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July 4th, 2012 Archives
Posted: 07/03/2012 12:59 pm Mark Gongloff
Did Jamie Dimon break a mirror or something? Because his bank, JPMorgan, once less fallible than the Pope, is suddenly having a terrible run of luck.
The bank's stock price was hit by a series of blows on Tuesday -- including a fresh scandal that raised the specter of Enron -- even as the rest of the stock market rallied.
The biggest blow was probably a New York Times story that the bank pushed mutual-fund clients into its own brand of mutual funds, which performed poorly and charged high fees. The story might make you think that maybe JPMorgan Chase cares only about money and not its clients! And you'd be right.
But wait, there was more: The bank is also the subject of a probe by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission into charges that it manipulated power markets in California and the Midwest, the Financial Times writes:
The electricity investigation involves whether JPMorgan's bidding strategies extracted "inflated" or "excessive" payments from two wholesale power markets serving California and several Midwest states. The bank's commodities business owns or has rights to output from several electric generators.
If charges of power-market manipulation sound familiar to you, then you win the prize for remembering the Enron scandal.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-gongloff/jpmorgan-chase-power-market_b_1647131.html?utm_hp_ref=businessShare This Post
Posted: 07/03/2012 11:22 am Updated: 07/03/2012 11:22 am
One scandal-ridden company has managed to essentially avoid paying U.S. income taxes for more than two decades.
Since its founding 23 years ago, Chesapeake has paid about 1 percent in taxes of its $5.5 billion in pretax profits, Bloomberg reports. Because of the risk that oil and gas companies could drill into a well that ends up being dry, they are allowed a loophole to stave off paying taxes on a large percentage of income. Less than a single percent of Chesapeake’s wells turned up dry last year.
Chesapeake has been marred by scandal in recent months. Investors stripped Aubrey McClendon, the company’s founder, of his chairmanship last month after reports surfaced that he, among other corporate governance issues, accepted a personal loan from a company that was working with Chesapeake.
Still, Chesapeake isn’t the only major company to use a loophole in an aim to lower its tax bill. Thirty of America’s most profitable companies paid nothing in income taxes over the last three years, according to a November report from the Citizens for Tax Justice. In addition, nearly 300 companies paid an average tax rate of 18.5 percent between 2008 and 2010. The U.S. corporate tax rate is technically 35 percent.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/chesapeake-income-taxes_n_1646150.html?utm_hp_ref=businessShare This Post
By Lisa Hymas
Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second-largest natural-gas producer in the U.S., has paid just 1 percent in income taxes over its 23-year history, Bloomberg reports. In theory, the U.S. corporate income tax rate is 35 percent.
The company and other U.S. oil and gas producers can thank a century-old rule that allows them to postpone income taxes in recognition of the inherent risk of drilling wells that may turn out to be dry. The break may be outdated for companies such as Chesapeake, which, thanks to advances in technology, struck oil or gas in 99.6 percent of its wells last year. … When the tax policy first came into use, an average of 80 percent of all the wells drilled were dry holes, according to a 2008 Congressional Research Service report [PDF] on the history of energy tax policy.
President Barack Obama has tried over and over again to get rid of this tax loophole. “In its most recent plan, the White House estimated this year that the change would add $3.5 billion to federal coffers in 2013 and $13.9 billion over 10 years,” reports Bloomberg.
But Republican “deficit hawks,” so eager to cut food stamps and heating assistance for the poor, have, oddly, not risen to his aid.Share This Post
Posted: 07/02/2012 09:21:15 PM MDT
Updated: 07/02/2012 09:22:27 PM MDT
By Yesenia Robles
The Denver Post
COMMERCE CITY — City councilmembers voted unanimously to approve a set of city-level regulations on oil and gas to create a way for the city to retain control in regulating proposed fracking and drilling operations.
A crowd of about 20 residents wearing bright blue name tags applauded the 8-0 vote. Councilwoman Jadie Carson was absent at the Monday night meeting.
Before the vote, one man — a visitor from Lafayette — asked the city to keep in mind that residents and local officials must hold control to strictly regulate fracking operations that he said could be dangerous.
To read the entire article got to: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_20994400Share This Post
Published: Tuesday, July 03, 2012, 4:06 PM Updated: Tuesday, July 03, 2012, 4:17 PM
By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian
A settlement between environmental groups and federal agencies covering the development of energy corridors in West could mean more trouble for Northwest Natural Gas Co.'s on-again-off-again quest to build a pipeline across the Cascades through Mt. Hood National Forest.
The settlement would revise a Bush-era plan under the 2005 Energy Policy Act to establish energy corridors across the West with streamlined regulatory approvals of transmission lines and pipelines.
Environmentalists sued the Department of Interior in U.S. District Court to block the plan in 2009. They argued the original designations didn't facilitate renewable energy development, failed to look at environmental consequences and provided insufficient protections for public lands within the designated corridors.
The settlement, if approved by the court, would force the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the Department of Energy to adopt a more rigorous process for approving corridors, consider access for renewables, look at options to avoid or reduce environmental impacts and provide more opportunities for public input.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/07/palomar_pipeline_across_the_ca.htmlShare This Post
By Carlos Sadovi and Jeff Danna
3:15 PM CDT, July 4, 2012
A freight train hauling coal derailed on Union Pacific tracks near Willow Road and Shermer Avenue this afternoon by the Northbrook-Glenview border.
Witnesses said the bridge overpass over Shermer Avenue collapsed in the accident.
Union Pacific Spokesman Mark Davis said the train derailment occurred at 1:45 p.m. and was enroute to a utility plant in Wisconsin from a coal mine in eastern Wyoming.
The train had three locomotive engines and four of its 138 train cars had derailed, Davis said. There were no reported injuries from the derailment, said Davis.
He said a small fire occurred after the incident that involved vegetation in the area. He said the tracks being used are only used by its freight lines. No Metra service occurs on these tracks, said Davis.
He said the cause is under investigation.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.chicagotribune.com/search_results/?q=CoalShare This Post
Obama's Team Wants to Foster Green Energy and Clean Tech
Ken Silverstein | Jul 02, 2012
The July 4th holiday is bringing out the fireworks. But the biggest features are in the political realm, where the House Republicans are now trying to cut President Obama’s green energy program down to size, saying it has “failed.”Share This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD July 3, 2012
Duke Energy said on Tuesday that it had completed its $32 billion merger with Progress Energy, a few hours after South Carolina gave final approval. The move creates the largest electric utility in the United States, with 7.1 million customers in six states in the Southeast and Midwest.
In a last-minute switch that the company declined to explain, William D. Johnson, who was the chairman, president and chief executive of Progress, was not named president and chief executive of the merged entity, but instead was leaving “by mutual agreement.” James Rogers, Duke’s chairman and chief executive, who was going to be executive chairman, will now be the chief executive as well.
In an interview, Mr. Rogers said that the two companies had immediately integrated their generating systems, one of three steps designed to save 5 to 7 percent of nonfuel operating expenses. Duke has a pumped storage system that can be used to store energy for peak periods, but often did not make full use of it, he said. Now in the mornings, power will flow from Progress’s territory in the east to Duke’s storage system in the west, to pump water uphill, and at afternoon peak, the water will generate electricity, which will flow in the opposite direction.
The company, still called Duke Energy and still with headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., expects other savings from the elimination of duplicate functions and improvements in processes. It will reduce its head count of nearly 30,000 through a voluntary severance plan, executives said.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/04/business/energy-environment/duke-energy-merger-creates-largest-us-utility.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
3 Jul 2012
The Washington Post
Washington has learned to pronounce “derecho.”
But we may never figure out how to say, “que sera.”
In some ways, it’s what defines this place.
Suddenly, the nation’s legislators, regulators, litigators and officiators are left helpless, sweating in their underpants, surrounded by their rotting food and blank-screened BlackBerrys.
“Someone must be held accountable for this!” they say.
But how can you drag a historic thunderstorm before a congressional subcommittee? Would it be possible to handcuff 70-mph winds? Indict a jet stream hovering above a hot air mass?
There is no Washington-style redress for the rare and devastating thunderstorm that whomped the region Friday night and that has left a good chunk of its ruling class without electricity.
To read the entire article go to: http://thewashingtonpost.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx#Share This Post
“Attempting to fit variable renewable energy resources into these operating practices is often like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.”
Herman K. Trabish: July 2, 2012
Not long ago, grid operators only had to worry about coal, nuclear, natural gas and big hydro as sources of electricity generation. Except for the pollution, the threat of radioactive disaster, and blocking rivers, it was a simpler, more innocent time.
A day-ahead schedule with an hourly real-time update of dispatch in response to unexpected rising and falling demand worked fine for grid operators. The only forecasts they had to worry about were planned maintenance and major changes in weather.
Continued reliance today on such antiquated grid operating standards amounts to de facto discrimination against variable renewables like wind and solar.
To integrate variable renewables into a transmission system, sub-hourly scheduling and dispatch of generation, based on detailed forecasts of renewable resources and the state of the older power plants, is vital.
“Many of these grid operating practices were put in place decades ago to accommodate peculiar attributes of the fossil, nuclear, and hydroelectric power plants that made up nearly the entire generating fleet at the time,” the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and its allies wrote last fall in pre-decision comments on proposed rule changes by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC). “Attempting to fit variable renewable energy resources into these operating practices is often like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/New-Fed-Grid-Rules-for-Solar-and-Wind-/Share This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD July 3, 2012, 12:37 pm
As my colleague John Schwartz reports in The Times, Friday night's storms left millions of people in sweaty darkness. Just how much electric load was unplugged?
About as much as it would take to serve the metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh and Dayton, Ohio, according to an informal calculation by PJM, the regional grid operator. (The letters used to stand for Pennsylvania-Jersey-Maryland, but the organization now manages the moment-to-moment supply of electricity for 60 million people in all or part of 13 states plus the District of Columbia.)
Paula DuPont-Kidd, a PJM spokeswoman, said that local losses of power had reduced demand by 5,000 to 6,000 megawatts. That's about as much as the output of 10 full-size coal plants.
On Saturday, she said, peak demand had been expected to reach 133,000 megawatts. But because of the blackouts caused by damage to the distribution system and because lower-than-expected temperatures had air-conditioners working less hard, it rose to only 120,000 megawatts, Ms. DuPont-Kidd said.
Sluggishness in the economy, especially industry, has depressed the demand for power over all, and the grid has plenty of capacity this year, she noted. So far "the system hasn't been stressed'' in 2012, she said, and PJM has made no emergency appeals to customers to conserve energy.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/counting-the-power-failures/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Joshua Bright for The New York Times
John Lucchini, a Consolidated Edison mechanic, rallied locked-out union workers outside the utility’s Manhattan headquarters on Monday.
Published: July 2, 2012
Consolidated Edison and its biggest union made progress on Monday toward getting back to bargaining, one day after the utility company locked out 8,000 workers and sent managers and contractors into the field to keep electricity flowing throughout sweltering New York City.
Representatives of both sides agreed to meet on Thursday with federal mediators in hopes of restarting negotiations on a new contract for Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America. They were urged to reconcile by several elected officials, including the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, just hours after a supervisor burned his head while repairing equipment in a substation in Brooklyn.
Union officials quickly cited the accident as the sort of trouble that would inevitably occur with less-experienced people maintaining a sprawling network of cables, switches and wires that serve 3.2 million customers in the city and Westchester County.
But a Con Ed spokesman, Michael Clendenin, said the injuries were minor and could have happened to any of its workers.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/nyregion/con-edison-and-locked-out-union-to-talk-thursday.htmlShare This Post
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM July 2, 2012
It’s not just ice cream that’s melting down out there.
The region’s politicians, accustomed to running the world from climate-controlled capitols and S.U.V.’s, are being thrust into the sweltering streets by this record heat wave, handing out water, touring tree-strewn roads and assuring the sweaty public that cooler days and fully functioning power grids lie ahead.
But beneath the blue blazers and oxford shirts, their tempers — along with the temperatures — are rising.
After a helicopter tour of a water-parched county, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey ran out of patience on Saturday when a reporter asked a question about his plans for a legislative session.
“Are you stupid?” Mr. Christie shouted. “On topic! On topic! Next question.”
A few seconds later, the governor walked off, but not before adding: “I’m sorry for the idiot over there. Take care.”
And on Monday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City became confused, and then angered, when asked at an outdoor news conference about a brawl that broke out at a public pool in Brooklyn on Friday.
“I had no idea there was an incident. What was the incident? Did someone go swimming?” the mayor asked about the fight, which shut down McCarren Pool and was widely reported in the New York media.
The reporter explained what had happened: Lifeguards had been attacked by rowdy teenagers at the pool, which had been closed for 28 years before it was reopened by the mayor in a public ceremony on Thursday.
“Well, what do you want me to say?” Mr. Bloomberg snapped.
The mayor, who had rolled up the sleeves of his pink oxford shirt, heaped on a dollop of sarcasm — “O.K., we’ll put a cop next to every lifeguard in the city” — before dismissing the question entirely.
“Come on, think about it!” he angrily urged the reporter.
A mayoral spokesman, Stu Loeser, said later that Mr. Bloomberg had simply not been briefed on the clash. “There are scuffles in city schools every single day,” Mr. Loeser wrote in an e-mail. “The mayor doesn’t get a briefing on every scuffle in every school or pool — and certainly not ones where there are zero arrests and medical attention is refused.”
Mr. Loeser did not reply to a question about how the mayor was coping with the heat. A Christie spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Outside New York, the heat wave has had a more serious impact on those who run the government.
In Virginia, members of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s staff have lost power and, in some cases, property: the home of the governor’s chief of staff, Martin Kent, was significantly damaged when a tree fell on it.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/nyregion/as-sun-bears-down-christie-growls-and-bloomberg-barks-some-too.htmlShare This Post
If you live elsewhere in America but follow a lot of political journalists on Twitter, you've probably been treated to a weekend full of fine whines about power outages in the area. Oftentimes writers have attempted to connect this to larger questions about the state of American infrastructure. But even though there really are a lot of problem with U.S. electricity infrastructure, these outages aren't about those problems. The power plants are still running, and the grid still has juice. The problem is simply that wind blew a lot of trees down and they knocked a lot of wires down.
Where I live downtown the power lines are buried, so we haven't had a problem. So why aren't power lines buried everywhere?
To read the entire article go to: http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/07/02/tall_buildings_prevent_power_outages.html?wpisrc=sl_iphoneShare This Post
Daily Mail Business Editor
Wednesday July 4, 2012
Friday's windstorm affected many of Appalachian Power's industrial customers in West Virginia, said spokeswoman Jeri Matheney.
Appalachian has 2,692 industrial customers across southern West Virginia. Many are among the state's largest consumers of electricity.
"A lot of coal companies are out of power," Matheney said Wednesday afternoon.
The plant at Alloy, Fayette County, which makes silicon metal was without power but service has been restored. "It was on their line not ours," Matheney said.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.dailymail.com/Business/201207040083Share This Post