Through the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress formed a hybrid system for setting electric grid reliability and security standards; a private corporation, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), writes grid standards, while a government agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reviews and approves NERC’s standards.
FERC and NERC appear to have a close working relationship in jointly developing grid standards. During an April 10, 2014 Senate Energy Committee hearing “Keeping The Lights On—Are We Doing Enough To Ensure The Reliability And Security Of The U.S. Electric Grid?” both Cheryl LaFleur, Acting Chair of FERC, and Gerry Cauley, … [read more]
There is currently no national standard for dispensing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a motor fuel. In July, the National Conference of Weights and Measures (NCWM) will consider requiring retail natural gas dispensers to use kilograms as the primary unit of sale for liquefied natural gas (LNG). The same regulators and officials advocating for that approach are encouraging that CNG no longer be sold in gasoline gallon equivalents as well.
This would be a drastic departure from the current practice of using diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) for the sale of LNG, since it primarily competes with diesel fuel for trucking. … [read more]
As the oil boom outgrows the US pipeline network, the oil industry is increasingly using alternatives such as rail to transport crude oil across the country. Between 2008 and 2013, annual crude oil transported by rail in the U.S. grew from 9,500 to 407,761 carloads (about 275 million barrels), according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). During the same period, a debate about the safety of oil-by-rail has arisen in response to a few high profile accidents and spills, including the Lac-Mégantic derailment in Quebec on July 6th, 2013 that killed 47 people and destroyed half the … [read more]
Without significant gains in storage technology, electric generation from solar and wind will not meet the world’s energy needs. Nuclear power, however, can deliver electric power in a sufficiently safe, economical and secure manner to supplement supply from other carbon-free sources. Despite this, there remain major objections to the safety, cost, waste management and proliferation risk of nuclear power, which I’ll seek to address here.
There have been three serious accidents that challenged the safety record of nuclear power: the Three Mile Island (TMI), Chernobyl, and the tsunami-induced Fukushima accident. In all these accidents there were no immediate public … [read more]
This discussion is presented in conjunction with the closing keynote at the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences 2014 Conference.
Cost-effective and profitable energy efficiency technologies and services, and renewable energy generation alternatives are available today to end GHG emissions from the electric utility sector entirely. Traditional cost-of-service regulation rewards capital investments more than the provision of value, punishes innovation and efficiency, and treats customers as “ratepayers” with few choices and little clout. Today’s electric utilities are not well prepared to make the business model changes required to become truly sustainable. Three key strategies map a path forward.
First, … [read more]