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GE BLOWING WIND ABOUT BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
GE Renewable, the “green power” arm of industrial giant GE, has social media buzzing about an upcoming “big announcement” that the Schenectady, N.Y.-based company plans to make concerning a possible new wind project.
On GE Renewables’ Twitter feed, the company has posted several tweets about an upcoming news event with the hashtags #somethingbigiscoming and #gewind. One post reads, “We’re getting ready for a big announcement at our HQ in Schenectady – are you ready?”
Currently, GE is involved in renewable energy projects on every continent except South America and Antartica. At GE’s Renewable Energy website, a short video teases a May 19 announcement with the headline: “Something Big is in the Wind.”
POWER GENERATION FROM COAL, NATURAL GAS EXPECTED TO CONVERGE THIS YEAR
The U.S. Department of Energy recently forecasted that the amount of electricity generation fueled by natural gas in April and May will total just 3.5% less than the projected amount of coal-fired generation. This convergence has occurred only once before, in April 2012, when natural gas fueled just 1.5% less generation than coal.
Natural gas-fired generation has been rising over the past few months, as the cost of natural gas has fallen to levels not seen since 2012. These low fuel costs have made natural gas combined-cycle generating units in some areas of the country cheaper to operate than coal-fired plants. The increase in natural gas-fired generation has largely come at the expense of coal generation, according to the department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Overall, the EIA expects coal to account for an average of 36% of total U.S. generation in 2015 and natural gas to account for 31%. A contributing factor in the declining share of coal generation is the recent retirement of coal-fired power plants due to sustained competitiveness of natural gas prices and recent Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
SOUTH ARKANSAS WOOD PELLET MILLS STILL ON SCHEDULE FOR 2016 START
Two full-scale biomass plants in South Arkansas are still scheduled to come online by the end of 2016, just in time for the wood pellet market to gain steam in Europe as industrial power generators switch from coal to renewable fuels.
Top officials for both Highland Pellets LLC in Pine Bluff and Zilkha Biomass Energy in Monticello told Talk Business & Politics that their respective companies are moving forward with land acquisition, environmental permitting and other preparations for Arkansas’ first high-profile entries into the burgeoning renewable energy sector. Read more here.
EPA FINE DUKE ENERGY $68 MILLION FOR CLEAN WATER ACT VIOLATIONS
Three subsidiaries of North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corporation, the nation’s largest utility, pleaded guilty Thursday to nine criminal violations of the Clean Water Act at several of its North Carolina facilities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday.
Duke Energy has agreed to pay a $68 million criminal fine and spend $34 million on environmental projects and land conservation to benefit rivers and wetlands in North Carolina and Virginia. Four of the charges are the direct result of the massive coal ash spill from the Dan River steam station into the Dan River near Eden, North Carolina, in February 2014. The remaining violations were discovered as the scope of the investigation broadened based on allegations of historical violations at the companies’ other facilities.
Under the plea agreement, both Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress, must certify that they have reserved sufficient assets to meet legal obligations with respect to its coal ash impoundments within North Carolina, obligations estimated to be approximately $3.4 billion.