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July 20th, 2012 Archives
By Tom Fox, Published: July 18
Jon Wellinghoff is chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil, and reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines. Prior to joining FERC, Wellinghoff was in private law practice focusing on issues such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and distributed generation. He served two terms as the State of Nevada’s first Consumer Advocate for Customers of Public Utilities. Wellinghoff spoke with Tom Fox, who writes the Washington Post's Federal Coach blog and is the director of the Partnership for Public Service's Center for Government Leadership.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-leadership/talking-leadership-with-jon-wellinghoff-of-the-federal-energy-regulatory-commission/2012/07/18/gJQAAgsstW_story.htmlShare This Post
Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012, 3:44 PM Updated: Thursday, July 19, 2012, 3:45 PM
By Scott Learn, The Oregonian
Coal export critics ramped up pressure on Gov. John Kitzhaber today to delay any Oregon projects until a comprehensive "health impact assessment" is completed.
An assessment could take over a year, which would be a blow to Ambre Energy, the only company to date to apply for Oregon permits to export Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia.
Lining up in favor of a delay: Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oregon's Environmental Justice Task Force, the Yakama Nation, the Linnton neighborhood association in northwest Portland and leaders of north Portland's 11 neighborhood associations.
Oregon PSR said 130 physicians signed a position statement that asks the governor to delay issuing permits until comprehensive health and environmental reviews are conducted, whether by state or federal agencies or an independent group.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/07/coal_export_critics_pressure_g.htmlShare This Post
Written by: Antoine Gara 07/20/12 - 6:00 AM EDT
P/>NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As coal giants limp into the second half of the year, there's still the prospect that things could get worse for the sector. However, a weak revenue outlook and debt-laden balance sheets won't prove to be the death knell for an industry whose troubles were highlighted by the recent Patriot Coal(PCX) bankruptcy.
"I think the second half of the year is not going to be a heck of a lot better than the first half," says Davenport & Co. analyst Christopher Haberlin of his outlook for the coal sector. However, the reasons for caution are shifting.
Instead of an existential crisis, coal players head into second quarter earnings with a potential reversal of demand indicators. Met coal, which was the primary source of health for coal companies in the first half of the year thanks to Asian demand, and in particular, China, which uses the coking product to produce steel, is at risk of slacking. Thermal coal, mostly used in power generation, slumped in early 2012 as natural gas hit decade low prices, but a rebound in natural gas prices amid a late June and July heat wave has driven prices above $3, making coal an economic alternative for utilities in some markets.
To read the entire article go to: http://business-news.thestreet.com/denver-post-energy/story/coal-bankruptcy-fears-stoked-but-china-risk-is-bigger/11628095Share This Post
July 19, 2012, 3:30 pm
8:35 p.m. | Updated
RALEIGH, N.C. - Duke Energy tried to back out of a deal to buy Progress Energy as it faced increasing regulatory hurdles, the combined company's ousted chief said in a testimony on Thursday.
At a hearing before North Carolina's utilities commission, the former executive, William D. Johnson, indicated that the relationship between the companies soured as a result, dooming his tenure as chief of the newly merged utility.
"They wanted the merger. Then they didn't. Then they couldn't get out of it, and they didn't want to be stuck with me, as the person who dragged them into it," Mr. Johnson said.
He is the latest person to testify about the boardroom coup at Duke.
When the deal was struck in January 2011, Mr. Johnson, then the chief executive of Progress, was slated to become to head of the newly combined company. James E. Rogers, then the C.E.O. of Duke, would step into the role of executive chairman. But just hours after the $32 billion merger closed this July, the board fired Mr. Johnson and put Mr. Rogers in charge.
The board's actions have ignited fierce criticism that the company misled regulators. Officials in North Carolina are now looking for answers, providing a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the boardroom.
To read the entire article go to: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/07/19/duke-energy-tried-to-stop-merger-former-progress-chief-says/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By KATE GALBRAITH July 19, 2012
It is almost August. That means Texans are avoiding the heat, air-conditioners are cranking, and electrical power demand is going through the roof.
Let’s hope the power stays on.
Texas likes to be No. 1 at everything. But we are currently dead last when it comes to the reliability of our electrical system, according to a recent assessment by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, a group that keeps tabs on the country’s power situation with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii.
That means that California — yes, California — is less likely to experience systemwide blackouts this summer than Texas. That even takes into account the problems at a major nuclear plant south of Los Angeles.
“I’ve been doing assessments for five years, and I have not seen this situation” on the Texas grid system, said John Noura, the associate director of reliability assessments at N.E.R.C.
Grid officials do not expect blackouts this summer, but the problem is not going away soon, because Texas is growing. Peak demand on the state’s electricity grid (which covers most of the state but not El Paso and parts of the Panhandle and East Texas) is rising. And power companies have been reluctant to build plants because low wholesale electricity prices — caused by the abundance of natural gas extracted with hydraulic fracturing technology — are eating into their profitability. (One exception is a new natural gas plant planned for Temple; completion of its financing was announced this week.)
Other systems could resolve a power crunch fairly easily, by importing power from other states. That’s what California does. But Texas, alone among the contiguous 48 states, has its own electric grid. That is an outgrowth of the state’s keep-the-federal-government-out attitude (no interstate commerce jurisdiction here, please), and it requires self-reliance, for better or worse.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/20/us/texas-ranks-last-in-electrical-power-reliability.html?_r=1&ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Officials Cite New Intelligence Pointing to Potential Attacks on Platforms, Tankers in Region; Tehran Is 'Very Unpredictable'
By JULIAN E. BARNES Updated July 19, 2012, 5:00 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—U.S. government officials, citing new intelligence, said Iran has developed plans to disrupt international oil trade, including through attacks on oil platforms and tankers.
Officials said the information suggests that Iran could take action against facilities both inside and outside the Persian Gulf, even absent an overt military conflict.
The findings come as American officials closely watch Iran for its reaction to punishing international sanctions and to a drumbeat of Israeli threats to bomb Tehran's nuclear sites, while talks aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons have slowed.
Analysts say Iran, which denies it is developing nuclear weapons, may be looking for options to push back as it comes under growing pressure and finds its most critical ally, the Syrian regime, focused internally on its own struggle for survival.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444097904577537221896965492.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By RAKESH SHARMA July 19, 2012, 3:24 a.m. ET
NEW DELHI -- India's state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp. will continue to explore for oil and gas offshore Vietnam in the South China Sea, ignoring objections from China.
ONGC Videsh Ltd., the overseas investment arm of ONGC, has accepted Vietnam's proposal to stay invested in Block 128 as Hanoi has offered additional data that can help to make future exploration economically feasible and discovering hydrocarbons commercially viable, a senior executive with the company said Thursday.
The move is an about-turn, as India's junior oil minister R.P.N. Singh had said in parliament in May that ONGC Videsh had decided to return Block 128 to Vietnam as exploration there wasn't commercially viable.
A renewed push into the South China Sea will strengthen India's ties with Vietnam but will rile China, which has opposed India's presence in the region, claiming its own territorial rights over the potentially energy-rich sea.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444464304577536182763155666.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By PAUL MOZUR Updated July 20, 2012, 3:21 a.m. ET
BEIJING—China's Commerce Ministry said Friday that it is investigating possible solar equipment subsidies by the U.S. and South Korea and their impact on Chinese manufacturers, widening a trade spat at a time of oversupply and weakening demand for solar power equipment.
The ministry has launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into polysilicon imports from the U.S., as well as an anti-dumping probe into imports from South Korea, it said in separate statements on its website.
The investigation follows a request by leading domestic polysilicon manufacturers, including LDK Solar Co. and China Silicon Corp., state-run news agency Xinhua reported Friday, adding that it will be completed before July 20, 2013 but may be extended for another six months under special circumstances.
China's top solar producer Suntech Power Holdings Co. reported a loss in the first quarter, while its revenue dropped by more than half from a year earlier amid lower prices and sales.
Major solar markets such as the European Union, the U.S. and China, which are struggling with oversupply and weak demand, have been trading anti-dumping allegations against each other.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444330904577537820948050662.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post