Policy Watch: U.S. Senate is pushing forward the stalled Energy Reform Package

After being bogged down by funding amendments for Flint, MI and other issues, the “Energy Policy Modernization Act” has been resurrected and is expected to be brought up for a vote before the U.S. Senate today (Tuesday).  This bill represents the first broad legislative attempt to address growing issues for the nation’s energy sector since 2007.   It has generally seen bipartisan support as it has made its way through committees since originally introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) last year.

Currently at 424 printed pages, there’s a lot of ground covered in this package.  In addition to updating language and definitions around various energy resources, the bill requires that DOE conduct new studies to answer questions about grid reliability, lays out support for workforce training programs (including those for displaced coal workers), and would require DOE to issue final determinations on LNG terminal applications within 45 days (some LNG terminal applications have been pending for more than 4 years).

Hoping to improve the Federal government’s role in spurring innovation, it is also worth noting that the bill attempts to make it easier for small businesses to access the National Labs, and increases the authorizations for the Office of Science in the U.S. Department of Energy, ARPA-E, and the Army Corp of Engineers.

Access a current copy of the bill here.  Read more about the anticipated amendments under consideration for this bill here.

4/20/2016 UPDATE:  Senate has passed this bill, which must now be reconciled with the House version.  Read more


WPXI’s Our Region’s Business: On Location at CMU’s “Energy Week”

Catch the show on Sunday, May 1 at 11:00 a.m. on WPXI-TV


IMG_0889-2Last month, Our Region’s Business, a co-production of the Allegheny Conference and WPXI-TV, hit the road to record a special edition of the program at CMU’s inaugural “Energy Week.” The show was shot inside the newest edition to the campus, Scott Hall, the home of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. CMU and the Scott Institute are helping to put Oakland and the Pittsburgh region at the epicenter of a revolution in energy research. Not only are we central to enormous fossil fuel reserves – both coal and natural gas – but researchers at CMU are at the frontier of wind, solar, smart grid and intelligent building design

Guests featured on the broadcast include:

  • Dr. Jared Cohon, former president of CMU, and now the director of the Scott Institute
  • Dr. Jay Whitacre, founder and CTO of Aquion Energy, and a professor at CMU
  • Dr. Erica Cochran, UDream program director at the Remaking Cities Institute

The show airs Sunday, May 1 at 11:00 a.m. on WPXI-TV.


Our Region’s Business is a Sunday-morning business affairs program co-produced by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and WPXI-TV that aims to play a positive role in the Pittsburgh region by providing business news, information and commentary in a lively and entertaining format. The program is hosted by veteran broadcast journalist Bill Flanagan, who is chief corporate relations officer at the Allegheny Conference and its affiliated organizations. 

Folks gathered in the hallway surrounded by mock-ups of the future space.

University of Pittsburgh announces plans for new space at Energy Innovation Center

This morning the University of Pittsburgh along with its Swanson School of Engineering and the Center for Energy are announced plans for innovative research space at the Pittsburgh Gateways Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

The soft launch event, marketed as a chance for “Coffee and Conversation with Chancellor Gallagher“, was an informal opportunity for the Chancellor to make a few comments about the goals of the off-campus partnership, and speak to the opportunities the location would provide the university.

“We’re celebrating a new beginning,” remarked Chancellor Gallagher.  “Energy is one of those core enablers to our modern life…and an area of great opportunity.  Innovation is a team sport, and this space will help the university play a role in achieving this.”

The plan is for the University of Pittsburgh to occupy 19,000 sq ft of the building, with separate labs dedicated to performing research in collaboration with industry partners.

Dr. Greg Reed, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Energy, made some additional remarks about what the much-anticipated new lab space means for the greater Pittsburgh region.

“Energy resources, technology, and development have been a huge part of our region’s heritage,” said Dr. Reed.  “We will have some of the most advanced facilities here…of anywhere in the country.”  The labs will include space for the application of high-voltage power electronics, batteries, advanced materials, and also an energy-related incubator space.

Dr. Reed also commented on how the space will allow the University to foster industry partnerships, and the thanked several businesses for their support to get them this far, including Eaton, Duquesne Light, Universal Electric, Emerson Process Management, Ansys, and Dominion.

The space is in the process of being built out, and is expected to be fully ready for occupancy by this time next year.

Photos from the event

You’re invited to the first CMU “Energy Week” – March 14-18 2016

Carnegie Mellon’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation invites members of the public, students, industry, non-governmental organizations, and foundations to attend our first Energy Week!

Energy Week is on March 14-18, 2016 at Carnegie Mellon University’s campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Each day of Energy Week has a theme: energy research, policy, innovation, education (including an Energy Tech Expo), and Field Trips!   See our interesting and unique agenda here.

We will be joined by interesting keynote speakers such as Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Deputy Secretary, and Lynn Orr, Under Secretary for Science and Energy, of the U.S. Department of Energy; and Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College, an organization that teaches women in rural villages how to install and maintain solar collectors.  You’ll also hear from interesting Carnegie Mellon researchers talking about energy’s hot topics!

For Policy Day, we are inviting the candidates for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat and surrogates for the candidates for U.S. President to discuss their views on energy policy.  Participants will also be able to discuss the issue of the optimal mix of energy technologies for Pennsylvania’s electricity in a Deliberative Democracy Event.

On Innovation Day, college students from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland will compete for the $50,000 Allegheny Region CleanTech University Prize!  Come to cheer on students from your alma mater.

Throughout, key stakeholders can participate in roundtables on a variety of “hot” energy policy topics:

  • Energy Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Southwest Pennsylvania Energy Workforce
  • Industry Energy Efficiency
  • CMU Faculty/Industry “Brain Swap”:  An Exchange of Information and Perspectives on Energy Research and Education at CMU.

Energy-related industries and organizations are encouraged to participate in the Energy Technology Expo and host Energy Week Field Trips, so that members of the public, students, and other participants can learn more about their companies’ energy business and technology.  This is also a good opportunity to recruit CMU students for jobs and internships, and for students to meet potential employers.  Students from any institution can attend at no cost.

Note that space is very limited for the Energy Technology Expo, Roundtable Participation and Field trips, so REGISTER soon at http://www.cmuenergy.org!   For questions about the program or if you are interested in hosting a field trip, contact Dr. Deborah Stine, Associate Director, Scott Institute atdstine@andrew.cmu.edu.  For information on sponsorships or exhibiting in the Energy Tech Expo, please contact Laurie Powell at LPowell@eventPower.com or 703-740-1940.

“Privacy vs Security” and barriers to adoption discussed at IoT event

Energy Alliance and Green Building Alliance members enjoyed a robust discussion with energy systems experts at the “Behind the Meter: The Internet of Things for Buildings” event on Wednesday.