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April 13th, 2012 Archives
April 13, 2012
By Tom Bottorff
--Tom Bottorff, PG&E senior vice president, regulatory relations.
Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=6043
California is at a critical turning point.
The corporations, small businesses and families that call California home are relying on an infrastructure system that keeps pace with continuing growth and technological advances and provides safe, reliable and affordable energy for years to come. California’s gas system powers our economy, and a modern infrastructure system is essential to accommodate California’s growing needs.
The California Public Utilities Commission asked state utilities to propose plans to upgrade their natural gas systems in accordance with new state regulations. In light of recent federal regulations, including the “pipeline safety bill,” utilities nationwide will soon follow in California’s footsteps. State utilities have put forth plans that will ensure California leads the nation in safety, deploys the newest tools and systems, and maintains a system that can support the state’s growing demand for energy.Share This Post
By JOHN M. BRODER April 13, 2012, 1:05 pm
In an effort to streamline federal regulation of the domestic natural gas boom, President Obama on Friday announced creation of an inter-agency task force to ensure what he called the “safe and responsible development of domestic natural gas resources.”
The move comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to issue draft regulations on air pollution from hydraulic fracturing, which extracts natural gas from rock formations by injecting water and chemicals deep underground at high pressure. The oil and gas industry is already complaining that the proposed rules will be costly and will overlap with existing state regulations, while environmental advocates say that unconventional gas recovery methods threaten groundwater supplies.
The new working group, which will be headed by Heather Zichal, the White House’s top energy and environment adviser, will include representatives of a dozen agencies, including the departments of defense, interior, commerce, transportation, energy and the E.P.A.
“While natural gas production is carried out by private firms, and states are the primary regulators of onshore oil and gas activities,” the president’s executive order states, “the federal government has an important role to play by regulating oil and gas activities on public and Indian trust lands, encouraging greater use of natural gas in transportation, supporting research and development aimed at improving the safety of natural gas development and transportation activities, and setting sensible, cost-effective public health and environmental standards to implement federal law and augment state safeguards.”
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/a-new-oversight-panel-on-fracking/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By PAUL STENQUIST April 13, 2012
IT’S a lot like one of those math problems that gave you fits in sixth grade: a salesman leaves home in Denver and drives his electric car to a meeting in Boulder. At the same time, a physicist driving the same model electric car sets out from her loft in Los Angeles, heading to an appointment near Anaheim.
For both, the traffic is light, and the cars consume an identical amount of battery power while traveling the same number of miles. Being purely electric, they emit zero tailpipe pollutants during their trips.
The test question: are their carbon footprints also equal?
The answer may be a surprise. According to a report that the Union of Concerned Scientists plans to release on Monday, there would be a considerable difference in the amount of greenhouse gases — primarily carbon dioxide — that result from charging the cars’ battery packs. By trapping heat, greenhouse gases contribute to climate change.
The advocacy group’s report, titled “State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States,” uses the electric power requirements of the Nissan Leaf as a basis for comparison. The Leaf, on sale in the United States for more than a year and the most widely available electric model from a major automaker, sets a logical baseline.
The California part of the story is upbeat: a hypothetical Los Angeles Leaf would be accountable for the release of an admirably low level of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, about the same as a gasoline car getting 79 miles per gallon. But the Denver car would cause as large a load of greenhouse gases to enter the atmosphere as some versions of the gasoline-powered Mazda 3, a compact sedan rated at 33 m.p.g. in combined city and highway driving by the Environmental Protection Agency. In simple terms, the effect of electric vehicles on the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment can span a wide range, varying with the source of the electricity that charges them. California’s clean power makes the Leaf a hero; the regional mix of coal-dependent utilities serving Denver diminish the car’s benefits as a global-warming fighter.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/automobiles/how-green-are-electric-cars-depends-on-where-you-plug-in.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By EDWARD WELSCH Updated April 12, 2012, 7:17 p.m. ET
CALGARY—Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP said Thursday it will begin a $5 billion expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline, nearly tripling the capacity of crude oil it can ship to Canada's west coast—the latest project aimed at moving the country's rising oil production to markets outside the U.S.
Currently, almost all Canadian crude exports travel to the U.S. While Canadian oil output has been climbing fast, pipeline capacity to move it from the country's biggest oil patch in landlocked Alberta to U.S. refining markets is stretched.
The resulting glut, and rising oil production in the U.S. itself, has depressed prices for Canadian crude. Canadian government officials, meanwhile, have boosted support for westward-flowing pipelines in order to diversify toward Asian markets. That effort accelerated after the White House earlier this year rejected a big pipeline-expansion project, TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL, which would have sent more Alberta crude south of the border.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304356604577339972995473802.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Marine Studies Raise Fresh Concern After Early Fears of Environmental Catastrophe From BP Disaster Failed to Materialize
By TOM FOWLER April 12, 2012, 7:47 p.m. ET
HOUSTON—Scientists studying the environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are raising fresh concerns about the effect of the leaked crude on a range of sea life, from tiny animal plankton to dolphins.
So far, studies have not uncovered the ecological apocalypse that some feared after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded two years ago this month, unleashing the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. But hopes that the Gulf would be relatively unaffected are dimming.
"The death and destruction that many predicted hasn't come through for a lot of reasons," said Robert Haddad, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's assessment and restoration effort. "But everywhere we look throughout the Gulf things are just a little bit out of kilter."
Zooplankton—microscopic organisms that are a source of food for many fish—were found to have ingested hazardous components of the specific oil from the spill, according to a study released last month by researchers at East Carolina University and other colleges and funded by the National Science Foundation. The study didn't speculate on whether the oil may have harmed the zooplankton nor did it say what the effect could be on larger organisms.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303624004577339943866694420.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Written by: Eric Rosenbaum 04/12/12 - 12:32 PM EDT
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I can't call T. Boone Pickens a fool, but I will say that he's foolish for saying on CNBC Wednesday afternoon -- when natural gas finally broke below $2 -- that a bottom had to be "near" in the historic slide in the price of the most abundant fossil fuel in the U.S.
Calling a bottom in natural gas is a fool's errand.
Why does a bottom have to be "near"? I see no reason just because the $2 mark was breached, or because Pickens -- who has a history of making confident, yet wrong, predictions about the natural gas market (see his series of annual public proclamations about the "inevitable" passage of the NatGas Act, still languishing in legislative la la land for three years running).
In fact, there's reason to suspect there's considerable downside left in natural gas from here.
"It's never a good idea to pick a bottom," said Adam Bedard, senior director of energy analysis at consultant Bentek Energy. "To me, $2 is a psychological barrier so there is some support there, but people say that's as low as it goes, I think there is room to go lower."
To read the entire article go to: http://business-news.thestreet.com/denver-post-energy/story/calling-a-bottom-in-natural-gas-good-luck-with-that/11493337Share This Post
GasFrac’s propane technology an environmental winner
By Dave Cooper, edmontonjournal.com April 12, 2012
EDMONTON - A rapidly growing Alberta firm has cornered the market for waterless fracking just as environmental issues begin to dominate the discussion of fracturing deep rock to free vast supplies of natural gas and oil.
Using propane instead of water, GasFrac Energy Services is able to inject a jelled-propane mixture under pressure that contains sand and chemicals into deep vertical and horizontal wells to open up cracks in a formation.
When the pressure is off and the flow reversed, the propane changes to a vapour and moves to the surface with the reservoir’s natural gas or oil. At a separation facility, the propane can be removed and reused.
Originally designed to improve the performance of low-pressure wells, the waterless process has become a winner in the environmental area.
“That has been the real surprise for us, an extra advantage,” said Doug McMillan, vice-president of GasFrac, which was one of several energy firms participating in NAIT’s Industry Day for its petroleum engineering technology students on Thursday.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/resources/Waterless+fracking+Alberta+firm+answer+environment+issues/6450323/story.htmlShare This Post
By ANDREW C. REVKIN April 12, 2012, 3:46 pm
The New York Times sponsored a “Energy For Tomorrow” forum this week to clarify the country’s and world’s energy options in an era of economic turbulence and a changing climate. The participants including Secretary of Energy Steve Chu, energy analysts Daniel Yergin and Michael Levi and a host of other figures immersed in these issues. A broad theme was the need for an “all of the above” energy quest (a mantra of President Obama).
Here is the video archive. I encourage you to dive in and weigh in.
Earlier this week, there were two illuminating explorations of the opportunities and problems attending the extraction of natural gas from shale using the hydraulic fracturing technique known as fracking. One was a forum at Pace University, which I tracked live on Twitter. The other was “The Perils and Promise of Fracking,” a panel discussion conducted as part of the “Investigate This” series organized by ProPublica and the Tenement Museum. Here’s video:
To read the entire article go to: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/exploring-americas-and-the-worlds-energy-choices/?src=recgShare This Post
Apr 12 - Connecticut Post
Connecticut's public works regulator plans to distribute $720 million to zero-emissions, renewable-energy generation and $300 million to low-emissions generation over the next several years, detailing for the first time how the state will spend more than $1 billion of required investments in commercially generated renewable power.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.energycentral.com/functional/news/news_detail.cfm?did=24187221Share This Post
Apr 12 - The Gazette - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
A day after the Iowa Senate approved expanding state tax credits for small-scale wind turbines, renewable energy advocates were at the Capitol encouraging lawmakers to more aggressively assist Iowans in harvesting wind and solar energy resources.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.energycentral.com/functional/news/news_detail.cfm?did=24198017Share This Post
Apr 12 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Rob Pavey The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.
Cost estimates for the U.S. Department of Energy's $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee for Southern Nuclear's Plant Vogtle expansion remain unavailable, despite a judge's conclusion two weeks ago they should be made public.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.energycentral.com/functional/news/news_detail.cfm?did=24201219Share This Post
By Morgan Lee Thursday, April 12, 2012
A kind of rapid wear on steam generator tubes that was previously seen in only one of San Onofre’s idled reactors has been detected in the second reactor, further complicating efforts to restart the plant, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Thursday.
Wear from tubes rubbing against each other was first seen in the Unit 3 reactor, which was shut down Jan. 31. Steam generators at the northern reactor, known as Unit 2, were previously diagnosed with tube degradation from vibrations against tube support structures after the unit was taken down for routine maintenance in early January. But recent inspections show the nickel alloy tubes in Unit 2 are also thinning at an accelerated rate from contact with each other, NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said.
“All of the steam generators are exhibiting the same kind of wear,” Dricks said, noting that the wear in Unit 3 is more excessive than in Unit 2. The replacement generators were installed from late 2009 through early 2011.
Nuclear regulators and plant operator Southern California Edison still have no timeline for restarting San Onofre. The prospect of a summer without power from the idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is highlighting San Diego County’s heavy dependence on the two troubled seaside reactors.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/apr/12/san-onofres-dual-nuclear-reactors-share-same-probl/Share This Post
By DIANE CARDWELL April 12, 2012
Late Wednesday night, BrightSource Energy, a start-up formed to build solar thermal power plants, was forced to make a humbling admission: Despite a year of hopes and efforts, it could not find the market it wanted for its stock. The company canceled its initial public offering of shares just hours before trading was to begin.
Not too long ago, the prospects for BrightSource seemed so limitless that the company incorporated the word into its logo. It had raised tens of millions of dollars from leading venture capitalists, struck partnerships with corporations like Google, Siemens and NRG Energy and secured a coveted $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee for its signature Ivanpah plant in the California desert. Supported by state policy that encouraged utilities to buy lots of solar power, BrightSource had also signed long-term deals to sell much of its planned electricity output to two large utilities.
Then prices plunged for power generated by competing energy sources like natural gas and traditional photovoltaic solar panels. Government subsidies dried up. And investors who once clamored to get a piece of any clean-energy company started shunning all of them.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/business/energy-environment/clouds-on-solars-horizon.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rssShare This Post
Written by: Eric Rosenbaum 04/12/12 - 2:02 PM EDT
Tickers in this article: FSLR
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's a rare day that Wall Street does solar investors a favor, and a rarer event when sanity dictates solar investing.
The failure of BrightSource Energy to go public for the second time in as many years shows though that rationality does exist in solar when push comes to shove. Or at least when a science project is peddled as an IPO-worthy company.
An old proverb applies to large-scale solar thermal project developer BrightSource Energy's latest failed bid to hawk its unproven wares on the investing public. Fail to go public once, shame on you. Fail twice, even more shame on you. Cite the "adverse market conditions," as BrightSource did on Thursday, and give me a break.
When I first found out that BrightSource was back on the road selling its solar thermal story last month, the immediate thought that came into my head -- a thought solar analysts with whom I spoke also pointed to -- was a comment made by First Solar CEO Michael Ahearn during his recent conference call with analysts when asked about the outlook for the large-scale solar project market in the United States.
"New RFP solicitations in California...showed a pretty steep decline over the last couple of solicitation years. That's, I think, representative of the trend that new RFPs and PPA agreements...have declined pretty substantially, the pace of them," Ahearn said. "So the outlook is not for significant new solicitations or offtake agreements... shipments and installations...will continue to grow but as a function of agreements that have already been put into place during the last procurement cycle...We see the U.S. in terms of new additional solicitations and offtakes as being not nonexistent but sporadic and not at particularly high levels for the next several years."
To read the entire article go to: http://business-news.thestreet.com/denver-post-energy/story/in-brightsource-ipo-failure-rare-display-of-solar-common-sense/11493515Share This Post
By CASSANDRA SWEET Updated April 12, 2012, 7:48 p.m. ET
BrightSource Energy Inc.'s decision to cancel a planned IPO may have been a logical response to stock-market conditions, but the move adds to recent disappointments for the clean-technology industry.
The Oakland, Calif., solar power company on Thursday withdrew its registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, after announcing late Wednesday night that it was canceling its IPO.
"We made this decision from a position of strength," BrightSource Chief Executive John Woolard said Thursday. "We're in a strong financial position, we have a great foundation of investors and our business continues as planned."
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304356604577338944055529670.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post