Stephanie Joyce, Wyoming Public Radio

Recent Posts

Why Smart Meters Don’t Make a Smart Grid

Power transmission lines march across the Shirley Basin in central Wyoming.

In 2009, Obama promised to modernize the electric grid, using stimulus money. The new power grid would be smart and efficient, bringing the tech revolution to electricity. It would incorporate more renewable energy. It would have the ability to fix blackouts more quickly. And, it would save customers a whole lot of money. So whatever happened to that plan? (Blackout: Reinventing the Grid #3) Continue Reading →

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When The Largest Machine In The World Fails

The huge, steel transmission towers carrying power to the North Country  collapsed under the weight of the ice during the Ice Storm of 1998.

If you could peer behind an electrical plug in your house, you’d find a massive network of transmission lines and power plants and a whole army of people bringing power to the socket in real-time, 24 hours a day. It’s the largest machine in the world: the power grid. Most of the time it operates invisibly, in the background, but when it fails, it often does so memorably. To most people, those outages seem like isolated events, but when you look at the trend, they're not. (Blackout: Reinventing the Grid #1) Continue Reading →

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Drilling Is Loud, But Are Wyoming Officials Listening?

Don Behrens' company, Environmental Noise Control, specializes in noise control for oil and gas operations, like this production facility in Northern Colorado.

When it comes to oil and gas drilling in urban and suburban areas, the question is often ‘how close is too close?’ That’s been the major point of contention in Wyoming, where the state's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is currently considering a rule to increase the setback distance between oil and gas wells and houses from 350 to 500 feet. Many homeowners would like it to be even further. But distance is only one part of the issue. Continue Reading →

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Solar Economics Looking Sunnier, Even In Coal Country

Holly Copeland in front of the family's house and their newly-installed solar array.

Wyoming's solar potential is among the best in the nation, but even as residential rooftop solar has boomed recently in places like California, Colorado and New Jersey, it's barely made any inroads in the state. Economics and politics both play a role, but with the price of photovoltaics continuing to drop, some people are starting to ask whether momentum is building for solar in nation's largest coal-producing state. Continue Reading →

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Falling Oil Prices Leave Petroleum Engineering Students Out In The Cold

In Vladimir Alvarado's petroleum engineering class, there are no signs enrollment is shrinking, although job prospects are getting slim.

A year ago, a petroleum engineering degree seemed like the ticket to a bright and well-paid future. With six-figure starting salaries for a bachelor’s degree and endless optimism about the shale revolution, enrollment climbed rapidly in petroleum engineering programs across the country. But now that the oil price slide has turned to an oil price slump, the luster is wearing off. Continue Reading →

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4 Things You Need To Know About Wyoming’s Coal Future

This chart shows possible changes in Wyoming coal production if the Clean Power Plan, also called 111(d) is implemented. The blue and green lines are "reference scenarios," or what coal production is expected to be without the Clean Power Plan. The red and black dotted lines, along with the solid dark grey line, examine the impact of a carbon tax, something that is often discussed as an alternative to the Clean Power Plan. The scenarios labeled 111(d) model the effects of the Clean Power Plan, with and without regional cooperation and energy efficiency.

This week, researchers at the University of Wyoming offered a preview of a major new study that details potential threats to Wyoming’s coal industry. The final version won’t be out until the end of the month, but lead author Rob Godby sat down with Inside Energy for an interview. He described his reaction to the results as “the guy looking into the telescope and the being the first one to see the asteroid.” Continue Reading →

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From ‘Fiscal Apocalypse’ To ‘Meh’ : Oil States Respond To Price Slide

Wyoming's State Capitol

Budgets of oil states are going to be hard hit by the recent slide in oil prices. Measured in dollars, Texas is the clear loser, but in terms of actual on-the-ground impacts, it’s not quite so simple. In the country’s number two oil producing state, North Dakota, falling prices have barely caused a ripple, while in Alaska (ranked fourth), lawmakers are calling it a “fiscal apocalypse.” Continue Reading →

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