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
Jeff Spross May 12, 2013 at 10:35 am
According to Bloomberg, Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. is gearing up to drop $1.9 billion on new wind farms in Iowa. The investment might build as many as 656 new turbines by 2015, which would add as much as 1,050 megawatts of wind power capacity to the 2,285 megawatts the company already operates in the state.
The project could also herald a revival in American wind power in general. The anticipated expiration of the production tax credit for wind energy drove a spike in installations in 2012, then a lull into 2013, and finally an anticipated ramp up now that the credit was extended for another year by the fiscal cliff deal.
And because the new extension merely requires projects to start construction by the end of the year to qualify — projects previously had to actually come online by the end of the year to benefit from the credit — GE now expects the full force of the revival to hit in 2014:
Wind-farm developers including NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE) and Invenergy LLC may install 3,000 megawatts to 4,000 megawatts of turbines in the U.S. this year and as much as 7,000 megawatts next year, Anne McEntee, GE’s vice president of renewable energy, said today in an interview.
The U.S. added a record 13,124 megawatts of turbines last year, outpacing natural gas installations for the first time, as wind developers raced to complete projects ahead of the Dec. 31 expiration of the production tax credit. Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) andSpain’s Gamesa Corp Tecnologica SA (GAM) also expect new orders to pick up by the third quarter.…
GE has received orders this year for more than 1,000 megawatts of wind turbines, including one from NextEra for 100.3 megawatts announced today for a Michigan wind farm and Invenergy’s 215-megawatt deal announced last week for a project in Texas
GM 'thanked' by biodiesel groups for making the Cruze Diesel B20-ready PHOTOS
By Danny King
Posted May 12th 2013 9:15AM
As if one of the world's largest automakers needed additional advertisement, General Motors now is getting big-time support from biodiesel advocates for being the first US automaker to make have one of its light-duty models be able to run on diesel with a 20 percent biodiesel mix, i.e. B20. The National Biodiesel Board calls GM "proactive and progressive" for making its 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel B20-ready. Biodiesel Magazine even goes so far as to instruct its readers to "tell GM thanks."
Marking a long-awaited return to diesel powertrains for its cars, GM said last month that the Chevy Cruze Diesel would get an EPA-rated 46 miles per gallon highway, the best of "any non-hybrid passenger car in America." GM says the car will be able to go as far as 700 miles on a tank. Another way to look at that number is up to 140 biodiesel miles per tank.
£20 million wind farm is opened in Co Antrim
By Linda Stewart– 08 May 2013
Eighty-six wind farms across Northern Ireland have now been given the go-ahead as part of our drive towards renewables - not to mention many more single turbine planning applications.
The latest wind farm to open will generate enough power to meet the electricity demand of nearly 8,000 homes a year.
The £20 million Carn Hill development in Newtownabbey, launched by the First and Deputy First Ministers, will use six turbines to produce 13.8MW of power.
It’s the first development in Gaelectric’s Northern Ireland portfolio to get up and running.
The company is also planning a 15MW windfarm at Inishative near Pomeroy in Co Tyrone which received planning permission in 2010.
To date, 46 large wind farms and 40 small windfarms across Northern Ireland have been granted the go-ahead by planning authorities.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood told the Belfast Telegraph that there are enough renewable energy applications in the planning system to meet the target of generating 40% of electricity from renewables by 2020.
Sixth E15 Station Opens in Iowa
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – May 10th, 2013
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association reports that Sperry One Stop in #$%$ Rapids is the sixth Iowa retailer to offer 15% ethanol as a registered fuel for all 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and all flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs).
“This is a new station and we want to be offering the fuels of the future, and that’s cleaner-burning, American made E15,” stated Sperry One Stop Owner Kurt Sperry. “With the POET-#$%$ Rapids plant nearby, there’s a strong renewable fuels presence here in #$%$ Rapids, so offering a fuel like E15 just made sense.”
“The citizens of #$%$ Rapids will really benefit from renewable, less expensive options at the pump like E15,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “This station is offering a variety of ethanol blends as well as biodiesel, and we see that as a win for the consumer and a win for the local economy.”
Retailers interested in installing a blender pump to offer E15, E85, and other ethanol blends can apply for a grant from the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The IRFA provides assistance in the application process. For more information, please visit:
Wisconsin gets 8 new E15 pumps
Wisconsin Ethanol Coalition | May 07, 2013
The Wisconsin Ethanol Coalition is excited to announce eight pumps offering E15 as a choice to consumers. The pumps are located at the SmartStation, 1290 Business Highway 151, Platteville, Wis., a wholly owned subsidiary of Badger State Ethanol.
E15 is a new high-octane fuel made up of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. In January 2011, the EPA approved E15 for use in model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, SUVs, and flex-fuel vehicles.
“We congratulate Badger State Ethanol and Wisconsin’s ethanol industry for working together to bring E15 to the Wisconsin market,” said Joshua Morby of the Wisconsin Ethanol Coalition.
“We are honored to be Wisconsin’s first retailer to offer E15 to our customers who have been asking for it,” said Erik Hushitt of Badger State Ethanol. “We hope other retailers follow our lead so that consumers around the state have an opportunity to gain access to a cleaner burning fuel that contributes directly to the billion dollar ethanol industry in Wisconsin.”
E15 can be used by more than 75 percent of light duty vehicles on the road today, representing more than 85 percent of the unleaded fuel sold.
"E15 offers retailers a chance to set themselves apart by offering a new, exciting fuel to their station that not only confirms their commitment to domestic renewable fuels but also offers them a competitive advantage," Morby said. “We expect retailers around the state to take notice of the demand by consumers for cheaper, cleaner, more homegrown E15.”
Consumers wishing to have access to this less expensive option should contact the Wisconsin Ethanol Coalition.
It may be green, but it's probably not local
May 13, 2013
Illinois law requires that, if possible, renewable energy should come from Illinois or surrounding states.
However, unless a municipality or business explicitly has stated it wants local renewable power, the power it receives is probably from outside Illinois, where energy credits are cheaper.
For instance, McCormick Place officials last week announced a deal to offset 100 percent of the convention center's power with renewable wind energy credits.
Most likely those credits won't support Illinois wind farms, but wind farms in Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas, according to Mel Jones, president and CEO of Sterling Planet.
In total, McCormick Place will purchase an estimated 130 million kilowatt-hours of wind power annually in a three-year renewable energy credit purchase program from Sterling Planet.
Jones said the contract allows the company to source renewable energy credits from anywhere. He said most Illinois-based energy credits are tied up with firms and utilities attempting to meet Illinois' renewable energy mandates, which makes them more expensive.
Even if McCormick Place isn't supporting Illinois wind, Jones said, it's supporting wind power somewhere, which helps drive up demand for renewable energy. The McCormick Place deal was announced at the American Wind Energy Association conference attended by thousands of people involved in the wind energy industry.
Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted the deal.
"Moving to 100 percent wind energy will increase job opportunities and economic development, while moving toward a sustainable future for the city of Chicago," Emanuel said. "It is also clear proof that sustainability can go hand in hand with the creating of a vibrant, thriving business environment."
Bangladesh has set up a panel to raise the minimum wage for millions of garment workers, a minister said on Sunday,
Bangladesh May Raise Garment Worker Pay From $39 a Month
By Ramez Naam
Published: Sunday, May. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am
China is an environmental mess. Smog in Beijing is so bad it's literally broken the air-quality index. In Shanghai, it's at times turned the city into a scene from "Blade Runner."
Meanwhile, thousands of dead pigs – cause of death not yet known – have been floating down a river that cuts through Shanghai and provides part of the region's drinking water. More than half of China's water is so polluted that even treatment plants can't make it safe to drink.
And China is now responsible for almost half the world's coal consumption. That coal burning not only contributes to climate change – it has also saddled China with severe cases of acid rain, something the United States dealt with a generation ago.
All of that makes what I'm about to say sound even crazier: China may one day be the world's leader in combating climate change. In almost every way you cut it, China is already taking a much more aggressive approach toward climate change than the United States.
This is important for two reasons. First, China is seeing the world's fastest growth in energy consumption and in CO2 emissions. In the United States and Europe, by contrast, energy usage is nearly flat and CO2 emissions are down. So China's policies exert a huge lever on future CO2 emissions. Second, one of the prime arguments against U.S. action on climate change has been that it doesn't matter what the United States does if China isn't on board.
Well, China already is on board in a number of ways that the United States isn't. Consider the following:
• China is launching a cap-
In the United States, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade plan fizzled in the Senate in 2009. In China, authorities have moved forward with pilot cap-and-trade systems covering seven regions, including the manufacturing-hub provinces of Guangdong and Hubei, as well as the cities of
National Weather Service Enhanced Radar Image Loop
... USDA’s first price projections for the new marketing year pegs the season-average farm price at $4.30 to $5.10 per bushel, down sharply from the record $6.70 to $7.10 for 2012-’13...
... Corn use for ethanol in 2013-’14 is projected at 4.85 billion bushels, up from the estimated 4.6 billion bushels for 2012-’13, but below the 2011-’12 use of 5.011 billion bushels...
Susanne Retka Schill | May 10, 2013
Slow planting progress and the likelihood that progress by mid-May will remain well behind the 10-year average reduced the USDA’s corn yield projections for the upcoming marketing year. The USDA adjusted its corn yield projection in the May 10 supply/demand report to 158.0 bushels per acres, down 5.6 bushels from earlier projections. Record feed grain production is still being projected, however, both domestically and in world supplies. As a result, the USDA’s first price projections for the new marketing year pegs the season-average farm price at $4.30 to $5.10 per bushel, down sharply from the record $6.70 to $7.10 for 2012-’13.
In the May 10 report, the USDA projects total feed grain supplies for 2013-’14 at a record 400.5 million tons, up 25 percent from last year with higher area and yields expected for corn, sorghum and oats. Corn production for 2013-’14 is projected at 14.1 billion bushels, up 3.4 billion from 2012-’13 when extreme drought and heat reduced yields to their lowest levels since 1995-’96.
U.S. corn exports are expected to rebound, but the USDA is expecting stiff competition, with projection for the fourth straight year of record foreign corn production. “Large crops in South America and the FSU-12 will provide substantial competition for the United States. U.S. corn ending stocks are projected at 2.0 billion bushels, up 1.2 billion from 2012-’13,” the report said.
U.S. corn supplies for 2013-’14 are projected at a record 14.9 billion bushels, up 3.0 billion from 2012-’13. U.S. corn use for 2013-’14 is projected up 16 percent from 2012-’13. Feed and residual use for 2013-’14 is projected up 925 million bushels reflecting a sharp rebound in residual disappearance with the record crop and an increase in feeding with lower corn prices.
Projected corn use for ethanol is increased 250 million bushels from
Maine votes to ban ethanol in gasoline, takes stand against E15
Posted May 10th 2013 7:14PM
If it can go in your gas tank, it's potentially controversial up in Maine. A few years ago, out-of-spec gas pumps were a problem. Today, the issue is the corn-based biofuel ethanol, which the state legislature is taking a strong stand against. Citing potential engine and environmental damages, Maine's state legislature has taken another step to potential rid itself of ethanol blends into its gasoline inventory.
Legislators have approved a bill by more than a 3-to-1 margin that would ban ethanol blends in Maine – as long as two other nearby states do the same, the Bangor Daily News reports. State leaders also supported a resolution urging the government to ban gasoline with a 15 percent ethanol blend (known as E15), altogether. Most gasoline in the US contains up to 10 percent ethanol blend.
Maine regulators started talking about a statewide E15 ban early this year. The state said at the time that at least two other New England states would have to go along so that Maine refiners wouldn't have to make a custom blend for the state only, which would cause the state's fuel prices to jump.
On the federal level, the word is that E15 is fine. Last June, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially allowed for public sales of E15 as part of an effort to cut foreign-oil dependency. Groups such as AAA have since been critical of the EPA's decision, saying that E15 would cause engine damage as well as food shortages. E15 has been sold in some states since the middle of 2012, starting in Kansas, and there have not been any widespread reports of problems with the biofuel but it's not being sold just like any other fuel.