Energy Update: Week of November 19

Energy Update - November 19, 2018


Thanksgiving Week!!!!  So, as usual, you can expect some announcements – perhaps like the RVOs which are due at the end of the month, but always seem to find their way into pre-Thanksgiving roll out.  Or maybe you want to discuss the frenzy of climate protests/activity surrounding the new team in town. Having a lot of historical perspective here, I would say it is clear this group of activists is energized.  The problem is, legislating on complex issues like climate change or energy policy aren’t quite that as exciting as getting arrested at the Speaker’s office.  It takes time, patience, cooperation, agreement, a realistic approach and political understanding – none of which is very evident with these activists.

While many people think Thanksgiving was first started by Ben Franklin and George Washington in 1789, a formal “Day of Thanksgiving” in November was first declared by John Hanson, Maryland Statesman and first President of the United States in Congress Assembled" under the Articles of Confederation, in 1781, eight years prior to Washington’s proclamation.  While there were several days of thank giving and fasting issued by earlier leaders like John Hancock, Henry Laurens, John Jay and Samuel Huntington, none of them resembled the “last Thursday in November” proclamation made by Hanson as the Treaty of Paris negotiations were being finalized.

A few other reasons for giving thanks: 1) Bracewell’s PRG has rolled out its new website and if you haven’t seen it, it Is awesome:;  2) Thanks to my colleague Josh Zive’s inspiration, I and several others have lost a good amount of weight this past year (me: 25 lbs.) which has kept my running faster and keeping up with the college kids as I umpire field hockey (I had a game toward the end of the season w/NCAA National Champ UNC) and finally, 3) I have turned the corner on the Wellesley Tuitions…yes, Hannah is already in the middle of JUNIOR year.  That means only three more “payments” to go.

Not many events this week, but just now, the Wind Solar Alliance rolled out a report with the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association that says record low costs and consumer demand are driving growth in American wind and solar energy. However, it adds, outdated wholesale market rules are preventing the two technologies from further reducing prices for consumers.  The report, Customer-Focused and Clean: Power Markets for the Future, proposes reforms to better serve customers’ and regulators’ desire for clean, affordable electricity as major grid operators in PJM and MISO planning fundamental redesigns of their electricity markets and operating procedures.  Evan Vaugh (AWEA), Dan Whitten (SEIA) and Kevin O’Rourke (Wind-Solar Alliance) all can help. 

Also at 6:30 p.m. tonight, the National Building Museum hosts a forum on Rebuild by Design, the federal response devised to make coastal cities more resilient in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  My friend Jeremy Gregory of MIT who is conducting research on this topic can be very helpful with details on this and its application to rebuilds that will be required from hurricanes from 2017 and 2018.

Finally, with Thanksgiving here, EIA is reporting on how households across the nation are firing up their stoves, cooktops, and ovens to prepare their feasts. According to its latest data from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), electricity is the most common fuel used for cooking, with 74.9 million households (63%) using electricity in a stove, cooktop, or oven, while almost 40 million use natgas (33%).  Check out the cold turkey here


Frank Maisano

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“Andrew Wheeler’s background shows that he has the capacity to advance an appropriate balance of energy, environmental and economic considerations in a manner consistent with open administrative process and respect for rule of law. He’s a good pick to lead the Agency.”

Bracewell PRG’s Scott Segal, in USA Today, regarding President Trumps comments at a Medal of Freedom Ceremony where he said he plans to nominate acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as the permanent head of the environmental agency.

“Power markets benefit customers most when all resources are allowed in.  The key to operating reliably and efficiently through the resource shift taking place is to make sure market design appropriately compensates flexibility, and eliminates undue compensation for inflexible resources.”

Rob Gramlich, Founder and President of Grid Strategies and co-author of a new report, Customer-Focused and Clean: Power Markets for the Future, which proposes reforms to better serve customers’ and regulators’ desire for clean, affordable electricity. 


ClearPath: Where to Go Next on Advanced Nuclear – Idaho National Lab Director Mark Peters broke the news at a recent briefing co-hosted by ClearPath and others that GE Hitachi’s General Electric’s PRISM technology has been selected to support the lab and the broader Department of Energy’s Versatile Test Reactor program. This is a major step towards developing adequate U.S. supply of advanced nuclear fuels and materials. The briefing - co-hosted by the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council, Nuclear Innovation Alliance, Third Way and the Atlantic Council - dissected how NELA would be a comprehensive blueprint for advanced nuclear.


Column: Axios Details Obama Rules Trump Still Supporting – Our friend Amy Harder has another great column this week which is highlighting a number of Obama environmental policies Trump is not rolling back.  They include bird conservation plans, HFC reductions (in Kigali), Offshore wind, land-based wind/solar and truck pollution rules.  See it here.  Oh and the HBO Show featuring climate/energy issues will be in this weekend’s show, so tune in Sunday, Nov 25th.


EIA Data Highlights How Energy is Used in Kitchen – As Thanksgiving nears, EIA is reporting on how households across the nation are firing up their stoves, cooktops, and ovens to prepare their feasts. According to the latest data from EIA's Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), electricity is the most common fuel used for cooking, with 74.9 million households (63%) using electricity in a stove, cooktop, or oven. The cooking fuel a household uses is often the same fuel it uses to heat the home: 59% of households reported using the same type of fuel for cooking as for main space heating.  Check out the great details and charts here


Report: Market Improving for Renewables – The Wind Solar Alliance, along with the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association, said today record low costs and consumer demand are driving growth in American wind and solar energy in a new report on electricity markets. However, outdated wholesale market rules are preventing the two technologies from further reducing prices for consumers.  The report, Customer-Focused and Clean: Power Markets for the Future, proposes reforms to better serve customers’ and regulators’ desire for clean, affordable electricity as major grid operators in PJM and MISO planning fundamental redesigns of their electricity markets and operating procedures.  Sweeping changes in the electricity generation mix over the last 10 years are driving fundamental changes in the nation’s electricity grid, with wind and solar generating capacity having increased approximately 500 percent. Yet, market rules designed with other resources in mind fail to take advantage of these new resources’ excellent reliability capabilities.  The report was authored by Grid Strategies, led by our friend Rob Gramlich and Michael Goggin; Steven Shparber, former counsel for PJM; and Alison Silverstein, the lead author of the widely discussed US Department of Energy Staff Report on Electricity Markets and Reliability released last year – completed an extensive literature review and expert survey to develop the key findings and recommendations in the report.

Large Users Support Findings – Large industrial energy users and ratepayer advocates were also supportive of the findings in the report. Devin Hartman, the incoming President and CEO of the Electricity Consumers Resource Council, the national trade association representing large industrial energy users said the report offers many compelling ideas to make markets more efficient and benefit consumers.  Hartman: “Creating markets, in lieu of standards, for energy and balancing services like primary frequency response are especially important for manufacturers. The report also adds value in highlighting the right way to ensure reliability – through proper energy market prices – rather than venturing into prescriptive capacity market endeavors like ‘fuel-secure’ resource carve-outs.”

Report: U.S. Plastic Bottle Recycling Rate Climbs to 29.2% – The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) and the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) have released “Report on Postconsumer PET Container Recycling Activity in 2017,” which shows that the U.S. polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling rate increased from 28.% in 2016 to 29.2% in 2017. This increase reflects decreases in both total collection volumes and the volume of PET bottles available for recycling in the U.S.  In 2017, approximately 5,913 million pounds of PET bottles were sold into the marketplace in the US. About 29.2% of those—1,726 million pounds—were collected through recycling programs and sold, either to domestic or foreign markets. PET reclaimers in the US supplemented those bottles collected in the US with imported materials and alternative feedstocks to process a total 1,606 million pounds of material. A variety of end users in the US, led by producers of fiber, consumed the clean RPET flake produced by US reclaimers, as well as imported RPET from Canada and other countries.  See additional charts and details here.  Our friends at APR can discuss the report if you are interested, so give me a call. 

Wolf Weighs In Against RFS – PA Governor Tom Wolf last week submitted a waiver request to the EPA asking for relief for Pennsylvania refiners from the renewable fuel standard (RFS). In the letter, Gov. Wolf states that “EPA has taken no meaningful action to address the hardship being caused by the RFS” despite “economic difficulties faced by refiners in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in complying with this mandate.”   Gov. Wolf notes in his letter, “Shutting down a large refinery would have a devastating effect on the workforce and the local economy. The analysis [by Dr. Craig Pirrong of the University of Houston] finds that the loss of such a facility could lead to the loss of over 8,800 jobs in Pennsylvania and over $539 million in labor income.” Monroe Refining also weighed in on the same topic.  Their petition is here

Refiners Support Wolf – The Fueling American Jobs Coalition said for years, refiners across the U.S. have been forced to comply with this government mandate by purchasing compliance credits on an unregulated secondary market subject to volatile prices, middlemen mark-ups and documented fraud. “The profitability – in fact, the very viability – of refiners swings each year according to the trading value of these credits, a factor entirely outside of their control.  Pennsylvania refinery workers who expected decisive action from the Trump administration to deal with this scenario are still waiting. The Coalition salutes Gov. Wolf for standing up for companies in the refining sector and the hard-working employees whose livelihoods continue to be subject to tremendous uncertainty by the flawed implementation of the RFS.”

Cheniere Corpus LNG Facility Opens – Cheniere Energy announced that LNG production launched at its export terminal near Corpus Christi, Texas, the third major export terminal in the United States to produce LNG from shale gas. Under the CCL project, Cheniere intends to develop three trains, each having a nominal production capacity of 4.5 million metric tons per year of LNG. While the first train is likely to come online this year or early next year, the second and third train is expected to be operational within the second half of 2020 and in 2023, respectively. It has already entered into long-term contracts with the Indonesian state-owned oil and gas company, Pertamina Corporation and Spain-based Endesa S.A. to supply liquefied natural gas from Train 1 of its CCL project to these firms for 20 years.

Companies Look for Tax Extenders – A new letter from energy companies and trade associations are pressing lawmakers to renew expired tax incentives that boost their industries. The trio of lapsed benefits, part of a larger set of so-called tax extenders that Congress routinely renews on a short-term basis, supply credits for certain non-business energy property and new energy-efficient homes, as well as a deduction for energy-efficient commercial and multifamily buildings.  Lawmakers are considering extenders in the lame-duck session that began last week, and the energy advocates are determined to make sure the expired incentives that affect them aren't forgotten.


Panel on Offshore Wind Set – Bloomberg Next holds webinar today at 1:00 p.m. on the future of offshore wind in the U.S. with panelists including BOEM’s Jim Bennett, Bloomberg Environment’s Bobby Magill, Liz Burdick of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, Conservation Law Foundation’s Greg Cunningham

Brookings to Host Sustainable Energy Exec – The Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate will host Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, today at 2:00 p.m. for a discussion facilitated by initiative Co-Chair David G. Victor.  The pair will discuss how to provide energy services to the world’s poorest and how to encourage the development of greener and more efficient energy systems.

Building Museum to Discuss Resilient Hurricane Sandy Rebuild – Tonight at 6:30 p.m., the National Building Museum hosts a forum on Rebuild by Design, the federal response devised to make coastal cities more resilient in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  My friend Jeremy Gregory of MIT who is focused directly on providing research in this topic area.  He can be very helpful on the details with this and its application to rebuild that will be required from hurricanes from 2017 and 2018.

Canada Infrastructure Forum Looks at Climate – Infrastructure Canada officials hold webinar tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. on the “Climate Lens” to apply to long-lived public infrastructure investments. The webinar will provide an overview of the why and how of the Climate Lens and give you a better understanding of the GHG Mitigation Assessment and Climate Change Resilience Assessment that form the Climate Lens.

Forum to Look at Iran, Oil Markets – Citigroup hosts a meeting in New York tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. on Iran sanctions and the oil market. The panel discussion to explore how the sanctions implementation is likely to play out, the implications for Iran's oil export and economy and the role of the U.S. dollar in global payments for oil and other goods. Our speakers Bijan Khajehpour, Managing Partner of Eurasian Nexus Partners (Eunepa), and Richard Nephew, Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy, will further delve into the EU efforts to establish alternative payment channels as well as the outlook for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under the U.S. pressure.

Conference to Look at Smart Energy – Tomorrow and Wednesday in London, the Future of Utilities conference will look at technology-driven content about how to make energy retail smarter, and systems more flexible, Smart Energy will showcase the experiences of a wider range of energy companies than ever before.  It combines the Smart Metering Forum, Future of Energy Supply, and Future of Storage conferences into a single event and will inform any strategy for navigating the future as the industry is disrupted beyond recognition.

Cal, Quebec Cap, Trade Auction Results – On Wednesday at 3:00 p.m., the California Cap-and-Trade Program and Quebec Cap-and-Trade System post results from its recent auction.

On-Line Forum Plans Strategies for Climate Vulnerable – The Climate Vulnerable Forum Virtual Summit will be held on Wednesday and Thursday for interested national leaders to discuss the most vulnerable countries to the growing impacts of climate change, and reinforce efforts under the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 °C.  The entirely online event is a major opportunity for governments to signal intent to enhance their ambition ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September 2019, and the Paris Agreement’s “Step Up” moment in 2020. The Summit is convened by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) in its capacity as the CVF chair.

THANKSGIVING DAY – November 22nd

SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP – Black Friday (or umpire field hockey in Florida).


Forum to Look at CCS – The Global CCS Institute releases its 2018 CCS Readiness Index and Indicator Report in a webinar on Tuesday November 27th at 9:00 a.m. The webinar will include a brief discussion of the history of CCS deployment and identify if previous deployment reflects future CCS investment.  Right now, there are 18 large-scale CCS facilities operating around the world. However, a key question remains: is the world ready to deploy CCS at the scale required? And if so, how does each country rank in their “readiness” to achieve this?  The complexity of these questions is explored in the Global CCS Institute’s most recent Thought Leadership reports; a series consisting of three CCS Indicator Reports and the CCS Readiness Index.  Chris Consoli, Senior Consultant – Storage and Ian Havercroft, Senior Consultant – Legal & Regulatory will discuss and provide insights into the key findings of these three Indicator reports as well as the 2018 CCS Readiness Index. 

Wilson to Look at Global Water Issues – On November 28th, the Wilson Center along with US AID and the World Wildlife Federation will host a forum taking stock on the 1st year of the 1st U.S. Global Water Strategy.  The forum will explore new research and practice on water, peace, and conflict; and highlight the centrality of water to global prosperity.  Speakers will include Sen. Chris Coons and many more.

Forum to Talk Private-Public Nuclear Partnerships – DOE and X-Energy are hosting am “Atomic Wings Lunch & Learn” on November 28th at 11:45 a.m. looking at Public-Private Partnerships in Nuclear Energy. Speakers include Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Office of Nuclear Energy Deputy Assistant Sec. Shane Johnson, Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols and ClearPath Executive Director Rich Powell.

EPA RFS Standard on Track for Nov 30 – The EPA is expected to release its 2019 biofuel blending mandate for the Renewable Fuel Standard by November 30th.  EPA recently sent the RVOs to the White House for review.

COP 24 Headed to Poland – The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in Katowice, Poland in December 3rd to the 14th

WAPA, Carvana to Highlight New Model – The Washington Auto Press Assn and Carvana hosts a behind-the-scenes tour of its DC-area Car Vending Machine on Tuesday, December 4th at 11:30 a.m. at the Gaithersburg Maryland Carvana location. The event will feature how the business of selling vehicles is changing.  Carvana representatives will discuss how this auto retailer is disrupting the way consumers buy a car: completely online, in as little as 10 minutes.

Harvard Congressional Orientation Set – Harvard Institute of Politics' hosts it bipartisan Congressional Orientation program on December 4th to 6th on Harvard's campus. Speakers include Gary Cohn, who served as the President’s economic adviser; Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao; former Defense Secretary Ash Carter; GM CEO Mary Barra; Johnson and Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky; former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; AEI president Arthur Brooks; David Gergen; Danielle Allen; and Doug Elmendorf.

Southern Holiday Party Set – The Southern Company will host its annual holiday party on December 5th at Union Station. 

BRT to Hold Innovation Summit – The Business Roundtable will host a CEO Innovation Summit on Thursday December 6th at the Anthem in DC.  BRT’s CEO Innovation Summit will feature wide-ranging discussions between America’s top CEOs, government leaders and industry experts on bold ideas and policy solutions to ensure America remains a global leader in innovation.

Cato to Look at Jones Act –The Cato Institute is holding a conference on the Jones Act on Thursday, December 6th.  The event will try to charting a new course after a century of failure.  For nearly 100 years the Jones Act has restricted the transportation of cargo between two points in the United States to ships that are U.S.-built, crewed, owned, and flagged. While failing to provide its promised benefits, the law has imposed a huge economic burden that manifests itself in various ways, ranging from higher transportation costs to increased traffic and pollution. This full-day conference examines these costs in greater detail, discusses the validity of the Jones Act’s national security argument, and evaluates options for reform.

AGU Fall Meeting Set for DC – For the first time, the American Geophysical Union will hold its 100th Fall Meeting in Washington DC on December 10th through 14th.  This year’s meeting serves as the launch of AGU’s Centennial, with special events, sessions, and engagement opportunities for all attendees.  The forum is always filled with a series of climate-related stories.  Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Amazon’s Kara Hurst and USGS Director Jim Reilly will all offer keynotes.

Wilson Forum to Look at Water Security – The Wilson Center will host a discussion on December 12th at 2:00 p.m. with USAID-funded researchers, international scientists, water program managers, and policymakers about the implications of changing snow and ice resources for water security in High Asia. An expert panel of international scientists will summarize recent findings about High Asia’s snow and ice-dominated water supplies. We will then hear from NGO and government officials working on water security in Asia regarding operational use of hydrologic research, and where the programmatic priorities lie within their respective institutions.

SAFE to Discuss NatGas Book –  SAFE and Bethany McLean will hold a book discussion at the National Press Club on Thursday, December 13th at 4:00 p.m.  SAFE President/CEO Robbie Diamond will discuss her book in a fireside chat with, before the floor is opened to questions from the audience. In her new book Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking and How It’s Changing the World, journalist Bethany McLean digs into the boom-bust cycles that have plagued the U.S. oil industry over the last 10 years, exploring the inner workings of a business reliant on ever-growing amounts of capital investment and returns that have yet to bear out.

Low Carbon Fuels Workshop Set for SF – The Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) holds its Low Carbon Fuels and Carbon Markets Workshop next month on December 12-14 in San Francisco.

BPC to Host Occidental CEO – The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Bob and Elizabeth Dole Leadership Series will host Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub on December 14th at 10:00 a.m. 

NSR Comments Due – The EPA is also taking comment through Dec. 17 on its proposed amendments to new source performance standards for oil and natural gas emissions from new, reconstructed and modified sources.

State of the Energy Industry Event Set – Mark your calendars for January 3rd when API will conduct its annual State of the Energy Industry event at the Reagan International Trade Center.   

Forum to Focus on Infrastructure, Resilience – The National Council for Science and the Environment will convene their 19th Annual Conference from January 7-10, 2019 in Washington, D.C. The NCSE Annual Conference brings together a diverse community of experts for an enriching opportunity to collaborate on exciting projects, share research and best practices, and build professional relationships. Attendees include national and international leaders in education, government, civil society, and business. The conference is recognized for its notable presenters and innovative programming.  NCSE 2019 will focus on Sustainable Infrastructure & Resilience. 

Detroit Auto Show Ready – The 2019 North American International Auto Show will begin in Detroit on January 14th and runs 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 on January 14th with public show launching January 19th