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

  • The Trump administration has released an updated assessment of the science of climate change, concluding "based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."The report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2017: Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I, represents the first of two volumes of ... More
  • As Maine recovers from widespread power outages following a storm, what will the event mean for how its public utilities design, operate, and maintain their electric grids?On October 30, 2017, a storm brought winds and heavy rain to much of New England. In Maine, about 500,000 people lost power, with the state's largest utility Central Maine Power Company reporting the largest number of outages in the company's history and Emera Maine reporting the most widespread outages since 1998.The utilities had... More
  • Canadian energy regulators predict Canadians will likely use less fossil fuels in the future, with the baseline case suggesting Canadian fossil fuel use will peak around 2019.Canada's National Energy Board is an independent federal regulator whose mandate is to promote safety and security, environmental protection and economic efficiency in the Canadian public interest, in the regulation of pipelines, energy development and trade. The Board prepares periodic long-term energy outlooks, which it describes as "the only publically available,... More
  • The operator of New England's electric grid has issued an updated power system plan, presenting the grid operator's view of power system needs for the next 10 years and how these needs can be addressed. ISO New England, Inc.'s 2017 Regional System Plan portrays the region's energy system as "in the midst of a major evolution toward a cleaner, hybrid grid," including both traditional resources such as natural-gas-fired generation and renewable technologies such as wind and solar,... More
  • Stanford University's Precourt Institute for Energy has launched a Clean Energy Finance Initiative with a forum and the release of a series of papers addressing the challenge and opportunity of dramatically increasing global investment in clean energy deployment.A framing paper, Derisking Decarbonization: Making Green Energy Investments Blue Chip, presents an investor's view of the risks that could deter significant increases in clean energy investment. It considers the investment required to meet the International Energy Agency's "450 Scenario" aimed at limiting... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have issued a final report describing actions taken by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission pursuant to an executive order promoting energy independence and economic growth.On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13783, titled Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. Executive Order 13783 includes a variety of directives, generally aimed at reducing federal regulations affecting domestic energy production. Among these mandates is a requirement that all federal agency heads "review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents,... More
  • Maine renewable energy regulators have issued a ruling clarifying that biomass generators fueled by a "dewatered cellulose pulp" developed by a municipal solid waste recovery company may qualify under the state's renewable portfolio standard. The ruling could help support a municipal waste management company if it creates a market for the company's residual material.Maine statutes and Maine Public Utilities Commission regulations establish a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, which currently requires that at least ten percent of the power electricity... More
  • New Hampshire utility regulators are considering a three-year statewide energy efficiency plan proposed by several electric and gas utilities. The case could shape the near-term future of New Hampshire energy efficiency programming.Under a 2016 settlement agreement, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission approved the implementation of an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) beginning 2018, subject to Commission approval of the specific programs proposed to meet this... More
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced plans to auction off the rights to the largest oil and gas lease sale ever held in the United States, covering 76,967,935 acres in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Proposed Lease Sale 250 would be the second offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. On October 23, Secretary... More
  • The Canadian province of Ontario has released an updated long-term energy plan. The report, Delivering Fairness and Choice: Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan 2017, notes the province's recent energy policy successes, and suggests that market restructuring underway by the grid operator could save ratepayers up to $5.2 billion CAD over a 10-year period.Ontario first published a Long-Term Energy Plan in 2010, and updated the plan in 2013. The 2017 plan includes a recognition of recent investment the province has made in... More
  • A recent report by U.S. energy regulators notes that newly built natural gas-fired and renewable power plants are replacing retiring coal and nuclear power plants, which can require grid operators to take extra steps to ensure electric system reliability.On October 19, 2017, enforcement staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission delivered their Winter 2017-18 Energy Market Assessment.  According to that report, recent years have seen natural gas-fired plant additions in several parts of the country, replacing retirements of coal and... More
  • With measures in place to ensure the reliability of New England's electric grid for the coming winter season, grid operator ISO New England, Inc. expects to have adequate electricity supplies this winter -- but according to a recent presentation to federal regulators, the biggest challenges could come in the form of extended cold weather when fuel inventories are already depleted or a day when gas supplies are constrained and suddenly a large non-gas resource is lost.According to an October 19,... More
  • U.S. hydropower regulators have issued a new policy setting a default term of 40 years for original and new hydropower licenses, while identifying three circumstances that could warrant longer or shorter terms.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's revised policy statement on establishing license terms could reduce cost and uncertainty for hydroelectric projects under its jurisdiction. Federal law gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission jurisdiction over licensing most hydroelectric projects located at non-federal dams.  Section 6 of the Federal Power Act... More
  • A project to capture carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired power plant in Texas has captured more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide for use in enhanced oil recovery, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.Historically, carbon dioxide resulting from the combustion of coal and other fossil fuels has been emitted directly into the atmosphere, but global concern over climate change has led to efforts to limit carbon emissions to the atmosphere.  While many of these programs focus on... More
  • California utility regulators are considering proposals by electric utilities to electrify the transportation sector.  If the three largest electrical corporations' proposals are approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, it could represent an investment of about $1 billion in transportation electrification in California over about 5 years.The transportation sector is a major consumer of energy and emitter of carbon dioxide.  In California, the transportation sector accounts for 37 percent of statewide greenhouse gas emissions.  Electrifying transportation -- converting vehicles and... More