Well, August is here and I wish I could say it seems like things are settling out in DC. Maybe not, but we still soldier on. August does mean a few things though, so get ready… Congress is likely to find its way out of town – perhaps as early as this week. Meanwhile, we may see some movement on the number of nominees yet to be confirmed, among them at least two much-needed FERC nominees that could finally restore a quorum. Later today, ERCC, whose members are Duke, DTE, Southern, Vistra, Salt River Project and Ameren are all calling on the Senate to move FERC nominees in a letter to Sen. McConnell coordinated by ERCC. Overall, more than 50 nominees are awaiting approval including NRC’s David Wright and Annie Caputo, DOE’s Dan Brouillette and EPA Enforcement head Susan Bodine.
We also have action this week on the Renewable Fuels Standard with the EPA public hearing tomorrow, starting at 9:00 a.m. at the Hyatt on NJ Ave. Many of our friends will be there discussing RVOs, Point of Obligation, ethanol Impact on small engines, boats, etc and many other of the regular topics. My colleague Scott Segal will be there as will Bill Douglass of the small retailers, Steelworkers head Roy Housman and API’s Frank Macchiarola. I can forward you the batting order should you need it.
Finally, we have heard rumors that the Senate may try to move Chairman Murkowski’s Senate Energy legislation this week. The hope is to do it by unanimous consent, but that remains up in the air – assuming you may guess why…
August also means the beginning of the fall sports season. Adam (and I) tuned up for X-Country season with his final summer 5K in Severna Park. Adam was outkicked by a fellow high schooler for the title, while the old man drifted in (a 40-49 age winning) 4th place overall finish. Meanwhile, the girls prep for field hockey as Olivia wraps up Terrapin Camp this week at UMd and Hannah is running, swimming and umping after successfully coming out of the boot from her stress fracture. Already, NFL training camps are well underway and later this week, the Pan-American games for field hockey will launch in Lancaster. Finally, the Cowboys and Cardinals kick off the NFL preseason on Thursday with the Hall-of-Fame game, just before former MSU Spartan Morton Anderson and others are inducted into the HoF on Saturday.
For your radar, in Michigan tomorrow our friends at DTE, who have launched an aggressive effort to reduce carbon emissions by 80%, will make an important announcement regarding a significant investment in natural gas infrastructure as part of that effort. Stay tuned for details tomorrow morning or feel free to check in with DTE’s Brian Corbett (firstname.lastname@example.org).
And while I would never encourage anyone to watch CNN at 9 p.m. at night, tomorrow at that time, Anderson Cooper will host a town hall meeting with Al Gore to talk about climate change, the Trump Administration and…oh right, his Inconvenient Truth sequel which (conveniently) hits theaters on Friday.
And speaking of Coopers, as you may have seen, SCANA and Santee Cooper decided to cease construction of the VC Summer nuclear project. This action effectively means that new nuclear builds in the US are limited to Georgia’s Vogtle project. The importance of the Vogtle project from a national security perspective therefore is all the more significant. Here are some recent expert opinions that emphasize the need for US nuclear leadership, particularly important in the context of continuing consideration of extension of the nuclear tax credit:
1) Former Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz, now heading the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), had a paper on the topic just a few weeks back.
2) Mike Wallace, former co-chair of the CSIS Commission on Energy Policy in the US and former COO at Constellation, had this piece in the Baltimore Sun.
3) Three most recent DOE nuclear office heads Warren Miller (2009-10), Peter Lyons (2010-2015) and John Kotek, (2015-17), had a similar position on the importance of US nuclear leadership.
Either way, I’m certain a call to Rich Powell at ClearPath (Darren Goode 202-550-6619) or to Moniz (David Ellis at 202-536-1166), who I hosted a Newsmaker with a few weeks ago, would be helpful and informative.
Finally, August not only brings beach time for many, it really is “the most wonderful time of the year” as my kids are just about two or so weeks away from returning to school…far away from my house. I know many of you are in the same boat and I keep telling Stacey “if we can just make it another couple of weeks.” Peace and quiet… and another summer in the books…
Congrats to our friends Emily Holden, who is now jumping over to POLITICO and Zack Colman who has landed over at E&E News. Probably no update again until September, but we will still keep you up to speed on events as they occur. Call with questions.
“Sanctions on Venezuela’s energy sector will likely harm U.S. businesses and consumers, while failing to address the very real issues in Venezuela.”
American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers CEO Chet Thompson in a letter to President Donald Trump on potential sanctions on Venezuela.
“The physical characteristics of both the natural gas resource and the pipeline delivery infrastructures make our nation’s natural gas system uniquely reliable. Production is dispersed across many states and regions and is further spread across thousands of individual wells. In the aggregate, the United States’ many natural gas transmission pipelines comprise an interconnected, nationwide network that offers multiple pathways for rerouting deliveries in the event of a disruption. Our natural gas pipelines are the envy of the world.”
Don Santa, President and CEO of INGAA, on the release of the Natural Gas Council’s new report that provides a practical guide to the operational measures, physical characteristics and contractual underpinnings of the natural gas system’s exceptional record of reliability and resilience.
“Grid-scale solutions can improve resiliency while keeping consumer energy prices low. Storage can capture excess electricity, including from nuclear and renewable generation, when demand and prices are low, and then re-sell that electricity during peak demand timesProtectionism is never the solution for an inability to compete globally. Our country’s trade laws should never be co-opted into causing widespread pain for the broader U.S. economy.”
ClearPath Action Executive Director Rich Powell following passage of an amendment to increase investments in energy storage research and development at DOE.
IN THE NEWS
AFPM Hits Venezuela Issue Again – With Venezuela oil sanction on the plate again after the weekend’s vote, the refining Industry has weighed in again on potential sanction on Venezuela and the oil it sends to the U.S. It sent a second Letter to President Trump expressing AFPM’s concerns with potential sectoral sanctions on the Venezuelan energy industry. AFPM supports the Administration’s goal of bringing stability to Venezuela, but “urges you to carefully consider the impact sectoral sanctions will have on U.S. businesses and consumers.” The letter says Venezuela is an important source of heavy (sour) crude, the crude markets would be destabilized by new sanctions and that refiners don’t have a suitable alternate supply of heavy Crude. AFPM also says sanctions will lead to higher consumer prices. Happy to forward the letter if you need it.
Utilities Call Out Senate On FERC Nominees – Utility members of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council (ERCC) sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today to urge the Senate to restore the quorum at FERC by approving nominees. The utilities, which include Duke, Southern, Vistra, Ameren, DTE Energy and Salt River Project, said the loss of quorum at FERC is critical for the entire economy. According to an analysis by Bloomberg, “some $50 billion in private capital is hamstrung for projects slowed or stopped without FERC approval. An additional $25 billion in projects are just beginning the application process. Some 75,000 direct jobs are in jeopardy. Every week’s delay compounds the problem as seasonal windows for pipeline analyses close and potential for energy price spikes increase. In short, the failure to confirm sufficient FERC Commissioners to restore a quorum is a completely untenable situation that must be rectified immediately.”
Ameren Rolls out Accelerator Participants – Speaking of Ameren, it said Friday seven firms have been selected to participate in its Accelerator, an innovative public-private partnership with the University of Missouri System, UMSL Accelerate and Capital Innovators, that assesses, mentors and invests in energy technology startup companies. Selected companies include /blossom, Hyperion Sensors, Omega Grid, Rebate Bus, SensrTrx, Switched Source and WIFIPLUG. Ameren Corporation has announced the 7 startup companies that will participate in the Ameren Accelerator, an innovative public-private partnership with the University of Missouri System, UMSL Accelerate and Capital Innovators, that will assess, mentor and invest in energy technology startup companies. More than 200 companies from 31 countries and 23 states applied for the 12-week Ameren Accelerator program. Each company will receive up to $100,000 in seed funding in addition to intensive mentoring, technical assistance, facilities and networking connections from the Ameren Accelerator partners. The participants will be based out of UMSL Accelerate and Capital Innovators co-working spaces located in Cortex, a St. Louis innovation district.
ClearPath Praises Gallagher, Curbelo for Energy Storage Amendment – ClearPath Action praised efforts by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) to increase investments in energy storage research and development at DOE. The House overwhelmingly approved their amendment to the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R.3219), legislation providing fiscal year 2018 funding to a number of federal agencies, including DOE. The Gallagher-Curbelo amendment specifically would bolster important public-private energy storage research, development, and demonstration efforts at the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (EDER) by $10 million in a fiscally responsible manner. Advancing cost-competitive storage solutions is essential to reducing vulnerabilities to our nation’s electricity supply, an increasingly important national security priority.
NatGas Groups Release Practical, Comprehensive Guide to Reliability, Resilience – The Natural Gas Council, which collectively represents companies that produce, transport and deliver clean, affordable natural gas throughout the United States, released a joint report, “Natural Gas: Reliable and Resilient” that provides a practical guide to the operational measures, physical characteristics and contractual underpinnings of the natural gas system’s exceptional record of reliability and resilience.
Community Solar Legislation Pushed – Following a speech to community solar advocates in Denver last week, Sen. Michael Bennet introduced legislation requiring DOE to support community solar projects. He was joined by Sen Martin Heinrich. The Community Solar Consumer Choice Act would establish a DOE program that works with states and local governments on community solar, particularly in low-income communities. The bill requires the national labs to collect data helpful to businesses making solar financing decisions, and urges federal agencies to participate in community solar initiatives. Community solar refers to projects that typically are owned by multiple people, such as a shared system on a neighborhood block. It has been a tool used very effectively by rural coops as well as locations that can’t host their own systems.
PSEG Exec Talks Nuclear on EE TV – During today’s E&E TV OnPoint, Ralph Izzo, chairman, president and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., explains why he believes nuclear should continue to play a large role in New Jersey’s energy portfolio. He also discusses his company’s plans to expand solar production. Our friend Monica Trauzzi presses Izzo on grid modernization and increased flexibility.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
NY Clean Energy Conference Set — The 3rd New York Energy Revolution Summit will be held tomorrow through Thursday at the Crown Plaza Manhattan in New York, NY. The event will bring together utility, distributed energy resource (DER) providers, renewable energy, storage and other stakeholders to discuss how to create development processes that are workable and projects that are viable. The focus for 2017 is squarely on the implementation of both the New York REV and the new Clean Energy Standard.
EPA RFS Hearing Set – The EPA has announced plans to hold a public hearing tomorrow in Washington, D.C., for its recently released rule to set 2018 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard, along with the 2019 RVO for biomass-based diesel. The agency released a prepublication version of the proposed rule on July 5. The proposal calls for approximately 19.24 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into the national fuel supply next year. This includes 238 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel and 4.24 billion gallons of advanced biofuel. For 2019, the new proposal calls for the biomass-based diesel RVO to be maintained at 2.1 billion gallons.
Senate Environment to Look at Superfund Program – The Senate Environment Committee holds an oversight hearing tomorrow on EPA’s Superfund program. Witnesses are Jeffery Steers, director for regional operations for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and experts Katherine Probst and Steven Nadeau.
NAS Looks at Offshore Oil Spills Response – The National Academy of Sciences Health and Medicine Division and the Gulf Research Program will host a public workshop Wednesday and Thursday, preparing for rapid responses to offshore oil spills. Workshop discussions will explore key research needs and other opportunities (e.g., collection of environmental, social, health data) for improving public health response and protection during and after oil spills (including physical, mental, and social aspects of health and well-being). It will also inform the design of a rapid response “workshop-in-a-box” and other activities (as needed) that would be available should there be an offshore oil spill of national significance.
Senate Energy Looks at Drought, Water Security – The Senate Energy Committee’s Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold a hearing on Wednesday, at 10:00 a.m. to examine increasing water security and drought preparedness through infrastructure, management and innovation.
Forum to Look at Enviro Performance – The Green Business Roundtable will hold a forum Wednesday on the intersection of business and sustainability to join for networking, discussion and insight. The round table discussion will go in to climate-related risk disclosure standards and the next generation of corporate energy and green finance strategies. The speaker is Cameron Prell, Energy & Climate Lawyer at Crowell & Moring. Prell has more than a decade of experience representing clients on climate and energy matters and green finance transactions.
Senate Energy to Look at Wildfire Planning – The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to examine federal and nonfederal collaboration, including through the use of technology, to reduce wildland fire risk to communities and enhance firefighting safety and effectiveness.
Texas EnviroSuperConference Set – The 29th annual edition of the always educational and entertaining Texas Environmental Superconference will be held on Thursday and Friday, August 3rd and 4th in Austin at the Four Seasons Hotel. The Superconference will cover an engaging array of practice areas and topics including air and water quality, endangered species, and environmental aspects of infrastructure projects and legal issues associated with oil and gas activities. Timely presentations from current and former government officials will give key insights on latest developments and priorities at state and federal agencies, and compelling ethics topics will include internal investigations and climate change.
IN THE FUTURE
Forum to Look at Oil Corruption Issues – The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will hold a forum next Tuesday August 8th at Noon on how the US can counteract oil corruption. The oil industry has been entangled in serious corruption controversies, from the legality of some companies’ stance on climate change to dealings with producer-country governments. In response, the U.S. government has shown leadership over the past decade in helping bring more transparency to the sector. The event will offer an engaging discussion of new findings by Global Witness on Shell’s activities in Nigeria, why corruption in this key economic sector matters, and how the U.S. government-and companies-can be part of the solution. Speakers will include former WaPo reporter and dean of the Columbia School of Journalism Steve Coll (who wrote a book on Exxon). Others include Olarenwaju Suraju, a Nigerian anticorruption and environmental activist and Simon Taylor, co-founding director of the international anticorruption organization Global Witness. Carnegie’s Democracy and Rule of Law fellow Sarah Chayes will moderate. She is a co-author of “The Oil Curse: A Remedial Role for the Oil Industry.”
Clean Energy Bootcamp Set – The Clean Energy Leadership Institute, in partnership with the Duke University Energy Initiative, will hold its inaugural Clean Energy 101 Bootcamp on Saturday, August 12th. The Clean Energy 101 Bootcamp is designed to give current students, recent graduates, and those interested in pursuing a career in clean energy an introduction to fundamental concepts of clean energy technology, finance, business development and policy. The Bootcamp will also offer extensive opportunities to network and learn from current professionals about what it means to work in government, industry, advocacy, science, and entrepreneurship roles across the clean energy sector.
Trade petition Hearing Set – The US International Trade Commission will hold its first hearing on the injury phase of the Solar 201 trade petition filed by Suniva on August 15th beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the USITC in Washington, DC. In the event that the Commission makes an affirmative injury determination or is equally divided on the question of injury in this investigation, a second hearing on the question of remedy will be held beginning at 9:30 a.m. on October 3rd.
Platts Forum to Look at Pipeline Issues – Platts will hold its 12th annual conference in Houston at the Houstonian on September 7th and 8th looking at pipeline development and expansion. During the conference, my colleague George Felcyn and our friend George Stark of Cabot will be featured on a panel on building pipeline support from the grassroots. This workshop will focus on ways for pipeline companies to build public support, shape media coverage, influence regulators and successfully see their planned projects through to completion.
TX Renewable Summit Set – On September 18th – 20th, the Texas Renewable Energy Summit will be held in Austin at Omni Southpark. The summit will offer the latest insights into the market and hear from key players about the key trends impacting renewable energy project development, finance and investment in Texas. The falling price of solar panels is driving a surge in interest by public utilities and corporate customers in contracting for solar power, while a huge queue of wind projects is forming. As much as 16 GW of new wind and solar projects could come to fruition in Texas. However, development and financing challenges must be surmounted to assure project success and bankability. Large quantities of solar may drive the dispatch curve and market prices in unpredictable directions.
Ideas Conference Set – The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute holds its 9th annual Washington Ideas conference on September 26-28. “Washington Ideas” convenes the nation’s leaders in politics, business, health, science, technology, arts, culture and journalism for three days of can’t miss conversation and connections. In the heart of the nation’s capital, we will tackle the most consequential issues facing the country and the world.
Renewable Tour Set for October Shenandoah Fall – JMU’s Center for Wind Energy joins the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and hundreds of solar-savvy installers and grassroots organizations throughout America to showcase thousands of solar-powered homes, schools and businesses in Virginia and across North America — for the 22nd Annual National Solar Tour, the world’s largest grassroots solar event. The ASES National Solar Tour shows families and businesses real-life examples of how their neighbors are harnessing free energy from the sun to generate electricity, warm and cool their homes, heat water and slash monthly utility bills.