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Our Urgent Need for Energy Infrastructure

Author(s): James Conca
Senior Scientist
UFA Ventures, Inc.
Date: January 14, 2019 at 10:40 AM

In the United States, public debates surrounding energy policy focus on generation, carbon emissions, and cost. But all is for naught if the infrastructure that carries power isn’t appropriate for the changing energy mix or can’t keep up because it’s crumbling. With new technologies rising faster than sea level on a hot planet, the United States is in the midst of the biggest energy boom in 60 years. We have more natural gas, coal, and uranium than we need for several hundred years; new and better solar cells; new biofuel technologies to replace ethanol; and even more oil than we… [more]

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Looking Back and Pushing Ahead: Energy Policy in the New Year

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: December 31, 2018 at 10:29 AM

From attempts to bail out coal and nuclear to a Green New Deal, 2018 was an interesting year for energy policy. With a newly divided Congress taking office in January, it seems likely that disagreements regarding the future of the energy industry will continue in 2019, though there may be areas with potential for bipartisanship. Outside of the federal government, it can be expected that 2019 will continue the trend of many state and local governments, as well as private organizations, being active in shaping the direction of our energy sector. A major trend of 2018, which will continue into… [more]

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Xcel Commits to Carbon-Free 2050

Author(s): Greg Gershuny
Interim Director, Energy and Environment Program
The Aspen Institute
Date: December 18, 2018 at 10:28 AM

Minneapolis-based public utility Xcel Energy announced that it will be completely carbon-free by 2050. California’s SB100, which passed earlier this year, sets a similar goal for the state by 2045, but Xcel is the first utility in the nation to set a goal this bold. Xcel has already taken steps to become more sustainable. In 2017, 40% of Xcel’s electricity generation was carbon-free, with much of that coming from wind and nuclear power. According to its website, Xcel intends to double the wind power it generates by 2022 and plans to retire 40% of its coal capacity by 2027. Xcel… [more]

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The Problem with Renewable Energy Subsidies

Author(s): Cutter González
Energy Project Campaign Manager, Policy Analyst
Texas Public Policy Foundation
Date: December 3, 2018 at 11:37 AM

The Production Tax Credit (PTC), a federal subsidy for renewable energy, is a $24-per-megawatt-hour credit based on energy production rather than demand. That means those who produce renewable energy can receive the credit regardless of whether or not that electricity is actually needed. The incentive is so immense that at peak hours of output wind producers can actually pay retail electric providers, the companies that deliver the energy to homes and businesses, to take their product. This “negative pricing” scheme caused by the PTC and other subsidies is having serious consequences.The instability it causes can push out the energy producers that… [more]

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After Two Defeats in Washington State, Where Next For A Carbon Tax?

Author(s): Ed Dolan
Senior Fellow
Niskanen Center
Date: November 26, 2018 at 10:04 AM

Conservative and progressive policy wonks agree: a carbon tax is the most promising of all tools to fight climate change. Such a tax would spur investments in green energy and encourage motorists to buy more electric cars. It would minimize the role of regulatory bureaucrats and maximize that of markets. What is not to love about a carbon tax? The sticking point is what to do with the billions of dollars of revenues such a tax would generate. Conservatives favor using the money for a revenue-neutral tax swap. Lower taxes on capital would encourage investment, lower payroll taxes would encourage… [more]

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Bioenergy is the Overlooked Giant of Decarbonization

Author(s): Graham Noyes
Managing Attorney
Noyes Law Corporation
Date: November 13, 2018 at 10:29 AM

In October, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reaffirmed the leading role that bioenergy continues to play in decarbonization. IEA Executive Director, Dr. Fatih Barol, pointedly stated, “Modern bioenergy is the overlooked giant of the renewable energy field… We expect modern bioenergy will continue to lead the field, and has huge prospects for further growth. But the right policies and rigorous sustainability regulations will be essential to meet its full potential.” The IEA concludes that to meet long-term climate goals, renewable energy development in the heat, electricity, and transport sectors must accelerate. Transportation has clearly emerged as the most difficult sector… [more]

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Is less government the key to nuclear waste management?

Author(s): David M. Klaus
William J. Perry Fellow, Visiting Scholar
Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University
Date: November 5, 2018 at 10:52 AM

The 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations bill that President Trump signed early last month provides no funding for Yucca Mountain. In doing so, it officially extends by another year the U.S. government’s failure to implement a portion of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 whereby the government would accept responsibility for managing the spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors. In the 1950s, when public faith in government was high, a decision to entrust a federal agency with safely managing waste from the country’s commercial nuclear reactors was relatively uncontroversial. Today, the idea is almost unthinkable. In all likelihood, Yucca Mountain… [more]

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A Bold Step Forward for Solar

Author(s): Zadie Oleksiw
Communications Director
Vote Solar
Date: October 29, 2018 at 11:09 AM

In May, the California Energy Commission unanimously approved the nation’s first commitment to putting solar on qualifying new home construction starting in 2020 – a move that’ll be good for our cost-of-living and our climate alike. Building solar on new homes is consistent with California’s zero net energy goals for new buildings, and it’s a great way of getting rooftop solar built cheaply for customers. When solar PV is installed at the time of construction, you get economies of scale and save big on non-hardware costs like customer acquisition, permitting and financing. Assuming modules are 40 cents/W and the other… [more]

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Reducing the Ethanol Mandate is Smart Environmental Policy

Author(s): Arthur Wardle
CGO Graduate Research Fellow
The Center for Growth and Opportunity - Utah State University
Date: October 22, 2018 at 10:30 AM

Following the boom in oil production from the hydraulic fracturing revolution, environmental protection outstripped energy independence as the major selling point of US biofuels policy. The ethanol mandate continues to grow and includes 15 billion gallons that can be met using ethanol made from corn. All of that corn ethanol, despite being a renewable fuel resource, does not deliver the environmental benefits hoped for by early biofuel advocates. The production of billions of gallons of ethanol requires vast expanses of farmland, and with the introduction of the ethanol mandate, these areas have grown to encompass what were previously unimproved critical… [more]

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California: Carbon-Free by 2045?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: October 15, 2018 at 9:45 AM

California is the second state after Hawaii to establish a 100% clean energy goal for its electric grid. In late August, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 100 (SB 100) which created a 100% clean electricity standard by 2045 and also altered California’s current renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Previously, California’s RPS mandated 50% of the state’s retail electricity sales come from renewable sources by 2030, but following passage of SB 100, that figure is now modified to 60%. To achieve the 2045 goal, however, SB 100 takes a broader approach by explicitly instructing California’s energy agencies to “plan for 100%… [more]

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