Saturday, April 23, 2016

Energy & Water Roundup

Consumer Group Opposes Missouri Energy Rate Reform Bill

The Midwest Energy Consumer Group (MECG) has come out in opposition of HB2689 (and its parallel in the Missouri Senate, SB1028), which would make significant changes to the way electric rates are regulated in the Missouri. The group claims that the bill would remove the voice of customers from the electric rate setting process and pave the way for regular, uncontested rate increases. The Office of Public Counsel, which officially represents customers in Missouri utility rate cases, expressed concern that the bill might limit the ability of the agency, as well as the state’s Public Service Commission, to review rate increases.

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Senate Passes Energy Bill

The U.S. Senate passed its first major energy bill in a decade. The bill emphasizes development of alternative energy, natural gas, and lesser used sources such as geothermal and hydropower. It also focuses on energy efficiency and safety. The bill will need to be reconciled with the energy bill passed in the House of Representatives, which differs significantly, particularly in its approach to fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas). Senate leaders are confident they can work out differences with the House and develop a compromise bill that can pass both chambers latter this year.

What Is a Microgrid?

I’m seeing a lot about microgrids in utility publications and on the Internet. I thought it might be worthwhile to write something that could serve as an introduction to the subject for those who are unfamiliar with it, as well as educate myself in the process. I intend this to be the first in a series of short posts on the subject.

Let’s start with the basics. What is a microgrid?

A microgrid is a local energy grid that can disconnect from the larger grid and operate independently. It connects to the main grid at a location where the voltage of the two systems can be maintained at the same level. A switching system can manually or automatically switch the connection on or off.

Though the name “microgrid” implies something small, size is not a defining point. Microgrids are defined by
-local control, and
-functioning both connected to and disconnected from the main grid.

If you’re interested in finding out more about microgrids, here are some resources to get you started.

A Little Sewer History

The Guardian posted an article on the Great Stink of 1858 and how it prompted officials in London to improve the city’s overwhelmed system of handling storm water and wastewater. The Thames of that time was a stinking mess of sewage and a hazard to health. The sewer system devised by Joseph Bazalgette was a marvel of the age (and much of it is still in use) that moved wastewater discharges away from the populated areas around London.

You can read this very good article here. If it whets your appetite to find out more about this project, you may also want to read Dreams of Iron and Steel by Debora Cadbury. The Great Stink by Clare Clark is a fictional thriller set during this time that partly takes place in the changing sewers of London.

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