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.

Duke Sophomores Aim to Transform Cold Storage in India

The Hult Prize, the world’s largest social entrepreneurship competition for college students, advertises itself as the “Nobel Prize for social entrepreneurs.” Now a Duke team—mPower—is heading to the Hult finals with an idea to address India’s shortage of agricultural cold storage solutions by offering a novel storage and distribution network that compensates farmers and simplifies the supply chain. To get here, team member Harshvardhan Sanghi, a Duke mechanical engineering major, told Duke Today that "we leveraged our resources at Duke, including the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative as well as the newly launched Energy Access Project. Our network of mentors helped us flesh out minute details within our business model, clarify logistics, and improve the viability of our proposed technology.”

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. 

project team in front of capitol

Farms and Forests: The Future of Federal Climate Policy?

Three Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' researchers are partnering on a Bass Connections project that explores how the Mid-Century Decarbonization Strategy could be turned into concrete policy for U.S. forests and agriculture. Student team member, Alex Rudee, discusses that work to develop policy proposals for carbon sequestration in U.S. forests, agricultural lands and wetlands in a new blog post.

Ways Forward for Duke on Climate Neutrality

“The university can lead by not just focusing on reducing emissions but by emphasizing things that catalyze change outside the university,” said Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions during a climate forum on Duke's progress toward its commitment to becoming climate neutral by 2024. The forum explored the major steps still to be taken toward the goal. The most promising of steps include fueling on-campus steam plants with directed biogas from North Carolina swine farms.

Marc Edwards on the Lie Behind the Flint Water Crisis

Marc Edwards, the civil engineering professor who helped to expose the Flint Water Crisis, gave a talk on “Truth-Seeking in an Age of Tribalism: Lessons from the Flint Water Crisis” on April 9. Edwards, a Macarthur Fellow as well as a Presidential Faculty Fellow, was short-listed for Time’s Person of the Year honor in 2016, and received the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility in 2018. Edwards’ talk was the 2018 Ferguson Family Distinguished Lectureship in the Environment and Society, presented annually by the Nicholas School of the Environment, and was co-sponsored by the Duke School of Law, the Sanford School of Public Policy, and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Hog Waste In NC Has Been A Relatively Untapped Fuel Source. Until Now.

NPR reports that the North Carolina biogas industry began with a promise by Duke University, citing a 2013 study by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions that found the directed biogas approach could lower the cost of swine biogas to as little as 5 cents a kilowatt hour, which is roughly the same price as solar power. Duke University is interested in lowering the price of renewable natural gas because it has a goal of bringing all its emissions to zero by 2024.