Israel Launches ‘Cyber Iron Dome’ to Protect its Electrical Grid

The Israel Electric Company (IEC) is concerned about protection of the Jewish nation’s electrical grid. The recent 50 day summer 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza witnessed more than 2,300 rockets reining death and destruction on Central and Southern Israel. Several hundred rockets headed towards major population centers in the State of Israel were detected and literally knocked from the skies by the Iron Dome system batteries. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets over the period from 2006 to 2014 have targeted the Rutenberg Power Plant of the IEC in Ashkelon. The power plant has also been subject to periodic outages. The vulnerability to physical attack was illustrated by Gaza’s sole power plant destroyed during the conflict.

Physical threats are only one aspect. There are also Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and cyber attacks. Cyber attacks on critical operating systems, such as Siemens’ SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) are something that Israel may know about. There was the development of the Stuxnet malware that disrupted Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. Israel to this day remains silent about any involvement in the malware’s development.  Israel’s electrical network vulnerabilities led the IEC to partner with the Israeli firm of mPrest that had developed the critical sensor and detection software system at the core of the Iron Dome System. The objective was to develop a means of intercepting and deterring cyber threats to the national grid.  On Tuesday, the Information Grid (IG) system was unveiled at a Homeland Security Conference in Tel Aviv.

The Times of IsraelStart Up-Israel technology publication reported this ground breaking development; Israel presents an ‘Iron Dome’ for ‘electricity terror’. Eugene Kaspersky of the eponymous cyber protection concern that discovered Stuxnet recently commented:

“We’ve seen numerous cases of attacks on industrial infrastructure – Stuxnet was far from the only one,” said Kaspersky. “There is an international army consisting of tens of thousands of engineers out there developing SCADA malware. One day, a terrorist organization is going to get the bright idea to acquire one of these tools and deploy it to make their ideological point. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s just a matter of time until it does.”

Because of the terrorist threat to Israel’s national grid, the IEC reached out to mPrest to develop a solution. Start Up –Israel described the process and what IG does:

IEC partnered with a subsidiary of mPrest Systems, called mPrest Electric, which was a member of the IEC’s KARAT Incubator. Drawing on the tech used by mPrest to design and operate Iron Dome, the companies designed the Information Grid, which checks the flow of electricity to ensure that lines are not overloaded, and that electricity “viruses” — attacks on specific sections of the grid – don’t spread, allowing administrators to quickly identify suspicious activity and isolate it.

The heart of IG is:

a command and control system similar to the one that controls Iron Dome. When an attack is detected – if a SCADA system that is controlling electrical flow starts acting “funny,” for example – the Grid will notice it right away, and it will automatically shut off connections to the substation or segment of the system that has been compromised, preventing further damage and allowing security personnel to better track the source of the attack.

The system allows integration and control in real-time of thousands of sensors, which are installed at about 300 different sites in Israel. The sensors measure a wide variety of data, which flows into the Grid and is analyzed in real time. The Grid is based on a unique architecture which allows the integration of an infinite number of systems and assets, with no limitation on the number of links or data, said the IEC, and it can also handle additional information from a wide variety of legacy programs that measure and record data.

Here in the US we had investigative articles by the Wall Street Journal about a purported terrorist attack against the Metcalf substation of Pacific Gas and Electric in Silicon Valley. Aroused by the Metcalf substation attack, Jon Wellinghoff ,the former head of the Federal  Energy  Regulation Commission (FERC),   directed that   simulation studies  of  possible attacks be made  at key substations in the national grid. Those simulations of the national grid alarmingly revealed that terrorist attacks at just 9 strategically located substations in the US could collapse the entire grid.   The Congress has also been concerned about the vulnerability of the national grid arising from a Commission that released a report in 2006 about how to protect the electrical infrastructure from both natural and man-made EMP attacks.  That  led to development of   H.R. 2417 SHIELD (Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act)  and  H.R. 5026 GRID  (Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act) -proposals to harden the nation’s electrical system and protect the infrastructure from EMP, physical and cyber attacks.  Neither of these legislative proposals has progressed due to  opposition by the US electrical power industry because of alleged significant additional investment to achieve security. We wrote in a March 2014 Iconoclast post:

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the principal electric utility standard setting organization, has opposed passage of the SHIELD Act calling the network “resilient”.  Au contraire says an official of Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) cited by the WSJ: “The breadth and depth of the attack was unprecedented” in the U.S., said Rich Lordan, senior technical executive. “The motivation”, he said, “appears to be preparation for an act of war.”  When we checked the websites of the  House Energy and Commerce Committee  Chairman  Fred Upton (R-MI ) and  Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) their major concerns  were the vulnerability of the grid to cyber attack.

The  joint IEC-mPrest  Information Grid cyber protection  development should be of interest to  FERC, NERC and EPRI given  Congressional concerns over the vulnerability  of the  national  grid to terrorists, EMP  and cyber threats.

This latest display of Israeli high tech ingenuity should raise interest in protecting currently vulnerable US, EU and other electrical grids.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review. The featured image of a hacker is by Dreamstime.

Obama’s War on U.S. Energy

September 19th was an anniversary you did not read or hear about in the nation’s news media. It marked six years—2008—since the first permit application for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was submitted to the federal government. Can you imagine how many jobs its construction would have created during a period of recovery from the 2008 financial crisis? President Obama is universally credited with delaying it.

Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance, pointed out that World War II, the construction of the Hoover Dam, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition all took place in less time. In a September Forbes article, he noted that “Earlier this year a Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 65 percent of Americans support building the pipeline, while only 22 percent oppose it. In Washington three-to-one margins are usually referred to as mandates.”

In contrast, in March 2013 the then-Interior Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, boasted “In just over four years, we have advanced 17 wind, solar, and geothermal projects on our public lands.” It is not these projects that Americans depend upon for energy. The opposite is a stark explanation why coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy remain the heart blood of the economy.

AA - Keytone in Perspective

Infographic courtesy of UTA Consultants. For a larger view click on the image.

The Daily Caller reported in July that the “U.S. Bureau of Land Management is currently sitting on a backlog of 3,500 applications that need approval to move forward on drilling for oil and natural gas on federal land,” just part of Obama’s war on U.S. energy.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels met 82% of U.S. energy demand in 2013.

Petroleum, primarily used for transportation, supplied 36% of the energy demand in 2013. Natural gas represented 27%. Coal represented 20% and generated almost 40% of all electricity. In the six years since Obama took office that is a loss of 10%!

The much ballyhooed “renewable sources” of energy, justified by the false claim that carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming or climate change, are a very small part of the nation’s power providers. Wind power represented 1.6% and solar power represented three-tenths of 1%! Hydropower supplied 2.6% making it the largest source of so-called renewable energy.

Politically, it has been Democrats advocating renewable sources and siding with the President’s delay of the oil pipeline and the Environmental Protection Agency’s assault on coal-fired plants to produce electricity. By contrast, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has been busy putting forth legislation to fix aspects of our energy problems and needs.

Some of the bills that were introduced included H.R. 2728: The Protecting State’s Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act; H.R. 3: The Northern Route Approval Act (regarding the keystone XL Pipeline; H.R. 1900: The Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act; H.R. 2201: The North American Energy Infrastructure Act; and H.R. 6: The Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, intended to expedite the export of liquefied natural gas to our allies around the world. The global market is growing at a colossal pace.

These bills will likely all die in the U.S. Senate, controlled by the Democratic Party. The Nov 4 midterm elections can change that if enough Republicans are elected to gain control.

It’s not just natural gas that is helping the economy improve. The Financial Times reported in late September that “The U.S. is overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum, in a sign of how its booming oil production has reshaped the energy sector.” Why? “The U.S. industry has been transformed by the shale revolution, with advances in the techniques of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling enabling the exploitation of oilfields, particularly in Texas and North Dakota.”

The only places you won’t find oil drilling are on federally controlled lands. The same holds for coal and natural gas.

This is in keeping with a virtual war on U.S. energy waged from the White House. Consider what we have witnessed:

  • Obama has refused to let the Keystone XL pipeline be built.
  • Billions wasted on loans to renewable energy companies, many of which like Solyndra and Solar Trust of America went bankrupt.
  • Obama made electric cars like the Chevy Volt part of his energy policy, providing subsidies but their high cost and low mileage capacity has resulted in few sales.
  • Obama and the EPA advocated a cap-and-trade tax on greenhouse gas emissions when there has been no global warming for 19 years and carbon dioxide plays no role whatever in the Earth’s climate.
  • The Obama administration terminating the construction of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada despite nearly $15 billion already spent on this necessary repository.

These are just a few examples, but in the meantime, the U.S. still requires that a valuable food commodity, corn, be turned into ethanol, an automotive fuel additive, that (a) reduces the millage in every gallon and (b) increases its cost at the pump. As Seldon B. Graham, Jr., a longtime energy industry consultant and observer, notes that “Ethanol production peaked in 2011 at 6% of total oil demand.” Favoring replacing imported foreign oil with American oil, Graham says “Americans would have saved $64.7 billion on the oil price since 2009.”

Americans are afflicted by a President and his administration that for political and environmental reasons are costing them trillions in needless, senseless energy costs, loans and subsidies, and efforts to impose laws that have no basis whatever in science.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Why Keystone XL Opponents are So Wrong: Canada Exports Record Amount of Oil to U.S.

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline want you to believe that stopping the project will ensure that Canada won’t develop its oil resources. Well, someone forgot to tell Canada. From Reuters:

Canadian crude exports to the United States topped 3 million barrels per day last week for the first time, suggesting delays to new export pipelines such as TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL were failing to check oil sands development.

Environmental groups are fiercely opposed to new pipeline projects connecting Alberta’s oil sands to the United States and the east and west coasts, reasoning that without market access crude production will slow.

But the latest weekly data from the U.S. Environmental Information Administration shows Canadian crude exports are ramping up rapidly despite the pipeline impasse.

Canada, the No. 1 supplier of crude to the United States, exported 3.248 million bpd of crude to its southern neighbor in the week ended Oct. 3, up 18 percent from the previous week and up 35 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The four-week average to Oct. 3 was 2.977 million bpd.

“It’s a pretty clear indication that crude will find its way to market around various constraints,” said Sandy Fielden, analyst at RBN Energy.

The State Department came to the same conclusion in its economic analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline:

[A]pproval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs, and supply-demand scenarios.

Much of this oil is moving by rail right now, but plans are in the works for additional pipeline capacity. Earlier this year, the Canadian government approved a pipeline to transport oil west from Alberta to British Columbia. It awaits approval from Aboriginal groups. Then there’s the proposed Energy East pipeline:

The proposed $12 billion project would send 1.1 million barrels per day of western Canada’s oil-sands crude 2,900 miles east to Saint John, New Brunswick, on the country’s North Atlantic Coast. The project would convert a 1950s-era underutilized natural gas pipeline and add extensions to each end: one to a terminal south of Alberta’s oil sands in the oil town of Hardisty and the other extending the reach of the pipeline from Montreal to a refinery in Saint John, which has supertanker access that would allow the crude to be transported globally, including to the refineries in Louisiana and Texas that the Keystone XL pipeline would be intended to serve.

It’s obvious that Canada will get oil to hungry global markets anyway it can. It continues making the case for the Keystone XL pipeline because it’s a valuable conduit, but at the same time, it’s not waiting for a decision by the President.

The fact of the matter is while Canada continues developing and transporting its oil, America is losing out on the jobs, economic growth, and local tax revenue that would be generated by the Keystone XL pipeline.

Pipeline opponents are so rigidly fixed to their anti-energy ideology that they reject the economics and science surrounding the pipeline. Facts don’t matter to them. President Obama should ignore their hysteria and approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline march on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Photographer Pete Marovich/Boomberg.

Is Obama shutting down a power plant near you?

Six years ago, President Obama threatened thousands of hard-working Americans livelihoods with two sentences. “So if somebody wants to build a coal-fired plant they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them…

And now, the President is trying to make good on his promise. The EPA’s new climate regulations would close down enough electrical generation capacity to reliably power 44.7 million homes. That’s enough power for twenty-one states west of the Mississippi.

More than 72 gigawatts (GW) of electrical generating capacity have already, or are now set to retire because of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations. The regulations causing these closures include the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (colloquially called MATS, or Utility MACT)[1], proposed Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR)[2], and the proposed regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

Energy-InventoryFINAL

To put 72 GW in perspective, that is enough electrical generation capacity to reliably power 44.7 million homes[3]—or every home in every state west of the Mississippi River, excluding Texas.[4] In other words, EPA is shutting down enough generating capacity to power every home in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Over 94 percent these retirements will come from generating units at coal-fired power plants, shuttering over one-fifth of the U.S.’s coal-fired generating capacity.[5] While some of the effected units will be converted to use new fuels, American families and businesses will pay the price with higher utility bills and less reliability for their electricity.

This report is an update of a report we first issued in October 2011.[6]  In the original report, we calculated that 28.3 GW of generating capacity would close as a result of EPA’s regulations. At the time, we warned, “…This number will grow as plant operators continue to release their EPA compliance plans.” Unfortunately, this statement has proven to be true and will continue to grow in the future as new EPA regulations continue to be released. This latest update shows that 72.7 GW of electrical generating capacity will now close—a 44.4 GW increase.

To calculate the impact of EPA’s rules, we first assumed that EPA’s modeling of the regulations correctly predicted which power plants would close as a result of the regulations. Then, we looked at statements, filings, and announcements from electrical generators where they stated they would be closing power plants and in which they cited EPA’s regulations as the precipitating cause of the plant closures. We then compared EPA’s modeling outputs with the announcements and created a master list of plant closures as the result of EPA regulations (the master list is below).

Combining actual announcements with EPA’s modeling shows that EPA’s modeling grossly underestimates the actual number of closures. Originally, EPA calculated that only 9.5 GW of electrical generating capacity would close as a result of its MACT and CSAPR rules. Before President Obama’s newly proposed regulations on existing power plants even begin take effect, however, it is clear that actual number will now be much higher. We predict that over 72 GW of power generating capacity will likely close—over seven times the amount originally predicted by EPA modeling. Worse, as utilities continue to assess how to comply with EPA’s finalized rules, there will again likely be further plant closure announcements in the future. In our original 2011 report there were 30 states with projected power plant closures. Today, that number has risen to 37.

NERC is Concerned about Reliability even though It Underestimates the Amount of Closures

It should be further noted that the North American Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) original modeling of the MACT rule and original CSAPR rules estimated that under the worst case, or “strict” scenarios, 16.3 GW of electricity capacity would be closed due to the regulations, and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) “stringent” test showed that only 21 GW of generating capacity would be closed. [7] More recently, however, NERC has admitted that, “Since January 2011, the introduction and implementation of several environmental regulations combined with increased natural gas availability has contributed to the closure of nearly 43 GW of baseload capacity.”[8] NERC has shown concern that the closures will cause electricity reliability problems.

According to their 2013 Summer Reliability Assessment, some areas of the country have not been able to build enough generation capacity to meet recent load growth. A major reason for this is uncertainty surrounding environmental regulations.[9] Because of these deficiencies, some areas will see their generation reserve margins fall below target levels that can jeopardize power reliability. According to NERC, “Insufficient reserves during peak hours could lead to increased risk of entering emergency operating conditions, including the possibility of curtailment…and even rotating outages of firm load.”[10]

How much greater will the reliability problems be, given that retirements appear to be higher than initial NERC estimates, and additional burdensome regulations are continually being added? 

Announced and EPA Projected Retirements Are Significantly Higher than DOE’s Worst Case Scenarios

As noted in our previous update, public statements and the Utility MACT itself showed that EPA relies heavily on a DOE study claiming that even under a theoretical “stringent” test, EPA Utility MACT and CSAPR regulations would only close 21 GW of generation. EPA then claimed this study proves regulations will not threaten reliability. Our analysis, however, shows that with the addition of President Obama’s newest proposed rules, EPA projections and operator announcements will total more than 72 GW of generation retirements—over 50 GW more than DOE’s supposedly ultra-strict test scenario.

In fact, the initial reliability assessment released by the EPA with their new CO2 restrictions on existing power plants even points out that regions in the Southeast and Northeast may experience effects from the regulation that “…raise concerns over reliability.”[11]

EPA Regulations are Already Causing Electricity Prices to Dramatically Rise

Unfortunately, recent EPA regulations are already greatly reducing U.S. coal power capacity and raising electricity prices for homes and businesses across the country. According to Dr. Julio Friedman, Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal at the U.S. Department of Energy, wholesale electricity prices could end up rising as much as 80 percent from the effects of these rules.[12]

This past winter demonstrated in real time the value of the existing coal fleet. During the winter of 2014, coal was the only fuel with the ability to meet demand increases for electricity, providing 92 percent of incremental electricity in January/February, 2014 versus the same months in 2013. Americans were harmed as the relentless cold indicated that prudent utility practices require large, baseload coal plants to stabilize the grid, keep society functioning, and maintain electricity availability. Many regions suffered; for example, in late January and early February 2014 some locations in the Midwest experienced gas prices as high as $35/MMBtu, and the Chicago Citygate price exceeded $40/MMBtu. Those figures are nearly 10 times higher than EIA’s estimated average price of $4.46/MMBtu for natural gas in 2014.

The result of these and ongoing EPA rules, if put into force, will be no new coal-fired plants in the United States and massive closures of existing coal plants. Since coal is our single largest source of electricity generation, replacing these units will require the construction of higher-cost renewable generating technologies and/or natural gas units that will need massive infrastructure improvements to meet the higher demand. And, consumers will need to pay for these changes. Those added costs will make utility bills unaffordable for many families and force industry to curb production, relocate, or shut down altogether slowing any further recovery in an already lagging economy.

POWER PLANT RETIREMENT LIST

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

LIST SOURCES

This list is derived from three sources: (1) EPA’s parsed modeling files, which identify the power-plant units that EPA models say will close as a result of either the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) or Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS Rule); (2) news releases or press stories where a power-plant operator says a unit will or is likely to close due to EPA regulations; and (3) filings with state public utility commissions where a power-plant operator says a unit will or is likely to close due to EPA regulations. This list does not include the EPA’s parsed modeling files for the 111(d) rule. All sources are publically available information. Note that many of the plants originally projected to close by EPA modeling have already been retired.

EPA PARSED FILES

Process to Identify Units Closed by EPA Regulation

Individual power plants often have multiple boilers, called “units,” that generate electricity. EPA, in addition to overall modeling, models the impact that the Agency believes its regulations will have on each unit, at each power plant in America. EPA lists these results in “parsed files.” When producing parsed files for a regulation, EPA will first create a business-as-usual “base” case parsed file where the Agency details what it believes will happen absent EPA’s new regulation. Next, EPA creates a “policy” or “remedy” case parsed file showing how EPA believes plants will respond to a regulation. Thus, one can find the difference between these two cases, and figure out the impact EPA believes a regulation will have, by comparing the policy/remedy case parsed file to the base case parsed file. As such, the following steps were CSAPR and MATS Rule:

  1. For CSAPR, data from the parsed files for the CSAPR’s base case and remedy case were put on a single spreadsheet. The combined results were organized by plant name. Each plant listed in both the base case and remedy case was removed. Thus, the resulting list only shows those plants that EPA believes will close because of the

CSAPR. Plants projected to close under CSAPR rules were retained in this update despite the uncertain legal status of the rule. Regardless of the legal status, many of the plants that were originally projected by EPA modeling to be impacted have already been retired or converted. In these instances, some of the citations will reflect the public statements or announcements made stating these impacts rather than the original EPA modeling.

  1. For the MATS Rule, data from the parsed files for the MATS Rule’s base case and policy case were put on a single spreadsheet. The combined results were organized by plant name. Each plant listed in both the base case and policy case was removed.

Thus, the resulting list only shows those plants that EPA believes will close because of the MATS Rule.

  1. The resulting base case-free CSAPR list and MATS Rule list were then put on a single spreadsheet. The combined results were organized by plant name. In each instance where the CSAPR and the MATS Rule independently said the same plant would retire, one of the entries was deleted so as to not double-count it. The citation was modified to attribute the unit closure to both the CSAPR and MATS Rule.

POWER-PLANT OWNER PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

Ensuring that Retirements are Result of EPA Regulation

All retirements announced by plant owners in news releases or through public filings on this list were due to EPA regulation. In each such case, the source cited directly identifies EPA regulations as the sole or main reason for the power plant’s retirement.

Avoiding Double-Counting

If a unit was identified to close by both EPA parsed files and public announcements, then the duplicate entry was released. The unit’s citation was modified to indicate that both EPA and public announcements slated the unit for retirement.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is this list’s total retired capacity higher than EPA’s total?

The total retired capacity for this list is higher than EPA’s total because this list includes EPA’s projected unit retirements and unit retirements announced by power-plant operators. No unit cited by both sources was double counted.

Does this list include plants that will close even without the CSAPR or MATS Rule?

No. The parsed file results used in this list do not include business-as-usual base case results. In other words, if EPA modeled a unit to close even if the CSAPR or MATS Rule were not implemented, then that unit was not included.

EPA said only 4.7 GW will close, so why are these numbers higher?

The 4.7 GW retired coal-plant capacity figure is from the EPA Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) for the MATS Rule alone. The CSAPR RIA projects an additional 4.8 GW of coal-plant capacity to retire due to the CSAPR. When combined, the RIA’s project 9.5 GW of coal-plant capacity to retire due to the MATS Rule and CSAPR. As noted above, additional plant retirements are due to actually announced retirements.

When a power-plant operator announces that it is closing a certain unit, how do you know that is because of EPA regulations?

In each case where a retirement is attributed to public announcements, the cited source material lists EPA regulations as the sole or main reason for the plant’s retirement.

Some groups have said EPA regulations will retire up to 103 GW of coal-fired generation, but this list only shows 72 GW. Does this mean those projections are wrong?[13]

No. If anything this list gives more credibility to those higher retirement projections. This list is very conservative; it merely shows what units EPA says its regulations will close, plus specific units that plant-operators have said will close because of EPA regulations. Those analyses that show higher power-plant retirements than this list lay out what the final overall impact of EPA’s regulation will be. On the other hand, this list focuses just on the currently disclosed impact. Thus, this list will likely grow far higher, especially as states realize what will be needed to comply with recently announced 111(d) regulations. However, because this list already finds many more retirements than EPA projected, the Agency’s claim that its regulations will have minimal impact on electric generation are clearly incorrect.

EPA has said that other projections showing a high coal generation retirements were based on incorrect assumptions. Is that the case for this list?

No. The only modeling in this list is from EPA. Thus, any mistaken assumption would be EPA’s mistaken assumption. Otherwise, the remaining data is from actual public announcements detailing the imminent or highly possible closure of specific units at specific power plants. Since our initial release in 2011 it is evident that any claims of incorrect assumptions regarding coal plants were unfounded.

Does this list account for other EPA regulations that may impact power plants?

This list only includes the parsed files for EPA’s CSAPR and MATS Rule modeling. No other specific EPA models were consulted to compile this list. While some of the public statements from power plant operators cite specific EPA regulations like CSAPR, MATS and 111(d), many times the statements are more general and broadly cite EPA as the catalyst for retirement. Regardless, all of the publically announced plant retirements listed are due to EPA regulations.

REFERENCES

[1] Environmental Protection Agency, Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Proposed Toxics Rule, Mar. 2011, http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/utility/ria_toxics_rule.pdf.

[2] Environmental Protection Agency, Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) for the final Transport Rulehttp://www.epa.gov/airtransport/pdfs/FinalRIA.pdf. *** Note: At the time of this release, CSAPR is in legal limbo. In 2011, The D.C. Circuit issued a stay on CSAPR, but the D.C. Circuit’s opinion was vacated by the Supreme Court in 2014. EPA has filed a motion to have the stay on CSAPR lifted, but the D.C. Circuit has not yet ruled on the motion according to EPA’s website: http://www.epa.gov/airtransport/CSAPR/bulletins.html

[3] Assuming the 72 GW is made up solely of coal retirements with an 80 percent capacity factor

[4] http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/53000.html.

[5] Energy Information Agency, “Existing Net Summer Capacity by Energy Source and Producer Type, 2002 through 2012 (Megawatts)”, http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_04_02_a.html

[6] Institute for Energy Research, IER Identifies Coal Fired Power Plants Likely to Close as Result of EPA Regulations, Oct. 7, 2011,http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/2011/10/07/ier-identifies-coal-fired-power-plants-likely-to-close-as-result-of-epa-regulations/.

[7] see North American Electric Reliability Corp, 2011 Long-Term Reliability Assessment, Nov. 2011, http://www.nerc.com/files/2011LTRA_Final.pdf.

[8] North American Reliability Corporation, “2014 Summer Reliability Assessment”, May 2014,http://www.nerc.com/pa/RAPA/ra/Reliability%20Assessments%20DL/2014SRA.pdf.

[9] North American Reliability Corporation, “2013 Summer Reliability Assessment”, May 2013, http://www.nerc.com/pa/RAPA/ra/Reliability%20Assessments%20DL/2013SRA_Final.pdf.

[10] ibid.

[11] Environmental Protection Agency, “Technical Support Document: Resource Adequacy and Reliability Analysis,”http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-06/documents/20140602tsd-resource-adequacy-reliability.pdf. Pg. 6.

[12] Aaron Larson, “CCS Could Increase Coal-Fired Electric Generation Costs By 70%–80%,” Power Magazine, February 13, 2014.

[13]http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/clean_energy/EPA-standards-and-electricity-reliability.pdf

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of the Big Bend power plant emits plumes of smoke and steam. TECO Energy-owned Tampa Electric still generates 55 percent of its electricity using coal. Source: SKIP O’ROURKE | Times (2002).

Florida Power & Light’s crazy definition of “Fair”

A response to the letter in the Palm Beach Post by Rob Gould, Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Florida Power & Light (FPL), on costly non-standard smart meters.

Just an examination of one portion of FPL’s non-standard meter fees gives you a glimpse of FPL’s version of “fair”. When a customer goes into collection and gets disconnected for non-payment there is a charge of $17.66. That same amount can be traced back to 2002, so it tells you it is “cross-subsidized”. The actual costs per FPL’s rate case filing for its test year 2013 is $46.13, so the cross subsidy is $28.47. FPL assumed 490K transactions, so $14 million in annual cross-subsidies are baked into the rates that all customers pay. They don’t come out until the next rate case in 2017.

FPL claims their deployment is over and the cost of doing collection disconnect/reconnects is now lower as they can do these remotely with smart meters. They want to charge all customers enrolling in their non-standard meter program $.45/month or $5.40 a year to pay incremental costs regardless of whether you go into collection or not. They developed a new cross-subsidy. They calculate that cross subsidy by taking a new cost of service of $59.27 and subtracting the existing $17.66 tariff, conveniently forgetting they already received $28.47 for these services in rates awarded in the 2012 rate case. They also asked the FPSC and everyone to ignore that the new cost of service for the smart meter customer is about $7.12 and they want to continue charging them $17.66, collecting approximately $5 million more per year than it actually costs.

Bottom line: FPL keeps cross-subsidies no longer needed for $14 million a year and overcharges smart meter customer $5 million a year until next rate case in 2017 – and that’s called “regulatory lag”. In addition, they want $65K more from non-standard meter customers because they are “cost-causers”. You could repeat this example with other parts of the “NSMR” tariff just approved.

Only in the corrupt halls of the Florida Public Service Commission, could a Company such as FPL, get awarded in January 2013 a rate increase and not share one penny of the $42 million in annual operational savings promised on a very expensive project for over 3 years and then come back in August 2013 and get another $2 million in revenue from customers based on “lost savings”.

To conclude, it is not fair for FPL to request $2 million in additional revenues from some customers without refunding to ALL ratepayers the $45 million in net operational savings that they are now realizing and are not reflected in our current rates..Regulatory lag works both ways.

The Story of Electricity in America

Can you imagine a world in which you depended on unreliable energy to light up your world? Sounds like an unstable place to call home. That’s why the Story of Electricity is so important notes Tom Pyle from the Institute for Energy Research (IER).

IER reports solar energy accounts for only 0.2 percent of the electricity Americans use everyday. Wind and solar aren’t much better. Altogether, wind and solar provide about 4 percent of our electricity. Without affordable, reliable sources of power, our future would be pretty dark.  IER created the Twitter campaign #StoryofElectricity, which presents, among other things, these truths about American produced electricity:

EDITORS NOTE: For those interested in learning more about this topic may visit the power of electricity.

Shale Boom Drives Net Petroleum Imports to 28-Year Low

Tapping into domestic energy resources with hydraulic fracturing continues to improve America’s energy security by pushing net petroleum imports to their lowest level in 28 years. John Kingston at Platts reports on new Energy Information Administration data:

US petroleum import dependence in June dropped to 4.659 million b/d. That’s only the second time in the post-shale era that number had been less than 5 million b/d. And the last time the US recorded a number that low was back in 1986.

U.S. Net Imports: Crude Oil and Petroleum Products

For a larger view click on the chart.

 Energy security benefits look even better when you consider North America as a whole:

[T]he US certainly would view Canada or Mexico as a supplier less prone to disruption than many other countries. So once you take away US net import dependence with Canada, that number slips to 2.282 million b/d. Take away Mexico and you’re down to 1.962 million b/d. Those numbers are easily the lowest ever recorded by the EIA. So in essence, that 1.962 million b/d of net import dependence is the figure for the rest of the world outside North America. In 2005, that US net import dependence figure after Canada and Mexico were taken out regularly recorded numbers in excess of 9 million b/d.

Texas and North Dakota continue to see success in their shale oil development. Texas produced over 3 million barrels of oil per day again in June. “Oil production in the Lone Star State has more than doubled in less than three years,” notes Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute. Also, North Dakota set another record in June by producing 1.093 million barrels per day.

Unfortunately the good news didn’t extend to offshore production, Kingston writes:

Federal offshore production of 1.43 million b/d remains below the levels in place when the Macondo moratorium was put in place in April 2010. It was 1.531 million b/d in May of that year.

There’s much more to be done to improve energy security. The administration should speed up the permitting process (about 7.5 months) to increase development on federal landsopen up more of the outer continental shelf to oil and natural gas exploration, and approve the Keystone XL pipeline to transport more Canadian oil sands crude and Bakken oil to Gulf Coast refineries.

By developing America’s energy resources, we can continue this success.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

EDITORS NOTE: The feature image is of an oil pump jack just outside of Watford City, North Dakota. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg.

A Different Opinion on Smart Meter “Phobia”

Recently someone sent me James Tracy’s blog on an editorial written by the Palm Beach PostSmart Media Phobia Sad, But Don’t Cut Power” regarding FP&L’s smart meters. The Palm Beach Post circulation covers the area for which FP&L maintains its headquarters. Essentially the editors feel that the Internet is a blessing and a curse because people, other than them, don’t know how to interpret data and they are reading things other than the mainstream media and are being “misinformed”. We apparently repeat these misunderstandings until they sound like “fact”.

The editorial goes on to repeat industry propaganda about how one can be continually exposed to smart meters for 375 years and that would equate to a 15-minute cell phone call. Dr. Tracy, in his blog post, details all the science he has previously provided FP&L that refutes such nonsense. I decided to call out the Palm Beach Post on other false information in their Op-Ed. Most likely they won’t print it, but luckily we have alternative media to by-pass their censorship power.

My response sent to the Palm Beach Post editorial was as follows.

Editors of the Palm Beach Post:

I am the lead petitioner in the action against the Florida Power & Light (FP&L) smart meter opt out fees currently before the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC). I read your editorial published September 4, 2014 and shook my head, as it is nothing but another corporate propaganda piece that spreads misinformation.

First, I take exception to the insinuation that I suffer from “lack of training to parse data”. I am a CPA and trained auditor. I know how to research, source and interpret data. I also have a background in the regulatory process having worked 11 years for a telephone company. I have handled complicated transactions such as the AT&T divestiture to the planning and implementation of Sarbanes – Oxley regulations for a multi-billion dollar company. I have spent about 10 hours per day, 5 days a week for two years reading every governmental and industry report on the smart grid and smart meters. My computer is now overloaded with downloads.

Second, it is not a fact that “the vast majority of FP&L’s approximately 4.6 million customers have “adopted the new technology without a second thought”. The truth is the vast majorities don’t even know they have a smart meter or what it does differently. But what is true is that the claims of the smart meter giving people information to help manage their energy are a lie, as the current information provided to customers is useless. This can be supported by FP&L’s disclosure that the vast majority of customers have yet to even access their silly Energy Dashboard. But I am sure the editors of this paper do so every day, correct?

Third, the biggest lie in your is this statement “The facts are clear: Smart meters lower everyone’s utility bills by reducing the need for trucks, fuel, and meter readers. They reduce the length and extent of power outages. They pose no credible threat to health.”

Smart meters do not reduce the length and extent of power outages – smart technologies (sensors on equipment like transformers and substations and smart switches on feeders) do provide this benefit.

Regarding your statements of “credible threat to health”, where have we heard that phrase before? Ah, yes, the tobacco industry used that phrase for decades quite successfully, didn’t they? Now let’s look at the credibility of FP&L’s lead consultant on smart meter health, Dr. Peter Valberg. He claims that there is no “credible” science that shows RF harm. Your readers should know that he also testified on behalf of Phillip Morris in their light cigarettes deceptive marketing case. His testimony essentially stated that light cigarettes were just not being smoked properly, and also that the tobacco studies performed by Philip Morris were consistent” with what was known to the outside scientific community. No deception, right? How “credible” is this guy? Your readers can decide but they should also do an internet search on the BioInitiative Report before they make their decision.

But most importantly, smart meters have not lowered your bills – not one penny – they have actually increased them. Let me count the ways:

First, the old meters had a net book value (NBV) of $75 million and an estimated useful life of approximately 36 years. FP&L wrote off $101 million (includes cost of removal) when they threw the perfectly operational old meters in the garbage. The annual depreciation charges for these meters were around $7 million per year ($249 Million Gross value/36 yrs). The approximate annual return on investment FP&L received on the NBV of $75 million, using 9.48% pre-tax cost of capital was $7 million.

Contrast that to now. The smart meter project capital is $645 million with an estimated useful life of 20 years (and if you believe the 20 yr life, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you). This equates to depreciation charges of about $32 million per year ($645M/20yrs). The return on investment FP&L will earn on this new smart meter capital will be about $61 million per year ($645M at 9.48%), decreasing by about $3 million each year to reflect the lower NBV from depreciation.

Second, FP&L current rates are based on a 2013 test year and the 2012 rate case settlement agreement keeps the rates the same until at least 2017. The 2013 test year reflects an overall net Operations & Maintenance (O&M) cost of $3.4 million for the smart meter project. (Funny, in 2009 they estimated that the year 2013 would produce a net O&M savings of $20 million. I guess the project is overrunning its budget.) FP&L recently testified that once the project was completed in 2013 there would be about $40 million annual net savings in O&M.

When rate case settlements are made they are made for a period of time. Each party looks at that period of time to determine if anything needs to be considered and factored in before the final settlement is agreed to and finalized. FP&L raised its hand high, saying, look over here, I have new plants coming on line in these outer years and we need to raise rates to recover our investment and such was granted. But did FP&L raise their hand or did the FPSC insist that the smart meter savings of $40 million, which would start to be realized during that period, also be accounted for? No. FP&L was not required to reduce the rates in the outer years to reflect the savings.

Third, lets not forget to count all the new costs that are being incurred that did not exist with those old analog meters. Now you have communication costs to send the data wirelessly back to FP&L, cyber-security costs, software license and maintenance fees, data storage costs, big data consultants, settlements on fires and property damage, more equipment to be damaged in storms and the list goes on.

So Palm Beach Editorial Board, please disclose to your readers your facts to support your claim that smart meters have lowered our utility bills. The miscellaneous tariffs for all these activities – service connects/disconnects, reconnects for non-payment – are EXACTLY the same as they were when FP&L didn’t have smart meters. FP&L’s 2013 test year also included significant manual meter-reading costs as they still had over 800 thousand meters left to install in their assumptions and those costs are still baked into our current rates.

Your readers can decide for themselves, if FP&L, who made NO disclosure in their rate case settlement agreement that they planned to file these smart meter opt out tariffs (despite smart meters being an issue in the rate case), is deserving of an additional $2 million a year in revenue from these customers when they are keeping the $40 million in savings for three years and overcharging smart meter customers for truck rolls they are no longer performing. Is FP&L violating the rate case settlement agreement by trying to change rates for services already provided at the date of that agreement?

From my vantage point – if they are deserving of the $2 million in additional revenue because the project is over and we need to recognize a new ‘cost of service” – then it is only fair to re-price all activities affected by this fact and reduce the rates for all customers by $40-45 million.

There is no financial payback for me as I have sunk tens of thousand of dollars into this effort and countless unpaid hours of time. I do so for two reasons – 1) the many “Friedman’s out there who have no voice and are being harmed by this product and 2) to expose the illegal coordination and fraud/deception that took place between FP&L and FPSC as it pertains to this project.

The documented audit trail of deception is as long as the distance from my house in Venice to Tallahassee. Quite frankly, the conduct of our FPSC that I discovered on this journey is more disturbing than FP&L’s. I will take that item up with our state legislators when they return to Tallahassee for the next session.

FP&L’s Smart Meter Woes: Billing for Services Not Performed & Threatening Shut Offs to Disabled Veterans

Billing for Services Not Rendered

It was a busy time last week fielding phone calls from irate FP&L customers. In June 2014, FP&L began billing customers who did not want a smart meter installed on their home for what they call “NSMR” fees (Non-standard Meter Rider). The fees consist of an upfront one-time payment of $95 and monthly payment of $13.

Why the calls? Well part of that $13/month fee is the cost of FP&L sending a meter reader to actually read the meter so the customer can be billed properly. Several customers I spoke to are pretty irate because the bill they received was “estimated”. That means FP&L did not come out and read the meter. Upon calling FP&L customer service they were told that FP&L is within the Florida Public Service Commission rules to issue estimated bills up to 6 months. Despite cries of foul play, FP&L refused to issue them any credits.

The FPSC Order No. PSC-14-0036-TRF-EI clearly states on page 9, that of the $13.00 monthly fee, $6.81 is for a monthly manual meter reading and $.05 is the associated meter reading OSHA and V Accident costs. One would think that if FP&L does not roll that truck and employee to your home, they should be obliged to credit you the $6.86 since they did not perform the work, no? Apparently, not!

I guess that is something for me to take up at our protest hearing scheduled for September 30th in Tallahassee. Perhaps others will come with signs “No work, No Charge”.

I did check with this customer and there are no access issues for his property, that is, no locked gates or ferocious dogs. This customer also just got his second estimated bill. Twice billed for services NOT rendered.

FP&L Threatening Shut-Off to Disabled Veteran

Some people who refused to take the smart meter are also refusing to pay the extortion fees. They are paying for their electricity, but are not paying the opt-out fees. Well, collection notices and shut-off threats have started to go out causing more anguish.

One customer, Irving Friedman, an 88-year old disabled WWII veteran, who is also recovering from recent heart surgery, received his threatening shut off letter. When his daughter called FP&L on his behalf and explained his medical conditions and also stated that his electricity portion was paid in full she got nowhere. It was only a call to a reporter at the Palm Beach Post and that reporters’ phone inquiries to FP&L that made FP&L back off from their threats to shut off this veterans electric.

FP&L now states they will hold off any shut-offs for those withholding payment of opt-out fees until the FPSC makes a decision on the tariff case pending. That decision should come out some time in November.

Renewables: Florida’s Green Energy Killing Fields

BirdsFlorida Power and Light (FP&L) on its website states, “At our three solar energy centers throughout Florida, we’re making the most of our state’s sunshine, turning it into clean energy and using it to power your home or business.” FP&L has solar energy centers (solar panel farms) located in Cape Canaveral (Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center), Desoto County (Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center) and Indiantown (Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center).

In August 2007 then Governor Crist joined FPL Group Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Lew Hay in announcing FPL Group’s $2.4 billion investment program aimed at increasing the use of solar thermal energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. One of the country’s largest electric utilities, FPL is planning to build 300 megawatts of solar generating capacity in Florida. The new facility will avoid nearly 11 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over a 20-year period. FPL Groups serves customers in 26 states, and its principal subsidiary, Florida Power & Light Company, serves more than 4.3 million customer accounts in Florida.

“It only makes sense that the sunshine state would have a solar power plant,” former Governor Crist said. “This plant will serve as an example to other Florida and American companies that alternative energy can work.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, “As of June 2013, California leads the nation with 3,761 megawatts of installed solar capacity. Arizona comes in second with 1,250 megawatts. New Jersey, which isn’t exactly known for its sunny skies but where roof-mounted units have proven popular, ranks third with 1,119 megawatts. Florida, by contrast, has 202 megawatts, making it No. 10 in the nation.”

What the media does not tell you is how many birds have been killed at FP&L’s three solar energy centers.

The author of Energy Freedom and Executive Director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) Marita Noon writes, “Even green projects have an impact on their surrounding environment. Green energy, specifically so-called renewables [wind, solar], has been sold to the American public as the answer to a host of crimes against the planet.”

Noon reports:

Wind turbines chop up bald and golden eagles, and other endangered species, like a Cuisinart—the taller turbines with longer blades (which produce more energy, and, therefore, is where the trend is heading) have a predicted annual ten-fold mortality increase.

[ … ]

Hundreds of acres of photovoltaic solar panels confuse migratory water birds, such as the “once-critically endangered brown pelican whose lifestyle involves fishing by diving into open water,” to veer miles out of their way to dive toward what they perceive are lakes or wetlands—only to die from “blunt force trauma.” At the largest solar thermal plant in the world, Ivanpah, owned by BrightSource Energy, the 170,000 reflecting mirrors—designed to “superheat liquid in boilers”—literally fries feathers. The USA Today reports that the intense radiation—called solar flux—has singed some birds, melted feathers, and denatured the protein in their wings as they fly through the intense heat. Unable to fly, the injured birds drop out of the sky and die.

Ellen Knickmeyer and John Locher from the Associated Press report, “Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — ‘streamers,’ for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.  Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one ‘streamer’ every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.”

ABC NEWS VIDEO: Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) mandated that 33% of the states energy be from solar power, stating, “The sun in California is like the oil in Texas.”

The BrightSource Energy website states, “Since its founding in 2006, BrightSource has significantly evolved – from a small start-up with a great idea that became the foundation for the world’s largest solar thermal power project – to a company focused on global deployment of its solar field technology and support services.”

On September 21, 2012, the LA Times ran a story about the BrightSource Energy large-scale solar projects titled, “Taxpayers, ratepayers will fund California solar plants,” with the subhead: A new breed of prospectors — banks, insurers, utility companies — are receiving billions in subsidies while taxpayer and ratepayers are paying most of the costs. Critics say it’s a rip-off.

Florida FP&L ratepayers subsidize these three renewable solar energy wildlife killing fields. Will we be constructing more of these “solar deserts” in the sunshine state?

RELATED ARTICLES:

Charlie Crist says Florida is the Sunshine State, but “we’re hardly doing any solar energy production”
Climate change issue highlights depth of Crist-Scott divide
State Gave $69 Million Loan to Green Energy Company on Verge of Bankruptcy

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Supports Using Food For Fuel While Children are Starving

Ethanol is a farmer welfare program with the government decreeing corn based Ethanol be converted into fuel which has resulted in dramatically rising prices and conversion of huge amounts of acreage to corn production from other crops. Simply another example of government favoring one group (farmers) at the expense of consumers who now pay a lot more for corn based foods at the store and gasoline at the station.

 

Earth’s Energy in an article titled Reducing Carbon: Unintended Consequences reports:

Over the past couple of years there has been much written about how the attempt by the US to substitute ethanol for gasoline was leading to higher food prices.  The ethanol is made from corn and as the demand for ethanol shot up (largely mandated by government requirements that gasoline had to have a minimum ethanol content and corresponding subsidies to the ethanol industry), this meant less corn was available for other uses in the food chain, including the feeding of livestock. Initially the ethanol content was to be 10% but in the past year the US government has raised this target to 15%. (See, for example, Ethanol Blamed for Record Food Prices in MIT Technology Review and The Case Against Biofuels: Probing Ethanol’s Hidden Costs at Environment 360)

Senator Claire McCaskill: Are you not aware our country was developed on cheap, not expensive energy?

Are you not aware of the development of tremendous amounts of oil and natural gas taking place in the United States today by fracking? Are you not aware the reason we don’t have dramatically more production is due to the government blocking development by placing lands off limits. The government is our biggest enemy in trying to reach energy independence along with communists posing as environmentalists!

Are you not aware we have almost 200,000 miles of petroleum pipelines in the U.S.A. but the Keystone Pipeline has been blocked by your party for over 5 years for strictly political reasons? They say it isn’t safe to transport by pipeline which is ridiculous as it is the safest form of transportation. Currently the oil is coming by rail and you see how safe it is by the accidents occurring?

Are you not aware ethanol is subsidized and raises the price of gasoline to consumers and businesses alike but benefiting farmers?

Being a member of Congress I can understand how every time you decide to mandate something for the free market you muck it up. Corn should be used for food not as a fuel additive that decreases performance and harms small engines.

Turn on the TV and soon an ad appears asking for $19 a month to help feed hungry children around the world followed by another ad saying one in four children in the United States goes to bed hungry at night. If true, how can you in good conscience support Ethanol unless you are more concerned about buying votes through corn subsidies to farmers than the health of children around the world?

Greens are the Enemies of Energy

Here in America and elsewhere around the world, Greens continue to war against any energy other than the “renewable” kind, wind and solar, that is more costly and next to useless. Only coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear keeps the modern and developing world functioning and growing.

The most publicized aspect is Obama’s “War on Coal” and, thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency, it has been successful; responsible for shutting down several hundred coal-fired plants by issuing costly regulations based on the utterly false claim that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced to save the Earth from “global warming.”

Light Bulb

Rest in peace.

The EPA is the government’s ultimate enemy of energy, though the Department of the Interior and other elements of the government participate in limiting access to our vast energy reserves and energy use nationwide. By government edict, the incandescent light bulb has been banned. How insane is that?

The Earth has been cooling for seventeen years at this point, but the Greens call this a “pause.” That pause is going to last for many more years and could even become a new ice age.

A study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on the impact of the proposed new EPA regulation of emissions found that, as CNSNews reported, it “could be the costliest federal rule by reducing the Gross National Product by $270 billion a per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040” adding $2.2 trillion in compliance costs for the same period. Jay Timmons, CEO and president of NAM, said, “This regulation has the capacity to stop the manufacturing comeback in its tracks.”

EPA FactsAs Thomas Pyle, the president of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), said in June, “President Obama is delivering on his promise to send electricity prices skyrocketing.” Noting a proposed EPA regulation that would shut more plants, he said “With this new rule, Americans can expect to pay $200 more each year for their electricity.” Having failed to turn around the nation’s economy halfway into his second term, Obama is adding to the economic burdens of all Americans.

America could literally become energy independent given its vast reserves of energy sources. In the case of coal, the federal government owns 957 billion short tons of coal in the lower 48 States, of which about 550 billion short tons—about 57 percent—are available in the Powder River Basin. It is estimated to be worth $22.5 trillion to the U.S. economy, but as the IER notes, it “remains unrealized due to government barriers on coal production.” It would last 250 years, greater than Russia and China. When you add in Alaska, the U.S. has enough coal to last 9,000 years at today’s consumption rates!

In 2013 the IER estimated the worth of the government’s oil and coal technically recoverable resources to the economy to be $128 trillion, about eight times our national debt at the time.

There isn’t a day that goes by that environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the National Resources Defense Council, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, along with dozens of others, do not speak out against the extracting and use of all forms of energy, calling coal “dirty” and claiming Big Oil is the enemy.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Greens held off attacking the nuclear industry because it does not produce “greenhouse gas” emissions. Mind you, these gases, primarily carbon dioxide, represent no threat of warming and, indeed, as the main “food” of all vegetation on Earth, more carbon dioxide would be a good thing, increasing crop yields and healthy forests.

Events such as the 1979 partial meltdown at Three Mile Island and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster raised understandable fears. The Greens began opposing nuclear energy claiming that radiation would kill millions in the event of a meltdown. This simply is not true. Unlike France that reprocesses spent nuclear fuel, President Carter’s decision to not allow reprocessing proved to be very detrimental, requiring repositories for large quantities.

To this day, one of the largest, Yucca Mountain Repository, authorized in 1987, is opposed by Greens. Even so, it was approved in 2002 by Congress, but the funding for its development was terminated by the Obama administration in 2011. Today there are only four new nuclear power plants under construction and, in time, all one hundred existing plants will likely be retired starting in the mid-2030s.

The Greens’ attack on coal is based on claims that air quality must be protected, but today’s air quality has been steadily improving for years and new technologies have reduced emissions without the need to impose impossible regulatory standards. As the American Petroleum Institute recently noted, “These standards are not justified from a health perspective because the science is simply not showing a need to reduce ozone levels.”

The new EPA standards are expected to be announced in December. We better hope that the November midterm elections put enough new candidates into Congress to reject those standards or the cost of living in America, the capacity to produce electricity, the construction and expansion of our manufacturing sector will all worsen, putting America on a path to decline.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

DARK WINTER BOOK COVERRELATED VIDEO: The Space and Science Research Corporation founder and president and former White House national space policy adviser John L. Casey joins Newsmax TV – Mid Point to discuss facts about ominous changes taking place in the Sun and the climate.

Casey highlights some revelations from his new book, “Dark Winter: How The Sun Is Causing A 30-Year Cold Spell.”

Why You Should Brush Off That New Keystone XL Study

A new study claims that the State Department underestimated the amount of greenhouse emissions from the Keystone XL pipeline. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Building the Keystone XL pipeline could lead to as much as four times more greenhouse gas emissions than the State Department has estimated for the controversial project, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change that relies on different calculations about oil consumption.

The study’s authors based their calculation on the premise that increased supplies of petroleum through the pipeline would push down global oil prices marginally, and that would lead to an increase in consumption and thus pollution.

But wait, the State Department concluded in its final environmental impact statement that Canada’s oil sands crude will be developed and affect global consumption no matter how it’s transported:

[A]pproval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.

Based upon that analysis, the State Department determined that the pipeline would have minimal impact on the environment.

The oil is already coming to market by rail, and more pipelines are either in the planning stages or are working their way through the approval process. It will get to market, one way or another.

What’s more, the AP reports that some economists are skeptical of the study’s findings:

An increase of 121 million tons of carbon dioxide is dwarfed by the 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide the world pumped into the air in 2013. That’s why University of Sussex economist Richard Tol dismissed the calculated Keystone effect as merely a drop in the bucket. If somebody is concerned about climate change, he wrote in an email, the pipeline “should be the furthest from your mind.”

Independent energy economist Judith Dwarkin in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, dismissed the study, faulting the idea that added oil production will lower the price and boost demand. Usually, she said, it’s consumption that spurs price and then oil production.

Since we know this oil will be developed, the Keystone XL pipeline should be a part of the transport mix. It will create jobs, boost local economies, improve America’s energy security, and do it with minimal impact on the environment.

This study didn’t offer any reason to not approve it.

UPDATE: Oil Sands Fact Check points out that State Department considered and cited a draft of this study in its final environmental impact statement.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

EDITORS NOTE: In its August 18, 2014 edition Forbes reports, “Warren Buffett and Carl Ican, two of the nation’s richest investors have benefited from insufficient pipeline capacity. Millions of barrels of oil are being moved around America by train, and and Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owned railroad company Burlington/Northern and railcarmaker Union Tank Car. Ican owns railcar producers American Railcar Industries and ACF Industries, together with a huge fleet of oil-carrying railcars.

The featured image is a mining truck carrying oil sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Photographer: Jimmy Jeong/Bloomberg.

Florida Solar Power: Free electricity? Not so much!

We  have all heard the line “if it sounds too good to be true…” Well solar power is one of those ideas that is too good to be true. Another favorite if it sounds too good to be true are the often repeated statements of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry claiming renewable energy will lower our electric bills and create millions of jobs that can’t be sent overseas.

For an example of “too good to be true” close to home in the sunshine state, consider Hillsborough County, where the courthouse in 2010 was outfitted with rooftop solar panels, designed to produce 40% of the facility’s electricity, save $60,000 annually in electricity costs, and pay for themselves. The initial cost was $1.2 million, so by saving $60,000 per year, they would pay for themselves in 20 years – a nice, round number. Oh, and by the way, they were going to produce jobs. As part of the Obama Stimulus.

You believe this, right? Sounds good, right?

Well, not exactly. According to the WFTS News article “Solar Panels on Tampa Courthouse Fail to Meet Promises“, the panels are reducing electricity need by 15 – 18%, a savings of less than $2000 per month. At that rate, it will take 45 years for the panels to pay for their cost – if they last that long. As far as I know, there is no hard data yet on solar cell lifetime duration. Estimates range between 15 and 20 years. Solar panels deteriorate over their lifetime, so the $2000/month savings will be going down.

The cruelest blow in all this? Jobs: 12 of them, for four months.

Who brought this too good to be true miracle to pass? Well, you remember who brought us the Obama Stimulus Bill, as well as ObamaCare, the Democratic Party, which controlled Congress and the White House in 2010. They thought it was wonderful:

It is so wonderful to see the Recovery Act at work in our community, creating jobs and saving money” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa).

This is a nice initiative that will allow the county to put a little money back into the pockets of taxpayers at a time that they need it most, and to create jobs,” said Castor.

These, by the way, were advanced solar cells, touted as being able to produce electricity even by moonlight. If this pie-in-the-sky Obama engineering doesn’t work in Florida, it bodes ill for other, more Northerly locations.

Obama came to Denver to sign the Stimulus Bill, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science – which, like Hillsborough County Courthouse, was fitted with solar cells. Denver’s system (200 kilowatts, DC) cost $720,000, and was estimated to cover 1 to 2 % of DMNS use. The chief technology officer, Dave Noel, tried to sell the idea to the board, but admitted, without the Stimulus incentive, 110 years would be required to amortize the cost. Colorado is a pretty sunny state, with over 300 sunny days per year, but it also gets a little cold and Winter days are short. DMNS has an online graph of their solar power generation; over the last 74 months, they’ve generated 16,448 kWh per month. At $0.10/kWh, that’s worth $1645/month. Compared to the initial cost of $720,000, we’re paying off the investment over a period of only 37 years. Less than 110 years, but still twice the expected life of the solar cells.

This defiance of science, engineering and good sense has been going on all over the world, furthered by faddish green enthusiasts. Thankfully, it’s htting the wall of reality. Germany is retreating, both in the face of economic reality and their dependence on Russian natural gas. Germany has 28 electrical generating plants under construction, powered by….coal. In some cases, it’s lignite (brown) coal, the most CO2-intensive variety.

Reality means nothing to the Obama administration, however. Monday’s Wall Street Journal carries an article on the Obama plan to help Africa, specifically Kenya….wait, is this ironic? Doesn’t Obama have some connection with Kenya? The article, headlined “Kenyan Wind Project Reveals Challenges to Obama Aid Plans” reveals that Kenyan farmers are reluctant to give up their land and homes for a wind farm. Perhaps they’ve heard that no electricity flows when the wind doesn’t blow – as the Germans have learned, the hard way.

al gore statement on icecapsLaugh of the Week:

The EPA was in Denver last week, taking comments from citizens on the new regulations to diminish CO2 emissions from coal and save us all from asthma, heart attacks, and other health hazards. Apparently, Al Gore has a fleet of ice cream trucks that he sends to occasions like this to hand out free ice cream to people suffering from the heat – omnipresent because of global warming. Hey, who doesn’t like ice cream, even from The Goreacle, on a hot Summer day?

The temperature in Denver was 58F, in a steady (cold) rain. Even free ice cream wasn’t a big hit. The Gore Effect strikes again. God really does have a sense of humor.

Response to Senator Bernie Sanders on the Keystone Pipeline

Dear Senator Sanders:

As I was growing up one of the things I learned that helped this country become as successful as it did was by having cheap energy sources. Amazingly, the government that helped support achieving cheap energy is now so full of communists such as yourself and many democrats including the president who are trying to cripple the country and drive energy costs high so alternatives like wind and solar are comparably priced since their production costs resist being lowered. High energy costs drive up the cost of all goods and services.

A second thing you mention is the transporting of tar sands oil as being dangerous to transport by pipeline. Are you aware of the tens of thousands of miles of oil pipeline we have in the country today which is the safest form of transport there is.

You say there would be great envrionmental damage if the pipeline would be completed since greenhouse gases emitted are greater. I suppose you stand side by side with the former communists now posing as environmentalist in opposing Keystone. The majority of what you refer to in greenhouse gases is CO2 I assume which is what we exhale as we breathe. Perhaps we could offset that increase by enforcing our immigration laws and deporting the millions of illegal aliens that are here exhaling CO2 24 hours a day and stop mass legal immigration. Doesn’t that bother you? Tell me why environmentalists never complain about mass immigration legal and illegal adding to our environmental woes?

You tout wind and solar as real alternatives. What planet are you on? By the way senator, how many birds do the propellers on the wind farms kill annually (over 300K) and how many are killed by solar reflecting and singing feathers causing birds to crash? Why haven’t you and the other environmentalists stood up for the creatures? You and they certainly would be urinating and moaning if oil or gas was killing as many animals.

I could go on but I think you get the point Senator. You and the rest of the communists posing as environmentalists are very selective in what you recognize as a problem. Coincidentally it always has something to do with impeding our progress as a nation.

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