When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) arrives in San Diego on July 22 for its annual meeting, the agenda will include efforts to undermine clean energy and climate policies that are widely supported by the people of California. Yet the public won’t know what is discussed at the meeting because the doors will be closed to most media, despite the presence of lawmakers from around the country. Read More
July 21st, 2015
July 20th, 2015
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
Misdirected Anger on Full Display in the Purported “War on Coal” — King Coal’s Stages of Grief, Part 3
July 17th, 2015
In my previous post in this series, I wrote about how coal has become uneconomic—and how that has led to great financial risk for companies in the coal mining business. I noted that some analysts are predicting a wave of bankruptcies in the industry. As reported last month, the industry’s market value has fallen by half in less than a year. On Wednesday Alabama-based Walter Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. And the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Alpha Natural Resources is now in bankruptcy talks as well.
These events are having and will continue to have real world impacts on the folks employed at these companies. Which leads me to the second stage of grief: anger. Read More
July 15th, 2015
A new UCS report released today shows how clean energy financing programs offer a promising avenue for scaling up investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency that can reap significant economic and consumer benefits, while helping states achieve EPA’s Clean Power Plan carbon emission reduction targets. Read More
July 13th, 2015
A Nevada utility and a solar developer have just struck a deal for solar electricity at a price that stands out compared not just to other solar deals, but also to just about any other option for new electricity. Here’s what it and other recent deals say about the future of solar. Read More
July 13th, 2015
It’s summer, it’s beautiful out, and all thoughts naturally turn to… the Clean Power Plan! This historic, first-ever nationwide limit on carbon emissions from power plants will be finalized within weeks. Many of my colleagues and I have spent months deep in the weeds of the technical details of the draft proposal. But it’s important to look at the big picture, and think about why we’re doing this. Here are six reasons I really care about this powerhouse of a rule – and why you might too. Read More
July 10th, 2015
This post continues my series on King Coal’s Stages of Grief, and focuses on more denial—this time about economics. Yesterday the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted that the production of coal from mountaintop removal (MTR) mining has decreased by 62 percent since 2008. And last month, Bank of America released its new Coal Policy, committing to phasing out financial support for mountaintop removal coal mining. Read More
July 8th, 2015
My parents instilled two core values in me—tell the truth and if your actions harm others, take responsibility for them. These messages were reinforced when I went to law school and practiced law for almost twenty years; honesty and responsibility are bedrock principles in the law, and significant damage awards are often imposed on those who breach them.
July 7th, 2015
June 30th, 2015
Coming from a coal mining family, I’m well aware of the seemingly vast coal resource underground and how extracting that resource has helped boost local economies, including the one where I grew up. As the reality of climate change sets in, however, and the impacts of burning fossil fuels become all too real, it’s clear that the status quo is not sustainable. Looking at the recent incredible growth in wind and solar, the boom in shale gas from fracking, and headline after headline full of bad news for the coal industry, I began wondering, How does it feel to be a coal miner right now? And more importantly, how do we ensure the future is hopeful for them as well? It’s a deeply personal question to me. Read More