Marita Noon: Where Buffalo May Roam … Away

Marita Noon 2015 Turquiose

Link to: The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing

 

Greetings!

 

I have been watching the SolarCity solar panel manufacturing factory story for a few weeks. I’ve almost written on it a couple of times. How fortuitous for that, each time, another story captured my attention. Last Thursday, the story took on a whole new dimension: a criminal corruption probe. Now was the right time to write The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing (attached and pasted-in-below). It is a sordid tale—but then, most of the green-energy crony-corruption stories are.

 

As I like to do, The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing combines several stories to present a fresh analysis while incorporating many of my favorite themes: politics, green-energy crony-corruption, and current news. Plus, it should make you mad! Getting all that into one piece, does make it a bit on the long side, but I hope you’ll enjoy the thorough coverage of this underreported story.

 

Please post, pass on, and/or personally enjoy The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing

.

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM, 87181

505.239.8998

 

For immediate release: September 26, 2016

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1380

 

 

The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing

When New York’s Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo gushed over SolarCity’s new solar panel factory in Buffalo, New York, the audience, likely, didn’t grasp the recently-revealed meaning of his words: “It is such a metaphor—a symbol of everything we’re doing.”

 

The 1.2 million square foot building, being built by the state of New York on the site of a former steel plant, is looking more and more like another political promise of help for one of the poorest cities in the state that ends up enriching cronies without ever achieving any potential for the people.

 

Yes, it is a symbol of everything they’re doing.

 

Previously, during her first senatorial bid, Hillary Clinton also promised jobs to the economically depressed region of the state of New York—200,000 to be exact. Citing a report from the Washington Post, CBSNews states: “Jobs data show that job growth stagnated in Upstate New York during her eight years in office, the report said, and manufacturing jobs dropped by nearly a quarter.” The Post’s extensive story reveals that jobs never materialized—despite “initial glowing headlines.” It claims: “Clinton’s self-styled role as economic promoter” actually “involved loyal campaign contributors who also supported the Clinton Foundation.” Through federal grants and legislation, she helped steer money to programs, companies, and initiatives that benefitted the donors but failed to reverse the economic decline of the region.

 

Now, new corruption charges reveal the same pay-to-play model linked to Cuomo’s upstate “Buffalo Billion” economic revitalization plan—and the promised jobs, also, look they will never materialize.

 

Back on January 5, 2012, Cuomo announced a $1 billion five-year economic development pledge for Buffalo.  It was to be the governor’s banner economic initiative with the SolarCity factory as the cornerstone and a pledge of 1,460 direct factory jobs. Other companies, including IBM and a Japanese clean-energy company were also lined up.

 

With the state-of-the-art solar panel factory ready for equipment to be installed, the wisdom of the entire program is being scrutinized—and is coming up short.

 

First, on September 22, two of Cuomo’s closest aides—along with several others—were charged in corruption and fraud cases involving state contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Addressing the press at his Manhattan office, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara asserted: “that ‘pervasive corruption and fraud’ infested one of the governor’s signature economic development programs. Companies got rich, and the public got bamboozled,” reports The Observer. Bharara described the bid-rigging and bribery arrangement: “Behind the scenes they were cynically rigging the whole process so that the contracts would go to handpicked ‘friends of the administration’—‘friends’ being a euphemism for large donors. Through rigged bids, state contracts worth billions of dollars in public development monies, meant to revitalize and renew upstate New York, were instead just another way to corruptly award cronies who were willing to pay to play.”

 

The 79-page criminal complaint notes that campaign contributions to Cuomo poured in from people connected to the bribe-paying companies as soon as those businesses began pursuing state projects.

 

One of the companies that received the lucrative contracts was LPCiminelli—run by “Cuomo mega-donor” Louis Ciminelli. He allegedly offered bribes to Cuomo confidante Todd Howe—who has admitted to pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers to rig bids on multimillion-dollar state contracts linked to Buffalo Billion projects.

 

Ciminelli received the $750 million contract to build the SolarCity plant. The Buffalo News cites Bharara as saying: “the state’s bidding process for the factory being built for SolarCity at RiverBend in South Buffalo turned into a ‘criminal’ enterprise that favored LPCiminelli, where company executives were given inside information about how the deal was to be awarded.”

 

Part of Cuomo’s deal with SolarCity—in which the state owns the building and equipment with SolarCity leasing it under a 10-year deal—requires the company to meet a timetable of job-creation quotas or pay hefty penalties. Even before the building was complete, however, the company slashed its job commitment from 1460 to 500. According to the Investigative Post, SolarCity claims it will still employ the original number, but due to automation, the majority of them will not be at the Buffalo plant. With the state’s $750 million investment, that works out to $1.5 million per manufacturing job. In a press release, Cuomo promised 1460 “direct manufacturing jobs at the new facility.”

 

Even the 500 jobs will only materialize if the plant actually starts production—currently slated for June 2017. SolarCity’s future is, as Crain’s New York Business puts it: “uncertain.”

 

Amid the company’s myriad problems are the facts that it has never been profitable, nor does it have manufacturing experience.

 

In February 2014, SolarCity’s stock price peaked at about $85 a share. Today, a share is less than $20. Microaxis gives it a probability of bankruptcy score of 48 percent. Crains reports that it posted a $251 million loss in Q1 2016 and a loss of $230 million in Q2. To “stop the bleeding,” Elon Musk (a donor to both the Obama and Clinton campaigns and the Clinton Foundation), who owns more than 20 percent of the company, announced that Tesla (of which he also owns more than 20 Percent) would purchase SolarCity—this after as many as 15 other potential buyers and investors looked at the company and decided to pass. SolarCity even considered selling the solar panel manufacturing business.

 

Both SolarCity and Tesla are, according to the Buffalo News, facing a “cash bind”—this despite receiving billions in federal and state grants and tax credits as I’ve previously addressed. Tesla is described as “cash-eating electric vehicle and battery making businesses.” For SolarCity, its model—which finances its solar panel installations, in order to make a profit on a lease that can be as long as 30 years, while it collects the lucrative government incentives worth billions (a practice for which Solar City is currently under Congressional investigation)—requires constantly raising new money from investors. Once the Tesla deal was announced, SolarCity’s lenders started to pull back.

 

The Buffalo News reports: “Stock in SolarCity…now trades for $4 a share less, or 19 percent less, than what Tesla is offering—a gap indicating that investors are uncertain the deal will be completed.” Additionally, the deal is being challenged by four separate lawsuits—which could delay the deal. Addressing the merger, one analyst said: “We see a lot more that can go wrong than can go right.”

 

Then there is the manufacturing angle. Originally, the Buffalo plant was going to manufacture high-efficacy solar panel modules developed by Silevo—a company SolarCity bought in 2014. Crain’s reports that it will instead produce complete solar roofs. Something it says “Dow Chemical recently abandoned after five years because it could not find a way to make a profit on the technology.” But then, the Buffalo News says: “The initial production in Buffalo is expected to include photovoltaic cells that SolarCity purchases from suppliers and are used in the products that will be assembled in the South Park Avenue factory.”

 

Whatever the plant builds or manufactures, getting it operating will be expensive—even with the New York taxpayers owning the building and equipment—and will drain scarce cash from SolarCity at a time when its financing costs have increased.

 

Buffalo residents wonder if they’ll be stuck with the world’s largest empty warehouse and without the promised jobs.

 

No wonder the entire project is in doubt. Because of the Cuomo administration corruption allegations, other proposed job-creators, including IBM, have pulled out until the probe is completed.

 

For now, Cuomo is not a part of the criminal complaint—though his name is mentioned many times—and he claims he knew nothing about it, nor does he think he’s a target of the ongoing federal probe. “It is almost inconceivable the governor didn’t know what was going on,” Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, said. “And if he didn’t know what was going on, you can argue he should have known.”

 

Bharara has suggested that the better name for the program would be: “The Buffalo Billion Fraud and Bribery Scheme.”

 

Yep, the Buffalo Billion project is a “symbol” of the political promises and crony corruption—“everything we’re doing”—that takes taxpayers dollars to reward political donors and then walks away when the jobs don’t materialize.

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

 

 

Marita: Knows how our government favors giving tax money to persistent losers

Link to: Not all energy is created equal

Greetings!

Last week, I was called to Washington, DC, to support Congress’ efforts to lift the oil export ban—known as HR 702. I am pleased to report a victory—albeit, just the first in a long process. The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced the bill with bipartisan support. Along with all the Republicans voting, three Democrat Representatives voted for the bill and four or five others indicated that they were open to the idea and might vote “yes” on the floor. The floor vote could happen as early as next week, though every representative with whom I met preferred a later October date that would remove it from the noise surrounding the Pope’s visit (likely my topic for next week) and the CR debate.

Despite the President’s announcement indicating that he doesn’t support the bill (and, therefore, would likely veto it), folks with whom I was working do see a path to victory in the Senate. But, as a part of the horse trading that goes on, that path will likely include a debate/discussion about renewing tax credits for renewable energy—which is the topic of my column for this week: Not all energy is created equal (attached and pasted-in-below). The wind PTC is a big issue as it is already expired and proponents are aggressively working to get it retroactively extended, because, as my column points out, the industry cannot achieve the projected growth needed to meet Obama’s Clean Power Plan goals without it.

My 48-hours in DC was very productive. I met with many allies who are also working to advance energy policy that embraces the free-market and limited-government perspective that undergirds most everything I write. Please post, pass on, and/or personally enjoy Not all energy is created equal.

 Marita Noon 2015 Turquiose

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

Sapphire_3560_ppc_4x5

For immediate release: September 21, 2015

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1248

 

 

Not all energy is created equal

Congress has taken action that actually advances free markets and limits government intrusion. I was in the room when, on September 17, the House Energy and Commerce Committee—with bipartisan support—advanced legislation to lift the 1970s-era ban on crude-oil exports. HR 702, “To adapt to changing crude oil market conditions,” is expected to receive a full floor vote within a matter of weeks.

 

The export ban is a relic of a bygone era during which ideas like “peak oil” and “energy scarcity” were the conventional wisdom. Despite all those who cried “wolf,” the U.S. is now the world’s largest combined oil-and-gas producer.

 

Ending this obsolete ban would unleash America’s energy producers on the global market, increasing domestic production and creating jobs. Additionally, reports from experts at the non-partisan Energy Information Administration and Government Accountability Office, plus consultants at IHS, indicate that it will also lower prices at the pump.

 

Like everything that seems to happen in Washington, DC, these days, this initial victory may have a price tag that prevents its final passage.

 

Getting the Democrats on board with removing the barrier to exporting America’s abundance may likely require giving them something they want.Morning Consult recently reported: “Momentum is building in Congress to repeal the antiquated ban on exporting crude oil. Lawmakers and energy industry representatives are talking about other energy policies that could be swapped or combined to achieve that objective. Renewable energy tax credits are part of the equation.”

 

Those “renewable energy tax credits” are mainly two: the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) and solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Like the oil-export ban, the wind PTC is an archaic policy that has no place in today’s modern reality of energy abundance.

 

Passed by Congress in 1992, the PTC pays the wind industry for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated over a ten-year period. No other mature energy source—natural gas, oil, or coal—can claim a similar carve out based on how much product they sell. The subsidy is so lavish that wind developers can sometimes sell their electricity at a loss and still profit. The New York Times has described this as wind’s “cannibal behavior” on the power grid.

 

The PTC costs taxpayers like you and me billions of dollars each year. Americans pay for wind twice: first in their federal tax bills, then in their local utility bills. According to a new study, commissioned by the Institute for Energy Research, electricity generated from new wind facilities is between three and four times as expensive as that from existing coal and nuclear power plants,.

 

The Senate Finance Committee claims a two-year extension would cost $10 billion over the next decade. After decades of subsidies and multiple PTC extensions, wind still generates less than 5 percent of our electricity.

 

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), who has long opposed the PTC extension, told me: “With a skyrocketing $16 trillion debt and an industry that is more than capable of standing on its own, there is no reason why the federal government should continue to subsidize the wind energy industry. Proponents of the Wind PTC continue to call for an extension—for the umpteenth time. This handout costs taxpayers billions and has caused significant price distortions in wholesale electricity markets that translate into real costs for everyday consumers. If we want a robust economy, it’s time to stop picking winners and losers in the energy marketplace and finally end the wind PTC. After two decades of pork, the wind looters need to stand on their own two feet. Most of the people in the wind industry I talk to know this, and I am confident that those individuals and others in the energy industry will enjoy many marketplace successes once we put a stop to the purely political policies that we have seen to date.”

 

Despite the mountain of evidence against wind subsidies—including increasing reports of health issues and concerns over bird kills—this summer, before the August recess, the Senate Finance Committee rushed through a package of expired tax provisions, including the wind PTC. Now, wind lobbyists are looking for a legislative “vehicle” to latch on to, preferably one with bipartisan support, to push through another PTC extension without a fair hearing, which is exactly why they’re eyeing the oil-export bill.

 

According to The Hill, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said he could consider lifting the ban “only if it’s tied to a permanent extension of the wind and solar tax credits.”

 

Swapping the PTC for oil exports is a bad deal, as lifting the ban deserves to pass in its own right. But what many don’t realize is that trading the PTC for oil exports is also a Faustian bargain that furthers President Obama’s destructive climate-change agenda.

 

The PTC and the president’s climate agenda are related because Obama’s sweeping new carbon regulations, known as the “Clean Power Plan”—finalized in August—require states to drastically cut carbon dioxide emissions. It does this by shuttering low-cost coal plants and building new wind and solar facilities. The problem: wind and solar are uneconomic without massive taxpayer handouts like the PTC and ITC and market-distorting mandates like state Renewable Portfolio Standards.

 

This scheme is the centerpiece of Obama’s climate legacy, which he hopes to cement in December at the United Nations climate conference in Paris.

 

These carbon regulations will inflict severe burdens on American families—especially the poorest among us who can least afford to pay higher energy prices. A recent study by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, for instance, found that Obama’s carbon rule would increase Black and Hispanic poverty by 23 and 26 percent, respectively. For all that pain, the regulations will, perhaps, reduce global temperature rise by 0.018 degrees Celsius in 2100—an undetectable amount.

 

Buried in hundreds of pages of “analysis,” the Environmental Protection Agency projects the wind industry will add more than 13 GW of electrical capacity each year from 2024-2030. For context, 13 GW is exactly how much capacity wind added in 2012, a record year. It is also the year in which rent-seeking wind barons rushed to build as many new turbines as possible to quality for the PTC, which expired at the end of the year. The following year, after the PTC expired, wind additions collapsed by more than 90 percent—which highlights the fact that the wind industry cannot survive in a free market.

 

This makes the wind PTC vital to Obama’s carbon regulations. His plan depends on exponential wind growth, and the wind industry depends on government handouts like the PTC to avoid total collapse, let alone grow. 

 

By not accepting a wind PTC tradeoff, Congress can deal a blow to corporate wind welfare and Obama’s carbon regulations in one shot. Congress must strip the PTC out of tax extenders and refuse to use wind subsidies as a bargaining chip. The two are totally unrelated. One is a liquid fuel used primarily for transportation. The other: a way to generate electricity, albeit inefficiently, ineffectively and uneconomically. One helps our trade deficit problem and increases revenues as FuelFix reports: “liberalizing crude trade spurs more domestic production, with a resulting boost in government revenue from the activity.” The other: a hidden tax that hurts all Americans.

 

By rejecting an extension of the wind PTC and lifting the ban on oil exports, Congress would end corporate welfare for wind lobbyists, deal a blow to Obama’s costly carbon regulations, and free America’s entrepreneurs to provide abundant, affordable, and reliable energy for all.

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

 

Marita: Marita doesn’t like unwarranted attacks on her integrity

Here is all the story.  I hope you’ll understand why the renewed interest our Dear Leader has about his travels to Alaska, etc.

Greetings!

Sunday, a week ago, a journalist friend forwarded an embargoed press release to me. It was to be released the next day. At the time, I’d just completed my column Oil’s Down, Gasoline Isn’t. What’s Up? It was too late for me to switch topics—though the press release’s content tempted me; it fit so much of my general messaging.

I watched throughout the past week and didn’t see that the report announced in the press release had received the attention it deserved, so I chose it for my column this week.

The press release’s headline was: E&E Legal Releases Report Exposing Coordination Between Governors, the Obama White House and the Tom Steyer-“Founded and Funded” Network of Advocacy Groups to Advance the “Climate” Agenda. I am sure you can see why it caught my eye. In the writing of this week’s column, I read the entire 55 page report and incorporated several additional features. I believe the result is powerful: Hidden emails reveal a secret anti-fossil fuel network involving the White House, Democrat governors, wealthy donors and foundations, and front groups (attached and pasted-in-below). Covering the content of a 55 page report, means this week’s column is a bit longer than my usual. I am not sure how I will edit it down to the 900- and 600-word versions required by the newspapers—but I always do.

The content of this week’s column will morph into the speech I’ll be giving tonight at the National Association of Royalty Owners Appalachia Chapter’s Annual Meeting at the Greenbrier in West Virginia.

Please help me spread this important message by posting, passing on and or personally enjoying Hidden emails reveal a secret anti-fossil fuel network involving the White House, Democrat governors, wealthy donors and foundations, and front groups.

Thanks for your interest!

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

Marita Noon 2015 Turquiose

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

 

 

Hidden emails reveal a secret anti-fossil fuel network involving the White House, Democrat governors, wealthy donors and foundations, and front groups

Most of us feel that time goes by faster as we get older. It does. When you are five years old, one year represents 20 percent of your life. Yet, when you are fifty, that same calendar year is only 2 percent of your life—making that single timeframe much smaller. Those of us involved in fighting the bad energy policies coming out of Washington have a similar feeling: the second term of the Obama Administration seems to be throwing much more at us and at such speed that we can barely keep up. Likewise, they are.

We knew that President Obama was planning to fundamentally transform America, but even many of his initial supporters have been shocked as his true intentions have been revealed. Following his November 2012 reelection, his administration has removed any pretense of representing the majority of Americans and has pursued his ideological agenda with wild abandon—leaving many of us feeling incapacitated; thrown to the curb as it speeds by.

His legacy climate-change agenda is at the core of the rapid-fire regulations and the disregard for any speed bump the courts may place in front of the administration. When the Supreme Court smacked it down for failing to consider economic impacts of the mercury and air toxics standards for power plants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded with a shrug, as their goal had essentially already been met. On August 27, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction—blocking EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing the Waters of the United States rule in the thirteen states that requested the injunction. The response? The Hill reports: “the Obama administration says it will largely enforce the regulation as planned.”

Having failed to push the unpopular policies through Congress, the administration has resorted to regulatory overreach—and assembled a campaign to use friendly governors and state attorney general offices, in collaboration with pressure groups and ideologically aligned benefactors, to advance the agenda.

The White House knows that the public is not with them. While polls show that slightly more than half of the American public believe the “effects of global warming are already happening,” it repeatedly comes in at the bottom of the list of priorities on which we think Obama and Congress should focus. The President’s pet policy fares even worse when pollsters ask if Americans agree: “government should do more to curb climate change, even at the expense of economic growth?” Only 12 percent “strongly agree.” Additionally, the very age group—young voters—that helped propel Obama into the Oval Office, is the group least convinced that climate change is a reality and the least “likely to support government funding for climate change solutions.”

It is, presumably, for this reason that a scheme hatched by now-disgraced former Oregon Governor Kitzhaber’s highest-paid aide Dan Carol—“a former Democratic opposition researcher,” who, according to the Oregonian, “worked on behalf of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama”—received an enthusiastic response from the White House and its allies. Remember, Kitzhaber resigned from office on February 13, 2015, amid allegations of criminal wrongdoing for the role his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, held in his office and whether she used that role to obtain private consulting work promoting the climate agenda. Carol, who was paid close to double Kitzhaber’s salary, according to a new report from Energy & Environment Legal Institute, left his public position “after appearing to have too closely intertwined government and the tax-payer dependent ‘clean energy’ industry with interest group lobbies.”

The goal of what was originally called “Dan’s concept” was to bring about a “coalescence of private financial and ideological interests with public offices to advance the officeholders’ agenda and political aspiration”—more specifically: “to bring the Obama Administration’s plans to reality and to protect them.”

This was done, according to dozens of emails obtained through federal and state open record laws, “through a coordinated campaign of parallel advocacy to support close coordination of public offices” and involved a “political operation with outside staff funded by some of the biggest names in left-liberal foundation giving,” including, according to the emails, Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, the Rockefeller Brothers, and the Hewlett Foundation. The first emails in the scandal began in mid-2013.

Kitzhaber wasn’t the only governor involved—he’s just the only one, so far, to resign. Many Democrat governors and their staff supported the scheme. You’d expect that California’s Governor Jerry Brown or Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe are part of the plan—called, among other names, the Governors Climate Compact—as they are avid supporters of the President’s climate-change initiatives. What is surprising is Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s “quiet engagement.” He decried Obama’s Clean Power Plan (Final rule announced on August 3, 2015), as being “disastrous” for Kentucky. In a statement about the Plan, he said: “I have remained steadfast in my support of Kentucky’s important coal and manufacturing industries, and the affordable energy and good jobs they provide the Commonwealth and the nation.” Yet, he isn’t opposing the rule and emails show that he is part of the “core group of governors quietly working to promote the climate agenda.”

In response to the records request, Beshear’s office “asserts that ‘no records’ exist in its files involving the Steyer campaign.” The E&E Legal report continues: “Numerous emails from other governors copying a senior Beshear aide on her official account, emails which Beshear’s office surely possesses, unless it has chosen to destroy politically damaging emails.” An email bearing that aide’s name, Rebecca Byers, includes Kentucky as one of the states “that can’t commit to the GCC [Governors Climate Compact] publicly now but would welcome quiet engagement.”

Other states indicated in the emails include Minnesota, Rhode Island, Illinois, Connecticut, California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Delaware, Maryland, Colorado, New York, Vermont, and Virginia. Three newly elected Republican Governors have been targeted by the campaign—Larry Hogan (MD), Charlie Baker (MA), and Bruce Rauner (IL). Reelected Republican Governor Rick Snyder (MI) has apparently joined the “core group.”

I’ve read the entire report—which had me holding my breath as if I were reading a spy thriller—and reviewed the emails.

The amount of coordination involved in the multi-state plan is shocking. The amount of money involved is staggering—a six-month budget of $1,030,00 for the orchestrators and multi-state director and $180,000 to a group to produce a paper supporting the plan’s claims. And, as the 55-page report points out, this collection of emails is in no way complete. At the conclusion of the executive summary: “Context and common sense indicate that the emails E&E Legal obtained and detail in this report do not represent all relevant correspondence pulling together the scheme they describe. Public records laws extend to those records created, sent or received by public servants; private sector correspondence is only captured when copying public offices, with the caveat that most of the White House is exempt. Further, however, the records we have obtained reflect more than the time and other parameters of our requests; they are also a function of the thoroughness of offices’ responses, the willingness of former and current staff to search nonofficial accounts, and even several stonewalls as noted in the following pages.”

The E&E Legal report was of particular interest to me in that it followed the theme of my extensive coverage of Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal. Many of the same names, with which I’d become familiar, popped up over and over again: Terry McAuliffe—who received government funding for his failed electric car enterprise; Cathy Zoe—who worked for the Department of Energy, and, of course, John Podesta—who ran the Center for American Progress and who helped write the 2009 Stimulus Bill, and who then became a “senior advisor” to President Obama and is presently campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.

It also caught my attention because little more than a month ago—perhaps with a hint that this report was forthcoming—the HuffPost published a story claiming that groups like mine were part of a “secret network of fossil fuel and utility backed groups working to stop clean energy.” Calling me—along with others—out by name, the author states: “The strategy of creating and funding many different organizations and front groups provides an artificial chorus of voices united behind eliminating or weakening renewable energy laws.” He concludes that the attacks “are the result of coordinated, national campaigns orchestrated by utilities and fossil fuel companies through their trade associations and front groups.”

Oh, how I wish we were that well-coordinated and funded. If we were, I would have written this column last week when the E&E Legal report was released. Instead of receiving the information from the source, a New York City journalist forwarded it to me.

Yes, I am part of a loosely affiliated network of people who share similar concerns. Once a year, I meet with a group of private citizens and activists over property rights issues. I am on an email list of individuals and groups opposing wind turbines—often for different reasons. I have a cadre of scientists I’ve met at different meetings upon whom I do call for their varied expertise. Individuals often email me tips and news stories. True, most of the folks on my nearly 5000-person email distribution list are part of the energy industry—though there are plenty of concerned citizens, too. In 2014, the average donation to my organization was under $500.

Imagine what we could do with the same amount of money and coordination the E&E Legal report revealed—after all we have the public on our side—average citizens whose utility bills are going up by double digits due to the policies espoused by President Obama and his politically connected allies who benefit from American’s tax dollars.

I hope you’ll join our chorus—you can subscribe and/or contribute to my efforts. We are not working in the shadows and are, in fact, proud of our efforts on behalf of all Americans, their jobs, and energy that is effective, efficient, and economical.

If this small—but organized and well-funded—group pushing Obama’s agenda were allowed to run rampant, without the roadblocks little pockets of opposition (like my group) erect though public education and exposure of the facts (such this E&E legal report), it is scary to think about where America would be today. Remember, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Marita: Talks about Mexico’s new energy show

Here is Marita’s latest.

Let’s hurry to Ms. Noon’s article:

Greetings!

I’ve written a couple of times about Mexico energy reforms—first when they were announced by President Enrique Peña Nieto and then when the constitutional amendments were passed. This week’s column is somewhat of an update as the first international investors took the plunge in Mexico’s shallow waters. The first auction took place on July 15. While it wasn’t the success that the Mexican government had hoped it would be, it does get the reforms rolling.

Mexico’s energy reform is rolling, albeit with training wheels (attached and pasted-in-below) chronicles the difficulties of Mexico’s first international investment invitation in nearly eighty years, but concludes with optimism for the future—both for Mexico and American companies who partner with Mexico.

Mexico’s energy reform is rolling, albeit with training wheels doesn’t have my usual political snap, and may be too “inside” for the average reader, but I hope my regular readers will find it insightful. I’ve received positive comments from those who reviewed it prior to publication.

Remember, each week I host America’s Voice for Energy on AmericasWebRadio.com—which allows me to expand on the topic of each week’s column by interviewing related experts. If you have expertise on Mexico’s energy reforms and/or the opportunities it provides for American companies, I’d like to have you join me to record a segment. We can record anytime between now and Wednesday at noon ET. America’s Voice for Energy airs the first time on Thursday at 11:00 AM ET and then, a few days after the original air date, is available for indefinite online listening. Just respond to this email to advise me of your availability.

One more thing. Please take a few minutes to vote “No” on the poll regarding whether or not New England’s largest wind farm should be built. When I first received word of the poll, the “Yes” votes were about double the “No”. Thanks to an extensive network, the trend has flipped. Let’s keep it going.

Thanks for reading Mexico’s energy reform is rolling, albeit with training wheels. Please post it, pass it on, and/or personally enjoy it.

Marita Noon

marita Noon 1

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

For Immediate release: July 20, 2015

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

 

Mexico’s energy reform is rolling, albeit with training wheels

Understanding the connection between energy and economic growth, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto set out to reform his country’s energy policy and invite outside intelligence and investment to boost slumping oil output. In late 2013, he succeeded in getting the constitution amended to allow private and foreign companies to explore and produce oil and gas in Mexico—for the first time in nearly eight decades. The amendments put an end to the government monopoly. Foreign companies can now compete with, or partner with, Pemex—the national oil company. Nieto hopes his reforms will bring in $50 billion in investment by 2018.

The wheels of reform move slowly, but on July 15, the first international investors put their toes in the shallow water of Mexico’s oil prize—which could be “as big as the proven reserves of Kuwait.” The Financial Times (FT) calls Mexico’s potential 107.5 billion barrels of oil: “quite a feast.” FT adds: “The country is viewed as one of the dwindling number of opportunities to add substantial reserves to portfolios after several years when the oil majors have struggled to make big discoveries.”

Disappointing Start

Yet, despite the possibilities, Mexico’s first of three auctions expected this year, being called round 1.1, was disappointing, at best. In round 1.1, 14 shallow water blocks were offered. Only two had successful bids: block 2 off the coast of Veracruz and block 7 off of Tabasco. The winning bidder for both blocks was Sierra Oil & Gas—a Mexican company in a consortium with U.S. company, Talos, and Britain’s Premier Oil.

Thirty-eight companies—including majors such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Russia’s Lukoil—qualified to participate in the auctions, though only nine participated in round 1.1. BloombergBusiness reports: “Spokesmen for Exxon and Chevron said that while they weren’t interested in the shallow-water round of bidding, they hadn’t given up on being part of Mexico’s energy reform.”

When Mexico’s energy reforms began, oil was in the $100 a barrel range, the Mexican government expected four to seven of the blocks would be sold—representing a goal of 30-50 percent. On July 15, the success rate was a less-than-expected 14 percent.

Bad Timing

Unfortunately for Nieto, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Not only are global oil prices 50 percent of what they were when the constitutional amendments passed, the week during which the auction was scheduled, turned out to be bad news for Nieto’s hopes.

First, four days before the auction took place, “El Chapo,” Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, broke out of one of the country’s highest security prisons—again. The Economist states: “The escape of El Chapo is proof that the rule of law in Mexico is still shaky.” FT echoes the sentiment: the escape shows “impunity, corruption and the weak rule of law remain the norm in Mexico rather than the exception.”

The fields up for auction on July 15 were fields with lower probabilities of success—6-54 percent, according to a FuelFix report. While smaller companies are more willing to gamble on success, they can’t afford the security or kickbacks needed to co-exist with the cartels. The Economist explains: “Disorder does not always deter investors who can afford armoured cars and bodyguards, but it puts off smaller businesses, Mexican and foreign.”

One small U.S, company told me: “Mexico’s past history is one of political instability, expropriations, quick changes in government policies, graft and corruption, inefficiencies, and socialist-style attitudes and philosophy. With abundant opportunities in the U.S., and less risk here, why invest in Mexico?”

At the same time the news of El Chapo broke, reports indicated a deal with Iran was imminent. The nuclear accord was struck the day before Mexico’s historic auction. Concerns that Iran will soon begin exporting 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, making crude prices slide further, dampened interest in new exploration.

El Chapo’s escape highlighted the risk, while the Iran deal reduced the reward. The scales didn’t tip in Mexico’s favor.

Poor Offering

While the July 15 auction wasn’t the success it was hoped to be, there is cause for optimism. Perhaps to give itself time to work out the kinks, the National Hydrocarbon Commission offered the less desirable parcels first. The New York Times (NYT) states: “the lots offered in the first round of a multiyear auction process were not among the most commercially attractive.”

The majors, which skipped the first auction, are more interested in the deep water projects—scheduled for auction in early 2016—where the risk is lower and the reward is higher. NYT explains: “The biggest growth will probably come in deep water fields that are adjacent to bountiful American production fields and that have yet to be thoroughly explored. The fields are thought to be large and have the added advantage of being close to the vast pipeline network in the American portion of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as American refineries and the American market itself.”

Additionally, the onshore potential will be of more interest to the new Mexican oil companies—many of which previously worked for Pemex as oil-field service contractors. They have experience with drilling on land but will need foreign partners for offshore exploration. The onshore blocks are scheduled for auction in December.

Unattractive Terms

When the terms, designed to maximize Mexico’s take more than to attract investment, were first announced, they generated little interest. They have been sweetened twice since then—and will likely be revised before the next auction.

Winners, who were pre-qualified as able to meet the financial requirements, were determined by the highest amount of profit to be shared with the Mexican government and the amount of investment pledged above the required minimum—which was set by the finance ministry and kept in a sealed envelope that was opened at the auction. For the two blocks awarded in the July 15 auction, the winner offered 55.99 % for the first block and 68.99% for the second. In each case, an investment of 10% above the minimum was offered. Some of the blocks that were not awarded did receive bids, but they were below the minimum—though the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports: “several rejected bids fell just below the minimum.”

One of the terms of concern is the stringent guarantees required in case of a blowout such as the Deepwater Horizon. The Economist calls them: “beyond international norms” and the FT reports: “Four pre-qualified companies pulled out last week—at least one because of the guarantees” which are “essentially a blank cheque.”

Additionally, Mexico has reserved the right to rescind contracts—which reminds potential investors a bit too much of Mexico’s history of expropriation.

Pablo Medina, Latin America upstream analyst at Wood MacKenzie, said, in WSJ: “I would expect the government to incorporate what it’s learned in the next tenders.”

Cautious Optimism

Despite the various bumps in the road, many are cautiously hopeful. Juan Carlos Zepeda president of the National Hydrocarbon Commission, has, according to WSJ, “higher expectations for subsequent auctions.”

In OilPro.com, Richard Sanchez, IHS Petrodata’s lead Marine Market Analyst for the Americas, states: “Mexico has vast deepwater potential, comparable to oil fields found on the US side of the Gulf of Mexico.” It is too big to fail. A consultant working with the new Mexican oil companies told me: “The resources are world-class. Mexico’s energy reforms will ultimately be successful.”

“The government estimates almost half its unproven reserves lie in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” the FT reports. “In addition it holds the world’s sixth biggest technically recoverable shale gas and the eighth largest shale oil prospects.”

Jim Hoffman, an oil-and-gas training and education provider who has worked in the industry for 35 years, told me: “Over time, opening Mexico will provide a huge boost for both American producers and service companies at reduced cost. It won’t happen right away, but as the infrastructure gets built, results will become better and better.” He added: “How about jobs, for Mexicans, who won’t have to cross the border illegally? How about Americans who have the opportunity to bring new and better technology and practices to an underdeveloped industry location? What a great opportunity.”

Mexico’s energy reform is rolling. The July 15 auction gave the country a chance to try it out and start slowly—more of an evolution than a revolution. There is enthusiasm for the future. The oil-price issue will work itself out as it will take three to five years to develop the new fields. As the training wheels come off, the terms are tweaked and the offerings are more attractive, results will become better and better—delivering a whole new industry for Mexico and fresh opportunities for American companies.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Link to: Mexico’s energy reform is rolling, albeit with training wheels

Greetings!

I’ve written a couple of times about Mexico energy reforms—first when they were announced by President Enrique Peña Nieto and then when the constitutional amendments were passed. This week’s column is somewhat of an update as the first international investors took the plunge in Mexico’s shallow waters. The first auction took place on July 15. While it wasn’t the success that the Mexican government had hoped it would be, it does get the reforms rolling.

Mexico’s energy reform is rolling, albeit with training wheels (attached and pasted-in-below) chronicles the difficulties of Mexico’s first international investment invitation in nearly eighty years, but concludes with optimism for the future—both for Mexico and American companies who partner with Mexico.

Mexico’s energy reform is rolling, albeit with training wheels doesn’t have my usual political snap, and may be too “inside” for the average reader, but I hope my regular readers will find it insightful. I’ve received positive comments from those who reviewed it prior to publication.

Remember, each week I host America’s Voice for Energy on AmericasWebRadio.com—which allows me to expand on the topic of each week’s column by interviewing related experts. If you have expertise on Mexico’s energy reforms and/or the opportunities it provides for American companies, I’d like to have you join me to record a segment. We can record anytime between now and Wednesday at noon ET. America’s Voice for Energy airs the first time on Thursday at 11:00 AM ET and then, a few days after the original air date, is available for indefinite online listening. Just respond to this email to advise me of your availability.

One more thing. Please take a few minutes to vote “No” on the poll regarding whether or not New England’s largest wind farm should be built. When I first received word of the poll, the “Yes” votes were about double the “No”. Thanks to an extensive network, the trend has flipped. Let’s keep it going.

Thanks for reading Mexico’s energy reform is rolling, albeit with training wheels. Please post it, pass it on, and/or personally enjoy it.

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

For Immediate release: July 20, 2015

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1446

Mexico’s energy reform is rolling, albeit with training wheels

Understanding the connection between energy and economic growth, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto set out to reform his country’s energy policy and invite outside intelligence and investment to boost slumping oil output. In late 2013, he succeeded in getting the constitution amended to allow private and foreign companies to explore and produce oil and gas in Mexico—for the first time in nearly eight decades. The amendments put an end to the government monopoly. Foreign companies can now compete with, or partner with, Pemex—the national oil company. Nieto hopes his reforms will bring in $50 billion in investment by 2018.

The wheels of reform move slowly, but on July 15, the first international investors put their toes in the shallow water of Mexico’s oil prize—which could be “as big as the proven reserves of Kuwait.” The Financial Times (FT) calls Mexico’s potential 107.5 billion barrels of oil: “quite a feast.” FT adds: “The country is viewed as one of the dwindling number of opportunities to add substantial reserves to portfolios after several years when the oil majors have struggled to make big discoveries.”

Disappointing Start

Yet, despite the possibilities, Mexico’s first of three auctions expected this year, being called round 1.1, was disappointing, at best. In round 1.1, 14 shallow water blocks were offered. Only two had successful bids: block 2 off the coast of Veracruz and block 7 off of Tabasco. The winning bidder for both blocks was Sierra Oil & Gas—a Mexican company in a consortium with U.S. company, Talos, and Britain’s Premier Oil.

Thirty-eight companies—including majors such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Russia’s Lukoil—qualified to participate in the auctions, though only nine participated in round 1.1. BloombergBusiness reports: “Spokesmen for Exxon and Chevron said that while they weren’t interested in the shallow-water round of bidding, they hadn’t given up on being part of Mexico’s energy reform.”

When Mexico’s energy reforms began, oil was in the $100 a barrel range, the Mexican government expected four to seven of the blocks would be sold—representing a goal of 30-50 percent. On July 15, the success rate was a less-than-expected 14 percent.

Bad Timing

Unfortunately for Nieto, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Not only are global oil prices 50 percent of what they were when the constitutional amendments passed, the week during which the auction was scheduled, turned out to be bad news for Nieto’s hopes.

First, four days before the auction took place, “El Chapo,” Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, broke out of one of the country’s highest security prisons—again. The Economist states: “The escape of El Chapo is proof that the rule of law in Mexico is still shaky.” FT echoes the sentiment: the escape shows “impunity, corruption and the weak rule of law remain the norm in Mexico rather than the exception.”

The fields up for auction on July 15 were fields with lower probabilities of success—6-54 percent, according to a FuelFix report. While smaller companies are more willing to gamble on success, they can’t afford the security or kickbacks needed to co-exist with the cartels. The Economist explains: “Disorder does not always deter investors who can afford armoured cars and bodyguards, but it puts off smaller businesses, Mexican and foreign.”

One small U.S, company told me: “Mexico’s past history is one of political instability, expropriations, quick changes in government policies, graft and corruption, inefficiencies, and socialist-style attitudes and philosophy. With abundant opportunities in the U.S., and less risk here, why invest in Mexico?”

At the same time the news of El Chapo broke, reports indicated a deal with Iran was imminent. The nuclear accord was struck the day before Mexico’s historic auction. Concerns that Iran will soon begin exporting 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, making crude prices slide further, dampened interest in new exploration.

El Chapo’s escape highlighted the risk, while the Iran deal reduced the reward. The scales didn’t tip in Mexico’s favor.

Poor Offering

While the July 15 auction wasn’t the success it was hoped to be, there is cause for optimism. Perhaps to give itself time to work out the kinks, the National Hydrocarbon Commission offered the less desirable parcels first. The New York Times (NYT) states: “the lots offered in the first round of a multiyear auction process were not among the most commercially attractive.”

The majors, which skipped the first auction, are more interested in the deep water projects—scheduled for auction in early 2016—where the risk is lower and the reward is higher. NYT explains: “The biggest growth will probably come in deep water fields that are adjacent to bountiful American production fields and that have yet to be thoroughly explored. The fields are thought to be large and have the added advantage of being close to the vast pipeline network in the American portion of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as American refineries and the American market itself.”

Additionally, the onshore potential will be of more interest to the new Mexican oil companies—many of which previously worked for Pemex as oil-field service contractors. They have experience with drilling on land but will need foreign partners for offshore exploration. The onshore blocks are scheduled for auction in December.

Unattractive Terms

When the terms, designed to maximize Mexico’s take more than to attract investment, were first announced, they generated little interest. They have been sweetened twice since then—and will likely be revised before the next auction.

Winners, who were pre-qualified as able to meet the financial requirements, were determined by the highest amount of profit to be shared with the Mexican government and the amount of investment pledged above the required minimum—which was set by the finance ministry and kept in a sealed envelope that was opened at the auction. For the two blocks awarded in the July 15 auction, the winner offered 55.99 % for the first block and 68.99% for the second. In each case, an investment of 10% above the minimum was offered. Some of the blocks that were not awarded did receive bids, but they were below the minimum—though the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports: “several rejected bids fell just below the minimum.”

One of the terms of concern is the stringent guarantees required in case of a blowout such as the Deepwater Horizon. The Economist calls them: “beyond international norms” and the FT reports: “Four pre-qualified companies pulled out last week—at least one because of the guarantees” which are “essentially a blank cheque.”

Additionally, Mexico has reserved the right to rescind contracts—which reminds potential investors a bit too much of Mexico’s history of expropriation.

Pablo Medina, Latin America upstream analyst at Wood MacKenzie, said, in WSJ: “I would expect the government to incorporate what it’s learned in the next tenders.”

Cautious Optimism

Despite the various bumps in the road, many are cautiously hopeful. Juan Carlos Zepeda president of the National Hydrocarbon Commission, has, according to WSJ, “higher expectations for subsequent auctions.”

In OilPro.com, Richard Sanchez, IHS Petrodata’s lead Marine Market Analyst for the Americas, states: “Mexico has vast deepwater potential, comparable to oil fields found on the US side of the Gulf of Mexico.” It is too big to fail. A consultant working with the new Mexican oil companies told me: “The resources are world-class. Mexico’s energy reforms will ultimately be successful.”

“The government estimates almost half its unproven reserves lie in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” the FT reports. “In addition it holds the world’s sixth biggest technically recoverable shale gas and the eighth largest shale oil prospects.”

Jim Hoffman, an oil-and-gas training and education provider who has worked in the industry for 35 years, told me: “Over time, opening Mexico will provide a huge boost for both American producers and service companies at reduced cost. It won’t happen right away, but as the infrastructure gets built, results will become better and better.” He added: “How about jobs, for Mexicans, who won’t have to cross the border illegally? How about Americans who have the opportunity to bring new and better technology and practices to an underdeveloped industry location? What a great opportunity.”

Mexico’s energy reform is rolling. The July 15 auction gave the country a chance to try it out and start slowly—more of an evolution than a revolution. There is enthusiasm for the future. The oil-price issue will work itself out as it will take three to five years to develop the new fields. As the training wheels come off, the terms are tweaked and the offerings are more attractive, results will become better and better—delivering a whole new industry for Mexico and fresh opportunities for American companies.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

How much taxpayer money will fund this — Is it worth it

Sig Silber was kind enough to send this along.  Is the devil in the details or is this an angelic gift?
——————————————————————————–

SUNZIA_RELEASE%20IMG_V2

On January 24, 2015, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack, U.S. Congressman Ben Ray Luján, and senior Bureau of Land Management officials to announce the approval of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Line in New Mexico. The $2 billion infrastructure project will connect and deliver renewable power generated in New Mexico and Arizona to population centers across the southwest. The announcement was made at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility at Sandia National Laboratories.

January 28, 2015

Dear Fellow New Mexican,

Our state can and should be America’s epicenter of the clean energy economy. New Mexico has the technology, ingenuity, and abundant wind and solar resources to unleash the full potential of our homegrown energy to create good, quality jobs.

That’s exactly what a major infrastructure project that was approved on Saturday represents.

The SunZia Southwest Transmission Project will unlock New Mexico’s stranded wind and solar resources and move that energy to market. The project has the potential to enable the addition of 3,000 megawatts of electric capacity, which would provide sustainable power for more than a million homes.

SunZia will also have tremendous impact on our state’s economy. An economic study estimates that in New Mexico this project would generate $275 million in wages and salaries and $65 million in state and local taxes during construction.

Providing renewable power to the desert Southwest region, SunZia is expected to create 6,200 jobs during a four-year construction period to build the transmission lines and substations, and more than 36,700 jobs during a two-year construction period for renewable generation projects. An additional 600 permanent jobs are estimated to be created from transmission and generation operations.

I commend the tremendous work that all of the agencies involved in the review of SunZia have done to responsibly site this line and reach common ground along the way. I have followed this project closely and it has been deliberate, transparent, and comprehensive.

But this isn’t just about SunZia. This is about New Mexico diversifying its economy and building a prosperous clean energy future.

I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me on this and other issues that matter most to you and your family.

Be well, and please keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Signature

MARTIN HEINRICH
United States Senator

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter:

 

 

Is Marita Saying: An Illusion and a Delusion

Marita writes about Cape Wind and all of the missing parts and elements which might complete it as something real.  Alas, too many missing components to make it real. Components such as investors and funds to continue what seems to amount to another subsidy boondoggle.

Here’s what she has said:

Greetings!

With all of the news focus on the terror attacks in Paris, this important story has been almost totally overlooked—but it has huge implications. While Wind energy’s bluster peters out (attached and pasted-in-below) focuses on the latest in the long-running Cape Wind Saga, I’ve included three additional recent tidbits regarding the current status of wind energy—making this a national story.

I’ve written on Cape Wind and the Production Tax Credit many times before. Wind energy’s bluster peters out brings both up to date. Please help me spread the word by posting it, passing it on, and/or personally enjoying Wind energy’s bluster peters out.

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

For immediate release: January 12, 2015.

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Wind energy’s bluster peters out

Touted as “America’s first offshore wind project,” Cape Wind became one of America’s most high-profile and most controversial wind-energy projects. Fourteen years in the making, estimated at $2.6 billion for 130 turbines, covering 25 square miles in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts, the Cape Wind project has yet to install one turbine—let alone produce any electricity. Now, it may be “dead in the water.”

On January 6, the two power companies, National Grid and Northeast Utilities, that had agreed to purchase most of the electricity Cape Wind was to generate, terminated their contracts with the developers due to missed milestones. Under the terms of the contracts, Cape Wind had to secure financing and give notices to proceed to its suppliers to start work by December 31, 2014. Neither happened and both companies filed to cancel power purchase agreements. “The project is in cardiac arrest,” according to Amy Grace, a wind-industry analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Cape Wind has faced stiff opposition since it was first proposed in 2001. Senator Edward Kennedy’s efforts, and those of his wealthy friends, to fight Cape Wind have been the most publicized, but Native Americans, fishermen, and local communities have also battled the industrialization of Nantucket Sound. The town of Barnstable has been particularly active in the fight. The Cape Cod Times reports that Charles McLaughlin, Barnstable’s assistant town attorney, said: “The town’s concerns include the possibility that a collision between a boat and the large electric service platform the project requires could spill thousands of gallons of oil into the sound.”

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) positioned Cape Wind as the centerpiece of his renewable energy goals and invested significant political capital backing the proposal—including tying the NStar power purchase agreement to approval of the NStar and Northeast Utilities merger (given the unfavorable terms of the agreements, the companies may have been looking for any exit ramp). Yet, Ian Bowles, Patrick’s first energy and environment chief who, according to the Boston Globe, “helped shepherd the offshore project,” acknowledges that the loss of the power purchase agreements “may have spelled the end for Cape Wind.”

The announcement came two days before Patrick left office. While he claims: “We’ve done everything as a state government to get them over the regulatory lines,” Patrick concedes it is now “up to the market.” According to the Cape Cod Times, the former governor doesn’t know “if the project could survive without the contracts in place.”

Even the Department of Energy (DOE), which seems to indiscriminately throw money at any politically favored green-energy project, was tepid in its support for Cape Wind. DOE’s loan guarantees generally average about 60 percent of the project’s costs, but the $150 million offered to Cape Wind made up a mere 6 percent—and that, only after the project received commitments for about half of its financing. In most cases, the government guarantee comes before the private financing and signals a go-ahead for investors.

While both supporters and detractors believe the project is in jeopardy, environmentalists and Cape Wind Associates LLC have not yet waved the white flag. According to Kit Kennedy, director of the energy and transportation program at the Natural Resources Defense Council: “Cape Wind may be down, but it is not out.” The Boston Globe reports that Cape Wind’s president, James Gordon, believes the perpetual litigation “triggered a clause in the contracts that allows for more latitude in Cape Wind’s ability to meet the deadlines.” However, after the company already spent $50 to $70 million on the project, the fact that Gordon opted not to pay the utilities the mere $2 million needed for a six-month extension signals that he doesn’t have confidence that they can continue.

Additionally, the political winds have shifted. While Governor Patrick championed Cape Wind, Massachusetts’ new governor, Charlie Baker (R) is on record as being staunchly opposed to it—even calling it Patrick’s “personal pet project.” While campaigning, Baker “dropped his opposition to Cape Wind” because he believed it was a “done deal.” Now that the deal may well be undone, Baker says he “will not try to influence the outcome of the legal process surrounding the Cape Wind project.”

The cancellation of the contracts is “a near fatal blow” to Cape Wind according to Audra Parker, president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a Cape Cod based group which has led the fight against cape wind.

Wind energy’s future faces problems beyond Massachusetts.

While Massachusetts’ utility companies filed to cancel power purchase agreements, two Minnesota wind farms, operating as Minwind Companies, were filed for bankruptcy because the eleven turbines needed extensive repairs and the 360 farmers and landowners who invested in the projects can’t afford the maintenance. Minwind CEO Mark Willers explained: “Minwind Companies have enjoyed relative prosperity in recent years, but the April ice storm last year took a toll on equipment—and on the budget.” At a December 17 meeting, he told shareholders: “We were 200 to 300 percent over budget to make those repairs.”

Minwind’s nine separate limited-liability companies allowed investors to take advantage of federal wind-energy credits, USDA grants, and the now-discontinued state assistance program for small wind projects. The Star Tribune reports: “The owners stand to lose their investment, and the wind farms eventually may have to shut down.”

On the national level, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has continued to lobby for a retroactive extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy that expired at the end of 2013. Disappointing AWEA, the lame-duck Congress did approve a ninth extension—but just through the end of 2014. AWEA’s CEO Tim Kiernan groused: “Unfortunately, the extension to the end of 2014 will only allow minimal new wind development and it will have expired again by the time the new Congress convenes.” In response to the “bare-minimum extension,” Luke Lewandowsi, Make Consulting research manager, said it “casts doubt on the willingness or ability of Congress to revisit the PTC in 2015.”

Adding insult to industrial wind’s injury, wind turbine installation placed number three in the list of 10 dying U.S. industries—following only computer and recordable media manufacturing.

All of this news doesn’t bode well for the wind energy business, but for ratepayers and those who believe in the free market and who believe that government shouldn’t pick winners and losers, current wind conditions are a breath of fresh air. Governments, both state and federal, have given wind energy every advantage, to quote Governor Patrick: “It’s now up to the market”—and even Warren Buffet admits the tax credits are the only reason to build wind farms.

(A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com)

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

 

Marita Noon: Obama kicking again

Obama loves to sneak things under the door when few are watching.  Ms. Noon reports on his recent efforts involving the oil and gas industries.  As usual her reporting is spot-on.

Marita says:

Happy New Year!

Now the holidays are officially over. It is time to get back to work. Though I wrote this week’s column (attached and pasted-in-below): Obama Administration kicks the oil-and-gas industry while it is down, while I was still a bit into holiday mode—which means it is shorter than my usual. But I think it is good and complete. I hope you agree! The news about the new regulations the Obama Administration is introducing on the oil-and-gas industry came out during the holidays and likely was overlooked by most. I believe the news is worthy of additional attention. The new regulations also give the new GOP controlled Congress increased rationale for limiting the EPA’s aggressive power.

Please help me spread the work by posting, passing on, and/or personally enjoying Obama Administration kicks the oil-and-gas industry while it is down.

Marita Noon

Marita Noon

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

For immediate release: January 5, 2014.

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Obama Administration kicks the oil-and-gas industry while it is down

For the past six years, the oil and gas industry has served as a savior to the Obama presidency by providing the near-lone bright spot in economic growth. Increased U.S. oil-and-gas production has created millions of well-paying jobs and given us a new energy security. The president often peppers his speeches with braggadocio talk about our abundant supplies and decreased dependence on foreign oil.

So now that the economic powerhouse faces hard times, how does the Administration show its appreciation for the oil-and-gas industry boon to the economy over the past six years?

By introducing a series of regulations—at least nine in total, according to the Wall Street journal (WSJ)—that will put the brakes on the US energy boom through higher operating costs and fewer incentives to drill on public lands.

WSJ states: “Mr. Obama and his environmental backers say new regulations are needed to address the impacts of the surge in oil and gas drilling.”

U.S. oil production, according to the Financial Times: “caught Saudi Arabia by surprise.” The kingdom sees that US shale and Canadian oil-sand development “encroached on OPEC’s market share” and has responded with a challenge to high-cost sources of production by upping its output—adding to the global oil glut and, therefore, dropping prices.

Most oil-market watchers expect temporary low-priced oil, with prediction of an increase in the second half of 2015, and some saying 2016. North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness believes “We’re in an energy war.” He sees “the price slump could last 16 months or even one to two years as U.S. supply stays strong, global demand remains weak and OPEC continues to challenge U.S. production.” However, Ibrahim al-Assaf, Saudi Arabia’s finance minister, recently said: “We have the ability to endure low oil prices over the medium term of up to five years, even if it means delving into fiscal reserves to cover a large deficit.”

While no one knows how long the low-price scenario will last—geopolitical risk is still a factor.

Many oil companies are already re-evaluating exploration, reining in costs, and cutting jobs and/or wages. “In the low price circumstance like today,” Jean-Marie Guillermou, the Asian head of the French oil giant Total, explained: “you do the strict minimum required.”

In December, the WSJ reported: “Some North American companies have said they plan to cut their capital spending next year and dial back on exploring for new oil.” It quotes Tim Dove, President and COO for Pioneer Natural Resources Co.: “We are seeking cost reductions from all our suppliers.”

Last month, Enbridge Energy Partners said: “it has laid off some workers in the Houston area”—which the Houston Chronicle (HC) on December 12 called: “the latest in a string of energy companies to announce cutbacks.” The HC continued: “Other key energy companies have also announced layoffs in recent days as oil tumbles to its lowest price in years. Halliburton on Thursday said it would slash 1,000 jobs in the Eastern Hemisphere as part of a $75 million restructuring. BP on Wednesday revealed plans to accelerate job cuts and pare back its oil production business amid crumbling oil prices.” Halliburton said: “we believe these job eliminations are necessary in order to work through this market environment.”

Civeo, a lodging and workforce accommodation company for the oil-and-gas industry has cut 30 percent of its Canadian workforce and 45 percent of its U.S. workforce. President and CEO Bradley Dodson said: “As it became evident during the fourth quarter that capital spending budgets among the major oil companies were going to be cut, we began taking steps to reduce marketed room capacity, control costs and curtail discretionary capital expenditures.”

I have warned the industry that while they have remained relatively unscathed by harsh regulations—such as those placed on electricity generation—their time would come. Now, it has arrived. The WSJ concurs: “In its first six years, the administration released very few regulations directly affecting the oil-and-gas industry and instead rolled out several significant rules aimed at cutting air pollution from the coal and electric-utility sectors.”

According to the WSJ: “Some of the rules have been in the works for months or even years.” But that doesn’t mean the administration should introduce them now when the industry is already down—after all, the administration delayed Obamacare mandates due to the negative impact on jobs and the economy.

Greg Guidry, executive vice president at Shell, recently said that he doesn’t want the EPA to “impose unnecessary costs and burden on an industry challenged now by a sustained low-price environment.”

Different from Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets it. Under pressure from the environmental lobby to increase regulations on the oil-and-gas industry, he, during a question session on the floor of the House of Commons in December, said: “Under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy—it would be crazy economic policy—to do unilateral penalties on that sector.” He added: “We are not going to kill jobs and we are not going to impose a carbon tax.”

Introducing the new rules now kick the industry while it is down and shows that President Obama either doesn’t get it, or he cares more about burnishing his environmental legacy than he does about American jobs and economic growth.

(A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com)

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Marita Noon: Germany’s Energy Transformation

Marita Noon

Link to: Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system (I’d really appreciate it if you would click on this link to RedState.com and select the “recommend” option. If a column on RedState gets a lot of “Recommends,” it gets the editors’ attention and has a higher likelihood of being posted on the front page where the readership is much higher. After all, I work so hard to produce good content each week so people will read it and be informed, and act, on the issues. The option? Gruber is right about the people.)

Greetings!

This year’s climate change talks in Lima, Peru, ended yesterday with a watered down compromise and virtually no major news coverage—leading one to believe that they’ve become almost irrelevant. My column this week, Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system (attached and pasted-in-below), uses the talks and Germany’s recent decision to ratchet up its commitment to carbon dioxide reductions as the launching place to discuss what the U.S. should be learning from Germany’s renewable energy experiment. After all, our legislators are currently wrestling with whether or not to extend subsidies for renewables.

Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system features many quotes and observations from a report done by a Swiss group that closely analyzed Germany’s Energiewende and offered important lessons the U.S. and other countries should learn from—whether or not we will remains to be seen. But, as I say in my closing remarks, an educated constituency is important! My writing, and your sharing of it, is part of the education process.

Thanks for posting, passing on, and/or personally enjoying Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system. Once again, I’ve attached both the full-length- and 900-word versions. If you post my work, please use whichever you feel is best for your audience.

Merry Christmas!

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

 

Germany’s “energy transformation:” unsustainable subsidies and an unstable system

Perhaps when Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was a child, she attend a party and was the only one who came without a present, or wearing inappropriate attire—and the embarrassment she felt haunts her to this day. That’s how psycho-dynamic psychology (Freud) might explain her December 3 decision spend more money on Germany’s failing energy experiment to avoid, as Reuters puts it: “the embarrassment of missing her government’s goal of a 40 percent reduction of emissions by 2020.”

As Europe’s biggest economy, Germany has also embraced the biggest carbon dioxide reductions through a program known as “Energiewende”—or, in English, also called energy change, shift, or transformation. Energiewende was launched in 2000 under Merkel’s predecessor who offered subsidies for any company that produced green energy.

While the European Union (E.U.) has committed to carbon dioxide cuts of 40 percent by 2030, Germany’s national goal aims to get there a decade sooner—which may have seemed achievable early in the program. After the 1990 reunification of Germany, the modernization of East Germany brought rapidly reduced emissions. However, the program’s overall result has raised costs and the emissions the expensive programs were designed to cut.

A few months ago, Bloomberg reported that due to increased coal consumption: “Germany’s emissions rose even as its production of intermittent wind and solar power climbed fivefold in the past decade”—hence Merkel’s potential embarrassment on the global stage where she’s put herself in the spotlight as a leader in reducing emissions.

On December 3, while 190 governments were meeting for two weeks of climate change talks in Lima, Peru (which, after 30 hours of overtime, produced a compromise deal that environmental groups see “went from weak to weaker to weakest”), Merkel’s cabinet agreed to a package that continues Germany’s optimistic—though unrealistic—goal and increases subsidies for measures designed to cut emissions. Regarding Germany’s “climate protection package”, Barbara Hendricks, Environment Minister, admitted: “if no additional steps were taken, Germany … would miss its targets by between five to eight percentage points.”

The results of the German agreement will require operators of coal-fueled power plants to reduce emissions by at least 22 million tons—the equivalent of closing eight of them. The Financial Times (FT) believes the plan will “lead to brownouts in German homes.”

With the goal of generating 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, Germany has aggressively pursued a green dream with unsustainable subsidies that have produced an unstable system described by FT, on November 25, as: “a lesson in doing too much too quickly on energy policy.”

So, what are the lessons? What should the U.S., and other countries, learn from Germany’s generous subsidy programs and rapid, large-scale deployment and integration of renewable energy into the power system? These are the questions U.S. legislators should be asking themselves as they argue over a tax extender package that includes a retroactive extension for the now-expired Production Tax Credit for wind energy.

Fortunately, the answers are easy to determine. Finadvice, a Switzerland based advisor to the utility and renewable industry, did an exhaustive study: “Development and Integration of Renewable Energy—Lessons Learned from Germany.” The introductory comments of the resulting report, includes the following statement: “The authors of this white paper would like to state that they fully support renewables as a part of the power portfolio. …a couple [of the authors] have direct equity interests in renewable projects.” The author’s viewpoint is an important consideration, especially in light of their findings. They wanted Germany’s experiment to work, yet they begin the Executive Summary with these words:

“Over the last decade, well-intentioned policymakers in Germany and other European countries created renewable energy policies with generous subsidies that have slowly revealed themselves to be unsustainable, resulting in profound, unintended consequences for all industry stakeholders. While these policies have created an impressive roll-out of renewable energy resources, they have also clearly generated disequilibrium in the power markets, resulting in significant increases in energy prices to most users, as well as value destruction for all stakeholders: consumers, renewable companies, electric utilities, financial institutions, and investors.”

After reading the entire 80-page white paper, I was struck with three distinct observations. The German experiment has been has raised energy costs to households and business, the subsidies are unsustainable, and, as a result, without intervention, the energy supply is unstable.

Cost

We, in the U.S., are constantly being told that renewable energy is close to cost parity with traditional power sources such as coal and natural gas. Yet, the study clearly points out the German experiment has resulted in “significant increases in energy prices to most users”—which will “ultimately be passed on to electricity consumers.” Germany’s cost increases, as much as fifty percent, are manmade not market-made—due to regulation rather than the trust costs. The high prices disproportionately hurt the poor giving birth to the new phrase: “energy poverty.”

The higher costs hurt—and not just in the pocket book. The authors cite an International Energy Agency report: “The European Union is expected to lose one-third of its global market share of energy intensive exports over the next two decades due to high energy prices.”

Subsidies and instability are big factors in Germany’s high prices.

Subsidies

To meet Germany’s green goals, feed-in tariffs (FIT) were introduced as a mechanism that allows for the “fostering of a technology that has not yet reached commercial viability.” FITs are “incentives to increase production of renewable energy.” About the FITs, the report states: “This subsidy is socialized and financed mainly by residential customers.” And: “Because of their generosity, FITs proved capable of quickly increasing the share of renewable power.”

Germany’s original FITs, “had no limit to the quantity of renewables to be built” and “lead to unsustainable growth of renewables.” As a result, Germany, and other E.U. countries have “had to modify, and eventually phase out, their program because of the very high costs of their renewable support mechanisms.”

Germany has also begun to introduce “self-generation fees” for households and businesses that generate their own electricity—typically through rooftop solar, “to ensure that the costs of maintaining the grid are paid for by all consumers, not just those without rooftop PVs.” These fees remove some of the cost-saving incentive for expensive solar installation.

Section four of the report, “Unintended Consequences of Germany’s Renewable Policies,” concludes: “Budgetary constraints, oversupply and distortion of power prices, transaction-specific operational performance, market economics (i.e. Germany proposing to cut all support for biogas), debt structures, and backlash of consumers paying higher prices were all factors contributing to regulatory intervention. Projecting past 2014, these factors are expected to continue over the next several years.”

Stability

Hopefully, by now, most people—especially my readers—understand that the intermittent and unreliable nature of wind and solar energy means that in order for us to have the lights go on every time we flip the switch (stability) every kilowatt of electric capacity must be backed up for times when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. But, what most of us don’t think about, that the report spotlights, is that because the favored renewables benefit from “priority dispatch”—which means that if a renewable source is generating power, the utility company must buy and use it rather than the coal, natural gas or nuclear power it has available—the traditional power plants operate inefficiently and uneconomically. “Baseload thermal plants were designed to operate on a continuous base. …they were built to operate at their highest efficiencies when running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” Now, due to renewables, these plants operate only a fraction of the time—though the cost to build and maintain them is constant. “The effect of fewer operational hours needs to be compensated by higher prices in these hours.”

Prior to the large integration of renewables, power plants earned the most when demand is high—in the middle of the day (which is also when the most solar power is generated). The result impacts cost recovery. “There are fewer hours in which the conventional power plants earn more than the marginal cost since they run fewer hours than originally planned and, in many cases, provide back-up power only.”

This translates into financial difficulties for the utilities that have resulted in lower stock prices and credit ratings. (Note: utility stocks often make up a large share of retirement portfolios.) Many plants are closed prematurely—which means the initial investment has not been recovered.

Because the reduced use prevents the power plants from covering their full costs—yet they must be available 24/7, power station operators in Germany are now seeking subsidies in the form of “capacity payments.” The report explains that a plant threatened to close because of “economic problems.” However, due to its importance in “maintaining system stability” the plant was “kept online per decree” and the operator’s fixed costs are compensated.

*****
Anyone who reads “Development and Integration of Renewable Energy” will conclude that there is far more to providing energy that is efficient, effective and economical than the renewable fairytale storytellers want consumers to believe. Putting a solar panel on your roof is more involved than just installation. The German experiment proves that butterflies, rainbows and pixy dust won’t power the world after all—coal, natural gas, and nuclear power are all important parts of the power portfolio.

Why, then, did Merkel continue Germany commitment to an energy and economic suicide? It is all part of the global shaming that takes place at the climate change meetings like the one that just concluded in Lima, Peru.

If only U.S. legislators would read “Development and Integration of Renewable Energy” before they vote for more subsidies for renewable energy, but, heck, they don’t even read the bill—which is why calls from educated constituents are so important. I am optimistic. Maybe we could learn from Germany’s experience what they haven’t yet learned themselves.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Dear Northeast: How’s that solar working out for you

A reminder from Marita to silly folks on why electricity needs real power plants

Marita Noon

For immediate release: November 24, 2014.

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 2189

Dear Northeast, How’s that solar working out for ya?

A couple of months ago, effective in November, National Grid, one of Massachusetts’ two dominant utilities, announced rate increases of a “whopping” 37 percent over last year. Other utilities in the region are expected to follow suit.

It’s dramatic headlines like these that make rooftop solar sound so attractive to people wanting to save money. In fact, embedded within the online version of the Boston Globe story: “Electric rates in Mass. set to spike this winter,” is a link to another article: “How to install solar power and save.” The solar story points out: “By now everyone knows that solar power can save homeowners big money on utility bills.” It claims that solar works even in New England’s dreary winters and cites Henry K. Vandermark, founder and president of Solar Wave Energy in Cambridge, as saying: “Even snow doesn’t matter if your panels have a steep angle. It just slides right off them.”

Solar is not the panacea it is promoted to be, though it is true that—after a substantial investment, heavy government subsidies (funded by all taxpayers), and generous net-metering programs (that raise costs for non-solar customers)—solar systems can save money on the typical homeowners’ monthly bill. (An unsubsidized system averages about $24,000.)

New England has seen one big power plant close within the past year—Salem Harbor Power Station in Salem, Massachusetts went “dark” on June 1, in part due to tightening federal regulations. Another major closure will take place within weeks: Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

A new, state-of-the-art natural gas plant on 18 acres of the 65-acre Salem site will replace the Salem Harbor plant. The remaining 47 acres will see redevelopment, including renewable energy. But, that plan has received pushback from environmental groups that want it fully replaced with renewables. The Boston Globe states: “A decade ago, replacing the aging plant with a far cleaner natural gas facility would have thrilled environmental and public health advocates.” The Conservation Law Foundation filed a lawsuit against the project’s approval, claiming the state “failed to adequately consider its own climate change law when state energy officials approved the Salem plant.” In February, the group settled the suit after it caused construction delays and reliability concerns.

Just days before the plant closed, a report from The Daily Climate addressed the controversy over usage of the Salem Harbor site: “Many activists pushed back, arguing for wind or solar generation or non-energy uses, such as a marine biotechnology research facility.” One activist group: HealthLink, “has marshaled opposition to running a gas line to the new plant” and another: Grassroots Against Another Salem Plant (GAASP), “has pledged to use peaceful civil disobedience to block construction of the gas plant.”

The state of Massachusetts has offered three closed, or scheduled to be closed, coal-fueled power plant sites $6 million to pursue renewable energy projects—even though wind and solar require full back up from fossil fuel power plants so electricity is available in the frigid Northeast winters. Additionally, a new report from two Stanford Ph.Ds., who spent 4 years trying to prove renewables can, ultimately, replace fossil fuels, have had to admit defeat: “Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.”

Having lived with the 63-year old Salem Harbor plant in her back yard for 20 years, Linda Haley, doesn’t, according to WGBH News, “understand why Salem would encourage use of a non-renewable fossil-fuel resource like natural gas when alternative investments in green technology finally seem possible.”

These stories reveal the snow job that has been perpetuated on the general public regarding renewable energy. They don’t understand the need for power or how it works. They seem to believe that when a rule passes a magic wand waves replacing older, but still fully functional, power plants with wind or solar—that doesn’t produce electricity 24/7/365 as do the decommissioned coal or nuclear plants and which requires far more land to produce the same amount of, albeit intermittent, electricity.

An iced up wind turbine or a solar panel covered in seven feet of snow—even if some of it slides off—doesn’t generate electricity. And the cold days of a Northeast winter create one of the times when energy demand peaks.

Remember last winter’s polar vortex, when freezing weather crippled the Northeast for days and put a tremendous strain on the electric supply?

Congress, following the near crisis, brought in utility executives to explain the situation. Regarding the nation’s electrical output last winter, Nicholas Akins, the CEO of the biggest generator of coal-fueled electricity in the U.S., American Electric Power (AEP), told Congress: “This country did not just dodge a bullet—we dodged a cannon ball.” Similarly, Michael Kormos, Executive VP of Operations for PJM Interconnection (the largest grid operator in the U.S. overseeing 13 states), commented on operations during the polar vortex: PJM was “never—as some accounts have portrayed—700 megawatts away from rolling blackouts. … On the worst day, January 7, our next step if we had lost a very large generator would have been to implement a small voltage reduction”—industry speak for the last option before power outages.

About last winter’s grid reliability, Glenn Beck claims: “I had an energy guy come to me about three weeks ago. …He said, ‘We were one power plant away from a blackout in the east all winter long… We were using so much electricity. We were at the top of the grid. There’s no more electricity. We’re at the top.’”

This winter’s extreme weather—with new records set for November power demand—has already arrived. Come January, there will be not one, but two fewer Northeast power plants since last year—not because they had to be retired, but because of EPA regulations and public sentiment. In a November 17 op-ed, former Senators Bayh (D-IN) and Judd (R-NH) said: “Vermont Yankee produced 26 percent of New England’s power during the peak of last year’s frigid weather.” The Northeast won’t have Vermont Yankee’s power this January.

Without these two vital power plants, what will the Northeast do?

For several months, since I had a chat with Weather Bell Analytics’ Joe Bastardi at the International Conference on Climate Change, I’ve continued to say that I fear people will have to die due to power outages that prevent them from heating their homes in the winter cold, before the public wakes up to the damage of these policies. AEP’s Atkins seems to agree. He told Columbus Business First: “Truth be known, something’s probably going to have to happen before people realize that there is an issue.”

“New England is in the midst of an energy crisis,” claims WGBH News. The report continues: “residents and businesses are facing a future that may include ‘rolling blackouts’ on days when usage is highest.”

ISO New England, the agency that oversees the power grid, warns, in the Boston Globe: “Boston and northeast Massachusetts are ‘expected to face an electricity capacity shortage’ that could lead to rolling blackouts or the use of trailer-mounted diesel generators—which emit far more pollutants than natural gas—to fill the gap.” Ray Hepper, the lawyer for ISO New England, in a court filing, wrote: “The ISO simply cannot make megawatts of generation materialize that are not on the system.” In an interview, he added: “We’re really, as a region, at the point of needing new power plants.”

As the Salem Harbor story illustrates, natural gas will likely fuel those new power plants and environmental groups are expected to challenge construction. Plus, natural gas faces cost volatility. On November 20, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in the wake of November cold, not experienced since the 1970s when global cooling was predicted, featured an article titled: “Chill pushes up natural-gas prices” that stated: “Natural-gas stockpiles shrank by more than expected last week reflecting surging demand.” As in the ’70s, many are now projecting, based on solar activity and other natural variables, a long global cooling trend.

While the Boston Globe, in September, said: “The upcoming winter is not expected to be as cold as last season,” Bastardi told me otherwise. He said: “This winter could be as cold and nasty as last year and in a worst case go beyond that to some of the great winters of the late 1970s, lasting all the way into April. As it is, we still have a winter comparable to last year forecasted, though the position of the worst, relative to averages, may be further southeast than last year.” During a November 19 appearance with Neil Cavuto, Bastardi suggested that we may see a bit of warming after November, but will have one, or two, very cold months after that.

The WSJ quoted Brian Bradshaw, portfolio manager at BP Capital in Dallas: “‘Everyone thinks it’s not possible’ to have another winter like last year ‘But the weather does impossible things all the time.’” WSJ added: “the natural-gas market is setting up for a repeat of last winter.”

So, why, when natural gas prices sit at historic lows that experts predicted will lower electricity rates, is the Northeast facing double-digit increases? The answer: there is no magic wand. The changes have been mandated, but the replacements aren’t ready yet. Ray Gifford, former commissioner with the Colorado Public Utility Commission, told me: “I don’t see how the gas infrastructure in New England can be built fast enough to replace retiring baseload capacity.”

Within the past decade, natural gas went from supplying less than a fifth of New England’s power to one half—which could be great if New England had natural gas, but it is, as Tim Maverick, Commodities Correspondent for Wall Street Daily, says: “gas-starved.” After last winter’s freezing weather, Maverick wrote: “The Northeast was slapped in the face with the reality that there’s not sufficient pipeline infrastructure to provide it with the mega-energy pull it draws in the colder season. This is probably because not one new pipeline infrastructure has been introduced in over 40 years. Natural gas consumption in the Northeast has grown more than 20% in the last decade, and not one new pipeline has been built. Current pipelines are stuffed and can carry no more supply.”

At the Edison Electric Institute financial conference on November 11, AEP’s Atkins confirmed that the proposed timeline to cut pollution from the EPA will shutter coal plants before completion of construction of new power plants using other fuels, or the infrastructure to move the needed natural gas around.

The lack of available supply, results in higher prices. The Boston Globe explains: “gas supplies for home heating are purchased under long-term contracts arranged far in advance, so utilities have the advantage of locking in lower rates. Power plants, on the other hand, often buy shorter-term and are more exposed to price movements in the spot markets.” In the winter’s cold weather, the gas goes to people’s homes first. Different from coal, which is shipped by train, with a thirty-day supply easily held at the point of use, the switch to natural gas leaves power plants struggling to meet demand, paying higher prices.

Addressing the 2013/2014 winter, Terry Jarrett, a former public service commissioner and a nationally recognized leader in energy, utility, and regulatory issues, said: “Natural gas couldn’t shoulder that burden, due in part to a shortage of infrastructure to deliver gas where it was needed—this despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere. But more importantly, whereas coal’s sole purpose is to generate electricity, natural gas is also used for home heating. And when push comes to shove, heating gets priority over generation.”

Last winter, coal and nuclear met the demand to keep the lights on and heat homes and businesses. AEP reports that 89 percent of its coal plants, now slated for retirement, ran at capacity just to meet the peak demand.

These shortages in the Northeast occur before the implementation of Obama’s Clean Power Plan that experts believe will shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants nationwide by 2016. New pipelines and new plants need to be built, but “not-in-my-backyard” attitudes and environmental activists will probably further delay and prevent construction as they have done in the Northeast, which will result in higher electric bills nationwide.

“Because less-expensive coal generation is retiring and in part is being replaced by demand-response or other potential high energy cost resources, excess generation will narrow and energy prices could become more volatile due to the increasing reliance on natural gas for electricity generation,” PJM’s Kormos told Congress.

The lessons for America’s energy supply learned from the Northeast’s far-reaching experiment, that has only resulted only in price increases and potential energy shortages, are twofold. First, don’t shut down existing supply until the replacement is ready, as legal action and local attitudes can slow its development. Second, you can cover every square inch of available land with wind and solar, but when extreme weather hits, it requires a reliable energy supply, best met by coal and nuclear.

Current policy direction will have all of America, not just the Northeast, freezing in the dark. I hope it can it be turned back before it is too late.

(A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com)

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Six energy policy changes to watch for in a Republican-controlled Congress

This is a long one from Marita, but it needs to be.  Read all of it … it is worth the few minutes you’ll spend compared to the enjoyment and satisfaction you’ll receive.

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 2463

Six energy policy changes to watch for in a Republican-controlled Congress

Now that the dust has settled on the 2014 midterms, we can get a sense of how things will change in Washington under a Republican controlled Senate—and energy will be front and center.

Republicans and Democrats have very different views on energy development and policy. The past six years have seen taxpayer dollars poured into green-energy projects that have embarrassed the administration and promoted teppan-style renewables that chop-up and fry unsuspecting birds midflight and increase costs for consumers and business. Meanwhile, Republicans have touted the job creation and economic impact available through America’s abundant fossil-fuel resources.

Voters made their preference clear: Republicans won more seats, and with bigger majorities, than anyone predicted.

The day after the election, the Friends of the Earth, wasting no time, sent out a dramatic fundraising pitch, opening with: “The election’s over—the planet lost.” (You may not have even known that the planet was on your local ballot, but apparently it was.)

The email’s proclamation, once again, exposes the environmentalists’ agenda: “President Obama hasn’t always done the right thing for the environment. He should have denied the Keystone Pipeline years ago, he should be rolling back unchecked fracking, and he should have taken stronger action on climate both at home and in international negotiations.”

Gratefully, though ideologically aligned with them, he attempted to appease and didn’t take the extreme level of action Friends of the Earth would have liked.

The Keystone pipeline remains a strong possibility, though the Canadians have nearly given up on us. Fracking is regulated at the state level, which, mostly, allows it to continue to increase America’s energy freedom—resulting in lower prices at the pump. Because more than 96 percent of the wells drilled in America today use the decades-old, but new-and-improved, technology of hydraulic fracturing, a federal fracking ban, like environmental groups have been trying to pass through city and county initiatives, would virtually shut down our booming energy economy. President Obama tried, but couldn’t pass a cap-and-trade bill—even when his party controlled both houses. Nor could he get a new Kyoto-like international treaty ratified. Most of the western world is now retreating on the climate pledges made in a different political era.

Friends of the Earth is correct, though. The email states: “Now, with both the Republican Senate and the House salivating and ready to sink their teeth into our most basic environmental laws, the President’s environmental legacy is truly at stake.” The Republicans are likely “salivating”—though not specifically about “basic environmental laws.”

Big changes in energy policy are in the works. Not just because Republicans want to destroy the president’s “legacy,” but because a wealthy country is better able to do things right. A growing economy needs energy that is efficient, effective and economical—which is why countries like China and India will not limit energy availability and why Republicans want to expand access in the U.S.

What energy policies might the Republicans want to “sink their teeth into”?

Keystone pipeline
At a November 13 breakfast presentation on “the unconventional oil and gas revolution,” Senior Director, Energy Insight IHS, Chris Hansen said: “I expect to see action on the Keystone pipeline within the next few months.” While it is widely believed that Keystone would be an easy win in the Republican-controlled congress, the November 4 results are already making a difference.

Post-election, the Keystone pipeline—which the State Department has projected would create more than 40,000 jobs—has suddenly leapt to the front of the lame-duck-legislation line. Months ago, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and John Hoeven (R-ND), along with 54 others (including 11 Democrats), reintroduced legislation to authorize building the Keystone pipeline—but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has blocked the popular bill by repeatedly denying requests to take up the legislation. The House has already approved eight previous Keystone bills and quickly passed an identical bill sponsored by Landrieu’s election opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

The question remains is whether or not the White House will approve the bill, though spokesman Josh Earnest hinted at an Obama veto—which would further anger his union supporters that have pushed for its passage for the past six years. If the president vetoes what many are calling the Save Mary Landrieu Act, all is not lost for the Keystone pipeline.

With many Democrats already on board with Keystone and a push for more support from union leadership, the new Congress may be able to pass it again—this time with a veto-proof majority.

Federal lands
President Obama likes to brag about the increased U.S. production of oil and gas. In his post-election press conference he stated: “Our dependence on foreign oil is down.” While the statement is true, it falsely implies that he had something to do with that fact.

Reality is, as a Congressional Research Service report makes clear, while oil production has increased 61 percent on state and private lands, it has decreased 6 percent on federal land where the administration has authority. Additionally, the report points out, applications to drill on federal lands take nearly twice as long to process under the Obama administration than they did previously.

Not only has the White House discouraged drilling on federal lands, President Obama has used his pen to lock up federal lands with potential development, such as the newly designated Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument—which blocks production without analyzing the economic impact. “Every time they lock up federal lands, whether through national monuments, conservation areas, or wilderness areas,” Steven Henke, President of New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, told me, “they eliminate the potential for royalties from the federal estate. Those funds benefit both the state and federal government and reduce the burden to the taxpayers.”

For example, one prediction has drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) becoming a part of the Republican Party’s vision of energy independence: Alaska’s senior Senator “Lisa Murkowski has long argued that drilling in ANWR would help reduce the national deficit.”

Not all federal lands have oil-and-gas, or other mineral-extraction, potential, so a reversal of policy may not increase production by the 61 percent seen on state and private lands—but it could mean the U.S. not only passes Saudi Arabia in oil production, it leaves it in a dust storm.

Oil and natural gas exports
Before the new Congress is sworn in, we already hear a lot of talk about lifting the ban on oil exports that was put into place in response to the 1970s Arab oil embargo. Reuters reports: Senator Murkowski “has fought to relax the ban all year by issuing a series of papers detailing how such exports have been allowed in the past, holding a private meeting on the subject with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and hinting that 2015 could be the time to introduce ban-ending legislation.”

With the Republicans now in charge come January, Murkowski will become the Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She is expected to start by “holding hearings, pressuring Obama administration officials, and testing the level of support from party leadership.”

Oil producers continue to lobby for the lifting of the ban, as the light crude now being produced in the U.S. is difficult for domestic refiners to process with current equipment. If Congress can increase drilling access to federal lands, even more crude will flood into refineries with limited capacity. Reports indicate exports will have little impact on pricing within the U.S.

“Policy makers need to catch up with the industry,” Harold York, an analyst of the refining sector at Woods Mackenzie said. He projects that easing the crude oil restrictions “would lead to $70 billion in investment spending in the U.S. oil sector and further economic stimulus.”

Different from crude oil, the law currently allows liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, but the Energy Department has dozens of applications for LNG export terminals languishing on some bureaucrat’s desk. Just six applications have been approved in the past year. Bipartisan support exists for expediting the permitting process—especially in light of Russia’s stranglehold on natural gas supplies to many of our European allies. Legislation must be drafted and passed to allow exports to non-European free-trade countries.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) has widespread opposition within the Republican Party—including state governors who struggle to interpret the regulations but who are asking the right questions regarding the impact on their individual states. Even coal-state Democrats, such as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), have concerns with the CPP.

The CPP has the potential to prematurely shutter hundreds of coal-fueled power plants when viable option exists for the plants’ replacement. This winter, Massachusetts is experiencing a 37 percent increase in electricity rates over last year because plants closed without sufficient infrastructure for their replacement.

The CPP, plus the many other regulations—such as those coming on ozone and methane—have many lawmakers concerned about the EPA’s impact on grid reliability and the economy. President Obama is not likely to sign any legislation designed to rein in his personal priorities, but Republicans can make changes in EPA appropriations.

In a post-election analysis webinar, Scott Segal, founding partner of the Washington, DC-based Policy Resolution Group, declared Obama’s approach to greenhouse gas emissions—specifically the CPP which projections show may cost $42 billion—as the number one priority of the Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works Committees. He believes the committees’ oversight will look at reliability, cost, and, benefits. Segal said: “I think you can expect tailored legislation to focus on these topics. You can expect use of the Congressional Review Act for resolutions of disapproval when these regulations become final. You can also look to the appropriations process. …that might mean an Interior and Environment appropriations bill might have a rider, not that sets aside the CPP entirely, but that makes narrowly targeted changes to that plan. Then the president would be confronted with a choice: ‘do I essentially shut down the EPA or do I work with Republicans in the House and Senate to reform my proposal?’”

The Endangered Species Act (ESA)
The ESA direly needs revision, updating or outright repeal as, though well-intended in the beginning, it has more recently been used as a funding tool for environmental groups and a way for them to block economic activity, such as oil-and-gas extraction, and ranching, farming, and mining.

Earlier this year, a group of 13 GOP lawmakers released a report, which called for an ESA overhaul, though CBS News called the changes “unlikely given the pervasive partisan divide in Washington, DC.” CBS continues: “The political hurdles to overhaul are considerable. The ESA enjoys fervent support among many environmentalists, whose allies on Capitol Hill have thwarted past proposals for change.”

While repeal is unlikely, this may be the time to introduce legislation that would reform the ESA to curtail litigation from wildlife advocates and give states more authority—two ideas that were brought forth in the report.

Kent Holsinger, a Colorado-based attorney specializing in ESA issues, told me: “As radical groups continue to push their agendas, other parts of the country are now beginning to feel the threat that westerners have long suffered. The House moved significant, but targeted, legislative measures just recently. Perhaps the Senate might follow suit?” Maybe we can encourage them.

Climate Change
The biggest change will come on the climate change agenda. While Obama will not back down, committees have significant influence, as previously mentioned, through the appropriation process. Also, expect oversight on Obama administration policies.

The Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Chairmanship will change from one of the biggest supporters of Obama’s climate change agenda (Senator Barbara Boxer [D-CA]) to the biggest opponent of his policies (Senator Jim Inhofe [R-OK]). On election night, Inhofe stated: “I am looking forward to taking back the environment committee”—a role that, according to Environment & Energy Publishing (E&E): “Already has greens cringing.”

“A leadership transition would mark a seismic shift in the tone of the EPA Committee,” states the E&E report. The switch will mean, according to Frank O’Connell, president of the environmental group Clean Air Watch, that instead of serving as a “shield for the executive branch” the committee could turn into “a battering ram against the executive branch.”

This reversal of attitude in climate change policies is already evident in the response to the president’s newly announced pact with China to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and his promised $3 billion contribution to a U.N. climate fund designed to help poor counties deal with potential impacts of climate change.

About the deal with China, Inhofe said: “This deal is a non-binding charade. The American people spoke against the president’s climate policies in this last election. They want affordable energy and more economic opportunity, both which are being diminished by overbearing EPA mandates. As we enter a new Congress, I will do everything in my power to rein in and shed light on the EPA’s unchecked regulations.”

Reports now declare: “Climate change compromises may be easier with China than Congress.”

What does Inhofe have in his power? Andrew Wheeler, EPW staff director when Inhofe was chairman previously, says: “I know he won’t hesitate to conduct oversight of the Democratic Obama Administration.”

The E&E report projects: “Among the topics Inhofe would likely zero in on: EPA’s rules to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, a controversial EPA proposal to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act and the science underpinning federal environmental rules. EPA management could also be the topic of some oversight hearings.” Wheeler added: “I think his climate work will probably be focused more on the EPA regulation.”

The $3 billion pledge to developing countries is subject to Congressional appropriations. In a statement from Inhofe’s office, he vows to work with his colleagues “to reset the misguided priorities of Washington in the past six years.” He says: “The President’s climate change agenda has only siphoned precious taxpayer dollars away from the real problems facing the American people.”

The National Journal states: Republicans “want nothing less than to send money to poor countries to fight climate change.”

As a part of this shift, watch for environmental activists to be more aggressive on the state level—pushing for increased mandates for renewables and more regulation and/or bans on hydraulic fracturing.

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For those of us who watch the politics of energy policy, it is going to be an interesting two years. If the Republican policies turn the economy around as predicted—offering a sharp contrast to the stagnation of the past six years, they will pave the way for victory in 2016. Call your Senators and Congressman and ask him or her to support these six energy policy changes that will give America energy security and economic strength.

(A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com)

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.