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Demand Response Can Save Billions

Author(s): James Conca
Senior Scientist
UFA Ventures, Inc.
Date: February 27, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Generally, when electricity demand rises in an area, we just fire up some source like a gas plant or a coal plant, or put more water through a hydroelectric dam, to produce more electricity to meet that demand. But what about other users voluntarily shifting their use to compensate for that rise in demand? This concept of Demand Response sounds simple, but until recent technological developments, like a smarter grid and rapid energy communication and control systems, it wasn’t feasible since the response time needed to be in minutes, not hours. Some users can shift their energy usage to different… [more]

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Will Crude by Rail Rules Work?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: February 20, 2015 at 8:00 AM

The rapid increase in U.S. oil production has had a number of impacts. One of these is that shipping of crude oil by rail has increased more than 400% since 2005, due to pipeline limitations and the sheer pace of development. On Monday, a train carrying 109 oil cars derailed in West Virginia and 20 of the oil cars exploded. Other recent, high profile accidents have rekindled the discussion about the safety of transporting oil-by-rail that began after a derailment in Quebec in July, 2013 killed 47 people. In July 2014, the Department of Transportation issued a new rule proposal… [more]

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Can We Find a Future for Coal?

Author(s): Mark Drajem
Editor
Bloomberg's First Word Energy
Date: February 12, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Coal can’t get much love. Cheap natural gas and a bevy of EPA regulations are conspiring to force old coal plants to close and pushing U.S. production down to less than one billion short tons, near a two-decade low. While low-cost production in Wyoming and Illinois has been able to hold steady, the legacy mines of Appalachia face devastating losses in production and jobs. Meanwhile, projects that were supposed to demonstrate a future for coal in a carbon-constrained world are struggling or dead. The Obama administration pulled the plug on the FutureGen clean coal project this month. Another similar project… [more]

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The Challenges of Innovation in the Nuclear Power Industry

Author(s): Dr. Andrew C. Kadak
President
Kadak Associates, Inc.
Date: February 4, 2015 at 8:30 AM

Today there are 100 nuclear plants operating in the United States, providing roughly 17% of our electricity.  They do so with water technology developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s and many of these plants are extending their licenses from 40 to 60 years after careful regulatory review.  Even new design nuclear plants such as Westinghouse’s AP-1000 and General Electric’s ESBWR are fundamentally the same technology, which are described as evolutionary.  Yet today there are many new innovative designs and technologies that are being developed that are not water based. These innovators face enormous challenges in coming up with new designs… [more]

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Should We Raise the Gas Tax?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 28, 2015 at 9:00 AM

The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, along with the Highway Revenue Act (1956) created the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) as a mechanism through which federal gasoline taxes would be used to fund the construction and maintenance of the U.S. highway system. Both the taxes themselves and the authority to place these funds into the HTF expire and must be extended periodically. In 1993, the last increase brought the federal gas tax to 18.4 cents per gallon, 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. Many point to inflation and increased fuel efficiency as causes of significant shortfalls in the HTF and claim… [more]

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Government as Innovator: Not so Fast

Author(s): Lewis J. Perelman
Principal
Perelman Group
Date: January 21, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Jesse Jenkins (MIT) and Matthew Stepp (Center for Clean Energy Innovation) are among a number of policy analysts who have called for a “tax and invest” strategy to combat global warming. That is: A modest tax on carbon emissions would be invested in government research, development, and innovation-promotion programs to commercialize new alternative energy technology. But in a recent article I have argued there are at least four reasons to question whether typical government technology programs would be as cost-effective an investment as Jenkins and others claim: 1. The government role in innovation is neither necessary nor sufficient. Of the… [more]

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What is the State of Energy in the Union?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM

On Tuesday, January 20th 2015, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address (SOTU), and energy and climate will likely play a prominent role. In last years’ SOTU, President Obama outlined an all of the above strategy: increasing domestic oil and gas production, cutting red tape, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and addressing climate change. However, a lot has changed in the last year. Republicans now control both chambers of Congress, oil prices are at their lowest point since 2009 and the Clean Power Plan has impacted the policy landscape both domestically and abroad. The administration just announced… [more]

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What Do Falling Oil Prices Mean for Policymakers?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 8, 2015 at 3:50 PM

Oil prices have declined sharply over the last six months, with the U.S. benchmark closing below $50/barrel on Jan. 6th, for the first time since 2009.  A number of factors have contributed to this fall in prices, including an increase in U.S. tight oil production and decreased global demand. Beyond the immediate financial benefits of lower fuel prices for U.S. consumers, the falling price of oil raises several policy questions.  Impacts on financial markets and geopolitical tensions that could be exacerbated if the low price persists are only a few of the potential issues U.S.  policymakers may find themselves dealing… [more]

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Environmental and Energy Study Institute

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 7, 2015 at 1:20 PM

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) is an independent, non-profit organization advancing innovative policy solutions to set us on a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy path. EESI educates policymakers, builds coalitions and develops policy in support of energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable biomass, sustainable buildings, and sustainable transportation. EESI was founded by a bipartisan Congressional caucus in 1984, and its strong relationship with Congress helps EESI serve as a trusted source of credible, non-partisan information on energy and environmental issues. EESI receives no congressional funding and is supported through contributions and grants.

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Did EPA Get it Right on Coal Ash?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: December 31, 2014 at 12:45 PM

On December 22, 2008, a disposal cell at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant ruptured, releasing an estimated 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash in eastern Tennessee. Fly ash is one of a variety of coal combustion residuals (CCR), collectively referred to as coal ash and stored in more than 500 disposal facilities across the country. The Kingston spill prompted an EPA effort to reassess how coal ash is regulated. In the initial rule proposal, two different options for regulating coal ash were included, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which regulates solid waste. The central question was… [more]

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