Iberdrola has submitted a divestiture plan to the New York Public Service Commission for approval to sell five assets as part of its EUR6.091 billion ($8.49 billion) acquisition of Energy East.

The company is seeking approval to sell:

* 275 MW coal-fired Russell Station in Greece, N.Y., that permanently ...

Path of power lines revised

Upstate NY Power Corp. will soon apply for a state certificate for a greatly revised transmission line to connect the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm to the state grid.

Upstate NY Power ran a public notice in the Watertown Daily Times on Monday, a required step before submitting an application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need from the state Public Service Commission. The notice said the application would be filed on or around Dec. 31.

The new map shows a route that, after landfall, runs much closer to Henderson Bay, then runs south and east of Belleville, possibly using a former electric power line right of way. Instead of running to Albion and Parish, the new route goes through the village of Pulaski into the town of Mexico.

The old route generally was farther to the west. In some spots, the new route is well east of the old one.

(Click to read the entire article)

It looks surprisingly like a Smart Car and frankly has one of the dumbest names I’ve ever come across, but the $19,000 all-electric RTEV (Ruff & Tuff Electric Vehicles) Wheego Whip will be available in the United States in May 2009.

The Wheego Whip can reach a maximum speed of about 70 mph, but until it passes crash tests by the US DoT, expected sometime in 2010, it will be released initially as a Low Speed Vehicle (25 mph maximum speed) or a Medium Speed Vehicle (35 mph max). RTEV says that the Whip can travel 50 miles on single 8-hour charge, from any standard household 110 or 220v outlet.

Iberdrola begins acquisition

BINGHAMTON -- Energy East has transferred 11 parcels in Broome County to Iberdrola for $24.2 million as part of its acquisition by the Spanish energy company.

Iberdrola's associated transfer tax payment -- $120,889 -- is the largest in recent history, county Clerk Richard R. Blythe said.

"I don't recall one larger," he said. "I mean, you're buying all of NYSEG."

The transfer is part of a larger, $208.8 million transaction including Energy East properties outside of Broome, Blythe said.

(Click to read entire article)

Massa accepts election victory

Congressman-elect Eric Massa, D-Corning, announced this morning that he accepts victory in the 29th Congressional District election.

“It’s my honor and I stand before you deeply humbled to accept the victory as your next congressman, 29th Congressional District, in the 111th Congress,” Massa told supporters and media packing his campaign office at 79 E. Market St. in Corning. The remark received a round of applause.

His margin of victory was about 5,000 votes, he said.

“I made a commitment during the course of the election that I wanted every ballot counted before I accepted this victory. It’s my understanding every ballot has now been counted and the decision has been made. But I have no illusions. This was a close election, and we obviously have a great deal of work to do. That work is going to center on the problems that we have,” he said.

(Click to read entire article)

With gas companies rushing to drill in New York, many are pushing for the state government to step in and regulate the industry.

Representatives from the state's Department of Environmental Conservation held this public comment session tonight at Broome Community College.

The DEC wrote a draft of all the possible regulations and problems involved with the gas industry, called a scope.

It's now looking to the public to give them insight on things they may have missed.

(Click to read entire article)

State urged not to stifle gas drilling

Local politicians urged New York state Thursday night not to impose, in the words of Sen. George H. Winner Jr., R-Elmira, "unreasonable, unfair regulations" on natural gas drilling that could drive away a potential economic stimulus in the Southern Tier.

But several residents at a public hearing expressed concerns about drilling's effect on water tables.

"Many of us rely on individual drinking wells for our water," said Robin De Lill-Stroman of Chemung.

The differing views concerned a draft scope for an environmental impact statement about natural gas drilling in New York.

(Click to read entire article)

The natural gas industry taking root in Susquehanna County is already meeting expectations for eye-popping economic returns and potential environmental headaches.

Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.

The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.

The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. 'They will cost approximately $25m [£13m] each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $250 per home.'

Deal claims to have more than 100 firm orders, largely from the oil and electricity industries, but says the company is also targeting developing countries and isolated communities. 'It's leapfrog technology,' he said.

(Click to read entire article)

NYRI is blasted at state hearing

NORWICH - Residents of Chenango and its surrounding counties took aim at NYRI on Thursday afternoon during a hearing held at the Council of the Arts auditorium in Norwich.

The hearing was held by the state's Public Service Commission.

NYRI, short for New York Regional Interconnection, has proposed a 400,000-volt, 10-story tall direct-current power line that would run from Marcy in Oneida County to New Windsor in Orange County. Various proposed routes could take the line through sections of Delaware, Chenango and Otsego counties.

Opponents, like Dr. Glenn Stein of Norwich, see the project purely as a scheme to enrich investors. Stein, who testified Thursday, told two administrative law judges, ``The only thing green about NYRI is the money they're going to make.''

(Click to read entire article)

UDC opposes NYRI power line

HANCOCK – The Upper Delaware Council, Inc. delivered testimony at a public hearing convened by the New York State Department of Public Service in Hancock to gather input on the application by New York Regional Interconnect, Inc. (NYRI) to construct a high voltage direct current transmission line on a 190-mile path between Marcy and Rock Tavern, NY.

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) will determine by August of 2009 whether to grant NYRI a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for its proposed $2.1 billion power line.

The two Administrative Law Judges assigned to the case, Jeffrey Stockholm and Michelle Phillips, agreed to hold 13 public information forums between October 20 and November 6 in the seven New York State counties affected by the proposed route to personally hear statements and create a record for their review.

The UDC was represented at three of the hearings which took place on Oct. 29 at the Delaware Community Center in Callicoon and Sullivan West Central High School in Lake Huntington, and on Nov. 5 at Hancock Central School in Hancock.

“Page 134 of the River Management Plan states that new, major electric lines with a design capacity of 125 kilovolts or greater and extending a distance of ten miles or more in length are an ‘incompatible use’ anywhere in the river corridor”, testified UDC Executive Director Bill Douglass.

(Click to read entire article)

Futuristic-Looking LED Bulbs

Many companies are hard at work perfecting LED replacement bulbs for release in the next few months. It's taken a while to work out the kinks in LED lighting to make them appropriate for home use and more efficient. Ahead of some of the larger lighting companies, Lighting Science has introduced the SoL R38, equivalent to a 50-60W incandescent, and it looks weird.

The fins are heat sinks that dissipate the heat generated from the back of the LED. They're necessary for color accuracy and for extending the life of the light source.

Some companies like Journée are trying to play up the strange aesthetic in track lighting formats. The Lotus Luminaires are offered in different colors and resemble something off a spaceship.

It's still yet to be seen how LED bulbs will work in traditional lighting fixtures or if new fixtures will have to be created.

The good news is that the bulbs have a life of 50,000 hours, use 70% less energy than incandescents and the prices will come down over time. The SoL R38 is $145 now and the Lotus Luminaires are $600 for a set, but both companies are working on cheaper manufacturing techniques. Also, with competition arriving in a few months from bigger manufacturers, the bulbs are likely to become more affordable.

RG&E launches Voice Your Choice campaign

Rochester Gas & Electric Corp. said today it is beginning this year's Voice Your Choice program under which customers are asked to choose an energy supplier and pricing plan for 2009.

The deadline for customers to choose is 7 p.m. Dec. 30.

The utility's electricity customers can select a particular energy supplier (either RG&E or some other energy services company) and energy pricing option (either a fixed or variable rate) for 2009.

Current RG&E customers who do not make a choice will automatically be put into the RG&E variable price option, where the electricity supply price moves as the market price for electricity changes.

Information about the energy service company options is available at www.rge.com, by calling (800) 743-8926 or in the Voice Your Choice enrollment material coming in the mail by Nov. 13.

RG&E has 360,000 electricity customers in a nine-county region around Rochester and the Finger Lakes.

ALBANY -- A geologist says the Marcellus shale region of the Appalachians could yield seven times as much natural gas as he earlier estimated, meaning it could meet the entire nation's natural gas needs for at least 14 years.

Penn State University geoscientist Terry Engelder said in a phone interview Monday that he now estimates 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be recovered over the next few decades from the 31-million-acre core area of the Marcellus region, which includes southern New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio.

Engelder and geologist Gary Lash of the State University of New York at Fredonia touched off a gas rush in the region last January with their study estimating that the Marcellus could yield as much as 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Geologists have long known about the existence of the Marcellus shale, but exploration there accelerated only recently when the price of natural gas rose high enough to make it economically feasible to use the advanced drilling techniques necessary to produce gas from the hard rock thousands of feet underground.

(Click to read the entire article)

Wind ethics code created

In the wake of numerous complaints over potentially unethical activity, the state attorney general has created a voluntary Wind Industry Ethics Code for wind power developers and municipal officials.

In a Thursday press conference at the state Capitol, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo called the code an "institutional resolution" to investigations into the activities of two wind developers alleged to have engaged in improper dealings with local officials and anticompetitive practices.

James H. Madden, project manager for BP Alternative Energy's wind farm at Cape Vincent, said he hadn't seen or heard about the code and BP would have to review it before signing on.

"I would expect that we would be deposed to sign it," he said. "We support standards for the entire industry."

PROVISIONS OUTLINED

Spokesmen for Iberdrola, developer of Maple Ridge and Horse Creek wind farms, Acciona, developer of the St. Lawrence Wind Farm, and Babcock & Brown, the company behind the proposed Galloo Island project, did not return calls for comment by Thursday evening.

(Click to read entire article)

Ordinary taxpayers are justifiably repulsed by having to bear the tax burden escaped by corporations that can take advantage of the extremely generous tax breaks and subsidies provided to them by the Congress and state legislatures. However, it is certainly not illegal for corporations to take advantage of those breaks. The blame for bad government policies – including the huge tax breaks and subsidies described in this paper -- rests primarily with our elected representatives who seem unable to understand the full implications of the measures they adopt and/or unable to resist demands from lobbyists.

The huge tax breaks and subsidies for wind energy are especially repulsive to many citizens, electric customers and taxpayers because it has become increasingly clear during the past 3 years that the wind industry and other wind advocates have, for more than a decade, greatly overstated environmental, energy and economic benefits of wind energy and greatly understated or ignored its adverse environmental, ecological, economic, scenic, and property value impacts.

In fact, the huge machines (many 400 ft or 40 stories) produce very little electricity. That electricity is intermittent, volatile, and unreliable. Further, because their output is dependent on wind speed, wind turbines cannot be counted on to be available at the time of peak electricity demand. This means that areas experiencing increases in peak demand or needing to replace older generators will have to add reliable (“dispatchable”) generating capacity whether or not “wind farms” are built. Electric customers could be paying twice: once for wind turbines and again for reliable generating units.

(Click to read entire report)

Millennium Pipeline almost complete

SOUTHERN TIER, N.Y. -- The Millennium Pipeline stretching across Upstate New York is almost complete. The 182-mile long natural gas line starts in Corning and runs through Rockland County, just north of New York City.

Work began on the project nearly a year and a half ago. The pipeline will connect with other lines to supply natural gas to utilities downstate.

Testing is underway in Chemung and Steuben counties.

The pipeline is scheduled to start operating in early December, a month later than originally planned.

STAMFORD, N.Y. - Some New York State Electric & Gas customers could be without electricity until the weekend as utility crews continue repairing power lines damaged by this week's snow storm.

NYSEG officials say about 9,000 customers remain without power Thursday morning, all in the Catskills region. About 16,000 customers lost power when Tuesday's storm dumped more than a foot of wet, heavy snow on the eastern half of upstate New York.

NYSEG says much of the damage occurred in areas of Delaware, Otsego and other mostly rural counties.

Another 25,000 customers of National Grid also lost power. National Grid says that number was down to around 4,000 Thursday morning, most of them in northern New York. Most of those outages are expected to be restored by late Thursday.

Windmill Mishap Weighs on Suzlon

India's Suzlon Energy Ltd., the world's fifth-largest wind-turbine maker by unit sales, is facing additional questions about its technology after a 140-foot-long blade broke off a tower in Illinois.

News of the blade detachment, at a project financed by Deere & Co., drove Suzlon's shares down 39% to 47.25 rupees, or 93 U.S. cents, Friday in Mumbai trading.

The accident is the latest in a series of cracking windmill blades and other technical problems in the U.S. and India that have hurt Suzlon's image. The share-price decline Friday also reflected investor concerns that Suzlon will be unable to raise the money it needs in coming months to fund an ambitious global expansion plan and may be forced to sell assets, analysts said.

(Click to read entire article)

Greevy said landowners thinking about signing leases should not be swept up in the excitement about the prospects of making money. They should do their homework first.

That includes specifying how many acres a company will use to drill on the land, calculating royalties and specifying in the agreement how they will rehabilitate the land after they are done drilling.

Greevy said lease agreements are generally impossible to battle in court once a landowner signs on the dotted line, unless it can be proven that the gas company intentionally broke a part of the agreement.

In the case of ag land, Greevy said it is important to set parameters as to how the company will handle issues, such as whether or not land is included in an ag preserve or whether land is enrolled in programs such as the Conservation Resource and Enhancement Program (CREP) and whether they must pay the government if they drill on that land.

(Click to read the entire article)

HAMILTON, N.Y. - Opponent after opponent took turns sharply condemning a proposed 190-mile long high voltage power line through upstate New York, calling it an unneeded and unwanted "white elephant" that would endanger the region's economy and scar its landscape.

"Ultimately, it's nothing more than an extension cord running through someone else's bedroom," said Steve Skollar of Hamilton, one of nearly three dozen people who spoke against the New York Regional Interconnect plan at the first of 13 public hearings being held on the project by the state Public Service Commission.

"This is a bad idea for New York and would be a tragedy for the area," said Skollar, whose house would sit within a quarter-mile of the proposed line.

NYRI wants to build a $2.1 billion transmission line running from the Utica area through seven upstate New York counties to Orange County to bring power to the New York City area. NYRI says the 1,200-megawatt line is needed to improve the state's aging power grid and reduce the threat of blackouts like the one that struck the state in 2003.

(Click to read entire article)

Marcellus Shale Play

MADRID, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Spanish power company Iberdrola said on Thursday it may cut annual investments by up to 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) due to a worsening economic climate, but any cuts would not affect 2010 earnings targets.

'The company is not isolated from the current economic environment and could alter its investment plan and re-examine its portfolio of assets to maximise value,' Iberdrola (other-otc: IBDRF.PK - news - people ) said in a presentation accompanying 9-month results.

Iberdrola's current target is for investments of 17.8 billion euros over its 2008-2010 strategic plan and it expects to make net profit of over 3.5 billion euros in 2010.

Chairman Ignacio Sanchez Galan said in a result presentation on Thursday: 'We have the flexibility to cut investments by up to 2 billion euros annually.'

(Click to read entire article)

ALBANY - The New York Public Service Commission will hold a public statement hearing concerning a proposal by the Village of Arcade and Noble Allegany Windpark, LLC to construct a new 115 kV electric transmission line from the Town of Centerville, Allegany County, to an existing line operated by National Grid in the Town of Yorkshire, Cattaraugus County.

The line will be approximately 14 miles in length. Its purpose is to permit the delivery of power generated by the Allegany wind energy facility proposed to be built in the Towns of Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County.

A public statement hearing will be held:

Tuesday, October 28, 4:30 p.m.
Village of Arcade Boardroom
17 Church Street
Arcade, New York

(Click to read entire article)

Scores of people who own land above a potentially lucrative natural gas reservoir are seeking to void the drilling leases they signed and accused a land agent of guaranteeing a lower royalty than the amount allowed by Pennsylvania law.

The property owners filed a lawsuit in federal court in Williamsport last week against The Keeton Group LLC, of Lexington, Ky.

The lawsuit stems from a rush of activity by exploration companies to capitalize on the largely untapped Marcellus Shale gas reservoir while natural gas prices are high. Property owners from West Virginia to New York have complained of aggressive "landmen" pushing them to sign leases that allow an exploration company to drill down to the Marcellus Shale, a layer of thick black rock that holds a vast reservoir of gas.

The law cited by the plaintiffs guarantees a property owner at least one-eighth of the royalties from the recovery of oil and gas on their land. However, the suit said the leases violate state law because they give the exploration company the right to subtract taxes, assessments and adjustments on production from the 12.5 percent royalty.

(Click to read entire article)

According to Assistant Department of Public Works Superintendent Mitch Cornish at last week’s board of public works meeting, the city’s new lights along the River Street bridge still need to be hooked up.

“Our lights are in limbo,” he said. “In NYSEG limbo.”

Cornish added NYSEG removed several surplus lights from River Street. If the new lights were connected, he said, there would be no problems, but now some of the street is left in the dark at night.

Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan added there have been other problems with NYSEG in the recent past.

(Click to read entire article)

Renewable energy’s gone in the space of a few months from market darling to whipping boy. Shares in solar- and wind-power companies have suffered even more than the market at large. The outlook for new projects is growing increasingly cloudy.

But that’s not because renewable energy suddenly got uglier. It’s because of the fallout from financial-market turmoil, says Andy Katell, head of communications at GE Financial Services, who took umbrage at yesterday’s post. Mr. Katell says “GE has been—and will remain—a significant investor in renewable energy,” with $1.4 billion investment slated for this year. So why is clean tech in apparent retreat? Mr. Katell says:

These problems are centered around the financial markets, not the strong fundamentals of renewable energy or of GE itself. The core issue is the industry-wide difficulty of committing to new investments in a period of high uncertainty about borrowing costs. Such transactions usually involve staged funding, and the market volatility makes forward committing to fundings expensive to developers and ultimately to consumers of renewable energy.

But in recent months, market somersaults have undoubtedly changed the outlook for renewable energy. When fossil fuel prices were soaring, things like offshore wind farms suddenly looked appealing, and guaranteed electricity prices from wind farms looked like a bargain. But with fossil fuel prices headed south and capital getting more expensive, renewables are losing some of their glow. As the NYT notes today:

(Click to read entire article)

HAMILTON, N.Y. (AP) _ Upstate New York residents are getting a chance to voice their opinions about a controversial $2.1 billion high-voltage power line project that would cut through seven counties.

The state Public Service Commission is holding the first of 13 public hearings on New York Regional Interconnect's proposed transmission line on Monday at Colgate University in Madison County.

There will be two sessions at Colgate, one in the afternoon and a second in the evening. Each will be preceded by an information forum.


NYRI wants to run a 190-mile transmission line from near Utica to Orange County. Supporters say the line is needed to improve the state's aging power grid and reduce the threat of blackouts like the one that struck the Northeast in 2003.

Exelon Offers $6.2 Billion for NRG

Exelon Corp. said it made a $6.2 billion all-stock offer to buy power generator NRG Energy Inc., an indication that falling stock prices in the power sector are creating an appetite for deals.

The offer, for a fixed exchange ratio of 0.485 shares of Exelon stock for each share of NRG stock, amounts to $26.43 a share -- nearly $20 a share less than what NRG stock fetched last spring. However, that offer price still represents a 37% premium over NRG's closing share price on Friday. It is based on a price of $54.50 a share for ...

The wind shifts for renewable energy

THE prospects of renewable-energy companies soared with oil prices, but the global credit crunch and the easing of energy costs have brought them back to earth with a thud.

Stronger players, such as Iberdrola of Spain, are buying wind farms from cash-strapped rivals.

With banks reluctant to lend and their stock prices tumbling, many green-energy concerns are struggling to find the long-term funding they need to expand in a capital-intensive industry.

In the past three months, global renewable-energy stocks tracked by New Energy Finance, a London-based consultancy, have dropped about 45 per cent, compared with a 23 per cent decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the same period.

(Click to read entire article)

The Public Service Commission has slated 13 public hearings on the proposal by New York Regional Interconnect to construct a high-voltage transmission line from central New York to the New York City area.

The proposed line is about 190 miles in length.

The public hearings will be webcast over the Internet to help the public follow the proceedings more closely.

The first hearing is on Monday at Colgate University in Madison County. Informational forums will be held at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., and public statements will be taken after each forum.

Hearings will be held Tuesday at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Foot Hills Performing Arts Center in Oneonta, and on Wednesday at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica.

The webcast will be carried at: http://www.NewYorkAdmin.com

UTICA, N.Y. -- State and county legislators in the Mohawk Valley are urging the public to speak out against the New York Regional Interconnect.

The state Public Service Commission is having 14 public meetings on the proposed 200-mile power line project. Two of those meetings are happening next week in Madison and Oneida counties.

NYRI wants to build a power line route which would supply power from the Utica area to the downstate region. Most local leaders oppose the project and want to make sure the opinions of people are heard.

"Wherever these hearings are we need to really be out in numbers. We want people to come out and stay focused, stay united and stay committed to defeat this project, and I believe we can do that," said Senator Joe Griffo.

(Click to read entire article)

PSC Offers Grants For Energy Production

The New York State Public Service Commission has changed its landmark Renewable Portfolio Standard program to provide an additional $42.6 million in grants to assist residential and commercial consumers throughout New York State to install solar panels and other types of electricity-producing equipment.

“Development of renewable, clean energy generation is of paramount necessity in New York because of its positive environmental benefits,” said commission chairman Garry Brown. “Today, we are substantially improving the financial assistance provided to consumers interested in producing their own electricity. The renewable energy produced will replace electricity traditionally purchased from the local utility. As an added bonus, participating consumers can sell excess electricity that they generate to the utility; helping offset demand elsewhere.”

As authorized, $20.6 million is being made available to install solar photovoltaic systems. In addition, $7.6 million is being made available to install anaerobic digester biogas systems, which convert the energy stored in organic materials into biogas, which is fed directly into a combustion turbine to generate electricity. Finally, $18.8 million is being set aside to pay for evaluation, measurement and verification of these renewable energy technologies, as well as to provide discretionary funding to respond to changing market needs. The financial resources are available for self-generation, “behind-the-meter” facilities located in New York.

(Click to read entire article)

To lease or not to lease? That is the question that brought out 150 landowners Tuesday night.

"It's important to be informed so that you don't sign your life away. You can sign your land rights away and you have to know how to avoid that," said Hornby resident Elanor Connell.

That's where the Steuben County Land Owners Coalition steps in. The group formed to try and protect themselves and other owners.

"We have organized strictly to hold meetings, to get better lease rates and make sure people are better informed,” said Ken Knowles, organizer of the Steuben County Land Owner's Coalition.

(Click to read entire article)

Researchers at the Oregon State University College of Engineering have discovered an efficient way to produce hydrogen from different types of biowaste, including municipal sewage.

The process uses 75% less energy than the traditional water electrolysis method of producing hydrogen, and can be done at a much lower cost, making it a good candidate for hydrogen fuel production. In the lab, researchers are already close to the Department of Energy’s goal of $2 to $3 per gasoline gallon equivalent for hydrogen fuel.

ALBANY, N.Y. - As the cold weather approaches, New York utility regulators may turn up the heat on aggressive marketing by energy suppliers.

Members of the state Public Service Commission are meeting Wednesday to consider new rules for independent energy service companies, or ESCOs. Those are companies that sell electricity and natural gas to their own customers but deliver it through local utilities' lines.

Consumer agencies say they've fielded hundreds of complaints about ESCO door-to-door sales people misrepresenting themselves and lying about the actual savings customers would get by signing up.

Regulators are considering a series of rules _ including requiring ESCOs to provide "plain English" sales agreements _ aimed at curbing such practices.

In less than 10 years, the production of natural gas has more than tripled. That’s the reason for the heightened interest in Madison County properties that cover the Marcellus Shale Formation, according to Assistant Attorney General Joel Marmelstein.

The formation is believed to contain possibly the largest find of natural gas in the country’s history, and Marmelstein of the AG’s Utica office says that while much of the growth in production has been contained to the Southern Tier, it is unreasonable to think this formation won’t follow the same pattern of development in other parts of the state.

Michael J. Danaher Jr. of the AG’s Binghamton office spends much of his work life in public advocacy. He said as technology has advanced, the ability to find and drill for natural gas has become more lucrative, and the incentive? The price of natural gas nearly tripled between 2002 and 2007, Danaher said.

(Click to read entire article)

But Atlantic Monthly staff editor Matthew Quirk argues wind might be the new ethanol. Most will agree the government's support for ethanol has proven to be a disaster. Signs alerting gasoline buyers that a station's tanks are ethanol free should be deemed Exhibit A of the mess.

Wind energy could supply up to 20 percent of the nation's power supply but the two variables few talk about are reliability and transmission. The places where the wind blows the most -- like western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle -- also have few residents or businesses that need the power.

To achieve the kind of wind power percentage that some states are mandating will require between 12,000 and 19,000 miles of new power lines criss-crossing the country. That kind of power line construction will cost up to $6.4 billion.

Mr. Quirk argues that wind farms tend to produce the most energy when it's not needed -- at night and in the spring and fall. To assure a steady supply, they must be backed up by natural gas plants. When backup supply sources are figured in, the long-term cost of wind power soars.

(Click to read entire article)


The mainstream wind establishment has a hard time getting excited about vertical turbines - they've been around for too long without a major market breakthrough. But right now it's a bit of the big wind versus little wind question. Vertical wind turbines can have some noise-cutting, cost-cutting and reliability advantages over traditional spinning windmills and may be perfect for in-city wind electricity generation, as well as personal backyard installations. And Ericsson must think vertical has promise, too, as yesterday they announced they are going to try running their award-winning Tower Tube cell towers with Swedish-based Vertical Wind's four-bladed rotating turbine.

Traditional turbines versus vertical whirligigs

Ericsson's move is probably a smart one - the towers have won awards because they are aesthetically more pleasing than traditional cell phone base stations, and they use less materials and less energy than older stations. The effort to make stations run on both solar technology and wind power is an added benefit, especially in the developing world.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, may blast the huge power line planned for the region at public hearings later this month, but those voices won't really count. The crucial test will come this winter in Albany, far from the spotlight.

That's when some 300 organizations and state agencies present evidence to the Public Service Commission about New York Regional Interconnect, which proposes a 190-mile power line from Utica to New Windsor that would slice through Sullivan and Orange counties.

"The evidentiary hearings are most important," NYRI president Chris Thompson told the Times Herald-Record's editorial board Monday. "People have to back up what they say with scientific evidence. We have to present our case with witnesses."

That doesn't mean the state won't pay attention to the hearings scheduled for Orange and Sullivan counties the week of Oct. 27.

(Click to read entire article)

The news from the Public Service Commission that New York State Electric and Gas is one of the worst-performing public utilities comes as no surprise to the customers who experienced the power outages.

NYSEG is too important of an entity for residents and businesses to be ranked as one of the worst in the state. But there are opportunities for NYSEG to improve, and the commission can have a hand in that process. During the takeover talks between NYSEG's parent company, Energy East, and Iberdrola, the commission did not mandate that NYSEG increase the number of people in its field staff. It wasn't as if the commission didn't know about the problem given that Tompkins County Legislator Frank Proto notified the state via letter about it during the winter months. There is an opportunity now for the commission to step in.

The commission has requested that NYSEG study its field crew, which has been cut by 10 percent and saw its funding decrease by 25 percent in the last five years. Most businesses are going through some type of restructuring as costs increase, but the key for a public utility such as NYSEG is to ensure its field crews are adequately staffed since they are literally on the front lines of providing power to thousands of customers in this region. It appears that the commission will have a chance after the field study is complete to mandate that NYSEG increase its field crews. That would probably help combat the main problem cited for the frequent outages: tree contact.

(Click to read entire article)

The Top 100 Environmentalist Blogs

Environmentalism is now more important than ever. As a result, a large community of environmentalist bloggers have increasingly become an important source of information for what some are calling the ‘green revolution.’ Whether they’re discussing climate change or conservation, these environmentalists offer a wealth of excellent information. Read on to find out which 100 blogs offer the best in environmentalist news, resources, and advice.

Citizen Power Alliance: On Citizen Power Alliance, you’ll find news about regulating and improving upon energy and environmental policy.

(Click to read entire list)

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has released its proposed plan to review the environmental impact of natural gas drilling in the Southern Tier.

The 45-page document released Monday is the first step in developing supplemental guidelines for issuing permits for gas wells using new horizontal drilling technology.

Gov. David Paterson directed the DEC in July to develop a supplement to the state's 16-year-old generic environmental impact statement for gas wells to address issues related to the huge volumes of water used in the new technology.

In addition, regulators determined that a supplement was needed to address the impact of possible drilling in the New York City watershed, in or near the Catskill Park, and near the federally designated Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River.

(Click to read entire article)

Watch your bill

For years I have paid my NYSEG bill on time for whatever amount it billed me. You can only hope you are billed correctly; you have no other choice.

In January, NYSEG changed my meter and I continued to pay the bills. Recently, I got a letter from NYSEG saying it had been billing me wrong. I not only lost the $143 credit NYSEG owed me, but I owed it $120.51. I tried to explain that as long as it was NYSEG's fault, it should accept what it had billed me and I had paid. However, a NYSEG supervisor told me they could and have gone back as far as one year.

So, watch your electric bills and if you see something that doesn't look right call in right away or you could wind up paying a large bill.

Lloyd Uhler

Oversight is key to energy alternatives

What people must think of us!

So many area residents are committed to limiting our need for fossil fuels but seem so opposed to the alternatives that rear their heads anywhere in the vicinity.

It certainly puts us into a difficult position: Yes, we want alternative and renewable energy, but, sorry, you'll have to get it _ wind, hydro or natural gas _ somewhere else. Is this just another case of NIMBY-ism, or is there more to it than that?

A few years ago, it looked as if the battle of the first decade of the 21st century was going to be fought over big-turbine windmills. One proposal after another was surfacing, primarily in Delaware County towns but also in northern Otsego County.

Today, not a one has been put up, though some proposals are still blowing around in a few towns. But now NYSEG's parent company is being sold to a Spanish firm, Iberdrola, which likes wind and is being encouraged to develop more wind power. So who knows?

(Click to read entire article)

Perhaps one of the biggest side-effects of the Senate bailout bill passed yesterday may prove to be the carbon tax measures tucked away in its 451 pages.

News Busters reveals that Section 117 mandates a ‘carbon audit of the tax code’ to be completed within the next two years that will determine which carbon tax measures will be put into place.

SEC. 117. CARBON AUDIT OF THE TAX CODE.
(a) STUDY.—The Secretary of the Treasury shall enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to undertake a comprehensive review of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to identify the types of and specific tax provisions that have the largest effects on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and to estimate the magnitude of those effects.

(Click to read entire article)

NYRI public hearings scheduled in area

The New York State Public Service Commission will hold 13 public information forums and public statement hearings concerning New York Regional Interconnect proposal to build a 190-mile high-voltage transmission line from National Grid’s substation in the Town of Marcy to Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp.’s substation in New Windsor.

The local hearing schedule is as follows:

Oct. 28 – Kuhl’s Highland House, 512 Highland Ave. Ext., Middletown; forum, 1 p.m.; public hearing, 2 p.m.

Oct. 28 – Valley Central High School, 1175 Route 17K, Montgomery; forum, 6 p.m.; public hearing, 7 p.m.

Oct. 29 – Delaware Community Center, 8 Creamery Road, Callicoon; forum, 1 p.m.; public hearing, 2 p.m.

Oct. 29 – Sullivan West High School, 6604 Route 52, Lake Huntington; forum, 6 p.m.; public hearing, 7 p.m.

The Commission will webcast all of the NYRI public statement hearings. The broadcasts can be viewed at http://www.NewYorkAdmin.com by clicking on New York State Public Service Commission link.

Comments may also be mailed to Jaclyn Brilling, secretary, Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, NY 12223-1350. Comments should refer to “Case 06-T-0650-NYRI Transmission Line Proceeding.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently approved incentive rates for the New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) on condition that the New York State Public Service Commission determines the 190-mile transmission line either ensures reliability or reduces congestion, and approves siting for the project.

"FERC recognizes the need for and promotes greater investment in energy infrastructure to strengthen and improve reliability of the transmission grid," FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher said. "We will only approve incentive rate proposals that satisfy the requirements of the Federal Power Act and our regulations."

Today's action involves rates for the project. NYRI has not made any requests of FERC for federal siting approval. "That issue properly lies before the New York State Commission, and our approval today rests on the New York State Commission's approval of the proposed project," Kelliher said.

FERC's conditional rate approval includes a 275 basis point, or 2.75 percent, addition to the return on equity (ROE) that will be earned by the company. That incentive includes: 50 basis points for future participation in the New York Independent System Operator, Inc. (NYISO); 100 basis points for forming an independent transmission company (transco); and 125 basis points for a combined transmission and advanced technology incentive.

(Click to read entire press release)

New York State Electric and Gas recorded its worst performance year in 20 years in 2007, and trees were the root of the problem, according to a report released earlier this month.

Tree contact was linked to 39 percent of all NYSEG outages in 2007, according to a staff report by the state Public Service Commission. Though commission staff recommended NYSEG study field crew staff, it was not required in the terms of the Iberdrola takeover that happened earlier this month.

NYSEG reliability was among the worst in the state in both frequency of power outages and the duration of those outages. Only Central Hudson Gas and Electric, which improved its 2007 performance compared with 2005 and 2006, performed worse than NYSEG.

NYSEG and Central Hudson Gas and Electric were the only utilities to cite tree contact as the primary cause of outages, according to the report. NYSEG attributed the increased outages to an increase in minor storms, according to the report.

(Click to read entire article)

First carbon permits auctioned in U.S.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Permits for the right to emit carbon dioxide from power plants in the U.S. Northeast sold for $3.07 per ton in the first U.S. greenhouse gas auction, states in the region said Monday.

Ten states from Maine to Massachusetts will begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in January. Under the agreement, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the states are taking action in the absence of guidance on how to regulate the gases from the Bush administration.

The auction price was lower than the $4.50 to $4.00 per ton that contracts on the permits had been fetching in recent weeks on futures markets. Still, all of the more than 12.5 million permits that had been offered sold. And RGGI said 59 participants from the energy, financial and environment sectors had bid to buy nearly 52 million permits.

(Click to read entire article)

The growing U.S. market for carbon offsets -- vouchers that let companies and individuals project an environmentally friendly image by paying others to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions -- is so opaque and loosely regulated that it offers consumers "limited assurance of credibility," according to a federal audit.

The report, expected to be published on Friday, stops short of recommending new regulations. But it suggests members of Congress think carefully before letting companies use offsets as a means of complying with legislation to control carbon-dioxide emissions, which are not currently regulated by the U.S. government.

Estimates vary on the size of the U.S. offset market, with some analysts putting the value of U.S. carbon offsets traded in 2006 at $91.6 million, an amount expected to grow sharply as more companies and individuals seek to lighten their impact on the atmosphere, or at least appear to be trying. Some companies are also betting the offsets they buy now will count toward their obligations under a future mandatory U.S. emissions-reduction system.

As purchases of voluntary offsets have soared in recent years, so have questions about whether money being spent on them funds real emissions cuts. Such offsets, which are often bought by consumers from online sellers, are supposed to represent emissions avoided through projects such as installing wind turbines or planting trees. Skeptics -- including some members of Congress -- have questioned how consumers can know in the absence of federal regulation whether such cuts are actually being implemented, or would have happened anyway.

(Click to read entire article)

Clean-tech bubble talk

Clean-, or green-tech, venture capitalists will tell you times have never been better if you judge by the number of business plan proposals crossing their desks and their ability to raise funds. Many an entrepreneur and investor sees energy and environment as a ripe area for technology innovation.

What worries me is whether the hundreds of newly formed energy tech companies will have enough capital to actually succeed--and change the world as they all set out to do.

Insiders have been fretting about the dreaded funding gap, or "Valley of Death," for years. It's the stage a company must cross to take its technology to commercial scale, such as building a manufacturing plant. In energy-related businesses, it usually take lots of money.

Now the financial crisis could actually make that gap tougher to bridge, given the difficulty in the public markets and the projected cost of an anticipated Wall Street bail-out plan.

(Click to read the entire article)

The New York Independent System Operator has a new wind-power forecasting system. The system was installed by AWS Truewind for NYISO, the nonprofit that operates the state's electric grid.

The system was supplied through Colonie, N.Y.-based AWS, a consulting firm that specializes in renewable energy and wind mapping. It relies on meteorological data and historical trends of existing wind projects to plan for future wind projects.

The system was installed this month. Wind power is variable in nature, which means adjustments must be made to the grid to accommodate its changing levels. The system will help the NYISO predict how much power each wind project will feed into the system.

"A primary issue in the industry has been with forecasting the availability and timing of wind-powered generation," said Steve Whitley, NYISO's president and CEO.

(Click to read entire article)

Northeast CO2 on Auction Block

NEW YORK — Greenhouse gases went on sale Thursday as 10 Northeastern states, including Maine, held the nation’s first auction of pollution credits aimed at curbing global warming.

“It is time really to turn the tide on global warming,” said New York Gov. David Paterson, who opened the auction by ringing the ceremonial bell at the New York Mercantile Exchange. “And we hope that we’ve done this today.”

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, also known as RGGI, puts a price on carbon dioxide pollution, giving power plants a financial incentive to cut emissions.

Auction proceeds will go toward energy conservation and renewable energy programs in each of the 10 participating states.

(Click to read entire article)

What is the connection between the bankrupt Lehman Brothers and the likelihood that in four years' time our electricity bills will jump another 25 per cent (on top of the rises likely from soaring coal and gas prices)?

The answer is that, before its collapse, Lehman was pitching to become the leader in the vast trade created by the new worldwide regulatory system to "fight climate change" by curbing emissions of carbon dioxide.

The biggest money-spinners will be the schemes whereby industry will pay for permits to emit CO2 at so much a ton, either directly to governments or by buying them on an international market.

This market, soon to be worth trillions of pounds, was where Lehman hoped to be "the prime brokerage for emissions permits", as it set out in two hefty reports on "The Business of Climate Change".

(Click to read entire article)

The New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund will help sort through these complex issues this fall by hosting the first in a series of policy forums "Greening the Empire State." Together with NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and its Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems, NYLCVEF will be hosting three events that lay out the facts about solar, wind and nuclear energy in the context of New York State. We'll hear from policymakers, regulators, industry insiders and financial experts who will discuss the pros and cons of each technology.

Powering the Future: Solar

The sun is an abundant and free source of power that annually bathes our planet in an enormous amount of energy. The sun powers everything from hot water heaters to calculators and futuristic cars.

But can this vast resource be cheaply harnessed to meet the growing energy needs of New York State? Can solar energy make the leap and become a cornerstone of a clean energy future?

(Click to read entire item)

State regulators reviewing a controversial $2.1 billion high-voltage power line project have been ordered to stage public meetings in each upstate New York county along the proposed 190-mile route.

The state Public Service Commission had scheduled two public hearings on New York Regional Interconnect's proposed transmission line and was planning a third, PSC spokesman Jim Denn said Monday.

He said the agency was seeking comment from interested parties to determine if more hearings were needed, but administrative law judges Michelle Phillips and Jeffrey Stockholm decided the PSC should hold a total 14 hearings as part of a Sept. 17 ruling addressing procedural matters.

(Click to read entire article)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today approved incentive rates for the New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) on condition that the New York State Public Service Commission determines the 190-mile transmission line either ensures reliability or reduces congestion, and approves siting for the project.

“FERC recognizes the need for and promotes greater investment in energy infrastructure to strengthen and improve reliability of the transmission grid,” FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher said. “We will only approve incentive rate proposals that satisfy the requirements of the Federal Power Act and our regulations.”

Today’s action involves rates for the project. NYRI has not made any requests of FERC for federal siting approval. “That issue properly lies before the New York State Commission, and our approval today rests on the New York State Commission’s approval of the proposed project,” Kelliher said.

(Click to read entire article)

Iberdrola completes Energy East buy

REGION Iberdrola said Wednesday it completed its acquisition of Energy East, parent of New York State Electric & Gas.

The companies said the transaction is valued at about $4.56 billion in cash plus another $4.06 billion in debt, for a total of about $8.6 billion (based on the currency exchange rate Sept. 15).

With the acquisition, the largest industrial transaction ever carried out by a Spanish company in the United States, Iberdrola enhances its presence in the U.S. market, where it is already the second largest in wind power through its renewable energy subsidiary with nearly 2000 megawatts in operating capacity.

Two Central New York electric utilities were cited Wednesday for their service-quality failures by the state Public Service Commission.

National Grid has paid a $14.2 million rebate to customers to atone for failing two service-quality measures during 2007. And New York State Electric & Gas, although it paid no financial penalty, has been ordered to conduct a rigorous self-assessment after recording its "worst performance . . in the past 20 years," according to PSC officials.

In both cases, regulators attributed the high number of power failures mainly to aging equipment and contact between power lines and trees. In National Grid's case, PSC officials said they think the trend is getting better. In the case of NYSEG, matters appear to be getting worse, they said.

(Click to read the entire article)

After decades of declining US natural-gas production, an advanced drilling system so powerful it fractures rock with high-pressure fluid is opening up vast shale-gas deposits.

Instead of falling, US gas production is rising, with up to 118 years’ worth of “unconventional” natural gas reserves in 21 huge shale basins, an industry study in July reported. Such reserves could make the nation more energy self-sufficient and provide more of a cleaner “bridge fuel” to help meet carbon-reduction goals urged by environmentalists.

Shale gas reserves have a powerful economic lure. Companies, states, and landowners could all reap a windfall in the tens of billions. Some also predict lower heating costs for residential gas users as production increases.

Now, scores of natural gas companies are fanning out from Fort Worth, Texas, where hydraulic fracturing of shale has been done for at least five years, to lease shale lands in 19 states, including Pennsylvania and New York.

(Click to read entire article)

PSC reviews NYSEG's service performance

New York State Electric & Gas missed residential customer service satisfaction targets last year, which will result in a lowering of earnings or revenue adjustment of $1.67 million, the state Public Service Commission said Wednesday.

The Public Service Department, the staff arm of the PSC, assessed electric service reliability and customer service performance by NYSEG and other utilities in New York.

Overall, the state's electric and gas utilities met or exceeded customer service performance standards in most cases. But some performance deficits occurred in four utility service territories, including NYSEG's, that will result in utility revenue or earnings adjustments.

The Public Service Department also recommended as part of its assessment on electric service reliability performance that NYSEG analyze its existing tree-trimming program, procedures and expenditures, and identify improvements that can help reduce the effect of tree contact interruptions on system reliability.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY, N.Y. - New York utility regulators are shining a light on the reliability of the state's electricity suppliers.

Staff analysts at the Public Service Commission are scheduled to brief the agency's decision-making board Wednesday on how utilities from New York City to Buffalo met state-mandated service standards in 2007.

When power outages and service interruptions exceed certain levels, electricity suppliers have to set aside money that otherwise would have gone to their shareholders and return it to customers who were affected.

(Click to read entire article)

Iberdrola closes Energy East deal

Iberdrola SA officially closed on its $4.5 billion acquisition of Energy East Corp. Tuesday, giving the Spanish utility 1.7 million gas and electric accounts in upstate New York.

Lawyers for Iberdrola filed a one-page letter with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notifying the agency that the deal had been completed.

Energy East, based in Maine, owns New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas & Electric, two Rochester-based utilities. NYSEG has customers in the Capital Region.

(Click to read entire article)

Growing concern about tactics from gas prospectors has led to new warnings to Southern Tier residents from the state attorney general.

The Binghamton office is investigating dozens of complaints about practices of landmen seeking property owners' signatures on mineral lease contracts, said Mike Danaher, assistant state attorney general in the local office.

Some residents are claiming landmen -- representatives of energy companies seeking to tap gas reserves below private property -- have used misleading or deceptive practices to get people to sign deals they later regret.

The complaints, and the large number of property owners with a stake in negotiations, have led to a public educational forum tonight at Broome Community College.

(Click to read entire article)

Sep. 15--PLATTSBURGH -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer will meet with the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about a problem he says has cost state communities millions.

"We must get to the bottom of this greedy scheme," Schumer said in a statement.

Between January and July of this year, energy-market traders were using deceptive trading practices, the senator said, which slammed consumers with millions of dollars in unnecessary, additional fees and put the state at risk for blackouts.

"New Yorkers may have been cheated out of hundreds of millions of dollars because of a rogue energy-trading scheme, and there are a mess of questions left unanswered."

(Click to read entire article)

The renewable energy sector will see a 21 billion euro ($29.43 billion) shortfall in debt finance by 2020, following the credit crisis and a brake on lending, a senior banker said on Monday.

Investors at a renewable energy finance conference in London tried to digest the implications of a banking hiatus following Lehman Brothers' filing for bankruptcy and Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

The European Union has set a target of getting one-fifth of its energy from renewable sources, including wind, sun and biomass, by 2020.

European wind and solar power projects drew 18 billion euros investment in 2007 and needed about 85 billion euros annually by 2020 to meet the EU's target, said Tanja Cuppen, a renewable investing executive at Rabobank.

However, the pace in growth of the sector, coupled with less appetite for long-term lending, would contribute to a 21 billion euros debt finance shortfall, she told conference delegates.

(Click to read entire article)

Officials to address impact of gas rush

After taking a crash course in Fort Worth, Texas, Broome County officials are working to develop a set of ground rules that will pre-empt problems associated with the natural gas rush locally.

The rules will address noise, road damage and legal rights associated with seismic testing, while nurturing the economic prospects of the Marcellus Shale, a multibillion-dollar natural gas reserve under the Southern Tier.

Broome County Attorney Joe Sluzar, who is coordinating the effort, has been taught by those in the know. He recently visited Fort Worth, where residents have lived through five years of the natural gas phenomenon.

Now, Sluzar is passing those lessons on to other local government officials searching for ways to manage legions of prospectors and drilling companies advancing up the Appalachian Basin to tap the huge Marcellus.

(Click to read entire article)

N.Y. soul sold to wind power giant

I believe your call for Iberdrola to start building its wind farms and infrastructure is hypocritical on your part (Sept. 5 editorial, "The right call"). You often laud the beauty of the Finger Lakes region, express pride in this local treasure and encourage tourism. How on earth can wind towers and power lines add to or even maintain this beauty? You admire patriotism and sometimes review historic events from this area, too. What will your take be on those who resist the takeover of their land through eminent domain by a foreign company? How would you tell a Seneca from Ganondagan, a soldier from Valley Forge, a sailor on the Cuban blockade, that it is OK if foreigners take land away from New York citizens? Would you say that things are inevitable, and to think of a common good, or a bottom line?

What will you call those who take a stand? It is bound to happen now that our government has decided a $3 a month saving in our electric bills is worth our soul.

—JOHN HOLTZ

SOUTH BRISTOL,

ONTARIO COUNTY

New York State Senator Frank Padavan (Queens) and Assemblyman James F. Brennan (D-Brooklyn) have announced their intention to reintroduce legislation in next year's session that would prevent the immediate drilling of oil and gas wells in upstate New York. The New York City watershed extends into this area in the Catskill mountains.

The amended Padavan/Brennan bill will permanently prohibit drilling for gas or oil in the New York City watershed to protect water and air quality, and human health. That includes parts of eight counties including Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties where numerous companies have been signing up landowners to allow for drilling on their land. In addition the bill would halt issuance of any permits for well drilling in the state until a complete environmental review is done by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

This summer, while approving legislation to change the required well spacing, the governor directed the State DEC to update its Environmental Impact Statement on gas drilling to reflect concerns that might arise from horizontal drilling as a method of extraction -- the method that has recently become more economical and preferred by the companies now coming to New York State. The bill would ensure that all environmental concerns are thoroughly assessed prior to any new well permits being issued.

(Click to read entire article)

Drilling bids in Pa. good sign for Tier

Southern Tier residents looking to cash in on natural gas under their land received promising signs from Pennsylvania this week.

Five out-of-state companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., bid between $1,151 and $5,837 per acre for the right to take gas from under state land in northern Pennsylvania. The bids on 74,000 acres will produce $190 million in revenue with the potential of hundreds of millions more in royalties.

The companies are interested in tapping the Marcellus Shale, the same gas-rich geological formation that extends under the Southern Tier. Residents see it as further evidence of the economic potential of the gas industry being developed in the heart of the Appalachian basin and working its way northward.

"It's pretty encouraging," said Marchie Diffendorf, who heads a coalition of Kirkwood residents drafting terms to deal with gas companies. The coalition, working with attorney Chris Denton, is tailoring leases for about 350 people who own between 10,000 and 11,000 acres combined.

(Click to read the entire article)

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is using his office to caution consumers against what he feels are strong-arm tactics by oil and gas exploration companies.

Cuomo on Wednesday announced guidelines for consumers to follow and will be taking part in the Landowners' Rights Forum Tuesday in Binghamton. He's also planning future similar forums around the state.

"If done properly, including implementing the adequate environmental safeguards, increased natural gas production can be mutually beneficial to the landowners, the economy, and all New Yorkers," Cuomo said.

"However, in the event New York landowners are approached and asked to sign a lease by a gas exploration company or their agents, they should proceed cautiously, as the process can be rife with potential peril. Consumers must be aware so they do not fall victim to any abusive or misleading tactics."

Cuomo said he investigating a significant number of complaints from landowners who believe companies are misleading them.

Landowners lease their land to a business that wishes to extract oil and natural gas. Cuomo says those landowners should review each term and condition of the lease with an attorney.

Among other things, he also says to obtain all promises in writing, negotiate for better terms and obtain copies of the lease after it is signed.

According to verdictsearch.com, the third-highest verdict of 2007 came from a dispute between West Virginia landowners and gas companies. The plaintiffs claimed Chesapeake Energy and NiSource took deductions from royalties and did not reflect it on the royalty statements.

The plaintiffs were awarded $404 million. The state's Supreme Court decided not to hear the appeal, and Chesapeake Energy scrapped its plans to build a $35 million regional headquarters in Charleston.

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Lawyers for Enron Corp. investors will get a record $688 million in legal fees for recovering more than $7.2 billion from the failed energy trader's lenders, auditors and directors, a judge ruled yesterday.

The fee is the largest ever in a U.S. securities-fraud case, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon found the payments was justified in light of the record-setting amount the lawyers recovered for Enron investors, who sued for more than $40 billion in losses.

The court ``finds no windfall'' in fees awarded to Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, ``but a reasonable fee earned by an extraordinary group of attorneys who achieved the largest settlement fund ever despite the great odds against them,'' the Houston-based Harmon wrote in her decision.

The lawyers spent more than 280,000 hours preparing for trial and negotiating out-of-court-settlements with Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Arthur Andersen LP, Kirkland & Ellis, Enron's former outside directors, and others, according to Harmon's ruling.

(Click to read entire article)

NYRI Power Line decision by August 2009

The State Public Service Commission is taking the next step in its long process of deciding whether to allow a massive power line to be built right through Central New York.

A meeting got underway Monday morning at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica.

The state has approved the application from the company that wants to build the power line.

Now it has one year to rule on whether to allow it to be built.

State officials are beginning that decision process at MVCC in Utica.

The State Public Service Commission is holding a pre-hearing conference to establish a schedule to address litigation and to address any other issues that come up during the meeting.

(Click to read the entire article)

The spokesman confirmed a report by Spanish state news agency EFE, in which Sanchez Galan was quoted as saying the conditions "seem reasonable in principle, but an investment of this type requires conscientious study and we've got to look at the small print."

New York state's public service commission voted to back Iberdrola's proposed $4.5 billion purchase of Energy East but imposed conditions including $275 million in tariff reductions or adjustments and for Energy East to divest fossil fuel generation and maintain capital investment levels.

The regulator released on Tuesday an expanded version of their original ruling and said that Iberdrola and Energy East must accept the terms by September 15 if the deal is to go ahead.

A new battle is developing in the quest for natural gas in the Southern Tier.

This controversy doesn't involve drilling, pipelines or lease negotiations. It's about information and who has the right to collect it from under private property.

Gas companies are patrolling rural routes across the Southern Tier, using high-tech trucks that shoot seismic waves into the surrounding ground to discover geologic secrets under homes, farms and fields. The waves rebound off subterranean features and are captured by mobile electronic equipment that maps the riches of the Marcellus Shale Formation, one of the largest natural gas resources in the country, running under the Southern Tier and Pennsylvania.

Angry landowners say the gas companies are trespassing, and they're asking them to leave. They say gas companies have no right to use seismic waves to peek under their property.

(Click to read the entire article)

The Finger Lakes Guardian is a new alternative monthy news/feature publication for the Central New York & Finger Lakes region. We've made it our mission to engage the community with a more responsible form of media. This means we will not accept advertising from businesses whose practices are potentially harmful to the environment.

Our goal is to increase demand for earth-friendly business and lighten demand for products and services which may be detrimental to our environment. You won't find Walmart's weekly sale specials or any finance plans for a new Hummer H2. You will find local cafes, performance centers, book stores, and various earth-friendly services.

We recognize our readers as a group of driven and conscientious people. They care about their health, their environment, and their community.

In addition to our hard news coverage and sassy features, we'll carry sections such as regional events, art, food, the outdoors, home&energy, humor, classifieds, opinion letters, among many other locally engaging sections and topics.

After more than two years of additional study, the application for the controversial power line is complete. On August 27, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) sent a letter to New York Regional Interconnect, Inc. (NYRI) informing the company that their application to build a 190-power line in the state was now considered complete.

The application was first deemed incomplete in June 2006. The PSC determined that NYRI had not provided enough information about various issues, including possible alternative routes, and information about the proposed line’s environmental impacts and impacts on viewsheds.

In a statement, Chris Thompson, president of NYRI, called the development a “significant turning point.” He said, “We are very pleased by the PSC’s decision and were optimistic all along that we would be judged fairly by the merits of our project.”

Members of opposition groups said they expected that the application would be complete at some point and that they are hopeful that they can defeat the proposal in the PSC permitting process.

(Click to read entire article)

MONTOUR FALLS -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is looking into federal funding to provide experts who can advise Southern Tier landowners about contracts for natural gas exploration and drilling rights.

"It does happen that people get taken advantage of," Schumer, D-N.Y., said when the issue came up Wednesday during a town hall meeting at the Schuyler County Human Services Complex. About 50 people attended, including many local government officials.

"We want to make sure that people are not taken advantage of, and one of the things that comes out of this town hall meeting here is maybe we can get some federal help for a couple of professionals.

"Anyone who is approached by a gas company could call up, and they would make sure the contract is good," he said.

(Click to read the entire article)

NYRI hearing to be held in Oneonta

The state Public Service Commission has deemed NYRI’s application complete and scheduled public hearings, including one in Oneonta in October, on the proposed 400,000-watt power line.

Introduced about 21/2 years ago by New York Regional Interconnect Inc., the proposed direct-current line would run about 190 miles, from Marcy in Oneida County to New Windsor in Orange County.

NYRI first suggested running the 10-story-tall line through Chenango and Delaware counties, following rights-of-way owned by NYSEG and the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway for much of the route. Last year, at the PSC’s request, the firm studied other routes, including some that would cut through parts of Otsego County.

David Kalson, a NYRI spokesman, said if the project is approved, the final route will be determined by the PSC.

(Click to read the entire article)

All the horse expletives being tossed around, it brings to mind the potential of biomass conversion and capturing of methane for energy instead of continuing to have it contribute to greenhouse gases. As for wind turbines, I live in the midst of one of the many vast new 'wind farms' that produce profits for investors due to myriad of consumer and tax payer funded subsidies and tax breaks and NOT because they produce significant quantities of electricity, power when it is needed, or have ever been shown to reduce demand for fossil fuel or the size of our carbon footprint. Off-shore, on-shore, the problem is that the current industrial wind technology is immature. Production Tax Credit extension or not, unless and until we bring accountability into the process we will continue to avoid dealing effectively with reducing global warming, greenhouse gases, fossil fuel consumption, acid rain, and the tradition of corporate greed trumping real solutions to our problems. While there are promising technologies on the drawing board, wishing and hoping don't make it so. Some of these technologies begin to address the most glaring of off-shore wind's problems, such as what to do about hurricanes.

So, on the question of oil drilling or wind turbines, I vote for support for small scale wind, solar, geothermal support so farmers, homeowners, small businesses can afford to install effective and efficient systems that will reduce demand upon the grid: a grid that, as your article points out, can't handle wheeling of the decentralized production that wind farms, like those in my area (Northern NY) will destabilize.

But the WSJ does us all a disservice but not examining the complexities of the issues surrounding the industrial wind juggernaut. The NY Times has recently begun to examine, in a front page story, the corruption involved in the newest scam being run by the robber barons. They have scratched the surface on the investigation of two wind developers launched by NY AG Cuomo. One of those companies, Noble Environmental, is in the process of launching an IPO with all the promise of the boom/bust tech offerings of the '90's. This JPMorgan offshoot seems to be representative of this dirty 'clean energy' business and honors the sentiment once expressed by Mr. Morgan himself: "I owe the public nothing."

Spanish utility Iberdrola SA will be allowed to purchase Energy East Corp., the New York State Public Service Commission determined today.

The 4-0 vote by the PSC’s board ended a year-long process involving Iberdrola’s $4.5 billion proposal to take over Energy East (NYS: EAS).

“The approval requires Iberdrola to pay $275 million in customer benefits to offset future rate hikes. Iberdrola must invest $200 million in new wind energy projects. Initially, Iberdrola said it would invest $100 million. If Iberdrola does not invest the additional $100 million it faces a penalty.

“This isn’t a perfect deal,” said Commissioner Maureen Harris. “It may not even be a great deal. But in my opinion it’s a good deal. I’m not comfortable gambling that the company might walk away.” She said it was in the best interest of consumers to approve the deal. Any stricter provisions could have deterred Iberdrola from moving forward with the merger.

(Click to read the entire report)

State officials are signing over mineral rights of public land to energy companies for a fixed minimum. Not surprisingly, perhaps, that has given rise to questions about whose interest is being served: The public’s? Or the industry’s?

Under long-standing policy, New York’s share of royalties from natural gas wells on state-owned land is fixed at 12.5 percent — the minimum allowable by law. By contrast, royalties are seen as a vital part of the deal-making process for private landowners, who have been negotiating rates up to 18 percent.

Revenues from natural gas drilling and who’s getting them has taken on added significance this year as energy companies gear up to tap the Marcellus Shale. It’s thought by some geologists to be the largest untapped natural gas resource in the country, and it runs under the Southern Tier and throughout Pennsylvania.

Soaring energy prices and growing emphasis on domestic production have pushed the stakes even higher. As production and prices climb, a change in royalty payments by a percentage point or two can quickly add up to significant sums.

(Click to read entire article)

Amid a national debate over offshore oil drilling, the federal government is preparing to unleash development of another offshore energy source: wind.

The Interior Department, the agency that handles oil-and-gas leases in U.S. waters, is preparing to lease swaths of the outer continental shelf to companies that want to erect massive wind turbines. With the public-comment period for the proposal scheduled to end Monday, competition is heating up to develop wind projects on the shelf, the same underwater formation largely covered by an oil-drilling ban that has become a contentious issue in the presidential race.

The federal program signals the start of a broad push to develop offshore wind energy in the U.S. The country often is dubbed by renewable-energy experts as "the Saudi Arabia of wind" because of its vast, windy expanses, particularly in the Western plains. Now, rising interest in renewable energy is spurring exploration of the ocean, where the winds typically are heavier but the technological hurdles to tapping it are higher. That shift mirrors the oil industry's move to offshore wells decades ago.

(Click to read entire article)

A Big Future for Tiny Wind Turbines?


They look a bit like attachments for a gigantic hand-held mixer. But at five meters (16 feet) tall and with a diameter of close to three meters, they are certainly too big for a kitchen cabinet. They would, however, definitely fit in backyards and city parks and on the roofs of houses and office buildings.

And if the German power company RWE (RWEG.DE) has its way, there will soon be thousands of the funny-looking rotors installed in the coming months and years—in Germany, in Europe and even in the US.

It is not, as one might be tempted to believe, a vast, futuristic art project. Rather, the odd-looking, twisting contraptions are the newest generation of high-tech wind turbines. In contrast to their cousins, these windmills are virtually silent, do not require long blades to catch the wind, and spin no matter which direction the wind is blowing. Even better, their modest size and weight mean they can easily be installed on rooftops—and they can generate up to 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to supply two low-energy homes, or a 20 person office, with power.

(Click to read entire article)

Another No-Dam Hydropower Method to be Tested

An intriguing third hydropower option is being developed in the town of Vandergrift, Pennsylvania in the Kiskiminetas River which the town hopes will generate 20-40% of its electricity. Our colleagues over at Discovery News have the complete story, but here’s that requisite bit to lure you in:

The sustainable power [Vandergrift is developing] will most likely come from a grid of undulating strips made of polyvinylidene fluoride or PVDF, a material that generates a slight electrical current when it is moved, in this case, by the currents and eddies in the Kiskiminetas River. Such materials are described as piezoelectric, and the resulting electrical current would pass to small substations along the river's edge before charging a group of batteries.

The exact details about how dense the grid would be, how long the PVDF strips will be, or even when the grid would be laid down, are still being worked out. But whatever the final plans are, the researchers claim they will maintain the health and appearance of the Kiski, which is used for fishing, canoe trips and other recreational activities.

ALBANY — Natural gas production from New York wells totaled 54.9 billion cubic feet for 2007, just below the all-time high of 55.2 bcf in 2006.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis says the 2007 production, driven by prolific wells in the Finger Lakes region, was enough to heat nearly 800,000 homes for a year.

Statewide, 12,994 oil and gas wells were in production in 2007. That could rise in the coming years if exploration in the Marcellus Shale region of the Southern Tier yields anticipated results.

A recent study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and Fredonia State College estimated that the Marcellus Shale could contain as much as 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, although other estimates are much lower.

(Click to read entire article)

UNIVERSITY PARK - Reminiscent of Pennsylvania's halcyon days of oil production and coal mining early in the last century, the current boom in natural-gas well drilling is a concern for the state's streams and groundwater, according to an expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Decades ago, we weren't careful with coal mining. As a result, we are still paying huge sums to clean up acid mine drainage from that period, and we will be for a long time," said Bryan Swistock, water resources specialist with Penn State Cooperative Extension. "We need to be careful and vigilant or we could see lasting damage to our water resources from so many deep gas wells being drilled across Pennsylvania."

This latest wave of gas-well drilling is unlike other previous exploration because the wells are so deep, tapping the Marcellus shale formation, which is a mile or more below the surface of much of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York. Scientists have known for years the gas was there, but it wasn't until new drilling technology was developed that it could be extracted. This method uses hydraulic pressure to fracture the shale layer so trapped gas can escape.

(Click to read entire article)

The US Treasury Department has selected William A. Pizer, a former economic advisor to the White House, to head up its newly formed Office for Environment and Energy.

The office has been set up to manage the multi-billion dollar Clean Energy Fund, established earlier this summer, as well as other financial programmes. Its main remit will be to develop and carry out the Treasury’s energy and environmental policies, as well as accelerate the development of low-carbon technologies in developing coutries.

Pizer currently works for research organisation Resources for the Future, but has served as an economic advisor to the White House and on the National Commission on Energy Policy.

(Click to read entire item)

Orlando Wagner and Jochen Hauff compare the booming renewables market with other sectors where a boom has been followed by a bust, on the lookout for danger signals. They conclude that the renewable energy sector has strong foundations - but does have some areas of vulnerability, which they examine in detail. They conclude that industry should 'de-hype' the boom, and that a long-term, harmonized renewables support system is important to stabilize the investment framework and enable investors to fulfill the ambitious political targets in Europe - and elsewhere.

Signs of doom for the renewable energy boom?

Not all recent news regarding the growth of renewable energy has been good. Sudden drops in growth rates in key markets, increasing competition from other technologies that boast CO2 neutrality and energy security objectives, financial difficulties of key players and stock market price erosion of renewable energy companies, as well as problems with supply bottlenecks and news on difficulties in fulfilling technological and/or environmental performance promises – they do occur.

Recent developments in Germany have highlighted serious setbacks affecting the growth of renewable energy. For example, a drop in the rate of new installation for land-based wind power in the German market, combined with significant delay in offshore development dampened the previously buoyant mood in what was the world’s biggest wind power market in the past decade. At the same time, likely overcapacities in PV manufacturing make investors nervous and, we believe, highlight the dependency of this market on subsidized demand. In all these cases, it is changing or pending policy decisions that directly impact investment in renewable energies and their potential for growth.

(Click to read entire article)

NYRI hearing to be at SUCO

The state Public Service Commission has deemed NYRI's application complete and scheduled public hearings, including one in Oneonta in October, on the proposed 400,000-watt power line.

Introduced about 21/2 years ago by New York Regional Interconnect Inc., the proposed direct-current line would run about 190 miles, from Marcy in Oneida County to New Windsor in Orange County.

NYRI first suggested running the 10-story-tall line through Chenango and Delaware counties, following rights-of-way owned by NYSEG and the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway for much of the route. Last year, at the PSC's request, the firm studied other routes, including some that would cut through parts of Otsego County.

On Thursday, David Kalson, a NYRI spokesman, said if the project is approved, the final route will be determined by the PSC.

(Click to read entire article)


When I asked Bob Lutz almost a year ago whether he thought other car companies would be adopting the Chevy Volt's "extended range electric vehicle" platform, he said that they were welcome to join in the fun.

But he may not have expected that other car companies would be so quick to the punch. While GM has been pushing like crazy to get the Volt out of the door, it looks like Mazda (Ford) has had a little bit of work going on as well.

While all eyes have been on the Volt, Mazda outfitted a Mazda MPV with an electric engine, some batteries, and an onboard Wankel engine to re-charge the batteries. Basically, this is the same set-up as the Volt with two big differences.

1. The batteries are probably small and cheap, and Mazda will need to do a lot of work before matching the Volt's 40 mile range
2. Mazda is, quite cleverly, using the Wankel engine that they have some experience with. Wankel rotary engines are much smaller and lighter than piston engines, and so will be less of a burden to haul around while the car doesn't need it.

UTICA, N.Y. - State regulators say New York Regional Interconnect's power line application is complete and they are now reviewing it.

As part of that process, the state Public Service Commission will hold public hearings Oct. 21 and 22 in Oneonta and Utica.

"We expected that the application would be deemed complete sooner or later," said Mike Steiger of the Upstate New York Citizens Alliance and a member of the steering committee for Communities Against Regional Interconnect. "We do feel we will be successful in defeating it at the PSC level."

NYRI wants to run a 190-mile transmission line from near Utica to Orange County downstate. Supporters say the line is needed to improve the state's aging power grid and reduce the threat of blackouts like the one that struck the state in 2003.

(Click to read entire article)


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