Energy Policy Update Blog

Energy powers society; society's choices shape energy policy. This blog is about our energy resources and the choices they present for society.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order last month setting a comprehensive approach to climate change.  Executive Order No. 569, Establishing An Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth, directs state agencies to take a portfolio of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect against the impacts of climate change, and improve resilience.The order opens with acknowledgements that climate change and associated extreme weather events present serious threats.  It also notes the state's Global Warming Solutions Act, and the... More
  • All Canadian jurisdictions will have put a price on carbon pollution by 2018, according to a speech earlier this month by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The federal government's "pan-Canadian approach" sets a nationwide benchmark, while giving provinces flexibility to choose a cap-and-trade system or a direct price on carbon pollution.On October 3, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the approach.  He proposed a minimum pricing of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 per tonne... More
  • As drought affects parts of the U.S., some state regulators have expressed concerns over whether shortages will cause water supply emergencies for water utilities.  A recent Notice of Inquiry issued by the Maine Public Utilities Commission illustrates one approach to regulation of water supply management.New England is abnormally dry this fall.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor's National Drought Summary for October 11, 2016, "All areas except extreme northern Maine are now in abnormally dry or drought status.... More
  • As the U.S. strengthens protections for its electricity grid, much of the discussion focuses on cybersecurity -- but physical security is also important, as shown by an attack on a Utah utility's substation.  On September 25, an unknown gunman fired at least 3 shots into a distribution system substation, damaging a transformer and causing power outages.  The incident may place renewed pressure on utilities to secure their infrastructure against vandalism and terrorism.As reported by the Deseret News, the damage occurred... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have scheduled a technical conference to discuss electric storage resources and how they could fit into the electric grid -- and how they might be compensated for doing so.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will convene the discussion on November 9, 2016.An electric storage resource is a facility that can receive electric energy from the grid and store it for later injection of electricity back to the grid.  Different projects might use different storage mediums -- for... More
  • A Massachusetts state energy office has issued a report finding that Massachusetts has the potential to develop for 600 MW of energy storage by 2025, which could lower costs, reduce carbon emissions, and improve grid reliability. Legislation earlier this year authorized the creation of an energy storage procurement target; the Department of Energy Resource’s State of Charge report could lead to further policy changes supportive of storage. While electricity has traditionally been challenging to store efficiently, advanced energy storage... More
  • A New York state energy office has released its Blueprint for the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan.The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, known as NYSERDA, promotes energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources.  It mission is to advance innovative energy solutions in ways that improve New York's economy and environment.New York recently adopted a Clean Energy Standard, which will require that 50% of New York State’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2030. ... More
  • As the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission prepares for an auction of the state's largest utility’s generating assets, its auction advisor J.P. Morgan has recommended a broad public auction of the assets, using a two phase structure. At issue are the generation facilities owned by Public Service Company of New Hampshire d/b/a Eversource Energy (Eversource).  Following a legislative finding that divestiture is in the public interest at the present time, on July 1, 2016, the Commission issued Order No.... More
  • U.S. hydropower regulators have terminated an exemption from licensing for a small conduit hydroelectric facility proposed for development in Hawaii.The case concerns the 5.3-megawatt Puu Lua Hydropower Project No. 14069.  Proposed  by Konohiki Hydro Power, LLC, the project would have been located on the Kōkeʻe Ditch Irrigation System on state-owned land on the island of Kauai.  As authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in its 2012 order granting the Puu Lua project an exemption from the licensing requirements of... More
  • The U.S. has formally ratified the global climate change agreement reached in Paris last year, as has China.  This moves the Paris climate agreement closer to legal effectiveness -- but more nations must accept the pact before it can enter into force.At issue is the Paris Agreement, an agreement brokered at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  In December 2015, over 190 countries meeting under UNFCCC adopted the Paris Agreement... More
  • U.S. executive branch agencies have released an updated report presenting a national strategy to facilitate the domestic development of offshore wind energy.  According to the administration, the strategy could enable 86 gigawatts of U.S. offshore wind by 2050.The new strategy document, "National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States", was prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Energy Technologies Office and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. It builds on... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have invited comments on two issues related to the implementation of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA): its so-called "one-mile rule," and minimum standards for PURPA-purchase contracts.  This opportunity for comment follows a technical conference held earlier this summer.Congress enacted PURPA to encourage domestic cogeneration and renewable energy production, among other aims.  PURPA established a new class of generating facilities called qualifying facilities (QFs), and gave QFs special rate and regulatory treatment.  Under... More
  • Acting under a 2014 law, this summer Vermont utility regulators established a revised net-metering program to take effect in 2017. In a pair of orders, the Vermont Public Service Board prospectively changed the rules governing net metering of solar panels and other distributed generation facilities.  The result is a revision of Vermont's net metering program.Vermont defines what it calls “net-metering” as “the process of measuring the difference between the electricity supplied to a utility customer and the electricity supplied by... More
  • Regional electric grid operator ISO New England Inc. has released a report examining the economic impacts of adding significant offshore wind energy into the mainland grid.  Overall, the results project reductions in production costs, energy expense, CO2 emissions, average wholesale electricity prices, and congestion on key regional transmission interfaces, as offshore wind is added to the grid portfolio.  The study also suggests the scale of revenues available to the offshore wind industry from this scale of development.The report in question... More
  • Can a hydropower developer obtain a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a project to be located at a federal dam, where the federal entity owning the dam says it opposes the project?  In a series of recent decisions, the Commission has denied preliminary permits in these circumstances, saying there is no purpose in issuing a preliminary permit.U.S. federal law generally encourages the development of hydropower at existing dams.  Under sections 4(e) and 4(f) of the Federal... More