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tv   Washington Ideas Forum Day 1 Morning Session  CSPAN  January 1, 2015 11:20pm-11:35pm EST

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i will dive right into the questions -- david, you had said the energy industry should imitate the practices of some of the biggest companies in the world. an important difference between that industry and the energy industry is people don't notice, let alone care about energy or climate change until energy prices or high or worse goes away altogether, so how'd you make people care like they do their iphone? >> you sort of her my feelings saying people don't care about what i worked my whole career on -- it is true that the fundamental difference if you think about energy in particular , the part of the sector that i come from that there is nothing more fundamental to modern life and that the population is more indifferent to -- electricity and maybe water so how'd you
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make people aware. one statistic i saw said the average american spends six minutes per year thinking about their energy decisions -- >> compared to a study that people check their phones 60 times per day to -- per day. >> i read that too, a person picks up the phone 1500 times a day and sleep within three feet of their phone and it is on -- we don't have that level of engagement in the energy sector and part of it is the nature of the industry, our nation has been a command and control industry, the consumer has no choice if your provider is given a monopoly in whatever geographic area, but that is all changing so we need to make people more aware and fortunately there is a series of products coming along that are
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somewhat more interesting -- maybe they are not iphones but i find in my own life that people are more interested in the prospects of making their own electricity with solar power -- now the price point is where it needs to be. electric cars are obviously interesting so the technology exists, the key is to get it out of that percentage of the population that falls into the innovator or early adopter and into the 70% of the population that -- to date myself what was called during the vietnam war this silent majority, to get them to embrace clean energy and then we would be on our way. so you spend a lot of your time talking about the importance of shifting the clean energy and renewable energy which is somewhat of an anomaly in the utility industry which is retirement only -- predominately fuel base. but your company is almost 95%
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made up of oil coal and natural gas, so do you have a specific target in mind going out looking out into the future that you want to get that 5% number up to and of course decreasing fossil fuels and if you don't have a goal he won a make one up and share it with us, one of the things that is not part of the co job description enough is how do you mitigate the risk of your company from disruption and there is a lot of seer. disruptive change we've seen it in every industry, it is shocking but when i was young in the 1970's, the telecom industry was often referred to in the same breath as the electric industry, these are the two utilities in the united states and the telecom gets deregulated and broken up and now it is hot and sexy and basically in the i.t. industry we are working our way out of the primordial lose
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so i don't have a specific target and i would say i am not even hostile to fossil fuel, one of the key technologies has come along that has to work if you will do something about climate change is called post-combustion carbon capture technology, clearly the name was not thought of my marketing person. >> same person who came up with the word fracking. >> that's right, the f word. basically, there are fossil fuels and then there is coal. usually coal is more than 50% of electricity production and now because of lower natural gas prices it is more like 40% that it is twice as carbon intensive as natural gas, the average age of a coal plant in the united states is 40 years old which means the coal plants were built in 1970's and of the 1970's they
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built them to last 40 years because they thought and 40 years time nuclear power would be so cheap that you would not need coal so we see how well people predict the future but the average age of a coal plant in china is less than 10 years old and will with certainty be operating in the year 2050. globally if we want to do something about climate change we will be using coal and natural gas and we need to get the carbon out of it and that's why we're just announced the largest capture project in the world which is being built in texas. >> going back to that, the obama administration has a goal that the new epa climate change rule to cut the percent of carbon based on 2005 levels by 2030, given how important clean energy is to the company, have you thought about creating some sort
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of goals? >> we have thought about creating goals for the company -- yes. the thing that is a little bit unnerving about the obama administration's 2030 goal, i start off with what do we need to be by 2050 because that seems to be the year the world's scientist oka sans, 2030 is a little bit of a convenient -- scientists focus on, 2030 is a little bit of a convenient year. the reason you pick 2030 instead of 2050 is because between those years if we stay on our present course, natural gas will dislodge nuclear, every nuclear plant in the country will retire between 2030 and 2050 because we have not built a new plant in the last one permitted was 1979.
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when gas displaces coal you reduce your carbon and when gas displaces nuclear you go in the wrong direction and that is not what we can afford to do so we have to look at the glide path down from 2030 to 2050. >> going out to 2050 or maybe even 500 years forward from that, there has been a lot of talk about natural gas being good for the climate, people close to the administration say it is essentially their climate policy right now. because of places like nuclear power and renewable energy, you think on a net benefit basis, it will be good for efforts to address climate change or net negative? >> if handled happily i think national -- natural gas is on the positive side but first of all you have to create
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responsible fracking and that from a climate change perspective is making sure -- >> you think it is done safely now? >> i think 90% of the companies that are fracking which the bigger companies tend to do in a responsible way but they are doing it because no one is requiring them to do it and whether you are talking water tables or methane, there is still a lot of mom and pop shops that don't exercise the same level of control so certainly i would support what i would call responsible fracking but the key is to make sure the world does not get home on natural gas because i have seen people study this and if we go to what people call the natural gas world it's not something any of us want to see. the key is that it summons the
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pragmatic world to use natural gas as a bridge fuel. >> i think it has elongated that short bridge to a long road. do you think oil and natural gas boom can help efforts or make it more difficult? >> if you think about energy is the one sort of infrastructure -- the critical infrastructure in the united states that has always been in private hands as opposed to the public sector but what i love about fracking -- we would all like to have a framework established i washington for what does the united eights want to be when it comes to energy. two of our biggest markets are california and texas and they have a very if review on climate change and to the world but both of them have a definitive view on where they want to be as a state so we can respond to what
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you want, but what i like about where oil and gas is happening in the united states, if you were talking five years or 10 years ago about the idea of american energy independence you would have been delusional, people would have said it is not possible. domestic oil production has increased from four million barrels to 8 million barrels a day what i like to think for a political perspective is i think the public policy will support climate change and it will actually be phrased in terms of achieving energy independence and creating domestic jobs because all of those things will happen but the oil and the gas in the solar and the wind industry have to stop inking of a zero-sum game. i think natural gas is what enables solar power.
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43 million american homes are tied to the natural gas system, the solar power on your roof does not work at night, if you have a device in your basement that could turn natural gas into electricity plus the solar power on your roof, you would be set. >> that is -- how important on a scale of one to 10, how important our public policies? how important are those policies to the shift to clean energy, 10 being incredibly important and essential and one being irrelevant very -- irrelevant. >> people don't get a sense of how big the energy is. >> first, can you pick the number? >> at the startup phase, it is important on an eight to 10
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once the industry is more mature it drops to three or four. was i supposed to give two numbers? >> that's good. >> now i can't remember what i was -- >> would you say your carbon cap sequestration project is more in the eight to 10 level? >> if you were allocating government money right now -- we were recipients of loan guarantee money for big solar projects -- the two things that have made solar cheap around the world are germany who went early and now everyone in the world should think germany because the population is paying an enormous amount for solar but created the market and then the stimulus have created a domestic market that has caused the price of solar to drop by 70% since the
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beginning of the obama administration. so i think that is very important and carbon capture technology -- as long as you don't have a price on carbon, i am a big believer that the private sector can lead the social movement but the private sector is profit driven, the private sector will not solve for something for which there is no price and so carbon capture -- the only way we made this work is because of where the plant is located we can turn it into oil. >> which defeats the whole purpose -- >> we could get philosophical on whether it does but there is the argument at if we capture the carbon to get oil out of the ground -- we would just say it substitutes domestic production and does not affect american demand for gasoline. >> you think the company does climate change for all true a stick reasons -- all true a
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stick -- altruistic reasons? >> you see people who are consumers facing companies and are concerned about sustainability writ large and one of the big messages for the american public is when the movement started in the 70's the only thing the public could do was to recycle. i think the big brand name companies, coca-cola and mcdonald's -- they do it because of their brand and because of their employees that are demanding. >> we have lots of employees in the energy industry and with that we are out of time and i would like to thank everybody for joining us. [applause] >> more now from the washington ideas


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