Joseph Daniel

Senior Energy Analyst

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Joseph Daniel is a senior energy analyst with the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In his role, he establishes policy positions, develops strategy, and produces analytics that spur innovation in energy markets to facilitate the transition to a modern electricity grid that is clean, affordable, flexible, and reliable. See Joseph's full bio.

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How Does Uneconomic Coal Generation Impact the Grid? A Discussion with Regulators

On November 19th I had the privilege to sit on a panel of industry luminaries discussing an issue I’ve been researching for some time: Coal-fired power plants that operate uneconomically in wholesale markets.

Wholesale power markets all have rules in place that are designed to prevent power plants from running uneconomically. However, some power plant operators use those same market rules to bypass the market decision-making process through a process known as “self-committing.” Self-committing coal-fired power plants allow those plants to operate out of “merit-order” (from least cost to highest cost) and can result in serious market distortion and inflated consumer costs. Read more >

Photo: PDTillman/Wikimedia Commons
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Heads and tails of 1983 U.S. quarter dollar

For Some, Coal Contracts are, “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose.”

There is a pervasive myth in the electric sector that the owners of coal-fired power plants all sign long term contracts for coal. Once upon a time, that may have been true; but that simply isn’t the case today.

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By AKS.9955 – Own work,
UCS
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How (Not) to Analyze the Cost of Renewables

A Minnesota based think tank, Center of the American Experiment (CAE) releases a report last March greatly exaggerating the cost of roughly doubling current renewable energy use in Minnesota to 50 percent by 2030. The report claims that it would cost $80 Billion to reach this target. If that number seems unreasonably high, it is because the number is unreasonably high.

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Here Is Why State Regulators Are Rejecting Utility Resource Plans

Utility resource plans, which often take the form of “Integrated Resource Plans” (IRP), are a business plan, of sorts, for utilities. It lays out what utilities plan on doing to meet customer’s demands. In California, the process tends to look like this. Outside California, the primary questions being looked at are how much coal will be retired, how quickly it will be retired, and what resources will replace that coal. Read more >

"Rejected (Trending Twitter Topics from 07.08.2019)" by trendingtopics is licensed under CC BY 2.0
John Wilson (left) and LBNL (right)
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Photo: Rennett Stowe/Flickr

Three Possible Solutions to Uneconomic Coal Generation

 This year, utility regulators in Missouri and Minnesota are looking into a practice known as self-committing, which research from UCS shows is costing customers a billion dollars a year in unnecessary costs. Now that this uneconomic and inefficient practice has caught the attention of a few regulators it is time to dive deep into just a few options utility regulators and state policy makers could avail themselves of as potential solutions to uneconomic coal generation.

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Photo: Rennett Stowe/Flickr
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