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October 26th, 2012 Archives
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS October 23, 2012
“DRILL, baby, drill.” It is among the best-remembered lines of the 2008 presidential campaign, colorfully capturing the desire of many Americans for cheap, reliable energy produced at home rather than in unpredictable places like Iran or Venezuela.
No slogan in the current presidential campaign has emerged to match it, but energy has taken center stage again as an issue that encompasses concerns about the environment and national security, and now, even more pressingly, economic revival.Share This Post
By JOHN M. BRODER October 23, 2012
WASHINGTON — PRESIDENT OBAMA’S 2009 stimulus package included the largest single piece of energy legislation in American history, a $90 billion money pile for energy projects from the mundane to the exotic.
In less than three years, it financed construction of solar and wind farms, doubling renewable electricity generation. It paid for the installation of 13 million “smart” electrical meters, a start to modernizing the country’s electrical grid. It paid to weatherize a million homes, saving low-income families an average of $400 a year on their utility bills. It provided a spark for the domestic electric vehicle industry, financing construction of more than two dozen advanced battery factories. And it provided the seed money for what may emerge as a new industry in America: the production of liquid fuel from bacteria and other microorganisms.
The spending package provided billions for high-speed rail and mass transit, for job training and for carbon capture demonstration projects.
But the stimulus money is almost all gone, leaving many of these projects without a government benefactor and making them orphans in a competitive marketplace dominated by the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industries.
What happens now?
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/energy-environment/future-of-american-aid-to-clean-energy.html?ref=businessspecial2Share This Post
on October 24, 2012 at 6:18 PM, updated October 24, 2012 at 10:46 PM
The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld Clatsop County's procedural ability to reverse an earlier land use approval for the project. That paves the way for the county to finalize its subsequent decision to deny zoning approvals for a pipeline that would carry gas to the Oregon LNG terminal.
Without a pipeline, the proposed import/export terminal would appear to be dead in the water. That would be welcome news for opponents of the project, who have fought it the since 2005 on environmental, safety and public interest grounds.
"It's exciting. It's been a long fight," said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of the conservation group, Columbia Riverkeeper. "They've been fighting for years to obtain their land use decision for the pipeline. They lost, so I don't see how the project can move forward."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/10/oregon_appeals_court_rules_aga.htmlShare This Post
on October 23, 2012 at 4:00 PM, updated October 24, 2012 at 10:52 AM
File this one under symbolically significant events, or things that sometimes work the way they're supposed to.
Last Tuesday morning, wind farms plugged into the Bonneville Power Administration's transmission network hit a new generation record of 4,289 megawatts. In fact, earlier the same morning, wind farms exceeded the output of the federal hydroelectric system -- the first time that wind energy surpassed water energy in the region.
Moreover, there was no brouhaha over excess energy supply as there was last spring. Everyone went about their business and got paid. Renewables advocates contend that wind actually helped the hydro system.
The wind/water eclipse is primarily the result of BPA's dialing down hydro generation to meet light demand in the early morning.
But it also reflects another surge in wind generation on the Columbia Plateau, including the connection this year of two phases of the massive Shepherd's Flat wind farm in Gilliam and Morrow counties, as well as Puget Sound Energy's Lower Snake Wind farm in southeast Washington. Together, that's an additional 923 megawatts this year added to the region's wind fleet.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/10/wind_power_surpasses_hydro_for.html#Share This Post
Mitt Romney and oil, gas and nuclear interests want to end a tax credit for wind-energy producers. Never mind that old-energy firms are heavily subsidized too.
9:57 PM PDT, October 23, 2012
To hear business leaders and political candidates talk, proper industrial policy comprises only three elements: a fair tax system, a level playing field and "certainty."
So why is it that all three are about to be thrown out the window as a sop to oil, gas and nuclear interests determined to fillet the wind-power industry?
The maneuvering in Washington is over a federal subsidy known as the production tax credit, which is worth 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour to wind-energy producers. That's about a third of the cost of wind generation on average; under current law it can be converted into a 30% investment tax credit or, for projects that were under construction by the end of last year, into a 30% cash grant. Any way you slice it, the credit is an essential subsidy for getting the wind industry, shall we say, aloft.
But the mandate is hanging by a thread. After two decades of bipartisan support, suddenly it's a political football. Industry sources say that right up until midsummer its renewal again looked to be a slam dunk. Then it slammed into the wall.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20121024,0,704589.columnShare This Post
A research outfit called Clean Edge has just released its first annual U.S. Metro Clean Tech Index, which ranks U.S. cities by their leadership in cleantech. There’s nothing particularly shocking in it — California is way ahead! — but it’s worth mulling over.
The rankings were done on a scale of 100, with equal weight given to each of the following four categories:
Individual indicators include “green building deployment, clean vehicles in use, advanced transportation infrastructure, public transportation ridership, regional electricity mix, GHG emissions, venture capital investment, clean energy patents, and clean economy jobs, among other things.” All are weighted for population.
So who’s ahead? Here’s top 10:
- San Jose, Calif.
- San Francisco, Calif.
- Portland, Ore.
- Sacramento, Calif.
- Seattle, Wash.
- Denver, Colo.
- Los Angeles, Calif.
- Washington, D.C.
- Boston, Mass.
- Austin, Texas
A fuller look:Share This Post
There may be no state legislative race this year more freighted with significance for clean energy than the contest in California’s 27th state Senate district.
That’s where Democrat Fran Pavley, a long-time champion of clean energy, is facing off against Todd Zink, a Republican first-timer backed by a torrent of dirty-energy, and just dirty, money. The same corporate interests that haven’t been able to block or repeal Pavley’s legislative victories now want to punish her for passing them — and send a message to other state legislators who might be getting green ideas.
At stake in the race is not only Pavley’s final term in office (she has said this is the last time she plans to run), but a rare chance for Democrats to take two-thirds of the state Senate, which would at long last provide them the ability to bypass the opposition of state Republicans and manage the state’s budget like adults.
Pavley’s historyShare This Post
Posted: 10/23/2012 7:52 PM
Jigar Shah is the president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) and the founder of SunEdison, a solar energy services company with offices in Sacramento, San Clemente (Orange County) and Ontario (San Bernardino County)
When the International Trade Commission issues its final decision next month on whether U.S. solar cells manufacturers have been harmed by imports from China, the stakes will be high for California's economy.
With the Commerce Department having approved tariffs of up to 250 percent on Chinese-made silicon photovoltaic cells, the International Trade Commission still can slow the slide to a mutually destructive trade war that would hurt California. A trade war with China would not be beneficial for the U.S. solar industry.
As the largest exporting state to Asia, California exported $14.2 billion in goods and services to China in 2011. Last year, more than 28 percent of California-made computer and electronic parts were exported to China.
With its historic relationship with Asia and its trade agreement with China, San Francisco has a lot to lose.
To read the entire article go to: http://m.sfgate.com/sfchron/db_106687/Share This Post
Posted: 10/23/2012 7:52 PM
Peter Navarro is director of the documentary film "Death by China" and a public policy professor at UC Irvine. www.deathbychina.com
San Francisco is rapidly becoming, as the Office of the Mayor's website has touted, the "premier gateway" for mainland Chinese investment into the United States. If the city's successful wooing of Chinese solar manufacturers is any indication, this is not a welcome trend.
To date, under the leadership of both its previous and current mayor, no fewer than five Chinese solar companies have set up shop on San Francisco soil. This has occurred even as Bay Area solar manufacturers have either filed for bankruptcy (NovaSolar); shrunk in value to a mere shadow of their former selves (NanoSolar); or, in the unkindest cut of all, been sold off to China (MiaSole).
China is trouncing America in industries like solar, wind and steel for one simple reason - it cheats on a scale unprecedented in modern economic history. In solar's case, the Chinese government has showered its national champions with lavish subsidies, which are illegal under international trade law. These subsidies have, in turn, led to a huge over-capacity now spurring predatory Chinese manufacturers to sell solar panels into U.S. markets at margins ranging from 31 percent to 250 percent below fair value - crushing many U.S. competitors in the process.
To read the entire article go to: http://m.sfgate.com/sfchron/db_106687/contentdetail.htmShare This Post
By IAN AUSTEN October 23, 2012
OTTAWA — AND you thought pipeline politics in the United States were treacherous. Rebuffed by Washington on bringing the Keystone XL pipeline down through the western United States, Canada now finds that its Plan B — to build a pipeline to its west coast for shipping to Asia — has become mired in domestic politics thick enough to rival the tarlike oil it hopes to sell.
Getting the oil to the Far East first requires building a $5.5 billion, 730-mile pipeline from landlocked Alberta over a series of mountains to the coast of northern British Columbia. About 220 tankers a year would then navigate some of Canada’s most scenic yet treacherous waters to complete the trip.
While opposition from environmentalists and some native groups was always expected, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project has unexpectedly united British Columbians who normally are on opposite sides. Mistakes by Enbridge, which is based in Canada, have further fueled the resistance. They included missteps at regulatory hearings and the handling of a recent pipeline spill in Michigan, which was sharply criticized by the American authorities.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/energy-environment/canadas-new-pipeline-woes.html?ref=businessspecial2Share This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD October 23, 2012
THE conventional wisdom about nuclear reactors is that they are expensive to build but cheap to run.
But electricity on the wholesale market is so inexpensive, its price depressed by cheap natural gas, that some reactors may not have enough revenue to justify needed capital expenditures. Experts say that as a result, the nuclear industry may be nearing its first round of retirements since the mid-1990s.
On Monday, Dominion, which is based in Richmond, Va., announced it would close its plant in Kewaunee, Wis., which it had been trying, unsuccessfully, to sell for about a year. It had intended to buy more units in the Midwest and gain efficiencies by operating a fleet there, but found it could not do so.
When Dominion bought the plant, in 2005, it signed agreements to sell the plant’s output at rates reflecting a strong market for electricity. As those agreements expire, with a projection for continued lower prices, it is “uneconomic for Kewaunee to continue operations,” the company said.
That could be a harbinger of more closings, but it is not the only trouble sign for the industry.Share This Post
The probe will look at the costs already incurred in the long-running outage at the nuclear power plant resulting from defective replacement steam generators.
By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
October 26, 2012
The California Public Utilities Commission has launched an investigation into the nine-month outage at the San Onofre nuclear plant, which could result in rates eventually being lowered or money refunded to utility customers.
The five commissioners voted unanimously to launch the investigation at a meeting Thursday in Irvine, the first such probe in California in a decade.
Commission President Michael Peevey promised that the investigation of the darkened plant — on the coastline south of San Clemente — will be "exhaustive." It could also be time-consuming, potentially not finished until the second half of 2014.
The investigation will look at the costs already incurred in the long-running outage, which resulted from defective replacement steam generators, and at the potential cost to ratepayers from repairs as well as scenarios in which one or both reactors never come back online.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-san-onofre-20121026,0,2195924.storyShare This Post
Exelon–commissioned study advocates credit lapse
Bill Opalka | Oct 25, 2012
The wind production tax credit (PTC), is wasteful, distorts markets and has been on the books long enough for the industry to stand on its own, a new study says.Share This Post
Bill Opalka | Oct 25, 2012
NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) remains on track to set a record for new wind installations in 2012, putting its total about 10,000 MW.Share This Post
Birds and bat mortality at issue
Bill Opalka | Oct 18, 2012
A coalition of eight conservation organizations is seeking further limits on the operation of a western Maryland wind farm that it calls the deadliest in the United States.
The 28-turbine Criterion Wind Project, located near Oakland, Md., went into operation in December of 2010 and is owned by Exelon Power, a unit of Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXE).Share This Post