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Chevron Commits to "Alt" Energy | Oil Watchdog

Chevron Commits to "Alt" Energy

Wed, May 7, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Chevron Commits to "Alt" Energy

    Chevron Commits to ‘Alt’ Energy

    San Ramon-based Chevron said it expects
    to spend the money over a three-year period from 2007 through 2009.
    Over the five years from 2002 through 2006, Chevron spent about $2
    billion on alternative and renewable energy technologies.

    That
    means Chevron expects to spend an average of $833 million a year from
    2007 through 2009. That’s more than double the per-year average of $400
    million Chevron plunked down from 2002 through 2006 on alternative and
    renewable energy.

    "Ultimately, these projects have to make
    business sense and bring in profits," said Alex Yelland, a Chevron
    spokesman. "We are also looking for a leadership position in these
    markets."

    But some critics of the oil company were not impressed by Chevron’s spending program on alternative and renewable energy.

    "If
    you take it as a percentage of profit, it does not amount to much,"
    said Judy Dugan, a researcher with the Oil Watchdog online site.

    However,
    the average of $833 million would amount to 4.5 percent of Chevron’s
    annual — and record-setting — profit of $18.69 billion in 2007. And
    the average of $400 million would have equated to 2.5 percent of the
    company’s profit in 2006 of $17.14 billion — also a record at that
    time.

    Dugan also is skeptical because she believes Chevron might not be
    spending that much money on true renewable energy sources. She is
    critical because the company does not specify how much is being spent,
    separately, on alternative energy and renewable energy.

    "Alternative energy could be liquid fuel
    from coal, or gasification projects," Dugan said. "Alternatives are
    often a code word for a different way to use fossil fuels. Chevron
    needs to let us know what they are doing that is really green."

    Chevron
    said it is investing in biofuel, geothermal, solar energy and hydrogen
    fuel. Chevron works closely with AC Transit on programs related to
    buses powered by hydrogen fuel, as well as diesel fuels derived from
    soybeans and natural gas.

    Kristina Johnson, a spokeswoman for the
    Sierra Club, said it is about time for Chevron and other oil companies
    to spend considerable sums on alternative and renewable energy.

    "Clean
    energy is the future and fossil fuels are an outdated energy source,"
    Johnson said. "The sooner we end our addiction to oil the better. This
    has been a long time coming."

    Executives at Chevron also pointed
    out that the company scouts for alternative and renewable energy
    technologies in ways other than direct spending. Chevron owns a venture
    capital arm that invests in privately held startup companies.

    More
    than a few of these fledgling firms are engaged in research and
    development of renewable or alternative energy. One example is
    Oakland-based BrightSource Energy Inc., which has developed new
    technologies to deploy solar energy fields.

    "Our venture
    operation looks for companies that have promising emerging
    technologies," Yelland said. "They do play a key role in giving us a
    position in this emerging alternative energy space. If you can get in
    on the ground floor of these technologies, that can give you an edge."

    —————-

    George
    Avalos covers jobs, economic development, commercial real estate,
    finance and oil companies. Reach him at 925-977-8477 or gavalos@bayareanewsgroup.com

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