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July 19th, 2012 Archives
Posted: 07/17/2012 12:45 pm
Royal Dutch Shell, the global energy giant, has already invested more than $4 billion in its Arctic drilling venture, but that was apparently not enough to purchase proper mooring in Alaska's Dutch Harbor and avoid a subsequent public relations mess.
Precisely what happened is still being sorted out. Official accounts had the Noble Discoverer, one of two massive drilling rigs that Shell had parked midway up the Aleutian Island chain, dragging anchor in stiff winds over the weekend before coming to a halt 100 yards offshore.
Locals, including a shutterbug harbor captain, disputed that scenario and lit up Twitter and Facebook with photographs showing the rig all but on the beach.
"There's no question it hit the beach," Kristjan Laxfoss, the harbor captain, told The Associated Press on Sunday. "That ship was not coming any closer. It was on the beach."
Judge for yourself:
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-zeller-jr/shell-arctic-drilling_b_1679697.html?utm_hp_ref=greenShare This Post
By Steven Mufson, Published: July 18
KEENE, N.D. — Donny Nelson is the epitome of old-time North Dakota. A lean, sharp-featured man sporting a thick goatee, jeans and dirty boots, Nelson is the grandson of homesteaders. Over the past century his family has collected 8,000 acres of prime cattle grazing acreage and cropland.
But now Nelson has some unwanted company: Oil prospectors.
This remote corner of North Dakota is the site of the biggest U.S. oil rush in decades. It is pumping new supplies into oil markets and swelling state coffers; advocates say it could help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But the boom is also spreading a degree of chaos across the rural towns and gently undulating pasturelands here.
Two towering oil rigs are drilling holes on Nelson’s property. One of the rigs, alongside two rows of 25-foot storage tanks, is planted on a red dirt pad, or clearing, right below a majestic butte that Native Americans over the ages have visited for ceremonial fasts. When they were kids, Donny and his brother climbed up and carved their names on the flat-topped butte next to others going back to 1880.
This is Nelson’s land, but he won’t see any money from those wells, or nearly a dozen others that firms are planning to drill. The mineral rights were sold years ago, starting in the 1950s, when oil was discovered in North Dakota. Nelson and his family have leased out rights they do own, and his share of the royalties from four wells comes to about $8,000 a month.
It’s a modest sum, he said, for the headaches that go with it. He’s squabbled with oil companies over drilling waste, a saltwater spill and decades-old storage tanks eaten away by chemicals.
“I’d give it all back if I could for all the trouble it’s been,” said Nelson, 48.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/in-north-dakota-the-gritty-side-of-an-oil-boom/2012/07/18/gJQAZk5ZuW_story.htmlShare This Post
By Steven Mufson, Published: July 18
MALTA, Mont. — Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) says that it took some doing to get TransCanada to strike deals for an “on-ramp” that would allow companies drilling for oil in eastern Montana and North Dakota’s Bakken reservoir to feed some of their output into the proposed 1,700-mile-long Keystone XL pipeline.
Every time TransCanada asked him about the slow pace of state permitting for the pipeline, Schweitzer said he would ask them about their negotiations with Bakken producers. This went on, he said, for about 18 months.
“I had meetings with oil guys. Everyone was telling me about their problems with TransCanada,” Schweitzer recalled. “I said, ‘I’m a rancher. And when you got a horse, a 4- or 5-year-old coming along pretty good, and you come to a point where it locks up, and it weighs 1,200 or 1,300 pounds, and I weigh only 210. Then you just saddle it up, put a bridle on, tie a front leg to a saddle horn and they’re standing there on three legs. Then you walk up and give them a push and they just about fall down. When that happens, they listen.’ ”
The lesson for the oil producers was this, Schweitzer said with relish: “I said, ‘Tell you what I’ll do to TransCanada. I’ll tie one leg up there and they’ll start listening.’ . . . That’s exactly what I did.”
Today TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL, designed to carry petroleum from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas, includes an on-ramp that could accommodate 100,000 barrels a day of oil from the Bakken oil boom. The pipeline itself does not cross North Dakota, but it would have a regional link in Baker, Mont.Share This Post
Posted: 07/17/2012 3:48 PM
Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s chief executive officer acknowledges that the company "lost its way" before the San Bruno explosion in a new, $10 million multimedia advertising blitz being paid for by its shareholders.
The campaign, launched last week on television and this week on radio, marks the company's first large-scale public relations foray since a gas-transmission pipeline ruptured and exploded in September 2010, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. PG&E apologized for the disaster in June 2011 ads in major newspapers, including The Chronicle.
The main television ad features CEO Tony Earley admitting that he saw PG&E had "lost its way" before he took over the company last summer after running a utility in Detroit. "But I came here because the people clearly haven't," Earley says.
He said he is one of 20,000 employees dedicated to "bringing PG&E back" by providing safe, reliable and affordable service.
The campaign coincides with a criminal investigation into the San Bruno disaster by federal, state and local prosecutors. PG&E is also facing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in regulatory fines related to the blast and operation of its natural-gas system, as well as millions more in 300 lawsuits filed by San Bruno victims and their families.
To read the entire article go to: http://m.sfgate.com/sfchron/db_106666/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=F9EXYZgIShare This Post
Troubled Nuclear Site to in Defending Abrupt Ouster of Chief Executive
By REBECCA SMITH Updated July 18, 2012, 7:54 p.m. ET
Duke Energy Corp.'s defense of its controversial ouster of CEO Bill Johnson is beginning to focus on a central issue, people familiar with the matter say: How Mr. Johnson handled escalating problems at the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida.
The troubled plant, which has been shut down since 2009 because of serious structural defects, is likely to be the subject of questions when Mr. Johnson testifies about his ouster in a hearing Thursday at the North Carolina Utilities Commission in Raleigh, N.C. The plant was owned by Mr. Johnson's Progress Energy Inc. before its merger with Duke this month.
Regulators want to know why Mr. Johnson was replaced as Duke's new CEO only hours after Duke and Progress completed their $26 billion deal, which created a six-state utility company. Under the merger agreement, Mr. Johnson, Progress's chief executive, was to have headed the combined utility.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444330904577535311161457658.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By Morgan Lee
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Drenched in sunshine, the Imperial Valley has become a staging ground for the greening of San Diego's energy supply.
The valley's local customer-owned utility, however, has been playing catch-up when it comes to providing more electricity from sources other than fossil fuels and nuclear reactors, according to a report published Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The Imperial Irrigation District earned a "false start" mark on its progress toward state goals for the delivery of renewable energy, finishing second-to-last among the state's 10 largest publicly owned utilities. The utility also was judged on whether its investments have stimulated new development of renewable energy sources, explained Laura Wisland, a senior energy analyst with the advocacy group for clean energy.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/19/green-energy-slow-going-imperial-valley-utility/Share This Post
By PATRICK McGEEHAN July 17, 2012
When dark smoke rose from a manhole outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Monday afternoon, it looked like a sign of the sort of trouble that Consolidated Edison has dreaded for the last three weeks.
With the temperature hovering near 90 degrees, electrical cables had started to burn beneath the pavement at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street, threatening to cut off power along one of the most expensive stretches of real estate in the world. An emergency call went out, but none of Consolidated Edison’s 8,000 unionized utility workers could answer it: They have all been locked out of their jobs since July 1.
In their stead came makeshift crews of the company’s managers, some of whom had not spliced a high-voltage cable in more than a decade and others who never had. In flame-retardant coveralls, steel-toed boots and hard hats, the more experienced managers, like Michael Melendez, clambered down into the manhole and cut the damaged cables. Those who had held only desk jobs at the company were relegated to aiming flashlights and carrying tools.
“It’s all hands on deck,” Mr. Melendez said as he identified the managers who formed the crews he was overseeing outside the Armani boutique opposite Trump Tower. One normally spends his days drawing up schedules in an office in East Harlem. Another is a supervisor from Staten Island.
They were among the 5,000 managers Con Ed has deployed to maintain and repair the grid that distributes electricity throughout New York City and parts of Westchester County. They were called into action just hours after a four-year contract with Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America expired at midnight on June 30. But they had already been given some brief training — or retraining — sessions.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/nyregion/con-ed-managers-splice-cables-or-hold-flashlights.html?_r=1Share This Post
Greensmith’s 1.5MW project with San Diego Gas & Electric, and Silent Power, Satcon and A123 test solar and batteries in Sacramento
Jeff St. John: July 17, 2012
California leads the nation in rooftop solar panels, which means it may soon start leading the nation in the technologies that integrate that solar into the grid -- like batteries, if they can do it at the right price.
That’s the test that Greensmith Energy Management Systems will be taking on a megawatt scale soon. The Bethesda, Md.-based startup makes software and hardware for managing batteries and their connection to the grid, including several solar-balancing projects with the likes of Hawaii Electric Co., Carolina utility Progress Energy (now part of Duke Energy), and big Southeast utility Southern Co.
Another, a 50-kilowatt, 82-kilowatt-hour project with solar-rich utility San Diego Gas & Electric, appears to have proven itself ready for a second, bigger phase. Greensmith CEO John Jung told me in an interview last week that the company is now hooking up 1.5 megawatts of grid-balancing lithium-ion batteries, set up in five 300 kilowatt-hour units, for SDG&E some time this fall.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/california-ground-zero-for-battery-backed-solar/Share This Post
by Chris Clarke on July 18, 2012 4:30 PM
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) announced Tuesday that it was assessing 26 bids for solar power production under the utility's fledgling Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program. Winning bidders will be able to sell their solar electricity to DWP, at the agreed-upon price, for up to 20 years.
FITs, which provide a strong incentive for small-scale installations of rooftop solar and other renewables, are largely credited for the explosion in solar power capacity in Germany, Spain, Australia, and other countries. "This is a significant step toward enhancing the amount of solar energy produced in Los Angeles," General Manager Ronald O. Nichols said in a DWP press release. "We are very encouraged by the strong showing of well-priced proposed projects in the first round of bidding. "Share This Post
email@example.com Published Thursday, Jul. 19, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO – It took the promise of nearly $2 billion in rail upgrades in the Bay Area and Los Angeles for Gov. Jerry Brown to secure the Legislature's support for high-speed rail, so it was there that the Democratic governor celebrated on Wednesday.
Discontent with the project and legal challenges, however, linger in the Central Valley – the site of the first track actually designed for high-speed trains. Had Brown come there, one opponent said, he might have had tomatoes lobbed at him.
"We wouldn't want to waste our specialty crops, like pistachios and almonds, on him," said Anja Raudabaugh, executive director of the Madera County Farm Bureau, one of several Valley groups suing to block the project.
But in signing the bill authorizing initial funding for the $68 billion project, Brown and his entourage on Wednesday dismissed such mistrust and emphasized the regional and statewide benefits of the plan.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/19/4641314/jery-brown-signs-rail-bill-avoids.htmlShare This Post
July 18, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- It wasn't the first time Gov. Jerry Brown has addressed the potentially harmful impact of high-speed rail on his November ballot initiative to raise taxes, but it was perhaps his most direct response yet.
"First of all, I don't really believe in the Field Poll," Brown said when asked this afternoon about a poll that showed many voters could lose their appetite for higher taxes if the state approved high-speed rail funds. "And I'll tell you one reason I don't: High-speed rail is more popular than I am right now. So if I believe that, I might pack my bags and head back to the monastery."
The nonpartisan Field Poll found recently that a fifth of likely voters who support Brown's proposal to raise taxes say they would be less likely to support it if the Legislature appropriated money for California's $68 billion high-speed rail project.
The Legislature did just that, and Brown signed legislation today authorizing initial construction.
"A poll here and a poll there," he said. "I got 10 polls in my back pocket that tell me everything I want to know and don't want to know, so don't worry about the Field Poll."
Brown described controversy about the rail project as one between "doers" and "fearful men."
"We are in a culture of immediate gratification -- me, now, easy," he said. "This is about us, long and difficult."Share This Post
By MATT FLEGENHEIMER July 16, 2012
Since the spring, New Yorkers were told to save the date — or at least the month.
By late July, city officials said, a long-awaited bike-share program would arrive, adding a new public travel alternative to the city’s streets.
But with only two weeks remaining to accomplish that goal, the city acknowledged on Monday that the program, Citi Bike, would not begin as scheduled. “We’re working on the launch plan and will update the public as soon as we finalize all the details,” said Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, who confirmed the program would not begin in July.
After advertising a July start date since the spring, the city had begun to hedge in recent days. On Friday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was asked during a radio interview if he knew when the program would begin. “Not yet, still working, trying to get it done,” he said. “With any big system there’s always things that you’ve got to make sure work before you turn it on. We’re not going to turn it on until it’s ready.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/17/nyregion/new-yorks-bike-share-program-delayed.htmlShare This Post
By STEVEN ASHLEY
Published: July 13, 2012
FOR all their attractions, electric cars can be hard to justify on a practical basis. Factors like a comparatively high initial cost — and a limited ability to make long trips — cut into their viability as mass-market transportation.
But runabouts like the Hiriko, a two-seat microcar prototype designed specifically for urban car-sharing programs, offer a promising solution to gaps in today’s transportation network. Short-distance car sharing with electrics could help bridge the gap between a commuter’s home and mass transit — the so-called first-mile problem — or from mass transit to the workplace, the last-mile problem.
“The first- and last-mile problem has been growing steadily during the last 50 years as cities expanded,” said Elizabeth Deakin, professor of city and regional planning and urban design at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s often just too far to walk to a mass-transit station.”
To read the entire article go to:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/automobiles/shrink-to-fit-car-for-city-parking.htmlShare This Post