Under the administration of former President Barack Obama, energy research and policy was mostly under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency while the Department of Energy handled administrative matters. The Trump administration is changing the status quo so that that Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who believes that the EPA should have a diminished role in governance, will have more freedom to implement policy. Secretary Perry has mentioned that he will closely evaluate the national electricity grid, particularly with regard to the Clean Power Plan that has sharply reduced coal production in favor of solar, wind and geothermal power. Secretary Perry believes that increasing coal production could improve the financial efficiency of the grid while passing savings on to consumers, but his plans are facing major criticism from some environmental and business segments.
An electric utility in the Golden State is offering customers $450 in rebates when they buy electric cars. Southern California Edison announced its Clean Fuel Rewards Program in the middle of May; the rebate is for customers who have purchased a fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle at anytime. The utility wishes to encourage customers to buy cars that can be recharged with energy distributed through its grid. In Northern California, Pacific Gas and Electric offers a similar rebate of $500. These rebates are part of a state plan to lower vehicle emissions as much as possible by the year 2025.
The crude oil markets have not been kind to OPEC, and industry leaders are planning accordingly. Technology, policy, renewable energy production, and the expansion of shale oil in the United States are moving OPEC leaders to make long term plans to handle falling oil prices; in the meantime, however, production will be cut with the intention of moving prices upward. The most recent oil production cut carried out by OPEC moved gas prices up slightly, only to fall again in May.
Electronics manufacturers are doing everything possible to increase battery life in smartphones, tablets and portable computers, but consumers are more interested in the ability to charge their devices on the go. Ravpower, a company that specializes in portable chargers, recently introduced a new battery pack that keeps 22,000 mAh in reserve and features three USB connectors for charging multiple devices. This charger is compatible with Ravpower’s 16-watt solar charger, which is portable solar panel that can be easily folded and carried inside a backpack. On Amazon, the Ravpower charger plus its solar companion can be purchased together for about $150.
At a recent conference hosted by the American Wind Energy Association, business giant GE announced that its investments into renewable energy projects stand at $15 billion, twice the amount of cash allocated to fossil fuel projects. GE is in a position to be one of the largest global players in terms of renewable energy; the company has financed projects in 17 countries, mostly in wind farms. Although the company has stated that environmental protection has been a major factor behind its investment decisions, there is also the aspect of potential profits, which GE believes will pay off sooner than expected.