Friday, May 29, 2009

Radish oil for biodiesel

Corn and soybeans are excellent crops for use in ethanol and biodiesel production, but chickens, cows and people like to eat the crops, too. University of Georgia engineers are searching for non-food crops that can be used to make alternative fuels.

The oilseed radish is one crop that could be used to produce biodiesel in Georgia, said Dan Geller, a biological engineer with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Canadian cover crop

The radish is widely grown in Canada as a cover crop, or one that is planted to improve the soil and prevent erosion in fields. But it isn’t typically grown for food.

Its seed is about 40 percent oil by weight, said Nicholas Chammoun, a CAES graduate student working with Geller. This makes it an excellent candidate for the biodiesel market.

For his research, Chammoun had oilseed radish seeds crushed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Peanut Research Laboratory. The oil was then converted into biodiesel by the CAES biological and agricultural engineering department.

“This sounds like a short and easy process,” he said. “But it actually took a long time since there was very little data on converting oilseed radish oil to biodiesel.”

Engine-tested

Next, he had to prove the new biodiesel would actually work in diesel engines and perform as well or better than No. 2 diesel and other existing biodiesels.

The oilseed radish biodiesel passed the engine tests, performing much like No. 2 diesel, he said.
With the help of the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, Chammoun determined whether farmers would benefit economically from growing the crop.

“No matter the crop, it will take land to produce it,” said John McKissick, director of the center. “It’s still a battle for food production over fuel production on the same limited land. In Georgia, food is still more economically viable.”

The economic research data on the radish as a biodiesel crop was also used to assess its economic potential as a Georgia cover crop.

“They would harvest in the spring, and the crop would also protect the soil in the winter,” Geller said.

Roots aerate soil

And as a cover crop, its extra-long tap root breaks up and aerates soil and draws up nutrients for the following crop, or one grown for food or fiber.

Georgia farmers could grow peanuts and cotton in the summer months and follow with a crop of oilseed radish in the fall.

“Oilseed radish isn’t grown for the food market, but it can be grown for the fuel market,” Geller said. “And it can be grown cheaper with a greater oil yield per dollar than soybean, and with lower inputs.”

The economic evaluation showed the oilseed radish had potential to be an economically viable crop for Georgia, McKissick said. But more research is needed to determine the yield and costs of producing the crop.

Crushers needed

Geller calls the university’s research results promising but notes there is one large missing piece to the puzzle.

“We can get the seed, and the agronomic data is available,” he said. “The farmers just need someone to crush the seed. The big kicker is which comes first, the farmer or the crusher?”
Crushers are companies that process seeds to extract oil.

If crushers are found, Geller says Georgia farmers could begin growing these new crops in a few years.

CAES researchers are also studying the use of algae, switchgrass and sunflower as oil sources for biodiesel production.

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Peabody Energy Becomes Founding Member of U.S. Department of Energy's National Carbon Capture Center

/PRNewswire / -- Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) today became a founding member of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Carbon Capture Center. The center is a public-private partnership to advance the next generation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. The effort will be based at the Power Systems Development Facility (PSDF) south of Birmingham, Ala., the nation's premier carbon research and development laboratory. Peabody has been a funding partner of the PSDF since 1997.

The National Carbon Capture Center will bring together scientists and technology experts from government, industry and academia to analyze both pre-combustion and post-combustion carbon capture technologies in a coal-fueled power plant setting. Once fully operational in 2010, the center will play a leading role in the global effort to advance cost-efficient, large-scale carbon capture and storage operations at coal-fueled power plants.

"Coal continues to be the fastest-growing fuel in the world, and carbon capture and storage will be essential to meet any carbon dioxide emissions goals in a cost-effective manner," said Peabody Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregory H. Boyce. "Peabody is the global leader in clean coal solutions, with signature projects in Asia, Australia and North America, and we are proud to also support the National Carbon Capture Center."

Post-combustion research will be conducted at Plant Gaston, a coal-fueled generating plant adjacent to the PSDF that is operated by Southern Company subsidiary Alabama Power. This power plant will be large enough to provide meaningful performance data under realistic operating conditions, accelerating the commercialization of CCS technologies.

Existing facilities at the PSDF will also be modified to conduct the testing of pre-combustion carbon dioxide capture technologies.

As a global leader in clean coal technologies, Peabody Energy is advancing signature projects to commercialize low-carbon and near-zero emission technologies around the world. The company is:

-- The only non-Chinese equity partner in GreenGen, China's centerpiece
climate initiative;
-- A founding member in the COAL21 Fund and the Global Carbon Capture and
Storage Institute in Australia, two major initiatives channeling
public and private investment into low-emissions power projects;
-- A founding member of the FutureGen Alliance in the United States, an
initiative to build a power plant prototype that would capture carbon
dioxide emissions;
-- A $5 million grantor to Washington University in St. Louis to help
establish the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization, an international
partnership of universities, industry leaders and foundations to
advance carbon solutions;
-- A founding member of the Western Kentucky Carbon Storage Foundation,
which is already testing geologic carbon dioxide storage options; and
-- An equity partner in GreatPoint Energy, a Massachusetts-based company
that converts coal into clean substitute natural gas while enabling
carbon storage.

In addition to the DOE, Peabody and Southern Company, partners include American Electric Power, Luminant, Arch Coal and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), among others. The partnership will continue to seek new members as research progresses.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Southern Company to Demonstrate Technology to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Electric Generating Plant

/PRNewswire / -- Southern Company today announced plans to demonstrate carbon capture and sequestration on a coal-fired power generation plant to support the development of technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Along with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI), the Electric Power Research Institute and other partners, Southern Company will build a demonstration facility to capture carbon dioxide emissions from an existing unit of subsidiary Alabama Power's Plant Barry near Mobile, Ala.

Beginning in 2011, between 100,000 and 150,000 tons of CO2 per year - the equivalent of emissions from 25 megawatts of the plant's generating capacity - would be captured for permanent underground storage in a deep saline geologic formation.

The CO2 will be supplied to the DOE's Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SECARB), which will transport it by pipeline from the plant and store it underground at a site within the area of the Citronelle Oil Field, about 10 miles from the plant, operated by Denbury Resources. The Southern States Energy Board is leading the SECARB effort.

"This project will help increase our knowledge of carbon capture and sequestration, technology we must demonstrate at a commercial level in the effort to reliably generate electricity using coal with reduced greenhouse gas emissions," said David Ratcliffe, Southern Company chairman, president and CEO.

"The main challenge facing deployment of carbon capture and sequestration technology is demonstrating its effectiveness at a large scale," Ratcliffe added. "Our involvement in this and other related projects is part of our commitment to be a leader in finding solutions that make technological, economic and environmental sense."

With carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), CO2 released during the combustion of coal would be separated from the flue gas, compressed, and then permanently sequestered - or stored - deep underground.

The CO2 capture technology to be used in this project, called KM-CDR(TM), was jointly developed by MHI and the Kansai Electric Power Company Inc. It deploys an advanced amine-based solvent that reacts readily with CO2 in flue gas before being separated and compressed so that it is ready for pipeline transport.

The MHI process offers improved performance and lower cost than other existing capture technologies. The process has been demonstrated at smaller scale at a coal-fired generating station in Japan, and is currently being deployed commercially on natural gas-fired systems around the world. This project represents the largest coal-fired demonstration of the technology.

"We are excited to be a partner in this important project that will help further the global goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions for the benefit of everyone," said Shunichi Miyanaga, executive vice president and representative director general manager of MHI's Machinery & Steel Structures Headquarters. "The confidence our partners have shown in the MHI CO2 capture technology is a testament to the research and development efforts we have undertaken during the past 20 years. Together with our partners, we are ready to deploy and demonstrate to the world the safety and viability of commercial-scale CCS."

An important part of any CO2 sequestration project is site selection through geologic characterization and a robust program to monitor the injected CO2. Therefore, a thorough monitoring process will be deployed to map the movement of the sequestered CO2.

Through this project and others, Southern Company and its partners seek to support the goal of better understanding the impacts of reducing CO2 emissions from electricity generation. The project in Alabama is designed to demonstrate start-to-finish CCS technology, an important step toward commercialization.

Plant Barry, located in Bucks, Ala., has a total capacity of 2,525 megawatts and includes seven generating units -- five coal-fired units and two natural gas-fired combined-cycle units.

Southern Company, an industry leader in technology research and development, is working with the federal government and other partners in several major CCS research projects. In one, Southern Company subsidiary Mississippi Power's Plant Daniel is the host site for a demonstration in which 3,000 tons of CO2 recently were injected into a deep saline rock formation 8,500 feet below ground. Monitoring of its movement deep in the ground and under multiple geological seals is now under way.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

BIO Is Confident That Biofuels Can Meet Goals of Renewable Fuel Standard

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Biotech companies are poised to rapidly commercialize advanced biofuel technology, which has been shown to reduce both U.S. reliance on petroleum and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO) Industrial and Environmental Section, yesterday released the following statement at a media briefing held at the 2009 BIO International Convention being held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

“Advanced biofuel companies are ready to deploy their technology and begin meeting the requirements of the National Renewable Fuel Standard. Now that the rules of the program are finally moving forward and the Obama administration has demonstrated a firm commitment to the industry, companies are prepared to build the next generation of biorefineries.

“The recent analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that biofuels produced with biotech tools will dramatically reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from transportation – more than 100 percent compared to gasoline, in some cases. In addition to enabling production of cellulosic biofuels, biotechnology can continue to help biofuel producers reduce carbon emissions by increasing yields of fuel per ton of raw material and decreasing energy use in production of biofuels. Biotechnology can also help farmers increase yields per acre and reduce petroleum inputs in agriculture.

“The Obama administration’s leadership, through the recently announced Biofuels Interagency Working Group, is vital to stimulating the investment needed to bring advanced biofuels to market. There are many federal and state programs designed to support the industry during its infancy that require coordination and funding. These important incentive programs include loan guarantees for biorefineries, a reverse auction for the first billion gallons of advanced biofuels, and funding and fast-tracking of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.”

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

40MPG.org: Higher MPG Deal is Step in Right Direction, U.S. Needs to Keep Pushing for More Fuel-Efficiency and Auto Industry Innovation

/PRNewswire / -- The new White House-brokered agreement on increased auto fuel efficiency averaging 35.5 miles per gallon (MPG) for new cars and light trucks sold in 2016 is "historic and a great beginning for recovering America's position in the global auto market," according to 40MPG.org and TheCLEAN.org.

40MPG.org Founder and Civil Society Institute President and Founder Pam Solo said: "We need to continue fostering innovations that can make U.S. cars even more fuel efficient. We applaud California and the other states that applied sufficient pressure on greenhouse gas controls to bring reluctant automakers to the bargaining table. The Obama White House also deserves credit for finding a way to get these parties to agree on a timetable that actually accelerates progress in the United States to achieving greater energy efficiency. This is a historic and a great beginning for recovering America's position in the global auto marketplace."

Ailis Aaron Wolf, spokesperson for 40MPG.org, said: "Every bit of additional fuel efficiency is welcome for U.S. vehicles. Anyone who thinks that oil prices are going to remain at relatively low levels for the long term is fooling themselves. When gas pump prices jump again above $3 and $4 dollars, as experts predict that they will, Americans will once again flock to the most energy efficient vehicles available. U.S. auto companies need to do better if they want to remain competitive in an increasingly tough and competitive global marketplace. Hopefully, the new MPG deal with help to create a culture of innovation and experimentation that will help put the U.S. auto industry back on top."

In a June 2007 report, the nonprofit 40MPG.org project of the Civil Society Institute noted that Japan is moving to the equivalent of 48 MPG by 2010, the European Union is shooting for about 44 MPG currently and China is requiring the equivalent today of 37 MPG. Automotive News reported nearly two years ago that Japan already has in place fleet economy rules equal to more than 45 MPG. In February 2007, 40MPG.org issued a report showing that there are more than 100 vehicle makes for sale around the world - but not in the United States -- that get combined gas mileage of 40MPG or better. This figure, which included a number of clean diesels, appears to have changed very little in recent years.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Congress Set to Create Loophole That Allows Wide Public Access to Acquire Clunker Vehicle

/PRNewswire/ -- With environmentalists recently expressing their strong disappointment regarding the "Cash for Clunkers" compromise legislation, it is not good news to learn that Congress is set to establish a loophole that allows widespread public access for individuals to bid on "clunker" vehicles that are supposed to be retired under the program. The proposal being circulated by House lawmakers would allow salvage auctions to process these vehicles, a dangerous move that opens the door for criminal activity from the resale of the retired cars to the public.

The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) opposes the provision to make "Cash for Clunker" vehicles publicly available. The loophole is created by laws currently on the books in over 35 states that allow the general public into salvage auctions to bid on salvaged or non-repairable vehicles, rather than only licensed dealers, automotive recyclers, or scrap processors. If the "clunker" vehicles are processed here, there are little to no controls in place to prevent unlicensed individuals who may, illegally and without regard to the environment or safety, purchase these vehicles to put back on the nation's roads or export them to foreign buyers for significant profit - fleecing the American taxpayer.

The salvage pools are much different today than five or ten years ago. It is estimated that over 30% of the total-loss vehicles sold are exported to foreign countries. In fact, one large salvage auction company indicated that their vehicles were exported to over 94 countries in 2007. Therefore, by broadening bill language to include the salvage pools, Congress significantly diminishes the overall health and safety of the general public and the environment, as untrained, unregulated, and ill-equipped individuals -- rather than licensed automotive recycling professionals or scrap processors -- attempt to handle, dismantle and dispose of environmentally-harmful, waste-stream products and hazardous materials. By allowing unlicensed individuals to purchase these vehicles, it also helps the criminally minded to prosper at the taxpayer's expense. Furthermore, it is impossible for the law enforcement community to spend the time or resources to combat the fraud that this is sure to perpetuate.

"Once again, Congress' haste to act in these difficult economic times are leading to whole array of unintended consequences," says Automotive Recyclers Association's (ARA) Executive Vice President Michael E. Wilson. "This is truly something that should go through the regular legislative process with committee hearings and full floor debate." Wilson adds, "This has been circulating around the back halls of Congress for months. What is truly needed is a full public review of what is actually in the bill."

Since 1943, the Automotive Recyclers Association ("ARA") represents an industry dedicated to the efficient removal and reuse of "green" automotive parts, and the proper recycling of inoperable motor vehicles.

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Environmental Radicals Are Obama's Achilles Heel: Blocking New Oil Drilling Will Bring Back $3-4 a Gallon Gas

/PRNewswire / -- President Obama has put America into the hands of "environmental radicals." It is only a matter of time before "his vast popularity runs aground on his energy policies," according to a column by Jon Basil Utley posted at Reason magazine's site, http://www.reason.com/news/show/133458.html.

"In the name of saving the planet from global warming, [Obama] has delayed new oil drilling, an action that will have major political repercussions once the world economy recovers. Instead of using some of the stimulus billions to produce more gas and oil, Obama's appointees dream of 'renewable' energy derived from corn, wind, sunshine, and even grass," Mr. Utley says in an article entitled "Obama and the Alternative Energy Fiasco."

"It's essential to remember that so-called renewable energy cannot replace oil and natural gas in any significant way. For example, corn-based ethanol production 'costs' nearly as much to produce as it saves in oil and can only exist with the help of costly and unending subsidies. ... In contrast, oil and gas drilling could provide hundreds of thousands of solid, well-paying, blue-collar jobs -- and would produce millions in new tax revenue," Mr. Utley says.

"Instead of producing more of the cheap, abundant energy that fueled America's dynamic growth, the extremists ... dream of drastically cutting American consumption. All of these things are happening at a time when natural gas is abundant and cheap. ...The new technology of horizontal fraccing has made it economically feasible to drill into vast shale deposits in many states."

"Windmills depend upon a two-cent-per-kilowatt taxpayer subsidy to remain competitive. They also require backup gas generators (in case the wind isn't blowing when needed). Solar power is even more expensive and also would need billions for back-up generators and new transmission lines," Mr. Utley explains.

"It's little more than socialist Malthusianism to argue that the world is running out of energy. Science will always find and harness new sources." Producing from America's vast oil reserves could "transform our trade deficit and ... (prevent) lower living standards for most Americans."

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Boehner Challenges Administration’s Decision to Ignore OMB Warning on Economic Consequences of Regulating CO2

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement today after Dow Jones reported that the White House ignored an internal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo warning that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant “is likely to have serious economic consequences:”

“The disclosure of this OMB memo suggests that a political decision was made to put special-interests ahead of middle-class families and small businesses struggling in this recession. This EPA decision was a backdoor attempt to enact a national energy tax that will have a crushing impact on consumers, jobs, and our economy. It is unacceptable that this critical information was withheld and the regulatory process was abused in this fashion. Republicans want to work with the Administration to promote clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment, but our primary responsibility must be to first do no harm to struggling families and small businesses.”

NOTE: Today, Dow Jones reported that an internal OMB memo stated, “U.S. regulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide ‘is likely to have serious economic consequences’ for businesses small and large across the economy.” The news report also states that “The nine-page document also undermines the EPA’s reasoning for a proposed finding that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health and welfare, a trigger for new rules.”

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Study: Proposed Energy Regulations Could Cost Thousands of American Jobs, Billions in Public Revenues

/PRNewswire / -- A coalition of America's oil and natural gas producers today released the findings of a major research initiative, which concludes enacting new federal regulations - especially related to hydraulic fracturing - could have disastrous economic consequences and increase our dependence on foreign oil.

Project BRIEF - Bringing Real Information on Energy Forward - covers the history and progress of effective state regulation of energy development, the proper role of the federal government and the economic consequences of changes to existing regulatory frameworks. To highlight these findings and educate the public, the coalition also launched a new website: www.EnergyInDepth.org.

"Project BRIEF's scope is unprecedented, and its findings are stark," said Lee Fuller of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, one of the coalition organizers which represents the 5,000 smaller, independent producers that drill 90 percent of America's wells. "Implementing new federal regulations that threaten domestic energy production and increase costs - without creating any additional environmental benefits - is the wrong policy course for the country."

America's natural gas and oil producers provide massive contributions to our economy, and play a critical role in ensuring America's energy needs are met. Saddling them with new, unnecessary and ineffective regulations could put them out of business, destroy jobs and increase our dependence on foreign energy. That's especially true if Congress moves forward with plans to target hydraulic fracturing, a safe and common production technology that renders possible the efficient extraction of energy resources from shale rock.

Key Findings of Project BRIEF:

-- 1.2 million Americans are directly employed by domestic oil and natural gas producers

-- In 2007, the industry invested a record $226 billion in domestic exploration and production, and paid landowners $30 billion in royalties

-- Potential new regulations now circling around Washington could:
-- Force the closure of more than half of America's oil wells and a third
of our gas wells
-- Cost the federal government $4 billion in revenue; state treasuries
would lose $785 million

-- Slash domestic oil production by 183,000 barrels per day; natural gas
by 245 billion cubic feet per year

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Energy Independence Not Attainable Until 2030 or Beyond, Says KPMG Survey of Oil and Gas Executives

/PRNewswire/ -- More than three-quarters of oil and gas executives surveyed by KPMG LLP's Global Energy Institute say that energy independence is not attainable until 2030 or beyond, despite the emphasis on alternative energy sources in current and proposed government energy policies. The executives also said mass production of alternative energy is not viable in the short term. While there is a marked shift upward in the number of executives who acknowledge that global warming is occurring, the vast majority still don't support proposed regulations to stem CO2 emissions.

The KPMG Global Energy Institute survey polled 382 financial executives from oil and gas companies in April 2009. A total of 63 percent of respondents believe energy independence will not be attainable until after 2030; sixteen percent say it can happen by 2030, while nine percent deem it possible before 2020.

"Despite the increased focus on domestic energy sources, energy infrastructure, and alternative energy sources, a realistic assessment of technology and investment in the industry suggests energy independence is not realistic for at least two decades," said Bill Kimble, executive director of the KPMG Global Energy Institute. "The executives' perceptions of energy independence mirror their views on the viability of alternatives in the near-term as well."

Executives expect alternative and renewable energy sources to receive the most focus in President Obama's energy policy, the KPMG survey found. However, 52 percent said it will not be viable to mass produce any alternative energy sources by 2015, compared to 54 percent last year and 60 percent two years ago.

Winners and Losers in the New Energy Policy

Although executives did not think alternative energy sources were immediately viable, they did have clear opinions on which ones would benefit most from the Obama administration's energy policy. Thirty-five percent of respondents said that wind energy would be the biggest winner as a result of Obama's policy, followed by 18 percent for natural gas and 17 percent for biofuels. Conversely, 42 percent of executives see coal as the biggest loser while 36 percent say oil.

"These results clearly show the momentum wind energy has gained as a clean energy solution," said Kimble. "But 93 percent of our respondents see wind generation growing to only six percent of our energy generation by 2015 and only 17 percent say wind energy is viable for mass production by that year."

Marked Shift: More than Half Now Acknowledge Human Impact on Global Warming

When asked which areas in the Obama administration's energy policy would receive the most focus after alternative energy, executives cited greenhouse gas emissions and cap-and-trade. And, though the EPA recently pointed to CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels as the main cause of global warming, nearly half (47 percent) of executives still believe that global warming, is a natural weather cycle, although this number is down from 62 percent in 2008.

"Our data shows a noted swing in executive perceptions on the issue of greenhouse gases and global warming," said Kimble, "but there is clear reluctance to support proposed actions and regulations to stem CO2 emissions."

In fact, when asked if they would support a cap-and-trade or carbon tax to reduce CO2 emissions, KPMG found that 59 percent do not support either, 23 percent would support carbon tax, and 18 percent would support a cap-and-trade system.

Spending and Business Challenges

When asked about capital spending and key business challenges in the coming year, KPMG found that executives have a subdued view. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed expect their company to decrease capital spending, including 47 percent who predict a drop of greater than 10 percent. Only 17 percent expect an increase over 2008 levels. These views are in stark contrast to those from KPMG's 2008 survey, when 70 percent expected an increase in capital spending and only five percent saw a decrease.

While oil prices have stabilized after extreme volatility in 2008, KPMG found that executives still rank commodity pricing the most significant challenge facing their companies in the coming year. Other key business challenges in order of significance include the economy, access to capital and regulatory concerns.

Also, 63 percent believe eliminating intangible drilling costs (IDC) will result in companies drilling outside the U.S. and unconventional wells not being drilled, a factor that may further slow the race toward energy independence

"There is no question that the economy has had an impact on U.S. energy companies, both in terms of pricing and capital," said Kimble. "However, with the current regulatory and legislative environment, oil and gas executives are also faced with the challenges of an evolving and dynamic industry pushing toward non-traditional energy sources."

KPMG will be discussing these survey results during its Seventh Annual Global Energy Conference, the event for financial executives in the energy industry on May 12th and 13th at the Intercontinental Hotel in Houston. This year's keynote speakers will be Madeleine Albright, Former United States Secretary of State, and Marvin Odum, President, Shell Oil Company.

The KPMG Global Energy Institute (GEI) has been designed to provide an open forum where industry financial officers, risk officers, internal audit directors, and tax executives can share knowledge, gain insights, and access thought leadership about key oil and gas or power and utilities issues and emerging trends. It offers ideas and innovative tools that help organizations apply rigor to compelling, real-world business and energy issues. GEI interacts with their members through a variety of channels, including Web-based videocasts, podcasts, conferences, share forums, and a web portal, www.kpmgglobalenergyinstitute.com.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Oglethorpe Power Closes Purchase of Heard County Power Generation Facility

Oglethorpe Power Corporation has closed on its purchase from Dynegy Inc., of that company's Heard County Power Generation Facility and associated power purchase contract. The total cost was $105 million. Oglethorpe Power and Dynegy had announced a deal for the purchase on February 25, 2009.

The natural gas-fired plant is an approximately 500-megawatt peaking facility, located in Heard County, Georgia. Since 2003, several of Oglethorpe Power's member cooperatives have received the output of the facility through a power purchase contract that terminates in 2015. After the contract expires, the facility will be available to help meet the needs of most of Oglethorpe Power's member cooperatives.

"We look forward to adding the Heard County plant to our power generation portfolio to serve the existing contract and for expanded use at the end of the contract period," said Elizabeth B. Higgins, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Oglethorpe Power Corporation.

Oglethorpe Power Corporation (OPC) is the nation's largest power supply cooperative with approximately $5 billion in assets serving 38 Electric Membership Corporations which, collectively, provide electricity to 4.1 million Georgia citizens. A proponent of conscientious energy development and use, Oglethorpe Power balances reliable and affordable energy with environmental responsibility and has an outstanding record of regulatory compliance. Its diverse energy portfolio includes natural gas, hydroelectric, coal and nuclear generating plants with a combined capacity of approximately 4,700 megawatts (MW), as well as purchased power. Oglethorpe Power was established in 1974 and is owned by its 38 Member Systems. It is headquartered in Tucker, Georgia.

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Public Agenda: Americans Give U.S. Low Grades on Key Energy Challenges

Public Gravely Dissatisfied With Status Quo on Oil Dependence, Costs, and Alternative Energy, But Lack of Knowledge Could Derail Debate

Americans give the nation poor grades on key energy challenges, such as reducing our dependence on foreign oil, keeping energy costs affordable and developing alternative energy, according to “The Energy Learning Curve™,” a new survey, by Public Agenda, the nonpartisan opinion research and citizen engagement organization and released in association with the innovative web-to-television project Planet Forward.

Additional findings from the groundbreaking national survey, which measures the public evolving views and knowledge about energy issues, will be released tonight on the Planet Forward television special, airing at 8 p.m. tonight on PBS (check local listings). This is the national premiere of Planet Forward, a "virtual town square" hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno.

Produced by the Public Affairs Project at The George Washington University, Planet Forward is an innovative web-to-television project where citizens, ranging from students to scientists, entrepreneurs to activists, make their case for what they think about the nation’s energy future. Several citizen contributors will present their ideas directly to Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change.

The Energy Learning Curve™ clearly shows, however, that whatever ideas the nation pursues in the future, most Americans are unhappy with our energy situation in the present. Nowhere is public dissatisfaction more evident than where it comes to reducing dependence on foreign oil. More than half the public, 54 percent, give the United States grades of "D" or "F" in this area, and only 14 percent would give the nation an "A" or "B" grade.

Failing grades are almost as high for keeping energy costs affordable (46 percent give "Ds" or "Fs") and developing alternative energy sources (43 percent give "Ds" or "Fs"). Grades are somewhat better on climate change, with only 36 percent giving failing grades on reducing global warming, and 31 percent "Ds" and "Fs" for cooperating with other countries on the issue.

One explanation for the somewhat better grades on climate change is that global warming is a lesser concern for the public compared with energy independence and the price of fuel. While overwhelming majorities worry about prices (89 percent), oil dependence (83 percent) and global warming (71 percent), the intensity of their concern is much different. Almost 6 in 10 (57 percent) worry "a lot" about price, while only 32 percent say they worry "a lot" about global warming.

"We're embarking on a new debate about energy in this country, and the public is entering it in a deeply dissatisfied frame of mind," said Scott Bittle, Public Agenda executive vice president and lead author of the report. "But they're unhappiest about the parts of the problem that hit them in the here and now. Global warming is still a more remote problem to the public than prices or oil dependence, and that's reflected in these grades."

When it comes to solutions, the Energy Learning Curve™ also finds widespread support on a range of proposals, including alternative energy, incentives for efficiency, and raising mileage standards for cars. At the same time there is also broad resistance to changes that might increase the cost of driving, and unrealistic assumptions about how quickly and easily alternatives can be achieved.

Of the barriers to progress, the most notable may be a serious knowledge deficit among the public. Half of all Americans can't identify a renewable energy source, nearly 4 in 10 cannot name a fossil fuel, two-thirds overestimate U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil, overestimate how much of the world’s oil reserves are in the U.S. and they're divided on whether drilling offshore and in Alaska would make us energy independent.

"This knowledge deficit may be the greatest challenge the nation faces on energy, greater than the economic or technical problems," Bittle said. "The public is unhappy and ready for change, but the lack of understanding could trip the nation up. A new energy policy can only work if the public buys into it. But politicians, experts and the media have to help people understand what's being sold to them. The last thing we need is an energy policy that leaves the public with buyer's remorse."

This report—the first in a series of The Energy Learning Curve ™ studies to measure the public evolving views and knowledge about energy issues—was based on interviews with a national random sample of 1,001 adults over the age of 18 conducted between January 15 and January 30 2009. Over 90 survey questions were asked, covering each facet of “the energy triple threat"—economic, oil dependence and environmental issues.”The margin of error for the overall sample is plus or minus four percentage points. Full results of the report are available at: www.publicagenda.org/energy and at www.planetforward.org/energy-index.

1. What grade would you give the United States overall when it comes to reducing its dependence on foreign oil?
A 5%
B 9%
C 25%
D 29%
F 25%
Don’t know 6%

2. And what grade would you give the United States when it comes to its efforts to reduce global warming?
A 10%
B 13%
C 32%
D 22%
F 14%
Don’t know 6%

3. And what grade would you give the U.S. government for keeping energy costs affordable?
A 7%
B 12%
C 31%
D 25%
F 21%
Don’t know 3%

4. And what grade would you give the U.S. government for developing alternative energy sources?
A 7%
B 14%
C 31%
D 28%
F 15%
Don’t know 5%

5. And what grade would you give the U.S. government for cooperating with other countries to reduce global warming?
A 10%
B 17%
C 29%
D 18%
F 13%
Don’t know 11%

________________

Public Agenda, www.publicagenda.org, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to nonpartisan public policy research. Founded in 1975 by former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Daniel Yankelovich, the social scientist and author, Public Agenda is well respected for its influential public opinion surveys and balanced citizen education materials. Its mission is to inject the public’s voice into crucial policy debates.

Planet Forward, www.planetforward.org, is an innovative, viewer-driven program that debuts on the web first and then moves to television, and then moves back to the web. Hosted by Emmy Award-winning CNN veteran Frank Sesno, Planet Forward is driven by the power of ideas, as citizens make their case for what they think about the nation's energy future. Planet Forward is a co-production of the Public Affairs Project at The George Washington University and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications in collaboration with Public Agenda and Sunburst Creative Productions.
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