U.S. Energy News

Polar vortex strains grid, natural gas supply

POLAR VORTEX: Extreme cold is putting the systems of grid operators PJM and MISO to the test while stoking debate over resilience with federal regulators. (Utility Dive)

ALSO:
• As U.S. homes and businesses use record amounts of natural gas, Marcellus and Utica shale production was down due to the freeze. (Reuters)
• Utilities in Minnesota and Michigan ask customers to turn down thermostats after a service interruption and compressor station fire. (WCCO, Detroit News)
• Large automakers temporarily suspend operations at several Michigan plants to conserve energy during the extreme cold. (Reuters)

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WIND:
An Oklahoma wind farm partners with Budweiser’s parent company to help power this weekend’s Super Bowl in Atlanta. (Oklahoman)
• The U.S. wind industry is pushing hard to make the most of falling costs, technological improvements and an expiring federal tax credit. (JOC.com)

SOLAR:
• Kansas utility customers with solar installations get creative about conserving energy to avoid demand charges. (Energy News Network)
• Communities of color disproportionately miss out on the benefits of rooftop solar, according to a new study. (CityLab)
New Jersey is remaking its system for subsidizing solar power amid criticism that current price rules are hindering the industry’s growth. (Asbury Park Press)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• Long-range electric vehicles are expected to surpass hybrids as the most economical choice for ride-hailing drivers by 2025, according to a new report. (Energy News Network)
• In the past three years, 14 states have enacted annual registration fees on electric vehicles ranging from $50 to $200 to make up for lost gasoline tax revenue. (Governing)

SMART GRID: Consumer advocates, utilities and technology developers are working on ways to make energy usage data from smart meters more useful to customers. (Energy News Network)

OIL & GAS:
• Nearly half the members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee members are personally invested in oil, gas and coal companies. (Sludge)
The BLM will move forward with the sale of oil and gas leases near a national park in New Mexico considered sacred to Native Americans. (Associated Press)
• One of the largest oil services providers looks to expand in wind and solar as it sees a “tipping point” toward a post-fossil fuel world. (Bloomberg)

PIPELINES:
• Minnesota police have spent 18 months preparing for a major standoff with protesters over Enbridge’s plan to replace Line 3. (The Intercept)
• An appeals court stays a decision against U.S. Forest Service permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. (Reuters)
• Two proposed pipelines could bring 1.3 million barrels of crude oil to refineries and export terminals in Houston by 2021. (Houston Chronicle)

FRACKING: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy calls for a total ban on fracking and fracking waste in the Delaware River Basin. (NJ Spotlight)

COAL:
• More than half of U.S. coal mines have closed in the last decade as demand for fossil fuels decreases, according to the Energy Department. (Houston Chronicle)
• Colorado’s new attorney general says the state will withdraw from a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s plan to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. (Associated Press)
• A South Carolina utility has no plans to retire a coal-fired power plant despite calls from its largest customer to do so. (S&P Global)

NUCLEAR: Federal officials confirm they secretly shipped plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada, angering state officials there. (The Nevada Independent)

AVIATION: Supersonic aircraft could cut hours off long-haul flights but also produce more greenhouse gas emissions. (The Guardian)

UTILITIES: A ballot initiative that would break up Florida’s monopoly utilities and let residents produce their own power heads to the state Supreme Court. (PV Magazine)

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CLIMATE:
• A Nashville city council member pushes solar and climate policies to help make the city the greenest in the Southeast. (Nashville Scene)
Boston will begin efforts to reduce transportation emissions as part of a Climate Action Plan designed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. (NGT News)

COMMENTARY:
• Is 100 percent renewable energy possible? Yes, but the devil is in the details, write a policy advisor and executive with the Environmental Working Group. (Utility Dive)
The electricity industry’s troubling trend to overbuild gas-fired power plants is only getting worse, says an energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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