From: Morning Consult
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Morning Consult Energy: Senate Weighs Holding Keystone XL Vote, Lawmakers Want Tougher Russia Sanctions
Date: Tue Apr 29 13:33:57 MDT 2014
Body:

 

By Emily Holden (@emilyhholden)

 

 

Today’s Washington Brief:

Today’s Business Brief:

 

Today's Chart Review: 

 

Distributed Solar Deployment in Select Geographies

from Greentech Media

 

 

 

 

Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern): 

 

Tuesday: National Hydropower Association Annual Conference with Moniz @ 9 am
Tuesday: FERC technical conference on critical infrastructure protection @ 10 am
Tuesday: House Natural Resources hearing on energy jobs @ 10 am 
Tuesday: House Energy hearing on chemical review and regulation @ 10:15 am
Tuesday: Natural Gas Roundtable lunch with administrator of Energy Information Administration @ Noon 
Tuesday: Environmental Law Institute discussion on preparing for high-profile industrial accidents @ Noon
Tuesday: Quarterly Earnings— Power Integrations IncPortland General Electric CoTECO Energy IncREX Energy Corp

Tuesday: House Energy opening statements for markup on LNG exports @ 4 pm
Wednesday: National Hydropower Association Annual Conference @ 8 am
Wednesday: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation discussion on energy efficiency @ 8:30 am 
Wednesday: House Homeland Security markup of chemical facility anti-terrorism legislation @ 9:30 am

Wednesday: House Energy markup on LNG exports @ 10 am
Wednesday: FERC seminar on environmental compliance for natural gas facilities in Seattle @ 11 am
Wednesday: American Council on Renewable Energy webinar on Latin America and Caribbean @ Noon 
Wednesday: Senate Indian Affairs hearing on tribal energy development @ 2:30 pm
Wednesday: Quarterly Earnings—Dominion ResourcesExelon CorpNextEra Energy IncSouthern Co
Thursday: Senate Energy hearing on winter propane shortages @ 2:30 pm
Thursday: Quarterly Earnings—CenterPoint Energy IncExxon Mobil CorpITC Holdings CorpOGE Energy CorpPG&E CorpSouthwestern Energy Co
Friday:  EPA teleconference meeting on draft advisory report on water body connectivity cont. @ 1 pm
Friday: Quarterly Earnings—Cheniere Energy PartnersChevron CorpConsolidated Edison IncNortheast UtilitiesSempra Energy



 

 

NEWS ARTICLES

1-9: General
10-16: Oil
17: Natural Gas

18: Utilities and Infrastructure

19: Nuclear 

20-21: Renewables

 

 

OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES


22-23: Wall Street Journal 
24: Washington Post 

 

RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES

 
25: Energy Information Administration 
26: Greentech Media Research
27: Government Accountability Office

28: Center for American Progress 

 

NEWS ARTICLES

 

General

 

1) U.S. Strikes at Putin’s Inner Circle With Sanctions as Fight Over Ukraine Intensifies

from Bloomberg by Roger Runningen and Jonathan Allen

 

The Obama administration today imposed sanctions on seven Russian officials and 17 companies linked to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle over the crisis in Ukraine. The list includes Igor Sechin, OAO Rosneft chief executive officer, and Sergei Chemezov, director of State Corporation for Promoting Development, Manufacturing and Export of Russian Technologies High-Tech Industrial Products, also known as Rostec, and banks such as InvestCapitalBank and SMP Bank. The travel bans and asset freezes announced by the White House were levied in coordination with the European Union, which said today it’s adding 15 more names to the list of 55 individuals previously sanctioned. The identities of those targeted by the EU weren’t immediately disclosed.

2) Sanctions Over Ukraine Cause Headaches in the Energy Sector
from New York Times by Andrew E. Kramer

 

…As part of the latest round of sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, the Obama administration on Monday took aim at Mr. Sechin, the president and chairman of the management board for Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned oil giant. He is the most prominent businessman targeted to date. The administration’s measures, and similar ones in Europe, have focused on companies, officials and wealthy businessmen with deep ties to the Russian government and Mr. Putin. The energy sector has been a particular priority: The latest American sanctions cover 17 companies largely clustered in oil and gas construction and financing, as well as Mr. Sechin and six other people. While the financial implications for large multinationals have so far not been significant, the list is creating headaches for compliance departments of Western companies. For example, American investors will most likely be able to continue to own shares in a company with a chief executive who is subject to sanctions, according to one investment banker who was not authorized to speak publicly. But it is unclear whether portfolio managers can take part in a quarterly conference call or other meetings with a person on the list, lest it be seen as a form of commercial interaction.

 

3) U.S. Lawmakers Say Latest Russia Sanctions Too Mild, To Seek More
from Reuters by Patricia Zengerle

 

Senior U.S. Republican lawmakers said on Monday the latest sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and companies are too mild to deter Moscow from further action in Ukraine and promised to offer legislation as soon as this week to pressure the Obama administration to take stronger action. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who earlier this month visited Ukraine and neighboring countries, called the new sanctions "just a slap on the wrist," and said it was time for measures that would affect the Russian economy. "Until you hit three or four of the large banks - the financial institutions - until you hit one of the energy producers at least, Gazprom, or someone, I just don't think it's going to have the effect on Putin to change his behavior," Corker told reporters at the U.S. Capitol. He said he likely would introduce legislation this week seeking to strengthen NATO, impose tough sanctions on Russian energy and some of its "significant" financial institutions and provide military aid and other assistance to Ukraine and neighboring countries.

4) Russia and Iran Reported in Talks on Energy Deal Worth Billions

from New York Times by Rick Gladstone

 

The Obama administration’s strategy of punishing Russia with economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis encountered a new complication on Monday with word that the Russians are negotiating an $8 billion to $10 billion energy deal with Iran, another country ostracized by American-led sanctions, which partly depend on Moscow’s cooperation to be effective. The Russia-Iran energy deal, reported by the Iranian state news media, is the second significant economic collaboration under negotiation between the two countries that could undercut the efficacy of the sanctions on Iran. Those sanctions are widely credited with successfully pressuring the Iranians in the current talks over their disputed nuclear program.

5) Democrats Weigh Keystone Vote Options

from Politico by Burgess Everett

 

A vote on the Keystone XL pipeline as soon as next week is under discussion by top Senate Democrats, according to sources familiar with the process. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his team are weighing the political implications of holding a vote on approval of the controversial pipeline as part of an energy efficiency bill written by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). A vote on Keystone would offer a strong boost to red-state Democrats in tough races this fall, allowing them to defy the White House in support of a project viewed favorably back home. The Senate hopes to consider the Shaheen-Portman bill as soon as next week, though leaders have yet to coalesce around a strategy of how to deal with the Keystone piece. The Keystone issue is particularly urgent given the highly politicized nature of the proposed pipeline and because Shaheen-Portman could be the last energy bill the Senate considers before the November elections, other than a broad tax extenders bill that includes several energy provisions. “We’re looking at a full range of options,” said one senior Democratic aide. The aide added: “Under any scenario it would be done as a path to passage [for Shaheen-Portman] not just for kicks.”

6) Documents Contradict EPA on Climate Rule Delay

from PoliticoPro by Erica Martinson

 

Newly released documents show that EPA was responsible for a months-long delay in publishing a landmark climate regulation — a move that will help red-state Democrats avoid a politically difficult vote on the rule until after this November’s elections. The records also contradict the congressional testimony of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who told senators early this year that her agency had submitted the rule to the Federal Register “as soon as that proposal was released.” But in fact, EPA didn’t submit the rule to the Federal Register until Nov. 25, more than two months after the agency released it to the public. And the Federal Register didn’t publish it until Jan. 8. The delay means that the soonest congressional Republicans can force a vote on repealing the rule is January 2015 — months after the vote would pose a tricky political dilemma for some Democrats seeking reelection.

7) McCarthy Slams Critics’ ‘Dangerous Game’ of Trying to Discredit Agency Science

from E&E by Daniel Lippman

 

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today struck back at EPA critics in a forceful address to scientists that defended agency actions on climate change, air quality issues and safe drinking water. "With science as our North Star, EPA has steered America away from health risks and toward healthier communities and a higher overall quality of life," she told the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. "That's why it's worrisome that our science seems to be under constant assault by a small -- but vocal -- group of critics." She denounced critics for "playing a dangerous game by discrediting the sound science" that EPA relies on. In February, some Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee proposed a bill that would ban EPA from relying on "secret science." Committee members have said independent scientists are not able to properly duplicate EPA's reasoning for rules and last year issued a subpoena of data from confidential health studies that form the backbone of many of the agency's air regulations -- including cohort studies by the American Cancer Society and Harvard Six Cities. In her speech, McCarthy accused agency critics of hypocrisy.

8) Congress Returns to Tackle Efficiency, Tax Credits, Water Law and Appropriations

from E&E by Nick Juliano

 

Lawmakers return to the Capitol today for a marathon session that could see Senate action on energy efficiency legislation and clean power tax credits alongside continued appropriations work in both chambers, potential enactment of a new water infrastructure law and plenty of opportunities for political point-scoring as November looms in members' minds. Relatively few marquee items are on the agenda in the coming days for energy and environmental policy watchers, but action is likely to heat up toward the end of this week or early next week in the Senate. The upper chamber is expected to focus first on legislation to increase the minimum wage -- bolstering majority Democrats' election-year messaging -- but next in line could be the bipartisan energy bill Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have been pushing for years. Negotiations continue over how to bring that bill to the floor, including what amendments could be offered, but Republicans are expected to use the opportunity to push for controversial votes on the Keystone XL pipeline and other contentious issues, potentially imperiling the underlying bill.

9) U.S. Stock-Index Futures Rise; Merck Profit Beats Target

from Bloomberg by Trista Kelley

 

U.S. stock-index futures rose, indicating equity benchmarks will climb for a second day, after Merck & Co. reported earnings that beat analysts’ estimates…Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in June climbed 0.3 percent to 1,872 at 7:26 a.m. in New York. The equity benchmark has gained 1.1 percent this year amid a pickup in economic activity following the end of the harsh winter. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts increased 48 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,445 today.

 


Oil

 

10) Atlantic Drilling Decision Will Not Hinge on Output Estimates: BOEM Director

from Platts by Brian Scheid 

 

An Obama administration decision on future drilling in Atlantic waters will not hinge on how much oil upcoming seismic tests estimate may be recoverable off the US East Coast, the outgoing director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management told Platts. "There's no sort of tipping point or threshold we're looking for in terms of resource potential," BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau said in an interview. "It's one factor you look at to say 'Would this even be attractive to industry?' But there are lots of other factors as well." The administration is considering including mid- and south Atlantic drilling in its next federal offshore leasing plan, which will run from 2017 through 2022, and has endorsed seismic testing to update decades-old estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas in these areas.

11) Exxon’s $900 Billion Arctic Prize at Risk After Ukraine

from Bloomberg by Stephen Bierman

 

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s dream of drilling in the Russian Arctic may risk running aground on the politics of Ukraine. The company plans to start drilling in August in the Arctic’s remote Kara Sea -- the centerpiece of Exxon’s global alliance with Russian state-controlled OAO Rosneft. The partnership, which includes shale exploration in Siberia and joint venture fields in Texas, will come under greater scrutiny after the U.S. placed sanctions on Rosneft’s Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin. “With Sechin being sanctioned it may complicate relations for Rosneft with Western companies,” said Mattias Westman, who oversees about $3.3 billion in Russia assets as CEO of Prosperity Capital. “Maybe some transactions will be threatened as a result and perhaps Russia will counter and they will be less keen for American companies to work on Arctic projects.” Patrick McGinn, a spokesman for Exxon’s exploration arm, said on April 25 that the company’s Kara Sea project was on schedule. He declined to make any additional comment after the U.S. extended the reach of sanctions yesterday.

 

12) North Dakota Governor Rejects Call for Session on Oil Boom
from Houston Chronicle by James MacPherson (AP)

 

Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Monday rejected a plea by Democrats for a special legislative session to address funding problems tied to western North Dakota’s oil boom. Dalrymple said in a statement that he’s confident the state can provide the financial assistance needed to help communities affected by oil development until the Legislature convenes in January…North Dakota’s newfound oil riches have resulted in unprecedented demands for spending on roads, schools, public works, law enforcement and emergency medical services. The state’s current two-year budget including federal aid is $14 billion — about $10 billion more than a decade ago. Dalrymple said the state will invest about $2.76 billion to support the state’s oil patch region during the current two-year budget cycle, which is more than double the previous two-year funding package of $1.2 billion.

13) U.S. Court Revives Oil Companies’ Lawsuit Over WWII Site Cleanup

from Reuters by Jonathan Stempel

 

A divided U.S. appeals court on Monday revived efforts by oil companies to force the federal government to cover their costs to clean up a southern California site where they had dumped toxic sludge during World War Two. By a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the dismissal of claims by BP Plc, Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc in a now 23-year-old case that their wartime contracts to produce gas to fuel military aircraft entitled them to reimbursement. The appeals court returned the case to Judge Thomas Wheeler of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for a damages trial, saying the amount of environmental harm from the contracts remains in dispute. The oil companies are seeking roughly $100 million.

 

14) Greenpeace Ship to Confront Russian Arctic Oil Tanker
from Houston Chronicle by Toby Sterling (AP)

 

Greenpeace International is sending out a ship to protest a tanker bringing the first oil produced at a new Russian offshore platform in the Arctic Circle to Rotterdam. The environmental group said Monday it has sent the “Rainbow Warrior III” to meet the Mikhail Ulyanov, a tanker chartered by Russia’s state-controlled oil company, Gazprom OAO. Greenpeace spokesman Ben Ayliffe would not comment on what kind of protest is planned…In September, 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists were arrested and charged with piracy after a protest near Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya offshore Arctic platform. They were released before the Winter Olympics in Sochi earlier this year. Their ship, “Arctic Sunrise,” is still being held by Russian authorities. Greenpeace has fiercely opposed the production of oil in the Arctic Circle, warning of the danger of oil spills in such unforgiving territory and of the worsening global warming caused by using fossil fuels.

15) Justice Dept.: Shielding Transocean Docs Could Threaten Gulf Spill Report

from Houston Chronicle by Collin Eaton

 

A U.S. attorney on Monday urged a federal appeals court to reject Transocean’s challenge to subpoenas for documents linked to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, arguing they are pivotal for a regulatory report on the disaster due in June. Overturning five subpoenas that the U.S. Chemical Safety Board issued to the Swiss rig operator roughly four years ago could leave the agency vulnerable to legal challenges to “basically scrap” its upcoming investigative report, Adam Goldman, an attorney for the Justice Department, said in a Houston court early Monday. The report, he said, would serve a unique – and in the federal government’s eyes, important – purpose: Among the results of 16 other probes into the 2010 oil spill, it would be the only report that strictly looks at ways to prevent similar accidents in the future.

16) Natural Gas-Gobbling Bacteria May Help Combat Oil Leaks

from Reuters by Alister Doyle

 

A type of bacteria that eats natural gases may provide a small defence against leaks such as BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 and curb global warming, a scientific report said on Monday. The study identified a strain of microbe able to grow on both methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and propane. Both are found in unrefined natural gas and scientists had previously thought that bacteria could only grow on one or the other. In consuming both methane and propane the bacteria prevent the gases reaching the atmosphere, Britain's University of East Anglia said of the report written by two of its scientists in the journal Nature. That means the microbes "could help mitigate the effects of the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere from both natural gas seeps in the environment and those arising from man-made activity such as fracking and oil spills," it said.

 


Natural Gas

 

17) Small Fire Burns at Wyoming Gas Plant After Blast
from Houston Chronicle by Bu Mead Gruver (AP)

 

A small fire burned at a western Wyoming natural gas processing plant Monday, five days after an explosion forced the evacuation of a nearby town and shut down the facility. The fire has shrunk considerably since the blast and workers at the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Partners facility were allowing the blaze to burn to consume remaining gases, according to a company spokesman. “It’s completely under our control. It’s not damaging any equipment,” said the spokesman, George Angerbauer. “We have personnel on site who are assessing the rest of the facility to determine operability and what it will take to get us back up and running.” He said he wasn’t sure how long that would take. A company release Monday said only one of the plant’s five processing units was damaged. The remaining four would remain able to process 1.1 billion cubic feet a day, or the entire volume of gas available for processing at the plant, according to the company.

 

 

Utilities and Infrastructure

 

18) DOE Issues Guidance on Electric Grid Cybersecurity
from The Hill by Timothy Cama

 

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued recommendations Monday for how the energy industry and its suppliers should build cybersecurity protections into power delivery systems. The guidance lays out language that utilities and other should use in the procurement process to ensure that they’re buying the right products and features to keep the electric grid safe from cyber attacks, DOE said. It followed a 2009 guidance on cybersecurity that focused on power control systems.

 

 

Nuclear

 

19) State, Regional Action Could Benefit U.S. Merchant Reactors: Panelists

from Platts by Elaine Hiruo

 

Action can be taken on the state and regional levels to help keep the existing US nuclear reactor fleet alive, the president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions said Monday at a panel discussion on climate change and nuclear power. Maintaining the country's nuclear power reactors, which produce more than 60% of zero-carbon electricity generated in the US, is vital to meeting the country's goal of slashing carbon dioxide emissions 17% by 2020, said Eileen Claussen, who moderated one of two panels at the event in Washington. Her group, also known as C2ES, is active in energy and climate change issues. Its strategic partners include Entergy, which owns one of the country's largest merchant nuclear fleet, and General Electric, whose products include boiling water reactors and BWR fuel.

 

 

Renewables

 

20) Can a DOE Competition Jump-Start Wind Power in America’s Vast Offshore?

from E&E by Elizabeth Harball

 

Right about now, offshore wind developers across the United States have started holding their breath. Next month, the Department of Energy will announce three competition winners that could blaze a path for offshore wind's future in the United States, where, despite the best efforts of a few determined mavericks, no utility-scale offshore wind farms have yet been built. When announced in December 2012, the DOE competition involved seven offshore wind demonstration projects that were awarded an initial $4 million to get off the ground. Each has spent the past year scrambling to prove it is one of three that merit an additional $47 million to transform their ambition to "get steel into the water" into reality.The projects, with backers as diverse as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and one of the Southeast's largest energy companies, have started work on both U.S. coasts, in the Great Lakes and in the Gulf of Mexico. All aim to be the impetus that begins to spin a robust offshore wind industry in their region.

 

21) Solar Industry is a Top Donor in Georgia PSC Elections
from E&E by Kristi E. Swartz

 

…Incumbents Doug Everett and Lauren "Bubba" McDonald have received more than $14,000 from individual solar companies, national and state solar industry groups, lobbyists, contractors, and associated attorneys, according to campaign disclosures from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. Some of those same companies and individuals also have donated more than $3,000 to two of the sitting commissioners who aren't up for re-election right now, according to the agency, formerly known as the state ethics commission. "Most members of the Georgia PSC have been incredibly thoughtful in their efforts to advance affordable solar energy to the benefit of consumers. I, along with many others, believe they deserve to continue their good work," said Pete Corbett, president and chairman of the Georgia chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association and an executive with First Century Energy and its subsidiary, SolAmerica Energy LLC. Georgia's PSC is one of just a few utility regulators that is elected. Its commissioners are used to environmental and consumer advocates criticizing them for receiving thousands in donations from executives, lobbyists and lawyers connected with the state's major utilities, natural gas and telephone companies. aSome of those individuals have contributed to current campaign coffers, but this is the first time donations from the solar industry have figured so prominently.

 

 

A message from the Independent Petroleum Association of America:

 

Launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America in 2009, Energy In Depth is a research, education and public outreach campaign focused on getting the facts out about the promise and potential of responsibly developing America’s onshore energy resource base – especially abundant sources of oil and natural gas from shale and other “tight” formations. It’s an effort that benefits directly from the support, direction and technical expertise of America’s oil and natural gas industry.

 

 

OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES

 

22) Russia’s Obama Rally
from Wall Street Journal


The U.S. and European Union imposed more sanctions on Russia Monday, and both the ruble and Moscow stock index rallied, the latter up 1.5%. The markets didn't take this response to the Kremlin's war on Ukraine seriously, and neither will Vladimir Putin. Secretary of State John Kerry last week used blistering language to describe Moscow's actions in eastern Ukraine. He was right. Russian special forces and local separatists have stormed government offices and threatened journalists and opponents. Some were tortured, a couple killed. The independent mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, was shot Monday in an assassination attempt. On Friday, the Russian-sponsored warlords who hold the provincial city of Slovyansk took hostage monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. These are the monitors the U.S. insisted be allowed to oversee the truce Mr. Kerry negotiated only two weeks ago. Yet President Obama delayed the announcement of new sanctions and then watered them down.

 

23) Germany Turns Against the West on Russia
from Wall Street Journal by John Vinocur

 

Heinrich August Winkler is a major German historian whose book "Der Lange Weg nach Westen'' ("The Long Road West") is considered the standard reference work on Germany's postwar democratization, and what Mr. Winkler saw as the end of its dangerous geopolitical notions of playing an ambivalent midstream role between East and West. In an important essay published earlier this month in Der Spiegel magazine, Mr. Winkler expressed alarm about a current rise in German sentiment, both left and right, showing understanding or even traces of support for Vladimir Putin's aggression in Crimea and Ukraine. Mr. Winkler, a Social Democrat, writes that this trend is creating "new doubts about Germany's calculability." He describes the Russian president as having become "the patron of reactionary forces'' throughout Europe, barely a decade after having inspired Western hopes that Russia could become a pluralistic and strategic partner. Now, Mr. Winkler asserts, "the West, until further notice, must say goodbye" to those hopes. German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Washington on Thursday to talk to U.S. President Barack Obama about the crisis between Russia and the West—or as Mrs. Merkel's government euphemizes it, "the events in Ukraine." It is highly doubtful that she will use the occasion to say anything publicly with the force or finality of Mr. Winkler's judgment.

 

24) Ukraine’s Tymoshenko: The U.S. and E.U. ‘Underestimate the Real Threat of This Situation’
from Washington Post by Lally Weymouth

 

Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian opposition leader released from jail after former president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February, walks with a crutch. Now campaigning for president, she spoke with The Post’s Lally Weymouth this week in Kiev.

 

 

A message from the Independent Petroleum Association of America:

 

Launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America in 2009, Energy In Depth is a research, education and public outreach campaign focused on getting the facts out about the promise and potential of responsibly developing America’s onshore energy resource base – especially abundant sources of oil and natural gas from shale and other “tight” formations. It’s an effort that benefits directly from the support, direction and technical expertise of America’s oil and natural gas industry.

 

  

RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES

 

25) Implications of Accelerated Power Plant Retirements

from Energy Information Administration by Jeffrey Jones and Michael Leff

 

In 2012, coal-fired and nuclear power plants together provided 56% of the electricity generated in the United States. The role of these technologies in the U.S. generation mix has been changing since 2009, as both low natural gas prices and slower growth of electricity demand have altered their competitiveness relative to other fuels. Many coal-fired plants also must comply with requirements of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and other environmental regulations. Some of the challenges faced by coal-fired and nuclear generators, and the implications for electricity markets if the plants are retired in significant numbers, are analyzed in this discussion.

 

26) Advanced Grid Power Electronics for High Penetration PV Integration 2014
from Greentech Media Research by Ben Kellison

 

Penetration of distributed solar is set to increase by over 300% in the United States over the next four years, straining existing distribution infrastructure at the local level in at least thirteen states. Secondary distribution grid control equipment, including power electronics-based solutions, represents the best and increasingly most cost-effective technical solution to these problems. GTM Research expects the market for these devices to grow tenfold over the next five years alone.

 

27) Demand-Response Activities Have Increased, but FERC Could Improve Data Collection and Reporting Efforts

from Government Accountability Office

 

Since 2004, the federal government has made efforts to facilitate demand-response activities, including expanding their use in wholesale electricity markets. Among these efforts, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued regulatory orders affecting Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO)—entities that operate the transmission system and administer wholesale markets in some parts of the country. For example, FERC issued orders approving RTO rules for quantifying the extent of demand-response activities and compensating consumers for their demand-response activities. FERC collects and reports data on demand-response activities in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, but these efforts have limitations. Electricity markets and demand-response activities have changed since FERC began collecting and reporting this data in 2006, but FERC has not reviewed the scope of its efforts to determine whether they could better reflect changes in electricity markets and demand-response activities.

 

28) Oil and Gas Industry Investments in the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International
rom Center for American Progress by Matt Lee-Ashley

 

As part of a major effort since 2008 to bolster its lobbying and political power, the oil and gas industry has steadily expanded its contributions and influence over several major conservative sportsmen’s organizations, including Safari Club International, the National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. The first two organizations have assumed an increasingly active and vocal role in advancing energy industry priorities, even when those positions are in apparent conflict with the interests of hunters and anglers who are their rank-and-file members. The third group, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, is also heavily funded by oil and gas interests and plays a key role in providing energy companies, SCI, the NRA, gun manufacturers and other corporate sponsors with direct access to members of Congress.