New Federal rules for oil and gas sector; Additional PA rules to follow

As part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan, EPA has released proposed rules targeting methane reductions on a range of new sources in the oil and gas sector. The proposal expands the requirements set in a 2012 rule to now include hydraulically fractured wells, compressor stations and other equipment. And, while the 2012 rules regulated volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, the new proposal requires sources to control methane emissions.

Oil and gas industry groups and some lawmakers immediately attacked the proposal citing that the industry has voluntarily made substantial cuts in methane emissions making the rule unnecessary. Environmental groups claim the rule does not go far enough to curb emissions.

Whether EPA will follow this proposal on new sources with a rule targeting existing sources, as was the case for power plants, remains unclear. While EPA appears to be focused on new sources for now, when asked if EPA will pursue an existing source standard, acting air chief Janet McCabe said that “we’re not ruling anything out.”

EPA will accept comments for 60 days from the day the proposal is published in the Federal Registry.

On a related note, Pennsylvania DEP Secretary John Quigley hinted that a new package of rules for the industry is currently being developed. More information on the scope of those rules is expected later this year.

 

 

 

What we’re reading this week

RTO Insider:  PJM Concerned About Lead Time on Transmission Needed for Wind
The grid operator for our region released a report that has some specific risks they think will come as a result of states’ compliance with the Clean Power Plan.

Wall Street Journal:  Energy Slowdown Hits One Town Hard
Located in Greene County, just an hour south of Pittsburgh’s downtown, the boom and bust cycles of natural gas extraction are making it hard on Waynesburg businesses and entrepreneurs.

Mashable:  The UK is testing out roads that charge electric cars as they go
An interesting pilot of new technology that would have to do battle with improved battery life to be valuable.

Washington Post:  Opinion – We need a miracle on climate change 
A reminder of the challenges  inherent to making any long-term policy decisions.

San Jose Mercury News:  Three years after Prop. 39, California lawmakers want to know where are the ‘clean’ jobs
Only 1,700 jobs were created in three years by the tax that was supposed to generate 11,000 every year.  Critics also voice their concern that most of the money appears to have gone to consultants and energy auditors.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pennsylvania regulators say more oil and gas rules are on the horizon.
While the current regulatory proposal is still being reviewed, DEP hints at a new package of rules for the oil and gas sector.

EPA releases final rules for greenhouse gas emissions

Last week the EPA released the much anticipated final rules for greenhouse gas emissions both new and existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) sets a nationwide goal of cutting carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030 and each state will be responsible for crafting a plan to meet their own state-specific goal assigned by EPA. States will have about one year to create a compliance plan, although a time extension of up to two years is likely to be granted, if requested.

The final rules did incorporate some significant changes from the 2014 proposal primarily designed to strengthen the rule against legal challenges, provide guidance to states on how to craft plans to meet the requirements of the rarely used 111(d) provision, and more uniformly set state goals across the nation by adjusting the baseline calculations and final targets. States now have two additional years, until 2022, to meet their interim goal. Overall, the plan is more aggressively driving early deployment of renewable generation, while coal and natural gas are expected to take a greater hit. And while the final rule will give states credit for nuclear generation currently under construction, the existing, carbon-free, nuclear fleet was not considered in baseline assessments.

So what does this mean for Pennsylvania? First and foremost, unlike other states that are planning to oppose the rule, Governor Wolf is publicly supporting the rule and directed staff to begin assessing compliance options. In fact, Pennsylvania is one of four states engaged with the National Governors Association Policy Academy to evaluate cost-effective strategies to meet CPP requirements.  Compared with other states’ reduction targets, Pennsylvania’s  goal falls in the middle and is similar to that of other Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. As both a manufacturing center and net exporter of electricity, Pennsylvania will face additional challenges in meeting the target.

The impacts of such a sweeping rule will be better understood as more analysis on the details emerges and as states begin to develop compliance plans. At the same time, expect some interesting legal battles to emerge contesting EPA’s regulatory boundaries.

More info:  E&E’s Clean Power Plan Guide and Breaking News

See what others are saying about the final rule:

Wolf backs Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Wolf administration will seek input on crafting compliance plan

PA Chamber warns of economic and reliability impacts from CPP

Pennsylvania Environmental Council recognizes challenges and opportunities

NEI’s Fertel encouraged by changes to final rule, uncertainty remains

DOE Innovative Nuclear Research Funding Opportunity

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) conducts crosscutting nuclear energy research and development to develop innovative technologies that offer the promise of dramatically improved performance for advanced reactors and fuel cycle concepts. This funding opportunity is to support strategies and technologies for the safe, long-term management and eventual disposal of used nuclear fuel and advanced nuclear fuel and fuel cycle technologies that enhance the accident tolerance and enable sustainable fuel cycles to be demonstrated and deployed.

Current challenges include the development of high burnup fuel and cladding materials to withstand irradiation for longer periods of time with improved accident tolerance; development of simplified materials recovery technologies, waste management (including storage, transportation, and disposal), and proliferation risk reduction methods; and development of processes and tools to evaluate sustainable fuel cycle system options and to effectively communicate the results of the evaluation to stakeholders.

Estimated Total Program Funding: $56,200,000.  Applications due by Feb 18, 2016.
Full program and application details available at the National Energy University Programs website, and grants.gov

2015 Natural Gas Utilization Conference marks its fifth year

The 2015 Natural Gas Utilization Conference marks the fifth year energy leaders will gather to discuss natural gas use trends, as well as near-term opportunities and challenges. This year’s conference will provide special emphasis on the vital role infrastructure plays in getting gas to end-users.

The conference is in Canonsburg at the Hilton Garden Inn in Southpointe on Oct. 28-29.   Agenda, registration, and sponsorship opportunities are available here:  http://2015utilization.org/

The 2015 Penn State Natural Gas Utilization Conference is a collaborative effort between America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center, and the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach & Research.

Conference logo

Pitt 2015 EPIC conference registration open

Tenth annual conference will feature Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto as keynote speaker
EPIC logo

Each year, the Swanson School of Engineering and Center for Energy at the University of Pittsburgh host a two-day tour de force of the latest research, trends, and major topics lighting up the electric power industry.  Last year, the Allegheny Conference partnered with EPIC to host a joint session of the Grid Academy program as part of the EPIC agenda.

The 10th Annual University of Pittsburgh Electric Power Industry Conference (EPIC) is scheduled this year for November 16th  and 17th at the University Club on the Pitt campus.  This year’s conference theme is “Reimagining Our Energy Future – Building Upon 10 Years of Public-Private Collaborations,” and the conference keynote speaker will be City of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.

Registration, schedule, and preliminary agenda can all be found on the conference web site at http://engineering.pitt.edu/EPIC/.    There is no cost for corporate exhibits and corporate sponsorships are with free registration.

 

 

Two new energy prize competitions announced

CMU Jamathon for Sunshot Catalyst Prize Competition:  The Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at CMU is hosting a Jamathon for the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Catalyst Prize Competition, a series of four contests with prizes from $1000 to $100,000 that aims to help teams with a raw idea build a real product that is ready for commercialization.

All entrepreneurs, developers, working professionals, mentors, makers, doers, and enthusiasts are invited to participate in the Jamathon.  Video pitch submission closes Friday August 14, 2015.  The event will take place in the Singleton Room on Carnegie Mellon’s campus.  You can register and get more information here: http://bit.ly/sunshot-catalyst-cmu.

The Allegheny Region Cleantech University Prize Collegiate Competition:  the Pittsburgh region has been selected for a collegiate student energy entrepreneurship competition by the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office.  The regional first place winner will receive a $50,000 prize and there will be additional prizes as well for other winners. The Scott Institute partners in co-hosting the competition are Innovation Works, Pittsburgh’s Energy Innovation Center, the Pittsburgh Technology Council, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy. An advisory committee that goes beyond the Pittsburgh area is being formed.

Check out http://cleantechprize.org to get more details.  They also need volunteers as mentors, judges, sponsors, subject matter experts, and advisory committee members. The event is tentatively scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 16. The deadline for submission of statements of intent is likely to be January 18, 2016 with final submissions by February 15, 2016.

 

 

Welcome, and why we made this site

Welcome to the Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh’s energy blog.

Energy policy issues are complicated, with lots of important tradeoffs and unintended consequences.  The role of the blog will be to raise awareness of some of these important policy issues in an accessible, conversational way that highlights some of the potential ramifications that should be considered as part of the public decision-making process.  Additionally, as energy issues are rarely confined to a single jurisdiction, the blog will work to point out where there is the opportunity for greater collaboration amongst responsible parties.  When possible, the posts will tie the energy issue being discussed back to any potential impacts for our region.

Therefore, we look forward to bringing you timely information and insights on issues and opportunities will impact the Energy Alliance region.