Energy Update: Week of April 3

Energy Update - April 03, 2017


So much going on…let’s start with the sports. This is among the most exciting weeks in the sports with the NCAA Championship game tipping off tonight at 9:20 pm. Gonzaga takes on UNC after two barnburner semifinals on Saturday. But the most unbelievable event of the weekend was Mississippi State snapping UConn’s 111-game winning streak in the NCAA women’s semifinal. Then yesterday, South Carolina defeated the giant killer to win its first NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship.

But it doesn’t end there. Today is opening day for Major League Baseball teams with 12 games set, including the Washington Nationals at 1:05 pm and the Orioles at 3:05 pm. Yesterday, the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays launched the 2017 season with a 7-3 Rays victory. The World Champ Cubs vs. the Cardinals and the SF Giants/Arizona also opened up yesterday.  And this is also Masters Week with practice rounds today and tomorrow, the Par 3 Tourney on Wednesday and the Full Action on Thursday.  Thursday the Frozen Four starts in Chicago and we are only a couple weeks from the Boston Marathon, where we will have a report next week on preparations for the Wellesley scream tunnel at Mile 13 from an actual Wellesley student.

Wow, after all that action, how are we going to get back to work, especially after the climate executive order was launched last week and we seem to be off the radar screen again?

One note from Friday in case you missed it: the natural gas/water case in Dimock, PA that you may recall was touted with such fanfare by drilling opponents like Josh Fox, Mark Ruffalo, and others when they won a year ago, was officially had the verdict thrown out because a judge determined that the jury decision and $4.24 million award was unjust and unfair.

This week, Congress runs towards its Spring/Easter/Passover break with the major focus on SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch.  While on its edges, it has environmental/energy implications, the key points focus on other items. Tomorrow, though, Senate Energy takes up grid infrastructure and security questions in a hearing featuring NRECA member executive Duane Highley of the Arkansas Co-op and AGA’s Dave McCurdy, among others.  Also tomorrow, Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO will speak at a National Press Club Luncheon to assess opportunities around trade and infrastructure.

On Wednesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a forum on the power of innovation featuring NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. WCEE also holds a panel of energy journalists from E&E News, S&P Global Platts and Politico to discuss the trends in the energy sector.

GWU will holds its Planet Forward Summit on Thursday and Friday hosted by SMPA Head and former CNN personality Frank Sesno and featuring our friend Andy Revkin.  Also, the World Energy Council’s Secretary General, Christoph Frei, reveals the results of the 2017 World Energy Issues Monitor at USEA.  The Nat’l Cap Area Chapter of Energy Economists will host its 21st Annual Washington Energy Policy Conference at GMU’s Founders Hall and ECOS holds their spring meeting Thursday to Saturday.

Finally, our friend Amy Harder joins the Axios energy team this week…Back on the beat after a couple of weeks of world traveling…Next week is Easter week, so a lot of folks may be headed for the last effort at Spring Break.

Call with questions… Play Ball!



Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932



“Cabot felt confident that once a thorough review of the overwhelming scientific evidence and a full legal analysis of the conduct of the plaintiff’s counsel was conducted, the flaws in the verdict would be understood.”

Cabot spokesman George Stark



Dimock Jury Verdict Thrown Out As Unfair – You may not have seen this play out with as much fanfare as the initial trial, but a federal judge has thrown out a $4.24 million jury verdict against Cabot Oil & Gas in Dimock, PA.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson on Friday set aside the verdict reached a year ago by a jury in Scranton, saying the evidence presented by the Dimock homeowners “was spare, sometimes contradictory, frequently rebutted by other scientific expert testimony, and relied in some measure upon tenuous inferences.”  Carlson also said the plaintiffs presented no evidence that would justify a multi-million dollar award. In his decision, the judge also said the plaintiffs’ acknowledgements that there had been problems with their water before the company started drilling made it hard to argue that Cabot was the sole cause of any problems. He said their expert witnesses offered at best “inferences that had weak factual support” while failing to contest Cabot’s rebuttal evidence. Finally, Carlson said the jury’s decision went against the “great weight of the evidence that was presented” and ordered a new trial if the two sides could not resolve their differences.

Pruitt Challenged on Fox News Sunday – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt faced tough questioning from Fox News Sunday Host Chris Wallace yesterday.  Pruitt on Sunday defended the administration’s positions on climate change and ending domestic energy policies.   Pruitt clarified his position, amid outcry from environmental activists, that humans indeed contribute to climate change.  He also argued that Congress provides the EPA with the authority to make rules and that former President Obama overstepped that authority with his 2015 Clean Power Plan, which is now subject to a Supreme Court stay.

Grid Paper Outlines Resource Risks – Mid-Atlantic Grid Operator PJM Released a new issue paper says that natgas and renewables are displacing coal and nuclear.  But changing the resource mix, it said, comes with drawbacks and risks.  Low-cost gas and renewables driving those other power-generating resources into premature “retirement” in the PJM area, which stretches from the mid-Atlantic and Midwest. The PJM paper analyzes what impact that will have on electricity reliability. With less coal and nukes, some frequency response falls, but flexibility and ramping increases, it says. A huge increase in natural gas (theoretically up to 86% of the portfolio) provided enough reliability; a significant increase in wind and solar comes with some risks, though. “Heavy reliance on one resource type, raises questions about electric system resilience, which are beyond the reliability questions this paper sought to address. Resilience is the capability of an energy system to tolerate disturbance and to continue to deliver energy services to consumers. Relying too heavily on any one fuel type may negatively impact resilience because resources do not provide generator reliability attributes equally. External drivers have impacted and could continue to impact the resource mix.”

Wall Street Journal Editorial Looks at Icahn IssuesThe Wall Street Journal had an editorial in the paper on Friday focused on Carl Icahn and the ethics questions on which some Democrats are pressing him regarding the ethanol program and its RIN trading credits.   The Journal Ed board said Icahn happens to believe that the RINs market is rigged to generate “windfall profits” for “Wall Street, Big Oil and large gas-station chains” at the expense of small and medium refiners like CVR, as he wrote in the Journal. The system is “full of manipulation, speculation and fraud.”  The Journal editors say that seems like a familiar line from the very Democrats challenging Icahn.  They close by saying “Democrats can’t blame Icahn for passing along their own opinions. Meanwhile, reform is overdue at the EPA.”

Global Renewable Energy Report Released – The International Renewable Energy Agency has a new report showing that solar energy capacity installed around the world last year has surpassed wind energy.  There statistics say total renewable energy capacity grew by 8% in 2016, with a record of 71 gigawatts of solar power leading the growth. Wind capacity stood at 51GW, while hydropower and bioenergy capacities increased 30 GW and 9 GW respectively.

Platts Capitol Crude Targets Trump Policy Questions – Platts Capitol Crude today is focused on the Trump energy policy issues. After 10 weeks in the White House, the Trump administration has moved to revoke efforts to combat climate change, approved key pipelines and taken steps to bolster production of US oil, natural gas and coal. Tracking the shift in energy policy has been a challenge, so on this week’s episode Senior oil editors Brian Scheid and Meghan Gordon break down Trump’s energy policy changes, identify which ones will have “bigly” impacts on energy markets and which ones look like losers.



Grid Forum Set for Chicago – The 2nd  Grid Modernization Forum will be held on today through Wednesday in Chicago, examines key lessons from top utilities including Eversource, Alliant Energy, Con Edison, National Grid, Ameren and many others. Key technology innovators and executives will come together to share perspectives on how best to leverage AMI investment, engage the customer, and take the smart grid to the next level. Case studies of improved network performance, resiliency, outage restoration, and distributed energy resource (DER) integration will be examined with an eye toward determining best practices and technology advances for today’s energy ecosystem.

Solar Foundation to Talk Solar Census – The Solar Foundation will hold a bipartisan briefing and Q&A session today at 2:00 p.m. on their updated data for the 2016 Solar Jobs Census. The National Solar Jobs Census is the first and most authoritative national benchmark for solar jobs research.  Briefing will include insight on the Solar Jobs Map, an interactive tool that visualizes how solar jobs are growing in your state, county, metro area or legislative district. The Solar Foundation’s President and Executive Director, Andrea Luecke, and Senior Director of Programs, Ed Gilliland will speak.

Senate Energy to Look at Cyber Threats – The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. to examine efforts to protect U.S. energy delivery systems from cybersecurity threats.  Witnesses will include DOE veteran Patricia Hoffman, Andrew Bochman of the Idaho National Laboratory, NERC CEO Gerry Cauley, NRECA expert and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation CEO Duane D. Highley, AGA CEO Dave McCurdy,  and Washington National Guard Commander Colonel Gent Welsh.

House Resources to Look at Hydro, Pumped Storage Legislation – The House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans will hold a legislative hearing tomorrow at 10:00 on hydro and pumped storage legislation.  You can see the legislation to be discussed here.

Forum to Look at Nuclear Energy – The Global America Business Institute (GABI) will hold the next event of its nuclear energy roundtable series tomorrow at Noon. Although the predominant use of nuclear energy worldwide is electricity generation, nuclear can be utilized for a broad range of applications, including but not limited to: district heating, water desalination, hydrogen production, and industrial heat. Given present trends and future uncertainties in global electricity markets, there has been growing interest in exploring non-electricity uses for nuclear. Development of advanced nuclear designs, many pushing the envelope on passive safety and temperature output, may further expand the horizon of possibilities.  The speaker will be Jeff Harper of X-energy.  Harper is Vice President for Strategy and Business Development at X-energy, where he directs long-term business plans specifically focused on customers, partners, and markets.

Press Club to Host AFL-CIO Head – Richard Trumka, Head of the AFL-CIO will speak at a National Press Club Luncheon tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Trumka will assess opportunities around trade and infrastructure that could create jobs, as well as possible threats to workers’ rights. He will also talk about the labor movement’s strategy to create a unifying agenda for workers and their families, as well as collective bargaining right for all workers to achieve better wages and working conditions.  Since 2009, Trumka has served as president of the 12.5 million-member American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the largest organization of labor unions in the country.

BPC Forum to Focus on Innovation – On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a forum on the power of innovation.  With smart federal support for research, advanced energy technologies represent another potentially transformative moment for the American economy.  BPC’s American Energy Innovation Council will host leading experts to discuss how to make the most of this opportunity.  The forum will feature a conversation with Norm Augustine, the retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, who also served as the Undersecretary of the Army.  Our friend Mark Drajem of Bloomberg will also moderate a panel with NRECA CEO Jim Matheson, former MIT Washington Office Director William Bonvillian, Ames Laboratory Critical Materials Institute Director Alex King and GE Energy Financial Services investment expert Alta Yen.

WCEE to Host Energy Journalists Panel – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will host a panel of energy journalists from E&E News, S&P Global Platts and Politico on Wednesday to discuss the trends in the energy sector today and for the next four years. Some of the trends that will be discussed are NAFTA and oil and gas pipelines in North America, FERC enforcement and the changing political outlook for CFTC, the fate of the Clean Power Plan, rollback of regulatory efforts by the Trump Administration in the energy sector, future of renewables, and energy industry and Department of Interior’s public land use management debate.  Speakers will include E&E News Jenny Mandel, Platts’ Jasmin Melvin and Maya Weber and POLITICO’s Esther Whieldon.

GW to Host Timor-Leste Diplomat – On Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs will host Natercia Coelho, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Timor-Leste, the smallest country in East or Southeast Asia.  Timor-Leste is already subject to numerous extreme weather events every year, including cyclones and typhoons that result in intense flooding. Climate change is exacerbating these issues, with rising sea levels speeding up soil erosion, damaging crops, and leading to food shortages in a country which still ranks 120 out of 169 in the U.N.’s Human Development Index. This talk will cover the Timor-Leste’s Government Plan for Development and its legal framework for addressing climate change.

GU to Host Ambassadors Panel – On Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. Georgetown University hosts a conference on the intersectionality of Climate Change and Security. As a threat to national security, climate change acts as a threat multiplier, aggravating problems such as poverty, racial and social tensions, environmental degradation, and further destabilize states.  The conference will feature an Ambassadors panel, featuring the German Ambassador Peter Wittig, Danish Ambassador Lars Gert Lose, and Barbadian Ambassador Selwin Hart. The keynote speaker will be General James L. Jones, Obama’s National Security Advisor and former Supreme Commander of NATO Allied Forces. The discussion will be moderated by Kathleen Hicks, Senior VP at CSIS.

Calpine CEO to Headline Energy Conference – On Thursday, the NCAC and George Mason University will host its 21st Annual Washington Energy Policy Conference at GMU’s Founders Hall.  The conference will focus on conflicting forces in the energy space.  Former EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski will moderate the event and keynote speaker will be Calpine CEO Thad Hill.  Other speakers will include our friends Tom Pyle of IER, ClearView’s Christine Tezak, former Bush NSC official Bob McNally, FERC Energy Project s Director Terry Turpin and BNEF expert Steve Munro, among others.

SEIA Forum to Look at Women in Solar – On Thursday, SEIA’s Women’s Empowerment committee will hold a summit that focuses on educating, connecting, and providing thought leadership in the solar industry. Key industry leaders will cover topics including Women Leading Solar- Executives Spearheading the Industry (led by our friend Abby Hopper), Women Running for Office & Careers in Public Service; Diversity – The Bottom Line ; Making Solar a Story – Energy Journalists Shaping the Industry; Interactive Speed Networking and Regional Policy Update – What’s Happening in Capitol Hill.

GW to Host Planet Forward Summit – The George Washington University will holds its Planet Forward Summit at GW on Thursday and Friday that will focus on how we can communicate to inform, inspire, and act.  The summit will look at how we tell the story of our planet and how we communicate to inspire action.  Speakers will include SMPA Director Frank Sesno, my friend Andy Revkin and many more.

GW, APHA to Host Climate/Health Discussion – The GW Milken Institute School of Public Health and the American Public Health Association (APHA) will also host a panel Thursday at 10:00 a.m. discussing the intersection of climate change and public health.

ECOS to Hold Spring Meeting – The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) will hold their spring meeting at The Mayflower Hotel on Thursday to Saturday. ECOS meeting will focus on budget questions and its impact on state environmental agencies and their leaders. ECOS is the national non-profit, non-partisan association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders.

World Energy Council Head to Discuss Issues Monitor – The World Energy Council’s Secretary General, Dr. Christoph Frei, will reveal the results of the 2017 World Energy Issues Monitor at a briefing at the U.S. Energy Association in Washington Thursday at 10:00 a.m. The report assesses the degree of impact and uncertainty around more than 40 key issues in the energy sector in four categories including macroeconomic risks, geopolitics and regional issues, business environment and energy innovation and technologies.  Frei will also discuss the findings of the World Energy Trilemma Index, which will reveal how the U.S. ranks among 125 countries on energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability. Last year, the U.S. ranked among the top 10 in energy security.

Climate Assessment Authors to Discuss Next Report – On Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at Chemonics, scientists will come together to discuss the International Chapter of the 4th National Climate Assessment.  The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that, every four years, the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) “prepare and submit to the President and Congress” an assessment that summarizes the effects from global change on the U.S. The fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA) is due in 2018. For the first time, the NCA will include a chapter on climate impacts on U.S. international interests. This international chapter will look at climate impacts on U.S. interests abroad including trade, security, development and humanitarian assistance investments, and scientific research.  The authors will share plans and invite input on the content of the chapter.

GU, UN Association to Hold Green Finance Forum – On Saturday, United Nations Association and Georgetown Law will hold a brunch and round tables discussing the challenges regarding the integration of renewable energy and the implementation of carbon pricing.



Electric Power Conference Set for Chicago – The 19th annual Electric Power Conference will be held In Chicago on April 10-13th at McCormick Place.  Sponsored by POWER magazine, the event provides a platform for power generation professionals to meet, network, and address the critical issues facing the power industry.

Atlantic Council Report to Look at Oil Theft – The Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center will hold a forum next Monday at 12:30 p.m. for a discussion about how hydrocarbons crime impacts global security, the market, the environment, and communities around the world, and how stakeholders can work together to address this under-recognized issue.  The will also release a report, Downstream Oil Theft: Global Modalities, Trends, and Remedies, by Dr. Ian M. Ralby, is the first major study of refined oil theft around the globe. Launched at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi in January, this report explores the many ways that hydrocarbons crime presents a threat not only to local and regional prosperity, but also to global stability and security. Following up on this study, Dr. Ralby has written an additional report outlining the steps that need to be taken to effectively address this issue.

EESI Forum to Look at Foreign Aid, Climate Help – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) holds a briefing next Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. in 485 Russell discussing benefits to the United States from deploying foreign aid to vulnerable regions to help them become more resilient to climate change impacts. The briefing will also explore the inner workings of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a multi-lateral effort to mobilize $100 billion in public and private financing for adaptation and mitigation projects in developing nations.

Wilson Event to Look China Energy Finance – The Wilson Center will host a forum on Thursday April 13th at 9:30 a.m. to look at China Energy Finance investments.  Since 2000, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China have emerged as major global funders of energy infrastructure providing upwards of $160 billion in energy finance to governments across the world. To better understand the size and types of this energy investment, Kevin Gallagher and his research team at Boston University have launched a new interactive China’s Global Energy Finance database that tracks international energy investments by Chinese banks.  The database has revealed that nearly 80% of Chinese bank investment goes into power plant construction -two-thirds of which were coal plants. Besides presenting insights from the database, Dr. Gallagher will discuss how Chinese energy finance compares to other global energy financiers. Dr. Wang Yan (Peking University) will put this energy financing in a larger context by explaining the non-concessional finance approach China’s global banks are taking to promote industrial and infrastructure development around the world. Paulina Garzon will provide examples of positive and negative impacts that Chinese energy investments are having on communities in Latin America.

Forum to Look at New Fuel Economy Approaches – The R Street Institute will host a panel discussion of these recent developments in fuel economy regulations, the existing triune approach to it and what alternatives the future might hold on Friday April 14th at 12:30 p.m.  Speakers will include CEI’s Marlo Lewis, AAM’s Chris Nevers, Rod Richardson of the Grace Richardson Fund, Wayne Winegarden of the Pacific Research Institute and R Street’s Ian Adams.

Energy Storage Conference Set for Denver – The 27th Energy Storage Association annual conference and expo will be held on April 18-20 in Denver, Colorado.  Keynote speakers and expert panelists on the program include Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, RES CEO Ivor Catto, former CO Gov Bill Ritter and NextEra Energy exec Michael O’Sullivan.

Bloomberg New Energy Summit Set – The annual Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit will be held on April 24th and 25th in New York. The Future of Energy Summit is the premier invitation-only forum at the nexus of energy markets, industry, finance, and policy. It is a year-round, global experience powered by Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s cutting edge research team, as it explores the shifting forces in the energy system and defines the implications for the energy community.

Water Power Conference Set for May – Waterpower week in Washington will be May 1st through 3rd, providing three great conferences into one when IMREC, METS and NHA’s Annual Conference are held at the Capital Hilton.  The event will discuss policy changes in the hydro and marine industry in an all-in-one event. The event highlights perspectives on the role of hydro, explores issues affecting hydro and marine resources, and helps participants develop a future game plan to meet challenges and ensure the future sustainability of the hydro and marine industry.