Over the last two weeks, EPA has held a series of hearings across the country to collect public testimony in response to its new proposal to curb oil and gas companies’ emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane. The hearings provided a chance for stakeholders in areas where the oil and gas industry has a significant footprint – Dallas, Denver and Pittsburgh – to voice their concerns and perspectives. Lawmakers, business leaders, health professionals, and other community members arrived at the hearings by the hundreds to show support for actions that can stop wasteful drilling practices, improve air quality, and slow climate change.
Out of Denver, Colorado State Representative Joseph Salazar told the EPA he supported efforts to regulate methane pollution simply because “I want to make sure my children have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.”
His remarks were echoed by Christine Berg, mayor of Lafayette, Colorado: “Ask yourselves, shouldn’t all people, no matter where they live, have equal access to clean air?” Read More
Each month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.
Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in October:
October 5-7: SXSW Eco (Austin, TX)
Speaker: Kate Zerrenner, Manager
- SXSW Eco creates a space for business leaders, investors, innovators, and designers to drive economic, environmental, and social change. Kate will be a panelist on the Energy-Water Nexus panel.
October 6-7: Demand Response World Forum (Costa Mesa, CA)
Speaker: James Fine, Senior Economist
- The 2nd Annual Demand Response World Forum will bring together professionals from around the world to explore the latest auto-demand response (ADR) technologies and strategies for meeting the changing energy landscape of the 21st Century. Technology innovators and business leaders will meet for three days to discuss the evolving role of ADR in enabling an integrated and flexible network that is responsive to a wide range of energy resources, marketplace entities, and customer energy demand and generation. Read More
Nobody can predict the future. But from markets to sports, so much of our world is focused on speculation. Ohio-based FirstEnergy has a habit of missing market predictions in spectacular fashion, often because the numbers it advances “prove” the political point that would most benefit the utility’s bottom line.
Consider the case of Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce mercury and particulate emissions from power plants. FirstEnergy wanted to kill the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) and argued the recommended rules would cost it some $3 billion to comply. That predicted cost came in the third quarter of 2011, before the EPA standard was finalized. A year later, after the final rule was released, FirstEnergy cut its estimate nearly in half, to $1.7 billion. A year later the number was down to $465 million, and by 2015 the company admitted it needed to spend only $370 million to comply with MATS.
FirstEnergy’s forecasting “prowess” also extends to its bailout request now before the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO). According to Cathy Kunkel with the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis (IEEFA), “FirstEnergy needs to show PUCO that wholesale market prices are likely to rise steeply so that ratepayers will benefit from the new contract it seeks.”
*Live morning webcast 9/29*
Around the country, people are talking about methane. Last week hundreds showed up to testify at public hearings in Dallas and Denver, weighing in on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to fight oil and gas methane pollution.
Tomorrow, EPA will hear from many more stakeholders in Pittsburgh, while a panel of experts that EDF is convening in Washington, DC, will discuss how we can cost-effectively reduce methane pollution using technologies already on the market.
The public hearings have largely reflected the concerns of local communities impacted by oil and gas industry air pollution. This is important as an overwhelming majority of voters support EPA’s proposal and view new rules as reasonable and necessary. This is hardly a surprise considering the oil and gas industry wastes over 7 million tons of methane pollution into the air every year, representing enough gas to heat 5 million homes and $1.2 billion dollars (at current prices) that could otherwise help boost our local economies. This tonnage of methane leakage also packs the same short-term warming power as 160 coal-fired power plants each year.
Though the energy waste and pollution is enormous, cutting methane emissions is not an insurmountable problem. That’s what you can expect to hear from tomorrow’s discussion hosted by The Hill titled, “Powering the Economy: A Discussion on Natural Gas, Methane Policy, and American Business.” Read More
At FirstEnergy, too much is never enough.
According to one Wall Street analyst, the Ohio-based utility “benefitted substantially” from recent auctions by PJM, the electric grid manager in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. In fact, it appears the company’s bounty for the next two years is $435 million more than it was projected to earn.
This is a direct result of FirstEnergy and other utilities’ successful efforts earlier this year to convince PJM to change how its electricity auctions were structured.
After the Polar Vortex of 2014, when many power plants shut down because they couldn’t obtain fuel over frozen pipelines or highways, the utilities argued PJM should provide higher payments for power plants that could provide reliable electricity in winter months as well as in the summer when air conditioning demands are high. The change, of course, would provide more revenue to coal-fired and nuclear-fired units that tend to run consistently, including FirstEnergy’s old and inefficient power plants.
You might think FirstEnergy would celebrate its success in redesigned power markets. But you would be wrong. Despite the auction windfall, the company maintains it still needs the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to approve a $3 billion bailout from Ohio customers to keep its inefficient, dirty power plants running. Fortunately, it appears the PUCO staff has seen right through this request. Read More
Building on the momentum of Climate Week NYC and the Pope’s visit to New York last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today the launch of an ambitious new program called the NYC Retrofit Accelerator.
Tasked with upgrading 20,000 (or 15 percent) of New York City’s private buildings – 40 percent of which will be low-income housing – the Retrofit Accelerator will provide resources for buildings owners and managers to improve their energy and water efficiency. Addressing energy use in buildings is key to meeting the city’s ambitious carbon reduction goals, as buildings account for roughly 75 percent of the city’s carbon emissions. It is estimated that the Retrofit Accelerator will result in cutting approximately 940,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by 2025. The city has said this is the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road.
If this program sounds familiar, that’s because de Blasio revealed Retrofit Accelerator at Climate Week NYC last year as part of the broader One City Built to Last plan. Today’s announcement marks the formal launch of this program, an exciting expansion of the successful NYC Clean Heat model, which resulted in New York’s cleanest air since the early 1960s. Read More