Energy Today & Tomorrow
Volume 23, Number 1, Summer 2008
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Energy Today & Tomorrow
Volume 23, Number 1, Summer 2008
Dealing with Change: The Long-Term Challenge for the Electric Industry
Since the 1880s, when Thomas Edison introduced the first modern electric generating station at Pearl Street in New York City, the electric industry has powered the technologically developing and growing United States through wars, peace, depression, expansion, and dramatic social and technological change. In our increasingly energized society, electricity is almost as vital a commodity to households and businesses as air and water. With the recent explosion of new technology, most notably personal digital appliances, and the continuing rise in our nation’s population, the United States uses more electricity today than it ever has before—a demand for electric power that continues to grow.
Jeff Guldner and Meghan Grabel
State and Local Governments Address the Twin Challenges of Climate Change and Energy Alternatives
Lawmakers, regulators, and the world all face a perfect storm of energy and climate challenges, and that storm is converging on traditional electricity policy. The cost of electricity to consumers is rising at an alarming rate. At the same time, news of global climate change and of the United States’ role in it has focused all levels of government on the issue of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly from the energy sector. The increasing scientific and public consensus regarding the threat of climate change, and the contribution of our energy use to that threat, have moved consumers and policymakers alike to demand alternatives to fossil fuel sources of generation.
Irma S. Russell and Jeff S. Dennis
Improving Regulations for Biomass-Based Electrical Generating Facilities
As state and regional greenhouse gas reduction programs and renewable portfolio standards increasingly require utilities to satisfy at least some portion of their customers’ electricity needs through carbon-neutral, renewable forms of electric power generation, utilities and other power producers are likely to propose many new biomass-based electrical generating facilities during the next several years. Such a trend would improve the nation’s energy diversity and independence while helping to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the generation of electricity.
Angela Morrison Uhland
Intelligent GenerationTM: The Smart Way to Build the Smart Grid
With a new sense of urgency, our presidential candidates are echoing Paine’s sentiments and exhorting us to reduce both dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gas emissions. Neither candidate offers a “magic bullet” to solve these problems—instead, both candidates propose a “magic buckshot” approach of cap-and-trade; increased fuel economy standards; biofuels; improved efficiency; renewable energy technologies like solar, wind, and geothermal; clean coal; and even nuclear power. If these proposals seem familiar, they should be—most have been part of the three major energy bills Congress has enacted in the last seventeen years: the Energy Policy Act of 1991, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Can we honestly believe that the same solutions to our petroleum vulnerability and climate change problems, without something new, bold, and different, will achieve different results this time? Probably not.
John J. Marhoefer
Commercial Scale Wind Industry on the Campo Indian Reservation
Many Indian reservations have substantial potential for wind power development. Unfortunately, the current legal framework that provides incentives for the development of utility scale wind power projects does not work very well for Indian tribal governments. As sovereigns, tribal governments are not taxable entities under federal law, and so the federal tax benefits applicable to wind power do not apply to the portion of a project owned by a tribe. A tribe can lease its land to a taxable entity for wind power development, but such an arrangement typically yields less revenue to the tribe than if it holds some equity in the project.
Michael L. Connolly
States Lead by Example on Energy Policy
The nation today faces a number of serious energy challenges, including our dependence on imported oil and the growing amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The United States imports approximately 60 percent of the oil we use, sending billions more to foreign nations each year as the price of oil rises. Energyrelated GHG emissions are on the rise, with the United States accounting for approximately 25 percent of the world’s GHG emissions despite having just 5 percent of the world population. In addition, energy prices are rising.
Darren M. Springer
Transforming the Role of Energy Efficiency
Electric companies working with state regulators and policymakers are transforming the role of energy efficiency. The electric power industry has begun creating a new regulatory framework that treats investments in energy efficiency in essentially the same manner as those for generation, transmission, and distribution. This change in focus opens the door to greater benefits for consumers, the environment, and electric companies. The industry will continue to face a number of well-recognized barriers in improving the nation’s energy efficiency.
Edward H. Comer
Renewables and Land Use Law
Over the last several years, there has been a resurgence of interest in renewable energy sources in the United States. Evidence of this includes numerous new and proposed wind energy and multiple off-shore wind projects. New technologies are poised to make solar panels less expensive, more efficient, and easier to install. Wave and tidal energy generators are becoming more practical.
Michael L. Pisauro Jr.
What Did You Agree to in Your Letter of Intent?
Clean Water Developments 2007–2008
Mark A. Ryan
John M. Barkett
Recent FOIA Amendments Bring Relief to Superfund PRPs
Jeanne Sinnott and Hong Huynh
Presidential Prerogative Under the Endangered Species Act
Byron W. Kirkpatrick