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Time-Variant Pricing in NY’s REV

Author(s): Beia Spiller
Economist
Environmental Defense Fund
Date: March 23, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Throughout most of the country, residential electricity customers pay the same price for electricity regardless of when it is consumed. Such flat rates mask the fact that true system costs vary over time according to electricity demand. Prices that better reflect the time-varying costs of producing and delivering electricity can lead to a number of economic and environmental gains, such as reduced wholesale prices, increased investment in clean distributed energy resources, and lower overall carbon emissions. Time-variant electricity pricing gives customers greater control over their electricity bills, since they can use electricity when it is cheaper and cut back when… [more]

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Climate Engineering: Solution or Problem?

Author(s): Simon Nicholson
Assistant Professor
American University
Date: March 18, 2015 at 9:00 AM

On February 10, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released two major new reports on climate engineering (or “geoengineering”). The reports set out to summarize the scientific basis for what the authors chose to call “climate intervention,” identify governance and ethical challenges, and chart a new research agenda. While the authors were careful to state that climate intervention is no substitute for reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, the reports indicate support for further investigation into large-scale technological responses. The paired studies assess two specific groups of strategies: (1) carbon dioxide removal and (2) reflecting sunlight, or albedo modification. While the… [more]

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EPA’s Methane Rule Comes Up Short

Author(s): Dr. Robert Howarth
The David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology
Cornell University
Date: March 10, 2015 at 9:15 AM

The EPA recently announced new regulations for methane emissions, taking an important first step in reducing the impact of this highly potent greenhouse gas (GHG). But the rule falls short, in part because EPA has systematically underestimated methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Emissions from conventional natural gas are likely to be at least 2- to 3-fold greater than the EPA estimates, according to several recent studies. Recent literature also suggests emissions from shale gas may be twice as much greater still, based on an observed large increase in methane in the atmosphere over recent years, with the… [more]

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What’s the Most Likely Outcome of the Keystone XL Saga?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: March 4, 2015 at 2:30 PM

On February 24th, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have authorized construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline as it “conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest.” It is still possible that President Obama will approve construction of the highly controversial pipeline. In fact, a number of outcomes for the executive review are still possible and a district court judge in York County, Nebraska, just granted local landowners a preliminary injunction against TransCanada’s use of eminent domain for the proposed pipeline in a move that further complicates the… [more]

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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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