Mark Specht

Energy analyst

Author image
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.

Subscribe to Mark's posts

Mark's Latest Posts

Aerial of smoggy day in Los Angeles, CA

Do Renewables Lead to Increased Air Pollution from California Power Plants?

California is a national leader in the transition to clean electricity, but integrating all that renewable energy onto the grid is no easy feat. Critics of renewables have long claimed that adding variable renewables (such as wind and solar) to the grid would force fossil-fueled power plants to operate less efficiently, leading to an increase in air pollution emissions. And as states start to integrate more renewables, those claims have come back.

But is this argument true? Do renewables really lead to increased air pollution?

Read more >

VIktor Hanacek/Picjumbo
Bookmark and Share

Up Close with California’s Power Grid Operator

I went on a tour of the California Independent System Operator.

“The who?” my parents asked me. “Never heard of them.” Read more >

FERC
CAISO
Bookmark and Share

Photo: Christian Naenny/Flickr

Why Berkeley Banned Natural Gas in New Buildings

Two weeks ago, Berkeley, California became the first city in the nation to ban natural gas hook-ups in new construction. The ordinance passed unanimously with overwhelming public support, but the gas industry has been quietly fighting back by stealthily funding “consumer” groups that criticize gas bans like Berkeley’s. So let me explain what the rule actually does and why it’s a great idea.

Read more >

Photo: Christian Naenny/Flickr
Bookmark and Share

Renewable Energy Curtailment 101: The Problem That’s Actually Not a Problem At All

It’s that time of year again. The snow has all but melted and vivid memories of spring flowers begin to fade into the past. Once again, news stories start making the rounds proclaiming record amounts of renewable energy production in California. Renewable energy curtailment has also returned as a frequent early-summer news topic. But why?

Read more >

Public Domain
CAISO
CAISO
Bookmark and Share

Photo: Elena Koycheva/Unsplash

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
Bookmark and Share