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Entries in Infrastructure (2)


Energy Infrastructure Gets Regional, National and Global Attention

Energy infrastructure is all the rage these days. 

Earlier this week the White House released its inaugural Quadrennial Energy Review, which “examines how to modernize our nation’s energy infrastructure to promote economic competitiveness, energy security and environmental responsibility.”  Not surprisingly, the report calls for major investments to upgrade and modernize transmission lines, pipelines and other infrastructure to increase security and reliability.  The report also states that the U.S. grid needs to change to accomodate the changing energy generation landscape, namely the growth of renewables and distributed generation.

Yesterday, the governors of the the New England states met for an “energy summit” to discuss upgrades to the region’s transmission infrastructure, and how to pay for them.  Although the states have differing priorities in many areas, the governors agreed on the need to invest in greater natural gas pipeline capacity.     

At a more global level, a thought-provoking essay in the economy section of the New York Times highlighted the vast gulf between energy use in the developed and developing parts of the world, and argued that greater economic development in poorer countries would actually reduce consumption of natural resources.  The argument is based on the recently released EcoModernist Manifesto, which states that “Intensifying many human activities — particularly farming, energy extraction, forestry, and settlement — so that they use less land and interfere less with the natural world is the key to decoupling human development from environmental impacts.”  It is a counterintuitive strategy calling for dense, centralized human activity (cities, industrial agrigulture, power plants) that makes efficient, if destructive, use of natural resources so that the rest of the planet can be kept in its natural state - away from humans.  

So, basically the opposite of the back to the land and locavore movements.    


MPUC Proposes Significant Changes to Utility Service Area and Infrastructure Map Requirements

The Maine Public Utilities Commission has issued a Notice of Rulemaking to amend its rule relating to utility service areas and infrastructure maps, Chapter 140.  Chapter 140 requires utilities to maintain and file with the Commission electronic maps showing the utility’s service area and depicting the utility’s infrastructure.  The proposed amendments are intended to reflect technological advances as well as the MPUC’s experience working with Chapter 120 and the associated data since the rule was first adopted ten years ago.  Among the proposed amendments is a new requirement that utilities segregate public infrastructure information from confidential infrastructure information (the applicable standard for confidentiality is set forth in 35-A M.R.S.A. § 1311-B), and for utilities to file each set of information separately.  Also, the proposed amendments would eliminate the $500,000 project cost threshold for reporting changes to utility infrastructure on infrastructure maps.  If that amendment is adopted, all changes in utility infrastructure, regardless of the size of the project, will need to be reflected on amended maps.