Friday, January 29, 2016
Thursday, January 21, 2016
In comments filed today with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Energy Institute recommends that the agency provide states with maximum flexibility to preserve existing nuclear energy facilities and take care not to worsen distortions in electricity markets that are placing some reactors at risk of premature closure. The Institute made these broad recommendations and more specific recommendations below on the agency's Federal Implementation Plan and model trading rules for the Clean Power Plan.
Preserving and extending the operation of existing nuclear power plants is essential to achieving meaningful, sustainable carbon reductions from the U.S. electric sector. States should use the tools and techniques available under the Clean Power Plan to preserve nuclear power plants, which produce 63% of America's carbon-free electricity. Given this, as it finalizes the federal plan and the model rules, EPA should strive to achieve two broad objectives:
1) Provide states flexibility to use the tools and techniques available under the Clean Power Plan to preserve existing nuclear energy capacity and promote cost-effective compliance; and
2) Prevent further electricity market distortion that is placing existing reactors at risk, or do not pick technology winners and losers when there is no factual or justifiable basis for doing so.
Specifically, NEI believes EPA should:
- Develop and finalize rate-based and mass-based model rules, to provide states maximum possible flexibility based on their particular circumstances.
- Ensure state plans demonstrate reasonable assurance that they will preserve existing carbon-free generating capacity, particularly the nuclear energy capacity on which the Clean Power Plan depends.
- The mass-based compliance option incorporating existing and new reactors is the only compliance pathway in the Clean Power Plan that preserves existing nuclear power plants. In those states that choose not to cover both new and existing sources, the Clean Power Plan should ensure that states use the tools available under a mass-based approach, including structuring allowance allocation, to preserve existing reactors.
- Treat all forms of zero-carbon generation comparably, with respect to plan implementation elements like the CEIP and credit for allowance trades between mass- and rate-based plans.
- Ensure that state plans provide market signals and incentives for companies to maintain existing nuclear power plants and undertake the capital investment necessary to renew reactor licenses for additional 20-year increments. Absent second license renewals, carbon reductions achieved between 2022 and 2030 may not be sustainable beyond 2030.
States have several options to recognize the carbon-free value of nuclear power plants, and thereby ensure that they continue to produce electricity. Illinois, for example, is considering a low-carbon portfolio standard that would preserve nuclear plants that provide 91% of its carbon-free electricity. Similarly, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has instructed the state Public Service Commission develop a clean energy standard that would achieve the same effect – continued operation of nuclear power plants that provide 60% of the state's carbon-free electricity. (NEI)
Friday, January 08, 2016
Thursday, January 07, 2016
Tuesday, January 05, 2016
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Union Gas recently received approval from the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for a 15-year contract to move natural gas from supply basins located near Ohio, into the Union Gas Dawn Hub on the proposed NEXUS Gas Transmission system (NEXUS), starting November, 2017.
Over the past five years, there has been a significant increase in the development and production of natural gas within the Appalachian Basis in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The proposed NEXUS project, which is being developed jointly by Spectra Energy and DTE Energy, will connect Ontario gas consumers to these new and growing supplies and provide Ontario consumers with greater supply diversity, security and cost competitiveness.
The goal is to ensure that Ontario gas consumers, including homes, businesses and industry, have secure access to a diverse supply of competitively-priced natural gas.
Abundant North American supplies are keeping prices low for natural gas consumers. In fact, the price Union Gas customers pay for natural gas has steadily declined and is lower today than it was 10 years ago. In addition. (State of Ohio)
The U.S. currently has two export terminals, one in Sabine Pass, Louisiana, and the ConocoPhillips LNG export terminal in North Cook Inlet, Alaska. The DOE recently gave its preliminary approval for Dominion Resources to retrofit its Cove Point, Maryland import terminal to export liquefied natural gas. The facility is already connected to an interstate pipeline system that would bring gas straight from Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania. About 16 other export proposals now await approval by the DOE. (NPR)
Friday, December 25, 2015
Congress’s bipartisan spending bill lifted the ban on crude oil exports. The annual appropriations bill included a provision to lift the ban that had been put in place in 1975 to protect consumers from international crises like the OPEC oil embargo.
The deal allowed a five-year renewable energy tax credit extension.
The Democratic leadership traded this ban for a small extension of taxes that support renewable energy. (The Hill, 12/16/2015)
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
The COP-21 is drawing about 10,000 government representatives to the Le Bourget conference center in a northeastern Parisian suburb, plus 7,000 observers per week and 3,000 journalists. French President Francois Hollande and President Obama made kick off speeches.
Key Points On the COP-21 Agenda
1) Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – The Paris agreement is anticipated to be a bottom-up treaty, with each country setting goals based on their unique national circumstances. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, will form the basis of the country-specific commitments under the new UN climate treaty. It is also expected that periodic review of these commitments will be instituted along with measuring, reporting, and verification to ensure the integrity and ambition of the commitments. While may seem to be making INDCs, there are many questions as to whether countries will live up to these commitments. Even the US commitment is being questions by experts as not adding up to the 26-28% reduction.
2) Green Climate Fund – Financing issues are among the most controversial in Paris, and they could easily derail any agreement. Many developing country INDCs are conditioned on financial support and technology transfer. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was proposed at COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009, refined in subsequent meetings, and became operational in 2014. GCF aims to provide support to developing country efforts to reduce their GHG emissions and to adapt climate change. However, this breaks down, it is clear that a significant portion of the expected funds—certainly tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars over many years—would be coming from public sources and would have to be appropriated by Congress.
3) Intellectual property – Developing countries have used this provision deftly to justify their attempts to weaken intellectual property rights (IPR) protections, ostensibly to remove the supposed “barriers” to technology transfer raised by IPR. Compulsory licensing and a fund supported by developed countries to buy down IP are two of many proposals being bruited. IPR serve as a fundamental catalyst of innovation, and study after study has shown that it is not a barrier to technology transfer. A weakened IPR regime such as that being proposed above would provide precious little incentive for companies to invest in advanced technologies if after years of research and development and millions or even billions of dollars invested, their inventions could be expropriated outright by companies in developing countries and manufactured and sold around the world at reduced cost. Under such a circumstance, some of the most innovative companies in the developed world would simply abandon the development of advanced energy technologies.
4) Technology Transfer – Tied to INDCs and the Green Fund, Technology Transfer is one fundamental issue that could bridge the gap. It frankly is a better way to move toward a positive goal transforming our energy economy: engage developing countries with advanced technology transfer to help them grow their economies more efficiently and cleanly.
5) Verification – An issue that does not receive the attention it deserves is measuring, reporting, and verification of climate policies. As things stand now, the system of MRV that is likely to come out of Paris will focus not on whether a country meets its emissions goal, but on whether it implements the policies and measures designed to meet its goal. In other words, MRV is more about process than results. MRV will be especially challenging in developing countries. Transparency is a key to open markets and planning, and businesses will be reticent to invest in developing economies without assurances that its investments in emission reduction and offset projects are real and that government activities in support of INDCs have integrity.
6) Binding Legal Commitments Or Non-binding Political Agreement – The Paris Agreement will not be a treaty. The Paris Agreement will be a multilateral international agreement that will include almost every country in the world. Yet some believe that If the outcome of the Paris Conference is to make promises to reduce emissions legally binding, then the Paris Agreement must be submitted to the Senate for approval as a treaty under Article II. This will continue to be a contentious point of negotiating among parties and one that US Senators will be watching closely.
( (Frank Maisano)