Category — State Energy Issues
Royal Dutch Shell has spent billions of dollars over six years preparing to drill for new oil in Alaska. The hidden treasure is an estimated 20–25 billion barrels of oil beneath the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
Not surprisingly, drilling for oil in Alaska is complicated and expensive (See map of proposed offshore exploration and drilling in Alaska). Part of the complexity is the distant Arctic location and short summer exploration and drilling window, and part is caused by drifty U.S. federal regulations.
Oil exploration and production is never easy (as in “the ‘easy oil’ has been found”), and new frontiers, technological and geographical, are always the challenge. And in this case, federal regulation from an anti-oil administration is at work.
Shell’s Coming Restart
on Shell’s suspended Arctic drilling operations for 2013, the company hasn’t given up. Shell just needs time to repair its ships. U.S. government agencies will continue review and regulation while Shell ships are repaired. As reported in the New York Times: “The Interior Department, the Coast Guard and the Justice Department are reviewing Shell’s operations, which have included groundings, environmental and safety violations, weather delays, the collapse of its spill-containment equipment and other failures.”
The NYT article also reports: [Read more →]
July 17, 2013 1 Comment
“We should not be using models to ‘validate’ policy and regulations. We should be using the models to better inform policy debates and avoid picking technological winners and (more frequently) losers.”
California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) put the state on a track rejected by the nation as a whole: a regulatory limit on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This policy, which I have criticized as elitist climate policy postmodernism , is an all pain, no gain policy with high implementation costs.
The result of AB 32, California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), has been debated for six-plus years, including the release of rival studies estimating regulatory impacts. Studies do not debate the climate-change impacts because the answer is … nil.
LCFS requires fuel producers to lower the average carbon content of their products 10 percent by 2020. It is a huge economic variable for the state’s (troubled) economy, and the size of California makes it a national economic issue as well.
A year ago, an oil-industry-backed analysis by Boston Consulting Group estimated that California could lose between 28,000 and 51,000 jobs. The losses included many high-paying skilled manufacturing jobs, as well as indirect job losses due to multiplier effects.
Just last month, a counter study of LCFS was released by ICF that paints a much rosier picture than that of Boston Consulting. The face-value result might not be troubling, but the peculiar assumptions should be. [Read more →]
July 2, 2013 2 Comments
“Feel-good politics and a desperate wind industry are driving Massachusetts and Connecticut policies, but at some point energy policies have to be grounded in reality. Opposition to wind energy in the northern New England states has settled in, and the residents are beginning to argue enough-is-enough. … As is typical in areas around the world, wind energy will once again bring division.”
New England state Renewable Portfolio Standard (‘RPS’) policies represent some of the most aggressive and costly programs in the country. By 2021, over 20% of the electricity sold retail in the region must come from renewables. Given a robust mix of natural resources, particularly wood biomass, and some hydroelectric, meeting the state mandates, while tough, is possible. But recent legislative and regulatory proposals altering the Massachusetts and Connecticut RPS programs now threaten the balance in favor of building new wind power facilities which could lead to an energy policy war between the states.
Background: Meeting RPS Policies
Sixteen different RPS programs are on the books in New England, each representing different technology classes for new and existing resources and each with different annual compliance requirements. Since the policies are designed to encourage deployment of new renewable generation — RPS ‘Class I’ technologies — the mandates for Class I resources are accelerated. Renewables designated as new resources are state specific but typically include wind, solar, some small hydro, low-emission biomass, landfill gas, and ocean thermal.
The ISO-New England estimates that 30,420 GWh, or 20.2% of the region’s projected electric energy use in 2021 will come from renewables of which two-thirds represent new resources built to meet the RPS targets. Electricity suppliers can satisfy their RPS obligations by purchasing generation or Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from a variety of technologies located either within New England or from eligible resources operating in New York and Canada.
Competitive markets have generally met the RPS demand with the help of existing facilities that were recognized as new renewables by the states, but since 2010, New England has had a shortage of available RECs for most technologies.
Paving the Way for Big Wind [Read more →]
June 5, 2013 7 Comments
“Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”
- James Hansen, Baby Lauren and the Kool-Aid, July 29, 2011.
Climate-change activist James Hansen speaks truth to power when he tells wind + solar = energy advocates “renewable energies are grossly inadequate for our energy needs now and in the foreseeable future.” He adds:
Recently I received a mailing on the climate crisis from a large environmental organization. Their request, letters and e-mails to Congress and the President, mentioned only renewable energies (specifically wind and solar power).
Such a request offends nobody, and it is worthless. Indeed, it is much less than worthless. If you drink the kool-aid … you are a big part of the problem.
But this has not prevented the Michigan Environmental Council and its affiliates from making a full-throated appeal for far higher renewable energy mandates at Gov. Rick Snyder’s statewide series of energy roundtable meetings.
The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and its allies have chosen one unifying theme for these events: coal-fired electrical generation kills people, and renewable energy (wind) is the cure.
To that end, the MEC commissioned a report called: “Public Health Impacts of Old Coal-Fired Power Plants in Michigan.” Analyzing the health care impacts of fine particulate emissions from Michigan’s nine oldest coal-fired generation plants, MEC concludes that : “the Michigan-specific health-related damages associated with [fine particulate] emissions from the nine coal-fired facilities [are] $1.5 billion annually…” [and cause] … 180 premature [coal emissions] deaths per year in Michigan.” [Read more →]
March 13, 2013 11 Comments
“Renewable energy subsidies harm the reliability of Texas electricity markets by resulting in artificially low sales prices, victimizing conventional energy generators and investors. Why build a new gas-fired plant when spot prices might be below production cost because wind receives a $0.02/kWh federal production tax credit?”
Last month, a cold front propelled Texas to a new record for wind power, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Wind-generated electricity provided 9,481 MW on Feb. 9, almost 28 percent of the power generated in ERCOT at that time. This surpassed the previous record of 8,667 MW set only two weeks earlier.
Hold the applause. These records are being set because of Texas’s renewable-energy mandate–the strictest in the nation–and a raft of special tax subsidies. This government largesse harms taxpayers, consumers, and businesses as documented in a study released by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) last November.
Here are some key points to keep in mind when thinking about renewable energy and related subsidies: [Read more →]
March 12, 2013 6 Comments
“The Sustainable Development Challenge Grant program is also a step in implementing ‘Agenda 21, the Global Plan of Action on Sustainable Development,’ signed by the United States at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. All of these programs require broad community participation to identify and address environmental issues.”
- Environmental Protection Agency, 63 Fed. Reg. 45157 (August 24, 1998).
On January 26, 2012, I attended the final meeting in Batavia, NY, for the Finger Lakes “Regional ‘Sustainability’ Plan,” part of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s $10 million statewide program to have regional Planning Departments orchestrate “sustainability” plans described in NYSERDA’s “Cleaner, Greener Communities” Program. Here is my take on what is going on in regard to this extensive plan across New York State.
As those who have studied the United Nations’s ‘Agenda 21′ plan know, “Sustainability” is a key buzzword that is part-and-parcel of the UN’s ‘Agenda 21′. There is no doubt that the “Sustainability” Plan currently being devised by Planning Departments across the state, who are acting “under NYSERDA’s thumb” (as one Planner phrased it at their first meeting in Batavia), is ‘Agenda 21′ in the works (think carbon taxes, ‘green’ energy transfer-of-wealth schemes, and one-world governance).
At the “open-house style” meeting in Batavia last week, folks were asked to read the poster boards relevant to each part of the overall plan: Land Use, Water Use, Agriculture, Forestry, Waste Management, Economic Development, and Energy — and to then use sticky notes to post their comments on the boards for each particular segment of the plan. [Read more →]
March 5, 2013 21 Comments
“The Governor … earned the nod of those representing poorer districts by packing the bill with millions of dollars in grants to boost small and minority-owned businesses that might involve themselves in the offshore sector…. [P]rice caps on electricity bills [hides] the billions of dollars of extra cost that $190/MWh energy adds up to.”
Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is convinced he’s found the right formula for ensuring that his state becomes the first to site a wind facility off its coastline. Last week Maryland’s House quietly approved HB 226. The Senate version (SB 275), although still in Committee, is also expected to pass despite much controversy over cost and risks to captive ratepayers–and back-door cronyism for developers and other special interests.
But don’t be fooled by the political victory. Despite the Governor’s grand claim that his bill will deliver offshore wind at an affordable price, the numbers tell a different story. O’Malley’s folly will deliver a paltry 80 megawatts of offshore wind at most, while draining billions of dollars from the State’s economy.
Offshore Wind: Too Expensive to Meter
Technological, environmental and visual impacts have slowed offshore wind development in the United States, but the primary, universal issue is cost. Offshore wind is not economically viable without significant public support, as O’Malley knows. [Read more →]
February 26, 2013 4 Comments
“[Sean] Lennon fancifully likened drilling and gas production to awakening a sleeping dragon. His mother said later of the comparison, ‘That’s beautiful,’ but, thinking on it some more, suggested ‘it’s a sign of a devil, actually. In my mind it’s more like a snake. A dragon is too big; you’re giving too much respect for this thing.’”
- Eric Roston, “On New York Shale Gas, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon Say Let It Be,” Bloomberg.com (January 23, 2013).
That’s Sean Lennon and his famous mother, Yoko Ono, speaking to reporters taking a tour of Susquehanna County, Pa., in an effort to highlight the supposed dangers of natural gas development. They were accompanied by Susan Sarandon, Josh Fox (producer of Gasland) and Ghandi’s grandson, not to mention a bevy of local anti-development celebrities.
But the real story was the long list of folks not invited on the tour, which was billed as an “informational” affair but, as you could expect, was anything but.
The luxurious Mercedes bus wasn’t hard to find in the Montrose Price-Chopper parking lot, so a few colleagues and I tagged along behind, watching as entertainment intersected with energy policy. (I’m the “white haired” guy with the nice jacket in the Bloomberg story, and I was accompanied by Rachael Colley, our Field Director, who captured some great video to memorialize the tour and wrote about it.)
A Day to Remember–or Forget
It was an utterly bizarre day, as might be expected when the star of the event is the woman who made “bed-ins” famous, supposedly broke up the Beatles, and has launched a crazy clothing line conceivable only by someone with $500 million of inherited wealth to throw around. [Read more →]
January 30, 2013 2 Comments
“You don’t want [California's] system with caps, where you have trading, you have derivatives, you have markets that then collapse and don’t actually reduce emissions much. That’s been tried in Europe, and it didn’t do much.”
- James Hansen, quoted in David Baker, “James Hansen Blasts Cap-and-Trade,” San Francisco Chronicle, December 5, 2012.
“Cap-and-trade’s complexity provides a breeding ground for special interests…. Why do those special interests deserve it anyhow?”
- James Hansen, “The People vs. Cap-and-Tax,” New York City, January 12, 2010.
NASA climate scientist James Hansen has long attracted criticism as the progenitor of modern climate alarmism. In recent years, Hansen has been prone to hyperbolic statements against fossil fuels, ignoring the moral imperative for abundant, affordable, and reliable mass energies (called progressive energy by Alex Epstein). Hansen has also engaged in civil disobedience for his wrong-headed cause.
Hansen’s alarmism, and its policy corollary of government-engineered energy transformation, is deeply troubled by three factors as documented by fellow climate scientist Chip Knappenberger:
- Global temperatures are not rising in tandem with greenhouse gas emissions (think global lukewarming);
- Hansen’s “climate dice” can be unloaded; and
- A carbon tax (Hansen’s alternative to cap-and-trade) is climatically useless.
Can James Hansen acknowledge the mere possibility of a benign or even positive human influence on climate? Such would be the beginning of an exit strategy, a soft landing, from what continues to shape up to be a Grand False Alarm. Hansen’s reconsideration, in fact, can begin with his own views of the 1990s on the complexity of his subject matter (see Appendix A).
Three Great Moments
But there is another side to the mad scientist that has interjected realism into the decarbonization debate. Three are mentioned here. [Read more →]
December 21, 2012 5 Comments
Since 2009, the State of New Hampshire has reviewed three large-scale wind energy facilities, totaling 177 megawatts. In each case, the project proponents engaged University of New Hampshire Professor and economist Ross Gittell and his research assistant, Matt Magnusson, to conduct economic impact studies to show the long-term (20-year) benefits the projects would deliver to the local area.
Figure 1 summarizes the findings of each report (please click for better resolution).
The UNH researchers relied on NREL’s Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) or similar linear spreadsheet models to assess job creation and economic impacts for the three projects: Granite Reliable Wind Park, Groton Wind and Antrim Wind. The methodologies and assumptions for the three studies appear nearly identical.
In all cases, their reports showed minor direct job opportunities (15 full-time equivalent positions for operations at the three sites) but substantially inflated indirect and induced job benefits relative to the local area. [Read more →]
December 12, 2012 2 Comments