Article, Defense, Energy, Government and Politics

Compact, pre-fab reactors may revive nuclear option

The prospect of a U.S. renaissance in nuclear energy has lost its luster in recent years. Yes, four reactors are under construction at two sites in Georgia and South Carolina, the first ones to be built in 30 years. And last year, the Tennessee Valley Authority completed a plant that had lain unfinished for more than three decades. Beyond that, no electricity providers in the USA plan to build another reactor any time soon. Instead, some have closed reactors. Six units have been shut down since 2013 in the face of competition from natural gas, solar power and wind energy. Nevertheless, an Oregon-based company is taking a big step toward eventually rekindling the nuclear option in the USA. (Read More)

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Article, Defense, Government and Politics, Technology, Utilities and Providers

Could hackers knock out our power? It happened in Ukraine

Worries over cyberattacks on the USA are increasing in the aftermath of a presidential election in which the CIA alleged that Russia used such means to influence our electoral process. For the moment, the vulnerability of polling and political operations to hacking gets most of the attention. But this week will mark the one-year anniversary of the first publicly acknowledged cyber incident to take down portions of a power grid, one of the most critical components of a nation’s infrastructure. (Read More)

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Article, Corporations, Defense, Economy / Finance, Energy, Government and Politics

OPEC’s power slips amid a spurt in U.S. oil production

Only time will tell whether OPEC will effectively implement its recent decision to curb oil supplies and reverse a price slump that’s persisted for 2½ years. But amid the many prognostications over oil prices, something else is clear: When it comes to energy security, the U.S. is in a much better position today than it has been in years. (Read More)

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Defense, Government and Politics, Podcast

Columbia Energy Exchange: Dennis McGinn

The Great White Fleet, dispatched by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 and a milestone in U.S. Navy history, is today becoming the Great Green Fleet. Admiral Dennis McGinn, the Navy’s assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment as well as a retired rear admiral and former commander of the Third Fleet, sits down in his Pentagon office with host Bill Loveless to discuss the Navy’s commitment to sustainable and green energy in order to cut the service’s energy costs, reduce its emissions and make its fuel supplies more secure. (Listen Here)

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Article, Corporations, Defense, Government and Politics, Policy, Regulations, Utilities and Providers

Army heeds Obama call, attacks high energy bills

Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is generally considered to be one of the most practical ways that a property owner can cut the cost of lighting, heating and cooling. Now, the U.S. Army is demonstrating in spades the pragmatism of such moves as it surpasses the $1 billion mark in responding to a 2014 challenge by President Obama to all federal agencies to achieve $4 billion in energy savings performance contracts by December. (Read more)

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Article, Defense, Energy, Government and Politics, International, Technology, Utilities and Providers

An attack on the grid? Power execs push back on Koppel claims

Eight months after veteran broadcast journalist Ted Koppel published a book predicting a devastating cyberattack on the U.S. power grid, leaders of the utility industry are sounding off over what they say is an exaggerated claim. “We’re speaking out on it now because we think there is an important story to tell,” Scott Aaronson, the managing director for cyber and infrastructure security at the Edison Electric Institute, said last week at a briefing for reporters. (Read more)

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Article, Corporations, Defense, Energy, Technology

Avoiding a big blackout: There’s a drone for that

The biggest blackout ever in North America happened 13 years ago when high-voltage power lines brushed against overgrown trees in northern Ohio, triggering breakdowns on the grid that turned out lights in New York City and across eight states as well as Ontario, Canada. The incident in August 2003 demonstrated the importance of trimming trees adjacent to electricity transmission and distribution lines, and the difficulties of doing so when millions of trees dot hundreds of thousands of miles of lines. But now a Palo Alto, Calif., company is teaming up with the U.S. electric-power industry to test the effectiveness of using unmanned aerial vehicles – commonly known as drones – to help utilities scan power lines faster, cheaper and smarter. In the process, the collaboration between Sharper Shape and the Edison Electric Institute could help enable greater commercial use of…

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Article, Corporations, Defense, Energy

Lockheed sharpens its energy-tech efforts

Lockheed Martin has developed and sold energy technology for years but never made a concentrated push into that market, until now. The defense giant announced the other day the consolidation of its various energy businesses into a new entity called Lockheed Martin Energy, one that aims to take advantage of sweeping changes in energy, particularly in electric power. “For decades, we have been investing in smart, natural and safe energy technologies,” Frank Armijo, the newly appointed vice president of Lockheed Martin Energy, said in a statement from the Bethesda, Md.-based corporation. (Read more)

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Article, Defense, Energy, Government and Politics, International

After Paris, new worries over electrical grid attack

The potential for a devastating attack on the U.S. electricity grid remains high on the minds of utility and government leaders, especially in light of the deadly terrorist actions in Paris on Nov. 13. Just days after the carnage in the French capital, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) conducted a massive exercise simulating coordinated assaults on the grid in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, one that involved cyber and physical attacks that left millions of people without electricity for an extended period of time. (Read more)

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