New York Grid Operator Selects $1.2 Billion Worth of Transmission Projects to Ease Congestion, Accommodate Renewables

The New York Independent System Operator Inc.’s board of directors selected two transmission projects, which would add the largest amount of capacity to the state’s power grid in over 30 years, according to an April 8 press release. The grid operator said that the aging and congested transmission infrastructure is not capable of accommodating the…

New Mexico Governor Signs Efficiency Bill Decoupling Energy Use From Utility Revenue

New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Grisham has signed legislation on April 3, which amends the 2005 Efficient Use of Energy Act, creating better incentives for utilities to engage in energy efficiency and conservation by removing the economic incentive to sell more energy. The Efficient Use of Energy Act of 2005 allows electric and natural gas utilities to implement cost-effective energy…

Trump Issues Renewed Permit for $8 Billion Keystone XL Pipeline, Bypassing Environmental Rules

U.S. President Donald Trump on March 29 issued a new presidential permit for the long-delayed Keystone Xl oil pipeline, replacing the one granted in March 2017. The move provoked a backlash from conservation groups, which called it an effort to bypass federal environmental laws. The action comes after a court blocked the project in November…

Court Reinstates Obama’s Arctic Drilling Ban, Draws Criticism from Alaska Governor

The U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska on March 29 overturned President Donald Trump’s executive order issued in 2017 to undo a ban on oil and gas drilling in most of the Arctic Ocean. The court ruled that only Congress has the authority to revoke the ban imposed by former President Obama in…...

Mid-Atlantic Operator Teams Up With DOE to Study Distributed Resource Integration

PJM Interconnection LLC is joining forces with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to study the integration of distributed energy resources, such as rooftop solar, into the operator’s grid, according to an April 2 press release. The Argonne laboratory will be supporting PJM’s Distributed Energy Resource Ride-Through Task Force in developing guidelines for so-called “ride through” and…

Idaho Power Seeks Rate Bump to Finance Coal Plant Retirement

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking comments on a proposal by Idaho Power for a uniform increase to all base rates of 0.11 percent in order to finance the retirement of the North Valmy generating station, a two-unit coal-fired power plant with a capacity of 522 megawatts. The utility’s proposal calls for additional retirement costs to be…

Trump Signs Executive Order to Protect Nation’s Infrastructure from Electromagnetic Pulses

President Trump issued an executive order on March 26 directing federal agencies to assess and plan against the risks of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, implementing the core recommendations of the decommissioned Congressional EMP Commission on an accelerated basis. An electromagnetic pulse is a high-intensity surge of energy that can disrupt or destroy sensitive electronics and electrical infrastructure…

U.S. Shale Oil Production Set to Almost Double by 2030: EIA

U.S. shale oil production, which became the more common form of oil extraction in 2015, will continue to grow through 2030, ultimately reaching more than 10 million barrels per day compared to 2018’s 6.5 million. Shale oil, also known as tight oil, accounted for 61 percent of total U.S. production in 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook…

U.S. Coal Exports Boom Amid Weakening Domestic Market: EIA

Strong international demand, particularly in Asia, has provided relief for U.S. coal producers reeling from the effects of the shale revolution, which has led to national coal consumption declining every year since 2008, according to the Energy Information Administration. The agency reports that U.S. coal exports reached 116 million short tons (MMst) in 2018, the highest level…

U.S. Energy Department Finalizes $3.7 Billion Loan Guarantee for Troubled Vogtle Reactors

The U.S. Energy Department on March 22 announced the closing of up to $3.7 billion in additional loan guarantees to fund the construction of two units at the delayed Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. The decision brings the department’s guarantee of loans to $12 billion, including up to $8.3 billion provided in 2014 and…

Natural Gas Dethrones Coal in Nation’s Largest Wholesale Electricity Market

Natural gas accounted for nearly 31 percent of power generation in PJM Interconnection LLC’s footprint in 2018, surpassing coal’s share of about 29 percent, according to a March 18 report from the grid operator’s market monitor. Nuclear power dominated the region’s generating sector representing about 34 percent of the generation mix last year. Renewables had…...

FERC Seeks Input to Enhance Transmission Incentive, Return on Equity Policies

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 21 issued notices of inquiry to gather information on possible improvements to rules governing electric transmission incentives and the agency’s approach to determining the return on equity, or ROE, for setting jurisdictional rates charged by public utilities. Transmission incentives are crucial to spur investment, which can provide benefits,…