Last week the President unveiled his $4 trillion budget for Fiscal Year 2016.  The budget highlights the President’s continued support on several energy and environmental topics with emphasis on clean energy.  He reiterated his support for the Climate Action Plan he released in 2013 and called for an increase in funding support for the plan. 

Several agencies made the request for larger...

Transactive energy, a technique for managing the generation, consumption or flow of electric power within an electric power system, relies on a market-based approach to promote grid reliability.  These systems increasingly are being used to promote renewable energy sources, recognizing that technologies permit customers to work together to shift generation load and demand. This eCademy session provides an opportunity for policymakers to learn about the evolving technique and its potential implications for states. 

The Environmental Protection Agency in June released the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule under the authority of 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. This proposed rule allows states to meet state-specific goals to limit greenhouse gas emissions. As states consider options for meeting these goals, concerns have emerged that the proposed rule could result in higher energy costs for utility customers, or ratepayers. This webinar examines energy efficiency opportunities that can help states achieve their emissions targets with minimum impact to their energy portfolio.

The general consensus is that federal and state regulators should not be designing national energy policies absent direction from Congress and state legislatures. Public opinion generally supports lower emission levels for generation units, increased support for energy conservation/efficiency, and no increase in electric rates. The apparent renaissance of natural gas production and nuclear generation--and the absence of a cost-effective clean coal technology--presage at least a short-term continuation of transitioning away from coal-fired generation.

State and federal policymakers in the past could be confident that America’s energy demands would increase every year. Now the future isn’t as clear.  Barbara Tyran, director of Washington, D.C., and state relations with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), said the Great Recession, a greater use of locally produced power, a growing interest in energy efficiency and the unprecedented increase in the natural gas supply have turned once staid assumptions about the future of energy on their head. Tyran was one of the featured speakers at a CSG policy academy about natural gas development last week and noted that all three branches of the federal government are currently engaged in shaping energy and environmental outcomes that will impact the future electricity and natural gas sectors. 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments encourages states to continue to evaluate the energy efficiency and demand reduction opportunities that can be achieved with electric utility grid modernization efforts, subject to the unique and specific circumstances that exist in their respective state.

States and local governments provide more than1,000 incentive programs to encourage energy efficiency. Some economists suggest the benefits of these programs are questionable and some efficiency mandates or programs wind up encouraging more, rather than less, energy consumption - which is referred to as a rebound effect. The concept has stirred strong debate in research groups and think tanks that provide lessons for states as they develop new or monitor existing efficiency programs.

The crystal ball is murky when it comes to predictions about energy consumption, markets and future trends.

Consider hydraulic fracturing, for example. Ten years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated resource potential in the Marcellus Shale region was off by 70 times, according to current federal surveys.

“I think it’s essentially impossible to anticipate what energy markets are going to look like in 20 or 30 years, because the rate of change in technology and potential for climate change are so great and so disruptive that the world is going to be fundamentally different than it is now,” said John Petersen, the founder of the Arlington Institute, a nonprofit research organization that focuses on future global trends.

In the early stages of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, one particular program—the $3.1 billion State Energy Program—had more than its share of controversy. Eventually, however, every state and territory accepted the money, but some have been slow to spend those funds. Now, the clock is ticking: States have until April 30 to spend their remaining balances. Multiple 

reasons explain why the program was slow to get off the ground and why states have had difficulties spending their allocated funds.

In the early stages of the Recovery Act, one particular program—the $3.1 billion State Energy Program—had more than its share of controversy. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford made headlines by rejecting stimulus dollars tied to the program, classifying it as fiscally unsustainable.