This is cool: We interview Tim Cook, Elon Musk and Bill Gates in the tech-heavy final two episodes of “Axios on HBO,” airing the next two Sundays at 6:30pm.
Breaking Thursday in oil: Via S&P Global Platts, "Russia is committed to continuing its cooperation with OPEC, and is satisfied with current oil prices of around $70/b, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday."
Onto music. At this moment 25 years ago, Pearl Jam was atop the Billboard album charts with "Vs." so they've got today's intro tune...
Oil-and-gas giant Royal Dutch Shell and two partners rolled out a new business unit Thursday that provides a suite of energy services to buildings, such as heating and cooling, efficient lighting, controls, and electric vehicle charging.
Why it matters: It's the latest wrinkle in the growing movement of some of the largest multinational oil companies — especially European-headquartered players — into the electricity space, although it remains a small part of their overall portfolios.
Where it stands: Shell is working with two companies in the U.S. market to offer the power services to commercial, industrial and municipal buildings...
Background: Shell states on its website that, in deregulated markets, the Shell Energy Inside services will be bundled with retail power from Shell Energy North America and its Texas-based subsidiary MP2 Energy.
What they're saying: I chatted with Sparkfund CEO Pier LaFarge. He argued that the subscription offering is part of a broader way of imaging how energy services are provided, much the same way that, say, Netflix has shaken up entertainment.
“We have iPhone-d the delivery of energy outcomes inside the building and we keep all of the crazy behind the curtain," he said.
LaFarge said the work with Shell and GridPoint represents "business model innovation, not just technology innovation."
The big picture: Shell Energy Inside is part of Shell's wider "new energies" division, which is aimed at low-carbon fuels and power. Shell said last year that it's investing $1 billion–$2 billion per year in the new energies division until 2020.
Shares of PG&E Corporation, the parent company of utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) which services Northern California, have lost roughly half their value amid concerns that the company could be held liable for the state's deadliest wildfire on record, Axios' Courtenay Brown reports.
What's going on: PG&E, whose power lines have been linked to 16 of last year's devastating fires, said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that its insurance would not fully cover the cost of damages, and there would be a "material impact" on the company's financial health if it were found responsible for the Camp Fire.
The details: The cause of the fire has not been determined yet, but PG&E disclosed that it reported an outage on a transmission line in Butte County at 6:15am PT on Nov. 8, 18 minutes before Cal Fire said the blaze began.
Read more of the full story.
Further information on the deadly wildfires in California...
California Governor Jerry Brown said on Wednesday that climate change was a major source of the wildfires that have ravaged California over the last week.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is visiting the state, said it's not the time to "point fingers," admitting that rising temperatures was one of several contributing factors, the Associated Press reports.
Why it matters: President Trump has repeatedly pointed to "poor" forest management from the state of California as a cause of the fires, and has threatened to pull federal funding, despite scientific experts citing climate change as a major factor of the fires.
Go deeper: Why it's so hard to issue a fire warning
China: Bloomberg has a nice explainer on China's looming rules designed to spur wider EV production and sales.
Volkswagen: Via Reuters, "Volkswagen ... will convert three German factories to build electric cars, as Europe’s largest automaker by sales starts mass producing zero-emission vehicles in a major strategy shift following its emissions cheating scandal."
FERC: Later this morning, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hear from Bernard McNamee, the White House nominee for an open GOP seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
LNG: Via the Houston Chronicle, "Houston-based Cheniere Energy is expected to export its first shipment of liquefied natural gas from its complex near Corpus Christi Thursday afternoon."
The Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, Calif. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
Axios Expert Voices contributor John M. DeCicco looks at the possible endgame in the fight between California and EPA over federal efforts to roll back auto emissions and mileage rules....
What's new: Formal public reaction to this plan was due on Oct. 26, and the comments show that none of the major stakeholders support the administration's proposal. While the prospect of a compromise had long looked slim, it now appears that the makings of a deal might be on the table.
The key parties:
Automakers have been vague about their preferred targets, stipulating only that they be in line with market realities. California has said it's open to greater flexibility, but insists on strong progress toward long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals, including rapid electrification of the state's vehicle fleet.
Between the lines: The key to a compromise may lie in regulatory credits. These would enable automakers to meet standards that look increasingly stringent on paper despite being weaker in practice. Such credits would give companies extra "brownie points" for adding popular technologies to their cars, whether or not they actually cut emissions.
DeCicco is a research professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute.
JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort on Marco Island, Florida. Photo: Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images
Let's return to the topic of energy services on a subscription basis. Axios Expert Voices contributor Brandon Hurlbut, who is on Sparkfund's board, writes....
Commercial and residential buildings account for 39% of carbon emissions in the U.S., making them a critical site for reducing the country’s energy consumption and tackling climate change.
One way to reduce their carbon footprint is the subscription model, also known as “as-a-service,” whereby a central entity owns and upgrades equipment for customers.
How it works: Subscription companies purchase, install and maintain energy-efficient technologies such as HVAC and LED lighting in a customer’s building.
Where it stands: The subscription energy industry is still nascent. But according to an August 2018 Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, as-a-service agreements are “emerging as the most suitable framework for delivering” energy infrastructure, with several companies seeing early success.
Go deeper: Read the full piece in the Axios stream.
Hurlbut is the co-founder of Boundary Stone Partners and former DOE chief of staff.
"I think that focusing too much on temperature targets feeds a counterproductive fatalism."
Who said it: Rutgers University climate scientist Robert Kopp in this interview posted by the school's news service.
Why it matters: Kopp's remarks follow a major UN scientific report last month that laid out the dire effects of allowing warming greater than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels — and the damage already felt at lower levels.
Here's a little more of what he said...
"[C]limate change is not a binary thing. It’s not the case that 1.4 degrees Celsius of warming is fine but 1.6 degrees is catastrophic."
"Every incremental increase in emissions leads to an incremental increase in temperature and in the risks that society and ecosystems face. Every bit we do to reduce warming reduces that risk."