James Gignac

Lead Midwest energy analyst

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James Gignac is lead Midwest energy analyst for the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Prior to joining UCS, Mr. Gignac served as environmental and energy counsel and as assistant attorney general to the Illinois Attorney General. Mr. Gignac earned a JD from Harvard Law School, and a BA in history and political science from Albion College. See his full bio.

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Photo: Terry Johnston/Wikimedia Commons

What to Watch for in Michigan’s State of the State Speech

Next Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer will give her first State of the State address as Michigan’s chief executive officer. It is a key opportunity for her to address climate change, infrastructure needs, and clean energy and water—all priorities Governor Whitmer emphasized during last year’s campaign.

Here’s what to look for.

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Photo: Terry Johnston/Wikimedia Commons
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Electric Utility Resource Plans Are Critical to the Midwest’s Energy Future

At least 30 states will see at least one electric utility with a resource plan in 2019, including states with an expected ruling on an already-filed plan. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is a participating stakeholder in resource planning dockets in both Michigan and Minnesota and is applying our technical expertise in partnership with local coalition advocates working with affected communities. Let’s dig into what exactly resource plans are, why they matter, and what to look for in these Midwest states as electric utilities develop and seek approval for their resource plans. Read more >

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Dear New Midwest Governors: The Green New Deal and You

Getting traction on Green New Deal policies at the federal level won’t be easy—but new governors in the Midwest can make progress on climate and economic priorities right away. Here’s how.

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Photo: Andreas Gücklhorn/unsplash
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Photo: Montgomery County Planning Commission

What the New UCS Report on Nuclear Plants Means for Illinois

Today UCS released a new report entitled The Nuclear Power Dilemma that examines the economic viability and performance of most of the 60 nuclear power plants operating in the United States as of July 2018. The report also analyzes what electric generating resources are likely to replace these nuclear plants if some of them were to abruptly retire from service. So what did the report find and what does it mean for a state with so much nuclear power like Illinois? Read more >

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More than 150 Lake County residents march to call on NRG Energy to set a retirement date for its coal-fired-power plant. Waukegan, near NRG coal plant, November 2015. Photo by Karen Long MacLeod for CPLC

Unmasking the Waukegan Coal Plant Reliability Myth

Last week UCS released a new report entitled Soot to Solar: Illinois’ Clean Energy Transition. Among our key findings was that the coal-burning power plant owned by NRG in Waukegan, Illinois, can be retired with no impact on electric grid reliability. When asked about our report, NRG implied similar sentiments as the above in saying it hadn’t had the opportunity to review our study or our “assumptions on impact to grid reliability.” In this post, I highlight Soot to Solar’s analysis of electric reliability and retiring the Waukegan plant to further explain our process and what we found. Read more >

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