U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM) on Sept. 21 introduced bipartisan legislation to create the first-ever national renewable electricity standard (RES).

Under the proposal, electric utilities would be required to produce at least 11 percent of their power from wind, solar, biomass and other renewable sources of energy; the remaining 4 percent could be achieved through energy efficiency improvements. The total of 15 percent would have to be met by 2021.

States hat have a higher RESs would not be affected by the bill. But states that have no RES or a lower one would have to comply with the 15 percent RES. Utilities selling less than 4 million MW-hr per year are exempt.

The bill has 24 sponsors, from both parties, many from states in the U.S. Midwest where many wind farms are being located.

(Click to read the entire announcement)

September 28, 2010

Senator Jeff Bingham +1 (202) 224-2852 Senator John Ensign +1 (202) 228-3364
Senator Byron Dorgan +1 (202) 224-1193 Senator Tom Udall +1 (202) 228-3261
Senator Sam Brownback +1 (202) 228-1265 Senator Mark Udall +1 (202) 224-6471
Senator Susan Collins +1 (202) 224-2693 Email to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand


Honorable Senators Sponsoring and Supporting the RES Bill,

We kindly ask you to OPPOSE the RES Bill, as it will continue to deprive our nation of jobs, money and development of reliable energy sources. The continued waste of taxpayer money on subsidies for backup power programs such as wind energy are wasteful and debilitating for reliable energy generation that continue to fuel our economy such as coal and nuclear.

It has been widely reported that in Europe jobs are actually lost through highly subsidized green energy programs, as well as tax base due to property value depreciation. In addition the Bentek study clearly shows that CO2 has risen in Colorado and Texas through their development of intermittent energy sources tied to their grids, such as wind energy.

Please cease support of your bill, and plan to invest this taxpayer money into actual infrastructure that will benefit our nation. The continued support of unions, foreign manufacturing, foreign energy companies and speculative investors, all hiding behind “green energy” is highly disturbing. Each of you are at a cross-road, one that will sink or shape America. We hope your patriotic sense prevails and you stop this bleeding; OPPOSE RES -- invest in America.

Robert E. Aliasso, Jr. Co-Chair
The Coalition for the Preservation of the Golden Crescent and 1000 Islands Region

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- A group of Luzerne County natural gas drilling activists filed a lawsuit Monday against Pennsylvania's head of Homeland Security after a set of leaked anti-terrorism bulletins showed the department was tracking and gathering information on peaceful drilling protesters.

The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition sued James Powers Jr., director of the state's Office of Homeland Security, in federal court in Scranton, and will seek legal fees and $103,000 in damages -- the amount the state paid the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response to develop the documents.

By including the coalition and other drilling activists in the bulletins that tracked potential terrorist activity and security concerns, the state violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the group said in its lawsuit. The bulletins were distributed mostly to law enforcement officials.

"Even after the government knew that the individuals were simply exercising their First Amendment rights, they put them in a report anyway," said Paul Rossi, the group's attorney. "That has to stop. At a minimum, there has to be a line that cannot be crossed by government. If they can cross that line, then government can be used as a tool against any kind of First Amendment speech going forward."

(Click to read the entire article)

Now, about that rate hike

New Yorkers ought to be looking forward to a hearing regarding National Grid's request for a $396 million rate increase later this fall with an eagerness that matches the dread with which they might open their utility bills come winter.

The increase in electric rates that the British-based company is seeking isn't such a routine matter anymore, not since news got out about how it was trying to pass on millions of dollars in ostentatious spending and questionable expenses to its upstate New York customers.

Things like political junkets for National Grid executives, overseas shipments of their wine collections and private school tuition for their children already are the subject of an investigation by the state Public Service Commission as it weighs whether to grant the rate increase. That's arduous work, done in the background, perhaps by outside consultants and auditors.

The affairs of the company that many New Yorkers have no choice but to rely on for electricity and natural gas service deserves a more public scrutiny as well. It's true that National Grid has withdrawn $4 million in expenses from its proposal for a rate increase. But it also is fair to wonder if the company's request might be further modified. The PSC, after all, says the dubious spending by National Grid comes to more like $26 million.

(Click to read the entire article)

Schumer to meet utility executives

Two of National Grid's top U.S. executives will get a chance to state their case to one of the utility's most outspoken critics as it is mired in an accounting and expense account scandal.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is scheduled to meet Friday in New York City with Tom King, the president of National Grid's U.S. operations, and Marcy Reed, the head of U.S. public affairs for the British utility company.

The previously scheduled meeting comes as Schumer and other political leaders in New York have been blasting the London-based business for including millions of dollars of apparently frivolous spending as part of its $400 million electric rate increase request for upstate New York.

National Grid has since slashed $4 million from the rate plan that had been charged to expenses by company executives, such as private school tuition for their children, gifts for people outside the company and even toilet repairs at their homes.

(Click to read the entire article)

First Wind Energy LLC expected to report Q3 2010 results on November 18, 2010. This event was calculated by Capital IQ (Created on August 27, 2010).

First Wind Energy LLC expected to report Q3 2010 results on November 18, 2010. This event was calculated by Capital IQ (Created on August 27, 2010).
First Wind Energy LLC Presents at Platts 12th Annual Financing US Power, Oct-29-2010 08:45 AM

First Wind Energy LLC Presents at Platts 12th Annual Financing US Power, Oct-29-2010 08:45 AM. Venue: Marriott New York Marquis, 1535 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, United States. Speakers: Paul J. Gaynor, Chief Executive Officer and Director.

First Wind Energy LLC expected to report Fiscal Year 2010 results on March 26, 2011. This event was calculated by Capital IQ (Created on June 27, 2010).

First Wind Energy LLC expected to report Fiscal Year 2010 results on March 26, 2011. This event was calculated by Capital IQ (Created on June 27, 2010).

State and federal elected representatives are now weighing in on a $400 million rate hike request by National Grid amid questionable expenses.

The utility giant, which serves some 1.5 million electric customers in Upstate New York, is being probed by the state Public Service Commission for millions of dollars in expenses, including private-school tuition, shipping charges on wine and parties.

It was announced Tuesday that the New York State Senate will hold a hearing on the matter on Oct. 19, said Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, who chairs the state Senate’s Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

“How can we even contemplate approving rate hikes when this cloud is hanging over the whole process,” said Maziarz in a statement.

Also, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants National Grid to withdraw its rate hike request until the matter is resolved.

A streamlining of New York's complicated tariff system approved on Thursday could also help the two power and gas companies Iberdrola operates there to improve their credit ratings, the company added in a presentation.

"The net amount to be received by Iberdrola from the regulatory changes should be $175 million over the next three years," an Iberdrola spokesman said.

Electricity companies operating in New York State filed a joint proposal to adjust electricity rates in July, which was approved by the state's Public Services Commission on September 16.

"All in all this appears a positive outcome to us. By 2013 the decision could imply a (group) EBITDA uplift of nearly 2 percent compared to consensus estimates," UBS said in a research note to clients.

(Click to read the entire article)

Thirteen families in the heart of the gas–rich Marcellus Shale say their water wells have been contaminated by poisonous fluids blasted deep underground by a drilling company using a technique at the center of a fierce nationwide debate.

A faulty gas well drilled by Houston–based Southwestern Energy Co. leaked toxic fracking fluid into local groundwater in northeastern Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County, exposing residents to dangerous chemicals and sickening a child, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit — one of the first in the nation to link hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to tainted groundwater — said the well's cement casing was defective. It also cites spills of industrial waste, diesel fuel and other hazardous substances.

"The fracking fluid leaked into the aquifer and contaminated wells within several thousand feet, if not more," said plaintiffs' attorney Peter Cambs of Port Washington, N.Y.

(Click to read the entire article)

The investigation will focus on how the British company accounts and allocates expenses between its different businesses in the US, according to the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates utilities in the state. The regulator's decision follows the discovery of $26m (£16.6m) of expenses that it described as questionable during the PSC's examination of National Grid's controversial plan to raise electricity prices by a total of $369m next year.

National Grid insists that the increase, and a $106m rise sought in nearby Massachusetts, are needed to invest and improve the infrastructure and distribution network in the north-east of the country. But with Congressional elections in less than two months and a stumbling economic recovery, National Grid's expenses have sparked anger among the public and politicians.

New York regulators could potentially force National Grid to pay money to its more than 3m residential and business customers in the north of the state if it is found to have misallocated expenses. National Grid has already withdrawn $4m of expenses and says it will fully co-operate with the investigation.

Having first expanded into the US in 2000, National Grid is facing particular scrutiny at the moment. Alongside its examination of the planned rate rise, regulators in New York's state capital of Albany are also conducting a review of the company's operations – something it undertakes for each utility it regulates every five years.

(Click to read the entire article)

NYSEG rate hike approved

More than 60,000 utility customers in the Albany, New York, area will soon see larger bills following a vote by the state Public Service Commission on Thursday.

The commission approved a plan by New York State Electric & Gas Corp., or NYSEG, to increase electric and gas delivery rates. The increases will take effect Sept. 25.

Under the plan, NYSEG will boost electric delivery rates by 2.5 percent in the first year (September 2010 through September 2011). Rates will rise an additional 4.2 percent in the second year, and by 4.3 percent in the third year.

In all, the rate increases will bring in an extra $104.2 million for NYSEG, which has roughly 63,000 Capital Region customers and 1.7 million customers in all of upstate.

(Click to read the entire article)

Speaker after speaker stepped up over 16 hours to sound off to an EPA panel of researchers on how they think the agency should proceed with its hydraulic fracturing study, or to vent -- sometimes loudly -- about where they stand on the drilling technique.

"We have heard from many people at these hearings who have not and will not learn the science of drilling or hydrofracking," said Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York and an ardent drilling supporter. "Many of them are just ill-informed and will believe anything they are told."

Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter member Jurgen Wekerle said the concern about fracking is simple.

"Everything we need to know about hydrofracking we learned in kindergarten: oil, gas and water do not mix," he said.

(Click to read the entire article)

No hydrofracking for now

erhaps we will genuinely need Marcellus gas some day, and the only way to get it is hyrofracking. Peak gas arrives earlier than predicted, and the price skyrockets. The green transition not yet complete. That day may come, but it's not on the horizon.

The longer we wait, the more likely new, safer technologies for hard to recover gas will permit us to bypass it. Compressed air or some other benign alternative may one day replace the huge water consumption and toxic chemical use currently essential to fracking.

Waiting to develop the Marcellus shale with safer technology will also virtually guarantee increased royalties for landowners with leases, profits for gas companies, and tax revenues for governments. That's because it's a sure bet prices will rise sharply sooner than we're ready for. Avoiding fracking also saves water supplies, protects water quality, and hedges against the certainties of an uncertain future.

If hydrofracking is the only option for Marcellus gas, the wisest course is to wait, baby, wait.

(Click to read the entire article)

They beat on bongos and shook tambourines as they danced to their own song. Decorations could be seen from down the block.

It wasn't a party, but an anti-drilling rally outside The Forum before and during parts of Monday's EPA meeting.

Their song? "No Fracking Way," which began as a chant but, as the day continued, morphed into a rhythmic melody echoing down Washington Street.

Their props? A mock drilling rig adorned with a roulette wheel offering the two chances of gas or water, a skull and hazard signs. There were costumes, too, like the man clad in a HAZMAT suit and gas mask. Oh, and there was Frackin'stein.

(Click to read the entire article)

For the first time since talk of taxing the methane beneath Pennsylvania bubbled up two years ago, the Republican-led Senate appears ready to join Gov. Ed Rendell and the House's Democratic majority in ending the state's status as the largest natural-gas producing state without such a tax.

Still, there will still be room for wide disagreement in a debate that is set to intensify when the House and Senate return to Harrisburg this month.

Lawmakers may also sort through a number of issues surrounding the modern-day gas rush to tap the Marcellus Shale formation beneath the commonwealth. But the tax is unquestionably the centerpiece of the debate, particularly with the cash-strapped state looking for help.

The Democratic governor set the table in February 2009 when he first proposed a tax equivalent to West Virginia's - 5 percent on the sale value, plus 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of gas. At that rate, Pennsylvania would land somewhere in the middle of the various tax rates imposed by natural gas-producing states, although industry representatives say it would be the highest among the states with gas-yielding shale formations.

Such a tax is projected to raise $280 million in 2011, the Rendell administration said.

(Click to read the entire article)

EPA hearing to attract hundreds

BINGHAMTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's two-day hearing on its study of the hydraulic fracturing process is finally coming to the area this week, but it will be just as much a test in time management as it is an opportunity for the public to speak its mind.

Four-hundred people will have the opportunity to speak to a panel of EPA researchers during the Monday and Wednesday sessions at The Forum in Binghamton. A couple of thousand more are predicted to attend, with landowners, environmentalists and industry representatives expected to have a large presence both inside and out of the venue.

The speakers will have to be quick; each one is limited to just two minutes.

"Honestly, the two minutes is a bit of a shock, especially when they have a digital clock up front and it's counting down as you're speaking," said Earthworks Marcellus Regional Organizer Nadia Steinzor, who spoke at the EPA's previous meeting on the study in Canonsburg, Pa. "It's a bit unnerving."

(Click to read the entire article)

Publicly, negotiations between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Binghamton University turned into finger-pointing in the days leading up to the postponement of a meeting on the agency's hydraulic fracturing study.

Behind the scenes, agency officials and their contractors worried about the EPA's public image and rising security costs as talks broke down, documents released this week show.

EPA e-mails obtained by the Press & Sun-Bulletin through a Freedom of Information request show a concern about the agency's appearance in the media after the meeting was abruptly moved from Binghamton University to Syracuse. The meeting ultimately was postponed, just two days before it was scheduled to take place, and is now scheduled for Sept. 13 and Sept. 15 at The Forum in Binghamton.

"We need to seriously reconstruct the agency's humanity and compassionate appearance in light of recent events and mudslinging," EPA Physical Scientist Jill Dean said in an e-mail to agency officials on Aug. 10, the day the meeting was postponed.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY — State Public Service Commission members said Wednesday they have concerns that have to be addressed before they vote on a rate hike for two upstate utilities, including whether they are keeping their commitments for annual capital expenditures.

The commission meets again Sept. 16 and is expected to vote then on the rate increases for New York State Electric & Gas Corp. and Rochester Gas & Electric, whose parent company is Iberdrola USA. The Spanish company merged with Energy East in 2008, forming Iberdrola USA.

"We're being asked to approve a 40-month rate plan for a company that just took over a couple years ago and had some commitments and unfortunately, we're finding not all of the commitments have been met," commission Chairman Garry Brown said.

"I think there's a little nervousness about a 40-month rate plan with a company that's yet to kind of do what they promised in the beginning," he said.

(Click to read the entire article)

Bath, N.Y. — A natural gas drilling outfit could be drawing more water from the Town of Erwin if a road use agreement with Steuben County is approved.

The water will be drawn from a site across the road from Chilson-Wilcox in Gang Mills, with access to the location on County Route 79 off State Route 417.

County Public Works Commissioner Vincent Spagnoletti said the drilling company, East Resources, is now hauling as many as five truckloads of water a day from Erwin on County Route 79.

The road use agreement would allow East Resources, a division of Shell Oil, to haul more water to its operations in Pennsylvania, Spagnoletti said. The driller is among several companies now drilling in the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits there.

(Click to read the entire article)

Change at National Grid

The chairman of the board of National Grid -- which is seeking a $370 million electric rate increase in upstate New York -- is stepping down at the end of 2011, according to a story published Monday in the Financial Times.

It's unclear if John Parker's decision to leave the company has anything to do with the uproar caused in New York and Massachusetts over questionable spending by executives that the company was trying to pass onto customers as part of the rate hike. The company did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The rate increases in New York and Massachusetts are critical to National Grid's future as the company has been pushing to raise rates to pay for massive infrastructure projects in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Last week, National Grid moved to erase $4.4 million in questionable expenses from the rate hike request in an attempt to move on from the controversy as hearings began in Albany at the New York State Public Service Commission, the five-person board that reviews rate increases in the state.

(Click to read the entire article)

A natural gas drilling outfit could be drawing more water from the Town of Erwin, if a road use agreement with Steuben County is approved.

The water will be drawn from a site across the street from Chilson-Wilcox in Gang Mills, with access to the location on County Route 79 off State Route 417.

County Public Works Commissioner Vincent Spagnoletti said the drilling company, East Resources, is now hauling as many as five truckloads of water a day from Erwin on County Route 79.

The road use agreement would allow East Resources, a division of Shell Oil, to haul more water to its operations in Pennsylvania, Spagnoletti said. The driller is among several companies now drilling in the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits in Pennsylvania.

Spagnoletti said road agreements with any natural gas drilling companies should require roads be repaired to top condition. The county also has the right to demand roads be brought up to good standards during use by the driller, he said.

(Click to read the entire article)

The Public Service Commission will meet next week to discuss rate increases requested by Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. and New York State Electric and Gas Corp., with a decision expected the following week.

The five-member board has set a special session for 11 a.m. Wednesday in Albany to discuss the rate case.

The board will discuss a joint proposal made by the staff of the PSC, RG&E, NYSEG and other parties. The proposal could mean that for the typical RG&E customer who gets both electricity and natural gas from the company, the monthly bill would rise by $14.86 over three years.

The typical NYSEG customer would see a monthly bill go up by $16.88 once the rate increases were fully effective in September 2012.

The board will broadcast its special session via the Web. The website is www.dps.state.ny.us.

A final determination on the rate increases is expected at the PSC’s meeting on Sept. 16, also in Albany.

New York's de facto moratorium on horizontal natural gas drilling has led landowners to challenge several force majeure claims, but a bill that would ban all hydraulic fracturing until mid-May could bolster the companies' legal argument, some attorneys said.

The current moratorium, which was issued in an executive order by Gov. David Paterson in July 2008 as the state Department of Environmental Conservation reviews its policies, still allows companies to drill horizontally as long as the company develops a satisfactory, site-specific Environmental Impact Statement outlining regulations and procedures that would be used during the drilling process.

The moratorium bill, which was passed by the state Senate last month, would put all hydrofracking on hold and may be easier to argue under force majeure.

"If that legislation passes and the governor signs the bill, I think that gives the gas companies a much better argument," said Robert Wedlake, an attorney representing several area landowners and coalitions. "Right now, there is no law and there is nothing in writing that says you can't get a permit for a Marcellus horizontal well. If Chesapeake were to submit an application with a site-specific Environmental Impact Statement conducted by scientists and engineers, it's conceivable that the DEC would give them a permit to hydrofrack a horizontal well."

(Click to read the entire article)

New York utility regulators have good reason to question expenses that National Grid wants to pass on to its customers.

In all, regulators found at least $300,000 worth of questionable expenses National Grid was preparing to pass on to customers in Massachusetts, where the utility is seeking the biggest gas rate increase in that state’s history.

In New York, where National Grid wants to raise Upstate electric rates by $400 million, regulators say National Grid tried to include many of its questionable expenses in the rate increase for its Niagara Mohawk electric subsidiary serving Upstate, according to Public Service Commission staff testimony.

National Grid this week offered to remove the offending charges from its rate-hike request. But staff accountants at the Public Service Commission have repeatedly questioned the reasonableness and accuracy of National Grid’s costs, and the company’s initial inclusion of these charges does nothing to allay those concerns.

(Click to read the entire article)

Proceeds from Upstate New York utility customers helped to pay $1,254 for a National Grid executive to ship his wine collection across the Atlantic, $3,566 to repair another executive’s washing machine and pool cover on Long Island, and $35,700 to send a third employee’s children to a private school in Boston.

State officials discovered those and other examples of lavish spending as they examined National Grid’s request for a $400 million increase in Upstate electric rates.
National Grid had sought to include those expenses in rates, beginning in 2011.

After state officials questioned the expenditures, National Grid this week offered to slash $4.27 million from its rate proposal in hopes of putting the matter to rest.

Utility officials said they don’t want the controversial expenses to derail the rate case.

(Click to read the entire article)

Rate plan costs cut

ALBANY -- National Grid has removed $4.27 million in expenses it planned to charge to customers in its electric rate hike plan for upstate New York after regulators questioned whether the sometimes lavish spending was appropriate.

The move is expected to help clear up some contentious issues between the British utility and the state Department of Public Service as hearings on the $370 million rate hike begin today in Albany.

Most of the charges being eliminated -- $3.4 million -- are expenses charged by expatriate National Grid executives who were transferred from the United Kingdom to the United States to oversee the company's New York and New England operations.

Dubious expenses covered the shipment of one executive's wine collection to the U.S. and tuition for exclusive private schools such as The British School of Boston. National Grid has also decided to also remove the cost of salary and benefits for those employees from the rate plan.

(Click to read the entire article)

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