energy policy

As Digital TV Goes, So Goes the Smart Grid?

Today, we bid a nostalgic farewell to analog television, as all broadcast stations are required to deliver a digital signal.  Do the challenges the nation has faced in making this not-so-momentous transition suggest a bumpy road ahead as policymakers push for a “smart” electric grid?  Should low income and minority consumers be especially concerned? Most …

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Green Buildings: LEEDing to Trouble?

Green construction is all the rage among legislatures, regulators and the building industry.  Incentives and mandates abound at the federal, state and local level, but so too do risks of failure to meet the certification standards when all the dust settles after construction is complete.  The Harvard Law School Environmental Law and Policy Clinic recently …

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The Nuclear Option

In the 1960s, when legendary environmentalist David Brower expressed his opposition to nuclear power, he exposed a rift among his Sierra Club colleagues, many of whom saw “too cheap to meter” nuclear power as the solution to air pollution problems.  Brower and others focused on the danger of nuclear accidents, security issues, and the difficulty …

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Tar Sands, Obama, California, and the Economy in Calgary

Spending just a few days in Calgary, Alberta, one thing becomes perfectly clear: oil is Calgary, and Calgary is all about oil.   And increasingly, the story of oil all across Alberta has become the story of tar sands.  Many around the world have viewed with horror, or at least dismay, Canada’s increased reliance on producing …

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Waxman-Markey Bill’s Tentative Compromise on Renewable Energy Offers a Weak Standard

When Representatives Waxman and Markey introduced their energy bill concept, they included a requirement that utilities deliver 25% renewable-derived power by 2025.  According to the New York Times, a tentative agreement with Democrats unenthusiastic with the orginial proposal would reduce the target to 15% by 2020. And the 15% gets watered down even further.  States …

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Public Policy is Spurring Enormous Growth in the Windpower Industry – Don’t Stop Now

Worldwatch Institute reports that windpower capacity worldwide increased by 27,051 megawatts in 2008, bringing total installed capacity over 120,000 megawatts.  The United States showed the greatest growth, adding 8,358 megawatts to make a current total of 25,170 megawatts.  That’s a 50% increase in one year! The contribution that the U.S. windpower makes to overall domestic …

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Silos: Great for Fodder, Not So Hot for Energy Policy

The electricity grid is one big machine.  Transmisssion must be centrally coordinated.  Generating units must all be in sync.  Voltage levels have to be maintained.  There must constantly be an even match between demand and supply.  But you would hardly know it from the way we look at energy policy at the states and on …

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Exxon Valdez: 20 Years Later – Lessons Learned

Today commemorates a sad and calamitous event in American environmental history: the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The key facts of that ecological disaster, recounted in yesterday’s New York Times, are by now well-known: the spill of 11 million gallons of crude oil into near-shore ocean waters, …

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Renewable Energy and Economic Stimulus: Better Luck This Time Around

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, better known as the economic stimulus package, throws 11 billion dollars at infrastructure development to support renewable energy, particularly improvement and expansion of transmission grids.  It’s characterized as a win-win scenario, getting people back to work while smoothing the way for substantially less carbon-intensive energy generation.  That’s quite a …

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Obama’s Progressive Tax and Energy Policy

Though the budget released yesterday by the Obama Administration was short on details, it was long on big pronouncements that fundamentally shift federal policy in important areas. On the climate change front, the budget for the first time reveals the administration’s thinking on how it would distribute money raised from allowances issued under a proposed …

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