Trump’s FERC Inaction Continues, Suggesting a Policy

An old saw among Washington’s large class of political cynics, reflecting decades of gridlock, goes, “Democrats can’t be trusted to govern. Republicans are incapable of governing.” The Trump administration so far is proving the cynics right. Exhibit 1 is the obscure but powerful Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, nominally part of the Department of Energy but […]

Read More

Trump’s Infrastructure Failure at FERC

The Trump administration has still not nominated candidates to fill three vacancies at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. While hardly the stuff of Washington Post A-section attention, the inability of Trump to unlock FERC, which currently has no quorum, holds up important U.S. infrastructure projects, including natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas export terminals. […]

Read More

States and Feds May Face Policy Donnybrook

A major dustup over national energy policies is brewing between state governments and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It’s about basic regulatory authorities, with the states emboldened by Trump administration rhetoric about states’ rights, and the feds handcuffed by the apparent unwillingness (or incompetence) of the White House in filling vacant FERC seats. If FERC […]

Read More

Is Blockchain a Key to Distributed Energy and Grid Modernization?

Could the software technology that is the backbone behind the cryptocurrency Bitcoin provide a path for electric utilities to accommodate the swirling financial transactions that accompany distributed generation and micogrids? The software technology is “blockchain,” a transaction recording software that, according to its advocates, provides “an incorrubtible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be […]

Read More

Hyman Rickover on Nuclear Designs

While doing some research for a book I’m working on, I came across a June 5, 1953 memo by Hyman Rickover, head of the naval reactors branch of the Atomic Energy Commission. For those readers who don’t know, Rickover is the father of nuclear power for electricity in the U.S., both for the U.S. Navy […]

Read More

Molten Salt Reactor Claims Melt Down Under Scrutiny

It was an astonishing event when two MIT nuclear engineering graduate students at the end of 2015 announced they had come up with a revolutionary design for a molten salt nuclear reactor that could solve many of the technological problems of conventional light-water reactors. Cofounders of the firm Transatomic – Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie […]

Read More

Harold Denton, Three Mile Island Hero, Dies at 80

Harold Denton, a career federal civil servant who helped prevent panic during the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island March 28, 1979 and days after, died February 13 at his home in Knoxville, Tenn. He was 80. The cause of death was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease coupled with complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Denton was an […]

Read More

Oroville Dam a Major Renewable Energy Asset

The threat of a catastrophe at California’s Oroville Dam appears to be over. California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) lifted the evacuation order that last week moved some 180,000 residents out of the area that could be flooded if the water level topped the 770-foot dam. But the dam’s troubles have also temporarily brought down […]

Read More

‘Pausebuster’: Did NOAA’s Tom Karl Cook Climate Data?

Did a top federal government climate scientist hide data in order to refute a record of nearly two recent decades when global warming didn’t appear to occur? Did that scientist then refuse to archive the data, preventing independent analysis? That’s the claim of John Bates, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist in charge […]

Read More

How Can FERC Function Without a Quorum?

With the Trump administration’s elevation of Democrat Cheryl LaFleur to acting chairman of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the demotion of Norman Bay (and his subsequent resignation) the agency now lacks a quorum as of Friday, Feb. 3. What are the practical consequences? This is not a unique situation at FERC. In early 1993, as […]

Read More