California Shows the Nation How to Pave the Way for More Clean Cars

EVCarCalvin Bryne co-authored this post.

As with other environmental policies, California leads the nation in encouraging electric vehicle (EV) adoption. The state has made huge strides in promoting cleaner cars, and opportunities remain to fully tap the benefits of this clean energy resource.

California as a model for national policy

In California, vehicles are responsible for almost 40 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, making transportation the state’s greatest sole contributor to climate pollution. The enormity of this problem was an impetus for California becoming the first state to adopt comprehensive vehicle emissions standards in 2009. Modeled largely after California’s regulations of the same name, the federal Clean Car Standards set national greenhouse-gas reduction goals for vehicles made between 2017 and 2025, and established incentives for manufacturers to produce technologically-advanced new cars.

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Clean Energy Conference Roundup: August 2016

ConferenceEach 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 August:

Aug. 21-26:  ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings (Pacific Grove, CA)

Speaker: Abbey Brown, Clean Energy Project Manager

  • The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is a non-profit that advances energy efficiency policies, programs, technology, investment, and behavior. The summer study will be ACEEE’s 19th biennial conference about building energy efficiency. A diverse group of professionals from around the world will gather to discuss the technological basis for, and practical implementation of, reducing energy use and the climate impacts associated with buildings. The event enables sharing of ideas and dialog among leading thinkers, visionaries, and luminaries, in the midst of a magnificent natural setting. On the first day of the conference, Abbey Brown will speak about using outreach to advance regulation and drive efficiency.

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Getting a Better Handle on Lost and Unaccounted for Gas

480px-Gas_meterNatural gas is a major source of electricity in the United States. Roughly one-third of the 33 trillion cubic feet of gas produced each year is used to power our homes and businesses. And it’s the gas delivery and transmission industry that ensures these services are delivered nationwide.

Most of us don’t think about this industry often, or the gas for that matter, unless it’s unavailable when we need it, or it costs more than usual. But it’s important to pay attention. That’s because not all of the gas flowing through our pipelines actually reaches its intended destination – a problem that is further complicated by a poorly defined and complex method for tracking this paid-for but unused gas.

An indicator of gas system efficiency, accounting for lost gas (known by insiders as “lost and unaccounted for gas”, “unaccounted for gas”, LAUF or its many other acronyms) is how distribution companies manage the overall flow and supply of gas through their systems. Essentially, it is a ratemaking tool for calculating the difference between the volume of gas purchased by operators and the volume of gas delivered to customers that includes leakage, venting, theft, meter errors, temperature and pressure changes and other factors. Read More »

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STUDY: A Closer Look at Urban Methane Pollution

7174642172_60f5ed16e8_kThe United States produces approximately 33 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year. A majority of this gas is converted to electricity at power plants or used for industrial purposes, but about one third ends up making the journey from the well head, through underground pipelines, and into our homes and businesses. How much of this gas gets lost along the way—whether it’s through leaky equipment or other factors—is important because of the damaging climate impacts of methane pollution. And a new study published this week in Environmental Science and Technology is helping to expand our understanding of methane emissions in urban environments.

The study—a multi-year collaboration led by Washington State University and included researchers from Aerodyne, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, GHD, Purdue and Pennsylvania State universities—used a variety of techniques to measure the rate at which methane is lost to the atmosphere in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Hot Topics at the Summer’s Biggest Electricity Meeting

NARUCMeetingMore than 1,000 people gathered in Nashville, TN this week for the summer meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). The meeting is one of three yearly where thought leaders gather to socialize the knottiest issues of the day in regulated utility industries, including telecommunications, electricity, natural gas, and water. Two electricity debates dominated the stage and the halls during this summer’s meeting: nuclear power and rate design.

NARUC meeting participants represent state public utility commissioners and their staffs, federal energy agencies, regulated industries, and special interest groups. The meetings are a place to define issues, float solutions, and begin to understand and narrow disagreements.

Nuclear power and rate design were hot topics at this summer’s meeting because of cracks in the present electricity system created by new technologies and environmental regulation.

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Going for the Green: Rio Olympics Show Link between Environment, Economy, Health

OlympicHandOlympic Games are historically about gold, silver, and bronze – not green. Even the “greenest” Olympics, held in London in 2012, used nearly 400 temporary generators, which release harmful pollution, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides among many others. Nevertheless, when Brazil won its bid in 2009 to host the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the country pledged to host the "Green Games for a Blue Planet,” a festival with sustainability at its core.

Brazil, nearly as large as the U.S. and holding 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, currently uses renewable energy to make about 85 percent of its electricity (compare that to the U.S., where only 13 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources). With renewable energy success like that, who better to host the “Green Games?”

Yet, despite Brazil’s ambitious goals, years of planning, and an advantage in existing renewable energy resources, Brazil is falling short of its goal for a cleaner, greener Olympics. This is because serious social, political, environmental, and health challenges tangent to the Olympics have constrained the nation’s ability to realize the sustainability goals Brazil thought achievable in 2009.

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