Green energy linksfest.
John provides his weekly update on news (graft, corruption and waste) in the clean energy sector.
To approve natural gas exports and other energy projects, the president may demand a carbon tax. The president's climate shout-out sent the green community into flurries of ecstasy, with grand hopes of a new push for cap-and-trade in Congress, or of a redoubled U.S. commitment to a global carbon pact. It fell to Mrs. Boxer to tamp down those ambitions, even as she reassured her devotees that there is more than one way to skin the climate cat.
"A lot of you press me on: 'Where is the bill on climate change? Where is the bill?' There doesn't have to be a bill," Mrs. Boxer explained in a briefing the day after Mr. Obama's speech. "I'm telling you right now, EPA has the authority in the transportation sector, the electricity sector, and the industrial sector under the Clean Air Act" to do everything that legislation might otherwise do."
In other words, with the election over, all pretense is gone. Democrats won't waste political capital on a doomed cap-and-trade bill. Yet they'll get their carbon program all the same, by deputizing the EPA to impose sweeping new rules and using their Senate majority to block any GOP effort to check the agency's power grab. The further upside? Brute regulation is not only certain and efficient, it allows vulnerable Democrats to foist any blame on a lame-duck administration.
Mrs. Boxer has spent years on climate, and she wouldn't be surrendering her legislative ambitions without clear assurances the White House has her covered. Her words were a signal that the Obama EPA is about to re-energize the regulatory machine that it put on ice during the election. Republicans who hoped Lisa Jackson's resignation signaled a more humble EPA approach should instead prepare for an agency with a new and turbocharged mission.
The White House on Wednesday ruled out proposing a tax on carbon emissions, two days after President Barack Obama called for action on climate change in his inaugural address. Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and hard-line environmentalist, said Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation in February that would penalize companies for their carbon emissions, while also ending fossil fuel subsidies.
Carney confirmed that Obama would finalize greenhouse gas emissions standards on new power plants, which are due in April. But he would not say what, if any, other actions the administration would take to tackle climate change, including issuing GHG standards for existing power plants.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim hopes that President Obama’s climate-heavy inaugural speech will be a shot in the arm for efforts to prevent catastrophic global warming. “Strong leadership must come from the six big economies that account for two-thirds of the energy sector’s global carbon dioxide emissions. President Obama’s reference in his inaugural address this week to addressing climate and energy could help reignite this critical conversation domestically and abroad,” he writes in a Washington Post op-ed.
As the nation marches steadily toward the fiscal cliff, President Obama’s former chief economist Lawrence H. Summers says once that crisis is averted, policymakers should begin debating ideas like taxing carbon and high-fat foods.
[Note: Larry Summers is part owner of First Wind]
Kahuku Wind Power, LLC, a project of First Wind in Kahuku Oahu, HI, was granted a $117 million loan in July 2010, estimated to create a whopping 200 jobs. And then on February 3, 2012 this same project received a 1603 grant for over $35 million [docket #2594 –- $35,148,839].
Sadly, in August 2012 a fire that destroyed First Wind’s battery storage facility and sent toxic fumes into the air, left ratepayers in the dark over costs and safety. We should keep an eye on that one, however, there is more corruption to expose.
The First Wind plan was to secure taxpayer money and then go public. Now they achieved their first objective from the Bank of Obama –– since he took office (and as of 7/18/12), First Wind's projects have received over $452 million in grants through the Stimulus' 1603 Program.
- First Wind's Stetson Wind Farm in Maine –– $40,441,471
- Cohocton Wind Farm in New York, $52,352,334
- Dutch Hill Wind Farm In New York, $22,296,494
- Milford Wind Corridor Phase I In Utah; $120,147,809
- Milford Wind Corridor Phase II In Utah, $80,436,803
- Rollins Wind Farm In Maine; $53,246,347
- Sheffield Wind Farm In Vermont, $35,914,864
- Kahuku Wind Farm In Hawaii, $35,148,839
- Steel Winds II Wind Farm In New York, $12,778,75
However, in November 2010, Bloomberg announced, “First Wind Holdings Inc., the operator of wind-energy projects backed by D.E. Shaw & Co. and Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, said it withdrew its initial public offering because of unfavorable market conditions” that’s code for “weak demand.”
Speaking of IPO's...
Within the House Oversight leaked emails that were unleashed late October 2012, you'll discover that these correspondences basically prove that the White House, Secretary Chu, and certain DOE officials lied about how they handled the green energy loans on various fronts –– a story I have emphasized in many of my recent green corruption posts.
In the 350+ page Appendix II, I discovered a series of intriguing emails dated in May 2010, where the DOE staff was discussing the Kahuku loan, just months prior to the final approval in July 2010. It seems that on May 12, 2012, LPO Credit Advisor James McCrea was concerned about the Loan Guarantee Program Office's "credit policies and procedures" –– so much so that he intensely clarified the importance of order, "...everyone needs to understand is all that has to go in order to put the transaction into the Federal accounting system which requires collaborating among OMB, Treasury, and parts of DOE with which you do not normally interact. To be clear, one of the reasons this is so carefully handled is that there are several penalties for a violation of the Antideficiency Act including jail time..." Later McCrea writes, "I know the processing is frustrating for First Wind. The deal will close when it is time."
Five days later, McCrea writes, "To fill Brian in, we have a pretty good mess on First Wind and it is looking like it is going to get a lot worse and quickly at that. Someone is pressing Jonathan [Jonathan Silver is the former Executive Director of the Loan Program Office] who is now pressing hard on the everyone as the sponsor has an IPO in the works. I have told Jonathan that the deal has huge issues and the sponsor's overriding is not helping at all and that further, the sponsor's pending IPO is irrelevant."
While there's no mention of where that pressure came from, the first-rate, high-powered political ties to First Wind are vast, starting with D.E. Shaw & Co, a New York-based investment firm –– "a $39 Billion Hedge Fund Giant" (also a First Solar investor), which so happens to be one of the three top contributors to Democrats –– is a backer of First Wind Holdings Inc. The founder David Shaw, is a two-time Obama bundler, who employed Larry Summers, and before heading to the Obama White House, as the top economic advisor, "Lawrence Summers received about $5.2 million over the past year in compensation from hedge fund D.E. Shaw,” as revealed by the Wall Street Journal, noting his "frequent appearances before Wall Street firms including J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers." Towards the end of 2011, Summers left the Obama administration and rejoined the firm as a consultant.
Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. has acquired a 109.5 MW contracted wind powered generating station ("Shady Oaks") from Goldwind International SO Limited ("Goldwind") for total consideration to all stakeholders of approximately US$148.9 million.
The Shady Oaks wind power facility is located in Northern Illinois, approximately 80 km west of Chicago, Illinois and reached commercial operation in June 2012. Total annual energy production is expected to be 364 GW-hrs per year. The Shady Oaks wind facility has entered into a 20 year inflation indexed power purchase agreement with the largest electric utility in the state of Illinois, Commonwealth Edison.
US: Chinese turbine manufacturer Goldwind has appointed First Wind vice-president and chief financial officer Tim Rosenzweig to be the CEO of Goldwind USA.
Brought to by: The Green Growth Action Alliance, see page 39 for members...
President Obama has begun to wield the power of the executive to press forward with a second-term agenda that delights the left and terrifies the right. When he said "we must act" in his inaugural address last week, liberals cheered him on and conservatives saw that the electoral earthquake of November is likely to be followed by a tsunami of executive orders and regulations.
Lawmakers, lobbyists and policy groups say they are expecting a deluge of new rules from agencies across the federal government. “They’re going to try to do with regulation what they cannot do with legislation,” said Mike House of Hogan & Lovells, a law and lobbying firm whose clients include businesses and trade groups.
A White House economic adviser said Thursday that any overhaul of the corporate tax code should provide a lift for green energy technologies. “The first headline of corporate tax reform will not be ‘corporate tax reform for the clean energy economy.’ But the way that corporate tax reform gets done could have a dramatic effect, long-term, on the incentives for investment in the United States for ... technologies and renewable technologies,” said Brian Deese, deputy director of the National Economic Council.
The PUC's 2-1 vote Thursday to support the Statoil Hywind Maine demonstration project means customers will pay slightly higher electricity bills in the near term. But the commission decided that the cost – about 75 cents a month for the average residential customer – is worth the opportunity to put Maine on the international wind power map.
The decision doesn't guarantee that Statoil will build the project. The contract gives the company room to change course if, for instance, it doesn't win the second installment of a large federal grant or Congress does not renew a key tax credit for renewable energy.
The findings are most relevant for natural gas finds such as the Sleipner field in the North Sea, where the gas contains high levels of carbon dioxide. Norway has imposed taxes on carbon emissions since 1991 as part of efforts to limit climate change.
An atlas by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) showed that geological formations could store 5.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide beneath the Norwegian Sea, against current annual Norwegian emissions of about 50 million tonnes.
The storage is a fraction of the 70 billion tonnes of storage space below Norway's sector of the North Sea, as estimated in a 2011 NPD study. The NPD is still mapping storage sites in the Arctic Barents Sea. "The Atlas shows that there are several suitable sites" for storage, Oil and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said in a statement. Norway is Europe's second-largest gas supplier after Russia.
The main pension schemes in Norway are managed by Statoil Pensjon (Statoil's pension fund - hereafter "Statoil Pension"). Statoil Pension is an independent pension fund that covers employees of Statoil ASA and the company's Norwegian subsidiaries. The purpose of Statoil Pension is to provide retirement and disability pension to members and survivor's pension to spouses, registered partners, cohabitants and children. The pension fund's assets are kept separate from the company's and group companies' assets. Statoil Pension is supervised by the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway ("Finanstilsynet") and is licensed to operate as a pension fund.
A U.S. regulatory review has delayed completion of Chinese oil giant CNOOC’s $15.1 billion purchase of the Canadian oil company Nexen, a deal that triggered U.S. review because Nexen has oil-and-gas assets in the Gulf of Mexico.
Nexen, in a statement Sunday, said both parties to the deal have agreed to extend the closing date by 30 days until early March.
“Completion of the Agreement remains subject to the receipt of United States regulatory approval and the satisfaction or waiver of other customary closing conditions. Key regulatory approvals have been received from Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the People's Republic of China,” Nexen said.
In the U.S., the deal has triggered review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the Treasury Department-led interagency panel that reviews foreign purchases of U.S. assets if the transactions could affect national security.
Nexen is a multinational company active in Canada’s oil sands, off West Africa’s coast and elsewhere.
CNOOC’s takeover has drawn interest on Capitol Hill due to Nexen’s Gulf of Mexico holdings and because Nexen is a significant player in Canada’s oil sands. Click here, here and here for earlier E2-Wire coverage of the CNOOC-Nexen deal.
LEGENDARY Nessie hunter Robert Rines is giving up his search for the monster after 37 years. The 85-year-old American will make one last trip in a bid to find the elusive beast. After almost four decades of fruitless expeditions, he admitted: "Unfortunately, I'm running out of age."
He started in 1971. The following year, he watched a 25ft-long hump with the texture of elephant skin gliding through the water. His original trip was to help another monster hunter with sonar equipment and quickly identified large moving targets. He was smitten and returned the next year, which is when, he says: "I had the misfortune of seeing one of these things with my own eyes."
Since then, he has been obsessed with tracking down the creature with a staggering array of hi-tech equipment. It was this gear that took the famous "flipper" picture that year which created a stir around the world. Despite having hundreds of sonar contacts over the years, the trail has since gone cold and Rines believes that Nessie may be dead, a victim of global warming...The eulogy will be held at 5pm (somewhere).
WATCH: Obama on Climate Change - Inauguration 2013
Obama sees a huge threat from climate change but no threat from a $17 trillion national debt.
"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms."