Author Archives: EDF Blogs

As Trump rolls back methane rules, what should the oil & gas industry do?

By Ben Ratner and Michael Maher

This post originally appeared on Forbes.

Recently, at an oil and gas industry event co-hosted by Energy Dialogues and Shell in Houston, Ben Ratner, a Director at Environmental Defense Fund, met up with Michael Maher, presently with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and a former longtime economist with ExxonMobil, to discuss the future of the natural gas industry. Specifically, they talked about the growing divide between those—in government and in the industry—who want less environmental regulation, particularly over the issue of methane emissions, and those who see sensible regulation as the best way for the industry to assure its future as offering a cleaner alternative to other, dirtier, fossil fuels.

Since Michael and Ben met in Houston, the Trump Administration announced the U.S. departure from the Paris climate agreement and postponements and potential weakening of methane emission rules from the Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management. These new developments put the industry divide into sharper focus. Read More »

Posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas| Leave a comment

Illinois explores smart inverters’ potential to strengthen grid reliability

By Rebecca Goold, clean energy consultant

Last week, a federal judge protected Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act, which is expected to grow the state’s solar capacity to over 3,000 MW by 2030 – enough to power approximately half a million homes.

The expected influx in distributed resources like solar panels prompted the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to set in motion NextGrid, an 18-month study focused on rethinking the roles of the utility, the customer, and energy solution providers in a 21st-century electric grid.

A large part of NextGrid involves advanced technologies like the smart inverter, a disruptive technology with the potential to improve grid reliability, create economic value for customers, and lower pollution. Read More »

Posted in Grid Modernization, Illinois| Leave a comment

New plan could double $2.5 billion energy efficiency success in Illinois

By Christie Hicks and Dick Munson

Just how valuable is energy efficiency? To the customers of ComEd, Illinois’ largest electric utility, efficiency’s value is in the billions – $2.5 billion, to be exact.

That’s how much ComEd customers have saved to date through the utility’s energy efficiency program, and thanks to a new plan under the Future Energy Jobs Act, more savings – and less pollution – are on the way.

ComEd agreed to invest $350 million each year for the next four years in energy efficiency programs, resulting in new initiatives that “will nearly double savings for customers and reduce electricity use in Illinois by 21 percent by 2030.” Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Illinois| 1 Response

Careful what you wish for: Trump’s environmental attacks will harm industry

By Ben Ratner and Sean Wright

In the same week Apple raised $1 billion through green bonds to invest in clean energy, and Amazon put solar panels on a million square foot processing facility, the Trump administration – at the urging of the worst elements in the oil and gas industry –proposed a two-year delay of sensible rules that would limit emissions of methane and other air pollutants. While a federal court since struck down a previous 90-day delay as unlawful, the two-year delay is still subject to public comment, and many expect the administration’s attacks on methane safeguards to continue through other means.

Natural gas, which is mostly methane, has been put forward as a cleaner alternative to other fossil fuels and as an energy resource that can play a key role in the transition to a lower-carbon future. But now more than ever, that proposition is called into serious question.

How will natural gas compete in a changing world?

Every year, oil and gas operations around the country emit some 8-10 million metric tons of methane into the air. Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas, responsible for about a quarter of the climate warming we’re experiencing today – and those emissions come mingled with a host of other smog-forming and carcinogenic pollutants. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Southern California Edison attempts to delay renewable-friendly electricity rates

By Larissa Koehler and Jamie Fine

California has worked hard to build up a nation-leading clean energy portfolio. And the state has been hugely successful in adding renewable energy, especially solar, to the electric grid. However, having too much solar energy on the grid relative to energy demand can lead to grid operators turning off that clean power. This is costly for customers and makes it harder to meet our clean energy goals. One solution?  By putting price signals in place, such as time-of-use (or TOU) rates, we can encourage customers to use energy at times when solar or wind power is abundant.

TOU pricing does this by making electricity cheaper when the supply of electricity exceeds demand. Times of day when solar panels across the state are generating power will align with predictable low prices. If done right, TOU pricing can give Californians control over their energy bills, avoid pollution from fossil-fuel power plants, and maximize the production of renewable energy without additional cost.

The California Public Utilities Commission – the body that regulates utilities in the state – supports this strategy. In 2015 it decided to transition residential customers to a default TOU rate, with the explicit goal of integrating more renewable energy. Unfortunately, Southern California Edison (SCE) – a utility that serves electricity to over 3 million Californians – is proposing to delay putting some or all of their customers on these rates. This setback could have negative economic and environmental impacts. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Time of Use| Read 6 Responses

Numbers don’t lie – finding and fixing methane leaks create jobs across North America

By Isabel Mogstad

Even though Washington policies may be in full retreat concerning the environment, the world’s energy economies are moving toward the future. Growing opportunities in the methane management technology and services industry is one example, where new well-paying jobs in the industry are being created across the U.S. and Canada. These are jobs that could soon be in high demand in other energy-producing countries.

Billions of dollars’ worth of methane – the primary component of natural gas – is escaping from the world’s oil and gas value chain every year. With proven and low-cost fixes readily available from the methane mitigation industry, global methane emissions represent $10 billion in potential revenue for the oil and gas industry.

Two of the top five polluting countries globally, the U.S. and Canada, are showing there is an economic upside to eliminating methane waste by tapping the offerings of this emerging new industry.

Nearly 180 companies provide methane waste and pollution reduction technologies and services in Canada, according to a new job opportunities report released last week by the Methane Emissions Leadership Alliance (MELA), an association for the Canadian methane emissions management industry. Read More »

Posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged | Comments are closed
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