Before we discuss big issues like global warming, carbon pricing and renewable energy, I toss a couple of “lightning round” questions at Ralph Izzo, the chairman, president and CEO of New Jersey-based PSEG, a $13.3-billion a year energy company with strong commitment to solar power and action to curb climate change.
First, Yankees or Mets? Izzo grew up in Queens (Mets country) and pitched for the baseball team at Columbia University (Yankee territory), where he earned an B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineer and a Ph.D in applied physics. “Yankees, Knicks, Rangers, Giants,” Izzo replied. He’s still a big sports fan.
Second, Democrat or Republican? After a stint as a research scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Izzo worked as a science fellow in the office of Sen. Bill Bradley, a New Jersey Democrat, and then as an energy-and-tech policy adviser to New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, a Republican. “Independent,” he said. “Pretty much down right down the yellow stripe.” True enough–he’s given money to George Bush and Hillary Clinton.
Third, nuclear power or “clean coal”? Much as it would be nice to light up the world with wind, solar or geothermal power, odds are that the U.S. will need nuclear power, coal or natural gas to provide baseload (i.e., round the clock) electricity for the foreseeable future. Izzo, as a utility CEO and a scientist, gave nuclear his qualified endorsement over clean coal.
“The technology is in existence already,” he said. “It has a more benign environmental footprint. It doesn’t have the mercury, NO2, SO2 or carbon baggage. Having said that, all of our investments right now are in natural gas.” [click to continue…]