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The Ineffectiveness of Renewable Portfolio Standards

Author(s): Josh Smith
Research Manager
The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University
Date: July 9, 2018 at 11:11 AM

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) require a certain percentage of the electricity sold by utilities to be from qualifying sources as determined by state statute. RPS are one of the most common state-level environmental policies; 29 states and Washington DC have mandatory standards. Despite their popularity, however, renewable portfolio standards may not achieve their environmental ends in a cost-effective manner. Basic analysis of the effects of implementing RPS shows only a nominal impact on carbon emissions, but a large impact on electricity prices. Professors at Louisiana State University compared states that had enacted RPS to states that had not, and showed… [more]

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Can the US Phase Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies?

Author(s): Han Chen
International Climate Advocate, Global Advocacy, International Program
Natural Resources Defense Council
Date: June 25, 2018 at 2:13 PM

The use of fossil fuels drives climate change. Unfortunately, the path to clean sources of electricity, heat, and transport is impeded by the continued government subsidization of fossil fuels. In our recent Scorecard measuring the US against other G7 countries on progress in eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, the US ranked last, spending over $26 billion a year to prop up fossil fuels. Fossil fuel subsidies waste money and come at the expense of public health, local communities, and the climate. The US still provides subsidies for fossil fuel exploration, mining, production, and consumption. The US subsidizes more oil and gas… [more]

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Carbon Tax: Barriers and Solutions

Author(s): Mike Shatzkin
Founder & CEO
The Idea Logical Company, Inc.
Date: June 18, 2018 at 10:30 AM

Although there is a broad consensus that we need to “price carbon” to enable markets to account for the external costs of burning fossil fuels, no proposed national legislation has received significant traction since the failure of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in 2010. One formula, long advocated by the non-partisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby but never proposed as legislation, is to simply refund the tax revenue in equal shares to individuals. CCL proposed starting at $15 per ton (which equates to 15 cents per gallon of gas) with an annual increase of $10 a ton forever. CCL has been instrumental in… [more]

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Coal, Nuclear, and National Security

Author(s): Devin Hartman
President & CEO
The Electricity Consumers Resource Council
Date: June 11, 2018 at 10:22 AM

On June 1st President Trump directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to halt the closure of competitive coal and nuclear power plants, which are being pushed offline by less expensive energy sources. A leaked memo outlined a plan to subsidize these facilities using Energy Department emergency authorities under the Federal Power Act and a Cold War-era defense law enabling the Department to nationalize parts of the power sector. The memo claimed that saving these “fuel secure” plants is a matter of national security. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation and regional grid operators have not found evidence that a grid emergency… [more]

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From 6% to 90% — The New Offshore Drilling Plan

Author(s): Lorena Roque
MPP Candidate
George Washington University
Date: June 4, 2018 at 9:44 AM

In January, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released its “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” as part of the 2019-2024 National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposal Program (DPP). While the Obama Administration’s 2017-2022 program opened up only 6% of total outer continental shelf (OCS) acreage to resource exploration and development, the 2019-2024 Program proposes to open up approximately 90%. The BOEM estimates the U.S. OCS has about 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, natural gas. If implemented, the 2019-2024 DPP would dramatically expand America’s capacity for offshore oil and gas drilling,… [more]

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EFI and NASEO Release 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report

Author(s): David Foster
Distinguished Associate
Energy Futures Initiative
Date: May 21, 2018 at 2:00 PM

On May 16th, The Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) released the 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER). The USEER offers data on employment trends in four key energy sectors – Electric Power Generation and Fuels; Transmission, Distribution and Storage; Energy Efficiency and; Motor Vehicles. This is the third installment of the energy jobs survey established by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2016. Overall, firms covered by the survey anticipate roughly 6.2 percent employment growth for 2018. Energy Efficiency employers project the highest growth rate over 2018 (9 percent), followed by… [more]

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Accelerating the Growth of Solar and Wind with Biofuels

Author(s): Dr. Bruce Dale
University Distinguished Professor
Michigan State University, Dept. of Chemical Engineering
Date: May 14, 2018 at 10:30 AM

Electricity generated from solar and wind has grown rapidly in the past few decades. However, its continued growth is imperiled by the high costs of grid integration. While solar and wind energy enjoy low operating costs, they are intermittent and variable on multiple time scales. Thus they may not be available when needed. Storing electrical energy is costly and so is providing backup power. Thus grid integration costs rise as the penetration of solar and wind electricity increases. There is a strong positive correlation between installed wind and solar capacity versus the residential energy price in 21 member countries of… [more]

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What Cybersecurity Means for The Grid

Author(s): Adam Hahn
Assistant Professor, EECS
Washington State University
Date: May 7, 2018 at 11:02 AM

Cybersecurity threats to the electric grid are no longer hypothetical.  While attacks impacting grid operations have only been reported in Ukraine, DHS recently identified intrusions into the U.S. grid. Fortunately, substantial progress has been made in recent years to protect the grid.  While the North American Energy Reliability Corporation (NERC) has implemented bulk grid cybersecurity requirements for the past decade, state utility commissions are increasingly defining requirements for low-voltage distribution grids.  Furthermore, NERC-led initiatives, such as national response exercises (GridEX) and information sharing programs (E-ISAC) help ensure utilities are prepared to respond to similar events.  At the federal level, the… [more]

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Debate Continues Over Carbon Neutrality of Biomass

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: April 30, 2018 at 9:25 AM

Last Monday, Scott Pruitt announced that the Environmental Protection Agency will now consider the burning of biomass for energy to be carbon neutral. The agency memo points out that the use of biomass for energy can bolster domestic energy production, reduce wildfire risk, and help ensure that forests continue to remove carbon from the atmosphere. The memo further states that “Managed forests improve air and water quality while creating valuable jobs and thousands of products that improve our daily lives.” Despite the ruling, using biomass for energy remains a contentious issue. Scientists and various non-governmental organizations have raised concerns that… [more]

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A Reliable Grid Relies on Coal

Author(s): Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN-8)
U.S. House of Representatives
Member, Energy & Commerce Committee
Date: April 12, 2018 at 12:24 PM

It is critical that we ensure our nation enjoys a reliable and resilient grid, and that consumers continue to have access to affordable and reliable electricity. But today, coal-fired power generating plants are being closed at an alarming rate. Since 2010, plants representing almost 108,000 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity have shut down or announced plans to close. Indiana alone ranks second among all states with 39 coal-fired electric generating plants having already retired. As a supporter of an all-the-above energy strategy, I believe that power generators should rely on a diverse mix of fuel sources. Coal-fired generation is one… [more]

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