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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

  • Several pieces of proposed Maine legislation could affect the state's version of net metering. Here's a quick look at Maine's net energy billing policy, how it could change, and what that might mean for consumers.Maine's electricity rules allow consumers with certain distributed generation facilities (like solar panels) to elect "net energy billing." Like other forms of net metering, the basic concept is that consumers can use their on-site generation to offset their purchases of electricity from the grid, both in... More
  • Will 2019 bring a "Green New Deal" for the U.S. or individual states?President Franklin D. Roosevelt championed the original "New Deal" in the 1930s, as a series of federal reforms and measures designed to lift the U.S. economy out of the Great Depression. The First New Deal included banking and securities law reforms, funding for emergency relief operations by states and cities, and a Civil Works Administration. Later in the Roosevelt administration, a Second New Deal included labor law reforms,... More
  • With the 129th Maine Legislature convened for its first regular session, the Office of the Revisor of Statutes has released a list of the titles of proposed legislation timely submitted by legislators. While the text of most of these legislative requests has not yet been publicly released, the preliminary list of working titles of over 2,000 precloture legislator bills suggests the scope of issues that will come before the Maine State Legislature in 2019. On energy matters, themes emerging from... More
  • Could Maine unlock the potential of local energy grids through legislative action? As the 129th Maine Legislature begins its first regular session, legislators will consider at least one bill designed to encourage "microgrids." As an alternative or complement to traditional central electric utility development, microgrids are considered to be one key component of the "smart grid," capable of improving power reliability and quality, increasing system energy efficiency, and providing the possibility of grid-independence to individual end-user sites. While the U.S.... More
  • According to Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center, corporate renewable energy procurement set a new single-year record for new capacity of announced wind and solar deals in 2018.The Center reports that as of mid-December 2018, publicly announced corporate procurements of renewable energy reached 6.43 gigawatts. Procurement approaches counted toward this total include power purchase agreements, green power purchases, green tariffs, and outright project ownership in the United States.Facebook, AT&T, Walmart, ExxonMobil and Microsoft had the five highest total volumes of... More
  • A group of 95 investors organized as the “Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change” has issued an open letter to European power companies on December 19, 2018, asking firms to demonstrate they are implementing business strategies aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.The investors participating in the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change collectively have $11.5 trillion in assets under management or advise; 20 of the 95 signatories each have over $200 billion in assets under management, including Aberdeen... More
  • On December 18, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities took two actions affecting offshore wind: approving the state’s Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Certificate (OREC) funding mechanism, but rejecting a petition by Nautilus Offshore Wind, LLC to install a 25 MW offshore wind demonstration project in state waters off the coast of Atlantic City. Meanwhile, developers have formed a new joint venture to develop offshore wind in federal waters farther offshore New Jersey.New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has set a... More
  • In what the Trump administration has called a "bidding bonanza", the latest federal auction of rights to lease ocean space for offshore wind development has brought $405 million in winning bids.On December 14, 2018, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management conducted its eighth competitive lease auction for renewable energy in federal waters. At stake were the rights to lease three areas totaling about 390,000 acres over the Outer Continental Shelf offshore Massachusetts. The three lease areas in question are... More
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued an order issuing a new hydropower license to utility Pacific Gas & Electric Company for its Poe Hydroelectric Project.The 143-megawatt project is located on the North Fork Feather River in northern California, and includes land within the Plumas National Forest. Originally licensed in 1953, the project includes two dams impounding reservoirs, a 33,000-foot-long pressure tunnel bypassing about 7.6 miles of the river, and a powerhouse with two turbines.The Commission issued a new 40-year... More
  • How long was your power out last year? How many times was your utility electricity service interrupted? Recently released federal statistics show that in 2017, the average Maine electricity customer experienced both the greatest number of interruptions and the longest total duration of power outages of any state in the country.The U.S. Energy Information Administration tracks electric utility service outages. EIA tracks electric utility service interruptions using two reliability metrics developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics ... More
  • U.S. environmental regulators have established renewable fuel standards for 2019, calling for a 3% increase in renewable fuel volumes over 2018, but have continued to waive statutory requirements targeting even larger volumes of renewable fuel.Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard or RFS program through the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and expanded the program through the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the RFS requires a certain volume of renewable fuel to... More
  • U.S. coal consumption in 2018 will reach its lowest level since 1979, according to a prediction by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Reduced coal use for electricity generation is the largest contributor to the decline, driven by factors including economics and environmental regulations.The EIA tracks total U.S. coal consumption. According to its latest forecast, EIA expects total U.S. coal consumption in 2018 to fall to 691 million short tons. This represents a 4% decline from 2017, and would bring coal... More
  • Federal hydropower regulators have issued a pair of notices framing the implementation of recently enacted legislation designed to streamline the processes for licensing some hydroelectric projects.On October 23, 2018, President Trump signed the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. The new law amends several portions of the Federal Power Act which govern how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues preliminary permits, hydropower licenses, and approvals for qualifying conduit hydropower facilities. It also directs the Commission to:Issue a rule within 180... More
  • This week the operator of New England's wholesale electricity markets made a series of filings with its federal regulator providing information on its upcoming thirteenth forward capacity auction, through which electric generators may commit to providing electric capacity during the period from June 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023.ISO New England Inc. is the independent system operator and wholesale market-maker for most of New England's electricity grid. It is a private, not-for-profit entity, which operates pursuant to a tariff on... More
  • The federal agency responsible for managing ocean energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf has scheduled an auction for about 390,000 acres offshore Massachusetts, to be held on December 13, 2018.Under federal law, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is responsible for conducting auctions to lease parcels of federal waters for offshore wind energy development.On October 17, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that BOEM will hold its next offshore wind auction in December. According to the Final... More