Blackouts in PJM are a growing risk without changes reflecting new realities of winter peak demands

The lessons learned and the second-guessing prompted by the polar vortexes that walloped the Eastern U.S. twice in January taught us that the power grid in the Mid-Atlantic states needs — quickly — to recast the rules by which peak power generators can meet demand during the winter months. Peak demands, at least in the […]

Should Thorium Be In the Conversation About Next-Generation Nuclear Power?

There is a lot of innovative thinking about the next generation of nuclear power plants. With so many bright minds, an extensive supply chain and some far-sighted research and development work underway throughout the world, I wonder how long we’ll have to wait until a truly bigger, better, game-changing nuclear power process or technology grabs […]

Renewables lead new generation this year, but prepare for big decline in new wind in 2013

By Bill Opalka, Guest Contributor Renewable energy generation grabbed a 46% share of new capacity in the first 10 months of the year, easily outpacing natural gas, coal, nuclear and oil. That’s according to the latest Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Energy Infrastructure update, which covers the January-October time frame. The 46% renewable share includes new […]

U.S. carbon tax talk on the rebound: enough for both parties to dislike . . . and pass?

It might only apply to industry emissions and nary a Republican would dare admit to seriously considering it, but talk of a possible carbon tax is making the rounds in political Washington and elsewhere. Think about it. A carbon tax does not lack for support among mainstream energy and fiscal policy experts; it has drawn […]

Benefits of an independent safety center for oil and gas hydraulic fracturing

If safety truly is a priority for companies producing oil and gas using hydraulic fracturing, they should match their words with genuine safeguards that the public and regulators could see and understand. The nuclear industry has long been working to improve safety of utility-owned nuclear power plants under the auspices of the Institute of Nuclear […]

Commodity risks – how energy suppliers manage them can make a big difference to markets and customers

More than a decade after the Enron debacle, one would think managing an energy company’s risks is a widely-agreed upon practice with similar types of standards. Yet with the ongoing volatility in oil and natural gas prices, accidents and ‘Acts of God’ that just keep happening and the growing interdependence in commercial markets on other […]

Renewable energy: advocates need to raise their ‘game’ to match fossil energy interests

With the absence of an energy discussion in this year’s presidential race, one might think the U.S. faces few, if any, substantive energy problems, or opportunities for that matter. Most energy experts agree that is not the case. Yet what constitutes a problem or an opportunity, is subject to interpretation. Rising gasoline prices, heightening unrest […]

New nuclear era begins in U.S. after approval of Vogtle plant in Georgia – but questions remain

How much “new” nuclear and how soon? Those are the front-of-mind questions for nuclear and many cleaner energy advocates with today’s U.S. government approval of the construction and operation of two new nuclear power reactors by Southern Company in Georgia using the “AP1000″ design by Westinghouse. The quick answer appears to be: a total of […]

Google isn’t the energy magician some hoped it would be; RE > C how much longer?

RE < C ? Not without a carbon tax or cap and trade system. Google’s decision to stop trying to make clean electricity less expensive than power from traditional “dirty” coal-fired power plants was destined to come up short. Congress’ unwillingness in 2009 to create a carbon cap and trade system made sure of that. […]

Japan joins Germany, Italy, China, Ontario with new feed-in tariffs for 30 gigawatts of renewables; 50¢ per kWh for solar

Pinning its hopes on a sustainable recovery from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan’s Upper House of the Diet has enacted feed-in tariffs that take effect July 1, 2012 requiring utilities to purchase electricity generated by commercially available sources of renewable energy for a set price and period. Reuters reports a ruling party lawmakers “expects” the […]