Brazil’s dreams of being the renewable energy utopia have quickly dissolved into fears about energy shortages and rationing. A region-wide drought has cut into hydropower output (above), which used to provide 80 percent of Brazil’s electricity. A long analysis in Reuters blames government meddling in offshore oil development and price controls on oil and electricity. Investors have fled and Petrobras, once one of the world’s ten largest corporations, now has a market capitalization about the same size as Cia. de Bebidas das Americas, a Brazilian brewery. It’s a lesson in how quickly government intervention can mess up an energy economy.
Speculation is rife in Washington as to who will succeed departing EPA head Lisa Jackson. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is also expected to be on the way out. Names circulating for both positions include Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D), former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Center for American Progress founder John Podesta, President Clinton’s chief of staff, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
This Thursday, January 10, will be National Cut Your Energy Costs Day. Anybody interested? The Ford Motor Co. has just announced the formation of MyEnergi Lifestyle, a group that will promote – what else? - conservation and renewables. Participating are appliance maker Whirlpool, energy companies Eaton and SunPower semiconductor manufacturer Infineon and Nest Labs, the Palo Alto maker of a high-tech home thermostat.
Finally, the federal government has decided to act on the problem that electric vehicles don’t make any noise. This creates traffic hazards for pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed that EVs and hybrids be required to add some “vroom.” Some of the novelty is also wearing off at Los Angeles International Airport, which has decided to end free parking for EVs. India has gotten a new model, however – the Mahindra e20 – and EV sales climbed a bit in 2012. Will 2013 be the Year of the EV? That the question asked by Christopher Schuetze of The New York Times.