Copenhagen: U.S. Energy Secretary Highlights Power of the Stimulus Funds


Focusing on a few high-profile U.S. positions at Copenhagen, it’s easy to get discouraged about what the U.S. is bringing to the table at the climate change negotiations. State Department special climate envoy Todd Stern is already calling two draft proposals nonstarters, and then there’s Sen. Jim Inhofe and his “truth squads” that plan to arrive next week. But Secretary of Energy Steven Chu gave a speech in Copenhagen on Sunday at the Bright Green Expo (and will be making a speech Monday as well) which focused on the large amount of funding that the U.S. has already committed to a clean energy economy through the stimulus package.

While Chu didn’t announce any big news during his speech (though we’re hearing tomorrow he could announce DOE funding for “technology transfer”), he seemed to reassure conference attendees that the U.S. is already committed to the negotiations through its actions. At the Kronborg event on Saturday night business leaders were saying the same thing about China: The country’s actions of investing billions in clean energy speak a lot more loudly than its muddled words on the world stage, said several execs I spoke with.

Still, there’s less than a week left for the COP15 negotiators to come to some sort of agreement for world emission reductions, and the U.S. is once again — like with the Kyoto protocol — looking like it’s going to be the key roadblock. The Copenhagen event has featured many U.S. politicians (most making speeches in the U.S. expo at COP15) but few with any plans or commitments to try to up the emissions targets put forth by the Obama administration this month.

Chu, like the rest of the Obama administration, is sticking to the party line and highlighting what the U.S. has done domestically already. Chu’s speech highlighted the stimulus package investments in home and commercial building energy retrofits, solar power technology, carbon capture and sequestration, wind energy technology, transportation, energy storage and the next generation of technology down the road, or as Chu called that early stage tech, “some of the crazier stuff.” Examples of “high-risk, high-reward,” technology that was funded with the ARPA-E stimulus grants include a liquid battery that could scale to “swimming pool size” and a technology that has been inspired by an enzyme used by the human body to capture carbon, pointed out Chu.




With the government stepping up incentives to encourage energy saving by home owners we are seeing a serious increase in the “step up” by energy saving scam perpetrators.

The most serious of these is around power factor correction. The high end systems carry a price tag of up to $1,500.00, and with that amount of money come door to door and other nasty selling tactics. The worst of these is the free energy audit as a way to get inside the home, and to use the home owners own information on power factor as the plarfrom to mislead.

There is NO saving to home owners for correcting their home power factor. The technical details can be found in this article.

There are a number of lesser scams, the most common being a plan to build a Free Perpetual Motion Magnetic generator, a DIY solar panel, and a DIY windmill. If you see any of these run …..

The scams have hijacked the internet. They have 1000’s of pages of content, including content that speaks rebuts the scam complaints, and is optimized to searches investigating the validity of the claims. The only solution is to limit the sites and authors you believe to those like this (thanks Katie), and others like it where there is a commitment to quality information.

Here is a link to the most offensive of these , a company called Earth4Energy

There are no government rebates for any of the products being promoted this way, check for valid Energy Star certifications and remember that the search results have been manipulated by these scam sellers and resellers.


As we pay attention to what the US Government, and other world bodies are doing, there is a temptation to forget the simple actions we can control.

Katie – thanks for what you are doing in this article.

So as we return to work on Monday, can I remind us to pay attention to our own energy consumption, at home and in the workplace.

I continue to be surprised, despite all the work we are doing at open4energy to measure energy use in homes – lights, appliances and such – at the saving we miss. The latest of these has been 12 stubborn bulbs that I had not replaced with CFL’s – mostly as I could not source suitable replacements at a reasonable price.

I finally found CFL replacements and installed them. I was shocked at the visual of what a 75% saving in lighting energy is, monitored on our bedroom/bathroom circuit using a Wattsup SC20 monitor.

I hope this will be a reminder for us to pay attention to both our global energy issues, and the energy use in our personal lives.

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