Could carbon taxes emerge in the election aftermath?
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Since Obama won reelection, we must ask whether we’d rather have EPA cracking down on carbon emissions, or whether a legislated framework would be better for everyone.
How suppliers and generators can each gain from today’s historic low prices.
Gregory C. Staple & Patrick Bean
Gas-fired generators and suppliers alike can each share risk and reward from historic low prices with contracts that blend market and fixed prices
EPA’s new water, waste, and air regulations complicate power plant compliance.
New environmental requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA) will add to the already complex burden of compliance for power plants. As the Environmental Protection Agency moves forward with cooling water and effluent standards, utilities and generators will have to deal with overlapping rules and conflicting policy goals.
Renewable M&A lives on despite death of Treasury cash grants.
Brian Boufarah and Marlene Motyka
The U.S. Treasury cash grants for new renewable power projects expired at the end of 2011. These incentives, which were implemented under Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, helped to support continued capacity additions throughout the recession. The impending expiration of these grants caused a wave of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity during 2011 as developers and financiers rushed to get deals done and to begin construction in order to meet the Section 1603, 5-percent safe harbor threshold by the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline.
A strategic approach to mitigating rate increases and greenhouse gas price risk.
Experience in the Duke Energy Carolinas service territory shows that high penetration rates for electric vehicles, combined with increased natural gas-fired power generation, can result in lower costs to customers and lower risks for utility shareholders—while also reducing total emissions of greenhouse gases. However, these outcomes depend on policy changes that facilitate smart, off-peak vehicle charging, and that allow utilities to capture the benefits of a more environmentally friendly power system.
Has the Supreme Court frozen climate change litigation?
Wansheng Jerry Liu and David Restaino
The Supreme Court’s decision in American Electric Power v. Connecticut strongly limits private nuisance actions against greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters by keeping these cases out of federal court. But the AEP decision won’t stop lawmakers from enacting new GHG regulations, and it won’t prevent plaintiffs from suing emitters in state courts.
How we got here and what to expect.
New air quality regulations, including the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, have prompted substantial investments in emission control upgrades. But a series of additional standards—for mercury, toxins, cooling water and ash residue—are driving delays and shutdowns in the coal-fired power fleet. Investment decisions depend on a clear understanding of where EPA is headed, and how the new regulations will affect generators’ costs—and market prices.
1. ‘Policy’ Guides the Grid; 2. Carbon Not a Nuisance (Yet); 3. Gigabucks for Negawatts; 4. A MOPR, Not a NOPR; 5. Ramp Up the Frequency; 6. Cap-and-Trade Still Lives; 7. Cyber Insecurity; 8. Korridor Killer; 9. The Burden Not Shared; 10. Ozone Can Wait.
Renewing public support after Fukushima Daiichi.
The Fukushima disaster has fallen off the headlines, but fear of nuclear energy remains a potent barrier to new development—as well as continued operation of the current reactor fleet. Building the foundation for a stable industry will require a sustained and strategic approach to restoring and securing the public trust.
Connecting vehicles to smart systems.
Electric vehicles (EV) are just getting started, with rapid growth ahead. Plug-in hybrids and other EVs could capture 20 percent of the U.S. auto market by 2030. When planning for future infrastructure and technology needs, utilities face difficult questions about how EVs will interact with the utility grid. A comprehensive approach to communicating and integrating vehicle information will allow utilities and drivers to make the most of smart electric transportation.