Top 10 Alternative Energy Lobbying Groups in 2008

As alternative energy becomes a hot button issue on the campaign trail, trade groups and individual companies in the sector are fighting to have their voices heard on the Hill — and money talks. Up until June 30, 2008, companies that make up the alternative energy production and services sector spent $11.39 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — a little more than a fifth of what the traditional oil and gas industries spent for the same period at $52.21 million. Still, at that pace, the sector will overtake its lobbying efforts from last year, which totaled $16 million for the year.

The Top 10 alternative energy lobbying groups are largely biofuel, solar and wind trade groups, though the biggest contributor by far is the “American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity,” which is made up by companies that depend on coal to produce power. We guess it’s not surprising that the group with some of the most established and well-funded companies is investing the highest amount in lobbying, but that doesn’t make it less disturbing, as the group is likely trying to maintain its dominant power-producing position. So far this year, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity gave more than double the amount of the next highest lobbying group.

To us, one of the most surprising on the list is that smart grid “startup” GridPoint has spent $172,061 on lobbying efforts. We know the company has been backed by millions from Goldman Sachs and other investors, but that is a lot of money for a young firm. Wondering what they’re up to? Send over your educated guesses. (We contacted them and are waiting to hear back) Anyhoo, here’s the list:

  1. American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity: $1.87M
  2. National Biodiesel Board: $679,913
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association: $535,000
  4. Clean Energy Group: $492,500
  5. American Wind Energy Assocation: $460,379
  6. Poet: $360,000
  7. Rentech: $250,000
  8. Green Hunter: $220,000
  9. Noble Environmental Power: $200,000
  10. GridPoint: $172,061

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

IBM Smartens Grid Down Under

Startups like GridPoint, eMeter and Silver Spring Networks are all pulling in funding to make the power grid smarter. But tech institutions, like computer giant IBM, think there’s money to be made in improving our power infrastructure, too. IBM Global Energy and Utilities Industry is heading Down Under in a partnership with Country Energy, an Australian utility, to deploy IBM’s Intelligent Utility Network.

IBM describes an Intelligent Utility Network as:

“a digital, open standards-based network of sensors, metering, communications, computer processors, and analytics which connects an entire utility company — from power plant to plug.”

The network transformation is the result of two powerful trends, IBM’s general manager of Global Energy & Utilities Industry Guido Bartels explained to us. The grid, like everything else, is switching from analog to digital while power generation is transitioning from a centralized system to a distributed model, he said. And Big Blue thinks it can build the network for big green power.
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And the secret device is- HTC Shift, US version with Sprint EV-DO

Cimg0416I know I teased you with word I was testing a device that I couldn’t talk about but since Amazon blew the embargo HTC has lifted me from mine.  The past week I have been evaluating the US version of the HTC Shift UMPC with SnapVUE.  This is news because the US version is a Sprint-branded device with EV-DO and not GSM like the European versions you’ve seen reviewed lately.  I am not prepared to do a complete review because I didn’t think the embargo was going to be lifted until next week but I can share some photos of the Shift taken very quickly.  They are after the jump.

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You’re Only as Good as Your Next Idea

Whenever I think of some of the serial entepeneurs I’ve met–and I’ve met quite a few–I always decide that some people are simply better than others at generating new ideas. I’ve especially seen this in writing circles I’ve walked in, where some people can simply generate new ideas at a machine-gun rate compared to others. There are some good software tools designed to help when brainstorming. In this post, I’ll discuss a few popular ones.

FreeMind is free, open source mind mapping software that you can use either to brainstorm new ideas or to create large visual thought maps showing how one topic leads logically, or often laterally, into another. The best way to get a sense of how it works is to look at some of the many screenshots of existing maps (such as the one above) that people have posted on the web. The maps range by topic, from maps on health to investing to learning new languages.

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PG&E fiddling as the grid burns?

[qi:_earth2tech] Om’s post about the power grid as the Web’s weakest link got me thinking about where utilities like PG&E are spending their money if it’s not going into capital expenditures to fix the cables that are decaying beneath our feet. I singled out PG&E because it oversaw the crippling outage yesterday and because, with a billion dollars in profits, it should have had enough money to invest in capex. Continue Reading.