Puerto Rico and its Utility at the Financial Brink

A mismanaged government-owned electric utility is a major contributor to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, which has burst onto the U.S. scene just as Greece’s financial travails have jumped onto the world’s agenda. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory with strange legal ties to its governmental parent, a fruit in the victory of the U.S. war with [...]

Read More

It’s Long Past Time to Nix MOX

For a classic example of federal government incompetence coupled with Congressional irresponsibility, look no farther than the Department of Energy’s Savannah River weapons plant in South Carolina, 25 miles southeast of Augusta, Ga. DOE is reluctantly managing a financially disastrous project born to produce plutonium 239 and tritium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program. Those [...]

Read More

Is Wind’s Climate Contribution Overstated?

When it comes to the ability of wind power to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, is there less than meets the eye? That’s the argument that Australian energy engineer and geologist Peter Lang makes in a filing with the Australian government earlier this spring and flagged by Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry on her Climate Etc. blog. [...]

Read More

Lithium Ion Risks, Physical and Financial

Amidst all the positive hype about battery storage of late, driven largely by Elon Musk’s unveiling of large lithium-ion batteries aimed at home storage of rooftop solar (the Tesla Powerwall) and utility scale electricity backup, at little-noticed article passed my desk (virtually, of course). There has been plenty of debunking of Musk’s batteries, and plenty [...]

Read More

Good News (and Mostly Bad) for Nuclear Power

There’s good news and bad news for nuclear power in recent weeks. On balance, it looks like the bad news is more telling. First the good. The Tennessee Valley Authority says it expects to bring its Watts Bar 2 unit in service sometime this year. That will add 1,150 MW to TVA’s generating capacity. Then [...]

Read More

Politics and Federal Research: The Nexus

Anyone who has ever worked for a federal government research agency knows that politics can interfere with unbiased research. It’s not a sound practice; many agencies resist. It happens nonetheless. In my experience as a journalist, it happens often at the Department of Energy. When I worked for the National Institutes of Health in the [...]

Read More

Are Smart Homes Cyber Attack Risks?

Some of the anxieties about the smart grid go to the possibilities of security breaches, particularly at the interface of the distribution grid to the customer. Interest in the smart grid seems to be fading, as consumer-controlled electric devices, the “internet of things,” or, in our acronym-infected world, the IoT. These smart devices give homeowners, [...]

Read More

Can Tesla Tame the Duck Curve?

Unless you’ve been in a cave the last 24 hours (or at least off the internet), you’ve no doubt heard about Tesla’s move into the battery storage field. I attended the event last night and reported on it for POWER in the wee hours afterward. (The announcement came at night so Tesla CEO Elon Musk [...]

Read More

Remember the Volt?

Remember the Edsel? Most readers probably don’t, as they aren’t old enough to recall car events in the late 1950s and early 1960s. But I’m a geezer, as well as a car guy. I well remember Ford’s monumental failure, producing a mid-range car designed to compete with General Motors’ Buick and Oldsmobile lines. When Ford [...]

Read More

Michael Bloomberg Gets Something Right

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former Democrat, Independent, Republican mayor of New York City, is not one of my heroes. I don’t know whether he was a good or bad mayor of a difficult city to govern. His “stop-and-frisk” policies give me the willies. Beyond New York, I found his $50 million support of the Sierra [...]

Read More