Mark Specht

Energy analyst

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Mark Specht is an energy analyst for the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In his role, he works to generate new research and policy solutions for integrating renewable energy into power grids, and scaling down reliance on fossil fuels in electricity systems throughout the Western states.

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The Basics of Integrated Resource Planning in California

Energy experts geek out over a process known as Integrated Resource Planning. It’s not widely followed by the general public, but Integrated Resource Plans (“IRPs”) determine where consumers’ electricity will come from, how clean that power will be, and whether states will meet their clean energy and climate goals. In California, IRPs are key to decarbonizing the electricity sector and turning the state’s climate goals into reality. Read more >

Photo: Elena Koycheva/Unsplash
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Photo: NASA

California’s Wildfire Costs are Just the Tip of the Iceberg

As California’s electric utilities grapple with the aftermath of record-breaking wildfires, the potential impact on customer bills is starting to come into focus. While it is still unclear who will end up paying for wildfire damages, one thing is clear: extreme wildfires are here to stay, and they will likely keep getting worse. With climate change increasing not only the risk of wildfires, but also threatening many other economic and human health impacts, the costs of preventing extreme climate change pale in comparison to the costs of inaction. Read more >

Photo: NASA
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Photo: Juliwatson /Pixabay

100% Clean Electricity in Washington State: Everything You Need To Know

Washington state’s lawmakers are contemplating the transition to 100% clean electricity. Fortunately, Washington’s grid is already one of the cleanest in the nation, with much of its electricity coming from hydropower. So what exactly does “100% clean electricity” mean for the state? How would this transition affect Washington’s economy? And why should Washington do this in the first place? Read more >

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Natural Gas Power Plant Retirements in California

As the rest of the country rushes to build natural gas power plants, California continues to downsize its fleet. While the official numbers are not yet in, 2018 appears to have been a big year for natural gas power plant retirements in California.

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Photo: Henning Witzel

What is Resource Adequacy? Three Requirements that Keep the Lights on in California

In many parts of the United States, power plant owners can get paid for doing pretty much nothing. You might think that power plant owners make all their money selling the electricity they generate. However, many power plant owners also get paid for providing “capacity,” or the ability to generate electricity. These types of payments are playing an increasingly large role in keeping fossil-fueled power plants operational, and finding cleaner alternatives is going to be a big challenge. Read more >

Photo: Henning Witzel
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