When prices for emissions allowances collapsed in Europe’s carbon market a year after trading began, critics said the collapse proved a regulatory product couldn’t be traded internationally. Sure, they said, the U.S. acid-rain market worked, but it was never an international market—and it couldn’t be, given the propensity for governments to protect their own economies.
It’s time to end the uncertainty about carbon costs.
This summer marked a pivotal moment for the energy industry. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), a.k.a., the Waxman-Markey bill, which among other things would require the U.S. economy to cut its greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions 83 percent by 2050.
Utility projects advance the state of the art.
Given this dynamic state of evolution, it’s not surprising that next-generation technologies are undergoing their own difficult transitions. This transition is exemplified by four high-tech projects being executed by four electric utilities: Duke Energy, American Electric Power, Consolidated Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. Their projects address different parts of the power-supply chain, and they’re taking different paths to secure financing and regulatory acceptance.
Who will oversee the industry’s cyber standards?
Who will oversee the industry’s cyber standards? Effective security calls for a single organization to set standards that will protect the smart grid. The industry is struggling to reach consensus over authority, scope and funding for its new security apparatus.
Will Congress dare to put local wires under federal control?
Congress hasn’t amended the Federal Power Act in any way that would change the status quo, and a bright line still separates the distribution business from the federally regulated bulk-power system. Pending legislation, however, might change that.
Carbon costs will reshape the generation fleet and affect retail rates.
American utility consumers face a compelling generational challenge: satisfy the need for a reliable power supply, at a reasonable price, while also reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and building a sustainable energy industry. How the government structures green-energy mandates will determine how long existing power plants remain viable.
Unconventional sources brighten the U.S. supply outlook.
The future of natural gas supplies in the United States looks promising due to rising projections of recoverable resources, including unconventional production. A strong supply outlook bodes well for using natural gas as a low-emission transportation fuel.
An integrated approach could prove more effective for controlling emissions.
Despite political challenges, the EPA and Congress have made strides toward a more coherent and integrated approach to regulating air emissions. The time is right to reach consensus on a multi-pollutant strategy.
A clear and present need for nuclear energy expansion.
The new administration might be our last, best hope for recapturing America’s technological and economic superiority. The time has come to institute an “Apollo Project” level of effort to convert to a carbon-free energy infrastructure while tossing aside the business-as-usual model. The future lies in nuclear power.
Congress pours tax benefits into efficiency and renewables.
Of the many provisions in the bailout bill, few of them actually establish new federal policy. Instead, most just continue existing provisions that already were set to expire, and probably would have been enacted in some form—if not this session, then next session.