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“Wind Turbine Syndrome”
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Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment (Santa Fe, NM: K-Selected Books, 2009), 294 pp. Paperback, $18 USD.


Iberdrola Renovable Stock





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4/30/2008
Can The Optimum Carbon Tax Possibly Be Zero? by Jim Manzi
The Energy and Environment blog at TNR has a post up replying to Will Wilkinson’s post arguing that we don’t know how to set the price on a theoretical carbon tax. The gist of the reply is the sensible-sounding observation that “There's essentially no disagreement at all that there's some externality associated with carbon emissions, so the optimal carbon tax is certainly not zero.”

I believe that this is not so obvious, however, when you think it through, for at least three reasons.

(Click to read entire article)
Schumer raps PSC for handling of RG&E takeover
Sen. Charles Schumer today called the state Public Service Commission “stone headed” because of conditions it is trying to impose on Iberdrola SA, the big Spanish utility that’s seeking to buy the parent of Rochester Gas and Electric.

Iberdrola agreed 10 months ago to purchase Energy East Corp. for $4.5 billion, and has received go-aheads from other states where Energy East does business. But negotiations between Iberdrola and New York regulators have been moving slowly for several months.

Iberdrola’s chairman, Ignacio Sanchez Galan, suggested recently that his company might abandon the deal because of the PSC’s demands.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said he’s particularly irked by two conditions the PSC staff has set: that Iberdrola sell off the wind energy assets it already owns in New York; and that it sell RG&E’s Russell Station power plant in Greece.

Noting that Iberdrola is the world’s largest wind power utility, Schumer said it makes no sense to discourage the company from pursuing that form of energy in New York.

And the prospect of a new owner of Russell Station “raises many questions, including what impact it could have on customer electric rates,” Schumer said in a conference call with journalists.

The PSC isn’t expected to make a decision on the Iberdrola-Energy East deal until sometime this summer, and Iberdrola officials recently said they don’t expect to make their own decision about whether to proceed until at least June.

If the deal goes through, Energy East stockholders would receive $28 a share for their holdings.
Millennium pipeline fuels economy
Until about a month ago, Sullivan's Diner on Old Ithaca Road in Horseheads regularly opened at 6 a.m. Nowadays, owners Peter and Marta Krajnik have the coffee on and grill hot for anyone who pokes their head in the door at 4:30 a.m.

The reason for the earlier start covers 35 acres behind the eatery. That stretch of land has been transformed into a base camp for the local leg of the $500 million Millennium Pipeline project, a natural gas line running across the southern part of New York state.

In the pre-dawn darkness, it's hard to take in the magnitude of the operation. But once the sun comes up, the scene at The Center, an industrial park along state Route 14, is eye-opening. Bulldozers and other pieces of heavy earth-moving equipment sit side-by-side, looking like a storage lot outside a vehicle-manufacturing plant.

(Click to read entire article)
4/29/2008
Politicians call for widespread reform of government, but not the ones who can make it law
Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo spoke at today’s Reform Day event at the Sign of the Tree restaurant at the state plaza.The three spoke passionately about the need for reform, to restore trust in government, and said that they were personally in support of many of the issues that reform advocates want.

Smith said he was in support of public financing of campaigns (he’s the sponsor of a Senate bill to create a public financing system) and said he’s in support of redistricting reform, but that his conference isn’t quite there yet. What’s more, he doesn’t have the votes to make it happen right now. But Smith did issue a warning to Senate Majority Joseph Bruno, that his time is over, “reform is on the way”.

Something to keep an eye on during the elections, where this will certainly be campaign issue.

It will also be interesting to see what happens if there’s a switch in the majority. It’s certainly hard to give up the power to redistrict, the millions more in pork, the multiple staffers, and campaign fundraising advantages once you’re the one getting them.

DiNapoli said he’s in support of public fundraising, and joked, “I’d like to be the guinea pig for public campaign finance…I would love by the end of session for your bill to be enacted, it would make my life a lot easier,” referencing that he’s getting ribbed about the fact that he hasn’t started fundraising yet.

Cuomo said he’s in support of reform in government, including an independent Ethics Commission, an independent redistricting commission, change to the operating rules of the legislature recommended by the Brennan Center, and campaign finance reform.

But since he isn’t a legislator, Cuomo can’t enact any of these things himself.

(In case you are wondering what Cuomo is doing in the picture above, he’s telling the story of a man who falls off a cliff, clings to a branch and asks for help from above. The voice asks him if he has faith, the man replies “yes” and God says, “if you have faith, let of the branch.” The man then replies, “is there anyone else up there.” All this to say that “there isn’t anyone else up there” and that advocates needed to persevere for reform. Cuomo is thus clinging to the proverbial branch)

Paterson didn’t speak at this year’s reform day. Below is a video of his speech at last year’s reform day, when he, as Lieutenant Governor, wasn’t in the position to do anything about reform besides speak his mind.

Cuomo On Member Item Fraud
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is taking on more fraud and waste in government. This time, he is going after member item fraud.

AG Andrew Cuomo just told an approving crowd of good government advocates that his office has rejected 1,026 legislative requests for member items as part of an ongoing review of pork-barrel spending in Albany.

Of the 6,500 member item grants passed last year, Cuomo's office reviewed 3,785 worth $122 million (information on some 2,700 additional items has not yet been presented, which the AG interpreted as a good sign that the stricter reforms implemented by his office are having a preventative effect).

Not long after taking office in the wake of ongoing member item scandals (an epidemic that has now moved down the Thruway to the City Council), Cuomo, who pledged to be Sheriff of State Street during the '06 campaign, instituted a requirement that member item recipients sign a contract on which they pledge - among other things - not to have a conflict of interest with the lawmaker who directed the cash their way.

To lie on this contract would be perjury, Cuomo noted, which would make prosecution for member item fraud by his office considerably easier.

Liz also has video of Cuomo speaking on this topic.

This is a very good thing Cuomo is doing. Making the recipient sign a contract brings accountability to the process and holds the lawmaker accountable as well to ensure that these member items are not fraud and to make sure that there is not a conflict of interest
Fraud Is Everywhere
Here's AG Andrew Cuomo explaining how the new certification process for legislative member items set up by his office last January prevents fraud of the type that has been highlighted in Albany in recent years (see here, here and here - for starters) and is now popping up in the City Council, too.

I asked the AG if he thinks there's widespread fraud in the member item process. He responded:

There's fraud everywhere, you're hard pressed to find a government program or a private sector program that doesn't have some level of fraud.

I think we brought review and scrutiny to the program that hasn't existed, and I think people are now looking at those certifications and they're thinking twice before they sign them. As they should.

I use the analogy of signing your tax returns. Before you sign your tax returns, you make sure the tax return is right"
Bush blames Congress for high gas prices by Klaus Marre
President Bush on Tuesday blamed Congress for repeatedly blocking his attempts to address high gas prices and challenged Democratic leaders to deliver solutions.

The president, at the onset of a news conference at the White House, noted that gas prices have increased $1.40 per gallon since Democrats won the majority in Congress. High gas and food prices are a daily reminder to Americans that the economy is ailing.

“One of the main reasons for high gas prices is that global oil production is not keeping up with growing demand,” Bush said. “Members of Congress have been vocal about foreign governments increasing their oil production, yet Congress has been just as vocal in opposition to efforts to expand our production here at home.”

The president pointed to his efforts to open up drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), an initiative that would “likely mean lower gas prices.”

In an election year, it will be crucial for each party to avoid being blame for the troubled economy. Bush is seeking to paint Congress as the obstacle to improvements, just as Democrats have pointed a finger at the White House for blocking their proposals.

The president noted that Congress has also stood in the way of his plans to build more refineries and increase the use of “clean, safe nuclear power.”

“Instead, many of the same people in Congress who complain about high energy costs support legislation that would make energy even more expensive for our consumers and small businesses,” Bush stated. “Congress is considering bills to raise taxes on domestic energy production, impose new and costly mandates on producers, and demand dramatic emissions cuts that would shut down coal plants and increase reliance on expensive natural gas. That would drive up prices even further.”

The president also said Democrats in Congress are not doing enough to address high food prices, calling the farm bill now being considered “bloated,” and arguing it would subsidize “multimillionaire farmers” instead of helping ordinary Americans.
4/28/2008
EST's Carbon Challenge: traditional versus energy-saving bulbs

We love blind(ing) tests, especially when they really dispel urban myths. The Energy Saving Trust did just that in its lightbulb challenge, which tested the difference between traditional and energy-efficient lightbulbs on the public.

Although we've been told numerous times -- latest by The Observer's Lucy Siegle in her column yesterday -- that energy-saving lightbulbs now can outshine old-fashioned incandescent ones on cosiness, some of us still believe the eco bulbs have that unattractive blue-ish tint.

Well, the Evergy Saving Trust decided to copy the 'Pepsi Challenge' and do a Carbon Challenge of its own, to see if people really can see the difference between the oldies and the new compact fluorescent bulbs. For the test, The Energy Saving Trust set up the two identical booths at Bluewater Shopping Centre with a mini-lounge in each. One was lit with a traditional lightbulb and one was lit with an Energy Saving Recommended eco bulb.

Although 70 per cent of the 761 shoppers that were asked to step inside the booths thought they could spot the difference, 53 per cent got it wrong or admitted they couldn't see any difference. A whopping 64 per cent of the guinea pigs said they preferred the light in booth A, which was in fact the energy-saving lightbulb. Well that shows us. It's good to know that next time we need to change a lightbulb, we really can get one that'll save us money and energy -- and give us a soft, glowing light, too.
Sustainable Energy Fair growing, organizers say
CANTON — Thirteen was a lucky number for the annual North Country Sustainable Energy Fair and Home Tours, which continued its growth as a regional event.

With 60 exhibitors and 54 workshops, this year's fair is the largest so far, said Patricia M. Greene, who organized the event for Community Energy Services, a nonprofit corporation founded in 2001 to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy systems in the north country.

"We're in the midst of a kind of paradigm shift about the way we think," she said, pointing to the sharp climb in fuel prices and headlines about the growing threat of global warming.

(Click to read entire article)
The Biofuels Disaster Must End
Big-government, command-and-control technocrats believe that when central-planning fails, the solution is a better plan and smarter planners. They never step back and look at whether planning makes sense in the first place. This was true of the Soviet Union, with tragic five-year plan after five-year plan. It was true of Communist China, with Mao’s revolutionary upheavals. And today, here in the United States, it is true of government energy policy.

The 1970s and early 1980s saw all manner of failed energy policies — from Nixon’s Project Independence price controls, to Ford’s CAFE mandates, to Carter’s Synthetic Fuels Corporation and windfall profits tax, to Bush and Clinton’s publicly financed push for electric cars. The latest example is the 36 billion gallon biofuel mandate enacted into U.S. law last year.

(Click to read entire article)
Zoning board to decide extending Reunion’s wind test tower permit
RICHMONDVILLE — Renewal of the one-year permit for a temporary Reunion Power wind measuring tower on Warnerville Hill will be up to the village Zoning Board of Appeals, town codes officer Gene DeMarco said.

Schoharie Valley Watch, a group opposing industrial wind turbines in the area, also called last week for the existing permit to be revoked, alleging it doesn’t meet zoning law criteria.

The current permit expires Thursday, according to DeMarco, and he said he has no plans to revoke it based on the citizens group’s contentions.

“I reviewed it and stand by my decision to give the initial permit,” he said.

DeMarco does agree with Schoharie Valley Watch that an extension of the permit is now up to the ZBA to decide.

(Click to read entire article)
4/26/2008
The Real Politics of Fuel Economy
Politics involves the art of turning necessity into virtue, of transforming the inevitable into noble action, all the while concealing darker and more troubling truths.

Consider last week's announcement by the Bush administration that it will push car companies to accelerate implementation of new federal fuel efficiency standards approved by Congress last year.

Under what might be called the administration's "Urge Program," car companies now are being asked to increase the average maximum feasible fuel efficiency of all new cars and trucks sold in the United States by 25 percent by 2015. That works out to an improvement of 4.5 percent annually during the targeted 2011-2015 model-year cycle.

Put another way, that means light trucks -- vans, minivans, pickups, sport-utility vehicles -- must average 28.6 miles per gallon by 2015, up from a mandated average of 22.5 mpg today. It means cars must get 35.7 mpg, up from a current standard of 27.5 mpg.

(Click to read entire article)
DEC to head turbine study
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has declared itself the lead agency for a state environmental quality review of the proposed Galloo Island Wind Project — a ruling that may set a precedent of state review of future turbine projects.

The ruling by DEC Commissioner Alexander B. "Pete" Grannis on Friday afternoon is the first time the state has stepped in to perform a SEQR for a wind project. In the only other case where the commissioner made the lead agency determination, the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency was awarded lead agency status.

Upstate NY Power Corp. has proposed to construct 77 turbines on the island. The company has submitted plans for temporary residential, food service and health care structures to support about 250 workers during the project's construction.

Town officials were upset by the decision.

"This just adds to the overall turmoil of the whole project," Hounsfield Supervisor Jean H. Derouin said. "I anticipated this. It just shows the outside pressure being put on local people."

The ruling comes after the state Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Office of General Services all sent letters to the commissioner supporting the town Planning Board as lead agency.

DEC spokesman Stephen W. Litwhiler said the regional office, in Watertown, will be the "folks on the ground giving feedback," despite the commissioner's decision to perform the review from the department's Albany office.

Mr. Litwhiler said he spoke with Judy Drabicki, DEC Region 6 director.

"She did say she was happy with the decision," he said.

The commissioner listed three primary criteria for this decision: The turbines, transmission line and infrastructure all will affect the largely undeveloped island, he wrote.

Also noted is the potential archaeological significance on the island from Native America and European settlers.

"I conclude that potential impacts associated with this project are primarily of regional and even statewide significance and, thus, that DEC would be most appropriately designated as lead agency under this criterion," the commissioner's decision read.

Mr. Grannis noted that the sewage and water infrastructure built for the island's temporary workers during construction will need DEC approval.

"DEC will have jurisdiction ... for all work under the water, including docking slip construction," the ruling states. "Likely impacts to the numerous and extensive wetlands on the island, from construction of the various components of the project including turbine sites, water and wastewater systems, housing, and all roadways, would require approvals from DEC."

DEC has more in-house staff and experts to serve as the lead agency, according to the commissioner.

Hounsfield officials take issue with that argument.

"This decision shows the DEC thinks we're not smart enough or we don't have backbone to do it right," Mr. Derouin said. "This just gives the DEC staff in Albany the chance to walk around in the different agencies to say, 'Look at what we've accomplished.'"

This does not set a precedent for DEC to declare itself lead agency for future wind turbine projects, Mr. Litwhiler said.

That may not be true, said Dennis G. Whelpley, the town's attorney.

"If you follow the law and their reasoning, the DEC can be lead agency on every project," he said. "They are basing their jurisdictional analysis on speculation, and they're not supposed to do that."

The attorney said that filing an Article 78 lawsuit to try to have the decision reversed is an option, but he had not talked with town officials Friday night to determine whether they want to pursue legal action.

"It's always about bats and birds, but what about the people?" Mr. Derouin said.

The Hounsfield Town Council has said that emergency services will be provided by the town, making the project a town issue. The DEC ruling flipped the argument, saying Hounsfield will need mutual aid to respond, making it a regional concern.

With that argument, DEC could become the lead agency for any project that needs mutual aid, Mr. Whelpley said.

"If the Salmon Run Mall wants to build an addition, that would be DEC," he said.

Mr. Litwhiler said DEC now will determine whether the project has a significant environmental impact.

"We're anticipating a positive declaration," he said.
4/25/2008
Undoing America's Ethanol Mistake
The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once said, "One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."

When Congress passed legislation to greatly expand America's commitment to biofuels, it intended to create energy independence and protect the environment.

But the results have been quite different. America remains equally dependent on foreign sources of energy, and new evidence suggests that ethanol is causing great harm to the environment.

(Click to read entire article)
Forests And Farms Have Significant Role As Alternative Energy Sources Are Developed
Clare Wood Energy Project, the Clare T.D. said that bioenergy would be central in the fight against climate change.

The aim of today's event was to identify the opportunities open to those in the wood industry, particularly in bioenergy production.

Minister Killeen said, 'We have an ambitious targets for bioenergy, such as the generation of 12% of our renewable heat by 2020 and I am confident that the work being done here today will play a role in delivering on that national target. Furthermore, our considerable forestry and agriculture sectors afford us the opportunity to create an indigenous energy source, which will not only reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, but which will mean a cheaper, cleaner energy supply for Ireland.'

He continued, 'Last January, the Government announced that businesses can receive grants from Sustainable Energy Ireland for the installation of biomass fuelled and anaerobic digestion Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Units, allowing savings of up to 25% of the annual energy costs in these locations. Not only this, but at a guaranteed support price of €120 per megawatt hour of electricity produced from biomass CHP, the conditions for the growth of this sector are optimal.'

Apart from animal products, biomass CHP typically uses wood residues from the forest industry or straw from cereal production.

'The potential opportunities for our farmers and foresters are numerous', said Minister Killeen.

'I am delighted to be here today at what I regard as an excellent example of local organisations and people coming together to deliver a worthwhile service for not only the people of Clare but the country as a whole and I extend a sincere word of thanks to Rural Resources Development, Clare Wood Energy Project and Teagasc for working to bring this event to fruition', he concluded.
Iberdrola again threatens to call off merger By LARRY RULISON
ALBANY Officials with Iberdrola SA reiterated Thursday the Spanish company is ready to walk away from its $4.5 billion acquisition of Energy East Corp. if state regulators continue to require the sale of wind-farm assets in New York state.

The issue appears to be the most divisive between Iberdrola and staff at the Public Service Commission, the state agency with final regulatory say over the deal.

Pedro Azagra, Iberdrola's corporate development director, said in an interview Thursday that the company is ready to scrap the merger if the conditions aren't right.

"We do deals that make sense," he said. "We do deals that are good for the shareholders. If we can't achieve those goals, we don't do the deals."

Energy East, based in Maine, has more than 1 million customers in upstate New York through its New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas & Electric subsidiaries.

The merger has received all of the shareholder and governmental approvals it needs to be completed -- except for approval from the PSC's five voting commissioners.

Although staff at the PSC, which gives recommendations and guidance to the commissioners, do not have the final say on the merger, they have been arguing the case in a legal process overseen by an administrative law judge.

Iberdrola has agreed to several concessions in the case, including the sale of Energy East's fossil-fuel power plants in New York state and rate reductions for consumers. The company has offered to provide upstate customers $50 million in rate relief right after the deal closes.

But it has not budged on the PSC staff demand to get out of the wind-generation business in New York state.

Through a separate company called Iberdrola Renewables, the utility has a 50 percent stake in the Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County, the largest wind farm in the state. And it has 10 others in development in New York state.

The PSC staff argues that if Iberdrola were to maintain ownership of Maple Ridge and develop other wind farms, it would have too much sway in the state's wholesale power market, a key component of its deregulated energy industry.

Iberdrola says it would be impossible to influence wholesale pricing with wind farms, especially since wind is an "intermittent and unpredictable" power source.

The company is the largest wind developer in the world and the second-largest in the United States. As part of its offer of concessions to the PSC staff, Iberdrola is offering to promise $100 million in wind-farm investments in New York state over the next three years.

Azagra, the Iberdrola executive, said that investment could go a long way in helping the state reach its renewable energy goals. The state wants to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources like hydro power and wind by 2013. The state is currently at 19 percent renewable power, and most of the gains will have to come with wind power. Like his predecessors, Gov. David Paterson is a huge supporter of the goal.

"We don't want to do $100 million in New York, we want to do more than that," Azagra said. "How many have committed to investments in New York, in writing? No one. We want to do as much as we can in New York. We want to do as much renewables as we can. We're credible, and we can deliver."
Although several state agencies support the Iberdrola-Energy East merger -- with certain conditions -- the governor's office is taking a more arm's length approach.

"The governor recognizes the potential this plan has for New York ratepayers," said Paterson spokesman Michael Whyland. "However, it is up to the PSC to evaluate the deal and ensure it results in real savings. It's important to respect this process." Rulison can be reached at 454-5504 or by e-mail at lrulison@timesunion.com.
4/24/2008
Tonko files papers for Congressional run
Finally, former Assemblyman Paul Tonko got into the race for Congress Thursday in the candidate-laden 21st District, a seat being vacated by Rep. Michael McNulty, D-Green Island.

Tonko has filed his intention to seek the office with the Federal Elections Commission and signed up to be interviewed Saturday by the screening committee of the Albany County Democratic Committee, according to sources. He joins seven other Democrats whose hats are in the ring.

Last July 1, Tonko, 58, an Amsterdam Democrat, become president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority after resigning from the state Assembly. He had represented the 105th Assembly District, including all of Montgomery and part of Schenectady counties, from April 1983 to June 2007.

His interest in seeking the federal office has been rumored for months and speculation was he had to work out a deal to hold onto his job while running for Congress.

On Thursday, he didn't return a call, so it was not clear whether he would have to step down to run for the seat that McNulty held for 20 years. Tonko served as chairman of the Assembly Committee on Energy, and gained a national reputation as an expert on energy and utility issues, according to his official biography. He is a graduate of Clarkson University with a degree in mechanical and industrial engineering.
Solar Energy; Not Just Electricity
A common inaccuracy that I frequently encounter - through work, in the media, and in government - is based on an implied assumption that energy, and energy displacement, and therefore solar energy, revolves solely around electricity.

This perception is pervasive in several countries around the world. Articles, position papers, lobbying briefs and individuals reference the fact that close to 40% of carbon emitted into the atmosphere in the United States originates from the operations of buildings (correct) because of the use of fossil-fuel powered electricity generation sources (not correct).

What is missing here is the heating component. It is a statistical fact that in heating climates, buildings usually use significantly more energy for heating purposes than for electricity. In other words, the 40% of CO2 emissions that originate from the building sector represents the sum of two types of energy usage — electricity and thermal — not just electricity.

(Click to read entire article)
Green Ink: Playing Hardball with OPEC
Like clockwork: A rebounding dollar and increased oil stocks checked crude oil’s rise, reports AP. Still, it’s high enough for Iraq: Oil prices are more than double Iraqi budget projections, meaning a $70 billion windfall this year, reports AP in the WSJ.

And too high for Congress. Democrats are now threatening to stop arms sales to OPEC countries unless and until they find spare oil production capacity in order to relive high prices, reports the WSJ (sub reqd.). A quicker way might be to actually use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, especially if there are continued short-term supply disruptions from the U.K., argues Platt’s Barrel. Either way, something’s got to give: Oil analysts Wood MacKenzie expect natural gas prices will converge with crude in 3 to 4 years—and crude’s not likely to collapse, in Energy Current.

The House has approved principles for a cap-and-trade climate bill, with goals a little stricter than the Senate darling, such as full auctions of emissions permits and more ambitious targets. But there’s still plenty of wiggle-room, notes Hill Heat, as both chambers grope towards a definitive climate package. Japan and the European Union are trying to find a common climate stance as well ahead of the G-8 summit, but can’t agree on levels of emissions cuts, reports the FT, though the idea of “sectoral” approaches to curbing emissions gains ground.

China is again asking for developed-world technology to help the world’s biggest emitter fight climate change, reports AP, opening the door to a quid pro quo for more flexibility later. China is a perfect case study of why UN-style carbon credit projects may not really be helping, explains Common Tragedies. Chinese wind farms and hydroelectric plants would probably have been built anyway, given the country’s renewables push, but rich Western countries get credit for their clean-energy, meaning fewer emissions are curbed elsewhere.

Roger Cohen in the NYT makes a pitch for Brazilian sugarcane biofuels, and warns not to throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to biofuels: “The real scam lies in developed world protectionism and skewed subsidies, not the biofuel idea.” And Brazil may have a new biofuel star, as malaria researchers stumble on another sugar-derived fuel, reports AFP. Now, how to move it around? The Guardian reports that political uncertainty over biofuels has paralyzed biofuel tanker production.
Michigan can grow biofuels the right way
The recent outpouring of bad news about biofuels is impossible to ignore. The supposed fall from grace of this fuel that was supposed to wean America off foreign oil, slow global warming and restore our agricultural economy has been breathtakingly fast.

From Time magazine's "Clean Energy Scam" cover story last month to scientific articles saying that growing fuel will actually increase global warming pollution, the imminent death of biofuel -- before it was fully born -- is being predicted everywhere.

Yet what has been lost in the debate is what many of us working in this area have known for years: Biofuels are not inherently "good" or "bad." It all depends on how and what fuels are grown.

Done wrong, biofuels are disastrous for our economy and environment. Done right, biofuels not only can fulfill their promise for agriculture, climate change and oil dependence, but they also can bolster our flagging auto industry. And therein lies an opportunity for Michigan.

(Click to read entire article)
4/23/2008
CleanSkies.tv
Former Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode, who now heads the Clean Skies Foundation in Washington, announced on the group's website that its new Internet-based television-style news show will debut today, Earth Day.

Bode, who resigned a year ago to become CEO of the foundation, is now based in Washington. The foundation was formed by Chesapeake Energy and its chairman, Aubrey McClendon, who also serves as chairman of the foundation. Bode and broadcaster Ron Black now host "Energy Matters," a series of brief reports, on radio station KTOK in Oklahoma City, and other stations.

One of those involved in the pioneering Internet news show is former KOCO-TV news anchor Tyler Suiters, who announced a week ago he had resigned to join Clean Skies TV in Washington. Suiters made his on-air debut this afternoon with a field report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge during primary anchor Susan McGinnis's segment.

Bode writes that the site will air energy news updates every hour and provide programming throughout the day at http://www.cleanskies.tv/. (This morning's programming included a panel discussion about the presidential candidates and their positions on energy with panelists from The Associated Press, The Hill and Reuters.)

Bode's announcement, and and more about the new programming, can be found at http://www.cleanskies.org/.
Bath utility proposal tabled
The village board Monday stepped back from its resolution to abolish the 76-year-old Public Utility Commission, which oversees the daily operations of Bath Electric Gas and Water Systems.

A 45-minute public hearing attended by nearly 200 village residents revealed strong local support for the Commission, and village trustees at its conclusion voted unanimously to table a resolution formalizing the Commission’s dissolution.

Former Mayor Larry Bates summarized opposition to dissolving the Commission, noting village board and Commission members have frequently clashed in the past.

“There’s absolutely nothing new ... about village trustees and Commission members being at loggerheads over something,” Bates said. In dissolving the Commission, he warned the board, “You’re getting ready to throw out the baby with the bath water.”

(Click to read entire article)
Corporate Social Responsibility and Energy: Lessons from Enron
“If there is one thing I have been impressed with over the last decades, it is that when the environmental community defines a number one priority, something happens. Not always something good—but something.”1
Dr. Kenneth L. Lay
Chairman, Enron Corporation,
June 1997

INTRODUCTION

Capitalism took the fall for Enron. Yet it is largely forgotten that this company had been a favorite of the environmental Left and an advocate/practitioner of the trendy notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Nonetheless, when the company collapsed in December 2001, Enron and its once-iconic chairman Ken Lay suddenly became Exhibit A against the teachings of Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and other proponents of self-interest and voluntary exchange. “The ideal of the unregulated market is flawed,” proclaimed business ethicist Marjorie Kelly in her Enron interpretation, “and it’s time we said goodbye to the invisible hand.”2 Princeton economist Paul Krugman predicted in the New York Times that the demise of Enron—an event that was bigger than 9-11 in his view—would sour society against free-market capitalism.3

Robert Kuttner took the argument a step further in BusinessWeek:

(Click to read entire essay)
Transport energy now 'No. 1 issue' facing U.S.
Energy, specifically transportation energy, is now "the No. 1 issue" facing the United States and its economy, the World Congress of the 103-year-old SAE International heard last week.

John Mizrock, principal deputy assistant secretary to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energytold a panel discussion in Detroit, the U.S. will shortly be spending "more than the rest of the world combined in developing alternative fuels."

The U.S. doesn't have much choice: "I think it is safe to say the U.S. economy is completely dependent on transportation," Mizrock told some of the more than 30,000 automotive engineers and industry executives attending the event.

The U.S. owns 25 per cent of the world's 900 million cars and light trucks (up from 70 million in 1960) and consumes 25 per cent of the world's oil, despite having only five per cent of the world's population. And it isn't one of the eight countries which controls the global oil economy.

(Click to read entire article)
U.S. Earth Day goes political and corporate
Google went green and so did dozens of comic strips while President George W. Bush planted a tree on Tuesday to mark Earth Day, an environmental event that has become increasingly political and corporate.

Thirty-eight years after Earth Day began as a series of grass-roots "teach-ins" about environmental conservation and pollution, April 22 has become an occasion to focus attention on human-generated climate change and the policies around it -- a topic not on the public mind in 1970.

The method for getting the message across has certainly evolved. Google.com's online search site featured a lush logo with letters made of moss-covered boulders, a tree sprouting from the "L" and a waterfall flowing beneath it. Clicking on the image led to a list of Earth Day-related sites.

(Click to read entire article)
Earth Day Cartoon
4/22/2008
DEC Joins Six Public and Private Organizations on North America’s Largest Climate Initiative
To celebrate Earth Day 2008, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today that DEC and six public and private organizations have signed on to a pioneering effort to track emissions that lead to climate change. The “Founding Reporters” participating in The Climate Registry’s nationwide initiative now include DEC, the cities of Syracuse and Rochester, New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, New York Power Authority, and private businesses Ecology and Environment, Inc. and RiverWright Energy, LLC.

“I am proud that private and public organizations are continuing New York State’s leadership in the fight against climate change,” Grannis said, “Participants in The Climate Registry have agreed to inventory greenhouse gas emissions, have the inventories verified by a third party and report the information publicly. These are critical steps in making the right decisions to achieve real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Climate Registry, North America’s largest climate initiative, is a not-for-profit organization that has established a common system for state and tribally recognized greenhouse gas emissions records. On April 2, 2008, the Registry released its General Reporting Protocol, which defines the methods that will be used to calculate, verify, and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions.

(Click to read entire announcement)
Commissioner Glynn Announces Environmental Initiatives
On the eve of this year’s Earth Day commemoration, New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Astrid Glynn today announced a series of environmental initiatives, including a charge to the newly created Climate Change/Energy Efficiency Team to develop transportation policy strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by the department and the state’s transportation sector.

“Our environment is influenced by the transportation choices we make,” Commissioner Glynn said. “The transportation system we envision will protect and enhance the environment, while reducing our carbon footprint, conserving natural resources and improving the economy and quality of life for all New Yorkers.”

Commissioner Glynn, who is scheduled to address Albany-area employees about the department’s environmental initiatives tomorrow, also announced expansion of the department’s use of “living snow fences” to control blowing and drifting snow along highways, the posting of information about trees on the department Web site, continuation of the department’s Clean Air New York initiative and the development of informational posters about department research programs that benefit the environmental.

“By making environmental protection a consideration in everything we do, the New York State Department of Transportation is striving to help its employees and all of our transportation partners become better stewards of the environment,” Commissioner Glynn said.

The Climate Change/Energy Efficiency Team was initiated in September 2007 to establish new policies that will lead to a reduction in the air pollutants responsible for global warming. Five work groups have been established to make recommendations for action. In the process, the department has committed to:

(Click to read entire announcement)
Iberdrola's bid for Energy East on hold
MADRID, Spain — Iberdrola SA said Monday it expects to decide in June whether to buy Energy East Corp., which means the long-running takeover proposal would be a year old when it's finally resolved.

The Spanish utility and Energy East, the parent of Rochester Gas and Electric, announced their $4.5 billion deal in June 2007, acknowledging that many approvals were needed for the transaction to go through.

While shareholders and several New England states where Energy East does business have approved the takeover, the issue has slowed to a near-halt before the New York Public Service Commission.

Iberdrola said Monday that it doesn't expect the PSC to set out its final conditions for the transaction until June. Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Sanchez Galan said last week that the PSC's conditions could cause Iberdrola to rethink the deal.

The Spanish company has tried "repeatedly" to negotiate with the PSC, Jose Luis del Valle, strategy director of Iberdrola, said in Madrid on Monday.

"We expect a ruling in June," said del Valle. "If the conditions are reasonable, we will close the purchase in the same month."

New York is testing how badly Iberdrola, owner of wind power turbines on three continents, wants to grow in the world's largest energy market. The PSC staff insists that Iberdrola must sell its existing wind farm in the state, on top of five plants Iberdrola agreed to sell in March.

Separately Monday, Iberdrola said first-quarter operating profit jumped 66 percent.
4/21/2008
Mother Jones' Energy Issue: The Nuclear Option, Fossil Fools, Poop Power and More

The blaring headline on the front cover of the May/June issue really says it all: "It's behind the war, the recession, the ice caps: if we don't confront our energy crisis, we're screwed." As far as "green" issues of major/independent news publications go - and we've certainly seen our fair share over the last few months (Vanity Fair, Time, NYT and The New Republic to name a few) - MoJo's effort stands out as one of the best.
PSC to take up and vote on Iberdrola acquition of Energy East
PSC LISTS AGENDA FOR WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2008

PLEASE NOTE:
MEETING WILL BE BROADCAST ON THE INTERNET
- VIDEOCASTING TO COMMISSION’S NEW YORK CITY OFFICES ALSO AVAILABLE -

Albany, NY – 4/18/08 – The Public Service Commission announced today the agenda for its regular meeting starting at 10:30 A.M., Wednesday, April 23, 2008, in the 19th Floor Board Room of its offices located at Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York.

Individuals in New York City wishing to view the Commission's meeting may do so in the Board Room on the 4th floor of the Commission's offices at 90 Church Street, New York City. The videocasting will be for viewing and listening purposes only. Pursuant to procedures established by the building management, anyone planning to observe the meeting in the New York City Board Room must notify Jan Goorsky at 212-417-2378, 48 hours in advance of the meeting, and must be prepared to show valid photo identification upon arrival at 90 Church Street.

In addition to the video broadcasting of the meeting in the Commission’s New York City offices, the meeting will be broadcast live on the Internet. The Internet broadcast can be viewed through NewYorkAdmin by accessing http://www.NewYorkAdmin.com from a computer capable of using RealPlayer. RealPlayer can be downloaded from the NewYorkAdmin Web site.

The Commission has no financial interest in the Web site, its management, maintenance or administration.

07-M-0906 IBERDROLA, S.A., ENERGY EAST CORPORATION, RGS ENERGY GROUP, INC., GREENE ACQUISITION CAPITAL, INC., NEW YORK STATE ELECTRIC & GAS CORPORATION and ROCHESTER GAS & ELECTRIC CORPORATION – Joint Pet. for Approval of the Acquisition of Energy East Corporation by Iberdrola.

(Click to read entire announcement)
New York has regulatory labyrinth
It's no secret that New York has a reputation for being a formidable foe in the regulatory ring. And while oversight is a necessary function of government, too much can be cumbersome.

The latest example is playing out in the acquisition of Energy East by Spanish energy conglomerate Iberdrola. Despite securing all necessary approvals in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine, New York continues to impose additional conditions.

As a result, Iberdrola's chairman said last week at its annual shareholder meeting that the company may end up reconsidering the purchase. That would be unfortunate, considering what seem like numerous benefits the wind energy powerhouse could bring to the table.

Meanwhile, the back and forth between Iberdrola and the Public Service Commission staff is beginning to raise eyebrows locally.

(Click to read entire article)
4/20/2008
NY Governor outlines initial steps to meet downstate energy needs
Governor David A. Paterson today outlined the initial steps his administration will take to meet the growing demand for energy on Long Island and the New York City metropolitan region. He also made public his opposition to the Broadwater Liquefied Natural Gas project proposed for Long Island Sound. Governor Paterson made his remarks today to a bipartisan group of elected officials, energy industry representatives and environmental and civic leaders.

“One of my goals as Governor is to protect Long Island Sound, by preserving it as a valuable estuary, an economic engine for the region, and a key component to making Long Island’s quality of life one of the best in the country,” said Governor Paterson. “Broadwater does not pass that test. Shame on us if we can’t develop a responsible energy policy without sacrificing one of our greatest natural and economic resources.”

The Governor cited several concerns with the proposal:

(Click to read entire article)
4/19/2008
Republicans Ask for Investigation Into Carbon Offset Programs
Two top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee today asked committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., and U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., to open an investigation into carbon offset programs.

U.S. Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and John Shimkus, R-Ill., ranking member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, asked Dingell and Stupak, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, to investigate various aspects of the programs, focusing on the lack of oversight in offset marketing schemes.

Recent reporting in The Wall Street Journal indicates that the fast-growing market for carbon offset programs may be producing little real gain in greenhouse gas reduction.

“A key concern is carbon ‘offsets’ that would have happened anyway are being sold as additional reductions, undercutting the whole point of the program,” Barton and Shimkus wrote. “If this is the case, the only additional greening taking place may be in the bank accounts of the people selling the offsets.”

A copy of the letter to Dingell and Stupak can be [downloaded] here:
Landfill Gas Capture: Cutting Emissions and Saving Money
Proven technologies are available at a commercial scale to significantly and cheaply cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions1 (See Climate Facts). The well-respected consulting firm McKinsey & Company found in their recent analysis that the U.S. industrial sector alone can cut its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 23% or more from projected levels in 2030, using existing technologies.

How? Some companies are capturing non-CO2 greenhouse gases from landfills. Methane, the main gas in landfill emissions, is 25 times more potent in terms of warming potential than CO2 and it's released from landfills across the country as a natural byproduct as waste decomposes. Although normally lost to the atmosphere, some companies have started to turn these emissions into fuel - reducing potent methane emissions and fuel costs.

(Click to read entire article)
Bush Remarks on Climate
Tomorrow represents -- representatives of the world's major economies will gather in Paris to discuss climate change. Here in Washington, the debate about climate change is intensifying. Today, I'll share some views on this important issue to advance discussions both at home and abroad.

Climate change involves complicated science and generates vigorous debate. Many are concerned about the effect of climate change on our environment. Many are concerned about the effect of climate change policies on our economy. I share these concerns, and I believe they can be sensibly reconciled.

(Click to read entire article)
Global Warming Tax Hikes Headed Your Way
America is in the throes of a major housing and financial downturn, soaring food and energy costs, rising unemployment and near recession. But many legislators and bureaucrats are falling all over themselves to restrict fossil fuel use, advance climate change legislation – and thereby increase oil imports, energy prices, and impacts on families and businesses.

Even President Bush has called for action on climate change. “Reasonable and responsible” legislation is needed, the White House asserts, to avert a “regulatory nightmare” that from overlapping state and federal rules. One shudders to think the “preferred solution” could be a costly federal regulatory nightmare of emission mandates and hidden taxes in the form of cap-and-trade schemes.

(Click to read entire article)
Public Service argues utility takeover proposal
A utility takeover proposal winding its way through the state’s regulatory process will potentially impact the New York operations of one of the world’s largest wind power developers.

Spanish utility company Iberdrola SA wants to acquire regional utility Energy East Corp. for $4.6 billion. It wants to retain its wind power interests as it does so, and build new wind farms as well. Regulators object to this on anti-competitive grounds.

Negotiations between staff of the Department of Public Service and Iberdrola failed to reach a resolution in March, sending the matter to a judge.

In court briefs filed earlier this week before Administrative Law Judge Rafael Epstein, staff of the Department of Public Service argued that if Iberdrola is allowed to continue to own wind energy farms within the electrical service territories it would acquire from Energy East Corp. it could enable Iberdrola to exert “vertical market power” over the price of wholesale electricity generated by wind farms in that area.

(Click to read entire article)
4/18/2008
Looking Forward, an Energy Scramble or a Blueprint?
Like many institutions and individuals, Shell, the oil giant, is trying to divine what lies ahead in a world with limited energy options, a fast-growing energy appetite, and a climate system almost assuredly disrupted should carbon dioxide emissions from today’s fuels of choice continue their seemingly inexorable rise.

Earlier this month, the company’s forecasters produced two energy scenarios for the next two generations, which they call “the world of scramble” and the “world of blueprints.”

Scenarios can be a useful thought experiment.

(Click to read entire article)
Kansas coal dispute seen as important for national policy
Whatever course the U.S. takes on global warming in the next few years, national groups expect a dispute in Kansas over two proposed coal-fired power plants to play a crucial role.

Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' administration has blocked the plants' construction since October over their potential carbon dioxide emissions. The Republican-controlled Legislature is trying to clear the way for them and strip her top environmental regulator of some of his power.

(Click to read entire article)
Where our energy dollars go
Energy companies are airing commercials extolling their efforts to invest in alternative forms of energy. Lawmakers say they are committing more federal dollars to renewable energy technology. But sidestepping all the rhetoric, how much does the U.S. actually invest in energy research and incentives, and is the investment having any dampening effect on the domestic demand for high-priced energy imports?

The statistical arm of the Energy Department recently provided some answers with the release of a 274-page report laying out where taxpayer dollars go when it comes to energy investments.

The federal government spent roughly $16.6 billion in fiscal year 2007 on energy subsidies, according to the Energy Information Administration. This total is more than double the $8.2 billion (in 2007 dollars) spent in fiscal year 1999, the study said.

(Click to read entire article)
4/17/2008
Editorial: Energy plan must consider whole state
The executive order issued last week by Gov. David Paterson to create a comprehensive state energy plan is long overdue and needs input from all localities so that the resulting policy doesn’t pit one part of the state against another.

Instead, the resulting plan should carefully assess the state’s future energy needs and determine the best way to meet those needs with the least negative impact on the people.

Paterson ordered the establishment of a state energy planning board to work on such a plan, which has been lacking since the old policy expired Jan. 1, 2003. The policy was restructured in 1998, when utilities were required to sell off their generation facilities and a wholesale competitive market for electricity was created. Prior to that, investor-owned utilities had owned electricity generation plants and transmission lines and distributed energy to customers.

The state has been without an official energy policy since one expired Jan. 1, 2003. The lack of policy is one reason why some upstate communities now face a threat from the power line being proposed by New York Regional Interconnect. The proposed 1,200-megawatt line would run from Marcy to Orange County and would cut through the very heart of this region.

(Click to read entire editoral)
Iwo Jima Veterans Blast Time's 'Special Environmental Issue' Cover

For only the second time in 85 years, Time magazine abandoned the traditional red border it uses on its cover. The occasion – to push more global warming alarmism.

The cover of the April 21 issue of Time took the famous Iwo Jima photograph by Joe Rosenthal of the Marines raising the American flag and replaced the flag with a tree. The cover story by Bryan Walsh calls green “the new red, white and blue.”

Donald Mates, an Iwo Jima veteran, told the Business & Media Institute on April 17 that using that photograph for that cause was a “disgrace.”

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Mates said. “Whoever did it is going to hell. That’s a mortal sin. God forbid he runs into a Marine that was an Iwo Jima survivor.”

Mates also said making the comparison of World War II to global warming was erroneous and disrespectful.

(Click to read entire article)
Massa ahead of Kuhl — in funds
Democrat Eric Massa continues to stay ahead of Congressman John “Randy” Kuhl, R-29, in fund-raising efforts for the 2008 election in November.

According to campaign finance filings released this week, Massa has raised $898,780 through the first quarter of the 2008 finance cycle, compared to $627,561 for Kuhl. In terms of cash on hand, Massa has $565,320, while Kuhl has $365,722, a difference of $199,598.

“Once again I am humbled by the overwhelming support we’ve received from our grassroots friends," Massa said in a prepared statement. "As I’ve said before, this campaign is about creating living wage jobs and lowering taxes for the middle class families in Western New York.
“Ours is a campaign of the people, not the oil lobbyists, and that is why I have continued to reject corporate contributions,” he added. “There is a new way forward in Western New York and come November, we will bring a higher standard of leadership to Washington.”

(Click to read entire article)
Winner proposing ‘easier EZ’ legislation
State Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira, has announced he has sponsored legislation to revamp the Empire Zone program to better benefit upstate’s rural communities.

Winner said the legislation will allow for “flexibility and streamlining” of the current program so rural areas and small businesses can get a greater benefit.

“New York’s Empire Zone program can do a better job of encouraging economic growth in rural, upstate New York,” he said in a prepared statement. “Jobs are jobs, and we can make New York’s investment in Empire Zones much more useful in building a solid, sustainable foundation of small businesses in upstate communities.”

The legislation was based on a 2006 survey conducted by the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, a committee Winner chairs, the senator said in his press release.

(Click to read entire article)
FERC statement on market-based rates for wholesale sales of electric energy
Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher's statement on market-based rates for wholesale sales of electric energy, capacity and ancillary services by public utilities.

“Today, the Commission takes final action to reform its market based rate rules to strengthen our regulatory program and prevent the exercise of market power in wholesale power sales. This is the final step in a process that began in May 2006.

By preventing the exercise of market power, this order will strengthen competitive wholesale power markets, especially in the bilateral markets. This order also reflects our commitment to continuous improvement in competitive markets.

We have steadily strengthened the market based rate program in recent years, and FERC has made a series of important changes to this program going back to 2001. This rulemaking is only the latest reform, although arguably the most important.

It is critical that FERC have effective oversight over wholesale power markets in order to guard the consumer from exploitation. I believe we have developed the capacity to effectively regulate competitive wholesale power markets.

(Click to read entire press release)
4/16/2008
President's Remarks Recognize Political Reality of Coming Action on Climate Change
The test for the administration will be whether it ultimately supports a bill that puts a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions, like the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191), which is expected to come to a vote in the Senate in early June. The bill would cap and reduce emissions roughly 19 percent below today’s levels by 2020 and 70 percent by 2050, putting the U.S. on a path to reduce emissions far enough and fast enough to help avoid the worst consequences of unchecked global warming.

(Click to read entire press release)
Grants awarded to 52 land-trust organizations
The state Department of Economic Conservation Wednesday released $825,000 in grant funding to conservation-minded land trusts.

Fifty-two grants were awarded to 40 local and regional land-trust organizations to spur conservation and smart development across New York State, according to the Land Trust Alliance, a private group that works with the state to preserve open space.

"These grants are helping these community based organizations protect these lands before they are lost forever," said Ethan Winter of the Land Trust Alliance.

A land trust is an agreement between a landowner and the state that the land will remain protected forever, Winter said.

There are a total of 90 land trusts in the state that protect 2 million acres of land, Winter said. Nationally, there are 1,700 land trusts that protect 36 million acres.

(Click to read entire article)
Bush: US to halt greenhouse gas rise by 2025
President George W. Bush Wednesday called for growth in US greenhouse gas emissions to be capped by 2025, but was attacked for his "grossly deficient" strategy against climate change.

Despite having abandoned the Kyoto treaty on climate change, Bush said the world's biggest polluting nation had shown it was serious about reducing growth in planet-warming gases such as carbon dioxide.

"Today, I am announcing a new national goal: to stop the growth of US greenhouse gas emissions by 2025," he said in prepared remarks from a speech, without giving a base year to compare any reductions.

Bush said to reach the 2025 goal, "we will need to more rapidly slow the growth of power-sector greenhouse gas emissions so that they peak within 10 to 15 years, and decline thereafter."

But the text did not detail new legal mandates on industry to bring down emissions, and warned Congress against passing new legislation that might "impose tremendous costs on our economy and American families."

(Click to read entire report)
Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy Markets 2007
In May 2007, Senator Lamar Alexander asked the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to develop an analysis of Federal energy subsidies focusing on subsidies to electricity production. Senator Alexander also specified that the analysis should be limited to subsidies provided by the Federal government, those that are energy-specific, and those that provide a financial benefit with an identifiable budget impact. Federal energy subsidies and interventions discussed in the body of this report take four principal forms:

• Direct Expenditures. These are Federal programs that directly affect the energy industry and for which the Federal government provides funds that ultimately result in a direct payment to producers or consumers of energy.
• Tax Expenditures. Tax expenditures are provisions in the Federal tax code that reduce the tax liability of firms or individuals who take specified actions that affect energy production, consumption, or conservation in ways deemed to be in the public interest.
• Research and Development (R&D). Federal R&D spending focuses on a variety of goals, such as increasing U.S. energy supplies, or improving the efficiency of various energy production, transformation, and end-use technologies. R&D expenditures do not directly affect current energy production and prices, but, if successful, they could affect future production and prices.
• Electricity programs serving targeted categories of electricity consumers in several regions of the country. Through the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs), which include the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and three smaller PMAs, the Federal government brings to market large amounts of electricity, stipulating that “preference in the sale of such power and energy shall be given to public bodies and cooperatives.” The Federal government also indirectly supports portions of the electricity industry through loans and loan guarantees made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

With the exception of the Federal electricity programs, this report measures subsidies and support on the basis of the cost of the programs to the Federal budget provided in budget documents. Support associated with Federal electricity programs is measured by comparing the actual cost of funds made available to these entities to EIA estimates of the cost of funds that they might otherwise have incurred in the absence of Federal support.

(Click to read Summary of Findings)
ChangeWave Survey Points to a Reduction in U.S. Corporate Energy Use -- Solar and LEDs Set to Benefit Most
There is a huge shift taking place in the way corporate America is using and thinking about energy, according to the latest survey findings from ChangeWave.

The March survey of 1,400 individuals knowledgeable about their company's energy spending, shows more than one-in-five (22%) say their company is Very Concerned about reducing its corporate energy usage and 35% say they are Somewhat Concerned.

The high level of unease over energy usage is helping bring about a transformational shift in U.S. corporate energy consumption - with an astonishing one-in-four respondents (26%) reporting their company has used Less energy than normal over the past six months.

(Click to read entire report)
Tax breaks for industry make way into housing bill
Senators proclaimed bipartisan resolve two weeks ago to help homeowners in danger of foreclosure. But while a bill they approved last week would take modest steps toward that goal, it would also provide billions of dollars in tax breaks for automakers, airlines, alternative-energy producers and other struggling industries, as well as home builders.

The tax provisions of the Foreclosure Prevention Act, which consumer groups and labor leaders say amount to government handouts to big business, show how the credit crunch, while rattling the housing and financial markets, has created beneficiaries in the capital's power corridors.

It also shows how legislation with a populist imperative offers a chance for lobbyists to press their clients' interests.

(Click to read entire article)
4/15/2008
NEW NOISE STUDY OF MAPLE RIDGE WIND FARM

April 15, 2008

TO: Town Council Members
Town Planning Board Members
Residents of Clayton
Residents of Orleans
Residents of Jefferson County
Jefferson County Legislators
Members of ECCO
Interested Parties for Residents Living Next Turbines

ECCO has been given the attached copies of the new noise study “Accuracy of Model Predications and Effects of Atmospheric Stability on Wind Turbine Noise at Maple Ridge Wind Power Facility, Lowville, New York – 2007 “. Also attached is a copy of Mr. Clifford Schneider’s letter to Mr. Steve Tomasik, Energy Projects and Management, NYS DEC.

ECCO asks that you take the time to read this document. The Clayton and Orleans Industrial Horse Creek Wind Power Project is the same energy company that owns the Maple Ridge Wind Farm, PPM Energy. The Clayton and Orleans turbine settings are precisely the same turbine settings as those in the Maple Ridge Wind Farm, 1250 feet from a resident’s home.

The chief complaint of residents living next to turbines is the noise impacts from the turbines both audible and inaudible sound. These machines are harmful to health and welfare if not set correctly. It is important that the turbines be set using the sound measurements from resident’s property lines to protect residents from these side effects. The NYS DEC has noise assessment guidelines for use by Townships to help protect residents. The Towns of Clayton and Orleans local law/ordinance for Wind Energy Facilities is not using these guidelines. To date the NYS DEC has not taken an active role as part of their review process of wind farm projects on the noise analysis impacts. NYS DEC must start becoming active in this part of the permitting process of wind energy projects. Our Town leaders continue to ignore their resident’s letters to change the local law then it is time for residents in all of Jefferson County to write to the NYS DEC telling them to become active in the review of the noise analysis from the turbines proposed in wind projects. We ask you to write to Mr. Tomasik asking the NYS DEC to be active in this role and that projects should use the recommended guidelines set by NYS DEC on Noise Assessment for placement of wind turbines.

To date Residents in the Townships of Clayton and Orleans are continuing to ask the Town Councils (they control the local law/ordinance) of these two Townships to amend their Local Law/Ordinance of 2007 for Wind Energy Facilities to use the NYS DEC Noise Assessment Guidelines using residents property lines. This past year ECCO has brought forward to these Townships factual documented information on harmful side effects as well as we have provided engineers and acoustic experienced engineers to speak to these Townships that the present local law/ordinance is harmful to residents in the Horse Creek Wind Farm Project if it is not changed. We residents must insist on a “responsible” local law/ordinance be in place before the turbines go up. There are over 2,500 residents affected by these 62 turbines in Horse Creek.

Please distribute these documents and ask your families, friends and neighbors to write on behalf of all residents in Jefferson County who will live within and one and half mile from all industrial wind energy projects here.

Thank you
ECCO
RG&E purchase may be in trouble, Iberdrola chief says
The purchase of Rochester Gas & Electric’s parent company by a Spanish energy giant may be in jeopardy.

Ibedrola S.A. Chairman Ignacio Sanchez Galan said this week that unreasonable conditions imposed by the New York state Public Service Commission might cause the company to reconsider its plans to purchase Maine-based Energy East Corp. for $4.5 billion.

Iberdrola already has taken some sizable steps to gain New York’s approval for the deal. On March 14, the company agreed to several Public Service Commission conditions, including putting up for bid and selling the RG&E Russell Station power generating plant in Greece and four other plants.

The company also agreed to spend more than $100 million over the next three years developing wind-generated power in New York state and to review its remediation plans and schedules for its Beebee Station and Andrews Street site with the city of Rochester.
Ethanol and bio-diesel: Fuels or threats to food security? by Abdul Waheed Bhutto
The world is going through the strongest surge in energy prices as crude oil prices have soared to more than $100 per barrel. The high price of fossil fuels, environmental concerns, and geopolitical instability in some major oil producing nations have spurred intense global interest in alternative fuels, especially from renewable energy sources.

Developments in solar panels and wind farms favored by eco-activist groups have been severely hampered in developing countries by their high initial costs. Nuclear power for developing countries is still viewed with suspicion; Crop-based fuel production has been the main focus of interest in developing as well as developed countries. In US and European countries ethanol and biodiesel are made from food or inedible crops, including corn, sugarcane, maize, cassava, rapeseed (canola oil), soybeans, and palm oil.

Large scale production of biofuel has put tremendous pressure on global grain prices. In the short- and medium-term, ethanol can do little to affect oil consumption, but the diversion of grain from food to fuel has already exerted a widespread and profound ripple effect on various food commodities.

(Click to read entire article)
Against human prosperity
Coal-fired power plants provide half of this country's electricity. Half. Considering coal is by far our cheapest fossil fuel, imagine how expensive -- and unreliable -- electrical power would be if every coal-fired plant in the United States were shut down and use of the resource were banned.

Such a scenario, which would lay waste to America's economy and quality of life, is the stuff of dreams for environmentalists. And they're doing everything they can to make it a reality.

The greens have a network of well-paid lawyers and activists dedicated to hunting down and killing every new coal-fired power plant proposal in the United States. In Nevada and every other state, they attend all public hearings in force, carefully track regulatory and approval processes, apply political pressure at every step, and ultimately sue. Coupled with one of the most relentless and effective lobbying coalitions in Washington, environmentalists are preventing the expansion of the country's power supply, making energy increasingly unaffordable for the masses.

(Click to read entire editorial)
Time has come for renewable energy
Our region is participating in this green growth. Since 2000, New York state west of Utica experienced approximately $1 billion in renewable energy capital investment. More than half this investment came from wind farms, led by the Maple Ridge project near Watertown. Buffalo now is the only major U.S. city with a wind farm within sight of downtown, and wind turbines are popping up like flowers in the Southern Tier. The first ethanol plant in the Northeast, Western NY Energy, came online near Medina in 2007, and Northeast Biofuels, a former Miller Brewing plant near Fulton, Oswego County, will begin production within months. The first biodiesel production plant in New York, Northern Biodiesel, will start in 2008 next to the Harbec Plastics wind turbine on Route 104 in Ontario. There are more than a dozen landfills in the region capturing methane gas to generate electricity, including Monroe County's project at the Mill Seat Landfill.

(Click to read entire editorial)
Help Us Find the Web's Best Stories on the Environment
How often have you come across a great story about climate change, sustainable energy or biodiversity, and wished you could share it with others who care deeply about the subject? This week, in preparation for Earth Day, you have your chance: Scientific American is partnering with NewsTrust, a not-for-profit Web site designed to "help people find good journalism online" by encouraging its readers to submit and review articles from across the Web.

We'd like to invite you to participate in this partnership by signing up for NewsTrust and submitting articles that relate to the environment. Everything from basic research findings to policy and lifestyle coverage is fair game.

Here's how it works: Once you sign up, the fastest way to get started is to go to the NewsTrust Environment section and click on the "For Review" tab. Under this tab you'll find stories submitted by other NewsTrust users in the Environment category that need reviews before they can appear on the NewsTrust home page or in the window that will appear on all environment stories on SciAm.com this week.

(Click to read entire item)
Canadians Want More Protection Of Resources From U.S. Use
Ottawa, Canada (AHN) - A poll conducted by Environics and slated to be released Tuesday by the Council of Canadians issues a warning call to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to protect the country's resources vis-a-vis the United States tapping of local water and energy.

The release of the poll, held April 7 to 10, is timed with the the meeting of Harper, U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon next week in New Orleans for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America leaders' conference.

The council is alarmed by the secrecy behind the high-level talks. Maude Barlow, council chair, told the Toronto Star, "It's been four years since the launch of the SPP and while corporations have been given a seat at the negotiating table, the Canadian government has never asked the public how they feel about it."

(Click to read entire article)
4/14/2008
How The Energy Revolution Affects You!

I think we all know now that there is a significant change occurring in how we will be looking at energy in years to come, what I have previously called the Energy Revolution. So, who are the players, the leaders, and how will this revolution impact existing markets and businesses?

The most relevant meaning of “revolution” from the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is “a sudden, radical, or complete change”. So in a revolution, things change significantly. The root of the word is revolve, so it’s clear that we’re talking about a 180-degree change; it’s worth keeping this in mind for the Energy Revolution we are witnessing right now.

The Energy Revolution follows on a number of industrial revolutions that we have seen over the past few centuries.
Could Chemical Solar Power Beat Photovoltaics?
Could a vat of chemicals be a more effective way to harness the sun's energy than those fancy, intricately crafted silicon wafers? We're not sure, but Professor Chaurasia of the University of Birmingham, UK, was telling me about that possibility earlier in the month.

He's developing a unique process in which propanol is dehydrogenated using a catalyst and clean, solar energy. The hydrogen then generates electricity - courtesy of a Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell. The byproduct of dehydrogenated propanol -- acetone -- and the protons (H+) and electrons (e-) then all recombine to form more propanol, which is then ready to start the project all over again.

Very simply, it's a way of harnessing the instability of propanol to push electrons onto the grid. It's not a new way of creating hydrogen, it's a new way of harnessing the sun's power using the versatility of hydrogen, and the instability of propanol. Indeed, it's pretty genius.

But the question of economics remains. Current solar cells are getting cheaper and more efficient every day. And though Chaurasia thinks that his chemical cells could be competitive, that will depend on several factors. The propanol is cheap, PEM fuel cells and titanium catalysts are not, so we will have to wait for these "solar fuel cells" to scale up before making any real judgments.

Chaurasia's most recent paper was published in the International Journal of Sustainble Energy.
Read our studies!
The purpose of Free New York is to free New York from big government, political machines and special interests, because 45 straight years of economic and cultural decline are enough!

To achieve that goal, three tasks must be accomplished:

1. change this region’s political mindset;
2. develop specific proposals for real change; and,
3. install officials willing to support those proposals.

As a nonpartisan group, we cannot do number three.

We have fulfilled points 1 and 2 with 16 news alerts and five major policy reports. The 17th news alert will be published shortly.

Please read them and send them to your friends and family. You will find that we have gone way beyond comfortable but meaningless cliches to in fact develop specific proposals for real change.

Our next study will demolish the latest cliche and fad: running government like a business.
White House weighing new U.S. CO2 proposal: sources
The Bush administration is debating whether to embrace a mandatory system to control U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and could make an announcement as early as this week, industry sources said on Monday.

It was unclear what form the new plan could take, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the fluid nature of the deliberations.

"Clearly, the White House is weighing some new options for addressing climate policy beyond the approaches it has taken to date," one industry source said. "All signs suggest that something is in the works."

(Click to read entire article)
4/13/2008
Nonprofit to turn gas into energy
David Hallquist is enamored of the concept of converting trash into energy, but he is stepping away from that plan -- for now.

Hallquist, CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, is steering from gasifying municipal waste and dry sewage -- and will instead start with wood chips, leaves and switch grass. He has come to the realization that public sentiment is against using waste products as fuel.

"Certainly, we thought garbage was a great solution, but that's not what the residents of the state of Vermont want. ... We are changing our direction at this point," Hallquist said Wednesday from his office at the electric co-op in Johnson.

But, he said, "We are leaving open the option to experiment with municipal waste in the future."

(Click to read entire article)
Let's get off our duffs on energy policy - Congressman Don Young
“I ask my colleagues, please quit buying this concept that we are going to do it with windmills and with sun power. Yes, we could use those things. Yes, we ought to use nuclear, and yes, we ought to use hydro. The wheel of energy should be developed, and this Congress has not done it! Has not done it. We have this idea that we are going to solve the problem. Look at the energy bill we passed this year through Leadership. It produced nothing. Period. Nothing. That’s why the consumer today, in America, is going to that gas pump, and by the way, it’s a tax to him. Every man, woman, and child is paying (nearly) $2,000 a year to Saudi Arabia and countries such as that because we sit idly on our hands. On our hands doing nothing.

“Madam Chairman, I suggest respectfully that this Congress has to wake up! I listen to the political rhetoric of all of the presidential candidates, and nobody is addressing the energy issue other than the fact that we can’t burn fossil fuels because we are losing the icecap and the polar bears are in danger.

“Think about this for a moment. Think about the American public and the need for economy-based, fossil fuel (consumed) because it moves an object. We must address this. I’m asking my colleagues to understand that. Quit pandering! Quit pandering to the interest groups that really are trying to socially structure our nation through that.

“We have the fossil fuel; it is here! It should be developed! We should give the opportunity instead of restricting it, and that’s what we’ve done in this Congress. In my state alone we have ANWR. It’s passed this House 12 times. It passed the Senate once and Bill Clinton vetoed it. It’s got about 36 billion barrels of oil available 74 miles away from an existing pipeline. And this Congress will not step forth and address that issue alone because they say it’s going to hurt the environment, 74 miles away from the existing pipeline.

(Click to read entire remarks on the floor of Congress)
N.Y to develop energy board, plan
An executive order by Gov. David Paterson establishing a state energy planning board and authorizing the creation of a comprehensive state energy plan raised the question locally of whether a new policy could put a stop to New York Regional Interconnect's power line proposal.

But a top state energy official said the new board and future policy would not have a direct effect on the proposal.

“This planning process will have no impact on NYRI,” said Paul DeCotis, the state Deputy Secretary for Energy and the chairman of the new planning board. “NYRI already has a filing before the Public Service Commission under Article 7 of Public Service Law, and it's undergoing a review.”

(Click to read entire article)
The Audacity of Environmental Optimism
April 12, 2008
Television Review | 'Human Footprint'
Americans as Addicts of Consumerism
By ED BARK

What pigs we are.

Or to put it even more directly, the “average American” consumes 1.7 tons of pork in a lifetime, according to one of the myriad facts and figures in “Human Footprint” on the National Geographic Channel.

This two-hour production, having its premiere on Sunday, with Elizabeth Vargas of ABC News as anchor, is never more than a commercial break away from another armload of weighty statistics.

(Click to read entire report)
4/12/2008
H.R. 3221: New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act (Vote On Passage)
4/11/2008
PATERSON OUTLINES INITIAL STEPS TO MEET DOWNSTATE ENERGY NEEDS
Governor Opposes Broadwater, Outlines Steps to Meet Growing Energy DemandCites Several Environmental and Safety Concerns with Broadwater.

Governor David A. Paterson today outlined the initial steps his administration will take to meet the growing demand for energy on Long Island and the New York City metropolitan region. He also made public his opposition to the Broadwater Liquefied Natural Gas project proposed for Long Island Sound. Governor Paterson made his remarks today to a bipartisan group of elected officials, energy industry representatives and environmental and civic leaders.

“One of my goals as Governor is to protect Long Island Sound, by preserving it as a valuable estuary, an economic engine for the region, and a key component to making Long Island’s quality of life one of the best in the country,” said Governor Paterson. “Broadwater does not pass that test. Shame on us if we can’t develop a responsible energy policy without sacrificing one of our greatest natural and economic resources.”

The Governor cited several concerns with the proposal:

. It would be the first time in the history of Long Island Sound that a section of open water this size was handed over to a private company to the exclusion of the public. Privatizing open water would be fundamentally wrong and serve as a dangerous precedent for industrializing a body of water that people have spent years and millions of dollars trying to clean up.
. The facility and associated pipeline and tankers would disrupt commercial and recreational fishing – disrupting a way of life on the Sound and potentially putting families out of business.
. The project does not guarantee low-cost gas to Long Island.
The project is not needed in the Sound – other alternatives exist. The Governor believes the State can both meet its energy demands and preserve one of New York State’s most important natural and economic resources. It does not have to be one or the other.
. The Governor went on to outline a set of initial steps he would be taking to develop comprehensive alternatives:

State Energy Planning Board Executive Order: To immediately start planning for the future, the Governor announced an Executive Order to establish a State Energy Planning Board charged with preparing a State Energy Plan. The Board will consist of representatives from the major energy, environmental, economic and transportation agencies and will be headed by Deputy Secretary for Energy Paul DeCotis. The State’s energy planning statute expired in 2003 and the State has not had an Energy Plan since, despite the advances in technology, science and the reality of global warming.

Efficiency Initiatives: To reduce the demand for energy, the Governor has directed the State’s two major power authorities to aggressively pursue energy conservation. To that end, he announced that the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is preparing a $1 billion, 10-year “Efficiency Long Island” initiative to reduce electricity demand on Long Island. He also announced that the New York Power Authority has committed to almost doubling its conservation budget to $1.4 billion through 2015 to reduce electricity use by government buildings and schools throughout the State. The Governor also announced that his administration will be exploring how to integrate natural gas efficiency measures into its overall efforts to reduce electricity demand 15 percent below projected levels by 2015.

Increasing Supply: The Governor will begin aggressively pursuing increased gas pipeline capacity to Long Island and the downstate region, as well as examining alternative natural gas proposals, including LNG. He also announced that LIPA will be issuing an RFP for a major source of solar power for Long Island. As Lieutenant Governor, Governor Paterson chaired the State Renewable Energy Task Force and this RFP was one of its recommendations.

“We must accept the challenge of developing comprehensive alternatives to meet the growing demand for energy on Long Island and throughout the State. One of my other goals as Governor is to address high energy costs,” said Governor Paterson. “By both reducing the amount of energy demand, and aggressively pursuing new responsible supply, we can get our State on a path toward lower energy costs, economic revitalization, and a cleaner, healthier environment.”
Gas Plant in L.I. Sound Is Rejected
In his first major policy decision on the environment, Gov. David A. Paterson on Thursday blocked the nation’s first floating liquefied natural gas plant, which had been proposed for Long Island Sound. Moving ahead on the $700 million plant, he said, would put a large section of the Sound off limits to boaters and would not guarantee low-cost gas for Long Island.

“One of my goals as governor is to protect Long Island Sound,” Mr. Paterson said at Sunken Meadow State Park, on Long Island. “Shame on us if we can’t develop a responsible energy policy without sacrificing one of our greatest natural and economic resources.”

A broad range of environmental groups, community activists and elected officials from New York and Connecticut have strongly opposed the Broadwater Energy plan to build a 1,200-foot-long floating platform that looks like a ship and can hold up to 8 billion cubic feet of imported natural gas.

(Click to read entire article)
State politics could play havoc with energy plan
Just in case anyone thought the question of which company would build the Alaska pipeline was en route to being settled when the Alaska government -- in early January -- gave TransCanada the nod as being the only bidder to meet the guidelines under the Alaska Gas Inducement Act, Tuesday's announcement that BP and ConocoPhillips are teaming up to forge ahead with a pipeline effectively threw the entire process into question.

(Click to read entire article)
Iberdrola could reconsider Energy East plan
REGION Iberdrola representative Tom Johnson confirmed that the company's chairman, Ignacio Sanchez Galan, said Iberdrola would rethink its planned acquisition of Energy East for about $4.5 billion if conditions imposed by the state Public Service Commission are unreasonable.

The deal is now expected to be completed before the third quarter, pending approval by the PSC. The transaction was expected to close in the first half of the year. The PSC has raised concerns about the acquisition and asked for more information from Energy East before it can decide whether the deal is in the public interest.

A recommendation from the administrative law judge assigned to the case is expected around late May.
IDA Reform Effort Update
In an address to a crowd of business executives and civic leaders this week, Governor David Paterson identified Industrial Development Agency reform as one of 4 ways the state can achieve a better budget for New Yorkers. He criticized IDAs specifically for not creating jobs in our communities and also cited the need to reign in IDAs and other authorities that aren’t accountable to the public.

It’s a good sign that IDA reform is on Governor Paterson’s to-do list now that the state budget is resolved. In just a few weeks on the job, it’s clear that the current administration has already heard our statewide coalition’s call for business standards, accountability measures and transparency reforms that will ensure IDAs are creating quality jobs for New Yorkers.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has also strengthened our coalition’s position by outlining sweeping reforms in his 2008 report on IDAs and promising sanctions for IDAs that fail to file proper reports with his office. The OSC’s independent report backed up our coalition’s platform and inspired media outlets across the state to renew their call for reform over the last month. Here’s a selection of the headlines—clips below and full articles linked:

► Buffalo News (Editorial, March 10, 2008): Push IDA accountability

► Messenger Post Newspapers (Ontario County: Editorial, March 3, 2008): Reform? Let's see it

► Daily Messenger (Ontario County: Julie Sherwood, March 2, 2008): State Cracks Down on IDAs’ Bookkeeping

► Tonawanda News (Editorial, March 10, 2008): IDAs must track job creation closer

► Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (Editorial, March 4, 2008): IDA reform needed

► Niagara Falls Reporter (March 4, 2008): County IDAs stink

In addition to these editorials and reports, business journals are now picking up the story with more urgency as the construction season gets underway and projects are on hold in many places due to the expiration of IDAs’ civic facility bonding authority. See the clip below from “Prevailing debate stalls IDA projects” published last week in the Long Island Business News which reports that $50 million worth of projects are “tied up” on Long Island alone.

We have kept the IDA reform conversation tuned down since our last mobilizations to Albany in early March, waiting as the new governor took office and worked with the legislature to reach a budget agreement. It is time to turn up the volume on the IDA debate again: we must continue to build on the momentum our coalition has generated thus far in 2008, both locally and in Albany.
Fenner, NY Wind Turbine Collapse



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