Given all that is going on around the globe, I hope you were able to watch the final round of the British Open yesterday. It was a riveting conclusion to a great golf championship where both Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson – both in their 40s – performed at their best. And when it was over, the class and sportsmanship by each player was a testament to respect and honor. One could only hope that kind of spirit could invade our political debate.
Speaking of the political debate, it’s showtime in Cleveland for the RNC. I am heading up there later today. Not a whole lot of energy action at the convention in Cleveland, but our friend Jay Faison will be on several panels that will look at energy issues. Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., he and others will visit with Steve Mufson at the Washington Post’s Cleveland HQ. On Wednesday, POLITICO hosts an energy talk with Faison and ND Rep. and early Trump supporter Kevin Cramer. Finally, on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m., BPC will host s a forum on priorities and policies at Heinen’s in Cleveland. Though Trump has said little comprehensively on energy policy, experts seem to think that his administration energy policy would differ markedly from a renewables/climate-focused taken by a Clinton administration. One speaker on the schedule in Continental O&G CEO Harold Hamm, who hosted Trump in North Dakota earlier this year.
Another group there in full force is the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), who along with grabbing Jim Matheson as its new CEO, also recently launched a major initiative to enhance voter engagement with its “Co-ops Vote” campaign. The effort is aimed at boosting voter turnout in areas served by cooperatives by encouraging electric co-op employees and their consumer members to exercise voting rights and support rural communities. Meanwhile, our friend Debbie Wing is stepping up to a great new gig with the Farm Credit Council as their Executive Vice President for National Communications and Reputation Management. Congrats Deb!!!
As a lead in to the Convention, Republican Candidate Donald Trump named Indiana Gov. (and former conservative Rep.) Mike Pence to be his running mate. Pence is an Interesting guy and is well-liked in many political circles. If you want the download on Pence, tune in to the best Pence expert in DC, CNN’s Tom Lobianco (@tomlobianco on Twitter). Lobi covered Pence when he was in Indianapolis writing and covering politics for AP and the Indy Star. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who knows him better.
There is a really good event in DC tomorrow at CSIS when Pioneer Oil & Gas CEO Scott Sheffield discusses developments in the U.S. onshore oil and gas industry. On Thursday, USEA will host a forum on advanced fossil fuels featuring Neil Kern of Duke Energy, AWEA’s Peter Kelley addresses the National Economists Club and C2ES hosts a webinar looking at financing climate resilience.
Finally, overseas in Vienna this week, the big negotiating begins on efforts to limit the super-warming chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol. The first phase of the nine-day negotiating session ended favorably in the early hours of Sunday morning with agreement on key “challenges and solutions.” This week, countries to focus on several key central issues: ambitious schedules for freezing and phasing down HFC production and use in both developed and developing countries, and financial assistance to help developing countries achieve their phase-down commitments. The HVAC industry has been a strong player in these negotiations and AHRI President Steve Yurek is there and happy to provide insights from Vienna. Please let us know if you have questions.
Hope everyone travels and stays safe this week and next, as well as has some fun at the conventions. Remember, our PRG team will be covering elections closely and offering our analysis running up to and following the November vote. So stay in touch on the topic.
“Producing syngas from Mississippi’s own abundant natural resource – lignite – should be encouraging to our customers, communities and energy companies around the world. This proves that Kemper’s technology can provide a way forward for coal and puts us a step closer to full plant operation.”
Mississippi Power President/CEO Anthony Wilson.
IN THE NEWS
HFC Talks Proceeding in Vienna – Nearly 40 ministers are in Vienna participating in the negotiations on cutting down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are the fastest growing greenhouse gases in many countries. Used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances, HFCs are used in refrigeration, air conditioning, insulation, aerosols, solvents and fire protection products. Successful talks in Vienna could lead to an agreement when the Parties meet in Kigali, Rwanda, in October 2016. Such an agreement will help establish an early, clear and ambitious schedule to phase down HFCs, improve appliance energy efficiency and slow global warming. NRDC’s Dave Doniger has a great synopsis of the first few days in HuffPost. AHRI President Steve Yurek is also in Vienna on behalf of the HVAC industry which has played a strong role in the negotiations and supports the phase down.
Kemper Starts Producing Syngas – The Kemper County Energy Facility has begun producing syngas from lignite coal, developer Mississippi Power said Friday. An integral aspect of the plant’s operations, syngas is created when locally mined lignite is heated at high temperatures in the plant’s gasifiers, converting the coal to gas. To produce electricity, the plant is designed to use syngas similarly to natural gas to power a turbine. The facility is designed to capture at least 65% of carbon dioxide, with resulting emissions better than a similarly sized natural gas plant. The TRIG™ coal gasification technology deployed at the plant was jointly developed by Southern Company, KBR and the U.S. Department of Energy over the past two decades at the Power Systems Development Facility, an Alabama-based research facility operated by Southern Company. The successful production of syngas is an important step in the systematic process of achieving the facility’s full commercial operation. During the coming weeks, the Kemper project team also will be focused on starting up and integrating various systems needed to achieve the next major milestone – using syngas to produce electricity at the plant. The plant, designed to be a new-build, integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) coal-fired power plant, has been producing electricity with natural gas since August 2014.
NRECA, Energy to Improve Cyber Security – The Energy Department said last week it will spend $15 million to help the private sector improve its cybersecurity culture. The funds, which Congress must approve, will help the American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association train employees, produce documentation, and strengthen policies to reduce cyber risks, as well as site assessments and drills. NRECA said Cooperatives understand that no utility is immune from attack and that protecting the electric grid is a challenge the utility sector must solve. By collaborating with these partners, and giving the nation’s more than 900 co-ops access to advanced cybersecurity technology and training, all boats can be lifted. Over the next three years, NRECA will use the $7.5 million award to develop security tools, educational resources, updated guidelines and training materials. Continued investments in the people, processes and technology needed to secure critical infrastructure will strengthen the ability of NRECA’s members to meet rapidly changing cybersecurity threats.
SAFE Letter on Autonomous Vehicles Lands in NYT – SAFE had a letter in the NY Times on Sunday addressing a recent op-ed article regarding autonomous vehicle issues. Robbie Diamond, CEO and founder of Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and SAFE Autonomous Vehicle Initiative director Amitai Bin-Nun said in the wake of the Tesla Autopilot fatality and continuing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation, Times Reporters Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle make the important, if perhaps self-evident, point that self-driving cars must be certified safe before public use. The real question for policy makers, however, is what constitutes an appropriately “safe” autonomous vehicle. Our current transportation system exacts a terrible toll: More than 35,000 people died on American roads in 2015, an almost 8% increase over 2014, and the system is almost completely dependent on petroleum, constraining American foreign policy and exposing our servicemen and women to conflict. They say autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce traffic fatalities, expand mobility access to millions, and enhance national and economic security by building a fuel-diverse transportation system. These benefits compel the deployment of autonomous vehicles once their safety matches today’s cars with all their flaws. Imposing excessive regulation and barriers to deployment runs contrary to the national interest.
Platts Capitol Crude Looks at Fracking – This week’s Capitol Crude podcast looks at natgas drilling and the impact of the recent efforts On “Keep it in the Ground” surrounding the Democratic Platform. Recent, the President’s top science advisor has called the movement unrealistic. Has the movement to stop the historic growth of US shale oil and gas lost its momentum? And how does a federal judge’s recent decision to overturn the administration’s regulations of fracking impact the movement’s path forward? Platts Brian Scheid gets perspective on the issue from Earthjustice’s Michael Freeman and Western Energy Alliance’s Kathleen Sgamma. And its only Scheid this week because his partner in crime at Platts, Herman Wang has launched to London to cover OPEC for Platts. Congrats to Herman and get some fish & chips, a Shepard’s pie or Chicken Tikka Masala for me…
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
Republican Convention – Cleveland will host the Republican Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena starts today running through Thursday. The Republican National Committee (RNC) says the convention will host approximately 2,470 delegates and 2,302 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. Jeff Larson, CEO of the 2016 Republican National Convention released an updated program for the “Make America Great Again” convention that will include veterans, political outsiders, faith leaders and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s family members will lead an unconventional lineup of speakers who have real-world experience. You can see the full line up for each night here.
BGov Holds Climate Forum at RNC – Bloomberg Government and Defend Our Future holds a discussion today at Noon on the future of climate change in the Republican Party at the RNC in Cleveland.
Education, Energy Conference Set – The 2016 Energy Conference for Educators will continue today through Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City. The event brings together educators that are passionate about bringing energy education to their classrooms. In five interactive days in Washington, D.C., the conference provides teachers with the most up-to-date information on all aspects of energy including the science of energy, sources of energy, transportation, electricity, efficiency and environmental and economic impacts. Participants receive the training and materials to implement innovative hands-on energy units in their classrooms, multi-disciplinary teams, and after-school programs. They also receive the materials, training and support to conduct in-services in their areas to introduce the NEED program to others. NEED leaders at the conference help participants develop specialized units that meet state standards and can be utilized with students of all learning styles.
WaPo to Host Faison Energy Conversation – The Washington Post will host an Energy Conversation with ClearPath Founder Jay Faison on Tuesday July 19th at the their GOP convention HQ in Cleveland.
Forum to Look at Bioenergy – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will host a forum tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in 1300 Longworth assessing the ability of the United States to sustainably produce 1 billion tons of renewable non-food biomass every year. This could potentially displace more than 30 percent of the country’s petroleum consumption. The briefing will focus on key findings from volume 1 of the 2016 Billion-Ton Update, which examines the technical feasibility of a billion-ton annual biomass supply chain by 2040. The 2016 report, to be released at the Bioenergy 2016 conference in mid-July, builds and expands on previous Billion-Ton studies, released in 2005 and 2011 by the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO). Speakers for this forum DOE’s Alison Goss Eng, USDA Bioenergy Chief Scientist Valerie Reed and USDA Energy Policy Director Harry Baumes.
Pioneer CEO to Discuss Industry at CSIS – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program is hosting Scott Sheffield, Chairman and CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. to discuss developments in the U.S. onshore oil and gas industry. Mr. Sheffield has held the position of CEO for Pioneer Natural Resources since August 1997 and assumed the position of chairman of the board in August 1999. In this position Sheffield heads one of the leading producers of unconventional oil and gas in the United States. Sheffield will share his views on recent market developments and regulatory changes in the oil and gas landscape, as well as Pioneer’s strategy for addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the industry today and in the future.
Wilson Forum to Look at Paris Climate Goals in Latin America – Tomorrow at 3:00 p.m., the Woodrow Wilson Center hosts a forum looking at the Paris climate agreement and the role of Latin American countries. How are Latin American countries confronting climate change? What are the prospects for the implementation of the Paris Agreement in Latin America? What are the main factors which might speed up or undermine the transition to low-emission and resilient economies in the region? All questions to be addressed by experts in the region.
Faison, Cramer Headline POLITICO RNC Energy Forum – POLITICO will host an energy caucus live on Wednesday at 12:45 in its Hub in Cleveland. The forum will be a deep dive discussion, featuring a variety of perspectives, about the energy policy issues facing the next president and how the candidates are resonating in battleground states. Featured speakers will; include Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), ClearPath’s Jay Faison and Jai Chabria of Mercury, along with a few others.
BPC Hosts Energy Discussion in Cleveland – The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and Milken Institute are hosting a series of policy forums with business and political leaders at the Republican National Convention. On Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. at Heinen’s in Downtown Cleveland, they will host cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as they discuss entrepreneurship and economic growth, infrastructure and energy policy, global competitiveness and tax policy, and medical and health innovation. Jay Faison will be speaking on the energy topics.
Webinar to explore financing climate resilience – The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) hosts a webinar, Thursday at Noon looking at financing climate resilience. Extreme weather events and disasters are already impacting our infrastructure. The need to update infrastructure provides an opportunity to build in climate resilience. This webinar will explore options for financing resilience and will feature an interactive discussion with experts in the field about opportunities and potential challenges. Speakers will include HUD’s Bruce Ciallella, expert Shalini Vajjhala, C2ES expert Katy Maher and Fatima Maria Ahmad. You can register here.
AWEA’s Kelley to Address Economists – The National Economists Club hosts AWEA’s Peter Kelley on Thursday at Noon at the Chinatown Garden Restaurant to discuss clean energy economics and the rapid change ahead. Wind power is one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways to reduce carbon pollution and solve our climate challenge. Electricity generated from wind now costs two-thirds less than in 2009, so it’s already saving U.S. consumers billions of dollars a year on their energy bills. Wind is making enough electric power for 20 million homes today, and can be the largest source of electricity in America by mid-century.
Forum to Look at Climate and Private Sector Implications –On Thursday at Noon, the Global America Business Institute (GABI), in collaboration with the Korea Institute of Energy Research, will discuss and present information on “Inclusive Development & Climate Change: Implications for the Private Sector,” with Dr. Arun Kashyap as the guest speaker. As development and economic growth continue throughout the world, implications for the private sector become even greater, particularly with respect to climate change and clean energy innovation. Dr. Kashyap will present on how to integrate analysis and implement evidence based initiatives, create partnerships, and innovate to foster equity, strengthen welfare, and build resilience for marginalized households and communities in developing and middle-income countries within the confines of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as the international community works to develop and deploy alternative, clean energy.
USEA to Host Duke Energy Exec on Advanced Fossil Fuels – On Thursday at 2:00 p.m., USEA will host a forum on advanced fossil fuels. Neil Kern of Duke Energy will review some of the factors impacting today’s utility business models and the resulting new demands being placed on central generation plants. As renewable energy deployment increases and movement towards lower carbon footprints continues, central station operating profiles are fundamentally changing. New technologies must be developed to maintain grid reliability and enable this transition. The presentation will discuss some of the advanced generation technologies, including supercritical CO2 and CCUS, being developed to address these new challenges while identifying their benefits, research gaps, and what needs to be done to encourage adoption by industry.
Democratic Convention – A week later, the Democrats will head to Philadelphia for the 2016 Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center on July 25th – 28th.
AAAS Forum to Look at Human Rights, Climate – Next Monday, July 25th starting at 8:30 a.m., the American Association for the Advancement of Science will hold a day-long forum on the human rights implications of climate change and the contributions scientists, engineers, and health professionals can make towards addressing these concerns. The sessions will highlight examples of scientific research that is contributing to human rights-based policies for climate change prevention, mitigation, adaptation, and community relocation. In addition, panelists will share models for collaborative climate research in partnership with vulnerable communities. Coalition meetings convene scientists, engineers, and health professionals with human rights leaders and policy makers to discuss emerging issues at the nexus of science and human rights. The Coalition serves as a catalyst for the increased involvement of scientific, engineering, and health associations and their members in human rights-related activities. The main speaker will be Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.
Heritage, CEI Look at Biofuel Programs – The Heritage Foundation hosts a panel discussion next Tuesday on repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard and other Biofuel Programs. U.S. biofuels policy is a case study in the unintended consequences of government intervention. In contrast to what politicians and special interest groups promised, biofuel policies have increased costs to taxpayers and drivers, had little-to-no impact on oil prices, hurt rural economies, and had unforeseen environmental costs. This panel will provide background on the RFS and other biofuels programs, analyzing the many harmful effects of these federal policies. Does the RFS reduce dependence on foreign oil? What impact does it have on food prices? What environmental harms are caused as a result of the RFS? Does the RFS actually hurt agricultural producers? The presenters will answer these questions and identify several critical solutions. Speakers will include Heritage’s Nick Loris, CEI’s Marlo Lewis and Dan Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research.
Forum to Look at Emissions at Chinese Ports – The Wilson Center’s China Energy Foundation (CEF) will host a panel discussion next Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. with Green Port experts as they assess how China’s new policies and on-the-ground efforts—such as port/vessel emissions inventories and emission control zones—are reducing pollution and climate emissions at major Chinese ports. Dr. Peng Chuansheng (China Waterborne Transport Research Institute) will lead the discussion in exploring how and why China is taking action on green ports. Ms. Freda Fung (Natural Resources Defense Council) will highlight Hong Kong’s successes in controlling port pollution and discuss needed incentives for green port/vessel technology development and emission compliance in China. Dr. Dan Rutherford (ICCT) will draw on a port study in Shenzhen produced for the China Environment Forum to discuss how shore power and fuel-switching offer critical solutions in reducing port emissions in China. This meeting – part of CEF’s Choke Point: Port Cities initiative – is co-sponsored with the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States.
NatGas Roundtable Hosts BGE Exec – The Natural Gas Roundtable is hosting Calvin Butler Jr., Chief Executive Officer of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), as its speaker at the next NatGas Roundtable luncheon at the University Club on Tuesday July 26th. Butler became chief executive officer of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company on March 1, 2014 after serving as BGE’s senior vice president, regulatory and external affairs.
USEA to Host Global Nuke Discussion – The US Energy Assn will host a forum on Tuesday, July 26th at 2:00 p.m. looking at the global nuclear landscape to 2040 and the US role will be. Affordable baseload electricity is crucial for countries to sustain the high level of economic growth they have experienced during the last decade. Government support, via regulations and financing, has been pivotal to the accelerated growth of nuclear energy. In China and India, as well as most of Asia and Europe, government enterprises are responsible for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants. The US cannot idly let its leadership position wither away in the global nuclear energy landscape. In the nuclear arena, leadership cannot be simply “restored” based on the old “push” model of Supply-side dominance from the 20th Century. Urban demand-side factors outside Europe and North America now are pulling nuclear power construction forward in the 21st Century to satisfy burgeoning electric demand, primarily in Asian cities, and for growing populations and water needs in the Middle East and Africa. USA and allies must redefine leadership in nuclear energy via international partnerships and alliances that are unfolding now. Speaker Andrew Paterson of the Environmental Business International will address the topic.
DEM Convention Forum Set – The New Policy Institute and NDN will host a major event at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, on Tuesday, July 26th looking ahead at the future of America and American Politics. This event will feature a dozen inspiring thought leaders who will offer their different perspectives on what is coming down the road for the US and our politics. The event will take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 204C, 200 Level Concourse, and run from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. If you would like to attend, please RSVP on our Eventbrite page today. The event is free and open to the public.
ELI Forum Look at Distributed Solar Battles – On Wednesday, July 27th, ELI will host a forum on the recent changes in net metering policies and the future of distributed solar at the D.C. Bar Conference Center. Thousands of Nevada consumers purchased solar arrays expecting to sell their electricity back to the grid at the same rates they pay for power – called “net-metering.” Solar companies expected to continue booming sales – and leasing – based on this high rate of return. That all changed last December when the Nevada Public Utility Commission significantly reduced net-metering rates. Existing customers were furious and sales of new systems basically ground to a halt. A few months later, after a similar fight, the California Public Utilities Commission reached a different result, maintaining full net-metering rates until 2019. And just this April, a coalition including Con Edison, Solar City, and Sunpower, Inc., submitted a net-metering proposal to the New York Public Service Commission billed as a breakthrough in utility-solar collaboration. The coalition claims their proposal will continue to incentivize residential solar while also providing utilities with protections necessary to insure that distributed solar will not cause the ever-dreaded Death Spiral for the utility industry. These recent developments are only a sample of the debates raging before Public Utility Commissions across the country, where numerous proposals to change net-metering policies are pending, with important implications for the future of residential solar. Please join us for a panel discussion of these ongoing developments.
Fanning, Moniz, Daschle Headline DNC BPC Energy Event – The Bipartisan Policy Center will host a forum at the Democratic National Convention in Phily. The discussion will feature some of our nation’s most influential leaders on energy innovation as we discuss the respective roles of the public and private sectors in realizing the full potential of this opportunity as well as growing congressional support for energy innovation. The event will feature Southern’s Tom Fanning, former Senate leader Tom Daschle, and Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz.
Annual Enviro Superconference Set for Austin – The 28th annual Texas Environmental Superconference is set for August 4th and 5th at the Four Seasons in Austin, TX. This year’s theme is Yogi Berra quotes and the conference is fittingly entitled “It’s like déjà vu all over again”; each topic has an appropriate quote assigned to it. The event is co-sponsored by the State Bar of Texas Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section, the Air & Waste Management Association – Southwest Section, the Water Environment Association of Texas, the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals, The Auditing Roundtable, and the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. Bracewell will be hosting an event on Thursday, August 4th during the superconference with cocktails, small bites and a live performance by Quiet Company. Speakers will include Gary Jonesi of EPA’s Enforcement office and Bryan Shaw of TCEQ, as well as Bracewell enviro experts Tim Wilkins and Kevin Collins. See more on the event here.
Power-Gen Forum Set for Columbus – Regardless of the Democratic Platform challenge of natgas, Pennwell will host Mark McCullough, Executive Vice President, American Electric Power to discuss the growing role in natural gas in power generation at the upcoming GenForum scheduled August 22nd in Columbus, Ohio. The half-day event is connected with PennWell’s POWER-GEN/Natural Gas.