Category Archives: Climate

In the Wake of Court Ruling, What’s the Future of Demand Response?

supreme courtOn September 17th, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declined en banc review of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 745, dealing a blow to FERC’s regulation on demand response. This sounds complex, but behind these technical terms, hidden in plain sight, is a monumentally important and unfortunate legal outcome: we’re likely about to see an unnecessary rise in electricity prices and increase in new polluting power plants. This is bad news for the consumer, bad news for efficiency, and bad news for the environment.

First, a bit of background…

FERC Order 745, issued in 2011 by the federal agency that regulates electricity throughout the United States, has successfully allowed demand response to fairly compete in the electricity marketplace with more traditional energy resources like coal and natural gas.

Demand response is an important clean energy resource used by utilities and electric grid operators to balance stress on the electric grid by reducing demand for electricity, rather than relying on dirty “peaker” power plants or new infrastructure. It pays people to conserve energy during periods of peak or high demand in exchange for their offset energy use. This makes our grid more efficient, reduces harmful air emissions from fossil fuel plants, and keeps electricity prices lower. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Smart Grid| Leave a comment

Labor and Environmentalists Join Forces to Reduce Methane Emissions

rp_bga-logo2-1024x194.jpgJust over a week ago the BlueGreen Alliance—a coalition of 15 of America’s largest labor unions and national environmental groups representing more than 15 million members and supporters—sent a letter to President Obama supporting national standards to reduce methane emissions. EDF’s Natural Gas Director of Communications, Lauren Whittenberg, recently talked with Rob McCulloch, Director of Infrastructure Programs at BlueGreen Alliance to learn more about their interest in this issue.

Lauren: Hi Rob. Can you tell us a little about BlueGreen Alliance, and the work you’re doing?

Rob: BlueGreen alliance is a national partnership working to find common ground among labor unions and environmental groups and advance policies that help build a cleaner, fairer, and more competitive American economy.

Our partners agree: Our nation’s response to today’s environmental challenges will determine our future economy. It is important that our response includes the creation of good, family-sustaining jobs for future generations. Read More »

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North Carolina is well positioned for EPA’s Clean Power Plan

alternative-21761_640A majority of Americans endorse setting limits on carbon emissions from the nation's power plants, which account for the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. The United States is on the verge of doing just that with EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan.

Nationally, the plan will reduce carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. However, these carbon-reduction mandates vary from state-to-state, which will cumulatively lead to a nation-wide reduction of 30 percent.

In North Carolina, where I live, the plan requires the state to reduce absolute carbon emissions about 21 percent by 2030 from a 2012 baseline, according to an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy, North Carolina, Renewable Energy| 1 Response, comments now closed

The Social Cost of Stagnation: A Call for FERC Action

By: James T. B. Tripp, EDF Senior Counsel

Fossil fuel plantAmerica’s electricity industry – the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. – is at the heart of some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges, especially climate change. Given this connection, you would think an agency called the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would take into account the major environmental consequences of its policies, which fundamentally shape the U.S. power industry. Sadly, you would be wrong.

FERC is charged by law with ensuring wholesale rates and other critical aspects of the electricity industry, such as transmission practices, are “just and reasonable.” Yet FERC’s official policy is to exclude environmental considerations from its regulation of the industry. Why? FERC’s reasoning is based on a combination of questionable statutory interpretation and an approach to energy regulation that is stuck in the past. In fact, FERC’s statutory mandate over wholesale electricity sales and transmission dates back to the 1930s, long before scientists discovered climate change. Read More »

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Why EPA’s Press Release Doesn’t Reflect the Real Methane Emissions Numbers

Source: Dan Lurie

Source: Dan Lurie

At first glance, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Sept. 30 press release looked like a winner: Methane emissions from the oil and gas sector dropped by 12 percent in 2013, with a  whopping 73-percent decline from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells making up the largest share of reductions.

The drop in methane emissions shows how effective regulation is in reducing air pollution from oil and gas production. It was led by an early phase of EPA’s air pollution rules, enacted in October 2012, with full implementation expected by January 2015. (Although this regulation targets emissions of volatile organic compounds, it has also reduced methane as a co-benefit.)

Except, the 73- percent decline is not the whole story. It only accounts for 2.3 percent of the total methane emissions reported to EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, leaving a large amount of tons on the table addressed.

Read More »

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Is Global Clean Energy Investment at a Tipping Point?

By: Qiao Feng, Clean Energy Research Intern, and Peter Sopher, Clean Energy Policy Analyst

statistics-76197_640Last week, amidst the U.N. Climate Summit and historic climate march, governments, investors, and financial institutions took the opportunity to make big announcements about their investment in clean energy. Bank of America announced a $10 billion initiative to speed up investment in clean energy, U.N. climate leaders announced a public-private partnership to mobilize more than $200 billion in clean energy financing globally, and New York proposed a $5 billion clean energy fund that could replace the city’s soon-to-expire renewable-energy and efficiency mandates.

So clean energy finance must be skyrocketing upward, right? It’s hard to know now what the 2014 numbers will bear, and we probably won’t see that kind of analysis till 2015, but looking at global investment in renewable power and fuels (excluding large hydro-electric projects) for 2013, these numbers were 14 percent lower than investments in 2012, and 23 percent below the 2011 record, suggesting a downward trend.

However, as conveyed in the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014, if the drop in renewable investment were a cloud, it would have several silver linings: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Renewable Energy| 2 Responses, comments now closed