Energy Update: Week of March 6

Energy Update - March 06, 2017


So tomorrow is National Pancake Day…Whether that is really a “day” or just something IHOP came up with, I’m fine with it and I’ll be ready to eat.

This week is another busy week with the full energy cabinet finalized with Perry and Zinke’s approval last week. It was great to see Sect. Zinke helping to take cars off the road (although I don’t think it likely helped reduce traffic congestion) on his first day.

It seems we will get executive orders on coal leasing and the climate action plan (with Clean Power Plan) this week.  Also late Friday, rumors abounded over whether the Administration or EPA/DOT will take some action this week to pushback against the previous Administration’s late move to extend fuel economy standards for Phase II 14-months ahead of schedule. (When does EPA ever do anything 14 months ahead of schedule?) We are on top of it with my friends at SAFE who are a good resources on the entire topic, including the opportunity to update and modernize fuel economy standards in a way that incorporates new technologies and business models.  One thing most are reporting and we are hearing will not be in the orders:  anything related to Paris.

Outside DC, this week is CERA Week, one of the biggest energy conferences of the year.  Speakers at the conference include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Th dinner), OPEC oil ministers, Trump adviser Peter Thiel (tmr dinner), SoCo CEO Tom Fanning (tmr 2:25) Senate Energy Chair Lisa Murkowski (Fr 9:30), EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (Th 2:10) and Duke CEO Lynn Good (Th 9:20). Our friend Karen Harbert of the Chamber’s Energy Institute will also be there on Wednesday and Thursday and will be on a panel. Numerous other CEOs including new Exxon CEO Darren Woods (tdy 2:45), COP Ryan Lance (tmr 10:20), Range CEO Jeff Ventura (Wed 2:10) will speak as well.  See schedule here.

Speaking of CERA Week, Ben Geman launches Generate, the new Axios newsletter on the politics and business of energy from Houston.  And of course, as I mentioned last week, Amy Harder will join by on April 1st. Look for coverage all week in Generate and daily updates in the Axios Stream.  You can sign up here.

Congress tackles Transportation and Infrastructure funding issues in several committees this week, as well as rural energy issues at the House Ag Committee. Our friends at NRECA are a strong voice on this subject.  Senate Environment is also looking at nuclear legislation.  ClearPath’s Jay Faison is a good resource there after his speech last week at the Third Way Nuclear Summit.

With a couple of events this week on deep decarbonization issues (JHU tomorrow, EESI Thursday), our friends at the Energy Innovation Reform Project have done an outstanding, deep-dive review on what recent scholarship says about how to decarbonize the electric power sector.  There is a surprising convergence of thinking around a number of key points that are contrary to conventional wisdom in several respects. EIRP reviewed 30 recent studies of deep decarbonization and identified key insights from the literature.  I can send you the PDF or it will be posted here.

We are all over it this week, whether it is CPP, Budget issues, RFS, tax issues or anything else. Call with questions…



Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

(202) 997-5932



“We are pleased that the EPA has responded to our request and withdrawn its burdensome and unlawful information demand to oil and gas producers across the country. We applaud Administrator Pruitt for his adherence to the rule of law as he pursues the balance Congress has struck between preserving our environment and allowing our economy to grow.”

Texas AG Ken Paxton, responding to last week’s move by EPA to allow operators of oil and gas facilities to return an information request aimed at reducing methane emissions.



Perry, Zinke Finally Approved – Late last week, both Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry were both confirmed and sworn into office.  Zinke rode into office on Thursday while Perry was on the job on Friday morning, making his first Speech to employees where he turned to self-deprecating humor and patriotism to tell DOE employees he will be their best friend if they want to solve problems.

ClearPath Weighs in on Perry Confirmation – In a blog post released Thursday, ClearPath’s Jay Faison praised Perry for his approach to lead DOE to foster carbon capture technologies, advanced nuclear reactors and innovation through our best-in-the-world national labs.  He also encouraged Perry to not micromanage our “world-class” national labs, but give them goals and hold them accountable to meet those goals.  See the blog here.

Others on Perry – A few others also weighed in on Perry:

AHRI’s Steve Yurek: “Governor Perry’s understanding of the energy economy and its relationship to economic growth will serve the nation well as the next Secretary of Energy. Because many of the HVACR products and equipment manufactured by our member companies are regulated, it is important that the Secretary ensure that the regulatory process, now 40 years old and in need of significant reform, operates fairly and consistently for all stakeholders.”

AWEA’s Tom Kiernan: “Secretary Perry’s leadership on wind energy infrastructure as governor of Texas helped attract tens of billions of dollars in private investment to rural communities, and create over 25,000 wind jobs in the state. When he became governor in 2000, the state had less than 200 megawatts (MW) of wind power. When he left there were over 14,000 MW, and there are over 20,000 MW today, after $32.7 billion of private investment. He created a pro-business environment and fostered that investment by supporting competitive markets, and the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines that tapped the low-cost wind power of West Texas. The result was a more diverse power grid that is more reliable, and that saves Texas consumers hundreds of dollars a year on their electric bills. The Texas success story with wind power has now become a model for America.”

NRECA’s Jim Matheson: “America’s electric cooperatives are working with DOE to advance renewable energy and carbon capture technologies, deliver affordable hydropower to rural America, and ensure the security and resiliency of the electric grid.  We look forward to working with Secretary Perry to continue these important efforts and provide the reliable and affordable electricity that drives economic growth in the communities served by electric co-ops.”

Sportsmen Leaders on Zinke – Eric Washburn (202-412-5211), a former Senate staffer and westerner who works on many lands, species and wildlife issues, should you have questions…  Eric is a great resource on Interior issues and has led a number of sportsmen’s groups, working on hunting, fishing and conservation issues as well, is available to discuss the Challenges that Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke may face after being named to head the Department of the Interior. “Zinke is an avid hunter and angler and someone who values the opportunity to spend time pursuing those activities on the vast federal lands estate.  As Secretary, he will be someone who will pay close attention to the conservation agenda promoted by sportsmen groups and will look for ways to balance conservation needs with energy development.  His heartfelt belief that the federal lands should stay under federal management and control will be especially appreciated by sportsmen across the country.  For a lot of hunters and anglers, it offers the best publicly-accessible places in the country in which to pursue their sports.  Interior Secretary is great job for anyone who likes the outdoors, and Congressman Zinke will enjoy even the daily turmoil of refereeing among the various users of the federal lands, which include renewable energy developers, oil and gas companies, pipeline developers, hikers, campers, back country skiers, snowmobiles, off road vehicle enthusiasts, sportsmen, bird watchers and others.”  Finally, while Eric has been able to address the land and species issues, my colleague Kevin Ewing is a great expert on NEPA, environmental law and offshore issues.  He can speak to some of the significant issues Zinke may face in those arenas.  He can be reached at 202-828-7638 or

ERIP Look s at Deep Decarbonization Literature – With a couple of events this week on deep decarbonization issues, our friends at the Energy Innovation Reform Project have done an outstanding, deep-dive review on what recent scholarship says about how to decarbonize the electric power sector.  There is a surprising convergence of thinking around a number of key points that are contrary to conventional wisdom in several respects. EIRP reviewed 30 recent studies of deep decarbonization and identified key insights from the literature, which you can see here.   Key takeaways include 1) reaching near-zero emissions is much more challenging and may require a very different mix of resources; 2) a diversified mix of low-CO2 generation resources offers the best chance of affordably achieving deep decarbonization; 3) dispatchable low-carbon resources (nuclear and/or CCS) in the generation mix is virtually indispensible for any least-cost pathway to deep decarbonization; 4) intermittent renewables such as solar and wind will contribute most efficiently to decarbonization if they are not expected to power the entire grid; and finally 5) very large amounts of long-duration seasonal energy storage technologies do not currently exist in plausible form or scale.

Platts Releases Latest OPEC Survey – Our friends at Platts have released their the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC production survey, which shows the cartel moved closer to full compliance with the landmark production cut agreement signed late last year, as output in the month fell from January levels to average 32.03 million b/d.  In all, taking an average of January and February production, the 10 members obligated to reduce output under the deal have achieved 98.5% of their total combined cuts, according to the survey, up from 91% in January.  See the Table is here.  Saudi Arabia is leading the way on compliance, with its 9.85 million b/d output in February its lowest since February 2015. Its January and February average of 9.918 million b/d is 140,000 b/d below its cut quota.  Meanwhile, Iraq remains the farthest from compliance, producing 4.40 million b/d in February. Its two-month average of 4.442 million b/d is 91,000 b/d above its quota.

Community Solar Group Celebrates One-Year – The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) marked its one-year anniversary last month with the addition of nine new members. The nation’s first and only trade association for community solar now represents an even-larger cross-section of project developers, manufacturers, financiers, legal experts and advocates.  In its first year, CCSA and its growing membership have been actively involved in advocating for effective community solar policies in states across the country. Some of the recent action CCSA has engaged in includes implementation of a new program in Maryland, which opens in April and enables nearly 250 MW of community solar development, as well as new programs in Hawaii and Rhode Island.  They are also working with regulators to improve market structures in existing markets, including crucial financial mechanisms in Massachusetts and New York that will enable development of hundreds more MW in each state, bringing community solar to tens of thousands of new customers over the next few years.



CERAWeek Set for Houston – The 36th CERAWeek by IHS Markit will be held this week in Houston at the Hilton Americas.  CERAWeek is the premier annual international gathering of energy industry leaders, experts, government officials and policymakers, leaders from the technology, financial, and industrial communities – and energy technology innovators. Midst the turbulence and uncertainty in energy markets this year, CERAWeek 2017 will provide new insights and critically-important dialogue – and a very cost efficient way to engage on the most urgent questions with decision-makers from around the world.  A laundry list of other key energy speakers/CEOs will speak.  See the list here.

Cato to Host Transportation Infrastructure – Today at Noon, the Cato Institute hold a forum on setting transportation infrastructure priorities.  The event will focus on how we should decide what projects are funded, how much should we spend on new infrastructure and how much on reconstruction, as well as funding and finance priorities.  Finally, it will look at goals to create short-term jobs, long-term economic growth, or simply new transportation alternatives? Join four leading transportation experts in a discussion of highways, transit, intercity rail, airports and air traffic control, transportation finance, and regulation. They will also revisit the issue on Capitol Hill on Wednesday at Noon in 2045 Rayburn.

Forum to Look at Urban Planning, Climate – The Wilson Center will hold a forum today at 2:00 p.m. for a discussion about the latest research from the field on innovative urban approaches to climate change, accommodating refugees in urban areas, and inclusive city planning. Winning authors of the 2016 Graduate Student Reducing Urban Poverty Paper Competition will present their solutions-oriented research, with commentary offered by experienced professionals working in the urban sector.

Southern, NextEra Execs Address Transmission Summit – The 20th Transmission Summit will be held today through Wednesday at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.  The event brings together policy makers with transmission industry leaders to develop strategies that will take advantage of opportunities created by emerging policy, regulatory and technological changes.  Topics will include post-election policy shifts and potential new opportunities for transmission infrastructure investment, dealing with the impacts of revisions to FERC’s Order 1000 processes on regional planning and competitive projects, integrating and interconnecting ever more renewable energy assets and using non-transmission alternatives and storage to defer new builds and replace aging infrastructure.  Key speakers include former FERC Chair Joe Kelliher of NextEra, Southern’s Bruce Edelston, and Georgia PSC Commissioner Tim Echols, among others.

Offshore Wind Leaders to Discuss Progress – The Business Network for Offshore Wind hosts a breakfast with Deepwater Wind Exec Clint Plummer and US Wind Exec Paul Rich tomorrow morning at the Maritime Conference Center-Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, MD.  With the Nation’s first offshore wind project in the water, the Block Island Wind Farm has led the way to a U.S. offshore wind market.  More than 4 GW of offshore wind will be built off the Northeast coast. Maryland is poised to capture a significant portion of the estimated 58,000 jobs anticipated from the present regional 5-6 GW offshore wind pipeline, especially if Maryland moves forward with its own project.  Maryland ports, businesses and a workforce could assemble the heavy steel components: foundations, transition pieces, and towers as well manufacture cables and crew vessels, to become the main supply hub for the U.S. east coast.

GEA to Host DC Meeting – The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) will hold its International Geothermal Forum in Washington, DC tomorrow.  GEA has annually provided leadership within the geothermal energy community and a platform for constructive dialogue and in-depth discussion on issues ranging from finance, market development, and policy to GHG emissions, new technology driving change and key markets to look out for. In light of the latest developments, the Association’s International Geothermal Forum is a recent spinoff from the traditional US & International Showcase.  For one day, the Forum will gather roughly sixty (60) top energy, finance, policy, government, ministry, and engineering experts to provide in-depth discussion and insight into the future of the geothermal market in the US and abroad.

Forum to Look at Advanced Energy – Microsoft and the Advanced Energy Economy Institute will host a conversation tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. looking at advanced energy as an economic driver.  The discussion will bring together stakeholders from industry, utilities, energy consumers, and state business organizations to discuss how advanced energy is driving economic development and job growth in states across the U.S.  The U.S. energy system is going through a transformational change—consumer preferences, dynamic new technologies, and new threats are causing the energy system, as we have known it for the past century, to evolve.  Speakers will include our friend AEE’s Malcolm Wolff, EEI’s Emily Fisher, Microsoft’s Michelle Patron, and many others.

Hydro Forum Set For Hill – Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. in 385 Russell, the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus will host a presentation and Q&A on marine hydrokinetic energy, and the Department of Energy’s recent Wave Energy Prize.   The briefing will cover the potential of renewable ocean energy to turn the motion of waves, currents, and tides into electricity, the Department of Energy’s use of the Wave Energy Prize to spur innovation, and how AquaHarmonics created the winning entry for the Wave Energy Prize.   Our friend and Virginia Tech energy expert George Hagerman will moderate a panel of experts.

NAS to Hold Public Meeting On Surface Coal Mining Health Issues – Tomorrow at 1:45 p.m., the National Academy of Sciences’ Surface Coal Mining and Human Health Committeewill be conducting a public meeting at the NAS’s Keck Center.

WaPo to Look at Infrastructure – On Wednesday at 9:00 a.m., the Washington Post willdiscuss the promise to rebuild America’s highways, railways, bridges, airports, and pipelines. As his administration formulates its infrastructure plan and lawmakers in Congress voice their priorities, The Post will bring together industry experts and policymakers to examine what’s needed to modernize the nation’s transportation and energy infrastructure, and how different approaches may impact job creation.

CSIS to Host IEA Oil Market Report – The CSIS Energy & National Security Program will host Keisuke Sadamori, Director of Energy Markets and Security at the International Energy Agency on Wednesday to present the IEA’s Oil Market Report 2017.  In late 2016, leading oil producers put together the most comprehensive agreement to limit oil output seen since 2009 to ensure the stabilization of oil prices and avoid economic dislocation in producing countries. Underscored by well-supplied oil markets, and this new period of production management, the Oil Market Report projects the following trends through 2022 that oil demand is expected to grow strongly at least to 2022, with main developing economies leading the way; the need for more production capacity becomes apparent by the end of the decade, even if supply appears plentiful today; it is not clear that upstream projects will be completed in time due to the unprecedented two-year fall in investment in 2015 and 2016, although major reductions in costs will help and there is a  risk of prices rising more sharply by 2022 as the spare production cushion is eroded.  A discussion moderated by Kevin Book will follow.

Microgrid Forum Set – The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), George Washington University and state, business and city leaders will join together on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. to examine the opportunities and challenges of successful microgrid deployment. Microgrids are an innovative solution to reduce emissions, improve electricity system reliability and resilience, and tighten grid security. But financial, legal and technological barriers can slow their deployment.

Senate Approps Panel to Look at Transpo, Infrastructure Issues – The Senate Appropriations Committee’s panel on Transportation will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. focused on investing in America’s transportation infrastructure needs.  Witnesses include Maine DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt, Jim Tymon of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, American Association of Airport Executives CEO Todd Hauptli, Chamber Transportation Infrastructure director Edward Mortimer and Beth Osborne of Transportation for America.

Senate Enviro Panel to Look at Nuclear – The Senate Environment Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. addressing on S. 512, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act.

JHU to Look at Carbon Fee/Dividend Program – The JHU SAIS program will hold a forum on carbon fees and dividend programs Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.  The event will feature a panel that includes RFF’s Marc Hafstead, WRI’s Noah Kaufman, Adele Morris from the Climate and Energy Economics Project and others.

House Ag to Look at Rural Energy Programs – On Thursday at 10:00 a.m., the House Ag panel that deals with energy will hold a public hearing on rural development and energy programs in the next Farm Bill.

Forum to Look at Deep Decarbonization – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will hold a briefing on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. showcasing two new reports on how to transition the United States toward a low carbon economy. The reports, From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy and the United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization, present a range of pathways that can achieve deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2050. These pathways involve mixtures of: energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, increased carbon sequestration in U.S. lands, and reductions in non-CO2 emissions. These pathways rely on commercial or near-commercial technologies that American companies are adopting and developing. The briefing will explore how deeper investment in clean energy can yield long-term dividends for the American economy.  The speakers for this forum are WRI’s Karl Hausker and Noah Kaufman.

Forum to Look at Gas, Electricity – The Young Professionals in Energy will host a forum at PJM Interconnection’s DC office at 6:00 p.m. Thursday to explore the relationship between power and gas and for a conversation about new solutions to optimize reliability, security, and costs. In today’s world of abundant and low-cost natural gas, the electric power sector is becoming increasingly dependent on the natural gas sector. The further intertwining of the markets and operations of both sectors provides new challenges and opportunities for each industry.  PJM’s Brian Fitzpatrick is the featured speaker.

OAS Panel to Look at Food Security, Climate Migration – The Organization of American States hosts a forum on Friday at 10:00 a.m. on food security and migration with climate change.  The event provides an opportunity for a dynamic and inclusive debate, in Davos-style format, on how climate change and food security can be factors for migration in the Americas.

ELI to Host Forum on Climate Justice – On Friday at 12:00 p.m., the Environmental Law Institute hosts a forum on Climate Justice.  Climate justice can be defined generally as addressing the disproportionate burden of climate change impacts on poor and marginalized communities. It seeks to promote more equitable allocation of the burdens of these impacts at the local, national, and global levels through proactive regulatory initiatives and reactive judicial remedies that draw on international human rights and domestic environmental justice theories. Yet, efforts to define climate justice as a field of inquiry can be elusive and underinclusive because the concept is so vast in scope.  This seminar will begin with discussions of recent atmospheric trust litigation in the U.S., and the Urgenda case in the Netherlands, as examples of the advantages and limitations of using domestic courts to promote climate justice objectives. It will then address topics outside the litigation context by exploring the climate justice implications of the new differentiation model between developed and developing nations as reflected in the Paris Agreement and the human rights dimensions of global deployment of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Join the editor and three contributing authors of Climate Justice: Case Studies in Global and Regional Governance Challenges to learn about important and timely topics addressed in this recent publication.



Wilson to Premier Earth, Sky –The Wilson Center will host an environmental film premier of Between Earth and Sky on Wednesday March 15th at Noon.  Mixing interviews with some of the world’s leading scientists in climate change and arctic soils, with the day to day struggle of native Alaskans living on the front lines of global warming, Between Earth and Sky attempts to highlight the challenge of climate change in places in Alaska.

WCEE Event to Focus on BCSE Factbook – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment will host an event on Wednesday March 15th discussing the Business Council on Sustainable Energy’s Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which provides the latest industry information and trends from the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors in the United States. The Factbook is created to provide policymakers, journalists and industry professionals with up-to-date market information.  The Factbook is free and available to download at

ACORE Policy Forum Set – ACORE holds its annual national renewable policy forum on March 16th at the W Hotel in Washington D.C.  Industry leaders and senior officials offer a pragmatic perspective on challenges and opportunities for the renewable energy industry in the new political alignment. Key topics include renewable energy’s importance to the American economy, the timing and outlook of the upcoming push for comprehensive federal tax reform, the prospects for a large-scale infrastructure initiative and the benefits of increased investment in renewables, grid expansion, resiliency, and modernization and the important role of state policy in the energy sector, and the potential for new and innovative state initiatives that promote renewable energy investment and deployment.  Speakers include Brightsource Energy’s Joe Desmond BNEF’s Ethan Zindler, AWEA’s Jim Reilly, SEIA’s Tom Kimbis and several others.

USEA to Discuss Fuel Cells, Carbon Capture – On Thursday, March 16th at 10:00 a.m., the U.S. Energy Association hosts a forum on CO2 Capture Utilizing Fuel Cells.  Efficiently and affordably capturing CO2 from utility scale power generation is a global challenge and a large potential market opportunity.  Conventional carbon capture technologies use power and represent an expense.  FuelCell Energy and ExxonMobil are advancing a novel application for installing carbonate fuel cells at combustion-based power plants to efficiently capture CO2 while simultaneously producing power from the fuel cells.  Affordable and scalable, fuel cell carbon capture is a potential game-changer. This presentation will explain fuel cell carbon capture supported with discussion of a demonstration project to be placed at Plant Barry, a mixed coal/gas-fired plant owned by Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company.  Speakers include Exxon’s Michael Kerby and FuelCell Energy’s Tony Leo and Frank Wolak.

Forum to Look at Efficiency in Infrastructure – The Alliance to Save Energy will hold an event on Thursday, March 16th at 12:15 p.m. looking at the role of energy efficiency in infrastructure investments. The session will outline the role of energy efficiency policy as an indispensable element of what has been a major policy theme for the new administration and members of the 115th Congress: infrastructure. Briefing attendees will hear from business leaders about the importance of energy efficiency policy in a diverse range of energy sectors: transportation, utility, buildings, water and finance. Following panelist presentations, the moderator will open the briefing for questions from attendees.

Group to Toast Former EIA Head – The NCAC, USAEE, and IAEE will hold a special event on Thursday evening on Match 16th that will feature a roast ‘n Toast of former EIA Head Adam Sieminski.  The event will feature live music provided by former White House economist Bob McNally and his band “Sound Policy” featuring fellow NCAC members and energy wonks Dan Poneman and Kevin Book.

WAPA Gala Set – The Washington Automotive Press Assn will hold its annual “non” gala on Thursday, March 16th at Pinstripes in Georgetown for an evening of drinks, dinner, networking, and some sporting fun courtesy of Nissan, with automotive journalism’s industry leaders from around the area and the nation.

Heartland Climate Conference Set – The 12th International Conference on Climate Change, taking place on Thursday and Friday, March 23–24 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC.  ICCC-12 is hosted by The Heartland Institute.  See the speakers, including Myron Ebell, here.

Pollution Control Agencies Set Spring Meeting – The Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies’ 2017 Spring Meeting will be held in Tucson, Arizona from March 27 – 29 at the Hilton Tucson East Hotel.  More on this in the future.