Energy Update: Week of January 22

Energy Update - January 22, 2019


First, I hope you enjoyed the extra day that honored Dr. King’s Legacy, as well as taking in Sunday night’s “Super Blood Wolf Moon.”  During the eclipse, the full moon didn’t disappear but instead turned into a rusty shade of red, hence the “blood moon.” The lunar eclipse also happened to coincide with the wolf moon, the traditional name for the January full moon. What's more, the moon was unusually close to Earth, making it slightly bigger and brighter, making it a so-called supermoon.  It all made for a great show.

Talk about great shows…those were some awesome NFL Conference Championship games on Sunday, both going to OT before they were settled.  While the Rams won on a 57-yd FG (that would have be good from 70), the Pats beat Mahomes and the Chiefs the only way they could – by driving the first series in OT all the way to the end zone.  Controversies aside (a pass interference no-call in the Rams/Saints and OT procedure fairness in the other), it is clear that those four teams were the best teams in the NFL and it could have been any of them playing in Atlanta.  So Super Bowl XIII is set with (old School) Patriots and (new school) Rams.  Now, let the hype begin.

Congress is out this week, but the partial shutdown still is taking up most of the oxygen.  In fact, we also represent the FBI Agents Assn and this morning, they released a new report that provides first-hand accounts of how the lack of funding caused by the government shutdown affects Agents’ work, and identifies the risks that may emerge as the shutdown continues. The report, Voices from the Field: FBI Agent Accounts of the Real Consequences of the Government Shutdown, is a compilation of stories submitted by Special Agents across the country. FBIAA members provided their perspectives for the report on a voluntary and confidential basis.  Feel free to send to your colleagues who may be covering this and contact my colleague Paul Nathanson if there are questions at 202-828-1714 or

Next week is the State of the Union on Tuesday (we think).  No other real action in Congress, but the Senate Energy Committee will hold a roundtable on Thursday to look at the Arctic

Three big events this week starting Thursday morning, when the US Energy Assn holds its widely-recognized State of the Energy Industry Forum at the National Press Club.  Also on Thursday, BPC hosts EIA for its annual Energy Outlook, as well as its Short-Term Energy Outlook.  Then on Friday at 3:00 p.m., the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) and the Wilson Center host the 7th annual Journalists' Guide to Energy and the Environment, where top reporters will look ahead at 2019's biggest stories.   Rumor has it that EPA Air Chief Bill Wehrum will be making an appearance as well.  

Finally, two other fun things this morning.  One, the Academy of Motion Pictures announced its nominations for the 91st Oscars.  A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Vice, Roma and The Favourite all get multiple noms.  See the full details from the early day in LA and with winners announced on February 24th.  Secondly, tomorrow at the NYSE, our friends at the American Gas Assn are ringing the opening bell to launch trading.  AGA Chair James Torgerson, CEO of AVANGRID and AGA head Dave McCurdy will do the honors at 9:30 a.m. Watch live on CNBC or at

Please feel free to call with questions.  Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

C. (202) 997-5932



“I would not call it the greatest crisis. It’s a huge issue that has to be addressed globally.’’

EPA Nominee Andrew Wheeler during his Senate confirmation hearing when asked by Sen. Bernie Sanders if climate change is the greatest crisis facing our planet.

“At the end of the day this is a technology challenge. If we have more focus and alignment around resources, we can do more with less.  We should focus on singles and doubles that build trust and a little bit of muscle tissue to get these things done. Let’s have some big conversations but meanwhile let’s don’t forget the singles and doubles that will get us there.”

ClearPath Founder Jay Faison said alongside other business and energy leaders at an innovation event Thursday hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center.


Dive Podcast Sits Down with Travis Kavulla – Our friends at Utility Dive have a great podcast from last week that discusses America's wholesale power markets are built on the premise of competition, but in recent years that foundation has faced threats from all sides. Travis Kavulla, the former vice chairman of the Montana Public Utilities Commission, recently moved to D.C. to head the energy policy shop at the R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank.  He spoke to EPS in November about how he hoped to create a cross-partisan movement for competition and clean energy. Kavulla also spoke about his vision for wholesale power market reform and the chances for an integrated electricity market in the American West. The episode was recorded onsite at the 2018 annual conference at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.


Energy Experts Tackle Deep Decarbonization – Former MIT Energy Researcher and current Harvard environmental fellow Dr. Jesse Jenkins and EIRP head Sam Thernstrom wrote an op-ed in the NYTimes that looks at deep decarbonization and what may need to be in any Green New Deal to be effective and politically realistic. They argued since the early days of the modern environmental movement, activists have embraced solar and wind power. A “small is beautiful” mantra guided a “soft path” to the renewables revolution.  That vision inspired an open letter sent last week by hundreds of grass-roots environmental groups to Congress demanding a rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy and explicitly rejecting virtually all forms of emissions-free power except solar and wind. The letter (notably lacking the signatures of six of the major national environmental groups) is one of several competing efforts to define a Green New Deal, an inchoate idea that has recently captured the political imagination on the center and left.  The energy and ambition of this effort is certainly worthy of applause. But environmental leaders in Congress must recognize a hard truth. The Green New Deal will be no deal if all it buys us is solar and wind power.  Finally, Thernstrom and Jenkins say a breakthrough on climate will depend on a willingness by Democrats and others to harness the well-intended ambition of activists while focusing on practical ways to take carbon out of our power system. Otherwise, Republicans won’t go along, and it won’t be feasible for the electric power grid.


FAJC Blog Takes on E15/85 Myths, RFA Letter – In a letter to EPA Nominee Andrew Wheeler, the Renewable Fuels Assn said they want EPA to sever RIN market reforms from a promised rule designed to allow year-round sales of E15 by this summer, saying that addressing both issues in a single rule-making would make an already tough job much more difficult.  In that letter, RFA says while they “support efforts to bring more transparency to the RIN market, there is no urgency to move forward quickly with RIN reform provisions.”  If RFA agrees that there needs to be market reforms and the data shows no relationship between RINs and ethanol blending, then why separate the E15 rule from the RIN market reform rule?  The Fueling American Jobs Coalition takes on this topic in a new blog.   Finally, many legal expert think the E15 waiver may not even pass legal muster.   In a separate note, today’s Capitol Crude features interviewed US Senator Mike Rounds about ethanol and E15.  Rounds talks about his concerns that EPA is shrinking the annual biofuel mandate by granting hardship waivers to small refineries and about the risks for conventional ethanol as the Renewable Fuel Standard approaches 2022.

Saunders to Join EIRP Leadership Team – The Energy Innovation Reform Project (EIRP) has hired Paul J. Saunders to serve as President.  Saunders will join current founder and Executive Director Samuel Thernstrom, who will become EIRP’s Chief Executive Officer. Thernstrom will lead the organization’s policy, development, and stakeholder outreach, while Saunders will oversee research and programming as well as managing EIRP’s operations. Saunders, who has served on EIRP’s Board of Directors for six years and as Chairman for five, will step down as Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Center for the National Interest, a leading Washington think tank, at the end of January to join EIRP. At the Center for the National Interest, he has focused on foreign policy and national security issues, especially in U.S.-Russia relations, as well as on energy and climate change. He has also been a leader in expanding the Center’s international partnerships in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He will remain a senior fellow at the Center, where Thernstrom has been a senior fellow for several years.  “Paul’s participation on our Board has already been invaluable to our organization.  To have him join our leadership team will give us the opportunity to fully tap his expertise, knowledge and experience in international affairs and global energy markets at such an important time.  With talk of new initiatives in Congress to address the challenges of climate change, Paul will add tremendous insight and value to EIRP initiatives that can address our energy needs in ways that reinforce America’s international leadership on energy and the environment,” Thernstrom said. 

Innovation Forum Looks to Future – The Bipartisan Policy Center hosted an innovation event Thursday with ClearPath’s Jay Faison, Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning, Shell Chairman Chris Holliday, American Air Liquide CEO Michael Graff and former Aerospace Corporation CEO (and current Chevron board member) Wanda Austin.  Any real progress on climate change, clean energy and innovation especially in divided government will depend on a politically realistic and technologically inclusive agenda built on pushing zero-carbon and low-carbon technologies around the world.  One big solution to how to commercialize clean technologies that scale faster, perform better, and are cheaper than higher-polluting alternatives: “Goals, goals and goals.”  But in order to achieve the goals framing a serious climate strategy, there must be recognition of what's at stake. What's changed is that climate change and clean energy is beginning to seep back into the national debate.

DOE Launches Lithium Ion Recycling Effort – At the BPC event, Energy Secretary Rick Perry lead it off by announcing a new Department of Energy effort to recycle lithium ion batteries. It will include a new lithium ion recycling center housed at Argonne National Laboratory and a prize worth $5.5 million over the next three years. Critical materials such as lithium and cobalt are both expensive and dependent on foreign sources for production. The President’s Executive Order 13817 identifies the need for “developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies” as part of a broader strategy to “ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.”  The goal of Recycling Prize and R&D Center is to develop technologies to profitably capture 90% of all lithium based battery technologies in the United States. Currently, lithium-ion batteries are collected and recycled at a rate of less than 5%.  The Battery Recycling Prize will encourage American entrepreneurs to find innovative solutions to collecting, storing, and transporting discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling. It will award cash prizes totaling $5.5 million to contestants in three progressive phases designed to accelerate the development of solutions from concept to prototype to demonstration.

EIA: NatGas to Keep Expanding – The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts in U.S. natural gas market will continue full speed ahead through 2020, delivering low prices and booming exports in its Short-Term Energy Outlook.  Planned capacity additions for natural gas will continue to replace coal-fired plants coming offline in 2019. Natural gas will continue as the primary source of U.S. electricity, the report states, increasing from 35 percent of domestic electricity generation in 2018 to 37 percent by 2020. Coal-fired electricity is expected to fall to 24 percent of generation by 2020. The U.S. is expected to continue to be a net exporter of natural gas as production outpaces domestic consumption. The increase in exports will be driven by additional liquefied natural gas capacity additions at the Cameron LNG and Freeport LNG facilities along the Gulf Coast, the report states.


Detroit Auto Show Ready – The 2019 North American International Auto Show continues in Detroit today through January 27th at Cobo Hall in the Motor City. With the largest concentration of the world’s top automotive and technology executives, designers, engineers and thought leaders, the North American International Auto Show serves as the global stage for companies to debut brand-defining vehicles and industry-shaping announcements.  Events start with the 13th annual ultra-luxury automotive event, The Gallery. The event has now become the official kick-off to the North American International Auto Show at the MGM Detroit.  Press days start today while the public show launches Saturday. 

US Mayors In DC for Meetings – The United States Conference of Mayors hold winter meeting tomorrow through Friday.  Little League World Series Star Mo’Ne Davis will be there for the opening plenary while Steve Mnuchin will be among those making remarks.  Panels on renewables, Climate change and trade will all be held.  See full schedule here.

EV Forum Set for Chicago – The Great Plains Institute and Midcontinent Transportation Electrification Collaborative host conference at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar in Chicago on Wednesday looking at efforts to accelerate progress on transportation electrification. During the Summit, MTEC will unveil its consensus Road Map to Decarbonization by Midcentury: Transportation Electrification. This second installment of the Road Map to Decarbonization will include new analyses and recommendations to policy makers in the Midcontinent Region on how to seize the opportunities electric vehicles present.

POSTPONED - EPA to Hold Water Rule Hearing – The EPA’s scheduled a public hearing for Wednesday in Kansas City at 1:00 p.m. on the proposed replacement Waters of the United States definition is Being postponed. 

AGA to Ring Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange – Tomorrow, January 23rd, the American Gas Association (AGA) will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. AGA Chair James P. Torgerson and President and CEO Dave McCurdy will do the honors.  AGA, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. Torgerson, CEO of AVANGRID, Inc., will make the organization’s yearly presentation to the CFA Society of New York later in the day.  AGA financial outreach program works with CFOs, treasurers and investor relations executives at member companies throughout the country. AGA's annual Financial Forum provides a unique opportunity for energy industry executives, security analysts, portfolio managers, rating agencies and bankers to meet for two days to evaluate the outlook for the energy industry and individual companies. Additionally, AGA publishes Natural Gas Market Indicators twice a month which summarizes recent developments in natural gas issues and more.  The Hennessy Gas Utility Fund (GASFX) comprises the publicly traded natural gas distribution and transmission member companies of AGA, whose common stock, or parent company’s common stock, is traded on a United States stock exchange. Most energy utilities have paid dividends continuously for more than 50 years and some for more than 150 years.

Forum to Look at China Transportation – On Wednesday at Noon, Johns Hopkins University’s China Studies and Energy, Resources & Environment (ERE) Programs will present a forum on sustainable transport and urban prosperity in China.  The event will feature Daizong Liu, China Director, World Resources Institute Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. 

EIA to Release 2019 STEO at BPC – On Thursday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release its 2019 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) and discuss its January 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) at a public event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center. The event will feature a presentation by EIA Administrator Dr. Linda Capuano as well as panel discussions about the latest AEO and STEO.  EIA releases its Annual Energy Outlook each year to provide updated projections of U.S. energy markets. In addition, EIA releases its Short-Term Energy Outlook each month. The January 2019 STEO release will include projections out to 2020 for the first time.  Panelists will include ClearView’s Kevin Book, Enbridge’s James Edgar, former FERC Commissioner Colette D. Honorable, EPRI’s Arshad Mansoor and Rick Smead of RBN Energy.

USEA to Hold State of Energy Industry Forum – The US Energy Assn begins each calendar year with its widely- recognized State of the Energy Industry Forum on Thursday at the National Press Club.  The Forum brings together distinguished leaders from the most influential energy trade associations to share their outlook and to discuss dynamic issues facing the energy industry in the new year.

Senate Energy to Host Roundtable on Arctic – The Senate Energy Committee holds a roundtable on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to consider the United States’ overall role in the Arctic from a domestic and international perspective, including natural resource development and environmental stewardship. The roundtable will be webcast live on the committee’s website, and an archived video will be available shortly after the roundtable concludes.

Former CEQ Official to Discuss Fuel Economy – On Friday at 12:30 p.m., the Georgetown Mortara Center for International Studies holds an Energy and Climate Policy Research Seminar discussion with Professor Ken Gillingham of Yale University.  The seminar will focus on President Trump’s fuel economy standard changes and additional evidence on the consumer valuation of fuel economy rules.  Gillingham previously worked at the California Air Resources Board, White House Council of Economic Advisers, Stanford Energy Modeling Forum, Resources for the Future, and Joint Global Change Research Institute of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

SEJ 2019 Journalists Guide to Energy, Environment – The Society of Enviro Journalists (SEJ) and Wilson Center will host the annual Journalists Guide to Energy and Environment on Friday at the Wilson Center.  Panelists include SEJ board member Jeff Burnside, WaPo’s Juliet Eilperin, Ellen Gilmer of E&E News, POLITICO’s Pradnya "PJ" Joshi, NPR’s Chris Joyce, AP’s Christina Larson, the NYT’s Eric Lipton and moderator Emily Holden of The Guardian.


Global CCS to Launches Report – The Global CCS Institute and the Atlantic Council will hold a special US launch of the Global CCS Institute’s signature publication, The Global Status of CCS, on Monday, January 28th at 3.00 p.m. in the Atlantic Council Headquarters.  The report was first presented at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.   DOE’s Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy Steven Winberg offers Keynote remarks.  Other speakers include Equinor’s Geir Westgaard and National Energy Technology Laboratory manager Lynn Brickett.

WM Phoenix Open – The Greenest Show on Grass, the PGA’s 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open will be held January 28th to February 3rd at the TPC in Scottsdale, which houses the loudest and most exciting hole in golf.  While I love golf and often mention PGA event, this is important because on Thursday, January 31st, WM hosts its 9th annual Sustainability Forum - 2019 at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. National Geographic will take center stage at the Forum, exploring solutions for “Plastic Waste in the Environment.” The Forum will also examine “Cities of the Future” through panel discussions and presentations. The WM Sustainability Forum is free to attend, but pre-registration is required.  Waste Management created the Sustainability Forum in 2011 as a collaborative space for corporate leaders, government leaders, experts, innovators and influencers to share insights and exchange ideas.

Forum to Look at Pipeline Issues – AECOM and the Environmental Law Institute hold an Energy & Environment forum on Tuesday January 29th at AECOM’s Wilson Blvd offices on the challenges in a changing energy world. Leading experts will explore these changes and challenges in energy transmission, environmental protection and compliance, permitting challenges and solutions implemented, and more, with a special focus on pipelines. AECOM’s Bernie Holcomb, FERC’s Annie Jones, ELI’s James M. McElfish and Chris Miller of the Piedmont Environmental Council.

DOE, ClearPath to Look at MicroReactors – The Department of Energy and ClearPath sponsor the next Atomic Wings nuclear power policy lunch on Tuesday, January 29th featuring discussion on microreactors. Speakers will be announced.

State of the Union Address – January 29th

Webinar to Preview CERAWeek – After a tumultuous year for the energy industry, CERAWeek 2019 looks ahead with a focus on the responses to the collapse in oil prices, fractious geopolitics, evolving disruptive technologies and emerging competitors. This year’s theme – New World of Rivalries: Reshaping the Energy Future will hone in on the changing forces at work impacting the energy sector.  This will be highlighted in a webinar discussion on Thursday, January 31st at 9:00 am EST with Daniel Yergin and Carlos Pascual in conversation with Atul Arya.  The groups will preview and share insights into some of the many topics to be discussed at CERAWeek 2019 in Houston, Texas on March 11-15.

WRI to Look at Paris Goals – The World Resources Institute holds a seminar on Thursday, January 31st at 12:30 p.m. to explore challenges, opportunities, and country examples that governments can consider using to ensure they deliver on the 2030 Agenda and the Paris goals.

ACORE Webinar Looks at Offshore Wind – ACORE hosts a State of the Industry Webinar on Wednesday February 6th at Noon to offer the latest intelligence and analysis on renewable energy markets, finance and policy.  The webinar is part of a quarterly series produced in partnership between ACORE and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and will feature a quarterly market update and a discussion of key issues in financing U.S. offshore wind development. Offshore wind projects could be a major element in the growth of U.S. renewable energy over the next decade, yet significant questions remain about the financing of these large, capital-intensive projects. The U.S. has seen a recent wave of major offshore wind project announcements, with 28 projects, totaling more than 25 GW, now in the project pipeline. Even as European banks, investors and capital markets have become increasingly comfortable with offshore wind as an asset class overseas, U.S. markets present new challenges.  Speaker include ACORE’s Todd Foley and Greg Wetstone; BNEF’s Ethan Zindler and Tom Harris; and Stanford’s Dan Reicher and Citigroup’s Marshal Salant.

Ethanol Conference Set – The RFA’s National Ethanol Conference is set for the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando from February 11th to 13th.   Speakers include former Senate Leader Tom Daschle, analyst Philip Verleger, The Circus co-Hosts John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon, among others.

BCSE, Bloomberg to Release 2019 Sustainable Energy Factbook – The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) will release the 2019 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook on Wednesday morning, February 13th at BNEF offices in DC.  The Factbook provides up-to-date, accurate market information about the broad range of industries — energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy— that are contributing to the country’s move towards cleaner energy production and more efficient energy usage.

Forum on Storage Set for SF – The 12th annual Storage Week will be held on February 25-27 in San Francisco at the Hotel Kabuki.  The event is the development and finance business hub at the forefront of behind-the-meter and grid-connected storage system deployments. This year, the event takes a deep dive into structuring both standalone and co-located storage projects, and assesses the opportunities emerging in states, new rules in organized markets and the needs of new customer classes.