In the Pipeline: 8/19/13

Woods (Dynegy), Spitzer (Steptoe), Naeve (Skadden), Santa (INGAA), Kelliher (NextEra), Kelly (Akin Gump), Bailey (Cheniere), Moler (Exelon pensioner), Brownell (Comverge or Spectra, whichever you prefer). Say what you want, these people have vested interests that are very much involved with who might be the next Chairman of FERC. So let’s not kid anyone about why they signed that letter.

PoliticoPro (8/16/13) reports: “When a dozen former FERC commissioners lined up last week to defend President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the agency against a scathing Wall Street Journal editorial, it was no easy task. The Journal’s editorial represented either a purposeful attack or ‘just an ignorance of how commissions work,’ said former FERC Commissioner Nora Mead Brownell, a George W. Bush appointee who organized the rebuttal by both Democratic and Republican former commissioners. The Journal’s July 29 editorial pummeled former Colorado Public Utilities Commission Chairman Ron Binz, calling him ‘the most important and radical Obama nominee you’ve never heard of.’ But it also criticized FERC, saying the agency has gone beyond its ‘narrow legal obligations’ and ‘deputized itself as a Wall Street regulator.’”

Our own Bob Murphy is from Rochester. It must be something in the groundwater.

The Democrat and Chronicle (8/13/13) reports: “The 20 solar panels Jeffrey Punton installed in the backyard of his Weldon Street home won’t ever generate enough electricity to cover their cost. Which is the whole point. He means them as a cautionary tale, one that Punton said cost him $13,000 and received another $29,500 in state and federal subsidies and tax credits. He installed the panels in 2009, and they work: he has generated about 15,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in four years, saving several hundred dollars a year on his energy bill. That’s a lot of savings, but barely enough to recoup his initial investment over several decades, and not enough to cover the public money involved. It’s that public money that chafes him, evidence of governmental intrusion in the marketplace.”

“Let me die in this old uniform in which I fought my battles. May God forgive me for ever having put on another.”

The Hill (8/15/13) reports: “A group run by a former GOP lawmaker that advocates for a carbon tax has lured Americans for Prosperity’s grassroots director to lead its outreach efforts. Laquan Austion will join ex-Rep. Bob Inglis’s (R-S.C.) Energy and Enterprise Initiative as its new director of outreach, the organization announced Thursday. The move is an interesting one, as the AFP strongly opposes a carbon tax, which Inglis’s group is pushing. ‘E&EI is blazing the trail for free-market solutions to a demanding issue that Americans care about,’ Austion said in a statement. ‘I’m excited for the opportunity to contribute to the growing coalition of conservatives offering the country real solutions for energy security and climate change.’ A carbon tax is a fee imposed either at fossil fuel extraction or generation with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Under most schemes, some revenues are returned to residents to offset higher energy costs.”

So the wind guys and the solar crew is on the Binz bandwagon. How much more obvious does it have to get?

The Daily Caller (8/6/13) reports: “The bill passed and the Colorado PUC voted to have Xcel shut down six coal-fired generators and replace them with natural gas-fired ones. However, the Denver Post reported that prior to the enactment of the bill, Binz had engaged in meetings with executives in the natural gas industry and from Xcel, according to government documents. ‘By early March 2010, he was even reassuring Xcel officials on how the commission would treat cost recovery under draft language — eventually crowing, ‘The eagle has landed. The commission and Xcel have agreed on language for cost recovery,’’ the Post reported.”

In the Pipeline: 8/16/13

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…

The Boston Globe (8/9/13) reports: “A group of environmentalists has dropped its campaign to place a so-called carbon tax on the next statewide ballot, citing the complexity of the issue, weak fund-raising, and potential constitutional challenges to the question. The group, the Committee for a Green Economy , had hoped to place a question on the 2014 ballot asking voters to approve a new tax on gasoline, heating oil, and other fossil fuels based on the amount of carbon dioxide they produce, with the aim of reducing pollutants that contribute to climate change. The committee, however, failed to file a petition with Attorney General Martha Coakley by Wednesday’s deadline, the first step in qualifying an initiative for the ballot.”

It’s never fun to say I told you so with so many Spaniards suffering as a result of their inept government.

Salon (8/14/13) reports: “The Spanish government is in debt to its power producers to the tune of 26 billion euros, the results of years spent regulating costs. To make up the difference, it’s imposing a levy on rooftop solar panels — effectively negating the economic benefit of generating clean energy. The tax will more than triple the time it takes for consumers to recoup their investment in rooftop panels, reports Reuters. It will also prevent people from selling any extra energy they generate that way back to the grid. Those who leave their panels up without connecting them to the grid, which is how the government will monitor and tax their energy production, face a fine of between 6 million and 30 million euros.”

Intermittent is a four letter word. 

The New York Times (8/14/13) reports: “The 21 turbines at the Kingdom Community Wind farm in Vermont soar above Lowell Mountain, a testament in steel and fiberglass to the state’s growing use of green energy. Except when they aren’t allowed to spin at their fastest. That has been the case several times in the farm’s short existence, including during the record July heat wave when it could have produced enough much-needed energy to fuel a small town. Instead, the grid system operator held it at times to just one-third of what it could have produced.”

We look forward to Admiral McGinn supporting opening ANWR, the OCS, and onshore as part of his readiness efforts.

Politico Pro (8/15/13) reports: “The Navy’s new energy chief doesn’t have any uncertainty about the scope of his mission. As the leader overseeing the service’s push to develop advanced biofuels and deploy more renewable energy, retired Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn says he has ‘to try to take the politics out of something which is essentially a national security issue.’ It’s no easy task. He faces production issues, technological barriers, increasingly tight budgets and scrutiny from congressional Republicans unhappy with the military’s green spending. But McGinn — the recently confirmed assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and the environment and outgoing president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy — says it all comes down to numbers.”

The most transparent administration in history.

The Daily Caller (8/15/13) reports: “A federal judge said that the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of private emails account may have been an attempt to skirt public scrutiny and transparency laws. The court decision comes after investigation uncovered that top agency officials were using such accounts to conduct official business. ‘The possibility that unsearched personal email accounts may have been used for official business raises the possibility that leaders in the EPA may have purposefully attempted to skirt disclosure under the FOIA,’ wrote U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in his decision.”

Stop the RINsanity!!!!

The USA Today (8/15/13) reports: “When members of Congress decided in 2007 to require that Americans put 36 billion gallons of ethanol in their gas tanks annually by 2022, they must have thought there was an award for bad public policy. The idea never made the slightest sense. The law, an expansion of a mandate adopted two years earlier, called for impossibly large quantities of corn to go into fuel production rather than onto people’s tables, driving up food prices. This year, the mandate requires 16.6 billion gallons of ethanol, absurdly consuming 37% of the nation’s corn crop and requiring farmland roughly equal to the size of Kentucky. Now unforeseen events are adding a tragicomic twist.”

Happy Friday.

Gizmodo (8/16/13) reports: “Stop me if you heard this before but an electric car and an electric pole walk into a bar… Okay, seriously. This is one of those ridiculous local news stories that are too perfect to be true but actually are. A Tesla Model S crashed into a utility pole in Tennessee and caused a local blackout. An electric car causing a blackout by crashing into a pole is a little funnier than a regular car driving into a gas station, right? The crash, which occurred in the afternoon, was actually a result of a DUI. A 34-year-old woman was behind the wheel at the time and said she was ‘messing with the radio’ (that darn giant touchscreen!) when the crash happened. When police arrived on scene, the electric car was 100 feet away from the downed utility pole and power was out locally: In order to load the crashed vehicle onto the flatbed, officers apparently had to obtain ‘technical instructions’ in how to turn off the Model S.”

In the Pipeline: 8/15/13

Question: Would Warren & Co. go all in on wind if they weren’t able to feed themselves greedily from the public coffers?  

The Daily Caller (8/13/13) reports: “A subsidiary of the Warren Buffett-owned MidAmerican Energy Holdings is looking to capitalize on federal tax subsidies by installing 448 wind turbines across five Iowa counties in order to generate up to 1,050 megawatts of power by 2015. Construction on the wind farms is scheduled to begin next month, meaning MidAmerican will qualify for generous wind tax credits offered by the federal government. ‘MidAmerican Energy Company does plan to use federal wind production tax credits for the recently announced wind expansion,’ a company spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. ‘The specific amount is not available.’”

When government becomes the judge, jury, and executioner, it really limits your options. You either play ball or perish. Really though, you can’t blame the refiners for not wanting to participate in Soviet style mandates.  

The Wall Street Journal (8/14/13) reports: “Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its annual renewable-fuels mandate, telling refineries how much ethanol they must blend into the nation’s gas supply. This quota, which grows each year, is becoming a horrific financial burden on the industry, forcing many refineries to buy federal ethanol ‘credits’ to satisfy the rules. The skyrocketing price of those credits is adding hundreds of millions of dollars to refineries’ annual costs. So it was more than a little curious that the EPA, as part of its rule, announced it was exempting just one mystery refinery (out of 143) from this year’s mandate. The dispensation amounts to a significant financial favor to one lucky player, as I wrote in the Journal on Friday. Further reporting has revealed that the refinery is Alon USA Energy’s Krotz Springs facility in Louisiana. There’s reason to wonder why Krotz Springs alone got a deal.”

All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey. San Francisco regulators, refuse to hike the rates. Green schemers for now, they’re are being held at bay. California green dreamin’, will wait another day.

CBS SF Bay Area (8/14/13) reports: “Proponents of a green power alternative to PG&E in San Francisco are frustrated, but not deterred by delays to the city’s long-awaited renewable energy program. However, this week’s setback when the SF Public Utilities Commission refused to move forward on a key approval has sent the program back to the drawing board. For nine years, the city has been putting together CleanPowerSF, which would cost customers more than PG&E, but would provide renewable or green energy.Supervisor John Avalos, a big supporter, said it’s been an uphill battle to come up with a program palatable for regulators, who on Tuesday, refused to sign off on a rate schedule.”

Come on Josh, if you’re going to keep blatantly promoting “misinformation” the least you could do is say it on the record.

The Washington Free Beacon (8/14/13) reports: “Environmentalist filmmaker Josh Fox grew frustrated during a recent public radio interview when asked about apparent falsehoods in his Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary Gasland. Fox asked an interviewer with Aspen public radio station KAJX to go ‘off the record’ so he could explain why he represented a gas extraction lease created by a group of Pennsylvania landowners as a $100,000 offer from a gas company to extract natural gas from his land. The document presented in Gasland was a draft of a lease that Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance (NWPOA), a Pennsylvania landowners group, offered to gas companies exploring potential shale drilling operations in the area hoping to secure favorable terms for landowners, according to NWPOA members. It was not, as Fox claimed in the film, an offer from one of those companies. The group also says Fox was never a member, as he told KAJX on Monday.”

 

 

In the Pipeline: 8/14/13

Watch as the RFS advocates come crawling to Washington and beg them to prop up their industry by forcing you to buy their product. 

Fox News (8/13/13) reports “Only in Washington can an expensive, unnecessary regulation be considered common sense. The Obama administration is digging in its heels when it comes to repealing harmful energy regulations that increase consumer costs with little benefit to the environment. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a classic example of hugely misguided energy policy, but to the Obama administration and its environmentalist allies, the RFS is a beneficial regulation aimed at curbing emissions and safeguarding against climate change.What they don’t say, but mean, is that it artificially drives up the cost of gasoline and when that happens, people can’t afford to drive as much. Remember how energy prices need to ‘skyrocket?’ Well, they are. ‘The backbone of our policy is the Renewable Fuel Standard,’ said top Obama energy adviser Heather Zichal at an event last week, adding that ‘calls to repeal the standard are nothing but shortsighted.’”

Elon Musk, having mastered the art of the federal fleece, now sets his sights on California taxpayers. Those high speed rail rent seekers better not underestimate this guy, or they just might lose their gravy train.

Business Week (8/13/13) reports: “‘L.A. to S.F. in 30 minutes?’ the front page of the Los Angeles Times asked this morning, reporting on the promise of Hyperloop, the conceptual superfast, solar-powered, tubular transit system that Elon Musk unveiled yesterday. The news came just a day after another L.A. Times piece about the potential of speedy travel up and down California, that one titled: ‘Shovel-ready bullet train construction delayed again.’ As the blog Curbed Los Angeles put it, ‘Nice timing, Musk.’ The contrast between Musk’s futuristic option for bridging Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and the much-delayed, over-budget, fast train that the state already has in the works, couldn’t have seemed starker or more striking. And that’s the point.”

At least she recognizes it’s much harder to be carbon neutral than just buying the next toy with a pretty green leaf on it.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (8/7/13) reports: “The dynapod appeals to conservation-minded people in the same way that wind turbines and biofuel-powered cars and hand-cranked radios do: They’re hard, shiny machines that purport to produce “free” energy. Not just free in terms of cost and independence (because you no longer have to pay a big, bad corporation for electricity or gasoline), but also free from guilt. Because you’re not polluting the air, right? Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple. Before you even climb aboard your dynapod or generate your first watt of green energy, you’ve already stomped another carbon footprint into the sands of time through the manufacturing process. And until the energy embodied in machines, vehicles, buildings, gadgets, food, clothing, and other consumer purchases comes to be understood as part of total energy consumption, people can’t make well-reasoned choices about how to reduce their climate impact.”

Wait, you’re telling me the scientists could make conclusions based on flawed premises?

Forbes (8/13/13) reports: “Perseveration on global warming naturally inclines one to seek out other areas of  “science” where things aren’t exactly what they so obviously are, which brings me to the remarkable work of the most important toxicological scientist you have never heard of,  Dr. Ed Calabrese of the University of Massachusetts. His work, painstaking and seemingly obscure, is upsetting just about everything we ‘know’ about cancer and other illnesses commonly associated with environmental ‘pollutants.’ If taken to its logical conclusion, it could derail much of Washington’s regulatory bureaucracy, particularly the EPA’s. Not that this is going to happen overnight, but as Calabrese’s work is increasingly accepted (as has been happening in recent years), the current regulatory paradigm will be forced to adjust.”

Hear that popping noise? That’s Harry Reid’s head exploding.

The Associated Press (8/13/13)reports: “In a rebuke to the Obama administration, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been violating federal law by delaying a decision on a proposed nuclear waste dump in Nevada. By a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the commission to complete the licensing process and approve or reject the Energy Department’s application for a never-completed waste storage site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.”

This just in: the science is settled.

E&E News (8/13/13) reports: “Scientists know that the Greenland ice sheet is contributing to rising sea levels, but many of the details about how its ice is driving drastic change remain a mystery. A new study aims to fill in a piece of the puzzle by concluding that the gliding of ice on meltwater that has seeped through to bedrock is not a significant factor with sea-level rise. The research dampens a long-held fear by questioning a hypothesis that Greenland’s surface meltwater — flowing through well-like holes to the ground — allows ice to rapidly ride on it like a water slide to the sea. While the gliding of ice from sunken meltwater is happening and is changing the character of Greenland’s ice in general, the lubrication dynamic will only contribute about 8 millimeters of sea-level rise through 2200 under a worst-case scenario. That would be no more than 5 percent of the estimated contribution from Greenland’s ice sheet as a whole, according to the study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ‘If we’re right [Greenland's slippery slopes] are not as slippery — and therefore as worrying — as we first thought,’ Tamsin Edwards, a co-author of the study and a scientist at the University of Bristol, said in a blog post.”

You remember Cathy Zoi. She’s the one who ordered the NREL hit piece on our good friend Gabriel Calzada. It looks like she is more successful talking about green jobs than creating them. We wish her luck.

Greentech Media (8/12/13) reports: “Cathy Zoi is no longer the Chief Strategy Officer at Tom Siebel’s C3 Energy. Insiders have informed Greentech that she has left the firm. C3 management has not responded to inquiries, but C3′s front desk confirms the departure.  As Jeff St. John reported, ‘C3 Energy, the Silicon Valley startup founded by software billionaire Tom Siebel, has quietly been building on an audacious promise: a big data integration and analytics engine, hosted in the cloud, that can aggregate and put to use all of the world’s information, practically speaking, as it pertains to the complexities of big energy systems.’ Zoi joined the utility data analytics firm after a short stint at investment firm Silver Lake Kraftwerk. Zoi has not responded to our inquiries as to why she has left the firm.”

 

In the Pipeline: 8/13/13

Broken promises. SEC investigations. Empty lots. No product. In other words, pretty standard stuff for anything with the word “Green” in it.

The Washington Post (8/10/13) reports: “Just off the legendary Highway 61, where crop-dusters perform acrobatics above billboards for Mississippi Delta casinos, is the place where Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe pledged to build a $60 million factory for his electric-car company. On a recent summer day, a bird was skittering over patches of weedy gravel at the vacant site of what is supposed to be GreenTech Automotive’s future plant. Virginia gubernatorial candidate’s “green” car company fails to pay desired political dividends. In Horn Lake, Miss., GreenTech runs a temporary assembly plant in an old elevator factory. There, fewer than 100 workers are producing no more than one car every two or three days, according to current and former company employees.”

Passing on the mantle.

The Washington Times (8/12/13) reports: “China will become the world’s largest importer of crude oil in October, surpassing the U.S. for the first time as the Asian giant’s rising consumer class of drivers grows increasingly thirsty for fuel, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is projecting. China already is the largest importer of oil from the troubled Middle East, taking away a distinction that plagued the U.S. since the 1970s. Its ascendance as the world’s largest importer — even as U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil declines to negligible levels — could transform regional and world politics as the focus of global defense efforts for decades has been keeping open the vital oil shipping lanes leading from the Persian Gulf.”

Chinese drivers may be pushing their need for imports up, but our increased oil production is decreasing our reliance on imports. 

The Institute for Energy Research (8/13/13) reports: “The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the China is expected to surpass the United States in oil imports this October and to lead the world in total oil imports in 2014. As the graph below shows, the United States, on a net basis (imports less exports), has decreased its net oil imports fairly dramatically over the last several years. There are several reasons for this decline. Most importantly, U.S. oil production is up. But, other reasons include increased exports of petroleum products, lower or flat liquid fuels demand, and biofuels production that has generally been increasing. China, unlike the United States, has a heavily growing demand for petroleum products and much lower production growth.”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The Washington Free Beacon (8/12/13) reports: “The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has suspended stimulus payments to a major green energy company after the company said it is having trouble finding financing and may have to declare bankruptcy. ECOtality admitted that possibility in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week. Lackluster sales caused revenues to fall significantly short of its expenses, the company said. ‘Although the company is currently exploring options for a restructuring or sale of the entire business and/or assets of the company, the company may need to file a petition commencing a case under the United States Bankruptcy Code as part of any such process or otherwise in the very near future,’ ECOtality said in its SEC filing. ECOtality has received more than $100 million in federal funds, the bulk of which came in a $99.8 million stimulus award for the construction of its electric vehicle charging stations.”

Harry Reid throws a really scary Halloween party in August. If you notice, there is not a soul invited who actually cares about affordable, reliable energy.

National Clean Energy Summit reports: “The National Clean Energy Summit has been the national stage for clean energy development discussions for six years and serves as the country’s most visible and influential gathering of leaders and top policymakers. The day-long clean energy summit is hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. National Clean Energy Summit 6.0: Energizing Tomorrow will focus on empowering individuals, governments, and businesses to continue our transition to a clean energy future. This year’s conference will highlight solutions needed to energize our clean energy economy for tomorrow. By identifying hurdles facing clean energy development today and discussing the solutions needed to clear these hurdles, we can energize tomorrow.”

The battle lines are forming. We’re glad these folks are in the fight with us.

In the Pipeline: 8/12/13

All future measurements should be in fruit-based units.

Forbes (8/10/13) reports: “There’s much screaming and shouting from the usual suspects about the new radiation leak discovered at Fukushima, the stricken nuclear power plants in Japan. What they’re not telling you is that the radiation leakage is around the same as 76 million bananas. A fact which should help to put it all into some perspective. Here’s Greenpeace: Environmental group Greenpeace said Tepco had ‘anxiously hid the leaks’ and urged Japan to seek international expertise. ‘Greenpeace calls for the Japanese authorities to do all in their power to solve this situation, and that includes increased transparency…and getting international expertise in to help find solutions,’ Dr Rianne Teule of Greenpeace International said in an e-mailed statement. Not that Greenpeace is ever going to say anything other than that nuclear power is the work of the very devil of course. And the headlines do indeed seem alarming.”

It takes over 200 days to get a permit to drill on federal lands in the Land of the Free.

The Telegraph (8/9/13) reports:  “David Cameron’s plans to kick-start shale gas fracking faced a fresh setback after the environmental regulator said energy companies could face a six month wait to secure permits despite a government pledge to cut the process to less than a fortnight. In a development that will be welcomed by those concerned about shale gas, the Environment Agency (EA) said the ‘current level of public interest’ in fracking meant that the permitting process was likely to be extended to allow for more consultation. In June, the Treasury pledged the government would take a series of measures ‘designed to kick start the shale gas industry in the UK’ including plans for the EA to ‘significantly reduce the time it takes to obtain environmental permits for exploration’. It said the EA would ensure shale gas permits which currently take a varying length of time would be issued within a “standard 13 week period” by September and then “within 1-2 weeks” by February.”

How many of the assumptions underlying the environmentalist view of the world depend on global warming and scarcity? What are they going to do when both are discredited?

Climate Depot (8/9/13) reports: “Another major European media outlet is asking: Where’s the global warming? Moreover, they are featuring prominent skeptic scientists who are warning of a potential little ice age and dismissing CO2 as a major climate driver. And all of this just before the release of the IPCC’s 5AR, no less! The August 7 print edition of the Danish Jyllands-Posten, the famous daily that published the ‘Muhammad caricatures’, features a full 2-page article bearing the headline: ‘The behavior of the sun may trigger a new little ice age’ followed by the sub-headline: ‘Defying all predictions, the globe may be on the road towards a new little ice age with much colder winters.’ So now even the once very green Danish media is now spreading the seeds of doubt. So quickly can ‘settled science’ become controversial and hotly disputed. The climate debate is far from over. And when it does end, it looks increasingly as if it’ll end in favor of the skeptics. The JP writes that “many will be startled” by the news that a little ice age is a real possibility. Indeed, western citizens have been conditioned to think that nothing except warming is possible. Few have prepared for any other possibility. In its latest 2-page report, the JP now appears to tell its readers that our views on climate science have to be much more open minded and unshackled from the chains of dogmatism.”

The ethanol industry complains of monopoly persecution, but when you talk to customers, they’ve got a very different perspective on monopolies and mandates.

The Star News Online (8/11/13) reports: “For most folks, it’s the price of gasoline that matters. But for a vocal minority, it’s what’s in the gasoline that really matters. Or, to be more precise, what isn’t – specifically ethanol. Several years ago, Musa Agil looked to capitalize on that demand and make his mark in the Wilmington market by starting to sell ethanol-free gasoline at his pair of independent gas stations – Wrightsville Country Store and Masonboro Country Store…Six years later, Agil has a loyal customer base that drives from as far away as southern Brunswick County to fill the tanks of their cars, boats, motorcycles and lawn equipment with his ethanol-free fuels – which he now sells in three grades. The gasoline is a hot seller even though it can cost 30 to 40 cents more per gallon than the fuels that are blended with ethanol.”

The Journal mischaracterizes these people. Most of them are really lobbyists for companies, trade associations, or law firms with interests and issues before the Commission. They want to make sure that the new boss likes them. In short, they are part of the problem.

The Wall Street Journal (8/8/13) reports: “As former commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, we object to your July 30 editorial ‘Ron Binz’s Rules for Radicals’ criticizing Ron Binz, the president’s nominee to chair the FERC, and implying that the FERC is pursuing an agenda unconstrained by law or national policy. Mr. Binz is criticized for helping draft, at his governor’s request, provisions of new utility legislation in Colorado. The law requires utilities to submit regulatory plans so that coal plants comply with expected Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Mr. Binz’s commission implemented the law, issuing a balanced decision that closed older, heavier-emitting coal plants while outfitting newer coal plants with emissions controls.”

In the Pipeline: 8/9/13

Congress should take this as a teachable moment and mandate that the plant generate all its electricity from wind or solar and that Congress will rely on no other powerplants.  I suspect the Republic would be a lot safer if staffers and Members had to get by on a few hours of electricity a day.

The New York Times (8/8/13) reports: “As part of the climate change agenda he unveiled this year, President Obama made a commitment to significantly reduce the federal government’s dependence on fossil fuels. The government, he said in a speech in June at Georgetown University, ‘must lead by example.’ Some critics say officials at the plant are choosing to burn dirtier fuel as a political statement. But just two miles from the White House stands the Capitol Power Plant, the largest single source of carbon emissions in the nation’s capital and a concrete example of the government’s inability to green its own turf. The plant, which provides heating and cooling to the sprawling Capitol campus — 23 buildings that include the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court and Congressional office buildings, in addition to the Capitol building itself — is operated by Congress, and its transition to cleaner energy sources has been mired in national politics for years.”

Do you ever get the feeling the NOAA crew is rooting for destruction?

My Fox New York (8/8/13) reports: “This Atlantic hurricane season may not be quite as busy as federal forecasters once thought, but they still warn of an unusually active and potentially dangerous few months to come. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated its hurricane season forecast Thursday, trimming back the number of hurricanes they expect this year to between six and nine. That’s a couple less than they predicted back in May. The forecast calls for three to five of those hurricanes to be major, with winds greater than 110 mph. The updated forecast also predicts 13 to 19 named storms this year. Both of those predictions are just one less forecast three months ago.”

Let’s talk about that jobs “blip.”

The Energy and Commerce Committee (8/8/13) reports: “If the president is indeed committed to reducing unemployment, he should swiftly pivot toward American energy production. Data from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrate that the U.S. oil and gas industry continues to be a bright spot in America’s economy. The Energy Information Administration reported today, ‘From the start of 2007 through the end of 2012, total U.S. private sector employment increased by more than one million jobs, about one percent. Over the same period, the oil and natural gas industry increased by more than 162,000 jobs, a 40 percent increase.A recent study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute found the oil and gas industry supported a total of 9.8 million American jobs in 2011, including over 600,000 jobs created in just two years. While the country still struggles with high unemployment, energy producing states like North Dakota and Texas are experiencing job growth.”

 

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For you Alaskaphiles out there…

Energy Intelligence (7/29/13) reports: “Doyon, one of the largest private landowners in the US, has spent the last three years conducting additional seismic surveys and analyzing test results from a well targeting natural gas that was drilled in the summer of 2009. That well, Nunivak #1, located 50 miles west of the city of Fairbanks, showed signs of oil generation below 7,000 feet, and Doyon believes that the basin may hold more than 1 billion barrels of oil. ‘The initial look was really for gas, but it clearly has turned to oil as a result of the well we drilled in 2009,’ Jim Mery, Doyon’s senior vice president of lands and natural resources told Oil Daily in an interview. ‘We see an opportunity to change the paradigm about oil development in this state.’ The basin has the advantage of accessibility in a state where the road system and electrical grid only reach 40% of the land area. The drilling site for the second well, Nunivak #2, is near Alaska’s main north-south railroad and highway corridor and roughly 65 miles from both the state’s largest refinery and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.”

In the Pipeline: 8/8/13

I bet you did not know that Commissioner Binz is the hand-picked successor of the current FERC chairman, who himself is hostile to coal, natural gas, and anything, really, that works.

Complete Colorado (8/7/13) reports: “As Ron Binz campaigns to be confirmed as the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, much of the emphasis has been on his position as an activist for what he considers to be low or no carbon energy sources, predominantly Big Wind. (Forget the fact that wind requires an enormous amount of carbon emissions in the manufacturing of gigantic wind turbines.) But Binz’s no carbon advocacy is hypocritical. While Binz now advocates for lowering carbon emissions, he was instrumental in shutting down Colorado’s lowest carbon emitting power source, the Fort St. Vrain nuclear plant, which eventually converted to natural gas – a technology he now calls “dead end” when it comes to carbon emissions. As head of the Office of Consumer Council (OCC), Binz successfully argued before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that the power plant did not work correctly and that the shareholders of the company running the plant must pay for the capital costs rather than customers using the electricity.”

Musk to market: We don’t need no stinking Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Our friend Matt Yglesias (and we use the term loosely) points out that Tesla actually lost money this quarter. Of course, Matt is fine with that (and apparently so is Wall Street).  

Slate (8/7/13) reports: “Tesla somewhat unexpectedly earned a modest profit in the first quarter of this year, which naturally raised expectations for the following quarter. And in a letter to shareholders pegged to today’s earnings release, CEO Elon Musk claims victory: ‘While profits were still modest in absolute terms and not our primary mission, net income increased by 70% from last quarter, driven by record Model S deliveries and a significant improvement in automotive gross margin.’ Delve into the report, however, and this turns out to be not quite as simple as it seems. Publicly traded companies are obliged to report earnings in terms of what are known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and that 70 percent increase in based on a non-GAAP measure.”

Teachable moment for Governor Hickenlooper: Sometimes those crony capitalists don’t live up to their end of the bargain.

The Denver Post (8/6/13) reports: “The General Electric Co. has abandoned plans for a $300 million solar-panel factory in Aurora and instead struck a deal with the largest U.S. solar-panel maker, First Solar Inc. GE is giving technology developed by a Colorado startup it bought to First Solar in exchange for 1.75 million shares in the Tempe, Ariz.-based company — worth about $82 million based on Tuesday’s closing share price. The Arvada research center — where the technology was created and which was formerly PrimeStar Solar — will be closed, with 50 people losing their jobs, GE spokeswoman Lindsay Thiele said.”

Watch Whatley work. Keystone opponents will not like this interview.

E&E News (7/31/13) reports: “Well, look, the environmental groups that supported the President and opposed this pipeline are not going to be satisfied no matter what decision is made. If the President says yes, no matter what excuses or reasons that he were to deliver to it, straight out they oppose this pipeline, they do not want to see the oil sands developed, and there’s not really going to be any placating them. But I think for the average American voter and for the folks that support this pipeline, and also support a clean healthy environment, the fact that this will be the safest pipeline ever done, it won’t contribute substantially to carbon emissions throughout the globe, and it’s going to help reduce gasoline prices and create jobs here in the United States, those are the important factors the President needs to take into account.”

In the Pipeline: 8/6/13

Do you think the protesters drove there?

Reuters (8/4/13) reports: “Police arrested more than 200 demonstrators for trespassing at Chevron Corp in the California city of Richmond on Saturday to mark the one-year anniversary of a massive refinery fire and to protest a proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The arrests came as a throng of sunflower-carrying picketers chanted, ‘Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go,’ as people of all ages walked onto Chevron’s property to draw attention to a growing movement against fossil fuel. Police Captain Mark Gagan said the arrests, all peaceful, included three people in wheelchairs and demonstrators as young as 18 years old. Media reports said most of those arrested were cited and released. Environmentalist Bill McKibben, who is leading a call for using only renewable energy, was one of the first to be handcuffed.”

This is why FERC and Binz matter.

The Miami Herald (8/5/13) reports. “The windswept prairies of the Midwest are undergoing an energy transformation the electric grid can’t handle. Wind turbines tower over rural vistas in the heartland, where the clean energy source is becoming increasingly popular with utility companies that face state-mandated renewable energy standards. Unfortunately, the nation’s aging power grid is hampering those efforts. At the end of last year, installed wind-generation capacity totaled 60 gigawatts nationwide – 5 percent of the nation’s production capacity – according to data from the U.S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Another 135 gigawatts of potential wind production awaits development and connection to the grid, according to industry data.”

Fancy that, we can drill our way out of the problem.

Energy Guardian (8/6/13) reports: “The price of domestic oil has steadily risen this year to about the same as that of imports. Yet the price of a gallon of gas has stayed well below the record of $4.11 a gallon set in the summer of 2008. Why? U.S. pump prices tend to rise and fall based on the world spot price, reflected in the North Sea Brent crude benchmark set in London. The good news for consumers has come because Brent prices have been held in check by stronger U.S. output and better transportation to refiners, according to the Energy Department.”

Attack energy production, modern life, and our standard of living as much as you want, but if you use global warming to threaten our ability to grill real meat? You’ve crossed a line, this is blasphemy.

Bloomberg (8/5/13) reports: “The world’s first beef burger created from stem cells has a texture that’s closer to cake than steak. The burger, fried in a public unveiling in London today, lacks the fattiness of regular meat and could be described as an ‘animal-protein cake,’ according to Josh Schonwald, a Chicago-based author and one of two tasting volunteers. The 5-ounce burger, which cost more than 250,000 euros ($332,000) to produce, was developed by Mark Post of Maastricht University with funding from Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Post is among scientists including those at Modern Meadow and New Harvest who are experimenting with ways to grow meat in labs as an alternative to raising livestock, which contributes 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and uses 30 percent of the world’s ice-free land, according to an Oxford University study.”

In the Pipeline: 8/7/13

These suckers are floating around London’s sewers and they’re spun up about fracking? I’m not a betting man, but I’m willing to wager that burning “fatbergs” is much dirtier and less efficient than hydrocarbons.

Newsy (8/5/13) reports: “Workers at a water company in London have made a historic and disgusting find — a so-called ‘fatberg.’ It’s a combination of fat poured down drains along with flushed wet wipes. The two coupled together to create a massive clump of waste. The International Business Times reports this ‘fatberg’ weighs 15 tons and blocked about 95 percent of the sewer. For comparison, it’s as large as a double-decker bus. Workers found the clump of fat — reported to be the largest in British history — after nearby residents complained they weren’t able to flush their toilets. The good news is workers found the large blockage just in the nick of time. According to MSN, if the ‘fatberg’ wasn’t found soon, it could have caused sewage to come out of several manholes nearby. The fat deposits have been a problem in the past, but they have never been this bad. Water company leaders have continued to ask residents to avoid flushing wet wipes and fat because of the unappealing result. But what’s being done with the fat now? Apparently it’s already being put to good use. KCPQ notes the fat will be burned to create power. Before, fat used to be sent to waste plants and was simply tossed out. The large fatberg, along with much smaller fatbergs, could create enough energy to power 39,000 homes.”

Memo to Obama Motors executives: You cannot sell a product people don’t want and expect to make a profit. 

The Wall Street Journal (8/6/13) reports: “General Motors Co. cut the starting price of its latest Chevrolet Volt electric car by 13%, expanding a price war among makers of plug-in vehicles in response to sluggish demand. The price cut is yet another sign of the difficulties GM has faced trying to establish a market for plug-ins. Overall, plug-in vehicle sales are rising, driven by offerings such as the Tesla Model S from startup Tesla Motors Inc. But despite government subsidies, they remain a niche market. Limited driving range is an obstacle for most all-electric cars. Volt, which uses a gasoline motor to extend its range to 380 miles, has to compete with fuel- efficient Chevrolets that sell for as little as half its sticker price.”

Huh, turns out adding pipelines does help prices at the pump.

The Energy Information Agency (8/6/13) reports: “The discount of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil to Brent crude oil, which averaged $18 per barrel in 2012 and increased to a monthly average of $21 per barrel in February 2013, closed below $1.50 per barrel on July 19, 2013, and averaged $3 per barrel for the month. The strong demand for light, sweet crude oil in the Midwest and new pipeline capacity to deliver production from the West Texas Permian Basin directly to the Gulf Coast contributed to the price of WTI rising relative to Brent crude oil. EIA expects the WTI discount to widen to $6 per barrel by the end of 2013 as crude oil production in Alberta, Canada, recovers following the heavy June flooding and as midcontinent production continues to grow.”

Even Don Draper can’t save this guy.

The Daily Caller (8/6/13) reports: “Green groups are gearing up for a fight with free-market organizations and the coal industry over President Obama’s pick to head the Federal Energy Regulation Commission. In June, Obama announced he was nominating Ron Binz to head up FERC, which regulates electric grids, gas pipelines, natural gas export terminals and hydroelectric power plants. Yet Binz’s tenure as the head of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission from 2007 to 2011 was controversial…Green groups are pushing Binz’s nomination, taking unusual steps to ensure that it goes through. Green Tech Action Fund hired the public relations firm VennSquared Communications to support Binz’s nomination. Support for Binz among environmentalists has mainly focused on his advocacy for renewable energy and energy efficiency, but free-market groups are critical of his activism while serving as Colorado’s top regulator.”

Doubling down on mandates for fuel that doesn’t exist and jacking up food and fuel prices for all Americans. All in day’s work for the EPA.

The Institute for Energy Research (8/6/13) reports: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today its final 2013 rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The rule now requires refiners to blend 16.55 billion gallons of biofuel into the U.S. fuel supply. Institute for Energy Research President Thomas Pyle released the following statement in response to the announcement: ‘Today’s announcement by the EPA that federal regulators will increase the requirement on refiners this year to blend a staggering 16.55 billion gallons of biofuel is the latest example of how Washington bureaucracies don’t understand the real world or how energy mandates affect real people. The continued push to mandate phantom fuels like cellulosic biofuel is driving up the cost of energy and food for everyone, disproportionately hurting middle class and lower income families.’”