Commercial, Industrial, Regulation, Utilities, Commercial, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables  -  December 2, 2017

Weekend reads: Alexa's grid capabilities; tech industry battles Trump; Illinois' coal ash battle & more

 Every Saturday, we'll bring you five of the most interesting — or quirky; it is the weekend after all — energy stories from around the web that you may have missed this week. This weekend's reads:

'Alexa, please balance the distribution grid ...' (Utility Dive): TXU Energy, a retail provider in the Lone Star State, announced a new program this month aimed at giving customers easier control over their home's comfort. Using Amazon's in-home assistant Alexa, they can now adjust their thermostat and access billing information simply through voice commands. It's the sort of capability that a decade ago might have seemed Jetsons-like — if that analogy even still works in today's uber-connected world.

From Amazon to Etsy, Tech Fights Trump's Plan to Save Coal (Bloomberg): Selling custom nose rings, crocheted bunnies and hand-carved Santas is energy-intensive stuff. Just ask Etsy Inc., the go-to marketplace for crafts that doubled its electricity use in two years to feed power-sucking data centers that keep the $2.8 billion-a-year business running. It’s one of the many technology giants including Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google demanding cheaper — and cleaner — electricity as their data demands grow.

Tillerson exit might bring climate disbelief to State (E&E News): If CIA Director Mike Pompeo replaces Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as the top U.S. diplomat, he could bring a careerlong skepticism of climate science with him to Foggy Bottom. ... [W]hile Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO, raised environmentalists' hopes last year with his belief in man-made climate change and support for continued U.S. involvement in the Paris climate accord, Pompeo has a history of disputing that humans play a significant role in global warming.

Trump's First Major Trade Fight With China Could Be Over Solar Panels (The New York Times): With President Trump vowing to get tougher on trade, troubled American makers of everything from steel tubing and aluminum foil to washing machines have lined up to ask Washington for protection from foreign rivals. 

Battle over coal ash continues in Illinois, with hearings underway (Midwest Energy News): After five years of deliberation over the storage of coal ash at Illinois power plants, advocates say water pollution threats remain and are seeking stronger remedies. For decades, coal ash produced at coal-fired power plants in Northern Illinois was stored on the plants’ grounds, in ponds, pits and other areas, and was used as structural fill.

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