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The past year has brought plenty of changes in the energy regulatory landscape, particularly in relation to climate change and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Accounting for the resulting costs of these and other policies by incorporating a CO2 price is now firmly in the realm of best practice for utilities and system operators engaged in long-term energy planning. To assist with such planning and to provide a resource for other stakeholders, Synapse’s CO2 price forecasts simplify the complex process of determining effective CO2 prices by combining our own modeling results with comprehensive analysis of other CO2 prices in use throughout the electricity sector.

The October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on climate change highlights the importance of averting catastrophic climate change. Centrally, it finds that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must reach net zero by 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. With the United States’ announced withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, the future of its commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels is in peril.

Today’s electric system is almost unrecognizable from the electric system a decade ago. Generation from natural gas and renewables has accelerated to replace the rapid and unprecedented retirement of coal-fired generators. Wind, solar, and geothermal electric generating capacity in the United States has now eclipsed capacities from hydroelectric and nuclear resources combined.

On February 6, 2018, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the 2018 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO). The final AEO 2018 contains projections of energy use from the electric power, residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors through 2050. It is important to note that the AEO Reference case is not a forecast, but is instead a projection based on estimates of fuel availability, changes in technology costs, and currently enacted legislation.

The Northeast is going to have to step it up if states want to meet their admirably ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to roughly 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050. While the seven states in question—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont—had by 2015 managed to get their GHG levels down by 19 percent, the approaches they’ve been using won’t be enough. Enter strategic electrification—an approach increasingly recognized as an essential and cost-effective part of deep decarbonization.

Economy-Wide Emissions Modeling for the Real World: Conventional electricity modeling done in isolation no longer cuts it in a world that is rapidly transitioning to a new energy future. As we increasingly electrify our transportation, building heating, and other energy end uses, substantial energy and emissions will be shifted to the electric sector.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s surprising and controversial decision to stay implementation of the Clean Power Plan—which limits the emission of carbon dioxide from existing power plants—here’s a bit of global context (see figure below).

On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a stay on EPA’s Clean Power Plan (click here to learn more about the Clean Power Plan, and click here to learn more about the expected timeline of the stay). This stay calls into question whether some states will continue to implement policies associated with the Clean Power Plan, such as increased renewables and energy efficiency.

Last night, the Supreme Court shocked many of us when it took the unprecedented step of granting a stay of the EPA’s carbon-reducing Clean Power Plan before litigation against the rule has even been heard by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. A stay is essentially a judicial pause button that halts the implementation of a regulation while challenges to it work their way through the court system. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled the D.C.

Environmental justice advocates have a new role to play in their states’ electric-sector planning. In its new rule on carbon emissions from power plants, called the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires states to involve community stakeholders in their compliance planning processes. Underlying this requirement are the often disproportional health and environmental impacts that power plants can have on vulnerable communities.

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