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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

  • A Maine legislative committee is considering a proposed law that would add a surcharge on the annual registration of hybrid and battery-electric motor vehicles, to raise money for the state's highway fund -- but as with previous efforts to raise fees on hybrid and electric vehicles, the 2018 proposal is facing opposition from some quarters as contrary to state policy.At issue is a bill named, "An Act To Ensure Equity in the Funding of Maine's Transportation Infrastructure by Imposing... More
  • The U.S. intelligence community has released an unclassified report presenting its assessment of the global context and how threats could affect U.S. actions. The latest Worldwide Threat Assessment finds increasing risk of cyber attacks and threats to U.S. infrastructure, as well as impacts from climate change.The 28-page report released February 13, 2018, Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, describes a variety of global and regional threats.While a disclaimer notes that the order of topics... More
  • Regional electricity grid operator ISO New England, Inc. has released its 2018 Regional Electricity Outlook. According to the report, "the biggest challenge to the reliability of the grid is the lack of fuel infrastructure to supply the fleet of natural-gas-fired generators, further emission restrictions on oil-fired generation, and the reality that older oil and nuclear generators are becoming less economically competitive and may retire before the region has added sufficient new energy sources to replace... More
  • A U.S. energy regulatory agency has published a report detailing its fiscal year 2017 performance and requesting an appropriation of $369,9000,000 in funds from Congress for fiscal year 2019, to be offset by fees on regulated industries.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC is an independent regulatory agency, housed within the U.S. Department of Energy. The Commission has statutory jurisdiction over many aspects of the nation's wholesale electricity, natural gas, hydropower, and oil pipeline sectors. FERC's FY 2019 Congressional Performance Budget... More
  • Maine Governor Paul R. LePage delivered his final State of the State address this evening. Here's a recap of some of his remarks on energy policy in previous speeches of that sort.In 2012, Governor LePage described Maine’s high energy costs as "one of the largest inhibitors, if not the biggest obstacle to job creation." He advocated an energy policy encompassing "all forms of energy."Energy did not appear in his 2013 speech, according to a transcript provided by the Portland Press... More
  • As federal hydropower regulators examine how a California dam's spillway failed, an independent forensic team has released its final report on the Oroville Dam spillway incident -- and regulators have asked all other hydropower licensees to review the report and hold internal discussions on how the findings may apply to their own facilities and overall dam safety program.Oroville Dam is a 770-foot high earthfill embankment dam on the Feather River in Northern California. Its service spillway was severely damaged... More
  • U.S. regulators of natural gas infrastructure have issued an order requiring the owner of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Louisiana to remove part of that facility from service, following the discovery of unintended releases of LNG from the facility.At issue is Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC's Sabine Pass Liquefaction Facility. The company is a subsidiary of Cheniere Energy, Inc. The Sabine Pass LNG terminal includes five LNG storage tanks with capacity of approximately 16.9 billion cubic feet equivalent... More
  • A report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that U.S. and Canadian electricity suppliers have taken steps to prepare for potential electromagnetic disruptions to the electric grid such as from solar storms or high-altitude nuclear detonations -- but that more research is needed on both geomagnetic disturbances and high-altitude electromagnetic pulses.Under some circumstances, a severe solar storm or high-altitude nuclear blast could damage the U.S. electric grid and potentially cause extensive outages. Federal energy regulators have... More
  • The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee has unanimously voted to deny an application to develop a major new electric transmission line across that state, according to an article in the Union Leader. According to that article, the Committee felt the Northern Pass Transmission developer had not satisfied its burden under state law to show that the line's development would not “unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region.”Northern Pass Transmission, LLC has proposed a 192-mile transmission line project... More
  • U.S. President Donald Trump delivered the 2018 edition of the State of the Union speech on January 30, 2018. Unlike many previous such addresses, this one barely covered energy policy, focusing instead on a variety of other matters. But the speech offers insight into the Trump administration's view of the national situation, as well as into its priorities.Energy policy and resources have often featured prominently in previous State of the Union addresses, and in remarks in 2017 President Trump advocated for... More
  • The Canadian province of Nova Scotia is seeking applications from tidal energy project developers for permits for tidal energy demonstration projects.Nova Scotia is home to significant tidal energy potential. According to the provincial Department of Energy, the Bay of Fundy tides offer "an estimated potential of up to 60,000 megawatts (MW) of energy, of which up to 2,500 MW may be extracted without significant impact on our marine environment." The province adopted a Marine Renewable Energy Strategy in 2012,... More
  • According to a website associated with a clean energy solicitation for Massachusetts electric utilities, the bid committee has selected a proposal called "Northern Pass Transmission, Hydro" as the winning bid. While further steps lay ahead, the agreement that could result would represent a long-term commitment to purchase of about 9,450,000 megawatt-hours of clean energy annually for Massachusetts electric customers -- and lead to the development of a major new electric transmission line from Canada into New England.The... More
  • The holder of a pilot license for a hydrokinetic energy project under development off New York City has asked federal regulators for a 5-year extension of the license term, and has signaled its intent to relicense the project.At issue is Verdant Power's Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project, located in the tidal East Channel of the East River between Manhattan and Long Island. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued Verdant Power a 10-year pilot project license on January 23, 2012.... More
  • The risk that power plants will run out of fuel is the foremost challenge to a reliable power grid in New England, according to the region's grid operator, and the region is vulnerable to the season-long outage of any of several major energy facilities.While the ability to count on a portfolio of power plants to generate power is considered the cornerstone of reliable electricity supply, ISO New England has noted several factors that make fuel security a growing... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have issued a final rule governing the procedures through which the Secretary of Energy may issue an emergency order under the Federal Power Act to respond to an electric grid security emergency.Under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015, Congress authorized the Secretary of Energy to order emergency measures after the President declares a grid security emergency. Such an emergency could occur as the result of a physical attack, a cyber-attack using electronic communication,... More