Energy Update: Week of 10/16/17

Energy Update - October 16, 2017


I am still stunned over the interesting and exciting games in the MLB playoffs over the past week.  There has been some really great games.  And now, college basketball is underway with Midnight Madness across the country occurring over the weekend.

Last week, among the big stories was the withdrawal of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.  Our colleague Jeff Holmstead did a couple of great explainers on the CPP withdrawal.  First, he sat down with NPR’s Steve Inskeep for Morning Edition.  He also did a longer, more detailed discussion on the Bracewell podcast, The Lobby Shop, with Josh Zive.  You can listen to Jeff’s dulcet tones on NPR here and on The Lobby Shop here on iTunes and SoundCloud.  (You can sign up to receive it every week in your podcast app.)

This week, there are two events that everyone is keeping an eye on: 1) Tomorrow’s Grassley/Pruitt meeting on biofuels issues and 2) an EPA briefing today on changes to sue/settle.  On Grassley, we’ve seen a flurry of activity, including a letter from PA Senators on risk to NE refineries, another letter from more Senators on biofuels on lowering the RVO, a new RFA paper (which surprising thinks ethanol is not the problem) and pushback from the small “mom-and-pop” retailers who argue the program is unfairly slanted toward large retailers.  As for “sue/settle”, it is an issue our friends at the US Chamber have raised major concerns about with a recent report in September.  Our experts are also ready to help.

Starting tomorrow in Congress, the Senate Approps panel is moving the Interior/EPA budget with full Committee on Thursday.  We expect committee votes on in Senate Environment on EPA nominees, as well as NRC’s Jan Baran Wednesday morning.

Other events include AGA hosting a media briefing tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. to present expectations for peak month natural gas supply and demand as we move into the 2017-18 winter heating season. The ELI annual awards dinner and policy forums Wednesday as well as former DOE Sect Moniz visiting with the Bipartisan Policy Center on nuclear. Finally on Thursday, CSIS hosts forum on the history of vehicle efficiency standards and electricity regulation featuring our friends Jim Connaughton, former Rep. Phil Sharp and former FERC Commissioners Tony Clark and Joe Kelliher.

Here is a great homecoming photo from Olivia’s weekend… And she scored twice during the Friday Night Lights 4-2 field hockey victory, including the game winner.

Call with questions.  Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

  1. (202) 997-5932



“As the first stewards of the environment, U.S. farmers have invested in solar energy to diversify their sources of power and reduce their impacts. They are joining a wide range of other U.S. industries who are opposed to the U.S. government intervening in the energy market to artificially raise the cost of using solar power.  It’s clear that any tariffs or price floors to protect two solar companies will cause widespread damage to many sectors of the U.S. economy.”

ETAC spokesperson Paul Nathanson on Ag Groups Opposed Solar Tariff.

“Agriculture is most prevalent in rural areas that have high energy cost or limited grid access; solar adoption has been vital to keeping many family farms competitive in this world market along with the jobs that these small communities depend upon. Tariffs would create a massive setback in this progress and potentially take away the opportunity for farmers to invest in solar.”

Roger Isom, President and CEO of California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, emphasized the acute strain this proposed tariffs would put on rural areas.

“The proposed tariffs and minimum prices would double the cost of imported solar cells and modules used in farming operations thus jeopardizing the financial viability of planned and future solar investments by citrus growers and packers.”

Joel Nelson, President of California Citrus Mutual.



Ag Groups Oppose Solar Trade Tariffs – The Energy Trade Action Coalition (ETAC) today highlighted a broad array of agricultural groups that are opposing the Section 201 solar tariff petition.  Six agricultural groups recently submitted letters to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) opposing remedies that would raise solar energy costs.  Agricultural groups that have submitted letters to the ITC include the Almond Alliance of California, California Citrus Mutual, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, California Fresh Fruit Association, California Poultry Federation, and Western Agricultural Processors Association.  Kelly Covello, President of the Almond Alliance of California wrote they are deeply concerned the petition’s proposed trade remedy “would be harmful by raising energy costs while eliminating economically viable means to comply with California’s strict carbon dioxide limits, water restrictions and renewable energy mandates.”  These groups join other manufacturers, energy utilities and local, state and federal government officials who are warning about the serious consequences of solar tariffs to the American economy and to the thousands of jobs that depend on solar investments.  A sample of the letters submitted to the ITC is attached and to learn more about ETAC and its mission, visit

Harnett-White Named CEQ Nominee – The White House has appointed Kathleen Hartnett White, a former Texas regulator to lead the Council on Environmental Quality. My colleague Scott Segal said White’s distinguished career as both a state regulator and as an expert on national policy development combines analytical skills with the practical thinking required of a state regulator.  As a TCEQ commissioner, she was well known to the regulated and public interest communities.  Given the importance of Texas manufacturing and energy production to the economy of the entire nation, environmental regulation in Texas must address cutting-edge concerns thoroughly, competently and pragmatically.  Dr. White was at the forefront of that process.  Segal said some have focused on particular statements attributed to Dr. White regarding climate science.  The truth is that she has written on a broader spectrum of environmental issues and has typically supported policies that advance energy, environmental and economic priorities.  I am sure her confirmation hearing will offer opportunities to further clarify her views.

Segal: CEQ Already Working Hard – Segal added on last item on the CEQ to date. “Since the beginning of the Administration, CEQ staff has done a tremendous job advancing an agenda to bring more rationality to the regulatory and permitting process,” he said.  “CEQ staff has familiarized itself with some of the real, practical challenges presented by the National Environmental Policy Act.   Dr. White joins a team already undertaking a serious-minded and capable review of the federal government’s role in energy and environmental projects.”

TX Utility to Close Two More Coal Plants – Following last week’s announcement about its Monticello Plant, Vistra Energy said today that it will close two additional coal-fueled power plants in Central Texas: its two-unit Sandow Power Plant in Milam County and its two-unit Big Brown Power Plant in Freestone County. In total, approximately 2,300 MW of nameplate power will be taken offline in early 2018.  The two plants are economically challenged in the competitive ERCOT market. Sustained low wholesale power prices, an oversupplied renewable generation market, and low natural gas prices, along with other factors, have contributed to this decision.


Wilson Center to Host Events on Resilience Week – The Wilson Center’s Global Sustainability and Resilience Program is hosting the 2017 Resilience Academy Capstone Conference this week in cooperation with the Munich Re Foundation, UN University-Institute for Environment and Human Security, and International Centre for Climate Change and Development. Among the event will be three public sessions of the Academy, covering the many ways in which resilience is vital for communities around the world.

JHU to Host Sustainable Energy Institute –Today at Noon, Johns Hopkins University’s SAIS launched its Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP) to conduct policy analysis that will help governments universalize energy access at minimal environmental impact. Directed by Johannes Urpelainen, the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment, ISEP offers bold ideas, rigorous policy analysis, and sustained engagement with policymakers and other change agents.

AGA to Discuss Winter Heating Season Report – The American Gas Association (AGA) will host a media briefing tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. to present expectations for peak month natural gas supply and demand as we move into the 2017-18 winter heating season. The annual AGA Winter Outlook takes factors such as supply, demand, temperature, weather events and pipeline capacity and calculates how these factors may impact customer bills. An open question and answer session will follow the presentation. Chris McGill, vice president, Energy Analysis & Standards and Bruce McDowell, managing director, Energy Analysis & Standards, will make the presentations.

Wilson Forum to Look at Cities, Cars, Air – The Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum will host a forum tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. on how cities are confronting the challenges of adapting a transportation system to new sustainability concerns. Simon Ng, an independent researcher formerly with Civic Exchange, will reflect on Los Angeles’ and Hong Kong’s quests for sustainable mobility and urban livability while also shedding light on the similar challenges faced by ever-growing Chinese megacities. Drawing on years of International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) engagement in the PRD lowering vehicular emissions, Zifei Yang will introduce the increasingly effective vehicle emission control programs that Shenzhen and other PRD cities have instituted.

Senate Approps Panel to Mark up Interior Budget – The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will meet to markup the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018.  Full Committee mark up on Thursday.

Norway Oil, Gas Minister at CSIS – Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. the CSIS Energy and National Security Program is hosting Lars Erik Aamot, Director General for Oil and Gas in the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. Aamot will discuss Norway’s experiences, current activities, and future opportunities in developing the oil and gas resources of the Norwegian Arctic. Former EIA head Adam Sieminski will moderate.  Aamot has more than 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, primarily from various roles in the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. Since 2009, he has been the Director General for Oil and Gas in the Ministry.

National Bioenergy Day 2017 – The Department of Energy (DOE) will celebrate its 5th annual National Bioenergy Day on Wednesday to celebrate bioenergy, a form of renewable energy derived from biomass—organic material—that can be used to produce transportation fuels, products, heat, and electricity. This is an opportunity to showcase bioenergy facilities and the bioenergy supply chain around the United States.

BPC to Host Moniz on Nuclear – The Bipartisan Policy Center will host former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz a conversation on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. with BPC President Jason Grumet to discuss the vital role U.S. nuclear energy plays in achieving national security objectives. The conversation will highlight the key takeaways from The U.S. Nuclear Energy Enterprise: A Key National Security Enabler, a report issued by Sec. Moniz’s new Energy Futures Initiative.

USEA Hosts Energy Transition Outlook – The US Energy Assn will roll out the DNV GL Energy Transition Outlook on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. in the Fourth Estate Room at the National Press Club.  The Outlook provides a balanced forecast of our energy future through to 2050 and draws on DNV GL’s independence and its broad involvement across the entire supply chain, spanning complex offshore infrastructure, onshore oil & gas installations, large-scale wind, solar and energy efficiency projects and the world’s most advanced electricity transmission and distribution grids. The report forecasts energy demand and supply globally, and in 10 world regions.

Press Club to Host Comms Summit – On Wednesday, the National Press Club will host its annual Communicators’ Summit at the Club’s First Amendment Lounge.  This year’s theme is “Content is King.” Leading experts will share insights on producing content suited to the unique strengths of different digital, online and social media channels, as well as emerging technologies. We’ll discuss the challenges of developing credible and compelling content at a time when trust in corporations, government, NGO’s and the media is being tested more than any time in a generation.  Speakers will include AARP’s Bill Walsh, AXIOS Editor Nicholas Johnston, Twitter‘s head of Global Public Policy Communications Emily Horne, Richard Levick, Scripps News Washington Bureau investigative correspondent Mark Greenblatt and several more.  The Luncheon Keynote speaker will be Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman.  Special kudos to our friend Tim Brown of GE Renewable who is helping put the program together.

ELI Hosts Annual Dinner, Forums – The Environmental Law Institute holds its annual awards dinner honoring  Achim Steiner, Administrator for the United Nations Development Program on Wednesday at the Omni Shoreham in DC.  At 2:00 p.m., they will host a discussion about “cooperative federalism” and the need to ensure that environmental program administration reflects the significant expertise and experience state environmental agencies now have after decades of administrating environmental protection laws.  Panelists will include ECOS’s Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Chevron’s Richard DeSanti, BNSF’s John Lovenburg, Todd Parfitt of the Wyoming DEQ, C2ES’s Janet Peace and Martha Rudolph, Director of Environmental Programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  They will also hold the Miriam Hamilton Keare Policy Forum on cooperative Federalism, featuring GE’s Neil Kemkar, Bob Martineau of the Tennessee DEC and several others.

JHU to Look at EVs – On Wednesday at 5:00 p.m., Johns Hopkins University hosts a forum on electric cars.  Speakers will address range, infrastructure, environmental impacts and other Issues.

CSIS to Look at Vehicle Issues – The CSIS Energy & National Security Program and Van Ness Feldman are hosting a conference Thursday on the history of vehicle efficiency standards and electricity regulation in honor of the late Robert Nordhaus. This program looks at the evolution of two policy areas in which Bob made an important mark, and which raise issues of great significance today.  Panels will include former Energy Committee Chair and RFF Head Phil Sharp, former Bush 43 CEQ chief Jim Connaughton and Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers CEO Mitch Bainwol, as well as former FERC Commissioners Tony Clark and Joe Kelliher.

Hydro, Climate Discussion Set – On Thursday at 4:00 p.m., Chemonics International hosts a forum on hydropower and climate risks.  The benefits of hydropower are especially salient for smaller-scale hydro, given its smaller environmental and social footprint. New financial instruments, such as green bonds and payments for water services, along with engagement from multilateral agencies also make smaller-scale hydropower investment more attractive and feasible. But what does a changing climate mean for hydropower? Molly Hellmuth, the focal point on water and Africa for ICF’s Climate Adaptation and Resilience team, will present.

DOE, NEI Host Nuclear Forum – The Department of Energy and the Nuclear Energy Institute will host the Millennial Nuclear Caucus on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. in Washington, DC.

Forum to Look at Storage, Micro Grids – On Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at EEI, Leaders in Energy, along with Resilient Virginia, will be sponsoring a forum on improving resilience through microgrids and battery storage.  The utilization of microgrids plus battery storage is seen increasingly by public and private organizations as the wave of the future to help ensure energy reliability and security in the age of intense hurricanes and cybersecurity threats.  Topics include: technology that supports the utility/microgrid interface, tools for developers to assess microgrid viability based on existing infrastructure and regulations, how local governments in the DMV are working with private companies to make microgrid development financially feasible, and how our regional Department of Defense installations are utilizing microgrids as part of their energy security systems. Speakers include EEI’s John Caldwell, USGBC’s Brendan Owens, Dan Ton of DOE’s Smart Grid R&D and Michael Yambrach, the Energy and Sustainability director in Montgomery County, MD.

Economists to Host Weather Hedge Specialist – The National Capitol Chapter of the US Assn of Energy Economists will host their October forum with Munich Re’s Edward Byrne on Friday at Carmines.  Ed Byrns has specialized in weather hedging for many years. His talk focuses on how the new world of big data is creating innovative weather risk products to manage business exposure.

This presentation is a journey from the past to the present and on to the future. Throughout this journey, we will learn what weather risk management is, where market capabilities are today and how future solutions could target micro-level risks.

Renewable Tour Set for October Shenandoah Fall – On Saturday, JMU’s Center for Wind Energy joins the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and hundreds of solar-savvy installers and grassroots organizations throughout America to showcase thousands of solar-powered homes, schools and businesses in Virginia and across North America — for the 22nd Annual National Solar Tour, the world’s largest grassroots solar event. The ASES National Solar Tour shows families and businesses real-life examples of how their neighbors are harnessing free energy from the sun to generate electricity, warm and cool their homes, heat water and slash monthly utility bills.


Green Bonds Conference Set for NYC – Environmental Finance will host Green Bonds 2017 at 10 on the Park in New York City on October 23rd.  According to the Green Bonds Database, the American green bonds market has continued its rapid growth with over 17$ billion issued in the last twelve months.

At the conference this year we will look at the drivers behind this boom and how to ensure sustainable growth as the market matures.

WCEE to Look at Clean Energy Jobs – Next Tuesday, WCEE holds a brown bag lunch in Arlington at Accenture focused on clean energy jobs, locally and globally.  Recently, there has been a boom in clean energy and, with costs decreasing and adoption accelerating, the impact on jobs has been significant. U.S. solar and wind jobs are growing 12x faster than their peer average; with the fastest growing single profession being wind turbine technician, and an increase to over 260,000 solar workers in the U.S. alone last year. Join a great WCEE panel to hear more about where growth is happening and what skills are needed; how it’s empowering women and communities, and how innovative business models are helping it scale. Speakers will provide a range of private sector to non-profit perspectives on the following topics and encourage the audience to dive in and discuss.

Forum to Look at Venezuela Oil Issues – Next Tuesday at 4:00 p.m., the Cato Institute will hold a forum on how oil riches ruined Venezuela.  In the past decade and a half, the government of Venezuela received over $1 trillion in oil revenues, and yet the country is now suffering from a deep humanitarian crisis with its population struggling to feed itself. As a correspondent for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, Raúl Gallegos witnessed first-hand how the mismanagement of oil riches during the rule of Hugo Chávez led to Venezuela’s current misery. Gallegos will explain how mismanaged oil has created perverse incentives in the political system, the business community, and among ordinary Venezuelans. Gustavo Coronel will offer his insights on what should be the future of the oil sector in a democratic Venezuela.

AWEA Finance, Offshore Conferences Set for NYC – AWEA hosts its Wind Energy Finance & Investment Conference in NYC on October 24-26th at the Roosevelt Hotel.  Wind energy continues to grow and is providing jobs, community value and, solid investment opportunities. The event will also be co-located with AWEA’s annual Offshore WINDPOWER conference, which will feature Denmark’s Minister of Energy, Utilities and Climate Lars Christian Lilleholt and DOE’s Tim Unruh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power.  Statoil, who is looking to build in NY is among the focuses of the conference.

WCEE to Host Battery Tech Leader – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) holds a Women in Leadership Forum at Winston & Strawn on Wednesday, October 25th that hosts Christina Lampe-Önnerud, founder and chief executive officer of Cadenza Innovation.   Lampe-Önnerud will discuss the unprecedented development of advanced battery technology and the opportunities this presents for future innovative solutions in energy production and storage and the opportunities and challenges she faced in the competitive energy and environmental fields, and share “lessons learned” along her path to leadership.

NatGas Roundtable to Feature Trade Expert – The Natural Gas Roundtable will host USTDA’s Energy Sector Worldwide Team Lead Carl Kress on Thursday October 26th as the guest speaker at its next luncheon. Kress is the Energy Sector Worldwide Team Leader at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, coordinating all energy-related agency programs and strategy with U.S. industry. He is also the Regional Director for East Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eurasia, responsible for developing and implementing the USTDA economic development program throughout these regions.

Hansen to Speak at Climate Engineering Event – The Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment and Environment & Energy Management Institute at GWU will convene a workshop for non-governmental organizations on Monday October 30th that will focus on carbon dioxide removal and negative emissions technologies.  The event will be at GW’s Science and Engineering Hall and will be keynoted by Dr. James Hansen.

Women Renewable Energy Forum Set – The Women of Sustainable Energy and Renewable Industries (WRISE) Leadership Forum 2017 on November 6-7 in its inaugural year under the new brand (previously WoWE). Co-located with the AWEA Fall Symposium, this event will feature keynote speakers, professional development, networking, and expert panels on key issues in the industry.

AWEA Fall Symposium Returns to New Mexico – On November 7th through the 9th, AWEA hosts its annual Fall Wind Energy Fall Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, where key strategic decisions are made to build the future of wind energy. The event will feature new executive insights, and actionable strategic plans to power your business in the upcoming year.