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The US electricity system is undergoing a transformation that’ll change how energy is produced and used for decades. Our experts bring you the latest news and analysis on that transformation, including its opportunities, benefits, and challenges.


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Old coal-burning power plants have the greatest emissions per energy delivered. Photo: snowpeak/Wikimedia Commons

Why Would Illinois Want More Pollution from Coal Power?

, policy analyst, Clean Energy

Changes to an important state air pollution standard are being considered by the Illinois Pollution Control Board this summer. My colleagues and I found striking differences among the Dynegy plants that would be affected by the proposed rule change to be decided on as soon as Thursday August 23. Under the current Illinois Multi-Pollutant Standard (MPS), the Dynegy coal plants that cause the most harm to Illinois residents are the ones more likely to be closed or be upgraded with air pollution control technology. But if the Pollution Control Board adopts Dynegy’s proposal to change how state air pollution limits are calculated, it could result in the company closing its cleaner plants and keeping its dirtiest plants open because it would no longer need the cleanest plants in its fleet to comply with the state requirements. My colleague James Gignac, lead analyst in the Midwest Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), further reflects on the impacts of the proposed change to the MPS, below. Read more >

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Photo: Troye Owens/Flickr

For Washington Voters, I-1631 is a Chance to Tackle Climate Change Head On

, Energy analyst

The magnitude of the climate challenge is daunting; a constellation of causes and impacts, promising no simple fix. But a new proposal in Washington state has identified a powerful place to start. I-1631, on the ballot this November, is grounded in the reality that to truly address climate change today, it’s simply no longer enough to drive down carbon emissions—communities must now also be readied for climate impacts, including those already at hand, and all those still to come. Read more >

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Photo: Daniels, Gene/ The U.S. National Archives

Trump Administration Takes Aim at Public Health Protections

, Energy analyst

In a new regulatory effort, the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims to be working to increase consistency and transparency in how it considers costs and benefits in the rulemaking process. Don’t be fooled. Under the cover of these anodyne goals, the agency is in fact trying to pursue something far more nefarious. Indeed, what the EPA is actually working to do is formalize a process whereby the decision of whether or not to go ahead with a rule is permanently tilted in industry’s favor. How? By slashing away at what the agency can count as “benefits,” resulting in a full-on broadside to public health. Read more >

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Photo: UniEnergy Technologies/Wikimedia

What’s New with NextGrid?

, policy analyst, Clean Energy

Last year, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) launched NextGrid,  a collaboration between key stakeholders to create a shared base of information on electric utility industry issues and opportunities around grid modernization. NextGrid is the Illinois Utility of the Future Study, which is being managed by the University of Illinois and consists of seven working groups comprised of subject matter experts, utilities, business interests, and environmental organizations. The Union of Concerned Scientists is a member of two of these working groups.

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Photo: UniEnergy Technologies/Wikimedia
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Photo: Johanna Montoya/Unsplash

Hitting 1 Trillion. Think Clean Electrons, Not Stylish Electronics

, senior energy analyst, Clean Energy

You may have heard that Apple just passed the $1 trillion mark in terms of its market capitalization, the first company ever to reach those lofty heights. Less ink has been spilled on a different 1 trillion figure, but it’s one that’s well worth noting, too. According to Bloomberg NEF (BNEF), we just shot past the headline-worthy figure of 1 trillion watts (that is, 1 million megawatts, or 1,000 gigawatts) of wind turbines and solar panels worldwide. And you can bet there’ll be another trillion watts right behind.

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Photo: Johanna Montoya/Unsplash
Photo: PublicSource
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