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Steve Clemmer

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About the author: Steve Clemmer is the director of energy research and an expert on the economic and environmental benefits of implementing renewable energy technologies and policies at the state and national levels. He holds a master’s degree in energy analysis and policy from the University of Wisconsin. See Steve's full bio.

Power Outages, Extreme Weather, and Climate Change: How Smart Energy Choices Will Help Keep the Lights On

Our nation’s aging electricity system is increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events — including flooding, extreme heat, drought, and wildfires — which often cause power outages. Today UCS released a new report called Power Failure, which describes how extreme weather events are likely to increase in the future as global temperatures continue to rise, with major consequences for the electricity sector. Read More

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President Obama’s Plan to Cut Methane Emissions Will Help Reduce Climate Risks of Natural Gas

On Friday, the Obama Administration released a multi-sector strategy to cut methane emissions from agriculture, landfills, coal mines, and oil and gas production. This is an important step to reduce the climate risks of natural gas — as long as we get the details right — and to create a more level playing field for cleaner, less risky options like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read More

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Overreliance on Natural Gas: Risky for the Climate and the Economy

In last week’s State of the Union (SOTU) address, President Obama reiterated his support for climate science by unequivocally stating “The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” He also should be commended for highlighting the urgency of the problem as local communities are already experiencing damaging and costly climate impacts like drought, wildfires, heat waves, and coastal flooding.

But the President’s enthusiasm for increasing natural gas production and use as an important climate solution missed the mark. And like his climate action plan speech at Georgetown University last June, the President highlighted the economic benefits of increasing U.S. natural gas production, while failing to mention the economic risks of an overreliance on natural gas. Read More

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New Wind Power Cheaper than Existing Coal and Natural Gas in Many Parts of the Country

Part two of a three-part blog series.

Yesterday, we released an update of our 2012 Ripe for Retirement study that was published in the Electricity Journal, which analyzed the economic viability of updating the nation’s coal fleet compared to investing in cleaner alternatives. (For more details on the study, see this blog by my colleague Jeff Deyette.)  Thanks to new technology developments that have lowered the costs of new wind projects and increased electricity production, our new analysis shows wind power could play an even greater role than natural gas in replacing existing coal plants. Read More

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Climate Science, Nuclear Power, and a Renewable Energy Future

Contrary to the public assertions made this week by some of our climate scientist friends, nuclear power is likely to have a limited near-term role in avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Renewable energy technologies are cheaper, less risky, and ready for deployment today. A look at where things stand with both nuclear and renewables bears all that out. Read More

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The Falling Cost of Wind Power Spurs New Investments

After a very slow start in 2013, U.S. wind development is really starting to pick up. According to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA’s) just released Third Quarter 2013 Market Report, over 7,500 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity is under development in the U.S., representing an investment in the U.S. economy of roughly $15 billion. Read More

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Gas Ceiling: Assessing the Climate Risks of an Overreliance on Natural Gas for Electricity

The President’s Climate Plan announced in June touts natural gas as an important climate solution, as I discussed in a recent blog. This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the first step in implementing one of the key components of his plan by re-issuing carbon standards for new power plants. The next and more important step in this process is for the EPA to issue draft carbon standards for existing power plants by June 2014. (For more details, see this blog by my colleague Rachel Cleetus).

While standards for existing plants will help reduce power sector carbon emissions, they could lead to an overreliance on natural gas if they are not designed in the right way. In addition, the U.S. will need to make much deeper cuts in emissions to limit some of the worst impacts of climate change, as I discussed in my blog in July. A new UCS report released today shows that a transition from a coal- to a natural gas-dominated electricity system would not be sufficient to meet U.S. climate goals. Instead, a diversified electricity system—with amplified roles for renewable energy and energy efficiency and a modest role for natural gas—would both limit the threat of climate change and mitigate the risks of an overdependence on natural gas. Read More

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Energy-Water Collisions: A Shared Concern for State Utility Regulators

Last week, I presented the key findings from our new report Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World to state utility regulators and their staff at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Summer Meetings in Denver. Read More

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The President Touts Natural Gas as an Important Climate Solution: How Far Can it Take Us?

The President’s climate plan is an important start for reducing carbon and other heat-trapping emissions from human activities that are driving climate change. One of the key components of his plan is directing the EPA to complete carbon standards for new and existing power plants, which could help transition the power sector away from coal to natural gas and other cleaner sources like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read More

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Master Limited Partnerships: Lowering Financing Costs for Renewable Energy Projects

On April 24, Senators Coons (D-DE), Moran (R-KS), Stabenow (D-MI) and Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Master Limited Partnerships (MLP) Parity Act, a bipartisan bill that would give renewable energy projects access to billions of dollars of lower cost capital that has been available to the fossil fuel industry for decades. Read More

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