Energy in the News: Friday, June 24
Volkswagen agrees to pay billions to drivers over emissions scandal
The Washington Post, feat. John DeCicco
Volkswagen has agreed to pay $10.2 billion to settle its U.S. emissions scandal case, according to the Associated Press, citing two anonymous people briefed on the matter, in what would be one of the largest payouts by an automaker in history.
“This should be a wake up call that cops need to be on the beat and the government needs the resources to stay on top of these issues,” said John M. DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute. “What came out in the course of the current diesel scandal is a history of scofflaw attitudes on the part of Volkswagen in regards to emissions that dates back to the 1970s.”
Schuette rebuff should end fight against mercury standards
Detroit Free Press, feat. Joel Blum
This week the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s latest effort to block federal mercury standards. We ask the Attorney General, after four years of fighting, to let it go. Let’s embrace mercury limits, not fight them. As a scientist and a pediatrician, we are deeply troubled when the futures of children are jeopardized because science is cast aside, and decisions are made based on politics and bureaucracy.
U-M data science projects promise to transform transportation
University of Michigan, feat. Pascal Van Hentenryck
On-demand, driverless public buses. Data-driven accident avoidance systems. "Smart" traffic systems that dramatically reduce emissions and congestion. Two new data science projects at the University of Michigan are working toward making these systems a reality.
Supported by the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) Challenge Initiatives program and UM-Dearborn, the projects bring together interdisciplinary teams of researchers from both campuses to tackle the grand problems of the future of transportation using massive amounts of data being produced by automated and connected vehicle testing sites, as well as in conventional driver-directed settings, in Ann Arbor and around the country.
Student Spotlight: Maryam Arbabzadeh
University of Michigan
Maryam Arbabzadeh, Ph.D. Candidate, Natural Resources and the Environment, Predoctoral Fellowship
Maryam was studying electrical engineering at home in Iran when she got the itch. Many of her classmates were applying to big universities abroad, mostly in the U.S. and Canada. They were looking for top programs to get them good jobs. Maryam was looking for much of the same, but she had a deeper personal motivation: “For me, I wanted to experience something new. I was living with my parents and I wanted to experience independence. I looked at grad school as an adventure.”
She got it, and a fantastic education to boot.
Celebrating 40 years of saving energy and training students in industrial efficiency
ACEEE, feat. Arvind Atreya
Industry has been important to the American economy since the earliest days of our country and the strength of the manufacturing sector is a priority for the US government and members of Congress. In a Senate briefing last week, staff on Capitol Hill attended a presentation celebrating the success of the Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) program, a little-known and long-standing initiative funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) that helps small manufacturers save energy while training the next generation of energy efficiency engineers.
Upper Peninsula ratepayers to pay millions to keep coal plants online
Midwest Energy News
Customers of a Michigan co-op would see significant bill increases for keeping Upper Peninsula coal plants online, according to new figures from the region’s grid operator.
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO, has issued a new cost calculation for operating three coal plants in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — notably the Presque Isle plant in Marquette — to maintain reliability in the area.
Totaling $49.7 million, the bills for keeping those plants open over a period in 2014-2015, known as System Support Resources payments, will become due in less than three weeks and range from thousands of dollars to more than $11 million for one U.P. utility.
For what are relatively small utilities, the payments could have a significant impact on ratepayers across the U.P.
BMW is getting into home energy storage with used i3 batteries
BMW announced today that it's working with Germany's Beck Automation to use complete i3 battery packs as a home energy storage solution. As with other car companies getting into this business — Daimler and Tesla, notably — the idea is to store energy from renewable sources like solar so that it's available even when energy isn't being generated. It's also useful as a backup power source should traditional power fail, for example in a storm or an area with an unreliable grid.
The Munich-based automaker says that this is the first home energy storage system to use a complete vehicle battery, whereas something like Tesla Energy's Powerwall isn't built from a full Model S battery pack, for instance. The system is available in a 22 kWh or 33 kWh version, which would supply enough power to keep an average home operating for a full 24 hours, BMW says.