Energy Update: Week of October 10

Energy Update - October 10, 2016


After new year celebrations last week, we now turn to Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement on Wednesday.  Hopeful that everyone has an easy fast.  It is also Columbus Day today, the lonely Federal Holiday that celebrates Italian-Americans.  Add to it Family Weekend at Wellesley starting Friday for Hannah and we have a very busy week.

The debate last night was very interesting, especially in light of Friday’s Access Hollywood tapes.  BTW, as one who has been around politics for 25 years, it seems slightly crazy that Access Hollywood and Howard Stern tapes are the most important “October surprises.”  Is it just me?  Perhaps more leaks to the National Inquirer or even The Onion are next.   At least energy was mentioned in the second to last question, following up on 82 seconds from the first debate.  Trump talked about clean coal (although who knows if really knows anything about it) and certainly Clinton’s comments on NatGas are likely to worry activists.

Last week, the big news was the Aviation emissions agreement and the Paris Treaty becoming a reality.  The Paris agreement is not binding – and while politically important – remains largely symbolic.  More importantly this week, international negotiators will make the most significant gain against GHGs this year when they finalize an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will eliminate HFCs in Kigali.  An HFC pact is the biggest step nations can take this year to significantly reduce human impact on the environment.  Pound for pound, these chemicals trap thousands of times more heat than carbon dioxide.  This is especially important because the world-wide demand for air conditioning and refrigeration is skyrocketing, making HFCs one of the fastest growing climate-impacting gases.  See our issues primer below.

AHRI President Steve Yurek will be in Rwanda as part of the industry effort to support the HFC reductions and will be holding a media call Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. (4pm Kigali time) to update reporters on the action.  If there is enough interest, we will hold additional calls.  Please let us know if you are interested.  Here is the call-in number: (703) 600-0385  And here is the access code: 893-0742

Light schedule this week in DC, but the American Coal Ash Association will release its annual Coal Ash Production and Use Survey on Wednesday at the National Press Club.  Also, the R Street Institute is hosting at Capitol Hill forum tomorrow on Autonomous Vehicles and the new government requirements. Finally, Veterans in Energy will hold a National Leadership Summit on Thursday and Friday featuring leaders from the energy industry and federal government.

Finally, if you haven’t heard his yet, this past weekend, there was a concert for all-time in Palm Springs.  Desert Trip featured Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, The Who, Bob Dylan and Roger Waters over three days at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA – the same place they hold the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival each spring (and USA Field Hockey’s “Festival”).  It guess maybe it was  “Old-Chella.”  If you missed it, you still have time to get out there: They will repeat the shows/lineup this upcoming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Call for questions…



Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932



“What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs, while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?”

Question from Missouri voter Ken Bone, the second to last question in the debate


“Energy is under siege by the Obama administration. Under absolutely siege. The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, is killing these energy companies.

Republican Candidate Donald Trump answering first


“We are producing a lot of natural gas that serves as a bridge to more renewable fuels and that’s an important transition. We have got to remain energy independent.”

Hillary Clinton in yesterday’s Presidential Debate.



UN HFC Meeting Launches – The UN MOP 28 on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer started today and will run all week in Kigali, Rwanda where negotiators aim to approved an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to eliminate hydrofluorocarbons (HFC).

How to Stay Informed on the Action – Starting Wednesday, AHRI President Stephen Yurek will be holding a media call at 10:00 a.m. (4 p.m. Kigali time) to update reporters on the action.  Yurek has attended all the meetings and been a very active participant in the international negotiations.   If there is enough interest, we will hold additional calls.  Please let us Know if you are interested.  Here is the call-in number (703) 600-0385  And here is the access code: 893-0742

Who’s Going – EPA Administrator McCarthy leads the delegation and last week previewed EPA’s vision for the Meeting.  McCarthy highlighted financial support from 16 countries and 19 philanthropists aimed at helping poor countries make a swift transition away from HFCs.  She added technology-sharing mechanisms and money for developing nations are built-in assurances for skittish countries.   Secretary of State John Kerry will also be on the trip, but we are hoping he just doesn’t say that Much… (We’re not holding our breath, though!)

Industry, Enviros Agree? – Unlikely as it may seem, a global HFC phase-down is backed both by leading environmental groups and the industry that makes and uses these chemicals. Coming after last December’s Paris climate agreement, an HFC pact is the biggest step that will be taken today to significantly reduce climate impacts. Pound for pound, HFCs trap thousands of times more heat than carbon dioxide. This is especially important because the world-wide demand for air conditioning and refrigeration is skyrocketing, making HFCs one of the fastest growing greenhouse gases.  AHRI President Stephen Yurek has attended all the meetings and been a very active participant in the international negotiations.  NRDC’s David Doniger Is also a major player and will be offer regular update on the NRDC blog.

Where Things Stand – The United States is well-positioned  to achieve a successful conclusion at this week’s international negotiations to curb refrigerants that contribute to global warming.  Significant groundwork has been laid for success on an amendment for a global phase down of HFCs.  The potential sticking points include:

    • The baselines, freeze dates, and reduction schedules to be used in the amendment, both for developed nations and for Article 5 nations.
    • The monetary incentives that might be available to help Article 5 countries to assist in the transition.
    • Intellection property issues.

Key Issues – A number of key issues underscore the need for a strong agreement:

  • Refrigerants are vital for safe, productive, comfortable life on Earth.  They are used in the air conditioning that keeps people safe and productive during hot weather; they are used in the commercial and transport refrigeration that keeps perishable food fresh over long journeys and in food stores; and they are used in hospitals and medical research facilities to keep medicines and samples safe.
  • The HVACR industry was at the forefront of support for the Montreal Protocol’s efforts to phase out HCFC refrigerants.  In fact, the industry-created and supported Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program (AREP) was the effort that identified HFCs as the appropriate (at the time) successors for most air conditioning and refrigeration applications.
  • Those efforts have been an unqualified success and are the basis for industry’s efforts to include HFCs in the Montreal Protocol and to bring that success to our current challenge – beginning to plan for a phase down of HFCs.
  • The North American Proposal to include HFCs in the Montreal Protocol was spearheaded by the HVACR industry, which is also proactively researching suitable alternatives.
  • The Low-GWP AREP research program has been through two phases, during which several promising alternatives to HFCs have been identified for different applications.  This program was conceived by industry and is solely supported and funded by industry, with no assistance from government.
  • Many of the potential alternatives are currently classified as mildly flammable or flammable and thus prohibited for use in all but a very few applications.  So the HVACR industry has spearheaded a collaborative research effort to field-test each one so that the data can be transmitted to building code developers for their use when they revise building codes.  AHRI, DOE, ASHRAE, and California are funding this research.
  • During the past decade, the industry has worked diligently to reduce the potential impact of refrigerants used in our equipment on the Earth’s climate.  We have invested close to $2 billion since 2009 researching energy-efficient equipment and the utilization of low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants.
  • The HVACR industry will renew and expand those efforts by investing $5 billion over the next decade for R&D and capital expenditures to develop and commercialize low-GWP technologies.  This commitment was made at a September 2015 White House event.
  • The HVACR industry is building awareness and developing best practices training and certification for technicians in other nations through the Global Refrigerant Management Initiative and the Europe-based Refrigerant Driving License program.



NIH Emergency Med research Head Highlighted in NYT Letter – After its editorial last week highlighting driverless cars, the New York Times published a letter from Dr. Jeremy Brown, an emergency physician who serves as NIH’s director of Emergency Care Research and a member of SAFE’s Commission on Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Safety.  Brown praised the NYT for drawing important attention to the lifesaving potential of autonomous vehicle technology. He said that “even though 94% of car accidents are attributable to human error, recent polling shows that only a third of Americans understand that driverless cars have the potential to improve the driving experience, and 71% of older Americans are “worried” about the technology.  So there is clearly a need to better communicate with the public.   Dr. Brown also says the Times “rightly draws attention to the threats that extremes of regulation present. Overregulation may discourage investment in driverless cars. But a lack of directives at the federal level could lead to a counterproductive patchwork of state regulations.  He closes saying policymakers must carry out a clear regulatory policy that encourages innovation while protecting public safety. A failure to do so will deny us the benefits that driverless cars have to offer.

UMich Study Raise Concerns Over Biofuels Climate Impacts – Our SEJ friend Jennifer Weeks reports that a new study from the University of Michigan’s John DeCicco on the climate impacts of biofuels.  Transportation generates one-fourth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so addressing this sector’s impact is crucial for climate protection.  Many scientists view biofuels as inherently carbon-neutral: they assume the carbon dioxide (CO2) plants absorb from the air as they grow completely offsets, or “neutralizes,” the CO2 emitted when fuels made from plants burn. Many years of computer modeling based on this assumption, including work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, concluded that using biofuels to replace gasoline significantly reduced CO2 emissions from transportation. DiCicco’s new study takes a fresh look at this question as it examines crop data to evaluate whether enough CO2 was absorbed on farmland to balance out the CO2 emitted when biofuels are burned. It turns out that once all the emissions associated with growing feedstock crops and manufacturing biofuel are factored in, biofuels actually increase CO2 emissions rather than reducing them.

NOAA Study Says Natural Causes Play Larger Role in Methane – A new study from NOAA published Thursday in the journal Nature says that even though fossil fuels development has polluted the atmosphere with up to 60 percent more methane than scientists previously thought, the main culprits behind the rise in global methane levels are wetlands, landfills, rice fields and belching cows. He study adds biological sources such as cattle, landfills and agriculture account for up to 67% of total human-caused methane emissions.

New IER Report Questions Rooftop Solar – The Institute for Energy Research released a report highlighting the severe costs that rooftop solar subsidies and state net metering policies impose on the American people. The report titled, “The High Cost of Rooftop Solar Subsidies,” prepared by Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics, noted that Solar subsidies force poorer Americans to foot the bill for wealthier Americans and Solar job growth is due to subsidies, but this likely results in fewer jobs overall.  The report cites an example Arizona solar customers avoid around $1,000 annually in electric grid costs. These costs are passed on to the average power users, who are typically less affluent.

E&E Legal Sues NY AG Schneiderman – The Energy & Environment Legal Institute filed suit against New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to compel release of public records relating to the climate push against Exxon. This latest action by E&E Legal follows several successful efforts to compel Democratic Attorneys General who were part of the “Green 20” coalition to comply with public records requests — who nonetheless do continue a collective slow-walk and even stonewall, agreed in advance as E&E Legal’s open records requests have demonstrated.  Revelations have nonetheless been startling, including the Democratic AGs collaborating with outside activist groups on this campaign to use their offices to investigate political opponents, efforts by AGs to mislead the media, and the Green 20 coalition attempt to enter into a secrecy pact masquerading as a “common-interest agreement” to keep public records reflecting their scheming from the public.



Kigali Montreal Protocol Talks Start – The UN MOP 28 on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer convenes this week in Kigali, Rwanda. The meeting agenda encompasses the negotiations on a hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) amendment, nominations for critical-use and essential-use exemptions, and other decisions from the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG).

NOAA Official to Be Featured at RFF Event – Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., Resources for the Future will host a conversation between RFF President Richard G. Newell and Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, as they discuss how environmental intelligence can preserve and improve human and environmental health as well as promote growth.  Dr. Kathryn Sullivan was confirmed by the Senate as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on March 6, 2014, having served as acting NOAA administrator since February 28, 2013. She is a distinguished scientist, renowned astronaut, and intrepid explorer.

Forum to look at AVs – The R Street Institute is hosting at Capitol Hill forum tomorrow on Autonomous Vehicles and the new government requirements posted last week.  Former NHTSA head David Strickland of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, Consumer Technology Association President Gary Shapiro, GMU’s Adam Thierer and CEI’s Marc Scribner will all speak.

Coal Ash Report to be Released – The American Coal Ash Association will release its annual Coal Ash Production & Use Survey results on Wednesday at the National Press Club’s Lisagor Room at 9:30 a.m.  Conducted since the early 1960s, the survey provides the most complete data available on the volume of coal ash materials that are produced and beneficially used in a variety of applications. ACAA officials will also discuss impacts of environmental regulation and changing electric utility markets on coal ash production and use. ACAA’s Tom Adams and John Ward will present the report.

Vets in Energy Hold ConferenceVeterans in Energy will hold a National Leadership Summit on Thursday and Friday at the Capital Hilton, featuring leaders from the energy industry and federal government.  Speakers include Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall; Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training Mike Michaud; U.S. Navy Lt. Brad Snyder, a Paralympian and gold medalist swimmer; leaders from the First Lady’s Joining Forces initiative; and utility executives. They will explore efforts to support the transition from military to civilian life and discuss how veterans can have strong, successful careers in energy.  Veterans in Energy is an outgrowth of the Utility Industry Workforce Initiative, a working group that brought together six utility industry trade associations (Nuclear Energy Institute, Edison Electric Institute, American Gas Association, American Public Power Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Center for Energy Workforce Development), four federal agencies (Departments of Energy, Labor, Defense and Veterans Affairs) and two labor groups (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Utility Workers Union of America) to identify new initiatives the energy industry can undertake to support veterans working in energy jobs.

BPC Forum to Look at Food Supply – The Bipartisan Policy Center and Kansas State University will hold a forum on Thursday for panel discussions on the threat of bio/agroterrorism, highlighting the importance of agriculture in biosecurity, as well as potential strategies, tactics, and policy solutions for the next administration.  The 2015 bipartisan report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Biodefense reported that, despite progress on many fronts, the nation remains highly vulnerable to biological threats. A critical consideration in the national dialogue on biodefense includes the need to protect American’s food supply and agriculture economy. A biological attack on the $1 trillion agriculture sector would have devastating economic, social, and political fallout, and it is critical to promote engagement and awareness in the biosecurity debate.

CEQ’s Goldfuss Featured in Women’s Event – The Women’s Energy Network will host a lunch on Thursday with Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Borenstein, Holt, Mann Headline Penn State Science Forum – Penn State University will hold a forum on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. to discuss Science, climate and energy policy.  The panel will feature former Rep. and Princeton Physicist Rush Holt, controversial climate scientist Michael Mann, AP Science report Seth Borenstein and Penn State energy center director Peter Hudson.



Rogers Headlines New Energy Summit – The 2016 New Energy Summit will be held in Washington at the House of Sweden on October 17-18, 2016 in Washington, DC. The 4th annual event will cover such topics as tax equity, community solar, net metering, and more. This year’s event will also feature a roster of pioneers, innovators and industry champions including Jigar Shah – Co-Founder of Generate Capital, Jim Rogers – Former CEO of Duke Energy, and Reed Hundt – Co-Founder of Coalition for Green Capital.

CSIS to Host Fukushima Governor – The CSIS Proliferation Prevention Program will host Governor Masao Uchibori next Monday to discuss the present situation of Fukushima Prefecture 2047 days after the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as his efforts aimed at revitalization.  Governor Uchibori was elected as Governor of Fukushima in October 2014 and assumed office as Governor in November 2014. Uchibori’s mission is to ‘take back the Fukushima known for beauty and calm’. In accomplishing this mission, Governor Uchibori has visited all over the Prefecture and listened to the voices of the people of Fukushima to develop his bottom-up approach.

CIBO Meeting Set – The Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO) will hold its annual meeting on October 18-19th In Woodstock, Vermont.  The meeting will consider the energy and environmental questions corporate and institutional CEO’s and Government legislative and regulatory leaders will be asking in the upcoming year as well as discuss the broader energy and environmental issues that could be impacting overall corporate operations and planning in the near term.

Engineers Conference Set for OK – The 34th USAEE/IAEE Conference will be held in Tulsa, OK on October 23-26.  The conference will provide an extensive debate and discussion, based on solid research and evidence, to facilitate deeper and broader understanding of the energy transformation for North America and the rest of the world.  The Tulsa conference will bring together business, government, academic and other professionals to explore these themes through a series of plenary, concurrent, and poster sessions. Speakers will address current issues and offer ideas for improved policies taking full account of the evolution of the North American energy sector and its implications for the rest of the world. There also will be offsite tours to provide a direct and close-up perspective on Oklahoma’s dynamic energy landscape.

IEA to Release Investment Report at CSIS – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host the release of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) inaugural World Energy Investment 2016 report.  The report looks at the level of investment in the global energy system in 2015 and will feature Laszlo Varro, Chief Economist at the IEA.  Varro leads the newly-created Economics and Investments Office, which aims to provide sound and consistent energy economics and methodological support for the Agency’s work. Varro also served as IEA Head of Gas, Coal and Power Markets.

Solar Insight Conference Set – GTM will host the U.S. Solar Market Insight Conference on October 25th and 26th at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, CA.  The event will provide industry thought leaders and insights into the U.S. solar industry.  NARUC’s Travis Kavulla will speak along with a number of others.

GW to Host Electricity System Forum – On October 27th, George Washington University Law School will convene top policy-makers and industry leaders for a one-day conference on the interface of state and federal initiatives addressing the way in which electricity in the U.S. will be produced, delivered and used in the future. The learning sessions will examine the work occurring in Minnesota, California and the Southeast and at FERC, NERC and U.S. DOE. Additional learning sessions will include remarks from a leading consumer advocate and a newer market entrant, plus a lunchtime presentation on grid architecture for the future grid. The facilitated discussion session, in which all are encouraged to participate, will address how federal, state, and local efforts complement or conflict, and seek ideas from the discussion panel and the audience for additional means for coordination across jurisdictions and regions.

Conference to Focus on Consumers, Cities – On November 1st and 2nd, The Energy Times 2nd annual Empowering Customers and Cities conference will be held in Chicago.  The conference we will feature Jeremy Rifkin, bestselling author of 20 books on science, technology and the economy, society and the environment. Rifkin will kick off our conference and lay out his entire vision for the coming global transformation and how it will transform electric power production and consumption.  Anne Pramaggiore, President and CEO of ComEd, will discuss ComEd’s vision of what its customers will want and need in coming years, and the steps they are taking to provide those services. Thomas Birr, Chief Strategy Officer of RWE, Germany’s second largest utility, will discuss what RWE is doing to become the utility of the future and the steps they are taking to secure the most innovative and potent technologies to help build a 21st century energy enterprise.

COP 22 Marrakesh – November 7-21

TransForum East Set for Nov – GenerationHub’s TransForum East is scheduled for November 15-16 at the Capital Hilton in DC. TransForum East brings together electric transmission executives who operate, plan, build, regulate and invest in electric power transmission systems in Eastern North America.

This regional forum provides two days of interaction and collaboration on the business of power transmission. You’ll gain insight from case studies of successful business models, regional planning strategies, financing trends and practical lessons learned from new construction and upgraded transmission projects occurring in the United States and Canada.