Boehner: No resolution on spending bill
Russell Berman - 09/12/13 12:27 PM ET
Republican leaders have failed to settle on an alternative plan to keep the government running after Sept. 30, Speaker John Boehner said Thursday, a day after conservative opposition forced him to delay a vote on their original proposal.
“There are a lot of discussions going on about how to deal with the [continuing resolution] and the issue of ObamaCare, so we’re continuing to work with our members,” Boehner (R-Ohio) said at a Capitol press conference.
Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Tuesday presented a plan to their members in which they would pass a stopgap spending bill while forcing the Senate to vote on a measure to defund President Obama’s healthcare law. But conservatives decried the idea as “gimmick” and are demanding the leadership take a harder line.
The Speaker suggested the leadership’s proposal was still viable. When a reporter mentioned that Republicans had rejected the plan, Boehner interjected, “Not quite yet.”
But he made clear that it may be revised before it comes to the House floor.
“There are a million options that are being discussed by a lot of people,” Boehner said. “When we have something to report, we’ll let you know.”
A number of conservatives are pressing party leaders to require a one-year delay of ObamaCare in exchange for a continuing resolution, but Boehner would not comment directly on the idea.
Parts of the federal government will shut down absent legislation by Sept. 30.
“I’m well aware of the deadlines,” Boehner said. “So are my colleagues. And so we’re working with our colleagues to work our way through these issues. I think there’s a way to get there.”
Earlier Thursday, Cantor told members that a scheduled recess for the last week of September might be cancelled without a resolution to avert a government shutdown.
Boehner met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConne
Cellulosic leaders talk feedstock procurement at Neb. event
By Chris Hanson | September 12, 2013
In front of an attentive crowd at the 2013 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo in Omaha, Neb., representatives from Abengoa Bioenergy S.A., Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels LLC and Ineos Bio presented updates on their cellulosic ethanol projects and feedstock procurement activities.
Tom Robb, co-products project manager for Spain-based, Abengoa showcased the company’s cellulosic plant in Hugoton, Kan. He said the plant is the product of 10 years of technical development, roughly 30,000 hours of commercial and demonstration plant operation, and 100 people working in research and development.
Robb said the plant receives 320,000 dry tons of biomass harvested within a 50 mile radius each year. Of that biomass, 82 percent is comprised of irrigated corn stover, 7 percent irrigated wheat straw, 7 percent milo stubble and 4 percent switchgrass.
To secure the feedstocks needed, Robb explained how factors such as supply chain risks, weather and competitive uses were addressed by the company. He said the relatively dry climate of Kansas was a major benefit for the Hugoton plant site. “If you get rain or snow during your harvesting time, that could put a bind in your operations,” Robb said. “We’re less dependent on mother nature here.”
Additionally, Robb spoke about the dynamics between Abengoa, biomass owners and grain facilities. He said demonstrating stewardship principles, demonstrating synergies for biomass residue management with farming practices, and working within customary business practices are necessary when interacting with biomass owners.
Next, Steve Hartig, general manager at Poet-DSM, addressed the feedstock procurement efforts leading up to the opening of Project Liberty plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. He said the plant’s feedstock needs can be secured with the corn residue from one-third of the corn acres within a 35 mile radius of the facility. Hartig
German energy storage plan could trigger new market boom
By Sophie Vorrath on 6 September 2013
New research has predicted that the German government’s measures to support energy storage uptake – namely its relatively new solar storage subsidy program – could trigger a boom in the market similar to that once witnessed in the solar PV industry.
The €25 million scheme, established in May this year, covers up to 30 per cent of the cost for residential storage equipment when added as apart of a new residential PV system.
Research analysts IHS say the subsidy could trigger the sort of rapid uptake of solar PV energy storage systems that the government’s feed-in tariff (FiT) system ignited in the PV industry eight years ago.
“The adoption of residential PV energy storage in Germany will accelerate in 2014 as a result of this subsidy and falling prices of the storage system,” said IHS research manager, Sam Wilkinson – adding that energy storage systems allow households to increase their level of self-consumption from around 30 per cent to around 60 per cent.
Already, 1,100 applications for the subsidy have been approved, according to the German solar association, with 4,800 more working their way through the system.
Wilkinson says IHS expects Germany’s energy storage market to be dominated by the residential sector, with 30MW of installations already supported by the subsidy in 2013.
“Periodic decreases in FiT and continually increasing electricity prices, coupled with decreasing PV system prices, have now made it financially favourable for a home-owner to self-consume PV energy on-site rather than export it to the electricity grid and receive the FiT,” he added.
Meanwhile, to further capitalise on the solar storage market, the German government is co-funding the local development of a 5 megawatt-hour battery designed to store surplus renewable energy.
Bloomberg reports that the German Environment Ministry will spend €1.3 million on a manufacturing facility in S
Dem senator: Carbon tax ‘inevitable’
Ben Geman - 09/12/13 11:49 AM ET
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) wants a tax on carbon emissions, but he’s backing up Sen. Mark Begich’s (D-Alaska) claim that the Alaska Democrat didn’t vote for the concept in March.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and a conservative advocacy group, in robo-calls and ads, are alleging Begich supports a carbon tax because he backed a failed Whitehouse amendment to a nonbinding budget bill that addressed the issue.
The amendment would have carved out space in the budget for future carbon tax bills, but only if the revenue is returned to the public through deficit reduction, reducing other rates, cost savings or other “direct” benefits.
"I didn't view it as binding anybody on a carbon fee," Whitehouse said Thursday.
But the amendment has become a political ink-blot test. Begich’s foes are casting it as endorsement of a carbon tax. Begich, a freshman who faces reelection next year, recently said he opposes a carbon tax.
Whitehouse told E2-Wire Thursday that the amendment is about what to do with the revenue when the “inevitable” carbon fee happens.
“I think that ultimately a fee on carbon pollution is inevitable, and the purpose of that amendment was to begin a discussion on that and begin the discussion about when that happens, what the best way to use the proceeds of the fee are, so from that point of view, I didn’t view it as binding anybody on a carbon fee, but I did view it as an assessment of the best way of using carbon fee proceeds,” he said in a short interview.
The Senate rejected the Whitehouse amendment in March, and an anti-carbon-tax amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also failed during debate that was seen as a proxy battle over taxing carbon.
Here’s the text of the failed Whitehouse amendment:
SA 646. Mr. WHITEHOUSE submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the concurrent resolution S. Con. Res. 8, setting forth the congressional budge
Report: $603 million in Energy Dept. biofuels funding fails to meet goals
By Ben Geman - 09/12/13 12:39 PM ET
A years-long Energy Department program to help spur industry production of next-generation biofuels has fallen short, the department’s inspector general concludes in a new report.
“Despite over 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, the Department had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals,” states the report made public Thursday.
“Specifically, the [Energy Policy Act of 2005] mandate to demonstrate the commercial application of integrated biorefineries had not been met and the Department was not on target to meet its biofuels production capacity goal,” it states.
Check out the whole report, including a senior DOE’s official’s defense of efforts to spur cellulosic ethanol development, by clicking here.
Coal industry cries foul over Obama emission rules
September 12, 2013 at 6:52 am by Bloomberg
Representatives of coal-intensive utilities and coal-producing regions said that President Barack Obama would effectively outlaw construction of new power plants using the fuel with pending environmental rules.
The Environmental Protection Agency is revising proposed rules from last year in response to opposition by utilities and mining companies. The new version, under review by White House officials and scheduled for release next week, will be structured differently though it offers little solace to the industry, according to people who have been briefed on the measure and asked not to be identified before its release.
The agency brushed aside a vigorous lobbying campaign by industry and is pushing rules that would require new coal plants to install expensive carbon-capture technology, according to the people briefed on the plans. Alisha Johnson, a spokeswoman for the EPA, declined to comment.
Low-cost natural gas is leading utilities to build new plants using that fuel and shutter coal-fired plants. The effect of the new standard would lock out coal over the long term, said Scott Segal, a lobbyist for utilities.
“Once you set something in stone, you discourage investment in that sector, and you take a flexible market and ossify it,” Segal, a lawyer at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in Washington, said in an interview. “The market price of natural gas can change” but regulations don’t, he said.
Carbon-dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution have led to a warming of the Earth’s temperature in the past 50 years, worsening forest fires, drought and coastal flooding, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
To deal with the threat, Obama directed the EPA to cap carbon dioxide from power plants, which account for 40 percent of U.S. emissions. The first step is to issue rules for new plants, a proposal set to be released next week. The m
EIA Natural Gas Storage Data
Total (09/06/13): 3,253 Bcf
Total (08/30/13): 3,188 Bcf
Change: 65 Bcf
Year ago stocks: 3,425 Bcf
% diff to yr ago: -5.0 %
5-year avg stocks: 3,207 Bcf
% dif to 5-yr avg: 1.4 %
Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report for week ending September 6, 2013
Released: September 12, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. | Next Release: September 19, 2013
Working gas in storage was 3,253 Bcf as of Friday, September 6, 2013, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 65 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 172 Bcf less than last year at this time and 46 Bcf above the 5-year average of 3,207 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 114 Bcf below the 5-year average following net injections of 49 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 106 Bcf above the 5-year average of 993 Bcf after a net injection of 14 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 54 Bcf above the 5-year average after a net addition of 2 Bcf. At 3,253 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.
EPA to revise climate rule for new power plants; will still require carbon capture
By Juliet Eilperin, Published: September 11
This month, the Environmental Protection Agency will propose standards that will establish stricter pollution limits for gas-fired power plants than coal-fired power plants, according to individuals who were briefed on the matter but asked not to be identified because the rule was not public yet.
The revised rule, which would impose greenhouse gas limits on power plants for the first time, will still require utilities to install costly carbon controls on coal plants.
The agency initially proposed that any new power plant emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced but decided to overhaul that rule this spring out of concern that it would face a stiff legal challenge.
The average U.S. natural gas plant emits 800 to 850 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt, and coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds. According to those familiar with the new EPA proposal, the agency will keep the carbon limit for large natural gas plants at 1,000 pounds but relax it slightly for smaller gas plants. The standard for coal plants will be as high as 1,300 or 1,400 pounds per megawatt hour, the individuals said Wednesday, but that still means the utilities will have to capture some of the carbon dioxide they emit.
During his climate speech in June, President Obama described establishing a carbon rule for new plants as part of his overall plan to address global warming.
EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson declined to provide details on the rule, which is set to be released Sept. 20. She wrote in an e-mail that the agency “is working to finalize its re-proposal of a pollution standard for new power plants in light of the important comments received by the agency and in a way that considers the viewpoints of all stakeholders.”
“President Obama is committed to taking action for our kids by cutting pollution and
Hydroelectric Power Makes Big Comeback at US Dams
DES MOINES, Iowa September 12, 2013 (AP)
By DAVID PITT Associated Press
On a typical summer weekend, hundreds of boats glide across the shimmering surface of Iowa's Lake Red Rock, the state's largest body of water.
The placid 15,000-acre lake was created in the 1960s after the government built a dam to prevent frequent flooding on the Des Moines River. Now the cool waters behind the dam are attracting interest beyond warm-weather recreation. A power company wants to build a hydroelectric plant here — a project that reflects renewed interest in hydropower nationwide, which could bring changes to scores of American dams.
Hydroelectric development stagnated in the 1980s and 1990s as environmental groups lobbied against it and a long regulatory process required years of environmental study. But for the first time in decades, power companies are proposing new projects to take advantage of government financial incentives, policies that promote renewable energy over fossil fuels and efforts to streamline the permit process.
"We're seeing a significant change in attitude," said Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association, a trade group.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees hydroelectric projects in the U.S., issued 125 preliminary hydropower permits last year, up from 95 in 2011. Preliminary permits allow a company to explore a project for up to three years. The agency issued 25 licenses for hydropower projects last year, the most since 2005.
In all, more than 60,000 megawatts of preliminary permits and projects awaiting final approval are pending before the commission in 45 states.
"I've never seen those kinds of numbers before," Church Ciocci said.
The interest in hydropower is so intense that some utilities are competing to build plants at the same dams, leaving the government to determine which ones get to proceed.
Hydroelectricity provides about 7 percent
China bans new coal-fired plants in 3 regions
September 12, 2013 at 6:46 am by Associated Press
BEIJING (AP) — China announced Thursday that it will ban new coal-fired power plants in three key industrial regions around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in its latest bid to combat the country’s notorious air pollution.
The action plan from the State Council, China’s Cabinet, also aims to cut coal’s share of the country’s total primary energy use to below 65 percent by 2017 and increase the share of nuclear power, natural gas and renewable energy. According to Chinese government statistics, coal consumption accounted for 68.4 percent of total energy use in 2011.
New coal-fired power plants will be banned for new projects in the region surrounding Beijing, in the Yangtze Delta region near Shanghai and in the Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong province, the State Council said.
Martin Adams, Hong Kong-based energy editor for the Economist Intelligence Unit, said coal’s share of China’s energy consumption already was expected to fall below 65 percent by 2017 and that utility companies had noticed approvals for coal plants weren’t being given.
Adams also noted that while coal would account for a smaller proportion of total energy production, the absolute amount of coal burning would continue to increase.
“There’s less to it probably than meets the eye,” Adams said of the new action plan.
“Of course, saying it out loud does send a signal that the government is serious about, at least, decreasing the rate at which coal consumption grows and about getting more renewables and natural gas and nuclear,” he said. “I think possibly just as important, if not more important, is the signal that it sends to the Chinese people that, ‘we are trying to control pollution levels on the eastern seaboard.’”
The government has come under increasing pressure from the growing middle class to clean up the country’s air pollution, much of which comes from the burning of