Questions about if and how hydraulic fracturing activities (or “fracking” to some) can contaminate drinking water have been top-of-mind for many since the practice started getting widespread public attention about a decade ago. Recognizing the validity of those concerns, EPA undertook a study to see how the full ‘hydraulic fracturing water cycle’ – which includes water withdrawals, chemical use and mixing, well injection, waste water management and disposal — could potentially impact our drinking water resources. In a EPA draft assessment released last fall, the agency summarized its results, saying researchers “did not find evidence that [fracking] mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”
EPA’s draft assessment synthesized valuable information and explored a number of key areas of concern. But EDF didn’t agree with the way EPA summarized its findings. And it turns out, after hearing from EDF and other experts across the country, neither do EPA’s advising scientists.
Now, through ongoing review by the Science Advisory Board, the agency is getting feedback, yet again, from dozens of concerned parties (including EDF) with vested interest in making sure EPA gets this assessment right. Here are three things to keep in mind.
The GridWise Alliance, a leading business forum for the development of a smart, clean, modern electric grid, just released its 3rd Annual Grid Modernization Index – a ranking of states’ progress towards a more sustainable energy system. The Index goes beyond tracking investments that modernize the electric system; it explores the policies these investments can support, such as increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. The report also delves into the valuable services customers can expect from smart technology investments in the grid.
Grid modernization isn’t simply about replacing aging infrastructure – it’s about managing energy in new ways, namely through sensors and digital communication. Greater visibility and control as a result of these investments can create a dynamic electric system that is more efficient, better manages costs, improves customer service, and protects our limited resources.
In addition to possibly giving your home state something to brag about, the results of this Index offer plenty of useful information on how states have modernized the grid and charted their own course toward making smarter energy choices. Read More
Last week, GridWise Alliance released its 3rd Annual Grid Modernization Index (GMI), a ranking of every state’s progress toward modernization of our nation's electric system – and Texas impressively placed third. The Alliance, a leading smart grid coalition which includes Environmental Defense Fund, based its assessment on state policies, customer engagement, and investment in advancing grid operations.
As we move toward a smarter, more efficient electric system, Texas is emerging as a leader in grid modernization. And with three recent smart-grid grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative, the Lone Star State could climb to the top of the GMI list.
Since 2011, the DOE has awarded millions of dollars through the SunShot Initiative to a variety of public and private entities. The goal is to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade, meaning it would cost the same to get your power from solar as from more traditional sources like coal. In the short amount of time since the program began, the solar industry is already 70 percent of the way there.
As the sixth largest electricity consumer in the country, Texas could greatly contribute to reaching this goal, especially with recent DOE support given to projects run by Austin Energy, Pecan Street, and GeoCF: Read More
Each month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.
Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in February:
February 3-5: Energy, Utility & Environment Conference (San Diego, CA)
Speaker: John Finnigan, Lead Attorney, U.S. Climate and Energy
- The 19th annual energy, utility, and environment conference will feature more than 500 presentations by experts in tracks that include battery and energy storage, climate management, smart grid and risk management, energy policy and efficiency, renewable energy, the Clean Power Plan, permits and compliance, and many more. More than 2,000 attendees will network at 8 lunches, receptions, and breaks held in a 200-business exhibit area.
February 16-19: UT Energy Week (Austin, TX)
Speaker: Jim Marston, Vice President, U.S. Climate and Energy
- During this second annual event, experts in academia, industry, government, and the non-profit world will take a fresh look at some of the most vital energy issues facing society. Full-day programs include the role of natural gas and renewables in reforming the Mexican power sector (Feb. 16); energy and society (Feb. 17); utilities and the grid (Feb. 18); and challenges in the oil and gas industry (Feb. 19). Read More
By Lisa Albrecht, renewable energy specialist with Solar Service Inc., and member of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition
This week, Illinois Governor Rauner gave his annual State of the State address – but, there was one big thing missing. Despite broad bipartisan support across the state for action on clean energy, Gov. Rauner failed to address this issue at all.
In summing up Illinois’ current priorities, Gov. Rauner should have looked to the remarks he himself delivered in his first State of the State address last year:
“Our top priority must be making Illinois competitive again, to grow more jobs here… Competitiveness must become our watchword.”
“We must avoid slipping further behind other states in…the capacity of our economy to grow.”
“It’s now or never for Illinois. It’s time to act.”
Those are sound principles. And, if the Governor is still committed to them, there is a clear and obvious path to achieving them: by embracing Illinois’ clean energy future through the Clean Power Plan and the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill. Read More
Clean energy investments are soaring worldwide, and the United States is no exception with $56 billion going toward renewable generation in 2015, an 8-percent increase over the year before.
So why are some utilities going against this trend – and risking a contest against more progressive competitors that are gaining market share at their expense?
To understand why, it helps to have a closer look at Ohio-based FirstEnergy, a large investor-owned energy company with operations in six states that has become the poster child for resistant utilities.
The FirstEnergy case also illustrates why companies that refuse change won’t be able to stop the rising clean energy tide, no matter how hard they try. Read More