New Fact Sheet Series on Demand Response

November 18, 2014 in Electricity Author: Dane McFarlane

We are pleased to announce the release of a new fact sheet series focused on demand response. As we’ve written about in previous posts, technologies enabling demand response (DR) are an important component of a clean energy system, and we currently have an underutilized DR asset in the Midwest. DR involves reducing or shifting customer energy usage when the system is stressed. This could be during periods of high energy demand with not enough supply like on a hot summer day, or periods of low demand with too much supply, like during a night when the wind is blowing strongly. Continue reading »

Positive Developments in the Search for the Holy Grail of Renewable Energy

November 17, 2014 in Electricity Author: Steve Dahlke

Industry and ProjectsKing Arthur and his loyal knights embark on an arduous, difficult quest to find the Holy Grail. Many perish along the way. After a multitude of trials and tribulations, they find the Grail is hidden in the Castle of “Aaargh!” That is at least how the story goes in the popular 1970’s British satire Monty Python and the Holy Grail (see here for the “Aaargh!” scene). Continue reading »

Patching Up the Seams: Reducing Regional Obstacles in Electricity

November 5, 2014 in Electricity Author: Steve Dahlke

Power LinesChanges in federal law at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the last decade have spurred evolution of the electricity sector away from local power systems and towards increasingly efficient regional interconnections. Expanding the market in this way has been beneficial – it allows the industry to take advantage of economies of scale while adapting to emerging technologies and environmental policies. Continue reading »

Germany’s Energiewende Requires New Electric Infrastructure

October 10, 2014 in Electricity Author: Steve Dahlke

Industry and ProjectsEnergiewende. This German word has been getting lots of attention in recent years. It translates to “Energy Transition,” and represents the country’s commitment to dramatically ramping up renewable energy and energy efficiency while phasing out nuclear power over the next few decades. The target is 80% electricity production from renewables by 2050. Being the world’s fourth largest economy, the rest of the world has taken notice – other nations are watching the German experiment closely as they also contemplate how to decarbonize their energy sectors. Continue reading »

Unexpected Agreement Reached on Power Plant Regulation

January 16, 2014 in Electricity Authors: Brad Crabtree, Franz Litz

Acting on a directive from the President, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently developing draft federal regulations to guide states in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act.  States will use the federal guidelines to devise plans that take into consideration state-specific and regional concerns.  Continue reading »

The Future of Minnesota’s Electric Utilities: The Sequel

November 27, 2013 in Electricity Authors: Mike Bull, Rolf Nordstrom


Environmental Initiative’s recent policy forum on “The future of Minnesota’s Electric Utilities” drew a block-buster crowd—you would have thought they were giving away free beer. Especially for a topic as potentially dry and esoteric as the future of electric utilities, one would have expected a much smaller crowd and the deafening sound of crickets. But the meeting room overlooking the iconic Como Zoo was packed and humming with conversation. Continue reading »