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May, 2012 Archives
By TENNILLE TRACY Updated May 30, 2012, 9:16 p.m. ET
The Obama administration is telling Japan and other allied countries they will have to wait before moving forward on plans to buy American natural gas, people involved in the talks said.
A dramatic increase in U.S. natural-gas production has led several U.S. companies, including Sempra Energy and Dominion Resources Inc., to seek permits from the Department of Energy to export gas to countries that lack free-trade agreements with the U.S. Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said Wednesday his company was looking at exporting from the U.S. Gulf Coast and Canada.
Sempra and Dominion are working with Japanese partners that want to import the gas as their country looks for new power sources. The U.S. currently exports relatively small amounts of natural gas via pipelines to Canada and Mexico, but a wave of recent export proposals marks the first time in decades that companies have sought to liquefy U.S. gas and transport it overseas.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304821304577436470209675022.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Posted: 05/30/2012 5:05 pm
Brendan DeMelle Executive Director, DeSmogBlog.com
Given radioactive wastewater, earthquakes, and flammable tap water, one might think that drilling and fracking could not possibly have any more dirty secrets. But here’s the biggest secret of all: it’s expensive.
With natural gas at historic low prices -- the Wall Street Journal ran a column recently suggesting that the price of gas might even sink to negative numbers, so that producers would need to pay buyers to take it off their hands -- it may seem odd to think that fracking is costly. But it’s true. Not just in terms of its environmental footprint, but also in terms of its financial costs.
And everyone should care about how expensive gas is, especially those concerned about energy security and the environment, because the answer will determine the fate of renewables, the way we use land and water, and whether our nation’s energy policies are fundamentally sound.
To understand what’s going on, you need to look at Chesapeake Energy, the second largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., the company described by its founder and CEO Aubrey McClendon as the “biggest frackers in the world.”
For 19 of the past 21 years, the company has operated at what investors call “cash flow negative” -- last year by $8.547 billion dollars -- meaning that Chesapeake has consistently spent a whole lot more than it earned. For decades.
To fund all that fracking, the company has been flipping land, engaging in so many financial transactions that it’s been said to resemble a hedge fund more than a gas driller.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brendan-demelle/chesapeake-energy-scandal-_b_1556429.html?ref=greenShare This Post
By KATE GALBRAITH May 30, 2012
AUSTIN, TEXAS — As the controversial oil and gas drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing continues to spread, governments around the world are grappling with how to regulate it. What should happen to the waste after the process, called fracking, ends? What taxes should oil and natural gas companies pay? What about earthquakes and air pollution?
One regulatory trend is becoming well-established: requirements that drilling companies disclose information about the chemicals used in fracking. The process involves shooting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals down a well to extract oil or gas deposited in shale rock. The chemicals are used for functions like reducing friction or killing bacteria. But the particulars of the disclosure requirements can differ significantly, and environmentalists are urging that they be broadened.
U.S. states that have enacted fracking disclosure legislation or rules include Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming. Ohio’s legislature approved disclosure rules last week that the governor is expected to sign into law. California is considering disclosure legislation, and the U.S. Interior Department, a repository of public lands, has also proposed disclosure rules .
In a report published this week, the International Energy Agency urged policy makers to adopt “full, mandatory disclosure of fracturing fluid additives and volumes,” to avoid sowing mistrust about fracking activities.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/business/energy-environment/seeking-disclosure-on-fracking.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
May 30, 2012 | 5:13 pm
The California Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have required energy firms to notify property owners before using hydraulic fracturing to tap oil deposits on or near their land.
The legislation, SB 1054, was pushed by state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) as the first step toward collecting information and increasing awareness about a controversial extraction technique that state regulators are only now beginning to tackle.
Currently, California does not require oil companies to disclose where they use the procedure or what chemicals they inject into the ground. Other states have imposed moratoriums and drawn up rules after toxic chemicals were discovered in drinking water near "fracking" operations.
The Brown administration has undertaken a statewide listening tour to gather public comment on fracking and has pledged to begin drafting regulations later this year.
Under Pavley's bill, oil companies would be required to give 30 days notice to land owners whose property line or residence is within 300 feet of a fracking operation. The firms would also have to notify local governments and water boards. The state's oil and gas agency would then post the information on its website.
"This is simply a 'tell-your-neighbors' type of policy," Pavley said on the Senate floor. "This is not a bill to ban, prohibit or regulate hydraulic fracturing. It’s to provide transparency to the public."
To read the entire article go to: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/05/california-senate-rejects-fracking-legislation.htmlShare This Post
05/30/2012 By Barry Cassell
South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) said May 30 that it plans to retire up to six coal-fired generating units at three locations by the end of 2018.Share This Post
By ERIC LIPTON May 30, 2012, 4:42 pm
American Electric Power conceded defeat on Wednesday, at least temporarily, in its push to save Big Sandy, its 49-year-old coal-burning plant in eastern Kentucky, surprising state officials there by withdrawing its $1 billion plan to retrofit the power plant so that it can meet tough new federal environmental regulations.
AEP, as the Ohio-based company is known, did not formally declare that it was retiring Big Sandy. But it will now need to at least temporarily shut it down because it will not have enough time to install the required pollution controls before the first deadline it faces in 2015, a company official acknowledged.
Big Sandy has become somewhat of a symbol of the plight of the coal industry nationwide, as consumption of coal by major American power companies has declined at an extraordinary rate this year. New federal rules mandating expensive retrofits to older plants are coming into force just as the price of cleaner burning natural gas has declined, with technological advances in drilling significantly increasing the natural gas supply.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/aep-backs-down-on-coal-plant-retrofit/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Posted: 05/30/2012 4:57 pm Updated: 05/30/2012 4:59 pm
An environmentalist group announced Wednesday it will be filing a lawsuit against utility company FirstEnergy over alleged environmental violations at the 1,700-acre Little Blue Run coal ash impoundment, marking a major escalation in the group's attempts to close the site down.
Members of the Little Blue Run Regional Action Group, a coalition of residents living near the impoundment, are bringing the lawsuit. They charge in their notice of intent that FirstEnergy violated state laws by exceeding pollution limits, and federal laws by failing to disclose toxic releases.
The lawsuit comes as the Environmental Protection Agency enters its third year of struggling over whether to regulate coal ash, the heavy metal-laced product of coal burnt in coal power plants, as a hazardous waste. That step has been fiercely opposed by coal companies and utilities like FirstEnergy, who contend that it would drive up the cost of storing and recycling the ash. Currently, regulations are left up to the states.Share This Post
Wayne Barber | May 30, 2012
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) blames ineffective management oversight and problems with project setup for causing cost overruns and schedule delays in finishing construction Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit.Share This Post
Renewable portfolio standards could cost Oregon jobs
David Markham | May 30, 2012
When the Oregon legislature passed the renewable portfolio standard in 2007, it didn't foresee that large, energy-hungry data centers would soon become the state's newest industry. Their development is booming in the state - thanks to attractive tax breaks, some of the lowest electricity rates in the country and climato-logic conditions that help reduce energy use. These factors present a highly attractive environment for facilities costing up to $1 billion each. This promising development, however, is combining with the 5-year-old RPS to create a conflict born of unintended consequences.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.renewablesbiz.com/article/12/05/unintended-consequences&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=RB_DAILY2&utm_term=Original-MemberShare This Post
By Morgan Lee
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Challenges lie ahead for meeting summer peak power demand in San Diego County as time runs out for restoring electricity generation at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, according to an assessment published Wednesday by grid reliability authorities.
In its summer analysis, the North American Electric Reliability Corp., or NERC, forecast "tight, but manageable," supply margins under exceptionally hot weather conditions. NERC is responsible for the reliability of the power grid in the United States, Canada and parts of Mexico.
Reserve margins on the grid operated by the California Independent System Operator will be 0.1 percentage point above the NERC reserve margin level of 15.1 percent, the report said.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/may/30/power-supplies-remain-tight-without-san-onofre/Share This Post
May 29 - The Gazette - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
If you're a rural residents looking to generate your own electricity, Linn and Johnson counties are ready.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.energycentral.com/generationstorage/wind/news/en/24727161/Not-so-mighty-wind-projects-welcome-in-CorridorShare This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD May 30, 2012
WASHINGTON — Chinese manufacturers of towers for wind turbines received unfair subsidies and must now pay duties of 13.7 to 26 percent, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday in a preliminary decision in a case brought by four American manufacturers of the towers.
The decision, the third trade case decided this year in favor of American wind and solar manufacturers, will be followed by another in the coming weeks on whether Chinese companies engaged in dumping the towers in the United States at prices below the cost of making them.
This month, the Commerce Department said China was dumping solar panels in the American market and imposed duties of 31 percent on the imports, adding to earlier duties imposed under a department ruling that China unfairly subsidized its solar manufacturers.
Some trade experts have warned that the series of rulings will increase trade tensions with China, which has already filed its own complaints about subsidies that federal and state governments give to American wind and solar companies.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/business/energy-environment/us-imposes-duties-on-chinese-wind-towers.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Posted: 05/25/2012 10:42 am
Director of News & Commentary, Union of Concerned Scientists
Unless Congress acts soon, the wind industry will have to trim its sails--and its workforce.
An essential federal tax break for the fledgling industry, scheduled to expire at the end of the year, has become a victim of Washington gridlock. President Obama was in Newton, Iowa, yesterday at TPI Composites, a leading wind blade manufacturer, to again ask Congress to extend the production tax credit, which provides a credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by wind turbines--as well as geothermal, biomass and underwater turbines--for the first 10 years of production.
The president also urged Congress to expand a 30 percent tax credit instituted in 2009 for investments in companies manufacturing renewable energy components. The package, called the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, provided $2.3 billion in credits for solar panel parts, "smart" electric meters, fuel cell components and wind turbines.
Over the last decade, wind power has become one of the fastest growing energy sources around the world. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in the United States alone wind generated 120 billion kilowatt hours last year, 20 times more than in 2000 and enough to light up more than 20 million households. That 32 percent average annual growth rate is due to a number of factors, mainly improved technology, state standards requiring utilities to ramp up their reliance on renewables--and the federal production tax credit.
The production tax credit, which debuted in 1992, helps level the playing field between wind and coal and natural gas and is critical for financing new projects. Although most wind power developers don't pay taxes because they're not yet turning a profit, they can raise capital by selling the credits to companies that do.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elliott-negin/knocking-the-wind-out-of-_b_1544538.htmlShare This Post
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012, 5:30 PM Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2012, 5:55 PM
By Richard Cockle, The Oregonian
BURNS -- The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has given the go-ahead for engineering and other surveys along a proposed electrical transmission line route that one day could serve a $300 million wind energy project on picturesque Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon.
But before the BLM construction approval is awarded, the 44-mile-long North Steens Transmission Line has a major hurdle, a court challenge filed April 5 by the Portland Audubon Society and Oregon Natural Desert Association.
The two environmental organizations dislike the aesthetics of placing 40 to 60 huge, rolled-steel wind turbines on the north end of the 9,733-foot fault-block of Steens Mountain. And they say the 415-foot turbines, access roads and associated development would threaten migratory routes and breeding areas for Bighorn sheep, golden eagles and sage-grouse.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2012/05/blm_oks_engineering_for_propos.htmlShare This Post
By ERIC LIPTON May 29, 2012
LOUISA, Ky. — For generations, coal has been king in this Appalachian town. It provided heat, light and jobs for the hundreds of people who worked in the nearby coal mines and the smoke-coughing Big Sandy power plant that burned their black bounty.
But now, coal is in a corner. Across the United States, the industry is under siege, threatened by new regulations from Washington, environmentalists fortified by money from Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York City, and natural gas companies intent on capturing much of the nation’s energy market.
So when the operator of the Big Sandy plant announced last year that it would be switching from coal to cleaner, cheaper natural gas, people here took it as the worst betrayal imaginable.
“Have you lost your mind?” State Representative Rocky Adkins, a Democrat and one of Kentucky’s most powerful politicians, thundered at Michael G. Morris, the chairman of the plant’s operator, American Electric Power, during an encounter last summer. “You cannot wave the white flag and let the environmentalists and regulators declare victory here in the heart of coal country.”
Coal and electric utilities, long allied, are beginning to split. More than 100 of the 500 or so coal-burning power plants in the United States are expected to be shut down in the next few years. While coal still provides about a third of the nation’s power, just four years ago it was providing nearly half.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/business/energy-environment/even-in-kentucky-coal-industry-is-under-siege.html?ref=businessShare This Post