Thursday, November 19, 2015

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

I know it's a little early, but enjoy Pilgrim!

"Tough times, no easy answers for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant" by David Abel and Beth Healy Globe Staff  September 26, 2015

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was already facing rising costs, declining revenues, and an energy market increasingly inhospitable to nuclear power. And then the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission delivered some really bad news.

The commission this month downgraded the safety rating of the 43-year-old plant in Plymouth, which it now rates as one of the three least-safe units among the nation’s 99 reactors.

The multimillion-dollar repairs now required could deal a death blow to Pilgrim, and in so doing, inflict significant damage to the state’s effort to cut its carbon emissions — an effort that now relies heavily on nuclear power.

Entergy Corp., the conglomerate that owns Pilgrim, is now grappling with whether to invest in the needed repairs at a time when analysts are questioning its ability to continue operating its beleaguered nuclear plants across the country.

A report by UBS AG this week estimated that Pilgrim is slated to lose $25 million this year and about $60 million during the next four years.

“The magnitude of the losses is unpalatable,” said Julien Dumoulin-Smith, one of the authors of the investment bank’s report, which noted that Entergy’s stock has fallen 30 percent this year and advised investors to sell. “Wall Street is demanding better.”

Entergy officials acknowledge the problems facing Pilgrim and expect to make a decision about its future in coming months. The plant was refueled last spring, had its license renewed three years ago, and can continue operating until 2032, as long as regulators deem it safe.

I'm not going to link you, pilgrim.

Company officials say they have invested more than $500 million in safety upgrades, reliability enhancements, and maintenance since they bought Pilgrim in 1999. But the business climate is tough.

“We’re getting the lowest amount of revenue we’ve ever gotten at a time we’re experiencing increased costs,” said Mike Twomey, vice president of external affairs for Entergy’s division of merchant nuclear reactors, which includes five plants where rates are subject to market forces, not set by government. “If your revenues are flat or declining, and your costs are going up, that’s not a positive trend.”

The authors of the UBS report, “The Nuke Retirements are Coming,” offered what they called a “sobering view” of the future of nuclear power. They suggested that retiring plants may be the best way Entergy can offset the “twin headwinds” of cheaper natural gas and increasing amounts of renewable energy.

Pilgrim operates in an unregulated market in which it is subject to competition from other energy sources. As a result, the plant has suffered in recent years as the rise of hydraulic fracturing in the United States has brought an influx of cheap natural gas to the region.

At the same time they try to tell us supplies are tight (why they had to raise prices) because we need more pipelines.

RelatedHow ‘Gasland’ changed minds on fracking

I think it was when I saw the water catch fire that I had a concern.


Elsewhere, Entergy has been waging a protracted legal battle in New York to renew its licenses to run the aging reactors at its Indian Point plant in Buchanan, NY. One expired two years ago but is still operating; the other is set to expire in December.

“Bottom line, we don’t have confidence a turnaround is imminent,” the UBS analysts wrote. “We suspect the bulk of nearly all merchant nuclear units remain at risk.”

Since 2008, when cheap natural gas began flowing in significant amounts to New England, the price of wholesale electricity has plummeted. Prices rebounded last winter as a result of the cold and constraints on the region’s supply of natural gas, but wholesale electricity prices were still more than 20 percent below 2008 levels. 

Prices rebounded, yup.

"Heading into this winter, generators jacked up electricity prices by as much as 40 percent in anticipation of natural gas shortages, which were passed on to consumers by utilities. But those natural gas shortages and electricity price spikes did not happen this winter, partly due to increased LNG shipments." 

Just wanted to cast a little light on the lie.

Entergy wants the state and officials who administer the region’s electrical grid to consider subsidies or other incentives for Pilgrim to continue operating.

“It’s like they’re taking for granted that we’re going to always be here,” Twomey said.

Go away.

In addition to providing an average of about 5 percent of the region’s energy, the 680-megawatt plant accounts for about 84 percent of the state’s non-carbon emitting energy, he said.

Closing Pilgrim, which employs 600 people and provides Plymouth more than $10 million a year and other financial benefits, could make it significantly harder to meet the state’s goals of cutting its carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below by 2050. 

Best leave it running then.

Twomey said the region’s emissions spiked after Entergy last year closed its Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. (The company cited declining wholesale electricity prices and increasing regulatory costs for its closure.) In the first two months of this year, he said, the region’s carbon emissions were 20 percent higher than in the same period in 2013.

Past decade was snowiest 10-year stretch in Boston

And the temperatures have again started to fall.

“We’re heading down a path that will lead you to more dependence on natural gas and oil,” Twomey said. “Wind and solar won’t replace them, as a matter of fact. That needs to be part of the conversation, instead of pretending it’s not.”

Then I'll take my chances on global warming. 

Renewable energy accounts for only about 2 percent of the state’s energy.

This after decades of investment and promotion by the Bo$ton Globe.

State energy officials said they haven’t spoken to Entergy about providing subsidies or incentives to keep Pilgrim operating.

“We look forward to working with Pilgrim and Entergy to ensure that they meet all safety requirements,” said Katie Gronendyke, a spokeswoman for state executive office of energy and environmental affairs, adding that the plant “plays a significant role in the state’s efforts to achieve a more diverse energy portfolio.” 

Then they are not really worried about the environment or your health. It's all about indu$try.

But some state lawmakers are pushing bills that would add about $55 million to Entergy’s annual expenses.... 

See you in six months they say.


"Pilgrim nuclear plant says it may shut down; Officials considering improvement costs" by David Abel Globe Staff  September 17, 2015

Officials at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station are considering whether they can afford the multimillion-dollar safety improvements and other reforms required by federal officials. If not, they say, they might close the plant.

After the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission downgraded the plant’s safety rating this month, Pilgrim joined two reactors in Arkansas as the least safe in the country. Expensive repairs are needed to raise the safety rating of the 43-year-old plant, run by Entergy Corp. since 1999.

“If the corporation finds that the cost of making the improvements of the plant exceed the value of the plant, the corporation may decide to shut the plant down,” said David Noyes, the plant’s director of regulatory and performance improvement.

He added: “No business decision has been made about Pilgrim. We’re looking at specific conditions, and analyzing weaknesses associated with the plant. As of right now, we don’t know the costs.”

The plant could also be shut down by the regulatory commission. A succession of unplanned shutdowns of its reactor in recent years, and inspections that revealed significant safety problems, resulted in the plant being moved to the next-to-lowest performance category two weeks ago.

None of the nation’s 99 reactors are in the lowest category, but if Pilgrim fails to comply with federal requirements, the commission will move it there. Such action would require the plant to close, at least temporarily.

The commission said the plant’s level of risk is “low to moderate.” Entergy officials said the odds of an event occurring that would damage its reactor core, before they made recent repairs, was one in every 142,857 years.

Seems pretty safe, so WTF?

Pilgrim, which provides an average of about 12.5 percent of the state’s electricity, is located in Plymouth, 35 miles from Boston. About 5 million people live and work within a 50-mile radius of the plant.

In a recent letter to Entergy officials, Governor Charlie Baker urged Entergy to “make certain that the plant meets the highest safety standards.”

“We cannot risk the well-being of the residents of the Commonwealth,” Baker wrote.

Why not? Have been.

Baker added that he was troubled that Entergy “has failed to take appropriate corrective actions to address the causes of several unplanned shutdowns dating back to 2013.”

Baker has said he sees Pilgrim as part of a “balanced approach” to the state’s energy needs, while other state lawmakers have long called for the plant to be closed.

So we can risk.

Entergy was awarded a 20-year operating license in 2012 to continue operating Pilgrim, but opponents are hoping to use the downgrade to pressure the company to shutter the plant now. On Wednesday, state Senator Dan Wolf, a Harwich Democrat, met with advocates from the Sierra Club, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, and others.

They discussed how to advance bills in the Legislature that require the company to pay fees to store its spent nuclear fuels at Pilgrim, and that would force Entergy to show that it has enough money to cover the costs of securing its spent fuel after the plant closes.

“These bills will get across to Entergy that they need to bake these costs into running the plant and think of its financial viability,” Wolf said. “They’re going to have to make financial decisions.”

Entergy officials declined to provide information about the plant’s operating costs or revenue. Although the company’s stock price has plummeted by nearly 30 percent this year, nuclear regulatory officials have maintained that Entergy is solvent.


In response to questions from the Globe about the company’s finances, Lauren Burm, an Entergy spokeswoman, wrote: “Entergy does not disclose in our investor relations or Securities and Exchange Commission filings, individual plant profit, or operating cost information. It is considered proprietary business information.”

The commission bills Entergy for the inspections, which federal officials estimate will cost nearly $2 million. Entergy officials said they have already spent about $70 million to provide safety and security upgrades to the plant since the 2011 radiation leak at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear station, which has the same basic design as Pilgrim.

Yeah, shut it down now.

If a closure were to happen soon, it would come as the state has made drastic cuts to its reliance on coal. Last year, the Mt. Tom power plant in Holyoke became the last of the state’s three coal plants to schedule a permanent shutdown. The Salem Harbor Power Station closed last year, while Brayton Point in Somerset is scheduled to stop operating in 2017.

The state now gets about 58 percent of its energy from natural gas, while oil supplies about 9 percent, coal about 3 percent, and renewable energy about 2 percent.

Only 2% after all the positive pre$$ in the Globe?

The rest comes from hydroelectric power and other sources. The state would probably have to import more natural gas, which would have an impact on its carbon emissions. Nuclear power doesn’t emit carbon....

I'm left with feeling we better keep it up and running despite the possible danger.


RelatedIndustries, states sue over Clean Power Plan 

That's one way of bypassing the emissions caps.

"Pilgrim plant admits to long lapse in fire safety" by Peter Schworm Globe Staff  October 07, 2015

Operators at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station have acknowledged a longstanding safety lapse after a review of its fire-protection system this week revealed the plant had failed to comply with a government advisory issued in 1992.

Well that doesn't make me feel any safer.

In the latest setback for the Plymouth facility, engineers disclosed Monday they had discovered vulnerabilities in two areas of the plant that required “fire watches,” where trained personnel monitor sections for any evidence of a fire.

The lapse raised the alarming — if remote — possibility that a fire in the control room would compromise the plant’s ability to safely shut down the nuclear reactor.

Say again?

“It had never been properly addressed, for whatever reason,” said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which regulates commercial nuclear power plants. “We’re going to have to assess why it took them until now.”

Sheehan said it was also not clear why NRC inspectors had never noticed the lapse. “That’s something we’re going to have to look at, too,” he said.

Look at the negligence all the way down the line. 

Good thing government and industry is paying attention, huh?


Critics said the disclosure spoke to broader, persistent problems at the aging Pilgrim plant, which has come under increasing scrutiny from federal regulators.

“It’s not as if this is the first time safety concerns have been raised,” said Emily Norton, director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club, which opposes nuclear energy. “We don’t need any more evidence.”

News of the lapse, first reported by the Cape Cod Times, follows a downgrade in the plant’s safety rating, raising the prospect that the plant may shut down to avoid millions of dollars in required improvements....

Globe got scooped?

Under the scenario outlined in the advisory, a fire in the plant’s control room could cause short circuits, threatening motor-operated valves needed for a shutdown. The valves could sustain mechanical damage before operators could shift control to an alternative source.

The plant is one of just three nuclear reactors nationwide in the next-to-lowest performance category, officials said. There are no plants in the lowest category.

Critics of the nuclear plant said that even if the lapse was minor, the stakes are too high for virtually any risk.

“Even if there’s a small probability, the consequences when something goes wrong are very large,” said Mary Lampert, director of the group Pilgrim Watch. “And it further undermines the public’s confidence that the reactor is safe.”

That is assuming we had any.



Pilgrim nuclear plant a scary prospect for South Shore

The long-delayed $61 million US Army Corps of Engineers project is stuck in the big muddy.

Scituate, Hull among towns receiving cash to repair sea walls

There is also what is underwater.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s puzzling about-face on cancer study

Time to pull the plug:

"Costs lead officials to pull the plug on Pilgrim; Station first opened in 1972" by David Abel Globe Staff  October 13, 2015

PLYMOUTH — Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, which has supplied power to more than a half-million homes and businesses for four decades but has also been a deep source of angst in the region, will close no later than June 2019, its operators said Tuesday.

The announcement was cheered by opponents of the plant. But it also raised questions about how Massachusetts will replace its chief source of energy free of carbon emissions.

It's the methane let loose by oil and gas drilling that is the problem, but that would preclude any argument for a carbon tax on you for breathing.

Officials at Entergy Corp., the Louisiana-based energy conglomerate that has owned Pilgrim since 1999, said the 43-year-old plant is “simply no longer financially viable.”

“I can personally tell you that this was an agonizing decision and an extremely tough call,” Bill Mohl, who oversees most of the company’s nuclear power plants, told a press conference in Plymouth.

In an interview with the Globe, Mohl said Entergy faced the “harsh reality” that Pilgrim probably will lose about $40 million a year until it closes.

The plummeting price of a competing fuel, natural gas, and the reluctance of federal and regional officials to provide financial incentives for nuclear power plants put further pressure on Entergy to close the plant, Mohl said.

Since when? They underwrite and insure everything the indu$try does!

He said the decision was also influenced by the state’s effort to secure long-term agreements to procure hydroelectric power from Canada and expand the capacity of pipelines to pump more natural gas to the state....

Even if we don't need it.

Governor Charlie Baker said the shutdown of Pilgrim “poses a potential energy shortage’’ for Massachusetts and New England. He called for more focus on developing “clean, reliable, affordable’’ energy sources for the state.

Pilgrim supplies an average of about 5 percent of the region’s energy and accounts for about 84 percent of the state’s noncarbon emitting energy. The closure of the plant could make it significantly harder to meet the state’s goals of cutting its carbon emissions.



In Plymouth, there was a mix of deep concern from supporters of the plant and great relief from those who have sought to shut it down.

The plant, which provides more than $9 million a year to Plymouth and tens of millions of dollars in additional financial benefits to the region, had its license renewed three years ago and could have continued operating until 2032.

Then it is NOT WORTH CLOSING no matter what the risks or costs!

Craig A. Pinkham, acting president of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369, said he hoped Entergy could find a way to keep the plant operating.

“It is not acceptable to walk away from a resource this valuable, and this important to our energy supply and to our economy, simply because it is going to require an investment to maintain its viability,” he said. “Entergy needs to sharpen its pencil, go back to the drawing board . . . and come back with a plan to keep this plant running affordably and safely.’’

Advocates for nuclear power called Entergy’s decision “disconcerting.”

“The human tragedy is that hundreds of hard-working, highly skilled men and women employed at Pilgrim will lose their jobs,” said Marvin Fertel, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade association for the nuclear power industry.

Opponents of Pilgrim, who have long protested the plant’s safety record and have raised environmental concerns, celebrated the announcement.

“They should shut down now, saving them money and us peace of mind,” said Mary Lampert, director of Pilgrim Watch, a Duxbury group that has been calling for the plant’s closure for years.

Is it worth it?

Senator Edward J. Markey, another longtime critic, called Entergy’s decision prudent. “While nuclear energy was once advertised as being too cheap to meter, it is increasingly clear that it is actually too expensive to matter,’’ he said in a statement....

What comes afterward, at the moment, remains unclear, Mohl said. As with other nuclear plants that have been shuttered in the region, the operators will need to leave radioactive waste on the site of Pilgrim until the federal government finds a suitable location to store the spent fuel. Where to store the waste permanently has divided politicians for decades.

Some neighbors in Plymouth worry about the prospect of nuclear waste remaining at the plant for years to come.

“What has happened is that a bad dream is turning into a nightmare,” said Jeff Berger, chairman emeritus of a nonpartisan advisory group to the town called the Nuclear Matters Committee. “The plant is going to have a lot fewer people guarding a lot of nuclear waste, and that’s a real concern.”


Yeah, you $ee what you will be mi$$ing without the Pilgrim nuclear plant!?

Local economies take a hit when nuclear plants close 


Besides, "the process could be long and contentious, costing hundreds of millions of dollars," and you will regret the me$$ it leaves behind.

"A spokesman for the closed Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is defending the plant’s planned use of money from its decommissioning fund for storage of highly radioactive spent reactor fuel on the plant site. Vermont Yankee spokesman Martin Cohn was responding to the most recent petition by the state to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission questioning the plant’s management of the fund. A key question is whether a fund set aside for dismantling a nuclear plant can be used for long-term storage of spent fuel on site.... Nuclear plant defends use of funds"

Also seeRetired nuclear plant’s 37 sirens may sound for last time

Didn't hear 'em.

"For many in Plymouth, nuclear plant closure brings sigh of relief" by Peter Schworm Globe Staff  October 14, 2015

PLYMOUTH — For decades, the nuclear power plant in this coastal town provided a wealth of good jobs and millions in tax revenue, potent economic benefits that helped offset persistent safety concerns.

But as Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station aged and problems mounted, the risks began to outweigh the rewards, many residents said. So when Pilgrim’s owner, Entergy, announced Tuesday it would shut down the 43-year-old facility, many residents sighed in relief.

For many, even those who had thought the plant’s hefty tax payments were generally worth the trade-off, last month’s announcement that regulators had downgraded the plant’s safety rating was something of a final straw.

The plant’s time had come and gone, they said.

As residents welcomed the closure, which will come no later than June 2019, they worried about how the town will handle the loss of a major employer....



"Pilgrim plant workers aim for a safe shutdown" by David Abel Globe Staff  October 31, 2015

PLYMOUTH — Guards in black fatigues, who carry assault rifles and handguns, patrol the property and keep a close watch from scores of cameras and bulletproof towers. They regularly train for terrorist attacks and store weapons in gun lockers and armored vehicles, while local and federal law enforcement officials patrol the waters beyond the rocky sea wall off the coast.

Visitors must pass through a gantlet of security before nearing sensitive areas, including massive concrete barriers to protect against truck bombs, steel turnstile doors that require handprints to open, and X-ray machines that examine the contents of bags and others that check for explosive residue.

Inside, posters exhort employees to mind their ALARA, the ubiquitous acronym reminding them to reduce their radiation exposure to “as low as reasonably achievable.”

Others remind them that “every millirem counts” and “we are all responsible for radiation protection.”

The average US resident is exposed to about 620 millirem of radiation a year, according to the regulatory commission; Pilgrim allows its employees near radiation until they absorb 1,200 millirem. If there’s a major emergency, plant officials allow them to be exposed to as much as 20,000 millirem.

High doses of radiation can cause cancer, but the regulatory commission says on its website that “there are no data to establish a firm link between cancer and doses below about 10,000 millirem.”

Employees who work in the containment area at Pilgrim are required to wear devices that track their radiation.

Plant officials showed the redundant systems they would use to prevent a calamity, including water pumps and diesel generators stored in multiple locations, well above sea level. They would be used in the event the plant lost power to cool the reactor, as occurred in Japan after a tsunami in 2011 ravaged the Fukushima nuclear plant.

While Entergy has invested millions of dollars in safety upgrades to comply with new federal regulations triggered by Fukushima, some longtime employees acknowledge they can only prepare for what they can foresee.

“When Fukushima happened, it took everyone aback,” said Paul Smith, a staff engineer who has worked at Pilgrim since 1968. “It taught us we don’t know everything. It also taught us modesty.”

In the coming years, as the plant enters the decommissioning process, its employees will still have dangerous work to do. They’ll have to transfer 3,162 highly radioactive fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool to massive casks, a delicate, expensive task that will leave them indefinitely on a large concrete pad beside the reactor building.

Helping ensure that the plant complies with federal safety regulations is Erin Carfang, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s senior resident inspector at Pilgrim.

She said she goes wherever she wants at the plant and has issued multiple violations to Pilgrim, including the one earlier this year that led the regulatory commission to downgrade its safety rating.

If the plant becomes unsafe, Carfang said, she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it be closed before 2019. She has young children and lives near the plant, she added.

“We believe there is an adequate safety margin for the plant to continue operating,” she said in her office. “We have a vested interest in keeping it safe.”

Then by all means.

At the recent morning meeting, the 27-page report the group reviewed showed that the plant’s staff had already been exposed to nearly 97 percent of the radiation that Pilgrim officials had set as a goal for the year.

Steve Verrochi, the plant’s general manager, also heard reports from maintenance, engineering, security, and other departments about concerns both big and small.

Verrochi worried that “mental distractions” could lead to “severe consequences.”

“It’s all about being deliberate,” he reminded the staff. “If you find yourself in a situation where your mind drifts, it’s time to readjust.”

Verrochi discussed how to “finish strong in 2019” and gently reprimanded the staff for being three minutes late to the meeting, which prompted the department heads to flash a thumbs-down sign in unison.

Then he praised the staff for their alertness and “excellent job” responding to a leak in the control room, prompting a thumbs-up from the staff.

“Be deliberate and act with integrity,” he told them before adjourning the meeting....

Glad he's keeping them happy.


Of course, other opportunities are opening up:

"Pilgrim’s closing opens door for new energy projects; Natural gas and ‘clean’ energy sources hope to replace the loss of nuclear power" by Jon Chesto Globe Staff  October 14, 2015

The immediate focus will be on the new opportunity for the natural gas industry, which already provides about half of New England’s electricity. (By comparison, Pilgrim can provide about 5 percent.)

That’s not to say natural gas doesn’t have its own infrastructure issues. On particularly cold days in New England, heating customers often consume most of gas in the pipelines, prompting many natural gas power plants to run on oil or not run at all. 

Seems to run contradictory to what we have been told, but don't let that destroy the agenda-pu$hing narrative.

That’s why the gas industry is pushing hard for a major new pipeline project in the region, and why the Baker administration just agreed to allow electric utilities to pass along extra costs for new natural gas capacity to their electricity customers. 

$crewed again!

The loss of Pilgrim could drive up electricity costs in the six-state region by at least $500 million a year if a new pipeline isn’t built, said Anthony Buxton, a lawyer who represents a pro-gas coalition along with pipeline developer Kinder Morgan in Maine.


“Clearly, having a plant of this size coming out of the market is going to have real cost implications,” said Julien Dumoulin-Smith, executive director of the US electric utilities group at UBS Investment Research in New York.

But industry experts also say natural gas can’t be the only answer if Massachusetts wants to meet its aggressive greenhouse gas-reduction goals for a 2020 deadline.

The loss of Pilgrim, which provides much of the state’s low-carbon electricity, represents a big setback in that regard.

Then by all means keep Pilgrim producing power, no matter what the risk.

Much could depend on what happens at the State House in the coming months. Lawmakers are weighing proposals....

They will be getting back to us in six months, after we have been gouged for yet another winter.


“The bottom line is it creates an opportunity.” 

Related: "This ending is in many ways just a beginning. Spent nuclear fuel remains dangerous for 250,000 years."

But think of the BENEFITS!

So how are we all going to stay warm this winter? 

"Heating oil prices at their lowest since 2009" by Jay Fitzgerald and Jack Newsham Globe Correspondents  September 14, 2015

There’s some good news for those thinking melancholy thoughts about the end of summer and what inevitably follows. Heating oil prices have plunged to their lowest levels in six years, and consumers are likely to see hundreds of dollars in savings this winter on their heating bills.


Alan Clayton-Matthews, a Northeastern University economist, said the drop in heating oil prices may provide a small boost to the state’s economyassuming prices hold through the winter — as people spend more on products and services.

A big assumption.

“For most households, 800 to a thousand bucks is a big deal,” he said. “It will free up money for households to spend on other things.”

Merry Xmas!

Jim Phaneuf, who lives and runs an insurance agency in Belchertown in Western Massachusetts, said oil heat is the only option at his home and business. If prices remain low through the winter, he said, he could save hundreds of dollars at his home and as much as $2,000 at his business.

“Any time prices on anything go down, like fuel oil, it’s good,” Phaneuf said.

Except in the overall scheme of the economy I've been told it is not. Low oil prices destroy economies.

Petroleum prices are falling because of record US oil production and weakening global demand, the result of slowing economic growth in other countries, particularly China.

Average heating oil prices are the lowest summer’s end price since 2009, near the depths of the recession, according to the Department of Energy Resources.

I shouldn't have locked in my rates.

For low-income families, the decline in heating oil prices could take some pressure off tight household budgets, offsetting rising rents and electric bills, said John Drew, president of Action for Boston Community Development, or ABCD, a nonprofit antipoverty agency that provides heating assistance in the Boston area. More than 180,000 households in Massachusetts qualify for federal heating assistance, and lower fuel oil prices mean their grants would buy more, Drew said.

“It helps offset all the other costs in their lives,” he said. “That’s the one dividend they have, that oil hasn’t gone up.”

We all own stock in oil!

The decline is welcomed by heating oil suppliers, who in recent years have lost thousands of customers switching to natural gas because of lower costs. Even with those conversions, about one-third of Massachusetts homes heat with fuel oil, according to the US Census.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Ted Noonan, owner and president of Springfield-based Noonan Energy Corp., provider of heating oil to about 10,000 in Western Massachusetts and 2,500 on Cape Cod. “Our customers are really happy. You don’t have as many people thinking of converting to natural gas.”

Until a year ago, prices for heating oil were roughly twice as high as for natural gas, but the gap has narrowed. Heating oil runs about 50 percent more than natural gas, according to industry data.

Natural gas prices, which fell sharply in recent years, have resumed their slide because of the surge in natural gas drilling across the country. But recent price declines haven’t been as dramatic as those for heating oil.

Last winter was screwing, and the fracking operations have been shut down due to the low prices! Simply not worth the investment anymore. 

"US oil production will decrease in 2016 for the first time in eight years, OPEC projects. Total output of crude and natural gas liquids is forecast to fall 0.5 percent to 12.47 million barrels a day, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said. The decline is driven by the fall in prices, OPEC said. US oil drillers have idled more than half the nation’s rigs since last October, data from the oilfield services company Baker Hughes shows. “What happens with shale production next year is highly uncertain,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Mass. “Recent reports on drilling and production justify a pessimistic forecast. It’s not surprising that OPEC would take this view.” US weekly crude output in August and September was down about 330,000 barrels a day from June and July, according to US government data cited in the OPEC report."

Some shale boom.

3 small earthquakes rattle central Arizona and Phoenix area

"Southern Kansas sees sudden spike in earthquakes" Washington Post  October 27, 2015

A sudden spike of earthquakes in southern Kansas is raising eyebrows in the region, where there have been more earthquakes in the past two weeks than there were between 1990 and 2013.

All of the state’s earthquakes over the past stretch occurred in just two southern counties that run along the Kansas-Oklahoma border, raising questions about the quakes’ ties to hydraulic fracking in the region — although the industry disputes the connection. 

I think the questions have been answered.

During the fracking process, a mixture of saltwater, sand, and chemicals is blasted into the ground, breaking up rock formations to release oil and natural gas.

Fracking has been going on in Kansas since the 1940s, but the recent innovation of horizontal drilling — instead of vertical — requires more water. The waste water is injected into disposal wells — “not exactly where it came from,” said  Rex Buchanan, interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas. He added that the earthquakes are probably being caused by the waste-water disposal wells, not the act of drilling itself.

Doesn't that poison and permanently contaminate groundwater?

“In Kansas, you produce a lot more saltwater than you do oil in the oil and gas production process,” Buchanan said. “We’re dealing with much greater volumes of water than 10 years ago.”



And yet it is still the future of energy.

Nepal’s parliament elects nation’s first female president 

Didn't they just have an earthquake over there?


Eversource Energy and National Grid, the state’s two largest natural-gas utilities, with a combined 1.2 million gas customers, are expected in coming weeks to file winter rates that go into effect in November and run through early spring.

We will be watching.

Michael Durand, a spokesman for Eversource, said winter rates this coming season will probably be similar to last year’s, about $170 a month to heat an average home during winter. But he noted that Eversource cut rates during the middle of last winter, to the equivalent of $151 per month, because of falling wholesale natural gas prices. He said the same scenario could unfold this winter. 

That's a LIE! What they did was give you a chump change refund in the spring!

National Grid’s natural gas customers saw similar pricing as last winter. The utility declined to predict winter rates, but noted in a statement that natural gas prices have been “moderating or headed downward.”

They think we forget.

Michael Ferrante, president of the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association, which represents hundreds of heating oil suppliers, said members are confident prices will remain relatively low this winter. He noted inventories of heating oil, purchased at recent low prices, are now 21 percent higher than they were a year ago, providing a financial buffer should wholesale fuel prices unexpectedly shoot upward this winter.

I'll remember that when the price of oil and gas shoots through the roof.


"National Grid’s electric rates going up for winter; Utility says average electric bill would still be lower than last winter’s" by Megan Woolhouse Globe Staff  September 15, 2015

National Grid customers will see their electric bills rise about 20 percent in November, but they can take some solace knowing the increase won’t be as high as last winter’s.

Oh, we won't be getting fleeced as much as last year, yaaaay!

“This winter’s customer bills will be down, absolutely down” compared to the year before, said Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts. “You can bank that.”

The article tells me it will boost the average bill to about $110 a month from the current $90.

Does that look down to you? 


Rates are rising from the summer because winter supplies are more expensive, National Grid said. The cost of power, however, has moderated from last winter, when National Grid rates jumped about 40 percent. (Eversource’s climbed nearly 30 percent.)

Sick of their gouging-for-profit excuses yet?

Reed described last year’s electricity increases as a “major trauma,” saying up to 3 percent of National Grid’s 1.3 million customers are behind on payments, including thousands still paying off last winter’s bills.

New England wholesale power markets have been volatile in recent years, largely because of uncertainty about the supply of natural gas, which is used to generate more than half the electricity in Massachusetts. Two years ago, natural gas shortages, blamed on insufficient pipeline capacity, sent prices soaring, hurting power generator’s profits.

Are you sick of the $elf-$erving mixed me$$ages yet?

Last year, anticipating more natural gas shortages, power generators bid much higher prices, which led to the jump in electric rates.

Those shortages didn’t materialize, in part because of additional supplies of imported liquid natural gas.

“This is all crystal ball stuff,” Reed said of pricing. “You never know.”


Then why all this print for pure speculation?


John Howat, senior energy analyst at the National Consumer Law Center, an advocacy group in Boston, said that in a region known for some of the highest energy costs in the nation, even small seasonal increases set consumers — and the state’s economy — back.

Howat said utility bill increases have been shown to slow consumer spending, which hurts the local economy.

“There are a lot of households in Boston that simply have insufficient income to pay for necessities each month,” Howat said. “So this just makes that problem worse.”

But more increases are likely to be on the way. Reed said the increases are necessary due to rising costs of materials such as copper, as well as other expenses. The utility has not received a distribution rate increase for six years, she said.


Reed said she opts to pay her electric bill on a “budget plan” that spreads out the cost evenly over 12 months, making payments more predictable, particularly as summer becomes fall.

“People need to start think about it,” she said of the price increases. “This is a reality of New England.”

Prices are down all across the board.


"Eversource, National Grid to lower natural gas prices for winter" by Jack Newsham Globe Correspondent  September 21, 2015

The winter is already looking milder than last year’s — at least on consumers’ wallets.

The state’s major utilities said Monday that they will cut natural gas rates this winter to go along with lower winter electric rates and a plunge in heating oil prices.

Eversource, which supplies natural gas to roughly 300,000 customers, said Monday that its rate cut would save the average household about $30 a month, compared to last winter’s prices. National Grid, with about 925,000 gas customers, estimated that its average residential customer would save about $6 month from last winter. National Grid distributes natural gas to about 925,000 Massachusetts homes and businesses.

Consumers are benefitting from falling prices for fossil fuels, which are used to generate much of the state’s energy. That comes less than a week after National Grid filed winter electric rates that would fall about 10 percent from record prices last winter.


The falling prices are the result of a boom in oil and natural gas production in the United States and weakening worldwide demand that is creating a glut on global markets.

The fall in energy prices is boon to consumers and boost to the US economy, according to economists. But the declines also have some environmental advocates worried. When energy prices are cheaper, consumers feel less compelled to conserve, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to global warming.... 

I've forgotten all about nuclear power.

Gas is more expensive in the winter than the summer due to high demand by homes, businesses, and power plants that burn the fuel to make electricity. Utilities say that demand is hard to satisfy with the region’s limited pipeline network.

Both utilities’ proposed rate structures still require approval from the state’s Department of Public Utilities.


Remember la$t year?

"Could extra LNG supplies help restrain winter gas prices?" by Jack Newsham Globe Correspondent  October 25, 2015

Well, I was told they weren't going up, they were coming down, so WTF?

Changes in energy markets as far away as China could help prevent natural gas shortages and moderate heating and electricity costs in New England, analysts said.

Foreign energy companies, facing weaker demand and lower prices for liquefied natural gas in Asia and Europe, are likely to turn to the New England market and send extra shiploads to terminals near Boston. That could help prevent the price spikes that historically have occurred in the region’s wholesale energy markets during periods of extended cold and high demand.

Might not be a good idea:

"Governor Andrew Cuomo has rejected a proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in the waters off New York and New Jersey, effectively killing the project amid an outcry from residents of some coastal communities that it could endanger the environment and be a target for terrorists."

Well, yeah.

Last winter, LNG imports helped ease shortages and soften prices and contributed to lower winter electric and gas rates for the coming winter.

OMG, that is NOT what happened!!!

Electric rates jumped a year ago as a result of shortages of natural gas, which is used to generate more than half of the region’s electricity and to heat an increasing number of homes.

That's crap so they can get a pipeline we don't need. 

You know, since the nuke plants shut down I haven't noticed any difference at all.

Boston is served by four gas terminals, including one in Canada, but most have historically seen little use.

In recent years, east Asian countries have gobbled the lion’s share of liquefied natural gas.

Is that why China's ports are exploding?

But Japan has begun turning its nuclear reactors back on after shutting them down following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Meanwhile, China’s economic slowdown has reduced its appetite for the fuel, just as Australian export facilities are gearing up to supply more LNG.

Fukushima now an offhand comment and relegated to history despite crisis continuing day after day after day.

The shipments could lower the costs of power and natural gas and ultimately lower bills for customers. About 59 percent of Massachusetts’s electricity comes from natural gas, according to the Energy Department. 

I'm willing to risk anything, life, limb, the environment, the world, for a lower energy bill.

Prices are shaping up to be lower this winter, however. In September, National Grid filed winter electricity rates that will be lower than last winter’s: 22 cents per kilowatt-hour, down from 24 cents. The average customer would save about $10 a month. 

How could they not be after last year's gouging?

Since economic conditions, supply, and demand — not to mention the weather — can defy predictions, neither energy prices nor shipments are guaranteed, noted Mollie Curran, a gas analyst at IHS, a forecasting firm. LNG ships will occasionally change course in the middle of a trip to take advantage of higher prices elsewhere.


“Mother Nature always has the final word” in the natural gas business, said Matthew Piatek, the associate director of North American natural gas at Colorado-based IHS Energy. “Things can change in a hurry.”

It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!


See who is bringing in that gas?

"Eversource sees lower winter power bills in 2016" by Jack Newsham Globe Correspondent  November 10, 2015

Customers of Eversource Energy in Eastern Massachusetts will pay about 17 percent less for electricity this winter, saving on average at least $23 a month, compared to last year.

The company said Monday that under a proposal submitted to state regulators, households in its former NStar territory would see lower winter bills starting in January, although they would be 4 percent higher than current summer and fall rates.

Still doing you a favor!

Eversource supplies electricity to about 1.4 million customers in Eastern and Western Massachusetts.

I'm one of 'em!

The news comes about two months after National Grid, which provides electricity to parts of Eastern Massachusetts, much of Central Massachusetts, and Nantucket, said its residential customers would see a 10 percent drop in their electric bills.

An average Boston or MetroWest customer who uses 550 kilowatt-hours of electricity every month will pay about $111, compared to $134 last winter, an Eversource spokesman said, while average Cape Cod and South Shore customers will pay about $114, down from $137. If state regulators approve the rate proposal, an average household will pay about $4 more per month than now.

That will help build the pipeline we don't want.

Last year, Eversource blamed natural gas supply constraints for an average 29 percent surge in electric bills in the first half of 2015, compared to the first half of 2014.

The Globe furnace keeps going on and off!

The supply price of electricity, which makes up the bulk of a consumer’s bill, hit 15 cents per kilowatt-hour that winter and spring, compared to 10.8 cents for this upcoming six-month period, Eversource said. The supply price changes every six months.

Many analysts forecast a milder winter this year that will put less strain on energy resources in New England and the United States as a whole.

We hear that every year, and that's not what Farmer's and others are saying. They are saying its going to be a doozy, and it is already shaping up that way.

Jerrold Oppenheim, a consultant who focuses on low-income ratepayers, applauded the utility for moderating its price increases, but said consumers should be wary of future, bigger changes — such as building additional pipelines or transmission lines to carry Canadian hydropower to New England — that could have a real negative effect on their wallets.

“[Eversource] is doing a pretty good job in [this] situation,” Oppenheim said. But “there’s some very big policy decisions that are going to have to be made in the next year or so.”

Eversource makes its money from distributing electricity, not selling it. The company buys electricity from power plants and passes those costs through to its customers without a markup. But as New England has grown increasingly reliant on natural gas for its electricity, putting a heavy strain on the region’s pipeline network during the winter, power generators have paid a high price for gas on demand, and passed those costs on to electricity consumers. 

Gotta get off the grid.

“Until new energy infrastructure is in place to relieve constraints and to lessen the region’s reliance on natural gas, we can expect to experience these price swings,” Penni Conner, an Eversource executive, said in a statement. “In the meantime, customers have the opportunity to shop for supply prices; and we offer a wide variety of energy-efficiency programs and budget billing and payment options to help them save energy and money.”

Eversource has proposed working with National Grid and the pipeline developer Spectra Energy Corp. of Houston to expand the region’s pipeline capacity to sell gas to power plants and could stand to profit if that plan moves forward....

Oh yeah?



Charlie Baker seeks aggressive steps to address high power costs

Eversource angling for state clean energy deal

$ure they are!

National Grid seeks $9 monthly bill increase

A 7% increase to pay May's salary?

Now about that pipeline:

"15 people protesting pipeline in West Roxbury arrested" by Felicia Gans Globe Correspondent  November 12, 2015

Boston police arrested 15 people Thursday morning in West Roxbury during a protest against a high-pressure natural gas pipeline under construction on Washington Street.

“Fifteen individuals entered the work zone and blocked an excavator from working,” said Boston Police Officer Stephen McNulty, a department spokesman. “There were multiple verbal commands issued to comply. They were given several minutes to think through their decision, and then they were informed they were disturbing the peace.”

McNulty said all 15 people were taken into custody without incident shortly after 8 a.m. They were later released and will be summonsed to West Roxbury Municipal Court.

The protesters ranged in age from 28 to 85, McNulty said.

Protest leaders said more than 40 people have been arrested for protesting the pipeline over the past several weeks. The protesters hold daily vigils at the construction grounds each morning.

Thursday’s protest was themed “Mothers and Grandmothers,” said Rickie Harvey, co-founder of West Roxbury Saves Energy. She said the about 50 protesters, including mothers and grandmothers, were blocking the Spectra pipeline construction site as they held hands and sang.

“The whole point here is, the more fossil fuels we keep dredging out of the earth, it’s really our children who are going to pay the price more than anyone,” Harvey said.

Already are, in so many ways.

Arthur Diestel, a spokesman for Spectra Energy and Algonquin Gas Transmission, said the company has been engaging with the West Roxbury community through local leaders and residents since June 2013. He said despite efforts from protesters to stall progress on the pipeline, the construction workers have maintained their proposed schedule.

“We’re committed to the responsible development, reliable operations, and respectful ongoing engagement with the communities we serve,” he said. “Our approach hasn’t changed, and it won’t change.”

Chuck Collins, a member of the Resist the Pipeline and Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline groups, said Thursday’s protest was spirited, and the cold weather will not scare the demonstrators away.

What weather?

“There’s an increased momentum,” Collins said. “There’s just a wide range of people.”

In addition to the protesters, Harvey and Collins said City Councilors Michelle Wu and Matt O’Malley and City Councilor-elect Annissa Essaibi-George were also in attendance.

Kept the seat warm for you.

Harvey described Thursday’s protest as peaceful and respectful. She added that the protesters and officers are cooperating with one another. “There’s no yelling going on. They’re not trying to get the handcuffs on. When police say it’s time to go, they go,” she said.

In other words, not much of a protest at all.


I'm against the pipeline; that's why I'm for it.

Environmental group sues over Western Mass. pipeline

Mass. AG sees no need for new natural gas pipelines

West Roxbury residents object to gas pipeline project

In fight over local pipelines, US usually gets its way

"Vermont Gas keeps prices for pipeline land secret. Opponents of a 41-mile gas pipeline proposed by Vermont Gas complain that the utility company’s land purchases are being shrouded in secrecy."

Keystone opponents could learn from a Quebec tragedy

Remember that?

Sunken barge spews oil in Lake Erie

Wouldn't it already be out after 80 years? C'mon! You can't expect us to believe.... sigh.

Crews work to clear up after Wisconsin derailments

Patience, patience: That freight train may be 2 miles long

It's carrying coal.

Energy showdown generating controversy at State House

"Interfaith group presses state lawmakers for energy reforms" by Katie Lannan State House News Service  November 11, 2015

Religious leaders and members of faith communities from across Massachusetts rallied at the State House on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to take action on energy reforms that would emphasize clean, renewable power and benefit vulnerable communities.

With the House poised to take up solar power legislation before formal sessions end for the year next week, Massachusetts Interfaith Coalition for Climate Action members called for a move away from fossil fuels.

“We are here today because we know that there are crucial decisions to be made,” said Mariama White-Hammond, a minister in training at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Jamaica Plain. “There are decisions that will impact not just the here and now, but generations to come. And so we are here, in these hallowed halls, because we are ready to start a revolution.”

The coalition, a group formed last month with members of more than 60 religious and spiritual organizations, has identified a series of issues they want to see addressed in upcoming energy legislation.

Members are asking lawmakers to lift caps on solar energy and strengthen incentives for the development of community and low-income solar installations; invest in offshore wind development, with a focus on communities where coal-fired power plants have closed or are closing; ensure that energy efficiency programs reach low- and moderate-income homes and speakers of languages other than English; increase accountability for gas leaks, and reject ratepayer funding for new natural gas pipelines.

We can only pray they do it.

State Representative Lori Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat who has sponsored bills this session addressing gas leaks and mining, told coalition members they brought an important voice to the debate over energy policy.

Oh, yeah, the gas leaks spewing methane.

“Policy decisions made in this building by virtue of who shows up to advocate so often revolve around other factors, such as cost and feasibility,” Ehrlich said. “Well, those things are important for sure, but what you bring to the table today is important, too: morality.” 

At least we have someone on hand to say grace.

The coalition’s call for energy reform comes as legislators are looking to update laws and diversify the state’s energy mix to reduce carbon emissions, control costs, and fulfill the demand for power.

Governor Charlie Baker has sponsored bills that would authorize long-term contracts for hydroelectric power and lift the cap on solar net metering, which determines how many megawatts of commercial and public-sector solar energy can be sold back to the grid at retail rates.

No wonder it is only 2% of the mix! Power suppliers don't want that!

A comprehensive climate change adaptation bill passed by the Senate also includes a move to lift the net metering cap.

Speaker Robert DeLeo has said a net metering bill could emerge from the House before the Legislature breaks for winter recess on Nov. 18.


Kind of a cloudy forecast from the Globe:

"Key issues loom as Beacon Hill debates solar incentives" by Jon Chesto Globe Staff  November 16, 2015

It’s showdown time for the solar industry in Massachusetts. One of the main challenges facing the Legislature before it adjourns its formal session for the year on Wednesday is how to handle the incentives that help finance the proliferation of solar panels across the state.

Well, they kept the $80 million flowing to Hollywood so.... ????

Environmentalists, solar panel companies, and utilities are all pushing for changes, with the clock ticking on key federal subsidies.

Governor Charlie Baker and the Senate have each proposed solar bills already, with the Senate’s legislation widely considered to be more generous to the solar industry. But the House of Representatives has yet to offer its own version, leading to furious lobbying in recent weeks, in which utility representatives, including Eversource Energy chief executive Thomas May, have been making the rounds.

Why not? They write the bills.

House leaders say they hope to have a bill ready for a floor vote on Tuesday, but that still doesn’t leave much time to reach an agreement with the Senate before the end of the day on Wednesday if the bills contain significant differences.

The prosolar side wants the current incentives expanded to accommodate more solar construction, at least until Massachusetts hits its target of 1,600 megawatts of installed solar power; currently the state has less than 1,000 megawatts installed. Utilities, meanwhile, want to pare back the costs that drive up the electricity bills of customers who don’t use solar power.

Among the issues facing lawmakers:

Net metering and solar credits

Net metering allows solar panel owners to be reimbursed for the excess electricity they send back into the power grid, with a state imposed limit on how much each utility has to accept.

No wonder the issue is being clouded up.

National Grid has hit its cap, delaying the installation of new solar panels in its service area in some cases. (Residential projects are not affected by the caps.)

Solar developers want the state to increase the caps again — lawmakers have raised them several times in the past — so they can finance additional installations. The utilities don’t want the caps raised under the current reimbursement scheme.

Another issue: utilities want solar panel operators to bear some of the costs associated with sending that excess electricity into the system. Utility customers’ bills are currently based on the amount of power they take from the grid and don’t reflect any surplus energy that solar panel owners send off-site.

Nice pun about sun power.

As part of this debate, lawmakers are also considering whether to referee a dispute over solar certificates purchased by utilities to fulfill their state-imposed obligation to buy a certain amount of renewable energy every year.

The certificates represent the output from a specific solar generator. Utilities fret that the certificates can be too expensive, while representatives for solar builders say the system can be reformed to make it more reliable and less pricey.

Federal tax credit

A 30-percent investment tax credit that subsidizes solar for homes expires at the end of 2016, while the one for businesses shrinks to 10 percent. Some solar companies are trying to decide where to invest ahead of the deadline based on which states offer the best additional incentives.

But if Beacon Hill doesn’t clarify the state’s solar policies soon, then the companies might build in other states. The next chance for the Legislature might not come until well into next year, which may be too late for some solar companies.

State of solar

Massachusetts is among the most solar-friendly states in the country thanks to its current incentives.

Why mu$t indu$try be incentivized to do the right thing?

When he was governor, Deval Patrick set an ambitious goal of reaching 1,600 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020, and the state is already on pace to hit that mark by a much earlier date.

For a state not known for its sunlight, the incentives here helped to spark a cottage industry of sorts.

Before Evergreen and the rest ran to China.

The Solar Energy Industries Association estimated that 400 solar companies are doing business in the state, employing more than 9,000 people, with the 900-plus megawatts in place enough to power at least 140,000 homes. It’s this success story that the prosolar forces say could be jeopardized if incentives get scaled back.

All in?

Residents and businesses who don’t use solar panels end up helping to defray the expense of solar energy. But the total cost of those subsidies isn’t easy to calculate.

Eversource Energy says its average residential ratepayer spends an extra $83 a year because of these solar incentives, an amount that is only going to grow as more people put panels on their roofs. But solar supporters say the actual cost is much less — as little as $23 — and the benefits outweigh the upfront expense.

The widespread use of solar panels can reduce the expense utilities pay for power lines to bring electricity from distant plants, and improve the reliability of the regional power grid.

The state’s aggressive greenhouse gas emissions standards could be tougher to meet without more help from solar panels.

State lawmakers know these things, and they don’t want the solar industry’s success to subside. The trick, though, will be balancing the good that the solar industry does with the inevitable costs.

Same with nuclear!


RelatedSave the solar incentives

Otherwise you may find a hole in your pocket.

"Shell ends its search for oil off Alaska" by Dan Joling and Jonathan Fahey Associated Press  September 28, 2015

ANCHORAGE — Royal Dutch Shell has abandoned its long quest to become the first company to produce oil in Alaska’s Arctic waters, darkening the nation’s long-term oil prospects and delighting environmental groups that tried to block the project.

After years of effort, Shell is leaving the region ‘‘for the foreseeable future’’ because it failed to find enough oil to make further drilling worthwhile.

The company has spent more than $7 billion on the effort, slogged through a regulatory gauntlet, and fought environmental groups that feared a spill in the harsh climate would be difficult to clean up and devastating to polar bears, walruses, seals, and other wildlife.

Shell persisted in hopes of finding a big new source of oil revenue and establishing expertise and a presence in the Arctic, which geologists estimate holds one-quarter of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and gas.

The drilling project also held hope for Alaska, which has seen oil production and revenues decline sharply in recent years, and the US oil industry, which looked to Alaska’s offshore Arctic as the next source of oil big enough to keep the country among the top three oil producers in the world, along with Saudi Arabia and Russia. 

They really seem worried about global warming.

But Shell drilled to 6,800 feet about 80 miles offshore in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast and simply didn’t find much.

‘‘Shell continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the US,’’ Marvin Odum, director of Shell’s operations in the Americas, said in a statement issued late Sunday. ‘‘However, this is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome for this part of the basin.’’

Known in the industry as turning up a ‘‘dry hole,’’ it’s common for exploratory drilling to find little to no oil, especially in formations that have not been explored much in the past.


But Shell’s failure is notable because it was the only active drilling project in the sea, which Shell officials had called ‘‘a potential game-changer,’’ a vast untapped reservoir that could add to America’s energy supply for 50 years.

As recently as March, an Energy Department advisory council called for an immediate expansion of oil exploration in the American Arctic to avoid an increased reliance on imported oil in the future, in part because it would take more than a decade for oil in the Arctic to be discovered, developed, and brought to market.

Charles Ebinger, senior fellow for the Brookings Institution Energy Security and Climate Initiative, said that a successful well by Shell would have been ‘‘a terribly big deal’’ because it would have attracted others to the region.

Though numerous countries are pushing for cleaner energy sources, analysts predict that the world will need another 10 million barrels a day between 2030 and 2040 to meet growing demand, especially in developing countries, Ebinger said. The world now consumes about 93.6 million barrels of oil every day.

Regions like the Arctic ‘‘are one of the areas that, if we’re going to be able to do this, we need to examine,’’ he said.

This is going to fly in the face of the climate change conference in Paris.


The Arctic’s vast oil and gas potential is exactly what worries scientists, who warn against tapping new sources of fossil fuels at a time when the world needs to drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel consumption to prevent catastrophic changes to the earth’s climate.

What about the 25x more damaging methane?

Environmental groups, which had staged media campaigns aimed at tarnishing Shell’s reputation and tried unsuccessfully to block Arctic-bound vessels, reveled in Shell’s disappointment....

Shell, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, warned investors that the disappointing well results would lead to a charge against its earnings for the third quarter. It did not disclose the size of the charge but said the accounting value of the project is $3 billion, with another $1.1 billion in commitments to contractors....

The most important thing.


"Investors lose billions in savings betting on energy partnerships" by Bernard Condon Associated Press  October 27, 2015

NEW YORK — When Karen Robinson’s husband died, she worried she wouldn’t have enough money to raise her two young girls and save for retirement.

Then she met a financial planner, Tom Parks, who told her about investment partnerships that would allow her to ride the boom in US oil and gas production while receiving a steady stream of payments to help pay her bills.

‘‘He showed me this picture of the United States, and said they were getting oil out of shale, and energy was the way to go,’’ says Robinson, a high school teacher from Cranfills Gap, Texas. She liked that Parks seemed so confident. ‘‘I trusted him.’’

Two years later, her partnerships have plunged in value and Robinson has lost more than half of the $202,000 she invested, according to a complaint filed with regulators against Parks and his firm, Ameriprise Financial Services. Parks did not return phone calls and e-mails; Ameriprise declined to comment.

For years, brokers have been luring savers into drilling partnerships with the promise of fat payouts. With yields on safer investments like government bonds so puny, it wasn’t a hard sell. But now this once hot business, a big source of fees for brokers and banks, is coming to a messy end.

In the past year, investors have lost $20 billion in publicly traded drilling partnerships, or $8 of every $10 they had invested, according to a report prepared by FactSet for the Associated Press. That figure does not include losses from $37 billion of bonds sold by the partnerships in the five years since 2010, many down by half in last 12 months, or losses from bets on private partnerships that don’t trade publicly and are difficult to track.

A plunge in the price of oil that few anticipated explains much of the loss. But many partnerships had borrowed heavily and were running big risks even when oil was twice as high a year ago, suggesting that either investors were too sloppy in their hunt for steady income or brokers too reckless in their hunt for fat fees — or some ugly combination of both.

I thought low oil prices were a good thing.

The losses on partnerships are piling up as investors are having second thoughts about their headlong rush into other high-yield, high-risk securities, like bonds from volatile emerging markets or from highly indebted US companies, called ‘‘junk’’ because they are so dangerous. In the first eight months this year, investors have yanked $4 billion each out of junk funds and emerging-market bond funds, according to the latest figures from Morningstar, a research firm.

Unfortunately, it is that kind of behavior that has kept the stock market up.

The energy partnerships, formally called master limited partnerships, can avoid some corporate taxes by passing much of what they earn straight to their investors, called partners. These payments explain why the firms used to mostly stick to storing and transporting oil, unsexy businesses that generate a steady stream of cash. Bankers called them ‘‘toll booth’’ businesses, and it was meant as a compliment. With much of the cash going out the door as soon as it came in, you want boring predictability.

Then the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to near zero to help revive the economy in the financial crisis, and that helped send yields on conservative investments like US government bonds plunging. Investors scrambled for alternatives to earn a bit more. Partnerships focused on drilling sprung up to meet the demand, dangling yields of 6 percent or more, and Wall Street got busy selling their stocks and bonds.

In the five years through 2014, energy partnerships of all kinds raised $21 billion in initial stock sales, more than twice what they sold in the five years before the financial crisis, according to financial data provider Dealogic. For help with the sales, banks like Citigroup, Barclays, and Wells Fargo pocketed an estimated $1.1 billion in fees, according to Dealogic.

Because they can tap stock and bond markets to raise money, publicly traded partnerships appear to have plenty of financial flexibility. But that’s not true in troubled times when investors are scared and money is needed most. 

So what is the problem? The stock market has been roaring.

One of the partnerships in Robinson’s account, BreitBurn Energy, has sold stocks and bonds to investors 10 times since 2011. It needed to raise money because nearly half the $1.6 billion it took in from selling oil and gas from its wells since 2011 went to investors. Then oil began to fall last year and BreitBurn stock tumbled. It cut its payments to investors in half to conserve cash, but by March the stock was still under pressure and it had to strike a deal with an investment firm for a $1 billion infusion in exchange for fat monthly payments. In just 12 months, its stock has plunged 85 percent.

It looks like another Ponzi scheme.

BreitBurn declined to comment.


"Efficiency rule on trucks seeks to cut emissions" by Coral Davenport and Aaron M. Kessler New York Times   June 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday introduced a major climate change regulation intended to reduce planet-warming carbon pollution from heavy-duty trucks.

Still stinks.

The rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, is the latest in a march of pollution constraints that President Obama has put forth on different sectors of the economy as he seeks to make tackling climate change a cornerstone of his legacy. 

It's a legacy of failure.

The proposed rule is meant to increase the fuel efficiency of the vast rigs that haul goods as varied as steel, timber, and oil, as well as packages from The regulations will also set emissions targets for other types of trucks larger than light-duty pickups, including delivery vehicles, dump trucks, and buses.

In his first term, Obama outlined rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and trucks. The new rule further increases the fuel-efficiency requirements for trucks.

In the months ahead, the EPA is expected to release a final set of climate change rules on curbing pollution from power plants. And this month, the agency proposed a legal step that could lead to regulating emissions from airplane engines.

“Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big vehicles,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This rule will change that. In fact, these efficiency standards are good for the environment — and the economy. When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down.”

Then why were all the factories off-shored?

Environmentalists cheered the proposal, but the reaction among truck manufacturers was mixed. Some say they will be able to adapt to the new standards, but others say it will require expensive new technology and may pose a challenge.

The proposal revealed Friday will be open to public comment.

You are getting mine.

David J. Friedman, deputy administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in an interview this month that the truck rules could stand as “one of the president’s signature achievements. Most people probably don’t think about how that cool new phone or shipment from Amazon got to their house, but it has a big impact on the climate and on your wallet,” he said.



What a long, strange trip it's been and they didn't learn a thing.

NASA giving $6.5m so center can make climate education tool 

Look what they came up with:

"The relatively luxurious Nova Star, with a spa and art gallery, four fully stocked bars, and a casino filled with 70 slot machines, has provided a more pleasant, if incongruous, platform for the team to work."

While we are hitting the high seas:

Cape Wind developer Jim Gordon not giving up on project

Globe Clock Strikes Midnight 

Can fish hear underwater? Do they even have ears?

Climate change hurting N.E. cod population, study says

The water is warmer, they say, and I say tell it to the turtles

Biologists seek cause of sea turtle’s death off Cape Cod likely drowned after becoming entangled with a marine line

I think it is pollution, radiation, and overfishing by corporate conglomerates, but that's me! Believe the lying, agenda-pu$hing, one-percent serving propaganda pre$$ if you must!

California rescuers free entangled whale

And across the Pacific he went:

Palau declares its waters a sanctuary

Willy's free!

I see they are singing the blues in Indonesia. Much has changed since the inauguration, and you gotta know how to market a nation, man.

It's getting kind of hazy now as we head toward the holiday

So who is carving your turkey and saying grace at your house?

Will the entire family be there and are their arguments between members, or does everyone just fill their faces before falling asleep?

Better set sail for home before I meltdown:

Crabs Caught Off Calif. Coast Could Be Deadly

You know what I think it is.

US, Cuba unite on fish, coral protection

Makes you want to cry, doesn't it?

Look what was in the Globe net:

Spiny dogfish gets a marketing makeover

They really think you will buy that for Thanksgiving?

More Mass. farmers raising livestock, produce under plastic greenhouses

Get that oven pre-heated:

"Turkey prices at record levels after bird flu epidemic" by Lydia Mulvany, Linly Lin and Megan Durisin Bloomberg News  November 13, 2015

The worst-ever US outbreak of avian influenza destroyed almost 8 million turkeys earlier this year, and those that remain are smaller than normal. 

I thought they looked a little scrawny. Figured they stopped using the growth hormones.

That’s boosting wholesale costs for grocers to a record, and consumer prices are the highest ever for this time of year. Americans will eat about 49 million turkeys for Thanksgiving holiday meals on Nov. 26, or roughly one of every five that will be consumed all year.

Maybe we will have to eat the dog sh**, 'er, fish.

‘‘The larger-sized birds will be difficult to get this year,’’ Taormina said, adding that the biggest available at his upscale stores will be 20 pounds to 22 pounds, which is big enough to feed about 15 people. Turkey is ‘‘center-of-the-plate for this holiday, so typically families get together and they’re looking for the bigger-sized’’ birds, he said.

I'm sure elite tables will be just fine.

Some turkey farmers have not recovered from a six-month outbreak that ended in June, and many were forced to sell birds earlier than normal and at smaller sizes, said Russ Whitman, vice president at commodity researcher Urner Barry in Bayville, N.J. Production fell to a five-year low, and the September weight decline for turkeys was the biggest for that month in four decades, US Department of Agriculture data show.

While shoppers probably can still find deals because most supermarkets offer seasonal discounts on turkey to lure customers, the fresh turkeys that account for 20 percent of Thanksgiving sales are especially hard to find because most were born after the outbreak ended, according to Tom Elam, the Carmel, Ind.-based president of consulting firm FarmEcon.

They have to offer deals to lure in customers -- as if we could all get by without food.

With tighter supplies, buyers are competing for supply.

It is not all bad news for consumers.


Thanksgiving is a big holiday for deals on turkey, which means retailers may eat some of the higher costs. For example, ShopRite, a chain of grocery stores in the northeastern United States, is offering a free turkey to customers who spend $400 between Oct. 18 and Thanksgiving.

Other seasonal staples like cranberries and potatoes probably won’t be more expensive than last year, according to Corinne Alexander, an agricultural economist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.....

They don't look any less expensive, either! Just less product for the price is all.


Okay, you see who is paying for it, and the Globe has all sorts of ideas on how to cook it.

Dinner is served!

Fate of white deer hangs in balance

Became road kill.