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Russ Choma, Covering the Green Economy
 

Russ Choma, Covering the Green Economy

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Russ Choma, investigative reporter for

Russ Choma, investigative reporter for
Investigative Reporting Workshop, presented this slideshow in Los Angeles at Covering the Green Economy, a Western Perspective.

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    Russ Choma, Covering the Green Economy Russ Choma, Covering the Green Economy Presentation Transcript

    • Funding the future of the green economy
    • Russ Choma
      rchoma@investigativereportingworkshop.org
      202.885.3633
      @russchoma
    • http://investigativereportingworkshop.org
      Founded in Spring 2008 by Charles Lewis and Wendell Cochran
      Bartlett & Steele: “America What Went Wrong”
      Broadband
      Frontline: “Flying Cheap”
      iLab
    • http://investigativereportingworkshop.org/investigations/wind-energy-funds-going-overseas/
      Stimulus money going overseas
      Projects built before stimulus
      Lobbyists/financiers/Chinese manufacturers
    • Green Energy: Where are we at?
      We’re not #1.
      Much more serious than ever before.
      All about the government – very, very dependent industry.
      Policy and incentives.
    • Green Energy: Where are we at?
      Not as bleak as you might imagine.
      Surprisingly bi-partisan.
      Big Business.
      Lobbying – they aren’t defenseless anymore.
      On the federal level, the biggest news is:
      Continued stimulus money
      Renewable Energy Standard
      28 states, including California already have some form.
    • Frame #1: Greenwashing
      “unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue”
      You have to parse the truth from the hype
      Just as true in the energy world, particularly anything involving politics, as in the grocery store.
    • What is a green job?
      • The Department of Labor definition: “Green jobs must either be in industries that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources, or must be jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly.”
      • Monica Potts, at American Prospect wrote a really fantastic piece about this a few months ago, and she points out the trouble of “green purpose” versus “green execution”: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=why_call_them_green
      • Metro driver?
      • Diesel truck driver?
      • Diesel truck driver hauling a wind turbine?
      • Diesel truck driver hauling a wind turbine today, but turbine for coal plant tomorrow?
    • Why?
      Hope Swallowed By Hype
      The inherent bias is that we all really want to believe in this…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6XF-gc-4VE
      Sheer size/technical aspects
      Dealing with the federal bureaucracy can be intimidating or overwhelming.
      Inclination to accept official or authoritative sounding word.
      Editors don’t want to deal with it
      Inaccurate Data
    • Green Energy Story In General
      Casual use of “green” – there are many who count nuclear as green energy because it has a low carbon footprint… is it?
      Near automatic acceptance of a narrative of a “green” economic revolution and the miracles it can bring.
      Not to say it isn’t possible, but we are very far behind and on a very slow pace.
      Over-promising:
      “To tell someone who has been making auto transmissions that they can make a gearbox for a wind turbine … is foolish. (The idea that) every automotive stamper can enter the industry – it just isn’t going to happen… it's not for everybody.” – John Colm, president GLWN
    • Confusion = good for reporters
      On the one hand, it means you really need to consider every statement about “green” with a critical eye.
      On the other hand, there are some very good stories that need to be explored… Even if Judy Cleaves isn’t representative of a sustainable positive economic trend, it doesn’t mean it isn’t an intriguing story – it just needs to be investigated.
    • Frame #2: Green Jobs & Polar Bears
      What is it we’re trying to accomplish?
      Environmental concerns?
      Economic concerns?
      Don’t always go well together
      Politically convenient, but it’s an alliance that is beginning to fray
    • Jerry Brown
      “Clean Energy Jobs Plan”
      “As we face the devastation to our job market caused by the mortgage meltdown and the Wall Street debacle, we need to find a way to get California working again. Investing in clean energy and increasing efficiency are central elements of rebuilding our economy. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, build the businesses of the 21st century, increase energy independence, and protect public health.”
    • Federal Incentives
      Stimulus dollars still flowing
      Section 1603 grants
      30 percent of the cost of building
      After-the-fact, but no strings attached, very quick direct-deposit of cash
      $5.9 billion ($171 million in the month of January)
      1,878 projects
      259 projects/$325.8 million in California alone
      All 1603 grants: http://bit.ly/All1603
      California 1603 grants: http://bit.ly/California1603
    • ORNI 18 LLC
      Geothermal plant in Brawley, Calif. (Imperial Valley)
      $108 million grant in August 2010
      At least a $360 million project
      Largest geothermal project
      Built by a Bakersfield, Calif. Company for Ormat: http://www.pclindustrialservices.com/projects/Archived/6210069/index.aspx
      50 megawatt capacity, operating far below
    • Section 1603
      Fantastic resource for finding stories
      Bloom Box
      Trends
      Big Box Stores: http://bit.ly/bigboxstores
      Many more trends:
      http://www.slideshare.net/BizJournalism/russ-choma-stimulus-covering-the-green-economy
    • 48c Tax Credits (in brief)
      Actual tax credit, announced in January
      Competitive selection
      $2.3 billion, at least 38 states, 185 projects
      Matched by up to $5.4 billion
      http://bit.ly/48cTaxCreditList
      Many got some coverage, but not always good.
    • Other Stimulus To Follow
      DOE’s list of incentive programs: http://www.energy.gov/recovery/renewablefunding.htm
      Spreadsheet of all: http://bit.ly/AllEnergyStimulus
      Clean coal?
      Research?
      Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program
      At least a dozen Native American groups
    • Local Incentives
      Many of these projects hinge on getting more help – beyond the stimulus.
      Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency: http://www.dsireusa.org/
      Pennsylvania model:
      State focused on supply chain.
      Feb. 19, 2010, state gave out $22.8 million in federal stimulus dollars to three wind farms … if they bought Gamesa turbines.
      What’s your state/city doing – is it competitive? Balance benefits to company with benefits to residents? Are there guarantees?
      Local incentives
      Attracting business
      Using government buying power
    • Renewable Portfolio Standard
      http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Renewables/index.htm
      20 percent by 2010, and (theoretically) 33 percent by 2020
      Mandates a market, huge driver
      Great source of information:
      Lots of documentation
      Status of RPP projects: http://bit.ly/RPS-Status
      In-state vs. out-of-state
    • Green Small Businesses
      Local incentives attract local businesses
      Wind and geothermal are big, solar is small
      Small is growing
      76 percent of Section 1603 has gone to solar
      83 percent of the projects in California are less than $1 million (total project cost $3 million)
    • Tip: Don’t Skip the Background Check
      Lots of money attracts people with checkered pasts and no experience.
      Atlantic City Press 1/2/2010: “Financial incentives bring renewable energy business- but not experience.”
      Secretary of State Websites, corporation look-ups
      Brief history of business, key executives, ownership, subsidiaries, linked companies, etc.
      Fresh Air Energy 1 LLC, EcoPlexus
      ProPublica: “How to run a background check on companies awarded stimulus contracts”
      Criminal/Tax issues
      Bans on contracting
      Workplace safety records
      Environmental record
      Lobbying records
      http://www.propublica.org/feature/how-to-run-a-background-check-on-companies-awarded-stimulus-contracts-520
    • Other Resources
      Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data.cfm
      Profile of every power plant, fuel, production, energy used/energy produced, etc.
      http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/page/eia906_920.html
      FERC: Every transaction, made by every power plant:
      http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/eqr/data.asp
      California PUC: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/
      Law firms
    • Stimulus Resources
      Recovery.gov
      ProPublica’s “Eye On The Stimulus”: http://www.propublica.org/ion/stimulus
      USASpending.gov
      Renewable funding: http://www.energy.gov/recovery/renewablefunding.htm
      State and local programs: http://www.energy.gov/recovery/statefunding.htm
      “Show Me The Money; The Law of the Stimulus”: One of many primers to help fill in the background on all the funding opportunities and who can go for them. http://www.stoel.com/ShowMeTheMoney
    • Call Me
      @Investigative Reporting Workshop: 202.885.3633
      rchoma@investigativereportingworkshop.org
      Twitter: russchoma
      Website: www.russchoma.com