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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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.

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Photo: Christian Naenny/Flickr
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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?

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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
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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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