The Energy Overseer
3rd and 4th Quarter 2006 Greenwire Articles and Archives
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10/26/06 No perfect solution for Salton Sea restoration, but many options
The Salton Sea, California's largest lake and long a desert refuge for vacationers and hundreds of species of migrating birds, will inevitably shrink in volume and lose surface area over the next two decades, as about half of current inflows are diverted to help quench Southern California's unflagging thirst for water. Exactly how to prevent or mitigate the worst problems associated with this situation -- increased salinity, worsening air quality, continued threats to the local economy and the virtual elimination of fish and wildlife -- has become a top priority for government officials, agricultural groups, Indian tribes and environmentalists. But it is also a conundrum, as starkly differing visions of how to preserve and restore this inland sea have made it difficult to reach consensus on a workable strategy. Sea Here.
10/13/06 Lawsuits a growing worry for energy companies
The average energy company faces 364 separate pending lawsuits in U.S. courts, which puts the sector second only to the insurance industry for litigation exposure, according to a new survey. Among top issues for the industry are environmental damage claims, the legal services firm Fulbright & Jaworski found in its survey of 422 corporate counsels worldwide. More than one-third of energy companies expect legal disputes to increase next year. Separately, an ongoing tally from the Morrison & Foerster law firm indicates that at least 242 separate lawsuits, involving more than 450 parties, have been filed as a result of the California and Western energy crisis of 2000-01.
10/12/06 Calif. businesses fear A.B. 32 will spur 'tax-like' carbon fees
FALLEN LEAF LAKE, Calif. -- As California takes its initial steps to implement the "Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006," business leaders are warning the law could lead to a tax on carbon and curbs on the state's economic growth. California Chamber of Commerce Vice President Dominic Dimare criticized the Legislature for eliminating allocations for economic analysis of the measure by agencies that develop regulations and market programs for achieving the law's ambitious goals. Find the full report here.
10/06/06 San Joaquin Valley releases plan for meeting ozone standard
Although California's San Joaquin Valley has substantially reduced its smog over the past two decades, it still has one of the nation's most stubborn air pollution problems. The valley must cut pollution by 60 percent over the next seven years to meet federal ozone standards, local regulators say in a draft ozone attainment plan. Look here for the story.
10/04/06 States discuss proposed national emissions registry
Representatives of 30 states are discussing the creation of a multi-state climate action registry to track greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to curb them. Led by existing registries in California and the Northeast, the initiative is aimed at developing common accounting practices and establishing a single Internet-based source for monitoring both voluntary and mandated GHG reporting. Find out more here.
09/29/06 Calif. Clean Tech Open honors five young companies
SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Clean Tech Open honored five fledgling companies this week for business plans that spotlight energy efficiency, smart energy controls, renewable resources, transportation and water management. In an awards ceremony at city hall here, venture capitalists and government officials praised a new type of innovation that is redefining the energy and environmental sector.
09/21/06 Report spotlights carbon market risks, opportunities
While the vast majority of companies responding to an annual survey believe that climate change poses a financial risk, a growing number are also capitalizing on clean technology investments and other opportunities. Eighty-seven percent of companies that responded to the Carbon Disclosure Project survey say climate change represents commercial risks or challenges--ranging from physical risks from extreme weather to financial risks of higher energy costs and additional regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
09/20/06 Calif. agencies lag in tracking energy goals, regulators say
California regulatory agencies need to develop better means of tracking utility efforts to meet ambitious goals for adding renewable resources and demand-response programs, state officials agreed in a meeting here this week.
State utility, energy and resources regulators who met Monday to review the status of programs and goals embodied in the "Energy Action Plan" learned that utilities are lagging in achieving their 2006 goals for new energy-efficiency savings and on a goal to make certain demand-response programs account for 5 percent of their total resource portfolios by next year. Regulators also said they are hearing conflicting evidence in various forums about whether the state will meet its 20 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by 2010. Find the story here.
09/19/06 Consumer advocates decry results of Ill. power auction
While Illinois regulators and utilities have declared this month's power-auction process a success, ratepayer advocates say the results will cause monthly household electricity bills to jump between 25 percent and 55 percent.
09/14/06 Calif. bill fuels search for cost-effective emission curbs
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Spurred by the passage of the landmark "Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006," California's scientific community is adjusting its approach to climate research to emphasize studies into cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The interplay between policy and science was a theme of a climate change research conference this week cosponsored by the California Energy Commission and the state EPA. "Research is the foundation of good policy formulation," said CEC member James Boyd. "It provides us the undeniable foundation of facts." Find the complete story here.
08/30/06 Calif. conducts post-mortem on 'longest, hottest heat storm'
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California Energy Commission hosted a daylong vetting yesterday of events and consequences of the July "heat storm" that not only saw record energy use but also claimed the lives of 138 people. While the power system held up "surprisingly well," CEC deputy director Scott Matthews said, "we as a state were not prepared for the heat-related deaths." He described how the heat event has brought together utilities, state agencies and emergency responders in a way that previously had not occurred to jointly plan for future extreme weather events.
8/25/06 Arizona utility liable for nuclear outages, report says
Over the past three years, the Palo Verde nuclear complex in Arizona sunk to "the bottom of the U.S. nuclear industry," according to a consultant's report to the Arizona Corporation Commission released last week. "By almost any measure, the performance of Palo Verde was poor," said the report. To a large degree, the study blamed co-owner and operator Arizona Public Service for the continuing problems at the plant. At least four of eight unplanned outages experienced during 2005 "were avoidable and the result of imprudent actions by APS."
8/24/06 Water, energy bills confront legislative turmoil as end of session nears
SACRAMENTO -- With a little more than a week left to California's legislative session, failure to reach agreement on some major issues appears to be dimming prospects for a host of bills related to water and energy. Among the victims might be a package of eight flood-control bills that have been put into the deep freeze by Senate President Don Perata (D). Perata this week signaled that he does not want to devote more time to the bills and will not accept amendments proposed by Schwarzenegger. He also rejected dealing with the measures individually.
08/22/06 Group seeks to standardize carbon-reduction offset markets
The group that pioneered certification of renewable energy products sold by utilities and retail energy providers is now looking to establish similar standards for greenhouse gas reductions. The San Francisco-based Center for Resource Solutions, which established the Green-e certification program for retail electricity sales in 1997, has put together an advisory group of about a dozen businesses, environmental organizations and carbon-offset sellers that will begin meeting in September to come up with a plan by the end of the year for quantifying carbon-reduction benefits associated with renewable energy certificates (RECs) and other offsets.
08/18/06 DOE projects rapid expansion of pipeline network
Additions to the nation's system of natural gas pipelines in the next three years are expected to exceed all pipeline development since 1998, the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration says in a new report. Fewer miles of natural gas pipelines were added in 2005 than during any year of the prior decade, EIA said.
08/16/06 Calif. inquiry finds no evidence of price gouging
Market forces, not manipulation, were apparently at the root of an extended spike in California retail gasoline prices earlier this year, the state's top energy official said yesterday. Joe Desmond, the state's undersecretary of energy affairs, said a combination of circumstances that limited supply spurred the spring price surge. "The market functioned the way you expect markets to function," he said.
08/11/06 Public power sets pace in advanced meters, demand-response programs
Rural electric cooperatives have adopted new meters at about twice the rate of large investor-owned utilities (IOUs), and public-power entities are more likely to offer residential customers time-of-use rates and direct load control programs than IOUs, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC found advance metering has a penetration rate of just 6 percent of all installed electric meters nationally.
08/11/06 California re-examines demand-response programs
Concerned that electric utility demand-response programs are not as effective as they could be in reducing peak load during extreme conditions, the California Public Utilities Commission this week ordered a new assessment of how the programs are working and how they might be improved before next summer. The order issued Wednesday by CPUC president Mike Peevey notes that the state has experienced an unusually intense heat wave that at times "strained the state's electric system."
08/11/06 Analysts predict $25 billion boom in Rockies exploration
Natural gas exploration companies are expected to invest $25 billion in Rocky Mountain production over the next four years -- an effort that could involve drilling more than 43,000 new wells, according to Andrew Strachan, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie. Speaking to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association meeting in Denver this week, Strachan said proven reserves of Rockies gas grew from 19 trillion cubic feet to over 57 Tcf, about 31 percent of U.S. reserves.
08/01/06 Manufacturers fret over Calif. emission, energy policies
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. -- Though they are supporting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's bid for re-election, the powerful California Manufacturers & Technology Association opposes many of his ambitious policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable resources as too expensive and risky. "The cost of these programs ultimately will be reflected in rates," observed Keith McCrea. "California industrials cannot afford to take a long-term view, they are more concerned with short-term survival." Find the full report here.
07/28/06 Worries about birds, bats hinder Calif. wind development
With California banking on wind energy to help meet renewable-energy goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, continuing concerns over avian mortality could hamper wind power's development.
07/25/06 Venture capitalists hunt energy opportunities beyond solar, ethanol
As solar-power and ethanol companies move into the financial mainstream, venture capitalists, private funds and even nonprofit foundations are looking for some new "clean energy" opportunities. Energy companies are luring up to 6 percent of total venture-capital investments, and experts are predicting that will rise to 10 percent with a total investment of $8 billion in the next three years. Energy technology represents "a wave of opportunity ahead of us," Ira Ehrenpreis of Technology Partners said during the Strategic Research Institute Energy Tech Investors' conference. See what the new money guys have to say here.
07/21/06 Green power sales continue to climb
More than 5 million megawatt hours of certified renewable energy were sold in the United States last year, up from 3.9 million MWh in 2004 and 2.9 million MWh in 2003, according to the Center for Resource Solutions. Preliminary figures for CRS's 2005 verification report indicate that nearly all the new sales growth came from recently operational wind projects. The increase in wind-derived sales amounted to 1.6 million MWh more than in 2004.
07/18/06 New Mexico stakes claim as clean energy leader
SANTA FE, N.M. -- Although California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gathers the lion's share of national media attention for pursuing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand use of renewable resources, the Republican has a friendly but determined rival in New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. The two executives have shared leadership in pushing the Western Governors' Association to adopt landmark goals for clean power and efficiency, but it is New Mexico that has declared itself "THE Clean Energy State." Find the full story here.
07/17/06 FERC will exercise new transmission siting authority with care, says Kelly
SANTA FE, N.M. -- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission understands that its new "backstop" powers for siting electric transmission lines may not sit well with states, but at least according to FERC member Suedeen Kelly, the agency will use its authority sparingly, if at all. "We're very sensitive to states' interests and we're not interested in treading on states' toes," Kelly said here during the "Energy in the Southwest 2006" conference. "We're not interested in becoming an electricity siting agency, but Congress has said we have the authority."
07/17/06 Rising costs, environment demands changing utility strategies, says PNM CEO
SANTA FE, N.M. -- Even though Public Service Co. of New Mexico has successfully driven its retail electricity costs down to about 25 percent below national averages, PNM's CEO Jeff Sterba believes that the "fixed price path" the utility has pursued may soon end. "The era of cheap energy is over," Sterba told an industry audience here last week. "We see significant price increases across the board. It's not just fuel, and it causes you to change the way you think."
07/12/06 Global warming would worsen Calif. water problems, study warns
Global warming means depleted reservoirs in Northern California while causing increased spring flooding and prolonged drought periods, the state Department of Natural Resources warned. The study foresees changes in snowpack that could reduce water storage levels by 5 million acre-feet or more each year and altered precipitation raising the likelihood of severe flooding as well as extended droughts. A significant rise in sea levels could inundate coastal marches and estuaries while increasing salinity content of freshwater flows in the San Francisco Bay-San Joaquin Delta.
07/05/06 Southern Calif. air regulators break open emissions bank for energy projects
Concerned that a dearth of pollution offset credits will threaten development of needed power plants and proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, the South Coast Air Quality Management District has proposed allowing private energy developers to access its "priority reserve" bank of offsets. In particular, proposed LNG ports and some 2,000 megawatts of proposed electric generation plants may benefit from the changes through 2008.
Above articles are Copyright 2006 E&E Publishing, Inc.
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