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What We’re Reading in BPC’s Energy Project, May 16

Monday, May 19, 2014

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We hope that you enjoy the following selection of readings. As always, the views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent the views of the initiative, its co-chairs, task force members or the Bipartisan Policy Center.

ALTERNATIVE JET FUELS: Federal Activities Support Development and Usage, but Long-term Commercial Viability Hinges on Market Factors
By The U.S. Government Accountability Office

“Achieving price competitiveness for alternative jet fuels is the overarching challenge to developing a viable market. No alternative jet fuels are currently commercially available at prices competitive with conventional jet fuels. The 23 stakeholders that GAO interviewed most frequently cited high development costs and the uncertainty of federal regulations and policies as primary reasons why alternative jet fuels are not priced competitively and believe that federal activities are needed to help advance the alternative jet-fuels industry.” Read it here.

Produced Water: Asset or Waste?
By Blythe Lyons, Atlantic Council

“In Produced Water: Asset or Waste, Blythe Lyons focuses on the water-related issues impacting the United States’ ability to unleash domestic energy resources. Sustainable and publicly acceptable water management practices are essential for both conventional and unconventional oil and gas production. This report, based on a workshop held at the Atlantic Council, promotes the idea that sustainable water strategies require that produced water be considered as an asset rather than as a waste.” Read it here.

Regulation of CO2 Emissions From Existing Power Plants Under §111(d) of the Clean Air Act: Program Design and Statutory Authority
By Robert R. Nordhaus and Ilan W. Gutherz

“EPA is establishing carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for existing electric generating units (EGUs) under §111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The prospect of undertaking such a significant regulatory program under the authority of a little-used provision of the law has generated a number of questions about what EPA may and may not do in shaping this new regulatory policy. Although the CAA can be read to authorize EPA to require comprehensive, systemwide emission reductions from EGUs, the fact that so many fundamental legal questions about the scope of EPA’s authority have not yet been conclusively resolved by the courts introduces a level of legal uncertainty that has seldom been seen in the Agency’s 40-plus year history of regulating air pollution.” Read it here.

Analysis of Operational Events and Market Impacts During the January 2014 Cold Weather Events
By PJM Interconnection

“The following report provides the operational planning and actions and the market impacts of the extremely cold weather in the PJM footprint in January 2014. The report consolidates data and responses provided to stakeholders, Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and provides additional analysis that PJM has conducted to better understand and learn from the cold weather operations.” Read it here.

Three Mile Island, and Nuclear Hopes and Fears
By Clyde Haberman, The New York Times

“Yet American attitudes on nuclear power, as measured by opinion polls, are far from irrevocably negative…In the last few years, new ones have been proposed, encouraged by President Obama, who has described nuclear energy as necessary — along with renewable sources like wind and solar — in any plan to wean the country from fossil fuels. The need for swift action would seem greater than ever, given new warnings from a United Nations panel that time is running short for countries to adopt strategies to keep worldwide carbon emissions from reaching intolerable levels.” Read it here.

An Analysis of the Costs, Benefits, and Implications of Different Approaches to Capturing the Value of Renewable Energy Tax Incentives
By Mark Bolinger, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

“This report develops tools and methods to quantify both the costs and benefits of different approaches to capturing the value of the tax benefits generated by representative utility-scale wind and solar projects. It then uses these methods to analyze a variety of plausible future scenarios in which these costs and benefits, and in particular the costs and benefits of tax equity monetization, could change significantly… To the extent that any of the scenarios examined – either alone or in combination – shift the economic balance away from tax equity and towards lower cost sources of capital, or vice versa, they could have significant implications for how (and at what cost) wind and solar power projects are financed, which, in turn, could impact the levelized cost of wind and solar energy.” Read it here.

The New American System
By Jim Manzi, National Affairs

“There is much talk in Washington now about the need for a new era of American innovation to help us break out of an economic rut. But there is far less understanding of the ways in which these cycles of innovation and stagnation have worked, and so of what might be required to revive our economic prospects. By seeing how we’ve managed, time and again, to remake America into an engine of innovation and prosperity, we can better understand the nature of the challenge we now face, the character of the opportunities we may have for addressing it, and the kinds of responses that are most likely to work.” Read it here.

NARUC Joins State Groups in Encouraging EPA to Allow Energy Efficiency in 111d Compliance
By The National Association of Utility Regulatory Commissions (NARUC)

“The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has signed onto principles with two State government associations over how energy efficiency programs could be used as part of a way to comply with upcoming federal emission reduction requirements. … The principles present a flexible framework for the EPA to rely on in considering energy efficiency as one of many options that States incorporate in compliance plans under the proposed guidelines. The document is general by design and encourages EPA to recognize the diverse programs States have already undertaken to reduce emissions and promote cleaner, more efficient use of electricity.” Read it here.

U.S. Oil-Export Ban Is Under Review
By Amy Harder and In-Soo Nam, The Wall Street Journal

“Top Obama administration officials are considering relaxing federal laws banning crude-oil exports, a move that would upend decades-old policy, cause a political stir in Washington and sway the global oil market.” Read it here.

Is the Senate doomed to fail on energy policy?
By Zack Coleman, Washington Examiner

“Congress remains gridlocked on energy, not least because of the chasm between the parties over climate change. That has prompted President Obama to go it alone to address greenhouse gas emissions — but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who disagree with the push on, say, carbon rules for power plants want to have their voices heard.” Read it here.

Cybersecurity Procurement Language for Energy Delivery Systems
By The Energy Sector Control Systems Working Group (ESCSWG)

“Since 2009, the energy sector has continued to evolve as it faces new cybersecurity threats, advancing technologies, and increasingly stringent cybersecurity requirements and practices. In order to help energy sector asset owners and operators communicate expectations and requirements in a clear and repeatable manner, the ESCSWG built upon DHS (2009) to develop the baseline cybersecurity procurement language provided in this document. This language is tailored to the specific needs of the energy sector in order to provide a starting point for energy sector cybersecurity procurements.

“However, as the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve, new threats, technologies, techniques, practices, and requirements may need to be considered during the energy sector procurement process. This document will also need to evolve to meet the challenges of this changing landscape.” Read it here.