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就业难题挥之不去,高管为奥巴马支招

Amo Harris 2011年08月26日

太阳能开发商再生能源公司的首席执行官认为,美国总统可以做三件事,开启新一轮的就业增长。

    白宫宣布,奥巴马总统将在劳动节(美国的劳动节是九月的第一个星期一—译注)后就就业问题发表全国讲话。总统先生上哪儿能找到这个问题的部分答案呢?对此,我有个建议:让美国总计30兆瓦的太阳能发电项目末期工程放手开工。这个建议最大的好处在于:总统阁下无须多花一美元联邦预算就能办到,同时,通过创造大量就业岗位和推动对美国基础设施又一轮私人投资,政府将省下一笔开支。

    首先让我从头描述一下背景情况。过去几年中,太阳能发电成本快速降低,美国出台了“可再生能源组合标准”【Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)】项目,该项目要求发电厂利用可再生能源生产一部分电能。这两个因素共同催生了30兆瓦太阳能发电项目,目前它们已经处于工程末期。这一规模的电能足以供600万户美国家庭使用。据美国公共电力协会(American Public Power Association)分析,相比其他电能的来源,太阳能的待装机兆瓦数超过了风能、煤炭、天然气和核能。

    为数众多的太阳能发电项目意味着成千上万个建筑行业的新岗位,以及大量工程、金融和服务业领域的工作机会。这些项目和工作之所以现在还无从谈起,是因为它们正卡在审批、并网和融资的重重挑战中无法动弹。要让这些岗位摆脱禁锢,只需要做到以下三件事:

1.简化环保审批程序。

2.协调并网政策和设备采购计划。

3.并且扩大太阳能发电项目投资者的许可范围。

    环保审批程序效率低下,人浮于事、机构重叠和管辖权混乱等问题严重。请别误会我。我们绝对需要强有力的条例来保护环境和濒危物种。但是,简化条例和规则使审批更有效率与加强环境保护并不矛盾。减少管制的净效益就是:政府部门浪费更少,工业浪费更少,工作岗位更多。

    并网是个非常技术化的问题,但我们需要简单了解这个概念。所谓并网就是将发电机组连接到电网的过程。在现行体系中,是由“独立系统运营商”来监控并网的。它负责协调电网规划,并决定谁及何时能获得并网。而电力采购——即公用设施购买电力——是由公用设施委员会监管的,它会判定采购是否符合管理要求。我们需要政治领导人明确,并网应“紧跟”公用设施电力采购。而现在这两者是被作为两个独立流程对待的,这一点想想都会觉得有点愚不可及。这种做法导致了颇为荒唐的现状:并网权要么被批给了公共设施不满意的发电厂,要么市场认为重要的发电厂却无法获得并网批准。改善并网的净效果就是:政府部门浪费更少,工业浪费更少,工作岗位更多。

    奥巴马总统所能做的最简单的事就是扩大太阳能发电项目的投资人许可范围。如果不允许投资资本进入该项目,30兆瓦太阳能发电项目的输电线就根本无从建起。得说明的是,我所谈的是上好的项目,它技术可靠、信誉极好,还有可观的回报。这类项目融资理应很容易,但实际上却并非如此。

    The White House announced that President Obama will address the nation on jobs after Labor Day. I have a suggestion for where the President could find part of the answer: by setting loose the 30-gigawatt (GW) buildup of U.S. solar projects bogged down in late stage development. Here's the amazing part: he could do it without committing to spend a single additional federal dollar and the result would be net savings to the government through massive job creation and a wave of private investment in our nation's infrastructure.

    Let me first describe the situation on the ground. Over the past few years, rapidly declining solar costs and state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) programs, which require utilities to generate a percentage of power from renewable energy sources, have combined to create 30GW of solar projects in the later stages of development. That's enough solar to power about 6 million homes. To put that in perspective relative to other sources of electricity, solar has more megawatts in development than wind, coal, gas, or nuclear according to analysis by the American Public Power Association.

    All those solar projects represent many tens of thousands of new construction jobs, plus a whole lot of engineering, finance, and service jobs as well. The only reason those projects and jobs aren't happening now is because they're held up by a gauntlet of permitting, interconnection and financing challenges. To set those jobs free, we need to do just three things:

1. Streamline environmental permitting.

2. Align interconnection policies with utility procurement plans.

3. And expand the pool of eligible investors in solar projects.

   Environmental permitting is inefficient, rife with redundancy, agency overlap, and jurisdictional issues. Don't get me wrong. We absolutely need strong rules to protect our environment and critical species. However, we can still have strong protection for our environment while streamlining rules and guidelines to make permitting more efficient. Net impact of reducing regulation: less government waste, less industry waste, more jobs.

    Interconnection is a pretty technical issue but what's needed is straightforward to understand. Interconnection refers to the process of connecting a generator to the electrical grid. Under the current system, interconnection is overseen by "independent system operators" who coordinate grid planning and decide who gets connected and when. Procurement – how utilities buy power – is overseen by utility commissions who determine whether the purchase complies with regulatory requirements. We need our political leaders to make it clear that interconnection should 'follow' utility procurement. Right now they're treated as two separate processes, which is kind of silly when you think about it. This results in ridiculous situations where interconnection is granted to a generating resource utilities don't want or interconnection is denied to a resource that the market deems important. Net impact of fixing interconnection: less government waste, less industry waste, more jobs.

    The easiest thing President Obama can do is expand the pool of eligible investors in solar projects. None of the 30GW solar pipeline will be built if investment capital isn't allowed to flow into projects. To be clear, I'm talking about good projects with proven technology, strong credit, and attractive returns. These kinds of projects should be easy to finance, but they're not.

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