Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Con Ed $721 Million Rate Increase Approved By PSC

The New York State Public Service Commission State approved a $721 million rate increase on Tuesday. The total includes $523.4 million for a one-year increase in Consolidated Edison’s rates for delivering electric service and $198 million for a temporary surcharge on bills to pay for state-mandated assessments. Typical residential customers will see an increase in their monthly bill of about $6 in New York or about $8 in Westchester County. The overall increase on electricity bills will be 6.1 percent across the Con Edison system.

The increase comes just over a year after Consolidated Edison won a $425 million increase from the commission in March 2008. That increase resulted in an increase of $4.25 in the monthly bill for a typical residential customer in New York City and an increase of $5.60 in the monthly bill for a typical residential customer in Westchester.

The factors driving Con Edison’s need for additional revenue are real property taxes, state assessment changes, addition to utility plant, increases in pensions and other retirement benefits, and a change in return on equity, or profit for Con Edison, to 10 percent, up from 9.1 percent. (NYT, 4/21/09)

Center Supports H.R. 957: Green Energy Education Act of 2009

The Center supports the Green Energy Education Act of 2009 (H.R. 957) that is pending in 1st Session of the 111th Congress to authorize higher education curriculum development and graduate training in advanced energy and green building technologies. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 10, 2009 by Rep. Michael McCaul [R-TX], left, and cosponsored by Rep. André Carson [D-IN], Rep. David Loebsack [D-IA], and Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY], right, which was referred to the Committee on Science and Technology. The Center wants to amend the bill to include as diverse a constituency as possible in the curriculum, training and possibly even actual construction of new buildings that could result as an offshoot of the legislation.

H.R. 957 is a bill:

To authorize higher education curriculum development and graduate training in advanced energy and green building technologies.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the ‘Green Energy Education Act of 2009’.


For the purposes of this Act:

(1) DIRECTOR- The term ‘Director’ means the Director of the National Science Foundation.

(2) HIGH PERFORMANCE BUILDING- The term ‘high performance building’ has the meaning given that term in section 914(a) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16194(a)).

(3) SECRETARY- The term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of Energy.


(a) Funding- In carrying out research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities authorized for the Department of Energy, the Secretary may contribute funds to the National Science Foundation for the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program to support projects that enable graduate education related to such activities.

(b) Consultation- The Director shall consult with the Secretary when preparing solicitations and awarding grants for projects described in subsection (a).


(a) Funding- In carrying out advanced energy technology research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities authorized for the Department of Energy related to high performance buildings, the Secretary may contribute funds to curriculum development activities at the National Science Foundation for the purpose of improving undergraduate or graduate interdisciplinary engineering and architecture education related to the design and construction of high performance buildings, including development of curricula, of laboratory activities, of training practicums, or of design projects. A primary goal of curriculum development activities supported under this section shall be to improve the ability of engineers, architects, landscape architects, and planners to work together on the incorporation of advanced energy technologies during the design and construction of high performance buildings.

(b) Consultation- The Director shall consult with the Secretary when preparing solicitations and awarding grants for projects described in subsection (a).

(c) Priority- In awarding grants with respect to which the Secretary has contributed funds under this section, the Director shall give priority to applications from departments, programs, or centers of a school of engineering that are partnered with schools, departments, or programs of design, architecture, landscape architecture, and city, regional, or urban planning.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Commerce Department Rejects Broadwater LNG Project

One week after the New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI)'s renewable energy electricity transmission line was killed, a liquified natural gas (LNG) project on Long Island has now been rejected by the US Department of Commerce. Broadwater Energy proposed constructing a terminal to which tankers would deliver LNG. At the terminal, LNG would be regasified and then transported to shore by way of a new 21.7-mile natural gas pipeline that would tie into the regional network. The Commerce decision upheld New York State's objection to the proposed construction and operation of the LNG terminal in the New York waters of Long Island Sound. (AP)

Monday, April 13, 2009

States Initiate Bidding Process for 4th RGGI CO2 Auction

The ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states participatingin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) today released the Auction Notice, Qualification Application and Intent to Bid for RGGI’s fourth carbondioxide (CO2) allowance auction, scheduled for June 17, 2009. The release initiates the bidder qualification process and publicizes auction details,including reserve price and number of allowances offered for sale.

The June auction will be the second held since compliance obligations under the 10-state RGGI CO2 Budget Trading Programs took effect on January 1, 2009and the second to offer allowances from current (2009-2011) and future (2012-2014) control periods. States will offer for sale 30,887,620 million current control period allowances (all for the 2009 vintage) and 2,172,540 million allowances for the future control period (all for the 2012 vintage).

Given the early stage of the RGGI CO2 allowance market, the Participating States (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) will continue to use a reserveprice of $1.86 for all allowances. Before CO2 Allowance Auction 5, the Participating States will consider whether there is enough data available tojustify the calculation of a current market reserve price.

As summarized in the Auction Notice, potential bidders must successfully complete the qualification process to participate in the June CO2 allowance auction. The ten RGGI states urge prospective bidders to apply to qualify for, and participatein, the auction by downloading the auction documents from the RGGI website. Potential bidders are also encouraged to participate in a free webinar hostedfrom 2:00 PM ET to 4:00 PM ET on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. The webinar, open to all parties interested in participating in Auction 4, will review the auction format, forms that need to be submitted and the complete qualification process. Instructions to participate in the webinar.

Auction History: The June 17th auction will be the second held since compliance obligations underthe 10-state RGGI CO2 Budget Trading Programs took effect on January 1, 2009. Inaddition to the first compliance auction, held March 18, 2009, RGGI's ParticipatingStates also held two "pre-compliance" auctions in the fall of 2008. In each auction all allowances offered were sold and demand for allowances exceeded supply. Clearingprices of $3.07 in September, $3.38 in December, and $3.51 in March led the independent market monitor to describe all auctions as "robust."

The March auction was the first to offer allowances from the second three-year control period beginning in 2012. All of 2012 vintage allowances cleared at aprice of $3.05, providing a first-look at future market prices for RGGI CO2 allowances. By the end of 2009, the RGGI states will have offered for sale5% of the total supply of 2012 vintage allowances. Webinar DetailsMore information about the auction will be available through a webinar to be heldfrom 2:00 PM ET to 4:00 PM ET on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. To access the webinar audio, call the teleconference access number, (888) 875-4624and enter the participant code, 555661#. To access the webinar slides, go to theAuction Website and download them. The slides for the webinar will be posted on theAuction Website no later than 8:00 AM ET on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. [View the slides as they are presented in real time-Select the participant option and then enter participant code 555661 and the following information: name, company, email address, and title.]

About the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: The 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states participating in RGGI (Connecticut,Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, RhodeIsland and Vermont) have designed the first market-based, mandatory cap-and-trade program in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The participating states haveregulations in place to cap and then reduce the amount of CO2 that power plants intheir region are allowed to emit, limiting the region’s total contribution to atmosphericgreenhouse gas levels. Power sector CO2 emissions are capped at current levels through2014. The cap will then be reduced by 2.5 percent in each of the four years 2015 through2018, for a total reduction of 10 percent.

A CO2 allowance represents a permit to emit one ton of CO2, as issued by a respective participating state. A regulated power plant must hold CO2 allowances equal to itsemissions to demonstrate compliance at the end of each compliance period. Because CO2 allowances issued by any participating state will be usable across all state programs,the ten individual state CO2 Budget Trading Programs, in aggregate, will form one regional compliance market for CO2 emissions.

About Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc: RGGI, Inc. was created in September 2007 to provide technical and administrativeservices to the states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. RGGI, Inc.is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization.

NY Sells $100 Million in C)2 Credits at 3rd RGGI Auction

On March 18th, New York State participated in the 3rd Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction, selling 12,422,161 allowances of CO2, which helped to bring the total allowances sold at auction to 31,513,765.

This auction is the first time New York sold CO2 allowances for 2012 and it marks the second time New York has sold allowances in the RGGI auction, which includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont. New York had 776,385 CO2 allowances for 2012 up for auction.

In collaboration with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Public Service Commission, proceeds from the RGGI auctions will be used for energy efficiency and conservations programs throughout the state. (NYAREA)

More on the RGGI auction

Saturday, April 11, 2009

FERC Decision Kills NY Regional Interconnect (NYRI)

In a decision that runs counter to nearly every Federal Energy Regularory Commission (FERC) cost recovery decision of the recent past, the Commission voted to block a request from the New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) for 13.5% return on equity. The decision forced NYRI to withdraw its application before the NYPSC for the 190-mile power line would have carried renewable power from upstate to just north of New York City. The project was previously dealt a blow when the 4th Circuit ruled FERC did not have federal backstop authority to authorize the line if local regulators blocked the project.

Developers said denying NYRI's request created an unacceptable financial risk for NYRI's investors. Even if the NYRI project were to be sited by the PSC, NYRI would face the prospect of being unable to recover transmission costs from the ratepayers who would benefit from the project. This is really a blow for not only New York City power customers and city leaders who are demanding renewable power, but also for renewable energy in general – which now has no way to get from source to consumer. So much for the entire message of green transmission and building out the grid to meet the significant renewable power needs of our cleantech economy. (Source: Frank Maisano)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Supreme Court Rules Cooling Water Costs Can Be Considered

The Supreme Court ruled today that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can compare costs with benefits to determine the technology that must be used at structures that cool water at electricity power plants. By a 6-3 vote, the high court handed a victory to Entergy Corporation, other electric utilities and the general public. The justices overturned a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that previously ruled that the Clean Water Act does not permit the EPA to consider the cost-benefit relationship in deciding the best technology available to minimize adverse environmental impact.

The Center-NY supports the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The Supreme Court's decision is a victory for global warming mitigation because nuclear power plants do not emit any greenhouse gases and some traditional environmental groups are trying to use water permits as a way to shut them down. Although some fish eggs are destroyed by all power plant intakes, unreasonable expenses that would close plants and lead to rate shock to customers should be considered. The Supreme Court made the right decision. Morever, current Ristroph Screens provide sufficient protection at these intake areas. A negative ruling could have required hundreds of power plants to install super expensive cooling towers. Companies would shut down older plants before building cooling towers. Center President Norris McDonald, pictured above right, attended the December 2, 2008 hearing. (AP, Reuters)