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Discussion

The Future Is Here – Do We Embrace It or Not?

Author(s): Scott Sklar
President
The Stella Group, LTD
Date: April 11, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Over 20 states are reviewing their net-metering rules for solar energy and at least 10 are conducting value of distributed generation studies. But is this just delaying the inevitable — that states must embrace policies that promote energy conservation technologies rather than sustain their traditional grids? And are solar energy systems the only culprit? In fact, energy conservation technologies have already significantly impacted baseload demand patterns. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), light-emitting diode (LED) installations increased in all applications between 2012 and 2014, more than quadrupling to 215 million units overall. Energy Star notes “In 2014…American families and… [more]

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Are Wholesale Electricity Markets Working?

Author(s): Alex Gilbert
Cofounder
Spark Library
Date: April 4, 2016 at 12:00 PM

In the last twenty years, the United States has been in the process of restructuring its electricity generation. Today, wholesale electricity markets are controlled by regional transmission organizations (RTO) and independent system operators (ISO) that direct electric grid operations and run day-ahead and real-time pricing. These grid operators, which are regulated by FERC, now oversee more than two-thirds of America’s bulk power system and are meant to create value by improving system reliability and lowering electricity costs. However, there are serious questions about whether RTOs/ISOs are operating efficiently. Areas of concern include 1) whether reliability is improving and costs are… [more]

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State of the U.S. Solar Market: How Valuable are State Subsidies?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: March 29, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Solar power generation in the U.S. is on the rise with an added 7.3 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity in 2015. Demand for solar is projected to increase as much as 119% in 2016. Some believe that growth in the U.S. solar market is primarily influenced by federal and state subsidies and tax credits, such as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The ITC is a 30% federal tax credit for residential and commercial solar projects available through 2019. Until recently, state incentives have also impacted the growing U.S. solar market. Nationwide, states have started rolling back tax credits… [more]

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Can Additional Funding Boost ARPA-E’s Tolerance for Risk?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: March 14, 2016 at 12:30 PM

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) is responsible for funding transformational energy technologies that are too early in their development to attract private-sector investment. Projects funded by ARPA-E are typically considered high-risk investments due to the long and arduous incubation period for energy technologies. However, in 2015, the 2% of total project applications that ARPA-E funded raised questions about the agency’s tolerance for risk. Because the program has been under pressure to achieve results quickly, some have suggested that it has been more inclined to invest in projects that have a higher chance of… [more]

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Alternatives to Net Metering: A Pathway to Decentralized Electricity Markets

Author(s): Catrina Rorke
Director of Energy Policy & Senior Fellow
The R Street Institute
Date: March 7, 2016 at 3:30 PM

The traditional regulated monopoly model for electric utilities is outdated. It limits innovation, product and service development in the power sector. One example is the regulatory treatment of distributed energy resources (DER). In 46 states and D.C., customers are permitted to sell back excess energy generated from DERs through a process called net metering. As DERs like battery storage and rooftop solar penetrate the market, they increasingly expose cross-subsidies inherent in traditional utility rate design. Standard net metering policies attempt to serve a diverse customer base within this rigid framework and cannot properly capture the costs and benefits to the… [more]

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Policies for Today’s Greenhouse Gains and Tomorrow’s Challenges?

Author(s): Andrew Revkin
Founding Director, Initiative on Communication and Sustainability
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Date: February 23, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Transitioning to a non-polluting energy menu and safe climate in a world of growing energy needs and persistently abundant fossil fuels is a tough task, whatever policy path you favor. And realistically, there will be no single policy path, as the flexible architecture of the Paris climate agreement reflects. In the United States, for example, there are places where new nuclear plants have a chance, and places where solar and wind power can have a greatly increased role. In every country, in fact, with its own unique energy mix, the challenge posed by simple inertia in physical systems and in… [more]

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ICAO Proposes Carbon Emissions Standard For Aviation Industry

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: February 10, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Today the aviation industry is responsible for about 2% of all GHG emissions. Experts predict that by mid-century, this number could triple without policies designed to combat aircraft emissions due to rapid industry growth. In response, the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) has been negotiating a CO2 emissions standard for aircraft emissions with representatives from its member states, industry and non-governmental organizations. On February 8th, the CAEP unanimously approved a draft measure paving the way for final approval in 2016. If the ICAO emissions standards are approved by the ICAO’s 36-State Governing Council, the… [more]

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Grid Reliability: What Congress Can Learn From New York’s REV Initiative

Author(s): Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY)
Chair, Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change, U.S. House of Representatives
Co-Chair, Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition
Date: February 1, 2016 at 10:00 AM

On a hot day in August 2003, a stretched transmission line tripped after dipping into an overgrown tree in Ohio. Soon after, multiple transmission lines nearby also tripped beginning what would become the second-largest blackout at that time in history, impacting eight Northeastern states and Southern Canada. Since this massive blackout and concerns about grid reliability, power generation in the United States has changed dramatically both in form and quantity. In 2005, Congress recognized the need for mandatory grid reliability standards and expanded the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) authority to regulate the bulk power system. However, despite FERC’s efforts… [more]

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Solutions to Energy-Water Conflicts

Author(s): Ken Carlson
Dr. Ken Carlson
Colorado State University
Date: January 13, 2016 at 3:00 PM

Water and energy networks are inextricably linked. Energy production and electricity generation both require water. Conversely, treatment and distribution of water to consumers and wastewater collection and treatment depend on energy. There are multiple other connections between these two fundamental resources and therefore new paradigms are needed for increased usage efficiencies to minimize energy-water conflicts, especially when considering that climate change will significantly impact both. Water has traditionally been abundant in the US, even in drier parts of the country where large, federally funded infrastructure projects have literally made the desert bloom. Energy was also largely readily available so there… [more]

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Integrating Food, Energy, and Water Systems to Beneficially Utilize Food Waste

Author(s): Serpil Guran
Director
Rutgers EcoComplex: New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
Date: January 12, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Industry production systems underlying the Food, Energy, and Water (FEW) Nexus have traditionally treated pollution and waste as externalities that often end up in a landfill. Food waste is the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching landfills today and is often the byproduct of many FEW Nexus inefficiencies. Inefficiencies that can be addressed through technologies such as anaerobic digesters. In the U.S., food harvesting, processing, and transportation accounts for 10 percent of our energy. However, 40 percent of food goes uneaten and Americans are not only wasting the equivalent of $165 billion each year on this organic compound,… [more]

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