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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

  • Investor-owned electric distribution companies served 72% of U.S. electricity customers in 2017 according to federal data, even though investor-owned utilities accounted for just 168 out of nearly 3,000 electric utilities.The U.S. Energy Information Administration categorizes electric utilities into three groups based on their ownership type: investor-owned utilities, publicly owned utilities, and cooperatives. Stock in investor-owned utilities is owned by shareholders; publicly owned utilities include those run by federal, state and municipal entities; cooperatives are not-for-profit utilities owned by their customer-members.Of... More
  • New York state energy agencies have complained to federal regulators that the New York electric grid operator's market rules are interfering with the state's policies supporting the increased deployment of energy storage resources.In a complaint filed on July 29, 2019 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the New York State Public Service Commission and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority assert that the development of energy storage resources in New York is necessary for legitimate state purposes, such... More
  • Maine utility regulators have amended rules governing net energy billing for electricity customers, in the wake of recently enacted laws requiring the rules to be restored to how they read prior to changes adopted in 2017 that cut the value of net metering for customers with solar panels or other distributed generation. The Maine Public Utilities Commission's July 31, 2019 order amending its Chapter 313 net energy billing rules describes the amendments as intended to make the rules "substantively equivalent... More
  • As society looks to use less petroleum for heating, heat pumps represent an alternative that can use electricity to provide space heating and cooling. U.S. efficiency standards for heat pumps are set to tighten in 2023 -- but in many cases, the heat pumps sold today already meet those future standards.Heat pumps can provide heat while avoiding direct combustion and carbon emissions, and can be powered by electricity from renewable resources. Heat pumps can also be cost-effective and efficient. According... More
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has reorganized its structure to create a new Division of LNG Facility Review & Inspection (DLNG), to accommodate the growing number and complexity of applications to site, build and operate liquefied natural gas export terminals.The Commission is responsible for authorizing the siting and construction of onshore and near-shore LNG import or export facilities under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act. The first exports from the Lower 48 came in February... More
  • Federal data shows an increase in the number of U.S. electric utility rate cases filed in 2018, to the largest number since 1983. Of the 89 utilities filing rate cases in 2018, 10 proposed to decrease rates, one proposed a rate freeze until next year, and the remaining 78 utilities proposed to increase their rates.Under typical state law, public electric utility companies must obtain regulatory approvals before changing the rates they charge their customers. According to the U.S. Energy Information... More
  • Maine utility regulators have approved a long-term contract to purchase the output of a 72.6-megawatt wind power project under development by Weaver Wind, LLC in Hancock County, Maine. The 20-year contract bears a price of 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, escalating at 2.5 percent per year.A Maine statute enacted in 2006 authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to direct investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities to enter into long-term contracts, to the degree necessary to ensure reliability, meet energy efficiency program requirements, or... More
  • The First Regular Session of the 129th Maine State Legislature adjourned on June 20, 2019, after having enacted 530 new public laws. Here's a look at some of the significant energy legislation enacted this year:An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and To Establish the Maine Climate Council, P.L. 2019, c. 476: This bill establishes the Maine Climate Council to advise the Governor and state Legislature on ways to mitigate the causes of, prepare for and adapt to the consequences... More
  • Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. are projected to decrease by 2.2 percent in 2019 relative to the previous year, according to the latest forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.EIA tracks energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Petroleum made up nearly half of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2018, at 45 percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Transportation, heating, and electric power generation sectors consume significant amounts of petroleum. EIA projects petroleum CO2... More
  • Newly enacted Maine legislation establishes the Maine Climate Council to advise the Governor and state Legislature on ways to mitigate the causes of, prepare for and adapt to the consequences of climate change, and calls for significant reductions in the state's overall greenhouse gas emissions.On June 26, 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and To Establish the Maine Climate Council. One set of provisions in the new law establishes a requirement... More
  • The operator of New England's electricity system has announced an upcoming competitive solicitation for transmission proposals to address the expected retirement of a large power plant outside Boston. The solicitation would be significant, as the region's first competitive transmission procurement since a 2011 order by federal regulators created a competitive selection process for certain transmission upgrades.In 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its landmark Order No. 1000, reforming how public utilities plan and pay for transmission upgrades. In issuing... More
  • Vermont utility regulators have recommended steps Vermont could take to accelerate the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in the state, including creating state incentives for EV purchases as well as encouraging electric utilities to adopt new rate structures.Like most other states, Vermont's transportation sector contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector of the state's economy. Due in large part to emissions from cars and trucks powered by fossil fuels, the transportation sector is responsible for about 47% of... More
  • After receiving a request from a developer of offshore electricity transmission lines for a right-of-way in ocean waters offshore New York and New Jersey, U.S. ocean energy regulators have asked whether any other developers are interested in the same area.On April 30, 2018, Anbaric Development Partners, LLC (ADP) applied to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for a right-of-way grant for a proposed project called the New York/New Jersey Ocean Grid. As envisioned by ADP, the project would... More
  • Petroleum was the largest source of energy consumed in the United States in 2018, as it has been every year since it surpassed coal in 1950.According to data maintained by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2018 the U.S. used 101 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of overall energy -- for transportation, heating, electric power generation, and all other uses. This was a record high level of overall energy consumption.Of this amount, about 81 quadrillion Btu (about 80% of the... More
  • Renewable resources generated more electricity than coal did in the United States in April 2019, for the first time in history, according on federal data.The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that in April 2019, renewable sources including utility-scale hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass provided 23% of total domestic electricity generation. By comparison, coal provided 20%. This represents a reversal of over 100 years of history during which more U.S. electricity generation came from coal than from renewable resources.Source: U.S.... More