State approves NYSEG efficiency programs

The state Public Service Commission has approved a pair of energy-efficiency programs, including one that will pay consumers to recycle inefficient appliances.

New York State Electric & Gas Corp. will offer $30 for the removal and recycling of up to two working, inefficient refrigerators or freezers that are used as a second unit.
About $2.8 million has been set aside by NYSEG for the rebate program.

The utility will also begin printing reports for participating customers that show how their energy use stacks up against that of their neighbors. The reports will also include tips on saving energy.

Jerusalem ponders stay on fracking

Branchport, N.Y.

At their regular meeting Jan. 19, the Jerusalem Town Board scheduled a public hearing for a proposed one year moratorium on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and hydraulic-fracturing or “fracking,” while the town considers the zoning and local laws necessary to regulate it sufficiently or ban it altogether.

Board member Neil Simmons questioned the timing of the moratorium, and asked whether it might not be better to have it start on May 16, when the NYS DEC is supposed to make public its finding on the environmental impact of fracking. Resident Joe Hoff spoke at length why Jerusalem needed the moratorium in February to “make a clear statement” against fracking.

Town attorney Philip Bailey warned of “using up precious months” of a moratorium before they were necessary, and that extending moratoriums repeatedly makes them more vulnerable to being overturned in the courts. Fearing delays in the DEC’s findings, the board asked if it could be worded to begin upon whatever date the DEC did make its findings known. Bailey believed it could.

(Click to read the entire article)

Talisman Energy has resumed its Marcellus drilling operations in Pennsylvania, a week after one of the company's gas wells experienced a blowout that caused an uncontrolled discharge of sand and fracking fluids onto state forest lands in Tioga County.

As a result of the incident, Talisman shut down all of its hydraulic fracturing operations in North America while it conducted an internal investigation into the cause of the Jan. 17 blowout. Those operations have since resumed, with Talisman's Pennsylvania drilling program being the last to be brought back online.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has requested Talisman provide answers to nine questions related to the blowout as part of its investigation into the incident. The investigation could result in civil penalties levied against Talisman.

The well where the blowout occurred is on Pennsylvania State Forest lands in Ward Township, about nine miles southeast of Mansfield.

(Click to read the entire article)

With new leadership taking control of the United States House of Representatives changes were sure to come. One of the biggest and most notable is the dissolution of the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2006 and chaired by Representative Ed Markey, the committee was charged with pushing a ‘green’ agenda. In its short lifespan the group undertook an aggressive agenda with its biggest highlight being the passing of a cap and trade tax plan.

With Republicans officially taking power in the House yesterday they followed through on their promise to disband the committee. New Speaker of the House John Boehner said that the work done by the committee would be folded into others and result in a cost savings.

As a closing act the committee’s leadership released a report outlining what it felt were its most significant achievements. The report heralds the Select Committee’s “work in raising the profile of energy and climate issues, and spurring increased debate.”

(Click to read the entire article)

A state Department of Environmental Conservation plan released this month leaves open the possibility of hydraulic fracturing and expanded natural gas development on state forest land.

The Strategic Plan for State Forest Management, finalized Dec. 29, will allow the state to lease the gas rights to the Marcellus Shale formation beneath certain state-owned forest parcels, but only after public hearings are held on each lease offer.

A determination on allowing high-volume hydrofracking on forest land, however, will be made after both the DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complete their reviews of the gas stimulation technique, which involves the use of high-pressure, chemical-laced water to unlock natural gas from tight shale formations.

The DEC will issue a second draft of its permitting guidelines for fracking in the beginning of June; the EPA study is expected to take at least two years before initial results are released.

(Click to read the entire article)

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is among investors who have filed shareholder resolutions with nine oil and gas companies asking them to disclose their plans for managing water pollution and risks with natural gas hydraulic fracturing operations.

DiNapoli’s involvement comes because he is the sole trustee $132.8 billion state pension fund, which invests in various companies, including some in the oil and gas industry.

"Oil and gas firms are being too vague about how they will manage the environmental challenges resulting from (hydraulic fracturing)," DiNapoli said Friday in a statement. "The risks associated with unconventional shale gas extraction have the potential to negatively impact shareholder value."

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of retrieving natural gas from previously unreachable locations by shooting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break up shale formations and retrieve gas.

(Click to read the entire article)

After reading Invenergy's self-serving pontifications in their 1/13 article, "Invenergy and NYSERDA enter renewable energy credit purchase agreement", it seems we need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture here:

1.) I (and most citizens) agree we have environmental and energy issues, and
2.) I (and most citizens) agree that these technical matters should be solved using real science - not propaganda being put forth by corporate salesmen.

Real Science is not a collection of theorems, but is a PROCESS - the core process being the Scientific Method. The Scientific Method consists of a hypothesis (e.g. that wind energy is equivalent to our conventional power sources) being subjected to a: (1) comprehensive, (2) objective, (3) independent, (4) transparent, and (5) empirical-based assessment.

The fact is: This has NOT been done for wind energy - Anyplace!

Said in an another easy-to-understand way:

(Click to read the entire letter)

NYSEG Connecting Renewable Energy

Applications for Net-Metered Systems increased 18% in 2010.

Net-Metered Systems measure electricity use for small scale commercial or residential wind, solar or hybrid electricity generators.

NYSEG says when the customer generates excess electricity that flows to the power grid, the meter spins backwards.

It currently meters 286 solar, 27 wind and 3 hybrid systems.

NYSEG also supports large scale interconnection projects to provide power to the grid. That includes the AES battery energy storage facility in the Town of Union.

“Power for people, not for profit!” and “PSC doesn’t represent me!” were among the chants raised on the sidewalk at the building’s Erie Boulevard West entrance.

The coalition, activists from Syracuse United Neighbors, the Green Party, the Syracuse Peace Council and other group who want to bring a municipal utility to Syracuse, opposes a proposed $115 million electric rate hike for National Grid. The state Public Service Commission is to vote Thursday on the agreement…

In addition, the PSC itself should be investigated, said Howie Hawkins, former Green Party candidate for governor.

The proposal would make $50 million of the hike temporary, meaning it could be reversed if the audit finds that customers were overcharged.

“Guess what? The Public Service Commission has never, ever rejected a rate hike,” Hawkins said. “Do you think they’re going to rescind one?”

In the Southern Tier of New York, most of the Marcellus Shale is a mile down vertically. All sedimentary rock has been uplifted or pushed down by plate tectonic movement over the millennia. Natural cracks or faults are all over the place due to Earth's restless motion.

Many homes with basements have radon gas seepage due to naturally decaying isotopes of radium and uranium. Radon particles can raise havoc with our lungs by producing scar tissue and/or abnormal cellular growth, e.g. cancer.

Horizontal drilling in the Marcellus Shale accelerates the radon release much more rapidly, as rock is shattered over hundreds of square miles at thousands of existing or proposed drill pads. America's Natural Gas Alliance wants to do in 10 years what it would take nature thousands of years to do. Another problem is that shattered radiated rock — residue from Pennsylvania fracking — is being dragged into New York landfills, where it can contaminate our ground water.

Chemung County ranks 60th out of 62 New York counties with the most negative public health statistics. How long will it take to become "dead last" due to more greed and stupidity in our race to the bottom? We all pay the cost of bad public health.

Ruth S. Young

Nine members of the New York congressional delegation are among House Democrats urging federal officials to require natural gas drillers to disclose the chemicals they use under a technique called hydraulic fracturing.

An estimated 90 percent of the drilling leases Interior has issued over the last 10 years have been for hydraulic fracturing wells, in which drillers pump chemicals, sand and water into the ground to break open rock formations and release natural gas trapped in fissures.

New York is a prime candidate for hydraulic fracturing because it's home to the Marcellus Shale, a vast geological formation that stretches from Western New York and the Southern Tier into Pennsylvania, West Virginia, eastern Ohio, part of Maryland and the western edge of Virginia.

New York has a moratorium on new drilling leases as it reviews the potential environmental impact of widespread hydrofracking in areas adjacent to the Finger Lakes, the Chesapeake watershed and the New York City reservoir system.


(Click to read the entire article)

Gas company attempts to extend leases

A natural gas company with a leasehold in eastern Broome and Steuben counties and parts of central New York told landowners this week their leases would be extended because of New York's moratorium on a type of hydraulic fracturing.

Norse Energy Corp., a Norwegian company whose U.S. operations are based in Buffalo, sent a letter Monday to affected landowners, citing an Executive Order from former Gov. David A. Paterson that prevents high-volume hydrofracking in New York until at least July as a reason to claim "force majeure."

A legal clause found in most oil and gas leases, force majeure allows a contract to be extended if an unforeseen event, such as a natural disaster or a new regulation, prevents the terms from being followed by either party.

The company holds gas rights on roughly 180,000 acres in New York state and has a stake in a number of current drilling operations in the central portion of the state, mainly the Herkimer formation beneath Chenango County.

(Click to read the entire article)

DEMS, NYPA BAD COMBO FOR NIAGARA

By declaring that there is a necessity for NYPA to send even more Niagara Power Project electricity to New York City and downstate, candidate Andrew Cuomo was sending Niagara County and Western New York a message, and that message was, "If you think I won't marginalize and punish you for supporting that idiot running against me, you have another think coming."

As an informed reader of the Reporter with an attention span exceeding 24 hours, you will recall that Niagara County settled for between one-third and one-half of the relicensing compensation that outside consultants determined we were entitled to. You are aware that Congressman Higgins unilaterally obtained $2 million more a year for the Buffalo waterfront before the ink on the relicensing pact had even dried. You know that NYPA sends most of the electricity generated at Lewiston to New York City and eight other states, and that Albany magnanimously returns to us a pittance through something called Power for Jobs.

Hundreds of NYPA bureaucrats, headquartered downstate at White Plains (which Money magazine rated as "One of the Best Places to Live," as opposed to the city of Niagara Falls, which has one of the highest rates of poverty in the Northeast), make salaries in excess of $100,000 annually.

(Click to read the entire article)

Hydraulic fracturing wells were exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Halliburton recently disclosed the chemicals they use in their hydraulic fracturing solutions. There are too many to list, but here are just a few:

* Acetic anhydride, used in photo film and also to synthesize morphine into heroin.

* Methanol, used as a fuel additive and cleaning solvent, is highly toxic; ingestion of as little as 10 milliliters can cause permanent blindness.

* Ethylene glycol, used as antifreeze in automobiles, can be fatal if ingested.

* Naphtha, used as a fuel additive and cleaning solvent and in lighter fluid, is a carcinogen; exposure can lead to depression of the central nervous system.

(Click to read the entire article)

The natural gas boom gripping parts of the U.S. has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep.

Not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush.

There, the liquid that gushes from gas wells is only partially treated for substances that could be environmentally harmful, then dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.

In the two years since the frenzy of activity began in the vast underground rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania has been the only state allowing waterways to serve as the primary disposal place for the huge amounts of wastewater produced by a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

(Click to read the entire article)

Cuomo faulted over ag post

CAPE VINCENT — Some opponents of commercial wind farms believe Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spurned his ethical-government campaign promises in appointing Darrel J. Aubertine to the state's top agriculture post.

Mr. Aubertine's nomination as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets was announced Thursday.

Then-Assemblyman Aubertine raised a stir among wind-power opponents in June 2006, when he wrote to the Cape Vincent Town Council urging council members who had agreements with wind power companies to vote on a law that created townwide setbacks for turbines. The law would regulate all projects, both present and future.

"After careful reflection, I feel that it is ethically proper that, in this case, all board members should vote on the issue at hand. In fact, I believe it is their responsibility to do so," Mr. Aubertine wrote.

(Click to read the entire article)


The last four months of 2010, nearly 500 earthquakes rattled Guy, Arkansas. The entire state experienced 38 quakes in 2009. [2] The spike in quake frequency precedes and coincides with the 100,000 dead fish on a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River that included Roseville Township on December 30. The next night, 5,000 red-winged blackbirds and starlings dropped dead out of the sky in Beebe. Hydraulic fracturing is the most likely culprit for all three events, as it causes earthquakes with a resultant release of toxins into the environment.

A close look at Arkansas’ history of earthquakes and drilling reveals a shocking surge in quake frequency following advanced drilling. The number of quakes in 2010 nearly equals all of Arkansas’ quakes for the entire 20th century. The oil and gas industry denies any correlation, but the advent of hydrofracking followed by earthquakes is a story repeated across the nation. It isn’t going to stop any time soon, either. Fracking has gone global.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) pumps water and chemicals into the ground at a pressurized rate exceeding what the bedrock can withstand, resulting in a microquake that produces rock fractures. Though initiated in 1947, technological advances now allow horizontal fracturing, vastly increasing oil and gas collection. In 1996, shale-gas production in the U.S. accounted for 2 percent of all domestic natural gas production, reports Christopher Bateman in Vanity Fair. “Some industry analysts predict shale gas will represent a full half of total domestic gas production within 10 years.” In 2000, U.S. gas reserve estimates stood at 177 trillion cubic feet, but ramped up to 245 tcf in 2008. These new technologies prompt experts to increase global gas reserve estimates ninefold.

(Click to read the entire article)

Read the new DEC commissioner's speech

Newly appointed state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens is the former president of the New York-based Open Space Institute. Last year, he gave a speech on the Marcellus Shale and hydraulic fracturing at Union College in Schenectady as part of an event marking the 40th anniversary of the DEC.

The following is a transcript of that speech as posted on the Open Space Institute website:

This morning you heard about drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Of all the daunting environmental challenges that DEC has faced during the past 40 years—criteria pollutants, hazardous waste, acid rain, even climate change—hydrofracking in the Marcellus may be the most difficult and daunting of them all.

As a nation, for a decade or more there has been a near-universal call for energy independence. If we could just wean ourselves from foreign oil, the argument goes, we would not be in the middle of two wars in the Middle East and sending billions of dollars to nations that don’t like us and, potentially, might do us harm.

(Click to read the entire article)

Beaver Falls, Pa. — The natural gas boom gripping parts of the U.S. has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, that most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep.

Not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush.

There, the liquid that gushes from gas wells is only partially treated for substances that could be environmentally harmful, then dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.

In the two years since the frenzy of activity began in the vast underground rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania has been the only state allowing waterways to serve as the primary disposal place for the huge amounts of wastewater produced by a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

State regulators, initially caught flat-footed, tightened the rules this year for any new water treatment plants but allowed any existing operations to continue discharging water into rivers.

(Click to read the entire article)

Although it is part of the energy conservation movement, the idea behind smart grid isn't energy conservation; it is avoiding the building of new power-generation plants. In the HVACR industry, the focus is on how a smart grid will impact the way we design, operate, and maintain buildings.

Michael Weil, editorial director of HPAC Engineering, covers "The Grid and Beyond," symposium, held on Nov. 12. Thought leaders from the Electric Power Research Institute, North American Electric Reliability Corp., the Utilities Telecom Council, Southern California Edison, and Johnson Controls Inc. shared their thoughts on what the concept of a smart grid is shaping up to be and the potential it creates for the HVAC industry and society as a whole.

Weil writes about who is leading the way in smart meters and what the smart grid is all about. And what are the benefits of the smart grid? Weil gives a good, simple answer.

"The bottom line is that the time for talking is waning, and the time for action is at hand." Weil asks for readers' thoughts on the smart-grid concept, and where they see it going.

Driving US families into fuel poverty

Major Findings

Our major finding is that the CO2 restrictions implied in the EPA regulation would have serious economic, employment, and energy market impacts at the national level (Figures EX-1 and EX-2) and for all states, and that the impacts on low-income groups, the elderly, African Americans, and Hispanics would be especially severe. We estimated that implementation of the EPA Finding would:

Significantly reduce U.S. GDP every year over the next two decades, and by 2030 GDP would be about $500 billion less than in the reference case ¡V which assumed no EPA carbon restrictions.

Significantly reduce U.S. employment over the next two decades, and by 2030 would result in the loss of 2.5 million jobs.

Significantly reduce U.S. household incomes over the next two decades, and by 2030 average household income would be reduced by about $1,200 annually.

In addition, the EPA carbon restrictions would greatly increase U.S. energy costs, and by 2030 these increases (above the reference case) could total:

50 percent for gasoline prices
50 percent for residential electricity prices
75 percent for industrial electricity prices
75 percent for residential natural gas prices
100 percent for industrial natural gas prices
40 percent for jet fuel prices
40 percent for diesel prices
600 percent for electric utility coal prices

(Click to read the entire report)


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