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Blog posts August 2019

Energy Update: August 2, 2019

 

In the States

 
TX – For the first time since Texas began collecting data on its energy production, wind energy has surpassed coal as as a source of power. Dr. Andrew Swift, a professor at Texas Tech University, says that the biggest factor contributing to  wind energy growth in Texas is that it only requires  incremental investment rather  than the significant one-time investment needed for a coal plant. The decreasing cost of harvesting energy from wind farms is another favorable factor. Coal power continues to lose market share in Texas with multiple plants in the process of shutting down despite promises by the Trump administration to revitalize the coal industry. While this is a large shift in Texas’s energy supply, both wind and coal are both still a small part of the total generation grid compared to natural gas. Not blowing smoke: Wind has overtaken 'risky' coal for energy use in Texas for the first timeUSA Today
 
NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded contracts for two off-shore wind farms on the coast of Long Island this month. These wind projects are part of Governor Cuomo’s Green new Deal that was signed into law earlier this year, which committed New York to achieving 100% renewable energy. The wind farms are meant to generate 9,000 megawatts by 2035. Construction on these projects will begin in early 2020, with a service goal of 2024. While erecting   off-shore wind farms remains one of the most costly ways to generate electricity, as  costs fallstates are giving this option more consideration as a way to bring clean energy to densely populated areas. New York Signs Biggest Offshore Wind Project Deal in the Nation – Bloomberg
 
OH – Governor Mike DeWine has signed into law legislation to help cover the operating costs of  two nuclear power plants in Ohio by adding new fees to Ohioans’ electric bills. Governor DeWine maintains the bill will “save the nuclear plants, save the jobs, but also keep the cost of energy down for the ratepayer.” The new fees are offset by cuts in some incentives for renewable energy and the elimination of fees used to encourage more efficient energy production.  The bill is controversial, with some Democratic lawmakers claiming the bailout is saving some jobs while eliminating others. Ohio is the first state to pass ratepayer-funded assistance for nuclear plants while simultaneously cutting support for renewable energy and energy efficiency standards... The new law is already being challenged by a group that has begun to collect  signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November. If their petition language is approved and they get enough signatures, the bailout bill would be subject to a voter  referendum and could be struck down. Ohio Gov. DeWine signs bill to bail out nuclear plants, slash renewable energyCincinnati.com and Group Takes First Step Toward Repealing Ohio Nuclear BailoutWOSU Public Media
 
CO – Colorado’s air quality regulators announced they will consider regulations aimed at curbing oil and gas emissions. The Air Pollution Control Division laid out a broad plan to incrementally cut the release of methane and volatile organic compounds from oil and gas wells, storage, and transmission. This plan would require oil and gas companies to check and repair methane leaks more frequently, obtain permits during the first 90 days of drilling, monitor methane emissions, and report emissions directly to the state. This rule change is in compliance with the law that created the Air Quality Control Commission, which also called on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to update its own rules. Garry Kaufman, Director of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division, believes there will be a dramatic decrease in emissions from facilities affected by the new rules. Representatives from the Oil and Gas industry have weighed in, claiming that the rule changes are sweeping and extreme, and would in effect result in a permitting moratorium. Oil and gas emissions ‘not acceptable,’ Colorado’s top air quality regulator saysThe Colorado Independent
 

National

 
Earlier this month, Senator John Cornyn introduced a bill aimed at accelerating development and commercial applications of natural gas carbon capture technologies. Senator Cornyn wants to create a balance between conservation, productivity, and economic power in natural gas. The act would require Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to establish a program to research and develop commercially viable technology for carbon dioxide capturing during natural gas power generation. Leaders in the natural gas industry are praising the bill as the future for natural gas production and for advancements in the current infrastructure of that production. The bill would also encourage the Department of Energy to include participation of national laboratories, universities, and research facilities in its research and require the DOE to solicit applications for demonstration projects to submit to Congress with legislative recommendations. The act has passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is expected to be considered by the full Senate in the near future. Carbon capture act passes Senate committeeMRT
 
The Trump administration has proposed relaxing restrictions on repurposing coal ash produced by burning coal. The ash contains arsenic, which can seep into ground water, and has been linked to cancer and other health problems. Coal ash has often been used as a replacement for soil or as landfill, , leading to concerns about the effect of runoff on drinking supplies. The administration’s new rule allows projects to use unlimited amounts of coal ash so long as their sponsors show its use won’t cause physical harm. While the proposal allows for a more transparent reporting process, environmentalists see the move as dangerous for the environment and a gift to the coal industry. EPA proposal scraps limits on coal plant wasteThe Hill

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