“Texas to Tel Aviv”: Excellent op-ed piece by Tom Friedman in the NYTimes

I had the chance to read Tom Friedman’s most recent op-ed piece, “Texas To Tel Aviv” in the New York Times today, and felt compelled to share it with the folks who read Sustainable Ink.

The article focuses on two people: T. Boone Pickens and Shai Agassi.  Pickens, who made his fortune in the oil business, is leading a charge to get the United States to devote a significant amount of resources to the development of wind energy.  In fact, he has spent $2 billion of his own money buying land in the Texas Panhandle as well as 700 wind turbines from GE (their largest turbine order ever), in order to create the largest wind farm in the world.  To read more about his efforts, please visit the Pickens Plan website.

Agassi, an Israeli technology guru, launched Project Better Place last year, with the goal of creating a nationwide grid of electric cars in Israel.  The project has a very ambitious mission, but has been gaining traction with car makers and governments.

The reason I wanted to call your attention to the column, and more importantly to these two entrepreneurs with bold visions, is because electric cars and renewable energy are game-changing initiatives that have the potential to have a dramatic impact on the fight against global warming as well as our nation’s addiction to oil, most of which comes from foreign sources.  Pickens and Agassi are showing that doing well while doing good are not mutually exclusive ideas.

Over the last 16 months, my firm has been at the forefront of bringing renewable energy to the marketing industry.  We not only have powered our own plants with wind energy, but created a cooperative group that comprised a half-dozen other firms in our space to do the same.  As a result, we have saved tens of thousands of gallons of oil as well as eliminated more than 1 million pounds of carbon emissions from the atmosphere.  For these efforts, we have been recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Pickens and Agassi are impressive because they are not waiting for the US Congress to act to make renewable energy initiatives easier.  Neither should we.  Each of us in our own way, either personally or organizationally, can do our share to reduce our dependence on oil by moving to renewable energy.  My firm, Grossman Marketing Group, decided that the best way to do this is to use wind power to produce all of our marketing materials.  Our efforts have been endorsed by some of our country’s most reputable environmental organizations, including the League of Conservation Voters and the National Park Foundation.  In addition, many of the nearly 100 clients that have produced their materials with us bearing our proprietary wind power logo have received positive feedback in the marketplace for doing so.

It is incumbent upon us in the marketing industry to do our part to fight global warming and the country’s addiction to oil, and we believe wind power is the best way to make that a reality.

For a link to the full Friedman column, please click here.

NSTAR To Offer Renewable Energy Option To Customers

NSTAR, the Massachusetts-based electric utility, announced this month that starting in July 2008, its customers will be able to purchase wind power. The program, NSTAR Green, will allow customers to either power 50% or 100% of their homes/businesses with wind power.

According to NSTAR, there will be a slight premium charged to basic home customers who enroll in the program (NSTAR estimates that this will add from $4-$7 per month to a customer’s bill). The wind power will be generated at Maple Ridge Wind Farm in upstate New York, before traveling into the New England power grid.

I’m pleased to see NSTAR announce this program, although I’m surprised it took them so long to do so. I met with a member of their senior management last fall to discuss my firm’s wind power initiatives, and explained that I believed NSTAR customers were hungry for green energy options. However, as the saying goes, better late than never.

Although wind energy from other states has just as positive an impact on the environment, it’s too bad that bureaucratic and political issues have delayed the development of wind farms in Massachusetts. Please see my previous post on the subject.

Nevertheless, NSTAR should be congratulated for getting this program off the ground. My hope is that programs like this will spur further wind farm development across the United States, with the overall goal of weaning our country off oil, most of which comes from foreign sources.

BBJ Article on stagnant clean energy development in Mass

I read an article in today’s edition of the Boston Business Journal discussing the bureaucratic and political challenges facing renewable energy development in Massachusetts.

Much has been written about Cape Wind. However, there are other projects being held up, most notably a large wind farm slated for Brodie Mountain in the Berkshires.

For a state that has such a deep interest in technology and renewable energy, and the intellectual and financial capital to make this region a leader in the burgeoning green economy, the article paints a disappointing picture.

Hopefully, enough positive momentum ($135/barrel oil should help move the projects along) and external pressure will enable the planned developments to move to the next stage – this will not only help us reduce our dependence on oil, most of which comes from foreign sources, but will also create new jobs and spur further investment in our region.

Here’s a link to the full article: “State talks a great green energy game, but leaves production to neighbors.”

Looking ahead at the promise of wind power

I have written frequently on the benefits of renewable energy, specifically wind power. It is easy to build, emission free, and uses less than 5% of the land on which turbines are sited.

As a result, wind power is the fastest-growing energy source in the world. It has taken my industry by storm – we see more and more clients who want their products made in plants powered with wind power (using offsets), as it helps send a values-laden message to an organization’s constituents that they are trying to be good stewards of the environment.

And although this is leading to higher wind power costs, as well as rising prices for the turbine equipment (see article from last week in TreeHugger: article), this is not such a bad thing. As the aforementioned article states, “The fact that demand is so high pushes prices upward, but that will only serve to attract more players; investors will see that there’s money to be made with wind power and large industrial companies might shift more resources to their wind power divisions. In fact, demand has been high for long enough to show the market that wind power is not simply a passing fad.”

All of these developments will lead to greater wind power generation capacity which will help the US reduce its dependence on oil, the majority of which comes from foreign sources. It may take a number of years, but the promise is great – as demonstrated in Spain. During one week this spring, wind power accounted for just over 40% of the country’s overall energy demand. And although this number may be a bit high, due to lower-than-normal energy demand, this figure is very exciting and gives us a big goal to shoot for.

Dell’s HQ Switches to 100 Percent Renewable Energy

In further news that renewable energy is a good thing for an organization to adopt, see the news below about Dell, courtesy of GreenBiz.com

OAKLAND, Calif., April 3, 2008 — Energy from wind and landfill gas sources now completely powers Dell Inc.’s 2.1 million square foot headquarters in Austin, Texas, the computer maker said Wednesday.

Dell’s announcement of a deal with Waste Management and TXU Energy Wind Power is part of its bid to achieve carbon neutrality at its owned and leased facilities this year.

Waste Management’s Austin Community Landfill gas-to-energy facility will supply about 40 percent of the power needs at Dell’s headquarters, with the remainder coming from existing wind farms in the state through TXU Energy.

Dell’s Austin Parmer Campus also is seeing an increase in green power, from 8 percent to 17 percent, through Austin Energy. The company’s Twin Falls, Idaho, facility is also powered completely by wind and solar power.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, the company said the contract is for a little more than 80 million kilowatt hours per year. Dell declined to say how much the contract was worth, but predicted that green power, which now sells for a slight premium compared to conventional power, could one day sell more cheaply.

Retrofit projects across Dell facilities, such as deploying power management systems and replacing inefficient lighting and air conditioners, save the company $2 million a year.

The news comes just days after the company said it would close a desktop PC manufacturing plant in Austin and lay off as many as 8,800 workers as part of a massive restructuring plan designed to save the company $3 billion during the next three years.

http://www.greenbiz.com/news/news_third.cfm?NewsID=55840

NYTimes article on wind power

The New York Times published an interesting article on the growth of the wind power industry. Definitely a good read for people who are interested in renewable energy.

Please note – photo courtesy of The New York Times (photographer: Brian Harkin).

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February 23, 2008
The Energy Challenge
Move Over, Oil, There’s Money in Texas Wind
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS

SWEETWATER, Tex. — The wind turbines that recently went up on Louis Brooks’s ranch are twice as high as the Statue of Liberty, with blades that span as wide as the wingspan of a jumbo jet. More important from his point of view, he is paid $500 a month apiece to permit 78 of them on his land, with 76 more on the way.

“That’s just money you’re hearing,” he said as they hummed in a brisk breeze recently.

Texas, once the oil capital of North America, is rapidly turning into the capital of wind power. After breakneck growth the last three years, Texas has reached the point that more than 3 percent of its electricity, enough to supply power to one million homes, comes from wind turbines.

To read the entire article, please visit the following website:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/23/business/23wind.html