Environmental Issues

POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for Oct. 13, 2015

Demand response; EPA lawsuit; TVA nuclear power plant


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily round-up of energy-related news for your consideration:

  • While the EPA’s Clean Power Plan emphasizes efficiency and conservation, Forbes writes that “efficiency” should also have a demand response component. As Forbes contributor James Conca explains, “Demand response is an ideal dancing partner for renewables like wind and solar, and can take load off the grid when there’s too much supply, like when the wind blows in the middle of the night or it’s super sunny early in the day.”
  • A coalition of environmental groups has sued the EPA for allegedly failing to enforce air quality standards that limit dangerous particulate pollution from coal-fired power plants, cars and other sources in several Western states. The lawsuit is focused on communities in Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon and Utah where, the plaintiffs assert, air quality plans must control soot pollution.
  • The Los Angeles Times opines that it will not be a testament to ingenuity and progress when the Tennessee Valley Authority brings its newest nuclear power plant, Watts Bar, online in January. Rather, “the history of Watts Bar is one of enormous cost overruns, antiquated design and unimaginable construction delays.” The project was launched in 1972.
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for Oct. 12, 2015

Hunt's Oncor bid; storage's limitations; GSEP's request


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily round-up of energy-related news for your consideration:

  • In light of the recent change of control application, the DMN takes a closer, longer look into Hunt Consolidated’s efforts to acquire Oncor.
  • An analyst at the Motley Fool says energy storage is a good complement to renewables, but needs to be more: “Too many renewable energy developers are thinking about small solutions, like battery backup or energy management, as solutions for a large problem the industry faces. If renewable energy wants to be the dominant player in energy, it needs to think bigger than it does today.”
  • In advance of the U.N.’s agreement on climate change due in December, the 11 members of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership wants governments to agree on clear, long-term policies. CEOs and chairmen of the companies “signed a letter to governments urging principles for low-carbon energies starting with ‘secure, stable, clear, consistent and long-term policies,'” according to Reuters.
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for Oct. 9, 2015

NRDC talks renewables; EPA talks smart meters; FERC member talks reliability


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily round-up of energy-related news for your consideration:

  • Highlighting progress in the US in the move towards renewables, the National Resources Defense Council released a report Thursday saying the U.S. has made substantial progress reducing fossil fuel use and is moving to adopt more renewable energy sources. As Fuel Fix reported, “The tectonic shift in the energy sector shows up clearly in America’s decreased reliance on coal.” The report also noted that U.S. coal consumption is down by more than 21 percent from the peak year of 2005.
  • The Associated Press reported that head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, made the case yesterday for homeowners to adopt Wi-Fi-enabled “smart thermostats” as a way to limit carbon pollution and improve public health. Commissioner McCarthy said that the devices save consumers money while offering an easy way for people to “stand up” and meet “our moral responsibility” to do something about the smog that leads to climate change, premature deaths and asthma attacks.
  • Tony Clark, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, told an energy conference yesterday that “keeping the lights on at an affordable rate could be a real challenge” as utilities take steps to comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for Oct. 8, 2015

Gas production edges coal; CPP delays; solar employment


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily round-up of energy-related news for your consideration:

  • For only the second time, the amount of electricity generated from natural gas surpassed the share of coal-fired production, FuelFix reports. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that the share of electricity coming from natural gas-fired power plants hit 35 percent in July. It was 34.9 percent from coal plants.
  • As The Washington Times reports, the ongoing battle over the EPA’ Clean Power Plan took another turn on Wednesday when 14 states (including Texas) alleged that the EPA was “dragging its feet” and holding up court challenges. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey summarized the issue: “Publishing a rule typically occurs much faster than it has in this case. Our goal is to understand the cause behind the unusually long delay between the finalization and publication of the Clean Power Plan.”
  • The Washington Post highlights a growing concern in alternative energy circles: Even as the U.S. makes notable progress, employees in the solar industry are losing their jobs. As the Post reports, “Federal funding for solar energy research has declined steadily over the past several years, despite emphasis from the Obama administration on continued investment in research and development of clean energy technologies. These cuts have affected the federal solar program at large.”
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for Oct. 7, 2015

Coal's calamitous 2015; EPA and the economy; FERC's upcoming vacancy


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily round-up of news for your consideration:

  • Bloomberg has highlights of a BB&T report yesterday that suggests the good news for coal producers in 2016 is that it can’t get much worse than 2015 has been. In sum: “President Barack Obama’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which were implemented this year, spurred a rash of coal-fired power plant closures. Meanwhile, natural gas prices that have dropped 37 percent in the past year made that fuel more attractive than coal for electricity generation. In July, gas eclipsed coal as the primary fuel for power for the second time in U.S. records.”
  • Kathleen Hartnett White, former chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, says the EPA’s new standard for ozone “may be the straw that breaks the back of our struggling economy.” In the context of the 20 or more other EPA rules, she goes on to say, “Perhaps worse than increasing the costs of doing business, the rising stack of EPA rules cumulatively smothers the fundamental dynamics of profitable enterprise. The EPA’s regulatory regime makes businesses operate more like bureaucracies rather than efficient, creative and productive enterprises.” Here’s her opinion piece in full.
  • Phillip Moeller will retire from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the end of this month. The move is not a surprise, as he had indicated his intentions in May. The rumored pick to replace him, according to here, is that Patrick McCormick, a senior GOP aide on Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

 

POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for Oct. 6, 2015

Renewables "cycle"; rooftop solar in CA; gas prices uptick


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily round-up of news for your consideration:

  • A “virtuous cycle” has emerged with respect to alternative energy, Bloomberg writes, as widespread adoption of renewables is effectively lowering the capacity factor for fossil fuels. The thinking is that once a solar or wind project is built, the marginal cost of the electricity it produces is pretty much zero—free electricity. Bloomberg’s assessment: “It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. As more renewables are installed, coal and natural gas plants are used less. As coal and gas are used less, the cost of using them to generate electricity goes up. As the cost of coal and gas power rises, more renewables will be installed.”
  • The New York Times reports that California is leading a “quiet revolution” as half of the nation’s solar rooftops are located in the state with thousands added each week. As one analyst notes, “It’s hard to overstate the importance of California in terms of renewables.” The catalyst for this change dates to 2005, when then-Governor Schwarzenegger issued an order that California slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.
  • While gas prices have slumped over the past month, prices in fact rose on Monday for the second day in a row, Bloomberg reports. With prices hovering at three-year lows, demand from power plants is on the rise – particularly as colder nights mark the transition toward the peak heating season.
POV: Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast for Oct. 1, 2015

House panel's energy reform bill; another view on nuclear; and a deep look into coal


POV: Power Breakfast

A nearly daily round-up of news for your consideration:

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved an overhaul of the nation’s energy laws, focusing on modernizing infrastructure, improving energy efficiency and updating other federal energy policies. The legislation passed 32-20 vote, with only three Democrats in favor, lacking the bipartisan consensus an early version had.
  • Carol M. Browner, a former administrator of the EPA, supports nuclear power in this op-ed, writing, “I came to understand and appreciate that if we are serious about building a clean energy future, the role that our current nuclear energy facilities play in meeting our energy needs without increasing carbon pollution deserves reconsideration.”
  • Power Magazine takes a deep dive into the current and future view of coal in “The Shifting Fates of Coal Markets, Coal Mining and Coal Power.” The conclusion: “As King Coal, saddled with debt and battered tools, slowly loses power in Central Appalachia and nationwide, he’s far from vanquished. Efficient surface miners out West and new high-tech longwallers will ensure that the low-cost producers keep the King alive for decades to come.”

Power Breakfast or Sept. 25, 2015

China set to announce cap-and-trade; technology's potential.


powerbreakfastA nearly daily round-up of news for your consideration:

  • President Xi Jinping of China is slated to announce a commitment to introduce a cap-and-trade system for the country in 2017. “But it is not clear whether China will be able to enact and enforce a program that substantially limits emissions,” according to the New York Times.
  • Greg Boyce, executive chairman of Peabody Energy and chairman of the International Energy Agency’s Coal Industry Advisory Board, says cap-and-trade systems offer lessons, not models, and stresses the importance of technology over politics.