Stephen Lacey: The Tesla solar roof is finally here. After months of speculation about cost and logistics, we now have more detail on the product. We're going to look at how it compares to regular solar and regular roofs, and where it will fit into Tesla's long-term solar plan.
Then Walmart's project Gigaton. A look at the mega retailers new plan to slash emissions deep in its supply chain.
And finally after four months we have some nominees for America's top energy regulator FERC. We're going to talk about how they could shape the country's energy landscape over the next few years. With me to talk about those topics are Katherine Hamilton and Jigar Shah, my co-hosts as usual. Katherine is a partner with 38 North Solutions based in Washington D.C., and sources tell me, a candidate to take over Jim Comey's position as director of the FBI.
Katherine Hamil: Oh, gee. I hope not. That just does not sound like a good gig.
Stephen Lacey: Jigar Shah's the President of Generate Capitol based in New York City, and I heard that you were making plans to move back to Washington D.C., yes?
Jigar Shah: I am. In June we're moving back to D.C..
Stephen Lacey: Is this is a public pronouncement?
Jigar Shah: I'm not sure that it actually deserves a public pronouncement. But yes.
Katherine Hamil: Wait, what happened to the swamp draining?
Jigar Shah: Oh my God. Oh my God. I am adding to the swamp.
Stephen Lacey: And I can only presume that you've got a job in the administration as Trump's Climate Wealth Advisor, right?
Jigar Shah: Yes, exactly. No, I will just be continuing with Generate Capital opening up their Washington D.C. office of one.
Stephen Lacey: We start this week with a defining product for Tesla. The much ballyhooed solar roof. We've been talking about this thing since last August when Musk offhandedly mentioned it during an earnings call, if you remember. It kind of took SolarCity executives Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive by surprise at the time. I'm not sure they were really ready to mention it but Musk just kind of mentioned it and then everybody, of course, wanted to know what was this solar roof.
Sure enough, in October Musk took to a stage at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Standing among these mock houses and he showed off the company's new solar tiles made out of tempered glass. So, it was a real product after all. We got the sensational Musk in presentation we all expect but we never got pricing details or really any details aside from aesthetics. Now, we have them, consumers can pre-order the tiles finally and the first installations will come this summer. More importantly we've got some cost estimates.
Tesla unveiled this calculator that will let consumers roughly figure out the cost for different roof configurations, and yesterday Musk joined JB Straubel, who is Tesla's CTO and co-founder, and SolarCity CTO Peter Rive on a conference call with reporters to go over the details, and so we're going to go over some of those ourselves.
First is the most important factor, which obviously Tesla was getting a lot of questions about: Price. Tesla says that for the average American house covered with 35 percent solar tiles, it will cost $21.85 per square foot. That says the company makes it less expensive than a traditional tile or metal roof, but others who've done the calculations say it's still much more expensive than conventional solar and a roof retrofit. So, let's break this down further. It really depends on how you're doing the calculations, and what your assumptions are, and where the solar roof is actually installed. So, you can come up with a bunch of different numbers for the solar roof.
Jigar, no matter how we do these calculations the price point does come in lower than anyone expected. How did it compare to your expectations?
Jigar Shah: So, I think, first of all, I can't imagine how much free press Tesla gets for itself. It's just awe inspiring how all of us just march in line when they have something to talk about. Especially, something that isn't really ready for prime time. So, I think we should start there and be like, "How does he keep doing that?"
Stephen Lacey: Well, it is a good question. People pay attention. We can see it in the way traffic drives to our site. People are searching for this. We're getting traffic in different ways when it comes to a Tesla solar product. So, there's a consumer pull to this. There's actually a legitimate interest in Tesla that's different than other companies.
Jigar Shah: I had relatives who literally have emailed me this morning saying, "I was thinking about getting solar on my roof. Now I think I want a Tesla roof." So, I agree with you completely. It's far more than just our solar audience. It's actually the general public who gets involved.
Stephen Lacey: Yes, and I just talked to Barry Cinnamon who has been on the show before, and he's written some pieces. He actually speculated on what the cost could be, and I talked to him on the phone he said, "I cannot tell you how many customers have asked me about the solar roof." A local installer won't be installing the solar roof. But customers who are sitting around the kitchen table making these decisions are asking about the product. So, that's the reason why we pay attention to an announcement from Musk differently than maybe a lot of other companies.
Jigar Shah: No, I think it makes sense. So, I did a lot of quick math and I went to a friend of mine who is in the integrated solar roof business for some help and there's a couple of major assumptions that I think that the Bloomberg folks didn't really get right when I talked to them about it. They estimate this is about $2.52 a watt installed. I think it's actually closer to $3.30 a watt installed. So, I actually don't think it's as cheap as other people think.
Stephen Lacey: But $3.30 is not that expensive.
Jigar Shah: It is kind of actually. Barry is routinely installing systems for $2.20 a watt right now in California. So, it's a pretty big difference, and so there's a couple of things here. One is that, the size of the system has to be massive. So these systems do not pencil at less than seven kilowatts in size. So, all of the assumptions that they're making on balance of system costs are for larger systems and if he actually moves to a 40 percent solar roof coverage ratio, he's talking about a nine kilowatt solar system which is higher than most people are buying now. So, we should start there. So, he's basically assuming people have an electric car. All those things, which is a good assumption for him to make, but it's important for people to know that if you have a four kilowatt need this isn't going to work for you. I think the second thing he's doing is estimating that they have far more exposed area than I think is going to happen.
So. I think they're going to use the 23.5 percent efficiency Panasonic cells out of Buffalo, and then they're probably only going to be able to get like a 50 percent exposed area ratio which means that like 50 percent of the tile is not active. So, that means 13.5 to 15 percent net efficiency. Actually not 50 percent, sorry, close to 65 percent. So, I think the net efficiency is lower than a crystalline panel that's cheap that's 18 percent efficient. So when you add all those factors together I think you get to like $3.30 a watt, not $2.52.
Stephen Lacey: That sounds about right. We've done a couple different calculations over here and depending on what you assume, it's between roughly like $2.80 a watt to the mid three's or so. Which I guess gets us to the question of who is this product for?
Jigar Shah: For wealthy people that have wealthy roofs. To be clear this is something that has been around for years. It's just Elon Musk productized now. I had Atlantis Sunslates on my roof that I installed in 2007 in D.C. at like $9 a watt, which made huge financial sense because I had a slate roof. It was going to cost me $50,000 to replace that roof with a new slate roof that lasts 75 years or whatever, and so it actually cost me less than $50,000 to replace that roof, so it saved me money from day one. So, this has been going around for years. It's not a new proposition.
Stephen Lacey: Yes, weren't there problems with some of those earlier systems because you need to poke so many holes in the roof, because of degradation issues. The wiring was super funky.
Jigar Shah: It was total crap. I was troubleshooting that system for the rest of time but it made sense because I saved the money on the slate roof. So, even if there were dumb tiles it was cheaper than buying a new slate, and then on top of that I was getting $400 a megawatt hour SRECs from D.C. So, the numbers paid for itself many times over. But no, he's definitely pushing for people of tile roofs, slate roofs, more expensive roofs than asphalt shingle.
Katherine Hamil: Yes, so on their website they have all those costs broken down, and they have the value of energy, the cost of the roof, the cost of the Powerwall. So, they suggest that you put a Powerwall with the solar to make sure that you can keep your home running during an outage. But one of the things they also advertise on here is that there's a 30 percent solar investment tax credit that applies to the cost of the tiles and equipment as well as the Powerwall batteries, and that is not right. Because right now, the only people who have been able to take advantage of the investment tax credit, who have storage, which would be the Powerwall, have had to have private letter rulings from the IRS to do so and the IRS is not doing any rulings right now.
Jigar Shah: Details, details.
Katherine Hamil: Well it's part of his pitch on the cost and if you want to get a Powerwall you're not going to get the 30 percent ITC until the IRS clarifies the code. But also that 30 percent solar investment tax credit is going to go down to zero for residential. So, it is phasing down so it just seems that that something that should be a little more clear on his website as he pitches this to people. They they need to not expect that.
Stephen Lacey: It's a really good point and I wanted to ask you about the tax credit piece, Katherine, because if you all remember Solyndra's business case was the fact that they could take the tax credit because the system was integrated into the roof. So, they could actually claim the tax credit against the roof and the solar system. if you have a 40 percent solar roof with 60 percent inert tiles, can you just claim the tax credit on 40 percent of the roof? Do we know how that will all shake out?
Katherine Hamil: No, I think you'd have to get clarity. I think you would actually have to get a private letter ruling because you'd have to show what the efficiency was, you'd have to show what percentage. I don't think it's as clear cut as the website leads you to believe.
Jigar Shah: So, let's just assume that they are going to do that work for you and it will be hard for the first 10 but then they'll get to some sort of regular process. Look, the thing about this that I like, just to not be negative here is that, I really do believe that a product like this is essential for us to move from the early mass market that we're at now in the customer adoption curve to the full mass market.
I just know many many many many people whose spouses do not want a solar system on their roof because they think it's going to affect resale value no matter how many NREL reports they read that show that that's not true. It's just something that is preventing them from going solar because a south facing part of the roof is the front of the house and they just don't want to have it there. So I do think that a product like this is essential and whether it's Tesla that succeeds, or whether it's my friends company at SunTegra or whether it's like a product that looked like Dow shingles or the many other folks that are in the space.
I do think that this is a moment in time that is forcing people to think about this, forcing folks at Greentech Media and others to write about this, and I think we are going to be able to move the ball forward towards the full mass market.
Katherine Hamilton: Yes, that's what interests me, Jigar, is the way, Stephen, when you had Mateo Jaramillo on The Interchange, asking him how he developed the storage piece that he started with the home system. So, if you can get this working on roofs, and establish some credibility, and you've got the data on those systems that are installed then maybe you can move onto markets where you would use the same type of roof but for commercial establishments, whether it's community centers or other sort of larger facilities where you really get it out beyond just residential.
Stephen Lacey: I'm actually more bullish about the prospects for the roof than I thought I would be because at least when you compare it to a concrete, or a tile or a slate tile roof, the numbers are within a fairly normal range. So, it probably is more expensive than a conventional solar system. It's probably a little bit more expensive than a conventional roof but there is actually real value here depending on where you live, and the cost per watt, at least as I've seen it penciled out by different organizations, is within a somewhat normal range. You said, Jigar, it's more expensive than what local installers are doing. But Tesla customers are certainly willing to pay a premium and we're not looking at costs that are exorbitant here.
Jigar Shah: Yes, just to finish the thought of the slate roofs. Slate roofs are supposed to last 50 plus years and they do cost $50,000 to $75,000 to do. So, they're expensive roofs. But I think to your your point, I don't think this has to actually be cost effective. I don't think the fact that Barry can install a system for $2.20 a watt and this is going to be at $3.30 a watt matters. I honestly think this just has to be in the range. People that want to pay double for this integrated roof. They want to pay for something that feels and looks the same which is what Elon is sort of suggesting. But I don't think that that's the bar. I think the bar is there a lot of people out there who actually want a roof that is solar but doesn't look like solar to everyone. That's not me. I want to brag about my solar system. But for a lot of people they sort of want it to look clean and nice aesthetic and integrate and they don't want to pay a lot more for it.
Katherine Hamilton: Yes, and where there are a lot of slate roofs are in France. They're everywhere. You go down the streets of Paris and every single roof is Slate.
Stephen Lacey: Well, Tesla's starting small. They're going to manufacture in Fremont for a little while, sell systems in California to start off, and then they're going to move into the Buffalo facility, which they did say is going to scale up and produce these solar roofs. There were some questions about whether that Buffalo facility would actually even go forward and Peter Rive yesterday, on a press call with reporters said, "Yep, we're ... " I think given what they said earlier, they are behind schedule but he did say we're full steam ahead in building the factory and producing a solar roof. So, they're going to start small, move to other states, expand the Buffalo facility, and then go international, and a market like France is probably a natural choice.
I was really struck at how Elon described the scaling up of this market because he usually talks in these sweeping terms about how incredible growth will be, and how big demand is. He did say that they are not limited by demand, that they're sort of limited by manufacturing capacity and their ability to scale. But he has talked over the last few weeks about this being a multi-decade opportunity, and not something that's going to scale up in the next few years.
So, the question is whether this will make up a significant market share of SolarCity, Tesla installs in a few years, or whether this is really a five, 10-year play and my guess is that it is.
Jigar Shah: There's certainly a lot of details here around wiring all the pieces but I don't really think that that's important right now. I honestly think what's important right now is to say that they're in the range, that they probably won't produce these on time and on schedule. It probably is going to be delayed in true Elon form. But I do think that with the tax credit extension, and the runway that we have this brings some much needed excitement to the residential solar industry which I think everyone really needs right now given all the bad news in the residential solar space.
Stephen Lacey: Back in 2005, Wal-Mart announced a pretty ambitious plan to slash tens of millions of metric tons of CO2 from its supply chain.
It was part of the first wave of ambitious corporate sustainability plans addressing climate. But it was also seen by some as green washing. Well, Wal-Mart exceeded its goals and last month released a new plan to slash one Gigaton or 1,000,000,000 metric tons of CO2 from its supply chain by 2030. That's a big deal, that really is a big deal and it will do that by cutting the hardest emissions of all, Scope 3 emissions. That's the CO2 caused by suppliers that Walmart doesn't have direct control over. So, it's going to have to work even harder to help those companies implement their own plans. Does this set a new bar for multinational corporations, and how logistically complicated is such a plan? First to you, Katherine. What's the significance here?
Katherine Hamilton: Yes, this is huge because Wal-Mart with its supply chain, as you say, the Scope 3, those operations over which it doesn't have control. It does have a supply chain over which it can still exert some control by deciding who they prefer to purchase from, who they want to put on the shelves. With this project there they have these sustainability leader badges that they put on different products, so people understand where they come from. I think this is a big deal from a leadership perspective and also really from moving the needle. So, I think it'll make a big difference, and what it is specifically, if people want to go on the Web site you can go on to walmartsustainabilityhub.com and it's really an app and a platform to allow suppliers to be able to kind of engage in these six pillars of sustainability, which include energy but also include agriculture, waste, packaging, deforestation, and product use. So, all these different pieces that feed into sustainability writ large, and I don't know if you all remember but in 2008, Wal-Mart changed its logo from "Always low prices." to "Save Money, Live Better". So, this is the live better piece of it, and I really do think they're going to move the needle.
Stephen Lacey: Yes, they're really serious about this. So, Jigar when you were at the Carbon War Room you guys spent a ton of time on these kinds of supply chain issues. How ambitious do you think this is and how hard is it to tackle these Scope 3 emissions as Katherine just described them?
Jigar Shah: So, the thing I like about Wal-Mart is I was the one who flew to Bentonville many many many many times in 2005, six, and seven to convince them to put solar on their roofs. So, I know them pretty well from that effort, and Wal-Mart doesn't come to these things lightly. I think that they are actually sort of really deliberate about the science-based targets, and trying to figure out whether it's possible. They're not really looking for the press release, and so I think that's a big deal. The bigger deal here, honestly, is not Wal-Mart per se, although I think they're going to be very genuinely trying to reach this target, it's actually all the nonprofit groups. So, they now have a license to go and harangue and borate the suppliers to Wal-Mart on Wal-Mart's behalf to be able to get these gigaton-scale reductions, and so Wal-Mart's really leveraging all of the nonprofit money in the world and saying, "Hey, go beat up our suppliers in China and everything else. You have our permission."
Stephen Lacey: Wal-Mart has an advantage here because of its relationships with its suppliers and it has been notoriously good at driving prices down. So, while it can't set a policy for its suppliers, it can certainly do a lot to cajole them, to educate them, to work closely with them to lower their emissions profile, which one would think is somewhat similar to the process of lowering prices. So, Wal-Mart has an advantage here given the way it works with its suppliers.
Katherine Hamilton: Well, and one thing Wal-Mart does keep in mind is, they do want to pass the lower prices on to their customers. They are trying to do the right thing but they're also really trying to keep their margins. I work with the folks at Wal-Mart on state regulatory issues and they are in every single state battle on behalf of consumers, everywhere because they really want to make sure that any policies that come out from utilities and regulatory processes are really beneficial to other companies like Wal-Mart, and they said, "There may be a couple of other companies out there but we're really on the front lines." And so they're fighting the battles internally with their supply chain, and also really out front on the regulatory processes to make sure that they can reduce costs and allow themselves to profit but also allow their customers to benefit.
Stephen Lacey: If you're a consumer and you're comparing these policies and environmental performance matters to you, but you're still willing to shop at say I'm a large retailer like Wal-Mart or Amazon. Walmart is probably your best choice at this point. Consider Amazon, they have done jack squat. They haven't released any information on emissions, on environmental performance across their supply chain, they've never released a sustainability report. Wal-Mart's been doing this for well over a decade and there's a broader conversation about whether or not you should shop at big retailers. But we all shop at many of these large retailers and when you compare them side by side, and if you just take the two of the biggest, Wal-Mart and Amazon. Wal-Mart blows Amazon out of the water and Amazon is finally starting to try to catch up and they put together a sustainability team last year, and I think they're scrambling because they realize that they're getting their butts kicked on this and people actually do care about it.
Katherine Hamilton: Yes, and when Jigar was mentioning leveraging the NGOs one thing I also hope that this pushes forward, is keeping in the Energy Star program alive because this is been a real boon for them, is to be able to promote those products with the Energy Star label, and I'm hoping that, because of their leadership, that we don't lose that program.
Jigar Shah: Yes, well hopefully it finds a better home at UL, or some other place but, look I think the Energy Star program is valuable.
I think that one thing that we talked about before was Wal-Mart's role on the presidential council in politics all that stuff, and I don't think that that has changed. My point of view is still that Wal-Mart's doing this for the right reasons for their clients but when they get in conversations with the president of the United States, I still don't think this makes their top five talking points. Those are going to be more around labor, and around regulation, and other things that really affect their core business, and also let's just talk about the cynical side of this. Wal-Mart has had several tough few years of really bad PR given the the Mexico scandal and some of the other pieces, and being a real leader on this helps to blunt some of those criticisms.
Stephen Lacey: I don't think you're wrong on the type of influence that they'll try to have on the president, Jigar. My guess is that the influence that they'll try to exert on the climate piece will be to band together with a bunch of other corporations and sign a letter to the president and to Congress explaining why we need international leadership on climate, why we might need a carbon tax. Those are the sorts of things that Wal-Mart and other big corporations will probably do rather than bend the president's ear directly.
Jigar Shah: I think the corporations have a very large impact on state policy. But I think on the federal level, Wal-Mart right now is fighting tax reform. They don't want these locational based taxes where they have to pay a lot of taxes on imports, and no taxes on exports, and so I am sure that 99.9 percent of their efforts on that, and 0.1 is on this for the federal government.
Katherine Hamilton: Jigar, I think you're right on the federal front. That they have a huge list of things that they're worried about, not the least of which has to be the border adjustment tax that's being discussed. But on the state level, I just can't understate the value that they are in the room as really representing consumer interests, and they do that because they are a large consumer. But then they can pass that along, and I think their leadership is really on a grassroots level. Really really important and those are the people that are out there purchasing things that we care about on clean energy. Those are people that are actually purchasing all of those clean technologies that we really care about.
Stephen Lacey: On to FERC now. After four paralyzing months of having only three commissioners the Trump administration has finally nominated two Republicans to their posts. Neil Chatterjee, formerly served as Mitch McConnell's energy adviser and Robert Powelson is an energy commissioner in Pennsylvania, and these two men, if confirmed, are going to enter FERC at a time of immense change to the agency's authority and increasing complexity of the kinds of market problems that FERC is grappling with. Most notably the blurring lines between retail and wholesale markets as distributed energy expands, and also pipeline siting. A lot more opposition to pipelines, a lot of pipelines in the works right now. Natural gas companies have been up in arms because without a quorum, a lot of these projects have been stalled. So, when they get in we presume, when they're actually confirmed, that they don't have a lot to grapple with. Katherine, who are these appointees to start with?
Katherine Hamilton: Yes, so Neil Chatterjee has been in the mix for a while. Being talked about, he is Mitch McConnell's senior energy policy adviser. I met with them just this week, again. We're pretty familiar with him. He is very intellectually curious. He's been very open to meeting with people and learning because FERC is a really complicated agency. So, he's maybe not what you would think of immediately as someone who would go into FERC. But one person we know did that was Phil Moeller. Phil Moeller started as a Senate staffer. I worked with him when he was the staff lead on interior appropriations for a Republican Senator from Washington State, Slade Gorton, and he was great to work with as a staffer. But when he went to FERC, I said "How how is he going to know anything about how that agency runs?" And it turns out he was a good regulator. He was smart, and like Neil, he was intellectually curious. He didn't always go the way that my clients would want to go on issues but he always had a very reasonable approach.
He wasn't a knee jerk ideologue at all, and I think Neil is going to be something like that. Robert Powelson is on the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission. He's been the president of NARUC and he would bring a state leaning to FERC. Colette Honorable, who's term goes off in June, is a state regular. She's from Arkansas. Tony Clark was a state regulator. A lot of folks that they put in at FERC were State Regulators, and I think that's also not a bad thing. They bring the position of having to regulate state policy, and deal with state policies, and state utilities on that level, and they understand kind of this tension between wholesale market regulation, and state policy. I know Powelson has opinions but I don't think they're ideologues and FERC is just not an agency for ideology. It's really a process agency.
Jigar Shah: So, the part that scares me is really Neil Chatterjee. I think he's a smart guy by virtue of the fact that is Indian, but what I'm really concerned about is ...
Stephen Lacey: Wait a second, if you didn't know Jigar is Indian. Just to clarify there to anybody who can't see his face.
Jigar Shah: But I have no doubt in my mind that Rick Perry has no idea how to implement this sort of federalism piece down to the state level regulations. But FERC really can sort of influence state policy by screwing over states by threatening federal action and Neil is very skilled in the Mitch McConnell way of doing business, and so I'm a little concerned that they actually get a little bit of their administrative act together between him and Rick Perry. But I'm hopeful that they don't.
Katherine Hamilton: One of the big issues that FERC is grappling with, and they just had a technical conference to try to work through some of the tensions that states are butting up against with FERC jurisdiction, and especially as FERC is doing things like this NOPR on energy storage and aggregated distributed energy resources, they're looking at "How do we adjust the wholesale markets so that innovators can participate?" And a lot of that innovation is on the edge of the grid and that innovation would be very great if you could stack your benefits and participate in meeting state goals as well as providing value to the wholesale markets. Otherwise, you're just leaving that value out of the mix altogether. But I think that tension will still exist. It's something they need to work through. But the issue is that you really do have to go through a process of public comment. You have to follow case law.
It's so process heavy that yes, you could put your thumb a little bit on it and I think certainly Chairman Wellinghoff did when he was there. But I also think it's going to be impossible for them to go backwards. They've already opened up the markets and competition is good for customers, and competition is good for innovation, and I think of anything things were more to states.
Jigar Shah: You know that he was saying that some of the RPS standards, and some of the deployment of renewable energy and wind contracts, and some of the existing contracts could be invalidated based on national security issues of having more baseload power. Which we established previously isn't a defined term. Although there was a listener who said that his textbook in 2002 including baseload power but my education is pre-2002.
Stephen Lacey: Right, so actually to to clarify. This was a story, a follow up story, on some comments that Rick Perry had made during the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in New York a couple weeks ago, and Perry said that he said that he would consider using federal authority to try to change state policy. The opposite of energy federalism basically and it sounded like Perry hadn't really thought it through a lot.
Jigar Shah: Oh, shocking.
Stephen Lacey: But he said he was open to using federal authority to change state policy and to meddle in state renewable portfolio standards.
Katherine Hamilton: But any of the authority that DOE has or FERC is really temporal and so there's a time limit. There's also it has to be based on something that's really national energy emergency like the energy crisis in California. They used this authority. But you are not going to see FERC take huge action against states. The blow back you would get would be unbelievable from states.
Stephen Lacey: Well, I will say, Katherine, that I've had a number of conversations with folks who are close to the situation, like yourself, and many of them have the same takeaway that you do. That these are thoughtful people that we can't necessarily brand them right away. That they're going to think through these issues and they're not ideologues, and so I'm picking up the same intel that you are.
Katherine Hamilton: Great, yes, I think we just have to wait and see and I don't think we can jump to conclusions, and I'm really hoping also because Commissioner Honorable's seat is expires in June, that they bundle some of these. Maybe they'll do Chatterjee and Powelson at the same time and I know Murkowski really wants to get to the point where FERC is actually staffed and functional. It's not good when it's broken and not working. But hopefully they'll bundle this third Republican with a Democrat to make sure that those two get through, so it's got the full quorum.
Stephen Lacey: Okay, well I think that's enough about FERC. Katherine why don't you start us off and tell us something we don't know. You got the good stories?
Katherine Hamilton: I have a really good one. Well, I think it's a good one which is that the CRA, the Congressional Review Act, on methane emissions failed in the Senate this week. This was a huge surprise. It was the top priority for American Petroleum Institute, and it was a big deal. Three senators voted against it on the Republican side, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Susan Collins. Graham and Collins had been early No's. They had said very publicly but McCain was actually convinced on the floor of the Senate, and there was, watching that, if you go back and look at the tapes it is amazing, the work that all of those Republican leaders were putting to McCain and he finally just put his hand up and put his thumb down, and said, "No." And it failed. It was a big deal because Cory Gardner, who is the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, so, he is responsible for getting all those Republican senators voted for. API's been given them a ton of money and this was on him and Colorado is the model for methane rules.
They have much stricter rules than BLM, and he has the most to lose. Gardner, Portman voted for this rule in Ohio. It has regulations in place. So, it was one of those votes that, for them, was really bad because it did not go their way and they also voted for the rule to be taken back, and now, of course, there are going to be battles in court and at the BLM. But this was a big deal, that the Senate did not roll back on this regulation.
Stephen Lacey: Jigar, what's your story? Tell us something we don't know.
Jigar Shah: So, a few weeks ago the Indian government announced something a little bit out of the blue that said that they want to try to get all vehicles in India to be battery powered by 2030. It's an audacious move and what's interesting though about it is that they're not going to subsidize electric vehicles. To get there, instead, they're going to try to take the most cost effective applications for battery vehicles like public transit buses, and really move it that way, and then to adopt battery swapping technologies a la Project Better Place to get there, which is pretty cool. We'll see if it works. The details are coming in the future. But I definitely think this is going to be a great way for the Indian electricity sector to get more profits by selling more of its juice.
Stephen Lacey: I'm going to revisit our conversation about Rick Perry real quick. Of course, there's that DOE study looking at the reliability of the grid as more distributed energy gets deployed, and I found it quite interesting that E&E news is reporting a couple of the major organizations that would help guide electricity policy, like FERC, that we just talked about, and the North American Electricity Reliability Corporation, NERC, have not been consulted on the study thus far, and so you have these stakeholders that have done so much modeling and understand how the grid operates so well, and they still haven't been consulted for this study about grid reliability which I found very curious.
And with that, I think we are set for this week. Thanks to all of you out there. We love to hear from you. Get us through all the usual channels. Email's good, email@example.com is our address. We love Twitter so interact with us retweet us. Send us your questions, your comments, disagree with us, whatever you want.
With Katherine Hamilton and Jigar Shah, I'm Stephen Lacey and we are the Energy Gang, the production of Greentechmedia.com. We'll catch you next week.