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18Sep/14Off

Proposed transmission line puts corporate powerhouses at odds

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 8:41 am by FuelFix.com in Electricity, General, Politics/Policy

Big electric companies in Houston are on different sides of a debate over the need for a new power transmission line to bring electricity to the area from North Texas.

CenterPoint Energy officials visited the Houston Chronicle editorial board on Tuesday to make their case for a  130-mile line linking a CenterPoint substation near Waco to one in northwest Harris County.

They project that future generation capacity near Houston will fall short of electric power demand among CenterPoint’s 2 million-plus area customers. The new line, they argue, would bring needed power from plants to the north.

CenterPoint, a corporate descendant of the old Houston Lighting & Power, is a state-regulated monopoly that distributes electricity to customers regardless of which retail power company sells the juice.

Its proposed transmission line requires approval of the state Public Utility Commission.

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/17/proposed-transmission-line-puts-corporate-powerhouses-at-odds/

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18Sep/14Off

PG&E facing big fine for judge-shopping in rate case

Jaxon Van Derbeken

Updated 10:33 pm, Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. could face millions of dollars in fines for the lobbying campaign it waged with state regulators to assign its preferred judge to a rate-setting case stemming from the deadly San Bruno explosion, under a proposed order that the California Public Utilities Commission issued Wednesday.

The commission - which acquiesced to PG&E's request and appointed the company's choice to decide the $1 billion-plus rate case - will now decide whether PG&E broke rules barring such lobbying.

An administrative law judge with the state agency, Hallie Yacknin, ordered PG&E executives late Wednesday to appear before her next month to explain why the company should not be held in contempt for bombarding regulators with e-mails in January urging the appointment of one judge to the rate case and labeling two others as problems.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/PG-amp-E-facing-big-fine-for-judge-shopping-in-5763244.php

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18Sep/14Off

CPUC president’s ousted aide may come back as judge

Jaxon Van Derbeken

Updated 9:08 pm, Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The top aide to the head of the California Public Utilities Commission, forced from her post after e-mails showed she intervened in the selection of an administrative law judge to hear a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. rate case, is on paid leave from the agency but retains her current civil service rank - administrative law judge, The Chronicle has learned.

Carol Brown resigned as commission President Michael Peevey's chief of staff Monday after it became known that she had worked to assign a judge preferred by PG&E to determine how much customers should pay for the billions of dollars the company is spending on post-San Bruno disaster pipeline improvements. The commission released a statement calling the communications "inappropriate."

To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/CPUC-president-s-ousted-aide-may-come-back-as-5762662.php

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18Sep/14Off

Bidgely to Disaggregate the Demand Side of Hawaii’s Solar-Rich Grid

A 10,000-home pilot merges solar data with household energy insight.

Jeff St. John

September 16, 2014

Distributed solar power is having a big impact on Hawaii’s grid, leading state utilities and regulators to look to a variety of technologies to help it manage this new edge-of-the-grid resource. That includes smart meters and smart solar inverters, networked electric vehicle chargers, fast-responding demand response, and both distributed and utility-scale energy storage -- and now, energy disaggregation from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup Bidgely.

On Wednesday, the Khosla Ventures-backed software startup announced it has received a $900,000 grant from the Hawaii Energy Excelerator to bootstrap a pilot project with at least two Hawaiian utilities. Starting in the next few months, Bidgely plans to reach up to 10,000 homes with its software, which can tease out individual household energy loads like air conditioning, water heating, pool pumps and appliances from smart meter or other whole-home energy data, CEO Abhay Gupta told me in an interview this week.

Bidgely will be providing customers with web and mobile access to energy usage data broken out into these categories, along with comparisons to neighbors and to past usage, as well as suggestions for energy savings, Gupta said. It’s also going to be delivering the information to its partner utilities with the same disaggregated view, which will offer “insight into homes that they’ve never had before,” he said.

Energy disaggregation, also known as non-intrusive load monitoring, is a promising technology just now coming into play for utilities, with smart meters, home sensors and other new sources of interval energy usage data providing the raw materials for various advanced analytics. Startups like Bidgely, PlotWatt, Navetas and Energy Aware, original technology developers like Enetics, and big companies including Belkin and Intel are all trying out different versions of disaggregation technology.

Bidgely has partnered with thirteen utilities in the United States and Europe, including big utilities like California’s Pacific Gas & Electric, as well as retail energy providers in deregulated energy markets, Gupta said. In Hawaii, “We believe we can make a major impact, for a few reasons,” he added.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/bidgely-to-disaggregate-the-demand-side-of-hawaiis-solar-rich-grid

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18Sep/14Off

Stem Banks $100M to Finance No-Money-Down Energy Storage

Can the leasing model do for energy storage what it’s done for residential solar?

Eric Wesoff

September 16, 2014

Stem, a behind-the-meter energy storage startup, just closed on a $100 million fund to finance distributed energy storage at commercial and industrial customers. The fund is provided by B Asset Manager, a New York City-based investment adviser in the insurance industry, according to a release. Stem has also received venture funding from Angeleno Group, Iberdrola and GE Ventures.

As the energy storage industry matures, the need to scale up requires increased amounts of capital. The market environment has parallels to the residential solar industry of eight years ago, when companies such as SolarCity and Sunrun were starting to raise capital for leased solar systems. That leasing model initiated a furious amount of growth that continues to this day in the residential solar space.

Is leasing the direction for behind-the-meter energy storage?

"This is a very big vehicle, and it will enable us to have as much as we would need over the next...twelve months. As we expand into more markets, we're going to need more of that financing. We're in Hawaii, New York, and we're winning in California," John Carrington, CEO of Stem, told GTM on Monday.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Stem-Banks-100M-to-Finance-No-Money-Down-Energy-Storage

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18Sep/14Off

Aggregating Water Heaters as Grid Batteries: Steffes’ Secret Sauce

How a patented “dynamic dispatch” system taps a huge, cheap and latent grid resource

Jeff St. John

September 17, 2014

Grid-scale energy storage doesn’t have to come in the form of batteries.

Electric-powered water heaters and space heaters have a lot of virtual energy storage capacity as well, and they’re already out there in millions of homes and businesses. That makes them a cheap resource for grid storage -- if they can be managed in a way that allows them to respond to the grid’s needs, while still keeping the building at the right temperature.

We’ve been covering the latest advances in the field of heating as grid storage, and here’s the latest, from Steffes Corp. Last month, Steffes was awarded a U.S. patent for its “dynamic dispatch” system to use domestic water heaters, space heaters and other appliances to store intermittent wind and solar energy for grid stability and reliability.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/aggregating-water-heaters-as-grid-batteries-steffes-secret-sauce

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18Sep/14Off

Editorial: France Bets on Geothermal Energy

By THE EDITORIAL BOARDSEPT. 17, 2014

France is making a new push to develop geothermal energy. The goal is to reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming while ensuring the nation’s energy independence. Hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas was banned in France in 2011, and the government of President François Hollande has pledged to reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear power from 75 percent of electricity produced to 50 percent by 2025. It thus makes sense to develop geothermal energy.

Metropolitan Paris already has the world’s second-largest concentration of geothermal wells after Iceland, heating 170,000 homes, but geothermal development has lagged after an initial push in the 1980s. The minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy, Ségolène Royal, intends to change that. A bill aimed at unleashing private investment in renewable energy is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly next month.

The next major United Nations summit meeting on climate change is to be held in Paris in December 2015. By then, France wants to be seen as a credible leader in reducing the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. In January, the European Commission set an ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions across Europe by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, partly by increasing the proportion of renewable energy sources in the mix (14 percent in 2012) to about one-third. Renewable energy sources account for only 14.7 percent of France’s energy consumption today, and geothermal is a fraction of that.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/18/opinion/france-bets-on-geothermal-energy.html?_r=0

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18Sep/14Off

Why coal is here to stay

Coal may be terrible for the environment, but its abundance and low cost make it a tremendously useful fuel around the globe. That means coal isn't going to disappear overnight, which is bad news for the fight against climate change.

By Andrew Topf, Oilprice.com September 17, 2014

For climate change activists and those hoping for an energy future dominated by renewables or even less-polluting natural gas, the death of coal cannot come quickly enough. But with coal still the dominant form of cheap electricity throughout the world, it is unlikely the bogeyman of climate change will disappear anytime soon.

That's because the price of coal, compared to other fuels, is just too good to refuse. Just look at China, where the country's double-digit economic growth has largely been fueled by coal, which fulfills 60 percent of its energy mix.

According to a chart showing the levelized cost of energy -- the price at which electricity must be generated from a source to break even -- coal is the second-cheapest form of energy behind hydropower, at $40 per megawatt hour.

Compare that to the cost of nuclear at $60, natural gas at $70, and solar -- which at $280 per MWH, is seven times the cost of coal. Coal is also plentiful, relatively easy to extract -- though admittedly dangerous if mined underground -- and requires minimal processing. And it can be used for power generation (thermal coal) or steelmaking (metallurgical coal).

Of course, coal-fired plants have exacted an enormous price on air quality, and the Chinese government – which has declared war on pollution -- recently banned the use of coal in smog-cloaked Beijing. Last week, it was announced that for the first time in over a decade, Chinese coal imports and coal consumption both dropped.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2014/0917/Why-coal-is-here-to-stay

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18Sep/14Off

Can the U.S. and China Find Harmony in Pursuing Climate Progress?

By Andrew C. Revkin

September 17, 2014 12:22 pmSeptember 17, 2014 12:22 pm

Jeff Goodell, who’s written fine books on “big coal” and the batch of climate-manipulating ideas known as geo-engineering, has written an invaluable feature on China’s energy and climate plans for Rolling Stone: “China, the Climate and the Fate of the Planet.”

The piece centers on Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to China in July, and thus appropriately casts China’s policy choices on greenhouse gases and its deep dependence on coal in the broader context of the never-ending “you first” dance between these two greenhouse-gas giants. Read on for a couple of excerpts, but please click the link at the end and explore the full story (which includes a fund tidbit about Kerry’s guitar passion):

The piece is particularly important reading ahead of the United Nations climate “summit” early next week (an event that China’s top leadership is skipping, along with India’s and Australia’s). Goodell’s reporting reinforces the case made recently by former United States senators Tim Wirth and Tom Daschle, who seek a softer approach to climate treaty negotiations despite continuing calls for a new binding agreement late next year in Paris.

To read the entire article go to: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/can-the-u-s-and-china-find-harmony-in-pursuing-climate-progress/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Climate%20Change&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body

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18Sep/14Off

China, the Climate and the Fate of the Planet

If the world's biggest polluter doesn't radically reduce the amount of coal it burns, nothing anyone does to stabilize the climate will matter. Inside the slow, frustrating — and maybe even hopeful — struggle to find a new way forward

By Jeff Goodell | September 15, 2014

As the sun rises in mid-july over andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., Secretary of State John Kerry climbs quickly – he's positively bouncing – up the carpeted stairs of his blue-and-white government­issue 757. Kerry is heading to Beijing to talk with Chinese leaders about, among other things, one of President Obama's top priorities in the waning days of his second term: the urgent need to reduce carbon pollution and limit the damage from climate change. But the rest of the world isn't cutting Kerry any slack right now – there's trouble with the elections in Afghanistan, rising conflict in the Middle East and upcoming negotiations with Iran on nuclear weapons. As he ducks into the plane, Kerry is already talking intensely on his cellphone, deeply wired into the global chaos. An aide shoulders his bags as well as a large black case that contains his acoustic guitar, which he takes with him everywhere and often plays late at night when he's alone in his hotel room.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/china-the-climate-and-the-fate-of-the-planet-20140915?page=6

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18Sep/14Off

Panasonic Riding Tesla Wave to Boost Battery Sales in Europe

Cornelius RahnSep 17, 2014 8:51 am ET

(Updates with share price in 10th paragraph.)

Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Panasonic Corp., the supplier of lithium-ion cells that plans to help Tesla Motors Inc. build a battery factory, said cooperation with the U.S. electric-car maker will probably boost demand from European automakers.

“The development with Tesla is catching a lot of attention in Europe,” Laurent Abadie, who heads the Japanese manufacturer’s operations in Europe, said in an interview yesterday. “It could bring some acceleration to this industry. Especially the German carmakers are trying to catch up.”

As a result, Panasonic will be able to expand its leadership in car batteries, which it already supplies to companies including Volkswagen AG, Abadie said. He declined to provide a specific forecast.

To read the entire article go to: http://washpost.bloomberg.com/Story?docId=1376-NC03AG6K50XW01-3K7L04RTP4KVFNVK79N8PAS29K

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18Sep/14Off

Russia Places Billionaire Under House Arrest Over Oil Assets


Stephen Bierman and Jake RudnitskySep 17, 2014 12:46 pm ET

(Updates with Evtushenkov details in 21st paragraph.)

Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Vladimir Evtushenkov was placed under house arrest yesterday on suspicion of money laundering, making him the richest Russian to face criminal charges since Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The accusations stem from a probe into the alleged theft of shares in oil assets in Russia’s Bashkortostan region in which Evtushenkov’s AFK Sistema gained control in 2009, according to the Investigative Committee. Sistema called the accusations groundless and said it would to use all possible legal means to make their case.

“This is the new Yukos, it looks like a raid in favor of a state oil company,” Vadim Bit-Avragim, who helps oversee about $4.1 billion at Kapital Asset Management LLC in Moscow, said by e-mail. “There’s nothing new here, if they could do it once with Yukos, they can continue behaving like this.”

To read the entire article go to: http://washpost.bloomberg.com/Story?docId=1376-NC07T56TTDSC01-0EO2PGS07AB7FSG8PDFAJOEQ5H

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18Sep/14Off

Libya halts biggest oilfield amid rebel attacks

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 8:20 am by Bloomberg in Crude oil, General, Markets, Middle East

By Maher Chmaytelli and Grant Smith

Bloomberg Nees

Libya said it halted the Sharara field, its biggest oil producer, following a rocket attack at the connected Zawiya refinery, threatening almost 30 percent of the OPEC member’s production.

The Sharara field, producing about 250,000 barrels a day before the disruption, was shut as a precaution after an attack two days ago on the refinery, Mansur Abdallah, director of oil movement at the Zawiya plant, said by phone today. The North African nation, still restoring output after more than a year of political unrest and protests, was producing 870,000 barrels a day as of Sept. 14, National Oil Corp. spokesman Mohamed Elharari said that day.

The disruption “serves as a reminder that despite recovering export rates and the National Oil Corp.’s reassurances of stable supplies, the country remains in a state of civil war, where anything can happen,” Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London, said by e-mail.

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/17/libya-halts-biggest-oilfield-amid-rebel-attacks/

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18Sep/14Off

Jordan Finds Energy Sources in Unlikely Places

SEPT. 17, 2014

Green Column

By KATE GALBRAITH

When the oil gusher lottery came to the Middle East, Jordan seemed to have drawn a losing ticket. And now that some of the neighbors it depended on for fuel supplies, like Iraq and Egypt, have convulsed with political or sectarian strife, Jordan is frantically looking for other sources — and finding them in unexpected places.

This month, Jordan, a crucial yet energy-poor Western ally, announced a landmark 15-year deal to import vast amounts of natural gas from Israel. The plan, worth $15 billion, would make Israel Jordan’s largest gas supplier, according to the Israeli business daily Globes. It represents a remarkable economic tie for two countries with a history of tension, and reflects just how badly Jordan needs energy.

It is “potentially an enormous deal, but one that makes Jordan partially dependent on Israel, which is politically very problematic for Jordan in both domestic and regional politics,” Curtis Ryan, an expert on Jordanian politics at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, said in an email.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/18/business/energy-environment/jordan-finds-energy-sources-in-unlikely-places.html?ref=energy-environment

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18Sep/14Off

Vote for Independent Scotland Could Prompt Battle Over Energy

By STANLEY REEDSEPT. 16, 2014

LONDON — Scotland’s separatists assume that secession would mean that their country holds the bulk of North Sea energy assets. And many experts agree that, under international maritime law, those Scots are right.

But the British government has been largely quiet on that question, which is why a yes vote on Thursday could lead to protracted wrangling over the offshore oil and natural gas fields. Despite their diminishing returns, those fields remain extremely valuable.

“Ownership of oil and gas reserves will be at the heart of the negotiations between Scotland and the rest of the U.K.,” Simon Currie, global head of energy at the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, said via email.

“This is likely to be a lengthy process.”

The oil industry is better than most others at dealing with political uncertainty. That is evident in the way companies like ExxonMobil and BP are trying to ride out the West’s confrontation with Russia.

But analysts worry that a dispute between London and Edinburgh over energy assets could further chill industry investment in the North Sea.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/business/international/vote-for-independent-scotland-could-prompt-battle-over-energy.html?ref=energy-environment

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