Advanced Energy Perspectives

Toward a New Power Platform: 10 Steps

Posted by Reed Hundt

Dec 17, 2013 2:06:59 PM


Zero_Hour_Reed_HundtThis is the last in a series of blog posts adapted from the new book “Zero Hour: Time to Build the Clean Power Platform,” by Reed E. Hundt, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Board Member of the Advanced Energy Economy Institute. Read all the posts here.

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  1. Hurry Up, It's Time.  Technological change is making clean energy solutions ever cheaper and easier to adopt. The urgency of abating greenhouse gas emissions means that new financing, backed by taxpayers, should support these technological solutions right now. The United States should lead the way to the new power platform.

  2. Knowledge is Power. The shift to the new knowledge platform, manifested in digital mobile and the Internet, foreshadows the move to the new power platform. Each will put hundreds of millions of dollars of invested capital to work in the United States alone, changing society and the economy forever and for better.

  3. Power of Price. The move to the new power platform must benefit consumers. People should pay less for cleaner energy solutions than they would otherwise pay for electricity.

  4. Change Wins. Technological solutions plus tax breaks plus cheap capital lead to clean energy solutions that are cheaper than the status quo.

  5. Lemonade Tastes Better than Lemons. Political leaders should adopt tax breaks and low cost financing through green banks to produce cheaper, cleaner solutions to the common problems of heating, lighting, air-conditioning, industrial processes and transportation. Taxing or charging consumers more for cleaner electricity will not cause people to want to move to the new power platform. Customers should be better off moving to the new platform. Government should make sure people benefit from change.

  6. Tax & Spend Defeated; Try Tax Cut & Loan. The Congress of 2009-11 tried to pass a comprehensive energy bill that effectively imposed a tax-like permit system on greenhouse gas emissions and recycled the permit revenue into numerous clean generation and efficiency measures. It was a good try. It failed. Next, Congress should provide long term tax cuts and credits for renewable generation and cheaper, cleaner energy solutions distributed to buildings, behind the utility meter. Congress should also provide loans to state green banks at very low, long term rates.

  7. Borrow Long, Spend Now, Get Paid Back Over Time. Governments should capitalize green banks by borrowing at low rates, with long terms; green banks should provide long term, low interest financing support to clean energy and efficiency suppliers; customers should pay over long time periods either on electricity bill or on mortgage. No consumer should have to pay up front for solar on roof or insulation under roof or any other clean energy solution. Everyone should get a deal they just cannot turn down.

  8. Nobody Walks Away from a Deal. Consumers are voters. If everyone can order cleaner energy, either through clean generation like solar panels on a roof or energy efficiency measures that reduce consumption and displace carbon-emitting generation purchased by utilities, then consumers/voters will drive the move to the new power platform.

  9. Supply-Side RPS Good; Consumer-Demanded RPS Better. States should allow consumers to order cleaner, cheaper energy solutions, and require utility to meet these orders. In effect, RPS would then be set by plebiscite.

  10. Cheaper by the Dozens. If communities, neighborhoods, family and friends order cheaper, cleaner energy solutions, then utilities and suppliers will be able to meet the orders faster and even cheaper than if all act as individuals.

Previously: 10 Steps Toward the New Power Platform

Read the entire series here.


Over the course of 2013, AEE has held several CEO forums, co-sponsored by AEE and MIT’s Industrial Performance Center, to discuss building the 21st Century Electricity System. Click below to learn more.


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