We slow down this week for two of my favorite eating holidays: Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. Rather than outline the history of both, let me give you some history on the amazing day we celebrate this year: Thanksgivukkah. Yes, the convergence this week of Thanksgiving falling on the first day of Hanukkah happens only once in a lifetime. Don’t hold your breath for the next one — it will not occur again for more than 70,000 years.
Why? Because Thanksgiving is the 4th Thursday in November. Hanukkah is the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. The 4th Thursday in November can range from the 22nd to the 28th. If the 29th is a Thursday, then so is the 1st, so the 29th would be the fifth Thursday, not the fourth. And if the 21st is a Thursday, then it’s only the third Thursday. On average, then, Thanksgiving falls on the 28th about every seven years. It will fall on the 28th this year, then again in 2019, 2024, 2030, and 2041, or four times in the next 28 years. (It’s not exactly every seven years because leap days throw things off a little.)
On the other hand, the Jewish month of Kislev can currently start as early as November 3 or as late as December 2, which means that the first day of Hanukkah can come as early as November 28 or as late as December 27. The reason for the broad range of possible dates is that the Jewish calendar is lunar-solar. The months are based on the cycles of the moon. But the calendar changes the lengths of those months, and even how many months are in a year, to make sure that Passover always falls in the spring. This complex system ensures that the Jewish date and the secular date match up every 19 years.
Because of this Jewish 19-year cycle, 19 years from now, in the year 2032, Hanukkah will again fall on November 28th, but Thanksgiving in that year falls three days earlier, on the 25th. On average, we would expect the 19-year Jewish cycle and the 7-year Thanksgiving-on-November-28 cycle to coincide about every 19×7 years, which is to say, approximately every 133 years. And they sort of do. 152 years ago, in 1861, the first day of Hanukkah and the 4th Thursday in November were both on November 28th. But there was no “”official” Thanksgiving back then. In 152 years from now, in 2165, Thanksgiving falls on the 28th, and you’d expect Hanukkah also to fall on the 28th, but it doesn’t. The reason centers around an extra 11 minutes each year (3 days over those 19 years) that are generally not accounted for in the Jewish calendar, but were in Pope Gregory’s calendar in 1582.
Whatever the reasons, travel safely, count your blessings with family and get ready for Turkey, Brisket, mashed potatoes, Latkes, stuffing and some candle lighting.
On some policy stuff, if you thought ethanol would be off the radar screen this week with last week’s announcement and nest week’s Public hearing (Dec 5th), our friends at the Associated Press dropped another excellent piece in their series, this time exploring ethanol’s waning political clout. Secondly, the Supreme Court said this morning that it will hear one hour of oral arguments on Monday, February 24th on a case focused on a narrow part of EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations. The court will look at whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases. A pretty important question for the current issues going forward.
Remember, the Monday return on December 2nd has a number of good events that MORNING including a 9:30 a.m. CAP/Gina McCarthy Forum on US/China Cooperation and a 10:00 a.m. Energy Innovation Reform Project event in the Microsoft DC offices exploring key issues surrounding integration and balancing of intermittent renewables.
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IN THE NEWS
UN Meetings Wrap Up – With the same flurry of hand-wringing negotiations and the talks on the “brink of collapse”, UN pols once again pulled the climate negotiations from the brink of death. (If I had an emissions reduction for every time that happened…) With Paris on the schedule for December 2015 when nations will need to extend the Kyoto Treaty, the U.S. and other countries agreed that by early 2015, they will put forward individual country plans for lowering emissions. At some point, we just need to stop holding these silly meetings which have produced very little expense some awesome expense reports since the mid-1990s. Our friend Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post has a good summary here.
Former Iowa Gov. Pitches Importance of Wind to NJ Economy, Gov. Christie – While most expect NJ Gov. Chris Christie to be headed to Iowa, former Iowa Governor Chet Culver headed to New Jersey last week to tell local leaders and officials his Iowa wind energy success story, highlighting how New Jersey can achieve the same success with offshore wind energy and the New Jersey Energy Link offshore transmission line. And as you know, maybe there is little road through Iowa that matters for a certain NJ politician in 2016. During his term as Governor starting in 2007, Culver committed to making Iowa a leading state for wind projects and bringing new, innovative industries to the State. Within four years, Iowa became the first state to reach 20% electricity from wind, powering the equivalent of more than a million Iowa homes. Today, Iowa is generating 25% of its electricity from wind farms in the State. Iowa’s focus and commitment to developing its wind resource proved to be the key factor in attracting wind-related businesses. Today two turbine manufacturers, two major blade manufacturers, and a tower manufacturer have located in Iowa, making Iowa a major distribution hub for wind farms in a 500-mile radius of the State. More than 200 companies in the state supply the industry, including businesses in 80 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Iowa’s wind industry has created over 7,000 jobs for Iowans across the state, with over $300 million invested in manufacturing facilities and billions of dollars in new infrastructure. Focusing on job creation and public-private partnerships, Forbes magazine ranked Iowa under Culver the “No. 1 place in America for businesses and careers and CNBC said Iowa was one of the “Top States for Business.”
LaFleur to Head FERC – FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur has been named acting chairwoman of U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this morning replacing previous chairman, Jon Wellinghoff, who announced he would be departing during last Thursday’s meeting. Earlier this year, Wellinghoff announced he was going to be employed by renewable energy law firm Stoel Rives, which created conflict concerns among some. LaFleur joined the commission in 2010 and worked in the electric and natural gas industry.
Interior Says Drilling Generated Billions – The Interior Department collected and disbursed more than $14.2 billion in revenue generated by energy production on public lands and offshore waters in Fiscal Year 2013 – a $2 billion or 17% increase over the previous year. The revenues were distributed to state, local, federal and tribal accounts to support critical reclamation, conservation, recreation and historic preservation projects. Local governments apply the revenues to meet a variety of needs, ranging from school funding to infrastructure improvements and water conservation projects. The FY 2013 increase in disbursements is attributed primarily to $2.77 billion in bonus bids received for new oil and gas leases in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Overall disbursements totaled $12.15 billion in FY 2012.
Ark PSC Commish to Head NARUC – Arkansas Public Service Commission Chair Colette Honorable was elected by her peers as the leader of the national association representing State utility regulators across the country at the conclusion of the NARUC 125th Annual Meeting. She succeeds outgoing NARUC Philip Jones of Washington, whose one-year term expired today. As President, Honorable will provide general oversight of the Association, serving as the primary voice of the Association, leading NARUC before Congress, the courts, and administrative agencies. She will also be responsible for designating members to the NARUC Board of Directors, committee leadership positions, and other Association appointments as necessary. Honorable was appointed to the Arkansas PSC by Governor Mike Beebe in October 2007, and was designated Chairman in January 2011. Within NARUC, she completed her term as Second Vice President of the Association. She also recently served as the Association’s Treasurer. Honorable has also been discussed as a possible replacement for FERC after the failure of the Ron Binz nomination.
NARUC Seeks Flexibility as EPA Drafts Emissions Rules for Existing Plants – Speaking of NARUC, they also are urging EPA to be flexible and seek input across all levels of State government as it develops emissions reduction rules for existing power plants. In a resolution, NARUC “urges the EPA, in developing any emissions guidelines for regulating carbon emissions from existing power plants, to recognize the primacy of States to rely on both State utility and environmental regulators to lead the creation of emission performance systems that reflect the policies, energy needs, resource mix, economic conditions of each State and region.” The resolution was one of several passed by NARUC membership at the conclusion of the Association’s 125th Annual Meeting. The resolutions are now considered NARUC policy, providing guidance and positions for the Association’s advocacy before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, and the courts.
Duke Settles Bird Death Issues at Wyoming Wind Farms – Duke Energy’s wind energy subsidiary pleaded guilty in Wyoming late Friday for several bird deaths at wind Projects there. Two projects there were connected to the death of 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected birds between 2009 and 2013. The plea is the first time a company has been held responsible for bird deaths at wind projects. Duke Energy Renewables will pay $1 million in fines, restitution and community service, and is on probation for five years, during which it must develop a compliance plan to prevent more bird deaths. At the same time, the company was praised for working to address the issue.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
Thanksgiving/First Night Of Hanukkah – November 28th
Maisano Officiates Md High School State Football Semifinal – On Friday night, I will be the Back Judge for the MPSSAA 4A State Semifinal playoff game on Saturday at Paint Branch HS in Montgomery County.
McCarthy to Headline CAP China Event – The Center for American Progress will hold a forum on Monday December 2nd at 9:30 a.m. where EPA head Gina McCarthy to discuss the importance of US-China cooperation on the environment and climate pollution. Administrator McCarthy will also highlight recent progress on the President’s Climate Action Plan and steps the United States is taking to reduce carbon pollution and drive sustainable U.S. economic growth.
Forum to Look at Renewables Intermittency, PTC – The Energy Innovation Reform Project will hold a Chatham House-rules workshop on December 2nd at 10:00 a.m. in the Microsoft DC offices exploring key issues surrounding integration and balancing of intermittent renewables. The forum will discuss the European and American experiences, and consider recommendations for how we can better account for cost and reliability issues in electricity policies and debates. Speakers will include NARUC President Phil Jones, Exelon’s Dave Brown, Montana PSC Commissioner Travis Kavulla and NREL’s Brian Hannegan, among several others. As intermittent renewables become larger players in the electric system, they raise new issues that were often unanticipated when today’s policies were first formulated. Policymakers and the public need to better understand the cost, reliability, and infrastructure implications of these policies, as well as potential opportunities to address these emerging concerns through policy reforms.
DOE, NASEO to Discuss Energy Systems at Workshop – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and National Association of State Energy Officials, will host the 2013 Energy Assurance and Interdependency Workshop at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, DC on Monday, December 2nd. The purpose of the one and a half day workshop is to inform and educate participants on interconnected energy systems and their cascading impacts on other critical infrastructure and essential public services. The workshop will feature a variety of scenarios and their immediate and long-term effects. The interactive workshop will also feature presentations and perspectives from industry owners and operators as well as public officials who are responsible for restoring life-line services after a catastrophic event. State and local governments will have the opportunity to evaluate their energy emergency preparedness and energy assurance plans against potential energy emergency conditions. Speakers will include ERCOT’s John Adams, DOE’s Pat Hoffman, and Judi Greenwald, CITGO’s Jack McCrossin and NASEO Executive Director David Terry.
NAS to Look at Markets, Clean Energy – The National Academy of Sciences will host a meeting on Monday, December 2nd at the Keck Center on market adoption of advanced energy efficiency and clean energy technologies.
IEA Head to Speak at CSIS – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency to present the IEA’s 2013 World Energy on Tuesday, December 3rd at 9:30 a.m. The outlook presents a full update of energy projects through to 2035 and insights into what they mean for energy security, climate change, economic development, and universal access to modern energy services. Oil, coal, natural gas, renewables, and nuclear power are all covered, along with an update on developments for fossil fuels and renewable energy. This year, the World Energy Outlook also gives a special focus to topical energy sector issues including the implications for economic competitiveness of the changing energy map, oil supply, demand, and trade, and energy in Brazil. Sarah Ladislaw, Co-Director and Senior Fellow with the CSIS Energy and National Security Program, will moderate.
NAS to Hold Seminar on EVs – The National Academies of Science will hold a forum on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 4th/5th at its Keck Center on overcoming barriers to electric vehicle deployment. Speakers will include MIT’s John Kassakian, NRC’s John Holmes, Russ Musgrove of FedEx and several auto dealers.
LaFleur Headlines WCEE Breakfast – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment on Wednesday December 4th at 8:00 a.m. at the Cosmos Club for a Women in Leadership Holiday breakfast featuring FERC Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur. LaFleur has an impressive resume and may be the next FERC Chair. She will speak on a number of important energy issues over which FERC has authority as well as her career and offer insight on how she came to the important role she now plays.
RFF Seminar to Look at ESA, Species Conservation – On Thursday December 4th at 12:45 p.m., Resources for the Future (RFF) will hold its December First Wednesday Seminar looking at the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) and species conservation. ESA has provided a critical safety net for conserving the nation’s species in the 40 years since it was passed. However, effective implementation of the ESA remains a challenge in light of increasing threats to species; uncertainties about the pace, scope, and extent of environmental changes and their impacts on species; and limited resources for implementing species protection. Furthermore, the ESA traditionally has taken a species-by-species approach that constrains the ability to focus on the health of ecosystems and address complex threats that often unfold at the landscape scale. This RFF First Wednesday Seminar brings together diverse panelists to discuss strategies and opportunities for overcoming these challenges. Panelists will draw on examples of success and new strategies to suggest paths for increasing the effectiveness of ESA implementation going forward. Panelists will include US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, Brad Gruver of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, EDF’s David Festa and Terry Fankhauser of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. National Wildlife Federation VP John Kostyack and former Interior official Lynn Scarlett of The Nature Conservancy will also provide comments.
JHU Forum To Hear From WRI Expert on Climate Risk – The Johns Hopkins Washington, DC Center will hold a forum on Wednesday, December 4th at 12:00 p.m. featuring Mark Trexler from the World Resources Institute. Trexler will address climate risk management issues. Trexler joined the World Resources Institute’s nascent Climate, Energy and Pollution Program in 1988, and focused for many years on climate change mitigation options and strategies. He was a Lead Author for the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report, is widely published across mitigation and adaptation topics, and has worked with companies around the world on climate risk management efforts. He was Director of Climate Risk for the global risk management firm of Det Norske Veritas (DNV) from 2009 through 2012. His current work focuses on the application of knowledge management tools to the communication and management of climate risk. More information is available at his website.
Annual SoCo Washington DC Holiday Event – December 4th
EPA to Hold RFS Public Hearing – EPA will hold a public hearing December 5th on its proposed 2014 mandate for the renewable fuel standard program at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City at 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington. EPA announced recently that it plans to cut the amount of ethanol required to be blended into fuel.
CSIS to Host Clean Report Release – On Thursday December 5th at 9:30 a.m., the CSIS Energy and National Security Program and the CSIS Americas Program will host Ethan Zindler, Head of Policy Analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and Carrie McKellogg, Chief of Access to Basic Services & Green Growth at the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank Group. The two will present Climatescope 2013, a new report, online tool, and data resource profiling clean energy market and investment conditions in 26 Latin American and Caribbean nations. Sarah Ladislaw, Co-Director and Senior Fellow at the CSIS Energy and National Security Program, will moderate the discussion. Sponsored by the MIF and researched by BNEF, Climatescope assesses low-carbon energy markets from Mexico south within the western hemisphere. First released in 2012, it scores nations on their local conditions for attracting capital in support of clean energy development. Climatescope takes into account 39 data points encompassing a country’s enabling framework for clean energy investment, its history of clean energy investment and climate financing, its availability of low-carbon business and clean energy value chain segments, and its greenhouse gas management efforts. Zindler and McKellogg will discuss which countries scored highest in the Climatescope, which lagged behind, and why.
SEIA Webinar to Discuss Solar Integration – SEIA will hold a webinar on Thursday, December 5th at 1:00 p.m. for a timely discussion on the recent regulatory changes for energy storage and how these changes will affect grid integration, solar energy expansion, and improvements to grid reliability. Both the FERC and CPUC have adopted new rules and procurement requirements to encourage energy storage as a resource, enhance power system operations, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. FERC adopted these rule changes with the intent of fostering opportunities for energy storage technologies such as compressed air energy storage, regenerative fuel cells, batteries, superconducting magnetic energy storage, flywheels and thermal energy storage systems to participate in electricity markets and supply ancillary services to wholesale electric market participants and electric transmission providers. CPUC adopted energy storage procurement requirements for the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities, retail electric suppliers and its community aggregators. The state’s investor-owned utilities will begin procuring energy storage assets or services in 2014. The expert speakers will discuss these regulatory changes and implications from the regulatory, company, and technology perspective, including Joel Meister of Solar Grid Storage and Carrie Cullen Hitt of SEIA, among others.
BPC, NARUC to Hold 2nd Clean Air Act Workshop – On December 6th, BPC’s Energy Project – along with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) – will host the second workshop on section 111(d), which will focus on the use of economic modeling to understand the potential impacts of GHG power plant regulation. The event will also explore the use of economic modeling to understand the potential impacts of GHG regulations. The three panels will focus on: 1) state considerations and policy design issues; 2) important drivers that could impact carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector and 3) modeling impacts of different proposals under section 111(d). BPC will include participants from state organizations, industry and environmental organizations. Former EPA Administrator Bill Reilly, a BPC’s Energy Project Co-chair, will keynote. Other speakers will include ACCCE’s Paul Bailey, Exelon’s Kathleen Barron, AEP’s Bruce Braine, RFF’s Dallas Burtraw, NRDC’s Dan Lashoff and Jason Grumet.
Forum to Look at Renewable Investments – The Business Council for Sustainable Energy will host a congressional briefing on Friday December 6th in B-369 Rayburn looking at renewable energy market investments and policy trends. This event is being put on in cooperation with the United States House of Representatives Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus.
CHP Conference Set – The Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Association will hold its annual conference in Washington DC on December 10th and 11th. This year’s theme is “Making the Business Case for Combined Heat & Power”. The conference will bring together different leaders within the CHP industry to discuss access to financing, a major barrier to CHP deployment. The conference will also focus on demonstrating the business benefits of CHP for different sectors. Representatives from Coca Cola, Procter and Gamble, Schneider Electric, American Gas Association, Edison Electric Institute, Veolia Energy, General Electric, Caterpillar, Cargill, and many others working on the issue of combined heat and power will be on the agenda. Topics will include financing, electric utilities finding value in CHP, environmental issues, debt financing for small to medium projects and natural gas among many other items.
Forum to Look at IPCC Document – George Washington University’s IERES program will host a presentation on Friday, December 6th at 4:00 p.m. featuring Oleg Anisimov, Professor of Physical Geography at the Hydrological Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia His presentation will start with a brief discussion of the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report, where he served as a coordinating author. The report is almost ready, and will be officially released at the end of March 2014. The discussion will focus on the impacts of the changing climate in the polar regions, including the socio-economical dimension in the Arctic. It will then provide two examples of impacts that escaped the IPCC s attention. The first is the potential impact on the Arctic urban population (the current emphasis is on indigenous peoples). The second is related to the drivers of climate change associated with the potential release of methane, with implications for environmental policy making, particularly the post-Kyoto negotiation process.
Court to Hear Mercury Cases in December – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has scheduled oral arguments on December 10th on two consolidated cases concerning EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants. Both rules were finalized in 2012. The Oral arguments for both White Stallion Energy Center LLC v. EPA and Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA will be held at 9:30 a.m. in DC before Chief Judge Merrick Garland and Circuit Judges Judith Rogers and Brett Kavanaugh.
Experts to Discuss Court Cases – Following the court arguments, the DC Bar’s Air and Water Quality Committee of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section and the Environmental Law Institute will host a discussion with the litigants of the major issues and possible outcomes in these seminal cases. EPA’s attempts to regulate pollutants that cross state lines have been struck down twice by the D.C. Circuit. Now the Supreme Court will have its chance to opine on EPA’s authority under the “good neighbor” provisions of the Clean Air Act. On the same day, the D.C. Circuit will test the MATS rule, which EPA says is necessary to protect public health but which industry casts as burdensome and ineffective.
Forum to Look at Energy Infrastructure – The Atlantic will hold an Energy and Infrastructure Super Summit on the morning of Thursday, December 12th in Washington, D.C. The event will include a select group of senior leaders from a diversity of sectors, this year’s summit will cover topics including innovative water conservation efforts, evolving green building standards, and the future of energy policy and infrastructure investment. We will feature one-on-one interviews and panel discussions exploring these topics from all angles and make time for audience engagement through Q&A. Speakers will include Brendan FitzSimons of EDF, AT&T’s John Schultz and Lee McIntire of CH2M HILL.