A bill introduced by Senate Tax Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) containing a one-year renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) extension and a small wind turbine investment tax credit has failed to move past a Cloture Vote in the U.S. Senate once again.

East Coast Gas Rush?

On Wednesday, July 23, Gov. David A. Paterson signed a bill that permits additional natural gas wells and drilling activity in New York State and allows for new and under-researched methods. The Environmental Conservation Law had previously established requirements for a spacing unit (the area of land from which a well recovers oil or gas) and set back measurements (the distance between the well and the boundaries of the spacing unit), but Paterson's pen changed that: the legislation passed Wednesday reduces required well spacing from 640 acres per well to 25.

This change is significant, and potentially devastating to the Finger Lakes region, as the Southern Tier of New York has been discovered as the Mother Lode of Marcellus Shale, a rock layer that some geologists predict could meet the nation's natural gas needs for more than two years. Three companies in the natural gas industry have submitted drilling applications for gas wells in Chenango, Tioga, and Chemung Counties in New York. On his Web site, the Governor claimed that "natural gas exploration has the potential to increase domestic supplies of natural gas, create jobs, expand the tax base and benefit the upstate economy." But because of New York's geological formation and the techniques required to reach the desired resources, Paterson's decision has created anger among locals who understand the potential consequences.

What is Marcellus Shale, exactly? It is a Devonian-age black, low density, carbonaceous (organic-rich) shale that occurs beneath much of New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Marcellus Shale is said to have "favorable mineralogy" in that it is a lower-density rock with more porosity, which means it may be filled with more free gas. In its 2002 Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the Appalachian Basin Province, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) calculated that the Marcellus Shale contained an estimated undiscovered resource of about 1.9 trillion cubic feet of gas.

(Click to read entire article)

After seeing the Torqeedo electric motor last fall at the Cottage Life Show, I wanted to try one to see if it had the guts to move a boat at a reasonable speed. Tim of Green Boat Supply said earlier ""This is not water-skiing speed, obviously. But you’ll cruise along at a respectable clip and enjoy your surroundings so much more. Many people aren’t looking for a faster, noisier boat ride." which pretty much nailed it. The design is absolutely lovely an...

So it looks like the world's cheapest car (the Tata Nano) could soon be the world's cheapest electric car as well.

The price of the Nano is just above $2,500 and Tata's chairman Ratan Tata says he expects demand to exceed supply. Tata's plant in the city of Singur in the state of West Bengal will eventually have the capacity to make 350,000 Nanos a year.

Tata Motors plans to make a second generation of its four-passenger Nano with a diesel engine. But initially, it will have a gasoline engine capable of 50 miles to the gallon.

But the interesting news out of Mr. Tata's talk to shareholders at the annual general meeting last week was that the company is competing for an Eco car in Thailand and looking at other ways to make even more fuel-efficient versions of the Nano.

(Click to read entire article)

D-Day is here for the mother of all taxpayer lawsuits.

We’ve been working towards this moment since April. The hard work has paid off.

We are ready to file suit against the State for billions of dollars in illegal subsidies to private corporations.

The timing could not be better–the governor just announced that he needs to cut more than one billion from the state budget.

On Monday, August 4th, at 12 noon in Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo, we will release the complaint to the press.

On Tuesday, August 5th, at noon, in front of the state capitol in Albany, we will announce the filing of the lawsuit that very day in State Supreme Court, Albany County.

This will be the shot heard around the state.

For more information about this lawsuit, contact me.

Please stay tuned to my blog for all news about this case.



Jim Ostrowski


(716) 435-8918

Paterson’s plan

Here’s Gov. David Paterson’s budget plan in a nutshell:

To save $630 million, Paterson is ordering a 7 percent state agency cut, on top of the 3.35 cut he’s already enacted in the budget.

Then he’s calling for an “immediate hard hiring freeze,” with all hires needing Division of Budget Approval.

Then when the Legislature comes back, he’ll be looking for $1.2 billion in savings, including $600 million tht will require legislative approval (that’s where the fight will likely occur since he could be talking about school aid and Medicaid cuts)

During the Aug. 19 special session, Paterson will call for the property tax cap, which he’s dubbing Help for Working Familes (I wonder how the Working Families Party which opposes a straight out cap, feels about that)

He’s also calling for more home heating aid and “public private” partnerships for capital needs but they are precluding the outright sale of assets.

Not off the table, though are cuts to school aid.

Here’s a link to the budget projections.

The newly discovered natural gas reserves in the deep layer of rock of the Marcellus Shale, which lies under the Southern Tier, are potentially worth more than $70 billion. On Wednesday, Gov. David Paterson signed a bill making it easier for companies to drill for natural gas. Unfortunately, he didn't sign a bill to make it easier for the public to benefit from this drilling.

Unlike the majority of states, New York lacks a natural resource depletion or severance tax. Thus, soaring gas prices and dramatically expanded recoverable reserves will do little to replenish shrinking public budgets. If New York were to impose a tax similar to that of other top natural gas producing states, public services could receive nearly $500 million in additional annual revenue. This revenue could prove critical in maintaining a high level of public services in a time of rising unemployment, soaring food and energy prices and a massive housing crisis.

Many states distribute depletion tax revenue directly to local governments experiencing the associated environmental and economic costs of drilling. As more wells are drilled, increases in reports of incidents involving gas wells will follow. Last year, an accident at a nearby natural gas drilling site left dozens of homeowners in Brookfield without drinking water for days, some for months. Many houses had to be fitted with water purification systems that are costly to maintain.

New York could emulate states such as Alaska, New Mexico and Wyoming and set aside a portion of those revenues in trust funds whose benefit will continue long after the natural gas disappears. New Mexico and Wyoming each draw more than $150 million in annual budget revenue from the interest earned on their funds, while Alaska pays dividends directly to its citizens.

(Click to read entire article)

BEGWS electric upgrade gets OK

Village board members Monday unanimously approved a multimillion-dollar upgrade of the electric infrastructure owned and operated by Bath Electric Gas and Water Systems. A $7.1 million cap was established and will eventually be financed through the issuance of municipal bonds, according to Mayor David Wallace.

Trustees Monday approved a resolution to adopt the capital project with the understanding BEGWS work crews would handle a share of the labor associated with the project. Matthew Benesh, director of utilities for BEGWS, said local crews would provide as much assistance as possible while also performing regular maintenance work.

Village officials gave the project the go-ahead with the understanding BEGWS workers' participation would help keep overall construction costs in check.

Engineers for BEGWS have warned the current electric infrastructure is vulnerable to spot failures during peak use; Village residents' electricity consumption also is likely to eventually exceed the existing capacity of the system, according to the utility.

(Click to read entire article)

GM Volt to Use 1.4-Liter Gasoline Engine The GM Volt series plug-in hybrid should be able to drive about 40 miles in all-electric mode before a gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the batteries and produce electricity to move the car. Originally, that generator was supposed to be a 1-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder, but the man in charge of the development of the Volt drivetrain, Larry Nitz, has confirmed the switch to a 1.4-liter non-turbo 4-cylinder that will be E85 capable. Why Make the Change?Mr Nitz has explained that the four cylinder is less expensive and lighter because it lacks the turbocharging of the three cyli...

Pipeline crew ‘digging in’

Building the 77-mile natural-gas pipeline known as the Empire Connector Project is in full swing in Ontario County, with some 265 workers on the job along sections of the 33 miles the pipeline will cross in the county. The $177 million project is crossing Ontario, Yates, Schuyler, Chemung and Steuben counties, burying 24-inch-diameter pipe that will transport natural gas from Buffalo to a link-up with the New York-city area.

Through Ontario County it will cross 182 properties en route from Victor to the Yates County border in the town of Seneca. All but four property owners have signed right-of-way agreements, said Julie Coppola Cox, spokeswoman for Buffalo-based National Fuel Gas Company. Reasons for the delay in reaching agreements vary, she said. They include a recent re-routing of the pipeline on a property near the Thruway and arrangements that must be made to accommodate a septic system.

The entire pipeline project is on schedule, said Coppola Cox. The gas should begin flowing this November. It will serve 1 million customers.

Meanwhile, some mighty powerful machines and a number of work crews have come to town to prepare the right-of-ways, dig the trenches and bury the pipe. The pipeline is being built in sections, with 80-foot-long lengths trucked up from Louisiana, said Joseph Gezik, ombudsman for the project. Each section weighs 8,000 pounds, he said, and must be strategically placed and maneuvered according to strict government guidelines.

(Click to read entire article)

Power Authority chairman steps down

The chairman of the State Power Authority is resigning unexpectedly with two years left on his term.

The departure of Frank S. McCullough Jr., coupled with the forced resignation of Roger Kelley, the authority’s chief executive officer, creates a leadership void that Gov. David A. Paterson will play a large role in filling. Kelley, like McCullough, will leave office Thursday.

McCullough did not return a phone call seeking comment.

McCullough is the authority’s most senior board member, having served for 11 years after his appointment by then- Gov. George E. Pataki. He’s been chairman for two years, earning $90,800 annually, and served the previous four years as vice chairman. Michael Townsend, a board member from Rochester, will succeed McCullough as interim chairman.

(Click to read entire article)

Try pouring 10 gallons of industrial waste into a 10-ounce cup, and there you have the disposal problem regulators face with the natural gas industry settling into the Twin Tiers.

Once the drilling starts and millions of gallons of waste water begin flowing from thousands of wells, it will become everybody's problem, environmentalists say.

Treatment plants set up in the region aren't designed to handle the volume or type of waste expected from tapping the Marcellus Shale Formation, the rich reserve of natural gas running under the Southern Tier and Catskill region, throughout Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio and West Virginia.

"It's just the sort of question people are puzzling over here," Jim Tierney, assistant commissioner for water resources with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said late last week.

Sparky Delong, who operates a private treatment plant in Franklin, Pa., has an answer: Build more plants.

(Click to read entire article)

Advice to landowners

Gas leases are legal, binding documents, i.e., contracts. When entering into a lease agreement with a gas company, have the document reviewed by an attorney experienced in mineral rights issues.

Property owners generally have the right to explore and develop minerals under their property. Owners may lease the right to explore for gas to a company that has the equipment and expertise to recover or receive the gas for a period of time. The property owner may accept payment for the lease and royalties for the value of the gas. Public records, deeds, and real estate titles will indicate whether such rights have been leased, sold, or otherwise transferred.

Do not accept out of hand pre‐printed leases provided by gas companies, but rather use these as a starting point for negotiations. Retain the ability to negotiate for new terms when the lease is up.

There is no legal requirement forcing a landowner to sign a lease with a gas company; however, under New York State Environmental Conservation Law, compulsory integration is required when any owner in a spacing unit does not voluntarily integrate his/her interests with those of the unit operator. Compensation to compulsory integrated interests will be established by the DEC Commissioner ’s Order after a public hearing.

Be aware of the different types of lease payments: bonus, rental, royalties, and shut‐in royalties.

When entering into a lease, please make sure you know who you are dealing with. Verify the following:

Is the company registered as an operator with the DEC?
Has the company drilled any wells in New York?
Does the company have any violations on record in NYS or elsewhere?
How can the company and supervisor be contacted?

State must take lead on drilling

Natural gas burns cleaner than oil and coal. We should extract it in an environmentally responsible way and under contracts that protect our land.

But, as Elmira lawyer Chris Denton said, gas company contracts are "designed to help them in every way possible and to make your life miserable." The state must provide minimum contract language requirements that protect the landowner.

We also have to keep our water and air pure. However, the 2005 Energy Act exempted gas drillers from the Clean Water, Clean Air and Safe Drinking Water Acts. That is why I'm calling for an immediate moratorium on leases and drilling for natural gas.

Let's look at what these land-men leases don't tell us:

*what our communities will be like with a gas well every mile;
*what the drilling process entails;
*that these wells require millions of gallons of water;
*what chemicals they're mixing in the water;
*what companies will do with this water mixture after drawing it from wells;
*that there is no guarantee that aquifers won't be affected;
*that neither the state Department of Environment Conservation nor the federal Environmental Protection Agency is regulating these water issues;
*that local road damage will be the taxpayer's problem;
*that buried gas lines will run through properties; and
*that leases may hurt our ability to sell our property

Environmentally safe extraction can deal with these problems, but the state Legislature leaves it up to us to protect ourselves and our land. We also need to know where natural gas extraction fits into our long-term energy independence plan. Unfortunately, our representatives haven't made informed decisions that protect our interests; instead, they've decided in favor of the gas companies. As your next state senator, I will do better.

Don Barber

Barber is town of Caroline supervisor and a candidate for state Senate in the 51st District.

Paul Emens Letter to the Editor

The push by Pickens and others for alternative energy sources is admirable and, at the same time, frightening. Why? Because in the rush for these sources a lot of regular people are being hurt.

In upstate New York we are struggling to deal with a Wild West scenario. The State mandated alternative energy and the power companies have stampeded into the countryside. They make promises that aren't kept, suborn local officials and pay pennies on the dollar through what are known as PILOT funds (payment in lieu of taxes). Often local officials who vote on turbine laws stand to gain by having turbines on their own land and devil take their neighbors. It's out of control.

The State has provided no standards. Standards, such as they are, are left up to each town, village and county. Lost in the rush for cash are the poor souls who live with the issues of turbines in close proximity - noise, flicker, view, property value decline, etc.
Those citizens are trying to fight back but money talks and talks loudly.

Upstate New York is a rural-residential area. The 450 foot-tall turbines were never meant to be placed in areas such as that.

Congress dropped the ball with ethanol (resultant higher food costs). We now face another fiasco with ill-planned alternative energy.

A little planning and foresight would be in order by those in government. What a concept!

Paul Emens, Chairman
Citizens for Responsible Energy Development
4284 Fairview Rd
Castile, New York 14427

For years, Congress has promoted corn ethanol, touting its purported environmental benefit. Mounting data now suggest these assumptions were wrong. Expanded use of food for fuel is exacerbating environmental threats, including pollution in U.S. waterways.

New data out this week on the growing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico starkly highlight this concern.

Dead zones are created when large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous run off into warm waters, spawning algae blooms. When these algae decompose, they deplete oxygen from the surrounding water below the level needed to support marine life.

Now, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Louisiana State University and Texas A&M University predict that the 2008 Gulf Dead Zone could be the largest since tracking began in 1985. They forecast that this year it could span some 8,800 square miles — about the size of New Jersey. An A&M researcher said this week their most recent measurements off the Louisiana coast support this prediction.

(Click to read entire article)

It wasn’t the kind of bill to set metropolitan toes to tapping — a measure to extend New York State’s uniform well spacing system to allow additional gas wells and energy production, including intensive horizontal drilling.

But when Gov. David A. Paterson signed a measure on Wednesday essentially ushering in a new era of energy production upstate, it was hard to be sure what mattered more, the green light or the yellow one he added. Either way, the quandary was the same: the economic rewards from thousands of new gas wells, or the risk that they could be drilled in some of the most scenic parts of the state and at the doorstep of New York City’s water supply.

Sometimes big issues coalesce with people barely seeing them. That’s exactly what has happened over the past six months as an upstate land rush, important new legislation and belated environmental awareness converged at the same time over the prospects of extensive gas drilling upstate.

“This new law will ensure greater efficiency in the processing of requests to permit oil and gas wells, while maintaining environmental and public health safeguards,” Mr. Paterson said in a statement.

(Click to read entire article)

Focus on cleanup efforts

ALBANY - To help jump-start redevelopment projects across the state, Gov. David A. Paterson signed a law yesterday that reforms the state's Brownfield Cleanup Program. The legislation caps redevelopment tax credits and increases incentives for the cleanup of affected areas.

While the Brownfield Cleanup Program was created in 2003 to encourage developers to rehab polluted properties, the original tax credit program was based on the amount invested instead of remediation.

"We will now be able to break down barriers to economic development in struggling neighborhoods across New York," Paterson said. "Our goal should be for every former industrial site in New York State to be returned to safe and productive use."

The former program provided tax credits of 10 to 22 percent of the cost of cleanup and redevelopment. Now the credits are capped at $35 million for nonmanufacturing projects, or three times the cost of cleanup, and $45 million for manufacturing projects, or six times the cost of cleanup.

(Click to read entire article)

"Royalties are likely to be substantially greater than upfront checks" for leasing the mineral rights, said Thomas Murphy, of the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service in Williamsport, Lycoming County.

The price of natural gas leases have jumped 1,900 percent in just about two years -- from about $15 an acre in 2006 to $300 an acre in February 2008, Murphy said. The it took another big leap in March, rising from $300 to $1,500 an acre, Murphy said.

"It's on a pace to reach $2,500 to $3,000 an acre in Clearfield County," Murphy said.

(Click to read entire article)


Seeks Wind Industry Public Accountability

Cohocton Wind Watch is gratified with the decision of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to launch a formal investigation into the business practices of First Wind/UPC Wind and Noble Environmental Power. This groundbreaking inquiry includes conduct of Public Officials and evidence of Wind Industry Anti-Competitive Practices.

CWW has compiled comprehensive evidence, volumes of empirical data and a paper trail of proof that public officials, developers and their agents and leaseholders have acted collectively to defraud NYS. With this AG announcement of an active investigation, claims and allegations of the industrial wind fraud and wrongdoing will finally be scrutinized by the highest level of law enforcement.

A special thanks goes to District Attorney Derek Champagne of Franklin County who profiles the very best traits of public service and enforcement of the rule of law. New York State has heard the outrage of thousands of exploited residents and scores of courageous community organizations. The diligent efforts, research, and documentation of scores of ordinary people finally bears fruit. Now this evidence will hopefully serve as the basis and proof of illegal conduct. All New Yorkers deserve judicial accountability for corruption and predatory developers.

The penalties of Anti-trust transgressions are severe. As the legal system works its way through the inquiry, CWW is confident that the evidence will justify grand juries, indictments, trials and convictions.

Cohocton Wind Watch supports the advancement of rational and economically beneficial alternative energy technology. First Wind/UPC Wind and Noble Environmental Power projects are not able to fulfill those standards. Industrial Wind developers want the public to believe their venture generates meaningful "Green Electricity". The use of NYSERDA public funds by wind developers places an obligation on them to prove that ample prevailing wind patterns exist at their project sites. Wind developers refuse to release the data from test towers. Implication is clear! Much of the New York State has insufficient wind for these industrial turbines to become a reliable electric generating source.

More important, both companies and their dozens of corporate variants engage in a scheme of deception and duplicity. Remember the lesson of Enron's lies and criminal activity, which lead to disastrous consequences for utility ratepayers. The Industrial Wind Swindle will be exposed in court.

Albany, New York (WSYR-TV) - The New York State Public Service Commission is looking to audit the management and operations of National Grid.

The PSC says it plans to hire a third-party consultant to review how well the utility company lives up to its goals and objectives, as well as internal procedures like planning, scheduling and quality control.

The PSC isn't necessarily looking for specific problems; it's in the process of auditing utility companies across the state.

The results from national grid's audit are expected in late 2009.

For more details, read the PSC press release.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has opened a probe of two companies that develop and operate wind farms over allegations of improper dealings with public officials and anticompetitive behavior.

Mr. Cuomo said his office has subpoenaed First Wind -- formerly UPC Wind -- and Noble Environmental Power LLC, which has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public this year.

"The use of wind power, like all renewable energy sources, should be encouraged to help clean our air and end our reliance on fossil fuels," Mr. Cuomo said. "However, public integrity remains a top priority of my office, and if dirty tricks are used to facilitate even clean-energy projects, my office will put a stop to it."

Mr. Cuomo said the investigation is looking into whether the companies improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with citizens and public officials; whether improper benefits were given to public officials to influence their actions; and whether the companies entered into anticompetitive agreements or engaged in anticompetitive practices.

The attorney general said his office has received numerous complaints about the companies from citizens, public-interest groups and local officials.

First Wind, of Newton, Mass., has three operational wind farms, including one in Erie County, and 48 others in development across the country, Mr. Cuomo said. The company has wind farms in development in Steuben, Chautauqua, Genesee and Wyoming counties in New York, he said.

Noble Environmental, of Essex, Conn., has three active wind farms and five in development in Allegany, Chautauqua, Clinton, Franklin and Wyoming counties in New York, Mr. Cuomo said.

A First Wind spokesman didn't have a comment; a Noble Environmental spokeswoman declined to comment.

Utility merger accord sought

ALBANY -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is urging Iberdrola SA and state regulators to hammer out a settlement on the Spanish utility's $4.5 billion merger with Energy East Corp.

Schumer, who has been outspoken about the potential benefits of the deal for the state's alternative energy supply, met last Friday with Garry Brown, chairman of the five-person Public Service Commission that must approve the deal.

"It was a very positive meeting," Schumer said Monday in a conference call with reporters.

The PSC isn't expected to vote on the deal until its August meeting at the earliest. Iberdrola and Energy East have been going through a process, much like a legal trial, in which the two companies have tried to justify the merger to an administrative law judge.

(Click to read entire article)

A consumer advice report in the July 7 News was headlined: “With new wind, solar projects, why are electric rates rising?” The Associated Press writer notes correctly that electric power from coal is still less expensive than from wind and solar. But he should have added that so is power from most other major conventional sources he mentions, and those sources provide power on demand, when it is needed, not just when the wind blows.

Land-based wind turbines produce their rated output only about 20 percent of the time, and coal plants in particular simply cannot ramp up and down their fires fast enough to take advantage of that power. Also, much wind power is produced at night, when the grid has a surplus of power, and is thus largely wasted.

I wish his remark about wind turbines being placed far from populated areas was true. Here we have 450-foot-tall turbines being placed 333 yards from homes, and 167 yards from property lines without compensation to those so affected.

David Amsler


Allegations of Improper Dealings with Public Officials and Anti-Competitive Practices

Subpoenas Served on First Wind/UPC Wind and Noble Environmental Power, LLC

ALBANY, NY (July 15, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced today the launching of an investigation into two companies developing and operating wind farms across New York state amid allegations of improper dealings with public officials and anti-competitive practices.

Wind farms are clusters of large electricity-generating turbines powered by wind and connected to the electric grid.

Subpoenas were served on Newton, Massachusetts-based First Wind (formerly known as UPC Wind) and Essex, Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power, LLC. They are part of an investigation into whether companies developing wind farms improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with citizens and public officials; whether improper benefits were given to public officials to influence their actions, and whether they entered into anti-competitive agreements or practices.

In recent months, the Office of the Attorney General has received numerous complaints regarding the two companies from citizens, groups and public officials in eight counties alleging improper relations between the companies and local officials and other improper practices.

“The use of wind power, like all renewable energy sources, should be encouraged to help clean our air and end our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “However, public integrity remains a top priority of my office and if dirty tricks are used to facilitate even clean-energy projects, my office will put a stop to it.”

The Attorney General’s subpoenas seek, among other things:

All documents concerning any benefits conferred on any individual or entity in connection with wind farm activity.

All agreements, easements or contracts with individuals regarding placement of wind turbines.

Agreements between wind companies that may indicate anti-competitive practices.

All documents pertaining to any payments or benefits received from local, state or federal agencies.

First Wind has three operational wind farms and 48 others in development across the country, according to its web site. First Wind developed the Steel Winds wind farm in Erie County and has wind farms in development in Steuben, Chautauqua, Genesee and Wyoming (GenWY Wind) counties.

Noble Environmental Power, LLC, has three active wind farms and five in development in Allegany, Chautauqua, Clinton, Franklin and Wyoming Counties.

The investigation is being led by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Heffner of the Syracuse Regional Office under the supervision of Special Deputy Attorney General Ellen Biben, who oversees the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau. Assisting in the case are Investigators Thomas Wolf, David Bruce and Andrea Burnham.

One of Appalachia's largest landowners, Pennsylvania's state forestry agency, wants in on any windfall from drilling a potentially lucrative natural gas formation.

More than 74,000 acres, or more than 115 square miles, in three north-central Pennsylvania state forests went up for bid Monday to natural gas companies that are in hot pursuit of the mostly untapped Marcellus Shale gas formation.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources posted legal notices on Monday announcing the lease sale. The department had said earlier this year that it would allow new drilling to resume following a five-year moratorium, a decision that pleased exploration companies and angered environmental groups.

(Click to read entire article)

Officials to air gas-rush questions

How do you tax a natural gas well installed on private property? Who pays the bill when oversized drilling equipment damages roads?

Municipal officials will address these and other questions dealing with the natural gas rush in the Southern Tier at a meeting tonight in the Town of Chenango.

More than 100 officials reserved spots to attend the private meeting at the Town of Chenango municipal office. Another 100 will view it at various locations over the Internet, said Rod Howe, an organizer with Cornell Cooperative Extension.

"It's critical that municipal leaders learn as much as they can on this topic," said Assemblywoman Donna A. Lupardo, D-Endwell, a sponsor of the seminar. "The water and infrastructure issues alone merit their full attention."

Presenters include officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, the state Office of Real Property Services and the New York State Farm Bureau.

(Click to read entire article)

Bill could spur N.Y. natural gas boom

ALBANY -- With the stroke of a pen, Gov. David Paterson could give a significant boost to the natural-gas boom in the Southern Tier or slow the process to better plan for the expected surge in drilling.

Paterson so far isn't saying publicly what he intends to do to the bill, passed last month by the Legislature, but insiders expect him to sign it.

Supporters and opponents are lining up on either side of the bill as they await Paterson's decision.

The measure would streamline the permitting process for new wells and bring it up to date with new technology that allows explorers to drill horizontally as well as vertically.

The new drilling technique is considered crucial as developers go after what might be the largest pool of natural gas in the country beneath a geologic formation that stretches from the Southern Tier west into Ohio and south as far as West Virginia.

The largest estimate of the gas waiting to be extracted from the formation, about 500 trillion cubic feet, is two and a half times as much as the entire country uses in a year.

(Click to read entire article)

Eco-friendly hybrid trucks to come

The future might see medium and large trucks with hybrid electric-combustion engines running on the roads, provided their production starts in a big way.

According to a report in New Scientist, sales of small- to medium-size hybrid passenger cars, like the Toyota Prius, are growing fast, but hybrid technology for trucks is about a decade behind.

"We are just now starting to see hybrid trucks coming into production," said Richard Parish of the Hybrid Truck Users Forum, an organisation partly supported by the US Army to develop the industry.

Compared to passenger cars, trucks operate for more hours a day at lower fuel efficiency, meaning hybrid technologies could offer greater cuts in fuel use and emissions per vehicle. "Hybrid trucks have developed slowly because the complexity of hybrid vehicles is a bad fit with the way trucks are built," said Parish.

(Click to read entire article)

DEC explains gas drilling regulations

LIBERTY, NY — It was supposed to be a closed meeting with state officials and town officials only, to talk about gas drilling regulations, but when people heard about it, they crowded into the meeting room.

Everybody has gas drilling on their minds lately.

The meeting was hosted by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and held at the Cornell Cooperative Extension on July 1. Bradley J. Field, director of the Bureau of Resource Management and Development, was on hand to answer questions.

What came across more than any other concern was that the town officials want the DEC to help them deal with the many issues that drilling raises.

“I’m concerned with the open ponds at the drilling sites,” said Callicoon supervisor Linda Babicz. “We’re in a flood zone and it would make more sense to have steel collection ponds.”

Babicz was referring to the on-site storage of the fluids used in drilling—each well requires about two million gallons of water, which is mixed with sand and a “recipe” of toxic materials and collected in a pond. This pool of water must then be removed and taken to a treatment plant.

(Click to read the entire article)

No more solar cells covering a roof, but around the edges of a flat glass panel, as shown in the artist’s representation by NSF.

MIT engineers say they’ve created a new approach to harnessing the sun’s energy that provide windows with a clear view and illuminate rooms at the same time without the need for tracking devices.

According to a news release from MIT , the solar concentrator collects light at the edges, and dye molecules coated on the glass absorb sunlight and re-emits it at different wavelengths. The light is trapped within the glass and transported to solar cells along the edge, creating electricity and allowing light into the room as well.

The mixture of dyes is applied to the surface of the glass and allows light to travel a much longer distance. Mapel said, that as a result, light transportation losses were significantly reduced, resulting in a “tenfold increase in the amount of power converted by the solar cells.”

Marc A Baldo, leader of the work, is quoted as saying; “the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell by a factor of over 40″. The article went on to say that because of its simplicity and ease of manufacture, the system could be implemented within three years. It could even be added to existing solar-panel systems, increasing their efficiency by 50 percent for minimal additional cost.

Other researchers involved in the project are Michael Currie, Jon Mapel and Timothy Heidel, all students of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Shalom Goffri, a postdoctoral associate in MIT’s Research Labortary of Electronics.

The new technology will be developed and commercialized by a new company, Covalent Solar, formed by Mapel, Currie and Goffri.

Landowners group hires law firm

The Apalachin Landowners Group has hired Levene Goulden & Thompson to assist with gas lease negotiations.

The group is accepting new members who own property in Apalachin, South Owego, Lounsberry, Nichols, Vestal and Campville. Membership will be closed July 31.

For information, call Loretta Sullivan at 625-4543 or Annette Gibson at 625-2743, or go online to www.apalachinlandowners.blogspot.com. A public meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. July 17 at Apalachin Elementary School, 405 Pennsylvania Ave.

Susquehanna Wayne Oil and Gas Group, along with Rails-to-Trails, have agreed to combine resources to negotiate gas leases with energy companies seeking to drill in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The group has roughly 340 landowners in Susquehanna and Wayne counties, and covers approximately 24,000 acres, according to a news release.

Use Blimps to Move Stuff to the Tar Sands

First up is the Skyhook JHL-40 Rotorcraft. A cross between a dirigible and a helicopter, Skyhook prez Peter Jess says the patented craft will be capable of hauling 40-tonne loads up to 320 kilometres in areas without basic infrastructure such as roads. Boeing will build them for Skyhook, and says that "the blimp would be environmentally friendly because it would eliminate the need to build roads and rail lines to remote locations, where transportation can be costly, inadequate or unreliable." Right. So how are they going to get the crap out? ::Calgary Herald

Put a Dome over the Tar Sands

Bucky thought he could put one over Manhattan; oil company Petro-Canada wants to put a giant inflatable dome over the tar sands. According to the Globe and Mail,

Measuring 200 metres by 200 metres, and 50 metres high, the proposed "superdome" would allow work to continue even during northern Alberta's punishing winter months, when the cold grinds construction to a standstill.

Petrocan is looking at whether the inflatable structure would cut transportation and construction costs by allowing more key work to be done on site, Neil Camarta, the company's vice-president of oil sands, told investors at an energy conference.

"Working up north can be kind of inhospitable and looking at this kind of technology is something that we're constantly doing," said Petrocan spokesman Peter Symons. ::Globe and Mail

Advances in CO2 capture technology

The CSIRO has achieved a major breakthrough for Australia by capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from power station flue gases, its energy technology chief says.

Trapping CO2 is a significant stage in the global quest to prevent greenhouse gases amassing in the upper atmosphere and generating global warming.

The landmark was achieved at the post-combustion-capture (PCC) pilot plant at Loy Yang Power Station in Victoria's Latrobe Valley.

CSIRO energy technology chief Dr David Brockway said the milestone followed the Garnaut report's recognition that Australia had an important role to play in developing low emission coal technologies such as PCC.

"PCC uses a liquid to capture CO2 from power station flue gases and can potentially reduce CO2 emissions from existing and future coal-fired power stations by more than 85%," he said in a statement.

(Click to read entire article)

With fuel costs rising, the search for alternative fuel sources is on, and East Resources, Inc. of Warrendale, Pa. is looking for gas and oil fields in southern Allegany and Steuben counties,. However, it is asking for a change in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s current regulations pertaining to drilling.

The variance the company is asking for concerns setback regulations for drilling near the boundaries of established fields. Currently 660 feet is required. It also concerns setback from other oil or gas wells which are in the same pool. Currently 1,320 feet is required. East Resources has proposed a boundary setback of 150 feet and 350 feet from other wells.

The land in question has been sectioned into 40-acre grid plots as required. It stretches from the Beech Hill-Independence Field to north of the New York and Pennsylvania border in Cryder Creek No. 9, or from the western part of the Town of Willing, parts of the Town of Independence into and including parts of West Union. Independence Town Clerk Cindy Clark has the map of the plotted sites included in East Resources’ plan posted on the wall of the Town Hall, and information is available in her office. At 7 p.m. Monday there is a special informational meeting for the public with the Independence Town Board at the Town Hall.

Letters concerning a hearing, to take place at 1 p.m. July 15 at Whitesville Central School, were sent to more than 500 landowners. Immediately following the hearing there will be a pre-adjudicatory hearing issues conference. The conference will be to determine, narrow, and resolve, if possible, the proposed issues for adjudication which will continue at 9 a.m. the next day in the same location. Afterwards a law judge will make a determination unless further adjudication is required.

(Click to read entire article)

A Critique of Rotating Wind Towers

The news has been abuzz the past couple of weeks with news of rotating towers, which will magically extract lots of energy from the wind, and with this abundance of energy, will be able to rotate their individual floors to face any aspect. There are some nice 3D rendered architects drawing on the internet at the moment, which seem to have captured everyone’s imagination. It's a lovely concept in the 3D playground of the conceptual architect, and whilst I can see that the idea might take off in a virtual world such as second life...I'm not sold on the idea.

There are a number of reasons. Gazing into my green ball, I think that the engineering challenge is... not insurmountable - but impractical.

(Click to read entire article)

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(Click to read entire ad)

T. Boone Pickens has a plan to solve the country's $700 billion-a-year dependence on foreign oil.

Replace gasoline with natural gas. Replace natural gas-fired power plants with wind, solar, nuclear and clean coal. Basically, replace foreign oil with domestic fuel without straining those resources."We've gotten ourselves in a trap," Mr. Pickens said last week in an interview in his Dallas office. "The problem is, we said, 'Send us the oil, and never mind the cost.' "

"Things were fine until the price went vertical on us," said Mr. Pickens, who calculates that, at $140 a barrel for crude, Americans spend $700 billion a year on 5 billion barrels of oil from foreign countries. That amounted to about 65 percent of total U.S. supply last year.

(Click to read entire article)

For at least the second time since Iberdrola SA launched a takeover bid for the parent of Rochester Gas and Electric Corp., the Spanish utility is the subject of merger talks in Europe.

Shares of Iberdrola rose the most in five months Monday after published reports said a major shareholder in Gas Natural sees no alternative to a combination of the two Spanish companies.

Iberdrola's stock climbed 7.8 percent to close at 9.3 euros in Madrid trading. At that price the company, based in Bilbao, Spain, is valued at $72.5 billion.

Iberdrola is in the process of trying to buy Energy East Corp. for $4.5 billion. Energy East owns RG&E and New York State Electric and Gas Corp., which between them provide electricity and natural gas to much of upstate. The deal is pending before the state Public Service Commission.

One of the concerns raised about the deal is that New Yorkers might not know exactly who is buying their local utilities. Iberdrola earlier this year was rumored to be a takeover target of Electricite de France SA.

(Click to read entire article)

The Southern Tier of New York rests on a portion of a vast underground treasure vault that stretches across several states. That's a blessing, especially for those who have land enough to provide a gateway. But the treasure -- natural gas -- is not easily withdrawn, and that's a potential curse.

The landowners are not the only stakeholders in this "gas rush," which could generate millions of dollars but also will produce ecological and infrastructural stress that will need to be addressed. There's no way to halt the stampede at this point, but there are issues which state and local governments need to address, and soon.

The federal government should be a natural ally in this endeavor, but Congress has granted the oil and gas industries sweeping exemptions from federal regulations including the Safe Drinking Water Act; Clean Water Act; Clean Air Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act; National Environmental Policy Act and Toxic Release Inventory under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

That doesn't mean the gas drilling companies are or will be negligent, but it does mean state and local watchdogs -- most especially the state Department of Environmental Conservation -- must be vigilant and rigorous in protecting the public and the environment. Local municipalities, meanwhile, must make sure the exploration companies provide bonds sufficient to cover road damage likely to be caused by increased traffic by heavy trucks to well sites.

(Click to read entire article)

When domestic gas prices spiked during an energy crisis in the early 1980s, prospectors came into the western part of the Quad- state region to acquire drilling rights. With oil at $130 a barrel and natural gas prices headed above $11 per thousand cubic feet, they may return.

Exploration and production companies are looking for huge reserves of natural gas in Marcellus black shale in the northern Appalachian region. New drilling technologies for extracting gas from shale, coupled with historically high oil and natural gas prices, have triggered a land rush for drilling rights.

Marcellus shale, named after the town in New York where it was first gassed, is found mostly in western New York and Pennsylvania and much of West Virginia. The shale area also stretches into Garrett and Allegany counties of Maryland, Morgan County and western Berkeley County and western Frederick and Shenandoah counties.

Farmers in Lycoming County Pa., are reportedly being offered from $1,500 to $2,500 an acre for drilling rights, and if gas is found, they collect royalties.

(Click to read entire article)

BLENHEIM -- Four massive upstate reservoirs that supply New York City with drinking water also may one day provide clean electric power to thousands of small-town customers.

The Delaware County Electric Cooperative, one of four customer-owned cooperatives created by the state in 1941 to bring low-cost power to farmers, sees a new source from four dams that hold back the city's Schoharie, Cannonsville, Neversink and Pepacton reservoirs.

"We are excited about this," said cooperative CEO Greg Starheim. "It would mean substantially more power for us."

Plans filed in May with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission propose installation of turbine units that would capture enough energy from water spilling over the dams to power 20,000 homes.

At a total capacity of about 65 megawatts, that is about a tenth of that from a traditional fossil fuel-fired power plant.

(Click to read entire article)

News that a vast natural gas source is below Steuben County led to a capacity crowd Tuesday night at the Campbell-Savona High School.

The natural gas is trapped about a mile under ground in the Marcellus Shale, which extends from West Virginia through Pennsylvania and up to western New York and Canada.

The range is estimated to contain 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, with reports that 10 percent production would heat every home in the U.S. for two years.

But while the implications of the resource are growing nationally, nearly 1,000 people filled the Campbell school auditorium to find out what the Marcellus project means locally.

"This is not the $1 or $2 (per acre) we've had in the past," said Lindsay Wickham, field adviser and local issues coordinator for the state Farm Bureau.

Competition between gas companies is likely to mean higher signing bonuses and subsidies for landowners.

"In Pennsylvania, (companies') rates started out at $5 to $50 an acre," he said. "Now they're $2,000, $3,000, and royalties are at 15, 16, 17 percent."

(Click to read entire article)

Spain's energy giant Iberdrola filed an investors' day presentation with the Spanish market regulator, CNMV, on Wednesday, stating that it aims to splash out on investments and internationalize the group even further, Thomson Merger News reports. It is ready to spend €25 billion (US$39 billion) in total between now and 2010, to achieve its growth objectives, which involves expansion in Latin America, the US, Canada and the U.K. Click on link for entire article

Ignacio Galan, chairman and chief executive of Scottish Power's parent firm Iberdrola, discussed the deal with Mr Salmond over the phone yesterday and met with finance secretary John Swinney. Click on link for entire article

The Spanish renewable energy company offers €175 million for the remaining shares of the Greek wind developer.

Just reading these headlines will turn your stomach!

There are many more links - just do some interent searching yourself - Iberdrola is everywhere - they are not just blowing in the wind! ... coal, gas, electric, wind - what else?

If we don't stop them soon, Iberdrola will own the World!
Happy Independence Day to All!

Subaru Unveils New Plug-in EV Concept

Next week, Subaru will be looking to impress delegates at the G8 summit in Hokkaido Toyako by unveiling a prototype plug-in electric car.

The company has provided five cars for use at the summit. Four of these will be used to transport officials and policy wonks around, while the other will go on display in the environmental showcase, as well as being available for test drives.

The new prototype twins Subaru’s existing Stella model with the electric powertrain from the company’s earlier R1e concept, which has been undergoing testing for the last two years. Whereas the R1e is a tiny two-seater, the Stella is a more practical 5-door model, and will be used for the development and test-marketing of next-generation EVs in Japan in the coming years.

The car, powered by a powerful Li-Ion battery, is capable of a top speed of around 60mph, with a range of 50 miles between charges - more than adequate for urban journeys. The battery can either be fully charged overnight at home, or topped up to 80% capacity in 15 minutes using a fast-charger. Charge time has been a major barrier to consumer acceptance of EVs and, although this still doesn’t match up to the speed of filling up with gas, it’s certainly getting there.

July 3, 2008

Hon. Jaclyn A. Brilling
Secretary to the Commission
New York State Public Service Commission
Agency Building 3
Albany, NY 12223-1350

Dear Commissioners:

The Citizen Power Alliance represents several environmental and energy groups who are deeply concern that the Iberdrola acquisition of Energy East will result in a diminishment of energy competition in New York State.

You have heard from several of our member groups already and many members have submitted documents on this subject to the PSC.

The degree of inordinate political pressure placed on the Public Service Commission to reverse the long established de-regulation policy of NYS is outrageous. In order that the public can continued to be protective from all the ills of an integrated energy cartel, the PSC must stand firm and accept the ruling of Judge Epstein.

The Iberdrola deal is bad business for New York State. It would be a nightmare for ordinary residential ratepayers and small business.

When the commissioners meet to decide and vote on this acquisition, the key point to remember is that control of our utility infrastructure is the issue. Claims of future investment are bogus diversions of the real impact of allowing a foreign global cartel to dictate electric pricing and distribution to our state.

This is a homeland security concern. It is your responsibility to look through the false spin and phony carbon credit trading that is at the core of a scheme to control our electric energy system.

Our members speak for scores of neighbors in their own communities. A reoccurring question from individuals is who will look out for the resident ratepayers if the PSC buckles under the pressure that fundamentally alter the long established de-regulation NYS policy.

CPA urges the PSC commissioners to view the Iberdrola takeover of Energy East as a moral issue that demands rejection. It is not about fake job creation, bailing out wind developers, discount electric rates for special business customers or for pie in the sky alternative energy percentages. No, what it is about is a sellout of the citizens and taxpayers of New York State.

Take the high road and make the correct decision. Reject the Iberdrola - Energy East approval.


Citizen Power Alliance

The world of solar energy has been tumultuous of late in the United States: the BLM essentially bans solar power projects on public lands, then reverses its decision because of public outcry. Not to mention the inaction in the Senate on one set of renewable energy legislation, and the action in the House on another. Here’s another twist in the road of clean energy promotion.

Ten Million Solar Roofs In Ten Years
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has introduced a new bill into the Senate to help ease the cost for homeowners wanting to install solar panels. The 10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2008 will offer rebates for up to half the installation costs of solar photovoltaic systems, and would be in place for the next ten years. In addition to private homes and businesses, non-profit organizations, and state and local governments would be eligible for the rebates.

The bill, the text of which is available for download, will be formally filed when the Senate reconvenes on Monday. Co-sponsoring the bill are Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Ben Cardon (D-MD), Arlen Specter (R-PA), John Warner (R-VA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Fresh contenders have entered the UK wind power debate, as a turbines expert funded by the Renewable Energy Foundation publishes an investigation into a hotly-disputed subject - the variability in output to be expected of a large UK windfarm base.

In a just-released article for the journal Energy Policy, titled Will British weather provide reliable electricity?, consulting engineer Jim Oswald and his co-authors model the output to be expected from a large, 25+ gigawatt UK windfarm collection of the type the government says it would like to see in service by 2020. Wind is generally seen as the renewable technology best suited to the UK climate, and so it forms the bulk of most renewables plans for Blighty.

One of the most frequent criticisms levelled at wind power is variability. That is, when the wind drops (or blows too hard) the windmills stop spinning and you get no power. To begin with, Oswald simulates the output rises and falls that might result from a lot of windfarms distributed around the UK by using Met Office archived data from different points up and down the land. Many wind advocates have argued that with enough windfarms, widely enough distributed, you would get more reliable power output as some windmills would always have wind.

Oswald's analysis says this isn't true, with calm conditions across pretty much all the UK being fairly regular events.

Analysis from 1996 to 2005 shows similar results: large, rapid, and frequent changes of power output being common occurrences ... any national power system has to manage under the worst case conditions likely to occur ... These are not extreme cases, whose frequency is so low as to render the events negligible. Rather, these are representative ...

(Click to read entire article)

Fortuna expanding gas exploration

Flush with success from drilling into the Trenton-Black River rock formation, Fortuna Energy Co. in Big Flats is poised to explore natural gas deposits in Marcellus Shale in New York and Pennsylvania.

The formation lies 300 to 6,000 feet underground and covers about 54,000 square miles, running from the Southern Tier of New York across Pennsylvania into Ohio and West Virginia. Researchers estimate the shale may contain enough natural gas to match the entire U.S. demand for two years.

The company is already targeting the Marcellus Shale formations in northern Pennsylvania and has plans to drill six pilot wells in Bradford County, Pa., later this year. Four pilot wells into the same formation also have been drilled in Tioga County, N.Y., the company's president James O'Driscoll said Monday during an editorial board meeting at the Elmira Star-Gazette.

More drilling will be scheduled for New York once Gov. David Paterson signs legislation that expands how many acres that drilling through the shale will require. For Trenton-Black River exploration, the wells are spaced about 640 acres apart and the drill bore is vertical. Because Marcellus Shale wells are drilled horizontally, the new law would allow horizontal drilling in several different directions over a 640-acre area, all from a single drill pad.

(Click to read entire article)

Can Water Really Power a Car?

Water can be used to fuel a car when used as a supplement to gasoline. In fact, very little water is needed! only one quart of water provides over 1800 gallons of HHO gas which can literally last for months and significantly increase your vehicle's fuel efficiently, improve emissions quality, and save you money.

Power line plan unveiled

AUGUSTA, Maine - Two utility companies unveiled plans Tuesday for a $1.9 billion overhaul of Maine’s electricity transmission lines aimed at bolstering reliability and encouraging large-scale wind power development in Aroostook County.

Central Maine Power and Maine Public Service Co. filed applications on Tuesday with state regulators for two massive transmission line projects. If approved as proposed, the projects would likely be paid for by all New England energy consumers with Maine ratepayers accounting for about 8 percent of the cost, officials said.

The first project would build an additional, 345-kilovolt transmission line along the existing CMP corridor, passing through nearly 80 communities from Orrington to Newington, N.H. The $1.4 billion expansion is part of a long-term plan to upgrade the state’s aging power infrastructure, which studies predict could encounter serious reliability problems as early as 2012 without major fixes.

The second project would connect northern Maine communities to the New England power grid. While such a connection has been discussed for years, it was regarded as economically unfeasible until recently when Aroostook County became the hot spot for potential wind farm development in the state.

(Click to read entire article)

Staff at the Public Service Commission now say Iberdrola could be permitted to own wind farms as part of its $4.5 million bid to buy Energy East Corp., provided each wind farm is approved by the state on a case-by-case basis.

PSC staff still opposes Iberdrola owning wind farms or any power plants in the state as a condition of the merger. But, they say, if the commission approves the deal, the Spanish energy conglomerate should have each wind power project reviewed individually, according to a June 26 brief filed on behalf of PSC staff.

The brief was in response to an administrative law judge's June 16 non-binding ruling that Iberdrola should not be permitted to build wind farms in the company's service territories.

It is unlikely the PSC's five commissioners will make a decision at their July 16 meeting. The deadline for all parties to respond to the June 26 filings is Thursday and their review will take senior staff analysts several weeks, PSC spokesman James Denn said.

It is also possible the parties could settle before the commission votes on the matter, Denn said.

The company says it will invest at least $2 billion in wind-power generation in the state if it is permitted to acquire Energy East. Should the merger be approved, PSC staff want measures in place that would require the company to follow through on its promise. The staff has concerns that there are no guarantees that the investments would occur, the filing stated. As Iberdrola builds the plants, the $201 million dedicated to customer benefits could be reduced.

Organizations have come out on both sides of the argument. The New York Consumer Protection Board and state Department of Environmental Conservation support the acquisition. Independent Power Producers of New York says Iberdrola, which is the second-largest wind energy operator in the country, should not be able to produce and provide power. The state prohibits "vertical market power," or the ability for power providers to also operate as power generators.

The bid is supported by key members of the state Legislature, as well as U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Gov. David Paterson.

Ethanol plants based on food crops are taking a serious hit because of the price hike for grains and the flooding in the Mid-west that has wiped out a significant number of crops. In just the most recent news, Heartland Ethanol is tossing plans to build seven corn ethanol plants in Illinois, and even worse, they’re dissolving the company – all due to feedstock prices. VeraSun Energy is delaying construction at two of their plants because of the flooding.

With corn passing $8 a bushel and a 10% drop in production over the last year, it seems that corn ethanol is finally reaching the end of its popularity (of what little it had left) and corn ethanol plants are either already in, or nearing the red without the prospect of getting funding thanks to the credit crunch.

Corn ethanol is likely just the first of many crop-based ethanols to take an immediate dive, despite the best efforts of biofuel companies. Ethanol stocks are getting downgraded since Citi analysists are predicting more large-scale shut-downs as small and midsize producers will be forced to shut down due to the price issues, representing a loss of between 2-5 billion gallons of ethanol per year. Citigroup analyst David Driscoll is predicting that about 76% of ethanol plants are at risk of shutting down in the next few months. Earth2Tech has counted 11 plants whose operations are suspended just since May (see the above map). Feels a little bit like a rapid downward spiral, doesn't it?

What does this mean for the future of biofuel? Well, most likely it means more research will be going in to cellulosic ethanol and creating fuel from municipal waste, and those companies already working on that technology will get a little more wiggle room from competitors for awhile. Figuring out how to turn trash to fuel is a whole lot more logical than turning crops to fuel anyway. And I suspect fuel from algae will gain in popularity pretty quickly, making coal plants happy since it’s an opportunity for them to “green up” their image among the general population. I highly doubt the shutdowns will do much to change grain prices in the short term.

However, it’s tough to mentally dig ourselves out of yet another boom-to-bust industry in our already flailing economy, especially one that once held so much hope for those that wanted to "go yellow." We’ll just have to watch, wait, and hope that necessity is indeed the mother of invention and some awesome new cellulosic ethanol technology will bust wide open.

A self serving factual misleading statement before FERC by NYISO.

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) – www.nyiso.com – is a not-for-profit corporation that began operations in 1999. The NYISO operates New York’s bulk electricity grid, administers the state’s wholesale electricity markets, and performs comprehensive reliability planning for the state’s bulk electricity system.

The Capitol is reporting that billionaire and three-time gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano is planning to pour millions of dollars into the fight for the Senate majority.

Golisano is planning to start his own 527 organization and spend up to $1 million on each candidate he supports - mostly Democrats, but he has not ruled out supporting Republicans. From the story:

Golisano will be supporting Erie County Legislator Kathy Konst (D) in her bid to unseat State Sen. Dale Volker (R-Erie), former boxer Joe Mesi (D) in his primary bid to succeed retiring Sen. Mary Lou Rath (R-Erie) and former State Sen. Rick Dollinger (D-Monroe) in his bid to unseat Sen. Joe Robach (R-Monroe), though Golisano is unlikely to announce these specific candidates at his press conference next week.

This is interesting, as the Buffalo News has a story today with Konst saying that she is “under heavy pressure” to abandon her Congressional bid to run for the state Senate instead. In the story, she talks about meeting with Golisano.

Konst, meanwhile, brings some personal ability to finance the campaign, and said she hopes to get support from Buffalo Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano, a former gubernatorial candidate who in the past has helped Republicans running for the State Senate.

She said she has met with him and expects his support.

If Golisano decides throw his weight and money behind these candidates, it could change the playing field significantly for the Senate Democrats. Senate Republicans still maintain a fundraising advantage over the Democrats. In these sorts of races, there are diminishing returns as you go up into the millions for each race, but there is a base amount necessary to put a race in play. Golisano’s support of a few specific candidates would allow the Democrats to distribute more resources to fewer fronts and elevate a race that wasn’t even on the radar, such as in Volker’s district, to a Tier 1 race.

Ten years ago, the first gas well in the area's current exploration boom was drilled in Chemung County, and landowners throughout the region signed leases with gas and oil companies during the ensuing years.

Many of those leases are nearing expiration, coming at a time of renewed and even greater interest in the region's natural resources, thanks to the identification of the Marcellus Shale natural gas field as potentially the largest in the nation.

"And we are sitting right on top of it," Lindsay K. Wickham, New York Farm Bureau field adviser and local issues specialist, told some 300 people gathered Monday night at Watkins Glen High School.

Wickham said the thickest point of the gas field in New York appears to be in the area of Broome, Delaware and Sullivan counties. Signing bonuses paid to landowners for drilling leases and promised royalties for production are evidence of the interest companies have in the area.

(Click to read entire article)

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