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Mike Jacobs

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About the author: Michael Jacobs is a senior energy analyst with expertise in electricity markets, transmission and renewables integration work. See Mike's full bio.

Cheap Renewable Energy is Here. Why Doesn’t The Grid Plan For It?

Wind farms and solar arrays are setting new records for low energy prices, with wind under 2 ½ cents and solar under 4 cents when conditions are right. These are cheap prices, given electricity from new natural gas plants is in the 5-7 cents range, coal at 6-10 cents, and nuclear somewhere between 13 and 15 cents, according to one fleet owner (nuclear can be unpredictable). So why aren’t more electric grid operators incorporating this energy as they plan to meet grid needs? Read More

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Final Clean Power Plan Takes Key Steps to Ensure Reliable Electricity. Now What?

In the past year, utility organizations went to the microphones to call out the EPA for making the draft Clean Power Plan without adequate time or attention on grid reliability. There were numerous reports prepared by utility planners raising alarms about insufficient time to plan for a cleaner power supply, while others showed no technical obstacles to raising the mix to 30-40% renewable energy. Read More

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What We Learn From A New Clean Power Plan Grid Report

Much heat and smoke has been produced over the EPA Clean Power Plan rule. PJM, the grid operator serving the region from Chicago, through the Ohio Valley to Washington D.C. and Norfolk finds no need for alarm. This is one independent authority that has provided more clarity on grid reliability impacts from the CPP than others with a preview of its next report. Read More

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Jaw-Dropping News in the Solar vs. Fossil Fuels Debate

You know the cliché about work that can be 59 minutes of boredom and one minute of white knuckle excitement and danger? In the electric power industry, this happens when a major power plant loses its connection to the grid, instantly and dramatically unbalancing the supply and demand of electricity. Blackouts follow if there isn’t an instant response.

Last week I had a similar exciting moment at a conference of utility commissioners, where I learned that a key grid reliability requirement during these emergencies has not been provided by new natural gas plants. Read More

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The Pope Is an Energy Wonk. Engineers Agree with His Assessment.

From the Papal encyclical: “In some places, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensure local self-sufficiency and even the sale of surplus energy. This simple example shows that, while the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference.” Read More

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Congress Can Empower Energy Innovation Far and Wide. Here’s How.

Today there is much attention to new energy supplies, and the policies that can best guide their adoption. As part of that discussion, it’s important to note that most of the new technology and market-based behavior by users and suppliers of electricity stems from Congress passing the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) and its amendments. Read More

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Hey NERC, Where’s the Fire? Digging into a Flawed Study on the Clean Power Plan

We all know that yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is an abuse of free speech. Anyone doing that yelling will be called to account for their behavior. We should expect the same in the NERC portrayals of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. It’s time to see if there is evidence in their analyses that supports their alarms—and I don’t see how they justify the calls for delays. Read More

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What Would We Do With Cheap Energy Storage Batteries?

What would we do if cheap energy storage became a reality? We would put an end to carbon emissions from fossil fuel. The debate would be over. The missing pieces of the puzzle would be in hand.

This is something to contemplate. Read More

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Another Misleading Study on the Clean Power Plan: NERC Distorts Reality with False Premise and Assumptions

We are on the verge of another transition in how we supply energy to the modern economy. Economics and advances in renewable energy show we can adapt to a series of emissions control requirements affecting coal plants. But a new study of the EPA’s carbon policy excludes these lessons, and assumes the worst behavior of plant owners and state officials to paint an overly pessimistic view of how this transition will impact the reliability of our energy supply. Read More

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Three Reasons Carbon Reduction Is Easy In The Central U.S.

The debate over reliability and the costs of reducing carbon pollution comes to St. Louis with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) holding a technical conference on the electricity grid with the EPA carbon pollution rules. Folks looking at this debate should consider three reasons why the central U.S. has great opportunities to reduce carbon pollution: Read More

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