The first of these was AB 1014, which passed through the California Assembly Utility and Commerce Committee on April 29 with a vote of 9 - 0.
Cedar Lake awards pact for E85 fuel storage tank
May 12, 2013 7:45 pm • Mary Wilds Times Correspondent
CEDAR LAKE | The Town Council has awarded a contract to build a storage tank for E85 fuel.
The project had only one bidder, Grimmer Construction of Highland at $44,000.
The town is using federal dollars to build the tank.
Because $175,000 had been allocated, the remainder of the monies will go into Cedar Lake’s Cumulative Capital Development Fund.
E85 is an abbreviation for an ethanol blend fuel, 85 percent of which is denatured ethanol. U.S. government subsidies encourage the use of E85, which has a high octane rating and is less carbon intensive than petroleum.
The storage tank will hold E85 fuel provided free by the federal government for use in police vehicles.
... "Carbon reduction at power plants has to be addressed but in a very sensitive way," said William K. Reilly, EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush. "If you leave existing power plants out of the picture, you're being overly optimistic."
U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases have ...
May 14, 2013 at 7:00 am by Bloomberg
The U.S. shale boom will send “shockwaves” through the global oil trade over the next five years, benefiting the nation’s refiners and displacing OPEC as the driver of supply growth, the IEA said.
North America will provide 40 percent of new supplies to 2018 through the development of light, tight oil and oil sands, while the contribution from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will slip to 30 percent, according to the International Energy Agency. The IEA trimmed global fuel demand estimates for the next four years, and predicted that consumption in emerging economies may overtake developed nations this year.
“The supply shock created by a surge in North American oil production will be as transformative to the market over the next five years as was the rise of Chinese demand over the last 15,” the Paris-based adviser to 28 oil-consuming nations said in its medium-term market report today.
The development of U.S. shale resources, enabling the nation’s highest level of energy independence in two decades, is creating a “chain reaction” in the global transportation, processing and storage of oil that may escalate as other countries try to replicate the American oil boom, according to the IEA. Crude futures for settlement in 2018 are trading at a discount to current prices, signaling expectations for increasing supplies and constrained demand.
Brent crude for settlement in 2017 is about $12 a barrel cheaper than front-month prices on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. June contracts were near $102.60 today, while futures for December 2017 were at $90.39 a barrel.
Global oil demand will increase by 6.1 million barrels a day, or 6.7 percent, to 96.7 million a day by 2018 as the economic recovery gathers pace, the IEA said. Demand estimates for 2017 are about 95,000 barrels a day less than
... labor groups expressed frustration over future nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, as well as Obama’s nomination of ...
Gov. Scott should sign bill to repeal ethanol mandate
Sun Sentinel Editorial Board
May 13, 2013
Florida lawmakers this year voted to repeal a five-year-old law that forces consumers to buy ethanol-blended fuel at most gas stations across the state. Gov. Rick Scott need only add his signature to set things right.
Encouraging the use of corn-based fuel seemed like a good idea years ago, but the policy has instead created an oppressive mandate amid widespread reports about ethanol causing damage to boat motors and car engines. A legal reversal would be a win for a free-market economy, though a blow to big agribusiness.
Both the Florida House and Senate voted to repeal the Florida Renewable Fuel Standards Act by wide margins; 77-39 and 33-1, respectively. The bill would end the requirement that gasoline contain up to 10 percent ethanol or another alternative fuel. Exceptions were carved out for fuel sold for boats, small motors and collector vehicles. Nonetheless, the law left a majority of motorists with little choice at the pump.
LePage wants wind energy goals out of Maine law
By Matthew Stone, BDN Staff
Posted May 09, 2013, at 5:53 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage wants to strip from state law goals for increasing the state’s wind energy capacity over the next two decades.
LePage’s energy director, Patrick Woodcock, made recommendations Thursday to rewrite the state’s 2008 Wind Energy Act, shifting focus from growing wind energy capacity to lowering electricity costs and making sure Maine sees an economic return on its wind energy investments.
The Maine Wind Energy Act, a priority of LePage’s predecessor, Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, sought to expedite wind energy development in Maine. The law zoned much of Maine’s Unorganized Territory as suitable for wind development and set goals for the state to have 2,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity by 2015, 3,000 by 2020 and 8,000 by 2030.
Maine’s wind energy capacity today is about 435 megawatts, according to the Maine Renewable Energy Association.
“We are not going to be meeting that goal,” Woodcock said of the 2,000-megawatt threshold by 2015. “I think that it’s an unrealistic goal, and there should be consideration beyond that of whether megawatt capacity installed is really the best metric of our wind energy policies.”
The recommendation from Woodcock to the Legislature’s Energy and Utilities Committee came the same day the Energy Committee heard testimony on a number of bills meant to roll back portions of the 2008 wind energy law, including one measure to temporarily suspend permitting for certain wind developments and another that would eliminate the same wind energy goals LePage favors eliminating. Both of those measures are sponsored by Democrats.
“The intention of our wind energy act was not only to increase wind energy, but to lower electricity costs,” Woodcock said. Rather than setting energy
May 13, 2013 at 6:08 pm Associated Press
By Michael R. Blood
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Environmentalists celebrated a federal order Monday that they said opened the way for a more detailed review of a plan to restart the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant in California.
The ruling by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing board had the potential to lead to further delays in a possible restart.
The twin-reactor plant between San Diego and Los Angeles hasn’t produced power since January 2012, after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of unusual damage to hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water.
Friends of the Earth, an advocacy group critical of the nuclear power industry, had argued that the federal process set up to consider a restart of the plant’s Unit 2 reactor was in fact a change to the plant’s operating license that would require a court-like hearing. The board agreed.
However, there were conflicting assessments on the meaning of the ruling.
Environmentalists said the decision was a watershed moment that would force operator Southern California Edison to face a new, extensive review of the restart plan.
Edison had no immediate comment.
An NRC statement characterized the ruling as a partial win for the environmental group. NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said the board found the group hadn’t provided enough information for the three-member panel to consider in a lengthy hearing. Accordingly, they ended the case.
“They didn’t give enough meat for the board to chew on,” said NRC spokesman Scott Burnell. “At the same time the board says, ‘Yes, there should be a hearing,’ … they said the hearing is terminated.”
But the group will have the opportunity to submit additional materials in an appeal.
Edison wants to run the Unit 2 reactor at reduced power for five months, which it projects will stop damage to tubing
Projected price down sharply
May 13, 2013From the National Corn Growers Association
U.S. farmers are on track this year to produce a record corn crop, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates released May 10.
While the report projects average yields will not break previous records, strong yields coupled with record plantings will help farmers produce a record total corn supply of 14.9 billion bushels, three billion bushels more than last year.
“The unprecedented abundance of corn projected by USDA shows the faith that credible, respected agricultural experts place in our nation’s corn farmers and in the agribusinesses which support them,” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson.
“As farmers, we take great pride in our work and feel these projections recognize our efforts. At the same time, our optimism is tinged with caution as we have all seen conditions change quickly and a crop shift course in a few short weeks.
“We remain diligent in our work, striving to produce that abundance for a world with constantly increasing food, feed and fuel needs.”
Total production, projected at 14.1 billion bushels, would mean an increase of 3.4 billion bushels over last year’s production, which suffered under extreme drought and heat that reduced yields to their lowest level since 1995.
The projected yield of 158 bushels per acre, if achieved, would be the third highest on record. The projection reflects the planting delays cool, wet conditions across much of the Corn Belt caused this spring.
U.S. corn use projections also rose by 16 percent from the previous year, with higher projected demand from feed and residual disappearance, ethanol, sweeteners and starch.
Projections rose showing feed and residual use higher than in the previous year by 925 million bushels as the use of corn for feeding is expected to
Check current corn futures
Adam Peck and Ryan Koronowski on May 13, 2013 at 11:50 am
Tesla Motors Company is coming off a very good week. On Wednesday, the company reported that it had sold more electric vehicles than any other automaker during the first quarter of the year, and turned a profit for the first time in its 10 year history.
On Thursday, Consumer Reports — the famously austere purveyors of customer satisfaction surveys and product testing for all manner of consumer goods — announced that Tesla’s Model S roadster outperformed every other commercially-available vehicle in their annual battery of stress tests, scoring a 99 out of a possible 100:
The Tesla Model S outscores every other car in our test Ratings. It does so even though it’s an electric car. In fact, it does so because it is electric.
Built from the ground up as an EV, this car’s overall balance benefits from mounting the battery under the floor and in the lowest part of the body. That gives the car a rock-bottom center of gravity that enables excellent handling, a comfortable ride, and lots of room inside.
The reviewers didn’t stop there. So thorough was the performance of Tesla’s flagship car, the magazine went on to describe the Model S as one of the best cars they’ve ever tested in its nearly 80 year history: “So is the Tesla Model S the best car ever? We wrestled with that question long and hard. It comes close.”
Tesla’s score of 99 is the highest for any hybrid or electric vehicle, and tied for the highest rating awarded to any car in the history of the magazine. The market for 100 percent electric cars has lagged behind the rest of the industry, hindered in part from the perception that the cars weren’t reliable or practical for everyday use. But coupled with the quickening expansion of high-speed charging stations in the most highly trafficked parts
May 13, 2013 Zachary Shahan
Following up on the report I just published regarding EPIA’s 2012–2017 European and global solar PV report, below are some really interesting charts I wanted to highlight. Basically, they show that solar PV, wind power, and natural gas capacity has grown substantially in the EU while coal, nuclear, and oil capacity has fallen.
Image Credit: EPIA. Click to enlarge.
Image Credit: EPIA. Click to enlarge.
Naturally, more capacity means more electricity production, and less capacity means less electricity production.
Image Credit: EPIA. Click to enlarge.
In other words, despite what some may have you think, increasing of solar and wind power in the EU has not been leading to a surge in coal power capacity due to the nuclear phaseouts taking place in several countries. Rather, coal power capacity has also declined. The only fossil fuel that saw an increase in capacity in 2012 was natural gas.
If you look at 2011 statistics, you can see that coal power capacity also increased (along with solar, wind, and natural gas) as nuclear power capacity dropped. However, with such power plants taking a long time to permit, build, and connect to the grid, this was really due to years of work preceding Fukushima and the strong nuclear phaseout plans that resulted from that.
Image Credit: European Wind Energy Association (EWEA)
Furthermore, the same trend has occurred in the US – wind, solar, and natural gas have been increasing; coal and nuclear power have been decreasing.
Compared to 2011, a shift has also occurred within the top three. More wind power came online in 2012 than in 2011, while the net increase in natural gas capacity was much smaller. (Notably, I noted back in December 2011 that wind power was pricing natural gas out of the market in Germany. I imagine the same thing was happening in other countries.)
May 13, 2013 Guest Contributor
The below article is courtesy of Americans for a Clean Energy Grid.
WASHINGTON, DC – Adding more wind power to the grid in the PJM region can lower gas and coal consumption and reduce regional wholesale energy market prices, saving nearly $7 billion per year in the mid-2020s, according to a new study conducted by Synapse Energy Economics on behalf of Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG). The report found that doubling the wind generation already planned in the region would lower fuel costs and drive down prices by $1.74 per megawatt hour (MWh) in the largest wholesale competitive energy market in the world, PJM, which includes all or parts of 13 states and Washington, DC. The savings also extend into the regions interconnected with PJM.
The study analyzed two scenarios relative to a baseline. In the first, additional wind power came from within the PJM region. In the second, some additional wind power is tapped within PJM, and some is imported from the windier Midwest region adjacent to PJM known as the Midwest ISO (MISO).
In both cases, the cost of the incremental transmission capacity necessary for doubling the amount of wind power on the grid is small compared with the net benefits that would be provided. Both showed net savings of close to $7 billion in 2026, resulting from the fact wind power replaces dirty and inefficient fossil fuel plants and drives down electricity prices. Once wind turbines are in place, the cost of generation is reduced and stable.
Consumers would reap net savings throughout the study period, which focused on 2021–2026. Achieving twice as much wind power on the region’s grid would require little additional investment beyond what is currently planned between now and 2020, as the region is already set to build new infrastructure and increase wind generation over the next 7 years
May 13, 2013 at 10:37 am by Jennifer A. Dlouhy
Jim Holl, a geoscientist, interprets seismic data. (E. Joe Deering/Chronicle).
Two federal agencies are laying the foundation for wind turbines to join oil derricks in the Gulf of Mexico, by launching a study of the effects seismic research poses on whales and fish in the region.
The environmental impact study by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service will look closely at the potential impacts from seismic surveys and other geological research meant to help pinpoint oil reservoirs as well as scout locations for wind turbines and other energy infrastructure.
The last environmental analysis was done nearly a decade ago, before the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, and the new study is expected to be released in a draft form by the middle of 2014. It will help guide future permitting of seismic surveys in the region, whether done for oil and gas development or renewable energy initiatives.
Report: Seismic research on East Coast could harm 140,000 whales, dolphins
Conservationists critical of seismic research cheered the development.
Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said she was encouraged that the government “is finally scrutinizing” the sound associated with seismic research, including air guns that produce pulss loud enough not only to penetrate under the seafloor but also damage marine life.
“Whales and dolphins in the Gulf depend on sound for communication and finding food, but these blasts – sometimes as loud as an explosion – make it all but impossible,” Sakashita said.
Separately, the ocean energy bureau is on track to unveil a final environmental study of a potential seismic research program from Delaware to Florida as early as November, after releasing a draft of that...
Ben Geman - 05/13/13 11:19 AM ET
British Prime Minister David Cameron wants a global standard under which petroleum and mining companies will report their payments to governments, calling it a way to curb corruption in resource-rich nations.
Cameron, who is meeting with President Obama at the White House on Monday, called for the Group of Eight leading industrial nations to work on the effort at its June gathering in Ireland.
The prime minister, in a broader Wall Street Journal column backing free trade, said greater “transparency” must accompany more open global markets.
“[W]e must lift the veil of secrecy that too often lets corrupt corporations and officials in some countries run rings around the law. The G8 must move toward a global common standard for resource-extracting companies to report all payments to governments, and in turn for governments to report those revenues,” Cameron writes.
“This will encourage more investment in resource-rich countries and level the playing field for business,” he writes.
The column arrives as European officials are completing standards that will require oil-and-gas, mining and logging companies to report payments to foreign governments.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has already finalized a U.S. version of the rules that apply to SEC-listed oil-and-gas and mining companies, but they remain under legal challenge by oil industry and business groups.
The SEC has also completed separate rules to force manufacturers to disclose whether they rely on minerals – tantalum, tin, gold and tungsten – from war-stricken parts of Africa. But those are also under court review.
“We ... need to make sure that mineral wealth in developing countries becomes a blessing, not a curse. It is to the shame of the whole world that a lack of transparency allowed the illicit diamond trade to
... More than 25,000 megawatts of new gas plants are under construction, in the works or announced through 2017, ...
Exelon waiting for pricier power
By Steve Daniels May 13, 2013
Exelon Corp., after slicing its dividend 41 percent earlier this year in the face of falling earnings, has delivered a simple message to shareholders: Be patient.
Wholesale electricity prices will rise as old coal-fired plants shut down rather than make costly, federally mandated environmental upgrades, and Exelon's earnings—and stock price—will increase along with them.
But a surprising turn of events is upending the Chicago-based nuclear power generator's thesis: Even though market prices for power remain low, competitors are constructing a new generation of plants fueled by cheap natural gas in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other key Exelon markets to take the place of those old coal facilities.
And Exelon's lobbying efforts to prevent the construction of competing wind farms and some of the new gas plants haven't worked.
As a result, some experts are saying it's just as likely that power prices will stay the same or fall as it is that they will rise, as Exelon forecasts.
“If we get enough gas capacity, (Exelon) is worse off,” says Michael Granowski, principal in the energy practice of Chicago consultancy Bridge Strategy Group LLC. “There's definitely downside risk for Exelon.”
More than 25,000 megawatts of new gas plants are under construction, in the works or announced through 2017, according to data from Charlottesville, Va.-based SNL Financial LC compiled by Bridge Strategy. If all that is built, it will more than make up for the 20,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity Exelon predicts will go away over that time frame in its markets in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic.
What the future holds for power prices is crucial for Exelon. A $2- to $4-per-megawatt-hour increase in wholesale prices by 2015, as Exelon is forecasting, would
Graph of the Day: How to green world’s largest grid
Giles Parkinson on 13 May 2013
Today’s graph of the day is not so much a graph as a series of animations, produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US, to show how the world’s largest electricity grid could be transformed to a high-level renewable system by 2050 – resulting in sharp reductions in greenhouse gases and water consumption.
The animations are based on the NREL RE Futures modeling and show capacity changes, the hourly operation and transmission flow of that grid system in 2050.
The important thing noted by NREL is that all these technologies arencommercially available today, and in combination with a more flexible electric system are more than adequate to supply 80 per cent of total US electricity generation in 2050 – and meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.
Here’s the first animation, which includes assumed changes in capacity from 2010 to 2050.
The second one, gives an hour by hour visualisation of how the energy needs to US electricity customers are met over 12 months of the year.
Natural Gas Export Plans Stir Debate
by The Associated Press
May 13, 2013 3:21 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) — A domestic natural gas boom already has lowered U.S. energy prices while stoking fears of environmental disaster. Now U.S. producers are poised to ship vast quantities of gas overseas as energy companies seek permits for proposed export projects that could set off a renewed frenzy of fracking.
Expanded drilling is unlocking enormous reserves of crude oil and natural gas, offering the potential of moving the country closer to its decades-long quest for energy independence. Yet as the industry looks to profit from foreign markets, there is the specter of higher prices at home and increased manufacturing costs for products from plastics to fertilizers.
Companies such as Exxon Mobil and Sempra Energy are seeking federal permits for more than 20 export projects that could handle as much as 29 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.
If approved, the resulting export boom could lead to further increases in hydraulic fracturing, a drilling technique also known as fracking. It has allowed companies to gain access to huge stores of natural gas underneath states from Colorado to New York, but raised widespread concerns about alleged groundwater contamination and even earthquakes.
The drilling boom has helped boost U.S. natural gas production by one-third since 2005, with production reaching an all-time high of 25.3 trillion cubic feet last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
In recent months, however, production has begun to level off as the glut of natural gas keeps U.S. prices down. In response, producers have begun pushing to export the fuel to Europe and Asia, where prices are far higher.
Approval of all the projects currently under review by the
Utilities drop plan for new Ohio natural gas power plant