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

  • New England power plant air emissions increased in 2021 New England's power plants collectively emitted greater amounts of key air emissions in 2021 than in the year before, according to a report by the region's electric grid operator. Factors included the weather, decreases in power imported from outside the region, and increased reliance on coal and oil-fired generation.The 2021 ISO New England Electric Generator Air Emissions Report provides "a comprehensive analysis of New England’s native electric generator air emissions (nitrogen oxides [NOX], sulfur dioxide [SO2], and carbon dioxide [CO2]), along... More
  • New England electric demand projected to grow by electrifying heating and transportation The operator of New England's electricity grid projects that demand for power will increase by 23% over the next 10 years "due to accelerating electrification of the heating and transportation sectors." State and federal policymakers are promoting "beneficial electrification", the replacement of carbon-emitting fossil fuel uses with lower-carbon-intensity electricity as a power source. The trend has potential to significantly decarbonize the region's transportation and heating sectors, which collectively emit many times more greenhouse gases than the region's electric power sector.ISO... More
  • Quack: the New England solar duck curve The New England wholesale electricity grid set a new record for low demand on Sunday, April 9, 2023, according to grid operator ISO New England. Moderate temperatures and the Easter holiday contributed to setting a record low demand of 6,814 megawatts, as did significant electrical production from behind-the-meter solar resources on the sunny afternoon. The result is the "duck curve" familiar from California and other regions with increasing amounts of behind-the-meter solar, a phenomenon now increasing in both depth and... More
  • Coal declined, gas and renewables grew in 2022 U.S. electricity generation resource portfolios continued to shift in 2022, with natural gas and renewables increasing their shares of total electric power generation, as coal's share continued to decline, according to data released by federal energy regulators.The U.S. Energy Information Administration tracks national electric power generation, among other energy metrics. According to EIA, in 2022 the U.S. electric power sector produced 4,090 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electric power. The greatest fraction of this power came from natural gas, whose contribution... More
  • US retail electric choice holds steady, per EIA Over a quarter of eligible residential electricity consumers participated in their state’s retail choice program in 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. At the national level, participation in state retail choice programs has remained stable from 2019 to 2021, at about 26% of eligible U.S. customers participated in their state’s retail choice program, or 13.2 million U.S. residential electric customers. How consumers buy electricity at retail is generally a matter of state law. Under the traditional system of vertically... More
  • New England EV growth predicted by electric grid operator New England is poised for significant growth in electric vehicle (EV) use through 2030, according to a draft forecast by the region's electric grid operator. According to the draft ISO New England Inc. Load Forecast Committee 2023 CELT Transportation Electrification Adoption Forecast released in February 2023, various federal and state policies incentives promote EV adoption, as do economic and environmental concerns, though their impacts on EV adoption in New England remain uncertain. For example:The federal Inflation Reduction Act creates tiered incentives for... More
  • FERC sets New England gas-electric forum for June 2023 U.S. utility regulators have scheduled a second New England Winter Gas-Electric Forum, to be held this June in Portland, Maine, to continue discussions from a forum held last fall regarding the electricity and natural gas challenges facing the New England region. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the objective of the June 20, 2023 forum is "to shift from defining electric and natural gas system challenges in the New England Region to discussing potential solutions, including both infrastructure and... More
  • US added record-low amount of interstate gas pipeline capacity in 2022 The least U.S. interstate natural gas pipeline capacity on record was added in 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and nearly all the new capacity was from compressor upgrades, not new pipeline.EIA is a division of the federal Department of Energy, whose work includes collecting, analyzing, and disseminating independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. EIA's data and analysis includes... More
  • Maine electricity cost increases driven by natural gas pricing Maine's increased electricity costs in the past year were yet again driven by increases in the cost of natural gas, according to the most recent annual report from Maine utility regulators.The Maine Public Utilities Commission regulates electric, gas, telephone, and water utilities, as part of a regulatory system intended by statute to achieve multiple purposes, including to ensure safe, reasonable and adequate service, to assist in minimizing the cost of energy available to the State’s consumers, to ensure that the... More
  • New England electric prices increase due to natural gas pricing, again Increased energy costs in New England in fall 2022 were a result of higher natural gas prices, according to a report by the regional wholesale electricity market monitor. The finding continues a trend documented throughout 2021, through which high natural gas prices drive higher prices in electric energy markets.ISO New England Inc. is the regional transmission organization responsible for operating New England's wholesale electricity markets. The ISO's Internal Market Monitor (IMM) department regularly evaluates the markets and issues reports, including... More
  • Heat pumps in Maine give lowest-cost heat, per state energy office Heat pumps in Maine heated homes and other buildings at a lower per-unit cost compared to furnaces fueled by natural gas, oil, or propane, or electric baseboard heating, according to statewide average data recently reported by the state energy office. Maine's state energy office describes the state as having "long been a national outlier for reliance on oil". According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Three-fifths of Maine's households use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating, a... More
  • Maine PUC RFP for Wood-fired CHP Maine utility regulators are soliciting proposals from qualifying combined heat and power projects that use wood fuel to generate electric heat and power for industrial or space heating purposes to sell energy, capacity or renewable energy credits (RECs) to Maine's investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities. Cogeneration, or combined heat and power (CHP), involves the generation of electricity in ways that also enable the productive use of heat from the generation process. Cogeneration can provide significant efficiency advantages compared to standalone electric... More
  • Where did New England's electricity come from in 2022? Natural gas was the source of about 45 percent of the electricity consumed on the New England grid in 2022, according to regional wholesale market operator ISO New England, Inc., and nuclear power provided another 23 percent. Imported electricity accounted for about 14 percent. ISO-NE is the federally designated regional transmission organization responsible for the electric transmission system and wholesale electricity market covering nearly all of the New England region. It describes itself as "the independent, not-for-profit corporation responsible for keeping... More
  • Federal funds expected for tribal clean energy projects The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs has announced its intent to make $50 million available this spring for clean energy technology deployment on tribal lands. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized the Department of Energy to establish the Office of Indian Energy, which is directed and authorized to provide, direct, foster, coordinate, and implement energy planning, education, management, development, and efficiency. Its mission is to maximize the development and deployment of energy solutions for the... More
  • 131st Maine Legislature EUT Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee  As 2023 advances, the 131st Maine Legislature has convened in Augusta to pursue its lawmaking agenda. Under the Legislature's rules, the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology (EUT) plays important roles.The EUT Committee is one of the 17 joint standing committees of the Maine Legislature, charged with responsibilities pursuant to the Legislature's Joint Rules including considering and reporting to both chambers on legislation; reviewing and making recommendations on budgeting and fiscal policy issues concerning state government; conducting oversight... More