IER Applauds Monuments Executive Order

WASHINGTON – The Institute for Energy Research (IER) applauds President Trump for instructing the Interior Department to review national monument designations under the Obama administration. IER President Thomas Pyle released the following statement:

“President Trump’s executive order shows that his administration remains committed to unleashing America’s energy potential. While energy production has surged on state and private lands over the past decade, production on federal lands has lagged far behind. This disparity is largely due to the previous administration’s keep-it-in-the-ground tactics, including President Obama’s abuse of the Antiquities Act. These tactics were on full display when President Obama unilaterally blocked off large swaths of land in Nevada and Utah in the eleventh hour of his presidency.

“Federal lands belong to the public and the public should enjoy all the benefits those lands have to offer, whether for recreation, energy development, or otherwise.

“Today’s executive action highlights a more pressing issue, which is the need for Congress to revisit the Antiquities Act. Congress can no longer sit on the sidelines and must take action to limit the executive branch’s authority when it comes to designating monuments.”

Click here to read IER’s analysis of the Obama administration’s eleventh-hour land grab.

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China and the Paris Climate Accord

With the United States rolling back Obama-era regulations and possibly exiting the Paris climate accord, some analysts are assuming that China will take over its leadership.[i] And, that may be the case. China has nothing to lose. The country pledged to keep increasing its greenhouse gas emissions through 2030 as it continues to grow its economy, and then begin to decrease them. This is widely different from the U.S. pledge to decrease those emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025 (from 2005 levels). As a result, China is enjoying increasing its electrification of communities and supplying energy to fuel its economy by using mainly coal-fired electricity. The majority (83 percent) of its growth in electricity demand for the first quarter of 2017 was fueled by thermal energy (mainly coal).[ii]

Source: http://chinaenergyportal.org/en/2017-q1-electric-power-statistics/

*Thermal includes coal, gas, oil, and biomass

China’s Electric Sector, 2016

In 2016, according to China’s statistics, China’s electricity demand rose 5.2 percent and was fueled mainly by coal (65 percent) and hydropower (20 percent). While nuclear generation increased by 24 percent, it only represented 3.6 percent of the total generation in 2016. Non-hydroelectric renewables represented just 6 percent of the total generation in that year. While wind generation increased by 30 percent, it represented just 4 percent of total generation. Solar generation increased by 72 percent, but represented just 1 percent of total generation. (See graphs below.)

Note: Growth of ‘Other thermal’ includes that of biomass power generation. No statistics for 2016 are currently available, but it was 57.8 terawatt-hours in 2015.

Source: http://chinaenergyportal.org/en/2016-detailed-electricity-statistics/

In 2016, the traditional energy sources (coal, natural gas, petroleum, and nuclear) increased by 153 terawatt-hours—led by coal at 52 terawatt-hours. Hydroelectric power and pumped storage added an additional 69 terawatt-hours, followed by wind (56 terawatt-hours), and solar (28 terawatt-hours). See graph below.

Source: http://chinaenergyportal.org/en/2016-detailed-electricity-statistics/

China’s Wind Power Curtailment

In 2016, newly installed capacity of wind power in China was 19.3 gigawatts and cumulative installed wind capacity totaled 149 gigawatts–9 percent of the total installed power generation capacity. However, while wind capacity was at 9 percent of total capacity, wind generation was just 4 percent of total generation (241 terawatt-hours). In order to ensure stability of its electric grid, China had to curtail 49.7 terawatt-hours of wind generation—17.1 percent of total wind power production. That curtailment was an increase of 47 percent from the prior year and equivalent to the total amount of wind generation in Spain. (See graph below.)

Source: http://chinaenergyportal.org/en/2016-wind-power-installations-production-province/

China’s Future Coal Generation

The International Energy Agency in its World Energy Outlook 2016 projects in its “New Policies Scenario” that over the next 35 years, the amount of electricity that China is expected to produce from coal will increase by 4.3 percent while the amount of coal it will use to generate that electricity will decline by 4.6 percent. That is because China is leading the world in constructing the latest super-critical and ultra-super-critical low-emission-coal technology. This technology operates at much higher temperatures and pressures, increasing the efficiency of turning coal into electricity by up to 30 percent, and enabling new-technology power stations to generate more electricity while emitting less carbon dioxide and criteria pollutants (such as particulates, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides). While former President Obama’s war on coal had the Environmental Protection Agency implementing regulations to decrease the use of coal in the United States, China was and is implementing technology to make its coal-fired power plants more efficient while improving local air quality.[iii]

Conclusion

The Obama administration’s climate negotiators did not put American interests first. In essence, in the Paris accord, those countries that offered the most, like the United States, would end up losing the most. While supporters of the Paris Agreement argue that U.S. withdrawal would put the world’s climate at risk, what the Paris agreement really does is put the future of American families and businesses at a great disadvantage. Meanwhile, China is taking action to grow its economy by continuing to use coal and to invest in the low emission coal technology. The United States should learn from China’s example and invest in that coal technology, as well, putting our miners back to work and ensuring centuries of coal-fired generation to fuel its economy.


[i] The Hill, China can take reins of clean-energy boom should US falter, April 10, 2017, http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/energy-environment/328132-should-us-falter-china-poised-to-capitalize-on-clean

[ii] https://twitter.com/ChnEnergyPortal/status/854285874821033984

[iii] National Review, The U.S. Should Abandon the Paris Agreement and Learn from China, December 7, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442822/paris-climate-agreement-united-states-clean-power-plan-china-coal-emissions

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Green Jobs: A Bipartisan Mirage

Bipartisanship—that romanticized political ideal of a bygone era when Democrats and Republicans could commune together without vitriol and unite behind shared goals—is dead.

Five months removed from the most socially-divisive presidential election in living memory, the likelihood of politicians reaching across the aisle to work together seems exceedingly thin. Political scientists describe our present era as among the most polarizing in our nation’s history.

But, for some, there is hope. Like Rocky speaking to the crowd after defeating Ivan Drago, these merchants of bipartisanship proclaim, “If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.”

This bipartisan platform—this unicorn—is the promise of green jobs.

Jobs in industries like wind and solar, advocates profess, are a political panacea—soothing the environmental concerns of the left and the employment concerns of the right in one fell swoop. The record does in fact show that both Democrats and Republicans have considered green jobs a winning issue. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of four senators from the party to spearhead the Senate Energy and Environment Working Group, argued in 2015, “We must have energy independence. And in the process, I believe it is possible to produce a safe, clean environment, and create new well-paying jobs for Americans of all generations.” Former New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, another then-member of the working group, said the purpose was to “focus on ways we can protect our environment and climate while also bolstering clean energy innovation that helps drive job creation.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s website touts green jobs in stunningly similar terms, “Now more than ever, House Democrats want to move America in a new direction for energy independence — working to lower energy prices, make America more secure, and launch a cleaner, smarter, more cost-effective energy future that creates hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs.”

And to much publicity, green jobs are indeed on the ascent. As the Washington Post reported last week, the fastest-growing occupation in the country is wind turbine technician.

The Department of Energy’s recently released U.S. Energy and Employment Report reveals a trove of interesting data on this topic. It informs us, for example, that solar technologies employ 374,000 workers in the US—a whopping 43 percent of the electricity generation workforce. Wind employs another 102,000 workers—accounting for 12 percent of the electricity generation workforce—meaning that these touted green jobs now make up over half of our electricity generation jobs in total. Coal, oil, and natural gas, meanwhile, employ 87,000 workers—just 22 percent of the electricity generation workforce. Now, of course, we must take into account that the coal, oil, and natural gas electricity generation number doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of workers who ply their trade closer to the sources’ extraction points and are classified under the “fuels” designation rather than the “electricity generation” designation.

Nevertheless, the volume and growth of green jobs is noteworthy. The number of jobs added from 2015 to 2016 in wind and solar dwarfs the new job additions in coal, oil, and natural gas electricity generation by a ratio of more than six to one. Solar employment expanded by 25 percent from 2015 to 2016 and wind increased by 32 percent.

That sure sounds like a bipartisan winner, doesn’t it? 25 to 30 percent growth is—as the president might say—tremendous.

And yet, something is wrong with this picture. The job numbers are there, but something more critical isn’t: actual electricity generation.

Despite green jobs making up more than half of the jobs in the electricity generation sector, wind and solar combined to generate a paltry 6.5 percent of our central station electricity in 2016, with wind producing 5.6. That means that despite accounting for 43 percent of the electricity generation workforce, solar energy produced less than one percent of our central station electricity. When distributed generation is included, it produced another 0.5 percent of generation for a total of 1.4 percent.

Let me state that again: solar accounts for 43 percent of the electricity generation workforce. And it generates about one percent of our electricity.

What if other sectors of our economy looked this way?

What if McDonald’s employed 43 percent of all burger joint employees nationwide, but could only produce one percent of the burgers needed by a hungry public?

You’d rightly suspect something had gone very wrong in someone’s economic calculations. That’s the situation we’re in now with these touted green jobs.

Something has clearly gone amiss.

At this point you might be thinking, “Well, yes, the electricity generation is low now for solar, but many of those 374,000 jobs are in solar construction, so we’re on the verge of a solar generation windfall, right?”

Wrong.

Despite the vigorous appearance that the green jobs growth numbers give wind and solar, the Energy Information Agency forecasts that the electricity fuel mix will remain virtually unchanged for the next two years. EIA estimates solar will move from producing just under one percent in 2016 to 1.4 percent of our central station (utility-scale) electricity in 2018. Coal, for comparison, is expected to climb as well—from 30.4 percent in 2016 to 31.1 percent in 2018—as natural gas prices rise.

If 2018 is too short a time horizon to dash your hopes for solar productivity, consider EIA’s long-range projections. In its non-Clean Power Plan scenarios even in year 2040—more than two decades from now—all of the sources EIA classifies as renewables (hydroelectric, biomass, wind, solar, etc.), which today combine to make up about 15 percent of our electricity, will still combine to produce only about a quarter of our electricity in 2040.

Solar energy will produce about 6 percent in 2040. Wind will produce about 9 percent. And natural gas and coal will supply around 34 percent and 28 percent respectively.

With the current electricity fuel mix and long-range projections showing a rather marginal—and at best supplementary—role for solar and wind, we’re left to wonder: are green jobs the bipartisan silver bullet they’re cracked up to be or are they instead a bipartisan mirage?

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Strengthening Community Through Solar

Dayne came to Solar Energy International (SEI) with his eyes toward the future: his future career, a more prosperous future for his community, and a sustainable future for his wife and son. Dayne travelled from Lapwai, ID where he works at the Nez Perce National Historic Park and is a member of the Nez Perce Tribe. He sees solar as a way to support the people and organizations he cares about. His first day in class, Dayne shared that, in part, he wants to use his solar training to ensure his son would never have to worry about utility bills. He’s hoping to integrate solar electric and solar thermal systems into his home, along with an orchard, so his son will be provided for into the future.

It soon became clear that Dayne’s solar aspirations extended far into his community. He hopes to utilize solar technology as a way to be a responsible steward of the planet and reduce energy costs for his church and other community programs. “With the community saving some money there will be more funding for better programs. Programs that would fix the roads, sidewalks, school programs and supplies, better equipment for the clinics, funding for that clinic to grow to a hospital. Funding to have a full fire station instead of a fire department run on volunteers. That’s my goal as a community member, Nez Perce Tribal member, First Presbyterian Church Trustee and most importantly of all, Husband and Father.”

He is taking great strides into his future through his pursuit of solar training. His first step was research on the industry and certification. Eventually,  Dayne hopes to become a NABCEP Certified Solar Installer and  he found SEI’s program through the educational resources page. He is well on his way as his journey to SEI’s Paonia, CO training for PV201L: Solar Electric Lab Week  marked his completion of SEI’s Solar Professionals Certificate Program for Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems. The SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program is a selective admissions program to help ensure the success of our students and provide a quality workforce for the solar industry. His application and performance demonstrated his commitment to his solar training and all of the skills and dedication he’d bring to a future solar career. Now that he’s completed the five requisite courses, both online and in-person, to complete this certificate program, he’ll be ready to take the NABCEP PV Certification exam. SEI eagerly awaits word of his success the good work he’s doing for his community.

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Solarize Delta County Announces Launch Event!

The Solarize team invites Delta County residents to join them to hear about Solarize Delta County Farms.  Solarize Delta County Farms provides educational outreach to the community about solar and renewable energy, and it provides an exclusive program discount if you register before July 18.

Join us as we celebrate the next phase of Solarize on Wednesday, April 26 at a Delta Chamber special event at CB’s Tavern in Delta! 
Who: Solar Energy International (SEI) and program partners Delta County Economic Development (DCED), Empowered Energy Systems, LLC, Sunsense, and Black Canyon Resources will be there to promote the launch of Solarize Delta County Farms
What:  Solarize Delta County Farms is an educational outreach program aimed at providing farms, businesses, and homes with a streamlined process to go solar
When:  April 26 at 5:00 pm
Where:  CB’s Tavern in Delta, Banquet Room, 334 Main Street
Why:  To formally celebrate and announce the launch  of Solarize Delta County Farms! A program bringing resources to the community about solar and renewable energy
For more details on the program contact the Solarize Team at solarize@solarenergy.org or call 970-527-7657 x213.  Sign up at www.solarenergy.org/solarize-delta-county-farms/ 

 

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Interested Business Owners Invited to Tour ProSpace Solar System Before Launch Event

Our third and final round of Solarize is focusing on farms and businesses, and we’re celebrating our launch with a special event at CB’s Tavern on April 26 at 5 p.m. To follow the overarching theme of this round of Solarize, we are also hosting a tour for interested business owners of the solar system at ProSpace Services in Delta at 4:30 p.m.

The 25 kW system was installed during last year’s round of Solarize, and we hope to use this tour to increase understanding about the financials, and business decisions associated with going solar. According to business owner, Tom Huerkamp, going solar is a no-brainer for businesses. After just 4 months the system was sending power back to the grid, and ProSpace is going into 2017 paying only the monthly minimum fee of $25 on their utility bills.

Solarize Delta County Farms launched April 18 and its registration period will continue to July 18. The program provides educational resources to the community about what solar and renewable energy systems can do for your farm, home or business, and it provides a streamlined process to go solar. The program offers an exclusive equipment discount and local loan options from banks in Delta County.

Interested business owners must RSVP to the Solarize program coordinator, Mary Marshall, at mary@solarenergy.org or call 970-527-7657 x213. We will head over to the launch event after the tour, first beer is on us!

Pictured: The 25 kW system installed at ProSpace during the 2016 round of Solarize.

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Governor Cuomo Objects to Pipelines Despite Acknowledging their Necessity

New York Governor Cuomo claims that he supports pipeline infrastructure, commenting that pipelines are viewed as the least hazardous method of moving a combustible fuel. Cuomo further stated, “Many studies say that using a pipeline as a conduit is safer than rail travel and truck travel. Realistically you have to move fuel, so a pipeline is the safest way if it’s done right.” Yet, within the last year, his Department of Environmental Conservation denied certification to the proposed Northern Access pipeline and water permits sought by the Constitution Pipeline.[i] Cuomo has also fought the Algonquin Pipeline expansion and has been dawdling on an 8-mile spur to a new power plant in Wawayanda.[ii]

While New York State has access to a portion of the Marcellus natural gas field, Governor Cuomo has banned the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract the natural gas from that field. Nearby Pennsylvania, however, has used that technology along with horizontal drilling to develop its Marcellus field, benefiting from the natural gas produced from it. The pipelines would bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York, but Governor Cuomo is denying the residents of New York State access to that natural gas by limiting the expansion of pipeline capacity.

Northern Access Pipeline

The Northern Access Pipeline is a 97-mile project that would bring natural gas from the Marcellus field in Pennsylvania to consumers in Western New York. The 24-inch diameter pipeline would bring at least 1,000 construction jobs.

But, according to Governor Cuomo, the risk to the environment and water quality outweigh these jobs, despite his claim to be an advocate of natural gas as a bridge fuel to help get to his state’s 50 percent renewable energy pledge by 2030.

Others feel Cuomo is catering to anti-pipeline activists, with no regard for the economic consequences and the role of natural gas in reducing overall energy costs. They feel Governor Cuomo should decide on a standard rather than trying to look good politically. Governor Cuomo is a Democrat who faces re-election for a third term next year.

Constitution Pipeline

The Constitution Pipeline is a 124-mile pipeline designed to transport 650,000 dekatherms of natural gas per day (enough natural gas to serve approximately 3 million homes). The 30-inch diameter pipeline would extend from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, to the Iroquois Gas Transmission and Tennessee Gas Pipeline systems in Schoharie County, in eastern New York. This project would provide over 1,300 construction jobs and support almost 1,000 indirect jobs. It is expected to create $130 million dollars of new local payroll in areas of New York State that need it the most and to generate $17 million in new sales and income tax revenue.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project on December 2, 2014 after issuing its Final Environmental Impact Statement on October 24, 2014, concluding that environmental impacts would be “less than significant levels” with the implementation of proposed mitigation measures by the pipeline sponsors and FERC. However, on April 22, 2016, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation denied Constitution Pipeline’s Water Quality Certification.

The pipeline company is appealing New York’s decision to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The company expects the pipeline to begin operation as early as the second quarter of 2018, assuming that legal challenges are “promptly and satisfactorily concluded.” It remains firmly committed to obtaining the necessary permits and moving forward with the project.[iii]

New York State Needs the Natural Gas

Currently, natural gas supplies 57 percent of the electric generation capacity in New York State, and as more of the state’s coal and nuclear power plants are scheduled to be shut down, new gas-fired plants are being built to replace them. New natural gas pipelines are needed to connect natural gas supplies to New York consumers. As New York continues its long-term transition to more and more renewable electric generation, natural gas supply is essential to power the state’s generators and support the reliability of the power grid. [iv]

Conclusion

Governor Cuomo is playing games with pipeline construction in the hopes of winning a third term as governor of New York State by kowtowing to environmentalists, who want to squelch pipelines in order to keep fossil fuels in the ground. But, Cuomo’s actions are hurting the residents of New York State, who need the natural gas to heat their homes and to fuel their electric generators in order to keep the lights on and their houses warm.


[i] Press Republican, Cuomo outlines concerns on pipeline expansion, April 16, 2017, http://www.pressrepublican.com/news/local_news/cuomo-outlines-concerns-on-pipeline-expansion/article_be008895-4ade-5ead-af72-0e89d0120677.html

[ii] NY Post, Why does Cuomo keep rejecting pipelines New Yorkers could benefit from? April 16, 2017, http://nypost.com/2017/04/16/why-does-cuomo-keep-rejecting-pipelines-new-yorkers-could-benefit-from/

[iii] State Impact, March 17, 2017, https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2017/03/17/federal-judge-rejects-permits-challenge-in-new-setback-to-constitution-pipeline/

[iv] WIVB, Northern Access Pipeline comes to a halt; National Fuel responds, April 8, 2017, http://wivb.com/2017/04/08/northern-access-pipeline-comes-to-a-halt/

 

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