Energy Exchange

How FERC’s flawed definition of “subsidy” could reshape the energy future for 65 million Americans

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order last December that could force many clean energy resources to bid into the nation’s largest wholesale electricity market, PJM, at artificially high prices. State policy makers, consumer and environmental advocates and the clean energy industry alike spoke out in vigorous opposition. Now, that order is being challenged in the courts. In the meantime, PJM must implement its directives in a process that will shape the future energy system for 65 million Americans in a region that spans 13 mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia.

While FERC’s December order was already bad policy — replacing competitive bidding with administrative pricing — many aspects of their mid-April order clarifying that policy are illogical and unworkable. As well as threatening competitive markets, these orders undermine state clean energy choices and, if FERC ignores PJM’s latest proposal attempting to soften the impact of the orders, could increase customer costs by billions.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Market resilience, New York, Regional Grid, Renewable Energy / Comments are closed

Transforming transportation in New Jersey

UPDATE January 14, 2020: Yesterday, the New Jersey legislature passed a bill to create a statewide electric vehicle program, ultimately aiming for 85% of all vehicles sold to be electric by 2040.

The bill is designed to stimulate electric vehicle sales with a $30 million incentive program that offers up to $5,000 in rebates per eligible vehicle over 10 years, and sets targets for building charging infrastructure. While the bill focuses primarily on passenger vehicles, it also requires the NJ Transit to purchase an all zero-emission bus fleet by 2032 and asks that the state develop a plan for electrifying medium and heavy-duty vehicles by the end of 2020. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign this bill into law by the end of January.

With 40% of statewide emissions coming from transportation, this is a tremendous step forward for New Jersey — one that will reduce the Garden State’s reliance on fossil fuels, cut pollution and clean up the air.

There is no summer slowdown for New Jersey. State lawmakers are working hard to meet the state’s clean energy goals. Shortly before releasing the state’s Draft Energy Master Plan, Gov. Phil Murphy introduced the New Jersey Partnership to Plug-In, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the Board of Public Utilities, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Economic Development Authority to build the necessary infrastructure to support electric vehicle ownership statewide, cut pollution and clean up the air.

As one of five states in the U.S. requiring 50% of its power be sourced from renewables by 2030 and to reach 100% clean energy by 2050, New Jersey is moving on a path toward decarbonization, reducing its reliance on fossil fuels, to meet its aggressive climate goals, and to contribute to the nationwide – if not global – task of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change. But decarbonizing the power sector isn’t enough.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles / Comments are closed

New and better way to assess the climate impact of new pipelines

The urgent need to decarbonize the energy system makes it imperative for state and federal regulators to understand the climate impacts of proposed energy infrastructure. Officials deciding whether to approve new natural gas pipelines must be able to answer a crucial question: Will a particular pipeline reduce pollution by speeding the demise of more carbon intensive alternatives, or increase greenhouse emissions by locking in dependence on another fossil fuel?

Yet to date, natural gas utilities and pipeline developers have been largely unwilling to provide detailed life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) assessments to regulators reviewing their supply projects and plans. Nor have regulatory agencies been pressing for this data.

In fact just this morning, Federal Energy Regulatory (FERC) Commissioner Richard Glick testified to Congress that “the Commission is ignoring its statutory mandates under the Natural Gas Act by refusing to analyze reasonably foreseeable greenhouse gas emissions associated with new interstate natural gas pipelines and facilities used to import or export liquefied natural gas.”

But a new analysis released this week of a proposed interstate pipeline project in New York and New Jersey significantly advances this compelling need. The fact that it was commissioned by a utility company makes it even more significant.

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Also posted in Natural Gas, New York / Comments are closed

These red and blue states are tackling climate change since Trump won’t

By Keith Zukowski, Communications Project Manager

If you’ve been focused on recent reports of climate disaster, or on the Trump administration’s relentless attacks against environmental safeguards and climate science, you’re probably worrying we’re not making progress – at all.

But look a little closer, right here in the United States, and you’ll see that people aren’t waiting around. Instead of giving in to a warmer, more chaotic world, states across the country have stepped up, and into, the vacuum left by the federal government.

They’re implementing creative, innovative solutions that tackle climate change while prioritizing people, our economy and the environment. While federal policies will ultimately be necessary to fully take on climate change, these states are proving that action is both doable and good for the economy.

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Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Climate, Colorado, North Carolina, Renewable Energy, Wyoming / Comments are closed

How New Jersey can finance its bold new clean energy targets

By Dakota Gangi and Mary Barber

On May 23, New Jerseyans scored a major economic and environmental victory when Governor Phil Murphy signed a groundbreaking law that will soon make the Garden State an even greener one. The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has initiated a proceeding that will establish a community solar pilot program within one year of the bill’s signing. Low-income and multifamily households will be able to earn credits on their electric bills for purchasing power from a shared solar array. In just ten years, half the state’s power will come from emissions-free renewable resources, and New Jersey will boast the highest amounts of energy storage and offshore wind in the United States. New Jerseyans can expect clean air, electric bill savings, and the creation of many local and lucrative job openings.

These groundbreaking targets can bring about significant economic growth, especially if New Jersey utilizes a multitude of green financing tools to achieve its goals. The BPU will ensure the state is on track to meet its clean energy goals, as it is putting in place rules and regulations to attract investment. Now, New Jersey should create a green bank to add to its arsenal of green investment mechanisms and to fill the clean energy financing gap identified in EDF’s December 2017 report, Financing New Jersey’s Clean Energy Economy: Pathways for Leadership.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, General / Read 1 Response

Fundamentals should guide FERC on PJM’s misguided state policy proposal

Federal regulators are currently considering a proposal that could fundamentally alter how our nation’s power markets work in tandem with state-crafted public policies.

The change being considered, submitted by the nation’s largest grid operator, PJM, would increase electricity prices and undermine state policies in the 13 states and D.C. where PJM operates. Today, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), alongside other clean energy advocates, filed in opposition to this proposal.

PJM’s proposal before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is dense and complex (for a great primer on the universe of issues surrounding a similar proposal, see this blog post by NRDC and this article by Vox’s David Roberts). At its core, however, PJM’s proposal centers on a subject that is elemental to the electricity sector: the interplay and interaction between states and federal regulators. PJM should not thrust itself into a public policymaking role, nor should FERC become judge and jury of state policies. Instead, PJM and FERC should facilitate state policy choices. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Illinois, Market resilience, Ohio, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed