Flexible pricing could help

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Image by Ulrike Leone

Coauthored by Josh Smith

How much is rooftop solar worth? This simple question has stimulated a raging debate between electric utilities and solar advocates, both in Utah and around the country.

The issue comes down to how utilities should account for electricity that rooftop solar owners feed onto the electrical grid. Utah’s largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), wants to pay just 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to rooftop solar owners. RMP argues that it is around the price they would pay for solar electricity from larger, utility-scale, providers. They also point out that rooftop solar production creates costs for…


A way forward to carbon-free energy

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Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Coauthored by Sierra Kline

In March, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission proposed some changes regarding the disposal of radioactive waste in the US. Two months later, an article from The Guardian asserted these proposed changes could “allow dangerous amounts of radioactive material to be disposed of in places like municipal landfills, with potentially serious consequences to human health and the environment.” This sentiment, though factually inaccurate, is not uncommon among Americans. In fact, there is a widely held narrative in the US that nuclear waste can never be anything less than life-threatening.

This portrayal is rooted in the misconception that all…


Building a better nuclear industry requires global allies

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Photo by Thomas Millot on Unsplash

The US Department of Energy (DOE) wants to help colonize space, and they want to do it with nuclear energy. Late last month, DOE released a notice that they are seeking information about the challenges and feasibility of using reactors to power future missions. The goal is to design a microreactor — with greater than 10 kilowatts of capacity and weighing less than 3500 kg — that can provide energy without refueling for at least 10 years.

The DOE’s press release includes a quote from Dr. John Wagner, associate laboratory director of Idaho National Lab’s Nuclear Science & Technology Directorate…


Virtual doctor visits can, and should, be the new normal

By Brian Isom, Mark Jenkins, Kennon Bacon, Colten Dougher

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Renewed discussions this week surrounding the next wave of relief efforts for COVID-19 have also reignited discussions surrounding telehealth. Telehealth is the use of technology, including interactive telecommunication, to deliver medical and other health services via virtual platforms. The CARES Act appropriated $200 million to help expand telehealth, but some say more is needed. The latest bill proposal from House Democrats does not include any additional funding for telehealth, but a bipartisan group of senators, led by Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), is urging congressional leadership to reconsider. …


Technology is helping drive us towards a cleaner future

By Brian Isom and Jack Baldwin

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Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Earth Day turns 50 years old today. First celebrated in 1970, it is the closest thing the modern environmental movement has to a birthday. And while social distancing and closed parks are preventing many of us from celebrating the way we’d like, the pandemic has given us an interesting insight into the impacts of our day-to-day lives on the environments in which we live.

If you happen to live in a big city, chances are the skies seem a little bluer than usual lately. Metropolitan areas across the country, from L.A. to New York…


How temporary reforms to lessen healthcare burdens from COVID-19 could translate to broader healthcare access in America

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

As I write this piece in my makeshift home-office, I am entering week three of self-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19. Like my coworkers and countless others around the world still fortunate enough to remain employed, I am learning to adapt to this new normal. No one is sure how long it will last, or how the way we work will change for good once it is over. Many industries are facing a much more significant shift than simply moving employees to remote work.

Arguably no industry has had to adapt as much, or as quickly, as the healthcare industry has…


It’s time to move on from Yucca Mountain

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Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Earlier this month, when President Trump released his proposed budget, there was a noticeable line-item missing. In each of his previous three budget proposals, Trump included appropriations of around $120 million to re-start the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. Each year those appropriations have been rejected by Congress.

This year, the President appears to have had a change of heart. The traditional $120 million dollar appropriation for Yucca Mountain is nowhere to be found in his budget proposal. In fact, there is no mention of support for Yucca Mountain at all.


Why Australia is a stark reminder that wildfires remain a major risk to our forests and communities

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Photo by Frank Cone from Pexels

Chances are, at some point in the past few weeks, you have read or listened to news about the wildfires currently burning across Australia. Much like 2018 here in the United States, this fire season is setting records in Australia for all the wrong reasons. Australia’s fire season typically stretches from December through March but kicked off a month early this year due to higher than average temperatures and a multi-year drought. These are both worrisome problems in a country already noted for being hot and dry.

Since the beginning of November, over 12 million acres of land have burned…


Probably, but don’t call your doctor just yet

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Last month, I wrote a post about how misperceptions and misinformation surrounding nuclear energy has proven to be more dangerous than the technology itself. And, as luck would have it, just a week later, I got to witness an incident involving potentially radioactive material, public exposure, and misinformation play out right here in my hometown.


Misconceptions about nuclear energy have proven to be far more deadly than atomic meltdowns

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Ask most people what they think about nuclear power these days, and the odds are that the conversation will involve some discussion of dangerous radioactive waste and nuclear meltdowns. For over half a century, nuclear energy has played a significant role in both U.S. and international pop culture. Still, most movies, comic books, and television have focused on nuclear as a high-risk technology. Numerous movie franchises from Batman to James Bond have used nuclear-weapon-wielding villains as existential threats. Godzilla, a giant dinosaur-like creature that feeds off of nuclear radiation, has been the foundation for several new movies in the past…

Brian Isom

Southern Gentleman. Gentle Southernman. Research Manager @cgousu

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