On the Grid: It's the Economy 10/28/22

On the Grid: It's the Economy 10/28/22

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Gas prices have an enormous impact on people’s budgets and help shape the public’s attitude toward the economy. While gas prices are steadily falling across the country, most Americans remain dissatisfied with the cost of energy and state of the economy.

Many policymakers continue to struggle with how to talk about gas prices. That’s why Third Way recently released recommendations and talking points based on our polling. Here are three things you should know:

  1. Since June, oil prices have continued to fall, from over $120 per barrel to $86, today. For families and businesses, that’s nearly a 30% drop, from over $5 per gallon to $3.76 today, roughly what gas cost before Russia launched the Ukraine war, and Democrats are still working to bring them down even further.
  2. As global market shocks fluctuate gas prices across the country, the Biden Administration has taken action to protect American consumers:  
  3. Policymakers have been pushing for the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, easing restrictions for ethanol gas blends, and helping American oil producers reach near-record highs by approving thousands of permits. 

This week, the International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power met in Washington, DC to discuss key issues related to the development, demonstration, and deployment of nuclear technology. Volatile markets and the Russian war in Ukraine have given the clean energy transition a renewed sense of urgency, focusing the conversation squarely on the need for a technology-inclusive energy approach, with nuclear at the center.

Our recently updated global advanced nuclear map, a joint project with Energy for Growth Hub, utilizes the latest readiness metrics and electricity demand projects to highlight potential international markets for advanced nuclear technology before 2050.

Here are three key takeaways: 

  1. Electricity demand is growing rapidly and advanced nuclear technology is poised to meet a significant portion. 
  2. A total of 52 countries are well positioned to become markets for advanced nuclear technology in the next several decades. 
  3. The global market for advanced nuclear energy is estimated to be worth $380 billion a year by 2050, and the US has the competitive edge to seize a significant portion. 

Just Announced: Today at the IAEA Nuclear Ministerial, TerraPower and PacifiCorp announced they are undertaking studies to understand how to quickly and efficiently deploy more new nuclear reactors and storage systems.

Polling from Data for Progress shows that not only do three-quarters of Americans understand the urgent need to develop new energy infrastructure to expand our grid, but they also support speeding things along to do so. A majority, 74%, support expediting the permitting process to accelerate transmission projects. 

POINT #1: The historic investments and tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will strengthen our aging electrical grid system and make it much cleaner. 

POINT #2 It’s not just about building more clean energy, if we want to bring this clean energy online, and cut emissions in time to meet our climate goals, we need to build more transmission lines. 

POINT #3 This is extremely popular

For more context check out Josh Freed’s recent tweet thread on the urgency and necessity for permitting reform. 

The United Kingdom’s new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, made history this week as the first South Asian and person of color to move into 10 Downing Street. Stepping in as the new leader of Britain’s Conservative Party, Sunak has a mixed record on climate policy. Let’s break that down. 

The Past: As Chancellor of the Exchequer slashed overseas climate aid, abandoned emissions reduction programs, and consistently voted against climate and clean energy policy. At the time, Sunak championed public-private partnerships, boosting green finance to meet net-zero targets. 

The Present: Upon his ascent to Prime Minister reinstated a ban on fracking lifted by Liz Truss and pledged “more renewables, more offshore wind, and indeed more nuclear.” 

Josh Freed’s Take on the Future: Prime Minister Sunak faces an unenviable task: dealing with an energy cost crisis, skyrocketing inflation, and a desperate national need to invest in new, clean energy infrastructure. The challenge is that these problems are operating on different timelines. Building out clean energy will offer a solution in the long-term to a crisis that is immediate. The government is currently undertaking a Net-Zero Review to determine the best path to build out clean energy in the current economic context. We’ve advised the review team on our Carbon Free Europe modeling of the UK’s energy pathways and opportunities it could provide for the country. While the Prime Minister’s immediate goal is understandably to get energy prices and inflation under control, it is our hope that he also embraces the potential for the UK to become a clean energy powerhouse by also investing in an expansion of nuclear, offshore wind, and hydrogen.

  • Thomas Friedman, in the New York Times, outlines how a technology-inclusive energy strategy can stand up to Russia’s attempts to hold energy hostage this coming winter. 
  • John Morales, in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, explains how weathercasters and broadcast meteorologists have been the unsung heroes of climate communication for the last 25 years, shifting public opinion on climate change across diverse audiences. 
  • Shayle Kann, on the Catalyst podcast, sits down with financial experts from CohnReznick and CohnReznick Capital to discuss clean energy finance and the market implications of the clean energy transition and the Inflation Reduction Act.

The clean energy policy conversation is expanding…and so are we! The Climate and Energy Program is looking for people with talent and a passion for climate solutions to fill two new roles on our team. If you’ve got anyone in your mental Rolodex who you think might be a fit, please send them our way. And if you wanted to circulate these job postings more broadly with your networks, we wouldn’t mind that either!

Deputy Director: This person will directly supervise 3-4 policy experts working in fields that could include clean energy innovation, industrial decarbonization, and carbon management. They’ll guide these direct reports in developing policy and advocacy strategies that ensure US energy is clean, reliable, affordable, and secure. This person will contribute to program-wide strategy and represent Third Way in public events, coalitions, and high-level meetings. Our ideal candidate will have 5+ years of energy policy experience and experience managing staff.

Policy Advisor for Innovation: This team member will take the lead on our cross-cutting efforts in clean energy innovation. That includes working on implementation of demonstration, financing, and other DOE programs; developing recommendations to advance energy innovation across federal agencies; and building support for RD&D funding priorities. Our ideal candidate will have 3+ years of experience in a relevant field. Job responsibilities can be scaled for candidates with exceptional qualifications.

Multimedia Designer: As part of the communications team, the Multimedia Designer will manage the program's visual brand and amplify the program's initiatives by delivering compelling designs and data visualizations for reports, events, social media, videos, and presentations. The ideal candidate will have 3+ years of experience in graphic or multimedia design.

Executive Coordinator: This individual will support Climate and Energy Program directors with administrative and logistical tasks and occasionally with communications, light research, proofreading, and coordinating product distribution. The ideal candidate would have at least 1 year of work experience, including relevant internships.



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