Julie McNamara

Energy analyst

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Julie McNamara is an energy analyst with the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In her role, she analyzes state, regional, and national policies relating to clean energy development and deployment. Ms. McNamara holds an M.S. in technology and policy from MIT, and a B.A. in biology and political economy from Williams College. See Julie's full bio.

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While You Weren’t Looking, Energy Efficiency Became One of Our Nation’s Top Energy Resources

Here’s a fact I bet you didn’t know: in 2015, energy efficiency saved more electricity than was produced by every type of electricity resource in our country but for coal and natural gas. Hydro, renewables, even nuclear—energy efficiency saved more than each of them produced.

That is incredible. It also means that energy efficiency came through as the third-largest electricity resource in the United States that year.

When it comes to clean energy, we spend a lot of our time talking about the tremendous benefits and abilities of resources like wind and solar. But do you know the very cleanest energy resource we have? That would be the one that helps us never call upon an electron at all.
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ACEEE, October 2016
ACEEE, May 2017
Clean Energy Momentum, (UCS, April 2017)
ACEEE, May 2017
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There’s an Elephant in the Room and It Smells Like Natural Gas

A curious thing happened in the aftermath of President Trump attempting to sign away the past eight years of work on climate and clean energy: the public face of progress didn’t flinch. From north to south and east to west, utilities and businesses and states and cities swore their decarbonization compasses were unswerving; yes, they said, we’re still closing coal plants, and yes, yes!, we’re still building ever more wind and solar—it just makes sense.

But here’s why all the subsequent commentary reiterating the inevitability of coal’s decline and cheering the unsinkable strength of renewables’ rise was right in facts, but incomplete in message:

Coal is closing. Renewables are rising. But right now, we need to be talking about natural gas. Read more >

Zorandim/Shutterstock.com
U.S. EIA, Generator Monthly
U.S. EIA
U.S. EIA
U.S. EIA
U.S. EIA
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San Juan Generating Station and mine. Credit: San Juan Citizens Alliance/EcoFlight (flickr).

New Mexico’s Largest Electricity Provider Proposes Going 100% Coal-Free

Late last month, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) issued a landmark finding. After conducting a routine assessment of future power supply scenarios, the utility made an anything-but-routine conclusion: the best version of its future self, PNM declared, was entirely coal-free. Read more >

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Valorous Congressmen, Tilting at Windmills

Legislators have pushed bills aiming to ban wind turbines from vast buffer zones around military installations—but these pesky little things called facts can trip up even the best of heroic narrative arcs. Read more >

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Momentum on the path to our clean energy future. Credit: Dennis Schroeder, DOE/NREL

The Clean Power Plan Has Already Accomplished One of Its Most Important Tasks

Tuesday’s attack on the Clean Power Plan (CPP) did not exactly come as a surprise. Since the day President Trump was elected, the rule’s fate has seemed near-well sealed—when CPP lawsuit ringleader Scott Pruitt was confirmed as EPA administrator, all lingering doubts were reduced to specifics about how and when. Well here we are, and now we know.

But here’s the thing. Though the administration spoke of “relieving the burden” of the rule, and though there had been much braying when the CPP was first announced, there has been a conspicuous absence of utilities leaping to change course after the lifting of the (supposed) crushing yoke of the CPP. Today, in fact, most utilities seem much as they did yesterday: increasingly comfortable with, and confident in, the idea of serving electricity in a carbon-constrained world. Read more >

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