Energy News for February 17, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on February 17, 2015


By Darius Dixon
With help from Alex Guillén, Bob King and Tyler Weyant

OIL TRAIN DERAILS IN W.V.: A train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in Fayette County, W. Va., yesterday afternoon and was quickly followed up by a fireball. The Charleston Gazette reports that 25 of 109 cars in the CSX train derailed in Adena Village, and at least one tank car ended up in the Kanawha River. Another car slammed into a house and burst into flames, and the Kanawha County manager said at least 14 tank cars were reported to be burning following the derailment, and some cars exploded.

LET IT SNOW, FOR 600: You may have noticed that some fluffy white stuff has been falling from the sky for a while now, so the winter weather is likely to have thrown off a few schedules. Be sure to double-check your agenda for the day. The winter weather advisory for the District runs until noon. The federal government is closed and you all know how this town “operates” under these conditions. If you have to go out, please be safe.

GET YOUR CONFERENCE ON: Both Platts and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners are scheduled to hold their annual meetings today. Stephen Burns, who will be giving his first public speech since becoming chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission earlier this year, is headlining the first day of Platts’ nuclear conference. He’s scheduled to speak at 9 a.m. at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Today’s sessions include discussions what needs to happen if nuclear power is to survive in competitive markets, and the role of states in nuclear power.

Meanwhile , Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA chief Gina McCarthy will address NARUC’s wide-ranging winter meeting this morning at the Renaissance Washington Hotel. Curtains go up at 8:30 a.m. and the pair still plan to attend. Of course, they’re both Bay State natives so they’ve also got sacred New England honor to uphold when it comes to facing down wicked weather. Still, delays are possible. Check @NARUC for updates. EPA’s proposed carbon rules and the future of the electric grid are topics of discussion. NARUC is also holding a session titled “You’re Still Not Sure Global Warming is Real?” where the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions’ Joe Casola and Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry will, according to the program, “answer the hardest questions we could put to them.”

HI MAAM, HAVE A MINUTE TO REJECT EPA REGS?: The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which represents coal-fired utilities, plans to deploy street teams wearing sandwich board signs outside of NARUC’s conference all day today urging attendees to reject the EPA’s proposed carbon rules. The group also intends to roll out a “mobile billboard” that will “play a series of videos and infographics from ACCCE’s #ColdInTheDark campaign,” which is concerned with possible reliability impacts of the rules. If you miss them today, ACCCE says it plans to take their parade to FERC headquarters this Thursday when the agency holds a technical conference discussing reliability, market and infrastructure aspects of the draft EPA carbon regs.

OUT WITH SOLYNDRA, IN WITH SOLARCITY: Silevo, a startup that solar power giant SolarCity acquired last year to build up its in-house panel-manufacturing, now leases the former headquarters of the infamous – and long defunct – Solyndra, reports the San Francisco Business Times. The lease includes a new R&D center and serves as Silevo’s headquarters. “SolarCity is spending big bucks on Silevo’s manufacturing capability. That includes a massive plant under construction in Buffalo, New York, a potentially risky and capital-intense strategy to drive down the cost of panels and boost their efficiency.”

NUCLEAR PLANT TO LIVE OFF NEW SURCHARGE: Exelon Corp. has made a deal to help keep its Ginna nuclear plant running – adding a surcharge on consumers. “Rochester Gas & Electric customers will likely pay for the plant to operate until 2018, under terms of an agreement reached late Friday with the plant’s operators, Exelon,” according to our sister publication Capital New York. The agreement means the 581-megawatt Ginna, which has lost more than $100 million over the past few years, can temporarily charge above-market rates to customers in the region. The surcharge plan still needs approval from state regulators and it’s not yet clear how much the agreement will cost regional ratepayers. CNY:

BLOOMBERG’S INDIAN WINTER: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, now a special United Nations envoy for cities and climate change, is discussing the issue with officials and executives in India. He spoke yesterday at RE-Invest Expo, a renewable energy investment forum in New Delhi, and today will sign a memorandum of understanding on road safety initiatives. Climate activists hope to make India a hotbed of renewable energy deployment, particularly in distributed solar power, as the nation steps up efforts to bring grid access and reliability for its population of more than 1.2 billion.

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EXELON-PEPCO MERGES FORWARD IN DELAWARE : Exelon Corp. has reached a settlement agreement helping the company’s merger with Pepco Holdings Inc. move forward in Delaware. The agreement, hashed out with the staff of the Delaware Public Service Commission, the state’s public advocate, and department of natural resources and environmental control as well as three efficiency and renewable energy advocacy groups, still has to be officially approved by the leadership of the state commission. But with the proposed settlement in hand, a request has been filed to cancel evidentiary hearings scheduled to begin tomorrow. And with Delaware now largely spoken for, the deal finds itself at the mercy of regulators in the two jurisdictions that are also the least likely to welcome it: D.C. and Maryland. The settlement agreement:

BIRD + TURBINE = FEDERAL REGULATION : A bird conservation group is taking another crack at asking the Interior Department to issue stronger regulations protecting avians from wind turbines. In a petition last week, the American Bird Conservancy urged the Fish and Wildlife Service “to establish a permitting scheme that would regulate the impacts of wind power projects on migratory birds.” The Obama administration has prosecuted two wind companies over bird deaths. While the industry notes improvements in technology and siting have greatly reduced threats to birds, ABC fears the growing number of turbines still poses major risk to birds, particularly bald and golden eagles. ABC in 2011 asked FWS for similar regulations. In response, the agency said it would compile data on companies’ compliance with voluntary guidelines. Petition:

ANTI-NUKES SLAM NORTH ANNA EXPANSION: Fourteen groups, mainly environmental organizations like Friends of the Earth and Beyond Nuclear, have sent letters to a range of leaders including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the NRC leadership, and top officials at Dominion urging them not to expand the North Anna nuclear plant. Dominion has had an application before the NRC since 2007 requesting permission to build an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor at the site. Instead, the groups urge that instead go into efficiency improvements and renewable energy. The North Anna plant, which currently two reactors, went offline following the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rattled the East Coast in 2011. The letter:


– Why oil refinery workers are striking for the first time in decades. The Washington Post:

– Transocean CEO and President Steps Down. The Wall Street Journal:

– Oil prices rise further but analysts expect downward correction. Reuters:

– Pilgrim nuclear power plant shut down for winter storm. The Patriot Ledger:

– Report: Nuke lab failed to keep some information classified: The Associated Press:


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