Energy Exchange

California implements revolutionary new utility model for gas leaks

It is widely expected that the Environmental Protection Agency will soon release a proposal to weaken methane standards from oil and gas production. Such a blunder would result in increased climate pollution, energy waste and regulatory uncertainty. So, while the federal government looks to take another step backwards on oil and gas climate pollution, California just took another big leap forward.

Last week, California’s Public Utilities Commission adopted a rule that not only implements a new way to look at methane emissions from utility systems, it fundamentally alters the utility business model for leak control and sets an approach for the rest of the nation to follow.

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Also posted in California, Energy Efficiency, Methane / Comments are closed

Pipeline damage prevention: A win-win for safety and the environment

By Mishal Thadani, Director of Market Development and Policy, Urbint

Every year in the United States, 400,000 excavation projects damage underground infrastructure like water and gas pipes and electric and cable lines. A strategic mix of best practices, good policy and artificial intelligence will drive that number down.

One of the advantages of burying critical infrastructure underground is that it keeps it safely away from people, cars and other things that could cause damage. Though unaffected by most day-to-day human activity, its concealment renders it highly susceptible to excavation damage like road work and construction. Not only can the damage be expensive and inconvenient, it can create safety and environmental threats for local communities.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration estimates that excavation damage caused more than 800,000 leaks on distribution pipes over the last 10 years. For natural gas pipes in particular, reducing damage is an opportunity to improve local safety while simultaneously decreasing the emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane / Comments are closed

Federal regulators should reevaluate the incentive model for gas pipelines

The energy industry is in the midst of a massive transformation. Natural gas fired power plants are now the dominant source of electric power in the U.S., and according to numerous studies, natural gas will continue to have a role in our future energy system — even in stringent greenhouse gas reduction scenarios. For the first time ever, renewables supplied more generation than coal in April. New technologies, evolving customer expectations and state laws directing greenhouse gas reductions are driving significant changes in the way we use and consume energy. The pace of this change will be even further accelerated as we turn to electrification as a means of decarbonization.

Regulators must reevaluate their policies and rules to ensure they are keeping up with these major changes. This is particularly true for the current revenue model of gas pipelines, which is built on the idea that “the more you spend, the more you earn.”

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Gas to Clean / Comments are closed

How to decarbonize California’s economy without breaking the bank

As temperatures rise and the impacts of climate change become more prevalent, California is aggressively implementing solutions that will take more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. California has one of the most ambitious climate goals of any state in the country, pledging to get to 100% clean electric power by 2045.

To get to 100% clean electricity, California will have to remove carbon (or “decarbonize”) in two major areas: vehicles and buildings. For California’s residential and commercial buildings – which, combined, make up about 25% of the state’s total greenhouse gas pollution — decarbonizing means changing how we heat (space heating for warmth, water heating and clothes drying are the best examples) and how we cook.

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Also posted in California, Clean Energy / Comments are closed

Trump’s EPA moves one step closer to dangerous proposal to eliminate methane pollution standards

Over the last several weeks, widespread reporting has documented the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change. Recent reports have shown White House attempts to block a senior state department official’s testimony on climate change, and documents that EDF recently obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests show Trump administration advisor William Happer coordinating closely with the Heartland Institute to discuss work that sought to undermine climate science.

At the same time, the Trump EPA has likely taken another step towards entirely deregulating a powerful climate pollutant. Last week, the Trump EPA sent to the Office of Management and Budget a proposal that is expected to entirely eliminate direct regulation of methane from the oil and gas sector — an action that is starkly at odds with the overwhelming body of scientific evidence on the harmful nature of methane pollution and one that even some of the biggest industry leaders have come out publicly against.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

New and better way to assess the climate impact of new pipelines

The urgent need to decarbonize the energy system makes it imperative for state and federal regulators to understand the climate impacts of proposed energy infrastructure. Officials deciding whether to approve new natural gas pipelines must be able to answer a crucial question: Will a particular pipeline reduce pollution by speeding the demise of more carbon intensive alternatives, or increase greenhouse emissions by locking in dependence on another fossil fuel?

Yet to date, natural gas utilities and pipeline developers have been largely unwilling to provide detailed life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) assessments to regulators reviewing their supply projects and plans. Nor have regulatory agencies been pressing for this data.

In fact just this morning, Federal Energy Regulatory (FERC) Commissioner Richard Glick testified to Congress that “the Commission is ignoring its statutory mandates under the Natural Gas Act by refusing to analyze reasonably foreseeable greenhouse gas emissions associated with new interstate natural gas pipelines and facilities used to import or export liquefied natural gas.”

But a new analysis released this week of a proposed interstate pipeline project in New York and New Jersey significantly advances this compelling need. The fact that it was commissioned by a utility company makes it even more significant.

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Also posted in New Jersey, New York / Comments are closed