I had this all typed up and then read the news that Senator Manchin’s permitting reform bill had failed, at least for now.
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A little story.
15 years ago I was just getting started presenting around Michigan on the climate emergency and solutions. Meanwhile, there were no fewer than 9 brand new coal power plants proposed across the state, 2 of them within 20 miles of my house.

Somehow I got the ear of the state’s largest utility, Consumers Energy, which was proposing a new coal plant just down the road in Bay City. To their credit, they invited me to give a presentation on climate at their headquarters in Jackson.
Not long after, I was invited to lunch by a high ranking executive in the company, let’s call him George. Perhaps he was concerned, based on some family history, that I might be a major thorn in their project.

I told him I wasn’t interested in opposing the project, first of all because I didn’t want to do that to my family, but mostly because I didn’t think it was necessary.
I explained that in my reading, they had missed their window of opportunity. In the early 2000s, the price of natural gas was very high, and coal looked pretty good, (just economically, if you discounted climate). By this time, 2008 or 9, fracking was driving down the price of gas, and it was clear that renewables were coming, and they were going to be very competitive.
So I said, in essence, have at it bro – I’m quite sure if you build this thing you’ll be looking at a stranded asset in 15 years or so.

A few months later, the project was cancelled. The other 8 coal project also died, simply due to the weight of bad economics.
In recent years, both of Michigan’s largest utilities have pivoted pretty dramatically toward renewables.

A couple years ago, must have been before Covid, I was at an energy wonk schmoozefest in Lansing, eating some finger food and bumping into influentials in the industry. Someone tapped me on the shoulder, and it was a former PR person for Consumers, who had been instrumental in setting up the lunch, years before, with George.
He said, in short, “Everything you told us 10 years ago turned out to be right. And after that lunch you had with George, everything changed.”

Point is, you don’t necessarily make good stuff happen by blocking traffic and being wildly indignant about injustice.
Sometimes you have to let people kind of come around to the right decision on their own, instead of backing them into a corner.

Extremely important thread from my Yale Climate Connections colleague Dana Nuccitelli.

Dana Nuccitelli on Twitter:

Thread 🧵on why I think it’s a big mistake for progressives and environmental justice advocates to kill a permitting reform deal in the current lame duck session of Congress. Permitting reform is crucially important for both the climate and frontline communities

Everyone agrees we need to speed up the rate at which we build electricity transmission. Otherwise we can’t connect new wind & solar to the grid fast enough, and as @JesseJenkins‘ team found, we would squander 80% of the Inflation Reduction Act’s potential emissions cuts.

The IRA would also increase electricity demand in 2030 by incentivizing EVs, electric heat pumps, induction stoves, etc. If we don’t speed up our clean energy infrastructure build-out, @JesseJenkins‘ team found that demand will be met by burning more fossil fuels.

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Retiring Majority Leader Mike Shirkey of the Michigan State Senate mentions climate change, in the same breath as “Child Sacrifice”. So that’s what we’re dealing with here.

Putting Democrats in charge will be a big change.

Detroit Free Press:

This portion of his speech started as a critique of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic — a common source of angst for Shirkey and many conservatives — and included misinformation about the virus that he’s shared before. But it went much further, veering into a takedown of what he described as “little ‘g’ gods” that he contends will imperil the country in ways far greater than a pandemic that killed more than one million people in the U.S.

FBI will be looking at cell phone data to find out who was near substations at critical times.

This is going to cost us all a lot of money, right at the moment we need every penny to make the energy transition work.

It’s real.

Former Homeland Security Official weighs in.

Below, map of Florida attacks from WFLA Tampa.

Like the North Carolina incident, attacks on Duke Energy installation.

“A level of intent unlike what we have seen in the past.”

International Energy Agency:

The global energy crisis is driving a sharp acceleration in installations of renewable power, with total capacity growth worldwide set to almost double in the next five years, overtaking coal as the largest source of electricity generation along the way and helping keep alive the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C, the IEA says in a new report.

Energy security concerns caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have motivated countries to increasingly turn to renewables such as solar and wind to reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels, whose prices have spiked dramatically. Global renewable power capacity is now expected to grow by 2 400 gigawatts (GW) over the 2022-2027 period, an amount equal to the entire power capacity of China today, according to Renewables 2022, the latest edition of the IEA’s annual report on the sector.

This massive expected increase is 30% higher than the amount of growth that was forecast just a year ago, highlighting how quickly governments have thrown additional policy weight behind renewables. The report finds that renewables are set to account for over 90% of global electricity expansion over the next five years, overtaking coal to become the largest source of global electricity by early 2025.

“Renewables were already expanding quickly, but the global energy crisis has kicked them into an extraordinary new phase of even faster growth as countries seek to capitalise on their energy security benefits. The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next 5 years as it did in the previous 20 years,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system. Renewables’ continued acceleration is critical to help keep the door open to limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.”

The war in Ukraine is a decisive moment for renewables in Europe where governments and businesses are looking to rapidly replace Russian gas with alternatives. The amount of renewable power capacity added in Europe in the 2022-27 period is forecast to be twice as high as in the previous five-year period, driven by a combination of energy security concerns and climate ambitions. An even faster deployment of wind and solar PV could be achieved if EU member states were to rapidly implement a number of policies, including streamlining and reducing permitting timelines, improving auction designs and providing better visibility on auction schedules, as well as improving incentive schemes to support rooftop solar.

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Lights coming back on in Moore County, North Carolina following a terror attack on local electrical substations.

Meanwhile, similar attacks have come to light in the Pacific Northwest.

Raleigh News and Observer:

Power has been restored a day ahead of schedule for nearly all of the Moore County households and businesses that lost it. Nick Picerno, chair of the Moore County Board of Commissioners, said that the county will be open for business on Thursday. “Come back, join us, play some golf,” Picerno said during a news conference late Wednesday afternoon in Carthage.

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No arrests have been made in connection with the gunfire that damaged two electrical substations in Moore County and knocked out power for days. Authorities offered a reward of up to $75,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible. Sheriff Ronnie Fields encouraged Moore County residents to call the county’s tip lines if they have information about the attack on the substations. Authorities have said little about what they have learned in the ongoing investigation, and Fields did not say whether they had any leads on a suspect.

KOIN Seattle:

After authorities said someone intentionally shot and damaged 2 power substations in North Carolina, cutting electricity to tens of thousands of families, NewsNationobtained a federal memo warning about similar attacks in the Pacific Northwest.

“Power companies in Oregon and Washington have reported physical attacks on substations using handtools, arson, firearms and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure,” the memo states.

The aim, according to the memo, is “violent anti-government criminal activity.”

“In recent attacks criminal actors bypassed security fences by cutting the fence links, lighting nearby fires, shooting equipment from a distance or throwing objects over the fence and onto equipment,” the memo continued.

Both PGE and Pacific Power confirmed to KOIN 6 News they are aware of these issues.

“PGE is aware of a deliberate physical attack on one of our substations in the Clackamas area that occurred in late November. We are actively cooperating with the FBI and cannot at this time share many details about this incident as it is currently under investigation. Our teams have assessed the damage and begun repair to the impacted facility.” — PGE spokesperson

We are aware of the events and have security measures in place to protect our assets and keep our customers and employees safe and secure. We are working closely with industry partners and law enforcement to monitor the situation and will apply any emerging threat information to evaluate against our security measures to reduce the likelihood or impact of an attack where possible. As always, protecting the nation’s energy grid and ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of energy are top priorities for the energy industry and Pacific Power.” — Pacific Power spokesperson

Clark County PUD said they have not had any issues in their area beyond homeless trespassing.

FBI Portland Public Affairs Specialist Joy Jiras told KOIN 6 News, “While our standard practice is to decline comment on specific bulletins, the FBI routinely shares information with our law enforcement partners in order to assist in protecting the communities they serve. We urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office told KOIN 6 News that a list of local power substations has been provided to all local law enforcement. Deputies will be providing extra patrols at those locations within their jurisdictions.

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