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Can you beat these venture capitalists at our news quiz?

VCs from Energy Impact Partners and Prelude Ventures go head-to-head in a climate tech news quiz. Where do you stack up?

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The Carbon Copy
The Carbon Copy

This week, we have something a little different: a news quiz.

We recently took the stage with four investors at the Prelude Climate Summit — armed with a bell, a buzzer, and four different categories of questions. We tested two teams of venture investors on their knowledge of the most recent industry news.

Shayle Kann and Cassie Bowe, partners at venture firm Energy Impact Partners, are team "High Voltage." Shayle is also host of Latitude’s climate tech deep-dive podcast Catalyst.

Dr. Carley Anderson, principal at venture firm Prelude Ventures, and Matt Eggers, Prelude’s manager director, are team "Shayle Gassed."

Which team will come out on top?

Utility rates could make or break the energy transition – so how do we do it right? On June 13th, Latitude Media and GridX are hosting a Frontier Forum to examine the imperative of good rate design, and the consequences of getting it wrong. Register here.

And make sure to listen to our new podcast, Political Climate – an insider’s view on the most pressing policy questions in energy and climate. Tune in every other Friday for the latest takes from hosts Julia Pyper, Emily Domenech, and Brandon Hurlbut. Available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen to the episode on:


Stephen Lacey: Hey, it's Stephen, and this week we've got something a little different for you.

Matt Eggers: I'm going to drink Shayle's tears.

Shayle Kann: Coming out swinging over here.

Stephen Lacey: That was venture investor Matt Eggers, taking a swipe at Shayle Kann. Many of you will know Shayle as the host of our companion podcast, Catalyst. And last week I had the pleasure of taking the stage with four investors, Matt and Shayle, and also Cassie Bowe and Carly Anderson, at the Prelude Climate Summit. Armed with a bell, a buzzer, and four different categories of questions, we tested how up-to-date they are on the most recent industry news and how good they were at trash talk.

Shayle Kann: It's no pressure at all, but people are going to be thinking of what you say today, 18 years later.

Cassie Bowe: Sure.

Stephen Lacey: Okay.

Shayle Kann: But it's no pressure at all.

Stephen Lacey: So I hope you'll fire up your news feed, play along, and see if you can beat some of the top climate tech venture capitalists at a game we're calling Emissions Impossible.

Are we recording back there? Are we good? Okay, excellent.

Live from the Prelude Climate Summit in Napa, California, this is Emissions Impossible, a news quiz from Latitude Media.

Let's meet our contestants up here on the stage. First up, next to me is Shayle Kann. He's a managing partner at Energy Impact Partners and host of Catalyst with Shayle Kann. Shayle is very well known to the folks in this room and to our listening audience. He has a very popular show on climate tech, but here's a fun fact that many of you may not know. He was once a child circus performer. How have your juggling skills translated to being a podcaster and investor?

Shayle Kann: You can't really see juggling on a podcast, so I don't do it as much anymore. I wasn't really a circus performer specifically, so much as a child professional juggler.

Stephen Lacey: And on Shayle's team is Cassie Bowe. She's a partner at Energy Impact Partners. Cassie came up in the solar industry before becoming an investor, and she was also on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Cassie, does that honor give you any lifetime benefits?

Cassie Bowe: Well, I'm no longer under 30, spoiler alert.

Stephen Lacey: At least a subscription to Forbes?

Cassie Bowe: It's just an embarrassment on panels.

Stephen Lacey: I'm sorry I brought it up.

Matt Eggers: We'll give you another one of those.

Stephen Lacey: So Shayle and Cassie have formed a team. What is the name of your team?

Shayle Kann: We are Team High Voltage.

Stephen Lacey: Okay. All right, Team High Voltage.

I love it. All right. Next up is Matt Eggers. He's a managing director at Prelude Ventures. Before becoming an investor, Matt worked in biotech and then was an early employee at Sunrun. So Matt, how did your parents feel about you moving from the lucrative world of biotech and drug development into a cute little solar rooftop company?

Matt Eggers: They didn't think it was a good idea.

Stephen Lacey: How do they feel now?

Matt Eggers: Still not sure it was a good idea.

Stephen Lacey: His teammate is Dr. Carly Anderson, a principal at Prelude Ventures. Carly is a chemical engineer and the only one up here with a doctorate. You have developed new materials for energy applications and you hold multiple patents or, according to you, one and a half patents. Do you put that on your business card?

Carly Anderson: It wouldn't fit. I'll share the title later. It's super sexy.

Stephen Lacey: What is the patent?

Carly Anderson: Something about quaternary amines for steam generator cleaning [inaudible 00:03:55] It's a long title.

Stephen Lacey: And what is the name of your team?

Carly Anderson: The name of our team is Shayle Gassed.

Stephen Lacey: Ooh.

Shayle Kann: Oh.Shots fired.

Cassie Bowe: That hurts. That hurts.

Shayle Kann: Okay.

Cassie Bowe: They're just Matt Eggersing us on.

Shayle Kann: Okay. Okay.

Stephen Lacey: All right, so here's how this is going to work. We have four different games about a wide variety of topics on energy and climate tech in the news. Many of them have been covered by our team at Latitude Media, although these are not all stories from Latitude. So this is actually going to help me determine who up here is actually reading our site.

We're going to keep score right here and the members of the winning team will get a hand-painted cup from Nicole Kellner, who is a well-known climate artist.

All right, let's get into it. The first game is called "Grid, Grid Don't Fail Me." Suddenly, the biggest story in the power sector is the rising wave of demand around the country. A trifecta forces, electrification, new industrial activity and data centers for AI, is forcing utilities to drastically revise how much power capacity they need to build the next few years.

We've been talking about this moment for a while and it's finally here, and crypto miners everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief that they can continue to make useless products without so much attention on their energy waste. I'm going to present each team with three different quotes about this trend and if they guess correctly, you get a point. They'll also get a chance to answer a bonus question to double up their points. So if they get it wrong, the opposing team can answer the bonus. Are you ready?

High Voltage over to you. First quote: "it is game over for the Biden administration's 2035 decarbonization goal." That was former developer and power systems expert, Tyler Norris speaking to the New York Times about what trend that is playing out among Southeast utilities.

Shayle Kann: We're going to say the utilities building new fossil assets to meet growing load.

Stephen Lacey: That is correct. That is gas expansion to meet a doubling of new power demand. And here is your bonus question. How much fossil gas capacity are Duke Energy, Georgia Power, and Tennessee Valley Authority collectively proposing over the next couple of years?

Cassie Bowe: Next two years?

Stephen Lacey: Yeah.

Cassie Bowe: Okay. Why don't we go with like six? [inaudible 00:06:14] Seven.

Shayle Kann: Seven gigawatts.

Stephen Lacey: 11 gigawatts.

Shayle Kann: Oh. Come on.

Cassie Bowe: That's what we-

Stephen Lacey: So you got one point there. All right. This has sparked really real concerns about a dash to gas and some people believe that a lot of utilities are using this as a bit of panic to build stuff that they love, notably gas plants. Do you think that this is, as Tyler Norris said, game over for decarbonization goals, if this much gas is being built to meet new demand?

Shayle Kann: No, it's too early yet. Right? This is all happening in such real time. Georgia Power is a good example of this. They're on a three-year IRP cycle. They had to amend their IRP a year after they filed it to account for all this new load growth. We don't know what's going to get built yet from all of it. We don't know what the next one is going to look like. I just think it's too early to call it.

Cassie Bowe: Yeah. And I think it just goes to show, decarbonization doesn't happen in a vacuum. To hit 2035 goals, a lot of other things are going to happen in the meantime, like load growth. And so it's not to say we won't hit 2035 goals. It's just going to be a multifaceted problem for them to solve.

Stephen Lacey: Okay, Shayle Gassed, you're up.

Matt Eggers: All right.

Stephen Lacey: "We still don't appreciate the energy needs of this technology. There's no way to get there without a breakthrough. We need fusion or we need radically cheaper solar-plus-storage or something at massive scale." That was a warning from which AI luminary at Davos in January?

Carly Anderson: We're talking about fusion, Sam Altman comes to mind. You got anything Matt?

Matt Eggers: Go for it.

Carly Anderson: Going to go with Sam Altman.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. According to a leaked document from Business Insider, Microsoft is expanding data center capacity dramatically. It has five gigawatts under management and it's planning 2.5 gigawatts of expansion in the next 12 months. Bonus question for you, Shayle Gassed. What energy companies has Sam Altman invested in?

Carly Anderson: We could do this out loud?

Matt Eggers: Yeah. Yeah.

Carly Anderson: All right. Matt, you named one.

Matt Eggers: Yeah. Oklo.

Carly Anderson: And I named another, which is Helion. I believe there's probably things outside the nuclear space.

Stephen Lacey: There was a very recent investment.

Shayle Kann: Don't give them clues. Come on. It's already their home turf.

Stephen Lacey: Okay. Time's up. It is the solar heat company, Exowatt.

All right, so-

Matt Eggers: Do we get two thirds of a point?

Stephen Lacey: It is one to one. That was a very good effort, but no. Well, as a follow-up question here, what do you make of Altman's take on the need for big tech breakthroughs versus more conventional grid upgrades to solve this problem and unlock new capacity?

Matt Eggers: Yeah, all of the above. From our investment strategy, we're trying to do both of those sorts of things. Big tech breakthroughs, fusion ...

Carly Anderson: Yeah.

Matt Eggers: Deep geothermal.

Carly Anderson: I love the thinking very far ahead. I also think, to what you were all saying, plans are nothing, but planning is everything, and there needs to be a near-term and a long-term thought in both of those camps.

Stephen Lacey: High Voltage over to you. Quote, "it's the biggest wild card you have in the project development cycle." That is what the CEO of one wind and solar developer said in April about a problematic trend in the US. What is he referring to?

Cassie Bowe: Got to be interconnection queues.

Shayle Kann: Got to be interconnection queues.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. Very good. All right, bonus question. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, there are 12,000 wind solar and battery projects sitting in the US interconnection queue. Another capacity question, how much capacity does that represent?

Cassie Bowe: 12,000 projects?

Stephen Lacey: Yeah.

Shayle Kann: It's like two and a half terawatts, I think. I've seen this chart.

Cassie Bowe: I think it has to average what a hundred megawatts per project?

Shayle Kann: Or bigger.

Cassie Bowe: I refuse to do mental math. I think it's reckless, but maybe Shayle could do it.

Shayle Kann: I think it's in the realm of two and a half terawatts. That number sticks out in my head for some reason.

Cassie Bowe: I like that.

Stephen Lacey: I'm going to give it to you. 2.6 terawatts, double US power capacity.

Two points. I realize also I did not give you the opportunities to do follow-ups on the bonus questions, so I apologize for that, but we'll keep that rolling. If the team gets the bonus question wrong, the other team will be able to answer it going forward.

All right, so what do y'all think? What's the biggest threat, the fact that utilities are not getting creative with how to meet rising demand with clean resources, or the inability to get these resources on the grid in this queue?

Cassie Bowe: I'd probably go inability to get them on the grid. I think utilities have been remarkable at the ability to integrate clean resources. I think we've just got to be able to get more online and there are some fundamental constraints to that within our existing grid.

Shayle Kann: I totally agree, and I think you have cascading problems here, right? You've got the problem of the queues themselves and the amount of time that it takes to get through the queue and the planning process that goes behind getting through the queue and these re-studies that have to take place. So there's ways to redesign the interconnection process that can make that better. Then there's a physical constraint of delivery on the grid, and the fact that we just haven't been building the amount of transmission that you would need to deliver that power anyway. And so there's a combination of structural, regulatory and physical problems that all compress themselves into this crazy situation to get us to 2.6 terawatts in the queue.

Matt Eggers: Yeah. I thought it was fascinating that there's this feeling that a ton of this is going to be gas and we need to build it in the next 3, 4, 5, 6 years. But in Nat Bullard's slides this morning, even the portion of that 2.6 terawatts that's gas, that's currently in the system, was very, very small. So that's going to have to change or go much faster, or we're just not going to meet that load growth.

Carly Anderson: Well, and the extreme regionality of the challenge is also really interesting. In some places it's very easy to get things cited and permitted. In some places it's very difficult. The things that are adding load to the grid vary so much across different ISOs and getting things on the grid versus the utility, in some cases, the utility is the problem. In other places, it's very, very clearly the challenge isn't actually connecting something.

Stephen Lacey: Carly and Matt, over to you. "It will be a massive, massive miss if we don't work together to break these barriers down today. We need fast action to pursue a proactive investment strategy in available technologies that are here right now, that you can deploy today." That was Vanessa Chan, Chief Commercial Officer at the Department of Energy, speaking about what set of solutions?

Matt Eggers: It's wind and solar. I think we go wind and solar.

Carly Anderson: Not transmission?

Matt Eggers: No.

Carly Anderson: You sure? All right. Let's do it.

Matt Eggers: Wind and solar.

Stephen Lacey: Wrong. It is-

Shayle Kann: Wait. No, you have to steal?

Stephen Lacey: You've get to ... sure. We're not going to give you a point. You get to steal bonus question.

Shayle Kann: That's okay. We don't need to steal.

Stephen Lacey: What is the answer?

Shayle Kann: I think it's grid-enhancing technologies.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. Okay. Bonus question. Over to you, Shayle Gassed. How much grid capacity could reconductoring, dynamic line rating, and topology optimization unlock according to DOE?

Matt Eggers: Can we give it as a percentage?

Stephen Lacey: No. Capacity, no.

Carly Anderson: Okay, I think I haven't read an article on this. I actually saw it in a list. I think, Stephen, you have one on your website, so I'm feeling very silly right now. 30 gigawatts. What do you think, over or under?

Matt Eggers: I'd go over.

Carly Anderson: You go over. All right.

Matt Eggers: Yeah.

Carly Anderson: What do you think? We're thinking, Georgia Power, that's 6.6 gigawatts, right there. Right, and ... between now and 2030.

Matt Eggers: But that's not ... that's that-

Carly Anderson: That's not forever.

Matt Eggers: -reconductoring topology improvements and those sorts of things, right? It's how much capacity that trend, that grid infrastructure or grid improvements would give us?

Stephen Lacey: Yes.

Carly Anderson: 50?

Matt Eggers: Let's go 50.

Carly Anderson: Okay.

Stephen Lacey: Well, you are in luck, because it is a very wide range. It is 20 to 100 gigawatts, so you are right in the middle.

Okay. Over to Shayle and Cassie. Well, actually, let's just follow up on GETs for a second. This is a solution that is overlooked by a lot of utilities, 'cause they want to build out big infrastructure and earn a higher rate of return. Where do you all see GETs playing into meeting this new demand? Any thought on this particular set of technologies?

Shayle Kann: Bullish.

Stephen Lacey: Yeah?

Shayle Kann: Right. I think it's always difficult to get new technologies adopted in transmission distribution in particular, even within a broadly slow moving sector like electricity, but clearly there's a need now that is pressing and acute and every utility that we have talked to is looking at all those options. None of them are the slam dunk that the news makes you think they are. There's challenges with all of them, like dynamic line ratings are awesome, but they carry their own challenges. So I think we're going to see a bunch of this stuff getting adopted. Reconductoring and dynamic line ratings in particular, but it is important to be realistic about the pace of adoption of basically anything in transmission, especially it's measured in years or decades. It's not faster than that.

Matt Eggers: Didn't either FERC or the administration just say they are or are trying to avoid any new permit required to do reconducting?

Shayle Kann: Yeah, you don't need to go through a full NEPA review anymore. You used to do a full NEPA review for any reconductoring over 20 miles, I believe, and now it is any reconductoring of any length.

Matt Eggers: Right.

Shayle Kann: So that should speed up the process for sure.

Stephen Lacey: All right, so High Voltage. This quote comes from Microsoft's Hanna Grene, speaking at our Transition AI conference last fall. "It's an unlock. If their kids are showing them on their phones, it's an aha moment." That's her talking about a technology that many utility executives are trying to figure out, sometimes from their kids at home.

Cassie Bowe: Social media.

Shayle Kann: No, it's got to be ChatGPT, LLMs.

Cassie Bowe: Oh, I see.

Shayle Kann: This was a year ago. When was this?

Cassie Bowe: Sorry, can you say the quote again?

Stephen Lacey: Yeah, last fall.

Shayle Kann: Last fall. It's got to be LLMs.

Cassie Bowe: Oh. Yeah.

Shayle Kann: Right?

Cassie Bowe: Social media's been around for a while.

Shayle Kann: What unlock is TikTok?

Cassie Bowe: Says from someone who doesn't have TikTok.

Shayle Kann: I assume it's ... yeah. I feel very unlocked and I don't have any TikTok. I think it's LLMs.

Cassie Bowe: I agree.

Shayle Kann: Okay. We say LLMs. Yes. Correct.

Matt Eggers: What is a softball question? 

Stephen Lacey: All right. Quiet down, Shayle Gassed. You'll get a good one next. Okay. Bonus question. Our research team, Latitude Intelligence, just released a report on AI in the power sector. Name three current use cases for utilities in practice today.

Shayle Kann: Three current use cases of AI in the power sector today.

Stephen Lacey: Yeah, I'm going to be pretty flexible in your answer here. There's lots of different ways to answer it, so.

Cassie Bowe: It could be every ... for utilities.

Stephen Lacey: Yep. Just specifically utility deployments.

Cassie Bowe: Okay. I would say, citing and permitting in general? It's very broad.

Shayle Kann: That's one good one. Sure. Load forecasting?

Cassie Bowe: Load forecasting?

Shayle Kann: I think is a good one.

Cassie Bowe: Yeah. Dispatching of assets?

Shayle Kann: Like trading optimization, you could say, more broadly.

Cassie Bowe: Yeah. Yeah.

Stephen Lacey: I'm going to give it to you. Those are all, yeah, good. I'm going to give Shayle Gassed a chance to add some more. If you want to add a few more, I'll give you a bonus point.

Matt Eggers: Yeah, we didn't hear what they said, but we came up with-

Carly Anderson: We're too busy scheming over here.

Matt Eggers: Capacity planning, grid topology mapping.

Carly Anderson: Yeah. Well, and I've seen a lot of cool applications for, honestly, plugging into LLMs, apps for helping maintenance requests go in more smoothly, ordering replacement parts, all kinds of just operational streamlining products coming out, which is pretty interesting.

Stephen Lacey: That's a good one.

Matt Eggers: Maybe dynamic line writing.

Shayle Kann: All the customers-facing things.

Stephen Lacey: Yep. Regulatory filings, document management, that kind of thing.

Matt Eggers: Utility quiz shows.

Stephen Lacey: Smart meters, grid virtualization. There's a ton. What do you all think about AI as an investment category? I know you're all kind of evaluating it. Do you see it as a sole investment category, or just an extension of what companies are already doing that you're evaluating and working with?

Cassie Bowe: I think we see it in a number of ways, but not in its own category largely. So we see our existing companies leveraging it to make their businesses more efficient. We see new companies who, it's a fundamental of their product, and then we obviously see huge implications to the grid for the build out of power to service it, so I don't see it being in a market map in a column for ourselves, for our EIP portfolio.

Carly Anderson: Couldn't agree more. I think it's a research unlock, it's a productivity add-on, and you could also do some very interesting things when you take it to the infrastructure level. That's something we're thinking about a lot, and I think everyone in this room has heard a lot about load growth, and how much of that could come from basically the infrastructure running AI. So agree, all over the place.

Matt Eggers: Yeah. I would say I agree with that and I don't think it would ever be a column or a category of "look at our 20 AI investments," but I'd be surprised if we and EIP and others like us don't have in two or three years at least a couple of companies who have an AI copilot or something, where AI is the core offering of what they're doing.

Carly Anderson: Yeah. I would look, looking around the room, we've got many of our portfolio companies here who use AI or have built products based on AI, and I know you guys are in the same boat.

Stephen Lacey: All right, this is the last question. Over to you, Carly and Matt. "Calm the heck down." That's what one expert told Latitude Media after an International Energy Agency report was released showing what?

Carly Anderson: I believe I saw something related to load growth and data centers, but that could just be the vibe that I'm feeling this week.

Matt Eggers: Let's go AI load growth. Something like that. Or data center load growth.

Carly Anderson: Let's do that.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. Specifically, that global data center energy use will double in two years. Bonus question. Can you name an example of a data center design for flexibility? For grid flexibility?

Carly Anderson: What do you mean by design?

Stephen Lacey: An application that allows you to flex-compute or interact with the grid.

Carly Anderson: Someone pitched me last week on integrating carbon capture and data centers with the airflow. I don't know if that counts. Matt?

Matt Eggers: Yeah. Dare we say crypto mining?

Stephen Lacey: Do y'all want to take a stab at it?

Shayle Kann: First of all, not to credit my opponent, but crypto mining's a good answer, actually.

Stephen Lacey: That is actually, yes-

Cassie Bowe: Yeah, turning it off.

Shayle Kann: Yeah. No, I'm-

Stephen Lacey: Sorry. I just didn't have it on my list.

Shayle Kann: Those crypto mines have been the most flexible data center assets that we have seen, for better or for worse. A bunch of them are participating in demand response in ERCOT today. Don't give them the point anyway, but I-

Carly Anderson: Give us this point.

Shayle Kann: There's also, the Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners just rolled out ... Is this what you're referring to?

Stephen Lacey: That's right. Yes.

Shayle Kann: They just rolled out a new platform called [inaudible 00:22:07] I think it is?

Stephen Lacey: Yes. Correct.

Shayle Kann: It's designing data centers that are basically trying to co-locate both training and inference, but be able to separate the two from each other, because one can be more flexible than the other, and so they're trying to figure out how to optimize within a given data center, so that as a whole, the load looks more flexible.

Stephen Lacey: That is correct. Yep. I had that on my list. Also, Soluna's batchable computing, using excess renewables and Google's carbon-aware computing, specifically for demand response, which they have dispatched in Europe and in the Midwest.

Cassie Bowe: It must be hard for you guys not to have Shayle Kann on your team.

Stephen Lacey: Okay. This next game is called "Bluff The Investor." Members of our Latitude Media team have presented two fake stories and one real one, and each team will have to guess the real story. So, Shayle Gassed, you are up. This is story number one. I'm going to play you three different stories and you have to guess the real story.

Maeve Allsup: In early April, residents of San Francisco's Mission District experienced what can only be described as a bizarre auditory phenomenon. Around midnight, as electric vehicles across the area simultaneously began their scheduled overnight charging, the city's aging electric grid responded in an unexpected way. It started to hum, quite literally.

The strange occurrence, dubbed, "the midnight melody," lasted approximately seven minutes and varied in pitch, along with fluctuations in electrical load. This peculiar event seems to have been caused by a perfect storm of high-EV charging demand, and specific atmospheric conditions, which amplified the electrical transmission sounds to audible levels. It was surreal. "It started as a low drone, and then turned into what sounded like an orchestra tuning up," said Mariah Gomez, a local resident. "At first, I thought it was coming from someone's sound system, but then I realized it was all around us, like the air itself was vibrating." Engineers at Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the city's utility provider, are scratching their heads over the incident.

Stephen Lacey: That was read by our staff reporter, Maeve Allsup. Here is story number two, read by Catalyst producer, Daniel Woldorff.

Daniel Woldorff: While exploring potential lithium deposits near Reno, Nevada, Dr. Elena Ramirez, a seasoned geologist, made an astonishing discovery that seems straight out of a pirate legend: a cache of centuries-old pirate treasure, buried deep underground. During routine subsurface scans for lithium, a mineral that is crucial for battery technology, Dr. Ramirez noticed anomalies in the magnetic readings, that hinted at the presence of metal buried at unusual depths. Suspecting an equipment error at first, further excavation revealed a buried wooden chest, encrusted with rusted iron and filled with gold coins, jewelry and gem-encrusted goblets. "I was looking for lithium, but I found gold," Dr. Ramirez joked. "It's not every day that you uncover a pirate chest in the middle of the desert. We were stunned how it got there, hundreds of miles from any ancient trade routes, or known pirate activity. It's a mystery we're eager to solve."

Carly Anderson: That sounds more plausible to me than being able to hear anything in the Mission at midnight.

Matt Eggers: Nice.

Stephen Lacey: Okay, and here's-

Matt Eggers: It was actually just a car alarm, I think, in the Mission going off, like 24 of them at a time.

Stephen Lacey: And story number three, read by our Senior Editor, Anne Bailey.

Anne Bailey: In April, Pattie Gonia had an epic day of meetings with White House officials and members of Congress, and she did it all in platform heels. "I stomped around in these six-inch heels all through the bowels of our government," the climate drag queen and queer activist said Tuesday, during an interview at Earthjustice's office in downtown Washington.

She was dressed as a tree, with branches and leaves shooting out of her arms, sparkling green fingernails, and a pair of knee-high [inaudible 00:26:09] platform boots. She was in town urging Biden administration officials and members of Congress to protect old growth forests. Pattie Gonia highlighted the need for scientifically-backed forest management practices such as prescribed burns, a method long-advocated by indigenous groups and ecological scientists. Addressing former president Donald Trump's famously misguided suggestion on forest management, Pattie Gonia remarked, "We don't need to sweep the floors. Trump can come over and sweep my heels if he wants to."

Stephen Lacey: Okay. Is it story one, a strange hum creating an EV midnight melody for PG&E, story two, a geologist's rare desert pirate treasure find, or story three, a drag activist promoting conservation on Capitol Hill.

Matt Eggers: Having lived in the Mission District for 10 years, I think these all sound like true stories about the Mission District, but-

Carly Anderson: There's one true story, correct?

Matt Eggers: One true story. Yeah.

Stephen Lacey: There's one true story. You have to guess the true one.

Carly Anderson: Yeah.

Matt Eggers: Yeah, yeah. We're going with Pattie Gonia.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. Lobbyists take note, that is how you get your message to lawmakers.

Okay. Now over to High Voltage. The first story again comes from producer Daniel Woldorff.

Daniel Woldorff: Congress is facing a daunting to-do list that includes fund the repair of a key bridge in Baltimore, decide what to do with a child tax credit expansion, reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, and finish work on a rail safety bill.

But it's against this backdrop that the GOP-led House Rules Committee unveiled its schedule for upcoming legislation in mid-April. The schedule included markup of six bills, the Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards Act, the Liberty in Laundry Act, the Affordable Air Conditioning Act, the Clothes Dryer Reliability Act, the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act, and the Refrigerator Freedom Act.

Republican House lawmakers were planning an appliance week to champion the bills, but just like infrastructure week under the Trump administration, it was delayed. In response, representative Don Beyer of Virginia wrote via social media in reference to the list of bills, quote, "This is real. This is actually what Republicans are preparing to spend next week on in the House. Really." End quote. No word yet on when appliance week will be rescheduled.

Stephen Lacey: Okay. Here's our second story, read by Maeve Allsup.

Maeve Allsup:

During a seemingly ordinary review of regulatory filings at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Sarah Jennings, a sharp-eyed staffer, stumbled upon something extraordinary. While scrutinizing proposals for a new power plant in rural Montana, Jennings discovered blueprints that revealed a long-forgotten Cold War missile silo repurposed as a clandestine bowling alley.

The blueprints, initially submitted as part of a standard site assessment for energy development, detailed not only the missile silo's military specifications, but also modifications that transformed it into a ten-pin bowling venue during the 1960s. "I had to double check to make sure I wasn't seeing things," Jennings remarked. "You expect to find underground cables in these filings, not underground bowling lanes." Historians were equally astonished by Jennings's find. The missile silo constructed in the 1950s as part America's strategic defenses, was covertly converted into a recreational facility where military personnel could unwind. For Jennings, what started as a routine document review has rolled into an unexpected historical adventure, proving that even energy regulatory work can strike historical gold.

Stephen Lacey: Okay, and here is our final story, from Anne Bailey.

Anne Bailey: A posse of conservative leaders from ranch owners to country music icons have saddled up as geothermal gauchos to champion President Joe Biden's push for geothermal energy. Sporting cowboy hats equipped with miniature geothermal models, the spirited group announced their support in a ranch-style gala, advocating for tapping into the Earth's natural heat as a clean energy solution. "Partner, it's time we drill down, not just for oil, but for the heat beneath our boots," announced Hank "Hot Rock" Cassidy, a legendary rodeo star turned renewable energy enthusiast and spokesperson for the gauchos. The gauchos demonstrated their commitment with a symbolic drill dance, a choreographed routine that mimics the drilling process intended to dig deeper into public awareness about geothermal power. They promised more awareness events, aiming to keep the geothermal dialogue as lively and enduring as a campfire sing-along.

Stephen Lacey: Okay, is it story number one, the GOP's push for liberty and laundry. Story number two, a FERC staffer's discovery of an underground Cold War-era bowling alley. Or story three, a unique geothermal advocacy group called the Geothermal Gauchos.

Shayle Kann: I love the Geothermal Gauchos. Also, I want to commend Anne Bailey on her impression of a Geothermal Gaucho, but it's number one.

Cassie Bowe: Even though it did sound like Sarah Jennings in number two, really did her research-

Shayle Kann: Yes indeed.

Cassie Bowe:... on that bowling alley. We're going to go with one.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. Correct.

Matt Eggers: Anybody in the audience want to do a geothermal dance?

Stephen Lacey:

I think folks at Quaise are going to do that tonight at the party, so.

Shayle Kann: You got to get really deep in that one.

Stephen Lacey: Yes, exactly. Okay.

Shayle Kann: Sorry, Carlos.

Stephen Lacey: This next game is called Not My Green Job. We're going to present clues about different jobs in energy, climate, tech and sustainability. Each team gets three jobs to guess. If one can't guess the job in three clues and the other team can steal. Number one, high voltage. Some of the challenges this job has to deal with include bees nests, frogs, copper thieves, and vandals armed with ground meat.

Cassie Bowe: Vandals armed with ground meat.

Stephen Lacey: This profession is currently responsible... Do you want to try guess or you want me keep going?

Shayle Kann: Not at all.

Stephen Lacey: This profession is currently responsible for over 192,000 machines in the US. NREL estimates we'll need 28 million more by 2030.

Cassie Bowe: I was going with EV charger maintenance, but then the ground meat really...

Shayle Kann: No, I think you're right that it's EV. I don't understand the ground meat bit about that.

Cassie Bowe: Okay, let's think it through.

Shayle Kann: 192,000-

Cassie Bowe: Why would you have ground meat near an EV charger.

Audience: Dog.

Shayle Kann: Dog?

Cassie Bowe: Dog charging at the charger. Yeah. I don't know.

Shayle Kann: Okay.

Cassie Bowe: But 190,000-

Stephen Lacey: Let me give you the final-

Shayle Kann: Versus like 28 million needed. That's clearly got to be-

Stephen Lacey: This job works on machines that are notoriously finicky. A 2023 survey of users found that over 20% have run into problems trying to get them to work.

Shayle Kann: All right. EV charger for sure.

Cassie Bowe: Yeah, we should go with EV charger technician.

Stephen Lacey: Correct.

Shayle Kann: Can you explain the meat thing?

Stephen Lacey: In Germany, vandals went around sticking ground chicken or ground pork into the charging ports.

Cassie Bowe: In Germany?

Stephen Lacey: Yes.

Shayle Kann: Why?

Stephen Lacey: I don't know. It is still a mystery to this day. All right, Shayle guessed. By 2030, the US will face a labor gap of 130,000 full-time employees in this profession, roughly 27% of the existing workforce in the US will be retiring by 2029 and there aren't enough people to take their places.

Matt Eggers: Can you keep going?

Stephen Lacey: This job is essential to the supply chains for transmission lines, lithium ion batteries, wind turbines, and carbon dioxide removal. A day in the life of this job involves things like sampling, permitting, and a lot of walking. Newcomers to this rather active profession would be wise to bring sun protection, bug spray or blister pads for their boots.

Carly Anderson: So now we're thinking geologist or a surveyor.

Matt Eggers: Surveyor, I like that.

Carly Anderson: Yeah. I forgot the first part.

Matt Eggers: What was the number 130,000?

Carly Anderson: 140? It's a lot.

Stephen Lacey: Yes, 130,000.

Matt Eggers: I like the surveyor answer, although it seems a little overly specific, but.

Carly Anderson: It's a lot. That would be a lot of surveyors.

Matt Eggers: Walking...

Stephen Lacey: Okay. Time to make your guess.

Carly Anderson: Yes, we'll go with surveyors.

Matt Eggers: Surveyors.

Stephen Lacey: You had it right, it was geologists. Oh, I forgot you were allowed to steal. Sorry about that.

Shayle Kann: Geologists.

Cassie Bowe: Geologists.

Stephen Lacey: Okay. The geologist shortage is a major problem for all kinds of climate tech that rely on mining. Of course, batteries need critical minerals, and transmission needs a lot of copper, wind turbines need rare earth elements. And the IEA estimates that hitting net-zero globally will require six times more critical minerals that are in use today, and we have a massive upcoming shortage of geologists.

Mystery job number three, high voltage. Some of the tools of this job are 3D modeling, heat and material balance, process flow diagrams and piping and instrumentation diagrams. In this job-

Cassie Bowe: Go on.

Stephen Lacey: In this job, you could theoretically work from anywhere in the world, but few locations you're more likely to work are Texas, Iceland and Zurich.

Cassie Bowe: Geothermal something.

Shayle Kann: It's a drilling engineer probably. Said he... Okay. Or is there more?

Stephen Lacey: You're likely to work alongside professionals from a variety of specialized fields like chemical engineering, material science and electrical engineers, and you'll have to work with technologies like novel adsorbents, advanced membranes, and specialized catalysts.

Shayle Kann: It's like a carbon capture engineer or something.

Cassie Bowe: In Iceland? They don't have any carbon.

Shayle Kann: They have geothermal and they have direct air capture. They do in Iceland. And in Texas is all the point source capture. I think it's like something like a carbon capture engineer. I don't know that that's actually a job. All right.

Cassie Bowe: All right.

Stephen Lacey: An engineer at a DAC facility.

Shayle Kann: Oh, a DAC.

Stephen Lacey: I could see Carly really wanted to answer that one.

Carly Anderson: I was getting really excited about that.

Shayle Kann: I saw Carly getting animated so I knew what it was kind of.

Stephen Lacey: Okay. Shayle guessed. This profession installed 3.6 million devices in the US last year, but it has millions more to go. The EU estimates that it needs 500,000 of these skilled workers to hit installation targets by 2030, and in this job you might need to work alongside plumbers, pipe fitters and electricians.

Cassie Bowe: 3.6.

Shayle Kann: Wait, this is not for us.

Cassie Bowe: Oh, sorry. I thought it was a bonus.

Matt Eggers: Is that it or more?

Stephen Lacey: That's it, yes. Those are the three.

Matt Eggers: Well, I'd say heat pump installer is encompassed by HVAC.

Carly Anderson: We can stop whispering, I guess.

Matt Eggers: Yeah. I don't know why we keep whispering.

Carly Anderson: We're between heat pump installer or HVAC technician. And Matt, I'm going to let you pull the trigger.

Matt Eggers: Let's go broad HVAC.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. We are lumping both heat pump installers and HVAC contractors together in this, so you were double right.

Carly Anderson: Yes.

Stephen Lacey: Nice work.

Shayle Kann: Double right, but one point.

Stephen Lacey: Yes, exactly. One point. For the second year in a row heat pumps outsold gas furnaces in the US in 2023, by a significant margin of 21%. But the US still needs to roughly triple its rate of installation in the next few years to reach all 140 million households by 2050 according to Rewiring America. And of course, one of the biggest barriers is finding those contractors. High voltage, in this job, you're running among an exceedingly rare group of people who review designs and proposals for novel technologies. You worry a lot about safety. Some have even said too much.

Shayle Kann: The National Regulatory Commission.

Stephen Lacey: Oh my gosh.

Matt Eggers: Whoa, whoa. The National Regulatory Commission?

Stephen Lacey: The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Shayle Kann: Nuclear Regulatory.

Matt Eggers: He said national.

Cassie Bowe: Oh no. 

Stephen Lacey: Audience, are we going to give it to him or not?

Audience: No.

Stephen Lacey: No?

Shayle Kann: Oh.

Cassie Bowe: That hurts.

Stephen Lacey: All right.

Cassie Bowe: That hurts.

Stephen Lacey: You guys are rough.

Matt Eggers: I don't know any National Regulatory.

Shayle Kann: I'm sorry.

Cassie Bowe: It's okay.

Matt Eggers: Our answer is... We get to steal, right?

Stephen Lacey: Yes.

Matt Eggers: The, altogether now, Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Stephen Lacey: There you go. You got a point.

Matt Eggers: Hurts so bad.

Stephen Lacey: All right. This is the last job here. Okay. Matt and Carly. This profession's been around for a while, but it had its big break in November of 2022. In this job, you're likely to work alongside researchers, data scientists, software engineers, robotics engineers, and user experience designers. This profession requires expertise in math. In climate, it's a job that ends up dealing with problems like wildfire management, optimizing transmission and satellite imagery.

Matt Eggers: AI engineer. What do you think?

Stephen Lacey: Correct. All right. This is our final game. It's lightning fill in the blank. It's time for you to complete the sentence. I'm going to give you five stories or trends, and you're going to complete them as quickly as you can. Matt and Carly over to you. In March, Georgia Power reached a preliminary agreement with state regulators to approve 1,400 megawatts of what?

Carly Anderson: Nuclear?

Matt Eggers: Nuclear.

Stephen Lacey: Fossil gas capacity.

Carly Anderson: Ooh.

Stephen Lacey: What company filed comments disagreeing with Georgia Power's approach to procuring fossil generation for data centers, and saying the utility was not being transparent in how it evaluated renewables.

Carly Anderson: Hyperscaler. Pick a hyperscaler.

Matt Eggers: Yeah. Microsoft.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. Last month, the federal government announced the recipients of 7 billion for over 900,000 low income homes to get what?

Matt Eggers: Energy efficiency solar batteries and...

Carly Anderson: Good try, Matt.

Stephen Lacey: It is rooftop solar.

Carly Anderson: Rooftop solar.

Stephen Lacey: Climeworks recently began offering what, to the corporate purchasers of carbon removal. They're tired of dealing with multiple different carbon removal sellers.

Carly Anderson: Portfolio.

Matt Eggers: A portfolio.

Carly Anderson: Bundle of credits?

Stephen Lacey: I'll give you that. Yeah. Carbon removal packages. PPAs for carbon. All right. Final question. A recent CBS YouGov poll found that 45% of Americans said climate change is a very important issue. But what percentage of that group had heard nothing or not much about what the Biden Administration had done to address climate change?

Carly Anderson: I want to say like five, but I don't think that's the answer.

Matt Eggers: I bet it's like half.

Carly Anderson: 50%.

Stephen Lacey: It's 49%. I'm going to give it to you. That's alarming. I wanted to ask John Podesta about that today. I mean, this administration has a lot of work to do, to continue talking about these successes that are fairly obvious to the people in this room. Okay. The Department of Energy issued a new rule aimed to cut down the time it takes to what?

Shayle Kann: This is for us now?

Stephen Lacey: Yep.

Shayle Kann: Get it interconnected. Get interconnected to the grid. Oh, I'm sorry. Wait. No, no, no, it's not. It's build new trends. Reconductoring.

Stephen Lacey: Permitted transmission line.

Shayle Kann: It's reconductoring.

Stephen Lacey: Down from an average four years down to two years.

Cassie Bowe: It is to enable further interconnection.

Shayle Kann: Yeah.

Stephen Lacey: Yeah. On Tesla's Q1 disappointing earnings call Elon Musk said the company was what or where?

Shayle Kann: Oh. What?

Cassie Bowe: What or where.

Shayle Kann: What or where. He said on the last earnings call, he said they were between two waves of demand, but that's... Okay.

Stephen Lacey: I'll give it to you.

Shayle Kann: Between two waves of demand.

Stephen Lacey: Between two waves. Yes.

Shayle Kann: I remember, because I was thinking it was between two ferns, but for EV sales.

Stephen Lacey: Tesla stock experienced a boost last week when Elon announced that the company would focus on delivering what, as soon as late this year?

Cassie Bowe: A cheaper EV model.

Stephen Lacey: Last week, Hitachi Energy announced plans to invest $1.5 billion in increased manufacturing capacity for what?

Shayle Kann: Transformers.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. The goal is to shrink the lead time for transformers down to two years, an average of two years. Okay. Final question. After getting pushback from industry, when the Securities and Exchange Commission announced its new climate disclosure rule last month, it left out what key provision?

Shayle Kann: Scope three. Cassie agrees.

Stephen Lacey: Correct. Very good. That was excellent. This is Emissions Impossible. Let's give it up for our panelists. Shayle Kann, Cassie Bowe, Carly Anderson and Matt Eggers.

So a little addendum here because of time and a little scoring error on my part in real time, we didn't actually declare a winner, but Shayle and Cassie did end up squeaking by in that lightning round. As a very public podcaster who talks about all these trends, I don't think Shayle would live with himself if he lost. A big thank you to Prelude Ventures for hosting us at the event. Prelude is an investor in Latitude Media. If you found yourself not knowing the answers to these questions, or if you want to go deeper, we're covering them all at Latitude Media. A big thanks to Catalyst producer Daniel Waldorf for helping with research and questions. And I'm Stephen Lacey. Thanks so much for listening.

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