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Podcast

Podcast

Taking stock of ESG risks for U.S. utilities

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks are becoming increasingly important to judging the credit worthiness of electric utilities, especially as climate change makes their work more challenging. On this episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Jim Hempstead, a managing director in Moody’s Global Project and Infrastructure Finance Group. In his role at Moody’s, one of the largest credit ratings firms in the world, Jim helps oversee the North American Regulated Utility and Power Team. He also heads Moody’s working group in charge of ESG issues in the Americas. In the conversation with Bill, Jim makes clear that defining ESG standards is still very much a work in progress for the credit rating firms and the companies they assess for credit worthiness. Nevertheless, ESG metrics are an important means of evaluating the utility sector where shifts…

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Podcast

A Boston formula for clean tech success

Innovation has resulted in remarkable advances in clean energy technology, like solar and wind energy systems that are becoming increasingly competitive in the U.S. And more breakthroughs are coming, as ambitious scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs make headway on products and services that will change the way we produce, use and save energy. But getting a good head start on innovation is challenging for pioneers, who often lack the wherewithal to design, build and test their inventions. That’s where institutions like Greentown Labs can play a big role. In this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange, I visit Greentown Labs in Somerville, Mass., and meet with its CEO, Emily Reichert to talk about the outlook for clean technology in the U.S. and what programs like hers can do to help entrepreneurs get a good head start. Greentown Labs bills itself as…

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Podcast

Restoring electricity in Puerto Rico-an inside look

Hurricane Maria was one of the most devastating storms to ever hit the United States, leaving a path of death and destruction across Puerto Rico last September. The electric grid faced extensive damage that put virtually the entire population without power for weeks and months. On this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, host Bill Loveless talks to Carlos Torres, a former official with Consolidated Edison in New York, and the man assigned by the Governor of Puerto Rico with the difficult task of coordinating the restoration of electricity for the island. Carlos spent more than 30 years at Con Ed managing emergency management and storm restoration efforts, including overseeing the utility’s response to major storms like Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, and emergencies like the September 11 attack at the World Trade Center and the 2003 Northeast…

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Climate, Podcast

Absent national policy, U.S. climate action takes many forms

Leaders from around the world will gather in San Francisco Sept. 12-14 to celebrate the achievements of states, regions, cities, corporations and others at the sub-national level with respect to climate action. Organizers of the Global Climate Action Summit say the meeting will also serve as a launch pad for deeper commitments to put the world on track to prevent dangerous climate change and realize the historic Paris agreement – even as the U.S. government under the Trump administration takes a different course. On this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, I talk to Carter Roberts, the president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the United States. WWF is one of the partners in the Global Climate Action Summit, along with other groups including C40Cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ceres and the United Nations Foundation. Among the topics we touched on are…

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Podcast

What lies in store for U.S. LNG exports?

The U.S. is becoming a leader in the global market for liquefied natural gas (LNG), amid record gas production at home and growing demand for the fuel abroad. What opportunities does that present for the U.S.? And what challenges follow from this changing global market? In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless sits down with Meg Gentle, the president and CEO of Tellurian Inc. Bill and Meg got together outside the World Gas Conference in Washington, D.C., to talk about the emergence of the LNG export business in the U.S. and the opportunities for sales of gas in China, Europe and the rest of the world. They also discussed potential obstacles to growth in that business, including the prospect of trade wars between the U.S. and other nations. Finally, they touched on her status as one of…

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Podcast, Policy

“What’s the value of national security?”

The Trump administration continues to look for ways to keep old coal and nuclear power plants operating, as lower-cost natural gas and renewable energy offers cheaper alternatives for generating electricity. A new proposal under consideration at the U.S. Department of Energy takes a new tact on the topic, claiming ongoing retirements of coal and nuclear plants presents a national security risk to the U.S., given growing concerns over the vulnerability of the grid to cyber and even physical attacks. If nothing else, the thinking goes, coal and nuclear plants have the advantage of storing fuel on-site rather than relying on pipelines, as is the case with gas power plants, or intermittent supplies of solar and wind energy. Here, in a Columbia Energy Exchange podcast with me, DOE’s assistant secretary for electricity, Bruce Walker, speaks out on the national-security rationale for…

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Environment, Oil, Podcast

Columbia Energy Exchange: Oil Drilling in Cuba

Will Cuba try to drill again for oil off its coast any time soon? And if it does, how safely will it be done? And what happens if there is a spill? In this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, I was pleased to sit down with a foremost expert on Cuba, Dan Whittle of the Environmental Defense Fund, to discuss ongoing efforts by Cuba and the U.S. to promote safe oil drilling despite new political tensions between Washington and Havana. We sat down outside a conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., organized by Lee Hunt and Brian Petty, two former officials of the International Association of Drilling Contractors. Let me know what you think!

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Electricity, Natural Gas, Podcast, Regulations

Columbia Energy Exchange: Regulators in the Trenches

Interest in energy policy often focuses on Washington, where actions by the Trump administration, Congress and agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission receive much of the attention. But it’s easy to forget how much happens in the states, where utility commissioners play a big role in determining how energy is delivered to consumers and at what cost. That’s why I sat down with John “Jack” Betkoski III, the new president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, in this latest episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast. Listen to it here, and let me know what you think!

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Energy, Environment, Podcast, Policy

Columbia Energy Exchange: Trump on Energy, Environment So Far

President Trump came into office one year ago promising to “Make America Great Again” by turning upside down the policies of his predecessors, including those involving energy and the environment. Some would say he’s been as effective in leaving his mark in these areas as anywhere else. To take stock of the Trump administration effect on energy and environmental policies, I turned to two of the leading journalists covering the topic in Washington: Lisa Friedman of the New York Times and Steve Mufson of the Washington Post. Listen here to this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange, and let me know what you think!

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Podcast

Columbia Energy Exchange: Mauricio Gutierrez

My first Columbia Energy Exchange podcast of 2018 with one of the new leaders in the U.S. electric power industry. This comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission prepares to respond to a Trump administration plan to aid old coal and nuclear plants, and the U.S. power sector faces even more disruption. Mauricio Gutierrez, the CEO of NRG Energy, responds frankly to these developments. I enjoyed the conversation! Listen here.

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