Tag Archives: U.S. energy infrastructure

‘The Grid’ Author On How Texas Crisis Highlights A Fragile U.S. Infrastructure

NPR’s Michel Martin Interviews Professor Gretchen Bakke.


The storm in Texas highlights just how fragile U.S. infrastructure can be, and so you might wonder if this problem extends beyond Texas. It does. In their most recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. energy infrastructure a D-plus, stating, quote, “without greater attention to aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will likely experience longer and more frequent power interruptions,” unquote.

We wanted to learn more about this, so we called Gretchen Bakke. She is the author of “The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans And Our Energy Future,” which examines the history of electrical power and its current challenges. When we spoke earlier today, she explained the problems in Texas are partly due to its independence from the U.S. power grid.

Read the text of this “All Things Considered” interview or listen to it here.

 


The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future

 

 

Additional Recommended Reading 

About Americans for a Clean Energy Grid
Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) is the only non-profit broad-based public interest advocacy coalition focused on the need to expand, integrate, and modernize the North American high-voltage grid. Sponsors and supporters of the Americans for a Clean Energy Grid coalition are broadly supportive of ACEG’s mission and vision. 

Included in The Biden Plan: Rebuild Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy
The order catalyzes the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

GEOTHERMAL NEWS

Dandelion Raises $30M to Scale Up Home Geothermal Energy, Greentech Media
There’s a lot of energy underneath homes — if reasonably priced technology can be scaled up to tap its potential. A U.S. Department of Energy study indicates that geothermal heat pumps, which capture the steady temperatures of underground air to heat homes in winter and cool them in summer, could cost-effectively replace fossil-fuel- and electric-powered heating and air conditioning in up to 28 million homes.

Geothermal Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy

ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURS REGENERATIVE AG REPORT

Healthy Soils and the Climate Connection: A Path to Economic Recovery on America’s Farms
 provides a roadmap for how climate-smart agriculture policies could provide profit boosts for farmers and climate wins for advocates.

Most initiatives to fight climate change today focus on reducing fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation, transportation, and buildings. But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change we must also significantly reduce the atmospheric carbon that has already been emitted. While efforts are underway to develop new and high tech mechanisms to accomplish this, there is an immediately available and economically viable pathway for atmospheric carbon removal—one that provides a compelling new value proposition for farmers to revitalize their soils and get paid for doing it.


E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.

New FERC Chair’s Focus: Environmental Justice and Climate Change Impacts

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

 

Richard Glick has a long list of priorities for his chairmanship of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He has already outlined many of them, such as reforming energy market policies that restrict state-supported clean energy resources, expanding transmission capacity and unblocking new grid interconnections, and incorporating climate change impacts into the agency’s decision-making process. Continue reading here.

 

ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE 

Severe weather, blackouts show the grid’s biggest problem is infrastructure, not renewables

GRID RESILIENCE: GRIDTECH MEDIA

In the near future, the scale of the batteries serving U.S. power grids is set to explode, increasing from about 1.5 gigawatts today to tens or hundreds of gigawatts by 2030. These batteries will play a vital role in shifting intermittent wind and solar power from when it’s produced to when it’s needed and serving broader grid services needs on an increasingly decarbonizing grid.

But as a resource that can both absorb and discharge energy at a moment’s notice, batteries are very different from both dispatchable generators and intermittent wind and solar farms. That requires new technical and economic systems for managing and valuing them — and the grid operators that run wholesale electricity markets serving about two-thirds of the country are struggling to make those changes to keep up with the pace of growth.

Two former state utility commissioners highlight new modeling that shows distributed energy lowers the total costs of decarbonization: Anne Hoskins served on the Maryland Public Service Commission and is the chief policy officer at Sunrun. Jeanne Fox, a former president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, is also a co-founder and board member of Center for Renewable Integration, Inc.

When planning for future resource investments, most utilities and regulators approach grid and system planning in silos, using tools and models that aren’t equipped to consider the total cost and benefits of distributed energy resources. This has been the case for many decades. For the first time, a team of researchers led by Christopher Clack looked at the holistic grid and incorporated local solar into grid and system planning. The model that Clack used calculated a least-cost development plan for the grid. The results are striking.

NASEO-NARUC TASK FORCE ON COMPREHENSIVE ELECTRICITY PLANNING 

The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) are providing a forum for the development of state-led pathways toward a more resilient, efficient, and affordable grid. – NARUC Website

 

 

 

 

Twelve States Announce Action Steps to Plan for Grid of the Future: State Energy Groups Release Blueprint for State Action for a More Efficient, Customer-Centric Grid

New, more comprehensive approaches to electricity planning can optimize use of distributed and existing energy resources, avoid unnecessary costs to customers, support state policy priorities, and increase transparency of grid-related investment decisions. The Task Force Roadmaps for Comprehensive Electricity Planning are accompanied by a Blueprint for State Action to support states and stakeholders who were not members of the Task Force in aligning electricity system planning processes in ways that meet their own goals and objectives. To learn more about the Task Force and access the new resources, click the link, below.

 

 

 

Task Force on Comprehensive Electricity Planning

Electricity Planning for a 21st Century Power Grid
Emerging technologies, decreasing costs, consumer preferences, new energy service providers, and state and local efforts are driving significant growth in distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar, storage, energy efficiency, demand management, and microgrids. These investments increasingly require regulatory and policy innovation and a greater emphasis on planning to overcome system complexities and avoid unnecessary costs associated with operating the grid.

With greater alignment of resource and distribution system planning, states and utilities could:

  • Improve grid reliability and resilience
  • Optimize use of distributed and existing energy resources
  • Avoid unnecessary costs to ratepayers
  • Support state policy priorities
  • Increase the transparency of grid-related investment decisions

Previously Posted

  • Nebraska needs overall plan for energy policies, Lincoln Journal Star, November 4, 2015
    [Former] Nebraska’s Energy Office director says the state needs a comprehensive approach to its energy policies as it faces what could be a “seismic” change in federal regulations governing emissions. David Bracht, Gov. Pete Ricketts’ chief adviser on energy issues, talked about state energy policies Wednesday at the eighth annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Omaha
  • 2011 Nebraska Energy Plan, National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)

Recently Posted

Coal’s slide to continue in U.S. as renewables fill the gap

By the Associated Press, Omaha World-Herald

U.S. demand for coal to generate electricity will continue its slide in coming months despite efforts by the Trump administration to prop up the struggling industry, federal officials said Thursday. Renewable energy sources are expected to fill much of the gap left by coal’s decline, according to the Energy Information Administration. Continue reading here.

Wikimedia Commons Photo: Gerald Gentleman Station. The Gerald Gentleman Station is Nebraska’s largest electricity generating plant, located just south of Sutherland. The plant, owned and operated by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) consists of two coal-fired generating units (launched into service in 1979 and 1982), which together have the capability to generate 1,365 megawatts of power. Source: Wikipedia

Previously Posted
On-and-Off Wind and Solar Power Pushing Coal Plants to the Brink, Bloomberg
The Gentleman coal plant was once the linchpin of Nebraska’s electricity grid, its twin smokestacks visible for miles across the prairie. Now, the state’s biggest power source is routinely pushed aside to make room for more wind and solar energy.

This new transmission line will help unleash wind energy in the Great Plains

Photo by Michael Kappel

Photo by Michael Kappel

By David Roberts, Vox

Wind and sunlight have many advantages as fuel sources, but one big drawback is that they aren’t portable. You can’t carry them to a power plant. You have to build the power plant wherever you find them.

That puts the US in an awkward situation, because the most intense wind and sunlight tend to be found in remote, low-population areas — think the sunny desert Southwest or the windy Great Plains.

Continue reading.