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Podcast

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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Energy, Podcast, Policy

Columbia Energy Exchange: Spencer Abraham

America’s energy fortunes have certainly changed over the past dozen years or so. Just that recently, the nation’s ability to satisfy its oil and natural gas appetite at home was uncertain, and reliance on foreign supplies seemed likely to increase. How times have changed! Today, the U.S. is once again a world leader in oil and gas production, even exporting oil for the first time in decades and gas for the first time ever. This turnabout has happened as solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy gain ground in the U.S., as their costs decline. And combined with gas, they are forcing old coal and nuclear power plants to go out of business. What have we learned from this shift in energy fortunes? And has U.S. energy policy kept pace with the changes? In a new Columbia Energy Exchange…

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Climate, Podcast, Policy

Columbia Energy Exchange: Senator Maria Cantwell

With the UN climate summit underway in Germany, the latest developments in climate change are receiving fresh attention, including the extent to which global warming contributes to the severity of hurricanes, wild fires and other natural disasters. Heaven knows, we’ve had plenty of reminders recently with the devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and widespread fires in western states. In this new episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, I talk to Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, about a new report she and Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, just received from the U.S. Government Accountability Office tabulating the astonishing costs of natural disasters in this country, costs which will only escalate sharply if current patterns persist. Tune in, and let me know what you think. And, if you haven’t done so yet, subscribe to this podcast from the Columbia University…

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cyber security, Electricity, Infrastructure, NERC, Podcast

Cyber attacks on U.S grid: How likely?

In the latest Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, I talk with Marcus Sachs, the chief security officer at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, about recent incidents and what they tell us about the vulnerability of the U.S. grid to cyber attacks. Marc describes as well as anyone I know the risks that computer hacks pose for the electricity infrastructure and the steps being taken by the power industry and the government to guard against such attacks. Not surprisingly for someone from the industry, he’s confident in its ability to keep the lights on. But just as significantly, he also makes clear that dealing with such intrusions is no easy task, and one that demands constant vigilance. Please take a listen to our 30-minute discussion, and let me know what you think.

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Blog, Podcast

Columbia Energy Exchange: Jay Faison

With the devastation from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the repercussions of climate change are getting more attention, especially the extent to which global warming may intensify the impact of storms. From a policy standpoint, the question is whether climate change will receive broader consideration in Washington as hurricanes, wild fires and other natural calamities wreak havoc in the U.S. and neighboring nations. In the latest Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, I talk with Jay Faison, the founder and CEO of the ClearPath Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting conservative support for clean energy. Granted, our conversation took place before Harvey and Irma. But even then, Jay claimed growing interest among Republicans in weighing the implications of climate change and eyeing solutions. “We’ve got 20, 30 Republicans out on different caucuses stating the problem,” he told me. “I can tell you behind…

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Electricity, Infrastructure, Podcast

Columbia Energy Exchange: Barry Perry

Barry Perry is a chief executive from a remote region of Canada whose company is gradually becoming a major player in North America’s electric power industry. We sat down recently for a discussion on the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast. From St. John’s, Newfoundland, the oldest city in North America, Perry runs Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned utility in Canada. Since 2004, the company’s assets in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean have grown ten-fold to $48 billion. Fortis’ most recent acquisition, one that really put it on the map in the U.S., was ITC, the biggest electric transmission company in America, at a price of $11.3 billion. We visited with each other during one of his visits to Washington to talk about the electric and natural gas business in the U.S. and Canada, the different energy policies of the two…

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