Public Power’s Alex Radin Dies at 92

Alex Radin, a true public power pioneer, died last Friday (April 11) at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 92.   Radin joined the American Public Power Association – a Washington lobbying group representing municipal, state, and customers of federally-owned utilities – in 1948, the third hire for the small organization, as an editor. [...]

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Obama’s Latest FERC Nominee May Have Problems

Washington, D.C., April 13, 2014 – The nomination of Norman Bay, the Obama administration’s latest pick to join the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and become its chairman, may be in serious jeopardy. Bay, a former federal prosecutor in New Mexico, is currently FERC’s chief enforcement officer, where he’s had a high-profile role in going after [...]

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Rick Perry’s Approach to Federal Funds for Texas

Washington, D.C., April 6, 2014 — Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn’t want federal money to expand health care to poor Texans. He wants federal money to store nuclear waste to benefit rich folks, most of them not Texans. In a letter to Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst (who is more powerful in the bizarre Texas government [...]

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Jim Schlesinger’s Mixed Legacy of Accomplishment

Of all of the secretaries of energy since the cabinet-level agency came to life in 1977, James R. Schlesinger is the only one likely to be remembered by historians. Jim Schlesinger, the first energy secretary, died of pneumonia in a Baltimore hospital March 27. He was 85. I knew Schlesinger slightly, covering him as Jimmy [...]

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Dodging the Physical Solar Assault

Washington, D.C., March 23, 2014 – Legendary 20th Century baseball executive Branch Rickey famously said, “Luck is the residue of design.” It’s a wise observation. But sometimes luck is just that. Science Daily reports this month that on July 23, 2102, an enormous solar storm – resulting from two nearly simultaneous explosions on the sun, [...]

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When it Comes to Mismanagement, EPA Takes the Bureaucratic Cake

Washington, D.C., March 17, 2014 — What is the most poorly managed federal agency in Washington? There are plenty of contenders. But based on recent evidence, the clear winner in my mind has to be the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. First, there is the laughably sad tale of John Beale, long a fixture in EPA’s [...]

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Carnegie Mellon Boffins’ Blast from the Past: Why Renewable Portfolio Standards Stink

Washington, D.C., March 14, 2014 – Renewable portfolio standards, mandating specific percentages of the generating mix be met with renewable generating technologies, are popular among many U.S. state governments. But does it make sense to impose a nationwide renewable standard? Absolutely not, said the principals at Carnegie Mellon University’s Electricity Industry Center six years ago [...]

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Obama’s FY2015 Budget Would Halt MOX Funds

Washington, D.C., March 5, 2014 – The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, which the White House rolled out yesterday, would stop funding for the project at the Savannah River weapons site to combined weapons-grade plutonium with uranium to produce a mixed-oxide (MOX) civilian reactor fuel. As I reported late last month, the administration [...]

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A Former Republican Congressman Dismisses the Electric Grid

Washington, D.C., March 2, 2024 –Is there life off the electric grid? Roscoe Bartlett, 87, a Republican who represented my western Maryland congressional district in Congress for 20 years before losing a reelection campaign to a Democrat in 2012, has long been preaching about the limits of the electric grid. He’s been an outspoken advocate [...]

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The Political Language of Energy Obfuscation

Washington, D.C., February 28, 2104 – In 1946, George Orwell wrote a brilliant essay about how language and politics intersect, which has relevance today. In this essay, “Politics and the English Language,” published in Horizon, Orwell makes the essential point: bad thinking begets bad writing and bad writing begets bad thinking. He says succinctly, “But [...]

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