News & Events


Energy in the News: Friday, December 11

Home Energy is affordable at twice the price

Politico Pro (paywall), feat U-M Energy Survey

Consumers feel their home energy costs would have to more than double before they had to use less or reduce other expenses to compensate, according to a new index created by the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute and released today. The university’s energy affordability indices are modeled on U-M’s Survey of Consumers, and like their progenitor, the surveys ask questions of consumers about how much their own bills for things like gasoline, electricity, and home heating would have to rise before they became unaffordable. The energy surveys, which canvassed 3,400 Americans over two years, found that throughout the survey period, even consumers in the lower third of the income scale would have to see their home energy costs double before costs broke the bank. The survey also looked at gasoline prices and found that consumers would not find it unaffordable to fill their tanks unless pump prices more than doubled to $5.50 a gallon.

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Op-Ed: The truth about biofuels: Reality bites

Fox News, by John DeCicco

On November 30, as the Paris international climate conference was getting underway, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a long-overdue update of Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements. Originally established in 2005 and then greatly expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the RFS mandates increasing use of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels in America’s cars and trucks.

Two things were notable. For the first time, EPA set the overall mandate at levels significantly lower than targets Congress called for in 2007. Second, raising the hackles of the biofuel lobby, the Obama administration omitted the RFS from its official submission in Paris about actions the U.S. is taking to cut carbon emissions.

In other words, the EPA seems to realize that the nation’s dream plan for green fuels was unrealistic, and the Obama administration is tacitly admitting that biofuels aren’t better than fossil fuels when it comes to greenhouse gases. In fact, they are worse.

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Just what is going on?

Wunderground, by Richard Rood, feat Mark Barteau

The Conference of the Parties – 21, COP21, is starting to wind down, and our University of Michigan Delegation first-week flight of students is back and the second week flight is in Paris. I hope that some of you have followed the students on Facebook and Twitter. (@ClimateBlue on Twitter , ). We are hoping to keep the student presence more active than after previous COPs, so encourage them.

I wish I had posted these links sooner. There are webcasts of the negotiations at There is an archive so that you can watch on demand, and go back and study the process. I think that you want to look specifically for meetings of the Paris Committee. The latest versions of the text of updated documents are posted here. It is really quite interesting, well to those who are interested, to look at the text evolves. It is, also, interesting the large, public role that France’s President Hollande is taking in the negotiations. Such a prominent role by a head of state is different than 2009.

Compared to the 2009 COP, the mood of the delegation is very high. There is excitement of some sense of progress. I recount that in 2009, during my time at the COP, some of the U.S., elected loyal climate-change rejecters came to meet with the Saudi delegation (that was one of my best blogs at the time). If that happened this time, it has been buried under other news. The loyal rejecters are active on the home front sowing doubt about the U.S. as a reliable partner; however, Mr. Trump is largely defining their public outreach efforts.

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Ford to Invest $4.5 Billion in Electrified Vehicles by 2020

Feat. U-M Battery Lab

Ford Motor Co. said it’s investing $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles, responding to regulatory pressure with a bet on technologies that have struggled to attract buyers in the U.S. as fuel prices stay low.

The automaker will add 13 electric cars and hybrids by 2020, rising to 40 percent of its lineup from 13 percent now, Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields said Thursday at a press conference in Dearborn, Michigan. The plans include a new Focus Electric car with fast-charge capability, Ford said.

“We’re going to see more and more companies invest in electrified vehicles because at the moment there’s some very stringent 2025 emission standards,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at “The way to get there is using electrification. It’s a significant investment, but it’s the way the industry is moving forward.”

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