Three reasons Westerners are fighting to defend federal methane waste standards

Westerners are a hardy bunch. They are used to working through adverse conditions and making the best of what the land provides. That includes fighting to defend requirements from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that are designed to cut wasted natural gas and maximize revenue for community projects. This is despite repeated attempts from the Trump Administration to undercut these regulations and sell taxpayers short.

Here are three reasons communities and individuals from across the Mountain West are fighting to defend methane waste rules:

  1. Westerners hate waste: $1.8 billion and counting. That’s the value of taxpayer-owned natural gas that has been wasted since 2013 when the BLM began developing a new set of standards to address this problem. The rules finalized last November would help cut that waste and recover millions more in tax and royalty revenues for the western communities faced with impacts from oil and gas development that need it most.

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Posted in BLM Methane, General, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Data shows two companies stand alone in their New England pipeline practices

This blog post was co-authored with Levi Marks and Matthew Zaragoza-Watkins

Earlier this month we—a  team of economists at EDF, UC Santa Barbara, University of Wyoming and Vanderbilt University—released  a new study on the natural gas pipeline markets in New England which revealed a distinctive pattern showing that local gas utilities owned by two companies—Eversource and Avangrid—routinely ordered large deliveries, then sharply reduced those orders at the last minute. This “down-scheduling” consistently came too late for anyone else to buy that capacity, thus limiting available gas supply in the wholesale market.

One question people ask: Were these two companies acting any differently from other firms, and how can you tell?

We approached this question as we would any research project by thoroughly investigating the data. Over 18 months, we analyzed scheduled gas flows for all 117 delivery points (nodes) on the Algonquin pipeline for every hour of every day in a three-year study period from August 1, 2013 to July 31, 2016, which we downloaded from the pipeline’s public reporting web site. In total, we looked at approximately eight million data points generated from the scheduling patterns of 18 local gas utilities owned by 11 parent companies.

What we found in those public data was clear and irrefutable. Local distribution companies owned by two of those parent companies—and only utilities belonging to those parents—consistently behaved differently than all the others. We don’t know why, but there’s no question that it occurred. The pattern is clear when you visualize the data. Read More »

Posted in Gas to Clean, General, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Department of Energy's proposal to FERC: Too many costs, no actual benefits

By Natalie Karas, Michael Panfil, and Rama Zakaria

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry recently proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) provide new revenues and guaranteed profits to the owners of inefficient and aging coal and nuclear power plants at the expense of American homeowners and businesses. These aging units are losing out to more efficient and innovative ways to generate power, reduce peak demand, and foster participation and competitive in the markets. EDF filed comments – separately and with a coalition of environmental organizations – today opposing DOE’s proposal to diminish, if not destroy, the integrity of competitive wholesale electricity markets.

The proposal is plagued by both procedural and substantive infirmities. It prevents informed outcomes by shortening FERC’s generally lengthy rulemaking process to a mere 60 days – offering little time for key stakeholders to participate. And it directs an independent, fuel-neutral federal agency to bankroll favored companies and energy sources under the guise of “resiliency,” a term the proposal does not define, applied to a problem that does not exist. In fact, a study released today shows “no clear relationship” between increased reliability and more coal and nuclear power. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization| Comments are closed

These Ohio customers pay for their smart meters, and they should have access to the benefits

Studies show that customers with access to energy-use data can save up to 18 percent on their energy bills every month. Based on a typical monthly bill of $120, households could save nearly $360 every year – a substantial chunk of change.

This type of energy data is gathered by advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), specifically smart meters. Yet collecting the data isn’t enough to see those savings – customers need access to the information and new products and services, like cell phone apps, to help understand it.

That’s why Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with our partners Ohio Environmental Council and Mission:data, recommend that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio require Duke Energy to release customers’ energy-use information, specifically through the implementation of the Green Button Connect My Data program.

Duke is currently asking Ohio for $143 million to replace its smart meters. The utility wants its Ohio customers to foot the bill for the new meters without giving them access to their meter data. Sharing the data would give customers a chance to enjoy significant potential savings from their investment in AMI. Sharing anonymized electricity data with third-parties would enable businesses to develop new products and services, too. Read More »

Posted in Data Access, Ohio| Comments are closed

Why better energy data equals better lives – now more than ever

Better Data, Better Lives.

That was the theme of the second World Statistics Day celebrated two years ago on October 20th, 2015. The holiday was designed for celebration every five years, but in light of recent attacks on climate science, it is critical to showcase the value of clean energy data now, more than ever.

So, why is clean energy data important? Why do we need it? As a data analyst, I expect to answer or debate questions about the significance, trends, and use of data. But I don’t usually expect questioning why data should exist in the first place.

Upon reflection, however, I’d say the simplest response is this: We need clean energy data to progress economically, socially, and technologically.

From a family trying to save money on their electricity bill to the global community collaborating on a cleaner, more renewable future, energy data can unlock an unending list of benefits by facilitating the design of effective policies, empowering people and businesses with information, and spurring energy innovation. Here are a just a few of those benefits. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Data Access, Energy Innovation, Grid Modernization| Read 2 Responses

Innovative satellite launched for monitoring global methane and air quality

By Ritesh Gautam and Steven Hamburg

Artist’s rendition of TROPOMI onboard Sentinel-5P satellite. Source: European Space Agency.

Last Friday, the European Space Agency Sentinel-5p satellite went into orbit above the earth. Onboard is an imaging spectrometer instrument called TROPOMI, led by SRON (Dutch Space Agency) and KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) to monitor the amount of methane, ozone and other air quality-related pollutants in the atmosphere.

There has been quite a buzz around this unique advancement in space, and the valuable data it will provide on methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that accounts for a quarter of the warming our planet is experiencing today. Curbing anthropogenic methane emissions is one of the most efficient and economical options available to slow the rate of warming over the next few decades, while efforts continue to reduce CO2 emissions worldwide.

Detecting methane from space

Methane sources include both natural and manmade emissions from livestock, agriculture, oil and gas operations, and landfills. These sources are distributed around the world and vary widely at local, regional and temporal scales—which makes it challenging to quantify emissions from diverse sources. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed
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