IEEFA Energy Finance 2016: Utilities ‘Fearful of Somebody Getting Between Them and Their Customers’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享A Moody’s Investor Services executive said today that that U.S. electricity-generation industry faces broad disruptions driven by the rise of new technology, more environmental regulation and an inexorable march toward less carbon-intensive production.“The transition to to a low-carbon future is well under way in the regulated utility industry,” said Jim Hempstead, associate managing director at Moody’s Global Project and Infrastructure Finance Group.Hempstead, speaking at a morning session of IEEFA’s Energy Finance 2016, said implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which continues to be fiercely criticized by coal-fired electricity generation interests, has been baked into utility industry plans already and will ultimately have a negligible business effect.He said growth in renewables is likely irreversible.“We see a lot of activity in renewables” accompanied by renewable-energy expansion into states that have not yet embraced wind or solar and a shrinking footprint for coal-fired electricity, he said. Hempstead emphasized that the coal-fired electricity industry “is not going away” but will be reduced to “core supercritical plants” that will provided base-load power in some areas while “smaller, marginal less-efficient units, they’re all going to get shut down.”He cited a “clear bias” among regulators toward redesigning U.S. electricity infrastructure in a way that supports distributed generation and electricity storage, developments that imperil current models.“The utilities are most fearful of somebody getting between them and their customers.”Cathy Kunkel, an IEEFA energy analyst, said utilities can expect to face greater opposition to traditional electricity-distribution models as “grassroots campaigns” gain momentum against a business-as-usual mindset.Kunkel cited effective public furor in the District of Columbia, where opponents to the Exelon-Pepco merger—a deal that would likely increase electricity prices and thwart renewable-energy trends—have managed to repeatedly delay consummation of that merger.“Grassroots pressure has certainly made a difference, regardless of the ultimate outcome,” Kunkel said, arguing that public campaigns that focus on “fundamental economic issues” at the heart of such deals will become increasingly effective.
Sunday: U.S. Energy Agency ‘Vastly Overstates’ Future Oil and Gas Production FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg News:There’s no denying that fracking has turned the U.S. into a force in the global oil and gas markets, which has more than a few people abuzz about the prospect of energy independence.But now, researchers at MIT have uncovered one potentially game-changing detail: a flaw in the Energy Department’s official forecast, which may vastly overstate oil and gas production in the years to come.The culprit, they say, lies in the Energy Information Administration’s premise that better technology has been behind nearly all the recent output gains, and will continue to boost production for the foreseeable future. That’s not quite right. Instead, the research suggests increases have been largely due to something more mundane: low energy prices, which led drillers to focus on sweet spots where oil and gas are easiest to extract.“The EIA is assuming that productivity of individual wells will continue to rise as a result of improvements in technology,” said Justin B. Montgomery, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the study’s authors. “This compounds year after year, like interest, so the further out in the future the wells are drilled, the more that they are being overestimated.”Extrapolating from field studies Montgomery and his colleague Francis O’Sullivan conducted in North Dakota’s Bakken shale deposit, the research suggests that total U.S. oil and natural-gas production from new wells could undershoot the EIA estimate by more than 10 percent in 2020. Things would get progressively worse each year after that as wells in various sweet spots are exhausted and technology fails to close the gap.Margaret Coleman, the EIA’s leader of oil, gas and biofuels exploration and production analysis, said in an email “the study raises valid points” and the administration is looking at ways to give its estimates a tighter focus. She added that many shale fields lack the detailed well data that informed the MIT study, which means EIA forecasters have to use known geologic information and assumptions about prices and technology to come up with estimates.There’s little doubt the technologies used to extract oil and natural gas trapped within rock formations thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface — like drill heads, mapping software, fracking techniques and so on — have gotten better. And intuitively, it makes a lot of sense that better methods have boosted U.S. shale output and helped lead to new finds.But if the MIT researchers are ultimately right, the implications could be significant.In the past three years, oil prices have been stuck around $50 a barrel on the back of rising shale output in the U.S., while natural gas has been selling for an average of less than $3 per million British thermal units. (As recently as 2014, prices for both were twice as high.)Not only could a slowdown in production mean higher energy prices, but it also might just mark the end of the U.S. shale industry’s role as the one swing producer able to counter OPEC’s might. The shale boom has repeatedly frustrated the Saudi-led cartel’s attempts to control oil prices.The MIT researchers aren’t the first to question the projected growth of U.S. shale. Analysts have long debated varying methods used to predict output. Yet MIT’s findings stand out by providing some evidence that backs those assertions. The problem with the EIA’s numbers, the researchers say, is that they give drillers too much credit for coming up with ways to improve fracking.While the EIA’s model assumes that technical advances — such as well length and the amounts of water and sand used in fracking — increase output at new wells by roughly 10 percent each year, MIT findings from the Bakken region suggest it’s closer to 6.5 percent, according to Montgomery.Some signs of a slowdown have started to emerge. Gas output in the Marcellus basin has fallen 10 percent on a per-rig basis since reaching a high in September 2016. In the Permian, per-rig oil production has decreased almost 20 percent over a similar span.Richard Bereschik knows firsthand that shale isn’t a sure thing.The bearded, burly superintendent of schools in Wellsville, Ohio — a small, Rust Belt community located along the western bank of the Ohio River — recalls the rush he and other townsfolk experienced when Chesapeake Energy Corp. came through some six years ago, leasing out huge tracts of property for development.Wellsville sits atop the Marcellus and Utica shale formations and is only 20 miles from a concentration of sweet spots, but Bereschik says Chesapeake stopped renewing leases after the bottom fell out in prices.“Everyone thought we’d found a goose that laid the golden egg,” Bereschik said. But ultimately, “it’s not the boom we all expected.”More: U.S. Vastly Overstates Oil Output Forecasts, MIT Study Suggests
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Maine Public:Maine’s largest electric utility has a new CEO. Doug Herling took over operations of Central Maine Power Company Jan. 1, a day after the utility’s long-time leader Sara Burns stepped down.Herling rose through the ranks, most recently overseeing electric operations for parent-company Avangrid for 2.2 million customers in Maine, New York and Connecticut. Herling says although solar power advocates often criticize the company, he supports build-out of the renewable energy technology in Maine.“I think everyone should put solar panels on their roof if that’s what they want to do,” he says. “CMP is owned by Avangrid who is a major owner of Iberdrola, the largest wind producer in the world. we are not against solar, we are not against wind, we are not against renewables. Most recently there was an issue out there regarding our net energy metering and what we were interested in is the impact, the financial impact on customers. But as far as us being negative about people putting solar panels on their roof, I think everyone should put solar panels on their roof if that’s what they want to do. It doesn’t impact our company and we’re not against that at all.”More: New CMP CEO Voices Strong Support For Residential Solar New CMP CEO Voices Strong Support for Residential Solar
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Wall Street Journal:For decades it was the very model of a modern supermajor, but Exxon Mobil ’s edge over the rest of Big Oil is slipping and probably will continue to do so.In the past year, for example, Exxon’s shares have trailed those of each of its global peers—Shell, BP, Chevron and Total —to the tune of 27 percentage points on average. Even after that, it is valued at a 43% premium to those peers on enterprise value to projected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, and a 22% premium on forward earnings, according to FactSet data.In the 12 years following its merger with Mobil ending in 2012, Exxon paid out $318 billion in cash to its owners. Exxon’s market value today is just $345 billion. During those years it had an average return on invested capital of over 35%—9 percentage points higher than its Big Oil peers, on average.But the shale revolution has changed that by leveling the playing field and shortening the investment cycle. Exxon’s ROIC since 2012 has, not surprisingly, been a much lower 11.6%.There are still big rolls of the dice to be made, of course. Exxon has made a huge discovery in Guyana and is betting on conventional projects in Brazil, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere. It also is making promising energy infrastructure investments along the U.S. Gulf Coast.If history is any guide, it will manage these projects well. But, as the oil-and-gas business becomes more like manufacturing and less like wildcatting, what made Exxon special is fading. That premium it earned over the decades will keep fading, too.More: Slouching Tiger ($): Why Exxon Isn’t Worth Its Premium ‘What made Exxon special is fading’
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CKRM:SaskPower wants to expand the provincial power grid by creating more wind power in the future.Minister responsible for SaskPower Dustin Duncan announced on Thursday they will open a Request for Qualification phase later this month for companies interested in building one or multiple utility-scale power facilities in the province. Joel Cherry, a spokesperson with SaskPower, explained how this phase will allow the Crown corporation to receive and review submissions from interested proponents over the next several months. A limited number of companies will then move to a Request for Proposals phase before they make their final decision.“Once we’ve selected a preferred proponent, we will inform them and award the project, that should be expected sometime late next year,” he said. “Shortly after we’ll break ground, they’ll build the facility, and it’s expected to be in service by the end of 2023.”Saskatchewan has 241 megawatts of wind power capacity from six existing wind power projects. 387 megawatts of wind power projects are currently being added at locations near Herbert, Riverhurst and Assiniboia.The completion of this project will add up to 300 megawatts to the provincial grid once it’s online.Cherry said the facility will help reach their goal of reducing the province’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. “The most cost-effective and efficient way to do that is through large scale utility projects like this.”More: Sask. government sets sights on building more wind power facilities Canada’s SaskPower utility looking to add 300MW of new wind in Saskatchewan
RenewableUK: Global offshore wind pipeline now totals 159GW FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The global pipeline of offshore wind projects grew 30% over the past year to reach 159 GW, with more and more countries outside Europe seeing an influx of developers jockeying for gigawatt-scale projects.U.K.-based industry body RenewableUK said July 22 that both new and established markets have seen ballooning development activity over the past 12 months, although the U.K. will remain in pole position for quite some time. The group’s latest tally of planned projects around the world showed the country in a dominant position with a 38.9-GW pipeline, or a quarter of the global total.That compares to 19.3 GW in China, where the pipeline has swelled by 60% from 12 months ago, 17.8 GW in the U.S. and 16.5 GW in Germany. Other markets that have seen high growth over the past year include the Netherlands and Ireland, with Poland, Denmark and Vietnam rounding out the top 10.“Other countries are following [the U.K.’s] lead and catching up fast, but we remain by far the biggest market for offshore wind in the world,” Melanie Onn, RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive, said in a statement.Britain’s fourth allocation round for contracts for difference, or CfDs, will take place in 2021 and has been reopened to onshore wind and solar, although offshore wind capacity is still expected to dominate the auction.During the last U.K. auction in 2019, prices reached record lows of between £39.65/MWh and £41.61/MWh, in 2012 currency, with a total capacity of nearly 5,500 MW awarded to developers including SSE PLC, Equinor ASA and Innogy SE. The latter’s renewable energy business is now part of RWE AG.[Yannic Rack]More ($): Global offshore wind pipeline swells to 159 GW, industry body says
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):A year that began with expectations of ample investment in LNG export infrastructure may end with no new U.S. projects getting commercially sanctioned. Worldwide, there could be just one LNG export project that advances to that stage in 2020, with Sempra Energy’s recent decision to greenlight its Energía Costa Azul terminal in Baja California.The market upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic and muted investor appetite for new multibillion-dollar LNG infrastructure forced many developers to push back their targets for making final investment decisions, or FIDs, until 2021 or later. Now, 2021 is poised to be a pivotal year in which new capacity may be sanctioned or fall off the board altogether.“As far as a lot of the big projects that require third-party capital, I just don’t see that being available in the foreseeable future,” Katie Bays, managing director at FiscalNote Markets, said in an interview. “I think that’s out of step with what some companies are saying publicly. But … if you were to step back and look at the state of the industry and ask, ‘Are these companies in a better position than they were two years ago?’ — the answer has got to be ‘No.’”There were a couple sources of optimism for the U.S. LNG industry. The potential for lowered trade tensions between Washington and Beijing with the departure of U.S. Donald Trump could foster supply negotiations with LNG buyers in China. China is expected to become the world’s biggest importer of the fuel by the end of the decade, making it a critical market for liquefaction terminals in the U.S. Global LNG demand has also rebounded significantly from the summer doldrums, when cancellations of U.S. LNG cargoes were widespread. Feedgas deliveries to the six U.S. LNG export terminals in operation have surged past 10 Bcf/d since then, exceeding the levels before the pandemic took hold.But significant uncertainty remains over what the export dynamics will look like after the peak winter heating season. Rising coronavirus infection rates threaten to hamper commercial and industrial gas demand. Even with the announced project delays, questions linger about how long the global gas market will take to rebalance after the economic and health crisis. Developers continue to struggle to sign sufficient long-term supply deals with LNG buyers to secure project financing.“Weak global demand and market conditions have stalled the second wave of LNG projects, and very few projects will take FID without a sustained price recovery,” David Braziel, president of research and analysis firm RBN Energy, said during a Nov. 9 LDC Gas Forums event in San Antonio.[Corey Paul]More ($): LNG Project Tracker: Mexico terminal moves ahead as 2nd U.S. wave flounders Global uncertainty clouds future of planned U.S. LNG export terminals
EarthTalkTMFrom the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine Dear EarthTalk: I’ve noticed a lot of beach erosion along the eastern U.S. coast. Beaches are virtually non-existent in places. Is this a usual cycle that will self-correct, or are these beaches permanently gone from sea level rise or other environmental causes? — Jan Jesse, Morristown, TN Unfortunately for beach lovers and owners of high-priced beach-front homes, coastal erosion in any form is usually a one-way trip. Man-made techniques such as beach nourishment—whereby sand is dredged from off-shore sources and deposited along otherwise vanishing beaches—may slow the process, but nothing short of global cooling or some other major geomorphic change will stop it altogether. According to Stephen Leatherman (“Dr. Beach”) of the National Healthy Beaches Campaign, beach erosion is defined by the actual removal of sand from a beach to deeper water offshore or alongshore into inlets, tidal shoals and bays. Such erosion can result from any number of factors, including the simple inundation of the land by rising sea levels resulting from the melting of the polar ice caps. Leatherman cites U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between 80 and 90 percent of the sandy beaches along America’s coastlines have been eroding for decades. In many of these cases, individual beaches may be losing only a few inches per year, but in some cases the problem is much worse. The outer coast of Louisiana, which Leatherman refers to as “the erosion ‘hot spot’ of the U.S.,” is losing some 50 feet of beach every year. Of particular concern is the effect climate change, which not only causes sea levels to rise but also increases the severity and possibly the frequency of harsh storms, has on beach erosion. “While sea level rise sets the conditions for landward displacement of the shore, coastal storms supply the energy to do the ‘geologic work’ by moving the sand off and along the beach,” writes Leatherman on his DrBeach.org website. “Therefore, beaches are greatly influenced by the frequency and magnitude of storms along a particular shoreline.” Besides collectively lowering our greenhouse gas emissions substantially, there is little that individuals—let alone coastal landowners—can do to stop beach erosion. Building a bulkhead or seawall along one or a few coastal properties may protect homes from damaging storm waves for a few years, but could end up doing more harm than good. “Bulkheads and seawalls may accelerate beach erosion by reflecting wave energy off the facing wall, impacting adjacent property owners as well,” writes Leatherman, adding that such structures along retreating shorelines eventually cause diminished beach width and even loss. Other larger scale techniques like beach nourishment may have better track records, at least in terms of slowing or delaying beach erosion, but are expensive enough as to warrant massive taxpayer expenditures. In the early 1980s, the city of Miami spent some $65 million adding sand to a 10-mile stretch of fast-eroding shoreline. Not only did the effort stave off erosion, it helped revitalize the tony South Beach neighborhood and rescue hotels, restaurants and shops there that cater to the rich and famous. CONTACTS: Stephen Leatherman, www.drbeach.org; National Healthy Beaches Campaign, www.ihrc.fiu.edu/nhbc. GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/thisweek/, or e-mail: [email protected] Read past columns at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php.
1. Big on Bigfoot – Troy, N.C.People willing to ignore the critics, and shell out $300, will get the chance of a lifetime: to wander around the North Carolina woods at night with a 70-year-old searching for…Bigfoot. Michael Greene has heard Bigfoot in the woods surrounding his home, caught his likeness with a thermal imager, and even bravely tempted him into his camp with a jar of Skippy. Greene, now an “expert,” will lead a sold out, four-day hunt through the woods just south of Uwharrie National Forest.2. Pooper Scoop – Fairfax, Va.Dog walkers, rejoice! A Virginia jury has found Kimberly Zakrzewski not guilty of violating a pooper scooper law in Fairfax, Va. Neighbor Virginia Cornell dialed the police claiming Zakrzewski neglected to clean up the business left behind by the Westie-bichon frise mix she was looking after. Following a review of photos of the alleged “violation,” the jury heard from the dog’s owner, who stated the doodoo in question was much too large to belong to her “wittle sweetie pie Baxter-Waxter.” After 20 minutes of deliberation, the jury agreed.3. Tire Pyre – Columbia, S.C.Authorities discovered a mass dump of used car tires in South Carolina so big it is visible from space. The pile of nearly 250,000 tires covers 50 acres in rural Calhoun County, S.C. The maximum penalty the guilty party could incur locally is a $475 littering ticket. Luckily, due to the extreme environmental hazard of the pile—including mosquitoes in festering rain water—the case was taken up by the Department of Health and Environmental Control, which can levy hefty fines and jail time. They recently issued indictments against George Brown of Easley, and the tires are set to be recycled by a Florida company (hopefully into 250,000 tire swings for the kiddos.)4. Teach a Man to Fish… – Richland, PALimestone Springs Preserve faced a slippery situation when their inventory went out with the wash, literally. Flooding in eastern Pennsylvania caused the preserve’s quarry to overflow, sending their stock of rainbow trout into nearby rivers. Workers in wetsuits also flooded the rivers attempting to bait the freed fish and scoop them up with nets. Limestone estimates that $400,000 worth of trout (that’s a lotta fish!) made a break for it during the flooding, which also caused millions of dollars in damage. Unfortunately for the preserve, word of the jailbreak spread quickly. Fishermen from around the region flocked to the area in their own attempt to “rescue” the fish—right into the frying pan.5. Bird Battle – Elkins, W.Va.Nearly 500 migratory songbirds were found dead at a wind turbine farm, but their demise was not caused by the spinning blades of the windmills. No, it was because someone left the lights on. The birds became disoriented in heavy fog by the lights left on overnight at the facility and circled like moths to the flame until they became exhausted and perished or flew into the building. This is not the first incident involving migratory birds, foggy conditions, and overnight lights; a similar incident was reported at a high school down the road in 2010. The benefits of renewable energy are undeniable, and the solutions are in the works, but in the meantime, can someone please hit the lights on the way out?Beyond the Blue RidgeBaby on Board27-year-old Amber Miller crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon in 6:25, then gave birth a few hours later to a baby girl named June. This was actually June’s second 26.2 mile finish, as mommy also ran the Wisconsin Marathon while pregnant in May, giving baby June bragging rights over one-year-old brother Caleb, who only got one marathon under his umbilical.Distance Persistence100-year-old Fauja Singh, known as the Turbaned Tornado, completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, in just over 8 hours, rocking a “Sikhs in the City” shirt and an impressive white beard.East Rock BottomTwo Yale University students were charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and violating a city ordinance when they attempted to free-climb East Rock in New Haven, Conn. Without rope, helmets or climbing shoes, Peter Kaufman and Sarah Maslin attempted to scale the wall, but Maslin got stuck half way and had to be rescued by firefighters.
Hit the water this spring with our River’s Edge Outfitters Fly Fishing Adventure Giveaway!Enter below for your chance to win:A full day guided fishing trip and instruction for two on River’s Edge Outfitters’ private trophy trout watersandAccommodations for two at the Fly Club on Rock Creek on River’s Edge’s beautiful 190 acres, complete with private trout waters, waterfalls, nature trails, and an outdoor fire pit.This giveaway is now closed, but sign up for more free giveaways here.Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 noon EST on May 15th, 2013. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and River’s Edge Outfitters reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before May 30th, 6:00 PM EST 2013. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.