http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air.html2016-12-07T03:50:28.922ZUp In The AirRead the latest Up in the Air blog for EPA regulations and environmental legislation.Adobe Experience ManagerWill Coal Meet a Certain Death?noemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>The future of coal in the U.S. is facing more uncertainty than ever. Coal production numbers over the last month have been indicative of a declining and struggling market. The day after the presidential election, stocks in some of the nation’s biggest coal mining companies fell by 10 percent, including Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, Peabody Energy and Walter Energy. Most dramatically, James River Coal’s stock fell by 30 percent the day after the election.</p> <p>While some politically-charged pundits may try to blame the potential extinction of coal-fired power on who’s in leadership, the equation isn’t that simple to decode. Regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and low natural gas prices are certain to play an even bigger role in determining the future of coal. “The extent to which coal can maintain its position is not reliant so much on politics as it is on the economic realities associated with an aging fleet, tough air quality rules,” said Randy Rawson, president and CEO of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association.</p> <p>The future of coal-fired generation in the U.S. largely depends on three regulations currently on EPA’s docket. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) will limit the amount of mercury and non-mercury toxics that coal and oil-fired units with a capacity greater than 25 MW can emit each year. In July, EPA announced that it was reconsidering the regulation, and <a href="">in November</a>, EPA proposed an emissions limit update to MATS for new generating units. The final regulation has yet to be released, but it is expected in early 2013.</p> <p>The second rule of concern is the <a href="">Carbon Pollution Standard</a> for new power plants. This regulation, which was proposed in March, will limit greenhouse gases from new fossil-fired electric generating units with a capacity greater than 25 MW. This proposed rule has largely been interpreted by the coal power community as a means for the EPA to end new coal generation, since it would be almost impossible for coal units to comply without installing carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. The rule is currently in the public hearing phase, and a final rule is expected by the end of 2013.</p> <p>The third rule was actually a bit of a sigh of relief for coal generators this year: the <a href="">Cross-State Air Pollution Rule</a>, which was stayed by a federal court in August. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the regulation exceeded the EPA’s mandate to regulate emissions and need to be revised. While EPA <a href="">filed a petition</a> for the court to reconsider its decision to overturn CSAPR in October, it’s likely that EPA will have to go back to the drawing board and make some serious revisions to the rule, which could take years.</p> <p>The three aforementioned regulations will largely determine what happens to coal power in 2013 and beyond. However, natural gas also plays a substantial role. Metin Celebi, co-author of The Brattle Group’s report, “Potential Coal Plant Retirements 2012 Update,” said he expects more retirements to occur between now and 2016 than what was projected in a 2010 study. <a href="">In 2010</a>, The Brattle Group estimated that anywhere from 34 to 52 GW of coal-fired capacity would be retired by 2016. However, the group has increased its estimations by about 25 GW to 59 to 77 GW, mainly due to lower-than-expected gas prices.</p> <p>Some skeptics of President Obama have argued that his second term could mean the end of new coal in the U.S. But his stance towards coal may have become more accepting over the last few years. In the <a href="">second presidential debate</a>, Obama mentioned “coal” eight times, stressing the importance of the development of clean coal technology. “We made the largest investment in clean coal technology, to make sure that even as we're producing more coal, we're producing it cleaner and smarter.”</p> <p>Will coal continue to be a main source of power generation for decades to come? All of the studies point to yes. A <a href="">recent report</a> by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) predicts that coal will decline from about 42 percent in 2011 to 38 percent in 2035. These numbers line up with projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and others as well. Coal may become more expensive to operate over time, but it will still be an important part of U.S. power generation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/12/Will_Coal_Meet_a_Cer.html2012-12-04T20:44:28.522Z2012-12-04T20:45:20.901ZHarnessing the Winds of Bipartisanshipnoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>Rare is the occasion when Democrats and Republicans share a common interest to resolve any particular issue. But wind energy has garnered large bipartisan support lately as proponents of the Production Tax Credit fight for its extension before the end of the year, when it is scheduled to expire.</p> <p>Wind energy is a dichotomy of sorts. While Democrats are generally the stronger supporters of renewable energy, wind power is a green technology that is best suited in states with a strong wind resource – many of which traditionally vote Republican. Here in my home state of Oklahoma (the state in which all 77 counties voted against President Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections), an impressive majority of folks are supporters of wind energy growth. &nbsp;In fact, Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, is an Oklahoman and served as our Corporate Commissioner for 12 years.</p> <p>And while I’m slightly leery of any poll conducted by the Sierra Club, it’s worth mentioning that a Sierra Club poll released in September found that nearly seven out of 10 respondents believe that Oklahoma utilities should invest more in wind power. Oklahoma ranks eighth in wind generation capacity, according to the Department of Energy.</p> <p>Oklahoma’s Republican Governor, Mary Fallin, is in support of an extension to the PTC. She joins a newly-formed <a href="">bipartisan group</a> of 28 governors rooting for wind energy and the PTC extension. The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition said in a Nov. 13 letter to Congressional leadership that “[w]ithout a PTC extension, it is estimated that the U.S. economy will lose 37,000 wind industry jobs and the opportunity to leverage over $10 billion of private investment. Our states are already seeing these impacts.”</p> <p>Another member of the coalition, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, said during a Nov. 13 press call that his state has invested nearly $3 billion in wind energy this year. However, “all of those numbers go to zero next year. We have virtually no new wind investments going into next year.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, another coalition formed this week in support of wind energy: The Red State Renewable Alliance., led by John Feehery, a Republican strategist and former spokesman for Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Tom DeLay. “The Red State Renewable Alliance will work to promote wind energy and extend the&nbsp;<a href="">wind energy production tax credit</a> to maintain America's leading position and to save American jobs associated with the industry, many of which are in traditionally conservative Congressional districts,” according to a news announcement released by the alliance.</p> <p>In the end, what should matter the most to all Americans – regardless of political party affiliation – is continuing to grow our economy into one that will be prosperous for us and our families for generations to come. The wind energy sector has just taken off in the last decade, and to leave it at this stage without the support it needs to become an even more thriving industry would be a detriment to renewable energy development in the U.S. and the economies of numerous states, both blue and red.</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/11/Harnessing_the_Winds.html2012-11-15T21:08:56.920Z2012-11-15T21:09:30.376ZDid Nuclear Power Withstand the Test of Sandy?noemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>Hurricane Sandy brought a new level of terror and fright than what the East Coast is used to at the end of October. Projections are estimating that the total property damage from Sandy will top $20 billion. If that number holds true, it will be the costliest storm since Hurricane Ike in 2008 (though I think it’s safe to say it could easily surpass Ike’s damage).</p> <p>While electrical crews may be working to restore power for weeks to come, the nuclear power industry is, for the most part, breathing a sigh of relief. The 34 nuclear facilities from South Carolina to Vermont in Sandy’s path withstood the storm during an era when nuclear power must continue to prove itself as safe and trustworthy.</p> <p>Sandy may have been just the test the nuclear industry needed to pass post-Fukushima. For the general public, the March 2011 Japan disaster undoubtedly caused apprehension towards nuclear power to escalate. At POWER-GEN 2011, we heard from Elmo Collins of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), who said Fukushima “felt like it happened in our own back yard” and “changed the conversations about&nbsp;<a href="">nuclear power</a>&nbsp;from the economical and safety perspectives.”</p> <p>Instead of pushing Fukushima off as something that could never happen in the U.S., the NRC has upped efforts to ensure safety at U.S. nuclear facilities, therefore further ensuring that the fleet was perfectly positioned to withstand Sandy.</p> <p>Several measures are taken at nuclear facilities prior to hurricane landfall. (For a full look at how nuclear plants prepare for hurricanes, take a look at <a href="">this story</a> from our October issue.) A reactor is shut down at least two hours before the onset of hurricane-force (70 to 75 mph) winds at a nuclear facility. If there is a loss of on-site power during or after a hurricane, reactors will automatically shut down as a precaution, and emergency backup diesel generators will begin operating.</p> <p>During Sandy, three nuclear power reactors – Indian Point Unit 3, Salem Unit 1&nbsp;and Nine Mile Point&nbsp;Unit 1 – were shut down because of electricity issues, and <a href="">Oyster Creek</a> in New Jersey went into “alert” mode due to high water levels in its water intake structure. Oyster Creek was already shut down due to a regularly scheduled outage. All three reactors shut down safely, according to the NRC.</p> <p>“Actions taken by companies operating reactors in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast once again demonstrate that nuclear energy facilities are well-protected against extreme natural events,” said Martin S. Fertel, president and chief executive officer at the Nuclear Energy Institute.</p> <p>It’s likely that the four nuclear facilities where events occurred during Sandy will be under intense scrutiny in the coming months in order to guarantee that safety and procedural measures were followed to a tee. But overall, the U.S. nuclear fleet has passed another test of nature and emergency preparedness.</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/10/Did-nuclear-power-wi.html2012-10-31T13:53:24.703Z2012-10-31T13:54:43.169ZFive Elements to a Successful CCS Projectnoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>In September, the Canadian arm of Royal Dutch Shell announced it and its partners had decided to proceed with the $1.35-billion Quest project, the first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project to be attached to any oil sands operation.</p> <p>While the project is targeted for the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta, the work Shell is implementing through Quest could be applied to CCS projects at power plants in the future, said Len Heckel, Shell’s business opportunity manager for the Quest project. Electric utilities in the U.S. are becoming increasingly interested in CCS after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March proposed the <a href="">first carbon standard</a> for future power plants, which could potentially require CCS to be installed at all future coal plants.</p> <p>Power plants and other interested parties will be able to glean knowledge of everything Shell accomplishes through its CCS project. Shell will share knowledge gained about its CCS processes with the Alberta government, and the government in turn will share the information with inquiring companies, Heckel said. “There is a technology cost curve with any new plant. As future plants come in and learn, the cost of the technology will come down. Quest will be able to share its knowledge, which will help CCS result in lower capital costs.”</p> <p>Additionally, many power plants may be interested in the method of storing CO<sub>2</sub> that is being employed through the Quest project. CO<sub>2</sub> will be injected more than two kilometers underground into the deepest saline formation in Alberta, the Basal Cambrian Sands. The CO<sub>2</sub> will then be trapped within tiny pore spaces between the grains of the sandstone rock formation by dissolving into the brine of the saline formation. If power plants are able to pinpoint similar saline formations in which to inject CO<sub>2</sub>, utilities won’t have to be concerned about building a facility near an oil field, Heckel said.</p> <p>During an era when CCS is still considered expensive and speculative by many, the Quest project has commenced rather seamlessly. Heckel shared what he believes are <b>five critical elements to a successful CCS project:</b></p> <p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <b>“Storage location</b> – making sure you have a proper geological understanding of the storage zone.</p> <p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <b>Capture technology</b> – the right fit between the capture technology you choose and the plant that’s producing the CO<sub>2</sub>. Capture plants are roughly 75 to 80 percent of the cost, so it’s important to get the capture technology right.</p> <p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <b>Funding</b> – it’s important that project gets financial support through either credits (CO<sub>2</sub> credits can be sold for revenue), inject it into an enhanced oil field, or get government support.</p> <p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <b>Regulatory environment</b> – investors need to know there’s some sort of government support in the area they’re going to be injecting. In our case, the government was very good at providing clarity as far as, ‘How do you acquire rights to injection? How is the long-term liability of CO<sub>2</sub> going to be handled?’</p> <p>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <b>Local stakeholder engagement program</b> – getting local people to understand what CCS is all about. It’s an emerging area. We have people in Alberta who are familiar with the oil business, but CCS is brand new. It’s important that the local people understand the benefits of CCS. Our connection with the local population has allowed us to acquire our licenses and permits with very little opposition.”</p> <p>The Quest project will be built on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project joint venture owners – Shell, Chevron and Marathon Oil – and with support from the Governments of Canada and Alberta. The project is expected to reduce CO<sub>2</sub> emissions from Shell’s oil sands operation by more than 1 million tons per year.&nbsp;</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/10/Five_Elements_to_a_S.html2012-10-11T19:54:43.880Z2012-10-11T19:55:34.988ZCombined-Cycle Power: Reshaping America's Energy Landscapenoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>The history of American power generation brings to mind coal stacks and nuclear cooling towers stretching into the skies, as well as the occasional hydro-electric dams churning water into power. But the landscape is constantly changing, and recent announcements could help expedite the shift in the nation’s energy backdrop.</p> <p>Thanks to low natural gas prices, U.S. power generation has seen some dramatic movement in 2012. In April, natural gas plants generated the same share of U.S. electricity as coal facilities – 32 percent – for the first time since the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) began keeping records decades ago.&nbsp;</p> <p>But the question remains: Will natural gas generation diminish over time as prices gradually increase? According to a long-term outlook from Exxon Mobil Corp., natural gas is expected to replace coal as the leading fuel for generating electricity in the U.S. by 2025.</p> <p>And according to Dave Hughes, president of Global Sustainability Research, natural gas will largely fill the void that will remain after the EIA-projected 49 GW of coal is retired between now and 2035.</p> <p>So the forecast looks like America’s power generation landscape will likely be filled with more of those tall, skinny towers that make a natural gas plant recognizable from miles around. In particular, combined-cycle power plants – which utilize both steam and gas turbines – are growing in popularity. GE recently announced a new technology that has the potential to lead a new trend in power plants, the <a href="">FlexEfficiency 60</a>. This new portfolio of products will translate into the FlexEfficiency 60 Plant, which GE estimates would offset 2.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year&nbsp;if used to replace just one equivalent-size coal plant.</p> <p>The new portfolio was released in anticipation of a continued worldwide shift toward natural gas generation, said Steve Bolze, CEO of GE Power &amp; Water. “The balance between coal, nuclear, renewables and gas is altering greatly around the world. Natural gas is becoming the baseload fuel of choice for power companies and governments.”</p> <p>GE has already booked $1.2 billion of orders for FlexEfficiency 60 from the U.S., Japan and Saudi Arabia. FlexEfficiency 60 has the ability to reach 61 percent thermal efficiency, giving it a leading edge on typical combined-cycle plants that demonstrate thermal efficiencies of 50 to 60 percent.</p> <p>More technologies like the FlexEfficiency 60 portfolio are likely to flood the market in the next couple years, all in an attempt to recreate the landscape that is American power generation. With EPA regulations limiting the construction of new coal plants and nuclear power still on a regulatory hold for the most part, utilities’ obvious choice for new power generation is natural gas.</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/10/CombinedCyclePowerRe.html2012-10-03T18:43:02.090Z2012-10-03T18:44:04.271ZSPI Debriefing: Solar Will Power Onnoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>If there’s anything that I learned last week at Solar Power International in sunny Orlando, it’s that the solar industry won’t give up. Come hell or high water (or in this case, Solyndra or Chinese-U.S. manufacturing wars or federal grants for renewables potentially ending), solar will power on.</p> <p>The week came to a climax on Wednesday when President <a href="">Bill Clinton</a> took the stage to encourage the solar industry. “If we quit after one failure, we never would have walked on the moon,” Clinton said in reference to <a href="">Solyndra’s bankruptcy</a>.</p> <p>And the industry will need to maintain its resiliency, according to <a href="">Rhone Resch</a>, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, who said that 81 percent of attack ads are focused on clean energy during this political season. “We are being attacked on multiple fronts. This is a battle that can only be won with support of the entire&nbsp;solar industry.”</p> <p>One big battle the solar industry will have to continue to fight is for its share of government subsidies. Clinton pointed out during his speech that for every one dollar given to renewables, $22 is given in subsidies for fossil and nuclear energy.</p> <p>“It’s not that industry can’t survive without an investment tax credit, but it has to be a gradual weaning,” said Nancy Pfund, managing partner,&nbsp;DBL Investors. “If it’s going to happen for renewables, it has to happen for fossil (fuels) as well.”</p> <p>One of the biggest changes expected to occur in the North American solar industry in the coming years will be the consolidation of manufacturing companies. While this could result in some layoffs in the short-term, industry leaders predicted that ultimately, the industry will grow over the next five years. “If there’s a smaller number of manufacturers, there will be economies of scale,” said Tom Doyle, president and CEO of NRG Solar.</p> <p>“Consolidation is inevitable,” said Marissa Muller, senior manager, SPG Solar. The next few years will bring about more strategic partnerships in the industry, she said, and these partnerships will provide the industry with more stability.</p> <p>Despite all of these challenges that require careful introspection, the solar industry does not seem to be digging itself into a narcissistic hole. I personally grew a greater appreciation for the solar industry last week after observing how much it is focused on helping further electricity projects in parts of the world that have <a href="">no access to electricity</a>. For example, the World Bank has launched a program called Lighting Africa, with a goal to bring electricity to 70 million households by 2020.</p> <p>Clinton also discussed the Clinton Global Initiative’s endeavors to use solar power in Haiti to power schools and hospitals. Haiti has less than 30 percent access to electricity, according to Xiaoping Wang, senior energy specialist with the World Bank.</p> <p>I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that any industry strong enough to continue helping others in the midst of its own struggles will not only survive, but grow even stronger!</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/09/SPI_Debriefing_Solar.html2012-09-18T21:19:05.186Z2012-09-18T21:21:04.881ZImproving Solar's Image Post-Solyndranoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>It’s been a year since Solyndra filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 employees, but the company’s name still appears in headlines and political speeches frequently. Solyndra is the story that just won’t die, much to the chagrin of the solar industry. As Gigaom writer Katie Fehrenbacher put it: “The Solyndra story is like a zombie in a low budget horror movie: it shuffles along, it falls over, it gets back up and it just keeps walking towards you.”</p> <p>Now that the zombie has been fully acknowledged by the solar industry, politicians and most laypeople, some debriefing is in order. Over the last year, what has the solar industry learned, and what impact did Solyndra’s fallout have on solar financing?</p> <p>Perhaps the biggest challenge for the industry post-Solyndra has been restoring solar’s positive image as a source of clean energy. In a 2012 survey conducted by public relations firm <a href="">Schwartz MSL</a>, 26 percent of respondents said the biggest perception challenge facing the industry is Solyndra and other high-profile flameouts.</p> <p>“Where Solyndra and other companies got into trouble was they set very high expectations and fell dramatically short,” Jason Morris, executive vice president, Schwartz MSL. “The industry has to take the approach of under-promise and over-delivery – pointing to real successes.”</p> <p>The aftermath of Solyndra’s fallout has been amplified during this election year, said Paula Mints, director in the energy practice of Navigant Consulting. “It’s a political football that just keeps getting bounced around.”</p> <p>Solyndra has come up in party politics on both sides. During the Republican National Convention, Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan said the government stimulus “went to companies like Solyndra, with their gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs and make-believe markets.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, Steven J. Spinner, a former top Energy Department official who pushed for loans to Solyndra, joined other top fundraisers for a VIP tour of the Democratic National Convention, posing and waving for a photographer while standing behind the podium. When he saw ABC News cameras, however, he ran for the exit.</p> <p>Mints said that while Solyndra failed, it’s not the only technology company that has been given government loans and failed. “When people bring up Solyndra and the terrible thing about ‘solar needs subsidies,’ I think they forget that all technologies need subsidies.”</p> <p>For now, solar companies must continue to stress that solar is slowly becoming more cost-competitive with other sources of energy and less reliant on subsidies, Morris said.</p> <p>“Making the economic argument for solar as a viable alternative to traditional sources of energy is the way to combat the fear and doubt of solar skeptics,” Morris said.</p> <p>I’ll be traveling to Solar Power International next week and look forward to hearing more viewpoints on the solar industry’s rebound post-Solyndra!</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/09/Improving_Solars_Ima.html2012-09-07T19:32:19.057Z2012-09-07T19:33:15.778ZThe Wind PTC: A Victim of Politicsnoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>Jobs and the economy – these are the messages being heralded of utmost importance during the presidential campaigns. Meanwhile, with the wind energy industry still on pins and needles regarding an extension to the Production Tax Credit (PTC), no orders for wind projects in the U.S. have been placed for 2013. Manufacturers are left with no other choice but to begin dismissing employees.</p> <p>Just this week, two sets of wind manufacturing layoffs have been announced. First, blade manufacturer <a href="">LM Wind Power</a> said it will be forced to lay off 230 people at its facility in Little Rock, Ark. &nbsp;Then wind tower manufacturer <a href="">DMI Industries</a> said it will close its plants in Tulsa, Okla. and West Fargo, N.D. The plant in West Fargo will close in October and terminate 217 employees. The Tulsa plant will close in November and 167 people will be laid off.</p> <p>President Barack Obama is actually using a campaign stop in Pueblo, Colo. today to push for the PTC extension. He is visiting <a href="">Vestas’ wind</a> tower manufacturing plant, which in July celebrated the production of its 1,000 wind tower. However, Vestas CEO Ditlev Engel told <i>The Denver Post</i> earlier this year that the company may be forced to lay off 1,600 employees in Colorado if the PTC isn’t extended.</p> <p>It’s true that the PTC has bi-partisan support in Senate and Congress. And just last week, a Senate committee <a href="">passed an extension</a> to the wind tax credit. Yet ironically, in preparation for a presidential race where jobs will likely prove to be of utmost importance, wind industry jobs are falling by the wayside.</p> <p>Many in the wind energy industry, and even Karl Rove, senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to former President George W. Bush, think the PTC will not see an extension until the lame duck session. This kind of last-minute extension will of course lead to an increasing number of layoffs and the jolting stop-and-start momentum that this industry has experienced in the past. And while a one-year extension may be helpful in saving or regaining some jobs, it will do little to build the long-term health of the wind industry.</p> <p>Harm Toren, vice president and chief service officer of Mitsubishi Power Systems, expressed concern regarding the unpredictable nature of the market due to policy uncertainty during AWEA’s WindPower event in June. “The stop-start nature of the U.S. regulations really prohibits the long-term nature of R&amp;D and planning for sales. If we have a repeat of 2004, it will be difficult for us to deliver due to the suppliers and supply chain not being able to catch up.”</p> <p>A one-year extension would also do little to ensure that projects are actually built, &nbsp;since most wind projects take 18 to 24 months to complete from start to finish.</p> <p>“This every 12-month hopscotch doesn’t do anything for long-term strategy. We’ve got to have a playing field that brings some stability,” said Duncan Koerbel, interim CEO of Suzlon during WindPower.</p> <p>For now, though, it seems the wind industry will likely remain a victim of politics – at least until after the elections.</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/08/TheWindPTCAVictimofP.html2012-08-09T16:38:00.623Z2012-08-09T16:44:12.171ZThe Waiting Gamenoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>So many folks in the power industry are patiently waiting on proposed or stayed EPA rules that will determine the future of your business, to some degree. Right now, the industry is pretty shocked that it’s mid-July and the EPA still hasn’t released the final <a href="">Boiler MACT</a> rule, and the D.C. district court still hasn’t re-released the <a href="">Cross State Air Pollution Rule</a> (CSAPR).</p> <p>Each day over the last three weeks, I’ve been checking the <a href="">Opinions</a> for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, expecting something on CSAPR. I thought for sure it would come on Friday the 13<sup>th</sup>, but I guess the Court decided that could be viewed by some as a cruel joke.</p> <p>Earlier today, I talked to Kevin Crapsey, vice president of corporate strategy &amp; development for Eco Power Solutions. He said at this point, the industry just wants to know what the court will say in the re-released rule. Hopefully, the hold-up in court will result in some sort of extension to the rule – possibly a 2016 implementation. Crapsey said he hopes EPA will realize the industry needs more time in order to comply with both CSAPR and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard.</p> <p>I also exchanged emails today with Randy Rawson, president and CEO of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association. He said it’s likely that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is negotiating with EPA to minimize the regulatory impact of the Boiler MACT rule. “I suspect OMB is trying to get EPA to lessen ‘perceived’ burdens wherever they appear,” Rawson said. “Both EPA and OMB (for election-year reasons if nothing else) do not want to get this wrong this time, so I believe they will err on the side of being a little more lax where they think the law will allow in the belief that it is better to take grief from the environmental activists than from ‘I-told-you-so’ industry/user critics.”</p> <p>EPA today <a href="">announced</a> that it is “extending the March 13 No Action Assurance to apply to the deadline for submitting the Notification of Compliance Status regarding initial tune-ups in the final Area Source Boiler rule. The EPA is also amending the expiration date of the No Action Assurance so that it will run until either the final reconsideration rule is issued and becomes effective or to Dec. 31.”</p> <p>Rawson said he hopes today’s announcement will not result in a Boiler MACT decision being delayed until after the November presidential election.</p> <p>For now, it’s a test of patience for everyone whose businesses will be affected by these rules.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/07/The_Waiting_Game.html2012-07-18T21:24:31.376Z2012-07-18T21:25:09.518ZWill Coal Bounce Back Long Term?noemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>Coal consumption will fall over the next few years but will gradually grow as demand increases, according to ICF International. During a June 26 webinar, analysts said that coal generation will be down by about 10 percent through 2016 from the 2001 to 2010 average. However, coal generation is expected to steadily climb through 2020 and could be nearly even with current levels.</p> <p>ICF International predicts that coal consumption will be about 915 million tons/year for 2013 to 2030, which is about a 65 million ton/year decrease from current levels.</p> <p>This long-term projection of coal consumption is high, analysts said, considering that the power industry is expected to retire 50 GW of coal-fired generation between now and 2020.</p> <p>Will power generators turn back to coal even after all of the current EPA rules are enforced? Is the projection that in 10 or 15 years, coal consumption will only be 65 million tons/year less than current levels, viable? What are your thoughts?</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/06/Willcoalbouncebacklo.html2012-06-26T20:04:15.126Z2012-06-26T20:05:57.602ZPowering on With or Without the PTCnoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>Even in the midst of a season of uncertainty for the wind energy industry, about 11,000 people gathered in Atlanta, Ga. June 3-6 for the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA’s) annual WindPower event.</p> <p>While wind generation&nbsp;represents 35 percent of new generation&nbsp;installed over the last five years in the U.S., that unprecedented growth may soon come to a screeching halt. The Production Tax Credit&nbsp;(PTC) for wind energy, set to expire on Dec. 31, has caused developers to freeze plans going forward. The PTC was the main topic in question throughout the event, discussed by a number of speakers, including political figures and wind industry leaders.</p> <p>Governors from two states, Arkansas and Kansas, expressed how their states’ economies have boomed in part due to the wind industry.</p> <p>“Three billion dollars of investment in wind has occurred in a 12-month timeframe in my state,” said Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas. “The PTC has worked.”<br> &nbsp;<br> Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas said his state was able to ride out the recession because of new jobs created in the wind industry. “We’re all about wind right now in Arkansas.”<br> &nbsp;<br> According to the speakers, an unextended PTC could demobilize the industry.<br> &nbsp;<br> Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to President Obama for Energy and Climate Change, said the wind energy industry has never had so much to lose. “If Congress doesn’t act, factories will close and tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs.”</p> <p>Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA, said that in a non-election year, the PTC would have already received an extension. However, she remains confident that the tax credit will be extended by the end of the year.</p> <p>“The PTC has the highest level of bi-partisan support than any energy industry, especially in a Congress that’s more divided than ever,” Bode said.</p> <p>But many have questioned whether a one-year extension of the tax credit would even be helpful to the industry, since most wind projects take 18 to 24 months to complete from start to finish.</p> <p>“We don't need the PTC renewed for a year. How can capital decisions be made off something that’s only renewed for a year?” Beebe said.</p> <p>Executives from eight of the largest wind turbine manufacturers agreed that market stability can only be established by longer-term, reliable policy.</p> <p>“This every 12-month hopscotch doesn’t do anything for long-term strategy. We’ve got to have a playing field that brings some stability,” said Duncan Koerbel, interim CEO of Suzlon.</p> <p>The executives discussed two policy approaches that would encourage the continued expansion of the wind energy industry: a national energy policy, or a 2-year extension of the PTC.</p> <p>“Give us a target; set a policy,” Venderby said. “If it expires in three to five years, we can figure out how to compete.”</p> <p>Brownback suggested that a four-year phase-out of the PTC would be ideal. “I think that’s a reasonable, projectable time horizon.”</p> <p>Most of the speakers throughout the conference agreed that the PTC will be extended, but it likely won’t occur until after the November presidential election. That puts a great deal of pressure on Congress during the lame-duck session, the period between Nov. 7 and Jan. 15 typically focused on a series of high-stakes issues.&nbsp;</p> <p>Karl Rove, senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to former President George W. Bush, said that even without election-year perceptions hanging overhead, Congress won’t be able to accomplish in 70 days what it has put off for nearly a year.</p> <p>“We’re going to have a train wreck,” he said about the prospects of dealing with the PTC during the lame-duck session.</p> <p>Rove said Congress will have to determine which issues get discarded and which will receive a stop-gap measure that kicks certainty farther down the road.</p> <p>Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary, said the PTC should be dealt with prior to the lame duck session. “There’s agreement on some things and we ought to clear the plate now.”</p> <p>With or without a PTC extension at the end of this year, executives of the turbine manufacturing companies said they believe wind growth in the U.S. will prevail. Beyond 2012, the market is likely to slow, but the panelists said that won’t keep their companies from staying in the U.S, which is currently the No. 2 wind market in the world, behind Germany. All eight companies – <a href="">Gamesa</a>,&nbsp;<a href="">GE</a>, Goldwind, Mitsubishi Power Systems,&nbsp;<a href="">Nordex</a>,&nbsp;<a href="">Siemens</a>, Suzlon and&nbsp;<a href="">Vestas</a>&nbsp; – said they would not pull out even if Congress abandoned all renewable energy subsidies.</p> <p>“We have a commitment to the market here,” said Christian Venderby, chief operating officer of Vestas, the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world.</p> <p>The wind energy market could be down 80 percent next year, said Duncan Koerbel, interim CEO of Suzlon. “But Suzlon is in this for the longest of the long hauls. If you’re going to be in wind, you have to be in North America.”</p> <p>Aside from policy uncertainty, the American wind industry is also faced with the challenge of emerging competition from cheap natural gas. However, gas prices will not stay around $2 forever, panelists said, and wind energy prices will only continue to fall over time.</p> <p>“We’re all investing in new products and innovations to drive down the cost of energy and make it more in parity with other fuels,” said Michael Revak, vice president of technical sales and proposals for Siemens.</p> <p>Some technology advancement the panelists mentioned their companies are exploring include larger rotors, higher towers, improved batteries, the use of compressed air, as well as advancements in areas like forecasting, interconnection and storage.</p> <p>All eight executives agreed that 2012 will likely see anywhere from 9 to 12 GW of wind power installations, as developers rush to take advantage of the PTC. None of the manufacturers mentioned having seen developers place any turbine orders in the U.S. for 2013.</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/06/PoweringonWithorWith.html2012-06-08T18:46:19.082Z2012-06-08T18:47:30.498ZCSAPR on the Back Burner…For Nownoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>Coal-fired power generators have been able to place the reduction of SO<sub>2</sub> and NOx on the back burner this year, so to speak, at least temporarily. Thanks to a federal court granting a <a href="">request to stay</a> the EPA rule in December, power generators have been able to eschew further SO<sub>2</sub> and NO<sub>x</sub> reduction.</p> <p>More than three dozen lawsuits have been filed against CSAPR, accusing the rule of being one of the “most costly, burdensome and arbitrary” rules ever issued under the Clean Air Act.</p> <p>Since the stay, EPA has tried to appease some companies and states by releasing <a href="">minor changes</a> to the rule. The Final Revisions Rule revises state SO<sub>2</sub> and NO<sub>x</sub> budgets for Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Wisconsin, and new set-asides for Arkansas and Texas. The rule also revises unit-level allocations for Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to better account for utility consent decrees. The rule also amends the assurance penalty provisions for all states within the programs so they start in 2014 instead of 2012.</p> <p>“By delaying the assurance penalty provisions, EPA is providing utilities with slightly more time to rely on emission trading as a compliance strategy and more time to install emission controls,” said Todd Palmer, partner at Michael Best &amp; Friedrich LLP. Trading of SO<sub>2</sub> and NO<sub>x</sub> credits between states is expected to make CSAPR compliance more feasible.</p> <p>An oral argument over CSAPR was held on April 13 in Washington D.C. before a federal court. “The panel seemed most concerned that EPA’s methodology for developing state emission budgets, specifically whether EPA is forcing states to reduce their emissions beyond what is otherwise necessary to mitigate the state’s contribution to downwind air pollution concentrations,” Palmer said.</p> <p>It is expected that the court could reach a decision on CSAPR as early as this summer, which could be followed by substantive changes to the rule by the EPA, Palmer said. However, it is also rumored that EPA may not reach a decision until the beginning of or <a href="">during 2013</a>.&nbsp;Ultimately, many in the industry expect that the final outcome of CSAPR will remain the same as its current form or something very close to it.</p> <p>Mike Walsh, vice president of engineering for MET, which manufactures scrubbers for SO<sub>2</sub> control and provides scrubber upgrades, says his company has seen little movement from utilities in response to CSAPR specifically. Utilities are still hesitant to dive full-in to a control plan for SO<sub>2 </sub>prior to the final, undisputed release of CSAPR, Walsh said. “A lot of utilities are making plans, but no one is going to kick off a project until they see a final rule,” Walsh said.</p> <p>So for the time being, CSAPR will stay on the back burner, and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard remains the central concern for most utilities.</p> <p></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/05/CSAPRontheBackBurner.html2012-05-08T18:43:40.453Z2012-05-08T18:44:13.773ZPotential Alternatives to CCS for Carbon Compliancenoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>The EPA has proposed the first Clean Air Act standard for <a href="">carbon emissions</a> from new power plants. Known as the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS), the proposed rule would give new coal plant operators two options for compliance: Using carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology to limit carbon emissions, or averaging carbon emissions over a 30-year period.</p> <p>From several conversations I’ve had with folks in the power industry, I gather that many of you share the point of view of Scott Segal, executive director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, who says that CCS is “still highly speculative, likely expensive, and EPA has provided no assurance that it will help with inevitable permit delays.”</p> <p>So if the NSPS for carbon is passed in a similar form as the proposed version, will there be any other options to compliance other than installing CCS?</p> <p>Todd Palmer, a partner at Michael Best &amp; Friedrich LLP, said there could be other options for complying with the proposed regulations, such as designing a new fossil-fired facility as a combined heat and power plant (CHP). “We’re going to see more and more industrial facilities looking at on-site CHP. The power from the CHP unit would go to the host facility; it would not be sold retail, and therefore would not be subject to this rule.”</p> <p>Another compliance option for the proposed NSPS could exist in technology like the Transport Integrated Gasification technology (TRIG) currently being installed at Mississippi Power Company’s proposed Kemper County coal-fired power plant. According to parent company Southern Co., the TRIG technology installed on the 582 MW plant would result in 65 percent carbon capture, making CO<sub>2</sub> emissions equivalent to a similarly sized natural gas combined cycle power plant.</p> <p>TRIG technology was developed by the Department of Energy, Southern Co. and KBR at the Power Systems Development Facility in Wilsonville, Ala. In addition to carbon capture, the technology is also effective at capturing SO<sub>2</sub>, NO<sub>X</sub> and mercury.</p> <p>The Kemper County plant is expected to be completed in 2014 and cost Southern Co. about $2.4 billion.</p> <p>Jane Montgomery, partner at Schiff Hardin LLP, said the impending rule could give rise to the creation new technology options that are more commercially viable than CCS. “If your business is being cut off at the knees, you come up with something to try to fix it.”</p> <p>For more on the proposed NSPS, see my upcoming story in the May issue of <i>Power Engineering</i>.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/04/PotentialAlternative.html2012-04-10T13:57:01.042Z2012-04-10T13:57:36.500ZCrazy Ways to Make Electricitynoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>For those of you who think creativity in generating energy means wind farms and photovoltaic panels, your minds are about to be blown. And before you close your browser window, I promise not to mention the word “algae.” Oops.</p> <p>Two of the most unique…er…creative forms of generating energy were recently brought to my attention.</p> <ol type="1"> <li>The Rumble of Traffic.</li> </ol> <p>A bill by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto would require the California Energy Commission to explore the possibility of generating green electricity <a href=",0,3402065.story">from passing cars, trucks and trains.</a> This is made possible by what’s called piezoelectric technology – censors are placed under a roadway and vibrations produced by vehicles are converted into electricity. <br> </p> <p>Piezoelectric technology has already been implemented in Japan and Israel: A Japanese railway company installed censors under the floor in its Tokyo train station and uses the energy generated by travelers to power all of the displays in the station.</p> <p>&nbsp;If piezoelectric technology is implemented in the U.S., it seems like L.A. traffic would be the best place for it!</p> <ol type="1"> <li>Sewage.</li> </ol> <p>I’m trying to put this in the most ladylike way possible. We’re not talking waste-to-energy here. We’re talking the other kind of waste.</p> <p>Power Green Energy, a Pompano Beach, Fla. start-up, has been working to transform waste-water treatment plants into renewable electricity for the state. The company has received tentative approval from the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Commission to initiate operations that would feed into Florida Power &amp; Light Co.’s power-lines by mid-2012.</p> <p>PGE’s waste-to-energy plan stems from the concept of anaerobic digestion. Through this, class-B biosolids from a wastewater facility, containing pathogens and bacteria, are processed through a digester. Once the biosolids have gone through the process, they are upgraded to class-A biosolids, free of pathogens, bacteria and viruses.</p> <p>The proposed initiative is another step toward creating additional energy sources for the state, its tentative goal projected at 4 MW of electricity.</p> <p>A <a href="">similar process</a> is underway in North Carolina, where Duke University is partnering with Duke Energy and Google to test a system that captures methane from manure. The gas fuels a small power plant that makes enough energy to run the waste-processing system and part of a farm.</p> <p>While research and development can bring about creative developments such as these, the long-term question will be: Can these innovative forms of generating energy be maintained in cost-effective ways that are anywhere near grid parity?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/03/CrazyWaystoMakeElect.html2012-03-09T22:56:48.186Z2012-03-09T22:58:14.640ZDon't Put All Your Eggs in One Basketnoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>Lindsay Morris, <a href=""></a></p> <p>Any time a renewable energy or natural gas advocate proclaims that gradually switching entirely to renewables or gas is the answer to the future of power generation, I can’t help but stifle a chuckle. If there’s anything the power industry has taught me over the last couple years, it’s that electricity is reliable and sustainable when it comes from a number of sources – not just one or two.</p> <p>I like the way Keith Trent, group executive of Duke Energy, put it in <a href="">this interview</a>: “Play a diversity card; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”</p> <p>I admire what Duke Energy is doing. Currently, they have two coal projects, two natural gas projects, and 770 MW of wind under construction. That’s what I call a diversified portfolio.</p> <p>Any utility that is leaning hard on low natural gas prices at this time is rolling the dice of chance. The energy industry has seen this scenario time and time again – gas prices plummet and there is a rush to build natural gas plants. But when prices escalate again, the plants ended up being run as peakers instead of base load.</p> <p>Investment in some natural gas power isn’t a bad idea. And retiring a coal plant and switching to combined-cycle natural gas could help avoid a lot of rigmarole with the EPA. But don’t be surprised if the EPA decides to enforce more <a href="">regulations on natural gas</a> over time. Anyone who’s read five minutes worth of energy news in the last year knows that hydraulic fracturing is receiving a good deal of scrutiny.</p> <p>New coal shouldn’t be completely out of the question. While the permitting of plants such as <a href="">Sandy Creek</a> has been met with great opposition in recent years, the environmental community should be the first to admit that the coal power of the future is not the coal power of decades past. Rules recently mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seek to ensure that the coal of the future is as clean and environmentally harmless as possible. Coal is – cover your ears, Sierra Club – not going away. But it is becoming increasingly cleaner.</p> <p>The clean, inexpensive (over the long haul) power that is nuclear shouldn’t be abandoned either. With the recent <a href="">NRC grant</a> to Southern Co.’s Plant Vogtle, it’s looking like the time is finally approaching to rebuild the supply chain for nuclear in the U.S. Plant Vogtle marks the first new nuclear commercial construction project in the U.S. in more than 30 years. Yes, the public may still have some apprehensions about the safety of nuclear post-Fukushima. But the NRC has taken extensive <a href="">measures</a> to ensure the safety of nuclear in the U.S., launching a task force to perform both a short- and long-term review of all nuclear power plants in the U.S.&nbsp;</p> <p>I would be remiss if I didn’t include the need for renewables in the future generation mix. Renewable energy is undoubtedly important. But in order for it to be successful in the U.S., it must continue to receive some government support until grid parity is reached. The potential expiration of the Production Tax Credit at the end of 2012 could be hugely detrimental to a wind industry that has seen <a href="">great momentum</a> as of late.</p> <p>I applaud utilities that are seeking to add more renewables – as well as other forms of generation – to their portfolio. If the proverbial eggs are all in different proverbial baskets, then potential mishaps in electrical power generation will be more likely to be avoided.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/02/Dont-put-all-your-eg.html2012-02-21T20:41:17.895Z2012-02-21T20:45:55.886ZObama: Sticking to “promise of clean energy”noemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>In his Jan. 24 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama reinstated his commitment to renewable energy. Despite the demise of solar manufacturer Solyndra looming over the last year of his presidency, Obama said that he “will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.”</p> <p>Obama called for a commitment by the Defense Department to purchase 1,000 MW of renewable energy. He also referenced the long-standing Interior Department commitment to permit 10,000 MW of renewable energy projects on public land this year.</p> <p>The President called again on Congress to pass a “clean energy standard” that would require electric utilities to glean 80 percent of their power from natural gas, nuclear and renewable sources by 2035, and a permanent extension of a federal production tax credit for wind power.</p> <p>With uncertainty over the future of the PTC, which is set to expire at the end of this year, layoffs have already begun in the wind industry, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Bryan Ritterby of Holland, Mich.-based wind turbine manufacturer Energetx Composites was First Lady Michelle Obama’s guest and also mentioned by Obama during the speech. This was the fifth time wind power has been mentioned in the SOTU in the last decade, by President George W. Bush in 2006 and 2007 and previously by President Obama in 2009 and 2011.</p> <p>The speech also reflected a commitment to the solar industry, which has been experiencing challenges due to photovoltaic debates brewing between and the over illegal dumping.</p> <p>“I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to or because we refuse to make the same commitment here.”</p> <p>Obama said that despite challenges encountered in the renewable energy industry, solar, wind and hydro deserve the same federal subsidies that oil and gas companies have received for decades.</p> <p>“It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising.&nbsp; Pass clean energy tax credits.&nbsp; Create these jobs.”</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/01/obama_sticking_to.html2012-01-25T15:29:41.257Z2012-01-25T15:29:41.257ZWhat are the implications of CSAPR delays?noemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>Emissions control efforts are once again in flux after the U.S. District Court of Appeals recently granted a request to stay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule. What does the postponement of implementing the rule mean for the industry, and when will CSAPR go into effect?</p> <p>The rule, which was originally scheduled to be effective beginning Jan. 1, is set to limit sulfur dioxide (SO<sub>2</sub>) and nitrogen oxide (NO<sub>X</sub>) emissions from power plants in 27 states. Several states, including <a target="_blank" href="">Kansas</a> and <a target="_blank" href="">Texas</a>, and power producers such as <a target="_blank" href="">Luminant</a>, Westar Energy and <a target="_blank" href="">American Electric Power Co.</a> (NYSE: <a target="_blank" href="">AEP</a>) sued the EPA prior to the stay announcement, saying the original Jan. 1 start date did not provide states and utilities enough time to meet the limits.</p> <p>Luminant had planned to shut down its Monticello units 1 and 2 on Jan. 1 to comply with CSAPR, but has continued operating them after the stay was granted.</p> <p>Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) applauded the Court’s decision to stay CSAPR, saying that a Jan. 1 implementation date would have cost hundreds of Texans their jobs, including those working at the Luminant units. “ will now have a chance to discuss the devastating impact that this rule will have on our state’s economy and electric reliability – an opportunity that we were not given by the Obama Administration’s out of control EPA when they adopted the rule,”&nbsp;he said in a Dec. 30 press statement.</p> <p>While the stay does provide a temporary reprieve for affected power generators, it does not guarantee that the Court will prevail in changing the rule, said Todd Palmer, an environmental lawyer with Michael Best &amp; Friedrich LLP. However, this delay will allow the Court to hear all sides of the argument.</p> <p>For now, the Court is deciding a process for companies and states to submit briefs. The Court is scheduled to submit a proposed briefing schedule and format by Jan. 17. Once the Court has reviewed the briefs, it is expected that a hearing may be held in April.</p> <p>Palmer said it seems unlikely that the hearing will be able to take place that early, though. “If you back-calculate the time involved in all the briefs necessary to lead up to a hearing, that gives very little time for all the interested parties to brief the Court on all the concerns they have with the rule,” he said.</p> <p>Kathleen Bassi, an attorney with Schiff Hardin who was previously with Illinois EPA, said it is likely that the hearing will be delayed until May or June, and that the decision could come three to four months after the arguments.</p> <p>During this interim period, the Clean Air Interstate Rule is in effect for SO<sub>2</sub> and NO<sub>x</sub> emissions at affected power plants.</p> <p>The rule in question has brought the subject of the future of electric reliability under speculation. While some in the industry are applauding CSAPR’s postponement, this delay raises the possibility that CSAPR and the recently finalized <a href="">Utility MACT</a> will be implemented in near synchronicity.</p> <p>Whether a delay in CSAPR implementation would also cause a delay in Utility MACT implementation, however, is unlikely, Bassi said. “A delay of the Utility MACT will depend on the outcome of appeals of Utility MACT. In the Court’s eyes, the two are totally independent.”</p> <p>Palmer said one of the biggest concerns over CSAPR is whether the industry will be able to obtain all of the emissions control equipment needed in a timely manner. “There may be a larger number of people looking for supplies than what the market can supply,” he said. Another concern, he said, is a potential shortage of welders and other personnel.</p> <p>For now, however, companies must wait for the Court’s decision on CSAPR before choosing compliance technologies. “Until there’s a final rule in hand, most companies don’t have the authority to start spending the money for compliance.”</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2012/01/what_are_the_implica.html2012-01-09T21:38:58.457Z2012-01-12T16:17:59.748ZMACT Attack or Right on Track?noemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>The Utility MACT and Boiler MACT rules are adding to what many in the power industry are predicting to be a cataclysmic “train wreck” driven by the seemingly unstoppable conductor that is the EPA.</p> <p>In case you’ve been snoozing in your sleeper car, allow me to update you on the basics of the rules. The Utility MACT is slated to <a href="">limit mercury emissions</a> at coal-fired power plants for the first time in history, while also curtailing a number of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). The Boiler MACT rule is set to limit boiler emissions on boilers constructed after June 2010.</p> <p>In collaboration with the <a href="">Cross State Air Pollution Rule</a> (CSAPR), coal ash handling rules, and potential greenhouse gas regulations, will these MACT rules derail utilities, or will industry be able to stay right on track without any risks in electric reliability?</p> <p>Richard Alonso, partner at Bracewell and Giuliani, says that if the “train wreck” does occur, it will happen in the 2014 to 2016 time frame. At this time, CSAPR will likely be “full steam ahead”, and the Utility MACT rule will be going into effect.</p> <p>Alonso said the wild card in Utility MACT is trona injection, an additive that is injected in duct work to reduce acid gas emissions. “EPA suggests that that technology will result in a 90 percent reduction of acid gas. Folks in the industry are saying it’s more like 30 percent,” Alonso said.</p> <p>If trona injection is truly as effective as EPA has asserted, then Utility MACT may not be as big of an issue for many utilities, Alonso said.</p> <p>Meanwhile, environmental groups and a few others praise the MACT rules, touting that the rules will create jobs and ultimately position the for a cleaner energy future. One <a href="">report</a> conducted by Ceres in collaboration with the Institute of Clean Air Companies (ICAC) found that Utility MACT and CSAPR could create as many as 1.5 million jobs.</p> <p>Some, like John Hanger, president and CEO of Hanger Consulting LLC, have not jumped aboard the “train wreck” notion. “EPA is moving forward in a responsible manner and has adjusted as necessary,” he said.</p> <p>Hanger noted that there have been about 15 reliability studies released from various companies and research groups. The studies predict that anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 MW of coal-fired power plants will need to be retired from 2014 to 2016.</p> <p>However, Hanger said, “Fifty-five gigawatts is currently proposed to be built by 2013.”</p> <p>If all of that proposed generation is indeed built by 2013, then it’s likely that the power industry should be prepared to comply with all of the regulations coming down the tracks. The Utility MACT rule is set to be finalized in mid-December, and the Boiler MACT rule is expected to be finalized in April of 2012.</p> <p>Until the rules are finalized, utilities are playing the waiting game to see what the final rules will say before deciding whether to retire or retrofit certain plants. If trona injection is indeed a powerful control method, it’s likely that many plants will only be required to retire their oldest plants (40 years and older) that are virtually unscrubbed.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2011/11/mact_attack_or_right.html2011-11-30T15:31:58.336Z2011-11-30T15:31:58.336ZSolar in the USA: A House Dividednoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>Just when solar power was starting to gain tremendous momentum in the U.S., the industry has hit a colossal bump in the road. Surprising to some, that bump is not in the form of oil tycoons funding politicians threatening to cease government subsidies to solar companies (though post-Solyndra, many would expect that to be the demise of the solar industry). No. The bump in the solar industry is the solar industry itself, which has become a house divided over the last couple weeks.</p> <p>Much like the NBA, the solar industry is spiraling into an inward debacle. On Oct. 9, SolarWorld and six unnamed solar panel manufacturers <a target="_blank" href="" title="">filed a complaint</a> with the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Chinese solar panel makers and cell manufacturers are making it hard to compete in the U.S. market. The companies claim Chinese panel makers and cell manufacturers are receiving unfair subsidies from the Chinese government and dropping their prices at artificially low levels.</p> <p>Meanwhile, more than two dozen <a href="" title="">solar companies formed</a> the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) last week in response to SolarWorld’s filing. CASE asserts that the competitive PV prices the U.S. has benefitted from over the last couple years has…well…benefitted us.</p> <p>Kevin Lapidus, senior vice president of legal and government affairs for Sun Edison, and one of the Coalition founders, said that the companies filing the complaint have not taken into consideration a number of issues that have caused the continuing price decline of solar modules. These issues include declining incentives for solar developments in the U.S. and the continuing price decline of polysilicone, which has fallen 40 percent this year.</p> <p>“In order to succeed, each step in the production chain must reduce its cost,” Lapidus said. “Only if this is achieved across the entire solar industry can we be successful.”</p> <p>After a <a href="" title="">visit to Trina Solar</a>’s manufacturing facility in Chanzhou, China in May this year, I got a peek of how Chinese manufacturers reduce production chain costs. It’s true, they do pay less for labor. While the middle class is burgeoning by the day, China is still at a point economically where it can pay less for labor. Aside from labor costs, Chinese PV manufacturers also have a highly streamlined system that some American and European counterparts have not quite been able to duplicate. These elements result in Chinese manufacturers being able to offer PV products that are on average 10 percent cheaper than their European, Japanese, or American competitors.</p> <p>But the crux of SolarWorld and crew’s argument is not just that Chinese modules are cheap, but that the prices have been dumped at illegal rates. According to a report by investment bank Jefferies, the Department of Commerce is looking at a few factors to determine whether or not panel prices are being illegally dumped:</p> <p>1)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; “Has money been granted outright, or below market rates</p> <p>2)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Are taxes lower for targeted industries, or by regions.</p> <p>3)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Is land given, or</p> <p>4)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Are there other subsidized inputs.”</p> <p>In the end, it won’t matter if the U.S. is simply benefitting from low prices. What will matter is if illegal dumping has indeed taken place. If the case goes through, SolarWorld and friends may end up looking like the goody two-shoes kid in class tattling on the bad kid. And even if the case does not end in SolarWorld’s favor, the company has paid a heavy price over the last month as its stock has <a href="" title="">dropped dramatically</a>. But more importantly, if their case does go through, the cost of modules will go up and solar jobs in the U.S. will be impacted.</p> <p>About a month ago, before any of this frenzy began, Tom Doyle, president and CEO of NRG Solar, took part in our <i>Power Engineering</i> Renewable Energy Executive Roundtable, which will run in the January 2012 issue. His point of view – the developer’s point of view – is ultimately what should matter to PV manufacturers. Here’s what he had to say about the matter:</p> <p>“What’s important to developers right now is the intense competition to drive down PV panel pricing,” Doyle said. “It’s such an aggressive market that it’s significantly surpassed our expectation of what we thought we could see as a buyer of PV products.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2011/11/solar_in_the_usaa.html2011-11-16T15:28:10.176Z2011-11-16T15:28:10.425ZCSAPR, the unfriendly EPA rulenoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>It’s the time of year when lamppost ghosts haunt front lawns, paralyzing 5-year-old pirates and superheroes in their Trick or Treating tracks. And for the power industry, it’s also the time of years when an unfriendly EPA rule known as CSAPR (pronounced by industry hipsters as “Casper”) is scaring the dickens out of some utilities.</p> <p>Unlike the Friendly Ghost, the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) is not so personable, despite the EPA’s recent proposed easing of the rule. The rule is aimed at limiting the amount of SO<sub>2</sub> and NO<sub>x</sub> emissions levels in 27 states. Granted, the EPA took into consideration additional data from states and companies and announced several proposed changes to the rule on Oct. 6. The proposed changes include budget increases in 10 states and unit level allocations in six states.&nbsp;</p> <p>Texas, which <a href="">sued the EPA</a> in September in an effort to block CSAPR, is one of the 10 states proposed to experience slight budget increases. EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz said the change in is being made because the EPA now understands it had been provided incorrect information from some utility companies, including Luminant.</p> <p>Despite the changes proposed for Texas, many in the ERCOT region are still fighting the rule. Barry Smitherman, a commissioner with the Texas Railroad Commission, recently gave a testimony to a investigative committee, stating that CSAPR “was promulgated using a flawed procedural process and will jeopardize the reliability of the electric grid.”</p> <p>Smitherman referenced a <a href="">technical analysis</a> wherein ERCOT engineers state that CSAPR would impact the reliability of the Texas Electric Market by requiring between 1,200 and 6,000 MW of generation to not run during certain periods of the year.</p> <p>“Certainly anything that would take baseload generation off would provide some intermittency issues for ERCOT,” said Elias Hinckley, partner at Kilpatrick Townsend &amp; Stockton LLP<b>.</b></p> <p>Yet another of the main concerns is the quick turnaround that CSAPR compliance will require.</p> <p>Many companies, as well as the state of <a href="">Kansas</a>, have consented that their power plants will not have enough time to install the proper control technologies by Jan. 1, 2012, which is when EPA monitoring for CSAPR will begin. Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, a unit of Xcel Energy, is the latest of nearly three dozen companies and states to <a href="">sue EPA</a> over CSAPR.</p> <p>For now, power plants affected by the rule should continue the ghoulish process towards compliance. EPA is offering a CSAPR implementation <a href="">training workshop</a> on Nov. 10. The proposed changes will be open to public comment for 30 days from publication in the Federal Register, leaving the affected power generators an extremely short timetable to comply with CSAPR starting on Jan. 1, 2012.</p> <p>Until the proposals are finalized, uncertainty continues to loom for the entire industry; not just coal-fired generators, said. “If you don’t have a clear picture of what retirements will be because of certain litigation, it’s tough to model out what the value proposition for any new generation is.”</p> <p>CSAPR, you are truly the haunt of the power industry this Fall.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2011/10/csapr_the_unfriendl.html2011-10-17T21:34:28.628Z2011-10-17T21:34:28.784ZControl Solutions: What’s In, What’s Outnoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>By Lindsay Morris, Associate Editor,</p> <p>Between now and Nov. 16, the power industry will finally be given answers to questions. Questions like: “Will I need to retire or retrofit this coal-fired plant?” “What kind of technology solutions will need to be installed?” “How many millions of dollars will we need to spend on retrofits?”</p> <p>Nov. 16 (or earlier) is bound to be a red-letter day (or some might say, doomsday) for the power industry. It’s the day when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is due to release the finalized Utility MACT rule.</p> <p>While some folks in the industry fear that the rule will be one of the most expensive in history, speculations will hold no bearing until the official rule is announced. Until then, shopping for the right control technology has likely already begun. And just like purchasing a car or a computer, trends will largely dictate decision-making.</p> <p>Here are a few trends occurring in regards to emissions control technologies:</p> <p><b>#1 Fabric filters are in; ESPs are out.</b></p> <p>I’ve been hearing this across the board from a number of different technology developers and engineering consultants. Electrostatic precipitators are becoming a capture device of the past. Why?</p> <p>Fabric filters (also known as baghouses) typically provide a higher mercury co-benefit capture than ESPs. However, ESPs are more effective at capturing fine particulate matter, or PM<sub>2.5</sub>. But fabric filters have a higher pressure drop than ESPs, which may result in a higher operational cost. And fabric filters also have a higher maintenance cost due to the filter media, which must be changed periodically.</p> <p>“A fabric filter typically has a lower capital cost than an ESP, but a higher maintenance cost,” said Steve Francis, product engineering manager with Alstom Power’s Environmental Control Systems. “You trade initial capital investment cost for maintenance costs.” (see the <a title="" href="">August issue story</a> on PM controls for more).</p> <p>Ankur Jajoo, research analyst for <a title="" href="">Frost &amp; Sullivan</a>, said that ESPs are viewed as an aged technology. “They require a lot of cost and maintenance. With Utility MACT being enforced, fabric filters are seen as a more reliable and cost-effective replacement.”</p> <p><b>#2 Multi-pollutant solutions = In for the small guys</b></p> <p>The market has been inundated with a number of multi-pollutant control technology solutions. These technologies are designed to control NO<sub>x</sub>, SO<sub>2</sub>, mercury – you name it – and are typically cheaper and smaller than traditional control methods. Sounds like a universal solution, right?</p> <p>Multi-pollutant solutions have adopted a bit of a “one size fits all” stigma. And in reality, one size does not fit all. A 600 MW coal-fired plant certainly requires different retrofits than a 240 MW combined cycle plant.</p> <p>Jajoo says many of the larger solution providers will stay away from developing multi-pollutant solutions altogether. “Implementing a multipurpose solutions would end up reduce their technology line. It could also stagnate growth for certain companies if they only have one solution.”</p> <p>Multi-pollutant solutions were originally designed for smaller plants, and that is likely where they will stay put. In some cases, a multi-pollutant solution may actually be the best option for a small plant. For example, Skyonic’s multi-pollutant SkyMine technology can be used on 50 MW plants where traditional technologies, such as wet-limestone-scrubbers and SCR, are typically not feasible.</p> <p><b>#3: International options will abound</b></p> <p>Jajoo predicts that international partnerships will likely occur among solution providers. For example, one company with a NO<sub>x</sub> control expertise may partner with an international company that has an SO<sub>2</sub> expertise.</p> <p>The U.S. will likely see a big need for technology solutions between now and 2016, when most of the regulations are set to be met. That could result in an influx of Indian and Chinese solution providers venturing into the North American market, Jajoo said.</p> <p>Likewise, some American technology developers may eventually take their solutions abroad, especially to developing electric markets in Africa, Asia and South America.</p> <p>“Worldwide, we’re likely to see a lot of countries following the directives of the IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the EPA,” Jajoo said.</p> <p>That will mean plenty of SO<sub>2</sub>, NO<sub>x</sub>, PM and HAPs control technologies will need to be created – both for the U.S. and for the rest of the world.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2011/09/control_solutionsw.html2011-09-20T20:50:17.491Z2011-09-20T20:53:37.464ZIs Renewable Energy Haiti's Solution?noemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>By Lindsay Morris, Associate Editor</p> <p>In early August, my husband and I traveled to Haiti to help a relief organization build and paint schoolrooms and homes in the Port-au-Prince area. Devastatingly, Haiti was everything we expected it to be. Hundreds of tents line the fence just outside the airport, buildings still lie in ruin 19 months after the earthquake, and a general mood of despondency floods the eyes of the Haitian people.</p> <p>I make a few observations of the electricity sector while in Haiti. Mission of Hope, the organization we worked with, like many non-profits, hospitals and schools in Haiti, relies on a diesel generator for power. This is due to the insufficiency of national power generation –about 300 MW total, while national demand is approximately 550 MW. This means that even people who have access to electricity usually only get about 10 hours of service each day, according to the World Bank.</p> <p>The generator at the Mission we stayed at was used primarily to power the on-site clinic. The generator runs only during key hours. Fortunately, it was enough for me to use my fan most of the night (though not enough to keep me from longing for AC).</p> <p>The majority of ’s installed electric capacity is thermal (about 70 percent), while about 30 percent of the capacity is hydroelectric. However, like any island near the Equator, Haiti has an enormous potential for wind and solar power. Haiti’s Wind Potential Atlas shows a potential capacity of 50 MW in the area of Lake Azueï alone, which is near Port-au-Prince.<sup> </sup>And while investments in large-scale PV projects would be unlikely in Haiti, rural projects could apply off-grid solar technology. Mission of Hope is currently considering an off-grid wind project, which could save the organization $15,000 a month.</p> <p>While possibilities for renewable energy opportunities in Haiti are abundant, installations would likely need to come at the expense of generous non-profit organizations or power companies. Traditionally, there has been a culture of non-payment for power services, high consumer tariffs and a lack of support from authorities to repel corruption and fraud. These problems have resulted in a lack of investment in the Haitian power industry.</p> <p>However, North American charities or power companies could make a huge difference in Haiti by investing in off-grid renewable projects. Well-constructed solar and wind projects could power entire communities and bring about an economic push that Haiti has needed for a long time – even before the earthquake.</p> <p><i>What is your company doing to help countries like Haiti, and what are your ideas for bringing power to undeveloped nations?</i></p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2011/08/is_renewable_energy.html2011-08-18T15:20:35.690Z2011-08-18T15:20:35.690ZThe Oil Sands and Cogeneration Opportunitiesnoemail@noemail.orgLindsayM<p>By Lindsay Morris, Associate Editor,</p> <p>Last week, I had the opportunity to attend PennWell’s <a href="" title="">Oil Sands and Heavy Oil Technologies</a> Conference &amp; Exhibition in Calgary, Alberta. The Oil Sands have the opportunity to be used as a cogeneration source not only in Alberta, but also in the United States.</p> <p>An abundant resource in northern Alberta, the Oil Sands are used for the production of oil, and for natural gas-fired cogeneration. About a decade ago, Alberta started shifting from a reliance on coal-fired generation to natural-gas cogeneration. This shift was caused by the provincial government’s decision to deregulate the power industry, and the use of royalty incentives to increase oil sands production. TransCanada now estimates that there could be 3,500 MW of cogeneration potential for the oil sands region by 2015.</p> <p>It’s no mystery that the U.S. is also expected to convert to an increasing amount of natural-gas cogeneration over the next decade or two. The shale developments in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and elsewhere will undoubtedly be a great resource for this shift, but the possibility also exists that some resources could come from our neighbor to the north.</p> <p>The Keystone Pipeline System is a plan to transport crude oil from the Athabasca Oil Sands to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, and further to the U.S. Gulf Coast. If U.S. federal agencies approve the plan, it will mean more oil reserves for the U.S., and a potential additional resource for cogeneration projects. On July 26, The House passed legislation to speed up the Obama administration's review of the proposed pipeline. The bill, which would require the administration to decide by Nov. 1 whether to issue a permit determining the pipeline is in the nation's interest, was approved.<br> </p> <p>TransCanada originally proposed the Keystone project in 2005. Robert Jones, vice president of Keystone for TransCanada, spoke during the keynote session at Oil Sands and Heavy Oil Technologies last week. Because the Oil Sands are the only growing supply source with a land-based connection to the U.S., he said, the Keystone project could provide the lowest cost foreign oil that the U.S. has ever purchased. “The U.S. can choose to get oil from Canada or from unreliable, unfriendly overseas sources,” Jones said.</p> <p>The Canadian Oil Sands industry is expected to grow by more than 1.2 billion barrels per year by 2025, said Fay Cranmer, executive director of energy for Accenture. Translation: The Oil Sands is a growing industry.</p> <p>The U.S. would be wise to connect with Canada, a more consistent ally than any other foreign country from which we import oil. While some environmental and engineering kinks still need to be unraveled in the Keystone project plan, it is an opportunity the U.S. power and oil and gas sectors would undoubtedly benefit from.</p> http://localhost:4503/content/pe/en/blogs/up-in-the-air/2011/07/the_oil_sands_andco.html2011-07-26T18:48:57.466Z2011-07-29T14:37:02.608ZObama Administration pushes for Smart Grid, but is industry ready?noemail@noemail.orglmorrisSmart Grid is abuzz recently. The Obama Administration outlined a nine-point <a href="">Smart Grid plan</a> on June 13 that includes funding Smart Grid projects in rural areas and making Smart Grid successes and failures publically available. As a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Obama Administration has already invested $4.5 billion in recovery investments into Smart Grid projects, which has resulted in the installation of over five million smart meters and more. <br /><br />The new plan includes a commitment to invest a minimum of $250 million in loans for Smart Grid projects in the rural U.S. and the creation of a non-profit called Grid 21 focused on consumer tools. In addition, the Administration has launched an initiative that will seek to share the lessons learned from the Smart Grid stimulus investments, and a &ldquo;Renewable Energy Rapid Response Team&rdquo; has also been created that will review clean power and transmission line projects and improve federal coordination for getting clean power projects deployed. <br /><br />Cameron Brooks, senior director of market development and policy strategy at Tendril, a Smart Grid software developer, said the loan for rural Smart Grid development should be viewed like a down payment that rural utilities can choose to build upon. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s an element of establishing the foundation upon which others can innovate.&rdquo;<br /><br />The investment into rural areas will help aid transmission in parts of the country that are lacking adequate transmission, said John Christens, vice president of Smart Energy Services for the consulting company Capgemini. But more importantly, Christens said, the government will be making Smart Grid information more readily available through the new plan. &ldquo;The government is saying it will serve as an ombudsman, publishing the results of pilot programs and smart meter programs. This is a statement of further commitment by the government to establish better standards of grid interoperability.&rdquo;<br /><br />Brooks said the Grid 21 campaign, which will grant customers more detailed and faster access to information on their own meter, is a great step forward for Smart Grid. &ldquo;Very few meters have any information that goes directly into the home, but this plan is looking at ways that can nudge industry and regulators about this issue.&rdquo;<br /><br />But while Smart Grid developments are seemingly welcomed and spurred on by the White House and renewable energy advocates, are they embraced by the power industry as a whole? Or is Smart Grid still perceived as a dark, ominous path with potential pitfalls along the way? <br /><br /><strong>Smart Grid &ldquo;Undefined&rdquo;</strong><br />According to a recent Black & Veatch <a href="">survey</a> of 700 U.S. electric utility employees, almost half of respondents stated that the term Smart Grid is still &ldquo;undefined&rdquo; or &ldquo;somewhat undefined&rdquo; across the industry. Additionally, 58 percent of respondents indicated a negative impression of how well utilities have made their business cases for Smart Grid initiatives. So according to utility employees, it seems that Smart Grid is still a mystery, and one that isn&rsquo;t being developed sufficiently.<br /><br />Part of the solution, according to the Black & Veatch report, could be the cultivation of an industry-wide definition of &ldquo;Smart Grid.&rdquo; Black & Veatch suggests that individual utilities could answer the question: &ldquo;How can we create a common, working definition of the term within our stakeholder community that can be used to ensure a basis of understanding for discussions?&rdquo;<br /><br />But does Smart Grid really need to be defined? Not everyone thinks so. Christens said a standard definition isn&rsquo;t needed because every utility has a different definition of what their Smart Grid innovations look like, ranging from smart meter implementation to incentivizing customers to install rooftop solar or windmills in their backyards. <br /><br />Brooks said a clear definition of Smart Grid is not hindering developments, but lack of access to customer tools is. &ldquo;But that&rsquo;s what the Administration is working on,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br /><strong>Understanding the Perks</strong><br />Christens said it&rsquo;s more important for the industry to understand the benefits of Smart Grid rather than grapple for a definition. &ldquo;In general, the benefits will be to help utilities avoid outages and to tailor prices to demand.&rdquo; <br /><br />According to a <a href="">report</a> released in April by the Electric Power Research Institute, it will cost between $338 billion to $476 billion to implement a fully functional Smart Grid. However, benefits associated with the Smart Grid would range between $1.3 trillion and $2 trillion. <br /><br />In the end, Christens said it is up to the industry or the government to help teach the lessons learned through Smart Grid initiatives, such as San Diego Gas & Electric&rsquo;s (SDG&E&rsquo;s) new $3.6 billion <a href="">Smart Grid plan</a>. SDG&E&rsquo;s plan aims for a smarter grid driven by customers. Many of the utility&rsquo;s customers are installing rooftop solar systems on their homes, and San Diego has one of the highest numbers of electric vehicles in any U.S. city.<br /><br />Learning from Smart Grid initiatives such as SDG&E&rsquo;s could be the greatest lessons for the power industry as it continues to form a 21st Century grid. And the way the new Smart Grid plan is designed, access to information could be the key to Smart Grid developments.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, electricity loses its buzznoemail@noemail.orglmorrisLast Friday night, I found myself standing under a set of immense transmission lines in Coweta, Okla., listening to the buzz of traveling electricity. Some friends of mine own a piece of land blanketed by rolling hills dotted with transmission lines. In between a game of Capture the Flag and kickball, just before dusk, when everyone in northeastern Oklahoma flips on the lights, I listened to the buzz and soaked in the miracle of it all.<br /><br />While the magic of electricity left me with that momentary tingly feeling, the reality of what&rsquo;s missing in the power industry is enough to leave me with a migraine. The buzz of transmission towers, while still fascinating in the year 2011, was a 20th century development. For the most part, things in the power industry are as they&rsquo;ve always been. The industry is aging, without much adaptation to the times at hand.<br /><br />In the book &ldquo;Perfect Power,&rdquo; Robert Galvin, founder of the Galvin Electricity Initiative, and Kurt Yeager, former CEO of the Electric Power Research Institute, propone that it&rsquo;s time for a breakthrough in the power industry. One of the questions posed: &ldquo;Is the electrical industry stuck in a 20th century time warp?&rdquo; <br /><br />Over the last couple decades, the communications industry has undergone a dramatic change. Most of us grew up in homes where cell phones weren&rsquo;t even on the radar scale, and we were content with our AT&T home telephone. Never did we imagine that we would someday carry a telephone in our pockets and have dozens of phone service providers to choose from. <br /><br />&ldquo;What consumers have today is the electrical performance and choice equivalent of the old analog, black rotary-dial telephone,&rdquo; Galvin writes.<br /><br />Just like the communications monopolies of times past, Galvin (former CEO of Motorola), asserts that monopoly utilities operate their base business on how much electricity they sell rather than on the quality, reliability and efficiency of service. Yet, consumers do not have a choice of where to get their electricity from. <br /><br />While the American networks of electrification were heralded as the &ldquo;the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century&rdquo; by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the industry seems to have reached a place of complacency, dominated by aging equipment, blackouts and the aforementioned monopoly utilities.<br /><br />One of the &ldquo;Perfect Power&rdquo; solutions for bringing the power industry out of the &ldquo;20th century mindset&rdquo; is the implementation of smart microgrids. &ldquo;This approach will set the tone for comprehensive, creative solutions rather than timid patchwork answers.&rdquo;<br /><br />Are smart microgrids the key to launching the power industry from being an aging entity to becoming a progressive, developing system? I&rsquo;ll be discussing &ldquo;Perfect Power&rdquo; in future blog entries, and would love to hear your thoughts on the Smart Grid and other concepts to advancing the power industry.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, at Windpower 2011: BPA “allowing the status quo to continue”noemail@noemail.orglmorris&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a violation of contract. It&rsquo;s allowing the status quo to continue and doing so at the expense of an industry that is just now scaling up to size,&rdquo; said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), regarding Bonneville Power Administration&rsquo;s (BPA&rsquo;s) <a href="">decision</a> to temporarily limit output from non-hydropower resources.<br /><br />Bode addressed BPA&rsquo;s actions during a press conference at the Windpower 2011 Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim, Calif. on May 23. High seasonal river flows and <a href="">hydroelectric generation</a> in the Pacific Northwest led BPA to issue an interim decision on May 13 to address what it called a &ldquo;potentially imminent need&rdquo; to temporarily limit wind generation and other sources.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been begging Bonneville to take action and move forward,&rdquo; Bode said. &ldquo;Now when they&rsquo;re in trouble, they shut down the only other renewable sector besides hydro and they let the coal keep burning.&rdquo;<br /><br />BPA, however, says it is limiting the output of all non-hydroelectric energy, including fossil-fuel and other thermal generation and wind energy, according to a BPA press release. BPA says the action was required to protect salmon and steelhead, maintain the reliability of the power grid and avoid shifting costs to BPA&rsquo;s customers.<br /><br />Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, who also participated in the press conference, said that BPA has been short-sided regarding its decision to limit wind power. &ldquo;What they don&rsquo;t have is transmission capacity to get the electricity to market. If we don&rsquo;t move now, five and ten years from now, it&rsquo;s going to be much greater as we come out of this recession.&rdquo;<br /><br />While BPA is under AWEA&rsquo;s scrutiny, the state of California is receiving AWEA&rsquo;s high praises for the continued success of its goal to have <a href="">33 percent of its electric generation</a> from renewable sources by 2020. Bode said that since Senate Bill 2X was signed into law, interest in California wind portfolios has exploded. <br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like the floodgates have opened,&rdquo; Bode said.<br /><br />The wind industry now supports 15 wind-related manufacturing facilities in California. In addition, 4,000 to 5,000 permanent workers help maintain and operate the 3,177 MW of wind power already online in California, equaling 3 to 5 percent of the state&rsquo;s generation, depending on peaking needs.<br /><br />Bode also applauded the role that wind energy played during the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan. None of the wind turbines in Japan were impacted by the disasters, Bode said, evidence to the quality of the product. However, wind generation was limited at times due to transmission issues.<br /><br />&ldquo;Japan&rsquo;s story really told the story for a need for diversification. Renewable resources should be a part of every portfolio.&rdquo;<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, you like to add solar to your order?noemail@noemail.orglmorrisSolar energy augmentation projects are being cooked up world over. Traditional coal and natural gas-fired plants are adding solar to their plants -- both as a way to generate more power, but perhaps also as a way to create a more positive public image.<br /><br />On April 13, Areva was awarded a contract to install a <a href="">solar thermal addition </a>to CS Energy&rsquo;s coal-fired Kogan Creek power station in Queensland, Australia. Adding solar energy to the Kogan Creek power station will increase its output by up to 44 MW in peak solar conditions to the current 750 MW.<br /><br />Solar boosts like these are taking place in the U.S. as well. My colleague <a href="">Brian Wheeler</a> wrote a story for our May issue of Power Engineering on Florida Power &amp; Light&rsquo;s <a href="">Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center </a>located near Indiantown, Fla., which started operations in December 2010. Thousands of parabolic mirrors concentrate the sun&rsquo;s thermal energy onto heat collection elements that contain a heat transfer fluid called Dowtherm A. The fluid heats up and is pumped through heat exchangers, producing steam from feed water supplied by the existing plant. The steam is sent to existing Nooter-Erikson combined-cycle heat recovery steam generators. It is expected that 100 additional megawatts with be generated through this steam process, adding to the pre-existing 1,150 MW of generation.<br /><br />Various studies are taking place to increase the effectiveness of solar-augmented coal plants, such as at Tri-State&rsquo;s 245 MW Escalante Station in Prewitt, N.M. With a goal of increasing power plant efficiency while incorporating renewable technologies, <a href="">Tri-State</a> entered into an agreement with the Electric Power Research Institute in 2009 to host the case study. The ongoing project attempts to provide a conceptual design study, analyze options to retrofit the existing power plant and identify new plant design options.<br /><br />Here are a few reasons <strong>why adding solar to an existing facility just makes sense:<br />1. Cooling.</strong> In the case of the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center and other CSP projects, the water needed for cooling is already available via feed water from the existing plant.<br /><br /><strong>2. Transmission.</strong> Existing power plants are already connected to the grid, preventing problems with access to transmission that new concentrated solar power (CSP) plants often face.<br /><strong>3. Financials.</strong> Advocates of solar augmentation also argue that the technique achieves higher thermal to electric conversion efficiency and potentially lower costs compared to stand-alone solar facilities. Also, the addition of a solar component allows access to renewable energy credit markets and other fiscal incentives for clean energy.<br /><br />For more on traditional power plants that have added solar to their &ldquo;generation menu,&rdquo; check out <a href="">this story</a> that ran in the November 2010 Power Engineering. Order up!<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>,'s hint to coal generators ('s natural gas!)noemail@noemail.orglmorrisAs a newlywed 10 months into marriage, I&rsquo;m still learning that dropping hints is not always the strongest form of communication. I might mention to my husband all week long things like, &ldquo;Doesn&rsquo;t queso from such-and-such restaurant sound good?&rdquo; Then the weekend rolls around, and he still innocently asks, &ldquo;What kind of restaurant should we try?&rdquo;<p/> Sometimes hints aren&rsquo;t picked up on. Or even if they are, they aren&rsquo;t always acted upon. But still, it's often more comfortable, less abrasive to use hints in place of direct communication. <p/> It seems to me that the Environmental Protection Agency is a hint-dropper. The Administration doesn&rsquo;t come out and force conversions from coal to natural gas or renewables. But through nagging mechanisms even more powerful than those possessed by the cast of <em>Desperate Housewives</em>, the EPA can make life tough on coal-fired generators.<p/> On April 14, I attended an EPA hearing in Tulsa, Okla. concerning an ongoing debate over three coal-fired plants that are not under compliance of EPA&rsquo;s <a href="">Clean Air Visibility Rule</a>. The plants are Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&amp;E) Company&rsquo;s Muskogee and Sooner Stations, and AEP-Public Service Company of Oklahoma&rsquo;s Red Rock Station. According to the rule, the stations must achieve EPA&rsquo;s emission limit for SO2 &ndash; 0.15 lb/mmBtu, or 95 percent removal. OG&amp;E said it would cost about $10,000 per ton to reduce SO2 emissions to those levels through the use of scrubber technology at its two plants.<p/> The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) has submitted a State Implementation Plan (SIP), recommending Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) switches for the plants. However, the EPA identified the SIP as one that &ldquo;does not meet one or more of the required elements.&rdquo;<p/> Why doesn&rsquo;t it meet the requirements? Steve Thompson, executive director of ODEQ, said the BART alternative in the SIP &ldquo;reduces SO2 emissions more than the primary requirements in EPA&rsquo;s Federal Implementation Plan.&rdquo;<p/> So what about that is unacceptable to the EPA?<p/> Coal is still being burned. Visibility could still be affected to some degree in federal wildlife areas &ndash; the heart of the issue.<p/> EPA states that &ldquo;switches to natural gas are an acceptable method,&rdquo; as a spokesperson from Oklahoma natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy pointed out at the hearing.<p/> Oklahoma has an abundant supply of natural gas. Larry Nichols, CEO of Devon Energy, told me during a March interview that the company&rsquo;s work in the Cana shale in western Oklahoma which has already netted 11 trillion cubic feet &ndash; larger than Devon&rsquo;s four discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico. So a shortage of a natural gas supply would be close to impossible if these power companies were to do a partial or total switch.<p/> It&rsquo;s not just these Oklahoma coal plants that will soon be replaced by natural gas or another form of &ldquo;cleaner&rdquo; energy. On April 14, Tennessee Valley Authority announced the retirement of 18 coal-fired units. In many cases, it&rsquo;s easier to retire a plant than to retrofit it, especially older plants.<p/> Barney Racine, software development manger for the environmental solutions group of Honeywell Process Solutions, said the EPA&rsquo;s focus is not so much on SO2 control, but rather a complete retreat from coal. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re not necessarily driving legislation from the emissions monitoring standpoint, but from the incentive side &ndash; the cost to burn coal vs. natural gas.&rdquo;<p/> Some coal will undoubtedly remain in the generation mix in the coming decades, but EPA will continue to drop hints that other forms of generation are preferable. While natural gas prices are low, many coal-fired generators will, reluctantly or not, make the switch. EPA&rsquo;s hint will be taken with a grain of salt, or perhaps in some cases, enforced.<p/> And hopefully through tactful hints rather than a means of force even more powerful than the EPA's, I&rsquo;ll get my chips and queso this weekend.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, stands in the way of California&rsquo;s 33 percent renewables goal?noemail@noemail.orglmorrisOn April 12, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 2X into law, requiring that 33 percent of the state&rsquo;s electric generation come from renewable sources by 2020. <br /><br />Under S.B. 2X, all load-serving entities must meet a 20 percent renewables target by Dec. 31, 2013, a 25 percent target by the end of 2016, and achieve the 33 percent criterion by the end of 2020. <br /><br />S.B. 2X applies to all electricity retailers in the state &ndash; investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities and independent sellers. The current 20 percent renewable energy requirement applies only to investor-owned utilities and independent power producers. <br /><br />One municipal utility, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, has already reached the 2013 goal of generating 20 percent of its power from renewables. Smaller municipal utilities like Glendale, Anaheim, Pasadena and Burbank, are behind at this stage in terms of how much renewable power they have in their portfolios, said Dario Frommer, partner at Mayer Brown law firm.<br /><br />Most investor-owned utilities in California are hovering just under 20 percent renewables now. While it may seem that investor-owned utilities are close to meeting the 2013 goal, many of these projects are in litigation over siting issues and may not be completed in time to meet the 2013 target, Frommer said.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s incumbent on the political leaders to address the siting issues that are creating problems for financing,&rdquo; Frommer said. &ldquo;Those issues are an impediment to realizing the 33 percent goal.&rdquo; <br /><br />Concerns over siting issues and financing may abound, but S.B. 2X is expected to bring stronger solar and wind markets to the state. During the signing ceremony, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he sees the measure as a model for other states. Chu also announced a tentative commitment of $1.2 billion in loan guarantees for a 250 MW solar energy project in San Luis Obispo County.<br /><br />Jenya Meydbray, CEO of Berkeley-based PV Evolution Labs, said S.B. 2X creates long-term sustainability in the California solar market. &ldquo;The lack of long-term policy foresight has been one big challenge for solar manufacturers in North America. This new law solidifies California&rsquo;s dedication to developing a sustainable solar market, which will in turn enhance solar&rsquo;s viability as a job-creating industry.&rdquo;<br /><br />Solar won&rsquo;t be the only renewable energy form to brighten in the Golden State. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Annual Market Report for 2010, California came in third for the most wind capacity installed in 2010, totaling 3,177 MW of total capacity. Wind growth in California is expected to continue with the implementation of S.B. 2X, said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA.<br /> <br />&ldquo;California understands the direct link between sound policy and renewable energy&rsquo;s multiple benefits ? California has already seen the jobs and economic development that follow when the right policies are put in place to create a stable business and investment environment,&rdquo; Bode said.<br /><br />Since it was passed during a special legislative session, S.B. 2X is not expected to take effect until early July.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, the nuclear development voidnoemail@noemail.orglmorris<div>As Japan and the world pick up the pieces leftover from Fukushima, the looming question is: What form(s) of energy will fill the nuclear void? Some countries, including <a href="">China</a> and <a href=";feedName=GCA-GreenBusiness&amp;WT.tsrc=Social%20Media&amp;WT.z_smid=twtr-ReutersGreenBiz&amp;WT.z_smid_dest=Twitter">Germany</a>, have already decided to phase out nuclear developments that were underway, looking to solar or energy imports instead. </div><br /><div>Our online audience expressed their opinions on how the nuclear development void could be filled in an <a href="">online poll</a> last week. The results show that 49 percent of poll participants expect natural gas to see the biggest gain if nuclear is suspended or delayed. That&rsquo;s no surprise, with the current low prices of natural gas and the development of numerous shale gas plays in the U.S. and abroad. </div><br /><div>A few days after the Fukushima disaster, I conducted the annual Executive Gas roundtable, which will appear in the May issue of Power Engineering magazine. Five leaders from the gas industry shared their thoughts on the natural gas industry, as well as impacts that Fukushima may have on the U.S. power industry.</div><br /><div>John Adams, senior vice president of Power Operations at Calpine, pointed out that the predicted Nuclear Renaissance included 34 nuclear plants being licensed to go forward in the U.S. Yet of those 34, only &ldquo;a handful looked like they were going to make it or were proceeding on a fast, timely basis.&rdquo; Even before Fukushima, the Nuclear Renaissance was panning out to be more like a tiny ripple in the energy pond. </div><br /><div>&ldquo;Now we have this tragedy on top of it, which will actually slow it further,&rdquo; Adams said. </div><br /><div>Larry Nichols, CEO of gas exploration and production company Devon Energy, said the Japan tragedy is opening up legislators&rsquo; eyes to lower risk forms of energy. </div><br /><div>&ldquo;The nuclear problems in Japan will focus the minds of both the public and policy-makers on why we would provide loan guarantees of $38 billion for new nuclear plants. All the while we have such an abundant, cheap and clean resource like natural gas, which comes with minimal risk,&rdquo; Nichols said. </div><br /><div>Confirmations of those statements are now frequently popping up. A recent <a href="">study</a> from the Energy Information Administration found that the U.S. has twice the amount of projected recoverable natural gas (827 Tcf) than previously thought. </div><br /><div>&ldquo;Natural gas will take a much more dominant role as we go forward, moving from 20 percent to 40 percent over the next 25 years,&rdquo; said Ed Walsh, executive vice president for Black &amp; Veatch&rsquo;s global energy business. </div><br /><div>All right, enough about natural gas already. <a href="">Solar</a> is expected to be another big filler if nuclear growth in the U.S. slows down. Solar growth continues to grow in California, where on March 30 The California Assembly approved a bill that gives utilities until 2020 to have 33 percent of their generation sources come from renewable energy. New Jersey continues to make strides in solar growth as well. According to an April 4 speech by Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the New Jersey solar market grew by 139 percent in 2010 and more than 100 MW was installed. </div><br /><div>It is likely that nuclear development in the U.S. will not continue quite as was planned. However, as of March 15, President Barack Obama said that regulators should continue with the approval of construction licenses for new nuclear power plants despite Japan's nuclear crisis.</div><br /><div>If a nuclear development slow or halt does occur, it&rsquo;s likely that all forms of energy will work to fill the void. If natural gas prices reach a place of stability, a large portion of the nuclear development void will likely be filled by gas. Solar will also have its role, as well as hydro, wind, geothermal and biomass. Coal may even play a filler role through the use of supercritical and ultra-supercritical technologies could reduce carbon emissions and boost efficiencies, as well as IGCC plants. </div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, for a Philosophy Shiftnoemail@noemail.orglmorrisThe Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America kicked off on March 8 with a unique perspective of the condition of the U.S. electric grid presented by Kurt Yeager, executive director of the Galvin Electric Institute and former president and CEO of the Electric Power Research Institute. Yeager stressed during his keynote address that electricity is at a point technologically &ldquo;where we can reinvent Thomas Edison.&rdquo; Much of that revitalization, Yeager said, will come through the continual development of a smarter grid.<br /><br />While Smart Grid has a tendency to tack on a number of different name badges, Yeager defined it in three ways: Moving from analog to an electronically-monitored power system, a two-way consumer services gateway, and the reintroduction of direct current (DC)/microgrids. <br /><br />In order for Smart Grid to work, electricity providers must develop a user-centric view, Yeager said.<br /><br />&ldquo;Smart Grid is a transactive network. The user becomes a partner, not a prisoner of the network.&rdquo;<br /><br />A smarter grid is also essential to grid reliability. Yeager presented a few astonishing numbers associated with grid reliability. The average consumer in the U.S. is without power four hours each year. That may seem like a drop in the bucket, but not in comparison to Japan, where consumers are without power seven minutes a year, and Singapore, where the average citizen would hardly notice the average seven electricity-deprived seconds a year.<br /><br />Yeager noted that President Barack Obama&rsquo;s goal to achieve 80 percent clean energy by 2035 is doable, but &ldquo;we can&rsquo;t do it without fundamentally changing the rules.&rdquo; The principle shift, he said, needs to occur with smart grid developments. Yeager&rsquo;s recommendations for change include providing consumers with a choice of access to real-time electricity prices, holding utilities publicly accountable to specific system performance standards, and expanding net metering to include physical aggregation and carbon portfolio standards. <br /><br />A future in which customer-specific data belongs to the customer should be the electric future of America, Yeager said. If an individual has control over every other area of his or her personal life (bank account, stocks, cell phone bill) through technology devices galore, it should be no different with an individual&rsquo;s electricity usage. The road to a smarter grid starts with a perspective shift from the electric industry, rather than following a lengthy to-do list. Thinking beyond what has already been done will be necessary if the electric industry is going to &ldquo;reinvent Edison.&rdquo;<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>,;s Delay in GHG Reportingnoemail@noemail.orglmorrisOn March 1, EPA announced an extension of the deadline to begin reporting greenhouse gases, which was slated to begin on March 31. A new deadline has not been announced, but the reason behind the delay will be the determining factor in how long the extension lasts. <br /><br />Like most modern technology, EPA&rsquo;s online reporting system, Electronic Greenhouse Gas Reporting Tool (e-GGRT), has not proven itself to be 100 percent e-GRRRREAT. According to Lisa Jaegar, associate at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, e-GGRT was not available during some periods leading up to the Jan. 30, 2011 deadline to submit the requisite Certificate of Representation. Now, delays continue as the &ldquo;Geek Squad&rdquo; at EPA tries to sort out the technical difficulties (no, they aren&rsquo;t outsourcing to Best Buy, but it might not be a bad idea).<br /><br />&ldquo;The reason the deadline has been changed is that EPA is continuing to test the system,&rdquo; said Liz Williamson, associate at Winston & Strawn LLP. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re anticipating that it will probably be this summer when the first reporting requirement will be under e-GGRT.&rdquo;<br /><br />As a resource to GHG-reporting entities, EPA has posted a list of Frequently Asked Questions on its web site. Additionally, EPA is offering a number of training sessions to assist with learning e-GGRT and the rulemaking (by the way, the next scheduled training session is March 9).<br /><br />While the extension was welcomed, it offers only a partial relief to reporting entities. Many companies have already sought technical clarifications from EPA to ensure they are monitoring or calculating emissions appropriately, Jaegar said. One of the main challenges to reporting GHGs is not the CO2 component of the reporting, but the reporting of the other five GHGs involved in the rulemaking: methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).<br /><br />&ldquo;The CO2 is a little more straightforward because we&rsquo;ve been collecting this data for a long time. But for the other five GHGs, it&rsquo;s much more of a chore to collect the baseline data,&rdquo; said Jay Holloway, associate with Winston & Strawn LLP.<br /><br />In the end, it&rsquo;s likely that every state except Texas (and possibly Wyoming) will enter GHG data under an EPA-approved state plan when the new deadline comes around. But for companies calculating and entering GHG data, this is just another collision in the &ldquo;train-wreck&rdquo; of regulations the industry is encountering. For now, however, the GHG train has slowed a bit, and companies may have a chance to gain a better understanding of what is expected.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, gas regulations: Fact or fiction?noemail@noemail.orglmorrisTo what can greenhouse gas standards for fossil-fuel fired plants be compared? Remember the children&rsquo;s story Jumanji? Perhaps you saw the 1995 Robin Williams&rsquo; movie based on the story. Two kids play an old magic board-game that releases a man trapped for decades, as well as a number of dangers that can only be ended by finishing the game. But as long as the kids follow the instructions and complete the game, they are promised survival.<br /><br />Such is the state of the fossil-fuel fired sector when it comes to complying with greenhouse gas regulations. But compliance is no game, and the road to it is far from fiction. <br /><br />&ldquo;Read the instructions and follow the rules, and things can get pretty hair-rising. But if you follow the rules, you can survive it,&rdquo; said a power industry representative on Feb. 4, comparing emissions regulatory compliance with Jumanji. This was one of the many comments made during the EPA-hosted listening session on greenhouse gas standards for fossil-fuel fired power plants and petroleum refineries. This first of <a href="">five listening sessions</a> was intended for electric power industry representatives.<br /><br />Much of the commentary centered on a push for a sector-wide generation performance standard. Some industry representatives said EPA should offer a fleet-wide approach to allow averaging and the use of offsets. Some suggested that an emissions rate-based approach would be the most innovative and least burdensome way to implement a performance standard.<br /><br />Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the EPA office of air and radiation, said that EPA&rsquo;s goal is not to decide on a number for greenhouse gases that ought to be reached. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a cap and trade program. We do not have a greenhouse gas number that we&rsquo;re looking to achieve.&rdquo;<br /><br />While the greenhouse gas facet of the Clean Air Act is in question, other regulations have already taken a toll on the industry. A representative from FirstEnergy Corp. mentioned retrofits recently made at the <a href="">W.H. Sammis Plant</a> in Stratton, Ohio. Efficiency on the units was lost after scrubbers were installed, the representative said. &ldquo;How do we maintain our efficiency as we go forward?&rdquo; Price signals help FirstEnergy and other merchants determine how to invest in their fleet, the representative said, urging EPA to set a price signal.<br /><br />New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) are also a topic of debate. A representative from the American Public Power Association urged the EPA to take its time &ldquo;to get NSPS right,&rdquo; adding that EPA is not under a court under to have standards finalized by July.<br /><br />&ldquo;I will not tell you what the breadth of the New Source Performance Standard is going to look like,&rdquo; McCarthy said. &ldquo;EPA is interested in walking before running.&rdquo; <br /><br />&ldquo;Walking before running&rdquo; &ndash; could this be an implication that EPA will take its time in finalizing NSPS? The listening sessions and public commentary may lead EPA to prolong decisions that have many in the power industry have been rushed. Time will tell. Until then, coal-fired power producers will continue to jump through hoops, fight monsters, and weather the storms that come with living the stranger than fiction story that is emissions control compliance. <br /><br />If you are unable to participate in one of the listening sessions, EPA is accepting written <a href="">comments</a> on the planned rulemakings until March 18, 2011.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, is &ldquo;clean energy,&rdquo; President Obama?noemail@noemail.orglmorrisPresident Barack Obama has launched what is to be a new era of clean energy development in the U.S., announcing that this could be a &ldquo;Sputnik moment.&rdquo; During the Jan. 25 State of the Union address, he urged Americans to rally around a new goal: Obtaining 80 percent of America's electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.<br /><br />While to some, Obama&rsquo;s announcement means the accelerated growth of renewable energy, &ldquo;clean energy&rdquo; can be broadly defined. To conservationists, "clean energy" would likely mean 100 percent renewable energy. To others, "clean energy" could mean 100 percent clean coal. My understanding is that President Obama is referring to a combination of all the resources -- renewable energy, nuclear, natural gas, and yes, even <em>clean</em> coal.<br /><br />&ldquo;It is a very ambitious goal, and it is also a very vague and broad goal,&rdquo; said Jeff Davis, co-head of the renewable energy practice at the Mayer Brown law firm.<br /><br />Currently, the U.S. coal fleet generates roughly half of all electrical output. &ldquo;There are reports that we&rsquo;ll still be using the same percentage from coal in 2035. It will just be clean coal,&rdquo; Davis said. According to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, coal-fired generation will drop to less than one-third of total generation by 2030 &ndash; less than half, but still a sizeable amount.<br /><br />While the definition of clean coal is unclear, renewable energy is expected to continue to grow in the coming decades. Davis said that the ripening of this &ldquo;low-hanging fruit&rdquo; &ndash; wind and solar is &ldquo;key to the continued support of clean energy.&rdquo;<br /><br />In order to reach the goal of 80 percent clean energy by 2035, Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said renewable energy incentives and policies must reach a place of predictability allowing that &ldquo;energy sources that will never run out ... instead of keeping renewable energy on a constant one-year footing.&rdquo;<br /><br />In December, the <a href="">U.S. House approved</a> the passage of a tax bill that includes a one-year extension of Section 1603 (Treasury Grant Program). Incentives for renewables typically have been extended one year at a time, leaving renewable energy industries little room to plan long-term projects and investments.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s time to reorient the tax code to predictable policies,&rdquo; Bode said. &ldquo;Predictability of the permanent incentives for conventional energy sources is as important as the amounts.&rdquo;<br /><br />Davis said that incentives for renewable energy are a must, but the source for funding incentives is questionable. &ldquo;A large part of the State of the Union address focused on deficits and reducing them, but at the same time the President is talking about providing incentives for clean energy. How do we pay for these incentives?&rdquo;<br /><br />The President seemed to signal that energy incentives could come from the reduction of oil subsidies. The oil subsidies vs. renewable energy incentives debate will be an interesting one to watch as it unfolds in the new Congress, given the historic way in which the different sides of the aisle have voted.<br /><br />According to Obama, clean energy is an &ldquo;investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet and create countless new jobs for our people.&rdquo; If clean energy is defined as renewable energy, then this goal could prove to be lofty. But if clean energy is a mix of clean coal, nuclear, renewable energy and natural gas, then this goal is undoudtedly attainable. The current and proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions control regulations alone are enough to guarantee that all existing coal in 2035 will be "clean."<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s advantageous to define the goal broadly in order to achieve it,&rdquo; Davis said.<br /><br />While the bar has been set, it will be up to Congress to pass legislation that allows the goal of 80 percent clean energy by 2035 to come to pass.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, gas regulations and political hijinksnoemail@noemail.orglmorrisHow will greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations affect new and stationary sources? Will GHGs play a role in the 2012 presidential elections? During a recent Bracewell &amp; Giuliani LLP press conference, partners such as former EPA air administrator Jeff Holmstead, congressional/refining expert Scott Segal and former EPA enforcement official Rich Alonso took part in a discussion centering on these topics.<br /><br />On Dec. 23, 2010, the EPA issued its plan for establishing greenhouse gas pollution standards under the Clean Air Act (CAA) in 2011. This included reference to New Source Performance Standards, which set the level of pollution new facilities may emit and address air pollution from existing facilities.<br /><br />Holmstead said EPA is incorrect to say that new and modified sources are not yet regulated; &ldquo;There&rsquo;s just no standard for what they have to meet. Right now, developers are faced with undergoing a process that gives them a standard, but don&rsquo;t yet know what the standard is going to be or how they&rsquo;re going to get there.&rdquo; This uncertainty, Holmstead said, has caused the construction moratorium.<br /><br />&ldquo;EPA is acknowledging that it&rsquo;s going to be a couple years before people see these new permits.&rdquo;<br /><br />However, NSPS are more favorable than the typical EPA permitting processes, Holmstead said, and this could impact the effectiveness of the end product. &ldquo;This is the big issue that EPA faces: if they do what&rsquo;s sensible and reasonable for coal-fired power, they might get a 2 to 5 percent reduction in greenhouse gases.<br /><br />EPA may not be willing to undergo this less strenuous process in order to reduce emissions by a few percentage points, Holmstead said.<br /><br />Texas, where a federal <a href="">court has denied</a> the state&rsquo;s attempts to <a href="" target="_blank">delay </a>U.S. environmental regulators from imposing regulations on greenhouse gases, will face construction being put on hold for at least a couple years, Holmstead said.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m confident in saying that nobody in Texas will have legitimate authority to build a new project in at least two years, and that would be lightning speed.&rdquo;<br /><br />Segal spoke on how EPA regulations could affect political positions, and vice versa. Delays of one to two years in regards to emissions rule-making &ldquo;could set up an unfortunate collision course with the presidential election.&rdquo; A three-year delay on EPA&rsquo;s behalf could allow the Agency to &ldquo;operate from the position of political hijinks.&rdquo;<br /><br />While discussions have been made on how Congress will handle the greenhouse gas regulations, Segal said that Senate&rsquo;s reaction to the standards will be something to watch. &ldquo;Harry Reid has been a strong defender of premium renewable energy.&rdquo; Among the 10 Senate Republicans, 100 percent voted for the last floor vote on a resolution of disapproval for global greenhouse gases. In addition, of the 21 Democrats up for re-election, 10 are from states in which a vote seen as favorable to greenhouse gas regulatory authority &ldquo;would be a political liability.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;That doesn&rsquo;t mean they&rsquo;re going to vote in favor of an amendment, it just means in 2012, they would have some ?splainin&rsquo; to do if they voted against it,&rdquo; Segal said.<br /><br />The Bracewell &amp; Giuliani team also discussed the Jan. 12 EPA announcement to <a href="">defer biomass</a> from greenhouse gas permitting requirements for three years. Alonso said that because biofuels are not yet under the structure of the CAA, this provides an incentive to build biomass. However, Alonso said that EPA has created a problem for itself.<br /><br />&ldquo;They have announced this as a three-year delay, but it&rsquo;s not clear if this is legal.&rdquo; Alonso said this policy will likely be challenged &ldquo;because biomass does emit carbon.&rdquo;<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, industry of 2011, meet environmental regulationsnoemail@noemail.orglmorrisWelcome to 2011! Amidst news of falling natural gas prices and wind power projects meeting dead ends, most power generators will have a unified focus this year: preparing for EPA regulations in the hopper.<br /><br />Waiting on regulation announcements and researching what needs to happen at power plants in order to meet standards &ndash; these seem to be in the crystal ball for the power markets this year. 2011 has commenced with a focus on greenhouse gas emissions regulations, as the EPA seeks to create a federal standard for greenhouse gases, and <a href="">lawmakers have protested</a> through at least four different bills to date. These bills seek to thwart greenhouse gas regulations from taking effect for two years.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Texas and the EPA are involved in the fiercest part of <a href="">the greenhouse gas regulations spat</a>, as Texas is the only state that has refused to issue a greenhouse gas permit process. EPA filed a brief with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington on Jan. 6 saying that EPA is the &ldquo;ultimate supervisor&rsquo;&rsquo; if a state <a href="" target="_blank">fails to develop</a> or enforce an acceptable plan. Twelve other states continue to work with EPA to develop process guidelines.<br /><br />On Jan. 7, Texas filed a brief with the Court saying that EPA did not follow procedures to seize control of the state&rsquo;s permit process and did not provide sufficient notice or open the decision to comment. Texas and the EPA <a href="">expect a ruling </a>from the Court this week in their case.<br /><br />Aside from greenhouse gas regulations, a number of other regulations are slated to be proposed or enforced in 2011 (see page 5 of <a href="">this ICF International study</a>). The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) predicts that these four rules could have the greatest impact on electric reliability:<br /><br />-Clean Water Act Section 316(b), Cooling Water Intake Structures<br />-Coal Combustion Residuals Disposal regulations<br />-Clean Air Transport Rule<br />-Title III of the Clean Air Act; National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for the electric power industry or Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) Standard<br /><br />In its 2010 <a href="">Long-Term Reliability Assessment</a>, NERC stated that the proposed rulemaking adds a degree of uncertainty to future planning of generation capacity needs. When considering the repercussions of these regulations on existing and planned generation capacity over the next 10 years, NERC found that, &ldquo;Depending on the outcome of any or all of these regulations, the results may accelerate the retirement of some fossil fuel&ndash;fired power plants.&rdquo;<br /><br />John Moura, technical analyst for NERC, said the timing of several regulations being enacted in a short period of time will have its effect on electric reliability.<br /><br />&ldquo;The major driver of concern is going to be the time the industry has to react to these issues,&rdquo; Moura said.<br /><br />Recent studies by ICF International, NERC and Credit Suisse estimate anywhere from 10 to 75 GW of coal capacity are at risk for retirement by 2020. Retiring such a large percentage of the fleet could put electric reliability at risk, as could retrofits, Moura said.<br /><br />&ldquo;A utility has to take a unit offline to put a scrubber in. That kind of coordination in a condensed period of time can really create some issues both in the adequacy and in the operating reliability.&rdquo;<br /><br />2011 &ndash; a year for both regulation enforcement and the introduction of new proposals. Generators will seek to comply with new regulations and prepare for future regulations, while attempting to grow the North American electric system into an even more reliable, flawless network.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, 1603 extension marks another renewable energy victorynoemail@noemail.orglmorris2010 has seen a number of efforts by renewable energy developers to position renewable energy as a bigger power player. Renewable energy proponents fought for the defeat of Proposition 23 in California during the November election. And most recently, renewable energy advocates gained the extension of Section 1603 (Treasury Grant Program).<br /><br />Shortly before midnight on Dec. 16, the U.S. House approved the passage of a tax bill that includes a one-year extension of the grant program. The program was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Section 1603) to provide commercial solar installations with a cash grant in lieu of the 30 percent solar investment tax credit (ITC). The extension was heralded by groups like the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).<br /><br />&ldquo;It took a year of tireless effort from the entire solar industry and our champions in Congress to get an extension of the 1603 program,&rdquo; said Rhone Resch, CEO of SEIA. <br /><br />&ldquo;The inclusion of renewable energy in the tax bill is a clear indication of strong bipartisan support for the wind industry,&rdquo; said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA.<br /><br />Renewable energy projects that start construction before Dec. 31, 2011 will receive a 30 percent cash grant. Since many renewable energy developers were in a holding pattern until the decision to &ldquo;extend or not to extend&rdquo; was made, some projects that were scheduled to start by the end of this year are now being corralled.<br /><br />Borrego Solar, a developer based in San Diego, Calif., has benefitted from the increasing industry interest in solar investments bolstered by the Treasury Grant Program. Mike Hall, CEO, said the one-year extension is a relatively small victory but will allow projects more time for &ldquo;baking.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think there will be a lot of projects that will fall out. This guarantees that the solar industry will grow in 2011 and 2012.&rdquo;<br /><br />Maria Schnitzer, director of solar services for AWS Truepower, a wind and solar forecasting company, said recently the company has seen continued activity in preconstruction site assessment, although it is &ldquo;not as strong as in years past for wind.&rdquo; However, activity in solar forecasting is increasing, she said. As a result of the Treasury Grant Program extension, Schnitzer said she expects to see more business in long term forecasting for the preconstruction phases and operational assessments for projects that are already in the ground.<br /><br />The extension of the Treasury Grant Program is a victory with a bittersweet ending for most developers, as longer term extensions are needed to provide greater stability to the market.<br /><br />&ldquo;We would like to see a permanent commitment to renewable energy policy in the U.S.,&rdquo; Schnitzer said.<br /><br />&ldquo;While the one-year extension is great, we need to find a longer extension,&rdquo; Hall said.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, International keynote address: Regaining industry-wide momentumnoemail@noemail.orglmorris<!--StartFragment--> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">Conference and exhibition attendees streamed into the Valencia Ballroom of the Orlando Convention Center the morning of Dec. 14 for the kickoff session of POWER-GEN International 2010. The keynote address, &ldquo;Regaining Momentum,&rdquo; included presentations and a Q&amp;A session with Dr. Terry Michalske, director of the Savannah River National Laboratory, Dr. </span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight: bold">Ren&eacute; Umlauft, CEO of the renewable energy division for Siemens AG, Susan Tomasky, president of AEP Transmission, and<span class="msoIns"><ins cite="mailto:Sharryn%20Dotson" datetime="2010-12-14T13:23"> </ins></span>David Fiorelli, president and CEO for the business development group at Tenaska.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; ">With developing countries expected to drive energy demand and global carbon emissions in the upcoming decades, Michalske said nuclear must play a strong role in reducing emissions by 2050. An increasing portion of nuclear growth will be in the development of small modular reactors (SMRs), he said. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> </span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">&ldquo;Small modular reactors could be game-changing technology to take us to the new energy future,&rdquo; Michalske said, asserting the benefits of SMRs: high efficiency, the ability to be monitored remotely, and a long fuel lifetime (up to 30 years).</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">One of the most important challenges in nuclear is getting through the regulatory approval for a carbon legislation, Michalske said. &ldquo;It will take a concerted effort between the industry and government in order to move this forward.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">However, in 2009, 3 percent of worldwide generation came from renewable energy. That number is expected to rise to 17 percent by 2030, Siemens AG&rsquo;s Umlauft said, with much of the increase coming from India and China. Half of renewable growth will come from wind power, 31 percent from solar, 15 percent from biomass, and 4 percent from geothermal and other sources, he said.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">Umlauft said manufacturing wind turbines at a national level will create jobs and drive costs down, leading to the proposed jump in wind generation. A 20 to 30 percent reduction of onshore wind costs is expected in the next few years as a result of manufacturing changes.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; ">While storage is often viewed as the &ldquo;holy grail&rdquo; of renewable energy development, Umlauft said other tools should be developed first. These tools include the creation of longer transmission lines, prediction methods for wind and solar and Smart Grid innovations.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">Speaking on the need for transmission to help power generation companies regain a foothold in the economy, Tomasky of AEP Transmission said in her opening statements, &ldquo;We are beginning to see the market of transmission as a business for building transmission.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">Transmission needs to be an important issue because of dramatic shifts in the generation profile that have taken place, the necessity to integrate electrically isolated large scale renewables, and the emissions control regulations that will require the retrofitting or retirement of some coal-fired plants, she said.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; ">&ldquo;Our present system is ? ill-equipped to integrate large-scale renewable resources,&rdquo; Tomasky said. &ldquo;Renewable resources are often located in areas of the country where there is little or no transmission infrastructure.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">She said that wind generation presents a &ldquo;chicken and egg issue&rdquo;: Generators are hesitant to put transmission in place, and transmission is not often pursued until the generation is committed.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">&ldquo;Getting wind into the system requires a much more robust transmission system.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">Tomasky also said that while incentives for renewables may be uncertain, incentives for new technologies are most likely to survive. &ldquo;Anything we can do to demonstrate to FERC that we&rsquo;re building a smarter grid is an opportunity for return.&rdquo; <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial">Fiorelli spoke on the need for developing cleaner coal</span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">. Though the long-term effects of shale gas on gas prices are still unknown, it appears that prices and volatility of natural gas will continue to fall, he said. When combined with regulations concerns like the transport rule and rules for mercury, hazardous air pollutants and CO<sub>2</sub>, producers should begin looking towards clean coal options before being met with the possibility of detrimental outcomes for coal plants.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; ">Tenaska has recently developed two integrated gas combined cycle (IGCC) plants, the Taylorville Energy Center in Taylorville, Ill., and the Trailblazer Energy Center, a PC plant with Fluor carbon capture technology to be located in west Texas.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; ">During the Q&amp;A session, Tenaska&rsquo;s Fiorelli said productivity in policy-making seems to slow with every new election. &ldquo;We need people to establish policy, write rules and regulations, and then get out of the way,&rdquo; Fiorelli said.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; ">Under greenhouse gas regulations, Fiorelli said, first movers could receive bonus allowances to support project economics even under low or moderate carbon price scenarios, adding to the incentives to move toward clean coal.</span></p> <!--EndFragment--><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, Energy Complex: combustion turbines, cooling ponds and gators, oh my!noemail@noemail.orglmorris<!--StartFragment--> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: Times; ">Technical tour attendees visited Progress Energy&rsquo;s 1912-MW Hines Energy Complex located seven miles outside of Bartow, Fla. on Dec. 13. The complex has four combined cycle units fueled by gas and oil. The first unit began commercial operation in 1999 and subsequent units began operation in 2003, 2005 and 2007.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: Times; ">The construction of the complex was a 15-year project beginning in 1992 that took place on a reclaimed phosphate mining area. Aside from the construction of the four units, the size of the cooling ponds was increased from 722 acres to 1196 acres, and cooling towers were built.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:Times"><o:p> </o:p></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Times; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial">The first power block has two Westinghouse 501FC combustion turbines, a Westinghouse BB245/72R</span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt;font-family:Times;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"> </span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Times;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial">steam turbine and two Foster-Wheeler heat recovery steam generators. The second power block has two Siemens 501FD combustion turbines, a Siemens HE steam turbine and two NEM heat recovery steam generators. The third power block has two Siemens 501FD combustion turbines, a Siemens HE steam turbine and two Nooter/Erikson heat recovery steam generators. The fourth power block is comprised of two GE 7FA combustion turbines, a GE D11 reheat steam turbine and two Nooter/Erikson heat recovery steam generators. Units 1-4 also feature dry low NOx controls with Selective Catalytic Reduction.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family: Times; ">Marty Drango, plant manager, noted that output from all of the turbines is greater during the winter months (by less than 100 MW) because combustion turbines depend on air density. Density is greater during winter months, especially in the humid Florida climate.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:Times">The cooling ponds onsite have required a good deal of maintenance, and plant operators estimate that 475,000 pounds of tilapia have been removed from the ponds. Fish are not the only creatures that have made appearances at the Hines Energy Complex. </span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Times;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial">Progress Energy Florida rebuilt 1,500 acres of wildlife habitat on the formerly mined property adjacent to the Hines Energy Complex. In the process of rebuilding the habitat, Hines staff members have seen the return of alligators, bobcats, deer, hogs, eagles, ospreys, spoonbills and turkeys, among other animals. Hines Energy Complex management estimates as many as 2,000 alligators dwell in the cooling ponds.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Times; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"><o:p> </o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:Times"><o:p> </o:p></span></p> <!--EndFragment--><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, Grant Program extension in Senate&rsquo;s handsnoemail@noemail.orglmorrisProponents of renewable energy have staked high hopes on the extension of the Treasury Grant Program, which has provided cash grants for renewable energy projects in lieu of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The cash grant program is set to expire at the end of this year, which has caused many renewable energy developers to become tentative about project planning.<br /><br />All bets are on now after the Senate proposed a one-year extension of the program under the text of the tax bill introduced on Dec. 9, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). A cloture vote on the tax bill is scheduled for Dec. 13 at 3 p.m.<br /><br />Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., led a group of 17 senators and 81 House members in calling for the Treasury's cash grant program to be included in tax legislation. In letters requesting the extension, senators and members of the House urged their leaders to renew the grant program, calling it essential to wind, solar and other renewable energy industries. Some senators said they would have difficulty supporting tax legislation that failed to include the Treasury Grant Program&rsquo;s extension.<br />According to the <a href="">Solar Energy Industries Association</a> (SEIA), through February of 2010 the program had already financed over 300 solar projects and created more than 10,000 new jobs. In addition to dealing with the short term problem of the tax credit market, it has also allowed many small- and medium-sized businesses to take advantage of the cash subsidy without having to use the full ITC.<br /><br /><a href="">A study</a> by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found the wind energy projects that were made possible by the Treasury Grant Program were responsible for more than 55,000 jobs.<br /><br />"Factories across the country will restart production lines, recall workers and avoid layoffs that would have followed the loss of this key incentive for wind energy, which with consistent policies like this one can generate 20 percent of America's electricity within 20 years," Denise Bode, CEO of the <a href="">American Wind Energy Association</a>, said in a statement on Dec. 9.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, mission to fight emissions non-compliancenoemail@noemail.orglmorrisDr. Sue Tierney, former Massachusetts state regulator and Department of Energy official, is set on waking up some in the power industry from a sluggish state. Tierney&rsquo;s mission is to show the industry that compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations should not be delayed.<br /><br />Tierney is also lead author of a reliability report, Ensuring a Clean, Modern Electric Generating Fleet while Maintaining Electric System Reliability, a gathering of information on the industry&rsquo;s readiness for compliance.<br /><br />According to two July 2010 studies by the Energy Information Administration, the combination of low energy prices and EPA air regulations could result in the retirements of between 25 to 40 GW of the nation&rsquo;s 1,030 GW of electric generating capacity. Although some plants may be retired, Tierney&rsquo;s report found that approximately half of the nation&rsquo;s coal-fired generating capacity (150 GW) has already installed SO2 scrubbers, another 55 GW plan to install scrubbers and a significant number of coal units have already announced plans to retire. That necessitates one-fourth of the nation&rsquo;s coal-fired generation to add pollution controls, switch to a cleaner fuel or retire.<br /><br />Despite all of the changes needed to be made on units in the next few years as a result of the air, coal ash rules and water rules, Tierney is confident that the electric industry is prepared to meet the challenge. Her reliability report found that each North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) reliability region has excess capacity, totaling over 100 GW of excess capacity nationwide. In fact, between 2001 and 2003, the electric industry built over 160 GW of new generation &ndash; about four times what analysts project will retire over the next five years. Therefore, even if projected retirement scenarios prove accurate, the likelihood of capacity shortages is slim, Tierney said.<br /><br />Tierney&rsquo;s platform is that the electric industry is well-positioned to respond to emissions regulations, with commercially available NOx, SO2, mercury and acid gas control technologies. Many coal plants have already been fitted with scrubbers: Between 2008 to 2010, approximately 60 GW of coal capacity was installed with scrubbers, with the industry completing more than 50 scrubber retrofits each year, the report found. Tierney said those in the industry who are delaying do so out of an impression that tarrying will be to their financial benefit.<br /><br />&ldquo;The friends of delay could create the very problem they&rsquo;re saying they don&rsquo;t want to have happen by getting everyone on the delay bandwagon. Then people won&rsquo;t start to make decisions and figuring out how they&rsquo;re going to comply soon enough,&rdquo; Tierney said.<br /><br />Among the many rules that EPA is addressing, the transport rule for SOx and NOx and the hazardous air rules for mercury are under court order under existing law for power plants to implement necessary changes, Tierney said. &ldquo;I think debating whether that is worthy of considered delay is a tactic which would have unfortunate consequences.&rdquo;<br /><br />However, the EPA has much more discretion over the water rules, which will determine what kind of cooling system changes if any need to be made at existing plants. Tierney said those rules may be worthy of considering delay.<br /><br />Tierney said emissions regulations are just one set of the many rules that the industry has responded to over the last 30 years. &ldquo;Simultaneously we&rsquo;ve been able to afford keeping the lights on and providing relatively affordable electricity supply.&rdquo;<br /><br />While Tierney is confident that the emissions adjustments are doable, some in the industry argue that time and money spent on control technology implementation are time and money taken away from research and development. Tierney, however, said she has witnessed many experiences in which government requirements have stimulated problem solving and innovation in response to compliance requirements. In addition, &ldquo;From an industry point of view, the folks who work on R&amp;D are not the folks who work on the engineering of solutions.&rdquo;<br /><br />Tierney&rsquo;s standpoint is that the electric sector is well-positioned to respond to EPA&rsquo;s mission to &ldquo;help millions of Americans breathe easier and live healthier&rdquo; without threatening electric reliability. &ldquo;With economic costs, there will also be economic benefits related to health as well as investment/construction stimulus.&rdquo;<br /><br />She said that industry studies that raise the spotlight on reliability issues do not typically incorporate assumptions about how the market will respond and therefore are not necessarily sound pictures of what will occur. Existing substantial excess capacity, the electric industry&rsquo;s proven track record to timely construct new generation and to efficiently coordinate the scheduling of planned outages, together with transmission enhancements, smart grid investments, fuel conversions, relatively low gas prices and demand-side actions should mitigate reliability and cost concerns, Tierney said.<br /><br />&ldquo;As a final backstop, existing statutory, market and regulatory safeguards will facilitate the retirement of inefficient units, and an orderly transition to cleaner, more efficient generation.&rdquo;<br /><br /><a href="">Click here</a> to read the entire report (PDF) co-authored by Dr. Tierney.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, Lame Ducks May Do for Powernoemail@noemail.orglmorrisCongress started lame-duck sessions this week, will take next week off for Thanksgiving and reconvene on Nov. 29. The final date of adjournment will be determined by how much Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempt to accomplish, and how willing Republicans are to pass legislation.<br /><br />What is expected to happen during lame-duck that will leave its mark on energy? The renewable electricity standard (RES), which was originally included in the broad energy bill that passed out of the Energy Committee last summer, was once believed to become part of the Senate climate bill this year. But when those talks failed last summer, Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman and Kansas GOP Sen. Sam Brownback introduced the RES measure as a stand-alone bill. Since then, they have been working to obtain the 60 votes needed to move it to the floor. So far, 31 additional co-sponsors have signed on.<br /><br />Even if Bingaman and Brownback find 60 supporters, politics of the lame-duck legislative session may keep the measure off the floor. &ldquo;We do know energy does not top the to-do list,&rdquo; Bingaman spokesman Bill Wicker told<em> The New York Times</em>. <br /><br />Of course the renewable energy industry holds on to the hope that the Treasury Grant Program (1603) will be extended beyond Dec. 31, 2010 and that the extension will be established during lame duck. An Oct. 25 <a title="" href="">memo</a> from White House climate adviser Carol Browner, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers and Vice President Joe Biden&rsquo;s chief of staff Ron Klain suggests that stimulus money for the renewable energy loan guarantee program be moved into the 1603 program.<br /><br />&ldquo;A 2-year extension of the 1603 grant program through the sunset of the associated tax credits has a $2.5 billion tax score. The Administration could work with Congress during the lame duck on the tax extenders bill to reprogram the 1705 funds to pay for the 1603 extensions&rdquo; or other &ldquo;clean energy priorities,&rdquo; the memo said.<br /><br />But does taking away from the renewable energy loan guarantee program and moving it into 1603 funding equate to taking a cookie away from a child and giving him a Snickers bar instead? Is &ldquo;musical chairs&rdquo; funding the answer? Or will the renewable energy industry develop best when faced with consistency in terms of government funding and incentives?<br /><br />What happens during lame duck in the next two weeks could change things for the power industry, but mostly in moderation.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, Big ?: The Future of Wind Energynoemail@noemail.orglmorrisDenise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), said during a Nov. 5 webcast that the main issues for wind energy development in 2011 will be the extension of Section 1603, or the Treasury Grant Program (TGP) and the creation of a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES).<br /><br />As a result of the TGP, 40,000 U.S. wind energy jobs were saved and 10,000 MW of new wind power came onto the grid in 2009, Bode said. However, wind energy progress could be imperiled through the potential Dec. 31, 2010 TGP start date expiration.<br /><br />&ldquo;The Treasury Grant Program has been successful at keeping American jobs from going overseas,&rdquo; Bode said. &ldquo;Policies like these are exactly what the industry needs in order to keep wind growing and to regain our position as a global leader.&rdquo;<br /><br />Bode said she is hopeful at the prospect of an extension after hearing of an internal White House memo circulated on Nov. 4, 2010 in which administration officials discussed the program&rsquo;s extension.<br /><br />While 2009 was a year of growth for wind energy, 2010 has told a different story. Installations for the first three quarters of 2010 are down 72 percent from last year. U.S. power plant developers added 395 megawatts of wind power in the third quarter, the slowest growth since 2007.<br /><br />Elizabeth Salerno, director of industry data and analysis for AWEA, said 5,000 MW of total wind installations are expected by year end 2010. This number is dependent largely on whether the TGP start date is extended through the end of 2012. If it is, then many project start dates are expected to be pushed back to 2011 or 2012. If it is not extended, then developers will likely rush to start projects in the fourth quarter of 2010.<br /><br />In 2010, Oregon added the most wind capacity of any state, and Delaware made it on the list of 37 states with wind generation. The top three wind producing states are Texas, Iowa and California.<br /><br />Bode said AWEA looks forward to working with Congress and Senate to progress policies for renewables, citing Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Rep. Jerry Moran of Kansas, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut as some of the key proponents for wind energy. Bode said a RES is a key to the growth of the wind energy industry, but it may be molded into a clean energy standard, combining renewables with fossil fuel generation.<br /><br />&ldquo;If you include those other resources and turn it into a clean energy standard, you have to make sure the renewables are highlighted and diversified,&rdquo; Bode said.<br /><br />To date in 2010, 40 percent of new generation has come from coal and only 13 percent from wind. In contrast, wind made up 39 percent of new generation in 2009, almost matching the growth of natural gas, and coal took 13 percent.<br /><br />While policy will be the key player for U.S. wind growth in 2011, technology developers continue to move forward, with internal manufacturing efforts increasing. Bode said wind is the fastest growing manufacturing sector in the country, having increased domestic content from 25 to 50 percent in the last few years.<br /><br />In addition, wind energy technologies are branching into offshore developments. In October, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the first lease for commercial offshore wind energy, which would make Cape Wind on Nantucket Sound the first wind farm on the Outer Continental Shelf. Another handful of offshore wind projects are being considered off the coasts of Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maine, and even Ohio, in Lake Erie.<br /><br />Bode said the signing of the first offshore lease was historic when taking into consideration how profitable offshore oil and gas leases have been for decades.<br /><br />What will happen with wind energy in 2011? That question continues to loom over the renewable energy industry.<br /><br />&ldquo;The post-2010 world of wind energy is filled with question marks because we don&rsquo;t know where the economy or policies are going to land,&rdquo; Salerno said. &ldquo;All of these factors really push around the growth in wind.&rdquo;<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, Mark the Ballot for Renewable Energy: The Defeat of Proposition 23noemail@noemail.orglmorrisIn what is being considered the largest public vote on clean energy policy in U.S. history, Proposition 23 was defeated yesterday by approximately 60 percent of California voters. Proponents of climate law AB 32, which would have been suspended if Proposition 23 had passed, are saying this sends a clear message to state and federal leaders that even during a major economic downtown in a state with one of the nation&rsquo;s highest unemployment rates, voters want a clean energy future.<br /><br />Wade Crowfoot, West Coast political director for the Environmental Defense Fund, said the defeat of Proposition 23 is an undeniable win for renewable energy. &ldquo;Californians actually recognize that the clean energy economy is expanding around them. Voters didn&rsquo;t buy scare tactics that somehow clean energy costs jobs.&rdquo;<br /><br />Opposition to Proposition 23 came from beyond the realm of typical clean energy supporters, garnering support from Republicans, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, and Democrats, including President Barack Obama, California Senator Barbara Boxer and Attorney General Jerry Brown. Hundreds of businesses rallied to oppose the proposition, from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, including the organization Small Business California. Other California organizations in opposition to Proposition 23 included the American Lung Association in California, California Professional Firefighters, AARP, California Nurses Association, the California Democratic Party, National Venture Capital Association, the California Solar Energy Industries Association and California Wind Energy Association.<br /><br />&ldquo;This proposition saw opposition from everyone from military leaders to religious leaders,&rdquo; Crowfoot said.<br /><br />While Proposition 23 was aimed at California&rsquo;s unemployment rate, opponents of the proposition said it would have jeopardized the jobs of over 500,000 Californians employed in renewable energy, a rapidly growing job market. Since the implementation of AB 32, California has garnered over $9 billion of private investment capital, a market that a ?yes&rsquo; on Proposition 23 would have been endangered, said rivals of the proposition.<br /><br />&ldquo;The defeat of Proposition 23 tells Congress that the largest state in the Union that represents the eighth largest economy in the world is a cornerstone of economic recovery, and that Californians view clean energy as part of the solution,&rdquo; Crowfoot said.<br /><br />Tom Rooney, president and CEO of SPG Solar, said California has become a &ldquo;consistent, predictable market for solar,&rdquo; and the passing of Proposition 23 could have derailed that stability. While Rooney was on a trip to China two months ago, he met a solar developer who was planning on building a $100 million solar facility in California after deciding that California was the most durable solar market in the U.S. and globally. Rooney said the passing of Proposition 23 would have caused global solar companies developing in the U.S. to second guess themselves about the market stability.<br /><br />He said that solar is a huge bolster to economies worldwide, particularly Germany. However, countries like Spain that have dabbled in solar, only to later change renewable energy policies, &ldquo;have waffled.&rdquo;<br /><br />The defeat of Proposition 23 shows that the average Californian is aware of the benefits spurred by renewable energy, Rooney said.<br /><br />&ldquo;Voters are figuring out that investing in renewable energy equals job creation, fiscal responsibility, energy independence and environmental benefits.&rdquo;<br /><br />While Proposition 23 may have given some California renewable developers a scare, Rooney said that in the end, it benefitted renewable energy. &ldquo;Proposition 23 got people talking about renewable energy, and if the grassroots&rsquo; population is talking about an issue, enormous power comes out of that.&rdquo;<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>,, Projections and Policiesnoemail@noemail.orglmorris<p>With elections and emissions deadlines just around the corner, looming policies are enough to leave one&rsquo;s head spinning at the end of the day. Here is a breakdown of a few of the top power-related policy issues:<br /><br /><strong>*Proposition 23</strong> &ndash; will it or won&rsquo;t it pass on Tuesday? The results will shape the future of renewable energy in California.<br /><strong>*Future chairmen of committees related to renewable energy and emissions control</strong> &ndash; If Republicans take the House, two important seats to watch will be the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.<br /><strong>*Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations</strong> &ndash; The first ever GHG regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are set to go into effect Jan. 2, 2011. Several states stand in strong opposition to the regulations, Texas being the ringleader.<br /><br /><strong><u>Proposition 23</u></strong><br />If <a href="">Proposition 23</a> passes on Tuesday, the renewable energy future of California will be greatly altered, at least for the time being. Proposition 23 has been created to suspend A.B. 32, a law that requires cutting carbon and other greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 by mandating power companies to cap their emissions and by slashing carbon in gasoline. Proposition 23 would keep the full law from going into effect in 2012 until California's unemployment falls to 5.5 percent or lower for at least four consecutive quarters. Since that has happened just three times over the last 40 years, the passing of the proposition could effectually kill A.B. 32.<br /><br />On Oct. 27, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rallied against Proposition 23 and its supporters on <a href="">World News with Diane Sawyer</a>, accusing Washington D.C. of backing oil companies and calling politicians &ldquo;wimps&rdquo; with &ldquo;no guts.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;Our soldiers, our men and women who go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they&rsquo;re risking their lives to defend this country and you&rsquo;re not even willing to stand up against the oil companies,&rdquo; Schwarzenegger said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s disgusting. You promised the people to represent them. You didn&rsquo;t promise the people to represent the oil companies.&rdquo;<br /><br />According to a poll conducted Oct. 10-17 by the Public Policy Institute of California, or PPIC, 48 percent say they will vote against the measure and 37 percent say they will vote for it.<br /><br />Schwarzenegger said that if Proposition 23 is shot down, it will be &ldquo;one of the first times big oil has been defeated.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong><u>New Chairmen<br /></u></strong>If Republicans take the House, a line of relatively young legislators who may be more willing to cut a deal than their predecessors will be handling the future of energy policy. One of the potential incumbent chairmen is Dave Camp (R-MI), in line to lead the House Means and Ways Committee. As the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and other renewable associations push for tax incentives, the relationship with this committee will continue to prove imperative.<br /><br />Camp is the current top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. His Michigan District 4 is home to a number of wind and solar manufacturers, such as Dow Chemical, Dow Corning and United Solar Ovonic. Though a self-proclaimed supporter of alternative energy, Camp believes &ldquo;it takes today&rsquo;s energy to power tomorrow&rsquo;s technology,&rdquo; as he said in the April 14, 2010 Hearing on Energy Tax Incentives Driving the Green Job Economy.<br /><br />&ldquo;You cannot increase the cost of producing 85 percent of the energy being used today and expect consumers or employers to benefit from tax incentives that are going to less than 10 percent of the energy being used today,&rdquo; Camp said.<br /><br />For a full profile on Rep. Camp, check on Nov. 3.<br /><br />In the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton (R-TX) is looking to reclaim his position as chairman. However, GOP leaders are looking to keep Barton out of that position, while still unclear on where to put him.<br />The potential replacement for Barton is Fred Upton (R-MI).<br /><br />"I'm not running against Joe,&rdquo; Upton told <a href="">POLITICO</a>. &ldquo;I want to be the post-Joe guy. If he doesn't get a waiver, I'm in the hunt.&rdquo;<br />&ldquo;Should Republicans get the gavel, rigorous oversight of the EPA will be a top priority,&rdquo; Upton said in a statement to <a href="">POLITICO</a>. &ldquo;Federal agencies have overstepped their authority and have not been held accountable. No significant regulation should take effect until Congress has thoroughly reviewed and voted to approve or disapprove.&rdquo;<br /><br />However, if Camp does become the next Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, it is questionable if the Republican leadership will allow two Members from Michigan to lead two very powerful committees.<br /><br /><strong><u>GHG Regulations<br /></u></strong>States are split over the EPA&rsquo;s Jan. 2, 2011 implementation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regulations from stationary sources under provisions of the Clean Air Act. Currently, 37 states have taken sides in a court battle for or against the EPA rules. <a href="">Click here</a> to read more about the regulations.<br /><br />Since these regulations are EPA-implemented, not Congressionally-implemented, their authority is limited by the structure of the Clean Air Act, meaning regulations cannot be imposed economy-wide. Many of the states are opposed to the regulations, but EPA says they must comply by coming up with a state implementation plan (SIP), or allow EPA to take over temporarily. Texas is currently the only state without a plan to either issue a SIP to EPA or allow the EPA to create a plan for them.<br /><br />Texas legislators have focused much attention on the &ldquo;endangerment finding&rdquo; in which the EPA concluded that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health and welfare, saying that the agency should have rethought its endangerment finding after the discovery of errors in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as the controversy over leaked emails from climate researchers at the United Kingdom&rsquo;s University of East Anglia.<br /><br /><br /> </p><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, Who Is Saying "No" To Proposition 23?noemail@noemail.orglmorrisOct. 13, 2010 -<br /><br />Supporters of renewable energy are emerging to champion the "no" campaign to California's Proposition 23 amidst worries of the future for the renewables industry in California. On Sept. 27, I wrote about the <a href="">California renewables' tug-of-war</a>. Will California continue to be the forerunner in the U.S. when it comes to the development of renewable energy, or will Proposition 23 pass, slowing down that ship?<br /><br />On Nov. 2, Californians will vote on Proposition 23, which has been created to suspend A.B. 32, a law that requires cutting carbon and other greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 by mandating power companies to cap their emissions and by slashing carbon in gasoline. Proposition 23 would keep the law from going into effect in 2012 until California's unemployment falls to 5.5 percent or lower for at least four consecutive quarters. Since that has happened just three times over the last 40 years, the passing of the proposition could effectually kill A.B. 32.<br /><br />About 74 percent of the "Yes" campaign contributions for Proposition 23 have come from oil companies Tesoro and Valero, and Flint Hills Resources, the petrochemical company owned by Kansas billionaires Charles and David Koch, according to campaign records.<br /><br />But just 20 days before the election, foes of the proposition have spent twice as much as the backers on campaigning efforts. However, Steven Maviglio, a spokesman for the main "No" campaign, told The New York Times that he expects the "Yes" campaign to "drop of nuclear bomb" of campaigning in the coming weeks.<br /><br />Many of the main contributors to the "No" campaign are involved in renewable developments of some sort. Wendy Schmidt, a philanthropist and wife of Eric Schmidt, Google&rsquo;s chief executive, has donated $500,000. Google made <a href="">renewable energy headlines </a>with the Oct. 11 announcement that it will spend $5 billion on an underwater transmission network that will harvest electricity from wind farms off the Mid-Atlantic coast and power 1.9 million homes across Virginia, New York and New Jersey.<br /><br />Members of San Francisco&rsquo;s Fisher family, founders of the Gap clothing chain, have donated more than $ 1 million. Gap Inc. has its own social responsibility campaign, which includes an <a href="">environmental segment</a> that teaches people how to lessen their environmental footprint. The company also makes its annual <a href="">energy consumption numbers</a> public information through its web site.<br /><br />Foes of Proposition 23 are abounding at the same time that nationwide expectancy of renewables growth, particularly solar, is all abuzz.<br /><br />A <a href="">solar jobs census</a> conducted by The <a href="" target="_blank">Solar Foundation</a> with the help of <a href="" target="_blank">Cornell University</a> tallied 93,000 solar power industry jobs in the United States as of August, and projects industry job growth of 26 percent in 2011. According to the survey's results, roughly half of solar employers plan to add employees next year, compared with just 2 percent for private industry economy-wide.<br /><br />Will California supporters of renewables and the public's belief and expectations in clean energy put an end to Proposition 23? Nov. 2 will tell.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, And Why It's Scarynoemail@noemail.orglmorrisOct. 5, 2010-<br /><br />I recently read an article heralding each day in October to be a celebration, working up to the month's climax on Halloween. For carbon emissions slashers, it looks like the climax of October will hit early this year, with 10:10:10 consecrated as a day to reduce carbon emissions via a UK-based initiative.<br /><br />10:10:10 is being dubbed "<a href="">a global day of doing</a>." The group is encouraging people to cut carbon emissions by 10 percent on 10:10:10. "From sumo wrestlers cycling to training in Japan to 10,000 schools planting trees in Croatia and Russia, from a carbon-cutting telethon on national TV in the Netherlands, to hundreds of people in the UK sitting down to low-carbon Sunday lunches, this is going to be a really inspirational day," says the web site. The site also offers a number of <a href="">suggestions</a> on how to have a carbon-free day.<br /><br />While all of this is surely in good intentions, 10:10:10, a "young and creative team," according to the web site, released a video on their web site about cutting carbon "which was supposed to be humourous but in the event upset a lot of people." The premise of the video (no joke) is, "Cut Carbon Emissions, Or We Will Kill You. No Pressure." Out of good taste, I won't link to it, but if you really want to see the video, you can search for it on<br /><br />The video has gained so much negative feedback that the 10:10:10 pulled it from their web site and issued an <a href="">apology.</a><br /><br />Global iniatives to go green and cut carbon emissions seem to be growing in popularity. Events like 10:10:10 have their place in raising awareness, but not much long-term effectiveness. Some people may ride their bikes instead of driving for one day and be successful at cutting emissions by 10 percent for that one day.<br /><br />But anyone in the power industry knows that lasting change in cutting emissions comes through years of research and development and investments in clean air technology. Our October issue of <em>Power Engineering </em>magazine will feature an article on clean air technology methods, particularly flue gas desulfurization (FGD) units. Some of these units are capable of SO2 removal efficiencies up to 98 percent.<br /><br />Now that's real emissions slashing.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, Enters the Renewables Tug-Of-Warnoemail@noemail.orglmorrisSept. 27, 2010 -<br /><br />On Sept. 23, the California Air Resources Board approved regulations requiring utilities to obtain a third of their power from alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal in 10 years. California now gets nearly 14 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and the state is pushing utilities to reach a 20-percent-renewable energy standard by next year.<br /><br />At a time when some legislators are pulling for the developments of renewable energy, a ballot initiative known as Proposition 23 is tugging in the opposite direction. In a state with a 12.4-percent unemployment rate, the debate over whether a renewable energy standard will create or kill jobs has been heated. The tug-of-war for renewables&rsquo; future in California &ndash; and possibly nationwide &ndash; is on full force.<br /><br />A.B. 32, the 2006-implimented law in question, requires cutting carbon and other greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 by mandating power companies to cap their emissions and by slashing carbon in gasoline. Some oil industry leaders said it would necessitate investing millions of dollars to comply, forcing companies to cut jobs and raise the price of gas at the pumps.<br /><br />On Nov. 2, Californians will vote on Proposition 23, which has been created to suspend the law from going into effect in 2012 until state unemployment falls to 5.5 percent or lower for at least four consecutive quarters. Since that has happened just three times over the last 40 years, the passing of the proposition could effectually kill A.B. 32.<br /><br />Largely behind the financial support of Proposition 23 are Charles and David Koch, the Kansas billionaires who own the oil company Flint Hills Resources. With their contribution, backers of the proposition have raised $8.2 million, with $7.9 million coming from energy companies outside of California.<br /><br />The California power industry is stuck in the middle of the debate, with developers unsure whether to move forward full-force in establishing higher percentage renewable portfolios, or to pull back in uncertainty of A.B. 32&rsquo;s future.<br /><br />Some large developers continue to push forward. On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission approved plans from BrightSource Energy Inc. to build a 370 MW solar plant in the Mojave Desert.<br /><br />Still other solar companies are in limbo until the threat of Proposition 23 has been lifted.<br /><br />Mike Hall, CEO of San Diego-based Borrego Solar, said that power companies approach Borrego for solar consulting or installations because they have an initiative to reduce carbon emissions and develop renewable energy portfolios, and that Proposition 23 brings a degree of uncertainty to these efforts and the power sector at large.<br /><br />&ldquo;Everyone is expecting the market to be driven by the renewable portfolio standard and the value of carbon reduction. If we start to bring those things into question, it becomes very unclear where the industry in California goes next.&rdquo;<br /><br />Outside of California, Hall said the passing of Proposition 23 could cause reticence toward carbon legislation and renewable portfolio standards.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think it would motivate those businesses who have an interest in drilling down those regulations to try harder in other states,&rdquo; said Hall. &ldquo;Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and many other states are emerging as solar players as well, and that is largely due to progressive policy.&rdquo;<br /><br />Hall said that short-term, Proposition 23 would stall renewable energy growth in California, but long-term it could also have damaging effects on nationwide solar and renewable energy policies.<br /><br />Skyline Solar is a 2007 start-up solar technology company based out of Mountain View, Calif. Tim Keating, vice president of marketing and field operations, said that while he does not see the passing Proposition 23 to be likely, it could cause California solar companies to focus on overseas exports to countries more welcoming of renewables if it did pass.<br /><br />&ldquo;We need a healthy home market,&rdquo; Keating said. &ldquo;Until Congress gets a renewable energy bill, we need the states to innovate.&rdquo;<br /><br />Keating said the potential passing of Proposition 23 would have more long-term effects, pulling California out of the leadership position in renewables it has established and weakening nationwide renewables legislation.<br /><br />&ldquo;Long term, it would back flight the momentum we&rsquo;re gaining towards a real renewable energy policy.&rdquo;<br /><br />For now, California power companies watch carefully to determine their next step, enduring the game of tug-of-war until the outcome of the Nov. 2 Proposition 23 vote gives more clarity.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>,, Facebook Has Requested You As A Friendnoemail@noemail.orglmorrisSept. 17, 2010-<br /><br />In January, the social media networking giant Facebook <a href="">announced its plans</a> to build an estimated 5 MW data center in Prineville, Ore. Its crime (according to Greenpeace): Power for the center will be provided by PacifiCorp, which is largely coal-based. As of Sept. 1, Greenpeace had roused 500,000 Facebook users to urge the social media giant to abandon plans, using a children&rsquo;s storybook-style <a href=";feature=player_embedded">video</a> to make their point.<br /><br />Greenpeace says the utility PacifiCorp, which powers the data center, uses 83 percent coal in its energy mix. PacifiCorp spokesman Tom Gauntt said this number is actually 58 percent. Also fueling the Greenpeace flame is the knowledge that energy consumption in <a href=";utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_campaign=Feed:+TransWorldNewsCurrentReleases+(TransWorldNews+Current+Releases)">data centers</a> can be 30 percent higher than commercial buildings.<br /><br />So in a world where coal is still &ldquo;<a href="">base-load generation king</a>,&rdquo; is a data center with less coal reliance reasonable?<br /><br />In order to avoid a potential social networking flop, an alternative for Facebook could be to follow the example of a data center like the <a href="">Green Data Center</a> at Syracuse University, which became fully operational in April. Through the use of natural gas-fueled turbines, the Green Data Center uses 50 percent less energy and produces fewer greenhouse gases than traditional data centers.<br /><br />The 12 Hybrid UPS MicroTurbines from Capstone Turbine integrate C65 microturbines with a dual-conversion UPS to provide power for mission-critical loads. In addition to producing electricity for the data center, the turbines supply heat and cooling power to the data center and a nearby building.<br /><br />Facebook&rsquo;s proposed data center does boast some energy efficient technologies, however. The evaporative cooling system evaporates water to cool incoming air, proving more energy efficient than traditional chiller systems. While other data facilities often require the equivalent of large central air-conditioners to keep processors from overheating, the Prineville data center one will use the metal equivalent of ceiling fans. The Prineville data center will also utilize Proprietary Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) technology, a new, patent-pending UPS system that is proposed to reduce electricity usage by as much as 12 percent.<br /><br />Still the question remains: While some may &ldquo;unfriend&rdquo; Facebook, will Facebook &ldquo;unfriend&rdquo;coal? The developments of the Prineville data center would say otherwise.<br /><br />One more question: Will the power industry &ldquo;unfriend&rdquo; this news? Some in the power industry may have the tendency to ignore the media hype regarding Facebook and coal power. But wouldn&rsquo;t now be the perfect opportunity for the industry to educate the public regarding the need for balanced and mixed power generation? And given the amount of scrutiny the Prineville data center has received, this case may be a landmark in transforming the way the power industry operates its data centers.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, Air Transport Rule: What&rsquo;s a State To Do?noemail@noemail.orglmorrisSept. 10, 2010-<br /><br />During a webcast on Sept. 10, EPA directors spoke on the topic of &ldquo;Urgent CAIR: EPA's New Clean Air Transport Rule.&rdquo; Sam Napolitano, director of EPA&rsquo;s clean air markets division, said the transport rule, which is slated to take effect in 2012, will replace the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). The transport rule, signed on July 6, 2010, includes CAIR requirements, but also achieves emissions reductions concerning the transport of air pollution across state boundaries that are beyond those included in CAIR.<br /><br />The EPA is proposing one approach and taking comments on two alternatives. All three approaches would cover and set a pollution limit for 31 states and the District of Columbia that have unacceptable SO2 and/or NOx levels according to the EPA. (<a href="">Click here to see a map of the states affected</a>). The first approach &ndash; which is EPA&rsquo;s preferred approach &ndash; allows intrastate trading and limited interstate trading among power plants but requires each state to meet its own emissions control obligations. The second approach allows for trading among power plants within a state. And in the third approach, EPA specifies the allowable emission limit for each power plant and allows some averaging of emission rates.<br /><br />EPA estimates compliance costs for the industry will be 2.8 billion in 2014. Most of these costs are projected to be spent on scrubbers (Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD)) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) units, and the operation and implementation of all such controls.<br /><br />To meet the proposed rule, EPA anticipates power plants will operate previously installed control equipment more frequently, use lower sulfur coal, or install pollution control equipment such as low NOX burners, SCR or FGD.<br /><br />Some individuals in the power industry have raised concerns that the proposed switch to low sulfur coal could be EPA&rsquo;s disguised advance toward increased natural gas dependence.<br /><br />During the webinar, Napolitano addressed EPA&rsquo;s intentions regarding the switch. &ldquo;Mainly it is coal-fuel switching, not gas. It is only a 1 percent change in coal production.&rdquo; Napoloitano said EPA&rsquo;s goal is to have all power plants operating as cleanly as possible in the long run, adding that EPA estimates that in terms of size, 1.2 GW of power plants will be shut down as a result of the transport rule.<br /><br />To assure rapid compliance with the new emissions control standards, EPA is proposing federal implementation plans (FIPs), for each of the states covered by this rule. A state may choose to develop its own plan to reach the required reductions, replacing its federal plan, and may select which types of sources to control. The Clean Air Act requires states to submit plans to cut down on interstate pollution transport before they submit plans to meet ambient air quality standards. By determining the amount of emissions that upwind states must eliminate in advance of the time that state pollution transport plans are due, EPA plans to enact timely reductions in pollution transport. When downwind states design their plans to meet the air quality standards, they will know how much upwind state control is required. This plan is intended to enable the Clean Air Act to work as planned, helping downwind states to attain standards sooner.<br /><br />The state budgets for SO2, annual NOX, and ozone season NOX are directly linked to the measurement of each state&rsquo;s significant contribution and interference with maintenance. EPA&rsquo;s remedy includes provisions to ensure that all necessary reductions occur in each individual state. EPA poses to allow within-state trading and limited interstate trading to assure that, in each state, the emissions that contribute the most to downwind air quality problems will be eliminated.<br /><br />CAIR will remain in place until this rule is finalized. The final air transport rule is expected in late spring 2011. More information on the proposed rules and details on how to comment on the proposal are available at <a href=""></a>.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, Power, Your Company: Going Globalnoemail@noemail.orglmorrisAugust 25, 2010 -<br /><br />Is your company looking to expand beyond the U.S. and into international export opportunities? Does PV in Spain interest you? Or perhaps coal-fired power in Russia? The answers to your international expansion questions may be found in Orlando this December.<br /><br />Each year, Pennwell hosts <a href="">Power-Gen</a> International, bringing in companies across all sectors of the industry. In its 20th year, Power-Gen (Dec. 14-16 in Orlando) is poised to include 1,200 exhibitors and more than 18,000 attendees. An aspect often overlooked at this massive exhibition is the opportunity to connect with international delegations that provide valuable export opportunities for U.S. companies.<br /><br />At Power-Gen 2009, delegations from 28 countries were in attendance, with buyers totaling 399 members. The U.S. Commercial Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce&rsquo;s International Trade Administration, is responsible for the application process to usher in delegations. Blanche Ziv, director of the U.S. Commercial Service&rsquo;s International Buyer Program (IBP), said these meetings can eventually lead to construction of power plants overseas.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a great networking place for all of these meetings,&rdquo; Ziv said. &ldquo;The U.S. company doesn&rsquo;t have to leave their own backyard to meet all of these international buyers.&rdquo;<br /><br />The annual application process for all U.S. trade shows to host delegations opens once a year. The open 60-day application period for participation in the 2012 calendar year is expected to open sometime in early September 2010.<br /><br />IBP considers several criteria to determine whether or not to select a trade show to participate in the program: international interest as determined by IBP&rsquo;s overseas posts in products and services, export potential of products and services exhibited at the show, logistics of the show to make sure it is occurring in a place that is conducive to international visitors, and the type of incentives the shows offer to U.S. Commercial Service overseas posts.<br /><br />Once the trade shows have been chosen, delegations are selected, and a directory of delegations is created. IBP conducts a B-to-B matchmaking process in which the show receives a list of the delegations&rsquo; services and collects a list of the U.S. businesses that are interested in exporting.<br /><br />In addition to export opportunities that can arise during these shows for U.S. companies, a door to provide power to countries under the burden of natural disasters is also ajar. Chief Editor for <em>Power Engineering</em>, David Wagman, talks about some of those opportunities in his blog entry <a href="">Opportunity and Obligation</a>.<br /><br /><em>Want more information on how to become part of a delegation, or how to connect with delegations?<br /></em><a href="">Click here </a>for a list of 2011 Accepted Shows for IBP Delegations.<br /><a href="">Click here</a> for information on how to get involved.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>,'s Bigger in Texas...Even Power Usagenoemail@noemail.orglmorrisAugust 17, 2010-<br /><br />Yesterday, Texas hit a new power usage record for the <a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+houstonchronicle%2Fnewswatchenergy+%28NewsWatch%3A+Energy%29">third time</a> this month. High temperatures led to 64,805 MW of power usage between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. "That breaks <a href="" target="_blank">last week's record </a>of 63,830 MW (Aug. 10) by 975 MW, and last year's record by 1,405 MW, according to the <a href="" target="_blank">Electric Reliability Council of Texas</a>." - from <a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+houstonchronicle%2Fnewswatchenergy+%28NewsWatch%3A+Energy%29"></a><br /><br />Thanks to <a href="">Boone Pickens</a> and the rest of the wind energy producers in Texas, wind energy accounted for about 1 percent of that power usage, with a 680 MW output average during the peak hour. ERCOT has 9,317 MW of installed wind capacity, the highest of any state.<br /><br />ERCOT assuredly breathed a sigh of relief after no major outages were reported during the peak hour, especially since electric power outages and interruptions cost the U.S. economy about <a href="">$80 billion annually</a>. But with records continuing to be set, one has to wonder what's going on with Smart Grid developments in Texas.<br /><br />Smart Grid is essentially a combination of technology and resources to provide balanced generation with demand. During my first week in the power industry, Bill Strohecker, vice president of power sales for <a href="">ABB</a>, told me the purpose of Smart Grid is to "eliminate inefficiencies in generation, transmission and distribution."<br /><br />In most cases, power is currently a one-way path. But what if, by charging your electric car, you could actually feed into the grid? Or perhaps you were one of the Texans contributing to the new power usage record yesterday. Let's say it was 3:30 p.m. in Midland, you were at work, and you realized that your thermostat was set to 71 degrees at home and didn't really need it that low. In a Smart Grid situation, you could log in and change your power preferences from your work computer.<br /><br />Smart Grid opportunities like the aforentioned are popping up around Texas, and the entire nation. A product called the TXU Energy iThermostat is currently installed in 20,000 locations. Last week, TXU Energy announced that it is targeting the installation of <a href="">100,000 smart systems</a> in homes and business by the end of 2012, which will include the installation of the iThermostat and the TXU Energy PowerMonitor.<br /><br /><a href="">Baltimore Gas and Electric</a> was given the "yes" just yesterday to move forward on its Smart Grid program. These plans are great, but will customers be willing to pay the price?<br /><br />In March, GE released the results of a <a href="">smart grid survey </a>of a cross section of 1,000 U.S. consumers. Nearly four of every five Americans (78 percent) familiar with the term Smart Grid said that they believe it would help reduce the number of power outages and restore power more quickly when outages do occur.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>, 500

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