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Challenges With Kemper Raise Concerns For “Clean Coal”

Date: July 3, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Proposed in 2006, Southern Company’s (“Southern”) Kemper County Power Generation Facility (“Kemper”) was initially viewed as a flagship demonstration project for “clean coal” technologies like carbon capture and sequestration (“CCS”). Eleven years on, Southern has announced it is “immediately suspending start-up and operations activities” on the gasifier units and the facility “will continue to operate using natural gas pending the Mississippi Public Service Commission’s decision on future operations.” The 582 MW plant was designed to convert lignite coal into a synthetic gas with a CCS system capturing more than half of the emissions. Since 2012 however, Kemper has faced years… [more]

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Three Mile Island: The End of an Era?

Author(s): Dr. Andrew C. Kadak
Kadak Associates, Inc.
Date: June 19, 2017 at 11:18 AM

If climate change is considered a real concern by most government officials, why are policymakers and politicians not acting to keep reliably operational nuclear plants from being prematurely shutdown? As most know, nuclear-generating plants, such as Three-mile Island in Pennsylvania, produce essentially zero carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases. Once the United States had 104 operating nuclear plants producing over 60% of the nation’s clean energy. Today that number is down to 99. Nuclear plants used to generate about 20% of the electricity consumed. Today it is about 17% and declining. The most recently announced shutdown was the Three Mile… [more]

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Trump Budget Breakdown: The Clean Energy Economy and American Innovation

Author(s): Bryce Golden-Chen
Project Manager, EDF+Business
Environmental Defense Fund
Date: June 13, 2017 at 2:15 PM

The Trump administration recently released its full federal budget proposal, which could slash funding for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), related offices and programs, and damage a future clean energy economy. EERE has been at the forefront of supporting successful public-private partnerships and innovative, clean energy entrepreneurs. Funding that nurtures new businesses without requiring their owners to give up any stake in their companies can be make-or-break for the early-stage startups that drive innovation. When government, well-positioned to make this kind of unique investment, puts forth taxpayer dollars, it encourages the private sector to buy-in… [more]

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A Solar Trade War

Author(s): Elias Hinckley
KL Gates
Date: June 4, 2017 at 10:00 PM

Last month the International Trade Commission (ITC) agreed to proceed with a trade case filed by the bankrupt solar manufacturing American company Suniva. Suniva has claimed that the current import price for certain photovoltaic solar panels is so low that it was damaging the US manufacturing industry and the only way to protect US manufacturers would be to levy a tariff on panel imports – the result would be to more than double the price of solar panels to $0.78/watt, potentially igniting a solar trade war. In order to prove its case, Suniva needs to show that the solar manufacturing… [more]

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The Paris Agreement: Implications of the US leaving

Date: May 23, 2017 at 9:00 AM

President Trump is expected to make a decision after the impending G7 summit regarding whether the U.S. will remain a party to the Paris Climate Agreement. For weeks, the President has been formerly considering whether America should withdraw from the Paris Agreement signed in 2015 and ratified by his predecessor, President Obama, last year. Under the Agreement, the U.S. committed to an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Once in effect, terms of the Agreement state a party cannot withdraw for at least 3 years and must wait an additional… [more]

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Opportunities for Carbon Capture in California

Author(s): Fatima Maria Ahmad
Solutions Fellow
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Date: May 9, 2017 at 11:00 AM

California has demonstrated leadership in setting ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by setting a target to reduce emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. While California is reducing emissions and expanding clean energy through many means, including a cap-and-trade program, the state appears to be underestimating the effectiveness and readiness of carbon capture technology and how it could help California reach its goal. In consensus comments on the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) draft 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update, a diverse group of nonprofits (including C2ES); environmental groups; and oil, gas, and ethanol companies outlined… [more]

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Where Should Electricity Investment Go?

Author(s): Jennifer Morris
Research Scientist
MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
Date: May 1, 2017 at 10:00 AM

With a single executive order issued at the end of March, the Trump administration launched a robust effort to roll back Obama-era climate policies designed to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Chief among those policies is the Clean Power Plan, which targets coal and natural gas-fired electric power plants that account for about 40 percent of the nation’s CO2 emissions. Private and public-sector investors may see the executive order as a green light to double down on relatively cheap fossil fuels and reduce holdings in more costly, climate-friendly, non-carbon generation technologies such as wind, solar and nuclear. But they… [more]

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Energy Reset: Free Markets vs. Government Influence

Author(s): James Koehler
Associate Director
Berkeley Research Group
Date: April 24, 2017 at 11:00 AM

The National Capital Area Chapter for the U.S. Association for Energy Economics (NCAC-USAEE) held its annual energy policy conference on April 6th entitled “Energy Reset? Conflicting Forces in the Energy Space.” The event captured the economic implications of the announced and expected shift in energy policy between the Obama and Trump administrations. One reoccurring theme was the evolving role of government and market influences. It began with Thad Hill, CEO and President of Calpine Corp., emphasizing the need for free “markets, not mandates” and Tom Pyle, President of the American Energy Alliance, detailing President Trump’s energy deregulation agenda. A panel… [more]

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Coal Jobs and Trumps Plan to Bring Them Back

Author(s): Greg Gershuny
Interim Director, Energy and Environment Program
The Aspen Institute
Date: April 10, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Coal isn’t coming back, although, with real investment in carbon capture and sequestration, it could continue to contribute to a clean energy economy. In 2006, coal accounted for nearly half of all electricity in the US; by 2016, it was down to 29%. The decrease in coal jobs and use by the electricity sector is because of economic reasons, as it has been outcompeted by low-cost natural gas. Building new wind and utility-scale solar generation is less expensive than building new coal plants, even without subsidies. States are already decarbonizing. The Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation to… [more]

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The Effects of Energy Tax Policy on Markets and the Environment

Author(s): Devin Hartman
President & CEO
The Electricity Consumers Resource Council
Date: April 3, 2017 at 10:30 AM

The Federal government supports energy investment and production through the tax code and spending programs administered by the Department of Energy (DOE). In 2016, energy-related tax preferences cost an estimated $18.4 billion, while relevant DOE spending programs cost $5.9 billion. DOE programs advance knowledge benefits, which the private sector underproduces because companies cannot capture all the benefits for themselves. Early-stage research and development (R&D) has the largest “knowledge spillovers,” yet DOE direct investments in applied (late-stage) energy research is more than double those in basic (early stage) research. Tax preferences may encourage knowledge benefits for nascent technologies but deter investment… [more]

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