By - Jim Vess

National Grid’s REV demonstration project, an interview with lead project manager Jonathan Nickerson

Energize Weekly, March 1, 2017 In July 2015, National Grid launched the Fruit Belt Neighborhood Solar REV Demonstration project, which will install photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays on as many as 100 homes in a low-to-moderate-income neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y. The solar systems will be owned and operated by the utility and put power directly onto the grid rather than into

By - Jim Vess

Study identifies more than 6,000 spills at oil and gas fracking sites

Energize Weekly, March 1, 2017 Hydraulic fracturing techniques have resulted in thousands of spills in four states over a 10-year period, a new study finds. Researchers at Duke University say they have identified at least 6,648 fracking-related spills in Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and North Dakota between 2005 and 2014.  North Dakota was home to at least 4,453 incidents, or

By - Jim Vess

NextEra CEO calls emergency meeting with Texas PUC to save Oncor purchase

Energize Weekly, March 1, 2017 NextEra Energy CEO and chairman Jim Robo made an unusual visit with Texas regulators last week, stopping by the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in an emergency session to help shore up support for NextEra’s $18.7 billion purchase of Oncor Electric Delivery Company, the state’s largest utility. Robo said he had made the visit after

By - Jim Vess

Western lawmakers vow to increase state renewable energy portfolios

Energize Weekly, February 22, 2017 With President Donald Trump vows to revitalize America’s fossil fuel industry, Western lawmakers are making good on promises to increase their reliance on renewable energy and limit greenhouse gas emissions. With President Donald Trump vows to revitalize America’s fossil fuel industry, Western lawmakers are making good on promises to increase their reliance on renewable energy

By - Jim Vess

Access Northeast pipeline to cost twice as much as projected, study says

Energize Weekly, February 22, 2017 The cost of a new natural gas pipeline expansion project in New England could be more than double what pipeline sponsors say, according to a new report. The report, prepared by Cambridge-based Synapse Energy Economics, claims that the proposed Access Northeast pipeline project could cost consumers $6.6 billion, more than twice the $3.2 billion figure

By - Jim Vess

PJM approves $1.5 billion in transmission upgrades

Energize Weekly, February 22, 2017 The PJM Interconnection has approved more than $1.5 billion in electric transmission upgrades to address reliability issues in multiple areas. The largest project involves rebuilding and upgrading transmission lines in Burlington, Mercer, and Middlesex counties in New Jersey.  Some equipment is more than 80 years old, according to PJM.  The project, in the territory of

By - Jim Vess

New technique could extract endless nuclear power from seawater

Energize Weekly, February 22, 2017 Scientists have discovered a new technique that can capture uranium from seawater, helping make nuclear power accessible to countries that lack uranium mines. The ocean has already been known to be a good source of uranium, however efforts to extract the critical ingredient for nuclear fission have produced insufficient quantities.  Now researchers at Stanford University

By - Jim Vess

Senate confirms Pruitt to lead EPA

Energize Weekly, February 22, 2017 Despite strong objections by environmentalists and clean energy groups, the U.S. Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), putting President Donald Trump in prime position to fulfill his campaign pledge to revitalize America’s coal and fossil fuel industries. Senators voted 52-46 to confirm Mr. Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma

By - Jim Vess

Batteries seen as a more than $2 billion market by 2020, but challenges remain

Energize Weekly, February 22, 2017 Battery storage has been getting a big boost from financial and market analysts who see revenues reaching more than $2 billion by 2020. Still, some renewable energy experts caution that there remain a number of hurdles the technology must overcome. In early February, Morgan Stanley issued a report saying that the growth of battery storage

By - Jim Vess

U.S. judge denies request to block DAPL construction after Army issues easement

Energize Weekly, February 15, 2017 A federal judge denied a request by opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota to halt construction after the U.S. Army granted a final easement to build the pipeline last week. Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. rejected the request by members of the Standing Rock Sioux

By - Jim Vess

Study: Climate change could overwhelm U.S. electrical grid

Energize Weekly, February 15, 2017 Climbing temperatures associated with global warming could wreak havoc on the U.S. electrical grid, according to a new study on the economic and social costs of climate change. Published last week in the scientific journal Proceedings by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford, and University of Michigan, the study says the country will need

By - Jim Vess

Nuclear industry identifies $650 million in efficiency savings, urges support for struggling plants

Energize Weekly, February 15, 2017 The head of the nuclear industry’s primary trade group told skeptical Wall Street analysts that supporting aging nuclear power plants will be critical for curbing global carbon emissions, while also identifying nearly $650 million in savings through improved efficiency. Maria Korsnick, the new head of the U.S. Nuclear Energy Institute, highlighted the organization’s “Delivering the

By - Jim Vess

EEI pledges to work with Trump on tax, energy policy reform

Energize Weekly, February 15, 2017 Investor-owned utilities say they will work with the new Trump Administration on long-term investments in the energy sector, but will fight any attempt to eliminate tax deductions the utility industry relies upon to write off infrastructure spending. In a call with Wall Street analysts and bankers, officials with the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) outlined the

By - Jim Vess

Black & Veatch: DER the single biggest accelerator of change

Energize Weekly, February 15, 2017 The major concerns of utility executives remain traditional ones—reliability, security, infrastructure and environmental rules—but new technologies and distributed generation are roiling the industry, according to a survey by Black & Veatch. “It’s the arrival of environmentally conscious microturbines, fuel cells, photovoltaics, wind turbines, improved energy storage and other advanced power technologies—all pushing distributed generation toward

By - Jim Vess

Feds allow Pilgrim nuclear plant to stay open amid safety concerns

Energize Weekly, February 8, 2017 Federal regulators said the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station near Boston can remain open, even as they acknowledged problems related to safety during a three-hour meeting with residents and elected officials last week. At a packed hearing, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released the preliminary results of a inspection sparked after the unintentional release of an

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas-fired generation set to grow rapidly in U.S. fueled by low gas prices

Energize Weekly, February 8, 2017 The utility industry is set in the next two years to add 36.6 gigawatts of natural gas-fired generation—the most in more than a decade, according to data from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). If all the proposed projects come online, it would increase natural gas generating capacity 8 percent over the capacity at the

By - Jim Vess

Trump infrastructure plan to include T&D, storage projects

Energize Weekly, February 1, 2017 President Donald Trump will make investing in electric transmission expansion, wind and energy storage a priority under his $1 trillion infrastructure plan, according to a 50-item wish compiled by the consultants working for the Trump Administration. The projects include the proposed Plains & Eastern Clean Line, a $2 billion privately funded high-voltage, direct current (HVDC)

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas and wind are cheapest clean generation technologies, Texas study finds

Energize Weekly, February 1, 2017 Natural gas and wind are the lowest cost options for new electricity generation in the vast majority of the United States when health and environmental impacts are factored in along with traditional costs, according to a University of Texas study. Wind energy dominates in the core of the country—home to a high-wind corridor—from north Texas

By - Jim Vess

Corporate energy plans are playing a bigger role in the renewable energy market

Energize Weekly, January 25, 2017 Big companies—from Google to the candy maker Mars—have become big players in the renewable energy market, which has until now been dominated by utilities. In 2105, large corporate customers contracted for a record 3.2 gigawatts of renewable energy, including the majority of wind power purchase agreements (PPAs) for the year, and another 1.6 gigawatts was

By - Jim Vess

BLM issues key approval for massive Wyoming wind farm

Energize Weekly, January 25, 2017 The largest onshore wind farm in development in the U.S. received two critical approvals from federal regulators last week, moves which could allow the first turbines to be constructed as early as next year. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency of the Department of Interior (DOI), approved the first 500-turbine phase of

By - Jim Vess

Activists prepare for renewed fight over Dakota Access Pipeline

Energize Weekly, January 25, 2017 White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer strongly hinted this week that President Donald Trump would rescind the permit denial that is prohibiting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), prompting activists opposed to the pipeline to pledge a new round of clashes over the controversial project. Last December, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers announced

By - Jim Vess

Rocky Mountain energy providers to explore SPP participation

Energize Weekly, January 25, 2017 Ten electricity service providers representing approximately 6.4 million customers in the U.S. Rocky Mountain region have announced plans to explore potential participation with an existing regional transmission organization (RTO). The informal group, which calls itself the Mountain West Transmission Group, began discussions in 2013 to evaluate ways to expand their market operations, including a common

By - Jim Vess

UAE’s first nuclear power plant to begin operating this spring

Energize Weekly, January 25, 2017 The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken its last step before becoming the first Arab country capable of producing nuclear power, after the country’s regulator approved licenses to transport and store nuclear fuel. The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) said early this week it had issued two licenses, one to the Emirates Nuclear Energy

By - Jim Vess

Minnesota lawmakers introduce bill to build natural gas plant without regulatory approval

Energize Weekly, January 25, 2017 The Minnesota House committee on energy overwhelmingly approved legislation last week to allow Xcel Energy to build a large natural gas-fired power plant in Sherburne County without the approval of state utility regulators, prompting backlash from business and consumer groups. The 786-megawatt (MW) gas plant, which is estimated to cost more than $1 billion, would

By - Jim Vess

Rick Perry “regrets” proposing to eliminate DOE while pledging to protect agency mission

Energize Weekly, January 25, 2017 Incoming Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry told Senate lawmakers that he “regrets” a past proposal to eliminate the agency he intends to lead, saying he now has a clearer understanding of the DOE and the critical work it performs. Perry, while speaking before a Senate confirmation hearing last week, addressed his controversial call

By - Jim Vess

Renewable electricity could overtake coal-fired by 2040 according to federal forecasts

Energize Weekly, January 18, 2017 In the next two decades, the nation’s utility sector faces a transformation in which natural gas and renewable energy could become the dominant sources of electricity generation, according to projections from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Among renewable generation sources, both wind and solar generation will surpass hydropower, which has historically been the main

By - Jim Vess

New York to build 2400 MW of offshore wind by 2030

Energize Weekly, January 18, 2017 Just one day after announcing the closure of one of the state’s biggest nuclear power plants, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo put forward a grand plan to build 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, beginning with a 90 megawatt (MW) project off the coast of Long Island. In one of a series of

By - Jim Vess

Noble Energy to buy rival Clayton Williams for $2.7 billion

Energize Weekly, January 18, 2017 Oil producer Noble Energy will acquire rival Clayton Williams for about $2.7 billion in a cash and stock deal that will expand Noble’s presence in oil-rich West Texas. Noble said the deal would include 71,000 net acres in the Southern Delaware Basin in Reeves and Ward counties, which are part of the larger Permian Basin,

By - Jim Vess

Dominion to employ controlled blackouts for Virginia Peninsula

Energize Weekly, January 18, 2017 Failure to build an essential power line across the James River may mean resorting to controlled blackouts to ensure grid reliability in the Virginia Peninsula, the state’s biggest utility told a regional grid operator last week. Dominion Resources says that the impending closure of its two Yorktown coal-fired power plants in April, along with a

By - Jim Vess

NuScale submits first SMR application to U.S. regulators

Energize Weekly, January 18, 2017 NuScale Power has submitted its small modular reactor (SMR) design to U.S. regulators, the first design certification application for any SMR in the country. The company submitted its 12,000 page application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last week.  The NuScale SMR design consists of integrated pressurized water reactor modules capable of generating up

By - Jim Vess

Montana lawmakers work to curb utility rate increases

Energize Weekly, January 18, 2017 Montana lawmakers want greater scrutiny on costs utilities frequently pass on to customers, arguing that energy companies may be abusing laws meant to offer tax relief. Two bills designed to restrict how utilities charge customers received hearings last week before Montana’s House Energy, Technology and Federal Relations Committee.  House Bill 189 would eliminate a provision

By - Jim Vess

Report: Retail, tech industry on track to procure 60 GW of green energy by 2025

Energize Weekly, January 18, 2017 States which invest in clean domestic energy production are also the most likely to attract new business and create jobs, according to a new report, as demand for clean energy among retailers and technology companies is expected to reach 60 gigawatts (GW) by 2025. The new analysis, released by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA)

By - Jim Vess

EIA: Renewables to grow with or without Clean Power Plan

Energize Weekly, January 11, 2017 The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says it predicts renewable energy sources will continue to grow at a record pace regardless of whether the incoming administration of President-elect Trump does away with key regulations like the Clean Power Plan (CPP). According to the EIA’s 2017 Annual Energy Outlook, the United States will become a net

By - Jim Vess

Vermont utility likely not targeted by Russian hackers: Report

Energize Weekly, January 11, 2017 After a brief scare that a foreign power may have tried to infiltrate the U.S. electric grid, the Washington Post now says its initial report of a Russian hacking attempt on a Vermont utility was premature. On December 31, the Post reported that a Burlington Electric employee’s laptop had been connected to an IP address

By - Jim Vess

Entergy to close Indian Point nuclear plant by 2021

Energize Weekly, January 11, 2017 Citing safety and environmental concerns, Entergy Corp. has agreed to shut down its 40-year old Indian Point nuclear plant by 2021, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Gov. Cuomo announced the decision to shut down Indian Point, located 30 miles north of New York City during his State of the State speech Monday night,

By - Jim Vess

U.S. oil and gas industry to increase spending, drive global growth in 2017

Energize Weekly, January 11, 2017 U.S. oil and gas companies are expected to boost exploration and production (E&P) spending in 2017 by 27 percent, leading global spending growth and reversing two years of decline, according to a new report from Barclays. According to the investment bank’s annual survey of oil production companies, global spending on E&P will increase seven percent in

By - Jim Vess

Eversource takes state pipeline decision to Supreme Court

Energize Weekly, January 11, 2017 New Hampshire’s largest utility is taking its case for a proposed natural gas pipeline expansion project to the state’s highest court. Eversource Energy says it wants to expand the existing Algonquin pipeline system in Connecticut and Massachusetts through a project called Access Northeast.  The $3 billion joint venture proposed by Eversource, Spectra Energy and National

By - Jim Vess

Report: US electricity grid faces “imminent danger” of cyber attacks

Energize Weekly, January 11, 2017 On the heels of revelations that a foreign-directed hacking operation attempted to disrupt the 2016 election, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has warned the country faces “imminent danger” from cyber attacks on its electricity system and needs to adopt new policies to combat cyber threats. Last week, the agency released the second installment of

By - Jim Vess

Hawaiian Electric aims to hit 100 percent renewable goal 5 years early

Energize Weekly, January 4, 2017 Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) has delivered plans showing a progression to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, 5 years ahead of a state mandated goal. According to its latest Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP) filed with regulators last week, HECO will provide 48 percent renewable power by 2020 without the use of imported liquefied natural

By - Jim Vess

Oil ends year with highest gains since 2009

Energize Weekly, January 4, 2017 Oil prices ended 2016 attaining their highest annual gain in almost a decade after member nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut production to reduce the supply glut that has sunk prices over two years. Brent crude oil rose 52 percent this year, while West Texas Intermediate crude rose 45

By - Jim Vess

Regulators approve southern portion of Illinois-Wisconsin transmission project

Energize Weekly, January 4, 2017 Illinois regulators have approved a portion of a 345 kilovolt (kV) line to Wisconsin designed to accommodate increasing power flows from the Badger State. The $55 million project proposed by American Transmission Co. (ATC) would extend across the state line from Pleasant Prairie, Wis., to a Commonwealth Edison transmission system in Illinois, including a new

By - Jim Vess

Georgia regulators strike deal over Vogtle construction costs

Energize Weekly, January 4, 2017 Georgia’s utility commission has approved a settlement addressing cost overruns related to the long-delayed construction of the Plant Vogtle nuclear plant near Augusta. The five-member Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously approved the deal with Georgia Power, the lead partner building two new reactors at Plant Vogtle.  The compromise will result in millions of dollars of

By - Jim Vess

Liberty Utilities completes purchase of Empire District Electric

Energize Weekly, January 4, 2017 Liberty Utilities has successfully completed its acquisition of Missouri-based Empire District Electric Co., the two companies announced on Saturday. The $2.4 billion deal, which was announced in February last year, received shareholder approval as well as regulator approval in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and federal approval by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the

By - Jim Vess

Cybersecurity takes center stage after Russian hackers penetrate Vermont utility

Energize Weekly, January 4, 2017 A Vermont utility said it found malicious software linked to Russian hackers on a department laptop during routine maintenance last week, stoking fears of a foreign-directed cyber attack on America’s electricity grid. Officials with the Burlington Electricity Department said in a statement the laptop was not connected to the municipal utility’s grid systems, nor was

By - Jim Vess

Las Vegas reaches clean energy goal

Energize Weekly, December 21, 2016 The city of Las Vegas has announced it has reached its goal of powering city government buildings entirely with renewable energy, fulfilling a commitment the city has been working on for nearly a decade. Through a combination of credits and direct generation, the city is now powering more than 140 government buildings, as well as

By - Jim Vess

MIT report lays out plan for overhaul of 21st century electricity grid

Energize Weekly, December 21, 2016 The widespread adoption of distributed energy resources alongside centralized generation into the electric grid will require substantial regulatory, policy, and market overhauls, according to a new report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The report, titled “Utility of the Future”, says that today’s electric power systems were designed, built, and regulated well before the

By - Jim Vess

Solar installations led by utility-scale projects poised to set a record for 2016

Energize Weekly, December 21, 2016 Installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation in the United States reached a record 4,143 megawatts in the third quarter of 2016—double the previous quarter and up 191 percent compared to same quarter in 2015, according to a study by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Solar accounted for 60 percent of all the

By - Jim Vess

Michigan passes sweeping energy reform

Energize Weekly, December 21, 2016 Michigan lawmakers reached a bipartisan compromise last week to overhaul the state’s energy laws, raising the renewable energy standard and maintaining the state’s limited retail choice program. The legislation, which was passed late Thursday night with solid bipartisan majorities in the Senate and House, would create a new approval process for utilities hoping to replace

By - Jim Vess

UN: Cyber threat to nuclear power plants on the rise

Energize Weekly, December 21, 2016 Attempts by terrorist groups to hack into nuclear power plants in order to release radioactive material are rising, according to a top official at the United Nations (UN). UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told a meeting of the UN Security Council that extremists and “vicious non-state groups” were making clear attempts to hack into nuclear

By - Jim Vess

Analysts: Oil and gas companies to see positive cash flow in 2017

Energize Weekly, December 21, 2016 International analyst firm Wood Mackenzie forecast the oil and gas industry will turn cash flow positive for the first time since an oil price downturn began over two years ago. The energy consultant says in a new report 2017 will be a substantially better year for global oil and natural gas exploration, with oil and gas

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