A new study by The Brattle Group finds that emerging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on air quality and water for coal-fired power plants could result in over 50,000 MW of coal plant retirements and require an investment of up to $180 billion for remaining plants to comply with the likely mandates. The study by Brattle economists Metin Celebi and Frank Graves analyzes the economics of retirement decisions for each coal plant operating in the United States under the proposed and emerging EPA air quality and water regulations, taking into account the predicted profitability and cost of replacement power for both regulated and unregulated plants.
Site Selection and "Energy Report" readers know how closely we've followed the tremendous business development activity associated with shale gas, particularly in the Marcellus Shale formation . A flurry of facts and figures about the "shale rush" is now falling in Pennsylvania, as a new governor and legislators consider how to finally join the other 49 states in levying some form of natural gas severance tax. Among the studies being wielded is a Penn State report from May 2010 detailing the tremendous economic impact already being felt. The authors acknowledge, however, that it was completely funded by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, composed of businesses that have a stake in the drilling boom. Balancing it out are a number of more recent reports from the university ag school's cooperative extension, detailing the socio-economic and water withdrawal aspects of the boom.
To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) presented awards on December 7 to individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the field of energy efficiency. Honorees included retired head of the California Energy Commission Arthur H. Rosenfeld, Rocky Mountain Institute Chairman Amory Lovins, Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings of South Carolina and Rep. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. They also included New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), utility Seattle City Light, 3M and Whirlpool Corp.
From the Unintended Irony Department: A recent missive from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce's Invest in America program included this note: "The Organization for International Investment recently published its first half 2010 Greenfield Insourcing Projects, which reveals that green energy greenfield investments rose dramatically during the first six months of 2010, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all greenfield investment. These investments, totaling $9.6 billion, created 14,000 new U.S. jobs." The report uses data provided by OCO Consulting, part of the Financial Times' fDI Markets operation, and makes no distinction between power plant and infrastructure investments on the one hand, and end-user companies' corporate, manufacturing and other operations on the other. The relative green-ness of greenfield projects vs. brownfield redevelopment or reuse of a vacant property remains an open question.
Those with a taste for personal reportage and economic history will find plenty to appreciate in a recent reminiscence called "Changes: The Emergence of Singapore as an Oil Centre" by Al Troner, president, Asia Pacific Energy Consulting.
Geography Doesn't Matter, Except When It Does: In November, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) acted to improve the investment climate for electric transmission projects clarifying an important aspect of its policy for determining what return on equity (ROE) is available to developers of those projects. When a developer of an electric transmission project applies to recover the costs of a project through a rate that requires FERC approval, the developer generally proposes an ROE that is intended to account for the risks facing that company. As part of that proposal, a developer generally presents a set of other companies, known as a proxy group, that it sees as facing comparable risks.
One of the biggest nuclear reservations in the U.S. now has a new project making energy from wood waste and tires. The project is one of several using fluidized bed combustion technology systems developed by Energy Products of Idaho.
Vattenfall's Nuon Energy company serves an entire region in the Netherlands with a family of six combined heat and power (CHP) plants called the Utrecht Cluster. The plants were specially designed to supply heat for urban heating services in Utrecht, Nieuwegein, Amsterdam Zuidoost and IJbur, supplying hundreds of thousands of households with heat. Now a new gas-fired CHP plant, Diemen 34, is being developed for Nuon by Siemens. "Diemen is the ideal location because of its proximity to customers with a demand for heating and because of the existence of a heating network," said Nuon earlier this year. "In addition, the site already has the infrastructure needed for a power plant: connections, cooling water capacity, official designation for 'energy production' and room to construct new buildings."
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"Energy Matters" is compiled, written and edited by Adam Bruns.