Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Texas-Sized Solar Initiative

The Texas State Senate has passed a bill that would mandate a 60% increase in renewable energy (ex-wind) and establish a $500 million/5 year rebate program for solar installation in the state. Whether this will give our friends in Sacramento any new ideas, remains to be seen, but a closer look at the Texas initiative is probably worth a minute of your time.
The "$500 million rebate" program will be financed by electric bill fees-- presumably on all ratepyers-- which essentially makes this a "tax" on anyone who doesn't take the bait and install solar.

The basic idea is to generate solar energy that can be sold back to utilities, but at what rate remains a mystery.

According to Russell Gold in the Wall Street Journal:
"Jim Marston, head of the Texas chapter of Environmental Defense, said he expects the rebates would bring Texas about 250 to 500 megawatts of solar-power generation, which now costs more than other electricity sources but is being buoyed by government support and falling manufacturing costs. That is roughly equivalent to the output from a natural-gas power plant."

"One potential drawback is the price at which homeowners would be able sell their excess solar power to utilities -- an important factor in calculating how long it takes to recover the cost of installing solar panels. The bill requires that utilities purchase surpluses at a "fair market price," which can be 20% less than the going rate for retail electricity."
A de facto tax to spur green energy that appears to be light on details certainly sounds like somethng California could enthusiastically get behind...

For more energy articles: Heartland Energy Development Corporation News Energy Development

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Natural Gas Gains in New York After Yesterday’s Six-Year Low

By Reg Curren

April 28 (Bloomberg) -- Natural gas futures rose for the first time in four days, rebounding from the lowest price in more than six years on the May contract’s last day of trading.
Gas futures have tumbled 76 percent from a high in July as weakening demand during the recession slashes demand for the industrial and power-plant fuel. Prices yesterday fell to the lowest since September 2002.

“Gas is experiencing another one of its spasmodic moves higher after posting another new low,” Michael Fitzpatrick, a vice president for energy at MF Global Ltd. in New York, said in note. “That is what is to be expected from an oversold market. The fundamentals are overwhelmingly bearish.”

Natural gas for May delivery rose 4.7 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $3.30 per million British thermal units at 12:30 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures fell to $3.155 per million Btu yesterday.

The more actively traded June futures contract gained 4.5 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $3.407 per million Btu. All of the warm-weather gas futures contracts, May through November, were higher as of 12:30 p.m.

“We got some solid air-conditioning demand over the weekend in the Northeast,” said Stephen Schork, president of the Schork Group Inc., an energy markets consulting company, in Villanova, Pennsylvania. “The weather is a little bit supportive.”

Schork said utilities may be taking advantage of low prices now, anticipating an increase once higher temperatures kick in during the U.S. summer that would boost demand for electricity from gas-fired plants to power air conditioners.
“Why wouldn’t you buy gas now?” said Schork.
Hot Weather

New York is forecast to reach a high of 89 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) today, 24 degrees above normal, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to return to near normal tomorrow, with highs in the low to mid-60s.

A reduction in supplies throughout 2009 is setting up natural gas prices to move higher, especially with a slight recovery in the economy anticipated in the second half of the year, said Peter Linder, an analyst at DeltaOne Energy Fund in Calgary.

“The main reason to be optimistic is the significant and consistent decline in drilling activity,” Linder said. “That has got to translate, imminently, to lower production.”

Natural gas prices may dip toward $3 per million Btu, though they won’t stay there for long as producers will shut in more output at that level, said Linder, who anticipates a price rally to between $4.50 and $5 by the end of the summer.

The number of gas rigs operating in the U.S. has dropped 54 percent since September as prices collapsed, data published by Baker Hughes Inc. showed.

Gas rigs fell by 18, or 2.4 percent, to 742 last week, the lowest since the week ended Feb. 7, 2003. The count is down from a peak of 1,606 on Sept. 12.

To contact the reporter on this story: Reg Curren in Calgary at

Energy News (oil & gas) website

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Energy Development is a popular topic today with the state of the economy and the past few years cost of oil and gas.

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Public Utilities Board drops natural gas price (Canada)

Updated: Tue Apr. 28 2009 11:42:38

There is some good news for homeowners and anyone else required to pay their own natural gas bills.

In a bid to properly reflect cost of the product, the price of natural gas supplied by Centra Gas is dropping, a lot.

Effective May 1, 2009 the average customer will see a decrease of $90 on their bill.

If you are not the average customer you can work it out for yourself, it is 7.5 percent less.

Large volume customers, typically commercial, will save even more with a reduction in the 8.1 to 11.3 percent range.

The drop coincides with the drastic decrease in oil prices, and while the Public Utilities Board (PUB) recognizes the volatility of the price of oil and gas, it does not believe prices are going to rise significantly in the near future.

The next price review is scheduled to take place in Aug. 2009, but The PUB does not anticipate increases then, and at this stage indicates that prices may fall again.

Falling prices are not exactly a ringing endorsement to work towards energy efficiency, but the Centra Gas' parent company Manitoba Hydro continues to encourage Manitobans to take advantage of its energy efficiency programs.

The PUB says world economic conditions lend themselves to lower prices for the foreseeable future.

For more information visit the Public Utilities Website

Monday, April 27, 2009

Heartland Energy Development Expand's Drilling

Here is a great article in the New Blaze about Heartland Energy Development Corporation's epanding of oil and gas drilling: Energy Development Corporation. If you are interested in finding more about oil and gas drilling check out a great source: or for helpful information on the process and techniques.

Climate Change Debate Heats Up

Source: ENews USA
Apr 27: The last two weeks have seen a major turning point on the legislative, political and regulatory elements of the climate change debate. On April 17, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the Agency was issuing its proposed finding proposed finding that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. From April 21-24, the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Chaired by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) and its Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Chaired by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) held four days of must-see hearings on the American Clean Energy Security Act Of 2009.

On Earth Day, April 22, President Obama delivered a major speech on energy that included the Administration's reaffirmation to move forward with its cap and trade program. Finally, on the international front as the week commences and following the recent Bonn meeting [See WIMS 4/9/09], the leaders of 17 "Major Economies" and the Secretary General of the United Nations are participating in a major energy and climate change session at the Department of State on April 27-28 in Washington, DC, at the invite of the President.

On April 17, Administrator Jackson announced the long awaited, "endangerment finding" which was the subject to intense controversy during the Bush Administration [See WIMS 7/25/08]. Jackson said, "This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations. Fortunately, it follows President Obama’s call for a low carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation. This pollution problem has a solution -- one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.” The proposed endangerment finding states, “In both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem. The greenhouse gases that are responsible for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act.”

EPA’s proposed endangerment finding is based on peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases -- carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride -- that have been the subject of intensive analysis by scientists around the world. EPA said the science "clearly shows that concentrations of these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate."

The scientific analysis also confirms that climate change impacts human health in several ways including: higher concentrations of ground-level ozone; increased drought; more heavy downpours and flooding; more frequent and intense heat waves and wildfires; greater sea level rise; more intense storms; and harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems; and more. The analysis also finds that climate change has serious national security implications.

The "endangerment finding" responds to the April 2, 2007, 5-4 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which decided the historic case about global warming (Massachusetts, et al. v. EPA, et al., No. 05-1120), and ruled that EPA has existing authority under the Federal Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from motor vehicles. EPA had previously refused to regulate such gases, arguing it lacked statutory authority [See WIMS 4/2/07]. The Supreme Court ruled that EPA does have authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. The Court also held that the Agency could not refuse to use that authority based on the Agency’s policy preferences. Instead, the EPA would have to decide, based on the science, whether it believed that greenhouse gas emissions were posing dangers to public health or welfare. If the Agency determined that "endangerment" was occurring, the Agency would have to start the process of setting emission standards for greenhouse gases.

For four straight days (April 21-24), Chairmen Waxman and Markey held perhaps the most comprehensive set of hearings ever on alternative energy and climate change issues as contained within the draft American Clean Energy Security Act Of 2009 (ACES). The testimony and videos from the hearing are must-see and read for all those interested in the science and politics of climate change. Waxman and Markey released their draft of ACES on March 31 [See WIMS 3/31/09]. The hearings included statements from Committee and Subcommittee members which demonstrated the stark differences between Democrats and Republicans on the issue; major testimony from Administration officials from EPA, the Department of Energy and Transportation; extensive testimony and questioning of former VP Al Gore, former Senator John Warner (R-VA); former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and major environmental, industry, state and local government officials, and others.

Al Gore's testimony reminded that, "Our country is at risk on three fronts. The economic crisis is clear. Our national security remains at risk so long as we remain dangerously dependent on flows of foreign oil from reserves owned by sovereign states that are vulnerable to disruption. The rate of new discoveries, as you know, is falling even as demand elsewhere in the world is rising. Most importantly, of course, we are -- along with the rest of humanity -- facing the dire and growing threat of the climate crisis."

Newt Gingrich responded saying he had concluded, ". . . this is the wrong bill. This bill is wrong for our national security. This bill is wrong for our economy. This bill is wrong for government of, by, and for the people. He challenged Gore's assumption that we face energy shortages, and said, ". . .Vice President Gore’s analysis was wrong. . . The United States government blocks the development of new energy sources and inhibits the use of existing energy and then explains that we will have a shortage of energy. It is an artificial, government imposed shortage not a naturally occurring phenomenon. . ."

Gore, Warner, Gingrich and others commented on the news story that broke on the day of their testimony in the New York Times indicating that new internal documents released in legal proceedings demonstrated that in 1995, the industry-financed group, Global Climate Coalition, did not reveal scientific information from its own experts that indicated that, "The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied."

The industry report also said that, "Given the limitations of climate models and other information on this question, current claims that a human impact on climate has already been detected, are unjustified. However, assessment of whether human activities have already affected climate may be possible when improved climate models are available. Alternatively, a large, short term change in climate consistent with model predictions could be taken as proof of a human component of climate change [See links to the complete report below].

On Earth Day, President Obama delivered an energy and climate change speech in Newton, Iowa at a manufacturing plant building towers for windmill turbines. He said, "America has always led the world in producing and harnessing new forms of energy. . . the choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. The choice we face is between prosperity and decline. We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy. We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc across the landscape, or we can create jobs working to prevent its worst effects. . ."

While most of the President's speech focused on alternative energy issues, he used the opportunity to again discuss his plans for climate change and a cap and trade program. He said, ". . .last week, in response to a mandate from the United States Supreme Court, the Environmental Protection Agency determined that carbon dioxide and other tailpipe emissions are harmful to the health and well-being of our people. So there's no question that we have to regulate carbon pollution in some way; the only question is how we do it. I believe the best way to do it is through legislation that places a market-based cap on these kinds of emissions. And today, key members of my administration are testifying in Congress on a bill that seeks to enact exactly this kind of market-based approach. My hope is that this will be the vehicle through which we put this policy in effect."

Finally, today and tomorrow (April 27 & 28), the U.S. is hosting a forum of the 17 "Major Economies" including: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Denmark, in its capacity as the President of the December 2009 Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the United Nations have also been invited to participate in this dialogue.

According to information from the State Department, the meeting will take place at the "level of leaders’ representatives." U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern will lead U.S. participation in the Major Economies Forum, and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman will serve as Chair. The Forum is intended to facilitate a candid dialogue among major developed and developing economies; help generate the political leadership necessary to achieve a successful outcome at the December UN climate change conference in Copenhagen; and advance the exploration of concrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

In a press briefing on April 24, Froman said Major Economies represent 75 percent of global emissions. He said, ". . .we believe that it is critical that those 17 be able to make progress on the outstanding issues and reach political consensus if there is to be a deal in Copenhagen, as well as to make progress on the transformational technologies that are necessary to develop if we’re going to solve the climate change problem. This is part of the President’s overall effort to build a clean energy economy, to create green jobs, and to create greater energy independence. We plan to have three working sessions of the Major Economies Forum over the next few months in preparation for a leaders meeting that will take place on the margins of the G-8 meeting in Italy in July. We’re looking forward to having this dialogue this week. This is the beginning of a process, and we kept the dialogue relatively small in order to facilitate open and intensive discussion."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Even Though Their Own Scientists Knew They Were Wrong, Fossil Fuel Industries Sowed Doubt on Climate Change Causes

Interestingly enough, the public relations industry does indeed have a code of ethics. It would be nice to see environmental groups push to have those who took part in this campaign ejected from any professional associations.

As to the officials of those companies? Decent people should shun them - but only because I'm a pacifist and would never advise you to storm their houses with pitchforks:

For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.

“The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.

But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.

“The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.

The coalition was financed by fees from large corporations and trade groups representing the oil, coal and auto industries, among others. In 1997, the year an international climate agreement that came to be known as the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, its budget totaled $1.68 million, according to tax records obtained by environmental groups.

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