Coal Can’t Be Resurrected – Not even the President is that powerful

Natural gas is cheap. Solar Photovoltaics are even cheaper. The job prospects in renewables are growing as fast as miners jobs are falling. Donald Trump may think he is all powerful but even if the Russian mob boss Putin joins in, China, India and Australia never will. Seems to me that is the end of the story.

http://www.computerworld.com/article/3166897/sustainable-it/report-1-in-50-new-us-jobs-came-from-solar-last-year.html

Report: 1 in 50 new U.S. jobs came from solar last year

Employment in the industry rose in 44 states and is expected to continue growing

One out of every 50 new U.S. jobs last year came from the solar industry, with growth in that industry outpacing the overall U.S. economy by 17 times, according to a new report.

Overall, there were 260,077 solar workers in 2016, representing 2% of all new jobs, according to The Solar Foundation’s Solar Jobs Census 2016.

Solar employment increased by more than 51,000 workers, a 25% increase over 2015, according to the report. Solar industry employment has nearly tripled since the first National Solar Jobs Census was released in 2010 — rising at least 20% annually for the past four years.

Along with growth in solar and other forms of renewables, energy storage is a rapidly growing industry, comprising 90,831 jobs — of which 47,634 are focused on battery storage.

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Go there and cheer, I mean read. More next week.

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Renewables Scare Utilities – This is a good thing

Instead of investing in renewables and conservation. They fought them tooth and nail. Now they are paying the price.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/29/power-to-the-people

Power to the People

Why the rise of green energy makes utility companies nervous.

     Mark and Sara Borkowski live with their two young daughters in a century-old, fifteen-hundred-square-foot house in Rutland, Vermont. Mark drives a school bus, and Sara works as a special-ed teacher; the cost of heating and cooling their house through the year consumes a large fraction of their combined income. Last summer, however, persuaded by Green Mountain Power, the main electric utility in Vermont, the Borkowskis decided to give their home an energy makeover. In the course of several days, coördinated teams of contractors stuffed the house with new insulation, put in a heat pump for the hot water, and installed two air-source heat pumps to warm the home. They also switched all the light bulbs to L.E.D.s and put a small solar array on the slate roof of the garage.

The Borkowskis paid for the improvements, but the utility financed the charges through their electric bill, which fell the very first month. Before the makeover, from October of 2013 to January of 2014, the Borkowskis used thirty-four hundred and eleven kilowatt-hours of electricity and three hundred and twenty-five gallons of fuel oil. From October of 2014 to January of 2015, they used twenty-eight hundred and fifty-six kilowatt-hours of electricity and no oil at all. President Obama has announced that by 2025 he wants the United States to reduce its total carbon footprint by up to twenty-eight per cent of 2005 levels. The Borkowskis reduced the footprint of their house by eighty-eight per cent in a matter of days, and at no net cost.

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The Coal Business Is Dying – It can’t come soon enough

This is not the point of the article but it IS my point. If most mammals, like us, are going to survive then we are going to have to leave all of the carbon that we can in the ground. By the way natural gas is no “bridge” to the future. Methane is a lot more potent green house gas. It is carbon that must be left in the ground too. So expect the natural gas companies to follow suit. The sooner the better.

http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/13/news/companies/peabody-coal-bankruptcy/

The largest U.S. coal company just filed for bankruptcy

Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal producer, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday in a U.S. court, citing “unprecedented” industry pressures and a sharp decline in the price of coal.

The company said it will continue to operate while in bankruptcy, while working to reduce debt and improve cash flow.

“Peabody has a new management team, outstanding workforce, unmatched asset base and strong underlying operational performance that represent a key driver in the company’s future success,” CEO Glenn Kellow said in a statement announcing the Chapter 11 filing.

In addition to plummeting coal prices, the company cited weakness in China’s economy, overproduction of domestic shale gas and ongoing regulatory challenges as reasons for its declining prospects.

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Energy Conservation In The Developing World – Stoves can change the world

Cooking food. In the US that would not be considered either energy efficiency or even news. Yet for humans, cooking is totally necessary. In poor countries, it is a huge issue. This is good news.

India sees clean cooking as climate action that saves lives

Associated Press

GANORA SHEIKH VILLAGE, India (AP) — Kamlesh feeds the flames of a crude clay cookstove with kindling, kerosene and sunbaked discs of cow dung. She breathes in the billowing smoke, as she does for hours every day. Her eyes water and sting. Her throat feels scratchy and sore.

Kamlesh is one of hundreds of millions of Indian housewives who, with the simple act of cooking family meals, fill their homes every day with deadly airborne pollutants. The constant exposure to indoor air pollution kills some 4.3 million people every year across the world — 30 percent of them in India.

The menace of cookstove pollution, which contains high concentrations of tiny particles known as black carbon, does not stop in the home. It compounds many environmental problems as well, from glacial melt to falling crop yields.

India, the world’s third-largest climate polluting nation, has spent decades encouraging cleaner cooking technologies, with limited success. Such a shift would have little impact on India’s emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases, and many of the alternatives pollute as well.

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Go there and read. It’s fascinating. More next week.

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How We Use Energy In The Home – Natural gas is big

Most environmentalists go after coal fired power plants. They make a mistake. Methane is a much more dagerous and persistent gas and our houses use more and thus waste more of it.

http://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/energy-use/home-work/

How We Use Energy

Home & Work

We use energy in homes and commercial buildings in similar ways. We keep rooms at comfortable temperatures, provide lighting, heat water for bathing and hand washing, and power computers, copiers, appliances, and other technologies. Many of these luxuries weren’t even possible 100 years ago—and they require a lot of energy. In 2008, 41% of all the energy consumed in the United States went to powering homes and commercial buildings.

Many of these luxuries weren’t even possible 100 years ago—and they require a lot of energy.

Whether you live in an apartment, townhouse, or a single-family home, chances are you want to keep it warm in cold weather. Data from 2006 show that space heating accounts for the greatest energy usage in the residential sector, with the rest devoted, in decreasing proportions, to appliances, water heating, and air-conditioning. At 7%, electronics usage surpasses washers/dryers and dishwashers, cooking, and computers in energy use. Appliances such as refrigerators, water heaters, and washers/dryers are all considerably more energy efficient than they used to be, thanks to legislation that requires appliances to meet strict standards.

In U.S. homes, natural gas is the most widely used energy source (49%), followed by the secondary energy source, electricity, at 39%. That’s reversed in commercial buildings, where electricity (55%) is depended on more than natural gas (32%). The commercial sector includes a broad array of building types, including offices, grocery stores, sports arenas, schools, shopping malls, hotels, and hospitals. Practically any space where groups gather falls into this economic sector. The energy needs for these different buildings vary but when viewed as a whole, more than half of the energy used in commercial buildings goes to just heating (36%) and lighting (21%). Within this sector, retail stores and service buildings use the most total energy (20%), followed by office buildings (17%) and schools (13%).

For a fuller picture of energy use in these sectors, explore Our Energy System.

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Chicago May Lose Its Renewable Surge – Is it as easy as a Wisconsin Energy purchase

Wisconsin Energy (abbreviated here as WE abbreviated on the SEC as WEC)  is buying Integrys Distribution Network which includes Chicago. So the 2 big questions this raises is 1) Will this have an effect on Chicago’s electric rates and  renewable goals. and 2) will the WE offer Chicago a new and improved natural gas deal? We shall see. Ameren must be wondering the same sort of things. Below are a short article link and then a longer treatment.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wisconsin-energy-to-buy-integrys-energy-in-91-bln-deal-2014-06-23-7911444?siteid=bulletrss

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-wisconsin-energy-to-buy-integrys-in-91-billion-deal-20140623,0,3548279.story

Peoples Gas parent Integrys being bought for $5.7 billion

WEC Energy Group the merged company will be headquartered in Milwaukee, with “operating headquarters” in Chicago, Green Bay and Milwauke.

It was just before Christmas that Gale Klappa, chairman and CEO of Wisconsin Energy Corp., asked Charlie Schrock, his counterpart at Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group Inc., out to dinner.Sitting in a restaurant in Chicago, Klappa didn’t mince words with the head of the parent company for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas.

“The first thing on my mind that I opened with in my discussion with Charlie is when you look at what the combined company would become in what is clearly a consolidating industry,” he recalled. “Size, scale and the ability to take advantage of the economies of scale is becoming more important.”

On Monday, six months after that dinner, the two CEOS were together again, announcing a $5.7 billion merger agreement that will create an energy company with more than 4.3 million metered electric and gas customers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

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More Protection From Fracking For Prairie Chickens – Then human beings

Well that makes sense because humans are driving themselves to extinction.

http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059995434

ENDANGERED SPECIES:

FWS finalizes ‘landmark’ lesser prairie chicken protections from drilling

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a voluntary agreement designed to protect the lesser prairie chicken and its dwindling habitat from oil and gas drilling activity as the deadline approaches for the service to decide whether to list the colorful bird as threatened.

FWS and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) announced late Friday that they had signed the formal agreement, called the Range-wide Oil and Gas Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances.

Landowners and companies that enroll in the Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances (CCAA) through WAFWA agree to take steps to protect lesser prairie chicken habitat and to pay a mitigation fee if their actions harm the bird’s habitat. In exchange, the service agrees not to impose any further restrictions or mandates on the participants if the bird is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

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If We Are Setting Record Oil Production Levels – Why are prices so fracking high

I get this question all the time. The argument is always the trade off argument. We get jobs and cheap fossil fuels but  the environment is degraded. And boy and how. Destroyed is more like it but we do not even get the results that the fracking industry promised. Did I mention it is cold outside?

http://www.startribune.com/business/241382091.html

Record high prices for propane, natural gas in some markets as cold snap saps fuel supplies

  • Article by: JONATHAN FAHEY , Associated Press
  • Updated: January 21, 2014 – 6:12 PM

NEW YORK — A second fierce blast of winter weather is sapping fuel supplies in many regions and sending prices for propane and natural gas to record highs.

Higher natural gas prices are also leading to sharply higher wholesale electricity prices as power utilities snap up gas at almost any price to run power plants to meet higher-than-normal winter demand.

Propane users will get pinched the most. Those who find themselves suddenly needing to fill their tanks could be paying $100 to $200 more per fill up than a month ago. Homeowners who use natural gas and electricity will see higher heating bills because they’ll use more fuel. But prices won’t rise dramatically because utilities only buy a small portion of the fuel at the elevated prices.

A swirling storm with the potential for more than a foot of snow clobbered the mid-Atlantic and the urban Northeast on Tuesday. The snowstorm will be followed by bitter cold as arctic air from Canada streams in, causing homeowners to crank up the thermostat.

Record high prices for propane, natural gas in some markets as cold snap saps fuel supplies

  • Article by: JONATHAN FAHEY , Associated Press
  • Updated: January 21, 2014 – 6:12 PM

NEW YORK — A second fierce blast of winter weather is sapping fuel supplies in many regions and sending prices for propane and natural gas to record highs.

Higher natural gas prices are also leading to sharply higher wholesale electricity prices as power utilities snap up gas at almost any price to run power plants to meet higher-than-normal winter demand.

Propane users will get pinched the most. Those who find themselves suddenly needing to fill their tanks could be paying $100 to $200 more per fill up than a month ago. Homeowners who use natural gas and electricity will see higher heating bills because they’ll use more fuel. But prices won’t rise dramatically because utilities only buy a small portion of the fuel at the elevated prices.

A swirling storm with the potential for more than a foot of snow clobbered the mid-Atlantic and the urban Northeast on Tuesday. The snowstorm will be followed by bitter cold as arctic air from Canada streams in, causing homeowners to crank up the thermostat.

Michael McCafferty, a propane expert at Platts, an energy information provider, said the wholesale spot price of propane rose 70 percent between Friday and Tuesday to a record $2.45 per gallon. Both the size of the jump and the price itself he called “unprecedented.”

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Go there and read. More next week.

 

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There Are No Criminal Charges For The Frackers – So all they have to do is pay money

No Frackers will go to jail if they violate WHAT LAWS? IDNR might as well give away the state of Illinois to being totally trashed. Where will the Fracking start? In our State Parks?

Day 49   1/2/13

Topic:  Fines penalties, suspensions and revocations

For regulations to work, levied fines must exceed the financial benefit a company gains by violating the rules. None of the rulemaking sanctions meet this criterion. This results in the other 150 pages of rules being essentially meaningless because they will be ignored.   The draft rule sanctions place the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act (HFRA)  on the road to failure before the first permit is issued.

Examples:

  1. Section 1-100(b) of the law specifies misdemeanor and felony criminal charges for a number of violations of the law.  Yet there are NO criminal charges in the rules
  2. In Section 1-60(a)1-6 of the law, there are six (6) grounds for suspension or revocation of a permit.  These are re-listed with a 7th in section 245.1100 of the rules.  But the very next  section of the Rules–245.1110–reduces the grounds for an immediate permit suspension to one: “an emergency condition posing a significant hazard to the public health, aquatic life, wildlife or the environment.” This is the most stringent requirement of the seven grounds listed in section 245.1100.  Why bother to list seven possible grounds for permit suspension or revocation in section 245.1100 if you then require the Department to identify the most stringent criteria for an immediate suspension.
  3. Section 1-60(b) of the law requires a much lower standard of proof to suspend, revoke or deny a permit than the rules (245.1110).  Under the law, the Department need only serve notice of its action (to suspend, revoke or deny), including a statement of the reasons for the action.
  4. In the law, if a well operator’s permit has been suspended, the burden of proof is on well operator to prove that the identified problem is “no significant threat to public health, aquatic life, wildlife, or the environment” [Section 1-60(d)].  In the rules, this phrase becomes something IDNR must prove before ordering a permit suspension [Rule Section 245.1100(b)3A].
  5. Sections 1-100 and 1-101 of the law have some stiff penalties that accrue on a daily basis until the reason for the fine is corrected.  These fines can go as high as $50,000 per violation and up to $10,000 per day.  These are replaced by fines so trivial ($50-$2500) that it will cost the IDNR more to impose and collect a fine than the dollar value of the fine itself.

Revisions Needed:  Return to the standards of the law with regard to fines, penalties and revocations.

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Public Participation In Illinois – That is unheard of

What the hell would the public know about their own self interest. Everybody outside of Chicago is just dumb hicks anyways.

Day 29 12/13/13 

Today’s Topic:  Who a potentially affected party must petiton in order to participate in a hearing.

Section 245.270 Public Hearings

The Act’s provision affording public hearings are critically important to ensuring that the public has the ability to fully understand hydraulic fracturing permits that may affect them, and challenge them if appropriate. We are therefore concerned that some aspects of the draft rules governing hearings could potentially undercut the robust public participation envisioned in the statute.

Section 1-50(b) of the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act says any person having an interest that is or may be adversely affected [by a fracking permit], can petition the Department for participation in a hearing.

But Subsection 245.270(a)(6) of the Rules raises the bar, requiring the request for hearing to be served upon the Hearing Officer, the Department, and the ap