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Study claims Eversource and Avangrid manipulated natural gas pipeline capacity, costing New England consumers $3.6 billion

"A new Environmental Defense Fund white paper accuses Avangrid and Eversource of artificially constraining natural gas pipeline capacity in New England, leading to inflated energy costs for consumers in Massachusetts and the six-state region."

"By reserving pipeline capacity, and then not using it the next day, energy companies pocketed an extra $3.6 billion between 2013 and 2016, according to the report, titled Vertical Market Power in Interconnected Natural Gas and Electricity Markets."

DOE limits NOPR to RTOs with capacity markets as FERC denies extension request

"DOE's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) has created some odd allies of convenience. Natural gas generators, renewable energy developers, electric cooperatives, munis and others joined together last week to ask FERC to extend its consideration timeframe for the controversial rule. They were joined later by industrial energy consumers and the National Association of Utility Regulatory Commissioners, the association for state utility regulators. The groups argued at least 90 days was necessary to evaluate the rule."

"The only entities to openly support FERC's proposed timeline were coal and nuclear generators, which would be the direct beneficiaries of the reforms. Even so, the commission dismissed the motions for extension in just 50 words."

"The DOE NOPR would provide cost recovery for merchant power plants in wholesale electricity markets that keep 90 days of fuel supplied onsite. But just which wholesale markets it would apply to became less clear in recent days. The version of the NOPR filed in the Federal Register on Oct. 10 states that cost recovery would apply to merchant plants in ISO and RTO jurisdictions with "energy and capacity markets." The original version of the NOPR, filed Sept. 29 at the FERC eLibrary, said nothing about a capacity market requirement. Of the six grid operators under FERC jurisdiction, three have capacity markets — ISO-New England, the New York ISO and the PJM Interconnection. The Southwest Power Pool and the California ISO do not have a capacity markets, and the Midcontinent ISO has a voluntary capacity market, making it unclear how the rule would be applied there. FERC does not comment on ongoing proceedings, but DOE spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said her agency considers the later version filed in the Register to be the final proposal. "

Change in Number of Coal Mining Jobs from Previous Month, 1997-2017

It is true that the coal mining industry has added jobs since President Trump has taken office -- about 2,100 jobs for a total of 52,100 jobs in the industry. That's about a 4% growth compared to January. But how much does this has to do with the President and how much does it have to do with a recent increase in coal prices? During President Barack Obama's first two years in the White House, the coal industry grew faster then it grew under Donald Trump. If natural gas prices fall again, then coal prices will fall and the sector will sink again.

Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, All Employees: Mining and Logging: Coal Mining [CES1021210001], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CES1021210001, October 9, 2017.

EPA Chief Announces Reversal Of Obama-Era Curbs On Coal Plants

"The Trump administration will scuttle an Obama-era clean power plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, made the announcement in Hazard, Ky., on Monday, saying the rule hurt coal-fired plants. "The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy," Pruitt said, speaking at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "That rule really was about picking winners and losers," the EPA administrator said, adding that the rule change would be signed on Tuesday. The announcement had been anticipated. It would eliminate the Clean Power Plan that was put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court and therefore never implemented."

NOAA: Assessing the U.S. Climate in September 2017

"Since June 2017, six additional weather and climate events impacted the nation that had direct, total costs exceeding $1 billion. These new events included the western U.S. wildfires, the Northern Plains drought, a severe weather event in the Midwest, and major Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. This brings the year-to-date total to 15 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, tying 2011 for the record number of events during January–September. The record number of billion-dollar disasters for a calendar year is 16 events set in 2011. Cost estimates associated with the 2017 hurricanes will be available in January 2018."

"The September nationally averaged temperature was 66.3°F, 1.4°F above the 20th century average, and ranked among the warmest third of the historical record. Near-record warmth was observed in parts of the Great Lakes and Northeast. The year-to-date U.S. average temperature was the third warmest on record at 57.7°F, 2.7°F above average. Only January–September of 2012 and 2016 were warmer. Above-average temperatures spanned the nation for the first nine months of the year."

Solar Energy Boom Sets New Records, Shattering Expectations

"Driven largely by a boom in solar power, renewable energy expansion has hit record-breaking totals across the globe and is shattering expectations, especially in the United States, where projections were pessimistic just a decade ago."

"In 2016, almost two-thirds of new power capacity came from renewables, bypassing net coal generation growth globally for the first time. Most of the expansion came from a 50 percent growth in solar, much of it in China."

"In the U.S., solar power capacity doubled compared to 2015—itself a record-breaking year—with the country adding 14.5 gigawatts of solar power, far outpacing government projections. In the first half of 2017, wind and solar accounted for 10 percent of monthly electricity generation for the first time. "

Examining Carter’s ‘Malaise Speech,’ 30 Years Later

"Mattson says the fact that Americans responded positively to a speech that berated their way of life suggests that they don't mind having their values called into question. In that way, he says, the malaise speech had the potential to effect a significant cultural change.

"[Carter] did blow the opportunity," Mattson says. "But I think the original success that the speech had symbolizes the fact that Americans will listen when they're being criticized and when they're being called out to their better selves."

How DOE’s baseload power rule ‘would blow the market up’

Subsidizing baseload power makes absolutely no sense, especially as more renewables come online. If you can't produce power economically at non-peak times, you shouldn't be on the grid.

That said, we need more peaking and mid-load plants, to make the sure ramp can be met affordably, especially on hot days. The ramp is going only to get steeper in coming years, especially as hot weather becomes more common -- and renewables slack off by mid-afternoon as the sun angle falls and wind becomes still. Grid operators have to ensure they always have enough spinning reserve to meet whatever demand is put on the grid.

Coal right now doesn't ramp well, but that's where coal supporters should be putting their money -- researching how to make coal ramp up and down quickly (and cleanly). They ramp up and down coal plants to a certain extent in wind-heavy parts of country, but it's tough on equipment that doesn't take well to temperature and pressure changes, and is actually making air pollution worse, as coal plants tend to pollute the most when they're being ramped up and down.