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  • 15 Nov 2018 10:48 PM | Anonymous member

    Observations On Public Utility Regulation

    Branko Terzić

    Q: How many regulators did it take to regulate wholesale sales in 1980?

    A: The FERC and a staff of 1,500.

    Q: How many regulators does it take to regulate wholesale markets in 2018?

    A: Maybe 9,000, including FERC and staffs of NYSO, NE-ISO, MISO, PJM, CAISO, ERCOT and NERC.

    • When given a span of numbers from five studies the mediocre regulator will choose the arithmetic average.
    • The worst reason to continue a regulatory policy is because your predecessors established it.
    • No two commissions are the same across state lines or over time in the same state.
    • Advocates will always point to favorable treatment of a topic in another state overlooking all the unfavorable practices of that same state.
    • Everyone has an opinion on rate of return levels as they figure it's between the interest rate on a passbook savings account and that of a credit card! No citizen has an opinion about the other four revenue requirement components: depreciation, operating expense and taxes.
    • Most typically advocates of a position will selectively quote Bonbright, avoiding the parts conflicting with their position.
    • When there is controversy over a new proposal some commissions order a "pilot study" under the theory that consumers in the subject utility's service territory are unique in the country or perhaps even within the state.
    • From the British TV series "Yes, Minister": the first rule of any bureaucracy is keep all it has. The second rule is to get more.
    • Open meetings are bureaucracy's version of theatre. It's all scripted and the ending is known in advance.
    • It is naturally assumed by some advocates that consumers, otherwise busy dealing with insurance, health care, mortgages, internet, cable TV, competing mobile phone offers and other choices have a particularly hard time understanding utility rates and bills.
    • Public service commissions are so named because they regulate companies which provide public services. Not otherwise.
    • When legislatures get mad at their regulators they sometimes change the names of the agencies believing, I presume, that the name change will lead to lower rates.
    • The advantage of a three person commission over a five person commission is two less scripted speeches at each meeting.
    • If a regulator becomes well known by the public either the regulator or regulation is in trouble.

    Nuclear Power Advances in Turkey

    William Bennett

    In 2013, Turkey signed an agreement with Japan to build the former’s second nuclear power plant with an anticipated completion date of 2028. The lead firm will be Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. The lead Turkish partner is the Electricity Generation Company Incorporated. “This will be an opportunity to export goods and services to Turkey that American firms will not want to miss,” according to Harika Consulting LLC’s CEO William Bennett.

    After his visit last October to the town and environs of Sinop on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, Bennett said “I can understand why Turkey plans to build its second nuclear power plant at the northernmost point on the country’s Black Sea coastline. There is plenty of water to serve as coolant for the plant; the site is away from the town itself with plenty of land for the various buildings; and the view of the sea at Sinop is so beautiful that the workforce will no doubt eagerly want to go there every day!”

    Oil Markets and Uncertainty

    Alan Levine

    Oil price levels and directions are, by their nature, uncertain. The current economic environment provides no exception. Broad equities markets are showing cracks in a long running bull market and any list of economy-moving elements includes a wider than normal range of influences. Overall, concerns focus on growth slowing globally and the effect of tariffs imposed between the United States and China. A very incomplete list of factors would include rising interest rates, Brexit, emerging market challenges, growing U.S. budget deficits and political uncertainties in the Middle East.

    Oil markets continue to worry about the impact of the November 4 sanctions on Iranian oil, now ameliorated by exceptions granted to several countries. The sanctions are bullish, but a softer economy could limit their impact, especially in view of the waivers granted. Some observers believe the lost production has already been factored into price. Analysis of how to deal with Iranian oil already taken in anticipation of sanctions is complicated, because China has reportedly been storing rather than refining the crude oil. This is bearish for future supply/demand balances.

    Alternative supply sources may not be able fully to supply adequate crude oil to refiners. U.S. crude oil production remains at 10.9 million barrels daily In EIA’s weekly supply/demand estimates. This level of output was reached In June 2018, after a long period of growth. Production has remained stuck around 11 million barrels per day since then.

    One private analysis projects domestic U.S. production moving to 13 million barrels daily by 2021. This analysis suggests after 2021, U.S. production will be less important in global balances. This will be because there will prove to be fewer barrels than first thought, per-well productivity will also be lower than expected, and there will be flatter growth in production. The Eagle Ford Shale, for example, is already facing reduced estimates of quantity.

    Empowering Energy Consumers via Blockchain Technology

    Chris Peoples

    Energy organizations embracing a decentralized future today, are ensuring their competitive positioning for tomorrow

    Energy organizations today face increasing pressure to seek and develop innovative competitive advantages in commodity energy markets

    Providing customers with a secure and cost-effective power and gas supply is no longer enough. Energy retailers in competitive markets strive to differentiate a commodity product offering among a slew of competitors vying for an increasingly sophisticated customer base. Further, energy providers must adapt to markets with limited and at time decreasing demand growth as energy efficiency initiatives and demand-side management options become more prevalent. To better serve their customers and retain footholds in their markets, energy organizations are seeking new ways to expand and retain this increasingly flexible and sophisticated customer base by finding ways to generate additional value and move into new sectors.

    An emerging trend shows energy organizations actively exploring integrated product bundles, combining smart building technologies with traditional commodity product offerings. The natural adjacency of energy organizations to the smart building sector places innovative energy organizations in an optimal position to take advantage of some of the expected growth from the sector. This opportunity in itself presents an attractive value proposition for energy organizations as shown for example by Navigant Research which estimates that the annual revenue of the global building energy management systems (BEMS) market is expected to grow from $4 billion in 2017 to $13 billion by 2026. Maintaining emphasis on adapting to and finding new ways to utilize innovations has never been more critical in the energy sector than it is today.

    Blockchain technology is one way organizations today are looking to expand customer product offerings and drive new value

    On this next horizon of energy innovations also sits blockchain technology, promising not just new waves of growth but a re-envisioning of long-standing norms of our current energy systems. The utilization of blockchain technology combined with other evolving technology mediums such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, cloud, and edge computing will seek to provide energy consumers with new and flexible ways of transacting, responding to market signals, and managing overall consumption. Similar to the trends surrounding smart building technology, the effective utilization and adaptation to blockchain technology will become an essential element of competitive positioning for energy retailers and consumers on the system.

    Through the deployment of localized permissioned blockchain networks, consumers will increasingly have access to a host of transactive energy services ranging from peer-to-peer transactions to advanced energy demand management. Transactive energy focuses on the economic and control techniques used to manage the flow or exchange of energy within a power system. At the center of enabling these new levels of transactions between parties, is the ability to securely and reliably exchange and share data between the parties involved in the power system. This is where blockchain comes in and plays a vital role in allowing these secure and reliable data exchanges and transactions among parties to occur.

    To find out more about this interesting concept contact Chris Peoples, PP&A's Managing Partner, at or click here to view the full article at PP&A's website including a specific example seen in the market today.

    Fracking for Gas

    Lenny Wolfe

    One of the benefits of NCAC is the opportunity to see some parts of the energy system up close. As part of the USAEE/IAEE meeting in September, I went on a trip organized by NCAC member Omar Cabrales to see natural gas drilling and production in West Virginia. Seeing Antero Resources workers in the process of drilling eight different wells into the Marcellus Shale from one location was fascinating. What made it even more special was that Omar had arranged for a geology professor from West Virginia University to travel with us so that we could ask questions in real time about what was going on “down hole”.

    We saw them treating the water that returns from the well to remove the salt and landfilling it in an environmentally-responsible manner. Then we visited a gas processing site where they remove impurities to get the gas ready for shipping to customers, where the massive scale was impressive. We also saw many pipelines being laid up over hills to get the gas moved to the trunk lines.

    I was inspired by seeing and talking to local people being put to work in good paying jobs as they get this important resource to customers (some pipeline welders can make over $200K/year). I was impressed by the concern for safety and environmental responsibility shown by Antero. Seeing many water trucks moving over potholed roads gave me an insight into some of the many challenges overcome in developing this resource. Each truck carried advertising on the back saying “Drivers Wanted ASAP”.

    And the directional drilling technology is amazing. They drill down a mile and outward several thousand feet and can hit a 4ft x 4ft square. The professor said he has students who can guide a drill bit from their laptop while in class! A great trip, thanks to NCAC.

    This Green House

    Ben Schlesinger

    Here are three views of our construction site on a nice day in September. Otherwise, it’s been spring rains, summer rains, autumn rains – so far 2018 has been one of the wettest years on record here in the Mid-Atlantic region. The incessant rains have definitely slowed construction and limited solar output. But, nevertheless, our amazing team completed the house on November 5, about a week ahead of schedule! Now, we’re dealing with the paperwork, yard clean-up and grooming, and some landscaping.

    Here’s the energy picture:

    1) Solar and geothermal – and major insulation. Rains have severely reduced solar energy production, but on even partly sunny days, energy use has been balancing out this fall – and that’s with HVAC and hot water systems, the kitchen, and lighting all up and running! Energy efficiency is why this is working, i.e., 45 SEER geothermal heat pumps, immense 6” insulation, LED lighting throughout, and more – and all in spite of suboptimal orientation of our 50 SunPower panels, which are hidden from view on flat sections of the roof.

    2) Three Tesla PowerWalls. Still waiting, but Talbot County recently approved their installation, so hopefully won’t be long now. This house is on-grid, not off-grid. But still, we’ve sized our battery storage large enough to let us use all excess solar energy during evening peak periods and at night. Also, together with the solar panels, the PowerWalls will serve as our emergency back-up generator in case the house loses power, which hasn’t happened in the 19 months since we bought the property, as far as we know.

    3) Electric cars. Once we’ve got our Use & Occupancy Permit and some furniture next week, we’ll move in (Yes!) and try charging the electric cars. Will charge them during daylight hours so they’ll be running on solar energy, versus PJM’s coal-dominated daytime energy mix. Then, on evenings after charging the cars, what happens depends on the season – on winter nights, the house will probably need to use electricity from the grid, which at that point relies mostly on high-efficiency natural gas turbines; on summer nights after charging the EVs, we expect the PowerWalls will hold enough solar-generated electricity to make it till dawn without buying electricity.

    What did all this cost, and will it ever pay back? How much carbon are we preventing from entering the atmosphere, and what’s our per-unit avoided cost of carbon? Will we actually be carbon neutral? Stay tuned. We’ll know once we’ve gotten a full year of operations under our belt. At that point, we’ll do the analysis and hope to present results at the November 2019 USAEE-IAEE North American Conference in Denver.

  • 15 Nov 2018 11:28 AM | Anonymous member

    USAID and USEA Drive Electricity Security for its Allies in Southeast Europe (SEE) through a New Electricity Market Initiative (EMI)

    Elliot Roseman

    In a pathbreaking project, the transmission system and market operators (TSOs and MOs) in eight countries in SEE are working to integrate their electricity markets for the benefit of millions of customers. With funding from the US Agency for International Development, the US Energy Association (USEA) is spearheading the EMI by convening the stakeholders, conducting analyses, and considering policies that will help realize the benefits – economic and otherwise - of such consolidation. Figure 1 below illustrates those objectives.

    USEA is also proactively engaging the region’s regulators as observers to the EMI working group, since the issues that the EMI is dealing with could clearly have regulatory and policy implications. We are further mobilizing the knowledge of international experts from Europe and North America to share best practices and guidance, while recognizing the need for the EMI to tailor the path of progress to this region.

    Unlike much of the rest of Europe, this region’s electricity generation, transmission and wholesale power sales remain largely balkanized, with bilateral deals between the incumbent utilities making up the bulk of cross-border transactions – whether for wholesale power, balancing or day-ahead sales.  There are promising developments, such as a new soon-to-be-energized cable across the Adriatic Sea to Italy, emerging power exchanges, the “coupling” of several countries’ markets.

    In this context, the EMI seeks to create an exchange-based regional power market where none exists today, one that would lower and ultimately eliminate the seams between countries. This would create a critical mass to attract more private capital to the wholesale power sector. Further, a larger market with a robust grid would support both competition and innovation, and create fertile ground for more foreign investment and renewable generation to flourish and flow across borders.

    In addition to the 11 companies that are now EMI members, several more may join soon (Figure 2 illustrates our current geography).  After a definitional mission in April, and successful working group meetings in July and October, the next gathering will be in February 2019, when the EMI members will consider in detail the scenarios to analyze that will demonstrate and quantify the extent to which a regional day-ahead market would be viable.  After evaluating day-ahead opportunities, the EMI may turn its attention to demonstrating the benefits of joint agreement on hourly transmission transfer capacity across borders, which could make a meaningful difference in day-to-day flows and customer access to the most cost-effective power.

    In conjunction with USEA’s work, other agencies such as the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the Energy Community Secretariat, and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity are actively working to bring SEE into a new era. USEA has other working groups in the region, including ones focused on electricity distribution, natural gas and cyber security. For more information, please contact Elliot Roseman, Program Director at USEA, at, and 202-312-1255, and visit

    Latest Thinking and Initiatives on the New Climate and Circular Economy

    Janine Finnell

    As a member of The National Capital Area Chapter of the United States Association for Energy Economics, whose work is focused on advancing clean energy and sustainable solutions, I would like to share several recent reports and initiatives which have caught my attention in moving toward a new climate and circular economy .

    The Urgency and Need for Accelerating a Transition

    The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) is a well-respected international organization that produces leading edge energy statistics and analyses of the global energy sector. Its World Energy 2017 Outlook Report points to the need to make transformative changes in the energy sector to reduce carbon emissions. The IEA examined a number of scenarios related to energy use and resulting climate emissions, including the “New Policies Scenario” and the “Sustainable Development Scenario.” The New Policies scenario was striking because their projections included the current commitments of countries under the Paris Climate Agreement. Nevertheless, global CO2 emissions and energy demand under this scenario are still projected to rise with the equivalent of adding another India and China to global energy demand between now and 2040.

    In the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, which would reduce carbon emissions substantially, renewables, energy efficiency, and other technologies - including nuclear and carbon capture - are recommended for decarbonization along with increased electrification to obtain a radical reduction in CO2 emissions. IEA recommends that the world’s economies pursue the Sustainable Development Scenario.

    Potential for a New Climate Regime and Circular Economy

    A new Climate Economy Project report published by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate entitled “Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century: Accelerating Climate Action in Urgent Times,” highlights how lowering carbon emissions can yield great economic benefit. The report estimates that taking bold new action could create USD26 trillion in new economic gains by 2030 to accelerate the transition to a better, more inclusive new climate economy in five key economic systems: energy, cities, sustainable land use, wise water management, and a circular economy. The report was produced by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, made up eminent economic leaders including former presidents and finance ministers, CEOs of multinational companies, and heads of leading economic organizations. The New Climate Economy project is undertaken by a global partnership of research institutes with the World Resources Institute as its managing partner.

    Circular Charlotte

    Many of the ideas above are coalescing in the city of Charlotte, New Carolina. This city recently released a report entitled “Circular Charlotte: Towards a Zero Waste and Inclusive City” with recommendations to implement the circular economy to help reduce waste, increase energy and water efficiency, and provide jobs in a more inclusive economy.

    Four Generations Awards & Holiday Celebration on November 30th in Arlington, VA

    If you are interested in these and related topics, consider attending the Leaders in Energy 5th annual Four Generations Awards & Holiday Celebration on November 30th, 6-9 pm, in Arlington, VA. Meet leaders across multiple generations who are working to advance clean energy and sustainability solutions. Our awardees’ diverse initiatives include broad-based vision and empowering action at the local, state, and international levels. They span the fields of energy storage technology, environmental justice, energy education, and ecological and steady-state economics. This will be a great way to spend an evening with others who are passionate and knowledgeable about these topics.

    Energy Security and Dominance in the 21st Century Beyond Oil and Gas

    Ricardo Raineri

    The quest for energy security. One of the main themes which dominated the twentieth century energy discussion was energy security. That led to the creation of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 1974, and in 1977 to the creation of the Association of Energy Economists, lately renamed the International Association for Energy Economics. Energy security concerns developed because of the excessive dependency on imported oil after the 1973-74 Arab states instituted an embargo against countries supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War. The concerns developed in conjunction with the 1978-79 Iran oil production and export cuts and the cancelation of contracts with US companies, during the Iranian revolution. The 1973-74 oil embargo led a group of Western countries to agree to the creation of the IEA, designed to help countries to coordinate a collective response to major disruptions in the supply of oil.

    The ghosts of major disruptions of energy supply, in oil and gas, motivated by geopolitical issues, remained present for the last quarter of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century. Today, as Saudi Arabia opens the door to cut crude oil production among OPEC countries and noninstitutional participants, we are remained that these ghosts are not gone.

    Since the 1970s, world population has almost doubled, the standard of living has improved, and a smaller percentage of the population lives in poverty. Over the same period, primary energy consumption has more than doubled, with a large share of that increase taking place in developing countries. We are thirstier for energy, and have seen large swings in geopolitical power, from north to south and west to east, in an unstable environment.

    New Buffers for Energy Security

    Beyond the large increase in population and energy consumption, there is good news on the international energy landscape, where important energy security buffers have been added.

    First, additional countries, some with very stable democracies and business environments, have become important oil and gas producers, increasing the diversity of oil and natural gas resources. The new players include Canada, China, Brazil, and Norway. They added an extra layer of competition to OPEC and producers from politically unstable regions and very unstable business environments. See figure 1.

    Second, innovation has allowed access to primary energy sources that were unfeasible a few decades ago. That is the case of Canada with its tar sands, Brazil with pre-salt and deep oil production, Norway in the extreme weather conditions of the North Sea, and the great technological development in fracking and horizontal drilling in the US that revived its oil and gas industry. We should add the increased security that LNG technology has brought to many countries, allowing them to diversify their sources of natural gas supply.

    Figure 1: Oil Production

    The third factor is the fantastic technological change that has taken place in the renewable energy sector, with sharp reduction in the costs of new renewable energy sources such as wind and solar for electricity generation. In some cases, the costs are down to 1/5 of the cost in 2010, enabling these new energy resources to become an important part of the energy mix in many places, displacing conventional power generation resources such as coal and gas.

    Big Changes in The Electric Grid

    In the years to come, we expect important transformations in the power sector, with a larger penetration of renewables with variable production. What we will need is a redesign of the electric grid, especially in the way it is operated and in how the power plants are dispatched. And we will need the addition of large amounts of energy/electricity storage capacity, taking advantage of the new technologies. Also, great changes are expected in transportation, with a large penetration of electric vehicles that will be plugged into the electric grid, taking from and injecting energy into it.

    Several European countries - Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom -have announced that by 2025 and 2030 only buses and electric cars will be permitted to transit through their cities. In China, in major cities, all public transportation buses must be electric. In Latin America, Chile is looking for a deep change in its public transportation system with the introduction of electric vehicles.

    The digitalization of the electric grid is imperative to manage an increasing number of sources of supply and demand. What will be needed is a redefinition of the different power markets and the redefinition of ancillary services markets.

    Storage and The Lithium Equation

    Storage technologies for the electric grid and batteries for electric vehicles and electronic devices are making big improvements in their energy density and have experienced significant cost reductions. Batteries for electric vehicles have dropped to a fifth of their cost in 2010.

    Even though it is too early to know what the leading storage technology for utilities and vehicles within a decade will be, lithium-ion batteries are the default choice for most personal electronics and most electric cars today. Lithium-ion batteries are cheaper, given their energy density.

    Although there are other emerging technologies that might contest the leadership of lithium-ion batteries, such as solid-state batteries, supercapacitors and graphene fuel cells, still they are not at a stage of economic development to be competitive.

    Who will be the winners? It`s hard to know! However, we should remain alert to the availability of resources and materials that support these different technologies.

    As long as lithium-ion batteries are and remain the leading storage technology, it is important to be concerned about providing enough lithium to back a sharp increase in demand. The reliability of lithium sources is also in question. How much lithium is available today, and where is it?

    Only four countries concentrate 96% of lithium production and lithium reserves. Chile stands as the leading country in reserves, with 44% of world reserves. It is one of two countries that lead the production of lithium in the world. Chile and Australia accounted for 76% of lithium production in 2017; at 2017 consumption levels, current world lithium reserves can last more than 350 years. Today, about 46% of lithium production is used for batteries, and that figure is expected to increase up to 80% within a decade to satisfy the huge demand of lithium needed in the batteries for the electromobility revolution. Between 2016 and 2017 lithium production increased by 13%, and by 2025 lithium consumption can easily double the 2017 consumption number. 

    Lithium as A Strategic Resource

    Chile is a leading country in South America, offering the best ranked business environment in the region by the World Bank 2019 Doing Business report. It is number 56 among 190 economies. It also offers one of the best environments for investments in the mining sector, number 8 according to the investment attractiveness index for the mining sector elaborated by the Fraser Institute.

    In addition to its favorable business environment, Chile is favored with large reserves of lithium, which are found in brines below flat salt surfaces in the northern desert of the country. All that is needed for its extraction is the vast solid salt flat surface of the desert and the sun to evaporate the brine. In contrast, Australia's lithium reserves are found in hard-rock sources, which make them more expensive to process than brines.

    By the end of 2017, the global supply of lithium was dominated by six producers: Albemarle, SQM, Tianqi, FMC, Orocobre, and Galaxy Resources.

    The Chilean SQM and the American Albemarle are the only companies in Chile that have had contracts in force since the 1980s to extract lithium. These permits were granted by the Corporation for the Promotion of Production (Corfo), which, determines which projects can operate on behalf of the state.

    The Chinese company Tianqi Lithium Corporation has a 51% participation in the Australian company Talison Lithium. The other 49% is controlled by Albemarle, and recently Tianqi bought 26.1% of the shares of SQM. For Tianqi, these ownership plus other stakes it has in lithium reserves in other places, lead it to a path of getting control over 70% of the global lithium market. That would give it control over a component that today is a strategic ingredient for batteries and the development of a world-class electric car industry.

    Also, Tianqi with Albermarle, through the Talison joint venture, already controls half of the property of other lithium deposits in Chile, Siete Salares, which includes mining exploration concessions not yet exploited in an area of 152 km2. That endeavor could become the second largest lithium reserve in Chile, after the Salar de Atacama, where SQM and Albemarle have their operations.

    The antitrust authorities in Chile expressed no main concerns and approved the entry of Tianqi Lithium Corporation in the property of SQM. However, the national economic prosecutor - who also supported the entry of Tianqi in the ownership of SQM - has acknowledged to the Chilean Congress that there is indeed an agreement between Albemarle and Tianqi to split the world market for lithium concentrate.

    One of the main issues for Chile regarding this corporate operation is determination of the transfer prices. Tianqi has a strategy to extend its business by encapsulating both upstream and downstream activities in the lithium industries, and the coordination among global players could depress selling prices.

    If the country can start trading lithium at lower than market costs, negatively affecting the taxes and the royalties that the Chilean government could collect from the sales, that would also negatively affect SQM minority shareholders locally and abroad.

    One of the drawbacks for the global economy is the risk of market power that in lithium products, with the concentration of its production in a few large companies with a stake of more than 70% of the market.

    China’s interest in leverage in the Chilean lithium industry is logical given the easy access to the resource and its low cost of production, compared with lithium production costs in other regions. That access will give Chinese industry an important competitive advantage in batteries and the electric car industry.

    A Chilean high-level government official has confirmed that the authority is working on a plan to allocate new lithium production contracts to investors interested in giving an additional impulse to the development of the industry. It is looking for new partnerships that provide more than just an extractive activity and give much more value added to the Chilean lithium industry. But any new extraction activity on this venue, might take many years to materialize.

    As explained in a recent US Geological Survey report, “Lithium supply security has become a top priority for technology companies in the United States and Asia. Strategic alliances and joint ventures among technology companies and exploration companies continued to be established to ensure a reliable, diversified supply of lithium for battery suppliers and vehicle manufacturers.”

    In this new industry, Asian players are moving fast and decisively to take the control of the resources, demonstrating that the access to resources and the leadership of advanced energy technologies should be a priority for energy security and dominance in the 21st century.

  • 18 Oct 2018 11:06 PM | Anonymous member

    USAEE Conference September 23-26, 2018

    Pat McMurray

    NCAC members helped organize the USAEE Conference in Alexandria, September 23 – 26. It was a privilege to attend this major national conference with professionals from all over the U.S. and many international participants.

    Barney Rush, board member of ISO New England, moderated a panel on Electricity Market Design And Operations In Stress that focused on how ISOs/RTOs will maintain reliability as the grid is powered increasingly by gas and renewables. Gordon Van Welie, CEO, ISO New England, said his region is trending toward greater reliability risk in the winter, arising from a risky fuel security profile, that is, a lack of fuel storage and availability in extended periods of firm energy during cold weather. The region will become more dependent on large volumes of LNG. Andy Ott, CEO,PJM, observed that DOE’s NOPR, which would have provided cost recovery for power plants that keep 90 days of fuel onsite, would not have been the right answer to reliability problems. The correct solution, he said, is not to favor coal or nuclear but to price the valuable attributes that can be reliable during periods of any potential fuel scarcity. Thad Hill, CEO, Calpine, said that markets can’t work if government takes more control. The right solution, in his view, is to price carbon.

    Natalie Kempkey, U.S. Energy Information Administration, moderated a session titled U.S. Energy Policy Deep Dive, exploring how to reconcile the nation’s many competing energy goals. Members of her panel were Melanie Kenderdine, Energy Futures Initiative, Linda Gillespie Stuntz, Stuntz, Davis & Staffier, P.C. and Kevin Book, ClearView Energy Partners LLC.

    Past USAEE President (and past NCAC President) Ben Schlesinger, Benjamin Schlesinger and Associates, LLC, moderated a plenary session on The Battery Revolution. His session featured a lively discussion of how to integrate storage into the grid infrastructure and the potential impact of storage on electricity and natural gas markets. Jason Burwen, Vice President for Policy, Energy Storage Association, reviewed technologies and their benefits. Eric Hittinger, Associate Professor of Public Policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, presented his current research and analysis on battery storage costs and climate benefits and inadvertent costs. The Hon. Marc Korman, Member of the Maryland House of Delegates (D-16), discussed the importance of state-level initiatives to advance storage technologies.

    NCAC President Michael Ratner, Library of Congress, moderated the Energy and the Environment – Oil & Gas Impacts panels. The student presenters did a good job of explaining their work, sparking an excellent exchange of ideas. All the presenters were innovative in their approach to their topics.

    Past NCAC President Elaine Levin partnered with past NCAC President Alan Levine to present a workshop on Energy Risk Management: Understanding Hedging, Futures and Option Markets.

    Past USAEE President, past NCAC President, and EIA Administrator 2012-2017 Adam Sieminski was the keynote speaker on the first day of the conference; he noted that energy discussions are usually based on subjective assessments rather than objective data analysis. He emphasized that there should be a preference for evidence-based policy. Circumstances that are viewed as political crises, such as a rise in gas prices, should instead be seen as economic events. Adam currently serves as President of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    NCAC member and former EIA Administrator Richard Newell received the prestigious USAEE Adelman-Frankel Award. This award is given to an individual or organization for a unique and innovative contribution to the field of energy economics.

    The most noticeable feature of this year’s USAEE conference, aside from the very broad range of topics, was the remarkable diversity of the people there. Clearly, energy economics is a discipline that’s relevant to all regions of the world.

    Marcellus Shale Technical Tour

    Omar Cabrales

    Twenty-three USAEE members participated in the Marcellus Shale Technical Tour that took place immediately after the USAEE conference. The overnight tour was coordinated with the help of Dr. Tim Carr at West Virginia University, and was hosted by Antero Resources.

    After a thorough safety briefing and overview of Antero's Appalachian operations at Antero's headquarters in Bridgeport, West Virginia, the group went to a production pad in Ritchie County, West Virginia, where a rig was actively drilling the well. At that location, Antero staff spoke about the process of selecting the site, preparing the pad, and conducting the drilling operations. The group had the opportunity to walk around the entire area, learning about the process and equipment on site. The group members directed numerous questions to the Antero staff.

    Afterwards the tour went to Antero's Clearwater Facility in Doddridge County, West Virginia, where the company built a water treatment plant that processes flowback water from the oil and gas wells. After processing the flowback water, the plant returns 98% clean, surface discharge quality water, and 2% residual solids. The solids include salt and other contaminants.

    The residual solids are sent to a landfill Antero built next to the water treatment facility. The treated water, which meets the standards to be discharged into local rivers or streams, is re-used in the fracking process. The plant has the capacity to produce up to 1.7 million gallons of treated water per day, which reduces Antero's need to draw water from local rivers and streams. In addition to seeing first-hand the various sections of the plant, there was a presentation that thoroughly covered the history and operations at the plant, followed by a long Q&A session.

    The last site we visited was Markwest's Sherwood Natural Gas Processing Plant, also in Doddridge County. Because of heavy rain, the group did not leave the bus. The tour bus operator drove through the facility, while Markwest and Antero staff pointed out salient information and discussed the processes taking place. Although not being able to do a walking tour was somewhat disappointing, doing the bus tour gave the group a sense of the scale and rapid expansion that has taken place at the facility, which is currently able to process up to 1.6 Bcfd of production, separating liquids and other valuable petrochemicals from the natural gas stream.

    Tour participants were happy and excited about this tour, as it was informative and entertaining. In addition, the long drive to and from West Virginia allowed ample time for the participants to network and learn about each other's areas of focus.

    Latin American Energy Resources

    Lisa Viscidi

    The top oil producing countries in Latin America are all holding elections this year. Lisa Viscidi of the Inter-American Dialogue explains how political changes in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela will affect their oil output, and why it matters for the United States.

    Until this year, resource nationalism seemed to be on the wane in Latin America, but presidential hopefuls in Mexico and Brazil campaigned around an increase in state control over the oil and power sectors. In this article for Foreign Policy, Viscidi argues that given resource nationalism’s poor track record in actually benefiting most citizens, it is time for these countries to shift the focus of policy discussions toward addressing today’s more pressing problems.

    Central Asian Countries May Have To Cooperate For Power Demand Growth

    David Givens

    The five nations of central Asia currently have a surplus of power generation capacity but may not be able to keep up with rapid growth in the region, a consultant said at the USAEE/IAEE conference.

    Malika Siadkhodjaeva, director at G Max Energy Consulting, said combined demand growth has been six percent in the last two or three years in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

    Her presentation showed that the region has a reliable transmission system, but little surplus to send to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where prices are higher.

    She said the five central Asian countries are likely to move to a more cooperative power market and be less reliant entirely on their own resources, but will have little excess electricity to export to the south.

    The countries have diverse sources of power. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan rely mostly on hydro, and Kazakhstan mostly uses coal. Uzbekistan gets most power from natural gas and oil products but has significant solar generation potential, Siadkhodjaeva said. That country may consider adding merchant generation in the future.

    The countries generally do not have a regulatory structure that allows them to raise rates paid by customers, so new generation projects often have to rely on financing from regional development banks, she added.

    Past NCAC President Elaine Levin authored a blog post and podcast for OPIS (IHS Markit’s Oil Price Information Service). Diesel is the fuel of economic growth, both domestically and abroad, she writes. The diesel prices you pay are influenced by many factors beyond U.S. supply and demand. Levin discusses the volatility currently roiling the market.

    Click here for the Blog and Podcast

  • 20 Aug 2018 1:23 AM | Anonymous member

    USAEE Conference - Looking Ahead to This Year

    By Devin Hartman | R Street Institute

    This year's USAEE conference will offer an insightful refresh on many themes and explore today's hot topics like the DOE and FERC agendas and energy protectionism in practice. Expert panels will explore the battery revolution, new findings in energy consumer behavior, U.S. energy production resurgence, and more!

    Last year's USAEE conference in Houston showcased leading research in areas like intelligent energy systems and integrating renewables into electricity markets. It also revealed practitioner insights on topics ranging from entrepreneurship in energy to the shifting geopolitics of oil and natural gas. Plus, the networking opportunities proved valuable to students, academics, and professionals on a variety of energy career paths. 

    And don't forget that NCAC member Natalie Kempkey will be moderating a plenary session. The workshop on energy risk management features NCAC's own Elaine Levin and Alan Levine. There is also a Tuesday tour of NCAC member Andy Knox's net zero home in D.C. Plus, the Sunday workshop on Making Good Presentations is chaired by past USAEE and NCAC president Adam Sieminski. Barney Rush did a write-up about his panel, below.

    USAEE Conference September 2018 – Keeping the Grid Reliable

    By Barney Rush, Board Member, ISO New England | Rush Energy Consulting

    NCAC members have been helping to organize the upcoming USAEE Conference in Alexandria, Sunday, September 23 through Wednesday, September 26. On Tuesday, September 25, I will be moderating a plenary panel that will focus on one of the major challenges facing US wholesale power markets: how ISOs/RTOs will maintain reliability as the grid is powered increasingly by gas and renewables.

    Will markets work to sustain needed conventional generation, in an era of low energy prices? How should ISOs adjust their markets and planning to account for demand side management and distributed generation? Can these challenges be addressed with continued reliance on markets, or will we enter a new era of regulated returns?

    The panelists include two chief executive officers of ISOs: Andy Ott from PJM and Gordon van Welie from ISO New England. They will be joined by Thad Hill, CEO of Calpine. The institutions that they oversee are at the center of the debates on these critical issues, and we look forward to hearing the thoughts and insights of these three leading executives.

    Propane Prices and Why They Matter

    By Jim McDonnell | Avalon Energy Services

    The shale revolution has led to a dramatic increase in the production of natural gas and associated propane. Despite expanding demand, the increasing supply of natural gas has kept natural gas prices low. Has the increasing supply of propane kept propane prices low? No. Read more here about this issue of importance to rural areas that are "beyond the main" for natural gas service.

    Mid-August Update: This Green House Geothermal Start-Up

    By Ben Schlesinger | Benjamin Schlesinger and Associates, LLC (BSA)

    We’re getting closer! Our attempted net-carbon-neutral house in St. Michaels, Maryland, won’t be finished for another two months, but its energy systems are now starting to spool up. Although it’s still too soon to report any systematic results, data reported on our utility and solar provider apps look promising.

    This month’s illustration (attached) is a snapshot of the past few days from our page on Choptank Electric Cooperative’s website. The indication is that our 50 SunPower solar PV panels have continued to overproduce electricity, which we’re selling back to the grid via Choptank (also see last month’s report). Then, this past week, we started up our 8-well geothermal ground-source heat pump system. Things changed a little (see sawtooth pattern in the figure) but this still looks highly positive – i.e., we're producing from solar energy much more electricity than demanded on site, even despite enjoying a nice, cool house in 90-degree weather!

    Preliminary, it appears likely that electricity produced by our panels will continue to more than meet the house’s space conditioning and water heating energy demands. On sunny days, this will be especially so, including around the clock after our three Tesla Powerwall batteries are delivered and installed - but on dark, cloudy days, we’re unlikely to make HVAC ends meet without buying electricity from the grid.

    Looking ahead, we expect our electricity uses to increase after our kitchen (mostly electric) is installed next month, and after the house lights up at night in late September, and as soon as we move mid-October and plug in everything, including the cars! With all this, if our solar panels are still overproducing, then we’ll keep selling the excess back to the grid. We should have a reasonable indication in another two months or so.

    Sometime in 2019, we'll be able to present results on a more systematic basis in terms of pay-back periods and the project’s implicit avoided cost of carbon.

    World Gas Conference 2018

    By Rita Beale | Energy Unlimited LLC

    Washington D.C. was the locale of the triennial World Gas Conference held by the International Gas Union (IGU) and hosted by the American Gas Association. The event marked the culmination of the United States holding the IGU Presidency with a theme of “Fueling the Future”. I was compelled to attend the event with the global natural gas community in our backyard and the opportunity to focus on the strategic, commercial, and technical aspects of gas. It also provided an opportunity to catch up with global colleagues and clients and the many corporate sponsors, concentrated in the LNG sector.

    With over 600 hundred speakers and 12,000 attendees, industry leaders cheered increasing gas trade and a bright future, heralded the contributions of gas to sustainability and prosperity, and outlined the hurdles to growth. U.S. administrators, legislators and policy makers also embraced the program highlighting the positive impacts of natural gas on the USA. Other panelists presented topics as result of the call for technical papers. Having downloaded the more 700 presentations and papers from WGC 2018, I look forward to completing my summer reading with a continued focus on natural gas.

    In my opinion, one interesting industry topic to watch is the global LNG supply-demand balance, in face of the unexpected tightness during the 2017-2018 peak demand months and the continued surge in the number of countries wanting to build LNG regasification capacity, juxtaposed with the trends away from long-term contracting and fewer final investment decisions for new liquefaction plant capacity.

    Korea will host the WGC in 2021 with the theme ‘‘A Sustainable Future – Powered by Gas’’.

    Conversation with Jason Levine, Clean Bay Renewables

    With Pat McMurray

    Clean Bay Renewables has developed a process using proven technologies to fully recycle chicken litter waste and produce clean power. Using anaerobic digestion and nutrient recovery in a fully-enclosed system, the company addresses a local waste stream by creating renewable energy in a way that protects the Chesapeake Bay, provides for local farmers and brings online a brand-new source of renewable natural gas.

    Q: What is it exactly that you produce?

    A: We take chicken litter and run it through an anaerobic digestion system, which forms and collects biogas for extraction. The biogas is then cleaned up to produce renewable natural gas. It’s a zero-waste product.

    Q: When was your company founded?

    A:  In 2013. I founded it with Thomas Spangler. He had previously been at DOD working on energy issues as they relate to national security. Using chicken litter was his idea. We both had a background as entrepreneurs.

    Tom became aware of the technology used in fermenting feedstock. You can create byproducts that can then be used to create energy. Biomass can be used to generate energy. There was plenty of chicken litter on the Eastern Shore that was creating an environmental problem. Tom asked me, can we make money on this kind of project?

    It was all about how to pursue this project in a way that didn’t destroy value and that created a renewable product. We wanted to take a resource that’s contributing to pollution but repurpose it in such a way that everybody wins.

    Q: I would think that environmental groups would support your plans.

    A: Some will look at the project and support it, but others don’t. However, we are winning more over to the promise of this technology and its obvious benefits to the Bay.  

    Q: When do you start building your first plant?

    A: We own a plant site in Westover, Maryland and we have laid out the plans for the buildings there. The footprint of the plant is about 25-30 acres. The output will be about 1800 MMBtus of renewable natural gas.

    Q: Will you inject it into a pipeline?

    A: Not at this point. We will truck it to southeastern Pennsylvania, to an existing pipeline. In the future, we hope to be able to inject it into a pipeline here on the Eastern Shore.

    Q: How many jobs will be available at the new plant?

    A: There will be about 15 full-time positions at each plant. We plan to develop six plants; this first one, in Westover, Maryland and subsequent ones in Delaware, Maryland again, and Virginia.

    Q: The business community on the Eastern Shore must be glad to see the plant will be up and running and creating jobs.

    A: Yes. We are partnering with the community college system to find people with the right technical skills to work in plant operations. And of course, these facilities will help the biggest business on the shore, the poultry industry, address one of its most serious environmental challenges in addressing the disposal of its waste stream.

    Q: I hadn’t heard of renewable natural gas before.

    A: In part that is because most renewable portfolio standards that are intended to incentivize renewable energy have been focused on electricity.

    But now that solar and wind power are very robust in most places, it’s time for natural gas to get some credit in that space. Renewable natural gas should benefit from a state’s renewable portfolio standards. And even though states have been reluctant to get on board with this idea, we are beginning to see more traction for renewable gas.  

    Jason Levine was the speaker at the June 2018 NCAC luncheon.

    Oil & Gas Tech Advances and Their Market Impact

    Tuesday, August 28, 2018
    6:30-8:00 PM
    University of Chicago Office of Federal Relations
    1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 275, Washington, DC

    Join us for a panel discussion of technology advances in oil and gas production and transportation use, and their impact on US and global markets. The panel discussion will be led and moderated by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy alumni and professionals working in the energy sector in D.C.

    Click here to RSVP by August 25

    Panelist Bios:

    Jeff Gerlach, MPP'14, is a Senior Policy Analyst at Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE).

    John Staub, MPP'02, is the Director of the Office of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels Analysis at the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    Mark Schipper is an analyst on EIA’s Transportation Energy Consumption and Efficiency Analysis Team.

    James Blatchford, MPP'09, is Director of Policy at Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE).

    Moderator's Bio:

    Michael Ford, MPP'10, is an economist with the Bureau of Land Management's Office of Energy, Minerals, and Realty Management.

  • 10 Jul 2018 2:34 PM | Anonymous member

    36th Annual USAEE / IAEE North American Conference Comes to D.C. September 23-26, 2018

    The title of the conference is “Evolving Energy Realities: Adapting to What’s Next.” The location is the Hilton Crystal City. Here’s how the organizers of the conference describe it:

    The Trump Administration and changing geopolitical situations are redefining energy directions, layering additional change over ongoing technological and market changes.

    Removal or revision of regulations, withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, and shifting geopolitical relations add complexity to an energy portfolio still bracing for cyberattacks and weather impacts against vulnerable grids.

    The 36th USAEE/IAEE Conference provides a forum for informed and collegial discussion of how the emerging realities will impact all stakeholders - from populations to companies to governments-in North America and around the world.

    Nowhere calls out this urgency more clearly than the mid-Atlantic region. The energy mix includes offshore wind, coal mines, nuclear power, solar, and natural gas. Conference attendees will benefit from access to tour some of these facilities as well as tours of federal energy institutions in Washington, D.C.

    Offshore Wind Takes Off in The US – Is That Good?

    By: Robert Borlick, Energy Economist, Borlick Energy Consultancy

    The article published in last month’s newsletter, “Offshore Wind Takes Off in the U.S.” implied that offshore wind development off the Atlantic shore is a good thing. I challenge that conclusion. Let’s consider some hard facts using the two Maryland projects the author referenced and which I have researched.

    Maryland has agreed to purchase the projects’ expected full outputs at a levelized real cost of $131.9 per MWh (as stated in the article) but these are in 2012 dollars – not in today’s dollars (which the article failed to state). However, the state could have purchased the same amount of energy, offering equal or better environmental benefits, from onshore wind farms located in Western PJM at prices in the range of $40 to $50 per MWh. These offshore wind projects are not “…relatively more expensive…” - they are exorbitantly more expensive!

    These Maryland projects are only feasible because they will be subsidized through higher electricity bills for Maryland’s residential and small C&I customers. The present value of these monthly subsidy payments will total about $2 billion dollars (expressed in today’s dollars). Clearly, these are not pilot projects meant to jumpstart the industry; $2 billion is not chump change.

    But the story gets even worse. Levitan & Associates, the consulting firm hired by the Maryland Public Service Commission (MPSC), forecasted that the offshore wind projects would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions across the PJM footprint. This is because the offshore wind energy will displace generation from gas-fired plants in Eastern PJM while simultaneously increasing generation from coal-fired plants in Western PJM. Levitan pointed out that the RECs produced by the offshore wind generation will displace equal amounts of RECs from onshore wind energy that would have been produced by wind farms in Western PJM, thereby discouraging development of those onshore wind projects.

    Now let’s address the job creation benefits of offshore wind, as mentioned in the article.

    In approving the projects the MPSC gave great weight to the fact that they are projected to create 2,900 full time equivalent (i.e., one-year) jobs. But wait; simple arithmetic reveals that the state will be paying out almost $700,000 per job! These will be well paying jobs offering, on average about $100,000 per year (plus fringe benefits). Even so, wouldn’t everyone, other than the project developers, be better off it Maryland simply mailed out $100,000 checks to 2,900 randomly selected unemployed construction workers?

    Lastly, I am sure the cost of offshore wind will come down but so will the cost of competing onshore renewables. Considering the harsher environment in which offshore wind operates it is highly unlikely to ever achieve cost parity with onshore renewables. So, does it make sense to pay three times as much for energy that is no more desirable from an environmental perspective? The answer is no – at least not in the foreseeable future.

    LNG Market Update

    By: David Givens, Argus Media

    I traveled a lot in the second quarter, giving speeches and going to conferences. I found out that the market for LNG is deep and broad, not just in the resource-poor but economically powerful Asian countries, but in small nations throughout the world. They want to minimize the use of resid and diesel in their power generation stacks. They don't want to be captive price-takers. They want leverage with gas suppliers.

    The world is becoming flush with LNG supply, but there will be obstacles for small countries. Their economies are too small to support much demand. Cargo reloadings may be economical sometimes, but not always. Some are not connected to larger regional pipeline networks that make landed resales attractive to marketing companies. The learning curve for finance may be steep. The threat of stranded assets looms. But ingenious firms will find a way.

    This New (Green Energy) House

    By: Ben Schlesinger, Benjamin Schlesinger and Associates, LLC (BSA)

    June was a major solar energy month for our new home construction project in St. Michaels, Maryland – Sunrise Solar of Chestertown, MD installed 50 SunPower 360-watt panels on the roof. Solar energy is becoming fairly common in today’s markets, but we had a slight twist. We had hoped to have a Tesla solar roof on our house so you’d never know there’s a power plant up there - but it became clear that Tesla’s solar shingles wouldn’t be available when the time came to put a roof on our new house. So instead, we found another way: our architect, Charles Goebel of Easton, MD, designed two flat sections of the roof for the 50 panels, and so now you hardly notice the rack unless you’re really looking for it, as the picture shows.

    Present status: we’re expecting this week to have our local utility, Choptank Electric Cooperative’s final sign-off, then we’ll be solar-powering our construction site and a maybe a neighbor as well on the same transformer during the days! We realize our flat-to-the-sky solar panel orientation isn’t as optimal as tilting them would have been, but we’re still hoping our system will produce enough electricity to run at least the kitchen and one of our geothermal ground-source heat pump systems.

    Next month, we hope to turn on the HVAC system and report on how all this plays out. More to follow!

    The Transmission Grid: A Thing of Beauty

    By: Maryanne Hatch, Edison Electric Institute

    Every morning I look out my kitchen window and see a shining, gleaming, high-voltage transmission line strung along a popular bike path. What is an eyesore for many, is a thing of beauty for me. I see a dynamic, ever-changing organism.

    Electric transmission infrastructure is the backbone of the energy grid, often called the world’s most complex machine. Leveraging economies of scale, the transmission grid cost-effectively delivers safe, affordable, and reliable power to millions of Americans each day. No matter how you slice it, we all benefit from transmission. It leverages network efficiencies to deliver economic and environmental benefits, and adapts to meet changing customer needs.

    For example, transmission infrastructure is necessary to deliver renewable energy from wind resources located in the middle of the country over long distances to large populations centers, typically located on the coasts. As another example, as the transmission grid becomes more networked, customers benefit from increased resilience and flexibility, as well as an ever-diversifying generation portfolio based on technology, geography, time, and season. The transmission grid is a modern marvel.

    The next time you see a transmission line, I hope you take a minute to think about all the benefits it delivers.

    Call for Authors - August Newsletter

    Please consider writing a brief article for the NCAC August newsletter. Send your copy to

  • 31 May 2018 6:48 PM | Anonymous member

    Remember to Vote - Voting Is Open for the NCAC 2018-2019 Board NCAC Members 

    You should have received an email for the election of the 2018-2019 NCAC Council.

    Only current members can vote. Please make sure your dues are up to date if you plan to vote. Visit the website and make a payment online.

    Next Luncheon – June 8

    And please make sure you are registered for the upcoming June 8 luncheon at Chinatown Gardens. The topic is Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship. The presenter will be Jason Levine, Chief Business Development Officer, CleanBay Renewables, with a very local perspective on helping clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

    Energy – The Month Ahead

    Michael Ratner, NCAC Vice President

    Summer is here! In addition to summer pools opening and the school year ending, Washington will be abuzz with two big energy conferences. June 4-5 will be EIA's annual conference, which will feature Mark W. Menezes, the Under Secretary of DOE; Kevin McIntyre, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Linda Capuano, the relatively new EIA Administrator. The two-day conference will cover all forms of energy supply and consumption. It will also include a special session on India's energy economy.

    The EIA conference will be followed later in the month, June 25-29, by the World Gas Conference. This is a huge event, here in D.C. for the first time since the 1980s, and a great opportunity for the Washington energy community. The conference will feature over 600 speakers from around the world and a variety of companies. Both events highlight the importance of Washington, D.C. to global energy.

    National USAEE Conference Comes to D.C.!

    USAEE is pleased to have an incredible lineup of speakers at the USAEE/IAEE North American conference, September 23-26, 2018, right here in Washington, D.C.

    The 36th USAEE/IAEE Conference provides a forum for informed and collegial discussion of how the emerging realities will impact all stakeholders - from populations to companies to governments in North America and around the world.

    We hope that you will join us in Washington D.C., as we highlight contemporary energy themes at the intersection of economics, public policy, and politics, including those affecting energy infrastructure, environmental regulation, markets vs. government intervention, and international energy trade.

    Why Are Gasoline Prices Rising?

    Alan H. Levine, Chairman, CEO, Powerhouse

    U.S. motorists hit the road over the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning to the summer driving season, to find that retail gasoline prices were the highest since 2014 and some 22 percent above a year ago. The higher gasoline price came while American crude oil output was rising, breaking records last seen in 1970. The United States produced over ten million barrels of crude oil per day in 2017. And the U.S. government projects crude oil production reaching 11.3 million barrels daily by 2019.

    This apparent contradiction - more feedstock for gasoline but higher prices for gasoline - reminds us that petroleum supply and price have always been and continue to be creatures of geopolitical tensions. Adequate supply is not enough to assure lower prices. OPEC, for example, adds to production despite the apparent agreement to restrain production for reduction of global supply. Any net OPEC loss really comes from production challenges in member states, particularly Venezuela, Algeria, Qatar and Iran.

    Saudi Arabia has a reason to seek higher oil prices. The Kingdom is expected to offer shares of Saudi Aramco for public sale. The higher the oil price, the more attractive the shares of the first initial public offering (IPO) will be.

    Changes in global demand can influence demand for feedstocks. The first quarter of 2018 was probably the strongest for global oil demand, year-on-year, since the fourth quarter of 2010. And recently expanded exports of petroleum, both crude oil and products, helps reduce supply here in the United States.

    Oil Prices and Natural Gas Prices

    David Givens, Head of Gas and Power Services, North America, Argus Media

    Crude oil prices have climbed recently, encouraging U.S. exploration and production companies to drill more wells. Activity has increased in the Permian Basin as well as the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale plays, among other locations. Quantities of natural gas produced along with crude are likely to rise, which will probably keep gas prices in check during the storage injection season. Discounts to the Henry Hub have grown in southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, and bear watching in several other producing basins.

    Leaders in Energy “Green Leaders for Local Impact” Retreat

    Janine Finnell, President, Leaders in Energy

    Our retreat is Friday, June 8th, from 1 - 5 pm at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Arlington, VA.

    This retreat is for those individuals seeking to take the next step in creating a positive impact at the community level in the DMV – creating actionable solutions that create more sustainable LOCAL communities. You may be a leader in your job, community, or just seeking to shape a better future. Won’t you step forward and be a part of creating solutions that matter for your local community?

    We’ll examine several of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including #7, (Affordable Clean Energy), #8 (Decent Work); and #9 (Resilience). These three goals will be explored, in addition to the larger SDG framework, as one of several approaches to share existing knowledge and allow new ideas to emerge and be jointly developed. We will examine how local leaders can translate larger global goals into action into their communities. Register at:

    5th Annual Leaders in Energy Green Jobs Forum on “Growing the Regional Clean Economy.”

    Thursday, August 16, 2018, 5 – 9 pm, at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Washington, D.C.

    We will feature economic and business development officials from around the DMV region to hear their perspectives on trends in the clean energy and sustainability sectors. Our event will also provide an opportunity for job seekers to meet with companies who are hiring and educators who offer green career credentialing and training programs. Our event venue will be the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments located at 777 North Capitol St, NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Register at:

    Offshore Wind Takes Off in the U.S.

    Dr. Deniz Ozkan, Director of Analysis, Research and Systems Engineering, Atlantic Grid Development LLC

    After a long delay, the U.S. is finally ready to jump-start the offshore wind industry on this side of the Atlantic. On May 23rd, after a competitive solicitation, Massachusetts’ utilities selected the first offshore wind project with which to negotiate a power purchase agreement — an 800 MW offshore wind farm that will be built 14 miles off Martha’s Vineyard by Vineyard Wind, a partnership between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid.

    On the same day, Rhode Island also announced that the state will support a 400 MW offshore wind farm that will be built by Deepwater Wind, a firm that owns and operates the first U.S. project, a 30 MW wind farm 4 miles off Block Island. These two projects are planned to be in operation between 2021 and 2023.

    Since 2017, the Northeast Atlantic States have set ambitious offshore wind targets. In total, more than 8 GW of installed capacity is targeted by 2030, including 1600 MW in Massachusetts, 2400 MW in New York, 3500 MW in New Jersey and around 1000 MW in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

    In addition, Maryland agreed to pay $131.9 per MWh in 2017 for 368 MW of wind divided between two projects located off the coast of Ocean City. They are expected to be in operation between 2020 and 2022.

    Generating electricity from offshore wind is still relatively more expensive than natural gas generation. However, the trend in offshore wind costs is encouraging. By the end of 2017, Europe’s installed capacity reached 15.8 GW across 11 countries. In that record-breaking year, more than 3 GW of capacity was added.

    And more notable than that, in April 2017, Germany awarded zero-subsidy contracts to three projects for 1.4 GW of total capacity. Also, in December 2017, the Netherlands received three competing zero-subsidy bids for the Hollande Kust Zuid offshore wind project. Technical advancements that create economies of scale and smart planning, including utility-designed and provided transmission systems, are the major drivers of recent cost reductions. In Europe, the price of offshore wind has fallen approximately 50% since 2012 and the industry’s 2020 target of €100/MWh was achieved several years early.

    Offshore wind has huge potential, not just to become a major renewable resource in the coastal states here in the U.S., but also to create thousands of well-paying, long-term jobs. The transformation of former shipping industry assets such as vacant ports and other coastal brownfields, and the adaptation of offshore oil and gas industry know-how to offshore wind would add much needed local U.S. supply chain resources to the existing predominantly European capabilities. It would also help the U.S. design and optimize its offshore wind industry to match local needs and requirements.

    Considering all the recent progress and the large goals of the U.S. offshore wind industry, it is not unreasonable to expect that offshore wind costs will be reduced below $100 per MWh very soon, and that a trend of continued cost reduction will make offshore wind a competitive resource someday. It is an exciting moment to be in the U.S. offshore wind business.

    Atlantic Grid Development LLC is a developer of electric transmission systems for offshore wind.

    Sieminski: On the Move

    Adam Sieminski is the new President of The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. KAPSARC was founded in 2008 as an independent research institution to advance the understanding of energy and the economy.

    KAPSARC’s mission is to promote dialogue locally and globally on how societies use energy. Adam is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day management of the institution, as well as well as providing strategic leadership to all research programs. He is working to emphasize the cooperation of KAPSARC’s employees, advisors, partners, and supporters in examining the most effective and productive applications of energy to enable economic and social progress in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf region, and across the world.


  • 23 Apr 2018 2:34 PM | Anonymous
    NCAC April 2018 Energy Conference

    By Devin Hartman, R Street Institute

    NCAC hosted its 22nd annual energy conference on April 12th. The Star Wars-themed event, dubbed a "Disturbance in the [Market] Force," explored the edges of the energy universe with panels including the Grid Awakens, Hydrocarbons Strike Back, Innovation: A New Hope, and the Return of Energy Policy. It also featured a thought-provoking keynote from Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Mark Mills on the "Tesla Derangement Syndrome," with the second keynote by NYPA CEO Gil Quiniones, diving into grid modernization efforts in New York. 

    Panelists discussed a wide range of advances in energy hardware. These included improvements in natural gas extraction methods that one panelist estimated put the breakeven point at $2/MMBtu. Panelists debated whether advances in lithium-ion batteries and vehicle automation would spur rapid changes in the transportation and electricity industries, or were over-hyped and unlikely to see much commercial success for decades. 

    Advances in digital technologies made for ripe debate as well. Panelists discussed how various blockchain applications could alter the fundamental nature of energy transactions and institutional designs. Meanwhile, digital platforms have already emerged, creating elaborate virtual marketplaces and innovative financial arrangements, such as synthetic power purchase agreements. 

    On the policy side, panelists noted that lessons learned under the Obama and Trump Administrations show that regulatory actions to reduce emissions are clearly slow and weak. Prospects to reduce emissions are very limited under this regulatory regime which, according to one panelist, will not drive innovation.  That can only be accomplished via bipartisan legislation. One panelist noted that legislative action during this Congress appears increasingly unlikely, and the discussion shifted towards the politics and policy of our energy future.

    The Electricity Service of the Future

    By John Caldwell, Director of Economics, Edison Electric Institute

    There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about “modernizing” the electricity grid and making it “smarter”.  What has been driving this discussion?  Hasn’t our electricity grid been a marvel of the modern age ever since it’s invention?  After all, the typical electricity customer doesn’t have to even think much about electricity: where it comes from, how it is delivered, and from what it is being produced.  This has been the inherent charm of electricity: the fact that when we flip on a light switch, the light comes on, and that’s all we have to do to make it happen, and at a very affordable price.

    But behind the elegant (and deceptive) simplicity of this service, there are many changes, both positive and negative, that are driving an evolution to something different than what we have.  We want “cleaner” energy, and this means producing more electricity from renewable energy sources like solar and wind, which leave no pollutants behind, and are limitless.  Solar and wind power, however, cannot produce electricity on demand, as can coal, nuclear, and gas-powered electricity generation plants.  But advances in technology, such as electricity storage, are making it possible to better manage electricity, no matter how it is produced, and no matter who is producing it. 

    Other advances in technology, such as “smart meters” and “smart appliances”, will help consumers manage their electricity usage so that they can receive it (or, in the case of customers with their own resources, sell it) at the best possible price.  

    The phone service that we have today is vastly different than the one our grandparents, or even parents, had when they were our age.  It provides us with more choices and applications and contributes more tangibly to improving the quality of our lives.  In a similar way, the electricity service of the future, while using more sophisticated technologies, will improve the quality of life for future generations, by being cleaner, more resilient, and more adaptable to the specific needs of its individual customers.

    This NEW House

    By Ben Schlesinger, Benjamin Schlesinger and Associates, LLC (BSA)

    Work continued on our ever-evolving carbon net-neutral home in St. Michaels this month – most construction activities were routine, e.g., inside-the-walls inspections, porch stone flooring, and the like.  Here is an update on our six energy goals:

    • Geothermal well drilling was completed, and wells hooked up to the house where two ground-source heat pumps will be located indoors; basically quiet, one in an upstairs closet & the other in the basement.  Some wells are as far as 100’ away from the house.  Delighted to learn they’ll all be invisible, so that kids can play ball on the lawn and never know they’re down there, providing most of our HVAC and hot water energy.
    • Our local utility, Choptank Electric Cooperative, set a two-way meter, and our solar energy firm, Sunrise Solar, has prewired and set a pre-switching system (visible next to meter) for 50-panel rooftop system.
    • The second battery-electric car arrived – a white Tesla Model 3, somewhat smaller and a lot less expensive than the Model S, but still racy, comfy, and has a 310-mile range.
    • No progress on battery storage Powerwalls or the marine biodiesel motor – these will take us a little longer.

    More to follow next month!

    Natural Gas Today

    David Givens, Head of Gas and Power Services For North America, Argus Media

    At Argus we are covering the response in the natural gas market to a cold winter and increased exports of LNG and pipeline gas to Mexico. The Cove Point export terminal in Maryland just came online, and storage levels are low. Many in the industry believe prices will be well supported this year.

    Natural Gas & LNG Training | May 22-25, 2018  Washington, D.C.

    Tom Russo is offering special rates for his training class to NCAC members.  Contact Tom Russo at 703-375-9482 for discount codes.  Click to: Find out more

    • Introduction to Natural Gas Industry, Infrastructure and Regulation $450 
    • Natural Gas Physical and Financial Markets $450 
    • Liquefied Natural Gas: Industry, infrastructure, Regulation & Markets $600

    REGISTER NOW: NCAC Lunch Presentation  

    A Primer on Technical Analysis: How Less-Than-Efficient Humans Interact with Energy Markets

    Presenter: David Thompson, (CMT) Chartered Market Technician, Executive Vice President, Powerhouse

    Description: A great deal of effort is devoted to collecting and analyzing supply & demand data - sometimes referred to as fundamental research - in the energy sector. Technical analysis (TA) differs from fundamental research as it focuses on price action and how that affects market participants' decision-making. While the two schools start from different perspectives, it's a mischaracterization to suggest they are antagonistic to one another. Many analysts use technical tools in concert with fundamental research as they develop market forecasts.

    The focus on price action in TA gives rise to a new analytical vocabulary. Our lunch session will delve into some of the following terms and concepts.

    • What are these ‘technical factors’ the business channels always talk about?
    • What are the theories underpinning them?
    • How do market participants use them?

    About the Presenter: David Thompson, CMT is a founding partner and Executive Vice President at Powerhouse. Powerhouse is an energy commodity brokerage firm that specializes in helping companies protect their profit margins and grow their businesses. He designs and implements hedging programs for companies with exposure to energy price volatility. Prior to launching Powerhouse, David worked at Morgan Stanley for twelve years.

    As a Chartered Market Technician, David has an expertise in technical analysis which is the trading discipline that focuses on the predictive power of price patterns. He utilizes technical analysis techniques to aid in identification of optimal hedge entry & exit.

    David is a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics. He holds the Series 3 National Commodities Futures license. He earned the Chartered Market Technician designation from the Market Technicians Association in 2003.


  • 23 Mar 2018 11:10 AM | Anonymous

    The 22nd Annual NCAC spring conference--Energy Technologies and Innovations: A Disturbance in the [Market] Force--is just around the corner! It will be held April 12 at The George Washington University, and includes a great cast of speakers. Gil Quiniones, President and CEO of the New York Power Authority, and Mark Mills, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute will deliver the keynote addresses. Please sign up as soon as possible. Technological innovation in the energy sector is happening across the spectrum of supply and demand. Panels at the conference will address key issues such as greater electrification of the economy, changes in the oil and gas industry to stay competitive, technologies that are just coming to the horizon but may have a big impact on the sector, and how energy policy is affecting changes. In addition to our great speakers on these topics, we expect a high-level of informed participation from our attendees. Don't miss it!!


  • 22 Mar 2018 11:52 AM | Anonymous member
    Adam Sieminski Wins Award

    Adam Sieminski, former USAEE president and James Schlesinger Chair for Energy and Geopolitics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), was honored as Champion of the Year at the 37th Annual Gala of the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment on March 14. The Champion Award honors individuals who have been important mentors to women in the energy and environmental sectors.

    NCAC Tour of the National Energy Technology Laboratory and Longview Power Plant

    By Joel S. Yudken

    One of the perks of belonging to the National Capital Area Chapter of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics (NCAC-USAEE) is the opportunity to participate in organized visits to major energy installations in the mid-Atlantic region.

    In early March this year, I went on another exciting overnight field trip that took us to Morgantown, West Virginia, where we toured both the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Longview Power Plant in nearby Maidsville. Longview is a 778 MW facility billed as one of the most highly efficient coal-fired generators in North America.

    On Wednesday, March 7, at 2 p.m., twenty of us, mostly NCAC members and a few non-members, met at the Shady Grove Metro station, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. We picked up our tour bus, which would transport us to Morgantown. The trip took four hours. After settling into our hotel, most of us went in smaller groups to enjoy the nightlife downtown.

    Several of us went to a very good Italian restaurant, while others went to dinner and drinks at a nearby pub. A small group went after dinner to the Morgantown Brewing Co., where we were entertained by a local band. This informal time together is an important part of every NCAC tour. Together with the long bus rides, it gives members a chance to network and get to know each other.

    Our bus picked us up at 8 a.m. the next morning, for the short ride to the NETL. Chris Nichols, an analyst in NETL’s Systems Engineering and Analysis (SEA) Directorate, and a USAEE Pittsburgh member, greeted us with an overview of NETL’s operations and work. NETL is one hundred years old; it’s one of 17 Department of Energy laboratories, and the only one dedicated to the research, design and analysis of coal, oil, and gas technologies.

    The West Virginia site is one of five NETL labs—the others are in PA, OR, AK, and TX. Chris also described the work he does in the SEA directorate, which includes economic analysis, design and cost estimation of energy processes, energy systems, process engineering and energy markets.

    We then visited several individual onsite research labs, where NETL scientists described and demonstrated their research on improving the efficiency and cutting emissions of coal technologies. For example, the Cold Flow Circulating Bed houses a 12-inch diameter, 50-foot tall circulating fluidized bed used to improve the knowledge of gas/solid flows with applications to gasification, combustion, carbon and chemical looping.

    At another lab, we learned about the Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative (CCSI), a partnership of five national laboratories, industry, and academic institutions, focused on advanced computation modeling tools to accelerate the development and deployment of carbon capture tools.

    After a very good lunch at the lab, our bus drove us to the Longview power plant. We again were greeted with an overview presentation. It was given by the plant’s chief executive officer, chief operating officer and VP for energy management. This was followed by a tour of several parts of the facility, mostly in-doors, where we saw turbines, boilers, piping, and control rooms.

    Longview, a new plant which started operations in 2011, is the cleanest, most efficient coal-fired power plant in the 13-state PJM Interconnection. Its heat rate of 8,700 Btu/kwh surpasses that of other comparable coal-fired plants in the country. Several technologies—an advanced supercritical boiler, a new pollution control system, and other efficiencies—account for the dramatic high efficiency-low emissions (HELE) levels of the Longview plant. It is the lowest-cost deliverer of electricity of any coal-fired plant in the region, and among the lowest pollution emitters in the nation among coal plants.

    Another advantage is the plant’s tight relationship with Mepco, the sole supplier of the power plant’s coal, which is transported from its underground mine by a 4.5-mile conveyor, minimizing transportation costs and avoiding the local impact of trucking coal.

    I was greatly impressed by both places we visited. There are a few caveats, though, such as learning that all the steel and the state-of-the-art boiler at Longview were made in China. I also learned that NETL’s research funding is not as stable as might be desired, and money for other energy research, such as biomass energy, has dried up.

    Unfortunately, a recent news article revealed that Longview’s economic situation is uncertain after its coal provider, Mepco, recently closed the mine that supplies the plant. Finally, although the current Administration has revived support for fossil fuels at a time of great public concern over climate change, I felt an undercurrent of uncertainty at the sites about the future of coal technologies.

    That future is especially contingent on the price of natural gas, more than renewable fuel sources. Nevertheless, both NETL and Longview present the most optimistic case for future deployment of advanced, high-efficiency, low-emissions and cost-effective coal energy technologies.

    Click here for more photos of this event

    Joel Yudken, Ph.D., is a Principal, High Road Strategies, LLC and NCAC Treasurer

    NCAC Technical Tour - National Energy Technology Laboratory and Longview Power Plant

    By Janine Finnell

    I participated in our technical tour to the National Energy Technology Laboratory and saw several research projects being conducted on methods to capture carbon through more efficient fossil energy combustion and post-combustion processes.

    The benefits of the trip included meeting the researchers and being invited to follow up with them in the future. It was also valuable to exchange knowledge with other energy professionals in an experiential-learning environment, and to network and build friendships during the bus ride and meals. There were several international participants on the trip, and it was interesting to hear their perspectives based on energy research in their countries.

    The NETL research project highlights included advanced combustion research such as Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC). CLC is a transformational technology that shows great promise for drastically reducing the cost of capturing carbon. We saw a Chemical Looping Pilot-Scale Reactor that is helping to accelerate the scale up from lab-sized units to industrial-sized units. Details on CLC are available in this NETL factsheet and video below.

    Post-combustion processes that enhance and enable the use of advanced solvents to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plants are being examined in the “Micro-Encapsulated Carbon Solvent” (MECS) project. Further details are available here.

    A Carbon Capture Simulation for Industry Impact (CCSI2) toolkit is used to apply cutting-edge computational modeling and simulation tools to accelerate the commercialization of these carbon capture technologies, from their discovery to the development, demonstration, and ultimately the widespread deployment to hundreds of power plants. We heard that over 50 personnel from 5 national laboratories are involved in this effort to spur an industry-wide revolution in carbon capture technology development. In addition, numerous universities and private sector companies are involved. A 3-minute video with NETL’s David Miller provides a great description below.

    Chris Nichols at NETL, who is also a USAEE member, mentioned the important complementary role of policy with technology advancements to make inroads into a low-carbon future. Chris touched on several scenarios in NETL’s models. He discussed one that involves renewable energy technology, including biomass carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, in combination with a carbon tax to reduce carbon emissions by 80% in the power sector by 2050.

    The tour also included a visit to the Longview Power Plant, which is one of the most efficient coal-fired power plants in the US. The advanced environmental control technology and high efficient low emissions (HELE) plant improves its emissions profile considerably over the standard coal fleet. Longview is currently obtaining coal from techniques using longwall and “room and pillar” mining versus surface mining techniques encompassing mountain top removal.

    Additional details on the technical tour are also available in an extended article on the Leaders in Energy website.

    Janine Finnell is a NCAC-USAEE member and Executive Director, Leaders in Energy.

    The Net-Zero Carbon Home Experiment – Highway to the Future?

    By Ben Schlesinger

    My wife and I are building a home in St. Michaels, Maryland, that will balance three basic goals – beauty, functionality, and environmental compatibility. In that order. The beauty part means living by the open water in a Charles Paul Goebel-designed home with an Erin Paige Pitts interior – among the best designers in the business. The functionality goal drove us to our wonderful designers, but also to local builder Brent Paquin and his experienced, practical, dogged crew.

    For environmental compatibility, we had only ourselves to turn to. With helpful tips from our designers and builder, mentors to the project, we set out on a series of steps, always considering the three sometimes inconsistent goals – beauty, functionality, and environmental compatibility.

    We purchased a lot in St. Michaels with an older home already on it, which had been owned by the late Rev. and Mrs. George Evans. Rev. Evans served as chaplain of the U.S. Marine Corps, and we wanted to honor his service and homesite. Rather than tear it down, we sought to deconstruct the house, literally dismantling it down to (but not including) the floors, siding and rafters. All the building refuse was donated to the Choptank Habitat for Humanity.

    Deconstruction is a pretty new field, and practitioners are hard to find, and harder to schedule. This process took up about a month, which we’re told is fast, thanks to local contractor Pete Bailey.

    1. Geothermal – drilling 8-12 wells to a 250-300-foot depth
    2. Ground-source heat pumps, SEER 45, about as efficient as the market will allow
    3. Rooftop solar – 50 Sunpower high-efficiency 360-watt panels, thus 18 kw.
    4. Battery storage – 3 Tesla Powerwall batteries, enough to power the home through the night and, together with the solar panels, hopefully beyond, in emergencies
    5. Battery electric cars (not hybrid) powered
    6. Biodiesel motor for boating

    Disclaimer: I’ve been a natural gas expert and enthusiast for decades – none of the zero-carbon features I am putting into this house diminishes that background in the slightest. Natural gas will be around for decades, powering our homes, buildings, factories and cars. We’re only trying to move the ball down the field!

    Ben Schlesinger is President, Benjamin Schlesinger and Associates (BSA).

    The United States Exported More Natural Gas Than It Imported In 2017

    By Tom Russo

    This marks the first time since 1957 that the US has been a natural gas exporter. Since January 2018, natural gas production increased from 72 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) to 78 Bcf/d. Most of the increased production is coming from the Marcellus/Utica shales in Appalachia and associated gas from crude oil production in the Permian and Eagle Ford shales in Texas as oil prices have increased.

    US imports of natural gas from Canada actually decreased. At the same time, exports of pipeline gas to Mexico averaged 4.1 Bcf/d and liquefied natural gas exports averaged 3.1 Bcf/d from Cheniere’s Sabine Pass Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Export terminal on the US Gulf Coast. LNG exports from the new Cove Point Export terminal in Maryland have just begun. However, LNG exports may triple after four other LNG terminals become operational in 2019-2020.

    The continued growth of US natural gas exports may be affected by NAFTA renegotiations and Mexico’s upcoming presidential election in July, especially if the newly elected president does not support the current energy sector reforms. LNG exports are also facing stiffer competition from solar, wind and electric storage projects as costs decline for these technologies. Finally, in some shale plays, the cost of water for hydraulic fracking and treatment/disposal of flowback water is driving up production costs.

    Tom Russo is President, Russo on Energy LLC.

    Economic Optimism and Energy Security

    By Sarah Ladislaw

    Economic optimism continues to stand in stark contrast with a precarious geopolitical landscape. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) now estimates that global output grew by 3.7% in 2017, faster than they believed earlier and forecasts for 2018 and 2019 have been revised upward by 0.2 percentage points to 3.9%. Positive economic signs rightly bring a degree of comfort given the political havoc that the financial crisis and economic downturn wreaked on countries around the world. If for no other reason, governments, investors, and corporations alike can breathe a small sigh of relief that efforts to boost growth and break the cycle of downturn has worked, to an extent. This optimism is tempered, however, by warnings that near-term growth is masking threats to longer-term sustainable economic growth and the heightened geopolitical risk environment.

    This atmosphere pervades the energy sector as well. Right now, the near-term upbeat economic assessment is reflected in global oil markets with Brent crude oil prices nearing 70 dollars per barrel last month. After several punishing years of low oil prices, oil markets are closer to rebalancing thanks to a stronger economy, several years of lower investment and the emergence of a new alliance between OPEC and Russia to keep 1-1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil off the market. And yet while prices are higher and the worst of the price downturn appears to be behind us, the oil market price recovery is fragile and prices could easily fall again if the surge in U.S. tight oil production hits the highest production estimates or if the OPEC alliance falters, or the world suffers an economic shock to the downside.

    And that’s just the downside price risk, which is a significant consideration for many countries that rely on oil to fund their governments and economies. There is upside price and energy security risk as well – physical infrastructure disruptions throughout the energy sector, economic shocks to the downside, cyber disruptions, and more. For several years now, low energy prices and technological advancements have obscured the potential threats to global energy security. The energy world should not become complacent about potential threats and should instead use this time to bolster resilience and devise new strategies and understanding for how to plan for continued energy security. The new U.S. administration should lead the international community in an assessment of its preparedness and ability to withstand these threats through policies that encourage fuel diversity, efficiency, and appropriate levels of strategic reserves.

    Sarah Ladislaw is Director and Senior Fellow, Energy and National Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).


  • 31 Jan 2018 12:11 PM | Anonymous member
    NCAC’s Spring Conference 

    Energy Technologies and Innovations: A Disturbance in the [Market] Force

    Clear your calendar for April 12, 2018!  NCAC’s Spring Conference, Energy Technologies and Innovations: A Disturbance in the [Market] Force, will be held at George Washington University.  The event is cosponsored by GW’s Economics Honor Society.  The all-day conference will focus on how the energy sector is morphing because of technological breakthroughs and other changes, such as batteries, policy, exports, blockchain, and big data.  The program should prove to be an exciting exchange of ideas.  It will be followed by a reception.

    And check out these great upcoming events:

    • February 9, 2018 | Lunch Meeting
    • March 1 Annual Dinner
    • March 7-8 Technical Tour
    • April 24 Happy Hour

    Friday, February 9, 2018 - 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

    Topic: NGLS - The 'Lower Carbon Hydrocarbons' Leading the U.S. Manufacturing Renaissance
    Presenter:  Anne Keller, Research Director - Natural Gas Liquids, Wood MacKenzie, Inc.

    Description: The often overlooked and usually unheralded bounty of the shale revolution has been a huge increase in natural gas liquids production.  In the northeastern part of the U.S., China has announced plans to spend as much as $80 billion to capitalize on abundant gas and NGLs in West Virginia.   On the U.S. Gulf Coast, $85 billion has already been spent since 2010 on capacity expansions with more to come.  What's the excitement about?

    Lunch location is Carmines, 425 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004.  Register here soon; the NCAC lunch presentations fill up quickly.

    NCAC Annual Dinner
    Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 6:00 PM

    Topic: A U.S Producer’s Story: Opportunities and Challenges of Natural Gas Exploration and Production in Europe

    Presenter:  George Yates is President and CEO of HEYCO Energy Group, Inc., an exploration and production company.  

    Description: George Yates has been a success as an independent oil and gas producer in the U.S.  HEYCO Energy was in the forefront of the U.S. shale revolution. Next, HEYCO and its subsidiaries have set their sights on Europe.  HEYCO was part of the group that discovered the Avington field in southern England in 2007.  Today HEYCO is positioned in 1.4 million acres in Northern Spain and in England’s unconventional gas play, the Bowlen Shale, as well as other European locations.

    Dinner location is The University Club DC, 1135 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. Register here.

    NCAC Technical Tour
    Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 2:00 PM -- Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 8:00 PM

    National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Longview Power Plant, Morgantown, West Virginia

    This is an overnight trip. Members will leave by bus from the Shady Grove Metro station to travel to Morgantown, where we will eat dinner and spend the night at the Fairfield Inn.

    The first stop on Thursday morning is the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, one of a handful of such facilities in the country.  Significant research on coal and carbon capture is performed at the lab for the Department of Energy.

    After lunch, the group will be given a tour of Longview Power, a 700-megawatt coal-fired generator built in 2011 in nearby Maidsville, WV, that employs the best available emissions control technology and is one of the most efficient such plants in the country.

    You must take two steps to make your reservation: first, get details and sign up on the NCAC website; second, reserve a room at the Fairfield Inn.  There is an NCAC group rate for those who reserve before February 28.

    Happy Hour Event  
    Tuesday, April 24, 2018 – 5:30-8:00  

    NCAC will co-host with 

    Location is Dirty Martini, 1223 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036. Register on the NCAC website. Contact Garry Tyran online or at 202-669-8130 for more information.

    4th Annual Clean Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza

    University of Maryland - College Park - STAMP STUDENT UNION 
    Friday, February 23rd  11 am – 8 pm

    The Association of Energy Engineers – National Capital Chapter (AEE NCC), Association of Energy Engineers – Baltimore Chapter (AEE-Baltimore), and Leaders in Energy are joining with the University of Maryland (UMD) for its 4th annual Clean Energy & Sustainability Extravaganza.   

    Our theme is "Cleantech Innovation and Entrepreneurship."  Cleantech is an umbrella term referring to clean energy, environmental, and sustainable or green products and services.  This event will bring together the university and business communities in cleantech.  Participants will learn about research and ventures from University of Maryland departments and businesses, including start-ups. They will also hear from women leaders who will provide their perspectives on the industry, in addition to career advice and tips. 

    The Extravaganza has three components:

    1. AEE NCC and AEE-Baltimore Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) Luncheon Panel  “Career Perspectives in Cleantech from Women Leaders” (11:00 am – 1:45 pm)
    2. Leaders in Energy Cleantech Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase (2:30 – 5:30 pm)
    3. Leaders in Energy Reception (6:00 – 8:00 pm)

    Register here.

    NCAC-USAEE’s Mentorship Program

    A Mentoring Success Story

    NCAC established the online Mentorship Program to enable members to tap into the deep reservoir of experience and knowledge of energy industries, markets and development, and career opportunities, embodied in its membership.  Mentoring relationships can benefit not only participating members, but also the NCAC.  For example, Peter Hoegler, a George Washington University (GWU) senior and NCAC student member, recently reached out to Michael Ratner, NCAC Vice President and a policy analyst at Congressional Research Service, to be his mentor.  Peter wanted some help thinking about post-graduation opportunities.  The two got together and two very good things happened: Peter got some career advice and an internship, while Michael got an intern and help organizing the NCAC Spring Conference, which will be at GW.  In fact, Peter was the key to securing the venue and having a university group co-sponsor the event.

    The mentorship program is open to all NCAC members.  In the coming year, we hope to see more members taking advantage of the opportunities the program offers.  We also are exploring ways to improve and enrichen the mentee-mentor interactions, to make it a more effective service for NCAC members.  This includes inviting the mentors and mentees to attend NCAC’s joint Happy Hour with WCEE this coming April. Links to further information about NCAC’s Mentorship Program, and easy directions to sign up either as a mentor or mentee, can be found on NCAC’s website.

    Happy 7th Birthday, EIA’s Today in Energy

    On February 9, 2011, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) launched a significantly refreshed website that included new features, even more information, and better navigation.  According to Richard Newell, EIA Administrator at that time, the new site was part of a comprehensive initiative to improve the agency's ability to disseminate the vast data and analysis capabilities of EIA.  Chief among the site's new features was Today in Energy, with its focus on timely energy topics and issues. When Adam Sieminski became EIA Administrator in June 2012, he encouraged EIA staff think of Today in Energy as one of EIA’s most important publications.

    Sieminski believed that the daily message’s clear text and compelling graphics would improve EIA’s ability to reach policy makers and their staffs with the relevant information needed to make informed decisions and deal with current energy affairs.  Today in Energy went from being published by an entirely volunteer staff to having a core of full-time analysts.  According to Sieminski, “performance standards across EIA were set to encourage contributions from all agency employees and care was taken to ensure that all fuels, regions, and consuming sectors would receive coverage.” 

    By providing links to EIA’s in-depth work, Today in Energy assures that readers have access to the agency’s full output that is highlighted in the daily publication.  In addition to acting as a primer to those new to the energy industry, the publication serves as a comprehensive refresher-course for both private-sector and government officials who are faced with important energy problems. 

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