The instant analysis following Donald Trump’s surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election was that renewable energy would take a hit and fossil fuels would prosper. I think that is a vast over-simplification, but that is a topic for a later post. The question of the day is what will happen to the nation’s nuclear sector.
For the past several years, the Nuclear Energy Institute has worked tirelessly to broaden support for the industry by touting the technology’s importance in providing carbon-free electricity. And the industry has a valid point; the U.S.’ roughly 100 operating plants accounted for more than 60 percent of the nation’s emissions-free electric generation in 2015. According to NEI, nuclear generation avoided 564 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions last year, which it said is roughly equivalent to taking all the automobiles in the U.S. off the road.
Continue reading Trump Administration
May Be A Nightmare
For Nuclear Power
Attitude is everything. In business, when confronted with a new proposal, you essentially have two options, look at the issue and say—`No, we can’t do that, because….’—or—`That’s an interesting idea, let’s take a look.’ In the utility industry, far too often and for far too long, the prevailing attitude has been to just say no. However, if the industry is to survive in something like its current form, that attitude simply has to change—every new idea isn’t by default a good idea, but dismissing all new ideas out of hand is a recipe for disaster.
One utility that has gotten this message is Xcel Energy, the Minneapolis-based company that serves 3.5 million electric customers through four operating companies in eight states, including Minnesota. Long a proponent of renewable energy—Frank Prager, then the company’s vice president of environmental affairs told me in an interview in 2007 that the company’s wind resources were “a beautiful thing”—the company last month outlined a progressive approach to dealing with changing customer expectations, new technologies and tightening environmental standards in a filing with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The filing—titled Upper Midwest Resource Plan, 2016-2030—should be required reading for executives across the industry (a copy can be found here).
Continue reading Xcel’s Can-Do Attitude
A Refreshing Approach
In Utility Industry
Critics of EPA’s pending carbon dioxide regulations harp on the same tired phrases: “The control technology isn’t commercially available.’’ “The rules will cost too much.’’ “The regulations will devastate the coal industry and force utilities to close their coal plants.’’ At hearing after hearing on Capitol Hill this year, these tropes have been tossed out as fact by critical congressmen and industry officials—but are they? Is the control technology available? How much will it cost? And what impact will it have on the coal and utility industries?
The Importance of Technology
We will get to those questions in a minute, but first I want you to look carefully at the chart below and tell me what’s missing. Take your time, it’s important.
Figured it out yet? Well, if not, don’t be ashamed, it really is just an indicator of how quickly technology can change the status quo. What’s missing is the state of Pennsylvania.
Continue reading Utility Industry Is
Wasting Time, Money
In Opposing CO2 Rules