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Energy News

Iowa sees progress in energy sector

The Gazette | Posted on August 1, 2016

Iowa’s overall energy situation is moving in a positive direction, although the state still consumes more than it produces at a per-capital rate higher than its six bordering states.  Iowa consumes more raw energy than it produces and imports more raw energy than it produces. Electrical power generation has increased significantly, by nearly 40 percent, primarily because of expansion in wind production.     The net effect of Iowa’s renewable energy expansion has been a significant decrease in the overall percentage of Iowa’s electricity generated by fossil fuels, which declined from 87 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2014.

Judge tosses NY's new rules against energy marketers as 'irrational' | Posted on July 28, 2016

A state Supreme Court judge  struck down New York's attempt to clamp down on independent energy service companies with strict new rules, calling the effort "arbitrary'' and "irrational.''  State Supreme Court Justice Henry Zwack, of Albany, vacated new regulations that were announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February following approval by the state Public Service Commission.  The PSC's decision to restrict the activities of energy marketers, also known as ESCOs, "appears to be irrational, arbitrary and capricious,'' Zwack wrote. Moreover, he said the order that ESCOs comply with the new regulations within 10 days was more than merely burdensome. "It is impossible,'' Zwack wrote. PSC officials today said they would to continue efforts to rein in the ESCOs.

Maine's LePage Proposes End to Solar Net Metering Program

Maine Public Broadcasting | Posted on July 28, 2016

Gov. Paul LePage is proposing a three-year “grandfather” period to allow Maine residents who have installed solar panels to recover some of their upfront investment through a practice called net metering. After that, he wants to end the program. The governor’s new proposal is drawing swift criticism from the solar industry. Under net metering, residential solar generators can get a credit on their electric bill for excess electricity that they put back into the power grid. Over time, those credits can help cover the cost of the original investment, for, say, solar panels.

N.Y. solar project proposes cutting hundreds of acres of woods

Kallanish Energy | Posted on July 28, 2016

Something’s wrong with this picture.  While solar energy generally is backed by groups that want to cut greenhouse gases, a proposed solar project at a defunct Long Island, New York, nuclear power plant has stirred tensions because it requires clear-cutting 350 acres of woods. “Choosing solar over forests anywhere in the world is just plain stupid,” Dick Amper, of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, told The Associated Press. “Solar is very important to fight global warming and beyond, but I’m afraid we’re making false choices when you destroy portions of nature and the environment to accomplish that end.” Similar differences are happening elsewhere. A court fight is brewing over a plan by New Jersey’s Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park to cut down nearly 15,000 trees to make way for a solar farm.

In Connecticut, state officials recently approved a plan to chop 134 acres of trees in the town of Sprague for a solar energy project.

EIA Releases Energy Outlook

DTN | Posted on July 28, 2016

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook released today, the U.S. Energy Information Administration maintained its outlook for ethanol production and demand for this year.  EIA reiterated ethanol production averaged almost 970,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2015 and once again projected production for 2016 and 2017 at about 980,000 bpd.  The agency repeated that ethanol consumption in 2015 averaged about 910,000 bpd, while holding firm its forecast for 2016 and 2017 to about 930,000 bpd. "This level of consumption results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline pool averaging 10% in both 2016 and 2017."

EIA continues to expect the largest effect of the proposed RFS targets will be on biomass-based diesel consumption, which includes both biodiesel and renewable diesel and helps to meet the RFS targets for use of biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. Biodiesel production averaged 82,000 bpd in 2015 and is forecast to average 99,000 bpd this year, 1,000 bpd lower than last month's estimate. In 2017, the estimate is 106,000 bpd, steady on the month. Net imports of biomass-based diesel are also expected to increase from 29,000 bpd in 2015 to 41,000 bpd in 2016 and 47,000 bpd in 2017, each unchanged from the prior month estimate. EIA assumes 10,000 bpd of domestic renewable diesel consumption will be used to help meet the biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels RFS targets in both 2016 and 2017.

Clean-energy jobs up 15 percent in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Business Times | Posted on July 20, 2016

A new report counts 66,000 clean-energy related jobs in Pennsylvania, up 15 percent from the last study published two years ago. Clean Jobs Pennsylvania, published by the nonpartisan Environmental Entrepreneurs advocacy group and the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, said the employment at 5,900 businesses statewide was about 1 percent of the state's total nonfarm jobs. Most of the jobs, about 80 percent, were in what the report called the energy efficiency sector. Most of the rest, 8,800 jobs, were in renewable energy, which includes solar, wind and hydroelectric power manufacturing.

Nebraska explores use of agriculture waste for biocoal fuel

KTTN | Posted on July 14, 2016

Nebraska wants to find out whether its glut of agricultural waste could be processed into a coal-like substance to be used as a renewable fuel for power plants.  The state Department of Environmental Quality last month awarded a Mexico, Missouri, company a grant of more than $250,000 as part of that effort. The company, Enginuity Worldwide, says it can compress cow manure, spent cornstalks and other plant material into what it calls BioCoal. The product burns like regular coal, and the company says it could help power plants cut carbon emissions.

EIA Predicts Coal Production Will Plummet Under Regs

Wyoming Public Media | Posted on July 14, 2016

If new carbon regulations go into effect, U.S. coal production will fall by around 25% by 2040.If the plan doesn't ever take effect, the EIA predicts demand for coal will remain relatively flat over the next 25 years. That scenario assumes natural gas prices and that international demand for US coal will dip down and then return back to higher 2014 levels.

The Shale Boom’s New Winner: Propane

Wall Street Journal | Posted on July 14, 2016

The U.S. is exporting record volumes of propane, another way in which the shale boom has made the nation a more dominant force in the global energy trade. Foreign sales are surging as U.S. producers capitalize on higher prices overseas. That in turn is causing U.S. prices to rise, making Fourth of July barbecues a bit more expensive than cookouts a few months ago.

In a first, U.S. oil-and-gas companies are on track this year to export more propane than the next four largest exporting countries combined—OPEC members Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Nigeria, which have long dominated the trade—according to analytics provider IHS Inc. U.S. exports already account for more than a third of the overall market for waterborne shipments

How America could go dark

Wall Street Journal | Posted on July 14, 2016

The U.S. electric system is in danger of widespread blackouts lasting days, weeks or longer through the destruction of sensitive, hard-to-replace equipment. Yet records are so spotty that no government agency can offer an accurate tally of substation attacks, whether for vandalism, theft or more nefarious purposes.  Most substations are unmanned and often protected chiefly by chain-link fences. Many have no electronic security, leaving attacks unnoticed until after the damage is done. Even if there are security cameras, they often prove worthless. In some cases, alarms are simply ignored.