Pragmatism and Stability in Energy Policy for the U.S. Power Sector

Energy Policy Recommendations
for the Trump Administration

This is a summary of a paper (In-Press Article Here)that will be published in the January-February 2017 issue of The Electricity Journal.

Overview
The 2016 U.S. presidential election has generated concern within the environmental community, particularly with respect to climate change, as President-elect Trump has conveyed his intent to address what he considers regulatory overreach in the U.S. energy sector and unleash an energy revolution in America (Trump, 2016a). This includes expanding U.S. oil and natural gas development, reviving the coal industry, rolling back EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement (Mufson and Dennis, 2016; Schoof, 2016; Trump, 2016a). All combined, this would extract from current U.S. energy policy the core of President Obama’s climate agenda and effectively put the Obama climate legacy into hibernation—a legacy that, if elected, Hillary Clinton would have likely kept intact and expanded upon (Clinton, 2016). How this projects forward remains in question. What is clear is this: the election of Donald Trump has triggered what will be an ideological shift in energy policy. While this may bode well for upstream and midstream oil and gas sectors in the near-term the impact on the power sector is not as certain (Rapier, 2016). Continue reading “Pragmatism and Stability in Energy Policy for the U.S. Power Sector”

U.S. Energy Policy: Setting Carbon Goals Without Nuclear Isn’t Global Leadership

U.S. Energy Policy: Setting Carbon Goals Without Nuclear Isn’t Global Leadership

(Published as an editorial in the Athens Banner-Herald on November 17, 2016.)

Since 2000, CO2 emissions in the U.S. have decreased 8% and are trending down while global emissions have increased 40% and are trending up. Does this represent global leadership by the U.S. with respect to energy policy and carbon goals? Continue reading “U.S. Energy Policy: Setting Carbon Goals Without Nuclear Isn’t Global Leadership”

An Unprecedented Challenge

An Unprecedented Challenge:
Climate, Energy Poverty, Reliable Electricity and Economic Aspirations

Developing countries need surges of energy to meet their economic development needs and to alleviate energy poverty—they don’t need an approach based predominantly on trickle-down renewables and the hope that energy storage technology will eventually mature to stand up intermittent resources. Meeting these challenges at the scale of billions of people is unprecedented and will require more energy-dense resources…not less…and these countries deserve the chance to deploy the technological resources to meet these needs. As such, try as we may to squeeze additional drops of CO2 out of the U.S. economy, if what we do doesn’t transfer to India and other developing countries, all bets are off and everybody loses for generations to come. Moreover, if we believe we can meet this unprecedented challenge without nuclear power and other carbon-reducing technologies, we’re ignoring the numbers, we’re fooling ourselves and we’re doing a grave injustice to billions of people in this world. Continue reading “An Unprecedented Challenge”

Georgia PSC Made the Right Decision on Nuclear

The Georgia PSC Made the Right Decision on Nuclear

(This was published as an editorial in the the Newnan Times-Herald on August 20, 2016)

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) recently decided to maintain the nuclear energy option for the state while also increasing renewables-based power generation. This represents long-term integrated resource planning that’s in sharp contrast with states that have allowed their beliefs in renewable energy to override the realities and limitations of nature and engineering. Continue reading “Georgia PSC Made the Right Decision on Nuclear”

Nuclear and Renewables: Georgia is Zeroed-In on Zero-Carbon

Nuclear and Renewables:
Georgia is Zeroed-In on Zero-Carbon

Good news on nuclear and renewables coming out of Georgia as the Georgia Public Service Commission voted to preserve nuclear energy as a future option for the state by approving Georgia Power Company to conduct preliminary studies at a site in Stewart County, GA that has been proposed as the location for a potential nuclear plant. The Commission also approved Georgia Power to move forward on 1,600 MW of renewable energy projects, which includes utility-scale solar, distributed generation, wind and energy efficiency. Georgia Power also received approval to retire one coal unit and three combustion turbines. This is a wise, long-term move on nuclear power along with smart, calculated incremental steps on renewables. Continue reading “Nuclear and Renewables: Georgia is Zeroed-In on Zero-Carbon”

Overselling California Solar

Overselling California Solar

A couple of days ago the headlines read: “California Powers 6 Million Homes With Solar Energy, Slays Record.” The reference was to a record amount of solar power generated in California on July 12, 2016. I wonder how the general public interprets a headline that implies solar energy can sustain meeting the power requirements of six million homes for an appreciable period of time. Continue reading “Overselling California Solar”

Renewable Energy Cannot Substitute for Nuclear: A Georgia Perspective

Renewable Energy Cannot Substitute for Nuclear:
A Perspective on Meeting Power Generation Needs in Georgia, USA

The often-discussed issue of replacing nuclear with solar or wind is a false choice—solar and wind energy cannot substitute for nuclear energy. With respect to how we should move forward in our energy policy, everyone is entitled to their own convictions, but not their own math and not their own science and engineering. Continue reading “Renewable Energy Cannot Substitute for Nuclear: A Georgia Perspective”

Renewable Energy: Enabled By, Not Competitive With, Nuclear and Fossil Fuels

Renewable Energy: Enabled by, Not Competitive With, Nuclear and Fossil Fuels

Overstating renewable energy’s potential and real contribution toward meeting the dual challenges of reducing global carbon emissions and providing reliable energy for developing economies over the next 35 years cannot mask the reality that zero-carbon power generation shares are decreasing globally or that solar and wind are not cost-competitive with nuclear and fossils. Continue reading “Renewable Energy: Enabled By, Not Competitive With, Nuclear and Fossil Fuels”

Natural Gas and Renewables: Lessons from California on Overdependency

Natural Gas and Renewables:
Lessons from California on Overdependency

But for the grace of nuclear, there go we.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” isn’t holding true in California’s ongoing experiment with natural gas and renewables, and it should serve as a warning to states that see gas and renewables as their lifeline to a reliable, low-carbon future. The warning being that the individual attributes of natural gas and renewables are adding up to an overdependency that is creating problems. Continue reading “Natural Gas and Renewables: Lessons from California on Overdependency”