Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers
RALEIGH, NC — “Hours after the merger was completed July 2, Duke Energy’s board ousted Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson, who was supposed to take over the combined company. It had promised to keep him in place throughout the 18-month process of merging the two Fortune 500 energy companies headquartered in North Carolina. The deal created the nation’s largest electric company.
The state regulator and Attorney General Roy Cooper launched investigations that demanded several internal Duke documents and communications. The commission hired a former federal prosecutor to probe whether Duke Energy executives and board members were telling regulators that Johnson would head the combined company while secretly arranging to dump him. A Cooper spokeswoman said the attorney general’s investigation will continue.
…Johnson issued a statement wishing Rogers, the company and its employees well. Energy watchdog Jim Warren called the settlement deal a sell-out by regulators and pleaded for Cooper to stand up to the company.
‘There’s very little in this deal for the public,’ Warren said. ‘Don’t buy the spin that the deal somehow penalizes CEO Rogers.’”
— Emery Dalesio, Associated Press
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CINCINNATI — “The article could have been more explicit when noting “fuel combustion” as the major source of our soot; the number one source is the inefficient combustion of coal in Duke Energy’s power plants. Rcently Duke agreed to retire its worst polluting boiler units, including those at Beckjord in New Richmond and the oldest boiler at Miami Fort Station in North Bend. Citizen concern, especially organized by Ohio Citizen Action, is partly responsible for Duke finally making this decision. We should all get involved in speaking up, and in conserving electricity wherever we are able, so that we can all breathe easier.”
— William Lonneman letter to the editor, Cincinnati Enquirer
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American Electric Power plans to raze the Picway power plant near Lockbourne and two others in Ohio after closing them.
COLUMBUS — “The shutdowns will eliminate toxic compounds, including mercury, along with pollutants that cause smog and soot. But what will become of these plants after the lights go out?
There are other environmental hazards at coal-fired plants, including asbestos, contaminated soil in coal yards, ash lagoons and landfills, and even old transformers filled with PCBs.
‘There’s going to be issues with groundwater contamination,’ said Nachy Kanfer, a deputy director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, which supported the clean air regulations.
‘One of our problems is we don’t know everything that is at these sites.’
The ultimate fate of these plants is something that power companies and Ohio officials say they are just now starting to address. ”
— Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch
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Power plants abandon longtime staple for generating electricity as price of natural gas plummets
Coal consumption fell 9.4% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier as power generators sought cheaper fuel. Above, a Virginia mining operation.
NEW YORK, NY — “U.S. electric utilities are renegotiating coal contracts and finding other ways to reduce coal deliveries as a mild winter and competition from less-expensive natural gas combine to weaken demand for power plants’ longtime staple fuel.
Coal consumption by power generators fell 18.8% in the fourth quarter from the preceding quarter and 9.4% from the fourth quarter of 2010, the Energy Information Administration said last week.
The agency hasn’t calculated first-quarter coal use yet. But utilities have indicated that they are shifting power production to natural gas, the price of which recently dipped below $2 per million British thermal units, roughly half what it was a year ago.”
— Rebecca Smith, Wall Street Journal
Continue reading Utilities give coal the heave-ho
CINCINNATI — “This is big news.
The announcement is the culmination of a campaign that started last fall, when Ohio Citizen Action and Greenpeace ran a successful ballot initiative to allow the City to bargain for electricity on behalf of its residents. The voters passed the initiative by a resounding 59-41 percent. In February, the coalition was successful in rallying the citizens of Cincinnati to give the city a clear mandate to supply 100 percent renewable energy and no ‘fracked’ natural gas. The Council responded with resounding approval of the people’s demands, unanimously passing a motion asking bidders to include a 100 percent Renewable Energy Credit option (in addition to a lowest cost electricity option).
…A renewable energy future for the city of Cincinnati is great news; it is a great first step in the direction we need to go as a nation. It is time to see real, deployed, and distributed renewable energy solutions across America.”
— Phil Radford, Greenpeace and Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action
Continue reading Cincinnati dumps Duke Energy
HAMILTON CO — “Residents of seven Hamilton County municipalities will have the opportunity to save about 24 percent on the generation portion of their electric bills starting in May, under an aggregation agreement with Dayton-based DP&L Energy.
The municipalities are the cities of Cheviot and Springdale; the villages of Amberley, Glendale, Lockland and Indian Hill; and Columbia Township. They agreed for the first time to pool their residential electric demand under aggregation provisions of Ohio’s electric deregulation law.
‘By working together I believe we ended with a better result than if we worked as individual communities,’ said Michael Burns, city manager in Indian Hill, which established the first area aggregation plan in 2001.
Under the agreement, the 15,000 residential customers in the seven communities will pay a generation rate of 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour through May 2014, compared with Duke Energy’s current price-to-compare of 5.9 cents per kilowatt-hour.”
— Mike Boyer, Cincinnati Enquirer
Read the whole story: http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20120321/BIZ/303210092/7-areas-pool-electric-demand?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Business
The International Coal Group mine remains idle in Sago, West Virginia. The mine has remained closed since an explosion on January 2nd, 2006 killed 12 miners.
NEW YORK, NY — “In the world of energy politics, the sudden vanishing of the word ‘coal’ is a remarkable and unprecedented event.
As anyone who is reading this surely knows, there is no energy source that is more emblematic of the past than coal. We still burn nearly a billion tons of it a year in America, almost all of it to generate electricity. But it is a dirty, inefficient, planet-cooking fuel whose supporters have pushed into the 21st Century with slick ads for “clean coal,” an army of high-powered lobbyists, and big checks for politicians. And until recently, it’s worked. The secret of Big Coal’s success has always been its political power. In the regions where it is mined and burned, coal mining companies – as well as the railroads that haul it and the power companies that burn it – are deeply wired into state and local governments. They have worked long and hard to convince the hacks in city halls and state houses that their economic future depends on burning more and more coal, and that any shift away from coal, or, worse, any crackdown on environmental regulations, will bring about not just economic chaos, but blackouts.
Nowhere has the political power of coal been more obvious than in presidential campaigns. The conventional wisdom has always been that if you want a seat in the Oval Office, you need Big Coal states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. And to win them, you need to buy into the myth that we are going to power the 21st Century pretty much the same way we powered the 19th.”
— Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone
Read the whole story: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/has-big-coal-lost-its-power-20120316
WASHINGTON, DC — “Although still the largest single fuel for electricity generation, coal’s share of monthly power generation in the United States dropped below 40% in November and December 2011. The last time coal’s share of total generation was below 40% for a monthly total was March 1978. A combination of mild weather (leading to a drop in total generation) and the increasing price competitiveness of natural gas relative to coal contributed to the drop in coal’s share of total generation.
Natural gas prices have dropped significantly this winter, leading the generators in some states (such as Ohio and Pennsylvania) to significantly increase the share of natural gas-fired generation. Natural gas combined-cycle units operate at higher efficiency than do older, coal-fired units, which increases the competitiveness of natural gas relative to coal.
Total electricity generation was down 7% in December 2011 compared to December 2010 (see chart below). Despite this decline, generation from natural gas rose 12% to 86 terawatthours. Coal-fired generation, however, fell by 21% between December 2010 and December 2011, to 132 terawatthours.”
— U.S. Energy Information Administration
FORT COLLINS, CO — “The global air pollution control equipment market should grow significantly once utility, oil and gas companies comply with increasingly stringent environmental regulations such as the EPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, according to research by business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
Analysis of the Global Air Pollution Control Equipment in Energy and Power Market finds that the market earned revenues of $7.27 billion in 2010 and estimates this to reach $9.69 billion in 2017.
According to the report, the EPA’s MACT rules will compel pollution control equipment providers to reevaluate products to fulfill emission regulations. Planned projects between 2012 and 2013 are likely to be delayed until 2014, the report says.”
— Environmental Leader
Read the whole story: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2012/03/07/pollution-control-market-to-top-9bn-by-2017-report-says/
COLUMBUS — “A new analysis is shedding light on a little-known source of toxic air pollution. Industrial boilers are the on-site power plants used by major industrial operations. They are believed to be contributing to the deaths of thousands of people across the country and in Ohio.
A report from Earthjustice finds these boilers are releasing millions of pounds of toxic pollutants into the air, including 800 pounds of mercury each year in Ohio alone. Earthjustice staff attorney Jim Pew explains that so much mercury can do a lot of damage.
‘Less than a teaspoon is enough to contaminate a 20-acre lake to the point where that lake is not safe to eat fish from, so 800 pounds is a remarkable amount – especially given that Ohio has other sources of mercury, as well.’
Among the states, Ohio ranks second for boiler emissions of mercury and first for lead and chromium emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing tighter boiler air-pollution standards that will bring industrial plants into Clean Air Act compliance, like other power plants. Some in the industry fear the planned federal rules could slow economic growth.”
— Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service
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In February, 2011, under a court-ordered deadline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued Clean Air Act emission standards for industrial power plants. In December, 2011, EPA issued a revised proposal and plans to finalize an updated standard by mid-2012. These standards will bring Industrial Power Plants into Clean Air Act compliance like any other power plant, saving thousands of lives each year and preventing widespread sickness, suffering and premature death, especially in communities that need the help most.
ArcelorMittal Steel in Cleveland, Ohio is the top Industrial Power Plant polluter in Ohio according to the report.
Some Industrial Power Plants in Ohio, such as Duke Energy Ohio’s Zimmer coal plant in Moscow, Ohio and American Electric Power’s Gavin Plant in Cheshire, Ohio provide energy to the plant that is separate from the electricity sold on the grid. In this case, those coal plants would have to comply with the new Industrial Power Plant regulations as well as the separate regulations for utilities who sell power to the grid.
— Rachael Belz, Coal Program Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. — “In 30 states, citizens have just one choice for their electricity service. It’s like the old communist truism: ‘You can have any color car you want, as long as it’s red.’ What if citizens could collectively shop around for electricity in bulk to get lower prices and cleaner, local power?
In six states they can with community choice aggregation.
Community choice aggregation is an alternative to (or complement to) electricity deregulation, allowing residential and commercial customers to choose a different electricity provider. The linchpin, and difference from traditional deregulation, is that community choice aggregation allows municipalities to aggregate their customers and bid on their behalf, obtaining lower prices by buying in bulk. It also allows for local determination of electricity supply without requiring a city to buy the distribution grid of the utility (although Boulder, CO, and some Massachusetts towns are considering that step). Under community choice aggregation, the municipality is the electricity purchaser, but the utility retains control of the grid. (It should be noted that while community choice is a step shy of full retail deregulation, every state with a CCA law has experienced full retail deregulation).
Community choice aggregation can provide a community a lot of power: to choose local electricity generation over remote, to choose local ownership over absentee, and to choose clean energy over dirty. And without having to finance and buy the local grid, it can come at a much lower financial and political cost.”
— John Farrell, Institute for Local Self-Reliance
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WASHINGTON, DC — “After 20 years of delay and litigation by polluters, the Obama administration approved in December one of the most important rules in the history of the Clean Air Act. It will require power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants by more than 90 percent in the next five years and is expected to prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths annually from asthma, other respiratory diseases and heart attacks.
The technology to control the pollutants is readily available. The health benefits far outweigh the costs to the power companies.
…It is true that the mercury rule, and other clean air regulations, will require substantial upgrades in older, coal-burning power plants and force others to close down. The power companies have had years to prepare. In addition to reducing emissions of global warming gases and ground-level pollutants, the upgrades are expected to create as many as 45,000 temporary construction jobs over the next five years and possibly 8,000 permanent jobs.”
— editorial, New York Times
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Mike Metzer, from the Environmental Protection Agency, checks one of the many air sampling locations set up around the World Trade Center site.
NEW YORK, NY — “’Coal-burning utilities used to fight tooth-and-nail,’ says Roger Gale, chief executive of GF Energy, a strategic consulting firm in Washington. ‘But they don’t have the political clout they used to have. Now they are all in the acknowledgement stages. The plants that are 40 to 50 years old do not make sense and utilities are running those plants when they should not be.’”
— Ken Silverstein, Forbes
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The Progress Energy plant is seen this morning across Lake Julian. Greenpeace protesters were climbing the tall smokestack on the left. / Sabian Warrenemail@example.com
ARDEN, NC — “The Greenpeace environmental group is staging a demonstration and protest at the Progress Energy plant, with some of its members climbing one of the plant’s huge smokestacks to unfurl a banner.
Just before 10 a.m., three climbers were visible from afar on one of the smokestacks. They were about a third of the way up the estimated 300-foot column.
Greenpeace organizing manager Ruthie Morrison said 16 people are involved in the protest, with about five scaling the smokestack. Others have secured themselves to a coal conveyor belt in an attempt to stop the flow of coal into the facility, which provides electricity for the Asheville region.
Morrison, who is from Richmond, Va., would not say how the protestors got inside the plant. They chose the plant because it burns coal, a significant pollutant, and because Progress and Duke are in the midst of a merger.”
— Sabien Warren, Asheville Citizen-Times
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