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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 […]

U.S. Senate Hearing Focuses on Nukes & Carbon Capture

26 Jul

Advancing new nuclear energy plants and carbon capture and sequestration for coal-fired generation were highlighted during a July 25 Senate Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing on clean energy technology. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass), however, urged an expansion of the panel’s focus, noting the large increase in solar and […]


18 Jul

The House Energy & Commerce Committee began delving into how the nation’s electricity markets are functioning July 18. During the first of two hearings, the general assessment by a panel of utility and generator representatives was that the nation’s power industry is in the midst of rapid change, which is driving down the wholesale price […]


11 Jul

The Energy Information Administration has added forecasts for small-scale solar system power capacity to its periodic Short-Term Energy Outlook reports. In its first such forecast, EIA projected that small-scale solar nationwide will grow from 14.3 GW to 21.9 GW by the end of 2018. Annual small-scale solar generation is expected to grow from 19,467 GWh […]

“Baseload Power” Concept Called Antiquated

26 Jun

In advance of a Department of Energy report expected to highlight an ongoing need for baseload power from nuclear and coal plants, an environmental group June 26 released a study claiming the very notion of baseload power has become “outdated. “The reality is that baseload power is not a technical term and is not needed […]


21 Jun

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia June 20 upheld the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of PJM’s revised electricity rules for the capacity market. The rules, approved by FERC in June of 2015, add higher penalties for non-performance and an increased cost cap. “Procurements in solar, wind, and demand response fell […]

LADWP Commits to Beating Paris Climate Goal

20 Jun

The nation’s largest municipal utility gave a thumb’s up to the 2015 Paris climate accord, joining the ranks of other cities, states, and organizations around the country pushing back against the Trump Administration. “We have such a lack of leadership nationally,” Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Commissioner Aura Vasquez said June 20. That’s […]

Undercurrents: FERC Nominees Advance

7 Jun

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should soon have a quorum following the U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee’s vote favoring confirmation of two Republican nominees by the full Senate. At a June 6 committee hearing, FERC nominee Neil Chatterjee, energy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was backed by the committee members […]

Undercurrents: Nuclear Waste Gains Focus

1 Jun

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reactivated the Yucca Mountain radioactive dump licensing process May 31, angering many. “Restarting the licensing process for Yucca Mountain would reach new heights of scientific irresponsibility,” said U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). He pointed to the two fault lines at the Nevada site, noting hundreds of nearby earthquakes over the last […]

The Buzz

25 May

Pacific Gas & Electric fails to garner an extra $1.5 billion for decommissioning its Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor, as the CPUC stands by an administrative law judge’s decision. FERC moves a bit closer to a quorum as a Senate panel holds a hearing on President Trump’s nominees. In a report that’s, well, quite predictable, CARB […]

FERC Nominees Grilled About Commitment to State Rights

25 May

During a Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee May 25 hearing on two Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominees, the role of state rights in energy decision-making, including on non-fossil resources, garnered considerable attention. The panel also considered the nomination of Dan Brouillette as the Department of Energy’s deputy secretary, with proposed budget cuts and partisan […]

Trump’s Sale of WAPA & BPA Lines is a Lead Balloon

23 May

The Trump Administration’s proposed 2018 federal budget, released May 23, puts a for sale sign on federally-owned power lines in the West. However, selling the transmission assets of the Western Area Power Administration, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Southwestern Power Administration will face major resistance from federal lawmakers from the West and Northwest. Carl […]

Undercurrents: Trump’s Budget Guts Clean Energy Programs & Transmission

23 May

As feared, President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget released May 23 slashes funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and other federal agencies. Heading for the guillotine are funds for energy efficiency and to states for weatherization of low-income residences and alternative energy programs. The budget document states it eliminates programs considered “duplicative” […]

Trump to Fill FERC Vacancies

9 May

President Donald Trump May 9 signaled his intention to appoint two members to the quorum-less Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The commission, which regulates wholesale power markets, natural gas pipelines, hydropower facilities and other energy-related activities, still will be one seat short of a full five member board. Trump announced he’s appointing Robert Powelson of the […]

Copper, Silver or Gold Plating the Grid?

4 May

How to effectively protect the grid from a nuclear attack and other types of electromagnetic pulse threats is riddled with challenges—from cost to trust between private utilities and public agencies. Grid reliability can be better protected, however, with more distributed generation, noted Democratic lawmakers during a Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing on May […]

Undercurrents: Laying Ground Rules to Lessen Grid Insecurities

3 May

Energy regulators face myriad challenges in ensuring that state utilities adequately protect their substations, power lines and other energy infrastructure, from utility resistance to sharing sensitive information to impacts on ratepayer wallets. “Making sure the utilities are not overspending, and spending the right amount and in the right areas,” are key concerns, California Public Utilities […]

Controversial Yucca Mountain Bill Gets Another Airing

26 Apr

During a hearing on federal legislation seeking to restart the effort to create a permanent radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, troubling issues were raised. During an April 26 House Energy & Commerce Environment Subcommittee hearing, concerns were aired over provisions sidelining state rights and tying the fate of a long-term repository with an […]


11 Apr

The California Energy Commission April 7 launched the California Offshore Renewable Wind Energy Gateway, a website that provides geospatial information on ocean wind resources, ecological and natural resources, ocean commercial and recreational uses, and community values. The commission said it created the gateway to support the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s California Intergovernmental Renewable Energy […]

Grid Threatened by Communication Gaps, Panel Told

5 Apr

Protection against the increased vulnerability of the nation’s power infrastructure is hampered by delays in high-level security clearances for key government officials and other gaps in information sharing between private and public entities. American Gas Association President Dave McCurdy told the U.S Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee April 4 that he’s waited more than […]

U.S. Senate Panel Advances Nuclear Power, Efficiency & Hydro Permit Extensions

30 Mar

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee March 30 approved dozens of bills, including ones that would promote new nuclear energy technologies, energy efficiency and hydropower projects. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), committee chair, said the U.S. would benefit from committee efforts to “advance nuclear research, energy efficiency, volcano monitoring, hydropower, federal land exchanges, and […]