Energy Forward Blog

Welcome to "Energy Forward"

The Energy Forward blog is a regular feature of the WVU College of Law’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development. The blog will include links and commentary on news and events from a forward looking perspective on the energy industry. The “CleanTech” policies and practices for the energy industry of the future will include the development of clean coal technology, and efforts to capture and sequester CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-based generating resources; renewable energy sources (e.g., wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydro); distributed generation resources (e.g., high efficiency combined heat and power or co-generation); energy efficiency and conservation; and investments in the energy grid of the future (the “smart grid”) to facilitate the integration of renewable energy resources and wider deployment of demand response technologies. The energy industry of the future can be expected to be different than in the past, as energy producers focus more effort on developing energy resources in a more sustainable manner that minimizes adverse environmental impacts and preserves the natural resource base and environmental quality for future generations. This Energy Forward blog will focus on the news and events relating to the evolution of the energy industry in West Virginia and nationally.

Prof. James M. Van Nostrand
Director, WVU College of Law
Center for Energy and Sustainable Development

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Pipeline Infrastructure Investment Will Soon Eliminate Marcellus Gas Bubble

Several major pipeline projects have been announced in recent months, geared toward moving the natural gas produced in the Marcellus Shale region to markets to the East and South. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, as many as ten pipeline projects are in the works that would deliver two billion cubic feet of gas from the Marcellus Shale to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The major announced projects include the following:

This substantial infrastructure investment is being driven by the “bubble” of natural gas within the Marcellus Shale region. The production of natural gas within the region exceeds (1) the demand for natural gas within the region and (2) the capability to export gas out of the region, resulting in “trapped” gas within the region. According to NGI’s Daily Gas Price Index, natural gas prices at the Marcellus hub are in the range of $1.93 per Mmbtu versus a “national” price of $3.80 per Mmbtu at Henry Hub. When regional natural gas prices are running about one half of the national price, there is considerable interest in getting the natural gas out of the region and into the more lucrative markets around the country. Hence, the numerous pipeline projects that collectively would move two billion cubic feet of natural gas out of the region. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gas output from Marcellus wells exceeded 15 billion cubic feet per day in July, and accounts for almost 40 percent of U.S. shale gas production.

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EPA Publishes New Source Performance Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New Power Plants in Federal Register

On September 20, 2013, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed new source performance standards (NSPS) for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new electric power plants pursuant to Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). EPA published the rules in the Federal Register today, officially marking the start of the 60 day public comment period. Comments must be received by EPA on or before March 10, 2014.

Because power plants emit nearly 40 percent of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the US, significant emission reductions from the power sector is crucial to meeting long-term climate and clean energy goals. Today’s rules will set the first uniform national limit on the amount of carbon pollution allowed from future power plants and are fundamental to achieving the broader climate and energy goals set forth in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, announced in June 2013, and the Obama Biden Energy Plan. Together, these plans set a goal of achieving a 17 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 from 2005 levels and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

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Charting a Course for Energy Efficiency in West Virginia: Lessons Learned from the National Ranking Process

Demand-side energy efficiency is widely recognized as the cleanest, lowest-risk and lowest-cost resource available to meet growing energy needs. Energy efficiency programs provide direct energy savings to consumers, free up financial resources and encourage investment across other sectors of the economy, displace the need for costly investments in new energy supply infrastructure, create new jobs, and reduce adverse environmental impacts from energy production. The many benefits of energy efficiency are most effectively captured when states adopt policy frameworks that support energy efficiency programs allowing businesses, governments and consumers to meet their needs by using less energy.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently released its annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks state policies aimed at improving energy efficiency. The Scorecard awards points in 6 primary policy areas in which states have traditionally pursued energy efficiency: Utility & Public Benefits Programs & Policies (20 pts.); Transportation Policies (9 pts.); Building Energy Codes (7 pts.); State Government Initiatives (7 pts.); Combined Heat and Power (5 pts.); and Appliance Efficiency Standards (2 pts.). Points are awarded based on the existence and effectiveness of policies within those areas that:

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