CPR Archive for Lesley McAllister

The Reliability of the Sun and the Wind

by Lesley McAllister | April 17, 2013

The following is reposted from the Environmental Law Prof Blog.

The electric utility industry often complains that renewable energy proponents don’t pay enough attention to the intermittency of renewable resources.  A common refrain is “the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.”  The industry then reminds us that, for a reliable electricity grid, supply and demand must be in balance at all times. The implication is that this will be impossible if we rely heavily on renewable energy.

A new report published by the Civil Society Institute models a year 2050 scenario in which renewable energy is used to generate about half of all electricity in the US, and the lights still reliably come on.  In the scenario, about 22% of demand is met by solar (almost all PV), 16% by wind, 8% by hydro, and 5% by biomass. The rest is supplied primarily by natural gas and nuclear energy.  The scenario includes no coal-fired generation.

The authors explain that the intermittency problem of solar and wind is greatly reduced when you consider generation on a regional rather than local scale. Also, weatherpeople are actually pretty good at forecasting available solar resources (i.e. cloud cover) and wind resources (i.e. wind speed) on the time scale that’s needed for sophisticated grid operators to balance supply and demand – namely, several hours ahead of time.  It also helps that as a general matter, solar electricity is most plentiful and reliable when we most use electricity: ...

Subsidizing in Spurts: Our Production Tax Credit Policy, or Lack Thereof

by Lesley McAllister | February 12, 2013
Taxes and energy are subject to constant partisan debate. Both are at play in politically-charged discussions about the government’s role in promoting renewable energy, particularly wind energy. Since 1992, the federal government has granted a production tax credit (PTC) (currently 2.2¢ per kilowatt/hour (kWh)) for production of certain renewable energy. The credit initially focused on wind, closed-loop biomass, and poultry-waste energy resources; in 2004 Congress expanded the program to include open-loop biomass, geothermal, and several other renewable energy sources. With ...

Obama on Clean Energy: Actions Speak

by Lesley McAllister | November 02, 2012
Cross-posted from Environmental Law Prof Blog. Unlike climate change, clean energy policy has received a fair bit of attention in the presidential campaign. Obama made clear that he supports renewable energy as part of his "all of the above" approach, while Romney would end an important federal subsidy for wind power and otherwise increase reliance on coal, oil and gas. But for those who are disappointed that Obama didn’t say more about our need to transition away from fossil fuel ...

The End of the Acid Rain Program

by Lesley McAllister | July 12, 2011
Cross-posted from Environmental Law Prof Blog. Do you realize that the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency  last week represents the end of the famed Acid Rain Program? It's a good thing because the Acid Rain Program had outlived its usefulness by several years and its allowance market had collapsed. Legislated into existence by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the Acid Rain Program (ARP) was a major experiment with cap-and-trade regulation. It began in ...

Energy Efficiency on the Rebound?

by Lesley McAllister | March 24, 2011
Cross-posted from Environmental Law Prof Blog. Energy efficiency policy is one of the few areas where we might still expect some progress at the federal level toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next few years.  Predictably, energy efficiency has become the target of criticism. Republican senators argue that phasing out inefficient incandescent light bulbs is anti-consumer even though it would save consumers money on their energy bills.  And in a New York Times article, John Tierney took aim at ...

Also from Lesley McAllister

Lesley K. McAllister is a Professor of Law at the UC Davis School of Law.

The Reliability of the Sun and the Wind

McAllister | Apr 17, 2013 | Environmental Policy

Obama on Clean Energy: Actions Speak

McAllister | Nov 02, 2012 | Climate Change

The End of the Acid Rain Program

McAllister | Jul 12, 2011 | Environmental Policy

Energy Efficiency on the Rebound?

McAllister | Mar 24, 2011 | Regulatory Policy

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