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April 15, 2013
* [uranium-fracking] Fracking for uranium, first accidentally, and now on purpose, John Upton, Grist
* [CO2-climate;China] US and China announced 'urgent' joint efforts to fight climate change, Charles Digges, Bellona
* [DOE-Moniz-CO2] Obama still trying to get green team in place, Steve Curwood, Public Radio International
Feb 23, 2013
To help ease the steep costs of energy imports following Japan's nuclear accident in 2011, Mr. Abe told Mr. Obama that he would like the U.S. to allow exports of natural gas to Japan, a Japanese official said. Washington currently limits exports abroad other than to its free-trade agreement partners.
Abe also told Mr. Obama that Japan plans to increase its defense spending, which may help Obama sell his desire for US defense cuts to the public. Mr. Obama said "The U.S.-Japan alliance is the central foundation for our regional security and so much of what we do in the Pacific region."
Source: Yuka Hayashi, "Abe Tells Obama Japan Will Boost Its Defense", Wall Street Journal, Feb 22, 2013
January 26, 2013
Southern California got through last summer without blackouts in the absence of San Onofre's 2,200 megawatts of power, but some of the measures taken to replace the plant were temporary. Energy officials have been working on a backup plan for this summer, should the plant remain out of service.
Source: Abby Sewell (LA Times reporter), Nuclear commission pushes back decision on San Onofre", L.A. Now blog, January 25, 2013
January 10, 2013
* [energy-US] Listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken as threatened could all but paralyze oil and gas development in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico, Barry Russell (President, Independent Petroleum Association of America), energy.nationaljournal.com
January 4, 2013
* [energy-US-LNG-export;npp-US-Calvert Cliffs] Dominion wins right to export liquefied natural gas; Judge rules Sierra Club can't block Cove Point terminal conversion, Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun
November 5, 2012
* [energy-natural gas-UK] UK government wants to open up natural gas fracking, nuclear.com info nugget
April 10, 2009
Energy policy - 'comprehensive' House bill from Waxman and Markey
"The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES)" is described by sponsors Rep. Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Markey (D-MA) as a comprehensive approach to US energy policy.
Says Waxman: "This legislation will create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path to energy independence and cut global warming and pollution."
Says Markey: "We will create jobs by the millions, save money by the billions, and unleash energy investment by the trillions... This legislation will create clean energy jobs that can't be shipped overseas, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make America a global leader in energy technology."
In order to achieve the stated goals, the bill has four titles namely:
* A clean energy title that promotes renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, low-carbon fuels, clean electric vehicles, and the smart grid and electricity transmission;
* An energy efficiency title that increases energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry;
* A global warming title that places limits on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants;
* A transitioning title that protects U.S. consumers and industry and promotes green jobs during the transition to a clean energy economy.
The Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to complete consideration of the new legislation by Memorial Day, May 25.
[Source: This Day (Nigeria), "U.S. Congress Considers Bill to Cut Oil Imports", Africa News, April 10, 2009]
March 21, 2008
March 16, 2008
Energy Return On Energy Invested - days of 99:1 ratios are long gone; oil sands may be 3:1
To get energy, you have to invest energy in order to produce it, process it, transport it, and store it. EROEI stands for Energy Return On Energy Invested. For clarity, let's just call it E-Roy... In 1930, wildcatter Columbus "Dad" Joiner drilled an exploratory well in Rusk County, Texas, that set off one of the great oil booms of the 20th century. ... For every barrel of oil that was expended producing oil from the East Texas oilfield, 100 barrels went to market, a net surplus of 99 barrels... In the U.S. today, the E-Roy for conventional oil is anywhere from 11:1 to 18:1. For every barrel of oil expended for production, 11 to 18 barrels go to market. That's not bad, but it's not East Texas in its glory years either. E-Roys for alternative fuels are worse. Some politicians wax poetic about the vast size of oil sands and oil shale resources, but getting useful fuel out of the Alberta tar pits requires a great deal more energy than carting off the gusher from Dad Joiner's well did. The numbers vary depending on whom you ask, but a safe guess is that the E-Roy of oil sands is around 3 to 1. For every unit of energy you invest, you get only three back, producing a marketable surplus of only two barrels. Corn-based ethanol is another dreg. For every unit of energy growing and processing corn, only one and a half units of ethanol go to market. Cane-based ethanol is better, with an E-Roy of 8 to 1.
[Source: Jim DiPeso (policy director - Republicans for Environmental Protection), "What's the Fuel of the Future? Ask E-Roy Why You Have to Spend Energy (And Money) To Make Energy", The Daily Green, March 16, 2008]
March 10, 2008
A futurist on energy
The era we are moving into is going to be much more diversified and microscale. You will have energy grids that are two-way, so homes become an important source of power. The microgrids of wind and solar and plug-in hybrids and XYZ. I think what we see is a much more resilient and reliable infrastructure.
In terms of sources, I think that two are underappreciated today. Hydrokinetic power: wave power and tidal power, ocean current power. These have enormous potential. The other thing that I think will play a bigger role than people appreciate is photovoltaic material and thinking about the things we make not just as points of energy consumption but points of energy production. I don't need to have my electric car run on solar for it to be useful to have photovoltaics on the car because it extends my range.
I think nuclear ends up having a much smaller role, not because nuclear is bad, but because the reactors require lots and lots of water.
[Source: Jamais Cascio, interviewed by Alexis Madrigal, "SXSW: Futurist Jamais Cascio on the Future of Tech and Society", Wired News, March 10, 2008]
March 6, 2008
February 25, 2008
This is from the front page of today's The Commercial Appeal, of Memphis, Tennessee.
February 24, 2008
This is lead story on front page of today's Boston Sunday Globe, of Massachusetts.
February 22, 2008
This is from the front page of today's The Eagle, of College Station, Texas.
February 15, 2008
This is from the front page of today's The Sentinel-Record, of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
February 15, 2008
This is from the front page of today's Bradenton Herald, of Manatee County, Florida.
February 14, 2008
This is from the front page of today's Waco Tribune-Herald.
February 11, 2008
This is from the front page of today's The Gazette, of Pikes Peak region of Colorado.
If successful, the new chemical treatment would mean thousands of coal-burning plants worldwide could sharply curtail carbon emissions...
Analysis by his other company, Envirolution Systems, suggests a market potential of $700 billion worldwide for existing coal plants alone.
"It could be the first homegrown billion-dollar business in Colorado Springs," Neumann said.
After achieving success in lab tests, Neumann approached Springs Utilities about testing the process on one of the city's power stations. The testing, which begins today, will attempt to remove emissions on the equivalent of one-tenth of 1 megawatt at a 46-megawatt unit at Drake.
February 8, 2008
This is from the front page of today's The Globe and Mail, of Toronto, Canada.
February 8, 2008
This was top story on front page of today's Mattoon Journal Gazette, of Illinois.
February 6, 2008
This is from the front page of today's Las Vegas Sun.
February 4, 2008
This is from the front page of today's St. Petersburg Times, of Florida.
Neat quote on continuation page: "Ocean energy is where wind was 20 years ago"
January 26, 2008
January 20, 2008
January 18, 2008
November 4, 2007
Clean energy market growth: up $15-billion last year, to $55-billion; expected to quadruple by 2016
The global clean energy market has grown massively, with revenues in the industry climbing from $40 billion in 2005 to $55 billion last year, said leading US research firm Clean Edge. Revenues are projected to hit $226 billion by 2016.
[Source: Jessica Cheam, "S'pore poised to take lead in global clean energy stakes; EDB maps out five-pronged strategy to spur sector's growth", The Straits Times (Singapore), November 5, 2007]
March 23, 2007
China's coal use will be triple USA's in a decade; carbon fuels will continue to be dominant energy source for our lifetimes
Quotable from former CEO of Duke Engineering: "While I strongly support the push for more renewable energy sources and a renewed push for nuclear power (I am a nuclear engineer as you know), the reality is that for our lifetimes and beyond fossil fuels will supply most of our energy needs... China consumes more coal today than we do in the US and within a decade they will be using about 3 times the coal we use."
March 8, 2007
"Price hurdles and learning curves" may challenge new technology, Carl Bauer, director of the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory, told the U.S. Energy Security Forum Thursday in Arlington, Va. "But if we don't start now, we're toast. Waiting will lead to higher prices, shortages and economy disruptions." It takes up to six to eight years to build a new 500 megawatt coal plant, 10 years to build a nuclear plant and eight to 10 years for a coal to liquids plant. To meet projected demand, he said, alternative fuel production needs to increase exponentially and non-OPEC as well as production in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would have to increase. Gas to liquids, he suggested, could significantly help the United States become "not just a price-taker, but a negotiator again."
October 25, 2006
Top power firms urge sustainable energy policies
... In the 'Powering a Sustainable Future' report, the companies urged governments to start favoring low carbon sources of electricity like nuclear, solar and wind ...
June 19, 2006
Ethanol - net energy loss as fuel
"I wish that ethanol were as good as all the claims are, because I'm an agriculturalist and it would help agriculture, but I must admit, it just doesn't add up," says David Pimentel, an ecology professor at New York state's Cornell University. Last year, Pimentel co-authored (with Tad Patzek, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Berkley) a study published in the Natural Resources Research academic journal, examining the energy costs and benefits of ethanol. They discovered that, where corn is used to produce the biofuel, the amount of energy used in production is 29 per cent greater than the amount of energy that will ultimately be derived from the ethanol. When wheat is used, the net energy deficit is about 45 per cent.
[Source: Cyril Doll (reporter - Western Standard), "Unpopular science: It's a lot better than Kyoto, but critics say a made-in-Canada plan isn't any more realistic about climate change", Western Standard (Alberta), June 19, 2006, p. 24]
November 20, 2005
November 5, 2005
"... investors might be unwise to rely on permanently high oil prices"
That's the conclusion expressed by the Economist magazine today. It continues: "The vast reserves of oil remaining in the Persian Gulf suggests prices will eventually moderate. And as the earlier failed renewables booms of the 1970s and 1980s showed, oil price drops can wipe out alternative energy. Technological breakthroughs and green policies like carbon taxes suggest that this renewable boom may be more sustainable than the last one. But investors counting on sustained high oil prices to justify otherwise uneconomic projects should beware."
[Source: Economist, "Another false dawn? High oil prices are spurring investments in alternative fuels", November 5, 2005]
November 1, 2005
World Bank still funds too much coal-oil-gas; fails by far to meet renewable target
Friends of the Earth (FoE) laid into the World Bank for failing to meet its targets for increasing financial support of renewable energy projects. Despite a commitment to boost funding by 20 per cent annually over the next five years, the World Bank increased funding by seven percent last financial year, FoE found. FoE said the World Bank's renewable and efficiency financing was just 9 per cent of all its financing in the energy sector, while continuing to finance fossil fuel sources.
[Source: Northern Territory News (Australia), "Bank slammed on fossil ways", November 2, 2005, p. 19]
August 6, 2005
Chemist Tries to Solve World's Energy Woes
Caltech chemist Nathan Lewis calculates that power demands in 2050 will be so great that just to keep carbon dioxide emissions at twice preindustrial levels, a nuclear plant would have to be built every two days. There's not enough room on the planet's surface for other widely touted solutions such as wind and biomass to have much impact. Only the sun is the answer, Lewis argues. Enough energy from sunlight hits the earth every hour to supply the world for months. The challenge is harnessing it and storing it efficiently, which existing solar technologies do not do.
The central figure in this article is another U.S. chemist, Daniel Nocera, 48, who is working on using sunlight to split water into its basic components, hydrogen and oxygen. The elements could then be used to supply clean-running fuel cells or new kinds of machinery. Or the energy created from the reaction itself, as atomic bonds are severed and re-formed, might be harnessed and stored. "This is nirvana in energy. This will make the problem go away," Nocera said one morning in his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the Grateful Dead devotee has a "Mean People Suck" sticker on his window. "If it doesn't, we will cease to exist as humanity." Lots of people have explored this challenge, but Nocera had a big breakthrough when he used light to coax multiple hydrogen atoms out of liquid. The key was figuring out the right chemical catalyst. Nocera's 2001 paper on the process in the journal Science, written with graduate student Alan Heyduk, turned heads. Venture capitalists rang his phone off the hook offering to fund him in an alternative-energy company. The achievement, and its revolutionary prospects, won Nocera this year's Italgas Prize, a $100,000 award given annually by an Italian utility to a top energy researcher. "Dan is even-money (odds) to solve this problem," says Harry Gray, a renowned California Institute of Technology chemist who was Nocera's graduate adviser. Nocera believes it might be 20 years before engineers might design systems based on his work. And he frets that too few scientists are exploring the problem, with many top minds instead focused on biomedical research.
Many energy technologies being explored -- including improved ways of storing electricity and different kinds of fuel cells. Critics of dire projections say some will come online in the next few decades and throw off today's extrapolations about the future. Arno Penzias, who won the Nobel Prize for confirming the Big Bang and now invests in alternative energy startups for New Enterprise Associates, contends there are dozens of ideas more promising than ones involving hydrogen. When told about Nocera's project, Penzias gets heated, saying it is unlikely to be practical. "It is so far from being revolutionary that it's not even worth mentioning," Penzias says. "It will be a big yawn."
April 27, 2005
April 16, 2005
Bush Prods Congress on Energy Legislation
President Bush prodded Congress on Saturday to pass a long-stalled national energy strategy, saying American families and small businesses are feeling the pinch from rising gasoline prices. Bush is using concern over the recent spike in fuel prices to pressure lawmakers into passing an energy bill set for a vote next week... "Today our energy needs are growing faster than our domestic sources are able to provide," Bush said. "Demand for electricity has grown more than 176 percent in the past decade, while our transmission ability lags behind. And we continue to import more than one-half of our domestic oil supply." ... In his broadcast, Bush said the nation must promote the use of safe, clean nuclear power and create more energy choices... Bush said the legislation must encourage the use of technology to improve conservation and production at home in environmentally sensitive areas. Moreover, he believes the bill must diversify the nation's energy supply by developing alternative sources of energy like ethanol or biodiesel... The House energy bill is tilted heavily toward helping traditional energy industries - mainly coal, oil and natural gas - and offers little to encourage energy efficiency. Less than $500 million in tax incentives are directed at renewable energy and efficiency programs... The House measure would boost production of corn-based ethanol, a boon to farmers, by requiring refiners to use at least 5 billion gallons a year as a gasoline additive. Although the House bill is focused in the long term on diversifying the nation's energy supply and increasing production, it is not likely to provide immediate relief at the pump... Democrats have criticized the measure for failing to deal with gas-guzzling automobiles. They also oppose drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge - an item that likely would be left out of the Senate's energy bill because it would attract a Democratic-led filibuster and could jeopardize passage of the legislation.
January 26, 2005
China growth through 2030 will increase global energy demand by 60%
China's growth will help spur "global demand for energy ... by 60 percent by 2030," said N.R. Narayana Murthy, chairman of Infosys Technologies of India.
[Source: Robert Wielaard (AP writer), "At Davos: Blair says U.S. must work with rest of world, Chirac calls for fight on poverty", Associated Press Worldstream, January 26, 2005 2:47 pm ET]
November 18, 2004
October 2, 2004
September 18, 2004
September 11, 2004
September 1, 2004
June 11, 2004
June 5, 2004
April 4, 2004
February 22, 2004
Wisconsin court nixes gas plant, because wind wasn't considered seriously enough
Earlier this month, Dane County Circuit Judge Moria Krueger told the state Public Service Commission to start over and re-evaluate the environmental impact of two 545-megawatt power plants under construction in downtown Port Washington by Wisconsin Energy Corp. State law calls for the Public Service Commission to give preference to environmentally friendly forms of power generation when debating whether to approve power plant projects. The judge's ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Bob Owen of Middleton against the $650-million project because he believes the PSC has ignored this statute and given short shrift to recommendations of a state study on climate change issued more than five years ago. "It appears that the people that are appointed to the Public Service Commission have no interest whatsoever about whether there is a habitable planet for their children or their grandchildren. They never have taken global warming seriously. I consider it a severe threat, which is growing more and becoming more severe."
[Source: Thomas Content, "Wind-energy proponent proves he's a force to be reckoned with", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 22, 2004, p. 1D]
January 23, 2004
November 6, 2003
Fusion energy - helium-3 from the moon is a commercial prospect
Global demand and need for energy will likely increase by at least a factor of eight by the mid-point of the 21st Century. This factor represents the total of a factor of two to stay even with population growth and a factor of four or more to meet the aspirations of people who wish to significantly improve their standards of living. There is another unknown factor that will be necessary to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, whether warming or cooling, and the demands of new, energy intensive technologies. ...
My colleagues at the Fusion Technology Institute of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Interlune-Intermars Initiative, Inc. believe that ... a commercially viable project exists in lunar helium-3 used as a fuel for fusion electric power plants on Earth. ...
Helium has two stable isotopes, helium 4, familiar to all who have received helium-filled balloons, and the even lighter helium 3. Lunar helium-3, arriving at the Moon as part of the solar wind, is imbedded as a trace, non-radioactive isotope in the lunar soils. It represents one potential energy source to meet this century's rapidly escalating demand. There is a resource base of helium-3 about of 10,000 metric tonnes just in upper three meters of the titanium-rich soils of Mare Tranquillitatis. This was the landing region for Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 in 1969. The energy equivalent value of Helium-3 delivered to operating fusion power plants on Earth would be about $4 billion per tonne relative to today's coal.
... These numbers illustrate the magnitude of the business opportunity for helium-3 fusion power to compete for the creation of new electrical capacity and the replacement of old during the 21st Century.
Past technical activities on Earth and in deep space provide a strong base for initiating this enterprise. Also, over the last decade, there has been historic progress in the development of inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC) fusion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Progress there includes the production of over a milliwatt of steady-state power from the fusion of helium- 3 and deuterium. Steady progress in IEC research as well as basic physics argues strongly that the IEC approach to fusion power has significantly more commercial viability than other technologies pursued by the fusion community. It will have inherently lower capital costs, higher energy conversion efficiency, a range of power from a few hundred megawatts upward, and little or no associated radioactivity or radioactive waste. It should be noted, however, that IEC research has received no significant support as an alternative to Tokamak-based fusion from the Department of Energy in spite of that Department's large fusion technology budgets. The Office of Science and Technology Policy under several Administrations also has ignored this approach.
[Source: Harrison H. Schmitt (Chairman, InterLune-InterMars Initiative, Inc.), "Lunar Exploration" Senate Hearings, Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space November 6, 2003]
October 15, 2003
Coal gas plant didn't end up as white elephant after all
Remember the billion-dollar coal gassification plant built in North Dakota as part of Project Independence or some similarly-named post-oil-embargo government initiative? There's a really interesting article in Wall Street Journal about the plant, which is alive and well after Basin Electric Power Cooperative of Bismarck, N.D. bought it from Uncle Sam for $85-million in 1988. The company has invested another $500-million in the plant, and it is selling a variety of outputs other than the methane. The plant was designed to produce the energy equivalent of 40,000 barrels/day of oil, using lignite as a feedstock. The article mentions that ligite is "a low-grade coal that is so cheap and so abundant here that some energy experts refer to it as 'flammable dirt'." The target price for commercial feasibility back in the 1970s was $6.00 per thousand cubic feet. When the price of gas dropped to $2 per thousand cubic feet,
The Journal article, however, is mainly about the plant's other products, which the company says are vital to turning a profit:
* CO2 - Since 2000, fully half of "the 180 million square feet of CO2 rising out of the plant's smoke stacks every day" are "collected, compressed and pumped through a 205-mile pipeline to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, where an oil company buys it and pumps it into the ground". The company wouldn't tell the Journal "how much it is paid for the gas -- just that it is double the income" from selling fertilizer.
* anhydrous ammonia - Truckers came and load up with one chemical byproduct from the plant, anhydrous ammonia, a liquid fertilizer.
* ammonium sulfate - This chemical is a byproduct from a stack gas scrubber the plant installed. The company puts it in spiffy plastic bags and sells it as "Dak Sul," a premium lawn fertilizer.
"In the long run, the plant at Beulah may not be a white elephant, but may be more like a life saver," says Kurt E. Yeager, president and chief executive of the Electric Power Research Institute, which does research for the nation's utilities. The power plant of the future, he thinks, will be a "coal refinery" that turns coal into hydrogen fuel and electricity. It will have "zero emissions," he says. A lot of the technology to do that, he adds, has been perfected here.
[Ref: John Fialka, "From Obsolete to Cutting Edge; Potential Power Plant of the Future Was Once Considered a Flop", Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2003, p. A4]
August 27, 2003
"Linear two-cycle engine" design may allow much better fuel economy, longer engine life, and related advantages
A front page article in this morning's Clarksville, Tennessee Leaf-Chronicle describes an engine which "Some observers [have called] revolutionary with potential to help dramatically reduce American dependency on foreign oil".
The design features ratchet bearings installed in the drive mechanism which allow unneeded pairs of cylinders to shut down until their power is needed. This means an automobile could conceivably cruise on two cylinders while two or more cylinders are at complete rest. The engine produces power on every stroke, as opposed to every other stroke as in typical four cycle engines, so the new design only needs to be half as big. "It generates about 1-1/2 horsepower per pound, so it features a hugely efficient power density", its inventor, Fred Roberts of Clarksville, is quoted as saying. He believes that the engine may be used in cars as soon as seven or eight years from now.
The article says that MIT engineering professor Maureen Lincoln is helping refine the design. A first edition of the 115-horsepower two-cycle linear engine was built by Pennyrile Machine Co. in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Mr. Roberts started it up for the reporter, who noted that the engine gets cooler, rather than hotter, the longer it runs. It is designed to stay cool enough for someone to touch it even when running at higher RPMs.
Mr. Roberts has high hopes for the linear engine concept: "I remember first thinking on the day those two airplanes crashed into the twin towers (of the World Trade Center) that the United States has simply got to come up with a way to be far less dependent on Arab oil. I really think this is it," he said.
[Ref: Jimmy Settle (The Leaf-Chronicle), "Man builds little engine that could change world", The Leaf-Chronicle (Clarksville TN), August 27, 2003, p. 1]
July 25, 2003
June 27, 2003
EIA releases energy/CO2 data for 2002
After a decline of 1.4 percent in 2001, USA carbon dioxide emissions rose by 1.3 percent in 2002, according to preliminary data released today by the US DOE's Energy Information Administration. The 1.3% figure is pretty close to the average rise per year from US sources since 1990 -- a period during which energy-related CO2 emissons rose some 16 percent. The 5,762 million metric tons emitted in 2002 is a bit lower than the 2000 figure. EIA attributed the 2002 growth to many factors, including the following: "higher economic growth of 2.4 percent, compared with the 0.3 percent in 2001; colder winter weather than 2001, with a 1.2-percent increase in heating degree-days; warmer summer weather, causing an 8.8-percent increase in cooling degree-days compared to 2001; higher electricity demand; and an increase in coal- and gas-fired generation."
The US trend to more carbon-efficient electricity continued. Emissions growth from generating electricity was 0.8 percent, although total demand increased by 2.7%, coal-fired output rose 1.2 percent, and natural gas output increased 8.2 percent. Nuclear generation was up 1.5 percent, and electricity from hydro/other renewables was up twenty percent. The electricity mix looked like this:
Coal - 1,905 billion kWh
The efficiency trend was also apparent in the entire US energy use data. The following graph shows that from 1990-2002, energy-related CO2 emissions per unit of GDP decreased by 17.6 percent.
[Source: Energy Information Administration, "Total U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Fossil Fuels Increased by 1.3 Percent in 2002 – About the Average Growth Rate Since 1990", June 27, 2003]
June 12, 2003
Who should benefit from low cost of Arkansas Nuclear One?
Louisiana Public Service Commission filed a contention last week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, arguing that Entergy should not charge such significantly higher rates in Louisiana as compared with the rates Entergy charges in Arkansas. The power generated in Louisiana is mainly from natural gas-fueled plants. Arkansas plants are mostly coal and nuclear. Natural gas prices are way up over the past three years. Louisiana wants Arkansas customers to pay $200-million to $400-million per year of the higher bills expected by Louisiana customers in near future. Entergy and Arkansas think Arkansas should continue to benefit from their choice made amongst competing generating methods, just as they bore the higher capital costs involved with those choices. Louisiana notes that FERC has previosly held that Entergy should keep production costs at its regulated subsidiaries "roughly equal". There's still room for disagreement. Entergy says if you look at the costs over a long period of time, like the 1986-2010 "System Agreement" period, the costs are roughly equal. Louisiana says that use of a 12-month period for comparison is the method Entergy has used in the past, and argues it is unreasonable to switch to 20-yr method now.
[Source: Dan Zehr (business writer, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette), "Louisiana disputes low-rate rationale", Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 12, 2003]
June 11, 2003
New Jersey having tough time balancing parkway asthetics with such things as affordable electricity and avoiding brownouts
New Jersey, at risk of electrical brownouts by next year, is having problems siting a needed power line upgrade from Oyster Creek nuclear plant. The utility wants to run above-ground line along Garden State Parkway, but highway authority wants only underground lines, which cost 6X more. The only other alternative is to traverse residential areas, which public opposes.
[Source: Dan P. Lee (Staff Writer, The Press of Atlantic City), "BPU head won’t rule out Conectiv plan", The Press of Atlantic City, June 11, 2003]
May 20, 2003
Texas generating capacity appears up to the challenge of record demand
"Texas remains well supplied for summer, with an estimated 70,000 MW of generating capacity available to meet a projected record demand. The North American Electric Reliability Council ... said the Texas grid will experience an all-time peak demand of 57,664 megawatts this summer, exceeding the previous record of 57,606 MW set during an extended heat wave in 2000. Last year, demand peaked at 56,233 MW. The projected capacity margin for 2003 is 26.6%, well above regional requirements of 11%. About 3,600 MW of new generation will also be added to the grid before and during the summer, but the net increase in capacity will only rise by about 1,960 MW (taking into account generation that has been taken out of service in the past year.)" [Source: Reuters, Texas power grid prepared for long, hot summer, May 20, 2003]
May 14, 2003
Fusion research foes in Canada
Canada is in the running as location for ITER -- an international fusion energy research project that would provide thousands of jobs and billions-worth of foreign cash to the host nation. Yet a Toronto Star columnist reports that scientists are pretty indifferent about the project, and environmentalists are downright hostile: "The scientific community, perhaps fearing that a large investment in ITER would mean less government money for other projects, has provided a half-hearted endorsement of the science behind ITER... Worried that ITER will drain away money from their pet projects (solar and wind power), some environmentalists have written federal MPs challenging the assertion that fusion energy is either clean or safe." [Source: Ian Urquhart (Toronto Star) "Liberals urged to back fusion project", Toronto Star, May 14, 2003, p. A25]
Natural gas price rise to boost electricity bills this summer - 33% rise in San Antonio is also partly due to STP-1 shutdown
San Antonio residents can expect to see a bigger-than-expected jump in their utility bills.
Higher natural gas prices and less power from the South Texas Project nuclear plant mean the average electric bill in San Antonio, Texas could go up 33 percent this summer compared to last year, City Public Service officials said yesterday.
Steve Bartley, CPS director of regulatory relations, said the higher monthly bills are the result of two things: customers are expected to use more electricity this year to run their air conditioners (it was pretty rainy last summer), and power is projected to be more costly to produce, mainly because of higher natural gas prices.
Although natural gas prices have dropped from a high of $20 per thousand cubic feet in February, Bartley said the utility is projecting it will pay an average market price of $5.75 this summer. That's 60 percent higher than the $3.50 paid last summer.
Throughout the year, CPS generates about 15 percent of its electricity with natural gas, 46 percent with coal and 27 percent with nuclear power. Another 12 percent comes from purchased power and wind-generated. However, more natural gas is used in the summer to help CPS fire up backup generators to meet peak demands.
Another factor, Bartley said, is that CPS will be getting only about half the electricity the utility normally does out of its 28 percent ownership of the nuclear power plant in Bay City. Last April, a routine inspection revealed signs of a leak from the Unit 1 reactor's coolant system. The reactor was shut down; it's unknown when it will return to service.
Bartley said other factors also affect the price of natural gas, including a shortage of gas in storage, economic reverberations from Gulf War II and the oil industry strike in Venezuela.
[Source: Tom Bower, "Summer electric bills may shock you", San Antonio Express-News, May 14, 2003]
May 13, 2003
Access to Energy Means Life, a Longer and Better Life
John Christy (Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville), testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources, May 13, 2003
... early in my career I served as a missionary in Africa. I lived upcountry with people who did not have access to useful energy. Put simply, access to energy means life, it means a longer and better life. I watched as women walked in the early morning to the forest edge, often several miles away, to chop wet green wood for fuel. They became beasts of burden as they carried the wood on their backs on the return trip home. Wood and dung are terrible sources of energy, with low useful output while creating high pollution levels. Burning wood and dung inside the homes for cooking and heat created a dangerously polluted indoor atmosphere for the family. I always thought that if each home could be fitted with an electric light bulb and a microwave oven electrified by a coal-fired power plant, several good things would happen. The women would be freed to work on other more productive pursuits, the indoor air would be much cleaner so health would improve, food could be prepared more safely, there would be light for reading and advancement, information through television or radio would be received, and the forest with its beautiful ecosystem could be saved. Access to inexpensive, efficient energy would enhance the lives of the Africans while at the same time enhance the environment.
May 12, 2003
Oil & gas profits surge with price rise
Italian oil and gas company Eni SpA's net profit rose 45% in first-quarter. The Wall Street Journal called this a "surge ... boosted by surging oil and natural-gas prices. As good as the numbers are for Eni, which is Europe's fourth-largest energy company, the Journal notes that the company "still lags behind the sector, with rivals BP PLC, Royal Dutch/Shell Group and ExxonMobil Corp. having posted stronger profit growth in percentage terms, thanks to higher sensitivity to oil-price fluctuations, which were in their favor." [Source: "Eni SpA: Profit Jumps 45% in Quarter On Oil and Natural-Gas Prices", Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2003, p. A12]
April 25, 2003
Wind advantage during very cold weather
Some in the industry opposed granting capacity credits to wind turbines, Hanger said [John Hanger, president of the public policy group Penn Future in Harrisburg], claiming the power was "intermittent." He argued that all power plants are intermittent to a degree, and wind generation provides an additional source of backup power and stability for the electric transmission grid. PJM had its last rolling blackouts on Jan. 19, 1994, Hanger said, when severe cold froze coal piles in the region and natural gas supplies dried up. Then, PPL's 1,000-megawatt Susquehanna nuclear plant unexpectedly went down. Hanger said wind turbines are unaffected by severe cold weather and argued that if the PJM had 2,000 megawatts of wind power in 1994, the rolling blackouts could have been averted. [Source: David DeKok, "Rule Change Gives Lift to Windmill-Generated Power in Harrisburg, Pa. Area", Harrisburg Patriot-News, April 25, 2003]
* USA 1998