Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Calculating CO2 Reductions For Biofuels

A new paper in the peer-reviewed journal Science illustrates "a critical accounting error" in the way carbon emissions from biofuels are measured in climate-change programs world-wide. Ethanol actually generates the same amount of greenhouse gas as fossil fuels, or more, per unit of energy. But this was still supposed to be better than coal or oil because ethanol's CO2 is "recycled." Since plants absorb and store carbon that is already in the atmosphere, burning them as fuel would create no new emissions, whereas fossil fuels release CO2 that has been buried for millions of years.

Climate change programs may end up treating biofuels as carbon-neutral, but the science study argues that this is a false economy because it doesn't consider changes in land use. If mature forests are cleared to make room for biofuel-growing farms, then the carbon that would otherwise accumulate in those forests ought to be counted on ethanol's balance sheet as well. So if Malaysians burn down a rain forest to grow palm oil that ends up in German biodiesel, Malaysia doesn't count the land-use emissions and Germany doesn't count the tail-pipe emissions.

Of course, the Center still believes biofuels should be a big part of America's energy mix. (WSJ, 10/29/09)

Smart Meters Are Coming To Town Thanks To Obama

President Barack Obama is distributing the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history - $3.4 billion in Smart Grid Investment Grant Awards under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will be matched by industry for a total investment worth more than $8 billion. This Stimulus Package money is getting out to utilities and they are making plans to replace dumb electric meters with smart meters.

Progress Energy will match their $200 million grant with $300 million of its own funding for system and equipment upgrades (smart meters) that will make their grid more efficient, saving consumers money in the Carolinas and in Florida. Duke Energy will receive a similar $200 million grant. The Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) and Atlantic City Electric Company were awarded a total of $168.1 million for smart meters and other devices for its operations in the Maryland suburbs of Washington and in other states. Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) is getting a $200 million federal subsidy to provide every household with an advanced smart meter that will enable them to better control energy use. BGE plans to install 2 million of the devices between 2010 and 2014 and charge customers for the upgrade.

The smart meters will give residential and commercial customers hour-by-hour information about energy pricing and enable them to cut back at times of peak costs.

Two companies that produced meters and communications equipment for a BGE "smart meter" pilot project, Aclara and Sensus, have manufacturing facilities both in the United States and in other countries. The Aclara Two-Way Automatic Communications System (TWACS) Technology is a proven, fixed-network solution that uses technology to transmit data over power lines. Aclara TWACS Technology offers two-way communication to electric meters and provides for timely billing, load control, demand response, and outage detection and assessment. With the system, utilities can effectively manage customer data and reduce costs while enabling innovation and providing superior customer service. Sensus provides smart metering technologies and conservation solutions for automatic meter reading, (AMR), advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), smart grid applications, distribution automation, and communication that enable electric, gas, and water utilities to measure, manage, and control distributed resources. Sensus also supports home area networks that help households practice intelligent resource consumption. (Balt Sun, 10/28/09)

Boxer/Kerry & Waxman/Markey Climate Bill CO2 Allowances

The Boxer/Kerry climate legislation was introduced in the Senate on October 23 and requires emissions cuts of 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, 42 percent by 2030 and 83 percent by 2050. Limits passed in the House are similar, except the 2020 reduction target is 17 percent. Boxer’s committee is holding three days of hearings (yesterday, today and tomorrow) on the 923-page bill and the committee might vote on it in November.

Both bills would establish carbon dioxide emission limits and require major polluters to buy pollution credits (allowances) after the government initially gives many away to ease the cost during the transition. Some senators believe utilities that don’t use coal will get more of the credits they need for free than coal-burning plants. Designing the allocation of allowances will be a huge undertaking. Here are some of the current plans:

In the Senate bill (Boxer/Kerry-S. 1733), utilities would get 35.5 percent of all allowances for free, manufacturers up to 15 percent and refiners 2.25 percent, the same as the House breakdown. The allocation formula for utilities uses a plan agreed to by members of the Edison Electric Institute, the utility industry’s Washington trade association, which bases free permits half on historical emissions and half on the amount of electricity sold.

In the House's Waxman/Markey bill (H.R. 2454), the cap-and-trade program allocates 85% of allowances to industry for free, auctioning the remainder. The revenue from these allowances will be used to finance conservation of tropical forests abroad and to support low-income households. 30% of the allowances will be allocated directly to local distribution companies (LDCs) who are mandated to use them exclusively for the benefit of customers. 5% will go to merchant coal generators and others with long-term power purchase agreements.

The Center supports allocating all of the allowances for free [except for 2.3% for price setting purposes] (, 10/27/09)

AREVA-Northrop Grumman Building Plant to Manufacture Components For Nuclear Power Plants

French multinational company AREVA has joined with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding to invest more than US$360 million and create 540 jobs at a new engineering and manufacturing operation in Newport News, Virginia that will manufacture heavy components for the Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR), AREVA's Generation III+ nuclear reactor.

"Project Larkspur" will be located on Northrop Grumman property, affording the joint venture, named AREVA Newport News, prime access to the James River for transporting the reactor vessels, steam generators and pressurizers the 300,000-sq.-ft. (27,870-sq.-m.) plant will produce.

AREVA already has this manufacturing capacity in Marcel-St. Chalon, France, which employs more than 1,000, and wanted a partner to create this capability in the USA. One of the key decision drivers was logistics – very large forgings weighing several hundred thousand pounds, then ship components weighing in excess of 500 tons and water access. The facility will be located adjacent to Northrop Grumman's shipyard, where there are 10,000 craft personnel. The indoor crane capability must exceed 1,000 tons. There will be a 48-inch thick concrete floor, thick enough to support setting down a reactor and filling it with water for hydrostatic tests.

AREVA signed a long-term agreement with Japan Steel Works in 2008 that extends through 2016 and is working on smaller forgings with Lehigh Heavy Forge in Pennsylvania. Among the first power plants in line for the components from Newport News may be a proposed reactor for UniStar Nuclear Energy at Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, Maryland. An AREVA-Bechtel consortium was awarded a contract from UniStar in 2008 that calls for detailed design engineering for the EPR plant. AREVA is constructing four EPRs elsewhere in the world – two in China, one in Finland and one in France – and has plans to work with U.S. utilities AmerenUE and PPL to construct other EPRs in Maryland, New York, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

To get ready, AREVA, which employs 5,300 people at some 45 locations in the U.S., continues to hire talent at its engineering operations in Charlotte, N.C., and Lynchburg, Va., bringing on 200 engineers in 2007 alone.

Other nuclear power industry-related corporate facility projects over the past 18 months include Alstom's $280-million, 360-job turbine and generator manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.; GE-Hitachi's combined $954 million of manufacturing, R&D and headquarters projects in Castle Hayne and Wilmington, N.C., creating 1,150 jobs; Westinghouse's three-phase, $400-million headquarters expansion in Cranberry Township, Pa.; and, just announced in August 2008, a $100-million, 1,400-job nuclear reactor module fab and assembly facility in Lake Charles, La., from Westinghouse and Shaw Group. (Site Selection Magazine, Jan 2009, photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

Nuclear Power In Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act

The nuclear power items under discussion in current climate change legislation ( S. 1733) in the Senate include:
Investment tax credits,

A doubling or more of the existing $18.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for new plants,

Giving nuclear plants access to a new clean energy development bank,

Federally financed training for nuclear plant workers,

A new look at reprocessing nuclear fuel, and

A streamlining of the regulatory approval process.

(Wash Post, 10/28/09, according to corporate, congressional and administration sources)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NRC To Lease Newly Constructed Office Building

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) plans to lease a newly constructed 14-story, 362,000-square-foot office tower across from its office in Bethesda, Maryland. The NRC is expanding as part of the Obama administration's expectation that the agency expects to see plans for about 25 new nuclear reactors and has hired hundreds of staff to review applications from proposed operators. The agency will lease the building from the developer, LCOR.

They have hired 600 full-time engineers and some support people and have them in temporary locations in six buildings in Rockville and Bethesda. They will all be together in one complex.

The new $131 million building will be across the street from the existing NRC campus. It will be part of North Bethesda Center, a mixed-use property that currently contains apartments and is proposed to include a hotel and retail space. Construction is scheduled to begin in March and the tower will open in about two years. (Wash Post, 10/27/09, Rendering Courtesy Of Lcor)

President Obama Announces $2.3 Billion Smart Grid Funding

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary, For Immediate Release

October 27, 2009

Remarks by the President on Recovery Act Funding for Smart Grid Technology

DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center Arcadia, Florida


Now, it's time to make the same kind of investment in the way our energy travels -- to build a clean energy superhighway that can take the renewable power generated in places like DeSoto and deliver it directly to the American people in the most affordable and efficient way possible. Such an investment won't just create new pathways for energy -- it's expected to create tens of thousands of new jobs all across America in areas ranging from manufacturing and construction to IT and the installation of new equipment in homes and in businesses.

It will allow us to more effectively transport renewable energy generated in remote places to large population centers, so that a wind farm in rural South Dakota can power homes in Chicago. And by facilitating the creation of a clean energy economy, building this 21st century energy infrastructure will help us lay a foundation for lasting growth and prosperity.

So that's why today, I'm pleased to announce that under the Recovery Act, we are making the largest-ever investment in a smarter, stronger, and more secure electric grid. This investment will come in the form of 100 grants totaling $3.4 billion -- grants that will go to private companies, utilities, cities, and other partners who have applied with plans to install smart grid technologies in their area.

Now, let me explain what's going on with these smart meters. Smart meters will allow you to actually monitor how much energy your family is using by the month, by the week, by the day, or even by the hour. So coupled with other technologies, this is going to help you manage your electricity use and your budget at the same time, allowing you to conserve electricity during times when prices are highest, like hot summer days.


Senate E & PW Committee Hearing Today


By Norris McDonald

I attended the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today on the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733), which is cosponsored by committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Ca) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry. Panelists included: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff (listed in order below). I sat two rows behind EPA Administrator Jackson.

Secretary Chu asserted that conservation is the best near-term solution to energy independence. Secretary LaHood said the $8 billion stimulus package money assigned to his department was a good 'down-payment' on a good mass transit program. Secretary Salazar said he would coordinate his energy programs with Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack to assure that biofuels are a significant part of the energy mix. And Jon Wellinghoff discussed the role of regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs) in the establishment of a new grid.

EPA Administrator Jackson assured the committee that she still believes legislation is the best way to address global warming. She also assured the committee that her agency would proceed with climate change regulations in the absence of legislation. The agency is drafting regulations under the Clean Air Act's New Source Review to address global warming. Senator Inhofe continued with is global warming denial.

Of course, the hearing was riveting. Public turnout was huge. The senators had many questions and promoted their own agendas, from energy conservation to nuclear power. All of the Republicans left before the end of the hearing. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar also had to leave early. The press briefing in the hallway was one of the biggest I've seen with at least 20 members of the press filling the hallway as Secretary Chu, Secretary LaHood and FERC Chairman Wellinghoff fielded questions. Administrator Jackson bolted out of the hearing through the majority office just as soon as the hearing adjourned and did not take any questions from the press. The press bolted back into the committee room to finish their stories after Chu, LaHood and Wellinghoff finished.

There are two more days of hearings with several panels.

Lisa Jackson Climate Change Statement Before E & PW

Statement of Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Legislative Hearing on the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, S. 1733

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

October 27, 2009

Chairman Boxer, Ranking Minority Member Inhofe, and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify about the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

I last appeared before this Committee on July 7. Since then, this Administration has, under President Obama’s leadership, taken unprecedented steps to decrease America’s dependence on oil, put our nation in the lead of the 21st Century energy economy, and reduce the greenhouse-gas pollution that threatens our children and grandchildren.

On September 15, for example, Secretary LaHood and I jointly announced coordinated Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency rulemakings to increase the fuel efficiency and reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions of cars and light-duty trucks of model years 2012 through 2016. The rules will reduce the lifetime oil consumption of those vehicles by 1.8 billion barrels. That will mean eliminating more than a billion barrels of imported oil, assuming the current ratio of domestic production to imports does not improve. At today’s oil prices, we are talking about saving 78 billion dollars on buying oil from other countries. In the process, the rules will eliminate nearly a billion metric tons of greenhouse-gas pollution.

Each of my colleagues here can describe other steps that this Administration has already taken to make America’s economy stronger by getting it running on clean energy.

Even as the President and the members of his Cabinet move forward under existing authority, we continue urging Congress to pass a new clean-energy law. Only new legislation can bring about the comprehensive and integrated changes that are needed to restore America’s economic health and keep the nation secure over the long term.

This Committee held its July 7 hearing shortly after the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act. So I took the opportunity to echo President Obama’s request that the Senate demonstrate the same commitment that we had seen in the House to building a clean-energy foundation for a strong American economy.

The introduction of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act on September 30 shows that the Senate is responding to the President’s call to action. I commend you, Madame Chairman, and Senators Kerry and Kirk, for introducing that bill. I applaud the many other Senators, including members of this committee, who contributed meaningfully to the introduced legislation. And I thank Senator Graham for joining with Senator Kerry in a recent statement that reminds us all that giving America control over its own energy destiny can and should be a bi-partisan mission.

Earlier this year, EPA ran the major provisions of the House clean-energy legislation through several economic computer models. When it comes to the specifications that the models can detect, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act is very similar to the House legislation. Nevertheless, EPA has examined the ways in which the Senate bill is different and determined which of the conclusions reached about the House-passed bill can confidently be said to apply to the Senate bill as well.

EPA delivered the result of that inquiry to the Committee last Friday, and the members can review the report in detail. But let me just state three of the projections about the House bill that EPA feels confident also apply to the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

First, the legislation would transform the American economy from one that is relatively energy inefficient and dependent on highly-polluting energy production to one that is highly energy efficient and powered by advanced, cleaner, and more domestically-sourced energy.

Second, the legislation would bring about that transformation at a cost of less than 50 cents per day per American household in 2020.

Third, the finding that regional cost differences would be small applies to the Senate bill just as it did to the House legislation.

The American people have waited decades while our nation has become increasingly dependent on foreign energy sources; while our global competitors create the clean energy jobs of tomorrow; and while we fail to safeguard the wellbeing our children and grandchildren.

I think Americans want reform that harnesses the country’s can-do spirit. I think they want to fuel long-term economic recovery with a wise investment that sparks a clean-energy transformation in our economy and that protects our children and grandchildren.

The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act is a significant milestone on the road to that reform. There of course remains road ahead, and there are many Senators on and off this Committee who have tremendous value to add. Thank you for your continuing work, and for inviting me to testify today.

Maryland PSC Versus Constellation Energy Group

It is being reported that the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) staffers are suggesting that Constellation Energy Group (CEG) should transfer up to $400 million in equity into BGE to improve the utility's financial standing. PSC staff is not proposing ratepayer credits because some analysts have pointed out that ratepayer credits could adversely affect BGE's finances.

Constellation has offered to invest up to $250 million in BGE, but only if it's necessary. The company if offering to delay requests for rate increases, and is offering regulators a choice: it will either forgo $22.5 million in anticipated future rate increases, or give customers one-time credits on their bills totaling the same amount.

But that amount is far lower than the credits sought by O'Malley, which amount to 10 percent of a household's annual bill and could cost more than $200 million. The governor also wants Constellation to contribute $50 million to $100 million to a program that helps lower-income residents pay their utility bills. (Balt Sun, 10/27/09)

BGE Receives $200 Million Federal Stimulus Grant

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) will receive a $200 million federal stimulus grant as part of $3.4 billion in national "smart grid" funding. The BGE grant is one of 100 nationwide selected for federal funding by the Department of Energy out of a total of 400 applications submitted earlier this year. BGE plans to invest $251 million in the project, bringing the price tag of the first phase to $451 million. The company announced earlier this year that it expects to spend a total of $2.6 billion over the life of the project.

The federal grant, from the $787 billion stimulus program that President Barack Obama signed into law in February, will be used to help install 2 million advanced power meters for BGE customers. A total of 400,000 in-home devices will allow customers to better manage electricity use as part of the initial project, according to Obama administration officials. Energy department officials estimate that the federal money will begin flowing to the projects within the next 60 days. (Balt Sun, 10/27/09)

Monday, October 26, 2009

EPA Releases Analysis Of Boxer/Kerry Climate Legislation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its detailed economic analysis of The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (Boxer/Kerry, S. 1733) that found no significant change in the estimated cost to American families, compared with H.R. 2454, the Waxman-Markey legislation passed this summer by the House of Representatives.

EPA's analysis of the House bill estimated the overall impact on the average household would be 22 to 30 cents per day ($80 to $111 per year).

EPA's Economic Analysis

EPA To Issue New Air Pollution Rules For Power Plants

According to court documents, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to issue new air-pollution rules for coal- and oil-fired power plants by November 2011. A consent decree released late Thursday follows a lawsuit filed by medical associations and environmental organizations against the EPA in December, alleging the agency was not drafting new power-plant emission rules fast enough as required by the Clean Air Act.

At issue were final "maximum achievable control technology" emission standards for hazardous air pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, other heavy metals, acid gases and dioxins. (WSJ, 10/24/09)

Gov Martin O'Malley Conditions Attached to CEG/EdF Merger

Gov. Martin O'Malley failed to get concessions from Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group (CEG) during months of negotiations over CEG's proposal to sell half its nuclear business to Electricite de France for $4.5 billion, but many of the demands he made during those talks are now the conditions he proposes to the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) for them to include as part of any approval for the merger.

The governor wants:

1) BGE customers (1.1 million residents) to get one-time credits that could be worth more than $200 per household.

2) To assure that CEG's proposal to sell half its nuclear business to Electricite de France for $4.5 billion is in the public's interest.

3) Constellation to make a $50 million to $100 million contribution to Maryland's Electric Universal Service (Fund) Program, which helps lower-income residents pay their utility bills.

4) BGE to be protected from potential financial calamity at Constellation.

5) Constellation to make a capital infusion into BGE when the deal closes and for a prohibition on dividends paid by BGE to Constellation if those payments hurt the utility's ability to meet its capital needs or affect its credit ratings.

6) Limits on executive compensation.

7) To make a majority of BGE's board independent.

As an independent regulatory body appointed by the governor with the state Senate's consent, the PSC could reject the transaction, approve the deal or allow it to move forward with certain stipulations.

O'Malleys conditions could exceed $600 million. The 10 percent credit for BGE gas and electric customers would exceed $200 million. Add another $50 to $100 million for the Universal Service Fund for lower-income households. Add at least another $400 million infusion for BGE to get its common-equity ratio up to levels that will make O'Malley and the Public Service Commission happy. (Baltimore Sun, 10/26/09, Jay Hancock's Blog, 10/26/09)

Senate Environment & Public Works Climate Hearings

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by California Congresswoman Barbara Boxer, left, starts the debate over climate legislation this week with three hearings on legislation that would curb U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions:

10/27/09 Full Committee hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on S. 1733, Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff will testify.


10/28/09 Full Committee hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on S. 1733, Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act


10/29/09 Full Committee hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on S. 1733, Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama Urges Congress To Pass Climate Bill In MIT Speech


Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Boston, Massachusetts
12:44 P.M. EDT


Hundreds of people will be put to work building this new testing facility, but the benefits will extend far beyond these jobs. For the first time, researchers in the United States will be able to test the world's newest and largest wind turbine blades -- blades roughly the length of a football field -- and that in turn will make it possible for American businesses to develop more efficient and effective turbines, and to lead a market estimated at more than $2 trillion over the next two decades.

Everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system into one that's far more efficient, far cleaner, and provide energy independence for America -- making the best use of resources we have in abundance, everything from figuring out how to use the fossil fuels that inevitably we are going to be using for several decades, things like coal and oil and natural gas; figuring out how we use those as cleanly and efficiently as possible; creating safe nuclear power; sustainable -- sustainably grown biofuels; and then the energy that we can harness from wind and the waves and the sun.

The House of Representatives has already passed historic legislation, due in large part to the efforts of Massachusetts' own Ed Markey, he deserves a big round of applause. We're now seeing prominent Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham joining forces with long-time leaders John Kerry on this issue, to swiftly pass a bill through the Senate as well. In fact, the Energy Committee, thanks to the work of its Chair, Senator Jeff Bingaman, has already passed key provisions of comprehensive legislation.

Full Speech

AP Video of Speech

Friday, October 23, 2009

Obama Nominates Apostolakis and Magwood To NRC

President Obama, on October 9, nominated two new members to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to fill vacancies on the five-member panel. The Center supports both nominations. They join Chairman Gregory Jaczko -- a former aide to Nevada Senator Harry Reid -- and Commissioners Dale Klein and Kristine Svinicki, all appointed in the Bush administration.

George Apostolakis is a nuclear science professor at MIT and a member of NRC's scientific advisory committee. Dr. George Apostolakis (right) is the Korea Electric Power Company professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and a professor of Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT photo-right]. He received his Ph.D. in engineering science and applied mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1973. He is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society and of the Society for Risk Analysis.

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007. Dr. Apostolakis is a member and former chairman of the statutory Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

William (Bill) Magwood was director of the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy under former presidents Clinton and Bush from 1998 to 2005. He led the creation of the "Nuclear Power 2010" initiative. Since his retirement from government service in 2005, Mr. Magwood has been actively involved in efforts to advance nuclear industry business opportunities domestically and abroad. For the past four years Magwood has headed Advanced Energy Strategies and Secure Energy North America Corporation, which provide "strategic advice to domestic and international clients" on energy projects, including nuclear investments novel approaches to financing new nuclear power stations.

From 1984-1994, he managed electric utility research and nuclear policy programs at the Edison Electric Institute in Washington, DC; and he was a scientist at Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he analyzed radiological and hazardous waste disposal, treatment, and handling systems. Mr. Magwood holds a B.S. degree in Physics and a B.A. degree in English from Carnegie-Mellon University. He also holds an M.F.A. degree from the University of Pittsburgh. (The Energy Collective, 10/10/09)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cap & Trade Will Create Multi Trillion Dollar Economies

According to financial experts, carbon permits could quickly become the world's largest commodities market, growing to as much as $3 trillion by 2020 from just over $100 billion today. With thousands of firms and energy producers buying and selling permits to emit carbon, transaction fees for exchanges and clearing alone could top nearly half a billion dollars.

The Center already has a trading house, the Carbon Mercantile Exchange (CMX), to participate in the carbon dioxide commodities trading market. The Center is prepared to work with Wall Street to help in creating the emerging products so they can provide the capital that would allow them to make green energy investments.

An infrastructure is already beginning to form, as entities like the New York Stock Exchange, J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and the new Green Exchange are developing carbon trading platforms or expanding their environmental trading desks. There are nearly 100 funds already focused on green investments.

Carbon is a commodity derivative, and the new carbon market must conform to the broader commodity derivatives oversight. Uniform regulation will allow the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to apply and enforce the capital reserves, position limits, and transparency in a way that ensures a safe and well functioning marketplace.

The wide range of possible carbon reductions—from agricultural offsets, to efficiency technology, to wind power—will require innovative specialized contracts that can meet firms' needs. For example, in order to finance a new clean power facility, a company will need to lock in a fixed cost of carbon over a long period of time.

The market for carbon-emissions permits should be internationally integrated. (WSJ, 10/21/09--derived from an article by New York Democratic Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand) [Click on penguin for more]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jim Hoggan’s Timely New Book: "Climate Cover-Up"

Jim Hoggan, right, has co-written a timely new book, "Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming" that provides a blistering critique of opponents of global warming who are determined to muddy the waters on climate science. Hoggan, a 35-year public relations veteran, partnered with co-author Richard Littlemore to rip the lid off a decades-long campaign to deliberately manufacture uncertainty about the science behind global warming.

Endorsements of Climate Cover-Up:

Actor and Producer Leonardo DiCaprio says of Climate Cover-Up that: "This book explains how the propaganda generated by self-interest groups has purposely created confusion about climate change. It’s an imperative read for a successful future.”

NASA chief climate scientist Dr. James Hansen says Climate Cover-Up is: “An expos√© of planetary scale.”

Author Bill McKibben says: "Forget about the crime of the century – this probably qualifies as the crime of the geological epoch.”

Methane to Markets Partnership Spurs Global GHG Reductions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new report that shows the international Methane to Markets (M2M) Partnership has significantly reduced methane emissions. In 2008, U.S.-supported M2M projects delivered methane emissions reductions of more than 26 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, roughly the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 4.7 million passenger vehicles. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times as potent as CO2.

The M2M Partnership is a public-private partnership that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the cost-effective, near-term recovery and use of methane, while providing clean energy to markets around the world. The M2M Partnership has grown to include 31 partner governments and more than 900 private sector entities, financial institutions, non-governmental agencies and other organizations. See M2M Map at right.

The fourth annual “U.S. Government Accomplishments in Support of the Methane to Markets Partnership” report highlights the projects and activities since the partnership began in November 2004. Through 2008, the United States has provided about $39 million to support more than 170 projects and activities worldwide that increase the capture and use of methane from coal mines, landfills, agricultural waste, and oil and gas systems. In addition, U.S. government investment has leveraged more than $277 million in public and private sector contributions.

The report was developed collaboratively by EPA, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

More information about the Methane to Markets Partnership Program

Governor Martin O'Malley Versus Constellation Energy Group

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, left, wants 5 things from Constellation Energy Group (CEG), owner of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, the state's largest utility:

1) Immediate electricity price reductions
2) Extend one-time credits for residential customers
3) Contribute to a program that helps low-income residents pay utility bills
4) Invest in environmentally friendly energy projects
5) Cancel a golden parachute package for Constellation's CEO

Constellation Energy Groups wants:

State regulatory approval of a $4.5 billion deal to sell half its nuclear power business to French utility Electricite de France.

Constellation has offered:

To give customers a break by delaying requests for rate increases.

Approval of the CEG/EdF merger is currently pending before the Public Service Commission, the state's top energy regulator. The PSC could reject the transaction, approve the deal or allow it to move forward if conditions are met. The Center supports the merger.

The O'Malley administration's energy goals:

Create a comprehensive state energy policy
Set goals for reducing energy consumption
Boost renewable power and
Curb greenhouse gas emissions
Re-regulate the electricity market

(Balt Sun, 10/21/09)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Senate Environment to Begin Climate Hearings

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee has announced a preliminary schedule to begin hearings on global warming legislation October 27th. According to committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, left, a markup of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733) could be held the week of Nov. 2 or Nov. 9.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff will testify. Additional hearings are expected to run through that week. The hearings will be long and packed with guests, very much the way House Energy Chair Henry Waxman conducted his effort. (Frank Maisano)

V.P. Biden, Cabinet Officials Roll Out Retrofit Program

Vice President Joe Biden, left, was joined by several other cabinet officials this morning rolling out a new report that lays out a federal plan for capturing energy savings by retrofitting homes. The Recovery Through Retrofit Report builds on investments made in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to expand the home energy efficiency and retrofit market. The report lays out a roadmap to achieve these goals.

According to the report, existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting can reduce energy use by up to 40% per home and lower total associated greenhouse gas emissions by up to 160 million metric tons annually by 2020. Retrofitting existing homes also has the potential to cut home energy bills by $21 billion annually.

Recommendations include 1) Providing Homeowners with Straightforward and Reliable Home Energy Retrofit Information, 2) Reducing High Upfront Costs, Making Energy Retrofits More Accessible and 3) Establishing National Workforce Certifications and Training Standards.

Joining the Vice President today were CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary and SBA Administrator Karen Mills. (Frank Maisano)

Full Report and Recommendations

New Book "SuperFreakonomics" on Climate Change Getting Lots of Chatter

The new book, "SuperFreakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt, left, and Stephen J. Dubner, right, is scheduled to be published this month and is already generating lots of buzz.

Most environmentalists are concluding that it mischaracterizes climate science and global warming skeptics are embracing it.

The Center believes humanity cannot put unlimited quantities of gases into our roughly 90-mile high atmosphere without serious consequences.

Check out some of the responses:

Union of Concerned Scientists

The New York Times

Climate Progress

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Minnesota Indian Tribe Wants Nation's Nuclear Waste

The Prairie Island Indian Community is calling on President Barack Obama to deliver on the federal government's decades-old mandate and promise to establish a permanent repository for the nation's commercial nuclear waste. The Tribe's urging comes after Congress approved the FY2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill which cuts funding for the proposed national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., to record low levels. High-level, radioactive nuclear waste from the nation's nuclear power plants is currently accumulating at 'temporary' storage sites in 39 different states, including Minnesota.

Twenty-seven years after Congress passed the National Nuclear Waste Storage Act mandating the establishment of a national underground waste repository, and after the federal government has spent more than 20 years and $10.4 billion studying the proposed Yucca Mountain repository, President Obama this February announced his administration's plans to completely abandon the project and seek alternatives. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a vocal critic of the Yucca Mountain project, has said the administration's FY 2011 budget will provide zero funding for Yucca Mountain. This comes after the American ratepayers have contributed more than $33 billion, including nearly $700 million from Minnesotans, since 1983 to the national Nuclear Waste Fund for the development of a safe and secure national nuclear waste storage facility. A blue ribbon commission to study and recommend alternatives has yet to be appointed.

Of course, the tribe is not in complete agreement on nuclear power. Doreen Hagen, right, president of the Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council, says the tribe will fight to ensure that its homeland is not endangered by the nuclear reactor that is just 600 yards from reservation homes. (MSNBC, 2004)

The Prairie Island Indian Community is located near Red Wing, Minnesota and is located less than 600 yards from a nuclear power plant and nuclear waste storage site operated by Xcel Energy. The Prairie Island Indian Community, a federally recognized Indian Nation, is located near Red Wing, Minnesota in southeastern part of the state along the banks of the Mississippi River, approximately 50 miles from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. (Reuters, 10/15/09)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

CBO Sending Out Mixed Signals On Cap & Trade Legislation

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is all over the map on proposed climate change legislation. Is this some sort of politically correct fence sitting to please Democrats and Republicans? CBO is nonpartisan, but these conflicting reports appear to be some sort of bipartisan research findings.

Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas W. Elmendorf, left, testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday and stated that the cap-and-trade provisions of the House bill -- in which emitters of greenhouse gases would be able to buy and sell pollution credits -- would cut the nation's gross domestic product by 0.25 to 0.75 percent in 2020 compared with "what it would otherwise have been," and by 1 to 3.5 percent in 2050.

Yet, in June, the CBO reported that: "the net annual countrywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion - or about $175 per household." There is no way that could have the sort of effect Mr. Elmendorf described yesterday. So which is it? Ultimately, we believe the effects of a cap and trade program would create jobs and stimulate the economy. We also believe cap and trade would lead to unknown benefits the same way that the blogosphere developed with the internet.

CBO and the Congressional Research Service basically conclude that there are many uncertainties about the impacts of a national cap and trade program. (Wash Post, 10/14/09)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Center Partner Clinton Crackel Published in Nov 2009 ECN

Environment & Climate News

November 2009

By Clinton Crackel

The acronym NIMBY stands for “Not In My Back Yard.” It is a popular acronym used by federal, state, and local elected officials and members of the public when referring to nuclear waste. The concept has been exploited for years by anti-nuclear activists to prevent construction of new nuclear power plants; prevent shipments of radioactive waste (including spent nuclear fuel) from leaving nuclear power plant sites and crossing state lines; prevent the construction and operation of low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities; and now prevent the nation’s only spent nuclear fuel repository, Yucca Mountain, from becoming operational.

NIMBY’s Ironic Result

Thanks to the perseverance of several anti-nuclear groups, the nuclear waste will stay right where they didn’t want it in the first place—in their back yards—and it looks like it will be there
for an indefinite period of time. It also will increase in volume as older nuclear power plants receive extensions to their operating licenses, especially with nuclear power now being viewed as an integral component in reducing greenhouse gases.

Since passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 began the process of choosing and constructing a permanent site for spent nuclear fuel, anti-nuclear activists have stepped up their opposition to nuclear power and the Yucca Mountain storage facility in particular. A federal nuclear waste fund has accumulated more than $31 billion for the construction and operation of Yucca Mountain, but the facility is unlikely to open any time soon.

Only $9 billion of the fund has been invested in Yucca Mountain to date, leaving more than $22 billion for future use. The remaining $22 billion might now be used for other purposes, however,
since funding for the Yucca Mountain project has been reduced, almost to the point of killing off the project.

Currently, our commercial nuclear power plants must store their everincreasing amounts of spent nuclear fuel on-site for an indefinite period of time, with no prospect of being able to ship the spent fuel out of our back yards for many years to come.

Big Market For Disposal

Projected costs for on-site spent nuclear fuel management could be more than $60 billion, and the only recourse available to our nuclear utilities is to sue the federal government for additional costs incurred. Also, nuclear power plants that cannot obtain approval for on-site storage will have to shut down prematurely. On the other hand, a company called Energy Solutions has accepted spent nuclear fuel from foreign sources and is trying to persuade a federal court to
permit it to receive more spent fuel from foreign sources in order to enhance its bottom line.

The reality is that low-level radioactive waste disposal is a virtually untapped gold mine in this country if government will allow private companies to participate in the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel. Most generators of low-level radioactive waste are prepared to pay handsomely for such disposal services. If the various states choose to block low-level radioactive waste disposal on private or state lands, perhaps the federal government should pursue constructing
appropriate facilities on federal land. That is one of the chief reasons why I recommend creating a United States Nuclear Waste Management Agency.

Other Nations Reprocess

Reprocessing spent nuclear fuel is also a viable option. Other industrialized nations reprocess their spent fuel, effectively eliminating almost all waste. In the United States, however, reprocessing has been shelved for decades since then-President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order halting the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. Carter feared the second processing cycle would make it easier for terrorists and non-nuclear nations to obtain weapons grade material for nuclear armaments. This has not posed a problem, however, for the other nations that choose to reprocess their spent nuclear fuel. Reprocessed fuel is more costly to turn into power, but the amount of spent fuel is relatively small and economies of scale dictate reprocessing would not add much to the cost of nuclear power. Hence it’s not really spent nuclear fuel at all—it is actually renewable nuclear fuel.

Clinton E. Crackel is co-chairman of the Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition (NFRC) with Center President Norris McDonald.

(Reprinted courtesy E&C News)

Monday, October 12, 2009

NRC Approves License Transfers For Constellation and Electricite de France Nuclear Joint Venture

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff has approved the transfer of the operating licenses for the Calvert Cliffs Units 1 and 2, Nine Mile Point Units 1 and 2, and Ginna nuclear reactors, as well as the license for the Calvert Cliffs Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI), to a new ownership structure created by the joint venture of Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG) and EDF Development, a U.S. subsidiary of √Člectricit√© de France S.A., a French limited company. As provided by NRC regulations, the staff's approval of the transfer is effective October 9.

CENG and EDF Development submitted an application Jan. 22 requesting approval of the license transfer, and the companies provided supplemental information Feb. 26, April 8, June 25 and July 27. Following EDF Development’s proposed purchase of 49.99 percent of CENG, Constellation Energy Group (CEG) would hold the remaining 50.01 percent through two intermediate companies, Constellation Nuclear and CE Nuclear. The current Constellation Nuclear Power Plants corporation would become an LLC and exist between CENG and the individual power plants.

NRC regulations prohibit a license transfer recipient from being owned, controlled, or dominated by a foreign individual or entity; the agency’s approval of this transfer contains several conditions to prevent foreign control of the nuclear power plants, including:

The proposed transfer’s operating agreement may not be modified concerning decision-making authority over safety issues without the prior written consent of the Director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation;

At least half the members of CENG’s Board of Directors must be U.S. citizens;

CENG’s Chief Executive Officer, Chief Nuclear Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors must be U.S. citizens and shall have exclusive authority to ensure the company’s business and activities with respect to the affected reactors and the Calvert Cliffs ISFSI are at all times conducted in a manner consistent with the public health and safety and common defense and security of the United States; and

CENG will establish a Nuclear Advisory Committee, composed of U.S. citizens who are not officers, directors, or employees of CENG, CEG or EDF Development, to report to the NRC and other U.S. agencies regarding foreign ownership and control of nuclear operations.

Other major issues considered by the NRC included financial and technical qualifications, as well as the transfer and maintenance of accumulated decommissioning funds.

Copies of the NRC's approval order and accompanying non-proprietary safety evaluation reports will be placed in the NRC's Public Document Room, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Room O-1 F23, Rockville, MD 20852 (telephone 1-800-397-4209 or 301-415-4737). The documents will also be available on the NRC’s Agency-wide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS), by entering ML092570583 (Calvert Cliffs and ISFSI), ML092570623 (Nine Mile Point) and ML092570554 (Ginna) at this address: Help in using ADAMS is available by calling the Public Document Room. (NRC)

Natural Gas Futures Rising

Natural gas futures climbed today on rising crude oil prices and forecasts of colder weather in the major gas-consuming regions of the U.S.

Higher crude oil prices were providing support for gas futures Monday. Natural gas for November delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was trading 11 cents, or 2.31%, higher at $4.88 per million British thermal units after opening floor trade 10.8 cents higher at $5.698/MMBtu.

Natural gas sometimes trades in tandem with crude oil and petroleum products, some of which can be used as substitutes for gas in power plants and heating systems. Nymex light, sweet crude oil for November delivery was trading 17.6 cents higher, or 2.45%, at $73.53 a barrel on rising equities.

Gas futures also were driven higher by forecasts of brisk temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest over the next two weeks. The cooler weather was expected to boost the demand for natural gas for heating.

Physical natural gas for next-day delivery was trading 4 cents higher at $3.95/MMBtu at the benchmark Henry Hub in Louisiana, compared with early Friday, while natural gas for next-day delivery at the Transcontinental Zone 6 in New York was trading 21 cents higher at $4.51/MMBtu, according to the Intercontinental Exchange. (WSJ, 10/12/09)

Gov. Schwarzenegger Vetoes AB 1404 (Renewable Energy)

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, vetoed two renewable energy bills that were passed in September that would require the state's utilities to use renewable energy, like solar and wind power, for a third of the power they sell by 2020. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bills because he believes his alternative plan is better and because he objected to provisions of one of the bills (AB 1404) that would limit the amount of renewable power utilities could buy from other states, saying they were "protectionist" and would be costly. The Center supported AB 1404 and worked with other groups in California for its passage. Several renewable energy developers and utilities supported the bills, as did consumer, environmental and union groups.

Governor Schwarzenegger appears to be taking the same route as the Obama administration, which is drafting climate change regulation at EPA because it appears that Congress will not be passing such legislation. The California Republican governor has ordered the state's Air Resources Board to draft regulations requiring the state's utilities to use renewables for a third of their retail power by 2020.

Unlike the vetoed legislation, the new rules won't limit the amount of renewable power California utilities can buy from out-of-state facilities that are too far away to deliver the electricity in real time. Mr. Schwarzenegger agreed with some industry groups, utility regulators and the state's grid operator that restricting out-of-state renewable energy purchases would make it nearly impossible for utilities to meet the 2020 deadline. The Center disagrees with this assessment because it can and probaby will lead to purchasing CO2 offsets from out of state instead of making the requirement retrofits and development project in-state to meet the required reductions. Methodologies, environmental friendly construction and retrofits reduce smog-forming gases in addition to CO2, which would be particularly beneficial to minority communities suffering from disproportionately higher levels of pollution.

Despite California's aggressive goals, in-state development of new renewable-energy generation and transmission facilities has been slow, primarily due to approval delays at state and federal agencies. (WSJ, 10/12/09)

Lindsey Graham & John Kerry Agree On Climate Change

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, left, and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, right, wrote an Op-Ed that was published in The New York Times on Sunday entitled, "Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation)," that shows where the two senators from different poles on the political spectrum agree on the issue.

They list 5 points of agreement in the article:

1) First, we agree that climate change is real and threatens our economy and national security.

2) Second, while we invest in renewable energy sources like wind and solar, we must also take advantage of nuclear power, our single largest contributor of emissions-free power...Nuclear power.

3) Third, climate change legislation is an opportunity to get serious about breaking our dependence on foreign oil.

4) Fourth, we cannot sacrifice another job to competitors overseas.

5) Finally, we will develop a mechanism to protect businesses — and ultimately consumers — from increases in energy prices.

Friday, October 09, 2009

President Obama Receives Nobel Peace Prize

Congratulations Mr. President.

President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize today. He won the prize in part, according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, for a "more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting."

Excerpt from President Obama's speech from The White House Rose Garden this morning:

"...all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children -- sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities. And that's why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy."

We hope this inspiration will turn into the signing of a cap and trade climate change law real soon.