Coal Fights Back, and Wins in Europe

A funny thing is happening on the way to the clean energy future.  While the US government wages a regulatory war on coal fired generation, in Europe, the land of the oh so politically correct the drive for greenhouse gas emissions reduction is meeting a new competitor----reality! The EU emissions trading scheme had fallen on hard times as the number of permits issued was large and demand in a falling economy was weak so prices fell.  Some reforms were made and the freebie credits were reined …Continue Reading »

The Big Shift in Energy is Not What You Think

Energy Business Cycle 2

The energy business cycle has always been dominated by boom and bust cycles.  Through changes in technology, economic conditions and regulation nothing has altered that cyclical pattern.  We have, however, seen driving forces of change affect the energy business cycle both for the good and not so good. The Big Shift in energy today is not what you think.  It is not going to be driven or dominated by political correctness or government industrial policy. The big shift in energy is not pro-coal.  …Continue Reading »

Will National Energy Policy ‘Evolve’ to a Clean Energy Standard?

Bingaman CES figure4-lg

Clean energy is something everyone is ‘for’.  Few people are in favor of dirty energy.  But the problem is the definition of what is clean depends upon who you ask.  We will say we are in favor of clean renewable energy, when polled, until a wind producer tries to site a wind turbine near us, or spreads out a sea of photovoltaic panels across the desert—or worse says a high voltage transmission line is needed to bring that clean, renewable energy from its remote location to serve demand in the …Continue Reading »

America’s Energy Export Growth Trend


The beaten and bruised US coal industry  got up off the floor from the body blows of US EPA’s regulations and got back in the race as an export champion serving energy hungry Asian markets. Fourth quarter 2011 US coal exports increased 6.6 percent from the Q3: 2011 and 32.6 percent from Q4: 2010 to 27.7 metric short tonnes (mst) with exports going mostly to Europe and Asia continuing to climb. Meanwhile, total U.S. coal consumption decreased by of 18.8 percent from third quarter 2011 and 9.4 …Continue Reading »

The Sum of Global Utility Executives Fears: Affordability, Reliability, Sustainability

SOURCE: PWC 12th Global Powewr & Utilities Survey

I’m not talking about the Occupy movement marching on utilities around the world.  It is worse than that if we are to believe the results of PwC’s 12th Global Power & Utilities report – The shape of power to come.  The survey tells us what we already know--- we will live in interesting times in the global power business with the uncertainty of transformational change the only constant. If you are an energy strategy consultant this is very good news.  Volatility is a wonderful thing for …Continue Reading »

FERC to EPA: Do You Know What You are Doing to Electric Reliability?

On November 29-30 FERC will hold a technical conference on reliability in Washington.  If you cannot attend a free live webcast is available for this meeting. All webcasts are archived for 3 months.  It should be interesting to see who shows up and who is squirming as they answer the questions from FERC Commissioner Philip D. Moeller. Why will there be squirming? On November 17 2011 Fitch Ratings raised its estimate of the coal-fired generation capacity likely to be forced into retirement by …Continue Reading »

Debt Deal Warnings for Energy Subsidies

The drama that produced the deal to raise the national debt ceiling without increasing taxes is sending warning shots across the bow for many industries.  The message for energy subsidies including the tax credits and treasury tax grants for wind and solar as well as tax credits for oil and gas companies could not be clearer.  The gravy train is ending because the Government cannot afford it and political realities won't tolerate it much longer. Energy Companies Need a No Subsidies Plan B. The …Continue Reading »

US Supreme Court overturns States GHG Lawsuit

The US Supreme Court decision June 20th in American Electric Power versus Connecticut (No. 10-174) rejecting a lawsuit by seven states which sought to draw the courts into setting greenhouse gas emissions targets was an exercise in both common sense and self-defense. Here is my take on the implications of the decision for the energy industry: Utilities will claim victory that the courts turned back attempts by the states to interpose themselves between the US EPA and utilities by asking the …Continue Reading »

Buying Time for Coal “Rapture”

With the US government breathing down the neck of the coal industry over emissions and threatening to shut down as many coal plants as politicians will tolerate,  I stumbled across this story about research papers produced by scientists who study the effect of volcanoes suggesting that one way to “buy time” until global warming policies can be implemented by displacing coal with clean fuels would be to inject SO2 into the stratosphere to replicate the impact that volcano eruptions have in …Continue Reading »

AEO2011: The Energy Reality Reference Case

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is out with its final report on the Annual Energy Outlook for 2011.  I recommend it to you as a good foundation for energy market and risk analysis.  As is true in most simulation modeling exercises, EIA “assumes” current laws, regulations and policies in performing a fundamental analysis of expected energy markets for 25 years.  This “reference case” becomes the baseline for further scenarios and studies of energy alternatives. For a document …Continue Reading »