Breaking: Cathy Zoi confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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"Breaking: Cathy Zoi confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy"

http://i.fe.imwx.com/web/fe/2008/11/hotlist-08czoi.jpgI’ve just been forwarded this message from DOE:

On June 19th, the United States Senate, by voice vote, confirmed Cathy Zoi to be the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

This is a terrific piece of news.  To explain why, I’m going to reprint below my March post “And Obama gives the best clean energy and global warming solutions job to “¦“:

Cathy Zoi, CEO of Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) under Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Zoi has a unique combination of expertise in clean energy and high level federal government experience — she was Chief of Staff in the Clinton White House Office on Environmental Policy, managing the staff working on environmental and energy issues (full bio here, recent writing below). Since I have known Zoi for nearly 2 decades and since in 1997 I held the job she is now nominated for, I can personally attest she will be able to hit the ground running in the crucial job of overseeing the vast majority of the development and deployment of plausible climate solutions technology.

What does EERE do? You could spend hours on their website, here, exploring everything they are into. Of the 12 to 14 most plausible wedges the world needs to stabilize at 350 to 450 ppm — the full global warming solution — EERE is the principal federal agency for working with businesses to develop and deploy the technology for 11 of them!

The stimulus and the 2009 budget dramatically increases — more than doubles — EERE funding for technology development and deployment. Zoi’s most important job is deployment, deployment, deployment. And again she is a uniquely qualified to get clean energy into the marketplace. Zoi was a manager at the US Environmental Protection Agency where “she pioneered the Energy Star Program,” which was the pioneering energy efficiency deployment program launched in the early 1990s.

So we know Zoi gets energy efficiency. Here’s what she wrote last year about “Embracing the Challenge to Repower America“:

Many Americans have a hard time thinking about our energy future, largely because their energy present is so challenging. With gasoline prices hovering near $4 per gallon and rising energy bills at home and at work, our economy is struggling with the burden of imported oil and reliance on fossil fuels. The need to satisfy the nation’s oil appetite has shaped our foreign and defense postures, and is a primary reason for our current entanglements overseas. Extreme weather here in the U.S. has us feeling uneasy. And the scientists remind us more urgently every week about the mounting manifestations of the climate crisis.

To solve these problems, we must repower our economy. Fast.

Vice President Gore has issued a challenge for us to do just that: Generate 100 percent of America’s electricity from truly clean sources that do not contribute to global warming — and do so within 10 years. It is an ambitious but attainable goal. American workers, businesses and families are up to it.

Meeting the challenge to repower America will deliver the affordability, stability and confidence our economy needs, as well as a healthy environment. And it will generate millions of good American jobs that can’t be outsourced.

It will involve simultaneous work on three fronts. First, get the most out of the energy we currently produce. Second, quickly deploy the clean energy technologies that we already know can work. Third, create a new integrated electricity grid to deliver power from where it is generated to where people live.

The first front involves energy efficiency. The potential here is vast and largely untapped. Now is the time to begin a comprehensive national energy upgrade that will reduce the energy bills of homeowners and businesses — even as costs of energy supplies may be on the rise.

The second front requires expanding the use of existing generation technologies. This will include accelerated growth in our wind energy industry. We have a strong running start — the U.S. was the leading installer of wind technology last year. Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens says we can get at least 20 percent of America’s electricity from wind power. We think he’s right.

Solar thermal power is also booming and poised for rapid acceleration. The resource potential is so vast that a series of collectors in the American southwest totaling just 92 miles on a side could power our entire electricity system. Utilities in Arizona, Nevada, and California have already begun to tap this potential, with plans for powering nearly one million homes underway.

Advances in thermal storage technologies, along with investments in our grid, mean that solar thermal power will be able to provide electricity at night, like coal power does today.

Nuclear and hydroelectric power facilities currently combine to contribute roughly 25% of America’s electricity. That will continue. Coal and natural gas can also play a significant role by capturing and storing their carbon emissions safely. Our hope is that this CCS emissions technology can be developed and commercialized quickly. Without it, coal isn’t “clean.” There are reportedly a few CCS plants now proposed in the U.S., although another roughly 70 proposed coal plants have no such plans to capture their carbon pollution.

The third front is the creation of a unified national electricity grid. A “super smart grid” will form the backbone and the entire skeleton of our modern power system. Efficient high voltage lines will move power from remote, resource-rich areas to places where power is consumed.

It will also allow households to make money by automatically using energy at the cheapest times and selling electricity back to the grid when a surplus is available can. A smart meter spins both ways.

Meeting this 100 percent clean power challenge will require a one-time capital investment in new infrastructure, with the bulk of funding coming from private finance. If policies reward reducing global warming pollution, private capital will flow towards clean energy solutions.

But the most important cost figures to consider may be the ones we’ll avoid. American utilities will spend roughly $100 billion this year on coal and natural gas to fuel power plants. And more next year and the year after that — until we make the switch to renewable fuels that are free and limitless.

The 10-year time frame is key.

The science, the economic pressures and our national security concerns demand swift, concerted action. The best climate scientists tell us we must make rapid progress to turn the corner on global carbon emissions or the ecological consequences will be irreversible.

The solutions are available now — there are no technology or material impediments. Failing to move swiftly will deprive the U.S. economy of earnings from one of the fastest growing technology sectors in the world.

We’ve done this before. We mobilized the auto industry in 12 months to service the hardware needs of WWII. The Marshall Plan to reconstruct Europe was executed in four years. And as Vice President Gore pointed out, we reached the moon in eight years, not ten.

We can do this. With support from the American people and leadership from elected officials, America can accept the challenge of building a safe, secure and sustainable energy future.

In short, she gets both energy efficiency and Concentrated solar thermal power Solar Baseload.

Kudos to Obama for this terrific pick!

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10 Responses to Breaking: Cathy Zoi confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

  1. Kota says:

    Great news!!

  2. Sasparilla says:

    Awesome this has finally come through, yes we can!

  3. ken levenson says:

    Nice to see more change we can believe in.

    Can’t help but wonder…what’s her opinion of Passive House?

  4. Pat Richards says:

    Nice to see someone with chops get the post, particularly since Energy Secretary Chu has so far seems to be more enamored with nuclear options and the bogus promise of clean coal (sorry, I mean the bogus promise of CSS). But I have to wonder how much leash Chu will give her to do the right things?

  5. Solar Power says:

    It would be nice to see an increase in research for new alternative energy fuel sources.

  6. mauri pelto says:

    This sounds like a great choice. In your opinion is a practically oriented assistant sec. more important to have than the full sec.?

    [JR: I am not certain exactly what question you are asking Mauri. There is no perfect person for any one of these incredibly challenging jobs. Chu is the most qualified secretary of energy we have ever had — and he certainly understands the need for aggressive deployment of energy efficiency. It is historically quite unusual to have a secretary of energy who is so sophisticated about clean energy. With a first rate assistant secretary (plus a first rate president and progressive Congress and serious money), I would expect the department to achieve remarkable things, if they get the full eight years.]

  7. David B. Benson says:

    :-)

  8. Hendo says:

    It’s great to see the US making such great forward strides to address the climate issue. I wish our government (Oz) would catch up!

    One thing though: The benefits of a new freeway last about 5 years before the increase of traffic enabled by that freeway are lost. New freeways generate more traffic, and cause their own demise as time-savers.

    I have this concern that the new global energy initiatives, some of which look quite promising, will in part simply serve to maintain our destructive levels of over-consumption of earths resources.

    Maybe I haven’t been looking in the right spots, but I don’t see much about addressing those other needs that must be met before we achieve a sustainable world. I know energy source and efficiency are really good, but if they serve to increase global consumption without fundamental changes in anthropogenic behaviour generally, we are still on the slippery road.

    I’d appreciate if someone could sort out my thinking on this.

  9. David B. Benson says:

    Hendo — The issue is sustainability, as you note. In the long run, whatever is done must not deplete resources. Which implies some limits to growth, except where ingenuity finds some greater efficiency or whatever.

    In agriculture this implies going entirely organic, eventually; no more industrial agriculture, although some artifical nitrogen can be fixed entirely organically.

    Our use of the oceans is not currently sustainable, but I have no suggestions just now.

    Global consumption can be increased sustainably to some extent, many have looked at this issue.

    But the biggest push, especially on this blog, is to stop dumping global warming (so-called greenhouse) gases into the atmosphere. This is absolutely necessary, but nobody thinks it is sufficient in of itself.

  10. David B. Benson says:

    Slightly off-topic, but
    Help Save the Earth, Time to Subsitute Hemp for Oil:
    http://www.alternet.org/environment/140739/help_save_the_earth%2C_time_to_subsitute_hemp_for_oil/

    would help some.