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Energy News

Ryan Zinke to the oil and gas industry: “Our government should work for you”

Vox | Posted on September 26, 2018

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke gave the keynote address at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association’s fall meeting in Lafayette, Louisiana. He told the conference over lunch “our government should work for you." And according to the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, the industry members in the room were thrilled with the pledge, giving Zinke a standing ovation.

California urges Trump administration to abandon fuel rule plan

Reuters | Posted on September 26, 2018

California’s top air regulator urged the Trump administration on Sunday to abandon a plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards through 2026, as automakers urged state and federal regulators to reach agreement to extend nationwide rules. Mary Nichols, who chairs the state’s Air Resources Board, asked the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency to reverse course, saying the plan to freeze requirements at 2020 levels “turns its back on decades of progress in cleaning up cars and trucks.”

87 days of smog: Southern California just saw its longest streak of bad air in decades

The Los Angeles Times | Posted on September 26, 2018

Southern Californians might remember the summer of 2018 for its sweltering heat waves, record ocean temperatures and destructive wildfires. But it also claimed another distinction: the summer we went nearly three months without a day of clean air.The region violated federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days, the longest stretch of bad air in at least 20 years, state monitoring data show. The streak is the latest sign that Southern California’s battle against smog is faltering after decades of dramatic improvement.

Resiliency in the face of hurricanes makes the case for renewables even stronger

Quartz | Posted on September 20, 2018

People of the Carolinas are picking up the pieces after Hurricane Florence, the wettest tropical cyclone on record.  Solar-power installations were largely able to escape without harm.Before the storm hit, Duke Energy’s 40 solar-power sites were “de-energized” and set up horizontally to minimize wind damage. Although it’s too soon say what, if any, damage occurred, the signs are good. Soon after the storm passed, all the installations had begun producing power. Rooftop solar installations fared well too. Only six out of 800 customers of Yes Solar Solutions reported that there was a problem with their system.That said, modern renewables form only a fraction of the total electricity produced in the Carolinas. Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant was shut ahead of the storm and remains offline. The plant is safe but remains inaccessible because of flooding. Natural gas and coal power plants haven’t suffered any problems, but the flooding coal-ash fields are likely to cause environmental problems.

Omaha company idles Iowa ethanol plant, points to trade war, lack of year-round E15

Des Moines Register | Posted on September 20, 2018

Omaha-based Green Plains says it's idling production at a northwest Iowa ethanol plant, but the facility remains open and its nearly 50 employees continue to work. Jim Stark, Green Plains spokesman, said the company plans to resume production at Superior, but he's unsure exactly when that will occur. The facility employs 46 workers.

Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands

The Hill | Posted on September 20, 2018

The Trump administration on Tuesday finalized its plans to weaken regulations on methane gas releases from drilling on public land.The action from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rolls back key provisions of an Obama-era rule that limited releases of the greenhouse gas during oil and gas production on publicly owned lands leased to fossil fuel companies.The new rule is expected to allow for more leaks of the gas through a practice known as venting or flaring, adding to air pollution. The Obama administration estimated that the practice cost taxpayers more than $330 million annually in lost revenue. The new rule is being described by the Trump administration as a way to reduce burdens on the private sector.

Indiana NIPSCO plan would eliminate coal-fired electricity generation within 10 years

NorthWest Indiana Times | Posted on September 20, 2018

IPSCO has a tentative plan to retire its entire coal-fired electricity generation fleet in the next decade, with the majority of its coal-fired generators to be retired in the next five years.The company made the announcement at the fourth of five public meetings detailing the development of a new Integrated Resource Plan for the utility.“This creates a vision for the future that is better for our customers, and it’s consistent with our goal to transition to the best cost, cleanest electric supply mix available while maintaining reliability, diversity and flexibility for technology and market changes,” said NIPSCO President Violet Sistovaris.


Solar Going Big (And Small) In Illinois

Northern Public Radio | Posted on September 20, 2018

Solar power has been used here and there in Illinois for a long time. But now the state is going for it in a big way. With the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016, Illinois charted a course to boost renewable energy, particularly solar, in a big way.It's all being managed by the Illinois Power Agency (IPA), led by Anthony Star. It was established to manage electricity markets, including renewables, and still does. But the new law gives it a mandate to create the framework for a new energy market in Illinois."So there's really two paths forward on renewable energy coming out of the Future Energy Jobs Act," Star said. "For large-scale renewable, such as wind farms or solar that's located on brownfields, we use the competitive procurement model, where we basically put out a request for proposals and people come with specific projects and bid on price."Renewable energy credits were developed by the renewables industry as a way to separate the environmental benefits from the electricity itself. They have value, and can be sold or traded separate from the electricity.

13 Solar farms coming to Northern Illinois county

My Stateline | Posted on September 20, 2018

As concerns over global climate change and limited resources rise, the race to provide renewable energy has come to Illinois. In the Stateline, companies pitch their plans to make local fields the source of that energy.  The Boone County Board is among many other local counties to be inundated with solar farm applications. County leaders tell us if green energy comes to the Stateline -- it could mean more money for local governments. Wednesday, a third solar farm was approved by the Boone County Board. The project is one of thirteen applications. Some board members say it's been surprising to see the amount of interest they're receiving."However they have to come get approval here [first]," said Boone County Board Denny Ellingson. "[That's] before they can get on the state list to even be in the lottery drawing to determine who will put up solar farms next summer."Ellingson says the applications are in land all over Boone County."One in the northern end of the county," said Ellingson. "The one that got approved a month ago is out near the fairgrounds."County Board Member Marshall Newhouse says with every vote, they learn something about the relatively unknown energy concept. Because of the uncertainty, he says the board is being very careful as they review each proposal.Newhouse says according to the developers, solar farms could mean a huge jump in property tax revenue."The taxes could be anywhere in the area of 7-10 times per acre what the county and the taxing bodies have been used to getting."Newhouse says the county wouldn't be the only one's reaping economic benefit from solar farms."To the farmer, it is a different and additional source of income," said Newhouse. "For those acres, that are going to be devoted to the project, it's probably going to be quite lucrative for them."County board members say they're listening to any resident concerns through the process as well. One controversial 200-acre proposal is up for a full county board vote on October 3rd.

Small Refinery Exemptions and Ethanol Demand Destruction

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on September 20, 2018

Small refinery exemptions (SREs) represent the latest controversy to engulf the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  When the U.S. Congress first created the RFS in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) it included a temporary exemption for small refineries from the mandate through 2011.  Under the Obama Administration, SREs were rarely granted after 2011.  This changed radically under the Trump Administration, which granted a total of 48 SREs retroactively for 2016 and 2017.  SREs effectively reduced the conventional ethanol mandate for 2017 from 15 billion gallons to 13.9 billion gallons.  This was not only a large reduction in absolute terms, but it also resulted in the conventional mandate being set below the E10 blend wall.  If similar numbers of SREs are granted for 2018 and 2019, comparable reductions in the effective conventional ethanol mandate should be expected (assuming the SRE volumes are not reallocated to non-exempt obligated parties)