Monday, July 31, 2006

Utilities as 'primary' suppliers of energy efficiency?

It might have taken this summer's second heat spell to go public with it, but better late than never for the National Action Plan for Enegy Efficiency launching today, July 31. It's led a group of utility companies, regulators, non-governmental organizations and others with Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers Iowa Utilities Board member Diane Munns at the helm. Ms. Helms also is the current president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

How will utilities be motivated to sell efficiency when either 1) subsidiaries already sell those services as lesser-regulated businesses or, if the subsidiaries don't, 2) the utility loses money when they discourage consumption is just one of the challenges that loom. Stay tuned for updates through this fall and winter and into 2007.

Obstructionism or misplaced priorities by Bush on clean-energy technologies?

That's the question, at least among those with open minds, about why President Bush is not sending his top environmental adviser, James Connaughton, to a roundtable discussion today, July 31, in Long Beach, Calif. on how to work together to accelerate the deployment of clean-energy techologies. It's important enough for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and about 25 energy and other types of CEOs from around the world to be there. White House says there was a scheduling conflict. Critics are blasting the Bush Administration's "obstructionist stance."

This effort is under the auspices of London-based The Climate Group, a non-profit trying to spearhead action to reduce carbon emissions. Among the CEOs slated to attend: Jim Rogers of Duke Energy, Charles Holliday of DuPont and Richard Branson of Virgin Group.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pro-nuke Entergy pressing for competitive advantage in EPA lawsuit

It may be asking to join only as a "friend of the court," but U.S.-based Entergy is squarely playing its nuclear card in begging to debate EPA authority under the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit pits states and environmentalists against the Bush administration which argues EPA doesn't have to regulate emissions standards, no matter which way you read the Clean Air Act. If the states, enviros and now Entergy were to prevail, the hammer on C02 emissions would come down harder and faster on utilities relying heavily on coal to generate electricity, giving Entergy a growing competitive advantage as the nation's second largest generator of electricity from nuclear energy (Exelon is first). In a motion filed recently that has not been widely reported, Entergy said it "has a perspective on C02 regulation that, while it is supportive of, does not mirror precisely those (views) held by (states and envrionmental groups)." Talk about strange bedfellows. Talk about a 'house' (aka the utility industry) divided.

Intl Energy Agency preparing for world oil shock

Of the little real news coming out of this past weekend's G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia is the Group of 8's endorsement of preparations for possible world oil shock. The leaders agreed they need a plan to coordinate the release of the member countries' emergency oil reserves, including the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the U.S. Good thing, given they project that demand for oil, natural gas and coal among the member countries would increase by 50 percent above current levels by 2030, according to a report in Monday's editions of The New York Times. It wasn't clear whether that included demand from China and India, since neither of those countries is in the G8. The current members are: U.S., Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"BTC" oil pipeline opens bypassing Russia & Middle East

Europe is less dependent on Russian oil starting today, July 13, due to the opening of the second-longest pipeline in the world with a capacity to deliver more than one million barrels of oil per day by 2008. The timing is prescient in light of world oil prices reaching $76 per barrel due to geopolitical tensions in Nigeria and the Middle East.

Drawn from the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, the pipeline represents a huge step toward securing safe access to needed oil reserves and de-coupling the region's dependence on its former Russian master. It also avoids the volatile Middle East, giving world markets an important alternative supply.

Last winter without warning, Russia doubled the prices of energy to both Georgia and the Ukraine after pro-Russian administrations were ousted by mass protests. Russia claimed the price hike simply mirrored market prices, but Washington blasted the move accusing Moscow of strong-armed tactics. Much to Moscow's irritation, US Special Forces have been sent to Georgia to help protect the pipeline as the region is one of most volatile in the world.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

'W' and Condi 'addicted to oil' video spoof now up

Check out this entertaining video spoof of former rock star Robert Palmer's memorable, early-generation "Addicted to Love" video by the folks behind "Separation of Oil & State," a campaign to get oil money out of politics.

They're demanding that elected officials "stand up for the future of energy" and stop -- you guessed it -- their addiction to oil. It's time, the campaign says, "to fully support hybrid cars, biodiesel, energy efficiency, and wind power, all economically viable technologies."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Healthy energy 'interdependence'

I join C. Fred Bergsten, an economist and director of the Insitute for Intertional Economics, and others in debunking the myth of U.S. energy independence. For all the reasons readers of this blog are no doubt aware, we cannot meet our energy needs without imports. We even need Spanish-made turbines to meet the demand for wind energy in Pennyslvania!

Reduce imports? You bet. Eliminate them? No way. At least not in the current and next generations, because the price of energy, be it at the gasoline pump, on the NYMEX or at the utility user's meter, matters a lot. The 'independent' view pretents that it does not. Healthy energy INTERdependence is a realistic objective. That is what we should pursue. For more see the Wednesday, July 5 editions of The Wall Street Journal by John Fialka for "Energy Independence: A Dry Hole?"