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Energy in the News: Friday, May 10

A Note from Anna:

It’s been a busy month at the Energy Institute!

The winter term ended with valuable “Mom Advice with a CEO Twist” from Patti Poppe, President & CEO of Consumers Energy, who spoke at the College of Engineering’s spring graduation. I was honored to meet her back-stage and got filled with her energy!

Governor Gretchen Whitmer spoke at the general commencement, providing sage advice to our graduates. Earlier this year, Gov. Whitmer entered Michigan into the U.S. Climate Alliance– a coalition of 19 other governors who have pledged to meet the Paris Agreement’s emission reduction goals. In the same executive order, she established a new Office of Climate Change to help Michigan mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce emissions and embrace clean energy solutions.

Kudos to President Schlissel and his team for selecting these inspiring leaders for our commencement!

Here at the Energy Institute, we welcomed Katie Parrish as our new communications specialist! Katie has ten years of experience in the environmental nonprofit and local government sectors. She most recently worked as communications director at the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, a statewide environmental nonprofit focused on elections and public policy.

We also admitted twenty passionate students to our summer UROP fellowship program and began planning our annual 2019 TE3 conference.

Don’t miss our latest Energy Economics briefing by Ellen Hughes-Cromwick: EV Tax Credits are a go, but CAFE past the Sell By Date.

Last, but not least: A team of 30+ experts from across U-M and beyond has been hard at work drafting an exciting Energy Research Center proposal to the National Science Foundation on fast charged batteries for EVs that can be repurposed to the grid, recycled, and help truly decarbonize transportation.

The amazing thing is that U-M was invited to submit two other ERC proposals, so stay tuned and good luck to all of us!

Know someone who should receive these emails? Email our new communications specialist, Katie Parrish (pkatie@umich.edu) and let her know!


Events:

  • May 15: Papers due for our upcoming Conference on Transportation, Energy and the Environment (TE3), learn more. Make sure to save the date! The 2019 TE3 Conference will be held on Friday, October 18 at the Rackham Graduate School.
  • May 15-16: Automotive Research Center’s Annual Review. Electrification projects will be discussed on 5/15 and fuels and combustion on 5/16. Learn more.
  • May 22: Citizens’ Climate Lobby is hosting a free screening of the documentary, The Human Element, which captures the lives of everyday Americans living on the frontlines of climate change.
  • May 26-30: The Electrochemical Society biannual meeting in Dallas, TX. Learn more.
  • June 10: Department of Energy’s Annual Merit Review in Arlington, VA. Learn more.
  • July-Sept: The Battery Lab is taking reservations for summer 2019, spots are filling quickly. Email batterylab@umich.edu to schedule your time today.

News:

As natural gas costs plummet, sides split over nuclear energy’s future

Detroit Free Press, featuring Anna Stefanopoulou

Nuclear reactor closures have resulted in more reliance on energy sources such as natural gas and coal that emit significantly more greenhouse gas, advancing climate change.

University of Michigan engineering professor Anna Stefanopoulou, who is director of the university’s Energy Institute, said that current battery storage technology is not yet capable of supporting a vast electric grid with 100% renewable energy. Until that day arrives, the energy institute supports using some nuclear power in combination with renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydropower, she said.

“We are not saying nuclear is the answer,” the professor said. “What we’re looking at is ‘what are the best places for the minimal amount of nuclear to maximize renewables.'”

 

Electric car fees in Michigan would soar under Whitmer’s roads plan

Bridge Magazine, featuring Ellen Hughes-Cromwick

Drivers of gas guzzlers aren’t the only ones who would pay more under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to increase the state fuel tax by 45 cents per gallon to fund fixes to Michigan’s roads. Registration fees for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles also would skyrocket and become the costliest in the nation.

“We really need to move in that direction of reducing [carbon dioxide] emissions, if we all agree on the science of climate change,” said Hughes-Cromwick. “Therefore, I would be really discouraging any sort of tax that would disincentivize the purchase of EVs.”

 

E.U. regulators accuse BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen of colluding to block emission-fighting technology

Washington Post, featuring Andre Boehman

When asked why a company might want to stall or avoid developing new technology, Andre Boehman, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute, said, “The simple answer is cost.” In the E.U. case, he said, the resources needed to develop and implement clean-air technology might have required automakers to raise car prices, which can hurt sales.

 

State, utilities sketch out areas of need for future EV charging network

Crain’s Detroit Business

Michigan needs at least 193 charger outlets at 35 public stations along its major interstate highways to power the growing number of electric vehicles expected on its roadways over the next decade, according to a state-sponsored study.

 

Michigan regulators approve DTE $273M rate increase, EV pilot, net metering replacement

Utility Dive

Advocates hailed the passage of DTE’s “Charging Forward” three-year EV program, which allows the utility to spend $13 million on incentives for residential and non-residential chargers, along with education and outreach and a school bus charging program.

 

Can your city government convince you to buy an electric car? Fort Collins is trying

Fort Collins Coloradan

City staff are taking an all-hands-on-deck (or should we say dashboard?) approach to woo more residents to the “early adopters” camp. Their tactics include special electricity rates for EV drivers, an electrified city fleet, electric rideshares and an easier, less intimidating path to EV ownership.

 

Congress moves 1st climate bill in a decade, as some Trump allies warm to action

ABC News

The measure is dead-on-arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate and would face a veto from Trump, even if it passed. But supporters say the vote sets the stage for the 2020 campaign at a time when many voters have concerns about climate change on their minds.

 

2020 Democrats Aim High With Climate Change Proposals

NPR

For years, climate change has remained a lower-level concern for voters more worried about immediate economic concerns. However, in these early months of the 2020 presidential campaign, voters are now hearing much more about it from political candidates about their plans to promote clean energy and reduce carbon emissions.

 

Ocasio-Cortez: Green New Deal ‘Leaves the Door Open’ on Nuclear

Morning Consult

Green New Deal sponsor Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez still has an “open mind” on nuclear energy and differentiates between the decades-old plants in the United States and more advanced technologies under development.

 

What if air conditioners could help save the planet Instead of destroying It?

Wired

What if we could use air conditioning units to help pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere? According to a new paper in Nature Communications, it’s feasible. Using technology currently in development, AC units in skyscrapers and even your home could get turned into machines that not only capture CO2, but transform the stuff into a fuel for powering vehicles that are difficult to electrify, like cargo ships.