Energy

Time to End FERC’s Misguided Effort to Fix Wholesale Power Prices

A FERC ruling tilts the playing field against renewable energy. It should be repealed.

In 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decided that state clean energy policies were distorting energy markets operated by PJM, the country’s largest grid region.  That, at least, was the view of the Commissioners who were appointed by Republican presidents. PJM, which runs the electricity grid more or less from Chicago to Maryland, has …

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Gates on Climate

A guide to updating the global operating system.

The original Microsoft operating system was called QDOS, for Quick and Dirty  Operating System. Bill Gates’s new book might well have been called “A Quick and Dirty Guide to Climate Policy.”   The book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, provides a concise overview of climate policy, detailing the threat of the climate crisis and a …

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Creating New Jobs in Coal Country and the Oil Patch

How can we help carbon-dependent communities transition economically?

One of the goals of Biden’s clean energy and infrastructure proposals is to provide an economic boost to people who will otherwise lose out in the transition to a sustainable economy.  He has similar plans for “environmental justice” communities.  This is a great goal, but it may be more difficult than it seems. In a …

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Biden’s Dilemma: Limiting Carbon from Existing Power Plants

It’s not that the policy choices are that hard. It’s the 6-3 Supreme Court.

Coal- and gas-fired power plants are a major source of U.S. carbon emissions. The Obama Administration devised a perfectly sensible, moderate policy to cut those emissions.  The Trump Administration replaced it with a ridiculous token policy.  The D.C. Circuit appeals court tossed that out. Now what? It wouldn’t be hard to redo the Obama policy …

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If Liberals Were the Ones Who Favored Fossil Fuels. . .

Here’s what the conservative response might look like.

Conservatives often come to the defense of fossil fuels and disdain renewable energy. Is that really consistent with their principles? Let’s imagine what conservatives might say if the table were turned,  Suppose liberals proposed government support for fossil fuels.  The conservative response might look something like this: Another Liberal Boondoggle Now they want to prop …

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Institutional Capacity Building for the Energy Transition

State agencies will need help to deal with a fast-changing energy system.

The COVID pandemic has provided a vivid picture of what happens when ill-prepared governments are suddenly hit with huge responsibilities.  Underfunded state and local public health agencies were overwhelmed, while governors and local officials found themselves struggling to obtain and distribute vital supplies, from respirators to vaccines. Efforts to accelerate the transition away from carbon, …

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How Much Should Texas Invest in Grid Resilience?

The Texas blackouts provide a case study in how to think through resilience issues.

As we begin to think through the long-term response to the Texas blackout, there’s a lot we don’t yet know.  The ultimate issues are how much resilience we need against events like this  and how we should obtain it. It’s helpful to lay out the kinds of questions we need to be asking as we …

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The Big Chill

What went wrong in Texas and what can we learn from it?

The rolling blackouts in Texas were national news. Texas calls itself the energy capital of the United States, yet it couldn’t keep the lights on. Conservatives were quick to blame reliance on wind power, just as they did last summer when California faced power interruptions due to a heat wave.  What really happened? It’s true …

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Expertise versus Politics Under Biden

Experts will no longer be pariahs under Biden. But will their voices be heard?

One of the abiding issues in governance is the balance between democratic leadership and experts.  We don’t want government solely by technocrats.  Nor do we want government steered solely by ideology and politics, as under Trump.  Biden will be a vast improvement, but there’s still some question about whether he’ll get the balance right. I …

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Three of Yesterday’s Stories of Climate Progress

There was Biden’s Executive Order, of course. And two other things. Or maybe three.

Yesterday, I read three encouraging stories about the U.S. and climate change.  One was about action by the federal government, one about action by the states, and one about action by the private sector.  The biggest news was from the federal government, in the form of Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at …

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