Green Energy Chronicles
John's weekly update on graft, corruption and waste in the energy sector.
Any parent involved with their children’s homework or school knows that “green” is in. But too often more than that, “green” notions are presented as self-evident truths where there should be critical thinking and discussion. Also too often, federal and state funds are being dispensed to create the ‘greenest’ possible hearts and minds for tomorrow.
Such is the case with an industry that is economically useless and environmentally destructive: industrial wind power. A website of the U.S. Department of Energy, Wind Powering America, describes how schools can receive taxpayer funding for wind projects. The site provides links to wind-friendly educational materials from Canada, California, Idaho, the Dakotas, Montana, and Arizona.
Wind companies and their trade groups are also involved. In Ontario, my province, teachers are asked how they feel about corporate logos in schools in exchange for such “benefits” as free computers. The response is often negative, but industrial-wind propaganda abounds in textbooks, learning materials, and kid-friendly websites.
Take a peak at these corporate “green” programs all around you. Here in Canada, there is Lego, and his/her treats, Dad’s Cookies (now Kraft). Eco Logo products for kids abound. Spin Master, third largest toy manufacturer in the USA and the largest in Canada, now advertises that it uses Bullfrog Power, thus luring young purchasers further into green propaganda.
One of the world's top environmentalists has said wind farms risk becoming “monuments of a failed civilisation" as he fights to stop a 275ft turbine being erected near his home.
Professor James Lovelock, 93, a founding father of the Green movement, is famous for inventing “Gaia Theory” and predicting global warming would wipe out four fifths of the world's population by 2100. But he has now expressed despair that the original intentions of the movement have been misconstrued as a license to cast aside our “priceless ecological heritage.”
In recent years the scientist has outraged many followers after becoming an advocate of nuclear power and a staunch opponent of wind energy. Prof Lovelock is protesting against a single turbine at Witherdon Wood, Broadwoodwidger. It is believed he lives or has a property 43 miles away near Barnstaple.
In a letter to Torridge District Council, his local planning authority, Professor Lovelock wrote: "I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood.
The approval comes despite local opposition, with a survey of Lincolnshire residents showing that 90% opposed the wind farm.
While they were forced to accept the latest decision Lincolnshire has already fulfilled its requirements of providing wind energy, he said, adding: “We understand the need for renewable energy. However, we can’t ignore the impact wind farms are having on our beautiful and historic countryside for what appears to be very limited gain.”
The Earth has been getting warmer -- but how much of that heat is due to greenhouse gas emissions and how much is due to natural causes? A leaked report by a United Nations’ group dedicated to climate studies says that heat from the sun may play a larger role than previously thought.
“The public needs to know now how the main premises and conclusions of the IPCC story line have been undercut by the IPCC itself,” Rawls wrote on his website.
Rawls blames the U.N. for burying its point about the effect of the sun in Chapter 11 of the report. “Even after the IPCC acknowledges extensive evidence for ... solar forcing beyond what they included in their models, they still make no attempt to account for this omission in their predictions. ... It's insane.”
Should businesses and families have to pay higher electricity rates to underwrite the cost of wind energy they don't even use?
That is the issue as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission takes up a complaint by Interstate Power and Light Co. (IPL) that 500,000 rate payers in Iowa and Minnesota will have to pay $170.5 million from 2008-2016 for transmission lines and upgrades to connect wind farms to the electric grid. The utility provides compelling evidence that "the burden of these huge costs is unrelated to any benefits that may accrue to IPL and its customers." And they are paying even though they "have not experienced any material improvements to reliability or lower energy prices."
The case has ramifications nationwide because the price tag for upgrading and expanding power lines to reach offshore and remote wind turbines could reach $150 billion. The green energy lobby and Obama Administration want to socialize these costs on the backs of all rate payers.
We criticized this stealth consumer tax two years ago when Michigan rate payers were asked to subsidize about 20% of the $16 billion cost to build wind-based power lines outside the state even though those customers received little benefit.
Hello Canada! Are you ready — ready for a new national tax on carbon that will ding pocketbooks across the country? My bet is that a new carbon tax is coming, made almost inevitable by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s full-bore push to secure Washington’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
For early clues on the carbon tax/Keystone trade-off, tune in Tuesday night to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. As the president speaks, he will be alert to the chorus of Hollywood stars, environmental activists, editorial writers and industry leaders who are pushing for him to make the biggest climate-change decision he can possibly make: Impose a carbon tax.
It is time Canadians became aware of the giant trap being set in Washington over Keystone. The short version is this: The president approves Keystone, greatly expanding the flow of Canadian oil sands production into the United States. In return, however, Canada has no choice but to accept a carbon tax at home as part of a grand bargain.
The Keystone-carbon tax trade off was also suggested in a recent editorial in Nature, the science journal. The editorial was big news in Canada, thanks to its endorsement of Keystone and Canada’s oil sands. “Regarding the Keystone pipeline,” said Nature, “the administration should face down critics of the project, ensure environmental standards are met and then approve it.” The science writers at Nature also benevolently said Canada’s oil sands are “not as dirty as many believe.”
The Washington Post is on the same two-track policy theme. Last month the Post urged the president to “ignore the activists who have bizarrely chosen to make Keystone XL a line-in-the-sand issue.” Last week, in a climate-change editorial, the Post presented the other half of the bargain with a ringing endorsement of a carbon tax. Putting a “slowly rising, significant price on carbon emissions” would encourage people to burn less fossil fuel. As an added fiscal bonus, since Washington needs new revenues to meet its fiscal crisis, “a carbon tax would be an ideal source” of revenue.
Video - Carbon Tax Fraud
Europe's failure to raise carbon prices enough to spur green energy use means more nations are expected to follow the example of Britain and take action on their own. EU efforts in the immediate term are focused on a Feb. 19 vote in a committee of the European Parliament which will provide the next signal of whether a plan to bolster the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme can proceed.
Even if agreed, analysts predict it will be years before European carbon prices rise to the level of at least 40 euros ($53) that analysts say is needed to spur investment in low-carbon energy. That's good news for intensive energy users and coal-burners, but bad for governments committed to 2020 environmental targets for which they need to bolster green energy use.
A positive vote next week would give an indication of whether the European Union has the political will for deeper reform needed over the longer term. It would then require further debate among member states and a plenary session of the European Parliament.
Following last night’s State of the Union Address in which the president pledged to implement a job-killing climate change agenda, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3) today introduced legislation to prohibit the United States from contributing taxpayer dollars to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Luetkemeyer said the IPCC has received a great deal of criticism over the last several years, particularly when emails publicly released from a university in England showed that leading global scientists intentionally manipulated climate data and suppressed legitimate arguments in peer-reviewed journals. Researchers were asked to delete and destroy emails so that a small number of scientists could continue to advance their environmental agenda. Since that time, more than 700 acclaimed scientists have challenged claims made by IPCC.
“The American people should not have to foot the bill for an international organization that is fraught with waste, engaged in dubious science, and is promoting an agenda that will destroy jobs and drive up the cost of energy in the United States,” Luetkemeyer said. “Unfortunately, the president appears to be ready to fund these groups, revive harmful policies like cap and trade, and further empower out of control federal regulators at a time when we should be doing everything possible to cut wasteful spending, reduce regulatory red tape, and promote economic growth.”
America's hydroelectric power sector received a boost as House Resolution 267, also known as the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, received a unanimous 422-0 vote of approval before the U.S. House of Representatives earlier today.
The legislation is essentially the same as H.R. 5892, which was a bipartisan energy policy designed to promote growth of mini hydro and in-conduit projects by streamlining the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) permitting process for low-impact proposals.
Specifically, the Hydropower Regulatory Act will:
- Increase the small hydro exemption from 5 MW to 10 MW
- Remove conduit projects under 5 MW from FERC jurisdiction
- Increase the conduit exemption to 40 MW for all projects
- Provide FERC the ability to extend preliminary permits
- Require FERC to examine a two-year licensing process for non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped-storage
Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners has reached an agreement to purchase 19 hydroelectric dams in Maine, including the two largest in the state.
The company, which is managed and majority-owned by Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management, is acquiring the portfolio of 19 hydroelectric dams, as well as eight upstream storage reservoir dams, from NextEra Energy Resources LLC for approximately $760 million, according to a media release from the company.
The 19 dams are primarily on the Kennebec, Androscoggin and Saco rivers and have a total capacity of 351 megawatts and annual generation capacity of 1.6 million megawatt-hours, according to the release. All of the facilities have licenses from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, most of which are valid through 2025. All output from the facilities is sold into the New England wholesale power market.
These dams belonged to the original 31 hydroelectric dams FPL Energy of Maine acquired from Central Maine Power Co. in 1999 after Maine restructured its energy industry, forcing electric utilities like CMP to sell off its generating assets.
Brookfield acknowledged in a press release last night, that it had failed to obtain the sufficient number of shares required under the Rules for a Permitted Bid by an Insider, namely, acceptance by 50% of independent shareholders of its bid of $2.60. Significantly, in its press release, Brookfield deliberately omitted to state the number of shareholders who had tendered to its bid, a fact that we believe indicates that many shareholders decided to reject their offer and confirms Brookfield's news release of January 28, 2013 where Brookfield confirms only 22% of the shareholders have either tendered or may do so in the future. This leaves more than 75% of shareholders who have said "NO" to the Brookfield Offer. The Brookfield bid has been public since November 23, 2012, with a nominal increase of $0.10 per share made on January 28, 2013, sufficient time for shareholders to make an assessment.
Brookfield has previously stated, three times, that their bid was a "final offer" and that "time is running out". Brookfield has now extended its bid by ten days as a result of its huge failure to obtain the required number of tendered shares.
Flashback - Brookfield And Occupy
The Environmental Protection Agency has released a draft proposal of its plans for adapting to climate change. The proposal will be open for public review and comment for 60 days. “Adaptation will involve anticipating and planning for changes in climate and incorporating considerations of climate change into many of the agency’s programs, policies, rules and operations,” the EPA said Thursday.
Scientific evidence demonstrates that the climate is changing at an increasingly rapid rate, outside the range to which society has adapted in the past. Climate change can pose significant challenges to the EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is committed to identifying and responding to the challenges that a changing climate poses to human health and the environment.
It is essential; therefore, that the EPA adapt to climate change in order to continue fulfilling its statutory, regulatory and programmatic requirements, chief among these protection of human health and the environment. Adaptation will involve anticipating and planning for changes in climate and incorporating considerations of climate change into many of the Agency’s programs, policies, rules and operations to ensure they are effective under changing climatic conditions. Adaptation also necessitates close coordination between EPA and its many partners and stakeholders
The wind production tax credit will be the subject of increased oversight this Congress, Rep. James Lankford told The Hill on Tuesday.
Congress, with a strong push from the White House, extended the credit for one year in the January deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” The renewal included an alteration that allowed wind projects to collect the credit if developers commence construction by 2014, rather than turbines beginning to produce power by that deadline.
It’s a change that will allow more projects to qualify over the next year — and one that’s raising eyebrows on Capitol Hill. Some conservative lawmakers say the tweak will expand the program and the federal deficit, noting the one-year extension would cost $12.1 billion through 10 years.
President Obama proposed a program in Tuesday's State of the Union address that would divert some revenues from federal oil-and-gas drilling into research for alternative fuel technology. In a nod to the economic challenges facing many families, Obama cast the initiative, which he called an “Energy Security Trust,” as a way to reduce household gasoline expenses.
Large bidders keen on setting up utility scale solar power generation projects have backed out of the bids called by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation, according to industry sources.
Players such as IL&FS, Crescent Power, a multinational player in solar project and large developers have expressed their inability to invest in the solar project at the tariff quoted by Tangedco. Last week, the utility had initiated negotiations with bidders where it had quoted the figure of Rs 6.48 a unit.
A large real estate developer who had participated in the bid said the company found that there would be ‘negative cash flow’ at that level not counting the benefit of accelerated depreciation. Investment of over Rs 8.5 crore a MW cannot happen depending purely on accelerated depreciation.
Suntech, the world’s largest producer of solar panels, said Monday that it might have been the victim of a $690 million fraud related to a European investment. The suspected fraud could affect the Chinese company’s ability to pay convertible notes due next year and Suntech said it may delay reporting second quarter earnings while it conducts an investigation. Suntech shares fell 15.3% to $1.33 Monday morning.
It’s a convoluted tale involving phantom German government bonds, the China Development Bank, a Spanish solar entrepreneur and Suntech’s top executives.
Bilta, a company incorporated in England and registered as a vendor for the purposes of VAT, traded in the purchase and sale of carbon credits on the Danish Emissions Trading Agency. It bought carbon credits amounting to €294m during 2009 from traders outside the UK. The purchases were therefore zero-rated. They then sold these carbon credits to persons in the United Kingdom who were registered for VAT, none of which businesses had a use for carbon credits and these supplies therefore standard rated.
Bilta was unable to pay the VAT due on its supplies because it had made no profit and the proceeds of its sales had been paid away to the overseas traders. HMRC raised eight assessments on Bilta for VAT in an amount of £38 million and the company went into liquidation.
Three members of a U.K. gang seeking to steal “as much money as possible” from the public purse in a value-added tax fraud involving carbon permits were sentenced yesterday to a total of 35 years in jail, the government said.
Sandeep Singh Dosanjh was jailed for 15 years, Navdeep Singh Gill for 11 years and Ranjot Singh Chahal for nine years, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs said today in a statement on its website. Four other people were acquitted.
The gang set up a chain of bogus companies in order to trade fraudulently in European Union emissions allowances, stealing around 38 million pounds ($60 million) through a “complex missing-trader fraud” in a six-month period starting in January 2009, according to the statement.
Europe lost about 5 billion euros in revenue for the 18 months ending 2009 because of the CO2 VAT fraud, according to an estimate by Europol.