Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘Energy investments’ tag

Gov’t Energy “Investments” Need to Be Structured for Returns

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Government investments in energy infrastructure, which I see as potentially very positive and soon maybe even absolutely necessary, should be structured so that there will be returns on those investments. Yeah, so obvious it almost goes without saying, but a quick look at government projects in the past shows diverse aims and results, with successful and woeful examples.

Similar or at least tangential to what I argued in a post earlier this summer, government is often necessary to lay the groundwork on worthy projects that may not be profitable for years to come but will be highly beneficial to our country’s citizens and our economy.

Airplane travel would not likely be anything like what we enjoy today were it not for massive government spending in aviation earlier in the 20th Century. The luxuries we enjoy with our cars would not be possible if not for government spending on roads and, as we are seeing ever more clearly, the auto industry.

Some might argue that government spending on the auto industry has been a disaster. This is my point exactly: If energy spending is not structured properly, it will simply be a drain on our tax dollars for decades. But if these government programs are strategically designed with the aim of gaining actual economic returns on tax dollars invested, they will be hugely beneficial to our country.

One could also argue that these examples of government spending have been an enormous and destructive drain on our energy resources. I can’t disagree with that point either, but that’s for another discussion.

  • OCTOBER 2, 2010, 6:50 A.M. ET

Obama Touts Clean Energy in Weekly Speech

By MAYA JACKSON RANDALL

WASHINGTON—U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday touted his administration’s energy policy agenda, predicting that his clean energy programs will create “hundreds of thousands” of new American jobs by 2012.

[…]

“There is perhaps no industry with more potential to create jobs now—and growth in the coming years—than clean energy,” said Mr. Obama.

Read the entire article here.

CEOs urge gov’t to spend on energy: Who benefits later?

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These captains of industry make some excellent points regarding why the U.S. government should increase spending on energy. In this economy and with our present budget situation, increasing spending on anything is a tough sell. But since energy is such a vital component of a healthy economy, and our energy matrix appears increasingly tenuous in the decades to come, it makes sound sense.

What may be difficult is to gauge to what extent this is private companies asking for government spending on technologies that are not now profitable, just so that they can swoop in and make money once we tax payers have laid the groundwork.

A perfect example is in the net neutrality discussions presently happening in Congress. Unlike phones lines and roads, which were paid for almost exclusively with tax payer dollars, the wires and other physical infrastructure for the internet were paid for by much more private investment. The innovation may have started with some government programs such as ARPAnet and, of course, Al Gore, but then companies invested in the infrastructure once the technology became feasible.

Now those companies that made those investments are saying they have every right to decide how much bandwidth should be devoted to which users, corporate, citizen, government, and otherwise. It’s hard not to agree. Those wires are not public goods.

Deciding how to deploy these systems in the pipeline, who pays and who profits, will require active citizen engagement to monitor government and private activities with technologies that may seem unintelligible or even uninteresting, but are so essential to all of us.

Corporate Heavies Urge Tripling U.S. Clean-Energy Funding

By MICHAEL BURNHAM of Greenwire
Published: June 10, 2010

A new council composed of General Electric Co. CEO Jeff Immelt, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and other corporate executives is urging the federal government to more than triple investments in clean-energy technologies to boost the nation’s economic competitiveness and protect the environment.

[…]

“We know from our business experience that if you only give a fraction of what’s required to be a success, you will not be a success,” said council member Chad Holliday, chairman of Bank of America Corp. and former CEO of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

[…]

“The world is not going to wait for the United States to lead,” Immelt said. “This is about innovation; this is about competition; this is about energy security.”

Read the entire article here.

From Big Oil to Big Gas

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Well, what to do? It seems the decision about whether or not to continue investment in renewable energy is far from made. Sure, we’re not eliminating our use of oil, gas, or coal any time soon, nor should we. They are extremely efficient resources, in both energetic and economic terms, but, as has been shown in other posts on this site, as well as by many others, that between their finite nature and the negative economic and environmental externalities, we need to reduce our reliance on these fossil sources. The first step, of course, is to use energy much, much more efficiently. It doesn’t matter how “clean” or “green” the source, if it’s being wasted then it is not responsible usage. But even with the most efficient use possible, there will still be a need, within the next two or three generations if not already, to find cleaner, renewable sources of energy. How to accomplish this is clearly much more difficult. Having the government swoop in and regulate industry is not a method of which I am fond. But industry, like government, is merely a tool of We the People, the consumers, the citizens. Whether it is with our votes for elected officials, the dollars we spend on goods and services—all of which require energy—or the voices we use to speak to our providers, our neighbors, our listeners and readers, we have the ability to guide these tools the way we believe is most efficient and effective.

By LOREN STEFFY Copyright 2009

Dec. 17, 2009, 7:27PM

The smartest money in energy is now betting against renewables.

Exxon Mobil Corp. will no doubt continue to dabble in alternative energy ventures such as converting algae to fuel, but its acquisition of Fort Worth-based XTO Energy is a $31 billion bet that renewables simply aren’t viable enough to meet U.S. energy needs during the next two or three decades.

Instead, the XTO purchase shows Exxon Mobil believes the near future will be powered by natural gas. In what may be the most significant deal in the Oil Patch since, well, Exxon bought Mobil, energy’s 8,000-pound gorilla has revealed its main strategy for dealing with both climate change legislation and the declining primacy of oil.

Exxon Mobil and other major oil companies have been struggling for years to find large new deposits of crude. The rise of government-controlled reserves worldwide and political instability in places such as Iraq and Nigeria have left them with few options.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

December 18th, 2009 at 11:36 am