Energy

Energy storage is a game changer. In a recent blog, I noted how the falling costs for batteries, along with the spread of solar power, has the potential to significantly expand the ability of energy storage and distributed energy resources to participate in the nation’s electricity system. GTM Research expects the U.S. energy storage market to grow to roughly 2.6 GW in 2022, almost 12 times the size of the 2016 market. Seventy-one megawatts of energy storage were deployed in the first quarter of 2017, growing 276 percent over Q1 2016.

The consulting firm McKinsey & Company recently released a report noting that energy storage prices are falling faster than anyone expected, with battery costs down to less than $230/kWh in 2016 from almost $1,000/kWh in 2010. The falling costs for batteries, coupled with the spread of solar power, presents a growing threat of disruption for utility business models.

In May 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, released a daily energy brief noting U.S. nuclear capacity and generation is expected to decline as existing generators retire. Five nuclear plants, with a combined capacity of 5,000 megawatts, or MW, have retired in the past four years, primarily due to competition from low-cost natural gas, unfavorable market policies, and/or local opposition. The Three Mile Island generating station in Pennsylvania is the latest nuclear power plant to announce retirement plans. In addition to these recent retirements, six other plants are scheduled to retire in the next nine years.

The transformation of the electric grid in the United States is proceeding at a rapid pace. Several factors, including the proliferation of distributed energy resources, or DERs, utility-scale renewable generation, energy storage, advanced metering infrastructure, and other technologies, are changing the way electric power is now generated, transmitted and distributed.

Last week President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, citing the “draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement poses on our country.” The decision to withdraw from the agreement—a major international treaty to address climate change—is going to have broad policy and environmental impact on the global stage.

energy and environment

The Trump administration released its first full fiscal budget for 2018, called the “Taxpayer First” Budget, this week. As expected, the budget delivers a gut-punch to several energy and environment programs within the Department of Energy, or DOE, and the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Furthermore, the steep cuts proposed in the budget could eventually be magnified in a sort of double whammy to state efforts to protect the environment and transition to cleaner sources of energy.

CSG South

This SLC Special Series Report, the first part in a series, examines wind energy in the Southern region.

CSG Midwest
When it came to helping craft a complex, landmark package of bills to revamp the state’s energy policy and map out the future of electric power in Michigan, Sen. Mike Nofs tried to at least keep one part of the legislative work simple and unchanging — the measure’s overarching goals.
“We wanted to control our destiny, regardless of the policies being set at the federal level,” he says. “And that meant focusing on affordability, reliability and clean energy.”
And that, in turn, led him and other lawmakers to make efficiency — or “waste reduction,” as it is now referred to in Michigan statute —  a big part of the state’s new energy law, which was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in late 2016 (SB 437 and SB 438). Only weeks before, another Midwestern state, Illinois, also took sweeping actions on energy policy, with a law that includes new incentives and standards for its utilities to achieve greater efficiency.

The Council of State Governments has released its annual listing of the top five issues legislators will face this session in nine key policy areas, including education, workforce development, energy and the environment, federal affairs, fiscal and economic development, health, interstate compacts, transportation, and international affairs.

CSG outlines the top five issues in energy and environment policy for 2017, including an uncertain future for federal environmental policy, infrastructure, water quality and management, solar energy, and natural gas.

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