Climate and Energy Program News

Have 101 Utilities Cut their Rates Thanks to the GOP Tax Bill?

PolitiFact unpacks a tweet by President Donald Trump that indicated “101 utilities cut rates, credit GOP tax cuts.” They report that his statement, while mostly true, glosses over the role of energy regulations that mandate that utility savings be passed along to customers. It quotes Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions faculty fellow Billy Pizer: “Rates are set by public utility commissions through rate-making processes that would clearly identify the reasons for the rate change, up or down.”

Catalyst Program Funding will Advance Five Duke Research Projects

Catalyst Program Funding will Advance Five Duke Research Projects

Five projects received funding in the second year of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Catalyst Program.

The program aims to build on the Nicholas Institute’s mission by increasing engagement with Duke University faculty to incubate and advance new partnerships, enhance policy-relevant knowledge, and create innovative policy solutions based on new creative synergies. Funded in the program’s second year:

Duke Infrastructure Course

Authors Discuss Research on the Nutrition and Food Security Contributions of Capture Fisheries

Author Discusses Research on the Nutrition and Food Security Contributions of Capture Fisheries

Capture (wild caught) fisheries are undoubtedly one of the world’s important food systems, providing nearly one-fifth of the average per capita animal protein intake for more than 3.1 billion people as well as essential micronutrients—vitamins and minerals—and omega-3 fatty acids that are needed to end malnutrition and reduce the burden of communicable and non-communicable disease around the world. Yet the contributions of these fisheries to food and nutrition security remain relatively absent from a range of policy dialogues critical to helping the sector do more to end hunger and malnutrition say the authors of the new report Contribution of Fisheries to Food and Nutrition Security: Current Knowledge, Policy, and Research. It suggests that support of capture fisheries’ contributions could require development of policies to ensure the sustainability of resources and to recognize tradeoffs and synergies between conservation and food security objectives. Developing these policies will require a better understanding of the drivers and threats to these fisheries. 

PJM Meeting Speakers

Workshop Participants Say Technology, People Drive Change in PJM

What are the primary drivers of change in the PJM region? Technology and people. That was the message from air and energy regulators from states in the PJM electricity market when they descended on Washington, D.C. May 2-3, to study regional trends alongside utilities, other power providers, investors, and advocates. The expert stakeholder workshop was co-sponsored by the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

How Big can New England's Regional Cap-and-Trade Program Get?

The first U.S. cap and trade program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector has proven so successful that some supporters are now wondering if it ought to go national, reports Utility Dive. The article cites an analysis by the Nicholas Institute showing that without the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, emissions would have been 24 percent higher. 

Powelson Sees ‘Erosion of Confidence’ in Stakeholder Process ($)

Robert Powelson of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Wednesday reiterated his defense of organized markets but said he sees an “erosion of confidence” in RTO stakeholder processes, reports RTO Insider. Powelson, who made the observation in a speech at a PJM issues workshop sponsored by the Great Plains Institute and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. He cited concerns over escalating transmission rates and PJM’s February “jump ball” filing of two competing proposals for insulating its capacity market from state-subsidized generation. 

FERC's Powelson Cautions on use of 1950 Law to Help Coal ($)

A top federal energy regulator is warning against the use of a 1950 wartime law as a way to subsidize the continued operation of coal and nuclear plants that are unable to make money in today's electricity markets. Robert Powelson, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said Wednesday at an event on PJM Interconnection energy and environment issues sponsored by the Great Plains Institute and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions that invoking the Defense Production Act "would lead to the unwinding of competitive markets in this country." Using the law, reports EnergyWire, to save uneconomical coal and nuclear plants "would be the greatest federal moral hazard we've seen in years and something that would be the wrong direction for us to venture down," Powelson added.

Achieving Universal Energy Access by Closing the Gap between What We Know and What We Do

In a Brookings blog post, Duke University Energy Access Project staff write about a three-year study of more than 77,500 papers on energy access and the internationally agreed on Sustainable Development Goals. Marc Jeuland of Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy and Energy Access Project Director Jonathan Phillips will present findings from this work in Lisbon, Portugal, at the fourth Sustainable Energy for All Forum May 2-3. 

Energy as the Golden Thread: What do we Know?

Energy as the Golden Thread: What Do We Know?

Energy has been called the “golden thread” connecting economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability—but what do we know about the drivers and impacts of energy transitions in low- and middle-income countries? To answer this question, the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative, the Duke University Energy Access Project and Environment for Development, characterized nearly 80,000 academic articles related to the social dimensions of energy and development to produce a systematic, broad in coverage, and replicable “energy services” framework. This new research highlights how changes in energy access and technology most clearly affect outcomes in 9 of the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and it defines the critical research knowledge gaps to help policy makers better understand how energy relates to end users’ well-being.

Portrait of Doug Scott

State and Federal Leaders to Discuss Energy and Environmental Developments in the PJM Region

In a blog post, the Great Plains Institute's Doug Scott discusses Energy and Environmental Developments in the PJM Region, an event taking place in Washington, D.C., on May 2. Organized by the Great Plains Institute and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, the event will focus on the increasingly complex task utilities and regulators face  when responding to the changing power generation mix. 

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