Managing Methane: New Jersey’s Largest Utility Using Better Data for Better Decisions

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Data helps prioritize gas line replacement

By Simi Rose George and Virginia Palacios 

A new method of prioritizing gas infrastructure improvements is resulting in faster reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey. Just over a year ago, we wrote about an order from the state’s Board of Public Utilities approving a settlement agreement for a $905 million, three-year pipe replacement program by PSE&G, New Jersey’s largest gas utility. This order, and the underlying settlement agreement were pioneering in one major aspect – PSE&G agreed to use environmental data to inform its infrastructure improvement efforts.

The order provided that the company would use data on leak flow rate (the speed at which methane is leaking from gas pipes) to help prioritize its local distribution pipe (“gas line”) replacement program. PSE&G is the first utility in the country to do so. The idea was that this data would be gathered by EDF as part of a collaborative project with Google Earth Outreach and Colorado State University through a survey of sections of PSE&G’s service territory targeted for gas line replacement. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Data Access, Energy Efficiency, Methane, Natural Gas, New Jersey| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Will Shareholders Get Money’s Worth As Oil Giants Link Executive Pay to Climate Results?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013 - Delegates at the 2013 Shell SEF Canada Conference in Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Chris Bolin / For POLARIS IMAGES Image File Name: 20131009_CB_Shell_SEF_0068.JPG ///

Money talks. That’s why one key element in the battle against climate change must be aligning the financial compensation of executives to tangible corporate efforts to decarbonize.

Better aligning incentives is particularly important in energy intensive industries, where the status quo can encourage decisions on strategy, investment, and operations that jeopardize the planet’s climate, while also generating risk to investors that can, ultimately, undercut a company’s long-term viability.

In a promising sign, Royal Dutch Shell CEO recently announced that executive bonuses at the oil and gas giant will include greenhouse gas goals. “We have linked executive remuneration in the past to energy intensity and next year we are going to make it even more specific to the CO2 footprint metrics associated with these energy efficiencies” he said. Ten percent of bonus payments to executives, including the CEO and CFO at Shell, will reportedly be linked to “greenhouse gas management”. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Three Ways Trump’s EPA Pick Is Bad For Business

14257556613_2f742f2bf3_zPresident-Elect Trump’s selection of Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt as the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency has drawn swift criticism from environmental and health advocates.

Passing the nation’s environmental agency to one of its staunchest opponents risks upending the clean air and clean water that Americans of both parties demand. And looking deeper, Pruitt’s track record suggests he will harm the American economy while increasing pollution.

Here are three ways the Pruitt choice isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s bad for business Read More »

Posted in Clean Power Plan, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Our Interpretation of the UT Study Still Holds. Here’s Why.

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In 2012, EDF spearheaded its largest scientific pursuit to date—a collaborative 16-study effort designed to better understand how much methane is being leaked across the natural gas supply chain (and from where). In the coming months, we plan to wrap up and summarize that work, packaging all that we have learned from this undertaking and the growing body of work from other researchers.

The first study was led by the University of Texas (UT Study) and found that methane emissions from equipment leaks and pneumatic devices were larger than previously thought. The study also found that techniques to reduce emissions from hydraulically fractured well completions are effective at capturing 99% of the methane that was previously vented to the atmosphere, and provided a data-based example of EPA regulations working.

After publication of the findings from the UT Study, public debate about the results ensued, with one criticism suggesting that the UT Study underestimated emissions because of a possible malfunction of one of the instruments used for measuring emissions, the Hi Flow Sampler. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

WATCH: New Mexico Residents Cheer BLM for Tackling Methane Waste

Last month the Bureau of Land Management took a much needed step to prevent the oil and gas industry from needlessly wasting American energy resources.

For oil and gas companies operating on public and tribal lands, the new standards will reduce the amount of methane that operators can leak, vent or burn into the atmosphere. These methane emissions result in massive amount of energy waste that translates to lost revenues for federal taxpayers and tribes. One recent analysis suggests that without these standards, taxpayers could lose out on more than $800 million in royalty revenue over the next decade. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Groundbreaking Study Shows New Coal Plants are Uneconomic in 97 Percent of US Counties

wind-energy-pixabayAt Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we understand that market forces can drive either a healthy environment – or harmful pollution. I recently wrote about how generating electricity often creates pollution, which comes with environmental and health costs that are usually not paid for by the polluters. That’s why EDF works to identify and correct market failures, like the failure to understand – as well as account for – all of the costs pollution imposes on society.

The Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) just released a useful tool in that pursuit: a study that aims to capture the full cost of new electric power generation – including environmental and public health costs – on a county-by-county basis in the United States. The study evolves traditional ways of estimating new generation costs by 1) incorporating pollution costs, and 2) breaking data down to the county level.

The results show economics are leading the U.S. to a cleaner energy economy, in which there is no role for new coal plants. Let’s break it down. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy| Comments are closed
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