in New London area...Deception Pass, WA; Connecticut; Indian
Three-Mile-Island; CT DEEP advocate
SUPPLY: Not just
a local matter when the lights go out. Sometimes they go out
because people couldn't pay the bill...
Norwalk HOUR editorial
Volunteers might have been excluded on purpose - since Weston was; New England Governors act in secret...
State Prepares For Hurricane Season With Two-Day Drill
by Hugh McQuaid | Jun 23, 2014 3:28pm
State and local officials concluded a two-day emergency preparedness
drill with utility companies Monday to practice responding to natural
disasters like hurricanes.
One hundred and sixty-two of the state’s 169 towns participated in the
drill, which simulated the aftermath of a Category 1 hurricane. The
drill also included the Connecticut’s two Native American tribes and 18
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the drill tested the planning and
communication capabilities of the state in an emergency situation. The
exercise assumed the storm would knock out power to 70 percent of the
state’s electricity customers, which would take an estimated nine to 14
days to restore. He said the drill was designed to impact the entire
“Storms and other emergencies are inevitable but the more we all work
together, the more we can limit the impact of those disasters with aid
reaching those most in need of help, ensuring that roads, schools, and
businesses are reopened more quickly and help communities return to
normal soon than they otherwise would,” Malloy said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts up to 13
named storms, of which six will become hurricanes, and at least two are
expected to be major hurricanes.
“We could have a more robust season or a less robust season, but what
we’re doing in Connecticut is what we said we would do and that is to
practice, practice, practice to be ready,” he said
The recent drill was the third such exercise the state has conducted in
as many years. It is a policy adopted after a series of major storms
caused long-term power outages and highlighted communication problems
between towns and the state’s two electric utility companies,
Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating. Last year’s drill
simulated a severe ice storm in western Connecticut.
“There’s no doubt that we’re better prepared,” Malloy said, adding that
the three drills have played a role in that preparedness as has
additional work by the utility companies. He said real-world experience
with major storms also has helped.
“Suffice it to say that people having been beaten up by five different
natural disaster declarations are, I think, responding far better than
they would otherwise,” he said.
According to the Emergency Services and Public Protection Department,
every town in the state participated in this year’s event except
Bridgewater, Bethlehem, Canaan, Columbia, Franklin, Hampton, New
Milford, and Weston. The town of Cromwell also did not participate, but
the department noted that Cromwell was hosting the Traveler’s
Championship this weekend.
Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small
Towns, said the drill serves as good practice for the state’s municipal
Gara said coordinated disaster response helps to prioritize efforts like
clearing important access roads first and quickly restoring power to
local hospitals, fire departments and police stations. She said it also
helps local leaders keep their residents updated.
“When storms hit, residents look to their municipal leaders for help and
for information. So clear channels of communication are absolutely
vital, particularly during a response effort of this magnitude,” she
10 years after August
10, 2003 blackout that began rolling in Cleveland and went to NYC
The power blackout I remember was
the one in 1965 in New York City - it began around 5pm and lasted,
according to Wikipedia, more
than half a day. I know I went to class the following
morning, driven by a friend - at Barnard, education never skipped a beat.
at the US electric grid and who oversees it
Aug 10, 12:29 PM EDT
The U.S. electrical grid is a complex system of power plants,
transmission lines, and local distribution networks that deliver power
to homes and businesses. It comprises three major grids - Eastern,
Western and Texas - which are divided into hundreds of smaller
sections. A summary of how power flows on the system, who oversees it
and what went wrong in the August 2003 blackout:
GENERATION: The roughly 6,000 power plants nationwide use coal, natural
gas, nuclear fission, wind or sun to generate electricity. The amount
of power generated at any given time must match customers' demand for
power exactly, or the system becomes unstable.
TRANSMISSION: A network of high-voltage power lines delivers large
amounts of power over long distances, from power plants to substations
in population centers. There are 450,000 miles of transmission lines in
the U.S., organized in networks designed to be able to continue to
deliver power even if part of the network fails.
BULK POWER: The power plants and transmission networks make up the bulk
power system. The responsibility for setting standards and tracking the
performance of this equipment was given to the North American Electric
Reliability Corp. after the blackout, as the result of the Energy
Policy Act of 2005. Prior to that, NERC promoted reliability through
voluntary standards in a system that depended on peer pressure and the
interests of various entities in the industry. Many aspects of the
system, including pricing and reliability, are regulated by the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission. The plants and wires are operated by
investor-owned utilities, transmission companies, and federal nonprofit
DISTRIBUTION: This network of smaller lines and equipment delivers
low-voltage power from substations to customers through overhead lines
and underground cables. Failures in this system from weather or other
factors are responsible for most of the outages customers experience.
Distribution is handled by hundreds of different investor-owned
utilities, municipal utilities and cooperatives. It is regulated at the
WHAT WENT WRONG: In 2003, trees came into contact with several
transmission lines operated by Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp., and
utilities and regional grid operators failed to stop the outage as the
instability cascaded in the regional grid and beyond, eventually
affecting 50 million people in eight states and parts of Canada.
Investigators said FirstEnergy's grid management, regional operators'
responses, the tools used to monitor the situation, and communication
among the parties involved all contributed to the problem.
Department of Energy, American Society of Civil Engineers, AP research
heat waves continues, Malloy asks residents to conserve energy
07/18/2013 12:00 AM
Dannel P. Malloy is urging residents to conserve energy as Connecticut
faces a record demand for electricity during the ongoing heat wave.
temperatures expected to remain well into the 90s into the weekend, air
conditioning and other needs are putting real strains on our electric
grid,” Malloy said. “Everyone can play a part in helping us cope with
this demand by taking a few simple steps to save electricity.
demand for electricity can be as easy as setting the air conditioner to
a slightly higher temperature, running washers, dryers and dishwashers
at night, and turning off lights and appliances that are not being
used,” Malloy added.
England, the region’s power grid operator, says demand for electricity
could close in on a seven-year record as businesses and individuals
cope with the weeklong heat wave.
National Weather Service says temperatures in much of New England are
expected to be in the mid to high-90s through Saturday.
should be online.
Esty, Malloy Claim Victory Over Energy
by Christine Stuart | Jun 18, 2013
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Department
of Energy and Environmental
Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty didn’t get everything they
wanted, but they claimed victory Tuesday over some major energy
policies approved by the legislature this year.
From changing the state’s mix of
renewable energy sources to expanding
natural gas lines, both Malloy and Esty touted their ability to move
energy issues forward.
In the process, they engaged in some
heated debates with
environmentalists and other New England governors who largely opposed
how they changed the state’s renewable portfolio standard.
The bill changing the renewable
standards passed the House 112-33 and
the Senate 26-6. Debate on the bill in the House was delayed after
Esty’s conference call with UBS investors, which included a dialogue
about the bill. Concerned that Esty gave away information
didn’t even have at that point, the House delayed debate and
environmentalists attempted to change the bill to exclude large-scale
Canadian hydropower. Those attempts failed.
The heating oil dealers were a
little more successful when it came to
modifying a bill implementing Malloy’s “Comprehensive Energy Strategy.”
The bill makes it easier for natural gas companies to convert about
300,000 customers to natural gas, which at the moment is cheaper than
home heating oil mostly because of domestic production. The
oil dealers were able to eliminate Malloy’s proposal to provide a $500
tax credit for residents who bought a new furnace to convert their
homes from oil to natural gas-powered heat.
“The truth is we did not get
everything we asked for,” Esty said. “It
was an enormously ambitious set of requests we put before the
legislature, but the truth is the natural gas expansion plan goes
forward virtually as proposed in the governor’s energy strategy.”
The three natural gas companies in
the state submitted their expansion
plans Monday to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. Connecticut
Natural Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Yankee Gas want to connect
280,000 customers to natural gas over the next 10 years and they need
the state to approve a new rate plan to finance the project.
“We think it does almost all of what
the governor asked for in terms of
expanding choice,” Esty said of the legislation.
Malloy admitted there were opponents
to natural gas expansion “even
though it’s cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable.”
“They did what they could to water
down the bill,” Malloy said of the
opposition. “I think you’d be hard pressed to say this is a watered
down, substantially watered down, bill.”
He said there’s no requirement to
convert to natural gas.
“Very little state money is being
spent on this effort,” Malloy said.
Heating oil dealers were concerned
the state would be subsidizing the
expansion of the natural gas lines and placing the burden of paying for
it on the backs of all the state’s taxpayers. The industry also worried
it would lose its place in a market that it currently dominates. Under
the bill passed by the General Assembly, the cost of the expansion will
largely be borne by the consumers who wish to convert to natural gas.
Even though Malloy would have liked
to incentivize consumers with a
credit on their income taxes, that portion of the bill was eliminated
before it passed the General Assembly.
“Here in Connecticut where we have
some of the highest energy costs in
the United States that has clearly hampered our economy, what am I
supposed to do?” Malloy said. “Just leave the people of Connecticut to
only pay higher and higher and higher prices?” He said the natural gas
expansion begins to address the issue in a comprehensive manner.
Did Malloy’s administration upset a
few stakeholders like the
environmental community with some of his proposals?
“Everybody tells me they want
change. They just don’t want the thing
they like to be changed,” Malloy said.
When pressed on his relationship
with the environmental community,
Malloy blamed the misunderstandings on the news media’s coverage of the
debate on the renewable bill.
“Listen, we’re only as good as the
coverage we get,” Malloy said.
The group of DEEP employees in the
room laughed at the comment as they
listened to the conference call held in Esty’s office.
“If you report on the people who
have economic driven concerns, or if
you report on the concerns of people who have not taken the time to
understand what you’re trying to do — with the same regularity you
report everything else — then sure there are always environments in
which misunderstandings can be had,” Malloy said.
He said the audience he was trying
to reach was the legislature. He
wasn’t trying to please the environmentalists or other New England
governors who worry about the impact the bill will have on
Connecticut’s purchase of out-of-state biomass as a renewable energy
source. Esty added that both the natural gas expansion and renewable
bills passed with wide bipartisan majorities with 4-to-1 ratios.
“Despite some ups and down and
heated debates along the way,” Malloy
said. “The bottom line is this: we secured passage of several bills
that advance both our environmental and energy agendas.”
Environmentalists were quick to
issue statements critical of the Malloy
administration’s energy policy.
“It is difficult to see Connecticut
be a leader in so many
environmental issues that protect our public health, safety and
economy, and then fall flat on something as critical as energy,” Lori
Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation
Voters, said. “As we have said from the beginning of the session,
environmental protections are the bedrock of our health, safety and
The group was disappointed in the
large-scale hydropower and the
last-minute raid of the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority.
The $5 million raid on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was
restored in the final hours of debate.
“Although this measure was abandoned
due to overwhelming public outcry,
it’s indicative that the state has a short-sighted view when it comes
to energy policy,” Louis Burch, program coordinator for the Citizens
Campaign for the Environment, said. “These programs were established to
help save ratepayers money, create jobs, fight climate change, and
expand renewable energy development. Policy makers must realize
these programs are crucial for the long term health of Connecticut’s
economy and environment, and should not be treated like a public slush
In New England, a Natural Gas Trap
By MATTHEW L. WALD, NYTIMES
February 15, 2013
Electricity prices in New England have been four to eight times higher
than normal in the last few weeks, as the region’s extreme reliance on
natural gas for power supplies has collided with a surge in demand for
Frigid temperatures and the snowstorm that hammered parts of the
Northeast last week have revived concerns about the lack of
alternatives to natural gas. Many plants that ran on coal or oil have
been shuttered, and the few that remain cannot be put into service
quickly enough to meet spikes in demand. The price of electricity is
determined by the price of gas.
Last year, natural gas provided 52 percent of New England’s
electricity, and that share is expected to grow. Gas is generally
cheaper than other energy sources, and the lower costs have spurred the
retirement of aging coal generators and nuclear reactors. The six-state
New England region and parts of Long Island are the most vulnerable now
to overreliance on gas, a vulnerability heightened by a shortage of
natural gas pipeline capacity, but officials worry that similar
problems could spread to the Midwest.
“We are sticking a lot of straws into this soft drink,” said William P.
Short III, an energy consultant whose clients include companies that
move and burn gas. “This is a harbinger of things to come in New
England, as well as New York.”
James G. Daly, vice president for energy supply at Northeast Utilities,
a company that, through its subsidiaries, provides electricity to homes
and businesses in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, said:
“There is concern we don’t have enough capacity to supply heating and
Northeast and many other companies are temporarily insulated from the
spot market because they sign long-term contracts for electricity
supply. But Northeast’s energy charges next year could be 10 percent
higher than they are now, Mr. Daly said, because the companies that
sell power on a long-term basis will charge more to absorb the risk of
short-term spikes in prices.
“It is certainly true that a region like New England that relies on a
single fuel source like natural gas for the bulk of its power does
leave itself open for more disruptions than a region with a more
diverse fuel mix,” said Jay Apt, executive director of the Electricity
Industry Center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “It’s not
a knock against natural gas; it’s a knock against a single fuel source.”
The American Public Power Association has warned since 2010 that demand
is outpacing the delivery capacity of gas infrastructure. At coal
plants, “you can look out the window and see that 60-day supply of your
fuel,” said Joe Nipper, the group’s senior vice president of government
relations. But gas plants tend to deliver fuel just as it is needed.
The gyrations of the spot market are hard to follow because prices are
set in units few consumers understand. Electricity is sold on the
wholesale market in megawatt-hours, or thousands of kilowatt-hours; a
megawatt-hour is enough to run a big suburban house for a month.
Natural gas is sold in a unit called an MMBtu, or a million British
thermal units. An MMBtu equals 10 therms, the unit home heating
customers pay for.
Normally, a megawatt-hour costs $30 to $50, and an MMBtu less than $4.
But not lately.
The problem began late last year. During a cold snap around
Thanksgiving, electricity prices in New England shot up to the highest
in the country: $103.20 per megawatt-hour and $12.37 per MMBtu on Nov.
27...full story here.
Neighboring States Ask CT Not To Extend
by Christine Stuart | Feb 8, 2013
A day after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy
released his two-year budget that
includes an extension of a tax on electricity generators, the attorneys
general of Massachusetts and Rhode Island wrote Connecticut legislative
leaders and asked them not to continue it.
Democratic Attorneys General Martha
Coakley of Massachusetts and Peter
Kilmartin of Rhode Island said they were “disappointed” in Malloy’s
budget for extending the tax.
“As you may be aware, a 2011 ISO New
England study found that because
all generators reap a windfall as a result of higher prices caused by
the tax on Connecticut generators, New England ratepayers were likely
to pay approximately $58 million more to purchase electricity because
of the tax, and that approximately 75 percent of the higher energy
costs resulting from the tax were likely to be borne by ratepayers
outside of Connecticut. In essence, the ratepayers of our states and
others are bearing the burden of higher energy market prices that are
the direct result,” they wrote Connecticut lawmakers.
The two expressed sympathy for
Connecticut’s fiscal situation, but
believe the tax on electricity generation, which is bought and sold on
a regional basis, will raise the rates on residents in their states.
Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba
countered by offering a statement that
said since the tax has been implemented electricity rates in
Connecticut have gone down 12 percent.
“While we respect the opinions of
our neighboring Attorneys General, we
have to take the appropriate action for our state. The fact is that
energy rates are down 12 percent across the board in Connecticut since
the enactment of this revenue enhancement,” Doba said.
Dan Dolan, president of the New
England Power Generators Association,
said the reduction in electricity prices is tied to the low cost of
natural gas and increased competition. Dolan argues that prices in
Connecticut dropped in spite of the tax.
“Because of competition among
generators and low fuel costs, consumers
have seen price decreases,” Dolan said. “Yet this tax has made consumer
costs higher compared to other states in the region putting Connecticut
at a disadvantage when competing for jobs and investment against
The drop in electricity prices also
doesn’t take into consideration the
fact that one of the biggest generators, Dominion, which operates the
Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Waterford, decided not to pass on its
share of the tax to ratepayers during the first two years.
But it’s an expense the company will
no longer shoulder, if the tax is
continues. Ken Holt, spokesman for the Dominion Millstone Power
Station, said last week that “going forward if the tax is extended that
tax is going to passed on to consumers.”
Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, said
the letter from the attorneys
general highlights the concerns they expressed at a press conference
prior to the release of the governor’s budget.
“There’s a real concern the tax will
be passed along to ratepayers,”
But she said the governor’s budget
is just the opening offer. She said
lawmakers will debate the issue as part of the larger budget discussion
Rep. Sean Williams, R-Watertown,
said he’s been against the tax from
the very beginning, but what the letter from the two Democratic
attorneys general illustrates is that it’s not good for the
competitiveness of the region.
“What this letter should announce to
the world is that the decisions we
reach here in Connecticut can have an impact on the region and make it
difficult for us to attract business,” Williams said.
If the economy truly is operating on
a more global basis then Williams
argued things that make business less competitive like higher electric
rates need to be taken more seriously by the state.
Williams said he doesn’t blame the
administration for not understanding
how the purchase of electricity is done regionally, but he blames them
for sticking their heads in the sand and extending the tax for two more
New Year’s gift of higher electric bills?
Ellen Spiegel, CT MIRROR
November 28, 2012
the folks who run New England's electricity transmission grid get their
way there's a good chance you'll be looking at higher electric bills
come New Year's. But it won't be without a fight.
Connecticut state agencies have joined three other New England states
to protest a proposed 10 percent budget increase by ISO-New England.
Attorney General George Jepsen, Consumer Counsel Elin Katz and Public
Utilities Regulatory Authority Chairman Arthur House have sent a joint
protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission protesting the
also are asking that FERC hold a hearing on it rather than just
allowing it to go into effect Jan. 1, 2013, and that ISO-New England's
budgets be filed with state utility commissions 60 days before filing
with FERC. State utility commissions currently have no authority over
ISO's budget even though it is essentially ratepayer supported.
electric rates are among the highest in the nation. FERC needs to
determine why ISO-New England seeks to increase its burden on
ratepayers by nearly 10 percent, when electricity demand is flat or
declining," Jepsen said in a statement. "Connecticut and other New
England states should have the opportunity to review the ISO-New
England budget and provide input on whether the agency is acting
reasonably to control costs."
to a joint press release, the state agencies' review of ISO budgets
shows that 80 percent of the proposed 2013 one goes to staff and
outside professional services. Staffing levels have more than tripled
in the past 15 years, the Connecticut agencies say. The review also
pointed out that more than half of ISO's 524 employees receive salaries
in excess of $100,000 and that last year, employees' merit bonuses
averaged 9 percent.
in Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island are also participating in the
protest. The public comment period ends Friday, Nov. 30.
State Officials Aim
To Put Hold On Electric Grid Operator's Planned 9.2% Budget Increase
BRIAN DOWLING email@example.com
8:09 PM EST, November 28, 2012
A handful of state officials are calling for federal regulators to put
the brakes on a generous budget increase for the region's power grid
operator, saying the mainly federal process needs to make room for more
oversight from states.
needs a very open and clear justification," said Consumer Counsel Elin
Swanson Katz in an interview. "We have to find a better process and put
pressure on ISO New England to watch their bottom line more closely"
New England's operating budget would grow to $164 million, up 9.2
percent from $151 million in 2012, paid for either directly or
indirectly by ratepayers.
similarly sized increase to ratepayers through state-regulated
utilities would be picked over carefully, requiring clear
justifications for spending growth. But since power grid operators are
only regulated by federal officials, state officials don't have much
power in the process.
comments filed Wednesday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency,
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, Consumer Counsel Katz and
the state's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority argue that ISO New
England's budget has grown without regard to economic conditions,
"through periods of economic lag and recession when other regulated and
unregulated companies have frozen or reduced costs and staffing levels."
New England, a privately held company based in Holyoke, Mass, runs bulk
electricity purchasing and transmission for Connecticut, Maine,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
a statement Wednesday, the power grid operator called its budget
process "open and transparent," adding that New England state officials
were given opportunities to offer input "well before" the budget filing
was made with federal regulators.
New England said that the budget and personnel increases to the 2013
budget, which would go into effect Jan. 1, are to address the
"challenges facing the reliable operation of the region's grid in the
future, and all of the challenges have been agreed upon by
officials argue they have little chance to offer formal input on any
budget increases, the costs of which settle on ratepayers. For any
similar budgetary increase that would affect the public, states would
hold long, drawn out hearings to be sure the increases are justified.
the past four years, the power grid operator's budget has increased 34
percent, and in that time, federal regulators haven't once held a
hearing to examine the increases.
officials are joined by officials from Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode
Island in asking regulators to hold a hearing on ISO New England's 2013
officials had an informational meeting on the budget with ISO New
England in mid-September and another meeting in mid-October where state
officials raised concerns about the grid's budget. The day following
the second meeting, the power grid operator adopted its budget. The
back-to-back meeting schedule left little time for the grid to
integrate the officials concerns, they said.
addition to requesting a hearing on the budget, state officials are
asking federal regulators to require the power grid operator to file
its budget to state agencies 60 days before filing for federal approval.
and other New England states should have the opportunity to review the
ISO-NE budget and provide input on whether the agency is acting
reasonably to control costs," Jepsen said, adding that when electricity
demand in the region is flat or declining, the grid needs to explain
such a large budget increase.
House, chair of PURA, said that the lack of "state regulator review has
resulted in unchecked growth."
GOTTA HAVE A ROAD, FIRST...
Connecting Greenfield Drive to
Lord's H'way ABOVE GROUND only came in the late
Conn. utility proposes costly transmission project
Jan 2, 10:49 AM EST
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut's largest utility is proposing to
spend $47 million to bury power lines to improve electric reliability
Connecticut Light & Power is proposing a 115,000-volt underground
transmission line about 1.5 miles that will connect two substations in
Critics who said CL&P, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities,
restored power too slowly after powerful storms in 2011 urged the
utility to bury lines to avoid power outages.
However, spokesman Frank Poirot (PIE'-roh) said Wednesday that the
Stamford project was proposed four or five years ago to keep up with
rising demand for electricity in the populous southwestern Connecticut
city. He says burying lines is feasible in urban, densely populated
CL&P has invited the public to view the project at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 in
the Stamford Government Center.
Analysis: Angry weather patterns show electrical supply vulnerable
King, Stamford ADVOCATE
6:34 p.m., Sunday, November 18, 2012
-- Better stock up on flashlights, batteries, nonperishable food and
potable water because there is likely to be an electrical blackout in
your future. Three
weeks after Superstorm Sandy tore up the mid-Atlantic coast of the
United States, many are still without power. The lessons of Sandy --
big and small -- are not pretty. The
question is: Can the electric power system we have deal with the New
Weather? The answer is plainly "No."
is one of those situations in which no one is to blame and everyone is
to blame. Our
electric power system is complex and uneven. Some of it is
state-of-the-art and some of it dates back a century. In
New England, according to the utility National Grid, one transformer
dates to 1909. Laughable? Well, many of the large transformers that are
essential to the operation of the electric power system are 45 years
old and operating beyond their planned life expectancy, known in
engineering terms as "design life."
poles, which snap off in high winds, are still the standard poles in
use for residential service, but Western Europe and industrialized Asia
use steel and steel-reinforced concrete poles. The wooden pole business
even has a lobby and its own trade association. About 100 million
wooden poles are in use across the country. One- hundred-thousand
wooden poles were rushed to the East Coast to aid repairs after
poles are heavier than steel and do not last as long, but linemen
prefer to climb them. There are arguments about costs and the life of
poles; about 30-40 years for wood and 40-60 years for steel.
U.S. electricity is supplied by 58 investor-owned utilities, with about
20 percent coming from publicly owned entities, ranging from the
Tennessee Valley Authority to small municipal utilities.
people are likely to lose their power from tornadoes and other wind
events that snap poles or, more commonly, from trees falling on power
lines. Nick Puga of Bates White, an economic consulting firm, points
out that many residential communities were built in open farm fields
over the past 40 years, and the first thing new homeowners do is plant
trees. These are of quick-growing, shallow-rooted varieties that have
sprung up near power lines.
even in older residential communities, trees are a huge problem. People
love them; the bigger, the older, the more spreading -- the better.
Residents fight with the power companies over trimming, and threaten to
sue if their beloved trees are trimmed or cut down.
Mitnick, an economist, former energy adviser to the governor of New
York and longtime utility consultant, said he believes the power
companies are in crisis, organically troubled and woefully unprepared
for what appear to be major weather changes. Mitnick does not lay the
blame wholly on the utilities; the forces that have shaped the electric
infrastructure, including the regulators, the customers and the
politicians, also are to blame.
pressure, Mitnick said, has been for low rates, often described as
affordable, reliable power. This has produced a philosophy that relies
more on swift response to outages rather than engineering against
weather damage. The
utilities are especially proud of what they call mutual assistance.
These are agreements under which crews are rushed from other utilities
to those that have outages. For
Sandy, these maintenance crews were sped to the East Coast with their
equipment from across the country and Canada. The procedure works well
when the damage is limited to downed lines. But when it is bigger, as
with recent storms, the imported crews are often at a loss, not knowing
the local infrastructure or the whereabouts of trunk lines and
is dangerous, difficult, first-responder work, and the workers deserve
it is an imperfect system when the damage is urban rather than rural or
suburban. There are reports of out-of-state utility workers looking
lost in Lower Manhattan as they try to cope with the damage from Sandy
in a world foreign to them.
me, the depressing thing is the way we have come to accept the
storm-related blackout as inevitable. This is another part of our sad
acceptance of a declining infrastructure, from crowded roads to slow
trains to a failing water supply. Once we had the best of these.
in CT, but might-have-been - similar issue to what we face?
No easy fix to outages
that swept East
an aging system or ante up to bury vulnerable lines.
Anchorage Daily News
By ERIC TUCKER and CHRIS KAHN, Associated Press
Published: July 3rd, 2012 11:51 PM
Last Modified: July 3rd, 2012 11:51 PM
WASHINGTON -- In the aftermath of storms that knocked out power to
millions, sweltering residents and elected officials are demanding to
know why it's taking so long to restring power lines and why they're
not more resilient in the first place.
The answer, it turns out, is
complicated: Above-ground lines are
vulnerable to lashing winds and falling trees, but relocating them
underground incurs huge costs -- as much as $15 million per mile of
buried line -- and that gets passed onto consumers.
With memories of other extended outages fresh in the minds of many of
the 1.26 million customers who still lack electricity, some question
whether the delivery of power is more precarious than it used to be.
The storms that began Friday have been responsible for the deaths of 24
people in seven states and the District of Columbia, including a
utility contractor who fell to his death Monday in Garrett County, Md.,
while removing limbs from a storm-damaged tree.
"It's a system that from an infrastructure point of view is beginning
to age, has been aging," said Gregory Reed, a professor of electric
power engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. "We haven't expanded
and modernized the bulk of the transmission and distribution network."
The powerful winds that swept from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic late
Friday, toppling trees onto power lines and knocking out transmission
towers and electrical substations, have renewed debate about whether to
bury lines. District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray was among officials
calling for the change this week and was seeking to meet with the chief
executive of Pepco, the city's dominant utility, to discuss what he
called a slow and frustrating response.
"They obviously need to invest more in preparing for getting the power
back on," said Maryland state Sen. James Rosapepe, who is among those
advocating for moving lines underground. "Every time this happens, they
say they're shocked -- shocked that it rained or snowed or it was hot
-- which isn't an acceptable excuse given that we all know about
Though the newest communities do bury their power lines, many older
ones have found that it's too expensive to replace existing networks.
To bury power lines, utilities need to take over city streets so they
can cut trenches into the asphalt, lay down plastic conduits and then
the power lines. Manholes must be created to connect the lines
together. The overall cost is between $5 million and $15 million per
mile, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., a
nonprofit research and development group funded by electric utilities.
Those costs get passed on to residents in the form of higher electric
bills, making the idea unpalatable for many communities.
Power lines are already underground in parts of Washington, but initial
estimates are that it would cost as much as $5.8 billion to bury them
throughout the entire city and would cost customers an additional $107
per month, said Michael Maxwell, Pepco's vice president of asset
North Carolina considered burying its lines in 2003, after a winter
storm knocked out power to 2 million utility customers. The North
Carolina Public Staff Utilities Commission eventually concluded it was
"prohibitively expensive" and time-consuming. The project would have
cost $41 billion and taken 25 years to complete -- and it would have
raised residential electric bills by 125 percent.
An onslaught of recent extreme weather around the country, including
heat waves, wildfires and flooding, has increased strain on
infrastructure already struggling to meet growing consumer demand. And
some scientists predict the severe weather will only increase, though
it will take time to study this year's weather before any conclusions
can be drawn.
Pepco has contingency plans for dealing with severe weather like
tornadoes and hurricanes and runs periodic drills in which staff go
through the process of responding to mass outages. In this case,
though, the hurricane-force winds lashed the region with no advance
notice, creating a type of quick-hit storm that caught the utility
flat-footed and for which it had not practiced, Maxwell said.
"That's going to be a very big lesson for us," he said. "We need to
understand how we recover from this."
A stress index created by the North American Electric Reliability
Corp., which monitors the country's power supply to annually assess its
performance, shows that day-to-day performance seems to have improved,
but there was an increase in high-stress days. The company counted six
high-stress days in 2011, slightly more than the three preceding years.
Weather was a contributing factor in nine of the 10 failures severe
enough to generate a federally required report in 2011.
But utility insiders acknowledge that the math is little comfort when a
customer's air conditioner fails during a triple-digit heat wave and
the food spoils.
"The industry is getting better and better," said Aaron Strickland, who
oversees distribution and emergency operations for Georgia Power, a
subsidiary of the Atlanta-based Southern Co. "In my opinion, I think
the expectations of customers are higher and higher because we depend
so much on electricity. ... We expect to push that button and it works."
Still, he noted Friday's storms pummeled the region with no advance
warning, and "you can't prepare for that."
"You don't see it coming," Strickland said. "It just happens."
Seth Blumsack, an assistant professor of energy policy and economics at
Penn State, said utilities are making investments in transmission
upgrades but "it doesn't look like blackouts are getting any less
"Some studies have suggested that they are getting more common," he
said. "Some studies have suggested that they're happening at basically
the same rate as they used to."
Though the country's power infrastructure is reliable, it was mostly
built between the 1930s and 1970s and is starting to age, said Reed of
the University of Pittsburgh.
Bruce Wollenberg, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at
the University of Minnesota who specializes in power systems, said it's
hard to tell if extended outages are more common than in years past.
But the capacity for high-voltage transmission systems has not
increased with demand, he said, in part because of the cost of moving
power lines underground and the general distaste for having
above-ground lines right outside homes.
"People don't want power lines -- period ...They don't like the way
they look, they don't like a lot of things," Wollenberg said. "It's
universal across the country, and I think across the world. People
don't want power lines. They don't want more power lines."
Residents' complaints about the latest outages have increased with
Kevin Fogg, a barber from the rural community of Jefferson, about 45
miles northwest of Washington, scoffed when asked if he'd be willing to
pay Potomac Edison higher rates to prevent more outages like the one
he's been suffering through.
"I think it's more than it should be already," Fogg said.
He said the utility company should do a better job of trimming trees
and branches that threaten power lines.
"There's a huge, dead tree hanging over our line and they said, 'Well,
we're not going to cut it down,'" Fogg said. "It's got to break first
and knock the power line down before they'll do anything about it. So I
guess they won't do any preventive maintenance -- or at least not as
much as they should."
Jean Cuseo, a middle-school art teacher from Jefferson, said she's not
sure if she'd be willing to pay more to prevent outages, even if that
were an option.
"I'm pretty environmentally friendly. If I could live off the grid I
would," she said.
Storm could lead to
higher electric rates in Conn.
MICHAEL MELIA, Associated Press
Posted on 11/12/2011
HARTFORD -- A rare October snow storm that caused record-breaking power
outages could lead to increased electricity costs in Connecticut, where
residents who endured days in the dark and cold already pay higher
rates than any other state in the continental United States.
The price tag is expected to run to $100 million or more for the 12-day
campaign that involved crews from as far as Colorado and Michigan in
restoring power to more than 850,000 customers.
In a recent financial filing, the parent company of Connecticut's main
electric utility said it expects to recover costs for the Oct. 29 snow
storm by going through regulators. With multiple investigations probing
the utility's storm response, however, the state's energy commissioner
and a key state lawmaker told The Associated Press that claims of
mismanagement and subpar performance -- if proven true -- could block
the company from passing costs on to ratepayers.
"We don't know if it's going to be borne by ratepayers. I think it's
very premature to make that statement," said Connecticut state Rep.
Vicki Nardello of Prospect, co-chairwoman of the legislature's energy
committee. She said Connecticut Light & Power has insurance against
storms and a reserve account, and state energy regulators can prevent
the utility from passing storm-related expenses on to customers if they
are deemed to be "imprudent."
The rare, pre-Halloween nor'easter dumped up to 2 feet of wet, heavy
snow that snapped tree limbs and power lines, and knocked out power to
more than 3 million customers in the Northeast. It broke a state record
for the number of customers left in the dark by a single storm that had
been set only two months earlier when the remnants of Hurricane Irene
slammed the Connecticut shoreline. A week after the storm hit, 176,000
customers were still without power. Electricity was restored to
virtually all customers by Thursday.
Connecticut Light & Power has described it as the region's worst
October snow storm in centuries.
Northeast Utilities, the Hartford-based parent company of CL&P,
said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it
expects the storm costs will meet the criteria for reimbursement. A
CL&P spokeswoman, Katie Blint, said the utility will make its case
to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and it will be up to that
agency to decide whether ratepayers will bear some of the burden.
An NU spokesman, Al Lara, said it will take weeks or months to
determine the total cost of the restoration effort. He said he expected
the regulatory review would not be influenced by the investigations
targeting the outages.
"I would expect the process to be independent," he said.
Although it may make for good politics to side with customers after
such a storm, utilities are able to recover most of their costs from
ratepayers in the vast majority of cases, according to Neil Kalton, a
senior equity analyst for Wells Fargo Securities in St Louis.
"I think at the end of the day pragmatism tends to prevail and there is
a realization that when you have a massive torm like this at a bad time
of year when the leaves are still on the trees, it's really out of the
control of the company," Kalton said.
Only Hawaii has higher electric rates than Connecticut, a happenstance
blamed on the state's high cost of living, the lack of coal-fired power
plants and a fee that a former governor and state lawmakers imposed on
electric utilities to pay off borrowing that helped balance the state
budget. The average homeowner's electric bill in Connecticut is about
$143 a month, compared to the national average of about $104 a month,
according to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information
Any request for a rate increase would go before the Public Utilities
Regulatory Authority, which meets at least once every four years to set
new rates and last did so in 2010. The utility could ask for a rate
hike in the interim to cover storm-related costs.
Daniel Esty, who oversees PURA as commissioner of the state Department
of Energy and Environmental Protection, said there are several concerns
involving CL&P staffing levels, how quickly crews responded after
the storm and whether enough crews were on standby.
"The expense of responding here is going to run in the hundreds of
millions of dollars. But I think there's a significant question of
whether some of that should be disallowed," he said.
The storm response is the subject of several investigations at the
state and federal level, including a review by the Washington,
D.C.-based disaster response consulting firm Witt Associates. In
announcing that probe into CL&P's response last week, Gov. Dannel
P. Malloy said: "I presume we're going to find some level of
Elin Swanson Katz, the state's consumer counsel, said the findings of
the various investigations will affect the utility's ability to recover
storm-related costs. Katz, whose office advocates for electric
ratepayers, said she was concerned in particular by stories of crews
that were paid to sit in parking lots for hours while they waited for
instructions from CL&P.
"The burden is really on them to come explain the extent of the damage
and explain why it's fair to attribute not to any sort of management
issues but to the fact that this was the storm of the century," she
Northeast Utilities has offered $10 million to establish a fund to help
residential customers who experienced losses because of the storm.
State Senate President Donald Williams said it would be more fair if
CL&P offered a $50 credit to each affected customer -- a gesture
that would cost the utility a tenth of its $388 million in earnings in
"I understand the storm was not CL&P's fault, but CL&P has
admitted that their response could have been better," Williams said.
"Homeowners and businesses lost an untold fortune in spoiled food and
missed business, as well as covering the cost of hotel stays, takeout
meals, flooded basements and a myriad of other, unnecessary daily
What lies beneath: Greenwich to host public forum
on gas pipeline
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published 11:10 p.m., Wednesday,
June 1, 2011
Out of sight, but not out of mind, a
major natural gas pipeline that burrows its way from Greenwich to
Bridgeport along the Merritt Parkway corridor is drawing new scrutiny.
Representatives from the state
Department of Public Utility Control and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.
will take questions and comments at a public forum in Greenwich on
Thursday on everything from the condition of the interstate duct to
what safeguards are in place in the event of a leak or explosion.
The event, scheduled from 10 a.m. to
2 p.m. in the Cone Room at Town Hall, is being sponsored by the
Riverside Association and the DPUC.
The high-pressure pipeline is routed
well to the north of Riverside.
Joseph Humphrey, the event's
organizer and a member of the homeowner group's board of governors,
said the pipeline doesn't have to run beneath a person's property for
him or her to have a vested interest.
"We want citizens to raise
questions," Humphrey said. "I'm going to raise a question: What happens
if the pipeline ruptures right next to the Merritt right at rush hour?"
While there have never been any
problems reported in Connecticut, Humphrey pointed out that a natural
gas pipeline outside San Francisco exploded in September
eight, leveling 35 homes and shooting flames 1,000 feet into the air.
"There's a fine line," Humphrey
said. "You don't want to scare them to death, but the pipeline that's
in place has been there since the 1950s."
In San Bruno, Calif., it took more
than an hour to shut off the gas after the explosion...full
story on CT here.
Odor From Kleen Energy
Plant Linked To Turbine Tests
Another test conducted Wednesday afternoon
The Hartford Courant
By JOSH KOVNER, firstname.lastname@example.org
3:44 PM EDT, May 18, 2011
Acrid diesel fumes wafting over neighborhoods surrounding the rebuilt
Kleen Energy plant in south Middletown earlier this week have been
linked to tests of one of the turbines, which is not yet performing at
optimum levels, fire officials and plant representatives said Wednesday.
Another test of the turbine was conducted Wednesday afternoon from 1:45
p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Dwayne Gardner, a spokesman with state Department of Environmental
protection, said six employees of the plant's general contractor,
carrying air monitors, fanned out in the surrounding neighborhood
during the Wednesday test.
Gardner said no fumes or diesel smoke were detected outside of the
plant's boundaries, and that the DEP received no new complaints from
area residents Wednesday afternoon. Gardner said the employees called
in from the neighborhood every 15 minutes with monitoring results, and
company representatives reported to the DEP.
Daniel Carey, spokesman for O&G Industries, the general contractor
and a minority owner of the $1 billion plant, acknowledged that
residents were not notified of an earlier test on Monday, which
produced acrid fumes that stalled over parts of south Middletown,
Portland and Durham in moisture-laden air and fog.
Residents on Monday night and Tuesday reported the odors to the South
Fire District, Middletown Health Department and the state Department of
The sprawling plant, built on a former feldspar mine overlooking the
Connecticut River, was partially destroyed in a deadly natural-gas
explosion on Feb. 7, 2010 that killed six workers, injured several
dozen others, and resulted in more than $16 million in federal fines
for safety violations against O&G, of Torrington, and other
contractors at the site. The blast led to a statewide ban on "gas
blows,'' in which natural gas was forced through pipelines at a
tremendous pressure to clear the lines of debris.
The plant's majority owner is Energy Investors Funds, or EIF, through a
Connecticut corporation called Kleen Energy Holdings, LLC.
The newly completed plant is in its testing phase, which will continue
for about another 30 days.
The turbines run on natural gas, but must also be able to burn oil as a
contingency plan. Carey said that fuel oil will be used again during
the testing phase and residents still may smell fumes on occasion.
"We didn't anticipate (that the Monday test) would create the odor
issues that it did,'' Carey said after plant representatives met with
South Fire District, city health, and state DEP officials Wednesday
He said residents were notified by phone of the test on Wednesday
DEP spokesman Dennis Schain has said inspectors were reviewing the
testing operations for any air-quality violations. No violations had
been filed against the plant as of Wednesday afternoon. South Fire
District Chief Edward Badamo has said the fumes don't represent a
Badamo said the turbines have to be "tuned in'' and will run more
efficiently when they are performing at full capacity.
Carey said the turbine on Monday was running slower and louder than it
would normally. He said under normal circumstances, the smoke would be
pushed through the stack with much greater energy and reach higher into
the atmosphere to dissipate.
Energy Says It Was Not Responsible For Plant Explosion In Middletown
30, 2010|By EDMUND H. MAHONY, email@example.com
owners of Kleen Energy Systems are asserting that they should not be
held responsible for operational delays caused by a deadly February
explosion that damaged their nearly completed electric plant in
Middletown because they had turned over total control of the plant to
their construction contractors.
the plant owners succeed in their claim that the cause of the explosion
was beyond their control, they can invoke language in their
state-approved contract that will enable them to avoid paying damages
for failing to meet a deadline to have the plant capable of producing
electricity by Dec. 1.
argument by the owners that they had no control over events leading to
the Feb. 7 explosion that killed six workers has been long-anticipated
and is being met with skepticism in some quarters. The contract
language that Kleen Energy is using in an effort to avoid
responsibility for the disaster is known as force majeure.
In Kleen Energy's contract, force majeure is defined as an event
or circumstance "such as natural catastrophes, terrorism, war, riots or
acts of God" that is not the result of negligence and prevents a
contractual party from fulfilling its obligations. Kleen Energy is
arguing that the explosion was an event beyond its control and not the
result of its negligence.
Rather, Kleen Energy appears to place responsibility for the explosion
on its principal construction contractor, O&G Industries.
"On the day of the explosion and fire, the contractor was in sole care,
custody and control of the facility," Kleen Energy said in a Sept. 28
letter that has been filed with the state Department of Public Utility
Representatives of Kleen Energy declined to discuss the letter or their
assertion of force majeure.
A variety of experts have concluded that the explosion and fire that
damaged nearby houses was sparked by construction workers using
electrical equipment in the vicinity of an enormous pool of vented
natural gas. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration
has fined Kleen Energy's construction contractor and subcontractors
$16.6 million for more than 100 safety violations.
State Consumer Counsel Mary J. Healy said Thursday that her staff of
public consumer advocates might challenge Kleen Energy's claim that it
is not responsible for the explosion.
Results Of Probe Into Kleen Energy Plant Explosion
11:43 AM EDT, August 5, 2010
UPDATE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Feds fine builders of Connecticut power plant
$16M for blast that killed 6 workers.
The federal Occupational Safety and
Health Administration is expected today to announce the result of its
investigation into the deadly February explosion at the Kleen Energy
plant in Middletown.
OSHA head Dr. David Michaels will
hold a press conference call at noon today to discuss the probe of the
explosion, in which six people were killed and 26 injured.
A commission appointed by Gov. M.
Jodi Rell has already recommended that the process of clearing debris
from natural gas pipelines at such plants be more tightly regulated.
The commission, which was chaired by retired U.S. District Court Judge
Alan H. Nevas, outlined several recommendations to prevent a similar
catastrophe in the future. The suggestions include determining whether
any state or federal agency has created a regulatory process to oversee
the cleaning of natural gas pipes.
Nevas' commission determined that
although the construction of the Kleen Energy plant was heavily
regulated, no agency oversaw the process workers used to clean the
natural gas pipeline, which it said ultimately caused the explosion.
"This is a process that appears, to
me at least, to have fallen through the cracks," Nevas said at the time.
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard
Investigation Board has also looked into the explosion. Safety board
investigators said 15 separate gas purges were done over four hours the
morning of the explosion. The gas was purged through a series of open
pipes that were installed about 20 feet off the ground. One of the
purge pipes was releasing gas and debris into a courtyard area behind
the main power building. The investigators estimate that 400,000
standard cubic feet of natural gas was released from that pipe into the
courtyard in the 10 minutes before the explosion.
Investigators have struggled to
determine the ignition source, but because there were so many potential
sources, that may be difficult to figure out.
Investigators Recommend Ban On Natural Gas For Pipe Purges
By DAVE ALTIMARI
9:58 AM EDT, June 28, 2010
The federal agency investigating the
Kleen Energy plant explosion is
recommending that power plant owners be banned from using natural gas
during pipe purging to avoid another disaster like the one that cost
six people their lives in February.
In a series of "urgent
recommendations," investigators from the U.S.
Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board want the National Fire
Protection Association to require power plant owners to "use inherently
safer alternatives such as air blows or pigging with air in lieu of
The board also is calling on OSHA to
adopt new regulations prohibiting
the release of flammable gas into the atmosphere during purges,
prohibiting any work activity during purges and requiring that
companies develop gas safety procedures and training for all
contractors and workers on a site.
CSB investigators will propose the
recommendations to the full board
tonight at a 6:30 p.m. public hearing at the Saint Clements Castle
conference facility in Portland.
The CSB only issues what it calls
"urgent recommendations" when it
believes there is a large-scale safety issue that needs immediate
With roughly 125 power plants across
the country expected to commission
natural gas-fired combustion turbines in the next five years, the
board's recommendations on how to conduct gas purges to clean the pipes
safely before putting the turbines online will have wide-ranging
CSB investigators also concluded
what a state commission appointed by
Gov. M. Jodi Rell also did — that there is no oversight, state or
federal, of these gas purges.
Six people died and as many as 27
were injured when a buildup of
natural gas ignited and exploded on the morning of Feb. 7 at the Kleen
The safety board investigators said
15 separate gas purges were done
over four hours the morning of the explosion. The gas was purged
through a series of open pipes that were installed horizontally about
20 feet off the ground.
One of the purge pipes was releasing
gas and debris into a courtyard
area behind the main power building, which was boxed in by the giant
recovery steam generators on each side. The investigators estimate that
480,000 standard cubic feet of natural gas was released from that pipe
into the courtyard in the 10 minutes before the explosion. Just over
two million standard cubic feet of natural gas had been released
throughout the morning.
"Both the congested area and the
orientation of the vent pipe likely
adversely affected the dispersion of natural gas,'' CSB investigators
CSB officials also concluded that
the purges conducted at the Kleen
site that Sunday morning "greatly exceeded" the targeted amount that
Siemens, the manufacturer of the two gas turbines in the building, said
was necessary to clean the pipes.
CSB officials concluded
"significantly more natural gas was released than was actually needed
to remove debris from the piping."
There were about 50 people working
inside the building at the time of
the explosion, but only 15 of them were directly involved in the
purges. Of that 15, five died in the explosion. The only person who
died that was not part of the purge team was Roy Rushton, who was
working on pipes near the gas turbine closest to a door leading to the
Investigators have been puzzled
about how the purge was done that day.
There was no safety meeting beforehand with workers, some contractors
were instructed to work in the building even while the purges were
occurring while others were directed to leave the building. Many
workers left on their own when the smell of gas became so strong.
Investigators also have struggled to
determine the ignition source, but
because there were so many potential sources — from welders inside the
building to portable diesel-fueled heaters — that may be difficult to
figure out. Investigators confiscated a portable ground-thaw heating
unit that was located in the courtyard not far from where the pipe was
spewing gas but have not been able to determine if that was the
The criminal investigation is
expected to continue for several more months at least.
Investigators recently sent a gas
monitor that had been used that day
by Christopher Walters, the safety manager on site, to the National
Transportation Safety Board in hopes that it could remove the microchip
inside and capture any data from before the blast that would indicate
what the gas levels were inside the power building just before the
This morning Congressional members
of the Workforce Protections
Subcommittee of the U.S. House and Education and Labor Committee holds
a public hearing at city hall in Middletown, starting at 10 a.m.
Many of the city's first responders
to the explosion are expected to
testify, as is Jodi Thomas, the wife of Ronald Crabb, who was killed in
State Panel Wants More Oversight
Of Plant Pipe Purging
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY and DAVE ALTIMARI, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:29 PM EDT, June 3, 2010
A state government panel appointed the day after a deadly power plant
explosion wants the process of clearing debris from natural gas
pipelines at such plants to be more tightly regulated.
The cleaning, or "blowing" of a pipeline at the Kleen Energy Systems
plant in Middletown Feb. 7 caused the blast, which killed six men and
injured 26. The commission's chairman, Alan H. Nevas, a U.S. District
Court judge, said Thursday that there is not enough oversight of
workers involved in the dangerous procedure.
"This is a process that appears, to me at least, to have fallen through
the cracks," Nevas said after the commission's meeting at the
Legislative Office Building, during which the panel unanimously
"Let me say I was surprised," the judge told reporters. "We live in a
very regulated society. That something like this wasn't regulated was
Earlier, Nevas had summed up his commission's findings. While his group
was tasked only with identifying the cause and origin of the blast, the
panel of state government leaders went a step farther and suggested
ways to better regulate the pipe-cleaning process. If the legislation
is passed into law, Connecticut could become a national leader in the
area, he said. Another state panel known as the Thomas Commission is
charged with suggesting proposed laws to the state legislature, Nevas
Federal organizations also are studying the plant explosion, and how to
prevent similar tragedies. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard
Investigation Board will hold a public hearing on June 28 in Middletown
to consider urgent safety recommendations regarding the use of natural
gas when doing gas "blows" or purges like the one that was going on at
the Kleen Energy plant.
The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Prince Edward Ballroom
of St. Clements Castle in Portland. CSB's team that has been
investigating the Kleen Energy explosion will present its findings to
the three-person board. After a period of public comment, the board
will then vote on the recommendations. CSB investigators have
been on scene since the days after the accident. They have sparred with
Middletown police and prosecutors over access to key evidence.
CSB investigators said there were 15 separate gas purges done on the
morning of the explosion over a four hour period. The gas was purged
through a series of open pipes that were installed about 20 feet off
the ground. One of the purge pipes was releasing the gas and debris
right into a courtyard area located behind the main power building. CSB
investigators estimate that about 400,000 standard cubic feet of
natural gas was released from that pipe into the courtyard in the 10
minutes before the explosion.
Investigators have struggled to determine the ignition source of the
blast, but because there were so many potential sources, that may be
difficult ever to figure out.
"Efforts were made to eliminate or control potential ignition sources
outside the power generation building. However, many ignition sources
existed inside the building; electrical power to the building was on;
welders were actively working, and diesel-fueled heaters were
running,'' CSB's General Counsel Christopher W. Warner said.
The state panel's suggestions include:
* Determine whether any state or federal agency has developed a
regulatory structure that could be applied to natural gas pipeline
* Consult with experts to determine which methods are used and identify
the advantages and disadvantages of each.
* Identify the agency or agencies best suited to regulating the process.
* Consider recommending that the Connecticut Siting Council impose
safety conditions upon any company building a power plant that will use
the gas blow cleaning process.
* Consider recommending regulations that specifically address the
qualifications and training of staff involved in the gas blow process.
* Regulate the design specifications for the materials to be used in
the gas blowing process.
* Identify the type of notice that must be given by the contractor to
the regulatory agency before any gas-blowing operation.
* Establish specific procedures for the gas blow process, including who
may be on the site.
Nevas' panel included representatives of the state departments of
emergency management and homeland security, consumer protection,
environmental protection, public utilities control, public safety and
Copyright © 2010, The Hartford
Energy overhaul debate
is put on hold. Fate of controversial plan remains in doubt as
state Senate leaders call time out.
By Ted Mann Day Staff Writer
Article published May 4, 2010
Hartford - Late Monday night, state Senate leaders postponed debate on
a massive proposal to overhaul state energy policy, pushing a vote back
at least until today and leaving its fate unclear.
But any visitor wondering about the scope and import of the bill needed
search no further than the crowds of lobbyists, activists and aides
clustered in the marble hall outside the Senate chamber.
The attempt to make the most sweeping changes in Connecticut's
electricity markets since their deregulation in 1998 has provoked an
aggressive show of force by power companies, business interests,
environmentalists and advocates for consumers, the elderly and the poor.
Swarms of lobbyists monitored the progress of the reform bill as Sen.
John Fonfara, D-Hartford, and Rep. Vickie Nardello, D-Prospect, the
co-chairs of the Energy and Technology Committee, made last minute
changes to it all Monday afternoon.
And, as in previous days, they swarmed lawmakers and their aides
whenever they emerged into the corridors, arguing the cases of the
consumer groups who believe the reform will help drive down rates and
spur renewable energy development, or of the industry groups who think
it will cut into the profits of energy retailers, raise rates and kill
Fonfara was tired - he stifled a sudden involuntary yawn during an
interview in the hallway outside the Senate Republican caucus room -
but confident that the bill he has assembled with Nardello over the
objections of Republicans and many powerful industry voices will
eventually become law.
"This is a darn good bill, and I hope the governor listens to the
debate tonight," Fonfara said Monday evening. "For the first time we're
taking steps to reduce rates and build a clean energy economy, through
solar, wind and hydro."
Despite making changes to address the concerns of Gov. M. Jodi Rell's
administration and current regulators, the core principles of the bill
remain, said Nardello.
Meanwhile, Republicans have denounced what they argue is the secrecy of
the bill's construction.
Opposing the bill in its current form are, among others, the two
utilities, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, the
Connecticut Business & Industry Association, and a host of small
electric retailers who have entered the market to offer competition to
CL&P and UI, and now claim to serve more than 300,000 customers in
But a coalition of supporters of the proposal, including consumer
advocates, the AARP and owners of renewable energy start-up firms,
rallied in favor of the bill, saying it would lower rates for
Connecticut consumers and redress some of the unintended effects on
consumers from the deregulation bill the General Assembly passed in
"It is those people who are opposed to the bill that fed us the lies"
that helped pass the deregulation bill, said Tom Swan, the executive
director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, which supports the
reform package. "If you liked their lies the last time around, you're
going to love the lies they're coming up with this time."
Those who helped shape the bill also include state officials, including
representatives from the office of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
and from the Office of Consumer Counsel, a nonpartisan agency that
represents the interests of utility customers.
The pushback from the Rell administration has been quiet but forceful.
Rell budget chief Robert L. Genuario and Department of Public Utility
Control Chairman Kevin DelGobbo wrote last week to object to an earlier
draft of the legislation, prompting Fonfara and Nardello to agree to
some changes. They included a rewrite that would direct the state's
Connecticut Energy and Technology Authority to study whether market
rules at ISO-New England, the nonprofit operator of the state's
transmission system, help drive up rates for Connecticut customers, and
whether the state would benefit from pulling out of ISO-New England
The two administration officials were not appeased, however, and issued
a second memo on Monday that details their continuing objections to the
bill. Among their concerns are added costs to ratepayers from proposed
incentives for solar power generation, and the additional risk that
would be borne by utilities if they are allowed more flexible to
structure their own power purchases on the open market, rather than
buying through the so-called "middlemen" who currently assemble power
contracts for the utilities and charge a premium in exchange for
Supporters of the bill believe utilities can make more cost-effective
purchases on their own - cooperatives like the Connecticut Municipal
Electrical Energy Cooperative already do this, Fonfara notes - while
critics note that bad investments by the utilities could lead to losses
that they would then try to recoup from ratepayers.
"The Administration can accept a number of these provisions as well
intended; however we believe that the provisions of this proposed
legislation passes the tipping point which place the Connecticut's
ratepayers at risk for increased costs," DelGobbo and Genuario wrote on
In the memo, the two also object to the proposed reorganization of the
DPUC and say some of the proposed restrictions on marketing practices
by retail energy companies could adversely affect those businesses,
though the memo does not say which restrictions they find objectionable.
Genuario and DelGobbo included a worksheet with their memo outlining
the potential costs of the solar generation incentives and other
benefits in the bill, arguing that the costs could rise anywhere from
$76 million to $200 million.
But in a response Monday evening, representatives from the advocacy
groups Environment Connecticut and Clean Water Action slammed those
estimates, saying the administration had completely ignored provisions
of the bill meant to cap the costs of the incentives, and drastically
overstated the possible costs of the programs.
"They regurgitated the utilities' talking points," said Christopher
Phelps of Environment Connecticut.
Mass-casualty event not a drill this time
- full story here.
NEVER LETS A GOOD CRISIS GO TO
"WASTE" - Nuclear or otherwise
Administration wants to radiate wealth and GLOW JOBS. And what about this matter?
US to build two new nuclear power
last updated at 18:32 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Barack Obama has announced more than $8bn (£5bn) of federal loan
guarantees to help build the first US nuclear power stations for 30
Two new plants are to be
constructed in the state of Georgia by US electricity firm Southern
President Obama said the plants
would be "safe and clean" and were needed to meet the country's future
There have been no new nuclear
power plants built in the US since the 1979 accident at Three Mile
The accident was caused by the
partial core meltdown of one of the reactors at the site in
Pennsylvania, which resulted in a release of radioactive gases into the
The president said the project
would create "thousands of construction jobs over eight years and then
hundreds of well-paid jobs" when the facilities become operational.
He added that it was "only the
beginning" of efforts to develop a new generation of safe and clean
energy-efficient technologies, which would help fight climate change.
The two new reactors will be
built at an existing nuclear facility in Georgia.
Southern Company said the work
would create about 3,000 construction jobs and 850 people would
subsequently be permanently employed when the reactors became
'Meet energy needs'
"On an issue which affects our
economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we cannot continue
to be mired in the same old debates between left and right, between
environmentalists and entrepreneurs," said President Obama.
THREE MILE ISLAND ACCIDENT
Partial core meltdown of one of the two
reactors at the site, on 28 March 1979
Caused by a faulty valve which allowed
large amounts of reactor coolant to leak
Resulted in radioactive gases being
released into the atmosphere
About 140,000 people evacuated from the
No fatalities, but dispute remains over
long-term health impact
Most significant accident in the history
of the US nuclear power industry
The reactor in question remains
mothballed, but the other at the site is still in operation
"To meet our growing energy
needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we'll need
to increase our supply of nuclear power. It's that simple."
Southern's chief executive David
Ratcliffe said the president's announcement was "an important
endorsement in the role nuclear power must play in diversifying our
nation's energy mix and helping to curb greenhouse gas emissions".
There are currently 104
operating nuclear reactors across 31 states in the US, which provide
about a fifth of the country's electricity.
Meanwhile, there are currently
56 new nuclear reactors being built around the world.
many politicians does it take to change a lightbulb?
apply for stimulus funding for 'smart
By Patricia Daddona
Published on 7/18/2009
Northeast Utilities is seeking up to $75 million in federal stimulus
funding that would help pay for smart grid technology for customers in
The deadline is Aug. 6 to apply for $75 million in matching funds from
the U.S. Department of Energy's Smart Grid Investment Grant program to
cover eligible expenses. NU is applying through the Connecticut Light
& Power Company, Western Massachusetts Electric Company and Public
Services of New Hampshire.
”We believe that federal funding, combined with our expertise, can help
accelerate the modernization of the regional power grid and enable the
next generation of energy efficiency solutions,” said Charles W.
Shivery, NU's chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a
NU, which operates New England's largest electricity delivery system,
notified DOE of its intent to apply on Thursday.
”We expect the majority of that money will be invested in Connecticut,”
said Al Lara, an NU communications specialist. “The reason is, we've
already laid the groundwork here in the state.”
”Smart grid” technology is used to describe a variety of new and
different approaches to managing electricity, said Lara. The idea
behind it is to help customers have more information to control their
energy use and to modernize the distribution system to use energy more
efficiently, he said.
One of the primary uses of the money would be to link automated
distribution systems that allow the flow of electricity to be
controlled remotely, aiding in the detection of outages, said James B.
Robb, NU's senior vice president of planning and development.
Automation, which is already largely in place in Connecticut, supports
the addition of new technologies like electric plug-in vehicles and
NU also has already invested in “Plan-It-Wise,” a smart meter project
in which 3,000 customers are participating, Robb said. In that project,
customers are testing half a dozen programs that provide information
about pricing and billing for electricity consumption, he said.
The goal is both to help consumers save money and energy, said Lara. It
also allows customers to keep track of energy “as you go along, so if
you see you're overspending, you can control your use,” Lara said.
Pinpoints Unit 2 Reactor Leak
By Patricia Daddona
- The Millstone Unit 2 reactor will remain shut down as operators fix a
tiny leak located in part of the system that cools the reactor.
the reactor at the Millstone Power Station had been shut down since
July 3 following an electrical storm that caused power fluctuations
from the region's electrical grid and an automatic trip, or shutdown.
on Monday, as operators were restarting the plant, they discovered a
“very small” leak in a reactor coolant pump, Neil Sheehan, a spokesman
for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in an e-mail. Late in the
afternoon Tuesday, the leak was still dripping and is slightly
radioactive, but drains into a water collection area at the base of the
building where it is captured, Sheehan wrote.
reactor coolant system transfers heat produced in the reactor core to
the steam generators. There, heat is produced for the
turbine-generator, which in turn produces electricity.
early evening, Dominion had pinpointed the problem.
have identified the location of the leak,” said Dominion spokesman Rich
Zuercher in an e-mail. “It is on piping that provides cooling to a
reactor coolant pump seal. We are preparing to make the repair. We also
performed an 'extent-of-condition' examination on other reactor coolant
pump seal cooling piping and are taking appropriate actions to prevent
the potential for a similar issue to develop.”
the reactor is idled, plant operators will fix the pipe. For
competitive reasons, the company does not disclose how long the
shutdown will last or when the reactor will come back online.
pressurizer safety valve also failed to close properly and may have to
be fixed, said Sheehan and Zuercher.
was no danger from the leak to employees or the public, Sheehan and
Unit 3 reactor continues to function properly, they said.
normal conditions, Millstone generates 2,103 megawatts from its two
working reactors - enough electricity to power 500,000 homes, according
to the company's Web site. Unit 2 began commercial operation in late
1975. The Unit 1 reactor was closed in 1998.
IMPACT: Funds to
Shut Nuclear Plants Fall Short
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 4:04
June 16, 2009
VERNON, Vt. (AP)
-- The companies that own almost half the nation's nuclear reactors are
not setting aside enough money to dismantle them, and many may sit idle
for decades and pose safety and security risks as a result, an
Associated Press investigation has found.
are caused not by fluctuating appetites for nuclear power but by the
stock market and other investments, which have suffered huge losses
over the past year and devastated the plants' savings, and by the
soaring costs of decommissioning.
At 19 nuclear
plants, owners have won approval to idle reactors for as long as 60
years, presumably enough time to allow investments to recover and
eventually pay for dismantling the plants and removing radioactive
nuclear reactors or shutting them down inadequately presents the most
severe of risks. Radioactive waste could leak from abandoned plants
into ground water or released into the air, and spent nuclear fuel rods
could be stolen by terrorists.
During the past
two years, estimates of dismantling costs have soared by more than $4.6
billion because rising energy and labor costs, while the investment
funds that are supposed to pay for shutting plants down have lost $4.4
billion in the battered stock market.
companies have been hammered by the same declining market returns as
colleges, companies and private investors. Industry critics say reactor
owners weren't saving enough even before the financial collapse, and
that federal regulators have not held the industry to a high enough
regulators are expected to release a report later this week that will
describe shortfalls at 30 of the nation's 104 nuclear plants and ask
operators for details about how they plan to resolve the problem.
The amount of
money set aside for dismantling the plants has decreased at nearly four
of every five reactors, according to an AP analysis of financial
records provided every other year to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The government could force plant operators to set aside more money.
Plant owners say
they have several ways to close the gap. In addition to idling the
plants, the government can simply extend licenses to operate them. And
investments could recover in the years to come. Industry officials say
a 6 percent annual rate of return is a reasonable long-term goal.
plants will be operating for several more decades and will be able to
recoup their fund losses, said Steve Kerekes, a spokesman for the
Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade group.
critics say those plans are not enough.
''No one at the
NRC wants to acknowledge what is absolutely obvious to us, that the
funds are inadequate and that the industry has bare assets,'' said
Arnold Gundersen, a retired nuclear engineer and decommissioning expert.
say the industry is making assumptions about their investments that do
not account for another market collapse, political obstacles to getting
the licenses renewed and unforeseen safety problems that could make
nuclear power less palatable.
British officials reported on a 2007 leak in a cooling tank at the
decommissioned Sizewell-A nuclear plant. If the leak had not been
promptly discovered, officials said, nuclear fuel rods could have
caught fire and sent airborne radioactive waste along the English
coast, harming plant operators or the public.
The average cost
of dismantling a nuclear reactor is now estimated now at $450 million.
The average plant owner has about $300 million saved up for the job.
Typically, the money is raised through a small surcharge on electric
NRC records show
utilities are trying to close the gaps:
--Owners at 19
plants have won approval to mothball reactors for as long as 60 years.
A method called Safestor has been approved for reactors including the
three Palo Verde units in the Arizona desert and the Three Mile Island
1 reactor near Harrisburg, Pa.
method, radioactive fuel is removed from the reactor and the spent fuel
storage pool and is stored in dry casks on plant property. Plant
systems are drained of water, and the remaining radioactivity in the
plant is left to decay until the facility is dismantled.
analysts worry the utility companies that own nuclear plants might not
even exist in six decades.
''Our concern is
that they'll just walk away from it,'' said Jim Riccio, a Greenpeace
nuclear policy analyst. ''It's like a sitting time bomb. The notion
that you can just walk away from these sites and everything will be
hunky-dory is just not true.''
of 54 nuclear plants, or more than half in the U.S., have already
received 20-year license extensions. Sixteen more are being reviewed,
and the commission expects to receive 21 more applications in the next
several years. To date, the NRC hasn't turned down any license
ask for extensions for other reasons -- primarily to keep producing
power and making money -- some companies have explicitly told
shareholders they will use license extensions to meet their
are calculating growth projections for their investments with an annual
return of 6 percent. While that is roughly what leading market indexes
make over decades, the NRC found plant owners lost an average of 13
percent over the past two years.
In Texas, state
rules govern utilities' investments, said Ashley Monts, a spokeswoman
for Luminant Corp., which owns two nuclear plants near Glen Rose,
Texas. Five years before a plant is set to close, she said, Luminant is
required to have 60 percent of the cost available. Two and a half years
out, the gap must be completely closed.
about $385 million set aside to close its two plants in 2030 and 2033.
Two years ago, that figure was $439 million. The cost of
decommissioning the reactors is $824 million, almost $90 million than
was estimated before.
operators appear to benefit from NRC rules that don't require them to
set aside money to store old nuclear fuel, demolish buildings, or
return the plant sites to pristine states. Although some states require
a full site restoration, the federal government does not.
Unit 1 reactor near Fulton, Mo., reported in March that meeting the NRC
savings target for decommissioning would leave it far short of the real
cost of cleaning up the site.
It began with a
story similar to those told by other plants: The cost to meet the
minimum federal requirement for decommissioning rose from $358 million
to $406 million in two years. Its savings to pay for it dwindled from
$268 million to $236 million.
But a detailed
study of the cost of decommissioning Callaway showed something far
worse: The federal savings target was about $288 million less than what
it would actually cost for a full dismantling, cleanup and safe storage
of spent nuclear waste.
disposal problem has become especially acute since the federal
government scrapped plans to store nuclear waste at a secure facility
in Yucca Mountain, Nev. Instead, radioactive fuel rods are now stored
in large concrete and steel canisters on plant grounds that are guarded
around the clock and tested often for leaks.
Yankee plant, in southeastern Vermont along the banks of the
Connecticut River, was hailed as the future of power production for New
England when it opened in 1972. Its license is set to expire in 2012,
and its decommissioning fund has less than half the money expected to
As recently as
December 2007, the fund held $416 million. Now it stands at about $384
million -- a rebound from where it stood a few months ago but not even
close to the estimated $932 million it will eventually cost to
dismantle the plant.
Entergy Corp. is
seeking a 20-year license extension for Vermont Yankee, and is hoping
to have enough money in the fund to decommission the plant in the
2030s. Jay Thayer, the plant's vice president for operations, said that
if the decommissioning fund continues to perform poorly, the company
may ask for permission to idle the plant for as long as 60 years under
the Safestor program. That would put off the dismantling until 2092.
On the Net:
Regulatory Commission: http://www.nrc.gov
utility in deal
for Canadian power
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
05/22/2009 08:27:22 AM EDT
Northeast Utilities reports that it and a Massachusetts company have
been given federal approval for a high-voltage power line to link a
Canadian power plant to New England.
says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday approved its
joint proposal with Boston-based NSTAR. The power line will bring
electricity from a hydroelectric power plant in Quebec to the regional
high voltage system.
two companies had proposed the plan last December.
Chairman Jon Wellinghoff says the project provides access to clean,
low-cost energy for consumers in a region of the nation with tight
constraints on electricity supplies.
proposed line would transmit at least 1,200 megawatts of power which is
enough to power tens of thousands of homes.
Court says Burton can challenge
Published on 5/21/2009
The state Supreme Court ruled
Wednesday that an anti-nuclear activist
fighting to shut down Millstone Power Station has the right to
challenge a state-run permit-renewal process. In a two-year-old
case brought by Nancy Burton of Redding Ridge and Mystic against the
state Department of Environmental Protection's commissioner, Gina
McCarthy, and Millstone owner Dominion, a trial court originally found
that Burton lacked standing to sue. Burton is the leader of the
Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone.
But on Wednesday, the high court
released a legal opinion finding the
trial court erred and Burton has a right to challenge the adequacy of a
state water-discharge permit proceeding, now under way, to protect the
public, the environment and marine life.
”We conclude that the plaintiff's
complaint adequately sets forth facts
to support an inference that unreasonable pollution, impairment or
destruction of a natural resource will probably result from Millstone's
operation,” the ruling stated. “The plaintiff … has standing to raise
her claim ....”
In her lawsuit, Burton has also
alleged the DEP hearing officer is
biased and that the DEP has prejudged the case. It is now up to
the trial court to determine if the permit-renewal process is
insufficient. If so, the court has the power to halt the proceedings
“and craft orders to ensure that those rights are adequately
protected,” the Supreme Court stated.
”This is GREAT NEWS for the
community surrounded by Millstone,” Burton
said in an e-mail. “It is GREAT NEWS for the fish. And it is GREAT NEWS
for all who believe that conscientious citizen participation can make a
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal,
whose office represented the DEP,
said his staff would review claims Burton makes in Superior Court “if
and when the plaintiff makes them.”
Amey Marrella, deputy commissioner
of the DEP, defended Dominion's and
the agency's efforts to revise the Millstone permit. Millstone
discharges heated and contaminated water into Long Island Sound,
Niantic Bay and Jordan Cove. The reactors also trap and kill marine
life at intakes when they suck millions of gallons of water into the
plants for cooling purposes.
Burton alleges harm that she says
has been exacerbated by the DEP's
emergency authorization of the permit now under review. Since 1997,
Millstone's two reactors have been operating without a revised permit.
Marrella said Dominion, which has
since reapplied for the permit, is
already taking steps to better protect aquatic life and embark on a
study of alternative cooling methods. Jim Norvelle, spokesman for
Dominion, said the company is confident the Superior Court would find
no merit to Burton's claims.
House OKs restricting electricity choice
Posted on Apr 29, 1:59 PM EDT
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The
Connecticut House has passed legislation
requiring future residential and small business customers to sign up
with one of the state's two major power suppliers.
The amendment passed on a mostly
party-line, 103-39 vote, with
Democrats in the majority. It now moves to the Senate, where there is
Supporters say the move to restrict
electricity choice would reduce
rates, but opponents say it's bad public policy and would stifle
More than 90 percent of residential
and business customers now buy
power from Northeast Utilities or United Illuminating. Supporters say
those customers pay a "risk premium" for allowing a small group to
choose small, alternative power companies. They predict rates could
drop by five percent.
Legislative Regulation Review Committee has been in existence since
1972, it was a November 24, 1982 amendment to the State's Constitution
which provided the authority for the General Assembly to adopt the
current structure of the committee.
"It is the
responsibility of the Legislative Regulation Review Committee to review
regulations proposed by state agencies and approve them before
regulations are implemented. This position was adopted since all
regulation have the force of law, and it is important that regulations
do not contravene the legislative intent, or conflict with current
state or federal laws, or state or federal constitutions.
bipartisan committee is made up of 14 members: 6 senators and 8
representatives divided equally by party. In keeping with the
bipartisan nature of the committee the chairmanship of the committee
changes every two years. Pairing either a Senate Democrat and a House
Republican or a Senate Republican and a House Democrat as co-chairs."
Panel Adopts Rell Rebate Plan;
New Rules Govern Power Plant Emissions
By DAVID FUNKHOUSER | Courant Staff
July 23, 2008
A legislative panel Tuesday overrode the advice of its own attorneys
and adopted a set of rules governing power plant emissions that
includes potential rebates for consumers. The move is a victory
for Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who had pushed for the
rebates as a way to hedge against potentially higher electricity prices
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, however, has contended that Rell's
plan is illegal because it does not conform to legislation passed last
year that set up the emissions control program. Critics of the plan say
the payout would be minuscule, and the money should be spent on energy
efficiency programs that offer potentially larger savings.
Rell called the vote "a victory for taxpayers" and said, "I am pleased
that lawmakers on the regulations review committee have joined me in
recognizing that Connecticut can be a full participant in the effort to
address climate change — and provide ratepayer protections at the same
But the vote surprised committee member Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West
"It could have been handled in [the next] legislative session," Harris
said. "There was no rush."
Harris said the issue was cast in the committee debate as being for or
against relief for ratepayers.
"Of course we support relief to ratepayers," he said. "The larger issue
that should be debated by the General Assembly is, does it make sense
to give rebates that could amount to $2 or $3 a year," vs. much greater
savings that could be gained through energy efficiency programs.
Rep Claudia Powers, R-Greenwich, who voted for Rell's proposal, noted
that there is much uncertainty over energy prices.
"I tend to look at the big picture," she said.
Regardless of the actual dollars that may be saved, Powers said "in my
reading this was the only section of the proposed regulations that was
an actual, ironclad protection for the consumer, the ratepayer."
The panel voted 7-6 in favor of the rules, with Democrats and
Republicans voting on both sides of the issue.
The new rules will apply to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a
10-state collaboration that aims to battle global warming by cutting
back the amount of emissions of carbon dioxide from power-generating
facilities across the region. Under the initiative, states will
auction off a limited supply of
permits to emit CO2. The number of permits will gradually decline,
giving power companies an incentive to invest in cleaner technology and
renewable sources of electricity. The first auction is scheduled for
The proceeds from the permit auction — according to the law passed by
the legislature in 2007 — were to be used for conservation programs,
loan management* and support for renewable energy sources such as
biomass, wind and solar.
The permits are initially expected to sell for between $3 and $5 a ton.
But recent surges in energy prices prompted Rell to propose a kind of
safety valve to keep consumers from absorbing higher costs for
electricity. Under her plan, if prices go above $5 a ton, the proceeds
would be returned to consumers. Opponents of Rell's move say that
would amount to 23 cents a month for
every dollar the price goes above $5 a ton — far less than could be
saved through conservation programs that also would be funded through
The regulations review committee, charged with signing off on new state
regulations, adopted the rules for the regional initiative, including
Rell's rebate proposal, Tuesday. That vote came despite advice from
legislative attorneys who agreed with Blumenthal that Rell's proposal
does not conform with the law.
The vote puts those who support the regional emissions control
initiative in a bind: They want to see Connecticut participate in the
first permit auction in September. Any legal challenge now could
prevent that from happening. Blumenthal appeared conciliatory in
"Although my interpretation of the statute and legislative intent
differed from today's decision by the legislative committee, I respect
its decision and will do my best to implement it and serve the two
goals of assisting consumers with energy cost savings and enhancing the
environment," he said.
Voting for the regulations with Rell's amendments were Reps. T.R. Rowe,
Paul Davis, William Hamzy, Arthur O'Neill and Claudia Powers, and Sens.
Thomas Herlihy and Sam Caligiuri. Opposed were Reps. Carlo Leone and
Christopher Caruso, and Sens. Andrew Rorabach, Jonathan Harris, Paul
Doyle and Andrea Stillman.
* = missing Committee member a bank employee.
43rd Power Sources Conference will take place at the Sheraton
Philadelphia City Center Hotel from July 7-10, 2008.
by the U.S. Army Research, Development & Engineering Command, Army
Power Division, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research
Development & Engineering Center, Sensors and Electronic Devices
Directorate, and the Army Research Laboratory, the Power Sources
Conference will focus on energy-generation and storage technology
(largely, but not exclusively, electrochemical) that is of interest to
the Department of Defense, other government agencies, and to the
civilian marketplace. The conference will comprise the technical
program, a poster session, and an exhibition.
orientation of the conference will focus on devices, but relevant
contributions on materials, mechanisms and power management are
welcome, as are contributions on prototype development, manufacturing
technology, device and system engineering, and economic and
The Last Drop?
forum offers a chilling look at the world's finite oil supply
Choiniere Day Editorial Page Editor
Published on 12/9/2007
On the afternoon
of Nov. 1, with global oil prices trading at more than $90 per barrel
and threatening to hit $100, state legislators gathered in the
Legislative Office Building to hear sobering, even frightening news.
supply of oil is reaching a production peak, while demand continues to
grow rapidly, the panel of experts told the dozen or so lawmakers in
attendance. With production unable to meet demand in coming years, oil
prices will rise dramatically and gasoline shortages will develop,
described was one of looming disaster, a calamity that the state of
Connecticut and the rest of the United States are ill prepared for. And
this is not a catastrophe that will come and go, but persist for years,
even decades, as the country goes through the painful process of
weaning itself off cheap oil and settling into a lifestyle that
recognizes the new reality of oil scarcity.
That the forum
took place at a time when new oil price records were being set was mere
coincidence. A group calling itself the Legislative Peak Oil Caucus had
scheduled it months before. But the higher oil prices, and
corresponding increases at the gas pump, certainly added a degree of
drama and dread to the proceedings.
State Rep. Terry
Backer, a Stratford Democrat and co-founder of the caucus, has since
submitted a report calling on the legislature to form a Peak Oil Task
Force to begin planning for an oil-shortage reality. The caucus also
sees a need for a state Department of Energy. Amending state and local
emergency plans to deal with the problems resulting from sudden
gasoline shortages should be paramount, according to the report.
Only five years
ago a barrel of crude was trading at $25 to $30 a barrel, where it had
bounced around for 15 years. Since then it has increased by 200
percent, 50 percent in the last year alone. Gas prices above $3 per
gallon and heating fuel costs almost as high are pushing many family
budgets to the breaking point.
It is in
inarguable that the United States, more than any other nation, has
built a society based on cheap energy. Most people live in suburbs or
rural locations that require the automobile to do most any task — get
to work, participate in social activities, go shopping, even grab a
gallon of milk and loaf of bread.
Our food largely
comes from faraway places. Fossil-fuel based fertilizers and pesticides
are used to produce the food. It is then trucked or shipped hundreds
and often thousands of miles to reach local markets. Many of the
material goods we buy are dependent on shipping supply lines stretching
overseas to Asia and other lands.
When the price
of oil goes up the price of all these things go up. If the cost of oil
continues to rise, and gas shortages develop, our very way of life
would be challenged. People would have trouble heating their
ever-larger homes or finding gas to get to work. Food shortages could
Europe, which has been dealing with high gas prices for decades, has
maintained and expanded its mass transit systems, the U.S. passenger
rail and trolley systems were largely dismantled after the automobile
and cheap gas arrived on the scene early in the 20th century.
question, of course, is whether the threat is real and, if so, how
serious? Even peak-oil advocates say it is impossible to predict with
certainty when the highest oil production levels will be reached and
then begin their decline. Some contend the world is approaching the
peak now, and may have passed it, others project it will not happen
production is about 85 million barrels a day, and world demand roughly
75 million barrels daily. The margin between production and demand is
slim enough to cause dramatic price spikes when natural disasters or
political unrest threaten production. Oil demand will rapidly increase
as the economies of India, China and other Asian nations continue their
cannot agree on what the future holds. The United Nations projects the
world will pump 140 million barrels a day by 2030. The U.S. Energy
Information Administration predicts 120 million barrels. Such oil
production could potentially keep up with demand.
Others paint a
more dire picture. The Association for the Study of Peak Oil in France,
for example, expects little growth in production in the next decade and
then a steady decline. Such a scenario would create dramatic shortages
and global struggles for what oil remains.
industry executives still contend the Earth contains plentiful oil
deposits to meet world demand for decades to come. Copious oil can be
had if restrictions on off-shore exploration and drilling in federal
lands were moderated, they contend. Oil-sand deposits in Canada and the
United States hold oil reserves to rival Saudi Arabia.
But as recently
reported in the Wall Street Journal, Christopher de Margerie, chief
executive of the French oil company Total SA, is among a number of oil
bosses who contend that predictions of continued oil production growth
are unrealistic. He contends it will be hard to push oil production
past a plateau of 100 million barrels per day, not enough to meet
“There is a
growing realization that it's not going to be cheap or easy to grow
either capacity or production much beyond the present rates,” said
Sally Odland, an oil and gas explorer who now administers a geophysical
research division at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia
University. “It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict higher energy
prices, greater volatility and periodic shortfalls on the 1- to 5-year
contribute to this less optimistic outlook. Already discovered are most
and perhaps all of the world's giant oil fields. What oil remains is
getting harder to get at, requiring more energy and money. Turning oil
sands into oil is even more expensive and energy consuming. After years
of intensive development, costing billions of dollars, Canada's massive
oil-sands deposits produce about 1.1 million barrels of crude a day,
the proverbial drop in the world-demand bucket.
Rep. Backer said
the real need for leadership is at the federal level. Dramatic
reduction in energy use through smarter development policies,
technological innovation, much tougher motor vehicle efficiency
standards and rebuilding mass transit systems should become a national
priority, Backer said.
But given the
void in national leadership on the issue, he said, Connecticut must
start planning now.
It's Time To Use
Resources Without Fear Mongering
Published on 12/9/2007
It seems that every day we find yet
another entity in our society that slams us for just living. One cannot
smoke a good cigar, enjoy a glass of wine, drive an SUV, live in a
decent home, turn on the lights, or eat a nice steak without incurring
the wrath of some social do-gooder ready to shoot from the hip at the
behavior allegedly killing the planet or killing us.
We need a new holiday called
“Freedom from Fear Day.”
In November members of the Peak Oil
Caucus held a hearing involving Connecticut's apparent total lack of
preparedness for the world running out of oil and natural gas. The
hearing featured like-minded believers of the notion that the world is
about to run out of the basic fossil fuels that power the world's
economies and that the state is at risk for its failure to prepare for
the economic depression, famine, and general calamity that are
inevitable. Mind you, no mainstream energy experts participated in this
“event,” only those who believe the world is coming to an end. This
isn't the first time this has happened.
There are now 2.2 trillion barrels
of conventional oil reserves known in the world — more than a 200-year
supply. In addition, there are three times the proven reserves in tar
sands in the United States, 800 billion barrels, as exists in the
proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. That's 110 years of total U.S. demand
at 20 million barrels a day. If we used it for half our daily
consumption, it's 220 years, according to a Rand Corp report conducted
for the U.S. Department of Energy.
We forget history, but the Peak Oil
Caucus has not only forgotten it, they also repeated it:
• 1879 — U.S. Geological Survey
formed, in part because of fear of oil shortages.
• 1882 — Institute of Mining
Engineers estimates 95 million barrels of oil remain. With 25 million
barrels per year output, “Some day the cheque will come back endorsed
no funds, and we are approaching that day very fast,” Samuel Wrigley
• 1906 — Fears of an oil shortage
are “confirmed” by the U.S. Geological Survey. Representatives of the
Detroit Board of Commerce attended hearings in Washington and told a
Senate hearing that car manufacturers worried “not so much (about) cost
as ... supply.”
• 1932 — Federal Oil Conservation
Board estimates 10 billion barrels of oil remain.
• 1944 — Petroleum Administrator for
War estimates 20 billion barrels of oil remain.
• 1980 — Remaining proven oil
reserves put at 648 billion barrels
• 1993 — Remaining proven oil
reserves put at 999 billion barrels
• 2000 — Remaining proven oil
reserves put at 1,016 billion barrels.
Today, the U.S. Geological Survey,
created in 1879 out of the fear that the United States was running out
of oil, places recoverable world reserves at 2.2 trillion barrels. In
the last 27 years proven world reserves have almost quadrupled.
Still, the Peak Oil Caucus wants to
set up local “Peak Oil” councils in cities and towns around Connecticut
to prepare for the coming Armageddon. According to these doomsayers,
prices have increased exponentially during the last seven years because
the world is running out of oil.
At the same time, some believe that
running out of oil is a good thing, as we not only need to transition
to a new energy economy, but we also need to substantially reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, largely (according to them) attributed to
fossil fuel use, in order to stop the melting of the polar ice caps and
the imminent flooding of the planet and killing of all life forms.
In 1941, then President Franklin
Roosevelt talked about Four Freedoms — one of which is the Freedom from
Fear. Freedom from Fear is something we one day may enjoy, but not
likely as long as people like the Peak Oil Committee are intent on
scaring the hell out of us. In addition to the global warming fanatics
in your backyard you will also start hearing from the “peak oil”
fanatics (same folks, different uniforms).
We need to produce more energy here
at home and stop sending more than $1 billion a day overseas. Trouble
is, most politicians pandering to special interests of the type seen in
Hartford kill any discussion of expanding energy production here at
home. We need to become more energy efficient and waste less energy.
Pity that the last legislative
session in Hartford saw the enactment of a new energy law encouraging
energy conservation, but our representatives didn't fund it. Meanwhile,
the energy conservation tax provisions of the 2005 federal Energy
Policy Act expire at the end of December.
Lots of talk and fear mongering — no
Gene Guilford is
executive director of the Independent Connecticut Petroleum
We Know We'll Run Out
— the Big Question Is 'When?'
Published on 12/9/2007
Peak oil is shorthand for the point
in time when world oil production reaches its all-time high. By
definition, after the peak production will never be higher.
People have been speculating that we
would run out of oil ever since the first oil well was drilled in
Pennsylvania 150 years ago. However, until the mid-20th century the
geology of worldwide oil deposits was so poorly understood and so
little of the Earth had been explored that these forecasts had no real
In the mid-1950s, a geologist by the
name of King Hubbert published a scientifically-based paper postulating
that the lower-48 states would run out of oil around 1970. When Hubbert
published his paper, drilling for oil had been going on for nearly 100
years and much geological knowledge had been accumulated. Hubbert,
therefore, had a real basis for his projections. He turned out to be
After U.S. oil production peaked in
the early 1970s, the nation began importing more and more oil until
today we bring in about two-thirds of our daily consumption of 21
million barrels. The growing dependence on imported oil resulted in
shortages in the 1970s when the Middle East turned off the tap twice in
the midst of unrest in that part of the world.
After the oil flow was restored in
the early 1980s the U.S., unlike our friends in Europe, largely forgot
about shortages, about conservation, about living modestly. Major new
oil fields were discovered in Alaska, the North Sea and the Gulf of
Mexico. Oil was cheap and plentiful. Happy days were here again.
It proved to be a temporary illusion.
About ten years ago a new generation
of geologists began to speculate about when world oil production would
peak. This generation had the benefits of much better knowledge than
ever before. The world had been extensively explored so there was a
pretty good idea of just where oil was likely to be found, how much was
left and how hard it would be to get at.
Still geology is an inexact science
and to this day a controversy rages about just how much oil is left.
Some are expecting the decline in world oil production to begin
sometime in the next few years, while others say the peak is decades
away. All sides agree, however, that the easy-to-produce oil is nearly
gone and from here on out oil will be much more difficult and expensive
to find and produce.
The issue, however, is not just one
of how much oil is left in the ground. You must also have permission
from the political entity controlling the land or sea above the oil
before you can produce it. Unfortunately, most of the oil remaining in
the world is in the hands of unstable or despotic governments such as
Iraq, Iran and Nigeria. Governments control much of the rest, such as
Russia and Venezuela, who are starting to use the political leverage
they have gained through control of their country's oil exports.
Not only are supplies of cheap oil
dwindling; the world's demand for oil is climbing rapidly. This is the
primary reason we have seen the price of oil go from $20 to nearly $100
a barrel in this decade. Most of the increased demand is coming from
China, India and other Asian countries. However, the oil exporting
states such as those in the Persian Gulf, Russia and Venezuela are
starting to keep an increasing share of their production for domestic
For the United States this is all
very bad news.
If one puts these trends together,
it is difficult to escape the conclusion that unprecedented economic
difficulties are only a few years or maybe even months away. While
there are substitutes for oil, it will take decades of work and
trillions of dollars to bring these substitutes into widespread use.
The transition from the oil age to whatever follows clearly will not be
smooth and seamless.
For historians, the peaking of world
oil production just could to be the most important and memorable crisis
of the 21st century.
Tom Whipple is a
retired CIA analyst who writes a column for the Falls Church News Press
on Peak Oil. He is also the editor for the daily Peak Oil News and the
weekly Peak Oil Review published by the Association for the Study of
We Need To Face
Prospect of Dire Effects On All Of Us
By John Kaufmann
Published on 12/9/2007
city of Portland, Ore. took the potential for a looming energy crisis
serious enough to appoint a citizen's task force to identify how the
city would be affected and to make recommendations on how to prepare.
supply for oil and natural gas can no longer keep pace with demand,
prices will rise and problems begin. Since oil and natural gas are the
most concentrated and flexible energy resources ever found and account
for two-thirds of the energy we use, the implications of them declining
are ominous. There are no magic bullets — not nuclear, coal, oil sands,
biofuels, hydrogen, wind, or solar — that will fully replace oil and
gas. We must learn to get by with less energy – a lot less.
undertaking its job, the task the task force concluded that it does not
matter whether the peak occurs in two years or 20 years, for it will
require a massive effort over many years to prepare for a less energy
intensive future. The sooner we begin, the better off we'll be.
are some of the likely impacts? The 1970s gave us a glimpse, only this
time the impacts will persist and deepen year after year as energy
becomes scarcer and prices keep climbing. One of the obvious impacts is
it will cost more to fill our gas tanks and heat our homes. People will
drive less. Vacations will be closer to home. Many will struggle to
figure out how to get to work. Disposable incomes will shrink.
businesses, such as trucking, airlines and manufacturing, will be hit
hard. If trucking costs more, delivered goods will cost more or may not
be available. Also, as disposable incomes shrink, businesses that
provide discretionary products or services will suffer. As profit
margins shrink, there will be pressure to cut employee health
insurance, retirement benefits and wages. Businesses will fail and
unemployment will increase, further slowing the economy.
vulnerable and marginalized — the elderly, the infirm, low-income
households — will be the first victims. Their limited incomes will be
stressed to the breaking point as they're forced to choose between
heat, food and medicine. In addition, tax revenues and charitable
contributions will decline at the same time that demand for services
incomes are stretched and heating costs rise, many people will slip
down the housing ladder. Some homeowners may lose their homes and
become renters. Renters may be forced into assisted housing. People in
assisted housing may be forced into homelessness. There may be
population shifts toward denser urban patterns, neighborhood clusters,
or small towns, as people move closer to jobs, services and public
transit, leaving some suburban areas isolated.
will be significantly affected, too. Natural gas is used to make
fertilizer, and oil pesticides. Without these, agricultural production
could drop perilously. Food prices will increase, and food will consume
a larger share of family budgets. Long-distance foods, especially
perishables, will become luxuries.
are just a few of the impacts we will face. Many of the solutions will
take years, if not decades, to put into place. Whether the peak is now
or 20 years away, we need to begin preparations now. Portland has made
the choice to begin. Connecticut should follow.
Kaufmann is Senior Policy Analyst for the Oregon Department of Energy.
He was lead staff for Portland's Peak Oil Task Force.
Indian Point viewed in a new perspective...
INDIAN POINT (l) RISK
Remember the "take cover" drills of the 1950's? In Japan -
smoking nuclear plant - but radiation is invisible
future in doubt
New York POST
By LEONARD GREENE
Last Updated: 8:56 AM, March 21, 2011
Posted: 2:52 AM, March 21, 2011
Japan's nuclear crisis will influence the location of future
nuclear-power plants in the United States, and officials are reviewing
the operation of the Indian Point plant north New York City, an Obama
administration official said yesterday.
"We're going to have to look at whether this reactor should remain,"
said Energy Secretary Steven Chu on "Fox News Sunday." A major disaster
at Indian Point could endanger 20 million people.
York Denies Indian Point a Water Permit
By DAVID M. HALBFINGER
a major victory for environmental advocates, New York State has ruled
that outmoded cooling technology at the Indian Point nuclear power
plant kills so many Hudson River fish, and consumes and contaminates so
much water, that it violates the federal Clean Water Act.
decision is a blow to the plant’s owner, the Entergy Corporation, which
now faces the prospect of having to spend hundreds of millions of
dollars to build stadium-size cooling towers, or risk that Indian
Point’s two operating reactors — which supply 30 percent of the
electricity used by New York City and Westchester County — could be
forced to shut down.
officials said that they were “disappointed” in the ruling and that
they might fight it in court. The original federal licenses for the two
1970s-era reactors expire in 2013 and 2015, and a water quality
certificate is a prerequisite for a 20-year renewal by the United
States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But a prolonged appeal in New
York could delay a shutdown, Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the
commission, said late Saturday.
Entergy spokesman said that converting Indian Point’s cooling system
would cost $1.1 billion and would require shutting both reactors down
entirely for 42 weeks.
ruling in New York comes after President Obama pressed for the
construction of new nuclear plants in his State of the Union address.
But it is the second instance since of a state asserting its power to
threaten an existing nuclear plant. In Vermont, the State Senate voted
overwhelmingly in February to block operation of Entergy’s Vermont
Yankee plant after 2012, citing leaks of radioactive tritium,
inaccurate testimony by company officials and other problems.
proponents said they hoped that the federal government would determine
that the nation’s energy needs should take precedence over such
state-level actions. “The N.R.C. may decide this is not a policy
they’re going to give credence to,” said Arthur J. Kremer, chairman of
the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, of which Entergy
is a member. “It’s bad news for investors in new power facilities and
in upgrading old ones.”
battle over Indian Point, which is in Buchanan, about 35 miles north of
Midtown Manhattan, has been raging for decades, and the latest decision
will not soon end that fight.
the strongly worded letter from the Department of Environmental
Conservation, issued late Friday, said flatly that Indian Point’s
cooling systems, even if modified in a less expensive way proposed by
Entergy, “do not and will not comply” with New York’s water quality
said the power plant’s water-intake system kills nearly a billion
aquatic organisms a year, including the shortnose sturgeon, an
endangered species. The letter also said that radioactive material had
polluted the Hudson after leaking into the groundwater.
ruling concerned the cooling system at Indian Point Units 2 and 3,
which were commissioned in the early 1970s. (Indian Point 1 was shut
down in 1974.) Both take in enormous volumes of river water — a
combined 2.5 billion gallons a day, or more than twice the average
daily water consumption of all of New York City — and use it to create
steam for turbines and to cool the reactors. The water is then pumped
back into the Hudson, 20 or 30 degrees hotter.
so much water causes plankton, eggs and larvae to be drawn into the
plant’s machinery, or entrained, and the water pressure also causes
fish to be trapped, or impinged, against intake screens, the state said.
plant’s “once-through” cooling system was obsolete by the late 1970s,
when the state of the art became “closed-cycle” cooling — more akin to
a car’s radiator — which consumes less than 10 percent as much water
and kills fewer organisms.
from a once-through cooling system to a closed-cycle cooling system,
while expensive and involving a potentially lengthy construction
process, is nevertheless the only available and technically feasibly
technology” for Indian Point to satisfy the “best technology available”
requirement of state water-quality regulations, an official of the
Department of Environmental Conservation official wrote.
Entergy fails to overturn the state’s ruling, it could take the fight
to Washington. And the New York region’s economic reliance on Indian
Point could give the corporation considerable leverage. Even
Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who is one of
the plant’s loudest critics, said he expected Entergy to “try to get
the N.R.C. to back off the requirement” for a water quality certificate.
opponents of the plant hailed the ruling.
era in which you can take 2.5 billion gallons of water from the Hudson
River every day, and return it to the river untreated and polluted —
those days are over,” said Mr. Brodsky, who, with the folk singer Pete
Seeger, successfully sued to get the state to enforce the clean-water
laws at Indian Point. “Entergy has to either stop polluting the river
or close the plant. End of discussion.”
Matthiessen, president of the environmental group Riverkeeper, said it
was conceivable that Entergy could spend the money to retrofit its
cooling system and then reapply to the state. But that would cause a
huge delay, he added.
all we know, this is it — the beginning of the end,” he said.
Screnci, the spokeswoman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said
the commission was “a ways away from reaching a decision on whether to
renew the license.” But she added: “It’s my understanding that the law
says that this certification must be in place for us to renew the
license. So we’ll be watching to see what occurs in the meantime.”
The Power Grid
Game: Choose a Catastrophe
By PETER APPLEBOME
Published: December 9, 2007
The megawattage was higher than normal, but the politics sounded
familiar when Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, with Democratic
politicians and antinuclear activists in tow, dropped a rhetorical bomb
on the Indian Point nuclear power plant on Monday.
Not only should the Nuclear Regulatory Commission deny an application
to renew its license, Mr. Cuomo said, but “Indian Point should be
closed, and it should be closed now.” For those who missed the urgency,
he added, “Indian Point is, in my opinion, a catastrophe waiting to
Well, an ambitious Democratic politician in these parts can never go
wrong railing against Indian Point — the more apocalyptic the language,
the better. But even in the kingdom where the word “no” forever reigns
supreme, closing Indian Point raises its share of vexing questions.
For starters: Is New York prepared to increase carbon emissions and
perhaps flunk its goals under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to
close Indian Point? In whose neighborhoods in Westchester or Rockland
Counties is it prepared to build the power plants that would replace
it? Is the possibility of more expensive and less reliable electricity
an acceptable trade-off for not having to worry about Indian Point? If
Indian Point poses an unacceptable risk, shouldn’t the dozens of
nuclear plants in metropolitan areas around the country and the world
close as well? And we’re comfortable with those carbon trade-offs too?
In the end, they come down to this: Do the forever-green, antinuke
politics of the 1970s hold up in the global warming era of 2007? Think
before you answer.
NUCLEAR power isn’t the most lovable of alternatives, and if you live
in Westchester County, as I do, the specter of Indian Point is one of
the constants of local discourse, like college admissions hysteria,
real estate anxiety and Bill and Hillary sightings.
Indian Point’s critics say its safety record over the years has been
too flawed, the population around it too large, the evacuation plans
too inadequate to keep it open. You think, if they can’t get the sirens
to operate, maybe there are bigger worries.
(Of course, it was New York State that sold this alleged catastrophe in
the making to its current owners just six years ago, but we’ll let that
There’s plenty of hyperbole on both sides, and Entergy Nuclear, the
plant’s owner, seems able to spend money like a drunken sailor to get
its message out. Nuclear power’s most effective spokesman may be
Patrick Moore, a founder and former member of the environmental group
Greenpeace, who has been hired by the nuclear industry to promote the
He says the resurgence of nuclear energy around the world — even in
ultragreen countries like Finland — reflects the simple fact that
nuclear power has more potential to replace and reduce carbon emissions
than anything else, and that, leaving out the Model T technology of
Chernobyl, its worldwide safety record remains almost impeccable.
“What drives me nuts,” he said, “ is that the environmental movement
itself has become the primary obstacle to reducing fossil fuel
emissions. Energy and climate are two sides of the same coin, and
they’ve got it completely backward. Either you quit worrying about
climate change and go on burning fossil fuels or you accept nuclear
energy and get off fossil fuels. They’re stuck between a rock and a
hard place of their own making.”
Of course, if you factor in conservation and alternative energy, there
should be other options. And maybe the biggest obstacle to nuclear
power has been cost, not pesky enviros. But for now, all the painless
green alternatives like massive conservation, smart building, solar
power, wind power, ocean waves and the rest that are supposed to allow
us to do without nuclear power are still minor parts of the equation.
Unless Mr. Cuomo succeeds in closing Indian Point tomorrow, we might
hope for two things as its relicensing process plods on.
One, says Alex Matthiessen, president of Riverkeeper in Westchester, is
a far more thorough hearing than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
seems to have in mind — one that looks at issues like evacuation plans,
vulnerability to terrorist attacks, potential leaks from spent fuel
pools and other issues. A 20-year renewal for a nuclear plant in the
most populous part of the country shouldn’t be a rubber stamp.
The second is some kind of urgency about all the painless alternatives
that are supposed to let us do without Indian Point and plants like it.
As it is, we don’t want windmills off Long Island, and we don’t want
the proposed Broadwater floating natural gas plant in Long Island
Sound. We almost certainly don’t want a tunnel under the Sound. We
don’t want Indian Point, and we sure as heck wouldn’t want a
substantial plant to replace it. We want our bloated S.U.V.s and
Hummers and the energy-hogging McMansions that the banks haven’t taken
Maybe Santa is out there 365 days a year, and maybe we can turn all of
Wyoming into a windmill farm that will solve everyone’s problems. Or
maybe getting to a sane energy future is a lot more complicated than
scaring people to death about Indian Point.
Raises Concerns For Environment; Opposition To Power
Plant Is 'Overblown,' Company Official Says
Published on 10/25/2007
coalition of state environmental groups urged regulators to block a
proposed power plant in Plainfield that would burn construction and
demolition debris to generate electricity.
environmental groups, including Clean Water Action, Environment
Connecticut and the Toxics Action Center, contend that the proposal by
Plainfield Renewable Energy has used the mask of “renewable” power
generation to push forward a potentially devastating project that would
allow thousands of pounds of heavy metal pollutants, including arsenic
and lead, to escape into the state's air and drinking water.
is about as far from a clean energy project as I can imagine,” said
Roger Smith, the campaign director for Clean Water Action, which has
asked Commissioner Gina McCarthy of the state Department of
Environmental Protection to deny permits to the Plainfield project, and
also fought the proposal before the Department of Public Utility
Control, which will consider it next week.
Plainfield company, meanwhile, says it is being unfairly accused and
that the environmental groups that rallied against its project in front
of the state Capitol Wednesday are severely overstating the potential
harm its plant could cause.
criticism is “obviously overblown and misinformed,” said Daniel J.
Donovan, whose company, NuPower LLC, is seeking to build the plant
along with Florida-based Decker Energy International.
whose company is jockeying with another firm seeking to build a biomass
electric plant — and obtain both state permits and ratepayer-funded
subsidies to do so — blamed the environmental concerns on the
competition. That firm, Clearview Power LLC, is seeking to build a
plant that would burn both wood and chicken manure to generate
electricity on the grounds of the Kofkoff egg farm in rural Bozrah.
is a coordinated effort by Clearview to spread misinformation, and
unfortunately some of the environmental organizations have just taken
this on face value,” Donovan said. “And if I were them, and I saw this,
I'd be upset, too. Unfortunately, it's not true.”
representative of Clearview could not be reached Wednesday to respond.
groups say, however, that proof of the potential environmental damage
is in Plainfield Renewable Energy's own filings seeking permits from
the DEP, including figures that show the plant could give off more than
1,400 pounds of arsenic and 7,200 pounds of lead each year, including
smokestack emissions and the ash that burning wood — including
pressure-treated lumber and other contaminated materials — would
said those numbers are inaccurate. The company expects to emit about
640 pounds of lead per year, he said.
company has been helped, Smith said, by a little-noticed change made
last year by the state legislature. That change broadened the
definition of fuels that could be burned in generation plants that
qualify as renewable-energy projects, to include construction and
loophole, Smith noted, applied only to biomass projects that had
received assistance from the state's Clean Energy Fund before May 1,
2006, a criterion that applied to exactly one company in the state:
Plainfield Renewable Energy.
and others say the change also would make it easier for contaminated
debris — including pressure-treated timber — to be burned for power,
something they believe runs directly counter to the state's goal of
making power through less-polluting means.
is a huge change,” he said. “They've gone from this stuff being illegal
to burn in the state to not only is it legal for them to burn, but they
get a ratepayer subsidy as a class-one renewable resource.”
criticisms are “woefully inaccurate,” said Donovan, who cited support
from Plainfield's leaders and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
environmental organizations that we're talking about,” he said,
referring to those fighting the Plainfield plant, “are really the small
"Wave Farm" the
We look into other
natural sources of power, and now, from the country that brought us
What lies beneath: Greenwich to host public forum on gas pipeline
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published 11:10 p.m., Wednesday,
June 1, 2011
Out of sight, but not out of mind, a
major natural gas pipeline that burrows its way from Greenwich to
Bridgeport along the Merritt Parkway corridor is drawing new scrutiny.
Representatives from the state
Department of Public Utility Control and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.
will take questions and comments at a public forum in Greenwich on
Thursday on everything from the condition of the interstate duct to
what safeguards are in place in the event of a leak or explosion.
The event, scheduled from 10 a.m. to
2 p.m. in the Cone Room at Town Hall, is being sponsored by the
Riverside Association and the DPUC.
The high-pressure pipeline is routed
well to the north of Riverside.
Joseph Humphrey, the event's
organizer and a member of the homeowner group's board of governors,
said the pipeline doesn't have to run beneath a person's property for
him or her to have a vested interest.
"We want citizens to raise
questions," Humphrey said. "I'm going to raise a question: What happens
if the pipeline ruptures right next to the Merritt right at rush hour?"
While there have never been any
problems reported in Connecticut, Humphrey pointed out that a natural
gas pipeline outside San Francisco exploded in September 2010, killing
eight, leveling 35 homes and shooting flames 1,000 feet into the air.
"There's a fine line," Humphrey
said. "You don't want to scare them to death, but the pipeline that's
in place has been there since the 1950s."
In San Bruno, Calif., it took more
than an hour to shut off the gas after the explosion.
Humphrey wondered what shut-off
mechanisms are in place in Connecticut, as well as the impact radius a
similar accident would have.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. spokesman
Richard Wheatley said the company, which is owned by Houston-based El
Paso Corp., is still gathering information for its presentation.
"We will be prepared to discuss our
pipeline and integrity management programs," Wheatley said. "We're
proud of our record."
At the same time, Wheatley said the
parent company, which owns 43,000 miles of pipeline from Bakersfield,
Calif., to Boston, is trying to be responsive to requests for
"Part of our philosophy is we try to
be a good neighbor and comply and meet the needs of the public and
anyone else who may be seeking information about our pipelines,"
The company's pipeline crosses into
Connecticut near the intersection of King and Glenville streets in
Greenwich, where there is an above-ground compressor station.
From there, the pipeline runs under
Riversville Road in a northeasterly direction, passing the Round Hill
Club and Round Hill Road, Lake Avenue and North Street before crossing
over the Merritt Parkway into backcountry Greenwich and North Stamford.
In Stamford, the pipeline bisects
Long Ridge and High Ridge roads, with a branch passing the King school
on Newfield Avenue. The main pipeline then cuts into New Canaan, where
it lies beneath Waveny Park and the high school.
Further along the path of the
pipeline are Norwalk's Silvermine neighborhood, the Route 7 connector
interchange with the Merritt Parkway, the Aspetuck River in northern
Westport, Black Rock Turnpike in Fairfield and Routes 111 and 25 in
A branch of the pipeline juts into
Bridgeport along Reservoir Avenue.
"This is no neighborhood pipeline,"
said Daniel Warzoha, Greenwich emergency management director.
Even though the gas running through
the pipeline is odorized, Warzoha said property owners need to exercise
common sense when doing excavation work.
"Every reputable contractor isn't
going to make a move without calling before you dig," Warzoha said.
"It's a more of a concern of a do-it-yourselfer or a contractor that
doesn't want to play by the rules. The consequences could be extreme if
there was a catastrophic failure."
Humphrey said the swath of people
who would be affected by a failure would be wide.
"So it's a matter of intense
interest for anybody here in Connecticut who's involved with planning
and citizens who live in the right-of-way," Humphrey said.
The more Humphrey can raise
awareness about the hidden pipeline, the better, as far as he's
"It's not like driving over the
Mianus Bridge and wondering if it's going to give way under you,"
Grim Energy Reality; Study finds New England reliance on natural gas
for power will mean continued high electricity costs.
Published on 8/14/2007
Tired of high
electric bills? You'd better get used to the idea. The organization
that runs the New England power grid says that natural gas prices will
determine the cost of electricity at least through 2025 regardless of
what conservation efforts the states make or what policies they adapt
for new generating plants.
System Operator New England, in a just-completed study, says the
region's strong dependence on natural gas — now more than 38 percent —
will continue to drive high electric rates. In fact, the study suggests
that only falling natural gas prices could reduce electric bills.
once the brave hope of the region for lower-cost power generation, has
fallen out of favor. Nuclear plants provide just 14.4 percent of the
region's power and the prospect of building additional nuclear power
stations is unlikely. That is because most power companies believe it
would be next to impossible to get approval to site nuclear stations in
The region has
been adding natural-gas-fired stations that are environmentally sound,
but relatively expensive to operate. These plants are cleaner than oil-
or coal-fired stations, hence their popularity as states strive to meet
federal air-quality standards.
Welle, chief executive of ISO New England, says that demand for
electricity grows about 1.3 percent annually in the region. In order to
meet the growing needs over the next 20 years, the region would have to
produce new plants equal to about eight Seabrook, N.H., nuclear plants.
Even so, the region would still be just as dependent upon natural gas,
In fact, even if
the region used technologies other than natural gas, New England would
still be just about as dependent upon natural gas. New England pays a
high price for the commodity, since much of it comes from far-away
Louisiana or from Canada.
The region kept
building natural gas plants as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal
plants. The cleaner-air strategy has resulted in much higher electric
conservation has to be part of the solution. New Englanders have to
become more prudent about how much electricity they use and when. A new
Connecticut law that promotes “smart metering,” allowing consumers to
pay less for using electricity during off-peak hours, should help.
probably will be among the last regions to consider new nuclear plants,
something that likely will happen elsewhere in the country first. But
it is clear that the region will have to develop more diversified means
of providing electricity or continue to lose jobs to other regions that
can produce power more cheaply.
relies on ice to chill buildings
By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press
July 14, 2007
NEW YORK - As the summer swelters
on, skyscrapers and apartments around
the city will be cranking up the air conditioning and pushing the
city's power grid to the limit.
But some office towers and buildings
have found a way to stay cool
while keeping the AC to a minimum — by using an energy-saving system
that relies on blocks of ice to pump chilly air through buildings.
The systems save companies money and
reduce strain on the electrical
grid in New York, where the city consumes more power on hot summer days
than the entire nation of Chile.
It also cuts down on pollution. An
ice-cooling system in the Credit
Suisse offices at the historic Metropolitan Life tower in Manhattan is
as good for the environment as taking 223 cars off the streets or
planting 1.9 million acres of trees to absorb the carbon dioxide caused
by electrical usage for one year.
Such a reduction in pollution is
valuable in a city where the majority
of emissions come from the operation of buildings. State officials say
there are at least 3,000 ice-cooling systems worldwide.
"It is worth it to do in New York
City," said William Beck, the head of
critical engineering systems for Credit Suisse. "If you take the time
to look, you can find innovative ways to be energy efficient, be
environmental and sustainable."
Because electricity is needed to
make the ice, water is frozen in large
silver tanks at night when power demands are low. The cool air
emanating from the ice blocks is then piped throughout the building
more or less like traditional air conditioning. At night the water is
frozen again and the cycle repeats.
Ice storage can be used as the sole
cooling system, or it can be
combined with traditional systems to help ease the power demands during
peak hours. At Credit Suisse, for example, the company must cool 1.9
million square feet of office space at the Met Life tower, a historic
building that was New York's tallest in the days before the Empire
In the basement, three main cooling
rooms house chilling machines and
64 tanks that hold 800 gallons of water each. Credit Suisse has a
traditional air conditioning system, but engineers use the more
efficient system first.
Construction on the system took
about four months, and company
engineers say it is extremely efficient.
"The concept is the same, but when
you make something mechanical, it
can break, but a big block of ice four floors below grade level isn't
going to do anything but melt," said Todd Coulard of Trane Energy
Services. The company built the Credit Suisse system and is one of
several that work with ice storage.
Trane, the air-conditioning arm of
American Standard, also developed a
system for Morgan Stanley's Westchester County offices, and just
completed a new system for its offices on Fifth Avenue. A new Goldman
Sachs headquarters will also have ice cooling. Credit Suisse is looking
at installing the systems in offices around the globe, but nothing has
been decided yet.
Coulard, an expert in energy
efficiency, was hired by the company four
years ago to develop the energy services department.
"I've been doing green since before
it was cool," he said. "The idea of
not only saving money for large companies, but doing something that
benefits the environment is win-win. It's doing the right thing."
Engineers say the power-saving
results from the system are impressive.
And it translates into millions of dollars saved in energy bills for
Ice storage at Credit Suisse lowers
the facility's peak energy use by
900 kilowatts, and reduces overall electric usage by 2.15 million
kilowatt-hours annually — enough to power about 200 homes.
At the Morgan Stanley facility in
Westchester County, the system
reduces peak energy use by 740 kilowatts and overall electricity usage
by 900,000 kilowatt hours annually.
Both companies received incentives
from the New York State Energy
Research and Development Authority under a program designed to improve
the power grid and help businesses reduce operating costs.
The technology isn't for every
office space. There has to be room to
install the large tanks. And costs are considerable: Credit Suisse
spent more than $3 million to renovate its cooling system; and Morgan
Stanley's costs were comparable, which means the technology is best
suited to large companies.
"This is for companies that want to
go green but that there has to be
other benefits, returns on investments," Coulard said. "It works for
larger companies because their cooling costs are so considerable."
Plan For Cleaner
Power Faltering; Jersey Firm Had Hoped
To Improve Four Of The `Sooty Six' Plants In Connecticut
MARK PETERS, Courant Staff Writer
plan unveiled in a high-profile announcement last summer by NRG Energy
to modernize and clean up some of the state's oldest and dirtiest power
plants is quietly sputtering.
New Jersey-based company proposed spending an estimated $2 billion to
reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency at four of the state's
so-called Sooty Six plants.
"Powering Connecticut" plan was touted by NRG as a way to bring plants
in Middletown, Norwalk, Milford and Montville - which date to the '50s
- into the 21st century. Those plants had come under fire in recent
years as some of the state's worst sources of sulfur dioxide and
nitrogen oxides, contributors to air pollution, acid rain and smog.
in a filing with federal financial regulators this week, NRG said the
projects are now "less likely to move forward." It also said a smaller
upgrade project in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich remains on schedule.
which supplies about a quarter of the electricity in Connecticut, said
in the filing that the projects are in jeopardy because the plants
failed to win long-term power contracts in a state-run auction last
month. NRG projects were among more than 20 that competed for the
would have completely remade their Connecticut fleet," said Roger
Smith, campaign director for the Connecticut chapter of Clean Water
on emissions of the pollutants - sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides -
were not available from state environmental regulators Friday, or from
the company. But general figures from regulators and the company
indicate that the plants would spew between 10 and 25 times less of the
toxic pollutants after they were retrofitted.
is reassessing its projects in Connecticut following the auction and
will continue to look for economically viable ways to modernize and
expand its plants, said Lori Neuman, a spokeswoman for the company. She
declined to discuss any further details of NRG's schedule or plans for
had emphasized when it first announced the plan last June that the
plants would need long-term contracts from the state to make the
the state's market-based system for power generation that started in
2000, environmentalists and power officials had hoped private companies
would upgrade old plants or build new ones, so that the old,
inefficient plants would be retired. That is still the hope, and it was
a reason for the long-term contracts that will be paid for by electric
customers. But for now, the "Sooty Six" plants still provide key power,
especially in times of peak demand, such as weekday summer afternoons.
plans included retrofitting plants in Middletown, Milford and Norwalk
that run on natural gas and oil with new, cleaner systems. NRG would
replace generators in Middletown and Milford and install additional
emission controls in Norwalk. It would expand the overall amount of
electricity it could produce and sell as part of the plan.
original proposal also included a $1.5 billion "clean coal" plant to
replace NRG's existing oil and natural gas-fired plant in Montville.
The new plant, which faced opposition from environmental groups, would
have run on a synthetic gas derived from coal.
moved away from the proposed coal project last fall in favor of a new
natural gas-fired plant that could eventually be converted to gasified
milestones NRG laid out during a press conference at the Legislative
Office Building last June haven't been met. State regulators say they
have not received requests for permits probably needed to carry out
various parts of the overhaul.
units at NRG plants would be more efficient by using waste heat from
the generators to produce additional electricity. As for emissions, the
NRG plants that now rely heavily on oil would burn more natural gas, a
considerably cleaner fuel, said Gary Rose, director of engineering and
enforcement at the state Department of Environmental Protection.
would clearly be a reduction of emission across the board," Rose said.
executive order and the "Sooty Six" legislation passed five years ago
required reductions in pollutants at the plants, but Smith said that
was meant to be more of a stopgap until the plants closed or were
updated. He was particularly happy to see the company drop the coal
plant last fall, saying that would have contributed significantly to
greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
awarding the long-term contract on April 23, state regulators picked
four projects, the largest of which is a proposed 620-megawatt plant
next to NRG's Middletown plant.
NRG ends up moving from "less likely" to abandoning its plan here, the
overall effect on air quality is not clear because the amount of power
the plants will produce after new plants come online is hard to predict.
Conservation Pays; Companies
Being Rewarded For Using Less Electricity, Installing Efficiency Devices
MARK PETERS, Courant Staff Writer
GUILFORD -- David Ives, surrounded by spools of copper wire and the hum
of machines, tinkered with a little blue box on the wall at Algonquin
an energy engineer, was installing a device that will calculate how
much electricity the company uses during the course of a day to shape
metal into wire. Once
the box is in place, Algonquin can cut electricity use on the hottest
days of the year and receive payments in exchange.
one more with the power to go down," Ives said.
demand for electricity continuing to climb, regulators in Connecticut
and New England want more businesses and homes to reduce their power
consumption, either temporarily at times of peak demand or permanently
through efficiency measures. To
accomplish that, regulators are creating markets in which little blue
boxes, fluorescent lights and energy-efficient air conditioners can
start to compete with power plants for ratepayer-funded payments.
is absolutely a sea change in the industry, and New England is
revolutionary," said Mike Gordon of ConsumerPowerline, a New York-based
company that provides efficiency and curtailment services and does work
of companies have already agreed to help the New England power grid on
the hottest days of summer by reducing production, turning off
equipment and otherwise reducing the demand for electricity.
Connecticut, alone, can already reduce the demand for power on a given
day by 480 megawatts, or enough electricity for around 400,000 average
even with those curtailments in place, the grid is being stretched to
its limits on days of peak demand, with each summer bringing a new
record, according to ISO New England, which operates the regional
advocates, regulators and others in New England are beginning to
challenge the notion that building more power plants is the only way to
keep up with rising demand. They say cutting peak demand, which is
expected to grow about 1.9 percent annually through 2015, is cheaper
than chasing it.
issue becomes: How do you satisfy that increased demand?" said Gordon
van Welie, president and CEO of ISO.
to balance the equation, Connecticut regulators and ISO have agreed to
provide "capacity payments" both for efficiency measures and for
companies that cut use at peak times. The New England electricity
market is the first in the United States to take that approach, van
Welie said. To
get those payments, efficiency companies will compete against power
plants that also receive the payments. The capacity payments are
designed to provide incentives to build more power plants, as well.
think efficiency definitely will qualify, and play an important role in
those markets," said Derek Murrow, director of policy analysis for Environment Northeast,
a regional group focused on energy, air quality and climate
strategy could lead to lower prices by reducing the need for power from
inefficient plants and natural gas-fired plants, which are costly to
new major power plant has started up in Connecticut since 2004, when a
gas-fired generator in Milford went on line. A major transmission line
project designed to improve the movement of electricity around the
state and region won't be completed until 2009. Older, inefficient
plants continue to be a major source of energy in the state. As
a result, electricity rates continue to rise, and Connecticut has the
highest rates in the continental United States. The result is a new
appreciation for energy conservation, experts say.
that prices are higher," said Jeffrey Gaudiosi, vice president of the
Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut, "it is worth the trouble to do
ISO study last year found that if New England reduced its peak demand
for electricity by 5 percent, ratepayers could save almost $500 million
a year. Just across the state
line in Westchester County, N.Y., Con Edison is trying to deal with
similar problems. The old solutions of
building more plants and adding more lines is slow and expensive, so
Con Edison contracted with New Jersey-based Public Energy Solutions to
cut demand by 40 megawatts, or enough electricity to power 35,000
average homes, said Keith Hartman, president of Public Energy Solutions.
The company started
going business to business, offering incentives to pay for
modifications that would cut demand. For each kilowatt that Con Edison
does not need to supply, Public Energy Solutions gets a payment. Studies find that New
England has similar potential. In a 2005 study, the Northeast Energy
Efficiency Partnerships determined that the region could eliminate
about 4,300 megawatts of demand, or enough power for 2.4 million
State Rep. Steve
Fontana, D-North Haven, co-chairman of the legislature's energy and
technology committee, believes Connecticut has barely begun to tap the
potential of efficiency measures. To illustrate that notion, Fontana
said he asks constituents how many compact fluorescent bulbs, which are
more efficient than incandescent bulbs, they have installed in their
houses. The answer is typically one or two out of a dozen or more light
"We haven't done
nearly enough if we haven't done things that are easy," he said.
partnerships study showed that almost half of its projected reduction
in electricity use could come from lighting alone. For example, only
about 6 percent of all light bulbs in use in the United States are
compact fluorescent bulbs, said Jim O'Reilly, the partnerships'
director of policy, outreach and communications.
"You see the
reservoir, the pool of potential," he said. But efficiency
improvements won't happen without the help of subsidies and market
programs, experts say.
"There are lots
of reasons why these investments are not made," said Susan Coakley, the
partnerships' executive director. In some cases, more
efficient options in lighting, appliances and other equipment are
expensive, meaning it can take years to recoup the extra costs. Also, many existing
efficiency programs focus on persuading consumers to make
energy-efficient choices when they replace products. The harder thing
to do is get consumers to replace inefficient appliances, bulbs and
other items while they're still working, Coakley said.
Under the ISO
market program, efficiency and curtailment efforts are expanding,
getting paid through electric rates for each kilowatt taken off the
grid. Payments in the beginning will be $3.05 per kilowatt per
month. At the same time, the
state Department of Public Utility Control is preparing to award
similar payments through long-term contracts that can stretch to 15
years. Both proposals for new power plants and efficiency and
curtailment contractors have made bids for those contracts. The
department is expected to award them in late April.
the small company Algonquin Industries is working with, is one of the
bidders. If it wins, it will have to find businesses willing to curtail
power use during hot days and make permanent changes in
air-conditioning, lighting and other equipment. It will use its
capacity payments to pay companies to enter curtailment agreements or
help finance the retrofitting of inefficient equipment.
one of the founders of the Woodbury-based company, estimated that
companies that are willing to cut back 250 kilowatts at times of peak
demand could receive $20,000 a year from the state and payments from
ISO. Lines thinks there's enough potential efficiency business to keep
his company and others busy for a long time.
"I think there
are hundreds of additional megawatts that can be obtained without
generators," Lines said.
CL&P a 7.7 Percent Rate Increase; DPUC defends action
despite protests from Rell, Blumenthal
Stephanie Reitz, Associated Writer
Hartford — State
regulators approved a 7.7 percent rate increase for Connecticut Light
& Power electricity customers Friday, despite pleas from Gov. M.
Jodi Rell to delay the increase until the General Assembly takes up the
issue next month.
increase passed by the Department of Public Utility Control takes
effect Jan. 1. For
customers who do not use electricity for heat, the average increase
will be 6.9 percent, or about $8.75 more per month, regulatory agency
spokeswoman Beryl Lyons said Friday. Rell
and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal had asked regulators to delay
the increase until the General Assembly can enact legislation that
might soften the impact on customers. Connecticut utility bills are
already among the highest in the nation. CL&P is the state's
largest electric utility, serving 1.1 million customers.
is time that the ratepayers came first,” Rell said. “For this increase
to come just when lighting and heating needs are hitting their peak
makes matters even worse.”
regulators said they believed deferring the increases would hurt
customers in the long run since the higher costs were inevitable, due
to CL&P's contracts with power suppliers. Of
the average $8.75 more per month that consumers will pay under the new
rates, CL&P will receive less than 15 cents, Lyons said. The rest
goes to the power suppliers.
request for the delay also was submitted after the deadline for comment
on the proposed increase, and therefore could not be considered as part
of the official record, commissioners said. Lawmakers
plan to schedule a public hearing, tentatively set for Dec. 20, on
potential energy legislation. Rell said legislative leaders have told
her a special session before Jan. 3 would not be fruitful because they
have not yet determined what measures might pass the House and Senate.
who appeared before regulators Friday to ask for the increase to be
delayed, said the higher prices will “hit our economy like a tsunami.”
He said he continues to support a tax on windfall profits by power
doubling of power rates in four years speaks shamefully for itself,” he
said. “Our electricity system has gone horribly wrong.”
Connecticut deregulated its electric utility industry in 1997, UI and
Northeast Utilities — which owns CL&P — have sold off their power
generating businesses and focused only on distributing
two companies must now purchase the electricity for their customers
from power generators and middlemen. That means they must secure
contracts with power producers at a time when the price of fossil
fuels, burned by many power plants, has skyrocketed.
customers' bills rose by 22 percent earlier this year, an increase
separate from the new rate approved Friday.
lower rate that UI had locked in three years ago is now expiring,
prompting the need for new contracts with power suppliers. UI has asked
for a 38 percent increase, and a final decision is due Dec. 19. In
their request for the rate increase, CL&P officials said that
one-year deferral of contracts they hold with energy providers would
force the utility — and, by extension, its customers — to pay an
additional $350 million to finance the purchase of power elsewhere.
Enters Energy Fray;
Governor Asks Regulators To Postpone Rate Hikes For Electricity,
By MARK PETERS, Courant Staff Writer
M. Jodi Rell asked regulators Tuesday to postpone proposed increases in
electric and natural gas rates, a request that, if approved, could
force utilities to absorb hundreds of millions of dollars in rising
Hours after Rell made her request, the state Department of Public
Utility Control issued a draft decision approving an estimated 8
percent rate increase, effective Jan. 1, for Connecticut Light &
Power, the state's largest electric utility.
The DPUC is also reviewing a request for a 38 percent rate increase for
residential customers of United Illuminating, which serves the
Bridgeport and New Haven areas.
A DPUC spokeswoman said the commissioners will review Rell's request.
Under the state's deregulated system, CL&P and UI distribute
electricity, but don't produce it. They buy electricity through
suppliers and pass on the cost to customers. That makes it difficult to
control the price of electricity because it comes from a variety of
sources through a complicated market-based system.
Rell said the postponement would give state lawmakers more time to
consider solutions to rapidly rising energy costs. But the General
Assembly failed to pass an energy reform bill last spring, and despite
some support for a special session to deal with the issue, one was
Rich Harris, a spokesman for Rell, said the governor believes the issue
of soaring energy prices is something lawmakers want to work on
immediately. Many homeowners can't afford higher rates, which could
also hurt Connecticut's economy.
By delaying the electric rate increases a few months, Harris said, the
General Assembly, which begins its legislative session early next
month, would have time to act.
"I am eager to work with all sides to strike a balance that preserves
the interests of all involved, but we must have working room," Rell
said in a statement.
However, the governor's office did not provide details about who would
pay the predicted cost of any delay.
The utilities say they must continue providing power. Under
deregulation, CL&P and UI buy electricity through contracts with
commodity firms and power companies. Their contracts end this month,
and they have entered into a series of new contracts under the
supervision of state officials. The cost of the electricity provided to
CL&P and UI increased, contributing to their need for a rate
increase, utility officials said.
Because of that system, the utilities, the state or another entity
would have to absorb the increased costs if ratepayers do not. UI
estimated that a delay would cost it an additional $40 million a month.
"What [the governor] is recommending is counterproductive," said Mitch
Gross, a spokesman for CL&P.
The request from the Republican governor got a mixed reaction from
Democrats. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal supported the idea,
which he says is similar to a proposal he set forth last year. But
House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, said the governor's request will
end up costing consumers more money over time.
CL&P customers were already dealt a 22.4 percent rate increase
earlier this year. The utility has proposed an additional 8.9 percent
increase to the average rates for residential and commercial customers.
On Tuesday, the DPUC said the utility should drop the increase to about
8 percent. That would cost an additional $10.60 a month for a
residential customer using 700 kilowatt hours of electricity.
Rell said she is also concerned about proposed natural gas rate
increases from Yankee Gas Services Co. and Connecticut Natural Gas.
Yankee would like to increase its rates by 8.5 percent, starting in
July, and Connecticut Natural Gas is asking for an 8 percent increase
that would begin in the spring.
State, ISO Disagree
On Energy Outlook
By Patricia Daddona
Published on 11/3/2006
Connecticut should be able to handle
expected increases in the demand for electricity through 2015,
according to a draft report from state officials, but the manager of
the regional wholesale electric market paints a darker picture.
The two extreme projections
are used as best- and worst-case scenarios by the Connecticut Siting
Council and the Independent System Operator, ISO-New England,
respectively. Written by the council, the draft was first compiled in
May, revised last week, and presented Tuesday to the public and utility
operators. A vote on a final version is expected Nov. 14.
According to the siting council, the
state's total peak electricity usage through 2015 is estimated at 7,654
megawatts, assuming normal weather conditions and no major retirements
of electric generators. That figure represents a growth rate of 1.2
percent, compounded over 10 years.
ISO, in contrast, uses more
stringent projection methods and predicts that demand will grow by 1.8
percent, to 8,535 megawatts by 2015. It estimates peak summer loads,
when demand is highest here, at 9,120 megawatts.
One megawatt of electricity powers
between 750 and 1,000 homes.
The siting council uses both sets of
projections to help plan for unusually high demand. The report also
details the latest ongoing and expected improvements to facilities used
to generate and distribute electricity from Connecticut Light &
Power, Millstone Power Station, and a variety of other large and small
energy transmitters or sources.
Relying on two distinct estimates
makes marshalling solutions to potential energy shortfalls complicated,
said House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford. He is hoping to convince
legislative leadership to call a special session on energy issues a
couple of weeks after the Nov. 7 election, he said.
The draft report also lays out
timetables and increased power supplies that are expected to contribute
to a stable energy supply from the nuclear, electric, natural gas and
Dominion, which owns Millstone Power
Station in Waterford, has made improvements in the past few years to
its two operating nuclear reactors and boosted total output by 16.4
megawatts without any corresponding increase in fuel consumption, the
report states. The company is considering another upgrade to the Unit 3
reactor that could boost output further.
Earlier this year, Attorney General
Richard Blumenthal had proposed a “windfall profits tax” on Millstone
and a Bridgeport generator. Dominion maintains Blumenthal's estimates
of alleged excess profits are miscalculated and exaggerated because the
company hedged the sale of electricity for 2007 and locked in a fixed
price of $62 a megawatt, said Dominion spokesman Pete Hyde.
CL&P is overseeing a variety of
improvements to substations and its distribution system, and has
proposed building and running new peaking power plants to help add to
the electric supply.
“If the state thinks it's the way to
go, we'll build it with the right regulatory arrangements,” said
CL&P Spokesman Mitch Gross. “In the meantime we remain committed to
working with state and local officials as well as community-based
groups, to find solutions to the energy challenges we face.”
If a legislative session were
called, Amann said, “everything (would be) on the table.”
Two task forces that include energy
experts from Yale University and the University of Connecticut are
looking for inventive ideas and alternative resources, he said.
“We need no matter what happens to
be as independent as we possibly can be as a state,” he said.
It is not just an
East Coast issue...FERC is everywhere!
eyes turbines at
By Paul Boring
Jul 15 2006
is one of seven sites the Snohomish County Public Utility District is
eyeing for potential tidal power projects.
The PUD is
seeking a permit through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
(FERC) to study Deception Pass as a possible tidal power site. FERC is
also reviewing applications from the PUD for studies at Speiden, San
Juan, and Guemes channels, Admiralty Inlet, and Agate and Rich
A company called
Washington Tidal Energy initially applied for a permit, prompting the
PUD to submit a competing application. Washington Tidal’s proposal was
unrealistic in scope, said Snohomish General Manager Steve Klein. The
company proposed installing up to 300 turbines in Deception pass, while
the PUD is proposing the installation of four.
approximately 60 feet in diameter would produce three megawatts of
power, which would provide enough to power 1,800 homes.
Like the other
proposed sites, the PUD chose Deception Pass for its heightened tidal
action. If the permit is granted, the utility district will be allowed
to study the project’s viability for three years.
that the project is not speculative. The PUD is owned by the public and
the general manager said they are sensitive to the needs and concerns
of the area. The intent is that generated power would be integrated
into the local electricity system.
“It would be
consumed by people in that area,” he said.
Given the almost
exponential growth in the Pacific Northwest, Klein said tidal power is
being researched to determine the viability of the renewable,
alternative power source.
is in our backyard,” he said, adding that the project studies will
focus on non-invasiveness as well as aesthetics. “It’s being done for
all the right reasons.”
of tidal power is still in its embryonic stages compared to wind
generated power, which has been utilized primarily in the eastern part
of the state. Washington could ultimately become a leader in tidal
power research and technology, said PUD attorney Jeff Kallstrom.
submitted their application June 22, triggering a 60-day comment
period. As a competing applicant, Klein said he is unsure if the
utility district will be granted the permit. FERC is expected to
respond to the study application in two to three months.
Environmental Action Network has filed a Motion to Intervene with FERC
on the PUD’s proposal as well as Washington Tidal Energy’s.
FERC plan seems commendable, but 'cut
June 26, 2006
have come to regard with suspicion plans announced by the Federal
Energy Regulation Commission which, we are told, are for our own good.
recall FERC's Locational Installed Capacity — LICAP — a plan that would
have penalized areas such as Southwestern Fairfield County by charging
higher rates than elsewhere in the state.
logic was that this would encourage utility companies to build new
power generation stations in the area and thus be able to handle the
there was no rush to seek permission to build new energy plants, but
there was a righteous howl from Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Atty. Gen.
Richard Blumenthal that the plan sandbagged our area. At the time, we
agreed with them — and still do.
proposal didn't sit well with the attorney general, either. He said all
it will do is guarantee a rate increase whether the utilities build new
plants or not.
said that the new plan "continues a negative and disturbing pattern of
electricity rate increases."
estimates that the average increase for a homeowner would be between $8
and $12 per year, but that doesn't include any of the "ordinary" rate
increases we have come to expect.
any good news it is that the Department of Public Utility Control says
the increase would be half of what it would have been under LICAP.
certainly no boon to ratepayers in the state, but it might well be a
big windfall for the utility business. It will be interesting to see
how many companies will compete when the bidding starts in 2008.
England, operator of the six-state power grid, will review the bids —
A major part
of the newest plan are rate increases of 4.5 percent in 2007, 5.1
percent in 2008 and 5.99 percent in 2009. This windfall is supposed to
interest the utility industry in building more plants — and make more
already face the impact of the cost of upgrading transmission lines in
this part of the state. The last thing we need is another costly layer
of financial bureaucracy appearing on our electric bill.
We are all
aware of the growing energy needs of an expanding Fairfield County. We
realize that sensible efforts must be made to meet the demand.
As for the
DPUC, it's really doesn't matter much what its position is, FERC has
already decided and that's that.
Special Session To See Power
Bill; Measure Dealing With Electricity Supply Revived After Death
By Senate Inaction
June 11, 2005
By BILL LEUKHARDT And STACY WONG,
Courant Staff Writers
Energy Independence bill is the
state legislature's Frankenstein.
expired with the session at midnight
Wednesday, a victim of inaction by senators upset by last-minute House
tinkering with the energy conservation and generation proposal.
it's alive again - jolted back
to existence for the special session. It is the only non-budgetary
on the four-item agenda of issues that lawmakers consider too crucial
was a problem ... in the House
and that's why it never got passed," Senate Minority Leader Louis
original bill encouraging conservation
and power generation sought to deal with inadequate electricity
and a looming $300 million federal penalty for that shortfall, he said.
a section to let public utilities
back into generating power on a small scale prompted a successful House
push late June 8 to unplug that language from the bill. In 1998, with
the major utility companies sold off their generating facilities and
buying power for resale from independent generators inside and outside
opponents said the power-generation
clause guaranteed Northeast Utilities and United Illuminating up to an
$18 million profit.
the bill was left to expire with
the regular session. Minutes later, it was on the call of the special
later this month. It comes back for discussion in its original form,
is so much of importance in
this bill and the opponents focused just on one tiny aspect," Sen. John
Fonfara, D-Hartford, the energy committee co-chairman, said Friday. "We
literally had no time Wednesday night to talk to people about it. There
was no time for a counter-voice."
utilities are easy, faceless,
nameless targets," Fonfara continued. "But if we do nothing to address
the new [federal] fees coming in 2006, it's going to cost the public."
The bill, he said, "is critical to the economy of the state."
estimated $300 million or more
in new electricity charges will be imposed on the utilities on Jan. 1,
2006, when a federal pricing plan called "locational installed
or "LICAP," goes into effect. The financial incentives in the plan are
designed to encourage construction of power plant reserve capacity in
where it is needed most, such as southwestern Connecticut.
having the bill back again, without
any of the changes voted by the House, angers those who backed the
striking out the power generation clause.
just feel this [re-introduction
of the amendment-free bill] will energize the House," Rep. Vicki
D-Prospect, said Wednesday. Nardello led the House charge. "It
the power of the lobbyists. We defeated this in a fair vote, and now
back again on our agenda."
like nothing else talks to
the need for election reform," Rep. Diana Urban, R-North Stonington,
Wednesday. She said she thinks political tactics supplanted the voice
the electorate with the wishes of the utilities.
Friday, Connecticut Light &
Power President Raymond Necci said state law has for several years
public utilities to be paid fees to reimburse them for the cost of
hundreds of millions of dollars worth of electricity to meet
language objected to by the House
would extend an existing arrangement and would have trimmed the
tying it to the utilities' purchase of lowest-cost power.
for the public utilities' return
to generation, Necci said, the 250 megawatts allowed under the bill
be small compared with the state's 7,000 megawatts peak appetite.
business officials want
something to be done to head off the estimated $300 million in new
McGee, vice president for
public policy at the Business Council of Fairfield County, said the
legislature needs to make passage of the energy bill a priority.
should get it done. If the
only fight is over the issue of the utilities and how you get them back
in the generation business and be competitive, that should be worked
Consumer Counsel Mary Healey,
who represents ratepayers on utility issues, said she supports the
features of the bill that will reduce the LICAP charges.
the procurement fee had nothing
to do with that purpose, and she was glad to see it taken out.
04/17/2005 02:34:56 AM
Cost of power lines goes
beyond Conn.; Ratepayers forced to wait, watch
Under the best
possible scenario, Connecticut ratepayers will shoulder 27 percent of
$1.3 billion that Connecticut Light & Power Co. and United
Co. are going to spend to upgrade the electric transmission lines
into Fairfield County.
ease that collective sigh back in Connecticut, because getting that 27
percent deal depends on the five other New England states, the region's
grid operator Massachusetts-based Independent System Operator New
and finally the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
a spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Public Utility
said CL&P and UI will have to apply for rate increases to cover
ISO determines to be Connecticut's share of the project after the lines
go into service. Generally, the burden is spread out over more than a
she said. Phase I of the project, the 20-mile line from Bethel to
should be in use by 2006, according to CL&P. Phase II, the 69-mile
line from Middletown to Norwalk, is projected to see service in 2009,
In the meantime,
Connecticut ratepayers will have to wait and watch what happens with
The cost of
transmission projects in New England can be shared among the states if
the project is deemed to be necessary and improves the reliability of
region's power grid. Each state, according to ISO, pays in proportion
the amount of electricity it uses. Connecticut consumes 27 percent of
power in New England, Massachusetts 45 percent, New Hampshire 9
Maine 8 percent, Rhode Island 7 and Vermont 4, according to ISO.
And, with such
a big price, tag, there are objections.
"It makes a
lot of people in Maine angry to think we are funding an economic
project [in Connecticut]," said Sharon Reishus, a
of the Maine Public Utility Commission. She said her state fought
the $357 million phase I CL&P project because Maine believes that
design is unreliable.
her state isn't opposed to paying part of the costs, but doesn't want
pay for things that only benefit Connecticut communities. Maine isn't
in taking that position as other states, including New Hampshire, have
expressed concerns about the costs of Connecticut projects. But Maine
definitely taken the lead on the issue, according to CL&P.
a senior staff attorney for the Maine Commission, said right now an ISO
advisory panel, called the New England Power Pool Reliability
is reviewing phase I. The committee is made up of government officials
and utility company representatives.
is weighing the difference between what CL&P originally proposed a
$125 million project — versus what CL&P is building now — the $357
million project. Costs for the project increased dramatically after the
design was changed to include 12 miles of underground construction.
said the reliability committee will have to decide how much of the $225
million difference between what was approved and what was originally
will be shared.
ISO cost allocation process is relatively new — having only been in
since December 2004 — the committee has already rendered several
on other states' projects. On April 5, the reliability committee
said that only $600,000 in costs for a Rhode Island project should be
for cost sharing, when the company proposing it had asked that $3.7
The Rhode Island
project includes the rerouting of a line under a highway and moving it
underground. Erin O'Brien, an ISO spokesperson, said
the ISO has not ruled on the Rhode Island application and does have
discretion in how much it will allow. She said applicants can appeal
the committee's and the ISO's decisions and no decision is final until
FERC approves it.
a CL&P spokesman, said his company understands that the ISO's
on phase I has significant ramifications for phase II.
proposed, phase II would have cost approximately $600 million but it
increased to $1 billion and includes 24 miles of underground
Unlike the first project, however, UI and CL&P originally proposed
that 24 miles of the line be buried. Costs have risen as the utilities
have had to add equipment in order to meet reliability standards,
to CL&P. The estimated cost has also risen to reflect higher prices
being charged for materials.
Poirot said the process for determining Connecticut's share of phase II
probably won't begin until later this year, because the actual cost
been firmed up. The utilities must meet with towns and determine what
of structures they will use to hold the lines and that might affect the
price, he said.
No one could
say for sure when the ISO would rule on phase I.
NRC's Report On Millstone
March 31, 2005
By THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, Courant Staff
-- The head of the Connecticut
Coalition Against Millstone has accused the Nuclear Regulatory
of failing to properly regulate the operators of the plant's two
reactors, which produce a large share of the state's electric power.
Burton, who advocates mothballing
Millstone, dominated the public comment portion of a meeting Tuesday
of representatives of the NRC and officials of Dominion Nuclear of
Inc., which owns Millstone.
an earlier, hourlong discussion
of Millstone, the NRC representatives offered a limited critique of
mostly praising the plant's security, operations and environmental
during 2004. The NRC report says that overall, the nuclear power plant
"operated safely" and "preserved public health."
the public was invited to comment,
there was a moment of silence with no response. Then, Burton, the sole
responder, walked out of the sparse audience with a large briefcase of
documents, sat next to a microphone and spent an hour questioning and
often lecturing the regulators and the regulated.
number of times, Burton cut off
the answers to questions she posed to the NRC panel, prompting protests
from panel members. Several times, she interrupted an NRC official by
he should answer her questions without reading from a document. But
official countered that Burton was herself reading from documents.
accused the NRC of not scrutinizing
cancer-causing emissions from the plant, ignoring plant workers'
health concerns, not taking into account the wear and tear on the plant
from repeated emergency maintenance shutdowns, and failing to detect
that might have prevented what she termed a dangerous plant fire two
believe that Unit 2 has shown
dismal performance record," Burton said, "and the NRC should call for a
shutdown of this aged reactor before Dominion puts large amounts of
before the meeting, NRC spokesman
Neil Sheehan said the commission's inspectors have taken a close look
malfunctions that caused shutdowns, and at Millstone's reactions to
problems. "It's an example of how our reactor oversight process should
work. If performance shows an anomaly, we expect we will go in and take
a closer look, and that's exactly what we did in this case," he said.
Unit 2 was subject to 4,685 hours of inspection work. Unit 3 was
to 4,205 hours, he said.
Paul Krohn, an NRC representative,
promised to supply Burton with plant air emission readings he insisted
were harmless to people living around the plant. And, he said, federal
safety regulations are so strict and strongly enforced that it is
workers are exposed to harmful radiation.
said the NRC inspection for
fire safety was general in nature. So it was not extraordinary that NRC
scrutiny did not anticipate a fire two weeks later, he added.
the meeting, Peter Hyde, a
spokesman for Dominion, said some of Burton's information about
worker exposures creating cancerous tumors is pure fabrication. He said
Burton's claim that the Jan. 14 fire in a Unit 2 turbine building
power switch dangerously compromised plant security for hours, is
not true. The fire was relatively minor and backup security systems
over immediately, said Hyde, who added that he was an eyewitness to
said plant air monitoring on
top of the building where the emission releases occur shows no
levels of strontium-90, a cancer-causing agent that turned up in
goat milk samplings miles from the plant several years ago. That means
the strontium-90 readings in goats' milk probably originated from
from past nuclear weapons testing, Hyde said.
time Unit 2 shut down, he said,
it was closely inspected and parts were replaced as needed.
Officials take stand
against electric rate hikes; Officials take stand against
Coleman, Stamford ADVOCATE
The 54 Connecticut
cities and towns facing a proposed federally mandated electric rate
yesterday sent a message to the agency that's considering the charge:
Richard Blumenthal and Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell
at a Hartford news conference that the towns had signed a petition to
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission saying the proposed rate increase
is wrong and will backfire.
The plan would
split the state into two rate zones, increasing rates as much as 7
in one of them to pay for new power plants.
is fatally flawed, and destined to fail," Blumenthal said in a
"FERC cannot impose catastrophic costs on consumers and pay generators
wild windfalls without any public interest benefits." Blumenthal last
filed a lawsuit to stop the two-zone plan from going into effect.
Gov. M. Jodi
Rell, who has told FERC the plan is not good for the state, weighed in
again yesterday, condemning the concept as bad for the state's economy.
Dannel Malloy, the first municipal official to publicly raise a red
about the proposal, said he's hopeful continued pressure from cities
towns will convince the federal agency to drop the plan.
a phone interview after the news conference, said: "We have to fight it
any way we can. The cities and towns, all 54 of them, unanimously
the idea. The benefits to the state are false. This will cost citizens
overall more money over time and FERC's ignoring the real issue, the
IN MEDIA: This (below) is not true...yet!
chairwoman of the state sponsored-regional planning agency that covers
the eight municipalities in lower Fairfield County.
Connecticut is suffering from an energy bottleneck. Business and
growth are beginning to outstrip the ability to bring power into the
As a result, two new electric transmission cable projects have been
and two more, including a 345-kilovolt line from Norwalk to Middletown,
are in the approval process.
and towns along the line work out a plan to bury as much of the cable
as is feasible and finish all the transmission cable projects, much of
the area's energy needs will be met, and the need for new power plants
will diminish, Blumenthal said.
The FERC plan,
called Locational Installed Capacity, or LICAP, would split the state
two rate zones. Southwestern Connecticut and Fairfield County would be
among consumers and businesses in the affected towns that pay about 7
more -- as much as $3.08 per month -- in a separate charge on their
is designed to give electric generating companies an economic incentive
to build new power plants. The plan is being requested by ISO New
the region's power grid operator. It would cost consumers about $393
in 2006 and as much as $2.8 billion through 2010.
LICAP will merely result in a windfall for the companies because the
does not require the electric companies to build new plants, but gives
them the added revenue.
to divide Connecticut against itself and artificially inflate the price
of electricity for nearly three-quarters of the state's population
no more sense now than it did when FERC first approved the idea last
Rell said yesterday in a strongly worded statement. "FERC's plan does
to address the real issue in southwestern Connecticut, which is the
of transmission capacity. And it is simply not rational to believe that
even after transmission capacity is improved there will be a sudden
in power plant construction. The process of permitting and building a
plant takes many years," Rell said.
If the plan
is approved, "Connecticut will be throttled back by shortsighted
intervention," she said.
last year rallied other municipalities to fight the plan, said in a
interview that it has other flaws.
"Even if power
companies decided to build new power plants in the area, it is unlikely
they would be approved because the region is already designated as not
attaining air-quality standards," he said.
That is ironic,
Malloy said, because much of the pollution causing the problem is
by dirty coal-burning power plants in the Midwest that drifts with
winds into the Northeast.
and surrounding towns have done well retaining jobs, the rate increases
will only work to scare businesses away, Malloy said.
"We are the
only one that has done a good job retaining jobs in this area and could
be a major blow to job retention in this area and other areas as well,"
Malloy said. "I think I would go so far as to say that FERC, it almost
appears to be punitive in it's pronouncements about Fairfield and New
ISO New England
President and Chief Executive Officer Gordon van Welie defended the
new market mechanism that encourages investment, New England will face
regionwide power system reliability problems within the next five to
years, and earlier in high-consumption areas such as Connecticut and
FERC has made
a preliminary decision backing the plan. The agency is expected to make
a final decision in June, according to the ISO New England Web site.
World Oil Supply 2004 report
to blitz homes;
Power plan eyed by siting council
By ROB VARNON
email@example.com, Sept. 29, 2004
— More than 700 homes, including 114 in Milford, would be taken and
if the Connecticut Siting Council adopts a proposed 300-foot buffer
around new high-voltage power lines. Testifying before the
Siting Council on Tuesday, United Illuminating and Connecticut Light
Power representatives said 741 properties in 11 municipalities would
within the boundaries of a buffer zone that might be required as part
a project to upgrade power lines in southwestern Connecticut.
be affected the most with 222 buildings impacted. Wallingford has
the second-highest number of properties affected with 161, followed by
Milford. Marcia Wellman, a UI spokeswoman, said the utilities do
not have the power to seize homes and buildings. The siting council
have to order that, she said. The council is deciding how to
a new state regulation that requires creation of buffer zones around
the council chairwoman, could not say when a final decision will be
The main worry
is that electric and magnetic fields generated by the lines could harm
people's health as the companies replace
115 kilovolt lines running between Middletown and Norwalk with 345-kv
The companies also discussed two alternative, smaller buffer zone
Both options reduce EMFs by controlling the amount of current running
the wires. The companies said the number of homes affected would drop
as low as 78 under one of the scenarios.
James Richetelli said the issue is safety and fairness. "If the
buffer zone is required to safeguard the health of the residents living
along the line and that requires the taking of land then the line
not be built above ground," Richetelli said.
said that the utilities have decided to run 24 miles of the line
through Stratford, Bridgeport, Fairfield and into Norwalk, because
overhead lines would require them to take a lot of land. The 24
of underground work, however, present technical problems that have cast
doubts about the reliability of the project.
UI and CL&P
are studying the issue along with a consultant from General Electric
and the region's grid operator, Independent System Operator New
More than 50 people attended the meeting at Central Connecticut State
but most were politicians, lawyers or utility workers involved in the
for the lines.
an Oxford resident, was one of the few who did not have direct ties to
the application. He said he was a bit concerned by the amount of money
the cable would cost and the whole process. Schuler said the cost
of taking those homes would be staggering and so would the loss to the
grand lists of the towns. That's
so if the estimated worth of each of the homes ranges between $200,000
to $300,000, he said.
If each home
was sold for $200,000, the total cost would amount to more than $148
Schuler and a man from Orange, said there must also be millions in
and consulting fees tied up in this process. The council hearing
is run more like a courtroom than like a typical government meeting.
wheeled in boxes and cases of documents on handcarts. Witnesses were
in and cross-examined sometimes by as many as four attorneys followed
question from the council.
will continue to hear the issue today, beginning at 10 a.m. at the CCSU
building at 185 Main St., New Britain. Maps of the areas affected
can be viewed by visiting www.ct.gov/csc
story doesn't go away - click here.
Supplying Power To
Northeast Could Become Problem:
Congested transmission systems cited by NU, Quebec industry officials
By Susan Haigh, Published on 8/28/2001
New London DAY (in red, are parts
this article related to Weston issues)
— Eastern Canada
successfully helped New England keep the air conditioners humming
this summer's heat wave. But the president of Hydro-Quebec and
president and CEO of Northeast Utilities warned governors and premiers
from New England and eastern Canada Monday that delivering electricity
to consumers in the coming years could be problematic because of
in the transmission system.
G. Morris of NU likened the
current structure to rush-hour traffic along Interstate 95.
what our transmission system looks like. It's congested,” Morris told
leaders, who gathered at the Water's Edge Resort for their 26th annual
conference. The officials arrived Sunday for the event, titled “Trade
Globalization for the 21st Century.” Meetings wrap up today.
is the top supplier of energy
to the U.S., outside of what is produced in this country. Last year, 14
percent of the electricity produced by Hydro-Quebec, which uses mostly
hydroelectric plants to generate power, was sold to neighboring markets
such as New England. Hydro-Quebec
President and CEO Andre Caille said
more of that so-called clean power could be transmitted to New England
in future years. However, there are problems
transmission in southwestern Connecticut, the Boston area and New York
transmission facilities, more bridges between regions, are now
as vital,” said Caille, warning the New England governors that states
to come to terms with finding new sites for transmission lines. “We see
transmission capacity as one of the last pieces of restructuring the
power was just one of several
issues discussed during Monday's daylong session, which included French
interpreters for some of the Canadian delegates. Gov. John G. Rowland,
who co-chaired the event, said the New England states and the eastern
provinces have much to discuss, especially issues affecting energy
economic development and the environment. He said there is not
acknowledgement of the important bond between New England and Canada.
group last met in Mystic in 1990.
More than 600 people associated with the conference, including the
their staffs and security, attended the event. They've filled the
Edge Resort, as well as neighboring hotels and inns, some staying as
east as the Mystic Marriott. Much of Monday's session
on how to mesh economic development in a global market with
protection. The group passed two resolutions that called for a 10-year
reduction in mercury emissions, as well as cuts in so-called greenhouse
gas emissions. New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord credited the
of governors and premiers for leading the way in North America on the
issue in particular, despite criticism from environmentalists that the
action taken was weak.
is very significant,” Lord
said. “The objectives we have set, they are very aggressive targets and
they may be very difficult to achieve.”
of the resolutions directs the
governors and premiers to reduce mercury releases into the environment
by 75 percent on or before 2010. The leaders also agreed to advance
pollution prevention and education initiatives, as well as organize a
on the impacts of acid rain on human health. But New England Zero
Mercury Campaign, a coalition of New England environmental groups,
the action fell short of what is needed, and demanded more swift action
to virtually eliminate man-made mercury by 2010. They organized a
brigade” of 20 advocates dressed as pregnant women to underscore the
to fetuses and developing children posed by eating mercury-contaminated
brigade, however, was not allowed
to protest on the grounds of the Water's Edge. Instead, they had to
at the entrance to the luxury resort. “We made some progress, but
need some policies to come from this body,” said Brooke Suter, from the
environmental group Connecticut's Clean Water Action. Suter said she
disappointed with the resolution passed by the governors and premiers.
She said the increasing levels of mercury are threatening many
that depend on a healthy environment, including fishing, tourism and
viewing. Michael Bender, of the Mercury Policy Project in
said the leaders did not recognize that even if all mercury emissions
stopped, it would still take 15 years to actually eliminate the
Rowland said governors are always
working on ways to reduce mercury, calling the issue a great concern.
said the leaders would probably never be able to pass a timetable
to the environmentalists.
was little reaction to passage
of a climate change action plan. The resolution calls for each province
or state to develop a framework for reducing greenhouse gases, which
considered to contribute to global warming. Among specific
the group set a goal for themselves to reduce the gas emissions by 25
by 2012 through use of improved fuel-efficient government vehicles that
burn lower-carbon fuels.
Gov. Angus King said the resolution
was significant because the leaders collectively agreed that greenhouse
gases are affecting the climate. Also, he praised the group for having
the foresight to officially recognize that environmental issues such as
acid rain and mercury pollution have an impact on the region's
economic competitiveness, as well as free and fair trade.
think this act today will be looked
back upon as one of the most important things we've done,” he said.
did not take any action on the power transmission problem. However, the
New England governors appeared to be evaluating a federal proposal that
would merge the independent system operator that oversees the New
power grid with the mid-Atlantic states' system operator. The
also discussed a proposal that would transmit power underwater from
to places such as Boston, eliminating the battles over siting lines on
Canadian press, which far outnumbered
the handful of Connecticut reporters covering the conference, appeared
to be mostly concerned about an American tariff on Canadian lumber.
is a long-standing battle between the two countries, and the reporters
raised the issue of whether Canada might cut off the power supply to
England in hopes of winning the battle on lumber.
Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci,
the new U.S. Ambassador to Canada, downplayed the possibility of such a
nasty trade war developing. “I don't think it will be good for
U.S. economy and I don't think it will be good for the Canadian
Cellucci said. New England currently absorbs about 45 percent of all
from Atlantic Canada, according to one official at the conference.
of energy products, including electricity, refined petroleum and
gas, have doubled in the past five years—leading the pack among
goods sold to New England. On the other side of the trade equation, New
England exported $9 billion in goods last year to Canada.
government leaders ended the
day's events with a state dinner at Harkness Memorial State Park in
New England, Canada weigh high-tech
would promote region as entry point for job technology
By Susan Haigh - Published in the
DAY on 8/29/2001
Westbrook — New England governors
and eastern Canadian premiers wrapped up their annual conference
pledging to work together to make the region a high-tech hub.
Gov. John G. Rowland, co-chairman of the three-day event, suggested the
could be the first of its kind, with regional leaders from two nations
cooperating to find ways to address the needs of the information
suggested the joint effort could eventually lead to a regional
initiative. “This resolution is basically to say, 'Hey, take a
at us. We have a lot to offer,' ” he said. “California starts to
eliminate itself because of its energy problems. So we can make our
of the world the entry point to job technology.”
New England states and the eastern
provinces are already home to a growing “knowledge industry,” including
high-tech computer, electronics, e-commerce and communications jobs.
concentration of information technology workers in New England is 23
greater than the rest of the United States. And Montreal hosts the
percent of technology workers in North America.
these jobs allow a growing
number of people to telecommute — work for a California computer
for example, while living in Maine — the leaders from both nations
now is the time to push this region as an ideal place to live and work
in this high-tech era. Rural locales such as Maine and northern Vermont
and New Hampshire, can offer a certain quality of life to people
to live in the countryside and still work in the technology sector.
a level of opportunity that
really wasn't available to us 10 or 15 years ago,” said Maine Gov.
S. King Jr. “This whole dispersed economy gives opportunity to regions
of the country, the continent, that have been disadvantaged by
“If we work regionally,” he said, “I think we have a heck of a lot
one Canadian premier, John F.
Hamm of Nova Scotia, warned his colleagues to temper their enthusiasm
high-tech jobs. He made note of the various Internet company failures,
as well as layoffs at big name computer companies. “This
I believe, will never be like it was before,” Hamm said.
premier, Roger D. Grimes
of Newfoundland and Labrador, suggested the governors and premiers
plans to offer more educational exchanges between the two nations. By
together, he said, the region could better educate its future high-tech
workers. The pledge to jointly promote the region's “knowledge
was the final highlight of the three-day conference at the Water's Edge
Resort. On Monday, leaders passed resolutions to reduce mercury and
gas emissions, and agreed to continue working together to ensure the
has an adequate supply of electricity.
from both New England and
Canada hailed their 26th annual meeting as a success. They will meet
year in Quebec City.
premier of Quebec, Premier Bernard
Landry, the co-chairman of the conference, will remain in Connecticut
a two-day trade mission. Rowland will join Landry today in Hartford for
a meeting with 300 business people.
of the Canadian press questioned
Tuesday whether Landry's support of a sovereign nation of Quebec — the
first public mention of the contentious issue — might dissuade
business leaders from investing in the province. But Rowland said he
not believe the political situation in Quebec would have much affect,
that it would be a business decision.
asking about Quebec's separatist
debate did not appear to sit well with Landry's staff. The premier's
secretary later chastised the reporter for asking the question at the
This year's conference marked the largest turnout for the organization.
In addition to the governors, premiers and their staff, numerous
filled the meeting room.
laundry list of energy companies
was among the group's sponsors, including El Paso Energy Service Co.,
Enron Corp., Northeast Utilities, Duke Energy and United
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation was one of the two major
while the tribe's Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan tribe also
funds for the conference.
the large number of energy company sponsors this year to the fact that
most New England states are opening up their electric power markets to
competition. He said he would like to see even more power companies
interested in New England, creating more opportunities for customers to
purchase electricity at a lower price.