ANGELA CHARLTON | May 28, 2009 05:01 PM EST | AP

PARIS — The top U.S. environment official says it’s time for the United States to shed its energy-wasting image and lead the world race for cleaner power sources instead.

After several years with a relatively low profile under President George W. Bush, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “is back on the job,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told The Associated Press on Thursday during a trip to Paris.

What the EPA does domestically this year will be watched closely overseas. Nations worldwide are working toward a major meeting in Copenhagen in December aimed at producing a new global climate pact. The U.S. position on curbing its own pollution and helping poor countries adapt to global warming is seen as key to any new pact.

Jackson was in Paris for international talks on how rich governments can include global climate concerns in overall development aid.

She dismissed worries that economic downturn was cutting into aid commitments or investment in new energy resources. She said the United States should take the lead on clean energy technology, recession or no.

“We have to get in the race now _ and win it,” she said. “I don’t expect a moving backwards because of recession.”

At climate talks in Paris earlier this week, European environment ministers welcomed greater U.S. commitment to environmental issues under the Obama administration _ but said it still wasn’t aiming high enough in its targets for cutting U.S. emissions.

Jackson said a shift in the American mindset is only beginning.

Talking about energy efficiency and saying companies should pay to pollute _ “that’s a revolutionary message for our country,” she said.

For a long time, she said, “People didn’t even expect the EPA to show up” at events, much less set policies that could be seen as examples for the rest of the world.

“Now it seems like every day we’re rolling back or reconsidering a Bush era policy on clean air,” she said.

She said it was time for the United States to take a more active role in limiting chemical pollutants, after falling behind Europe in that domain.

The U.S. also has lessons to learn from countries such as the Netherlands, she said, after visiting its low-lying, flood-prone lands to study ways cities like her native New Orleans can better manage water.

Our Perspective:

It is good to hear the administration making positive comments about our energy’s future. Alternative energy is a growth business and the correct path for insuring our future energy indepenence.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Would you like to know more about the financial opportunities that drive this investment. Feel free to contct us.

Written by T. Boone Pickens

Earlier this month I made a point of going to WINDPOWER 2009, the world’s largest conference on wind energy. Yes, it was in the Windy City, but the truth is it’s not always in Chicago. Next year’s conference will be here in Dallas and you need to put it on your calendar.

A decade ago you could have packed everyone who showed up at an event like this in a pint-sized 7-11. Those days are gone. Last year, attendance at this event topped 13,000. This year? More than 23,000. And it wasn’t just exhibitors (though there were close to 2,000 of them there as well). The roster of key policymakers who participated at WINDPOWER 2009 was impressive, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghof. All of them echoed the statements made by President Obama that alternative energy and renewables are important elements in this administration’s energy plan.

That’s not just sound energy policy but it’s good for the economy as well. Business is booming in the wind energy sector, and you know who is most keenly aware of that? America’s governors. Over the last year as I’ve been promoting the Pickens Plan, I’ve met wind state governors such as Brian Schweitzer of Montana, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, and Jon Huntsman of Utah. Back when she was Governor of Kansas, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hosted the very first Pickens Plan Town Hall Meeting in Topeka.

But what really stood out was the governors who attended WINDPOWER in Chicago were not from traditional wind power states. They were from Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and of course, Illinois. If you take a look at the Energy Department’s wind map, you’ll see that these states are not in the Wind Corridor, which runs the length of the Great Plains from the Texas Panhandle to the Canadian border. Yet, they are profiting from wind energy, thanks to the enormous number of job that are being created to manufacture turbines and other equipment, build infrastructure, and improve efficiency. These states have a vested interest in wind energy.

We all do. Right now there are wind farms and manufacturing facilities in 48 out of 50 states. While our country is fighting its way out of a recession, this industry and others in the burgeoning green economy are bright spots, creating permanent, good-paying jobs, putting people to work, and helping America cement its status as a global leader in the energy industry.

This is one of the basic principles of the Pickens Plan, and it goes straight to the heart of what I’ve been talking about since I launched the plan last July. Right here in America, we’ve got plenty of energy waiting to be tapped. The only problem is that for the last four decades we haven’t had the leadership to harness it or develop it or drill for it. Instead, we took the easy way out. Cheap imported oil became the crutch that everyone leaned on, only now we know it’s not cheap anymore.

Last year, as our economy stalled, we spent $475 billion on imported oil. Can you believe that? I can’t. Half a trillion dollars. The greatest transfer of wealth in recorded history. And to make matters worse we still haven’t learned our lesson. According to figures just released, our trade deficit on oil imports widened in March for the first time in eight months. We’re still importing more than two-thirds of the oil we consume, and that’s got to stop.

The purpose of the Pickens Plan was to put a lot of ideas on the table in order to help our country develop the energy plan it so desperately needs and deserves. Wind energy is one of the best, and if you don’t believe me come to Dallas next year and see for yourself at WINDPOWER 2010.

May 15, 2009, 8:15 am

SolarKirk J. Condyles for The New York Times Not all homeowners associations approve of this sort of thing.

John Wood, a homeowner in Woodbury, Minn., wanted to put solar panels on his roof. Last month, his homeowners association rejected his application.

“I felt extremely disappointed,” Mr. Wood said by telephone.

He added: “It made me think that homeowners associations are in place to do only one thing, and that is to maintain the status quo, and they have no interest in any sort of change whatsoever.”

Al Rudnickas, the president of the board of the Wedgewood Association, the homeowners’ group, said that the board was open to less obtrusive technologies like solar shingles. But in this case, “The feeling of the board was that what was proposed wasn’t aesthetically pleasing in keeping with the standards of the community,” he said.

Mr. Rudnickas said that the association invited Mr. Wood to submit a modified application, but Mr. Wood — who is the first homeowner in the association to apply for solar panels — said he was not sure whether he will do so.

Mr. Wood’s case, first reported in the Woodbury Bulletin, has echoes around the nation.

 

In Somerset County in New Jersey, a homeowner was ordered to take down 28 panels.

In California, another homeowner, Marc Weinberger, sued his homeowners association last year after his efforts to put solar panels on his roof were rejected.

Mr. Weinberger and his lawyer, Michael McQueen, have since told Green Inc. that their motion for summary judgment was granted, and Mr. Weinberger installed a system early this year.

In another California case, Marty Griffin, a homeowner in Santa Clarita, applied to put solar panels on a hillside on his property. The association said no, but he went ahead anyway and got sued.

The litigation has been under way for more than a year. Mr. Griffin says the association did not respond in a timely way to his application; a lawyer for the association, Ricardo Cestero, told Green Inc. that Mr. Griffin “did not follow correct procedures.”

Mr. Griffin details his saga, including legal documents, on his Web site.

For solar installers, the roadblocks can be frustrating. John Berger, the chief executive of Standard Renewable Energy, a Houston-based firm that designs and installs solar systems for homes, said that the homeowner associations’ prohibitions had already cost him more than $1 million in business.

“It is a big problem,” he said.

Lawmakers in Texas are considering a bill that would prevent homeowner associations from banning solar panels, and similar laws are already in place in a dozen or more states, according to the Database of State Initiatives for Renewable Energy — including Arizona, Colorado, Florida and California, among others.

Mr. Wood said he planned to contact his state legislators in the hopes of enacting this type of law in Minnesota.

The laws, however, are rarely comprehensive, as some of the California cases suggest.

Rusty Haynes, a project manager at the North Carolina Solar Center, which manages the D.S.I.R.E. database, said that some applied only to new construction, and others might be vague or limited in scope.

In Arizona a few years ago, a homeowner was challenged over the color of her panels (they were apparently too dark), despite a state law intended to smooth the process.

Has this happened in your community? Is this an issue for you? Feel free to comment below, or e-mail george@hbsadvantage.com

Monday, April 13, 2009

BY LISA CORYELL
Special to the Times

EWING — It may have been God who said “Let there be light,” but it was a couple of business- savvy local church leaders who found a way to turn that divine gift into a money-saving venture for their congregation.

Grace Cathedral Fellowship Ministries church on Calhoun Street has plugged into the sun with a $600,000 solar energy system expected to cut church energy costs in half.

“Parishioners are strained by the economy and churches have cut costs where they can,” said Ronald Cobbs, chairman deacon of the church. “God will do a lot for us, but we have to some things our selves. Churches have to have good business sense.”

Installed by Trinity Solar of Freehold, the 95.13 kilowatt system is expected to produce approximately 120,000 kilowatt hours per year for the church — the largest solar energy system on any church in Mercer County.

The system is expected to generate enough energy to reduce church utility costs by about $40,000 a year. Church leaders say they expect to reap another $70,000 each year by selling Renewable Energy Credits to electricity providers in the state.

“We believe within six years we’ll have this system paid for,” said Bishop Jerome Wilcox, church pastor.

The giant solar panels needed to harness the sun’s energy sit cheek-to-jowl on the rooftops of the sprawling church sanctuary and an adjacent fellowship hall. A massive “inverter” on the north- side of the sanctuary changes the energy from DC power to AC power.

“We use what we need and what we don’t need goes back to the grid for PSE&G to use,” Cobbs said.

While the financial savings are a blessing, the ecological impact is divine, Cobbs said.

“We see the significance of going green,” he said. “If we can take the energy from the sun its much better for the environment.”

Ewing Mayor Jack Ball congratulated Wilcox on the completion of the new system, which is expected to be up and running in the next few days.

“Bishop Wilcox has done some wonderful work in this community through the years and the installation of this clean, environmentally- friendly energy system demonstrates his ongoing commitment to his fellowship and the community at large,” Ball said….

Our perspective:

Bravo! We are currently speaking to 3 different churches regarding the possibility of installing solar.

Maybe God is leading the charge afterall!!!

Should you be intersted in learning more about your own solar solution or solar possibility, give us a call. 856-857-1230.

You mail also email  george@hbsadvantage.com 

We can show you how to structure your solar investment and take advantage of all the federal and state incentives.

As reported in Huffington Green

BEIJING (AFP) – China has more than tripled its target for wind power capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2020, likely making it the world’s fastest growing market for wind energy technology, state press said.

China is aiming for an annual wind power growth rate of 20 percent for the foreseeable future, Feng Junshi, an official with the National Energy Administration, told a Beijing conference, according to the China Daily.

The new target for 2020 is up from a goal of 30 gigawatts announced by the government 18 months ago, the report said.

China currently has 12 gigawatts of installed wind power, but that is set to grow to 20 gigawatts by next year, the newspaper said.

“China is powering ahead with no visible signs of slow down,” the report quoted Steve Sawyer of the Brussels-based Global Wind Energy Council as saying.

“They intend to become the largest market in the world, very clearly, and they probably will unless things take off in the US again in the relatively near term.”

China is currently the fourth largest producer of wind power after the United States, Germany and Spain.

In addition to vast wind power facilities in its arid north and northwest regions, China is also actively building wind farms off its eastern and southern coasts.

The country is the world’s second largest energy producer, but is struggling to wean itself off its dependency on coal, which is highly polluting and blamed for emitting the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Our Perspective:

This is good news. China has been in an expansion mode. I have friends who go there for business and they say that construction is booming.

I am glad they are looking to alternative energy to help support this growth. Should they have relied on fossil energy solutions, they would have had 1 foot in the grave.

There is no one solution that will address our growing energy needs. There will be a combination of viable solutions, when coordinated together, will power America’s future.

Let us know your thoughts?

You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

By Diane Mastrull

Pennsylvania will start issuing rebate checks in July to help homeowners offset the cost of installing solar-powered energy systems, but don’t expect an immediate stampede to plug into the sun.

Even with a state rebate of up to 35 percent, on top of maximum federal tax credits of 30 percent, going solar requires a sizable investment. The typical four-kilowatt residential system costs about $35,000.

In all but affluent households, that is an unthinkable expense, says David Blumenfeld – especially now, when “everybody is hurting, everybody is scared about losing their job.”

So he is offering another pathway to the sun.

By offering homeowners the option of leasing solar systems – a deal that would not involve the up-front costs typical of buying such equipment – Blumenfeld’s new company, Urban Eco Electric, hopes to raise a bumper crop of solar panels across Philadelphia’s rowhouse rooftops.

UEE, believed to be one of only a few such companies nationwide, also would guarantee 50 percent decreases in monthly electricity costs for the first two years of a 20-year agreement.

For the subsequent 18 years, customers would pay their current electric rates – as long as their electricity use did not exceed the amount on which that rate was based. The rates would remain frozen even in the likely event of substantial increases, which are expected when utilities start lifting rate caps in 2011.

“At the end of the day, the savings are substantial,” Blumenfeld said of solar leasing.

It is a relatively new green-economy concept, largely confined to California and Connecticut, but expected to “be very prevalent” soon, said Adam Stern, executive vice president of the Gemstone Group Inc., a renewable-energy investment-banking firm in Wayne.

“In fact, my organization is creating a solar-leasing business for Pennsylvania,” Stern said last week. “We are working on a late-summer or early-fall launch.”

After that, Gemstone plans to turn its attention to New Jersey, where grants and loan programs are the financial-assistance options available to homeowners for solar-powered systems.

Gemstone was the architect of Connecticut’s solar-leasing program, which debuted last summer, and is managing its leasing company.

UEE, formed in January, has a staff of three and expects to employ as many as 100 within 18 months as installers, systems monitors, and sales staff are added. The company has been marketing for about a month, canvassing neighborhoods, street fairs, and Earth Day events.

The goal is to get 100 signed contracts within 100 days, said Blumenfeld, 47, a lawyer and real estate broker who lives in Lower Merion. Once that target is reached, installation would begin.

As its name implies, UEE is confining its work to the city. Flat rowhouse roofs and their unobstructed access to the sun make them ideal properties for solar-heating systems, Blumenfeld said.

An added plus is that most city homes use gas for heating and cooking, making it that much more possible to serve 100 percent of a rowhouse’s electricity needs through solar, he said.

Blumenfeld grew up in the city and spent seven years with Grasso Holdings as a partner responsible for acquisitions and new development. With conditions in the development business “dreadful” over the last year, Blumenfeld said, he decided that “it was time to go out and do something new.”

He thought about the solar industry largely because the state legislature had passed in July Gov. Rendell’s $650 million Alternative Energy Funding Act, which allotted $100 million for the solar-rebate program for homes and small businesses.

The more Blumenfeld read about solar initiatives, the more convinced he grew “that everyone was focused on the wrong market – large power-purchase agreements. Going after the residential market seemed a huge opportunity.”

In typical solar-installation deals, customers are told to expect a return on their investments in five to seven years at best. Blumenfeld said that is merely guesswork – and completely irrelevant to those who cannot come up with the money for installation.

How UEE will get a return on its investments is a complex matter of depreciation, tax credits, and use of federal, state, and local incentives. For instance, using the solar electricity generated by its systems, UEE would have the ability to sell renewable-energy certificates to utilities to help them meet renewable-energy-portfolio standards.

Andrew Kleeman, managing partner at Center City-based Eos Energy Solutions, is a solar installer who contends the essentials are not in place to make leasing work “in the foreseeable future.” Still unclear in Pennsylvania, he said, is how solar-leasing companies would access state rebates that are available to homeowners buying solar systems.

Those subsidies are “essential to making the numbers work,” Kleeman said.In the three-story Queen Village rowhouse Peter and Rebecca Lazor live in with their 2-year-old son, $30,000 in green improvements already have been made. They have replaced all the windows, reinsulated the house, and replaced the appliances with energy-efficient models.

Installing a solar-power system “was the next logical move,” said Peter Lazor, 38, an architect. But an out-of-pocket expense of $25,000 to $40,000 “was cost-prohibitive” – they would have to stay in the house far longer than anticipated to derive enough energy savings to justify a loan for the system.

Then along came Blumenfeld with his leasing pitch, an idea Lazor found “really attractive.” Come summer, he hopes to have a rowhouse juiced by the sun.

Our Perspective:

PA has just started it’s solar initiative. A small step indeed but a much needed step.

Should you wanrt to know more about financial structures and other financial opportunities that take advantage of federal and stae incentives, contact:

Hutchinson Business Solutions

You may email us george@hbsadvantage.com

Written by Carolyn Thompson April 22, 2009  AP

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A New York state utility is exploring whether it is possible to put electricity-generating wind turbines in the Great Lakes, rather than inland or along the shoreline.

The state-owned New York Power Authority on Wednesday began asking potential developers how they would go about constructing an offshore wind project in Lake Erie or Lake Ontario and what the environmental, technical and other hurdles might be.

“The goal here is to develop within the next five years an offshore wind project in the Great Lakes that will produce a minimum of 120 megawatts of clean, renewable energy,” said NYPA President and Chief Executive Richard Kessel, who announced the plans Wednesday on the windy Lake Erie shore in Buffalo.

Several similar projects are being considered in Canada, on the northern side of Lake Erie, as well as off the Toronto shoreline of Lake Ontario, but nothing has been built so far, said Terry Yonker, chairman of the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative Steering Committee, a binational group pursuing wind development in the United States and Canada.

President Barack Obama has made wind energy a key part of his energy plan, estimating that it could generate as much as 20 percent of the U.S. electricity demand by 2030. The Interior Department issued long-awaited regulations Wednesday governing offshore renewable energy projects that would tap wind, ocean currents and waves to produce electricity.

In New York, Gov. David Paterson has set a goal for New York to meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through renewable power by 2015.

“Harnessing the power of wind is critical to achieving that goal, and the Great Lakes offshore wind project will help us reach it,” Paterson said.

Several environmental groups have signed on as early supporters of the Great Lakes project, including the Audubon Society, Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.

The wind turbines would be more than a mile offshore, in depths of 60 to 180 feet of water.

Kessel estimated the project would cost $700 million to $1 billion, which the developer could make back in power sales.

“It is more costly to place turbines in the lake,” Yonker said, “but on the other hand, the more you get away from land the better the wind resource becomes.”

NYPA’s request for comments, issued Wednesday, will be followed as early as next week by a similar request for technical information on the potential impact on the water, fish and birds.

One issue that must be addressed is the thick sheet of ice that often forms across much of Lake Erie in the winter and the potential impact on the turbines as the ice shifts and breaks. The deeper Lake Ontario does not freeze over.

If the project proves feasible, the authority would select a developer by the end of this year or early next year, Kessel said.

“There’s no reason why we can’t see a major offshore wind project operating here within five years,” he said.

JUDITH KOHLER | April 29, 2009 05:53 PM EST | AP

GOLDEN, Colo. — The primary U.S. lab for renewable energy will receive $110 million in federal stimulus funds and another $83 million will go toward wind energy and other alternative power and efficiency projects, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday.

“Wind energy will be one of the most important contributors to meeting President Obama’s target of generating 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2012,” Chu said.

Also on the administration’s priorty list is making buildings more energy efficient.

NREL, in Golden, will get $68 million for an energy-efficient office building, with the goal of creating a design process for use on other construction projects. NREL will also receive $19.2 million for solar, geothermal and fuel cell equipment to produce electricity for its labs and $13.5 million for upgrades to its biorefinery research facility.

NREL will get another $10 million for testing and evaluation of wind technology at the Energy Department‘s Wind Technology Center in Colorado.

The wind energy research money will be administered by DOE’s office in Golden and includes $45 million to research and test drive-train systems for wind turbines, $14 million to encourage private industry in the development of lighter, more advanced materials for wind turbine components and $24 million to develop up to three partnerships between universities and industry to focus on critical technological improvements for wind energy.

Obama’s goal, Chu said, is to prepare the country to compete economically decades down the road, as well as meet the immediate challenges of climate change and energy demand.

“Because of those things, you want to get head of the curve,” Chu said. “This is the president’s vision, knowing what’s going to happen 10, 20, 30 years from now. And we want to go where that is rather than fight a rearguard action.”

Chu’s visit to the lab was his first as energy secretary. He is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in Berkeley, Calif.

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said Chu is moving the U.S. toward “the next place that we need to go as a country.”

The Energy Department is managing $39 billion in grants, tax breaks and loan guarantees under the stimulus package, with much of it going to renewable energy and conservation programs.

Our Perspective:

This is good new for America. It shows that President Obama is commited to promoting alternative energy. I have often stated that there is no one solution to our energy problem. Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Fuel Cells and perhaps something that is still in the early planning stages, will all play a big part in promoting energy independence.

Let’s work to keep the dream alive!

Let us know your thoughts?

Would you like to know more about how to fund your alternative energy investment? 

How to take advantage of all the incentives?

What will be my payback?

Contact us george@hbsadvantage.com

NEWTON, Iowa — President Barack Obama, standing Wednesday in the shell of a once-giant Maytag appliance factory that now houses a wind energy company, declared that a “new era of energy exploration in America” would be a crucial to leading the nation out of an economic crisis.

With pieces of wind turbine towers as a backdrop, Obama touted the small manufacturing firm as a success and as a step toward reducing the United States’ reliance on polluting fuels. But as the president on Earth Day set a goal for wind to generate as much as 20 percent of the U.S. electricity demand by 2030, legislation to make that a reality faced a challenge back in Washington in the Democratic-led Congress.

“The nation that leads the world in creating new energy sources will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy,” Obama said in a state that launched him on the road to the White House with a surprise upset over one-time rival Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“America can be that nation. America must be that nation. And while we seek new forms of fuel to power our homes and cars and businesses, we will rely on the same ingenuity _ the same American spirit _ that has always been a part of our American story.”

It’s an American spirit, though, that has been damped with economic downturn and financial crisis.

The president left Washington for a few hours Wednesday to visit this small Iowa town, which took a huge economic hit when Maytag Corp. shut its doors in 2007. The Maytag plant employed some 4,000 in a town of 16,000 residents in jobs that paid about $30,000 to $40,000 a year.

In its place is Trinity Structural Towers, a 90-person manufacturing firm that makes parts of wind turbines the president hopes to expand on land and at sea through the government’s first plan to harness ocean currents to produce energy.

O”Now, the choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy,” Obama said. “The choice we face is between prosperity and decline. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy.”

In Washington, the president’s plan to increase alternative energy sources and create environmentally friendly jobs hit some snags despite Obama’s fellow Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reinforced Obama’s message in testimony to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday.

The administration’s draft bill is designed to help stem the pollution blamed for climate change by capping greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 83 percent by mid-century.

The White House wants to see movement on the legislation by Memorial Day. To help that along, aides said the president plans to personally make his case that the costs of dealing with climate change can be reduced dramatically by adopting programs that will spur energy efficiency and wider use of non-fossil energy such as wind, solar and biofuels.

In Newton, Obama proclaimed that “once-shuttered factories are whirring back to life,” although the facility he toured is a shadow of what it replaced here about 30 miles east of Des Moines.

“Today this facility is alive again with new industry,” Obama said, while noting that “this community continues to struggle and not everyone has been so fortunate as to be rehired.”

Trinity now employs about 90 people _ hardly the replacement Newton so desperately needs.

“We’ll never have another Maytag,” said Paul Bell, a Newton police officer who also serves in the state legislature. “Maybe we shouldn’t have had a company here that the majority of people worked for. We put all of our eggs in one basket.”

Recognizing the challenges remaining in Newton and scores of towns like it coast-to-coast, Obama quickly added: “Obviously things aren’t exactly the same as they were with Maytag.”

With the same root in realism, Obama acknowledged the United States’ energy policy will not change instantly, given the country’s reliance on oil and natural gas.

“But the bulk of our efforts must focus on unleashing a new, clean-energy economy that will begin to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, will cut our carbon pollution by about 80 percent by 2050 and create millions of new jobs right here in America, right here in Newton,” he said.

But it won’t come quickly. The United States imports almost 4.9 billion barrels of oil and refined products annually. That is raw energy that cannot be replaced, one windmill at a time.

Instead, Obama urged bold thinking _ and spending _ to address climate change and energy supplies.

“So on this Earth Day, it is time for us to lay a new foundation for economic growth by beginning a new era of energy exploration in America,” he said to applause.

Obama also pushed personal responsibility, calling on every American to replace one incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent. The president also said the leaders of the world’s major economies will meet next week to discuss the energy crisis.

In Landover, Md., on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden marked Earth Day by announcing that $300 million in federal stimulus money will go to cities and towns to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles.

___

Associated Press writer Brian Westley in Landover, Md., contributed to this report.

Daniel C. Esty

Posted April 20, 2009 | 03:50 PM (EST)  As reported in Huffington Post Green

Talk has begun to turn to the new economy that will emerge from the present collapse. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt has suggested that the current crisis is not just a recession but a fundamental “reset” of how business gets done. And Time magazine has taken up this theme with a reset cover story. But there has been little discussion of exactly what changes – in principles and practices — should be made so that we rebuild our economy on firmer foundations. As we celebrate Earth Day this week, it is a good time to commit to “sustainability” as a centerpiece of a revitalized regulatory system.

For the past three decades, debate has raged over whether and how to deregulate. But while markets offer the prospect of promoting innovation, growth, and prosperity, few now believe that capitalism is self-correcting or that the private sector needs only minimal supervision. From the demise of Lehman Brothers and AIG to the skullduggery of Bernie Madoff and Allan Stanford, the signs of inadequate regulation and market failure surround us.

Two particular forms of market failure underlie the meltdown of the past year and make sustainability the right touchstone for our regulatory reset efforts:

• Externalized costs and risks
• Incomplete information

Both of these problems require that we rethink our approach to regulation — and re-establish the fundamentals of our economy on a more sustainable basis. And note that this principle should apply broadly, not just in the financial arena.

We need regulations which ensure that companies cannot structure their operations so that any upside gains accrue to their owners (or worse yet their managers), while risks or costs get shifted onto society as a whole. In the banking sector, rules against over-leveraging are urgently required. The recently released Turner Report in the UK outlines the first steps in this direction that should be taken. More generally, financial reporting rules must be designed to expose hidden risks and externalized costs.

We should likewise insist that companies which send emissions up a smokestack or out an effluent pipe cease their pollution or pay for the harm inflicted on the community. In our “reset” world, economic success cannot come at the price of harms imposed on the public in the form of contaminated air and water or risk of climate change. Thus while we lay the foundation for a more sustainable economy, let’s similarly adopt rules that provide for a sustainable environmental future. This will require overhauling the traditional approach to environmental regulation which countenances way too much in the way of externalities by offering “permits” up to a certain level of harm.

President Obama’s call for a price on carbon dioxide emissions represents a good first step in the “no externalities” direction. But let’s broaden the push and make polluters pay for all the harm they cause. If companies — and each one of us in our personal lives — had to pay for our waste and pollution, behavior would change. Putting a price on harm-causing creates incentives for care and conservation — efficiency and resource productivity.

More importantly, these price signals will drive a market response. Companies that are positioned to help others reduce their waste or cut their emissions will find customers eager for their goods and services. And where no easy solutions are available, harm charges will motivate “cleantech” innovation as inventors and entrepreneurs recognize the prospect of making money by solving environmental problems.

In parallel with a commitment to internalizing externalities, we must adopt transparency as a watchword. Market capitalism does not work without adequate information about economic actors. This reality has been understood in theory, but now needs to be advanced in practice. Government has a critical role to play in establishing the terms of disclosure about companies, markets, products, investment vehicles, and more. Public officials must also be empowered to ensure that disclosures are complete and accurate.

Well-designed reporting rules make it easier to spot externalized costs or risks and harder to hide malfeasance. Widely available metrics also facilitate benchmarking across companies, which offers a mechanism for assessing performance, highlighting leaders and laggards, and spurring competitive pressures that drive all toward better results. Studying the leaders offers an important way to identify best practices in everything from corporate strategy to pollution control. Likewise, outliers (such as those who make 10% returns year after year without fail) can be isolated for special review and scrutiny.

Such transparency would make it easier to refine our compensation systems to reward superior performance and real value creation. Carefully constructed disclosure rules could help, on the other hand, to unmask mere financial engineering, which should not be credited with outsized rewards.

There is a great deal of work to be done to re-establish prosperity across our country and the world. Smart regulation can channel corporate behavior and individual effort toward sustainable economic growth — that is durable because it rests on solid underpinnings not hidden risks or externalized costs.

Daniel C. Esty is the Hillhouse Professor at Yale University with appointments in both the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is the co-author (with Andrew Winston) of the prize-winning book, Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage (just released in a revised and updated edition published by John Wiley). A former Deputy Assistant Administrator at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Professor Esty advised the Obama Campaign on energy and environmental issues and served on the Obama Transition Team.