Clinton Cleantech Pledges: 8 Utilities, Standard Charter, Solar Thermal

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While Governor Schwarzenegger chanted for “action, action, action” on global warming at the UN climate summit on Monday, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talked up the importance of maintaining the economy through emissions reductions at the White House climate meetings yesterday, leave it to the Clinton Global Initiative to announce some real cleantech progress at its meeting this week.

Founded in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) touted the fact that it had secured 100 commitments in the first 24 hours of the year’s meeting. Yeah, that’s just PR-speak, but among those promises were several significant ones:

Standard Chartered’s $8 billion to $10 billion Clean Energy Pledge:
This is a biggie — Standard Chartered Bank said that over the next five years, it will commit to underwrite between $4 billion and $5 billion in debt for renewable energy projects, with a total project value of between $8 billion and $10 billion. The funds will target clean energy like wind, hydro, geothermal, solar, and biomass in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

PG&E Hearts Solar
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PCG) says it will double its existing commitments to buy solar thermal electric power, adding 1,000 megawatts (MW) over the next five years. The utility is working with Ausra, BrightSource and Solel. Solar thermal companies say the technology could offer enough clean power to replace coal.

FPL Group’s $2.4B Clean Energy Plan:
FPL Group (FPL) announced a $2.4 billion investment program aimed at increasing U.S. solar thermal energy output and reducing carbon emissions. This includes an investment of up to $1.5 billion in solar thermal plants in Florida and California, starting with a project at the company’s Florida Power & Light unit, and an investment of up to $500 million for a smart network.

8 Utility Energy Efficiency Commitments:
Eight utilities — Con Edison, Duke Energy (DUK), Edison International (EIX), Great Plains Energy (GXP), Pepco Holdings (POM), PNM Resources (PNM), Sierra Pacific Resources (SRP) and Xcel Energy (XEL) — say they will work on regulatory reforms that could increase their investment in energy efficiency by $500 million annually to about $1.5 billion annually.

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What about Obama’s stance on this?

Obama and vice president-elect Joe Biden both have said they support finding cleaner ways to burn coal. But during the campaign, Obama told a newspaper that electricity rates could soar under his energy plan, while Biden told a voter in Ohio that “we’re not supporting clean coal” — though he has said the U.S. should develop clean coal technology and export it to China.

“It’s the frustration of uncertainty, based probably on the lack of understanding of how important a component of America’s energy structure coal is,” Raney said.

Obama’s energy plan includes mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. He also proposed a 10-year $150 billion fund for biofuels, wind, solar, plug-in hybrids, clean-coal technology and other “climate-friendly” measures, and would require utilities to produce 25 percent of power from renewable energy by 2025.


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