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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Mark's Latest Posts

Diablo Canyon is Shutting Down. Is California Ready?

In this moment, California’s electrical grid faces no shortage of challenges. There’s the year-round risk that utility power lines will spark wildfires, and there’s the real possibility that an extreme summer heatwave will trigger more rotating blackouts. But there’s another issue looming on the horizon that California hasn’t even begun to address: replacing the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant with clean energy when it shuts down mid-decade. Read more >

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El exterior de Diablo Canyon. Nuclear Regulatory Commission/flickr

Diablo Canyon cerrará. ¿Está preparada California?

La red eléctrica de California está cargada de retos. A lo largo de todo el año está presente el riesgo de que chispazos salidos de los cables originen incendios descontrolados. También existe la posibilidad real de que una ola de calor extremo obligue a aumentar los cortes rotativos de electricidad. Pero en el horizonte se divisa una amenaza que California ni siquiera ha empezado a afrontar: cómo reemplazar con energía limpia la planta nuclear Diablo Canyon cuando ésta cierre a mediados de la década. Read more >

Nuclear Regulatory Commission/flickr
Pedro Xing
Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress collection
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Power Outages in Texas and California Have Less in Common than You Think

Chances are that you’ve already heard about the ongoing power outages in Texas and other nearby states. If you haven’t gotten the message already, the situation is dire and totally unprecedented. In the midst of a historic cold snap, electricity demand has outstripped supply by a massive amount. Faced with no other choice, the electrical grid operator in Texas shut off power to millions of Texans early Monday morning, and many are still without power even now. Read more >

NWS Austin/San Antonio
Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia
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Mark Specht/UCS

ELCC Explained: the Critical Renewable Energy Concept You’ve Never Heard Of

To completely transition away from fossil fuels, we’ll need to replace not only the energy from fossil-fueled plants, but the capacity and grid reliability contributions as well. However, it’s actually pretty tricky to determine the extent to which renewable capacity ensures grid reliability. This has grid operators across the nation asking, “To what extent can we count on renewables to ensure grid reliability by preventing electricity shortfalls? And what is the best methodology to answer that question?” Great questions. This blog has answers. Read more >

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Democratizing California’s Most Powerful Regulator

I usually find myself criticizing the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for their energy policy missteps, but right now, the CPUC deserves a round of applause. Yesterday, the CPUC approved important changes to the public comment process that will help ensure people’s voices are heard and that public input actually influences CPUC decisions.

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