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 →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

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 →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

WY Team Working To Save Both Sage Grouse And Industry

Male Greater sage-grouse battle for dominance on a lek, the largest in Colorado, in Moffat County, on April 8, 2015. Landowner Wes McStay manages the land for both cattle and grouse by employing rotational grazing techniques.

A listing of the greater sage grouse under the endangered species act could deeply affect the industries making up the backbone of the Western economy like agriculture, oil and gas and mining. An unprecedented collection of stakeholders across 11 states are working to save the bird’s population before the federal government steps in. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

After The Boom, Bringing Back The Forests

Researchers from Penn State University and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have created a mock wellpad to study ways to reclaim forest land disturbed by gas development.

In the seven years since Marcellus Shale gas companies began working in Pennsylvania’s state forests, none of the nearly 1,700 affected acres has been fully restored and put back the way it was before drilling began. Now state foresters and Penn State scientists are trying to plan for the future and help gas companies figure out the best ways to clean up after themselves. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Colorado Communities Feel Pinch In Severance Tax Loss

Weld County, one of the centers of the oil boom in Colorado, received $14,507,445 in direct severance tax funds in 2014, and nearly as much in grants. Some of those funds are used to mitigate the impacts of industry in the county, like increased truck traffic.

Severance taxes are what energy companies pay to the state for the oil, gas, coal, or other minerals they take out of the ground. Each year that adds up to a lot of cash. In Colorado, half of that money is supposed to go back to cities and counties impacted by energy development. Many people were not happy this year when when Colorado lawmakers voted to take $20 million away from the state’s severance tax fund for the 2015/2016 state budget. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,