Challenges to Improving Energy Security Abound: Part 2

Energy Resources and Environmental Benefits

Since I sent this article to my editor, the world has changed. The Russo-Ukrainian War continues with no peace in sight. Part 2 of my article is on global energy security, which is being seriously being reevaluated in the US, Europe, United Kingdom, and every country in the world. My thoughts on global energy security may surprise some. However, I am a pragmatist at heart and believe that to secure our energy futures we must take energy security to the community level far from Think Tanks, the Washington DC Beltway and yes even Wall Street. Read more

Challenges to Improving Energy Security Abound: Part 1

Building electric transmission takes a decade

This article discusses the energy security of the US and whether the current trajectory of US policy will be able to achieve the latter. Energy security involves balancing the tradeoff between the 4As of energy security- availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability. The current vision of achieving energy security puts high emphasis on "acceptability' and favors clean energy. The Biden Administration envisions siting large solar and wind farms, interstate electric transmission and battery storage. The main points that are elaborated in the paper are:

  • High-level policy objectives seem to be out of touch with many stakeholders and communities who oppose sizable renewable energy projects sited near their communities and on federal lands and waters.
  • The reality on the ground is that dduplicative federal and state environmental assessments, conflicts, opposition, and legal challenges will work to stifle any significant investment in renewable energy and energy transmission on federal lands and waters. 
  • Despite the challenges of transmission siting and cost allocation in transmission planning and long interconnection queues for wind and solar projects, the Biden Administration hopes to achieve its clean energy agenda. 

I take a contrary view. Smaller decentralized electric grids and microgrids closely aligned to host communities may find resolving issues and making the tradeoffs between the four As much easier.

Download the entire article published in the Climate & Energy Journal

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Improving US Energy Security: Granting FERC Siting Authority over Interstate High Voltage Electric Transmission

The Biden Administration and the US Congress are giving serious consideration to granting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the authority to site high voltage (HV) interstate electric transmission lines . FERC already has authority under the Natural Gas Act (NGA) to regulate the siting of and rates charged by interstate natural gas pipelines and storage facilities. Proponents of giving FERC such additional authority point to the extensive buildout of the natural gas pipeline system. These proponents believe that FERC could do the same with interstate HV electric transmission. While on the surface granting FERC such additional siting authority over HV electric transmission may appear logical, this author believes it is a big mistake—that US energy security would not improve, and even decline under such FERC authority. The main reason why this author is against transferring interstate electric transmission to FERC is the fact it would federalize all proposals, subject them to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and related delays, and ultimately give the States de facto veto power over the timing and the construction of these facilities. Such a move without some meaningful changes in existing laws, could likely provide a central venue to opponents of energy infrastructure that will prove administratively unwieldly for FERC and other agencies to manage. The result could be a longer and more litigious siting process with the distraction of NEPA and few projects ever being built. 

Download the entire arrticle published in the Climate & Energy Journal. Read more

New NEPA Reforms could delay Renewables and Clean Electric Transmission

Federal Lands where trigger NEPA

On July 16, 2020, the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) finalized an overhaul of the guidelines for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations (rule). Supporters of the new regulations applauded the changes, but the states and numerous national environmental groups vowed to challenge the new rule in the courts. The timing of the final rule just prior to the Presidential election in November will also create a great deal of uncertainty for projects currently undergoing NEPA reviews and possible delays by those planning projects. Read more

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