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PG&E Bankruptcy Sparks Debate on Policy Implications

Author(s): Alex Gilbert
Cofounder
Spark Library
Date: February 11, 2019 at 11:29 AM

In January, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), California’s largest utility, declared and subsequently filed for bankruptcy as a result of incurring as much as $30 billion in potential liabilities from transmission-caused wildfires in 2017 and 2018. The utility faces over 1,000 lawsuits and may be unable to completely handle its liabilities, possibly requiring significant state intervention. This raises critical questions about utility operations and business, and what policies are necessary to assess liability in an era of growing climate risks. Liability for each fire is determined by California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention on a case-by-case basis. Under California’s… [more]

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The Clean Energy Puzzle Needs Nuclear

Author(s): Lenka Kollar
Director of Strategy and External Relations
NuScale Power
Date: February 4, 2019 at 11:22 AM

The threat of climate change has given the United States an opportunity to be a technological leader and set a global example of how to transition towards a clean energy economy. As U.S. policymakers begin to consider policies like the Green New Deal, we encourage them not to overlook a key tool for reaching climate goals: nuclear energy. Today, fossil fuels fulfill roughly two-thirds of our country’s energy needs, emitting carbon and harmful air pollutants. Although renewable energy is growing and new technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration are being tested, these trends alone won’t be enough to decarbonize… [more]

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A Realistic Strategy For Climate Change

Author(s): Darren Goode
Communications Director
ClearPath
Date: January 28, 2019 at 2:19 PM

To tackle a topic as monumental and divisive as climate change, it will take a politically realistic and technologically inclusive agenda built on advancing clean power around the world. Last Congress, we saw bipartisan support on issues such as a key tax incentive for carbon capture, and a similar fix for advanced nuclear. Legislators found common ground as they focused on both climate benefits and economics.   The reality is that any impractical and hasty move toward an all-renewable power strategy in the U.S. will not only be too partisan, but it will also fail to affect the global emissions… [more]

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U.S. Offshore Wind Will Be Bigger Than You Think

Author(s): Mike O'Boyle
Director Of Electricity Policy
Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology, LLC
Date: January 22, 2019 at 12:10 PM

U.S. offshore wind project costs have fallen 75% since 2014, across contracts for 1.2 gigawatts (GW) of projects that will be built over the next five years. The 9 GW capacity target recently announced by Governor Cuomo in New York pushed U.S. targets to a combined 18 GW of offshore wind capacity in six Atlantic states. With all this momentum, did we vastly underestimate the potential contribution of offshore wind to our clean energy future? Offshore wind power is following a similar, but faster learning curve to onshore wind and solar over the past decade. Since 2010, onshore wind’s levelized… [more]

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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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