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House Panel Debates North American Energy Trading

14 Dec

A House Energy & Commerce subcommittee Dec. 13 heard various views on whether and how to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, and specifically about ramifications to trade in natural gas, electricity and crude oil between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. “Energy trade and regulatory alignment have allowed the three countries to reduce their […]

Federal Energy Project Permit Streamlining Said Lacking

12 Dec

Lawmakers focused on efforts to streamline the federal permitting process for energy and other infrastructure projects built on federal lands during a U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing Dec. 12. Panel Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) urged federal agencies to do more to expedite permits. She noted that similar projects approved in Canada […]

Undercurrents

5 Dec

Pacific Gas & Electric upped its game on energy storage Dec. 4 by seeking approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to enter into six new contracts with a total storage capacity of 165 MW. “These contracts and the storage capacity they represent will help us better integrate our growing renewable generation sources, and bring […]

Chatterjee Cites FERC Independence on Perry’s Proposal

16 Nov

Neil Chatterjee chaired his last meeting at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Nov. 16 after saying in a recent series of interviews that FERC is required by law to act on Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to prop up coal and nuclear power plants with additional payments in wholesale electricity markets. Chatterjee, who will continue […]

Undercurrents

13 Nov

Renewable energy and the prospects for electric vehicles could be upended in part by Congressional action on tax legislation. At issue is the House tax package, which would cut the production tax credit for wind energy by more than a third, eliminate the federal $7,500 tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles, and ax a 10 […]

Effort to Dim Energy Star Faces Stiff Opposition

7 Nov

Proposed federal legislation to overhaul the popular Energy Star program, including cutting consumer protections, faced significant opposition from many lawmakers and industry officials at its first airing. The oft repeated plea during the Nov. 7 hearing by the House Energy & Commerce Energy Subcommittee was not to fix the unbroken voluntary energy efficiency labeling program. […]

U.S. Energy Panel Focuses on Growing Building Energy Savings

31 Oct

The U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee stressed the importance of tackling inefficient energy use from the country’s building stock to reduce consumption by 30 percent. During the Oct. 31 hearing, the committee also gave Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to roll back appliance energy efficiency standards and slash the budget for energy conservation […]

Quantum Tech Seen as Gold Standard for Grid Security

26 Oct

Ultimately the U.S. must develop quantum communications to prevent its energy infrastructure from remaining vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to cybersecurity specialists. “The ability of hackers to infiltrate grid networks and corrupt these communications is real and growing,” Duncan Earl, president of Quibitekk, told lawmakers during an Oct. 26 U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee […]

Support for Storage Grows While Challenges Mount

4 Oct

Bipartisan support for energy storage is being propelled by the latest round of hurricanes, particularly in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Destroyed and damaged grids need to be rebuilt to be more reliable, with energy storage an essential “part of that conversation,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chair of the Committee on Energy & Natural […]

The Buzz

29 Sep

A future as predictable as a Ouiji board was a central theme at the Independent Energy Producer’s annual meeting this week amid mounting uncertainty from the changing role of utilities and the scarcity of contracts for generators. Speaking of contracts, and lack of them, utility regulators this week nixed a deal between Southern California Edison […]

Undercurrents: Long-term Nuclear Waste Disposal Remains Stalled

26 Sep

State and local representatives pressed for federal solutions to the problem of mounting radioactive waste at nuclear power plants, including the closed down San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, during a House Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, & Environment Sept. 26. David Victor, chair of the SONGS Community Engagement Panel, told the […]

U.S. Senate Panel Aims to Cut Power-Related Wildfires

20 Sep

Western forests are “tinderboxes for wildfire” after the prolonged drought, warned Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) during a Sept. 19 hearing by U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, which she chairs, on vegetation management mandates for electricity infrastructure on federal lands. There have been hundreds of wildfires on public lands in the West because of […]

Shorts

19 Sep

At its first meeting since President Trump was inaugurated, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission adopted two final rules aimed at enhancing the reliability and resilience of the bulk power system. The federal agency also opened a new rulemaking seeking to refine and clarify rules concerning emergency preparedness and recovery for power grid operators. One of […]

FERC’s New Chair Walks Fine Line

14 Sep

Neil Chatterjee, the new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chair, signaled a subtle shift in the commission’s focus to maintaining grid reliability as more renewable energy comes online, during a Sept. 14 House Energy & Commerce Energy Subcommittee hearing. The commission under former President Barack Obama highlighted the role of matching power demand with available energy […]

Panel Witnesses Back Carbon Capture Subsidies

13 Sep

Carbon capture and sequestration, including for coal generating plants, continues to face financial and other challenges, according to witnesses at a Sept. 13 U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee hearing. “There is a gap between project costs and market prices and tariffs that prevent private capital from flowing into projects,” said Julio Freidman, chief […]

JUICE: PURPA’s CA Purpose

13 Sep

Congress may gut the federal law requiring utilities to buy power from qualifying solar, wind and other alternative energy projects. Is that a big deal for California? Not really—if looking through a California-only lens. When viewing the issue from a Western perspective, however, significantly weakening or eliminating the must buy provisions of the federal Public […]

Last Two FERC Nominees Vetted by Senate Panel

7 Sep

During a Sept. 7 Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing the latest two nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated support for increasing grid cyber-security protections, reducing barriers to energy storage and other distributed energy resources, and thwarting harm from market manipulation. FERC authority goes beyond protecting just and reasonable rates, Kevin McIntyre, […]

House Panel Debates Whether PURPA is Out of Fashion

7 Sep

A House panel this week began considering whether to change a 40-year old federal law enacted to promote small wind and solar energy projects and industrial cogeneration to make the electricity market more competitive and energy supplies more diverse. The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy Sept. 6 held a hearing aimed at assessing […]

Shorts

30 Aug

Three House Democrats took Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to task for a growing lack of transparency at the federal agency in a letter they sent Aug. 30. The three, including Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), expressed concerns about restrictions on employee movement within the agency’s headquarters and a ban on note taking during meetings […]

FERC No Longer Quorum-Less

3 Aug

The five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission now has three members following the U.S. Senate’s unanimous confirmation of nominees Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson late on Aug. 3. “After six months, we have finally restored a working quorum to FERC,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. She added she […]