Capital Energy: FERC says no; NY’s wood pellet loss

May 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

By Scott Waldman and David Giambusso

Good morning! Welcome to Capital Energy, your daily guide to news on the manufacture, consumption and regulation of energy in New York. Sign up here.

PRESSING ON WITH NY CAPACITY ZONE: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday denied a state petition to delay the energy capacity zone that has roiled the Lower Hudson Valley in recent weeks. In a move designed to ease electricity demand for New York City, the capacity zone will raise the price of energy produced nearby, raising utility prices for consumers up and down the lower valley. The PSC, which petitioned FERC to delay the move a year, said they are figuring out what to do next.

– PJM capacity zone sends electricity prices soaring elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Timothy Puko.


  • FERC will not delay Lower Hudson capacity zone
  • Capital Energy: New NYPA exec, clean energy jobs decline, ‘restless’ about oil trains
  • Capital Energy: Pipeline fight bolsters nuclear facility; Anti-bottleneck bill introduced


“PJM Interconnection LLC boosted the price it pays plants to operate in a bid to encourage power companies to generate more electricity for the 61 million people in its territory. PJM sets these ‘capacity prices’ in an annual auction involving power generators, which concluded Friday. The grid covers an area ranging from New Jersey to North Carolina and as far west as Chicago.”

EUROPE’S WOOD PELLET APPETITE EVADES NY: New York is losing out on the rapidly growing market for wood pellets. Europe has a nearly insatiable demand for wood pellets which are increasingly being used to generate electricity there, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Wood pellet exports doubled in the last year, from 1.6 million short tons in 2012 to 3.2 million short tons in 2013. Advocates argue that is likely to increase. New York businesses, however, may see little benefit, they say, because the product is hard to get to overseas markets and state regulations raise costs.

CHRISTIE DRAWS FIRE OVER RGGI: Gov. Chris Christie got whacked by environmental groups yesterday for repealing specific state regulations associated with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, of which New York is a member. After withdrawing New Jersey from RGGI 3 years ago, Christie was sued by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environment New Jersey for not legally repealing state regulations. His spokesman said the governor was complying with a court order.

RAISE HIGH THE GREEN ROOF: Steve Schleider writes in the New York Real Estate Journal that green roofs are on the rise as NYC deals with increasingly hot summers. (Editor’s note: While Schleider deals mostly with plant systems on city roofs, one easy way to save on cooling costs is to paint your green roof white.)

FROM SCHUMER TO COAL: Erick Mullen, a former deputy chief of staff to Sen. Charles Schumer and special assistant to Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, has been hired by Greenidge Generation LLC. to lobby for an idled coal-fired power plant in New York’s Finger Lakes Region, Kevin Bogardus reports for Greenwire.

RECYCLING WASTE: Communities in Western New York could have saved $2.2 million if they actually recycled properly, Dan Telvock at the Investigative Post found. Most of the localities Investigative Post surveyed employ none of the policies and practices considered essential to successful recycling programs. What they do is provide residents with recycling totes or bins, circulate a leaflet once in a while and hope for the best. Some don’t even collect data from private haulers that pick up residential trash and recyclables. As a result, curbside recycling rates lag behind the national average in nine of the 10 local cities and towns surveyed.

NY POST CALLS EUROPE STUPID: As Europe copes with volatility in their energy supply as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Arthur Herman writes an op-ed chastising the EU for not resisting hydraulic fracturing.

“According to (the U.S.) Energy Information Administration, Europe sits on reserves equaling 639 trillion cubic feet of gas — roughly equal to half of Russia’s reserves (the world’s largest) and more than enough to make Europe independent of Putin and Gazprom. But that tapping those reserves means embracing fracking, the technology that has revolutionized the US energy industry by unlocking vast amounts of shale gas and oil. Like environmentalists here, Europe’s greens have made fracking a dirty word — and the European fanatics have more political clout.”


OVER HERE: Dennis Berman writes in the Wall Street Journal of Sasol, the former South African government’s state oil company, which is using technology first developed for Nazi tanks to build an enormous fracking farm in the heart of Louisiana. The company’s plans are a glimpse of what America’s fracking boom has in store, Berman writes.

“We are building a Qatar on the Bayou. From whole cloth, companies are laying new cities of fertilizer plants, boron manufacturers, methanol terminals, polymer plants, ammonia factories and paper-finishing facilities. In computer renderings, the Sasol site looks like a fearsome, steel-fitted Angkor Wat.”

MEXICO CRUDE PRODUCTION DROPS: Mexico’s energy production is on the decline. Last year, Mexico produced 2.90 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of total liquids, continuing the decline from its peak of 3.85 million bbl/d in 2004, according to the Energy Information Administration. Preliminary estimates indicate April 2014 production of crude oil was about 2.5 million bbl/d, the lowest monthly average since 1995.

– Meanwhile, in the U.S., April’s oil production broke a 26-year record, according to the American Petroleum Institute. API said U.S. crude production for April was close to 8.3 million barrels per day, a 12.6 percent increase year-on-year and the highest level for any April since 1988, UPI’s Daniel Graeber reports.

– Brent crude is up, for the first time in three days with news of continued uncertainty in Ukraine. WTI held steady, Bloomberg reports.

“Brent for July settlement climbed as much as 33 cents to $110.35 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange and was at $110.32 at 11:24 a.m. Sydney time … WTI for July delivery was 14 cents higher at $104.25 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The U.S. benchmark crude was at a discount of $6.11 to Brent. The spread shrank closed at $5.91 yesterday, the narrowest in six weeks.”

CAP TRADE IS DEAD — LONG LIVE CAP AND TRADE: (via Politico)Erica Martinson with more []: “Many people in Washington think of cap and trade as a carbon-cutting strategy that died in the Senate four years ago. But in fact, it’s alive and well in much of the country. Advocates say it’s working. And it’s poised to gain new life from the proposed greenhouse gas rule that EPA is rolling out next week.”

FROM DISASTER TO MODEL: A western Pennsylvania power plant is expected in a few years to turn from one of the worst polluters in the country to a model for how coal-fired power plants can slash pollution, Dina Cappiello and Kevin Begos write for the Associated Press. Faced with cutting sulfur dioxide pollution blowing into downwind states by 80 percent in less than a year, lawyers for EME Homer City Generation L.P. sued the Environmental Protection Agency to block air pollution rules, saying it would cause it grave harm and bring a painful spike in electricity bills. None of those dire predictions came to pass.

LEG UP ON RENEWABLES: When the government proposes new limits on power plant greenhouse gas emissions next week, the proposal is likely to give a big boost to natural gas at the expense of dirtier-burning coal, Jennifer Dlouhy writes in Fuel Fix. But other non-emitting electricity sources — including wind and solar — also stand to benefit from the requirements set to be announced June 2.

CRUDE BY RAIL STILL JUMPING: Rail is continuing to be a viable alternative for oil producers looking to avoid pipeline problems, Reuters reports. Canadian exports of crude oil by rail hit a record high of 160,000 barrels per day in the first quarter of 2014, Canada’s National Energy Board says, a more than 50 percent rise from the same period a year earlier. Canada shipped 160,164 bpd out of the country by rail between January and March, a sharp rise from the first quarter of 2013, when it exported 105,632 bpd, the NEB said on Friday.

Talk to us. If you have a story in the world of New York energy, we want to hear it. Email tips, scoops, ideas and complaints to and Follow us on Twitter at @Giambusso and @scottpwaldman.

LANDRIEU TOUTS ENERGY CLOUT: As Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu faces stiff opposition from Republicans in her re-election bid, the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is touting her clout as an energy leader in a state that is tying it’s fortunes to oil and gas. The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker reports.

LOCAL GOVERNMENTS LEAD THE WAY ON ENERGY: The U.S. federal government is failing its citizens by not developing a comprehensive energy policy that ensures secure, economical and reliable energy over the long term, write actress Darryl Hannah and Diane Moss, an independent energy policy consultant, in the Wall Street Journal.


– Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland vetoed a bill Friday that would have halted a huge wind energy project on the Eastern Shore, prioritizing renewable energy over the concerns of a major military installation in Southern Maryland, the Baltimore Sun reports.

– Hess still selling toy trucks: Hess’s sale of its retail business to Marathon Energy will not affect the sale of its 2014, 50th anniversary, toy truck. The green and white trucks have been a staple of toy boxes since 1964.

WANT MORE ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT COVERAGE THROUGHOUT THE DAY? To learn more about how to get bite-size “whiteboard” alerts that focus specifically on energy and environment issues sent directly to your inbox, please contact Lauren Englander at

Comments are closed.