By States News Service
The following information was released by the Connecticut General Assembly, Senate Democrats:
Renewable energy reform legislation passed the Connecticut State Senate on Wednesday afternoon that will help the state continue to meet its world-leading renewable energy goals while also taking innovative steps to reduce the cost of electricity across the board.
State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), Senate Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, led passage of the legislation, saying that it addresses the states urgent economic need to lower overall electric rates, while also deriving more power from renewable sources.
Connecticut has made one of the most substantial commitments to renewable energy in the country, even the world. With this bill, we are reaffirming that commitment, but carrying it out in a more affordable way, said Senator Duff. Connecticut has some of the highest electricity costs in the country. Bringing those costs down is important for our economy, our households and businesses. At the same time, we must make real progress on renewable energy. I believe this bill strikes the appropriate balance to achieve both.
For years, weve known that Connecticut has been forced to buy some less desirable, out of state energy resources in order to meet our States bold and admirable renewable energy goals, said Rep. Lonnie Reed (D-Branford), House Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee. We had two choices to correct the situation. Either diminish our goals or replace dirtier renewable generation like Maine biomass with clean options. This bill does that and protects the integrity of our whole renewables program. Hopefully, it will help lead to more affordable energy as well.
Effective immediately, the bill permits the Commissioner of the Department of Energy and
Wind Energy Storage
GE’s battery software applications are part of its Brilliant Turbine platform. The battery technology enables short-term energy storage as part of the complete turbine system. Integrating the battery into the wind turbine allows wind farm operators to benefit from wind energy storage without the high costs of farm-level battery storage installation.
This revolutionary wind turbine battery configuration integrates battery technology with three software applications. The resulting system enables power producers and the wind turbines themselves to make data-informed decisions and provide short-term predictable power...
... Payments that power generators receive from regional grid operators for making their power plants available to the grid, called capacity payments, plummeted for this year. Grid operators found when they held auctions for this capacity that they had more than enough capacity to meet expected demand this year...
Even America's inexpensive natural gas will succumb to clean, cheap and plentiful renewable energy.
Natural gas investors have a false sense of security. Change is coming much sooner than you may assume.
... In many European markets, even the margins of state-of-the-art gas-fired power plants are close to zero. Conventional power generation--one of our company's biggest core businesses--is under enormous pressure ...
May 3 2013
- Successful entry into new markets
- Renewables, E&P, and Russia delivering robust growth
- Shareholders vote to pay out EUR1.10 per share dividend
- 2013 forecast confirmed: EBITDA expected to be between EUR9.2 and 9.8 billion, underlying net income between EUR2.2 and EUR2.6 billion
"We're on a path from being a traditional integrated utility toward becoming a developer of customer-centric energy solutions. This is our objective and mindset as we enter new markets and regions." This was Johannes Teyssen's overview of E.ON 's transformation as he spoke at the company's Annual in Essen.
Teyssen reminded the several thousand shareholders in attendance of the strategy the company had announced in 2010, which he said had proven to be the right one, even in a harsher business environment. E.ON is implementing the strategy swiftly and on schedule. As part of its effort to focus on businesses and markets that are viable for the future, since 2010 E.ON has reached agreements to sell assets worth more than EUR17 billion and is currently aiming for EUR20 billion. At the same time, E.ON is systematically expanding its new growth businesses. In the last three years E.ON has commissioned 26 onshore and 2 offshore wind farms in North America and Europe. Together with its existing portfolio, these additions rank E.ON among the global market leaders in offshore wind. E.ON is currently commissioning the world's largest offshore wind farm in the outer Thames estuary, installing turbines at Karehamn offshore wind farm in Sweden, and beginning installation work at Amrumbank wind farm in the German North Sea. E.ON has also established a broad and strong platform in distributed energy solutions. In the last three years it has installed numerous micro generating units for residential and business customers and is Germany's market leader in combined-heat-and-power (CHP)
May 4, 2013 Zachary Shahan
Eos Energy Storage Aurora Battery. Click to see larger image.
Eos Energy Storage this week launched its first pilot project with Con Edison. The pilot project will see Eos’s potentially disruptive energy storage technology used at Con Edison’s New York City facilities.
Interestingly, this announcement came out at about the time (maybe the exact time) I was writing a long article about Eos and its innovative energy storage technology (click that link for a lot more information). I saw the announcement after that article was written and scheduled, so I decided to just write another one to piggy-back on that.
This New York pilot project has received funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Naturally, the goal is to demonstrate the Eos Aurora’s usefulness in helping the utility to manage the grid at a low cost for customers.
“Our belief is that affordable energy storage will improve the efficiency and resilience of the electricity grid while reducing costs for utilities and customers alike, and it is a great opportunity to prove this together with a pre-eminent utility like Con Edison,” Eos CEO Michael Oster said.
Here are a few more details from the press release, most of which were mentioned in my much lengthier post on the technology: “Eos stated that the pilot, targeted to begin in early 2014, is a milestone in the scale-up and commercialization of Eos’s core product, a 1MW/6MWh grid-scale battery called the Eos Aurora. The Aurora is backed by Eos’s novel, low-cost and proprietary zinc hybrid cathode technology, which has a 75% round-trip efficiency rate and a 10,000-cycle/30-year lifetime.”
Naturally, a Con Edison representative had some positive words about Eos and its technology. “Con Edison looks forward to installing and measuring Eos’s new battery. As pioneers in the
... the brilliant turbine to capture “wasted” wind power and store it in the battery, meaning operators can capture revenue previously left on the table ...
May 4, 2013 Nicholas Brown
We reported on GE’s “brilliant” wind turbine previously. The turbine integrates energy storage, and it also allows for a tremendous amount of data collection, prediction, and responsiveness. Below is a video of General Electric (GE) technicians discussing the company’s brilliant wind turbine in Tehachapi, California.
So, why are we coming back to this topic today? Because Invenergy, which is apparently America’s largest independent wind power generation company, has just announced that it has purchased three of these wind turbines for its Mills County, Texas wind farm.
The topic of backing up wind farms has been a hot one for years, and the fact that wind farms are being operated without energy storage has (incorrectly) led people to believe that wind farms are an unreliable source of energy that will cause power supply disruptions. The integrated battery component of GE’s new wind turbines will certainly help eliminate that reliability myth once and for all, and it has clear benefits for grid operators.
In an email to CleanTechnica, a GE representative noted the three main things this development enables wind turbines to do:
•Predict: Power producers must be able to provide consistent and predictable power to the grid, but the variability of wind can make smooth grid integration challenging. The Predictable Power App allows the brilliant turbine to smooth out the short term peaks and valleys in wind power and make it predictable over periods of 15 to 60 minutes.
•Capture: Today, when wind speed increases quickly, the grid cannot always absorb the extra wind power produced. GE’s Ramp Control App allows the brilliant turbine to capture “wasted” wind power and store it in the battery, meaning operators can capture revenue previously left on the table.
•Respond: Power demand changes throughout the day and grid operators must keep up with its..
May 3, 2013 at 7:17 am by Matthew Tresaugue
Environmentalists have filed a lawsuit to force federal regulators to review the way they calculate emissions from petrochemical plants, oil refineries and other large industrial facilities.
In the suit filed on Thursday, Air Alliance Houston and three other groups accuse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of using outdated and inaccurate formulas to estimate levels of air pollution.
The groups say studies show that actual smog-forming emissions can be 132 times greater than EPA estimates, which are based on data provided by the industry. The agency, as a result, does not possess reliable data to protect public health, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“The EPA has a history of dragging its feet on this issue,” said Jennifer Duggan, an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, a legal group representing Air Alliance Houston and the other organizations in the case. “It has been aware of these inaccuracies for some time.”
An EPA spokeswoman said the agency is reviewing the suit but would not provide additional comment.
The lawsuit comes five years after the city of Houston raised similar issues with the federal agency, which uses the emissions data to develop pollution controls, establish limits and guide enforcement.
In response, the agency acknowledged flaws in its formulas and promised to make changes.
No formula review
But the EPA has not conducted a review of the formulas used to estimate emissions from flares, wastewater treatment systems and storage tanks at chemical plants and oil refineries, the suit contends.
Flares, which burn off pressurized gases during startups, shutdowns and equipment malfunctions, are of particular concern because the EPA relies on a 30-year-old study to calculate their emissions.
The lawsuit says the
Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel
May 1, 2013
Virent Inc. has shipped its renewable formula jet fuel to a military research lab for testing from a new demonstration plant it has opened in Madison.
The delivery of 100 gallons of the fuel to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory marks another step in the Madison renewable energy firm's quest to produce renewable fuels at a commercial scale.
Virent commissioned its new demonstration plant in January, under a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The jet fuel must now be tested to meet standards set up by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Testing will take place at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, which in 2011 had given good marks to a more limited amount of Virent test jet fuel.
"This larger sample will help generate the performance data needed to advance the technology toward engine and flight testing," said Tim Edwards of the Air Force Research Lab, in a statement.
"The successful operation of our new distillate demonstration plant and the validation of Virent's plant-based jet fuel will advance our efforts to achieve ASTM-certified jet fuel and to prepare for commercial scaling," said Randy Cortright, Virent co-founder and chief technology officer, in a statement.
Virent, founded in 2001, is licensing technology developed in the chemistry labs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that uses a catalytic process to convert the sugars from plants into biofuels.
Lourdes Maurice of the FAA Office of Environment and Energy said the fuel will be used with industry and government partners that are testing a variety of alternative jet fuels to meet FAA environmental and energy goals.
The new pilot plant in Madison was built to demonstrate Virent's capability of making jet fuel and diesel in addition to renewable
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The progress being made at Xunlight Corp. is evident the minute you pull into its parking lot: Finding an empty space is difficult.
The parking situation is just one indication that things are on an upswing at the Toledo-based flexible-solar-panel manufacturer. The company has grown from about 40 employees to more than 100 in a year, and officials say it is on track to turn a profit by July.
The company completed more sales in the first four months of 2013 than it did in the last two years, said Dennis Kebrdle, Xunlight's chief transition officer. Mr. Kebrdle took over the company when its founder and former chief executive officer, Xunming Deng, stepped down in March, 2012.
“We're in Afghanistan,” Mr. Kebrdle said. “We just got put up on military tents today. We’re an integral part of MASH units, the power that goes up in the place. We've got small power out there too.”
The military is just one market Xunlight executives are targeting. They’re selling products geared toward boating, golfing, and other recreational activities and are in the midst of expanding the firm’s global footprint.
John Buckey, the president and chief operating officer of the privately held company, said the firm is winning contracts in emerging markets in Asia, South America, and Africa. By installing the company's flexible solar panels around light poles, on lightweight roofs, and in remote locations, Xunlight will create a demand for its products, he said.
Once people see that the technology works, the company can sell its machinery to manufacturers interested in producing their own panels, Mr. Buckey said. The company has a plan to franchise — Xunlight executives shy away from that term for legal reasons — its production system around the globe.
They say that machinery would retail for about $1.5 million, plus royalty fees.
May 2, 2013
Ohio House Democrats introduced a bill Wednesday that would make it illegal to dispose of oilfield waste in deep underground injection wells. The possibilities of such a ban becoming law seem slim given other ill-fated attempts at legislation that ultimately would raise costs on the oil and gas industry.
The proposal would make it illegal to dispose of brine into one of Ohio’s 179 active Class II injection wells, which shoot the liquid into a deep geologic formation sometimes more than 10,000 feet below the surface.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ definition of brine includes the salty, naturally occurring water as well as the chemical- and sand-laced water used in the hydraulic fracturing process. Under current state law, that mixture must be either reused at another well site or disposed of underground.
Most of the fracking waste that is injected in Ohio comes from out of state. One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Denise Driehaus, D-Cincinnati, said she’s confident Ohioans don’t want to be Pennsylvania’s dumping ground.
She unsuccessfully fought for a temporary moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing in 2011 and couldn’t get any traction in the Republican-controlled legislature for another proposal on fracking rules.
More recently, Gov. John Kasich watched as members of his own party stripped an incremental raise in the severance tax — the proceeds from which the governor was going to use for income tax cuts — from the state budget. Driehaus said she at least wants to talk about these concerns.
“The House rules state they are obligated to give us a hearing on this bill,” she said. “Whether or not it will move beyond that I don’t know.”
In addition to not shooting it underground, the use of oilfield brine on roads also would be prohibited should the bill pass.
More than 200 local governments in
Oregon project could begin in June
BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The Ohio Power Siting Board in Columbus on Wednesday approved a Boston-based energy group’s request to build a 799-megawatt, natural-gas-fueled power plant on 30 acres in Oregon.
The $860 million project, known as Oregon Clean Energy LLC, still needs approval from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which will hold an informational meeting Wednesday to answer questions about the required draft air permit.
But with conditional approval now given by the power siting board, the project’s developer, North American Project Development LLC, says initial construction of the plant could begin in June.
The plant will consist of two natural-gas-fired turbines that are combined cycle units — that is, they generate electricity by burning natural gas but use the heat given off from the natural gas burners to create steam and generate additional watts with a steam turbine.
The permit application approved Wednesday says the plant could be ready for operation as early as May 1, 2016. The plant is to be located in the Cedar Point Development Park off North Lallendorf Road just south of the BP-Husky refinery.
The siting board’s staff recommended the application be approved because nearly 6 gigawatts of electric generation capacity are scheduled to go offline permanently in Ohio in 2015, including 2½ gigawatts in FirstEnergy Corp.’s territory. The Oregon Clean Energy plant could help offset a significant portion of that lost 2½ gigawatts. The Oregon facility would help ensure electric service reliability and price stability.
Additionally, the application states that construction of the plant would create an estimated 532 temporary construction jobs and $225 million in direct expenditures in Lucas County during the 35-month construction phase. The facility would employ 25 full-time workers and
John Logan, professor and director of Labor and Employment Studies, San Francisco State University - 05/02/13 11:00 AM ET
Another May Day has come and gone. Yet American workers have precious little to celebrate. And those working for the nation’s largest private-sector employer, Wal-Mart, have even less to celebrate than most.
Last year, for the first time in the firm’s 50-year history, Wal-Mart employees participated in several strikes and job actions leading up to a national day of protest on Black Friday. The organization representing Wal-Mart employees, OUR Wal-Mart, was protesting against poor pay and benefits, and management retaliation against workers who speak out. This wasn’t the first time that Wal-Mart employees have protested against substandard working conditions, and in the past, Wal-Mart has simply assumed that the protests will eventually die out, especially given employees’ understandable fear of management retribution.
But this time it appears that the Wal-Mart protesters are in it for the long haul. Last week, Wal-Mart workers and their community supporters conducted a “day of action” at 150 stores across the county in support of improved hours and more predictable scheduling for part-time workers. Scheduling problems have long been a source of complaint for the company’s 1.3 million employees. Many of Wal-Mart’s employees work part-time not because they want to, but because they have no other choice. Constant changes to their schedules make it impossible for part-time employees take a second job or return to school. They frequently are forced to rely on public assistance in the form of food stamps and low-income healthcare for survival, and when they do, taxpayers pick up the tab.
Wal-Mart also provides a startling example of the enormous gap between the pay of executives and ordinary workers in the United States. Last year,
Chet Nagle, director, Black Bear Energy Corporation - 05/02/13 10:45 AM ET
In 2012, National Geographic told us, “Unlike CO2, methane affects human health, because it is a precursor of smog.” Now the Environmental Defense Fund tells us, “... each pound of methane is 72 times more powerful at increasing the retention of heat in the atmosphere than a pound of carbon dioxide.” So, what is this toxic greenhouse gas, methane? It’s natural gas, that stuff we get from “fracking.”
To be fair, good things come from the fracking boom like jobs drilling wells, new industrial plants, and the hope America may be energy independent one day. But Sherry Vargson is not enthusiastic. Chesapeake Energy fracked her Pennsylvania farm and now her tapwater fizzes with twice the methane that could cause an explosion. Chesapeake gives her bottled water, though that might end soon since gas production on her farm dropped dramatically and her monthly royalty checks have fallen from $1000 to $100. If that’s just natural, as Chesapeake says, let’s examine some other facts.
Energy companies get methane by drilling horizontally for a mile or more into deep shale and injecting chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water. That fractures the rock and releases gas, hence the name, “fracking.” One problem with this process is that fracking chemicals can enter drinking water wells. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes are already in the gas deposits and may also be in fracking chemicals. VOCs create ozone and cause headaches, loss of coordination, liver and kidney damage, respiratory and immune system damage, adrenal and pituitary tumors, and joint pain -- symptoms many have who live near gas wells in states like Colorado, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania.
Then there is leakage. Professor Robert Howarth of Cornell was first to study the impact of fracking on
Massachusetts Crushes Solar Goals, Aims Much Higher
May 2, 2013 Zachary Shahan
Massachusetts has already surpassed its goal of installing 250 megawatts (MW) of solar energy by 2017. Just a tad early, eh? Obviously, 250 MW was far too small of a goal, so the state is planning to increase the goal to 1,600 MW ( 1.6 GW).
Massachusetts rose to over 250 MW today from just 16 MW in 2009. While solar has been growing fast pretty much everywhere, Massachusetts has seen one of the fastest growth rates in the industry.
Massachusetts installed 198 MW of solar power in 2012 alone, the sixth most of any state.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Massachusetts already has about 4,500 solar professionals working in 229 companies.
Naturally, SEIA was happy about the increased target. “Governor Patrick should be commended as a solar champion. We thank him for his leadership,” Carrie Cullen Hitt, senior vice president of state affairs at SEIA, said.
So, how is Massachusetts (you know, The Sunshine State) such a solar power leader? The state (which is actually nicknamed “The Bay State”) offers a host of different solar incentives. From tax credits, to tax exemptions, to PACE financing, to utility rebates, it’s a true leader in this realm. The incentives are actually housed under several different solar programs, such as Solarize Massachusetts, Commonwealth Solar Green Communities, and Leading by Example.
With good solar growth, the industries supporting solar power have matured a bit. Combined with falling solar module prices globally, that resulted in prices coming down 29% in 2012. For much more on solar power in Massachusetts, check out the SEIA page on that state.
Also, for more on the proposed changes, check out the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ “Solar Carve-Out” page.
May 2, 2013 at 6:46 am by Bloomberg
Statoil ASA (STL), Norway’s biggest energy company, said profits fell by 29 percent in the first quarter on lower oil and gas output in Norway, Brazil and as a terrorist attack shut a facility in Algeria.
Adjusted net income fell to 12 billion kroner ($2.1 billion) from 16.8 billion kroner a year earlier, the Stavanger- based company said today, missing an average estimate of 13.7 billion kroner in a Bloomberg survey of 16 analysts. Net income dropped to 6.4 billion kroner from 15.1 billion kroner in the first quarter of 2012, while sales declined to 162.2 billion kroner from 194.8 billion.
“We deliver financial results impacted by lower production and reduced prices,” Chief Executive Officer Helge Lund said in a statement. “We continue to deliver good industrial progress according to plan. As previously announced, production in 2013 will be lower than in 2012.”
Statoil, of which Norway’s government owns 67 percent, is expanding abroad to raise production to more than 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in 2020 from 2 million barrels in 2012, with gains in U.S. output accounting for two thirds of that growth. The company has said production would fall in 2013 after it sold some Norwegian assets and on lower-than-expected growth of its U.S. shale gas output.
First-quarter production fell to 1.998 million barrels of oil equivalent a day from 2.193 million barrels a day in the same period last year, the company said. That beat the 1.985 million-barrel estimate from a survey of 9 analysts.
The company took a 4.9 billion kroner writedown on a contract at its Cove Point terminal.
Five Statoil employees were among the 38 killed in this year’s terrorist attack at In Amenas in Algeria, which is run by BP Plc, Statoil and Sonatrach. While the plant restarted in February, it won’t be back to full capacity before..
Energy Future reports $569 million first-quarter loss
May 2, 2013 at 6:40 am by Bloomberg
Energy Future Holdings Corp., the Texas power company seeking to restructure at least $32 billion of debt, reported its ninth consecutive quarterly loss.
The first-quarter loss widened to $569 million from $304 million a year earlier, the Dallas-based company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission made public today.
Energy Future, formerly known as TXU, has struggled to generate profits since it was taken private six years ago in the largest leveraged buyout in history. Wholesale electricity prices have dropped on a decline in natural gas costs, which fell 86 percent from a 2008 high.
Total debt rose to $43.4 billion among all the company’s units, from $43.2 billion at the end of last year. Creditors rejected a pre-packaged bankruptcy plan to restructure debt held by one of its units, the company said April 15. The company had proposed a plan in which creditors would forgive debt held by its unregulated power unit in exchange for equity in Energy Future and $5 billion in cash or new debt.
KKR & Co., TPG Capital LP and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., leaders of the $48 billion buyout, said they would support the proposed Energy Future restructuring if they can retain a 15 percent equity stake in the company.
“We and the creditors have not reached agreement on the terms of any change in our capital structure and are currently not engaged in ongoing negotiations,” the company said in today’s filing.
Energy Future’s units include Luminant, which owns more than 15,400 megawatts of power plant capacity in Texas; TXU Energy, a retail electricity seller; and Oncor Electric Delivery Company, a regulated power-line unit that supplies electricity to more than 3 million homes and businesses.
May 2, 2013 at 6:00 am by Vicki Vaughan
Capital improvements and higher margins driven by the company’s use of discounted crude oil led refiner Tesoro Corp. to a 66 percent increase in profit in the first quarter, the company said.
Tesoro’s net income climbed to $93 million, or 67 cents a share, compared with net income of $56 million, or 39 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.
“We are pleased with our first-quarter results, which reflect a solid operating performance and continued execution of our strategic plan,” CEO Greg Goff said in a statement.
The results included one-time after-tax expenses of 6 cents a share mostly related to its planned acquisition of BP’s refining and marketing business in Southern California. When those costs are excluded, Tesoro earned $102 million, or 73 cents a share.
That beat analysts’ estimates, as polled by Bloomberg News, that the company would earn 72 cents a share. Analysts typically exclude one-time items.
Revenue rose to $8.2 billion compared with $7.8 billion for the year-earlier period, beating analysts’ revenue estimate of $6.6 billion.
Locally based Tesoro said its gross margins were boosted in the quarter because it was able to buy crude oil priced at a discount compared tobenchmark grades of oil.
Cory Garcia, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates’ Houston office, said the period “wasn’t a home-run quarter.” But it was “solid,” he said, especially considering that the first quarter tends to be weak for refiners.
“Despite the fact that they had maintenance at some of their refineries, they were still able to run fairly efficiently,” Garcia said, noting that Tesoro’s refineries in California “are more competitive relative to their peers, even the majors operating there, because they can run more heavy crude,” which the company can acquire at a discount.
The company’s operating income rose to $300 million compared with