July 10th, 2014
Three cheers for Rep. John Kowalko, who was on the front lines taking the heat about his opposition to the “Data Center” natural gas plant proposed for Newark.
This from Alan Muller, Green Delaware:
“The Data Center” was a scam so blatant, so absurd, that it should never have gotten any traction at all.
That it did is a sad commentary on the intellectual and ethical emptiness of Delaware’s “Chamber of Commerce” business community, and, of course, the administration of Gov. Jack Markell. The so called “Delaware Economic Development Office,”especially, demonstrates a consistent and predictable idiocy backed up by secrecy and dishonesty.
Per usual in Delaware, the scam was assembled by various parties, including the Markell Administration, the University of Delaware, and the City of Newark, before the public was given notice. Then, it was rolled out as a done deal. Thankfully, it apparently has been undone. (Note that the objection is mostly to the power plant, not to a data center as such.)
Aside from the obvious lie of saying a 278 megawatt gas-burning power plant was “auxiliary” to a data center, consider the un wisdom, or the symbolism, of a large new fossil-fuel power plant in a state so vulnerable to the effects of climate change that much of it will soon enough be under water. Delaware has the lowest mean elevation of any state at 60 ft above sea level. (Florida and Louisiana are next at 100 ft.) The mean elevation of Kent County is only 36 feet. Current measured sea level rise is around 3.4 mm per year and speeding up–it varies from place to place–and almost every new official prediction of sea level rise is higher than the last one. See “ Waters rising … Delaware going away?”
It is long past time to be shutting down the the existing combustion power plants that drive climate change and sea level rise, far less a time to be building new ones. (The total generating capacity in Delaware is on the order of 3300 megawatts.)
In the face of this, Markell has allowed investment in wind, solar, and energy efficiency to mostly come to a stop–suiting the interests of Delmarva Power–while embracing various schemes for burning more natural gas. (All considered, it appears that the climate change impact of natural gas is at least as high as coal, because of the unburned methane emissions.)
Residents of the City of Newark, and faculty and students of the University of Delaware came to life to oppose a scam in which the City and the Administration of the U of D were deeply involved. In recent decades is has been rare to see signs of political life in Newark, but self-interest does have an energizing effect. See Newark Residents Against the Power Plant.
The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club (especially Amy Roe) and the Delaware Audubon Society contributed.
But the real hero of this fight, in my opinion, is Rep. John Kowalko of Newark. Kowalko relentlessly sought accurate information from various parties so he could represent the true interests of his constituents. It doesn’t take a lot of courage for professors or environmentalists to oppose a power plant, but Kowalko, a longtime union man, took a lot of heat from any-job-at-any-cost Delaware union officials.
Kowalko, as usually does, behaved with gumption, integrity, and right-on values. Consider the oath of office that Delaware’s Constitution prescribes for public officials:
I, (name) , do proudly swear (or affirm) to carry out the responsibilities of the office of (name of office) to the best of my ability, freely acknowledging that the powers of this office flow from the people I am privileged to represent. I further swear (or affirm) always to place the public interests above any special or personal interests, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich historic and natural heritage of Delaware. In doing so I will always uphold and defend the Constitutions of my Country and my State, so help me God.
How many legislators take their oath seriously? John Kowalko is one who clearly does. (I don’t know what role has been played by Senators representing the area.)
Compare the “Data Center” fight with the fight of people around Millsboro against a giant Korean chicken-killing plant, another Markell project just as absurd and undesirable. See “ Just how disgusting can the Markell administration get? Is there any bottom?“ That area is represented by Gerald W. Hocker and John C. Atkins, two of the most special-interest-serving legislators in Delaware. (Atkins has been in the news recently, and Green Delaware has featured him before.)
Friday and Saturday are forecast to be Code Yellow bad air days in Delaware. Saturday is also Code Yellow for particles. Some discussion of the meaning of this is here.
July 9th, 2014
American Wind Energy Ass.’ John Anderson is spouting off in the DelmarvaNow Opinion section, and good thing it’s in the Opinion section because it’s a little skewed on facts and displays a disturbing outlook.
Anderson’s bio says:
I am the industry lead on national wildlife and non-wildlife siting issues for both land-based and offshore wind development. In this role, I get to work on critical issues related to the deployment and operations of U.S. wind energy facilities, which – once addressed – will aid in the advancement of a form of energy generation that is key to combating climate change.
Two things jump out at me:
- John Anderson is the industry lead, but I’m not seeing anything about development of wind siting that’s respectful of humans or wildlife, and in his opinion piece, it discounts documented issues of eagle kills and projected eagle kills and it minimizes the potential for eagle and other bird kills via wind turbines.
- John Anderson advances the fiction that “deployment and operations of U.S. wind energy facilities, which – once addressed – will aid in the advancement of a form of energy generation that is key to combating climate change.” Oh, pleeeeeeeaze… Building wind turbines does not reduce carbon emissions — shutting down coal plants does. Not one Renewable Energy Standard/Mandate links building and using renewable energy generation with shut down of any generation that produces CO2. PERIOD. There is no link. This is a problem that needs to be corrected, but as it stands, building all the wind in the world, adding to the existing surplus of generation, will not decrease carbon emissions. The economic depression actually did something for reducing CO2 emissions, but we’ve got a surplus. AWEA is a big fan of transmission, which rather than force shutdown of the CO2 emitters, adds to transmission capacity for regional marketing, and allows those coal plants to continue operating. If they were shut down, there’d be plenty of capacity for all the wind they could want on those wires, actually taking the place of the coal now on the wires. The massive transmission build-out is all about keeping “Coal on the Wires.” ICF – Midwest ISO Benefits Analysis explains it quite well, and succinctly, when it states that the benefits of the transmission build-out is best achieved where coal displaces natural gas. Great… just great policy…
I’m concerned about this both as an attorney who has worked for clients intervening in wind project dockets with significant eagle kill issues, modeling showing deaths of both Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles would occur (see record for the Goodhue Wind project here in Goodhue County, PUC Dockets 08-1233; 09-1176; 09-1349 and 09-1350), and as a former board member of the National Eagle Center, referenced with a quote from its site (though he’s misnaming it as “National Bald Eagle Center.” The name is a BIG deal to the National Eagle Center.) I’m also concerned about this because its appearing in Delmarvanow, as I have ties to Delaware and my partner Alan Muller is Executive Director of Green Delaware, instrumental in the Delaware Public Service Commission’s RFP selection of a wind/gas combo in a level playing field comparison between wind, natural gas, and IGCC (coal gasification).
It seems the lessons of the Goodhue Wind Project and its Avian and Bat Protection Plan, typical of wind projects and eagle take permits in Minnesota, need review:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife predicted the following eagle mortality would accompany the small 78MW Goodhue Wind Project a/k/a New Era Wind Farm, and yes, folks, it would require an eagle take permit:
Let’s be clear — an eagle take permit is a federal permit allowing the permit holder to kill eagles.
The National Eagle Center’s website states under “Do wind turbines need an eagle take permit” an incorrect answer:
An eagle take permit is not required for a wind turbine project to proceed, however, if harm to eagles results, the company would then be subject to prosecution. The eagle take permit process itself requires that mitigation procedures to limit potential harm to eagles be put in place, as well as mandatory data collection and regulatory oversight of the project.
This needs correction. Many wind projects do require take permits. Eagle take permits are on a project by project basis and they absolutely can and are required for wind projects, the project here in Goodhue a local example. FYI, it’s not just wind projects, it’s transmission that kill eagles too, and the AWEA folks are fond of promoting transmission “for wind” (NOT). The CapX 2020 transmission project required eagle take permits for its Belle Plaine Minnesota River crossing and for the Mississippi River crossing near Alma, Wisconsin.
Today at Delmarvanow.com:
To Americans, the bald eagle symbolizes our freedom, spirit and democracy. With National Bald Eagle Day happening every year at the end of June, we are reminded of the need to do all that we can to care for and protect our national bird across the country.
Many man-made threats to eagles exist in the landscape today, including power lines, mercury and lead poisoning, and illegal shootings — with thousands killed annually by these sources. Further, according to most in the scientific community, the single greatest threat to them, and all wildlife, is climate change.
That’s why National Resources Defense Council Executive Director Peter Lehner has said, “We need to move as quickly as possible to the clean energy future, and scaling up wind power will be a big part of the solution,” and why ConservAmerica President Rob Sisson said, “Developing energy from America’s abundant renewable natural resources must be our priority, not only for the tremendous economic benefits it yields, but because it’s one of the best tools available to help conserve wildlife, including eagles.”
All sources of energy generation, and human activity for that matter, have an impact on the natural environment. However, Americans are confronted with needing to make choices about how to generate the electricity necessary to power our modern society and doing so in the least impactful way.
According to the National Bald Eagle Center, stewards of National Bald Eagle Day, the overall impact of wind turbine collision on eagle populations is minimal compared to other sources of mortality. While unfortunate, eagle losses at modern wind farms are a rare and random event, with only a few bald eagles having ever been observed to have died in collisions with a wind turbine.
Studies of the life cycle impacts of the six major energy generation sources have shown wind energy has the lowest environmental impact of any form of electricity generation, as it emits no air or water pollution, uses no water in the generation of electricity and creates no hazardous or radioactive waste requiring permanent storage. In fact, pollution-free, renewable wind energy was built on a legacy of care and has expended significant resources proactively minimizing its impact on wildlife while representing an economical solution to mitigating the effects of climate change.
American wind power is one of the cheapest and most reliable ways we can rapidly reduce carbon pollution and solve the challenges of climate change. The American wind fleet avoids 127 million tons of carbon emissions a year, the equivalent of reducing power sector emissions by 5 percent or taking 20 million cars off the road. Wind energy is the single largest zero-emission, newly installed energy source for the past three decades. As it continues scaling up from more than 5 percent today to 20 percent of the U.S. power grid and beyond, the pollution savings will rapidly grow.
The wind energy industry does more to address its impacts on eagles than any of the other, far greater sources of eagle mortality known to wildlife experts. Wind has taken the most proactive and leading role of any utility-scale energy source to minimize wildlife impacts in general, and specifically for eagles, through constantly improving siting and avoidance and minimization techniques, and identifying options to offset the industry’s comparatively minimal impacts.
In recognizing that some human impact on eagles is unavoidable, during the last two years the U.S. Department of the Interior worked with major conservation groups and other stakeholders, including the wind energy industry, to make available limited authorization, for up to 30 years, for the taking of eagles that is incidental to and not the purpose of otherwise lawful activities. The permit is available to all sources of human-caused eagle mortality including oil and gas development, electric utilities and transportation, and was designed to conserve eagle populations by providing for a net conservation benefit for an eagle lost.
Protecting and caring for our national bird is important to the wind industry, which is why we proactively work with conservationists and regulators to find ways to minimize and fully offset our impacts.
As we take a moment each year to celebrate Bald Eagle Day, remember, the American wind energy industry is doing its part to keep bald eagles safe while providing a clean, affordable means of generating electricity, which is one of the key tools to addressing the impacts of climate change.
June 23rd, 2014
An air emissions decision emerged from the bowels of the U.S. Supreme Court today. Here’s the PDF:
Here’s the gist from the syllabus:
I’m glad for the most part that my practice doesn’t get deep into these issues, this is pretty dense. But what strikes me is the absurdity of any reliance or reference to “carbon capture and storage” as useful in a BACT analysis. Oh my…
June 20th, 2014
Hot off the press… errrr, close, they came in yesterday, THANK YOU to MPCA staff for forwarding. Check out Mark Seeley’s, it’s the best, he knows what he’s talking about and does a good job of it.
MN_EQB_2014_Seeley - THIS IS A MUST READ
EQB event_Crabtree_6-18-2014 (see p. 11: “Improvements in transmission and distribution to reduce line loss.” Give me a break… and he didn’t mention their funding for transmission for coal promotion, nor their earlier coal gasification promotion — can’t imagine why!)
Presentation1 June 2014 Commerce (Bill Grant? How credible is the guy who want’s to “find a way forward for coal?” Note p. 3, focus on 5 sectors, and coal is NOT mentioned. Surprise, surprise…)
CSEO_EQB subcommiteee meeting - This is important for the timeline and “plan”
June 17th, 2014
Where to start… in addition to just one day’s notice, look at the presenters, skewed towards “Coal on the Wires” where they can explain how it’s all about wind, an important concept as we consider what these EPA regulations mean. From this vantage point, it’s my understanding that with the new regulations, it might have an impact of maybe 7% decrease in use of coal for electrical generation. Bears more review.
Here are the EPA regs they’ll be talking about, and it’s open for Comment until some time n September:
TOMORROW, at the EQB (click for larger version):
Brad Crabtree, Great Plains Institute
Scott Wilensky, Xcel Energy
Eric Olsen, Great River Energy
All promoters of transmission, “Coal on the Wires,” otherwise known as CapX 2020 plus. Here’s CapX 2020, look at those North Dakota references:
As Xcel’s Tim Carlsgaard argued the other day, there are no plans for new coal… Well, when CapX 2020 was at the PUC for the Certificate of Need, MISO’s Jeff Webb testified that there was 3,441 of new coal in ND, SD, IA and MN in the MISO queue (and over 7,000 MW of wind in the Illinois queue). And we know that transmission for coal pays, and oh, how it pays:
But that’s different now… OH? How so? Because it’s not different. It’s “Coal on the Wires.”
First, there’s no talk of closing the coal plants in the area where CapX 2020 transmission starts. Minnesota Power did buy a transmission line and will convert it to wind, but what will happen to the coal on that line:
Oh, right, CapX 2020 will be up and running by then. And after all, additional transmission for coal has been in the works for a long, long time, well over the 15 years that I know of:
You can see how the “new” CapX 2020, JCSP, and MISO MVP plans have built on the foundation of Lignite Vision 21 and WRAO/WIREs. Yea, but that’s still old news. Sure, but there’s a lot to be said about learning from history. And then there’s this matter of trajectory, we can see where this is going.
As I noted on No CapX2020 not long ago, here’s what’s up with coal right now:
- Not one North Dakota coal plant has been shut down.
- Minnesota Power has purchased the “coal line” coming from North Dakota into Northern Minnesota, and once CapX 2020 is up and running at the western end, they’ll put that coal generation on CapX.
- Read the federal judge’s decision on the Next Generation Energy Act, declaring it unconstitutional. First, the decision notes that the Dry Fork coal plant has been moved from the West into the Eastern Interconnect (it’s “new coal” now on transmission heading our way that wasn’t coming here before).
- Also in that decision, it discusses plans for a new coal fired plant in South Dakota.
- And also the potential for an additional unit at Dry Fork, which is now in Eastern Interconnect (coming our way).
- AND it discusses the surplus at Milton Young, which would be exacerbated by transmission prohibitions of the Next Generation Energy Act.
What else is planned? Let’s all start looking, particularly since the federal judge’s decision on the Next Generation Energy Act.
Don’t forget that there is not one single Renewable Energy Standard/Mandate that requires any coal be shut down. It only requires addition of “renewable” generation. Think about that. If we shut down the coal, for instance the North Dakota coal where CapX starts, there would be plenty of transmission capacity for wind and the back up gas or hydro to firm it up. DOH! So if the enviros and those supporting RES across the country are serious about stopping coal, why aren’t they including requirements to shut down coal, and why are they promoting transmission? It doesn’t reduce emissions, doesn’t reduce CO2 or anything else, it just adds wind generation on top of an admitted surplus. Why support and promote transmission, and not require shut down of coal? Well, they are getting paid to support and promote transmission.
And speaking of Great Plains Institute…. GPI has long been trying, as Bill Grant did, to “find a way forward for coal” (Walton’s Bill Grant and “low carbon coal”). Remember Great Plains and all they did for money on coal gasification? Here’s just a bit of it:
Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development Inc.
To brief Midwest lawmakers and regulators about how advanced coal technologies are currently deployed in Europe and encourage their support for similar adoption here.
Minneapolis, MN $99,400
1 yr. 2007
And speaking of the EPA, here’s a settlement where they caved in exclusion of coal gasification as BACT (DOH, how could it be when it’s not happening? The EPA was right, and the IGCC toadies pushed for inclusion of coal gasification and got this settlement, and how much money was attached to that? Furthering the IGCC: Pipedreams of Clean and Green is not in anyone’s interest.):
The proposed settlement involves an EPA pronouncement last year that pointedly excluded mere consideration of advanced coal gasification technology or Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) as “best available control technology” for a proposed new coal plant. IGCC plants gasify coal and then burn the gas to produce electricity. The Clean Air Act calls for proposed new coal plants to use the “best available control technology” including available methods to maximize pollution reductions. In addition to Environmental Defense, the Montana Environmental Information Center and several other organizations are parties to the proposed settlement, which must undergo public notice and comment before it is finalized.
We must remember history and hopefully not repeat it. There’s the established history of transmission planning for coal, and there’s the established history of “environmental” NGOs supporting coal gasification and transmission for money. As they discuss these new EPA regulations and the potential impact, remember that they put their mouth where their money is.
Meanwhile, about those Comments to the EPA? Again, here’s what’s at issue:
And read Charlie Komanoff’s views:
How to file Comments? From the fed website, the pre-publication version I have doesn’t state the deadline, but it’s September sometime:
Submit your comments, identified by DocketID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602, by one of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov
- Email: A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov. Include docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in the subject line of the message.
- Facsimile: (202) 566-9744. Include docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 on the cover page.
- Mail: Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), Mail code 28221T, Attn: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460. In addition, please mail a copy of your comments on the information collection provisions to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB, Attn: Desk Officer for the EPA, 725 17th St. NW, Washington, DC 20503.