By Emily Holden (@emilyhholden)
Please join Morning Consult at Capitol Lounge on Thursday night from 6-8 for our second summer happy hour. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there!
Today’s Washington Brief:
- Senators on the Energy panel are discussing making current commissioner Cheryl LaFleur chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission instead of enforcement officer Norman Bay. That change would have to come from the White House though, Wall Street Journal's Amy Harder reports. The committee nomination votes have been pushed back until at least next week.
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's election loss last night will most likely doom any ambitious legislation through the next presidential election and move the GOP leadership further to the right, New York Times' Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer report.
- Utilities generally welcomed or begrudgingly accepted the EPA's carbon emissions proposal, likely because they are confident in their ability to influence the state governments that will be crafting plans, E&E's Nick Juliano reports.
Today’s Business Brief:
- Google is in the early stages of building software and hardware tools to manage power lines and other energy infrastructure, Bloomberg reports.
- Oil and natural-gas drilling in the shallow federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico is seeing a revival four years after the BP spill, National Journal's Ben Geman reports.
- Transmission projects under development may link power-independent Texas to the nation's grids, raising questions about regulatory jurisdiction and opening up possibilities for the state's wind power to flow to neighbors, E&E's Howard Klump reports.
Today's Chart Review:
Percentage Increase in End-Use Energy Efficiency Under EPA Examples (Interactive)
from Morning Consult by Emily Holden
Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern):
Wednesday: America's Wetland Foundation briefing on Mississippi River sustainability @ 8:30 am
Wednesday: House Transportation hearing on Clean Water Act jurisdiction @ 10 am
Wednesday: CSIS talk on energy policy with Zichal @ 10 am
Wednesday: House Foreign Affairs hearing on energy priorities in Middle East/North Africa @ 10 am
Wednesday: National Marine Sanctuary Foundation talk on energy evolution at Newseum @ 3 pm
Thursday: House Natural Resources hearing on American energy jobs @ 9:30 am
Thursday: Brookings Institution talk on Japanese energy future @ 10:30 am
Thursday: Sens. Heitkamp, Barrasso speak at Natural Gas Roundtable luncheon @ Noon
Thursday: U.S. Energy Association forum on efficiency at National Press Club @ 1 pm
Thursday: Morning Consult happy hour at Capitol Lounge @ 6 pm
Friday: U.S. Energy Association forum on efficiency at National Press Club @ 7:30 am
11: Natural Gas
12-17: Utilities and Infrastructure
OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES
18: Roll Call
RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES
19: Carbon Disclosure Project
1) Support Wanes for Obama’s FERC Nominee
from Wall Street Journal by Amy Harder
Support for President Barack Obama’s nominee to be a top energy regulator is waning and a pivotal Senate committee vote has been pushed back at least until next week. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was looking to vote Thursday to confirm Norman Bay as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission andCheryl LaFleur, currently acting chairman, to another term as a FERC commissioner...Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said there was talk among committee leaders that the nominations of Ms. LaFleur and Mr. Bay should be swapped so Ms. LaFleur could be appointed permanent chairman and Mr. Bay be nominated as a commissioner. Congress does not have the power to do that; a change in nominees must come from the White House. A spokesman for Mr. Obama declined to comment.
2) Cantor’s Loss a Bad Omen for Moderates
from New York Times by Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauser
The House Republican leadership, so solid in its opposition to President Obama, was torn apart Tuesday by the defeat of its most influential conservative voice, Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader. His demise will reverberate all the way to the speaker’s chair, pull the top echelons of the House even further to the right and most likely doom any ambitious legislation, possibly through the next presidential election...A chastened House leadership will struggle to do the most basic functions of governance — increasing the debt limit, funding the government and passing routine bills — further alienating Congress with the middle of the electorate, said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York...“The results tonight will move the party further to the right, which will marginalize us further as a national party,” Mr. King said.
3) Union Theological Seminary In NYC Unanimously Votes To Divest From Fossil Fuels
from Huffington Post by Antonia Blumberg
Trustees of Union Theological Seminary in New York City voted on Tuesday to divest from fossil fuels, making Union the world's first seminary to take such action in the fight against climate change, according to a release sent to The Huffington Post...Though it may be the first seminary to fully divest from fossil fuels, Union joins a growing movement of religious organizations taking action to promote sustainability. In July 2013 the General Synod of the United Church of Christ voted to begin a path to divestment from fossil fuels companies, becoming the first major religious body in the U.S. to make such a decision. In May leading Catholic news agency The National Catholic Reporter published an op-ed stating that climate change was the church's number one 'pro-life' issue, saying "the right to life has little meaning if the earth is destroyed to the point where life becomes unsustainable."
4) Energy Boom Boosts Tanker Construction
from Wall Street Journal by Costas Paris
Shipping operators and investors are pouring billions of dollars into building oceangoing crude-oil tankers—taking advantage of low shipbuilding prices and scrambling to get ahead of the unfolding North American energy boom. New drilling and extraction technology has unlocked vast reservoirs of crude oil and natural gas in the U.S. and Canada. This has triggered plans for a handful of liquefied natural gas projects in both countries. Canada, meanwhile, is seeking to boost its crude exports. And the U.S. has recently said it is considering lifting a long-standing oil-export ban.
5) Obama Says He Would Like a Price on Carbon
from Washington Examiner by Zack Colman
President Obama hopes to one day have a price on carbon emissions as a policy to address climate change, he said in an interview for the Showtime documentary miniseries "Years of Living Dangerously."
Referring to a 1990s cap-and-trade program used to reduce emissions that contribute to acid rain, Obama told the New York Times' Thomas Friedman, who conducted the interview, "You can't keep dumping it out in the atmosphere and making everybody else pay for it. So if there's one thing I would like to see, it'd be for us to be able to price the cost of carbon emissions."
6) Sen. Landrieu: Our Goal Isn't Clean Energy, It's Energy Security
from The Hill by Laura Barron-Lopez
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) took to a coal plant in her home state of Louisiana to slam the administration's new proposal limiting carbon emissions from power plants. "The goal for me is not clean. It's an important part of the equation, but it is not the goal," Landrieu told press after touring the coal-fired power plant Monday afternoon. "The goal is [energy] independence. The goal is security. The goal is reliability. And then also, as clean as possible," she added.
7) U.S. Stock Futures Decline on World Bank Growth Forecast
U.S. stock-index futures declined, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index yesterday halted a four-day streak of record closes, as the World Bank cut its forecast for global growth...Futures on the S&P 500 (SPX) expiring this month declined 0.3 percent to 1,943.7 at 10:57 a.m. in London. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts lost 46 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,896.
8) Four Years After BP Spill, a Shallow-Water Revival
from National Journal by Ben Geman
For well over a decade, oil and natural-gas drilling in the shallow federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico have been in a seemingly unending decline...Four years later, the shallow-water region has seen a whirlwind of deal-making as aggressive players snap up assets. According to the prominent energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, over the past year, merger-and-acquisition activity focused on the shallow-water Gulf of Mexico has totalled roughly $7 billion.
9) Deal May Spur Drilling in Mississippi, Louisiana
from Houston Chronicle (AP)
A private equity firm will invest up to $400 million to support efforts by Houston-based Halcón Resources Corp to drill for oil on the 314,000 acres that Halcón has leased in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale of southwest Mississippi and southeast Louisiana...The money could spur development in the fledgling oil region, where new wells have shown more consistent productivity in recent months.
10) TransCanada CEO Remains Optimistic Keystone XL Pipeline Will Be Built
from Wall Street Journal by Nirmala Menon
TransCanada Corp.'s chief executive said Tuesday he remains "very optimistic" that the Keystone XL pipeline will get built, but he isn't sure when it will happen. Russ Girling made the remarks during a panel session at a major economic conference in Montreal. He told reporters later that the cost of the project will be "materially more" than the current $5.4 billion estimate. The controversial project has been under review by the U.S. State Department--which has jurisdiction because it crosses the Canadian-U.S. border--for almost six years. Earlier this year, the department indefinitely extended the review...
11) IEA Says China Natural Gas Demand to Nearly Double
from Wall Street Journal by Selina Williams
China's natural gas demand is forecast to nearly double by 2019, offsetting slower growth in Europe and elsewhere, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday in its annual medium-term gas market report.
Global gas demand is expected to rise by 2.2% a year by the end of 2019 compared with 2.4% projected in last year's outlook, the Paris-based energy watchdog said.
Utilities and Infrastructure
12) Political Clout Tempers Utilities' Fears of Power Plant Rule to be Implemented by States
from E&E by Nick Juliano
The relatively sanguine reaction from most utilities to U.S. EPA's landmark climate change rule reflects the extent to which power companies are confident in their ability to influence the state governments that will be crafting plans to hit required carbon dioxide emissions reductions. EPA's proposal was greeted with predictable outrage from coal miners, heavy industry and ideologically motivated interest groups that warned of higher energy prices, lost jobs and a less reliable energy supply. But utilities were generally more likely to welcome -- or at least begrudgingly accept -- the regulation on existing power plants as something they were already on the way to achieving by switching from coal to natural gas-fired power, promoting energy efficiency and relying more on renewables.
13) Google Said to Plan Energy Push With Tools for Utilities
Google Inc. plans a deeper push into the $363.7 billion U.S. power-sales market by working on tools that help utilities deliver electricity to homes and businesses more efficiently, people with knowledge of the matter said. The operator of the most popular Internet-search engine is in the early stages of building software and hardware tools to manage power lines and other infrastructure, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The technology is being developed by Google’s Energy Access team and led by Arun Majumdar, vice president of the company’s energy unit, the people said.
14) Transmission Projects Could Break Through Borders of Power-Independent Texas
from E&E by Edward Klump
Texas, long proud of its independence in the world of power, is looking at a future that may include a new level of connectivity. To the west, the Tres Amigas project in New Mexico seeks to link the nation's grids and may begin construction this year. To the east, the Southern Cross transmission project last month received a federal endorsement of a plan to provide a Texas connection with the U.S. Southeast. While backers of both proposals will need to firm up financing, the possibilities are unmistakable: Texas borders may not seem as unreachable to those on the outside or as unbreakable to those on the inside, even if the state remains a relative island in the nation's electricity system.
15) PPL to Spin Off Merchant Power Generation Business
from Reuters by Supriya Kurane
PPL Corp and Riverstone Holdings LLC on Monday said they would combine their merchant power generation businesses into a new stand-alone, publicly traded independent power producer. The new company, which will own and operate a diverse mix of 15,320 megawatts of generating capacity in key U.S. energy markets, will be called Talen Energy Corp and will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the companies said in a statement.
16) Exelon to Offer 50 Million Shares, 20 Million Units
from Wall Street Journal by Anne Pallivathuckal
Exelon Corp. said it planned to offer 50 million common shares and 20 million equity units, in what would be one of the biggest U.S.-listed follow-on stock offerings in recent years, and use the proceeds to finance its acquisition of Pepco Holdings Inc. POM +0.26% The electricity and gas utility agreed in April to buy Pepco in an all-cash deal worth about $6.8 billion. The combined utility will serve about 10 million customers across the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., with a rate base of about $26 billion.
17) US Utilities Shift Capital Spending as Distributed Generation Grows
from Platts by Bobby McMahon
Utility officials on Tuesday highlighted how low load growth and the emergence of distributed generation resources are leading them to shift capital spending toward bolstering infrastructure and away from generation investments. "You see a lot of utilities in the country moving this way, and that really defines the utility of the future in many respects," said Nick Akins, president and CEO of American Electric Power. Speaking on a panel at the Edison Electric Institute's annual convention, Akins said that this period of 1-1.5% load growth provides a "distinct opportunity" for the industry to balance the generation portfolio while also focusing on infrastructure development to allow the connection of DG and other resources.
OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES
18) Embracing Healthier Communities Through Clean Energy
from Roll Call by Lloyd Doggett and Michael Shank
When it comes to choosing the right energy to power America’s communities and economies, it’s safe to say that most Americans, if given the option, would choose an energy source much like they might choose a neighborhood in which to buy a home. Cleanliness becomes a factor, as does the overall health of the neighborhood, but so too the sustainability of the community: Will it thrive and will the local housing market be healthy enough to profitably sell at some point?
RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES
19) The Business Response to Climate Change Across America
from Carbon Disclosure Project
This CDP report examines the business response to climate change from S&P 500 companies in nine diverse US States: California, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. It provides a state-by-state breakdown of key statistics and descriptions of the current state of action among US businesses on climate change, in the words of the businesses themselves.