Deadlock Strikes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The perils of having only four members in a five-member regulatory agency were on display this week at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The commission deadlocked 2-2 over whether to consider a complaint from activists claiming that the owner of the 1,530-MW coal-fired Brayton Point generating station near Boston manipulated an ISO-New England forward capacity [...]

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Dump ‘Nukespeak’ to Reach Broader Audiences

Washington, D.C. – A recent editorial in the industry news service World Nuclear News struck an intellectual and emotional chord for me. The editorial argues that the nuclear industry must “ditch the jargon” of the nuclear industry in order to reach out more effectively to the financial community. I agree completely and would broaden the [...]

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Can FERC Nominee Honorable Beat the Clock?

Washington, D.C. – With the departure of John Norris, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may once again face a long period of a vacancy on the five-member commission. While the Obama administration has announced its intention to nominate Colette Honorable, chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, to fill the vacancy, the clock is working [...]

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Seismic Specter Arises Again at Diablo Canyon

Washington, D.C. – Last month’s 6.0 earthquake in California’s Napa Valley has again raised the issue of whether the U.S. nuclear regulatory system adequately accounts for seismic activity in its safety analysis of the 2,000-MW Diablo Canyon plant. Diablo Canyon is the last operating nuclear station in the state and located well away from the [...]

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Could FERC Implement a Carbon Price Equivalent?

Washington, D.C. – Many economists and policymakers believe that the best way to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions is the simplest: a market-based price on the emissions. But that approach – either through a direct carbon tax or a somewhat more convoluted cap-and-trade mechanism – is simply not politically possible, as the Obama administration has [...]

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At DOE’s 37th Birthday, Was it a Wise Creation?

Washington, D.C. — Congress enacted legislation creating the U.S. Department of Energy in August of 1977. The agency began operating in October of 1977. Was that wise legislation? In the 37 years since its creation, much has changed in the U.S. energy economy. When Jimmy Carter pushed Congress to create the energy department, the U.S. [...]

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Will the Smart Cloud Bypass the Smart Grid?

Washington, D.C., August 17, 2014 – Samsung Electronics last week announced that it has acquired a Washington-based home electronics firm, SmartThings, for an undisclosed sum. The move is further evidence that the electric utility industry’s still forming visions of a smart grid to control customers energy use could be bypassed by wireless technology and the [...]

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Norris Says ‘Arrivederci FERC’ and Heads to Rome

In a series of events that could have been choreographed by the Three Stooges, John Norris yesterday resigned his seat on the Federal Energy Commission. He will become the top official representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Italy, thanks to his old friend and former boss, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack. The Norris resignation has [...]

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Is John Norris leaving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission?

Washington, D.C. – Rumors are surfacing in Washington that John Norris, a Democratic member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and FERC’s most liberal commissioner, is poised to resign, some three years before his term expires in June 2017. Norris has already said he won’t seek reappointment, and complained about the tawdry circumstances that have [...]

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Renewables Fail Badly in Brookings Cost Analysis

Washington, D.C. — Electricity generation from natural gas, nuclear, and hydro are far better economic and environmental propositions than wind or solar, according to a paper from the Washington-based Brookings Institution – The Net Benefits of Low and No-Carbon Electricity Technologies. The paper by Brookings fellow Charles R. Frank avoids the usual approach to analyzing [...]

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