ESRC E3 Project Profiles

The ESRC E3 Project Profiles provide a detailed look at E3 (Economy, Energy, Environment) projects recently completed or currently under way in EPA Regions 3 and 4. The information, gathered primarily from the ESRC February 2014 survey, will help our respective programs network and develop responsive, coordinated efforts for achieving E3 goals.

Aspinall Courthouse: GSA’s Historic Preservation and Net-Zero Renovation

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Case study details the General Services Administration’s (GSA) decision to align historic preservation renovations with net-zero energy goals in the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Final Report: Implications of EPA’s Proposed “Clean Power Plan”: Analyzing consumer impacts of the draft rule

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This report has been prepared by Synapse Energy Economics (Synapse), pursuant to a grant from the Energy Foundation, to enable National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) members to better understand the consumer impacts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan.

Consumers will ultimately shoulder most of the costs of new environmental initiatives. NASUCA’s members are designated by the laws of their respective jurisdictions to represent the interests of utility consumers in their states. Robust participation by NASUCA members in the decision-making processes which form and implement the Plan is therefore essential to assure that costs are not incurred unnecessarily and to assure that consumers receive the best possible value for money spent.

Recognizing that stakeholders have a wide range of reactions to the EPA’s Plan, the intent of this report is not to take positions as to the Plan’s substance or to comprehend every conceivable issue consumers in a particular state might face. Nor does the report in any way represent the distilled opinions of NASUCA’s membership. Just as individual states will vary in their responses to the Plan, the intent of this report is to be a common resource to help all of NASUCA’s members think through a broad range of potential implications of various compliance approaches to their respective consumers whatever their individual state’s positions.

State Implementation of CO2 Rules: Institutional and Practical Issues with State and Multi-State Implementation and Enforcement

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This Release 2.0 of our Section 111(d) White Paper incorporates feedback from the original paper, and also updates the analysis to include the Notice of Data Availability (NODA), issued by EPA on October 28, 2014. Release 2.0 also synthesizes our thinking from the three additional white papers addressing existing state legislation, general state institutional issues, and specific issues with municipal utilities and cooperatives.

We continue to foresee significant institutional challenges for the states. States will still need to:

  • Pass enabling legislation to implement the proposed rule at the state level.
  • Construct institutional arrangements between the universe of regulators (public utility commissions (PUCs), environmental regulators, gubernatorial energy offices) in a state statutory and administrative context.
  • Obtain and concentrate jurisdiction in the appropriate regulatory bodies over all affected entities, including in many states non-jurisdictional entities like cooperatives and municipal utilities.
  • Institute carbon-driven resource planning and dispatch in restructured markets to ensure adequate capacity and reliability.
  • Structure enforceable and constitutional multi-state Section 111(d) plans with interstate enforcement mechanisms, which may well require Congressionally-approved interstate compacts to satisfy EPA state plan approval criteria.

This Release 2.0 focuses on developments since the initial release, specifically individual state institutional
analyses, reliability issues, and potential changes to the proposed CO2 Emission Guidelines from the NODA.

New report looks at the natural gas flaring boom

From the Western Organization of Research Council’s web site:

Surging oil production in shale hot spots, like the Bakken in North Dakota and Eagle Ford in Texas, has increased waste of natural gas through flaring, venting, and leaking.

WORC’s new report, The Flaring Boom, examines the causes and effects of flaring, venting, and leaking of natural gas by examining efforts to curtail these wasteful practices in Alaska, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.

“Flaring lowers quality of life in oil-producing communities through increased air pollution, deprives royalty payments to those owning the rights to the natural gas, and contributes to climate change,” said Donald Nelson, a rancher from Keene, N.D., and Chair of WORC’s Oil and Gas Campaign Team.

Nelson has 30 to 40 flares on his ranch. “It’s easy to count them at night,” he said.

An Assessment of the Energy-Efficiency Gap and its Implications for Climate-Change Policy

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Discussion Paper ES 2014-3, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

This Discussion Paper is the third in an annual series supported by the Enel Foundation addressing important topics in international climate policy.

The Harvard Project will co-sponsor a side event, based in part on this paper, at the Twentieth Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima, Peru on Monday, December 8, 2014. For details see here.

Improving end-use energy efficiency—that is, the energy-efficiency of individuals, households, and firms as they consume energy—is often cited as an important element in efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. Arguments for improving energy efficiency usually rely on the idea that energy-efficient technologies will save end users money over time and thereby provide low-cost or no-cost options for reducing GHG emissions. However, some research suggests that energy-efficient technologies appear not to be adopted by consumers and businesses to the degree that would seem justified, even on a purely financial basis. We review in this paper the evidence for a range of explanations for this apparent “energy-efficiency gap.” We find most explanations are grounded in sound economic theory, but the strength of empirical support for these explanations varies widely. Retrospective program evaluations suggest the cost of GHG abatement varies considerably across different energy-efficiency investments and can diverge substantially from the predictions of prospective models. Findings from research on the energy-efficiency gap could help policy makers generate social and private benefits from accelerating the diffusion of energy-efficient technologies—including reduction of GHG emissions.

New Global Warming Remedy: Turning Rangelands into Carbon-Sucking Vacuums

Read the full story from UC Berkeley.

Studies conducted on a ranch in the heart of Marin County and led by UC Berkeley researchers and alums seem to confirm what home gardeners have long suspected: Compost really can save the world.