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http://energypolicyupdate.blogspot.com/

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

  • U.S. fisheries regulators have issued a final rule designating nearly 4,000 river miles in Atlantic watersheds as critical habitat for endangered and threatened Atlantic sturgeon.  The rule increases regulatory complexity and compliance obligations for some hydropower and nuclear power licensees, among others.The National Marine Fisheries Service, also known as NOAA Fisheries, is an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Department of Commerce.  Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary... More
  • The U.S. nuclear energy enterprise is a key national security enabler, according to a report released this week by a new non-profit.  The Energy Futures Initiative's report describes the domestic nuclear energy industry as playing important roles in both electricity supply and "maintaining a robust supply chain (equipment, services, and skilled personnel) that is necessary for U.S. leadership in global nuclear nonproliferation policy."According to its website, Energy Futures Initiative, Inc. (EFI) is "a new not-for-profit dedicated to driving... More
  • Could a coalition of rural counties in Utah and a startup company develop a thorium-fueled nuclear reactor for electric power and other purposes?According to its website, the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition is currently comprised of seven counties in eastern Utah: Carbon, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, San Juan, Sevier, and Uintah.  The website describes the Coalition’s main roles and mission as "to identify revenue-producing infrastructure assets that will benefit the region" and "to plan infrastructure corridors, procure funding, permit, design,... More
  • A Vermont municipality has proposed installing hydroelectric generating facilities along a potable water pipeline -- and under streamlined federal procedures, regulators have made a preliminary determination that the Village of Waterbury's proposed project does not need to be licensed or exempted from licensing.Most new hydropower projects in the U.S. cannot be developed without approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 streamlined the process for certain "qualifying conduit hydropower facilities."  If a facility... More
  • Miles from the nearest road in the woods of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire sits a backcountry hydropower project.  Owned by the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Zealand Falls Hydroelectric Project No. 14657 is licensed to generate 2.5 kilowatts of power, using Whitewall Brook on federal land within the White Mountain National Forest.  The project provides power to licensee Appalachian Mountain Club's Zealand Falls Hut, a year-round backcountry facility constructed in 1932 which provides overnight lodging for about... More
  • Massachusetts energy regulators are reviewing bids to supply clean energy from new sources -- including a combined offshore wind and energy storage project proposed by developer Deepwater Wind.Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind is the developer of America's first commercial offshore wind project, the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm which began commercial operations in December 2016. Other projects in early-stage development by the company include the 90 MW South Fork Wind Farm serving Long Island and the 120 MW Skipjack... More
  • Two South Carolina utilities have announced their decisions to cease work on two new nuclear units under construction at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, South Carolina.The project to develop Units 2 and 3 at the V.C. Summer plant was led by contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC, but has experienced years of delay and billions of dollars in cost overruns.  Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2017, placing the project's future... More
  • North Carolina's Hatteras Island experienced a power outage last week when construction activity damaged two underground transmission cables serving the island.  While the damage is repaired, residents face mandatory power conservation rules and visitors have been evacuated.Hatteras Island is a barrier island located in North Carolina's Outer Banks.  While the island is relatively far offshore, it is connected to the northern Outer Banks islands by the Bonner Bridge.  Hatteras Island's roughly 4,000 residents and tens of thousands more seasonal visitors... More
  • As a total solar eclipse approaches for North America, California electricity regulators have launched a voluntary demand response program designed to reduce power consumption during the eclipse while solar panel output is reduced.The eclipse will occur on August 21, 2017, and is projected to reduce solar photovoltaic production in the California ISO region by 4,194 megawatts.  Taking gross load increases and estimated wind production into account, CAISO has been told to expect a net load increase of 6,008... More
  • Vail Resorts, Inc. -- the largest ski and mountain resort operator in the world -- has announced a comprehensive sustainability commitment that calls for "zero net emissions by 2030, zero waste to landfill by 2030 and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat."  According to the company, Vail Resorts' "Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint" will give resort guests and employees "the opportunity to enjoy the natural environment and resources without leaving an impact."   Vail Resorts' subsidiaries operate... More
  • U.S. hydropower regulators have issued an original license for a proposed 12-megawatt hydropower project, to be located at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Monongahela Locks and Dam 4 facility on the Monongahela River, in Pennsylvania.On February 27, 2014, FFP New Hydro, LLC subsidiary Solia 4 Hydroelectric, LLC filed, pursuant to Part I of the Federal Power Act, an application for a license to construct, operate, and maintain the Monongahela Locks and Dam 4 Hydroelectric Project No. 13767.  The company... More
  • A report prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that the nation's commercial building sector has significant potential to save energy by improving control measures and eliminating common HVAC faults.The May 2017 report, "Impacts of Commercial Building Controls on Energy Savings and Peak Load Reduction", notes that commercial buildings in the U.S. consume approximately 18 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) of primary energy annually.  While previous studies have suggested significant potential for energy... More
  • The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has conditionally approved an oil and gas company's plan to drill four exploration wells into the federal submerged lands of the Beaufort Sea in the U.S. Arctic.On July 12, 2017, BOEM announced that it had conditionally approved a Beaufort Sea exploration plan (EP) it received from Eni US Operating Co. Inc.  The company is a subsidiary of Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni S.p.A.Under federal law, BOEM regulates exploration and production activities... More
  • Massachusetts' investor-owned electric distribution companies have issued a joint Request for Proposals for offshore wind energy projects.  Through the RFP, the utilities seek proposals for 400 megawatts (or more) of qualifying offshore wind energy generation and associated transmission, with winning bidders earning 15- to 20-year long-term contracts to sell project power.   This Massachusetts offshore wind RFP is designed as the first step in a staggered procurement schedule for compliance with a 2016 state law requiring the utilities to contract... More
  • The New York legislature has unanimously passed a bill establishing an energy storage deployment program.  The bill, S. 5190, aims to promote the installation of energy storage systems.  The bill now awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo's signature, before it can take effect.New York is in the midst of major shifts in its energy policy.  Governor Cuomo's "Reforming the Energy Vision" or REV process aims to build a clean, more resilient, and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers.  As part of... More