In Praise of Climate Scientists

“We once saw planets as nothing more than wanderers in the night sky,” writes Adam Frank, but today we have “learned to read entire worlds.” What beautiful writing. I still remember how wonderful and exciting it was to understand how just a few simple equations could describe our planet’s atmosphere with surprising detail and, yes, [...]

Natural Gas Leaks Echo Decade-Old Finding

Reviewing the media coverage of EPA’s proposed natural gas emission standard rule in September, I was struck by some findings that echoed research from a decade ago. It seems that emissions of natural gas, like many other pollutants from the oil, gas, chemical and refining industry, are often systematically underreported.

Washington takes action to stop leaks – of natural gas

Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposed rule to control methane leaks from oil and gas facilities. This action follows a multi-year effort to better understand how methane was being leaked from natural gas wells, both conventional and fracked, as well as the pipelines and processing facilities that lie between users and wells. [...]

If TVA Reinvented its Fire

One of the questions I often get asked is what it would take for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA),  or any other large utility, to move to 100% renewable energy and energy efficiency. That question comes up more and more often as people learn about TVA’s  2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Even though TVA’s IRP [...]

Low Cost Path for Southern Company to Comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan

With the US Environmental Protection Agency poised to release its final Clean Power Plan rule, some utilities have raised alarm about the rule’s cost. Some of those same voices have raised alarms about reliability, but as I wrote in May, cutting carbon pollution won’t make the sky fall. Today we release Cleaner Energy for Southern Company, [...]

How much “backup power” is needed for solar and wind?

Answer: None. Not if the utility is planning correctly! Ok, that was a smart-aleck answer. But I’ve got a point: When people talk about a “backup,” they tend to think of a one-for-one replacement. I remember when my kids were in diapers, and I had to carry four diapers for a long day out, just [...]

Do Southeastern utilities deserve high marks for helping manufacturing?

Site Selection magazine’s annual rankings of top utilities for economic development routinely features the four large Southeastern utilities: Southern Company, Tennessee Valley Authority, Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light. But is there room for improvement? YES! In the Southeast, utilities’ energy efficiency programs, and overall utility planning, fail to focus on critical manufacturing growth issues. [...]

Cutting Carbon Pollution Won’t Make the Sky Fall

National experts and Southeastern utilities agree that it is practical to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, while maintaining reliability of the electric grid. In an April 2015 report by three national experts on electric reliability, the authors found that while there will be “significant changes to the overall mix of resources under the [EPA's Clean [...]

A Bright, Sunny Forecast for the Tennessee Valley

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is farsighted, not shortsighted, when it comes to its efforts to evaluate and plan for solar power in its future. The 2015 Draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) provides the clearest, sharpest look ever by a Southeastern utility at solar energy as a resource – and not a threat – to this amazing, clean energy opportunity. [...]

Southeast Utility-Scale Solar: Cost-Effective for Customers

The Southeast is seeing a growing trend towards major utility-scale solar PPAs in the past few years. These deals are great for customers, because the prices are so low that they are helping utilities lock in cost savings over the long term. They are great for the utilities, because solar power is a reliable source [...]