We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Energy Policy

Thanks goodness the U.S. does not have, has never had, a comprehensive, centralized energy policy. In my 40 years of reporting on energy and environmental issues, a common theme has been that the U.S. lacks, and needs, an energy policy. Baloney. When you hear or read about how the U.S. needs an energy policy, hold [...]

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Obama Community Solar: Where’s the Beef?

Is the Obama administration’s plan announced last week to bring solar power to less affluent individuals and to those who can’t put panels on their roofs – by boosting community solar — less than meets the eye? It looks that way to me. The rhetoric is appealing. The White House announced the “National Community Solar [...]

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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 [...]

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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 [...]

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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. [...]

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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 [...]

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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 [...]

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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 [...]

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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, [...]

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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 [...]

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