.
“John Podesta, who has been involved in this event since its inception, is here in his capacity as counselor to President Barack Obama.
“John will lead an all-star panel on business and climate change with MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren; Elizabeth Littlefield, CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; former Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China John Huntsman, Jr.; and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Mayor of San Antonio Henry Cisneros.
“We will also hear from clean energy entrepreneurs who are bringing the latest technology from the drawing board to the boardroom and putting it directly in consumers’ hands.
“Utility leaders will tell us how they are adopting renewable energy as consumers’ demand grows.
“And we will learn from leaders whose communities are leapfrogging traditional energy sources and adopting clean energy.
“Finally, Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and one of the nation’s leading minds on energy policy, will make a presentation entitled ‘Reinventing Fire.’
“There is no lack of experience or expertise in today’s program.
“At the first National Clean Energy Summit in 2008, President Bill Clinton challenged Nevada to become the first ‘self-sufficient clean energy state in the nation.’
“Nevada has responded and we are proving that President Clinton’s challenge is achievable.
“We have increased our renewable energy capacity five hundred percent since President Clinton’s speech. That increase is enough to power half of Las Vegas – and that’s after just six years!
“Today I want to renew this clean energy challenge for Nevada:
“We should build our clean renewable energy generation until we have at least enough capacity to cover one hundred percent of Nevada’s electric load.
“There’s simply no reason why Nevada cannot and should not achieve this goal. We have more than enough sun, wind and geothermal resources.
“We’re building up the smart grid and linking it with our neighbors.
“And our joint ventures with states like California means we can export our renewables, make the western grid more efficient, while saving consumers money.
“I repeat, I want everybody here to join me and work together in making Nevada net carbon neutral by producing enough renewable energy to cover our entire electricity load.
“William Cobbett, the famed 19th-century British writer said: ‘Men fail more often from want of perseverance not from the want of talent.’
“As I look out over this assembled audience, it’s clear we have the talent – some of the world’s greatest minds are here in this very room.
“But we cannot slow down. We cannot stumble. We must walk – and run – if necessary.
“The great philosopher and baseball player Satchel Page said: ‘Don’t look back, they may be gaining on you.’
“What I say is: We cannot look back. We must look forward. We cannot let them gain on us.
“As we push ourselves to become more innovative and less reliant on traditional energy sources, we will make President William Jefferson Clinton’s vision of energy independence a reality.”
Hillary Clinton’s speech in full
Photo Credit: JD Mumma
“Hello, good afternoon. Thank you all very much. Thank you all. It’s like a seventh inning stretch. I know it’s been– a great– great summit. I wanna thank my friend and my former colleague and leader– Senator Harry Reid for that generous introduction. And also, importantly, for leading the way here in Nevada and for our country toward a clean energy future.
“I also wanna thank the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for making this event possible. Now, this National Clean Energy Summit is in its seventh year. And it has truly become the place to be for a high-powered discussion about growing the clean energy economy.
“It’s a all hands on deck partnership from government and business, labor, academia, the nonprofit sector. And that is what it’s going to take to make real progress on our energy and climate challenges. I love the theme for this year: Partnerships and progress. And as Harry and so many others who’ve already addressed you have explained, this is the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face, as a nation and a world.
“You shouldn’t have to say the obvious, that the data is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers try to assert. Sea levels are rising. Ice caps are melting. Storms, droughts, and wildfires are wreaking havoc. Thirteen of the top fourteen warmest years have all come since 2000. And this July, scientists found levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere not seen in millions of years. So the threat is real.
“But so is the opportunity. Because if we come together to make the hard choices, the smart investments in infrastructure technology and environmental protection, America can be the clean energy superpower for the 21st century. Now, there are a lot of examples I could point to as to why that is possible.
“But just look what’s happening here in Nevada. This state has quintupled its renewable energy capacity since 2008. In the past four years, more than $5.5 billion have been invested just in this state in clean energy production and infrastructure, and today there’s been exciting news about Tesla’s major new battery plant coming to Carson City, the gigafactory.
“Now, that project alone could be worth between $4 billion and $5 billion, and most tellingly, as was reported, Nevada was competitive because it had already invested in green energy, solar, geothermal, and wind. One expert compared the importance of this new gigafactory to the Hoover Dam in terms of Nevada development.
“And that’s not all. Senator Reid helped bring together a broad coalition, including major casino companies, local tribal leaders, environmental groups, to retire one of the nation’s dirtiest coal plants. And now Nevada is expanding capacity for energy production with five utility scale solar projects. Now this kind of ambitious collection of projects are making solar power increasingly competitive with fossil fuels in this state and across the country.
“There are so many examples, the solar thermal power project in the Mojave Desert, one of the largest anywhere in the world. That means a lot of good construction jobs for people, working people here in Nevada. So we know that this is not some kind of dream. This is not aspirational. This is a reality that can be brought to scale.
“If we manage local environmental impact responsibly, and create incentives with high clean energy standards, projects of this scale could open the door to the kind of cleaner future we seek. In fact, I think it’s fair to say Nevada is now one of the leaders in our nation in solar energy. And we can be doing the same in so many other places, not only with solar, but also with wind.
“Texas and Iowa are already generating sizeable percentages of their electricity from wind. There’s no reason why other states can’t do that as well. Nevada has more geothermal projects under development than any other– any other state. So no matter whether the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, Nevada is working. The One Nevada Transmission Line has created new markets for renewable energy and hundreds of jobs.
“And clean energy jobs in Nevada, like elsewhere in the country, tend to pay higher than average wages. Thousands of dollars a year higher. And they provide good opportunities for skilled workers who don’t have four year college degrees. That means more Nevada families can be making it into the middle class, and more families can be staying in the middle class. That is the promise of a clean energy future.
“Now, the future that I envision is one where we move past, finally, the old false choice between protecting our environment and growing our economy, and instead we decide to do both. And I really appreciate Harry Reid’s leadership. You know, in the Senate he’s worked with Democrats and Republicans to champion legislation such as the Energy Independence and Security Act, which led to new fuel economy standards for vehicles; the first time that has been accomplished in 30 years.
“And he provided crucial support for President Obama’s efforts to cut carbon pollution from power plants, which will spur billions of dollars in private clean energy investment, improve air quality, and respiratory health particularly for our children, and make a measurable dent in harmful emissions.
“But– as proud as I am of my friend Harry Reid, and as impressed as I am by what Nevada has already done, we can do and must do even more. Because while we can all be proud that domestic electricity generation from wind, solar, and geothermal more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, we still have a long way to go.
“China and other competitors are racing ahead with big bets on renewables. We cannot afford to cede leadership in this area. Our economic recovery our efforts against climate change, our strategic position in the world all will improve if we can build a safe bridge to a clean energy economy. Now, part of that bridge will certainly come from natural gas.
“There are challenges here to be sure. But the boom in domestic gas production is an example of American innovation changing the game. And if we do it right, it can be good for both the environment and our economy. With the right safeguards in place, gas is cleaner than coal. And expanding production is creating tens of thousands of new jobs. And lower costs are helping give the United States a big competitive advantage in energy intensive industries.
“We are also reducing our dependence on foreign oil and freeing up supplies elsewhere. That enables us to help out, for example, European allies lessen their dependence on Russian energy. But to capitalize on this boom, we have to face head-on the legitimate, pressing environmental concerns about some new extraction practices and their impacts on local water, soil, and air supplies.
“Methane leaks in the production and transportation of natural gas are particularly troubling. So it’s crucial that we put in place smart regulations, and enforce them, including deciding not to drill when the risks are too high. And if we keep making progress in developing technologies to capture and contain methane leaks, that’s something we could export all over the world.
“In the end, to make sure that natural gas is an effective bridge fuel, we must keep moving forward on renewables, and the kind of sustainable clean energy future we seek. Now, today I don’t need to tell you that tax incentives for alternative energy investments are unpredictable at best. While generous subsidies for fossil fuels are still too easy to come by. In fact, the world spends more than $500 billion subsidizing fossil fuels every year, bloating budgets, and creating incentives against innovation and progress.
“President Obama and I and the team negotiated with nations around the world to begin phasing out these costly subsidies, which could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 10% or more by 2050. But I know we can do better. We can create a positive environment for private sector innovation and risk taking, with targeted tax incentives, a commitment to research and development, and policies that encourage rather than undercut the transition to clean, renewable sources of energy.
“We can invest in the infrastructure of the future, including next generation power plants to produce electricity more cleanly, smarter grids to dev– deliver it more effectively, greener buildings to use it more efficiently. At this point, it’s actually know a lot about what works.
“Now, I know that some of you have worked with or certainly have heard about the Clinton Climate Initiative, which my husband started some years ago through our foundation, and whose director, Dymphna van der Lans, you heard from earlier today. Well, the Clinton Climate Initiative is working with private and public sector partners to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency, and spur investments in green construction, including through some innovative new financing tools.
“It has a program called the Home Energy Affordable Loan Program. And if you take the first letters of those words, it’s called HEAL. And HEAL works a little like a 401K or a health savings account, saving families as much as $500 a year in utility expenses. And the return on investment is up to about 23%.
“I’m delighted that a growing number of companies, cities, and states are getting involved, from California to Michigan to North Carolina. Imagine if every casino in Las Vegas retrofitted to improve energy efficiency, and if they made it possible for all their employees to do the same at their homes. Think of the savings. Think of the jobs.
“Now, the Clinton Climate Initiative helped retrofit the Empire State Building, 2.8 million square feet of office space, 275 jobs created over two years. And the building’s annual energy consumption dropped by 38%, worth roughly $4.4 million a year. Then in 2011, at the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago, the AFL-CIO committed to raise $10 billion from pension funds to invest in green building construction and retrofitting for commercial, industrial, and public buildings, and to set up programs to train workers to do that.
“To date, $10.2 billion has been pledged by pension funds nationwide. Twenty percent of that money has been already deployed. Projects have generated more than 30,000 jobs. About $540 million has been invested in efficiency, rehab, and retrofit. And another $240 million in 15 new LEED certified projects from the AFL-CIO’s own housing investment trust.
“We need more partnerships like that, especially with utility companies on board, helping to figure out the financing, and making sure the savings end up in the pockets of consumers. If utilities become as committed to building new capacity through efficiency as they are through new supply, then we really will make progress. And that’s just the beginning of what’s possible.
“Good ideas are everywhere you look. For example, Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman, two students at Harvard, created a soccer ball that harnesses kinetic energy with every kick, and can power a lamp for three hours from just 30 minutes of play by children. They brought that idea to the Clinton Global Initiative and just blew everybody away.
“And that ball is now being used in six countries where soccer is universal, but electricity is not. So if two college students– if two college students can figure out a way to light up entire communities, imagine what we can do as a country if we all roll up our sleeves and get to work.
“Now, rumor has it that Apple will soon unveil their iPhone 6. When they do, millions of Americans and millions of people elsewhere will rush to get their hands on this latest prize of 21st century technology. Yet, when they plug their shiny, new devices into the wall, they’ll be relying on an electric grid that was built in the 1950s, and still uses technology from the 1960s and ’70s. We can do a lot better. Because with a true 21st century smart grid, we could, for example, time our dishwashers or air conditioners to turn on when demand for power is less and costs are lower.
“We could manage stresses on the grid, cutting peak demand to avoid blackouts. Now, blackouts occur about 285% more often today than in 1984, and cost businesses and consumers billions of dollars a year. If the public and private sectors put aside politics and came together to get this done, I think wit’s could accomplish it before the iPhone 7 came out.
“Now, all of this work at home is crucial to what we want to achieve abroad. Because America’s ability to lead the world on climate and energy hinges on our commitment to act ourselves. No other country will fall in line just because we tell them to; they need to see us taking significant steps of our own. And I know a little bit about how hard it is to mobilize progress on a global scale. But there’s no way to tackle this challenge without doing that.
“When President Obama and I went to Copenhagen in 2009 to a global climate change conference, we ran into a brick wall of opposition, from countries like China and India, which have become the world’s largest emitters. The President and I literally had to crash a secret meeting between the Chinese, the Indians, the Brazilians, and the South Africans to force the issue. I write about it in my book, Hard Choices, because we couldn’t figure out where all these people were, the leaders we knew were at the meeting.
“But we couldn’t find them to have the meeting with them about how to make progress. And then we heard they were having a secret meeting. So we embarked on a footcade, which is the pedestrian version of a motorcade. Charging through this big convention center to where we heard they were, going up the stairs, being told by the Chinese security officials to go this way when the meeting was that way.
“I’ll never forget seeing the President glide by flustered officials, while I ducked under the outstretched arms of the Chinese security guards. And then the look on the leaders’ faces when we finally sat down at the table. The President announced, “I’ve been looking for all of you.” But our persistence paid off. Thanks to the agreement that we hammered out there for the first time, all major economies, developed and developing alike, agreed to make national commitments to curb carbon emissions through 2020, and to report transparently on their mitigation efforts.
“Now, we know that was just a bare beginning. But it did provide a foundation to build on for the subsequent meetings. And in 2015 there will be a summit. Even before that, this year, in fact in two weeks in New York, the UN Secretary General will host a high level meeting on climate change. And then when the leaders themselves return– to a summit in Paris in 2015, there will be the hope of achieving a strong agreement, applicable to all.
“But the United States would not have a strong hand to play if President Obama and his exemplary team, including my friend John Podesta, was not pushing forward on so many fronts to demonstrate American leadership, despite our political gridlock. To show the world we are serious about meeting our obligations, and that the United States can still do big things.
“President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the new EPA rules have put us in a strong position. Now we have to step up and build on that progress. Not just our government, but our private sector, our civil society, our research institutions and universities, indeed, our families and communities.
“Because I know we can do better. And when we do work together, we can make progress despite all of the obstacles. We can make America the clean energy superpower our world needs. We can leave our children, and yes, our potential grandchildren, a healthy and sustainable future. This summit has produced a lot of terrific ideas. People who are already committed and acting come here to listen to each other, to learn, to share what you’re doing.
“That’s a truly American experience. I went to 112 countries when I was Second of State. And I came away even more optimistic about what we can do if we decide, once again, that we’re in the futures business in America. That we’re going to forge ahead, no matter who’s on the other side of the political aisle, no matter who’s complaining, no matter who’s trying to hang on to the status quo, no matter what they say or do.
“We can develop a consensus for action. And as we do, the work that so many of you have already done will serve as our guide an example. We have to bring it to scale. We have to make it replicable. But I’m absolutely confident we can forge the kind of clean energy future that our children and grandchildren deserve, before it’s too late. Thank you all very much.”
Conclusion to National Clean Energy Summit 7.0
Overall, this conference was a success. Many connections were made and much was learned. Some leading environmental companies were here to show off their wares and ideas. The quality of the speeches and the panels were excellent.
Thanks to JD Mumma, my friend and fellow vegan Las Vegan (people from Las Vegas are called Las Vegans) for the great photos.