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May 16th, 2012 Archives
By Mark Jaffe The Denver Post 05/14/2012 - 9:36 PM EDT
Even as utilities — such as Xcel Energy in Colorado — move to build gas-fired power plants, fossil fuels should be phased out by 2040 to blunt man-made climate change.
That was the message delivered Monday by Dan Arvizu, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory , at the opening session of the World Renewable Energy Forum in Denver.
The biennial meeting is being attended by about 3,000 renewable-energy representatives, advocates and policymakers from 66 countries .
The majority of utility investments in the U.S. over the past few years have been for renewable-energy sources. Every energy investment is long-lived, operating for 50 years or more, Arvizu said.
In the U.S., utilities are making their biggest investment — aside from wind and solar — in gas-fired power plants.
To read the entire article go to: http://business-news.thestreet.com/denver-post-energy/story/nrel-chief-natural-gas-has-limited-role-energy-future/1Share This Post
By Charles Calderon | 05/11/12 12:00 AM PST
California’s economy has taken its fair share of hits over the last few years, and it appears the road to economic recovery continues to be an uphill battle. California ranked 34th in real GDP growth in 2011, and we continue to have one of the worst unemployment rates (10.9 percent) in the country.
The reasons are complex and multi-faceted, but one thing is clear. Our environmental regulatory system is obsolete, duplicative and burdensome in many areas, which is hurting our business community’s ability to thrive and compete in a global marketplace. A 2009 study, commissioned by the California legislature, found that state regulations cost almost $500 billion per year or five times the state’s general-fund budget. And for the eighth year in a row, Chief Executive ranked California the worst state to conduct business, largely due to onerous environmental regulations.Share This Post
firstname.lastname@example.org Published Wednesday, May. 16, 2012
On the eve of a series of public hearings on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial but little-regulated method of oil extraction in California, an industry group said Tuesday that its members will voluntarily post information about their "fracking" operations on a disclosure website, Frac Focus, likely by the end of June.
The disclosure comes as Gov. Jerry Brown's administration, pressured by lawmakers, prepares to draft the state's first regulations for fracking, in which water and chemicals are injected thousands of feet underground to break up rock formations.
Unlike some other states, California does not have special regulations for that method of oil production, and regulators say they do not know how prevalent it is.
The Western States Petroleum Association said Tuesday that hydraulic fracturing was used in 628 of California's tens of thousands of wells last year by association member companies, mostly in Kern County. Those companies represent about 80 percent of oil production in the state.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/16/4492835/oil-industry-says-it-will-report.htmlShare This Post
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Legislation introduced Monday in Sacramento would hold executives at PG&E Corp. and California's other big utility companies personally responsible for corporate wrongdoing that happens during their tenure, revoking their bonuses and subjecting them to million-dollar fines.
The bill, written by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, is the latest legislative salvo generated by the fatal 2010 explosion in San Bruno of a natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., a subsidiary of PG&E Corp. Peter Darbee, the corporation's chief executive officer at the time of the blast, resigned last year, taking with him a $34.8 million "golden parachute" retirement package.
"This bill will prevent executives from parachuting away, scot free, when violations occur under their watch," said Hill, who represents San Bruno and has become one of the company's sharpest critics. He discussed the bill Monday at a news conference outside PG&E's San Francisco headquarters.
Hill's legislation would cover directors and top corporate executives at the holding company of each investor-owned utility. At PG&E Corp., that amounts to roughly 25 people out of the corporation's 20,000 staff, Hill said. Even if it becomes, law, however, the bill would not be retroactive and would not affect Darbee.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/15/BUQ81OHT3M.DTLShare This Post
Sunday, May 13, 2012
It's still a work in progress.
As the new chief executive officer, Earley took charge of a company reeling from the fatal 2010 explosion of a natural gas pipeline owned by its subsidiary, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Nor were PG&E's problems confined to the San Bruno explosion. A failed California ballot measure and stubborn resistance to the company's new, wireless SmartMeters had strained relationships with customers, regulators and politicians.
Earley, a veteran utility executive who was nearing retirement when PG&E called, turned the company's natural gas operations into their own business unit and brought in new executives to run it. The first outsider to lead PG&E, he is trying to reform a company with 20,000 employees at a time when it faces the possibility of more than $200 million in fines related to San Bruno.
The Chronicle spoke with Earley, 62, about his reasons for taking the job, his first impressions and PG&E's progress to date. The interview has been edited for space and clarity.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/13/BUEE1OFNQN.DTLShare This Post
Written by: Antoine Gara 05/14/12 - 12:25 PM EDT
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Although Chesapeake Energy's(CHK) language has changed in terms of the assets it will sell to close a large funding gap, the company is not changing its tune: When it comes to executing on asset sales, forget about a hiccup or two and bet on Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon to prove that all of his detractors are worrywart Chicken Littles.
Skepticism has mounted on how Chesapeake Energy can engineer asset sales to escape a liquidity crisis. The skepticism hit a crescendo late last Friday afternoon when Chesapeake disclosed in a 10-Q filing the fact that asset sales could be delayed due to the risk of breaching debt covenants. Sales of producing natural gas and oil properties could adversely affect the amount of cash flow the company generates and the use of those producing assets as collateral in debt agreements.
After shares tumbled to a 52-week low on Friday afternoon, and after an 8 p.m. press release on a Friday night from Chesapeake announcing $3 billion in emergency Wall Street credit funding, McClendon said in a Monday morning conference call that the company won't be challenged to raise billions in needed capital.
To read the entire article go to: http://business-news.thestreet.com/denver-post-energy/story/chesapeake-energy-singing-the-same-tune-amid-skepticism/11534087Share This Post
May 14, 2012
The next chapter in the Keystone XL pipeline saga has now begun. In January, President Obama rejected the first proposal from TransCanada, the pipeline company, on grounds that there was not enough time for a thorough environmental review of the project, which would carry crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to the Gulf Coast.
TransCanada recently filed a new application with the State Department, with alternative routes designed to avoid Nebraska’s Sand Hills region, an environmentally sensitive area that is at risk from potential pipeline leaks.
The department, which has jurisdiction over the project because the pipeline crosses an international boundary, must give the new application the most rigorous environmental review. It did a slipshod job on the company’s first proposal in 2010, brushing over some serious risks to the aquifer beneath the original route, as well as other environmental problems.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/opinion/confronting-keystone-again.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rssShare This Post
Posted: 05/15/2012 11:00 am
Washington’s political wars rarely match reality back home. So when politicians and K Street lobbyists peddle the $7 billion Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, you can bet the red meat rhetoric about jobs and national security -- fanciful charges according to independent analysis -- is straight out of the game plan from DC’s most popular blood sport; trolling for petro dollars.
But outside the rarefied circles of Washington, voices of a different world hold sway, voices of people who care more about community health and their children’s future than the Faustian bargains and false promises of Big Oil. These are voices of citizens from all walks of life -- grandmothers, housewives, ranchers, farmers, civic leaders -- willing to speak out about the growing threats of toxic tar sands oil in their lives. They are front line witnesses too often drowned out by the political din blaring from the monied corridors of the nation's Capitol.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rocky-kistner/voices-against-tar-sands_b_1517937.html?ref=greenShare This Post
Bruce Henderson | Charlotte Observer
last updated: May 15, 2012 11:58:21 AM
Consumer, environmental and anti-nuclear advocates said Monday they will fight proposed state legislation allowing Duke Energy to more easily pass costs of a new nuclear plant on to N.C. customers.
Duke wants N.C. lawmakers to allow it to recoup nuclear pre-construction and financing costs without filing a lengthy general rate case. The bill would instead let utilities adjust rates annually to recover those costs, something South Carolina, Georgia and Florida already allow.
Consumers Against Rate Hikes, a coalition of 12 groups, said it will fight to see that North Carolina does not repeat that “tragic mistake.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/05/15/148868/groups-oppose-duke-energys-plan.htmlShare This Post
Restarting the San Onofre nuclear plant at reduced power would not resolve issues of rapid wear on steam generator tubes that have sidelined the plant for more than three months, and might make matters worse, says an analysis commissioned by an environmentalist group.
The report Tuesday by nuclear consultant and engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates warns that reducing power would not provide a remedy for structural problems that are creating the vibrations among tubes in recently replaced steam generators at San Onofre. The analysis was commissioned by Friends of the Earth, an international organization that scrutinizes the nuclear-power industry.
More than 1,300 tubes -- 3.4 percent of the total -- have been plugged within San Onofre's two reactors as plant operator Southern California Edison and federal nuclear safety regulators study the wear from tubes apparently rubbing against support structures and each other.
The generators were designed to operate efficiently with up to 8 percent of tubes plugged. But the rapid degradation of the high-pressure tubes carrying radioactive water through reactor cores -- and a tube leak detected in January -- continue to raise vexing safety issues.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/may/15/report-questions-san-onofre-restart-plan/Share This Post
May 14, 2012 | 7:40 pm
A document released Monday by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission shows that Southern California Edison informed the federal agency of a number of planned design changes before it replaced the plant's four steam generators.
A consultant who has alleged that Edison sidestepped review of the design changes said, however, that the document left out some key points.
The new steam generators, installed in the last couple of years at an estimated price tag of $671 million, have become a major source of issues in recent months. On Jan. 31, a tube carrying radioactive water sprang a leak. The plant was powered down and has remained offline since.
To read the entire article go to: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/05/edison-san-onofre-design-changes.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29Share This Post
May 15 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Sam Pearson Desert Dispatch, Barstow, Calif.
The Marine Corps Logistics Base broke ground Monday morning on a solar photovoltaic project that will eventually provide 25 percent of the base's electricity needs.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.energycentral.com/functional/news/news_detail.cfm?did=24588873Share This Post
Cadiz Inc. could realize $1 billion to $2 billion in revenue over the plan's 50-year life. Opponents say public resources are being used for private profit.
By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
May 16, 2012
CADIZ, Calif. – Three decades ago a group of businessmen pored over NASA satellite imagery as part of a worldwide hunt for large groundwater reserves they could tap to grow desert crops. They found the signs they were looking for here in the sun-blasted mountain ranges and creosote-freckled valleys of the Mojave Desert, 200 miles east of Los Angeles.
The group, which founded Cadiz Inc., bought old railroad land, drilled wells and planted neat grids of citrus trees and grapevines, irrigating them with water that bubbled out of the desert depths at the rate of 2,000 gallons a minute.
But by the mid-1990s, Cadiz had a new business plan: Sell water, not lemons.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/news/science/Share This Post
By Mike Lee
Originally published May 15, 2012 at 4:58 p.m., updated May 15, 2012 at 5:44 p.m.
An alliance of Imperial Valley residents and former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre on Tuesday released a report that criticized the Imperial Irrigation District and raised questions about the landmark 2003 sale of water to the San Diego County Water Authority.
The 35-page analysis said the irrigation district is governed under a system in which “private interests mostly outside of Imperial Valley benefit at the expense of the people of the Imperial Valley.”
It said the Quantification Settlement Agreement between San Diego and the Imperial Irrigation District was a “give-away of important IID property rights.” That deal, which spans decades, is an important element of San Diego’s strategy to diversify its water sources.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/may/15/landmark-water-deal-comes-under-scrutiny/Share This Post
Published Wednesday, May. 16, 2012
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have failed for three years to reach common ground on a multiyear transportation bill to replace the 2005-09 bill. We're now on our ninth short-term extension, which expires June 30.
This is no way to build the transportation networks of the future or to boost economic recovery.
Worse, the Highway Trust Fund that pays for road, bridge and transit projects is set to run out of money in the next year.
It is time to end the cycle of 90-day extensions to give states and local communities some certainty, so they can take on long-term construction projects.
Between vacation breaks, the House and Senate have just three working weeks to get a transportation bill done – this week, and the weeks of June 4 and June 18.
The Senate passed a clean, bipartisan bill on a 74-22 vote. It would hold transportation spending at current levels (plus inflation), fully fund the Highway Trust Fund through September 2013, shrink programs from 90 to 30, streamline project approvals and give states more flexibility to direct resources to their highest priorities. While less than ideal, funding stability through September 2013 is far better than 90-day extensions.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/16/4492894/craft-a-clean-transportation-bill.htmlShare This Post