Energy Update Week of September 30

Friends,

With all the talk in Washington about the government shutdown drama, I have to start off with super good news.  My son Adam read/chanted all his Hebrew passages from the Torah in front of a big crowd and actually completed his Bar Mitzvah on Saturday.  Then, he and his friends had gorgeous late September weather (probably because the IPCC’s report global warming report on Friday) for an outdoor kayaking/water sports fest down on the Eastern Shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.  Definitely a fun day and a very proud moment for him and us, although really only the 6’10” Rabbi Goldstein and my Bracewell Colleague Salo Zelermyer (whose father is a Rabbi) actually probably knew what he was saying as he read.

DC is atwitter this week over the impending potential government shutdown which kicks in tonight unless some quick and unlikely action prevents it.  Tomorrow, most agencies have already made plans, although I actually think it might do wonders for the usual TERRIBLE DC traffic.  But it does affect a lot of things we might not think about.  To that end, the FBI Agents Association released a report that provides agents’ first-hand accounts of the impact of budget cuts on daily operations and investigations.  The accounts include how budget cuts are affecting FBI Agents’ daily operations, hampering criminal and national security investigations, as well as the risks associated with any additional budget cuts and furloughs.  It is definitely worth a read.  The Washington Post also covered the report and outlines new FBI Director James Comey’s reaction in his first week on the job.

Despite the government shutdown talk, tomorrow is also the start of something special.  With the hope and promise for every team thinking they have a shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup, the NHL kicks off a full season tomorrow with newly realigned divisions and some spunk after last year’s lockout-shortened giveaway to the Blackhawks (just kidding Chicagoans).  Speaking of the Hawks, the Capitals kick off tomorrow in Chicago aGAINst the defending Stanley Cup Champion.  Also Toronto/Montreal and Edmonton/Winnipeg are on the docket.   Most everyone else opens Wednesday.

In addition to the aforementioned battle over the budget and the opening of the hockey season, the week also is exciting for Wednesday’s start of our favorite environmental journalist event.   The Society of Environmental Journalists launches its annual conference in Chattanooga featuring many interesting panels and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell speaking.  As usual, Bracewell will hold its annual Thursday night reception which will feature excellent food/drink (yes, our usual carving station and top shelf open bar) as well as excellent policy discussion on recycling, CCS, the RFS, natural gas drilling and renewable energy.  If you are going to be in Chattanooga, the reception is a “must attend” event.

If you are not heading to SEJ, the US Energy Assn holds a great event on Thursday at the National Press Club with its 6th annual Energy Supply Forum.  There will be numerous industry speakers, including my friend Joe Desmond of BrightSource Energy who will be there to discuss last week’s major development at the Ivanpah Solar Project, among other things.  BSE, Google and NRG synched unit 1 to the California Grid and are delivering solar power.

We’re still on top of the new GHG rule, CCS and other developments including the recent IPCC climate report (remember the first one in 1990, and I have to tell you, it still pretty much sounds the same only with more violent hand-wringing).  Also, start marking you calendars for Mid-October when several events – including a major Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) forum – will focus on the 40th anniversary of the oil embargo.  Call with questions.

 

Frank Maisano
(202) 828-5864
c. (202) 997-5932

 

IN THE NEWS

Ivanpah Connects Phase I to CA Grid – The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System produced its first output of energy when the Unit 1 station was synchronized to the power grid for the first time. Achieving this critical “first sync” is a major milestone for the project, which is jointly-owned by NRG Energy, Inc., BrightSource Energy, Inc. and Google.  This successful test demonstrates the effectiveness of the station’s power tower technology, which includes large heliostats that track the sun throughout the day, solar field integration software and a solar receiver steam generator.  Power generated from Ivanpah’s initial sync testing will go to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which has a power purchase agreement (PPA) for energy produced out of the plant’s Unit 1 station. Power generated from Ivanpah’s Unit 3 station is also sold under a PPA with PG&E, while Unit 2 is under a PPA with Southern California Edison. Proof-of-concept testing will also be conducted at Unit 2 and 3 in the coming months.

Valero CEO to EPA on RFS, RINs: You can Fix This – Valero CEO Bill Klesse told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that Congress, with the Administration, should develop an alternate RFS that encourages the development of the renewable fuels, but also represents the real world.  Klesse said EPA has the flexibility to establish waiver volumes which will lower the price of Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs now, which will lower consumer costs and make the marketplace fair.  Klesse added the high price of RINs is causing an unfair wholesale and retail market, all-the-while picking winners and losers based on existing assets and luck. Valero, the largest independent petroleum refiner, is very unique in the RFS debate.  They are also the third largest U.S. ethanol producer, owning 10 ethanol plants that make 1.1 billion gallons per year of corn-based ethanol.   I can send a copy of the letter if you would like to see it.

IPCC Issues 5-Year Climate Assessment – On Friday, the UNFCCC’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published Working Group I’s (WRI) Summary for Policy Makers (SPM), a document that assesses climate change science, with the full WRI report being released this week.  The SPM reflects the work of 209 climate scientists, with input from thousands of additional government officials and experts, and draws on 9,200 peer-reviewed studies and publications regarding climate change. Two additional sections of the report, Working Group II (WRII) and Working Group III (WRIII), will be published at a later date. WRI is primarily concerned with the physical science of climate change and contains detailed information on projections and changes to the atmosphere, lithosphere, oceans and the poles due to climate change. Later portions of the report (WRII and WRIII) will contain information on climate change impacts, adaptation, vulnerability, and mitigation.

EIA:  Solar, Wind Growth Highest – The EIA’s Monthly Energy Review says renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, hydropower, geothermal, solar, and wind) provided 9.81% of U.S. energy consumption and 11.82% of domestic energy production for the first half of 2013.  Compared to the same time frame in 2012, overall renewable energy production, including conventional hydropower, was 2.00% higher while production from non-hydro renewables grew by 4.13%. Specifically, solar grew by 32.46% in 2013 and wind by 20.14%. Hydropower slipped by 2.59% and biofuels by 5.92%.  Among the renewable energy sources, hydropower’s share during the first half of 2013 was 30.18%, biomass 25.26%, biofuels 20.18%, wind 18.80%, solar 3.19%, and geothermal 2.39%.  Production from all renewable energy sources, including conventional hydropower, is about 60% higher in 2013 than it was in 2003 while production from non-hydro renewable energy sources has more than doubled.  Over the past decade, domestic energy production from wind has increased by a factor of nearly 16 while output from both biofuels and solar is now about five times higher than in 2003.

Frates Heads to CNN – Our National Journal Influence reporter friend Chris Frates will join CNN as a correspondent. Frates will be part of the CNN Investigations unit. The Investigations unit produces exclusive, in-depth reports for all CNN platforms and programs.  Frates served as a national correspondent at the National Journal, where he covered congressional leadership and the intersection of money, politics and policy. While at NJ, Frates founded and managed Influence Alley, a blog that covered the ties between Congress and K Street.

CSIS Moves to Rhode Island…Ave That Is – After more than 35 years in it K Street location, the Center for Strategic and International Studies has packed up and moved into a new state-of-the-art headquarters at 1616 Rhode Island Avenue.  Constructed to establish a landmark destination for the development of bipartisan policy solutions, CSIS will continue its long tradition of thoughtful policy events – many in the energy and environment arena – in its new permanent home.  Check out the tour of the new CSIS HQ here.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

WH Official to Discuss Climate at ELI Forum – The Environmental Law Institute will hold a brown-bag lunch event today to look at President Obama’s climate initiative.  The event will feature an Administration official, a representative from a non-governmental environmental organization, and an industry representative discussing the President’s priorities and upcoming benchmarks related to climate issues. They will provide their reaction to the Climate Action Plan and identify possible shortcomings and suggest areas to emphasize, including implementation concerns as well as business opportunities and risks.  Panelists will include Deputy Director for Energy and Climate Change in the White House’s Domestic Policy Council Dan Utech and C2ES expert and former Clinton Administration climate official Elliot Diringer.

OMB Official Returns to House Judiciary – The House Judiciary Committee’s regulatory panel will hold a hearing today at 4:00 p.m. in 2141 Rayburn on federal regulations featuring OMB’s OIRA chief Howard Shelanski.  Other witnesses include former Bush 41 White House aide C. Boyden Gray, former Clinton OIRA Administrator Sally Katzen, Mercatus Center Scholar John Morrall, III and Virginia NFIB State Director Nicole Riley.

Senate Environment, House Oversight to Discuss EPA IG Report on Beale – The Senate Environment Committee is holding a briefing at 4:00 p.m. on the EPA inspector general’s investigation of EPA official John Beale.  Last week, Beale plead guilty to stealing nearly $900,000 from the agency over multiple years.   Tomorrow, House Government Oversight will also hold a hearing on the investigation at 9:30 a.m.  At the House hearing, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins, EPA Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Patrick Sullivan and former EPA air official Rob Brenner will testify.

Senate Energy to Discuss US –Mexico Offshore Drilling Plan – The Senate Energy Committee will discuss the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement in a hearing tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.  The agreement clarifies American and Mexican drilling rights along the maritime border and would promote development, improve safety and ensure regulatory certainty.  Speakers will include State Department official Carlos Pascual, BOEM’s Tommy Beaudreau, API’s Erik Milito and Jackie Savitz of Oceana.

Zichal, Congressmen Address Carbon Forum – Carbon Forum North America 2013 will be held tomorrow and Wednesday at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel.  Now in its third year, Carbon Forum North America offers the latest thinking and developments in the North American carbon space for policy insiders and market-players.  Speakers will include policy-makers, leading analysts, and practitioners for an in-depth look at some of the most critical topics in climate and energy – from forthcoming California-Quebec linking, the interaction between state programs and EPA action, progress on public private partnerships and climate finance, voluntary efforts among corporations, and the development of emissions trading systems around the world.  Among the speakers will be Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Heather Zichal, Reps Ben Ray Luján and Paul Tonko and former DuPont exec and current  Bank of America Chair Chad Holliday.

WCEE, NOAA Expect Discuss Blue Carbon – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) continues its Brown-bag Luncheon Series with a forum tomorrow at Noon at Cassidy to look at Blue Carbon, featuring NOAA Program Analyst Ariana Sutton-Grier.  Coastal, estuarine and marine ecosystems play a substantial role in sequestration and storage of so-called “blue” carbon.  Coastal wetlands are net carbon sinks storing up to 3-5 times more carbon than tropical forests by area.  This means these ecosystems play an important role in climate mitigation and adaptation.  However, these ecosystems are some of the most threatened on Earth with loss rates ranging from 1-7% of global area per year. And because these habitats are important sinks for carbon, when they are disturbed or destroyed by coastal development (such as shrimp farming or hotel development) they become significant carbon sources.  This discussion will introduce participants to blue carbon science and policy and will focus on recent advances and opportunities for a “win-win” for conservation and climate.

House Energy to Look at Energy Legislation – The House Energy and Commerce panel on Energy and Power holds a hearing Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. on the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, which would speed approval of pipeline and energy transmission projects, including waiving certain environmental reviews.  Witnesses will include Mark Mills of the Manhattan Institute, Canadian Electricity Association president Jim Burpee, John Kyles of Plains All American Pipeline, Marty Cobenais of the Indigenous Environmental Network and David Mears, commissioner of the Vermont DEC.

House Oversight to Look at Wind Tax Credit – The House Government Oversight Committee’s energy panel will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. looking at details of the wind production tax credit.

RFF Seminar to Look at Water Supply—Resources for the Future will hold its October First Wednesday Seminar at 12:45 p.m. looking at the future of US water supplies.  Two significant agency reports were released in the past year evaluating US water supplies moving forward and the potential of both growth patterns and climatic changes to increase the risk of water shortages. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) released the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study, and The Vulnerability of US Water Supply to Shortage, released by The US Forest Service, suggest that the US water supply will be more susceptible to shortages due to changes in supply rather than demand. Although these reports have some limitations (clearly identified in the reports themselves), they provide significant insights into water availability issues over the next 50 to 100 years. Additionally, a collaborative study was released by the American Meteorological Society—Understanding Uncertainties in Future Colorado River Streamflow—that examines and explains the wide range of projected reductions in Colorado River streamflows due to climate change.  Resources for the Future’s Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth is hosting a dialogue to discuss these findings and explore the potential for economic mechanisms (water pricing, trading, and ecosystem service valuation, for example) to help reduce future gaps between supply and demand.  Panelists will include US Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station Economist Thomas Brown, US Bureau of Reclamation Hydrologic Engineer Ken Nowak, University of Colorado Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources Director Brad Udall and RFF experts Yusuke Kuwayama and Len Shabman.

NGSA to Release Supply Outlook – The Natural Gas Supply Assn will release its Natural Gas Outlook on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in the National Press Club’s Zenger Room.

Energy Efficiency Issues Take Center Stage – Wednesday is also Great Energy Efficiency Day 2013 in Congress.  Events will be held in the Russell Caucus Room starting at 8:30 a.m.  Speakers will discuss doubling U.S. energy productivity through efforts at the local, state and federal levels.  They will include Sen. Mark Warner, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor, New York State Research and Development Authority President Frank Murray and DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan.

SEJ Set for Chattanooga – The Society of Environmental Journalists will hold its 23rd annual conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Wednesday through Saturday.   The central location — with the Appalachian Mountains and the Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters nearby – will allow trips to a nuclear plant, hydroelectric dam and a landscape analysis lab on the Cumberland Plateau that is helping to save the keystone tree of the Appalachians.  As well, on Thursday Night, Bracewell will again sponsor its legendary reception.  See you there.

Forum to Look at Energy, Environment, Security Landscape – Tufts Fletcher School of Diplomacy will hold the 2013 Fletcher Triplomacy Seminar on Wednesday through Friday at the Loews Madison.  The event will focus on the changing landscape on energy, environment and security, addressing shifts in energy use and their implications. Using a Triplomacy approach, the event will bring together leaders from three sectors—public, private, and NGO—to discuss interconnected issues across three industries—energy, environment, and security. Position yourself to lead in the changing energy landscape.

FERC to Hold Hydro Workshop – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will convene a workshop Wednesday at Noon to begin investigating the feasibility of a two-year process for issuing a license for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects in compliance with section 6 of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013.  Participants will  present ideas on the details of a two-year licensing process, discuss potential criteria for identifying projects that may be appropriate for a two-year licensing process, and recommend potential pilot projects to test a two-year licensing process.

JHU Forum to Look at NatGas, Russian/US – The Johns Hopkins University will hold a discussion in its Rome Building Room 535 on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. featuring Thane Gustafson, professor of government at Georgetown University and senior director of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates.  Gustafson will discuss the global revolution in natural gas and what it means for Russia and the United States.

Desmond, Other Execs to Address USEA Forum – The US Energy Assn will hold 6th Annual Energy Supply Forum on Thursday in the National Press Club’s Ballroom to discuss topics ranging from unconventional energy supply resources to onshore exploration and production to technological advances in the supply sector. Speakers include my friend Joe Desmond of BrightSource Energy, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Association Board Chair David Lamp of HollyFrontier Corporation, Peabody Energy exec Fred Palmer, Shell Oil Exploration EVP Mark Schuster and Chevron Gas Supply VP Greg Vesey, among others.

Senate Ag Look at Advanced Biofuels – The Senate Agriculture Committee holds a hearing on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. on advanced biofuels.  USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify as well as NASCAR’s Mike Lynch, Brooke Coleman of the Advanced Ethanol Coalition, Jim Collins of DuPont Polymers & Industrial Biosciences, Sapphire Energy’s Tim Zenk and Sumesh Aurora of Innovate Mississippi & Director of Strategic Biomass Solutions.

Forum to Look at China Energy Issues – The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will hold a forum on Thursday focused on emissions and energy efficiency in China.  In 2007, the Chinese government answered the call by the Global Environment Facility to begin banning all inefficient light bulbs. According to a 2008 study by China’s Energy Research Institute, if China pursues a LED-heavy switchover by 2020 (which now appears likely), approximately 85 TWh of energy could be saved, roughly equivalent to the Three Gorges Dam’s annual output.  The speakers at this CEF meeting will go well beyond light bulbs in discussing China’s sweeping, comprehensive and aggressive measures to improve air quality by capping coal consumption and better regulating pollution emissions from coal-fired power plants. These measures build upon China’s recent adoption of PM2.5 standards and requirements for cities to publish PM2.5 data in real time.   At this meeting, Christopher James (Regulatory Assistance Project) will address these and other new comprehensive and stringent air quality measures targeting the energy sector. Jeremy Schreifels (U.S. EPA) will focus on emission trends in NOx, a key precursor of PM2.5, and China’s 12th Five-Year Plan reduction targets for NOx emissions from power generation.  Finally, Darrin Magee (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) will briefly explore radical end-use efficiency and large-scale hydropower as two options for addressing electricity production and carbon reduction needs in China.

RFF Forum to Discuss Reliability Impacts on NIMBY – Resources for the Future will hold an Academic Series forum on Thursday at 12:00 p.m. looking at energy reliability featuring Virginia Tech’s Klaus Moeltner.  Existing studies on the acceptability of energy-related infrastructure have centered around how to overcome the Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) phenomenon amongst local stakeholders, focusing primarily on drivers such as community participation, provision of information, and direct economic benefits to impacted communities. Most of this work is based on international case studies, qualitative comparisons, and stated choice experiments that offer respondents a variety of implementation bundles. To date, none of these contributions have related the acceptability question to the value of power provision to the same stakeholders. We fill this gap by combining an analysis of outage vulnerability with an examination of infrastructure acceptability using a unique, EU-15 data set with household-level information on both aspects of power provision. Local residents’ sensitivity to outages can significantly boost acceptability of new energy infrastructure projects. This stresses the importance of creating awareness amongst stakeholders on how planned infrastructure expansions relate to energy security at the individual level.

McCarthy to Headline Forum to Discuss Energy, Climate Leadership – The Atlantic Council and Ecologic Institute will host a conference on Thursday at 12:45 p.m. to discuss Transatlantic Cooperation on Energy Security and Climate.  The event will connect exceptional rising energy and environmental leaders with senior policymakers and business experts in Washington, DC. The event will feature keynote presentations, two dynamic panel discussions on the  Transatlantic Cooperation on Energy Security and Climate Change conference is an initiative of the Emerging Leaders in Energy and Environmental Policy (ELEEP) Network that aims to connect a new generation of decision-makers in the Euro-Atlantic region with senior policymakers in these fields and inject new voices into the transatlantic policy discourse.  EPS’s Gina McCarthy will provide remarks at the end of the event.  Our friends Steve Mufson of the Washington Post and Mark Drajem of Bloomberg News will be featured on panels, as well as Senate Energy staff director Karen Billups, among others.

Solar Webinar to Look at Distributed Generation – On Thursday at 2:00 p.m., the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) will present the second of two educational webinars focusing on distributed generation (DG) solar for the utility, regulatory, electric power, and solar industries – “New Utility Business Models: Distributed Solar as a Business Opportunity.” The first webinar offered an introduction to third-party-financed DG solar. This second webinar will delve into more specific implications for utilities, and propose specific business models that utilities could incorporate to profit from third-party-financed DG solar.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

BPC to Discuss NatGas, Climate Mitigation Issues – The Bipartisan Policy Center will host a forum on October 8th at 8:30 a.m. in the Washington Court Hotel to look at how expanded natural gas production affect climate change mitigation.  The development of abundant, low-cost natural gas supplies in the United States has facilitated a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  But there are concerns that natural gas will crowd out investments in other low carbon energy technologies, such as renewables, carbon capture and storage and nuclear energy.  Debate ensues as to whether natural gas is a transition or a destination fuel, largely based on estimates of the cost of incentives to develop and commercialize the next generation of low carbon energy technologies.  BPC senior fellow and former Senator Pete Domenici will examine whether natural gas and low carbon energy technologies can play complementary roles in transitioning the global economy to a cleaner, more sustainable trajectory. We will consider the scientific and technological prospects for natural gas and other low carbon energy technologies, their respective near- and long-term impacts on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, the economic (and politically practical) alternatives for deploying them, and policy lessons from abroad. David Goldwyn of Goldwyn Global Strategies, LLC, former State Department Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, will moderate the event.

RFF to Update Carbon Tax Initiative – On Tuesday, October 8 at 9:00 a.m., Resources for the Future will provide an update on ongoing carbon tax research.  Over the past six months, researchers at Resources for the Future (RFF) have completed a new round of work related to the role that a federal tax on carbon dioxide (CO2) could play in the context of fiscal policy and tax reform. This new research covers three themes: 1) options for revenue recycling; 2) mechanisms for addressing the concerns of energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries; and 3) scaling CO2 tax rates to recent estimates of the social cost of carbon.

Forum to Address Grid Modernization – The MIT Club of Washington will start a seminar series on modernizing the U.S. Electric Grid on Tuesday, October 8th running through March 2014 at the Kenwood Country Club in Bethesda, MD.  Six monthly dinner seminars with presentations by speakers will look at grid modernization.  The monthly speaker for October is Anjan Bose of Washington State University.  Others will include November 12 – Ralph Masiello, KEMA, Inc., December 10 – David K. Owens, Edison Electric Institute, January 14 – Vickie A. VanZandt, Western Electricity Coordinating Council, February 11 – Michael Chertoff, The Chertoff Group and March 11 – Richard Schmalensee, Sloan School, MIT

EIA Winter Fuel Outlook Event Set – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the National Association of State Energy Officials will host the 2013–2014 Winter Fuels Outlook Conference on Tuesday, October 8th at the National Press Club.   The conference will address global oil supply uncertainty, and the effects of projected winter weather on the demand for heating and key transportation fuels.  A range of market factors that may impact the supply, distribution and prices of petroleum, natural gas and electricity this winter will be discussed in great detail by some the nation’s leading energy data and forecasting experts.

NJ Summit to Tackle Biofuel Mandate – The National Journal will hold a policy summit on biofuels on Wednesday October 9th at 8:00 a.m. at The Newseum.  Our friend Amy Harder will moderate a discussion of members of Congress and experts to explore whether the mandate should be revised, eliminated or remain in place.  Speakers include Paul Beckwith of Butamax Advanced Biofuels, Michael Brower of ACORE and Kris Kiser of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.

SNL Conference to Look at Electric Generation – SNL Energy is hosting the 2nd Annual Electric Generation Landscape Conference in Houston on October 10th and 11th at the Houstonian.  The event is specifically created for generation executives, investors and regulators to discuss and solve the myriad issues of the industry.

WAPA Road Rally Set – The Washington Automotive Press Association will host its annual Road Rally Ride & Drive event on Friday, October 11th at Rockwood Manor just outside Washington, DC. The event will feature a number of new products to drive.

SAFE Oil Embargo Forum Set – Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) will hold a major national energy conference, OPEC Oil Embargo +40: A National Summit on Energy Security, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. on October 16th.  At the event, it will also award its inaugural Energy Security Prize, which aims to reward companies whose ingenuity, leadership, and perseverance are poised to advance American energy security by helping bring an end to U.S. oil dependence.   The SAFE Energy Security Prize will be divided into two categories including 1) Emerging Innovation Award (EIA), which will recognize up to three technologies not currently in the marketplace that are expected to be available for sale within five years that have the potential to meaningfully reduce long-term U.S. oil consumption; and 2) the Advanced Technology Award (ATA) will recognize up to three groundbreaking technologies already established in the marketplace today that reduce the amount of oil consumed in the United States.

Wellinghoff to Speak at MD Clean Energy Summit – Maryland will host its Clean Energy Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday October 15th and 16th and will focus on distributed energy.  Former FERC Chair John Wellinghoff will speak among others.

Webinar to Focus 40 Years Since Oil Embargo – The U.S. is approaching the 40th anniversary of the 1973 OPEC Oil Embargo — an event that launched an on-going search for a comprehensive national energy policy.  The date of the anniversary is roughly October 16 so on that Wednesday, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) is hosting a webinar to discuss the significance of the anniversary and to provide an overview of changes in the nation’s energy situation during the past four decades.   Speakers will include former CIA head James Woolsey, Scott Sklar, and others.  Details about the webinar are on ACORE’s web page: www.acore.org.

RINs/RFS 2 Forum to Discuss Ethanol Issues – The 5th Annual Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) RFS2, RINs & Biodiesel Forum will be held on October 17-18th at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

ELI Dinner to Honor Steyer, Shultz – The Environmental Law Institute will hold its annual dinner on October 22nd at The Omni Shoreham Hotel, honoring political energy gadfly Tom Steyer and former Secretary of State George Shultz.  Of course, the annual event will lead off with the Miriam Hamilton Keare Policy Forum at 4:00 p.m., which will focus on the environmental and human effects of modern agriculture. This year’s Keare Forum will not only consider the potential environmental costs and benefits of the legislation, but also the effects on consumers and the 47 million Americans who depend on food assistance.

Offshore Wind Conference Moves to Providence – AWEA’s 7th annual Offshore Wind Conference will be held in Providence, RI on October 22nd through 24th.  Topics will include the Federal PTC/ITC extension, DOE demonstration project funding and new state off-take mechanisms. Each day of the conference will include powerful General Sessions featuring high-level government officials, visionaries for the offshore wind industry, a panel of leading OEM companies active in the offshore market, and another panel of U.S. offshore wind developers giving the latest insights into their projects.

Shelanski to Headline Cost-Benefit Forum – The NYU School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity will hold a forum on October 28th in NYU’s Vanderbilt Hall to discuss cost-benefit analysis.  The event will feature leading practitioners, government officials, and academics for NYU’s 5th annual practitioners’ workshop on the federal regulatory process.  The workshop will be an introduction to economic analysis and its role in the regulatory process, as well as a nuanced look at how the technique is used by federal administrative agencies. This year’s workshop will also mark the 20th anniversary of Executive Order 12,866. Howard Shelanski, Administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs will keynote.

Argus Carbon Summit Set for Cali – Argus will hold its California Carbon Summit on October 28-30 in San Francisco, California.

OPIS Event to Look at Oil Market Dynamics – The 15th annual OPIS National Supply Summit will be held in Las Vegas on October 28-30 at the beautiful Mandarin Oriental.  Speakers will include PBF Energy Executive Chairman Thomas O’Malley, Tesoro Corporation Operations VP Dan Romasko, and expert Phil Verleger, among many others.  Topics will include “re-wiring” of the North American distribution system, the architectural shifts in North American and world crude oil prices, and the inter-market and intra-market refined products price volatility.

Ex-Officials, Hofmeister to Address Energy Conference – The NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence and the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) will host the Target Energy 2013 Conference on October 31st and November 1st at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference will address the latest issues facing energy operations and security across NATO Member and Partner nations.   Target Energy 2013 will address energy issues ranging from how best to protect on-and-offshore infrastructure to preventing the increasingly frequent millisecond cyber-attacks against network systems and infrastructure.   The objectives are to actively stimulate civil-military co-operation and exchange on shared energy concerns, further public outreach between NATO bodies and private industry technology and solutions’ providers.  Speakers will include former EU Ambassador Boyden Gray, former CIA Director James Woolsey, former NSA head Robert McFarlane and former Shell CEO John Hofmeister, among many others.

 

Energy Update Week of September 23

Friends,

After last week’s EPA GHG blow out (detailed summary below with more background on CCS/Kemper), this week looks to be a little slower on the energy and environment front.  Given the potential government shutdown (here we go again) on next Monday, Congress will be still hanging around rather than taking a planned district work period.  The free time doesn’t seem to be having an impact on moving energy efficiency legislation though, which is still languishing over non-germane disputes at last check.

Speaking of the last week’s roll out, McCarthy and Energy Sect Ernie Moniz were supposed to discuss President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan at 12:15 p.m. today in a White House Google+ Hangout moderated by Grist.  But just recently, the event was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts if you are looking at can’t find it.

The only hearing this week in Congress is a Senate Environment panel on black carbon, but there are a couple of other quality energy events that will fill in the blanks.

Tomorrow at 9:30, our friends at SAFE will launch a new report on the impacts oil have on the nation’s fiscal stability.  A panel discussion with the authors and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell will follow at AEI.

On Wednesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Energy Project, along with NARUC will hold a workshop focused on the context, precedent, and contours of the future GHG regulation of existing power plants. Heather Zichel, NARUC’s Philip Jones and others speak.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will Keynote the 2013 Shale Insight conference in Philadelphia on Thursday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, even though the event starts Wednesday.  The conference, sponsored by the Marcellus Shale Coalition offers industry stakeholders as speakers and provides insight into techniques to advance best practices and shape public policy.  Of course, our gang will be there.

One other topic to start keeping tabs on are the issues surrounding the IPCC’s latest Scientific Assessment on Climate change, which is always a topic ripe for discussion and handwringing from all sides.

Finally, the Metallica Show at the Apollo on Saturday was pretty awesome given there were only 1500 people in the place, although not that special in terms of the content.   They ripped all the classics with a few others like Harvester of Sorrow, Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and Orion.  Finally, while in New York, they made an appearance at Yankee Stadium Sunday to close the door on career of legendary Yankee closer Mariano Rivera.  Metallica gave Rivera the ultimate “Exit Sandman” tribute, blowing the doors off Yankee Stadium with a live version of the closer’s signature entrance music — “Enter Sandman” — during the farewell party to salute the retiring pitcher.

Call with questions.

Frank Maisano
(202) 828-5864
c. (202) 997-5932

 

THE BIG NEWS

EPA Rule Rolled Out – EPA proposed Clean Air Act standards to cut carbon pollution from new power plants Friday.  In addition, EPA has initiated broad-based outreach and direct engagement with state, tribal, and local governments, industry and labor leaders, non-profits, and others to establish carbon pollution standards for existing power plants and build on state efforts to move toward a cleaner power sector.

What are the Limits – Under the plan, new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, and would have the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, giving those units additional operational flexibility.  Ultra-Supercritical coal plants currently are the most advanced and emit about 1800 pounds of CO2 per MWhr.

Segal Says Rule will Ban New Coal Plants –Scott Segal, the director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, said the rule will “likely be illegal, counterproductive from an environmental perspective and contrary to our long-range interest in creating jobs, holding down costs and producing reliable energy.”   For the record, Segal said here are some things to think about:

1. Coal remains a critical element of our base-load power picture in the United States.  It is the largest source of electric power, representing almost 40 percent of power generation in the first half of this year.  So, EPA regulations that hamper or stifle innovation in the coal-powered sector represent a profound threat to the future of energy security, electric reliability, and job creation in the United States.

2. Does the Rule have any benefits? There are no real benefits to the environment.  These are carbon rules and not designed to produce local air quality benefits.  Therefore, the fact that these rules are being advanced on a unilateral basis means that continued coal use from Asia to Europe means there will be no real impact on global warming.  Further, as energy costs increase in the US, and manufacturing assets move overseas to areas less sensitive to energy efficiency, carbon emissions might even go up as a result of the rules.  Certainly, if we have to import more goods back to the United States as we lose manufacturing capacity, carbon emissions will increase.

3. Can carbon capture be the basis for a new source standard?  No.  EPA is relying heavily on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) as the basis for establishing their limits.   But the Clean Air Act requires that technologies be demonstrated and take into account costs.  Basing standards on highly-subsidized, non-commercial scale and even non-built facilities is contrary to the spirit and plain language of the statute.  Further, simply because EPA may set a carbon standard that requires CCS technology is insufficient to overcome the technical, legal, regulatory and financial hurdles facing CCS technology.

4. Are low gas prices really preventing new coal facility construction, not EPA regulations?  However, low gas prices are a market condition which can change over time or rapidly, and the market can react if our portfolio is diverse and includes coal.  The proposed carbon standard would make that current market trend permanent by government fiat.  That is bad news for households, small businesses, and manufacturing.

5. Are new coal fired power plants are ‘possible’ under the proposed new-source standard? The truth is that if the standard is based on unrealistic assumptions about carbon capture, the EPA will essentially ban new plants. The Administration’s own interagency task force said that CCS technologies “… are not ready for widespread implementation …”  The capital cost of installing CCS on a typical new coal plant is $1 billion or more   Worse yet, by making this initial regulatory bar too high, the EPA may even be discouraging investment in next-generation technology for coal and even for carbon capture itself.

6. If not this rule, what should EPA do?  Commenters objecting to the similarly inflexible first proposal of this rule included governors and attorneys general, utility commissioners, labor groups, environmental regulators and the regulated community and its customers.  EPA can and must do better. As the Clean Air Act requires, EPA must take into account cost and energy impacts in determining demonstrated technology.   It must set achievable standards consistent with its legal authority that based on what new, efficient power plants actually achieve – not based on what the Agency speculates regarding CCS.

 

Kemper CCS in Spotlight – In the new EPA rule, the Kemper plant in Mississippi takes a starring role.  Kemper is a state-of-the-art coal gasification plant with pre-combustion carbon capture, with the CO2 being used for enhanced hydrocarbon recovery.  It is not technically “CCS.”  This particular gasification technology is only compatible with low rank coal, and the lignite that is abundant in the immediate vicinity of the Kemper facility is otherwise extremely rare elsewhere east of the Mississippi.  Integrating this gasification technology with carbon capture is the plant’s main technological feat, and this is not readily replicated with other gasification and carbon capture technologies being developed.  Finally, though heavily supported by the Department of Energy, the project only sought to integrate carbon capture technology because of the pre-existing CO2 pipeline network in the state and the significant demand for CO2 for enhanced hydrocarbon recovery operations there (which currently rely on naturally-occurring, and quickly-depleting, CO2 located underground near Jackson, Miss.).  In other words, though there is no price on carbon in Mississippi, carbon does fetch an uncommonly good price in the state.

Atlantic Council Highlighted This Recently – The topic of GHGs, CCS and Kemper were the subject of a roundtable discussion convened by the Atlantic Council and the Global CCS Institute to explore the energy, environmental, and technology policy dimensions of one of the very few large-scale CCS projects for coal power generation currently under construction — the Kemper County Energy Facility.  Here is a 5-minute video summarizing the roundtable with an interesting perspective from DOE expert Jonathan Pershing discussing the CCS technology issues.  The Kemper County Energy Facility is currently being built by Southern Company, Mississippi Power, and KBR in Kemper County, Mississippi, and features technologies partly developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy.  Here is a written summary of the roundtable.

 

IN THE OTHER NEWS

NatGas Study Undercut Opponents Concerns on Methane, HF – It may have slide under the radar, but two studies last week detailed natgas drilling in much more detail and its Looks like our friends who oppose are getting smaller and smaller base of facts to block it.

Bevo’s Methane Analysis – The University of Texas/EDF Methane study got decent coverage and some back and forth from known opponents and enviro journos like my friend Andy Revkin, who has a great, detailed blog post on the topic on NYT’s Dot Earth.  The study, led by Dr. David Allen (a highly respected scientist who is currently the chairman of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board), was jointly funded by EDF and a group of industry companies who volunteered to be participants.  It looked only at emissions from well sites, which is a first step in analyzing the full natural gas supply chain with findings are in line with recently-revised (and much lower than previous) EPA estimates for this segment.

Hail to NatGas Victors – At the same time, University of Michigan researchers released seven technical reports that together form the most comprehensive Michigan-focused resource on hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas and oil extraction process commonly known as fracking.  The studies examine seven critical topics related to the use of hydraulic fracturing in Michigan, with an emphasis on high-volume methods: technology, geology and hydrogeology, environment and ecology, public health, policy and law, economics, and public perceptions.   Though modern high-volume hydraulic fracturing is not widely used in Michigan today, a main premise of the U-M study is that the technique could become more widespread due to a desire for job creation, economic growth, energy independence and cleaner fuels.

Eagle Ford to Surpass 1M Barrels Per Day – The Eagle Ford Shale play will hit a significant milestone next summer when it is expected to reach 1 million barrels per day   It will likely keep growing as well because operators continue to add tens of thousands of wells to the giant South Texas field.  Already 11,000 wells have been permitted in the Eagle Ford.  The research firm DrillingInfo estimates there are at least another 85,000 wells left to drill in the field.

Onion Says Ford to Roll Out New SUV – Our friends at The Onion have done it again.  Last week they filed this story: The Ford Motor Company announced Wednesday that it has developed a new SUV that will be powered exclusively by gasoline, a 100 percent reliable, oil-based energy source. ‘We’re very proud to introduce the Ford Petrola, a vehicle that runs on a specialized fuel derived almost entirely from naturally occurring organic compounds,’ said Raj Nair, the company’s vice president of global product development. ‘Whether you’re commuting to work or heading out for a little adventure on the weekend, just fill the Petrola with gasoline and you’ll be ready to go. Best of all, this pure hydrocarbon fuel source is currently available at more than 100,000 filling stations across America.’ Nair also noted that prototypes of the new vehicle have been able to travel more than 300 miles on a single ‘power charge’ of gasoline

Study: Infrasound From Turbines Harmless – A new study by the Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants found that the infrasound from wind turbines is on the level of a human heartbeat, making it harmless to humans. “People themselves generate infrasound through things like their own heartbeat, through breathing and these levels of infrasound can be substantially higher than an external noise source,” said association Chairman Martti Warpenius. According to the AAAC, infrasound levels, frequencies below 20Hz, are already in abundance in our natural environment from sources such as wind, waves and earthquakes.   Mechanical sources of infrasound originate from sources like aircrafts, traffic, and fossil fuel generation  …. and wind turbines. Infrasound emissions from wind turbines have previously been thought to cause adverse health effects such as breathing problems, digestive issues, headaches and nausea.  However, the AAAC concluded that infrasound levels around wind farms are no higher than the levels around where people live, work and sleep.

Climate Desk Launches Podcast – Our friends at Climate Desk will  launch a weekly hour-long podcast called Inquiring Minds that will explore the intersection of science, policy, and society.  The podcast officially began Friday with its first episode which featured an interview with Marsha S. Ivins, a former US astronaut and veteran of five space shuttle missions. The interview covers Ivins’ experiences on her vastly different space missions, why private space flight initiatives still can’t rival investments made by the government, and why we must revitalize NASA’s mission. Other segments of this initial episode discuss new research on how political ideology thwarts your ability to reason controversial issues like climate change and gun control, and the growing evidence about the dangers of playing football.  You can download and listen to this first episode here.   Inquiring Minds is hosted by author and Climate Desk Live host Chris Mooney and neuroscientist Indre Viskontas.

SoCo Nuclear Construction Advances – With last week’s focus on MS Power’s Kemper plant, Georgia Power continues to make significant progress in the construction of the new Vogtle units 3 and 4 facility near Waynesboro, Ga. The project, among the first new nuclear units to be built in the United States in three decades, has advanced past key construction milestones.  Construction of key modules continues to progress, as does work on the cooling towers for both units, condenser pre-assembly, permanent office building construction, switchyard work and raw water intake structure preparation. In addition, activities to ensure readiness for the transition to commercial operation are underway including employing and training operational personnel, developing pre-operational and startup testing, and developing operations programs and procedures. In fact, there are currently nearly 100 licensed operator candidates in different phases of the training program with 25 of these candidates being certified on the AP1000 on-site limited scope simulator. The project is the largest job-producing project in the state, employing approximately 5,000 people during peak construction and creating 800 permanent jobs when the plant begins operating.

 

ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Transmission Summit Set – Infocast hold its 5th Annual Transmission Summit today to Wednesday in San Diego, CA. This timely annual Summit will once again gather leading utility executives, regulators, independent transmission developers, financiers and thought leaders to provide their insights and the clearest window into leading utility merchant transmission executives’ plans for new projects, partnerships and business strategies. Speakers will include FERC Shiv Mani, DOE’s Lauren Azar, Texas PUC Chair Donna Nelson and Arizona Corporate Commissioner Gary Pierce, among others.

Developers to Address Ohio Wind Summit – AWEA will hold an Ohio Wind Energy Summit tomorrow at the Hilton Columbus Downtown in Columbus, OH.  Ohio was one of the top five fastest growing states for wind capacity additions in 2012, with 313 MW added in 2012 and over 54,000 MW in wind resource potential. In addition, the Buckeye State leads the country in wind-related manufacturing – with more than 60 facilities (or more than 1 in every 10 in the US) producing components for the wind industry. Still, challenges remain, including maintaining the RPS, developing proper siting regulations and educating the public on the consumer benefits of wind energy.  Speakers will include our friends Rob Gramlich, AEP’s Jay Godfrey, Mike Speerschneider of Everpower and Eric Thumma of Iberdrola, among others.

EV Awareness Workshop Set – The Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition will hold its Electric Vehicle Workshop tomorrow at Eaton Corporation in Hanover, MD.  The event is part of the GWRCCC’s Electric Vehicle Awareness Week, culminating in National Plug-In Day on September 29th.    The event will feature presentations about Electric Vehicles, charging stations and infrastructure, opportunities and incentives, and more.  The agenda includes speakers from AutoFlex AFV, Eaton Corporation, the National Mall and Memorial Parks, GWRCCC and the Smithsonian.  The workshop will close with a tour of Eaton Corporation’s facilities in Hanover.

SAFE to Release Report on Oil, Fiscal Stability – The American Enterprise Institute will host the release of Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE)-commissioned report on oil impacts and fiscal stability tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. The new report, “Oil’s Impact on U.S. Fiscal Stability” finds that high and volatile oil prices have had a considerable impact on increasing U.S. national debt. They reveal that independent of the effects of the Great Recession, oil dependence added roughly $1 trillion to the national debt between 2002 and 2012. Authors Robert Wescott and Phillip Swagel, along with former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, to discuss these important new findings.

WEC to Launch Report – Not to be outdone, the World Energy Council will launch its 2013 World Energy Trilemma report tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. at the National Press Club.  The World Energy Trilemma report assesses how efficiently countries’ policies are managing the energy trilemma: how to deliver energy securely, to mitigate the environmental impact of energy production and use, and to ensure energy is available to all and at an affordable price. The report includes the world’s most comprehensive ranking of countries energy policies and identifies areas of success and highlights aspects for improvement. This year’s report also provides the backbone to the WEC’s on-going dialog between industry and policymakers presenting the views of 50 energy and environment ministers, along with the views of multilateral development banks, IGO’s and experts from 25 countries. The 2013 report is a companion to last year’s World Energy Trilemma report which presented the views of more than 40 CEO’s and senior executives and provides an important resource for governments and industry leaders as they plan a path though the increasing complexity of the energy sector.  The event will present the findings of this year’s report and discuss the impact for industry and policymakers with the Secretary General of the World Energy Council, Christoph Frei, the Executive Chair of the report, Joan MacNaughton CB and Partner at global consulting firm Oliver Wyman and project partner of the study, Mark Robson.

Senate Enviro Panel to Look at Black Carbon – The Senate Environment Clean Air panel will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. on black carbon.  The panel will focus on the health impacts of black carbon and technologies, strategies and federal programs with the highest potential to reduce black carbon emissions.  Witnesses will include Oklahoma DEQ attorney Bob Singletary,  Alabama State Port Authority exec Robert Harris, Diesel Technology Forum head Allen Schaeffer, Conrad Schneider of the Clean Air Task Force and Corning Environmental Technologies director Timothy Johnson.

Women Leaders to Discuss Role in Advance Tech – The Women in Leadership Committee of the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) is organizing a luncheon tomorrow to  celebrate women leaders in the commercialization of advanced technology.  The speakers will share their personal leadership experiences in some challenging areas of the advanced technology that is reshaping our world. Genevieve Cullen is VP of a cross-industry trade association and leads policy and advocacy efforts in the areas of research and development, and deployment of electric drive vehicles. Sheri Moreno is General Counsel to a division of GE offering advanced technology in automation and embedded computing and she oversees all legal and compliance issues for the global business including intellectual property and mergers and acquisitions. Jo Anne Shatkin is President of an advisory firm specializing in strategies for the sustainable commercialization of nanotechnologies.   The session will begin with brief prepared comments from each of the speakers addressing their insights into how advanced technology can be expected to impact not only our every-day lives but also the opportunities for women’s leadership. Sufficient time will be allowed for questions after the prepared comments of all the speakers to create an interactive experience for the participants.  As always, the WCEE Women in Leadership Committee is partnering with Dress for Success and will be collecting both financial and professional clothing donations.

Governator, Sessions Headline World Energy Engineers – The Association of Energy Engineers will hold the 36th World Energy Engineering Congress at the Washington Convention Center on Wednesday and Thursday.   WEEC is well-recognized as the most important energy event of national and international scope for end users and energy professionals in all areas of the energy field. The WEEC expo is attended each year by the nation’s leading energy professionals in business, industry, and government who seek the best solutions for all aspects of today’s energy cost and supply challenges. Speakers include former CA Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, AL Senator Jeff Sessions, CEQ’s Nancy Sutley, DOE Kathleen Hogan and ASE’s Kateri Callahan, among others from places like Toyota and ExxonMobil.

BPC, NARUC to Discuss GHG Regs – The Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Energy Project, along with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), is convening a series of workshops starting on Wednesdaywhen they will provide an overview of the context, precedent, and contours of the future GHG regulation of existing power plants. The workshop will feature experts and key stakeholders who will share views on the potential form, contents, and challenges of EPA guidance to states regarding performance standards that represent the “best system of emission reduction” for existing power plants. The event will also offer an opportunity to discuss possible state options for implementing the emission reduction.  White House energy advisor Heather Zichel will keynote the event.  Other confirmed panelists include Hon. Phillip Jones of NARUC; Joseph Goffman of EPA; former senator and BPC senior fellow Byron Dorgan; Ellen Anderson, senior advisor to Minnesota’s governor; Vicki Arroyo of Georgetown Climate Center; Megan Ceronsky of EDF; Steve Corneli of NRG Energy; David Doniger of NRDC; Kyle Danish of Van Ness Feldman; Kimberly Greene of Southern Company; and G. Vinson Hellwig of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Webinar to Discuss Hydropower OpportunitiesRenewable Energy World magazine will host a webinar on Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. to discuss hydropower opportunities.  Presenters will include NHA President Linda Church-Ciocci, Voith Hydro’s Stanley Kocon and Juan Hinojosa of Strategies 360.  The webcast will be moderated by Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com and Conference Chair, Renewable Energy World North America.

MSC to Host Shale Insight Conference – Shale Insight 2013 will be held in Philadelphia on Wednesday  and Thursday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  The conference, sponsored by the Marcellus Shale Coalition offers industry stakeholders as speakers and provides insight into techniques to advance best practices and shape public policy. Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1995-1999), presidential candidate, author of Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving Our Energy Crisis, and host of CNN’s Crossfire program, Newt Gingrich will address conference attendees on Thursday. Speaker Gingrich will take questions from conference attendees following his remarks.

NatGas Fleet Vehicles Conference Set – The 2nd annual Natural Gas Fleet Vehicles 2013 Congress will be held on Wednesday and Thursday in Austin.  Known for delivering the most comprehensive breakdown of the costs of fleet integration, the 2013 congress will not only provide an A-Z for those considering adoption, but will also go a step further to look at in-depth operational costs being experienced, providing useful benchmarking data for those who have already begun investing. Clearly there has been much discussion in the industry regarding potential use of natural gas fleet vehicles with such favorable pricing following the shale gas boom. Abundance alone however, is not enough to ensure widespread adoption, with some skepticism remaining over the actual cost of ownership and whether over the long-term this negates the current high upfront costs.

RFF Climate Expert to Discuss CAA, Climate Policy – Resources for the Future veteran Dallas Burtraw will discuss the Clean Air Act as U.S. climate policy in an RFF Academic Seminar on Thursday at 12:00 p.m.  The approach departs from the ideal policy design that has been the focus of academic research. Prior RFF research identified a regulatory pathway that was likely to be legal and provide modest emissions reductions at modest cost from the power sector. The challenge issued by President Obama to EPA is to develop an approach that achieves substantial emissions reductions using flexible, market-based approaches. Recent and ongoing research highlights the program design issues that will determine whether this can occur.

JHU German Program to Look at Climate, Trade Agreements – The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University will hold a seminar on Friday at 12:00 p.m. looking at climate leadership and trade agreements.  The event will feature AICGS Fellows Reimund Schwarze and Ulrike Will. Since February 2013, negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have aimed to eliminate the remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade between the EU and the U.S., while also strengthening rules-based investments, harmonizing standards, and removing barriers to science and technology (S&T) exchange. Notably quiet are environmental and climate concerns, which are seen as a contentious issue in TTIP negotiations. Integrating these concerns in a transatlantic agreement could ease the adverse effects of unilateral climate policies. This seminar will discuss different ideas to link climate issues to the negotiations of a free trade agreement, including standard harmonization, tariff reductions, and border adjustments.

Forum to Look at Grid, Heat Waves, Public Health – On Friday at 2:00 p.m. in 406 Dirksen, the American Meteorological Society will hold a fourum on the impact of heat waves on the nation’s power grid and public health.  Former Xcel industry load expert Craig Williamson and NIH’s John Balbus will speak.

 

FUTURE EVENTS

WH Official to Discuss Climate at ELI Forum – The Environmental Law Institute will hold a brown-bag lunch event next Monday to look  at President Obama’s climate initiative.  The event will feature an Administration official, a representative from a non-governmental environmental organization, and an industry representative discussing the President’s priorities and upcoming benchmarks related to climate issues. They will provide their reaction to the Climate Action Plan and identify possible shortcomings and suggest areas to emphasize, including implementation concerns as well as business opportunities and risks.  Panelists will include Deputy Director for Energy and Climate Change in the White House’s Domestic Policy Council Dan Utech and C2ES expert and former Clinton Administration climate official Elliot Diringer.

WCEE, NOAA Expect Discuss Blue Carbon – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) continues its Brown-bag Luncheon Series with a forum on Tuesday, October 1st at Noon at Cassidy to look at Blue Carbon, featuring NOAA Program Analyst Ariana Sutton-Grier.  Coastal, estuarine and marine ecosystems play a substantial role in sequestration and storage of so-called “blue” carbon.  Coastal wetlands are net carbon sinks storing up to 3-5 times more carbon than tropical forests by area.  This means these ecosystems play an important role in climate mitigation and adaptation.  However, these ecosystems are some of the most threatened on Earth with loss rates ranging from 1-7% of global area per year. And because these habitats are important sinks for carbon, when they are disturbed or destroyed by coastal development (such as shrimp farming or hotel development) they become significant carbon sources.  This discussion will introduce participants to blue carbon science and policy and will focus on recent advances and opportunities for a “win-win” for conservation and climate.

RFF Seminar to Look at Water Supply—Resources for the Future will hold its October First Wednesday Seminar at 12:45 p.m. on October 2nd looking at the future of US water supplies.  Two significant agency reports were released in the past year evaluating US water supplies moving forward and the potential of both growth patterns and climatic changes to increase the risk of water shortages. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) released the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study, and The Vulnerability of US Water Supply to Shortage, released by The US Forest Service, suggest that the US water supply will be more susceptible to shortages due to changes in supply rather than demand. Although these reports have some limitations (clearly identified in the reports themselves), they provide significant insights into water availability issues over the next 50 to 100 years. Additionally, a collaborative study was released by the American Meteorological Society—Understanding Uncertainties in Future Colorado River Streamflow—that examines and explains the wide range of projected reductions in Colorado River streamflows due to climate change.  Resources for the Future’s Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth is hosting a dialogue to discuss these findings and explore the potential for economic mechanisms (water pricing, trading, and ecosystem service valuation, for example) to help reduce future gaps between supply and demand.  Panelists will include US Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station Economist Thomas Brown, US Bureau of Reclamation Hydrologic Engineer Ken Nowak, University of Colorado Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources Director Brad Udall and RFF experts Yusuke Kuwayama and Len Shabman.

SEJ Set for Chattanooga – The Society of Environmental Journalists will hold its 23rd annual conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Wednesday, October 2 through Saturday October 6th.   The central location — with the Appalachian Mountains and the Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters nearby – will allow trips to a nuclear plant, hydroelectric dam and a landscape analysis lab on the Cumberland Plateau that is helping to save the keystone tree of the Appalachians.  As well, on Thursday Night, Bracewell will again sponsor its legendary reception.  See you there.

FERC to Hold Hydro Workshop – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will convene a workshop Wednesday, October 2nd at Noon to begin investigating the feasibility of a two-year process for issuing a license for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects in compliance with section 6 of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013.  Participants will  present ideas on the details of a two-year licensing process, discuss potential criteria for identifying projects that may be appropriate for a two-year licensing process, and recommend potential pilot projects to test a two-year licensing process.

Forum to Look at China Energy Issues – The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will hold a forum on Thursday October 3rd focused on emissions and energy efficiency in China.  In 2007, the Chinese government answered the call by the Global Environment Facility to begin banning all inefficient light bulbs. According to a 2008 study by China’s Energy Research Institute, if China pursues a LED-heavy switchover by 2020 (which now appears likely), approximately 85 TWh of energy could be saved, roughly equivalent to the Three Gorges Dam’s annual output.  The speakers at this CEF meeting will go well beyond light bulbs in discussing China’s sweeping, comprehensive and aggressive measures to improve air quality by capping coal consumption and better regulating pollution emissions from coal-fired power plants. These measures build upon China’s recent adoption of PM2.5 standards and requirements for cities to publish PM2.5 data in real time.   At this meeting, Christopher James (Regulatory Assistance Project) will address these and other new comprehensive and stringent air quality measures targeting the energy sector. Jeremy Schreifels (U.S. EPA) will focus on emission trends in NOx, a key precursor of PM2.5, and China’s 12th Five-Year Plan reduction targets for NOx emissions from power generation.  Finally, Darrin Magee (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) will briefly explore radical end-use efficiency and large-scale hydropower as two options for addressing electricity production and carbon reduction needs in China.

RFF Forum to Discuss Reliability Impacts on NIMBY – Resources for the Future will hold an Academic Series forum on Thursday, October 3rd at 12:00 p.m. looking at energy reliability featuring Virginia Tech’s Klaus Moeltner.  Existing studies on the acceptability of energy-related infrastructure have centered around how to overcome the Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) phenomenon amongst local stakeholders, focusing primarily on drivers such as community participation, provision of information, and direct economic benefits to impacted communities. Most of this work is based on international case studies, qualitative comparisons, and stated choice experiments that offer respondents a variety of implementation bundles. To date, none of these contributions have related the acceptability question to the value of power provision to the same stakeholders. We fill this gap by combining an analysis of outage vulnerability with an examination of infrastructure acceptability using a unique, EU-15 data set with household-level information on both aspects of power provision. Local residents’ sensitivity to outages can significantly boost acceptability of new energy infrastructure projects. This stresses the importance of creating awareness amongst stakeholders on how planned infrastructure expansions relate to energy security at the individual level.

McCarthy to Headline Forum to Discuss Energy, Climate Leadership – The Atlantic Council and Ecologic Institute will host a conference on Thursday, October 3rd at 12:45 p.m. to discuss Transatlantic Cooperation on Energy Security and Climate.  The event will connect exceptional rising energy and environmental leaders with senior policymakers and business experts in Washington, DC. The event will feature keynote presentations, two dynamic panel discussions on the  Transatlantic Cooperation on Energy Security and Climate Change conference is an initiative of the Emerging Leaders in Energy and Environmental Policy (ELEEP) Network that aims to connect a new generation of decision-makers in the Euro-Atlantic region with senior policymakers in these fields and inject new voices into the transatlantic policy discourse.  EPS’s Gina McCarthy will provide remarks at the end of the event.  Our friends Steve Mufson of the Washington Post and Mark Drajem of Bloomberg News will be featured on panels, as well as Senate Energy staff director Karen Billups, among others.

BPC to Discuss NatGas, Climate Mitigation Issues – The Bipartisan Policy Center will host a forum on October 8th at 8:30 a.m. in the Washington Court Hotel to look at how expanded natural gas production affect climate change mitigation.  The development of abundant, low-cost natural gas supplies in the United States has facilitated a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  But there are concerns that natural gas will crowd out investments in other low carbon energy technologies, such as renewables, carbon capture and storage and nuclear energy.  Debate ensues as to whether natural gas is a transition or a destination fuel, largely based on estimates of the cost of incentives to develop and commercialize the next generation of low carbon energy technologies.  BPC senior fellow and former Senator Pete Domenici will examine whether natural gas and low carbon energy technologies can play complementary roles in transitioning the global economy to a cleaner, more sustainable trajectory. We will consider the scientific and technological prospects for natural gas and other low carbon energy technologies, their respective near- and long-term impacts on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, the economic (and politically practical) alternatives for deploying them, and policy lessons from abroad. David Goldwyn of Goldwyn Global Strategies, LLC, former State Department Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, will moderate the event.

EIA Winter Fuel Outlook Event Set – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the National Association of State Energy Officials will host the 2013–2014 Winter Fuels Outlook Conference on Tuesday, October 8th at the National Press Club.   The conference will address global oil supply uncertainty, and the effects of projected winter weather on the demand for heating and key transportation fuels.  A range of market factors that may impact the supply, distribution and prices of petroleum, natural gas and electricity this winter will be discussed in great detail by some the nation’s leading energy data and forecasting experts.

NJ Summit to Tackle Biofuel Mandate – The National Journal will hold a policy summit on biofuels on Wednesday October 9th at 8:00 a.m. at The Newseum.  Our friend Amy Harder will moderate a discussion of members of Congress and experts to explore whether the mandate should be revised, eliminated or remain in place.

SNL Conference to Look at Electric Generation – SNL Energy is hosting the 2nd Annual Electric Generation Landscape Conference in Houston on October 10th and 11th at the Houstonian.  The event is specifically created for generation executives, investors and regulators to discuss and solve the myriad issues of the industry.

WAPA Road Rally Set – The Washington Automotive Press Association will host its annual Road Rally Ride & Drive event on Friday, October 11th at Rockwood Manor just outside Washington, DC. The event will feature a number of new products to drive.

SAFE Oil Embargo Forum Set – Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) will hold a major national energy conference, OPEC Oil Embargo +40: A National Summit on Energy Security, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. on October 16th.  At the event, it will also award its inaugural Energy Security Prize, which aims to reward companies whose ingenuity, leadership, and perseverance are poised to advance American energy security by helping bring an end to U.S. oil dependence.   The SAFE Energy Security Prize will be divided into two categories including 1) Emerging Innovation Award (EIA), which will recognize up to three technologies not currently in the marketplace that are expected to be available for sale within five years that have the potential to meaningfully reduce long-term U.S. oil consumption; and 2) the Advanced Technology Award (ATA) will recognize up to three groundbreaking technologies already established in the marketplace today that reduce the amount of oil consumed in the United States.

Wellinghoff to Speak at MD Clean Energy Summit – Maryland will host its Clean Energy Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday October 15th and 16th and will focus on distributed energy.  Former FERC Chair John Wellinghoff will speak among others.

Webinar to Focus 40 Years Since Oil Embargo – The U.S. is approaching the 40th anniversary of the 1973 OPEC Oil Embargo — an event that launched an on-going search for a comprehensive national energy policy.  The date of the anniversary is roughly October 16 so on that Wednesday, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) is hosting a webinar to discuss the significance of the anniversary and to provide an overview of changes in the nation’s energy situation during the past four decades. Details about the webinar should be posted soon on ACORE’s web page: www.acore.org.

RINs/RFS 2 Forum to Discuss Ethanol Issues – The 5th Annual Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) RFS2, RINs & Biodiesel Forum will be held on October 17-18th at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

ELI Dinner to Honor Steyer, Shultz – The Environmental Law Institute will hold its annual dinner on October 22nd at The Omni Shoreham Hotel, honoring political energy gadfly Tom Steyer and former Secretary of State George Shultz.  Of course, the annual event will lead off with the Miriam Hamilton Keare Policy Forum at 4:00 p.m., which will focus on the environmental and human effects of modern agriculture. This year’s Keare Forum will not only consider the potential environmental costs and benefits of the legislation, but also the effects on consumers and the 47 million Americans who depend on food assistance.

Offshore Wind Conference Moves to Providence – AWEA’s 7th annual Offshore Wind Conference will be held in Providence, RI on October 22nd through 24th.  Topics will include the Federal PTC/ITC extension, DOE demonstration project funding and new state off-take mechanisms. Each day of the conference will include powerful General Sessions featuring high-level government officials, visionaries for the offshore wind industry, a panel of leading OEM companies active in the offshore market, and another panel of U.S. offshore wind developers giving the latest insights into their projects.

Ex-Officials, Hofmeister to Address Energy Conference – The NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence and the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) will host the Target Energy 2013 Conference on October 31st and November 1st at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference will address the latest issues facing energy operations and security across NATO Member and Partner nations.   Target Energy 2013 will address energy issues ranging from how best to protect on-and-offshore infrastructure to preventing the increasingly frequent millisecond cyber-attacks against network systems and infrastructure.   The objectives are to actively stimulate civil-military co-operation and exchange on shared energy concerns, further public outreach between NATO bodies and private industry technology and solutions’ providers.  Speakers will include former EU Ambassador Boyden Gray, former CIA Director James Woolsey, former NSA head Robert McFarlane and former Shell CEO John Hofmeister, among many others.

 

Energy Update Week of March 25

Friends,

Well, I don’t about your NCAA pool performance, but mine pretty much blew up after the Florida Gulf Coast’s run to the Sweet 16, among other surprises.  It has been four exciting days though with many surprises.  But not surprised were Louisville, KU, Michigan/MSU, Indiana, Miami, Duke, etc.  Still lots of high-seeds remain.  Back to the NCAA grind on Thursday, but not before some golf today (Bay Hills/Tiger).

The NCAA Frozen Four draw is out following this past weekend’s conference tournaments.  Quinnipiac is the overall #1 seed (they do more than just high-stakes public opinion polling), with UMass-Lowell, Minnesota (yah-sure) and Notre Dame (the final CCHA Champ) rounding out the top seeds.  As always, dangerous teams are North Dakota (their longest-in-the-nation 11th straight NCAA appearance despite being scrubbed of their longstanding “Fighting Sioux” nickname), Miami (Ohio), UNH, Boston College, Wisconsin and Yale.  Oh, and in case you missed it, UW-Eau Claire knocked off Oswego State 5-3 to win the NCAA D-III hockey title Saturday night.

Before we get to other things though, it seems the right time to take this week to reflect on the two of most important religious days we celebrate: Passover today and Easter Holy days this upcoming weekend.  My best wishes to all this week.  Please enjoy the time with your families.

As it is the Passover/Easter holiday week, there is not much happening.  Of course, much of the action on Congressional budgets and on ethanol and RINs went down last week.  I added a special section on the Senate Budget Vote-fest that occurred all-day/night Friday and into early Saturday morning.  The most politically-significant (but substantively-meaningless) budget vote was the Senate’s 62-37 endorsement of the Keystone XL pipeline with 17 Democrats supporting it.  You know that is going to really anger KXL opponents and true enviro believers.  Maybe billionaire Tom Steyer will bring his transformer Keystone billboards to DC after the Massachusetts Senate election he was “asked” to stay out of ends.  If they act this way over non-binding Budget votes, can you imagine how these groups/individuals may come unglued if/when the President approves Keystone?

I also have a special section on the debate over ethanol and RIN costs that goes beyond the silly finger pointing between “Big Oil” and Big Corn.”  While you all saw the back-and-forth between the API and RFI, our friends at Valero ought to be your interest point.  Valero is the world largest independent refiner and the second largest producer of ETHANOL.  They can get away from the finger pointing because they are involved on both sides and have more credibility.  My friend Bill Day at Valero (210-345-2928) is ready to help.

By the way, mark your calendars for next Thursday at the Press Club for an April 4th Newsmaker that I will be hosting on the battle over bottled water.  I will have Nestle Water CEO Kim Jeffrey available to take your questions about the on-going effort to ban bottled water over environmental concerns in places like the University of Vermont and Concord, Massachusetts.   More than 90 colleges and universities have banned or restricted the sale of bottled water on campus.  It should be an interesting discussion.

Call with any questions.

Frank Maisano
(202) 828-5864
c. (202) 997-5932

BUDGET IN THE NEWS

Budget Votes Making Noise – The late Friday night Budget “vote-a-rama” had several interesting environmental twists, including a significant win for Keystone supporters.  In a politically-significant, but substantively-meaningless budget vote, the Senate endorsed Keystone XL pipeline with a 62 to 37 vote.  In the vote, 17 Democrats supported Keystone.  The Senate’s final budget resolution was approved 50-49 around 5:00 a.m. Saturday.

Which Democratic Senators Supported Keystone? – The Democrats who supported the measure were Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Mark Warner (Va.).  Maybe the only real surprises were Nelson, Coons and Carper…maybe Bennet, but Colorado is a big oil/gas state.

Enviros Outraged – Shockingly, enviro groups and other Keystone supporters were incensed over the vote and took to social media to express their outrage.  As I am on many enviro listservs I just think it is funny how many of the true believers are seriously clueless about Keystone, politics, elections, public opinion, energy and the make-up of many states.  Of course, the enviro community will respond and is already threatening Delaware Sens. Carper and Coons, Colorado’s Bennet.

Other Votes on Budget – There were a number of other budget energy votes.  The votes on the nonbinding budget resolutions were largely symbolic, but they illustrate the political reality that we have seen for some time:  that there seems to be a majority in the Senate oppose restrictions on oil and coal producers, power plants and other sources.  Some other Notable votes included a vote on a climate change amendment by Sheldon Whitehouse, who Has been saying he was going to try and put climate votes in to many bills.  Senator, probably not a good idea since 13 Democrats opposed his measure that would move any carbon tax revenues to deficit reduction.  The leadership also blocked a vote on Roy Blunt’s plan to offer a straight-up vote on a carbon tax.  Maneuvering prevented the actual vote and only allowed a procedural vote where only kept 8 Dems jumped ship.  I suspect Majority Leader Reid didn’t want another 60-plus vote on an environmental issue.   One amendment that did fall short was one offered by Sen. Inhofe to block GHG rules.  It only garnered 3 Dems and 47 total votes.  Sen. Barrasso (R-Wyo.) successfully offered an amendment to bar federal agencies’ analyses under NEPA from considering GHG emissions produced outside the United States by exported goods.

ETHANOL/GASOLINE IN THE NEWS

RINs Price Shows Hitting Blend Wall – While the budget votes took lots of attention on Friday, the rest of the week belonged to a new twist in the long-standing argument over ethanol and gasoline.  Back in 2007, the Congress set an ethanol mandate – the renewable fuel standard (RFS) – at 36 billion gallons by 2022. In years in between, EPA sets an annual number to keep the country on the path.  This year’s 16.5 billion is arguably already more than the current gasoline pool can absorb in light of environmental constraints (called the blend wall) and the overall shrinkage of the gasoline pool because of energy efficiency gains and the recession.  Accordingly, the market price for RINs – or renewable identification numbers needed as evidence of compliance if you can’t produce ethanol – was $0.05 as recently as late-2012. However, recent prices for RINs have spiked to as high as $1.02.  Reports have cited several reasons for the sudden price increase, such as: declining gasoline demand; the ethanol “blend wall”; unrealistic RFS mandates; and recent instances of fraud in the RIN market which have increased uncertainty among obligated parties.

Results: Higher Prices Likely – The current projected RINs impact will result in large price increases at the pump.  Recent reports make clear that, as RIN prices continue to move higher, refiners will be forced to: pass along the increased costs to consumers; export more product overseas; or lower refinery utilization rates.  These concerns are not mere analyst speculation as a March 8th article in Platts cited a report that “RIN costs have added 10 cents to a gallon of gasoline at retail.”  Valero, one of the largest refiners and also largest ethanol producers, says costs over last year could be $500-750 million.

EPA Never Thought It would go This Way – EPA did not anticipate or plan for this run-up in RINs prices.  In the Regulatory Impact Analysis and Summary and Analysis of Comments for the RFS itself – EPA seemed to think that the “cost of RINs should be very low—near the level of transaction costs,” and they did “not foresee RINs adding any significant costs to the use of renewables.”  This is because they mistakenly anticipated excess RINs would be available. Comments were submitted on the issue of speculation in the market, and EPA responded that they did not anticipate this being an issue.

Wyden Letter Asks Key EPA Questions – After a midweek letter from Lisa Murkowski and David Vitter raised the RINs issue, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden penned one to EPA asking for data to help explain why corn ethanol renewable identification numbers fluctuated widely between pennies on the gallon to more than $1 in recent weeks.

“Some industry analysts have blamed the increase on a glut of ethanol, while others have blamed it on a shortage. What is abundantly clear is that this level of market volatility is unprecedented,” Wyden wrote acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “Given that ethanol is an increasingly important factor in the cost and supply of motor fuel in the U.S., it is critical that the committee have a better understanding of the causes and effects of RIN market volatility and developments.” 

But What About the Tier III Rules – Some industry folks see the increasing oversight by Congress as an opportunity to address cost concerns over EPA’s “Tier III” fuel and vehicle rule.  The plan is at OMB and is expected soon.  The Tier III rule and high RFS targets could create a “perfect storm” that will continue to increase gasoline prices – especially though the summer driving season which traditionally sees higher prices anyway.  Something to monitor…

IN OTHER NEWS

EIA Says Production will Pass Imports – EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook released last week says the amount of domestic crude oil produced in the United States could exceed the amount imported this year for the first time since 1995. EIA credits a rapid rise in oil production from shale and other tight rock formations in Texas and North Dakota and the steady decline of net oil imports. The federal agency forecasts that, by the end of 2013, the U.S. will be pumping 2 million more barrels than it imports each day.

EnergyBiz Honors SoCo EnergyBiz magazine has named Southern Company “Energy Company of the Year” for its demonstrated business leadership in technology innovation, insight and sustained achievement in 2012.  CEO Tom Fanning accepted the award last week at the EnergyBiz KITE Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.  An industry leader in energy innovation, Southern Company has been actively engaged in robust, proprietary research and development since the 1960s. Company-managed research and development investments – which totaled more than $1.8 billion from 1970 through 2012 – have yielded technologies that will change the way America produces electricity. Southern’s 582-megawatt Kemper County, MS advanced coal energy facility and its new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle were examples of Southern’s innovation and leadership.  The EnergyBiz KITE Awards are presented to executives and organizations in the energy industry that exemplify the characteristics of knowledge, innovation, technology and excellence as a cornerstone of success.  Recent past winners include our friends at Trans-Elect.

Super Bowl Outage Caused by Device to Prevent Outages – If the irony of losing a portion of one of the most–watched events to a blackout doesn’t get any better, a new report says the New Orleans Superdome Super Bowl XLVII blackout was caused by a relay device that was intended to improve reliability and prevent outages.  The device had a design defect that malfunctioned and cause the partial outage.  Entergy, which supplies electricity to the Superdome, and the stadium’s management company hired forensic engineer John Palmer to perform an independent analysis of the big game’s outage. Palmer’s report says the primary cause of the disruption was a malfunction or “misoperation” of the relay.  The report also notes the relay had a design defect, and under testing it did not perform entirely as its instruction manual said it was supposed to. It says the factory default setting of the relay was inappropriate. Finally, it says there was “inadequate communication between the manufacturer and the utility.”

GOING ON THIS WEEK 

Bush 43 To Headline International Refiners Conferences – following last week’s American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers annual meeting, the International Petrochemical Conference starts at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio today and tomorrow.  The event, which always follows AFPM’s annual meeting, is the world’s largest and most prestigious conference representing the petrochemical industry and will feature former President George W. Bush as its luncheon speaker.  The meeting consists of sessions covering key political, economic, and environmental issues affecting the petrochemical industry.  The sessions emphasize global competitiveness in the petrochemical business and are presented by recognized experts in the areas of petrochemical markets, economics and politics. 

Market Transformation Symposium Set – The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency will host the 17th annual National Symposium on Market Transformation today and tomorrow at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. The Symposium will offer an opportunity for a diverse group of attendees to network, compare programs, learn about new MT approaches, and discuss the latest issues facing the energy efficiency and market transformation communities.  Participants will include policymakers; energy efficiency program implementers; local, state, and federal agency personnel; utility staff; NGOs; energy efficiency professionals; consultants; and behavioral scientists.  This year’s ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Awards Ceremony will also be held the tomorrow evening.

Interior to Hold Public Hearings on Drilling EIS – The Interior Department will hold public hearings this week on its recent draft environmental impact statement for two proposed oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico’s Eastern Planning Area and is seeking public comment on the document. Lease Sales 225 and 226, scheduled for 2014 and 2016, are part of the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2012-2017 (Five Year Program). The hearings will be held in Tallahassee, Florida tomorrow, (Hilton Garden Inn Tallahassee Central), Panama City Beach, Florida on Wednesday  (Wyndham Bay Point Resort), Mobile, Alabama on Thursday (Five Rivers-Alabama’s Delta Resource Center), Gulfport, Mississippi on Friday (Courtyard by Marriott Gulfport Beach) and New Orleans (BOEM Offices).  All meetings begin at 1:00 p.m. CDT.

Oak Ridge Experts to Report on Geo-Spatial Modeling for Nuke Capacity – Nuclear Policy Talks and Institute for Nuclear Studies will host a seminar with GWU’s Elliott School tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. to present the results of a recent study conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that applied the principles of geo-spatial data modeling on siting ISFSIs. The study identified two key factors namely transportation distance and population along the route as the optimization variables to formulate the problem in a mathematical way. Application of sound siting principles and subsequent simulations revealed potentially favorable locations for ISFSIs given the current quantity and distribution of UNF as well as future quantities based on three growth scenarios for nuclear capacity. The study also addresses some key recommendations of the BRC.  Oak Ridge’s Dr. Sacit M. Cetiner, of the Advanced Reactor Systems & Safety Group Reactor & Nuclear Systems Division will speak.  

Forum to Look at Oil, War – The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will hold a forum on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. on Petro Aggression Issues.  Oil is the world’s single most important commodity and its political effects are pervasive.  Wilson’s Jeff Colgan extends the idea of the resource curse into the realm of international relations, exploring how major oil-exporting countries form their foreign policy preferences and intentions. Petro-Aggression shows that oil creates incentives for both aggression and peace in its biggest producers. The net effect depends critically on a petrostate’s domestic politics, especially the preferences of its leaders. Revolutionary leaders are especially significant. Using case studies including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, this book offers new insight into why oil politics has a central role in global peace and conflict.

Stanford Climate Data to Be Discussed – On Thursday at 8:30 a.m. at the National Press Club’s Murrow Room, Stanford University Professor Jon Krosnick will present key findings from a March 2013 survey of public attitudes on preparing for climate change and extreme weather. Co-sponsored by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions, the national survey includes oversampling of New York and California. The poll focuses on risk reduction in coastal areas, how to pay for adaptation strategies, and implications for the economy and jobs at the local, state and national levels. Following Professor Krosnick’s presentation, representatives from government, the nonprofit world and the private sector will discuss the results, their concerns and strategies for making communities more resilient in the future.  The panel will be moderated by Woods Senior Lecturer Meg Caldwell, Executive Director of the Center for Ocean Solutions and Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program at Stanford Law School.  Other panelists include NYC Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway, NOAA’s Laurie McGilvray and EESI head Carol Werner.  EESI will also host a similar event on Capitol Hill in 2318 Rayburn at 3:00 p.m.

Shelk to Address NatGas Roundtable – The Natural Gas Roundtable will host John Shelk, President and CEO of Electric Power Supply Association will be the guest speaker at the next luncheon on Thursday at Noon at the University Club.  Shelk has been EPSA President and CEO, the national trade association representing leading competitive electricity suppliers, since 2005.

Forum to Discuss Defense Biofuel Plans – The Atlantic Council Will hold a discussion on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. looking at the risks and benefits of the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) biofuels policies and the ongoing efforts to reduce the department’s petroleum footprint. As the largest organizational user of petroleum in the world and with fuel costs that continue to rise, the DoD faces financial, operational, and strategic risks. The discussion will focus on DoD’s alternative fuels policy, will provide a critical analysis of this policy, will offer potential pathways for the commercial biofuels industry to mature enough to meet capacity and be cost-competitive, and will provide views from an industry leader.  Following the presentations, the panelists will answer questions from the audience. The roundtable will provide a particularly timely discussion with the arrival of the new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the unknown impacts of the federal budget crisis.  Panelists will include RAND’s James Bartis, Jan Koninckx of DuPont Industrial Biosciences, DoD’s Adam Rosenberg and Bloomberg New Energy Finance Biofuels Industry Specialist Alejandro Zamorano-Cadavid

FUTURE EVENTS

Former AIG CEO Greenberg Returns to DC for Chamber Talk – The US Chamber Foundation will hold a book discussion with former AIG CEO Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg April 2nd at 5:30 p.m. focused on Greenberg’s book, The AIG Story,with GWU professor Lawrence Cunningham.  The book is Greenberg’s firsthand account of American International Group’s rise and near-destruction.  In this story, AIG’s CEO of forty years, Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg, and corporate governance expert, Lawrence Cunningham, relate the complete, inside story of the rise and near-destruction of AIG. Readers are regaled with tales from Hank Greenberg’s firsthand experience at AIG, combined with Cunningham’s additional research and interviews.  The book tells the story of Greenberg, who transformed a scattered collection of insurance businesses into American International Group, a global financial colossus with nearly $1 trillion in assets on its balance sheets-and how, in the process, he revolutionized the insurance industry.   At the same time, The AIG Story is an account of the world’s rough ride toward globalization and the triumph of free and open markets over communism, nationalism, protectionism, and isolationism, and the significant role Greenberg and AIG played.  Integral to the story is the authors’ take on the 2008 global financial crisis. Through Greenberg’s direct involvement and Cunningham’s craftsmanship, The AIG Story reveals much about those events that until now, has been kept hidden from the public.

WRI to Release NatGas Emissions Working Paper – On Thursday, April 4th at 9:00 a.m., the World Resources Institute will roll out a new working paper, “Clearing the Air on Natural Gas: Reducing Upstream Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Natural Gas Systems”.  The rapid expansion of unconventional natural gas development has reshaped the U.S. energy picture through increased production and reduced prices of natural gas. The shale gas production boom has also ignited divisive debates over its near- and long-term environmental impacts. The new study looks to clarify what is known about leakage rates of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the U.S. natural gas sector, what progress has been made to reduce those emissions, and what more can be done to further reduce leakage.  The paper outlines tools that federal and state governments can employ to reduce these harmful emissions, helping to clear the air and slow the rate of climate change.

Nestle CEO to Discuss Bottled Water Ban at NPC Newsmaker – The National Press Club Newsmakers Committee will host Kim Jeffery, Chairman of Nestlé Waters North America, at a Newsmaker forum in the Club’s Zenger Room at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, April 4th.  Jeffery will focus on policy issues, health benefits and environmental controversies surrounding the growth of bottled water. Concord, Massachusetts made history this year by becoming the first town to ever ban the sale of water, citing environmental concerns over the plastic bottles. Critics question the logic of banning bottled water at a time when the nation faces a serious obesity crisis. Nestlé Waters North America is the number one bottled water company in the United States and the third largest non-alcoholic beverage company in the country.

Moniz Nomination Hearing Set – On Tuesday, April 9th at 10:00 a.m. , the Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz to be the next Secretary of Energy.

International Geothermal Forum Set – The Geothermal Energy Association will hold its International Geothermal Energy Finance Forum on Thursday April 11th at New York’s Marriott Marquis. The full day Forum will provide a day long discussion featuring the leaders of geothermal development, private and public financing, and project risk and reward.  Confirmed speakers include The World Bank Group’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program Manager Rohit Khanna, Jennifer Graham of the Prudential Capital Group, JP Morgan’s John Eber, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Head of Geothermal & CCS Research Mark Taylor, and MidAmerican Energy’s Jonathan Weisgall.

McCarthy, Nichols, UNFCCC Figueres to Address Carbon Conference – The 11th annual Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) will be held in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel April 16th through 18th.  The event is the largest and most comprehensive gathering for information and discussion around climate change policy and carbon markets.  NACW will take an in-depth look at California’s historic cap-and-trade program, including discussions on market structure, revenue allocation, legal issues and forecasts. The conference will also delve into other established and emerging carbon markets around the world and potential linkages. And, NACW will provide a platform for discussing offsets and offset supply, U.S. federal policies, and business leadership.  Speakers will include EPA’s Gina McCarthy, CARB head Mary Nichols, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and NWF President Larry Schweiger.

Farrell to Headline Chamber Energy CEO Leadership Event – The Institute for 21st Century Energy and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation will hold a CEO Leadership Series luncheon on Thursday, April 23rd at Noon featuring Dominion Energy CEO Thomas Farrell. 

The American Foundry Society (AFS) is hosting their annual Government Affairs Conference on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C.  My colleague Jeff Holmstead will address over 80 owners and plant managers  on what they can expect from EPA in the next 12 to 24 months, including new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions at existing power plants.  Of particular interest to these manufacturers is the upcoming ozone rule.

WINDPOWER 2013 – May 5th through 8th in Chicago, IL.

Energy Update Week of April 1

Friends,

It is with great regret that I inform you that this will be the last Energy update sent to our illustrious list of policy and media sources.  With all the burdens we face every day here at Bracewell’s PRG, constantly keeping you all informed about DC events and environmental and energy policy for free has finally become too much bear.  So it is with great sadness and incredible pain in my heart, I say April Fools…

Seriously, we could never give up on this update.  It is too much fun to write every week… Plus, today is the real beginning of Baseball season.  In fact, need to get this out ASAP so I can head over to National’s Park for the festivities to kick off this new season.

That was pretty exciting weekend of sports with the hoops and ice final fours.  Kudos to Michigan, Louisville, Wichita State (shocker) and Syracuse.  And on the ice, congrats to #1 seeds Quinnipiac and UMass-Lowell, surprise #4 seeds St. Cloud State (MN) and Yale.  Should make for some great hoops in Atlanta and hockey in Pittsburgh.

Well, even though the week ended with Good Friday, apparently, EPA thought Good Friday meant a good Friday to put out controversial rules.   Three items popped Friday, the long-awaited, often politically-delayed EPA Tier III gasoline rule  (which got a lot of coverage so I don’t devote much to it), a mercury rule revision and a court decision in an NSR case focused on DTE energy in Michigan.  (And just when you thought it was safe to forget NSR).  See below for details.

Congress returns next week with the Senate Energy Committee holding a hearing next Tuesday April 9th for DOE nominee Ernie Moniz hearing.  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s hearing will be Thursday, April 11th in Senate Environment Committee.

Finally, two excellent events this week: tomorrow evening at 5:30 p.m., our friend and former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg returns to DC to continue his discussion of the government’s treatment of the AIG Bailout at the US Chamber’s CEO series.  Hank is always good for a few blasts and great quotes. Secondly, on Thursday at the Press Club, I will host a Newsmaker on the battle over bottled water.  I will have Nestle Water CEO Kim Jeffrey available to take your questions about the on-going effort to ban bottled water over environmental concerns in places like the University of Vermont and Concord, Massachusetts.   More than 90 colleges and universities have banned or restricted the sale of bottled water on campus.  It should be an interesting discussion.    

Call with Questions

Frank Maisano
(202) 828-5864
c. (202) 997-5932

IN THE NEWS

EPA Issues Tier 3 Gasoline Rules – EPA rolled out its long-awaited, politically controversial new environmental rules to reduce smog-producing sulfur in gasoline.  The sulfur standard, called Tier 3, would lower allowable sulfur content from 30 to 10 ppm starting in 2017, when the next phase of higher auto mileage targets are to begin. It follows the Tier 2 sulfur standards that lowered limits by 90%.  While EPA said it would only have a 1-cent per gallon impact, refiners say it will likely be 9-cents, could impact refinery operations and will certainly hike gas prices.  In fact, the gas price impact is pone of the major reasons it wasn’t released last year in the middle of the 2012 Presidential campaign.

Added to Ethanol, New Rule Creates Worries for Refiners – API, APFM and other individual refiners protested the new sulfur rules but focused on a larger swell of issues that will have gasoline supply and price impacts that have emerged in recent days. API’s Bob Greco said the plan is part of a “tsunami of regulations” by EPA that could drive up pump prices. He pointed to a study that estimated the potential pump price increase of 9-cents, separate from possible upward pressure from potential fuel vapor pressure rules and increased use of ethanol.  Of course, last week refiners already raised major cost questions over the most recent ethanol requirements. Each year, EPA is required to increase the amount of ethanol that must be blended into gasoline, but at the same time, the recession and efficiency gains have significantly decreased demand for gasoline.  No one expects that gasoline demand will rebound strongly, and there are physical constraints on safely using higher blends of ethanol.  As a result, there aren’t enough gallons of gasoline to put all of the required gallons of ethanol into – and that has driven up the price of renewable credits.  Valero alone says the costs could be $500-750 million more this year, which will likely be passed through to consumers

EPA Also Rolls Out Mercury Revision – Even though it was Good Friday, EPA was not done.  They also issued updates to pollution limits for new power plants under the mercury and air toxics standards, based on new information and analysis that became available to the agency after the rule was finalized. From the moment the MATS rule was proposed, complaints were raised that the rule was not achievable in practice, a clear and unambiguous requirement of the Clean Air Act.  In the case of the MATS rule as it applied to “new” sources – meaning future power plants – even the manufacturers of pollution control equipment (typically beneficiaries of inflexible rules) had to admit that mercury control levels were set so high that monitoring equipment couldn’t even detect compliance levels.   It was always suspected that EPA would have to address new-source MATS or face fairly certain defeat in court.  So, most experts are not surprised that EPA acted upon the petitions for reconsideration.  This is the second time in the last few weeks that EPA seems to be admitting that it may have taken positions regarding new coal- and oil-fired facilities that go beyond what the Clean Air Act will allow.  Two weeks ago, the Agency quietly admitted that the proposed new source performance standard for carbon emissions from new plants was also probably illegal and would need far more work before it could be finalized.  EPA continues to miss the real opportunity to address the underlying MATS rule as it applies to the existing fleet of coal-fired power plants.  While Assistant Administrator McCarthy did make some improvements in the rule before it was finalized, the rule still exacerbates certain market trends and reduces the diversity of affordable and reliable fuels upon which the US depends.  The MATS rule remains one of the most expensive rules in EPA history with potentially significant adverse impacts on unemployment and manufacturing.  Despite press claims to the contrary, the MATS rule can lay little claim to any significant benefits once double-counting is taken into account.

Court Rule in DTE NSR Case – And If you thought we were done with the old “New Source Review” argument, think again.  On Thursday evening, an important but heavily spun result occurred in the 6th Circuit case.  You may remember, DTE won a lower court case on NSR changes at its Monroe coal plant.  While the 6th Circuit remanded the case back to the District Court, the actual thrust of the opinion was positive for industry in many ways.  The decision can be found here:  http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/13a0080p-06.pdf. Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a group of energy companies working on sensible approaches to Clean Air Act implementation and enforcement, said the

court largely affirmed the position taken by DTE finding that ‘the district court’s premises are largely correct.’  The court even heard evidence that in the period since DTE’s activities took place, emissions at its Monroe facility have actually declined, not increased as would be necessary to trigger enforcement actions. Segal: “The Sixth Circuit explicitly rejected any second guessing of properly submitted projections in advance of construction.  The Court further found that the timing of DTE’s submissions was ‘fully consistent’ with the regulatory scheme.  And the Court waived off any suggestion of bad faith.  The Court even found that DTE’s actions at the Monroe facility ‘to keep its emissions from increasing’ actually ‘further the goal’ of the Clean Air Act.  Rather, the Court explicitly states that its reversal ‘does not constitute endorsement of EPA’s suggestions,’ instead only focusing on the very narrow question of whether adequacy of pre-construction projections can ever be reviewed by EPA.  In limited conditions (for example, according to the majority, using the wrong significance level or baseline), they can.”  Segal says the case continues a firm trend: The NSR program should be triggered in limited circumstances and is not intended to be a roving basis for a prior approval scheme. 

Enviros Seek Relook at CSAPR – Following a significant defeat in the US Court of Appeals, a collection of environmentalist groups have filed a cert petition before the US Supreme Court asking for review of the DC Circuit decision that set aside EPA’s cross-state air pollution rule, or CSAPR.   My colleague Scott Segal says the filing is by no means a novel approach, with the Supreme Court receiving over 8,000 cert petitions a year out of which the Court hears oral argument on about 100 or so cases.  Segal adds it is hard to imagine that this petition has a great likelihood of being one of those cases.  Segal: “First, the petition does not raise any novel legal issues or address particular circuit splits that make Supreme Court review likely.  The questions the petitioners would certify for appeal are critical of the DC Circuit decision, to be sure, but they are garden variety.  They are matters of statutory interpretation and court procedure of the type frequently advanced at least since the Chevron case almost thirty years ago.  The chances of the Supreme Court taking a case like this is very, very low.  Second, on the merits, the EPA was given an opportunity after the Clean Air Interstate Rule, or CAIR, decision to formulate a rule that met with the guidance of the court.  Instead, the Agency developed a CSAPR rule that overreached and they have ended up coming away with nothing.  Even when faced the real possibility of codifying the CAIR standards, some of the self-same petitioners on this brief counseled the Agency to push for more than the Act allowed.  Last, the petitioners’ discussion of the “national importance” of the relief is misplaced.  The CAIR rule remains in place even as EPA considers its options for a potential replacement for the interstate rule.  Further, the Agency’s actions in the MATS rule and in the carbon rules add other layers of expensive redundancy to the effort.  And if the Agency shares this sense of urgency they would do well to propose reasonable rules rather than to petition the courts to reinstate unreasonable ones.”

Poll: More Emphasis on Domestic Renewable Energy – A new Gallup poll says a majority of Americans want the U.S. to place more emphasis on the domestic production of renewable energy than on that of oil, coal and nuclear power.  The poll, which surveyed 1,022 Americans, found that 76% of respondents want the U.S. to emphasize domestic production of solar power, followed by 71% of respondents urging for wind power. According to Gallup, this means that no fewer than two in three Americans support the further domestic production of renewables.

DOE Launches Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), which will focus on growing U.S. manufacturing of clean energy products and boosting U.S. competitiveness through major improvements in manufacturing energy productivity.  As part of the CEMI, the DOE has awarded over $23 million in funding for clean energy manufacturing research and development and plans to award more funds in the coming months. In addition, the CEMI involves hosting a series of summits to gather input on manufacturing priorities and opportunities, as well as launching new public-private partnerships focused on improving U.S. clean energy manufacturing competitiveness.  The announcement was made at the ribbon cutting of the DOE’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., a new manufacturing facility that will be used to help reduce the cost of carbon fiber – a critical material for next-generation wind turbines.  Now open to U.S. manufacturers, this state-of-the-art facility provides clean energy companies and researchers with a test bed for the development of less-expensive, better- performing carbon fiber materials and manufacturing processes, the DOE says. The 42,000-square-foot facility is supported by a $35 million DOE grant and will produce up to 25 tons of carbon fiber each year.

GOING ON THIS WEEK 

EPA to Look at Climate Goals – EPA’s Green Power Partnership will host a webinar tomorrow at 1:00p.m., looking at innovative approaches to climate goals.  They will focus on recent efforts by Microsoft to develop an internal carbon fee.  As companies and organizations strive to meet carbon reduction goals and climate commitments, many are undertaking innovative strategies to help meet these goals. A leading example of such innovation is Microsoft’s adoption of an internal carbon fee. An EPA Green Power Partner, Microsoft recently instituted a company-wide commitment to achieve carbon neutrality for its data centers, software development labs, offices, and employee air travel, and the carbon fee is a key component of this aggressive goal. By internalizing the cost of GHG pollution through financial measures, the carbon fee incentivizes employees to reduce emissions while raising funds for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and purchases.

Former AIG CEO Greenberg Returns to DC for Chamber Talk – The US Chamber Foundation will hold a book discussion with former AIG CEO Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. focused on Greenberg’s book, The AIG Story,with GWU professor Lawrence Cunningham.  The book is Greenberg’s firsthand account of American International Group’s rise and near-destruction.  In this story, AIG’s CEO of forty years, Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg, and corporate governance expert, Lawrence Cunningham, relate the complete, inside story of the rise and near-destruction of AIG. Readers are regaled with tales from Hank Greenberg’s firsthand experience at AIG, combined with Cunningham’s additional research and interviews.  The book tells the story of Greenberg, who transformed a scattered collection of insurance businesses into American International Group, a global financial colossus with nearly $1 trillion in assets on its balance sheets-and how, in the process, he revolutionized the insurance industry.   At the same time, The AIG Story is an account of the world’s rough ride toward globalization and the triumph of free and open markets over communism, nationalism, protectionism, and isolationism, and the significant role Greenberg and AIG played.  Integral to the story is the authors’ take on the 2008 global financial crisis. Through Greenberg’s direct involvement and Cunningham’s craftsmanship, The AIG Story reveals much about those events that until now, has been kept hidden from the public.

Energy to Discuss CHPs, State Energy Plans – The Energy Department will present a live webinar Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. looking at combined heat and power and energy infrastructure. This webinar will discuss how combined heat and power (CHP) systems can fulfill the need for resilient critical infrastructure while making energy more cost- and fuel-efficient for the user and more reliable and environmentally friendly for society at large. Presenters will discuss the benefit of CHP systems in critical infrastructure applications, detailed case studies of how CHP systems powered facilities through Hurricane Sandy, and federal and state policies promoting the use of CHP technology in critical infrastructure. Also on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., DOE will also hold a live webinar titled “State Energy Strategic Planning.” During this webinar, the National Association of State Energy Officials will discuss their recent analysis of 39 State Energy Strategic Plans and accompanying “Guide to State Energy Planning.” This webinar will focus on describing the necessary steps to create an effective State Energy Plan, hearing from state agencies that have recently completed the process, and highlighting best practices from NASEO’s research.

JHU to Host Forum on Global Food Security – The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies will host a discussion featuring Robert Thompson, SAIS visiting scholar and former director of rural development at the World Bank Wednesday at Noon.  Thompson will discuss global food security and building resilience to climate impacts.

WRI to Release NatGas Emissions Working Paper – On Thursday at 9:00 a.m., the World Resources Institute will roll out a new working paper, “Clearing the Air on Natural Gas: Reducing Upstream Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Natural Gas Systems”.  The rapid expansion of unconventional natural gas development has reshaped the U.S. energy picture through increased production and reduced prices of natural gas. The shale gas production boom has also ignited divisive debates over its near- and long-term environmental impacts. The new study looks to clarify what is known about leakage rates of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the U.S. natural gas sector, what progress has been made to reduce those emissions, and what more can be done to further reduce leakage.  The paper outlines tools that federal and state governments can employ to reduce these harmful emissions, helping to clear the air and slow the rate of climate change.

Nestle CEO to Discuss Bottled Water Ban at NPC Newsmaker – The National Press Club Newsmakers Committee will host Kim Jeffery, Chairman of Nestlé Waters North America, at a Newsmaker forum in the Club’s Zenger Room at 10:00 a.m. Thursday.  Jeffery will focus on policy issues, health benefits and environmental controversies surrounding the growth of bottled water. Concord, Massachusetts made history this year by becoming the first town to ever ban the sale of water, citing environmental concerns over the plastic bottles. Critics question the logic of banning bottled water at a time when the nation faces a serious obesity crisis. Nestlé Waters North America is the number one bottled water company in the United States and the third largest non-alcoholic beverage company in the country.

FUTURE EVENTS

Forum to Look at Africa, Climate Issues – The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will hold a forum next Monday, April 8th at 3:00 p.m. to look at Africa ‘s population dynamics, climate change and sustainable development.  A large share of the population of Africa is living in marginalized areas that are susceptible to climate variation and extreme weather events. Population growth is occurring most rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa, increasing vulnerability to the projected impacts of climate change. Incorporating population dynamics into climate change mitigation and adaptation in these areas can help organizations better understand and address these challenges, yet issues like access to family planning, reproductive health, and women’s education and empowerment are rarely considered in climate change planning.  The African Institute for Development Policy recently conducted a study in collaboration with Population Action International to analyze the challenges and opportunities for incorporating population considerations into climate change and development interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. The results highlight policy and program implications in Kenya and Malawi and will help guide responses to climate change that include population dynamics and work towards sustainable development.  Speakers will include Eliya Msiyaphazi Zulu, of the African Institute for Development Policy, Clive Mutunga of Population Action International and Abigail Jones of Climate Advisers.

Moniz Nomination Hearing Set – On Tuesday, April 9th at 10:00 a.m. , the Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz to be the next Secretary of Energy.

CSIS Forum to Look at Water Issues – CSIS will hold the 17th annual NCAC Washington Energy Policy Conference on Tuesday April 9th to examine the energy-water nexus with a specific focus on water management issues relative to electric power generation. The availability of clean and reliable water resources is a critical issue across the North America and throughout the world. Electricity production is the second largest consumer of water in the United States, after agriculture. This one-day conference will feature experts to discuss some of the most central issues related to water and electricity use:  the technological opportunities and financial challenges of; the regulatory and environmental outlooks; and insights into the regional U.S. and international dynamics. Recently, the U.S. Department of State released its draft Supplement Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if approved by the Obama administration, would connect Canada’s oil sands with U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast. The debate surrounding the pipeline has brought increased attention to the Canadian province of Alberta,—which, with an estimated 170 billion barrels—is home to the world’s third-largest proven reserves of oil.

Alberta Premier to Speak at Brookings – The Energy Security Initiative at Brookings will host Alison Redford, the premier of Alberta, on Tuesday April 9th at 2:00 p.m. for a discussion on the Alberta-U. S. energy relationship, environmental efforts undertaken by her administration, and the Keystone XL pipeline.  Senior Fellow Charles Ebinger, director of the Energy Security Initiative, will provide introductory remarks. Brookings Trustee Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, will moderate the discussion with Premier Redford to include questions from the audience.

Marine Renewable Conference Set – The Global Marine Renewable Energy Conference will be held at the Almas Temple Club on Wednesday and Thursday, April 10th & 11th to provide a venue where technical experts from across disciplines can publish and present cutting-edge wave and water current energy research that helps accelerate the pace of technology development.

EPA McCarthy Nomination Hearing Set – On Thursday, April 11th at 10:00 a.m. , the Senate Environment Committee will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be the next EPA Administrator.

RFF Academic Brief to Discuss Energy Efficiency – RFF will hold its usual Academic Seminar on Thursday April 11th to discuss a handful of Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs offered property-secured loans to homeowners for residential clean energy investments. This analysis uses difference-in-differences models and synthetic counterfactual models to estimate the effect of three California PACE programs on residential photovoltaic installations.  The Duke Nicholas School expert Lori Bennear will discuss.

International Geothermal Forum Set – The Geothermal Energy Association will hold its International Geothermal Energy Finance Forum on Thursday April 11th at New York’s Marriott Marquis. The full day Forum will provide a daylong discussion featuring the leaders of geothermal development, private and public financing, and project risk and reward.  Confirmed speakers include The World Bank Group’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program Manager Rohit Khanna, Jennifer Graham of the Prudential Capital Group, JP Morgan’s John Eber, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Head of Geothermal & CCS Research Mark Taylor, and MidAmerican Energy’s Jonathan Weisgall.

McCarthy, Nichols, UNFCCC Figueres to Address Carbon Conference – The 11th annual Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) will be held in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel April 16th through 18th.  The event is the largest and most comprehensive gathering for information and discussion around climate change policy and carbon markets.  NACW will take an in-depth look at California’s historic cap-and-trade program, including discussions on market structure, revenue allocation, legal issues and forecasts. The conference will also delve into other established and emerging carbon markets around the world and potential linkages. And, NACW will provide a platform for discussing offsets and offset supply, U.S. federal policies, and business leadership.  Speakers will include EPA’s Gina McCarthy, CARB head Mary Nichols, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and NWF President Larry Schweiger.

WAPA Forum to Focus on Feasibility of ZEV Mandate – The Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) will hold its April luncheon on Wednesday April 17th at Noon in the National Press Club.  Mike Stanton, president and CEO of the Association of Global Automakers, will explore issues related to the feasibility of Zero-Emissions Vehicle mandates and other transportation policy issues.  As automakers work to meet the new national fuel economy regulations, they are also faced with the challenge of complying with California’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. Between MY 2018 and MY 2025, the ZEV sales “mandate” will require manufacturers to sell approximately 5 million ZEVs cumulatively in California and the nine states that have adopted the program, regardless of market conditions and infrastructure availability.  Stanton, a trusted voice for the auto industry, will outline the ZEV program and how the government can play an active role to help bring alternative fuels, advanced technology vehicles, and the necessary infrastructure to the marketplace.

Farrell to Headline Chamber Energy CEO Leadership Event – The Institute for 21st Century Energy and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation will hold a CEO Leadership Series luncheon on Thursday, April 23rd at Noon featuring Dominion Energy CEO Thomas Farrell. 

Hydrogen, Fuel Cell Expo Set for Hill – The House Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus will host a Fuel Cell and Hydrogen EXPO and POLICY FORUM Wednesday, April 24th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in 345 Cannon.  The forum will include Congressional and Administration speakers as well as a panel of state experts.

The American Foundry Society (AFS) is hosting their annual Government Affairs Conference on Wednesday, May 1st at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C.  My colleague Jeff Holmstead will address over 80 owners and plant managers on what they can expect from EPA in the next 12 to 24 months, including new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions at existing power plants.  Of particular interest to these manufacturers is the upcoming ozone rule.

WINDPOWER 2013 – May 5th through 8th in Chicago, IL.

Scott Segal on DOE and EPA Nominees

Today, President Obama has indicated his intention to nominate two key members of his energy and environmental team:  Gina McCarthy for EPA Administrator and Ernie Moniz for Energy Secretary.  These two individuals seem fit to task of the agencies they will lead if confirmed.  However, both will face substantial policy challenges, particularly as they grapple with carbon regulatory alternatives.

Gina McCarthy comes to the Administrator position having already served as Air Administrator.  Given that the recent rules arising under the Clean Air Act are some of the most expensive in EPA history, McCarthy has significant experience with wide-sweeping stakeholder contact.  What many in industry appreciate about her style is her directness and openness to engagement with the regulated community.  Almost every large EPA rule has errors – both in policy and methodology.  McCarthy listens and allows for the possibility of midcourse corrections.

Of course, we often disagree with the final rules that have been advanced under McCarthy’s watch.  Particularly, the statement of costs and benefits under the MATS rule seemed jiggered to create an overly rosy impression of the rule.  But in each case, final rules seem better than proposed rules – which is a good thing.

Carbon is the real challenge.  If the final rule for carbon emissions from new power plants and potential proposals for existing plants and even some industrial sources are too inflexible or unrealistic, the weak economic recovery in the United States can be effectively reversed.  Given that other nations are not likely to follow our lead, such an outcome would result in jobs lost, projects scuttled, energy prices increased – all with no change in global warming.

As for Ernie Moniz, his work both in the Clinton Administration and at MIT disclose a solid understanding of the DOE and its mission.  He was no passive observer of the shale gas revolution nor of the promise of carbon capture and sequestration technology – having reviewed both from his position at MIT with thoughtfulness and rigor.  Some have criticized him for recognizing that fossil fuels are the only bridge to newer technologies.  But comments like that only show that he can be counted on to be more clear-eyed as America faces important energy choices in coming years.