Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh


Policy Watch


Anticipated DOE study on electricity markets confirms natural gas is driving major changes

A highly‑anticipated study of the U.S. electrical grid titled "Staff Report to the Secretary on Electricity Markets and Grid Reliability." was publicly released by the Department of Energy (DOE) in August.  Requested by DOE Secretary Rick Perry in an April memo, the study was to look at whether the original policy assumptions used to create wholesale electricity markets are still true and still maintaining reliability, and to determine if regulatory burdens are causing the premature closure of coal and nuclear plants (also called “baseload” generation).

The report found that the primary contributor to baseload plant retirements has been “low-cost, abundant natural gas and the development of highly-efficient NGCC plants” that can be built and dispatched relatively easily.  However, the report also commented that the market framework is set up such that “some generation technologies originally designed to operate as baseload were not intended to operate flexibly, and in nuclear power’s case, do not have a regulatory regime that allows them to do so,” and says that markets “must evolve to continue to compensate reliability”.

Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the independent entity responsible for setting the rules for wholesale energy markets, it is not immediately clear what action DOE can take to implement the recommendations from the report.

The DOE report also notes that “society places value on attributes of electricity provision beyond those compensated by the current design of the wholesale market”  such as “jobs, community economic development, low emissions, local tax payments, resilience, energy security, or the national security benefits”.   Because of this, many state, local, and private actors have taken actions to try to affect the market to address these values on their own.

To that end, last year the Brattle Group was commissioned to evaluate the “Pennsylvania Nuclear Power Plants’ Contribution to the State Economy” by a consortium of partners from across the state, including PA Building and Construction Trades Council, the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.  The Brattle study found that the nine reactors across the state account for approximately 16,000 direct and secondary full-time jobs, about $400 million annually to state and federal tax revenues, and that by producing about 40% of the total electricity in the state, lowers overall electricity costs by approximately $788 million per year and prevents the emission of 37 million tons of CO2 a year that would occur if replaced by coal and natural gas.

Read more:

DOE releases highly anticipated grid study, faults natural gas for baseload retirements (UtilityDive)

Event Watch

Shale Insight 2017
September 27-28, 2017
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Pittsburgh, PA

Shale Insight 2017 is the premier conference dedicated to shale gas development. Take advantage of engaging and educational keynote addresses delivered by industry leaders, technical and public affairs panel sessions, access to influential executives and innovators, an exhibition hall featuring industry products and services, a technology showcase, a natural gas poster session and numerous networking opportunities. The conference will take place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. 

Register and view the conference speakers, sponsors, and full agenda at

Information Session: Allegheny Cleantech University Prize Collegiate Competition
October 2, 2017, 12:00 PM to 1:20 PM
Marquis Conference Room, Scott Hall 5201,
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Calling all future clean energy entrepreneurs and innovative students from across the region! Do you have an idea for a product or service focused on renewable energy or energy efficiency? Are you interested in competing for $50,000? Attend the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation’s Information Session to learn more about the 2018 Allegheny Region Cleantech University Prize (CUP) Collegiate Competition. Lunch will be provided.

Register and find more information here:

TransTech Energy Business Development Conference
October 24 - 25, 2017
Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh/Southpointe
1000 Corporate Dr, Canonsburg, PA 15317

The TransTech Energy Business Development Conference promotes investment in new companies that can provide solutions to energy, environmental, and economic development challenges such as creating new jobs and more competitive industries. The Scott Institute for Energy Innovation is a proud academic partner.

Learn more, register to attend,or apply to make a pitch:

EPIC 2017: The Global Grid
November 13-14, 2017
Doubletree by Hilton & The Energy Innovation Center
Downtown Pittsburgh

The Electric Power Industry Conference at the Swanson School of Engineering continues to lead the way in exploring energy production and delivery potential.  EPIC welcomes industry leaders, regional investors, researchers, academics and students to a two-day event to discuss and debate the opportunities and challenges of our industry. As the Pittsburgh region transforms into one of the nation's centers for energy production and delivery, the Power and Energy Initiative at the Swanson School of Engineering continues to lead the way in exploring the industry's potential. EPIC is presented by the Electric Power & Energy Initiative, established in 2007 to provide innovative education and collaborative research that benefits both academia and industry.

Register and view speakers and the agenda at

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