February 21

ENB #192 Chicago’s “Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance” is Neither Clean Nor Affordable. – a critical podcast with Larry Glover and Jack McGeever

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This is an article written by John (Jack) McGeever on LinkedIn, and as I read the article, I had to get a podcast with my good friend Larry Glover, CEO of Glover Group, and Jack. Larry and I have had many discussions about the disproportionally impacted communities and energy policies. Larry is a true industry leader, and I value his opinions.

Jack’s article points out that the building and permitting laws forcing the removal of natural gas do not make sense environmentally, or economically until there is more nuclear.

Sit back and enjoy this discussion, and I enjoyed learning from both men. – Thanks, Larry and Jack, for stopping by the podcast. – Stu

Connect with Larry on his LinkedIn HERE: https://www.linkedin.com/in/larry-glover-3180613/

Connect with Jack on his LinkedIn HERE: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcguyver/

Highlights of the Podcast

00:00 – Intro

03:16 – Glover on Jack’s clean energy interest.

05:30 – McGeever on concerns about Chicago’s ordinance.

07:08 – Glover talks diverse energy mix, mentions solar.

10:07 – McGeever on challenges of renewable energy.

12:49 – Concerns about solar panel fraud.

17:11 – Glover on scaling renewable energy.

19:24 – Affordable energy for impacted communities.

23:21 – McGeever proposes neighborhood energy sharing.

25:59 – Glover on community-based energy solutions.

26:35 – Tax incentives and community solutions.

28:38 – Glover stresses energy education over subsidies.

29:18 – McGeever on future plans and policy involvement.

30:31 – Glover’s final thoughts on energy transition.

33:28 – Outro

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart Turley [00:00:08] Hello, everybody. Welcome to the Energy News Beat podcast. My name’s Stu Turley,  CEO of the Sandstone Group. Energy poverty is a real thing right now. But not only is energy poverty a real thing, there are second order of magnitude of critical decisions in the industry space right now that are really having some horrible impacts on the disproportionately impacted communities. And if you listen to my podcast, you know that I have a heart for those that are not always they’re not making the decisions, however they’re trying to live. I’ve got two fun guests today. I’ve got Larry Glover, he’s the CEO of The Glover Group, and he has been a friend of the podcast and has been on several times, and his podcast listeners have gone nuts. Larry, thank you and welcome to the podcast.

 

Larry Glover [00:01:06] Thank you. Stuart. I’m pleased to be here this morning.

 

Stuart Turley [00:01:10] And I’ll tell you, we’ve. The next one is a surprise. I’ve got Jack Mcgeever, and he reached out to me after I saw his article. That is quite amazing. The article is Chicago’s Clean and Affordable buildings ordinance is neither clean nor affordable. And that I hear what Larry and I have been working on and all these kind of things. And it led to an organic discussion with the layering and I. Jack, welcome to the podcast.

 

Jack McGeever [00:01:44] Thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

 

Stuart Turley [00:01:47] You know, as we were chit chat and getting ready, Larry, you started warming up into some fantastic questions. What were some of those questions?

 

Larry Glover [00:01:55] Well, let’s do that. I was really interested. In Jack’s perspective and what drove him to look at. The issues of Chicago and particularly around clean energy. And so. And now that I’ve had a chance to meet this young man and a sense of really how incredible he is, I’m even more interested in that approach for clean energy, even though there are some things that he and I may not always agree on in terms of facts and and the light, but I absolutely applaud young person bringing a new perspective to this industry. So yeah. I’d love to understand a little bit more about. About why this issue around affordability and around clean became. What we know is that the industry is talking tremendously about affordability. And what does affordability really mean? Is it the lowest price or is it the lowest burden? And how do we now start to look at those differences?

 

Stuart Turley [00:03:19] So what are your. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Larry Glover [00:03:22] So, Jack, if you there’s. Help us help share perspective with me.

 

Jack McGeever [00:03:28] You know, I’ve lived in Chicago almost my entire life. Although I live in the suburbs now, I still like to think myself. And I’ve got the Chicago map right behind me. But I love it. I love the city. I love the people here. I think for me, obviously, as I was telling you guys before we got started. I’ve been interested in this for the last couple of years. And, when I look at this new bill that’s being proposed ordinance, one of the things that I see as the main problem with it is essentially what this bill would, would do is effectively ban on new homes and buildings from having the pipelines that provide energy, that provide your electricity, that allow you to have a warm house. And the cold winters we have here in Chicago, or for your air conditioning in the hot summer. And so for me, the problem is they want to effectively ban natural gas use. And given that so much of our electricity comes from the comes from natural gas. I think that presents a really difficult problem, because essentially what you’ll be doing that is you’ll be increasing the price of energy and electricity, because if you’re no longer using, if you know you’re using natural gas, you’re going to be turning to other methods. And those methods are going to be things such as nuclear. Illinois is the largest producer of nuclear energy. We have more plants than anywhere else in the United States, according to EIA. When you look at coal pulls dirtier than natural gas. Coal’s dirtier than oil, right? So that’s not ever going to be clean. That’s not the way to do it. And if you look at like the other things, look at the other sources, I don’t think it’s necessarily the best approach. And I think that when you look at the people of Chicago, the median income isn’t necessarily high enough to afford what the increase would be. Shouldn’t we be on natural gas? Right. And so you’re going to have people who can’t afford that energy. After we ban natural gas because the prices are going to skyrocket. And I think it’s an unfair, it’s really dangerous situation to put people in.

 

Larry Glover [00:05:32] Yeah. Let me come back and. Drop a little bit about. There’s this sense of displaced energy supply and duty to the degree. I agree with you that. The ban. Our natural gas does create an unusual burden on customers. One, because you need gas in order to in order to produce electricity. So there is there is this dependency that that is that is clearly there. But the other and I think to your point in the article, that if you remove gas from the equation, you have to fill it with something else, right? And you talked about when and what’s the growing contribution of wind, the impact of nuclear. But we know that in, in Illinois that nuclear is running somewhere close to its peak load efficiency, somewhere in the high 90s and in terms of low proficiency. So. That sauce is probably almost tapped out. But what about when you talk about coal? We know we’re moving quickly away from coal because of all those other properties. Right. It was interesting you did not talk about solar. Was that purposeful or was that something that. You didn’t fit with your equation.

 

Jack McGeever [00:07:09] I think a little bit above. I think that it doesn’t necessarily, but at least in the context of the when you look at California and Arizona, maybe here in Illinois, specifically in Chicago, where this bill is proposed, it’s not realistic. If you’re transporting renewable energy, it’s much more, sorry, it’s much more expensive than if you’re transporting nonrenewable energy. And so again, that just goes to increase the price. And I think that when you look at the way that Illinois gets its power, it’s not from, renewables.

 

Larry Glover [00:07:42] I might add, might suggest, though, that that in this energy transition space we have to look at all fuels. And even though Chicago is a midwestern city and, and, and you don’t have sun as much as you do California and Arizona, but there continue to be opportunities for solar. Right now, solar is probably somewhere about. 8 to 10% of our energy resource. The goal of that sector is to get it up to 20% by 2035. So it has to become a viable food fuel source beyond just our our our. State with with heavy sum. Zelda, I believe, is a viable, profit for markets like Chicago. And to your, your, your example when you displace gas. Solar is a fuel that is less costly. Greater impact on the grid, lower carbon emissions. And so it does represent a highly qualified fuel for us to, to join in. But yes, so I see solar from wine. But I also asked that as we try and as we move to this transition, to this energy transition, we’re looking at transportation. We’re looking at at distributed energy resources, where we can now begin to build these virtual power plants because we have solar and and rooftop solar and battery storage and, and new technology. So when you when you put that, that combination together, you do get a greater impact in lower cost. And what should impact as a lower burden on on those lower. Low to moderate income consumers. How do you how do you see you see that in terms of impacting that burden? Without gas or, with this ban on gas?

 

Jack McGeever [00:10:09] I see that if you ban gas, like I said in the article, you’re going to have to replace with something. And when you look at what the rejections are for solar projects, like you said, we’re trying to increase its capacity. And that’s not going to happen when this bill gets passed. If it does get passed, I’m hoping it doesn’t. But if it does, the solar, energy and renewable energies are not where we need them to be in order to meet that need. And that gap that would be created by, the banning of natural gas. Right. So I think that that price increase is imminent as soon as you ban natural gas. That’s right. Those prices are going to skyrocket. I think that long term. Absolutely. I agree with you. It needs to be a mix of all different sources. But for the foreseeable next five time, maybe even 15 years. I don’t think that renewables such as wind and solar, where we need them to be, particularly in Chicago. Could it be a reliable source down the line? Absolutely. I’m not going to disagree with anybody about that. I just don’t see it being a reliable energy source as far as cost goes within the next 5 to 10 years.

 

Stuart Turley [00:11:13] Let me let me add this one here, guys, because I think wind is absolutely having some horrific problems right now. It you know, you look at the number of folks that are, not able to make them work because they’re not sustainable. I think solar does have extra legs. That wind doesn’t. The hot button I have, Larry and Jack. Is that the renewable? The solar is not as, recyclable yet. The finances aren’t there. And that’s that’s one of my. Oh, we really gotta get that one fixed. Now the other one is in the housing areas versus the, buildings. I want your opinion on both of the, both of your opinions. Is that on solar rooftops for homes? It makes sense. Except there is a gigantic problem with, not so honorable folks going around installing, solar panels on roofs, and they’re selling the. Oh, is it the, really weird financial, deals on those things. And we got charlatans running around selling those things. So, Larry, if if we had a really good government program, I don’t like subsidies. That’s one that I would do to offset the costs, but I the charlatans, I want to drag them out in the street and beat this, not out of them.

 

Larry Glover [00:12:50] I too, I think what we’ve experienced, yeah, is this idea that I call open gate marketing. Okay. Because as solar first began, the goal for almost all of those companies was to get as much out there as you can, as quickly as you can get it up on your roof. And the belief that once it’s there, it will continue to get stronger. In that. Unique feeding frenzy of trying to sell it as much as you can. We know that you’re always going to have bad actors who are going to be part of. And any new product that gets into the marketplace. The bad actors normally happen in the early and along with the early adopters, because there’s a greater. Willingness for risk and and so to. So that becomes an opportunity. I think when industries begin to mature as solar is now having to mature because it’s part of a bigger mix. They also got to fix the little planks in there. And I think most of the solar companies are working really, really hard to get these bad actors out of the game. It’s hard, you know, to. When you look at who owns your home, they’re generally little older there. They’re generally, people who have worked for a long time to, to, to create this asset. And so. They are being preyed on or have been preyed on. But that’s also part of this new legislation. For example, the administration, last month offered legislation around, solar financing that had consumer protection, written into it for that very reason. So, so, yeah, the other thing that I might say is that. I don’t want us. True to believe that. What? A category one to product is introduce that you’re going to get the benefit of scale. Because that, I think, is what we’re talking about. So if we talk about if we look at so many in the next 3 to 5 years, it’s not going to be off the scale. So you’re not going to get those benefits. But if we’re planning this transition in the long term, which it is, and now we’re talking 2030, 2035, which is the mark on the world that everybody’s talking about right now. You have the ability to get it to scale so that it costs are manageable and controllable. You’re you’re you’re looking at how to integrate solar as part of this, this portfolio of products, not only for commercial but for residential. So you’re going to have some gas. You need to have a gas pipeline. I’m going to have gas pipeline. They’re they’re not they’re not going to get me to be totally electric, right. But I think it all does make make sense. And, and Jack and I’d like to hear your perspective, because I think you look at the hourglass from a from a different, vantage point that I do. And and to say. How do you protect those vulnerable consumers in the midst of. New hydrogen, which is going to cost more. When we do, it really is going to cost more. And all underpinned by the fact that when you add all of this technology and all of this stuff. To the cost of energy. We’re going to use so much more energy and the cost is not going to be less. It’s going to be more expensive. And so how do we now kind of blend that in your in your eyes to do. Make those cost equitable.

 

Jack McGeever [00:17:14] You know personally I think you bring up a good point. It’s not the cost. It’s not cheap. Right. Renewable energy is really expensive. both in the short term and the long term. You know, I think it’s important to protect people. And I don’t think that, putting legislations in place, such as the city of Chicago is trying to do right now, protects those people and those more vulnerable populations. I think that when you look at specifically and through the lens of energy, I think it needs to be what is most cost effective and what is most fiscally responsible. And for me, I don’t see in the short term, renewable energy sources merely checking that box. I think when you look at the losses that wind farms are taking in their communities. When you’re looking at solar, as I said, the cost of the solar panels is instrumentally like it’s insurmountable. It’s huge. And that’s not for fordable for the small mom and pops. And I don’t I don’t think that that cost is. Maybe necessary is not the word, but I don’t think it’s needed right now. At least, I don’t think that we should be taking on those costs right now. I don’t think the research is there yet. I don’t think the cost has come down yet.

 

Larry Glover [00:18:32] Why? The reason we’re getting there, and I think that the cost benefit is a benefit derived from scale and we just don’t there yet scaling legislation. I mean, the whole issue of net zero and for solar, for example, and that that goes back to the grid, you know, oh, how how do you manage those costs that, that net zero impact. That’s one of the issues around solar. You’re going to have some of the same kinds of things for wind. And, and they the expense of wind and the repair of those blades and, and and those tractors, they have a, they have a life span on them. That right. 10 to 12 years, I believe, eight, eight.

 

Stuart Turley [00:19:26] Nine years. I’ve been running that down and know and I have not had anything, saying no and wind and everything I’m finding, Larry and Jack is that wind is unsustainable from day one fiscally. And you take a look at the offshore wind farms, they’re even more horrible. And like I said, I believe solar has got a lot more legs. Now, from a personal standpoint, guys, I’m putting solar on my roof. I’ve also got a wind for, wind. I’m I’m serious. I if I talk about it, I want to sit there and have numbers, and I’m putting a windmill on the top of the house. And I also have, two propane tanks and two generators, and I can run any of my four buildings here. Off of all of that. Now, it’s called being energy independent. Yes. Now, here’s the problem. It’s expensive. So, you know, I, I’m sitting here, I can’t I don’t want to talk about it. You know, guys, if I can’t prove it and and, now is it going to be affordable for everybody? Larry, I really want it to be, in in California. I need help trying to find somebody. So any of our podcast listeners today, if you’re from California, the regulatory issues in California are not. They sold it to California is if you put it on your roof, you can make money off of it. And then when you make money off it, you know, be sold back and forth, but you’re having to pay for the amount of time that it’s remaining idle or the backup sources. And so they’re now taking money away from the homeowners. And it is not profitable based off of the balancing authority’s trying to balance all this stuff out. So, Larry, I guys, Jack, I would like to put our heads together and see if we can’t come up with some right ideas and solutions, because it would make sense, to distribute the costs if the benefits could be shared back out to the district, disproportionately impacted communities, because right now, the costs are spread across the board and the disproportionately impacted communities are paying a higher layer. I think you call it the, energy burden. Yeah. And they have a higher energy burden. Let’s figure out a way to take advantage of the solar and reduce that energy burden, because it doesn’t seem fair. Is that a is that a fair statement? Oh, that was a good pun.

 

Larry Glover [00:22:25] Good. Jack, you were going to say something.

 

Jack McGeever [00:22:28] I, I think it’s really important what Stuart shared earlier. That what you’re doing, somebody who’s less fortunate might not have the ability to help. And so I think that at least from me, from what I’m thinking right now, I think that the best way to go about it would be start more locally. Right now, when you look at what California is doing and when you look at, Chicago legislation, I actually think it’d be better if you were to break it up into smaller, almost neighborhoods. Maybe it’s the right way to look at it. And then each neighborhood shares, let’s say, set of solar panels or wind turbines in the middle. And that’s how they draw their energy. Right? And so, at least for me, the problem that presents that is you can have energy inequality in different areas of the country, right. Because different climates, different. Types of weather is gonna mess with that.

 

Stuart Turley [00:23:22] Larry, I think you were calling that, microgrids. And what did you, what was your other.

 

Larry Glover [00:23:29] Test, really? Well, there’s. So when when we look at. Let me back up. I like the I your idea of smaller sectors and looking at energy sources almost from a community based. But given the interdependencies that we see grid dependencies and when you when you add a new fuel source to the grid, your infrastructure now changes. And so you have to upgrade your. He agreed. That adds that add cost to the process. You also I think. Begin to look at what fuels can be localized. You know, solar is one of them when to a degree. But when you get into the, the. Gets into the grid system. I’m sorry. It won’t get into the grid system. And you don’t know where it comes from. Except that it’s a little cost. For me, I look at. Issues like solar and say. How can I build a a community solar program that does include small and medium sized commercial buildings? Does it include residential buildings and. And how and. And when you aggregate those costs and then reallocate them. I think there is a way to lower the burden on everyone because you reallocate those costs. And. If I am, if I’m a consumer, then I don’t have to pay $30,000 to get solar on my roof. But I can participate in a rebate program because we have Community solar and I’m a subscriber to Community Solar, which helps to lower my cost. All of those are little things that we we should be doing and, and, that make a real impact.

 

Stuart Turley [00:26:03] Yeah. And Larry, that’s a great point. Absolutely phenomenal in Jack. It, it is also one of the things about, a lot of the incentives for, folks is the tax incentives, but the disproportionately impacted folks don’t have that tax issue. So, you know, that we’re paying all this money in tax incentives. We gotta figure out a whole new thing. So maybe getting some legislators and some ideas. Larry, you maybe you already thought of this.

 

Larry Glover [00:26:38] Yeah. Legacy. Well, legislation absolutely has to be a key part of all of these discussions, right? It is. We have to figure out from a legislative standpoint, you need to look at folks like California, and they’re trying to figure out how to redistribute the cost so that low income, low to moderate income consumers, get some greater benefit. The challenge that they have is that. The programs that they’ve initiated. Look at income as a base. And it it’s more of a handout program than a. A savings through efficiency program. And I absolutely believe that when we just find ways to say you’re low income. And so let’s just take. 10% off the top of your bill. And you are. You are fine. For me, it doesn’t make you a better energy consumer. I’m a big believer that let me help you understand your energy use. Let me help you understand the tools that are available for you to manage your energy, cost and burden. And I’d rather teach you how to do that and take and spend another two years of teaching you how to become a better energy consumer than jumping to the end and giving you subsidies for two years. And after that two years, you still have bad energy consumer spending more than you need to using stuff inefficiently.

 

Stuart Turley [00:28:38] Yeah.

 

Larry Glover [00:28:38] And and no greater long term benefit. So I’m a real proponent in energy education and education for the purpose of helping people to reduce their burden. I think we can teach people how to reduce their burden and not pay their way out of lower burden, because it didn’t. The net effect is not a lower burden. It’s just a higher cost on everybody.

 

Stuart Turley [00:29:05] Larry, I love that. We got about two more minutes here, guys. Maybe even three. But, Jack, give us your last words. And what’s coming around the corner for for Jack here.

 

Jack McGeever [00:29:18] So, for me personally, looking ahead for the next five years. Currently involved in discussions online. I’m really done. I’ve had the opportunity to work with few grassroots organizations, so I really have been involved in policy from a grassroots perspective, namely the two organizations I’m most involved with. Our first Turning Point USA, if you’re familiar with it. And second, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. And so I hope to grow my involvement in both of those and the different ways that I can. I’m very interested in policy, and I think that these discussions are incredibly important. I really appreciate being here with you guys today. And with the next five years, and I’m not really sure, I’ve applied to colleges and, going really hard for a few. But whatever it brings, I’m ready for it. I love the challenge, and I love the possibilities that lie ahead for me.

 

Stuart Turley [00:30:18] Oh, that’s cool. Larry. I’d give you a hug right now, but, you know, what are your last thoughts? What’s coming around the corner for the Glover group? Well, I guess the better.

 

Larry Glover [00:30:31] Yeah. Two quick things, Jack. It has absolutely been my pleasure to talk with you this afternoon. I applaud you for for your perspective, but for your willingness to just take on this big, big issue. And I look forward to some other secondary discussions that we might have that might talk about the research and and the light. Guys, I think we are at a critical point in time in our world for energy transition. And there were three issues for me that I think are absolutely critical. Okay. One is resiliency. And and as we build our way through resiliency which mean that. We’ve seen. Weather impacted. Conditions over the last 3 to 5 years. And it happens. And these communities, these low to moderate income communities, have to be as resilient to recover from those disasters as our most affluent communities. And when we don’t do that, we do everyone a disservice. So for me, as we go forward and I look at transition issues, transportation, grid revitalization, workforce development. EV evolution or electrification. I think we have to look at all of those with I that’s not 2025, but 2035 and 2015 and and that’s when we will really realize the benefit. Of all this transition work. We’re going to have a tough time over the next 5 to 10 years because energy is going to get more expensive if we’re going to use more of it. We’re introducing technology which shifts all the boundaries. But at some point he’s going to level out. So I think we have to be able to see ourselves in, in its fullness before we evaluate how difficult it is for us right now. It always is difficult in the front. It’s always going to cost more until we get to scale and get to a process that aligns us with some equitable distribution of these costs. I think that’s where we are. So for me, it is going forward and trying to influence that. The long term planning for our company, and particularly for LMI communities.

 

Stuart Turley [00:33:28] Oh man. What a great conversation today, guys. I just can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate both of your times. I’ll have both of your LinkedIn’s and contact info in the show notes. And with that, thank you guys very much. We’ll see you guys next time.

 

Larry Glover [00:33:46] Thank you. Thank you. Great to be here today.

 

 

 

 

The post ENB #192 Chicago’s “Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance” is Neither Clean Nor Affordable. – a critical podcast with Larry Glover and Jack McGeever appeared first on Energy News Beat.

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