Thursday, July 23, 2009

Coweta-Fayette EMC Natural Gas Launches a New Website

Company takes its transparency and exceptional customer service online

Coweta-Fayette EMC (CFEMC) Natural Gas, known for its simple pricing structures and easy to understand bills, has launched a new website at www.cfemcnaturalgas.com that makes it easier for all Georgians on the Atlanta Gas Light distribution pipeline to get competitively priced natural gas service.

Customers can see how much they can save each year on the most commonly used natural gas powered appliances, which include the water heater, oven range, furnace, and gas grill compared to other natural gas marketers. Making this information readily available helps customers make informed decisions about their natural gas marketer selection.

“CFEMC Natural Gas has provided competitive, easy to understand pricing with exceptional customer service since natural gas was first deregulated in Georgia,” said Dan Hart, President and CEO of Coweta-Fayette EMC Natural Gas. “It was a natural decision to take that same approach to our new website, and the initial response has been fantastic. People really appreciate the opportunity to quickly and easily see the cost difference between natural gas marketers, regardless of where they live in Georgia.”

CFEMC Natural Gas consistently offers some of the most competitive prices among all natural gas marketers on the Atlanta Gas Light pipeline. Rates and sign-up information are prominently displayed on every page of the website in an intuitive, user-friendly design. Energy saving tips, safety information and the Kids Korner section for children also are easily found from anywhere on the site.

The company’s spirit of transparency and full disclosure is experienced through quick links to the Georgia Public Service Commission’s (PSC’s) list of current gas prices from certified natural gas marketers, the PSC’s Gas Marketers’ Scorecard, and the section of the Atlanta Gas Light website that details how monthly base charges are calculated.

Consumers statewide were given the ability to select the natural gas marketer of their choice when the State of Georgia deregulated natural gas service in 1998. As a result, any Georgia resident or business that receives natural gas from the Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) pipeline can select their natural gas marketer. CFEMC Natural Gas was founded to fill that need for Coweta-Fayette EMC customers as well as residents and businesses throughout the state that are not in the EMC’s service territory.

Coweta-Fayette EMC Natural Gas is a natural gas marketer registered with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) that offers customers easy to understand bills, simple pricing structures, and local customer service. Coweta-Fayette EMC Natural Gas customers can choose monthly variable-rate pricing without a contract or fixed pricing that allows them to lock in their natural gas price for the winter heating season.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

U.S. energy legislation forward thinking, limiting

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 charges the U.S. to add 36 billion gallons of biofuels to the country’s transportation fuel mix by 2022. Continued investment in research, development and deployment are required to achieve this goal.

Recent scientific studies warn that increasing land use for producing biomass for biofuels would increase greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions compared to gasoline. Some may disagree with these studies. However, they do show the weakness in expanding a crop-based fuel system without planning for sustainability.

If we continue to try to produce more biomass from the current spectrum of crop choices, GHG emission restrictions could put small biofuel producers and family farms at a disadvantage. Reduced emissions require crops that are easier to grow; require less money to plant, harvest and water; and are easier to process.

Needed production improvements

Corn ethanol production in the U.S. consumes a quarter of the country’s corn crop. Increasing ethanol production to the targeted 15 billion gallons a year by 2022 will double the corn required. That increase will impact land and water needs and create environmental concerns.
We need to improve the productivity of corn and other biofuels crops and incorporate improvements into the production process.

Producing lignocellulosic ethanol or other advanced biofuels, or green diesel, is a challenge. Technology development in this field has advanced, but most U.S. facilities are still in the early-demonstration phase.

Using existing forestry and agriculture residues for biofuels would have minimal environmental impact while creating opportunity for small businesses and farms.

Forestry and agriculture generate significant biomass. According to the Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, forestlands can produce 368 million dry tons of biomass annually. Current legislative definitions make renewable forest biomass off-limits to biofuels companies. Definitions must be changed, while maintaining the resources' sustainability.

Data from the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources suggests collecting residues and producing chips for biofuel production costs $11 to $12 per ton delivered to mills.

Food v. fuel

It’s crucial that we have a diverse source of biomass that doesn’t compete with food supplies. Diversity allows different geographical regions to focus on crops best suited to local conditions. Current federal funding often favors specific feedstocks, hampering development and transfer technology for novel crops.

Many novel crops are being explored. For example, a recent UGA study looked at using a multi-benefit winter cover crop, oil seed radish, for its biofuels potential. UGA scientists led a global team in sequencing the sorghum genome and are now working toward understanding how we can use the information to produce biofuels at lower costs in poor soils.

Targets eliminate possibilities

Targeted GHG reductions can unintentionally eliminate some promising technologies that are lagging behind because of late starts, such as algae-based biofuels.

Anaerobic digestion, a well-developed technology, is not considered because the energy output (methane gas) isn’t a liquid transportation fuel at room temperature. A similar process called landfill bioreactor produces methane biogas which can be converted to compressed natural gas. Its GHG emissions are 17 percent less than its fossil-based equivalent.

Anaerobic digestion can create jobs and produce net income to farms and small biofuels producers. UGA researchers are developing a system that combines anaerobic digestion with algae production.

Current regulatory policies don’t readily support developing such integrated solutions in early development. More pilot-scale testing could help move them to the marketplace faster. Federal agencies seem focused on large-scale demonstrations before pilot-scale research is completed.

Welcomed policy change

Carbon sequestration is a welcomed change in national policy. Current regulatory emphasis favors carbon capture and storage through geological storage of compressed CO2. Although potentially a reliable technique, this approach favors larger-scale sequestration.

One example of a smaller-scale method is using biochar, a byproduct of pyrolysis, a high-temperature breakdown of cellulosic materials that produces a liquid hydrocarbon, which could be converted to green diesel or other liquid fuels.

Biochar has high carbon content and stays in the soil for decades, increasing agricultural productivity and sequestering carbon for a long time. However, the regulatory framework doesn’t favor developing this technology.

There is great promise for biofuels to augment our energy supply. New ideas, technologies and discoveries are emerging from universities and research centers daily. Development and use of these discoveries could be faster if regulatory framework would support deeper exploration into novel crops that don’t pit fuel against food.

Encourage innovation

We need policies to encourage processes and technologies that create jobs and income for farms and small businesses. We need support that allows us to investigate diverse feedstocks and low-cost, efficient production methods that protect and enhance the environment.

If we are to reach 36 billion gallons of biofuels in our transportation fuel mix by 2022 while reducing GHG emissions, all avenues of exploration must be open and barriers to development removed.

By K.C. Das
University of Georgia

K.C. Das is director of the Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Engineering. This editorial was presented as testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business’ subcommittee on regulations and healthcare.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

What They Are Saying About Electricity Costs

/PRNewswire/ -- Since the House's recent passage of the American Energy and Security Act of 2009, which now heads to the Senate for consideration; many have voiced concerns about the potential financial impacts of the measure on consumers. The following is a sample of what some are saying:

U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). The Wheeling (VA) News-Register (7/9, King): "Those of us who understand coal's great potential in our quest for energy independence must continue to work diligently in shaping a climate bill that will ensure access to affordable energy for West Virginians."

Rapid City Journal Editorial. The Rapid City (SD) Journal (7/14): "While the end goal of the bill might have merit, it's a rushed piece of legislation that could have a serious impact on the people of South Dakota mainly in the form of higher utility bills."

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The Des Moines Register (7/14): "The fact is the House bill, I think, does disproportionately hurt some of our Midwestern states, and we're going to have to get that rectified in the Senate."

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). Twitter (6/27): "I hope we can fix cap and trade so it doesn't unfairly punish businesses and families in coal dependent states like Missouri."

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). National Ledger (7/14): "Rather than directly raising taxes on Americans, cap-and-trade raises the cost of living for everyone by raising energy costs and consumer prices for virtually everything. The effect is the same as if they had had their taxes raised."

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). AP (7/14): "Coal-burning utilities ought to be allowed more allowances to cushion the impact on customers."

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Politicians to Drive on Straw-Based Bioethanol at the Climate Change Conference

/PRNewswire/ -- When world political leaders are being transported all over Copenhagen during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2009, environmentally friendly fuel will power their vehicles. Members of the Partnership for Biofuels, a co-operation between Danisco's biotech division Genencor, Inbicon, Novozymes and Statoil, have joined forces to deliver 2nd generation bioethanol for 40 of the cars that the Danish Foreign Ministry will provide during the conference. The cars will be supplied by Volvo.

"As host nation, Denmark is working to create a green and climate friendly Conference in December," says Svend Olling, Head of Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "We also plan to showcase to the conference delegates some of the new technologies that could contribute to solving the climate challenge. Second-generation bioethanol -- ethanol made from agricultural waste -- is one example of such a new technology. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is therefore happy that, in co-operation with the Partnership for Biofuels, it has succeeded in reserving some of the first litres of 2nd generation bioethanol produced in Denmark for the transportation of important guests within Copenhagen during the Conference."

Inbicon, the DONG Energy subsidiary that is commercializing its technology for converting straw into bioethanol, will produce the new fuel at its pilot plant in Denmark. With this technology, a car's emission of CO2 is reduced by 85% compared to that from conventional petrol. The fuel blend used at the Climate Change Conference will be E85, which is composed of 85% bioethanol and 15% petrol.

The Partnership's capabilities to produce 2nd generation bioethanol represents considerable potential in the climate debate, as conventional fuel such as petrol can be replaced. Second-generation bioethanol can be produced from residual products from forestry, agriculture and other industries.

Novozymes and Danisco will supply the enzymes for ethanol production and Statoil will provide the distribution facilities.

The development of the 2nd generation bioethanol technology represents an important business potential through the export of technological solutions and knowledge within the development and use of enzymes.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

American Clean Skies Foundation Issues Statement On Today's Introduction of the Natural Gas Act of 2009 in the Senate

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Clean Skies Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. whose mission is clean energy and environmental education, issued the statement below in conjunction with the introduction of the historic NAT GAS Act of 2009 in the Senate by U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). A companion House bill was introduced in April 2009 by Congressmen John Larson (D-Conn.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.) and John Sullivan (R-Okla.).

This bi-partisan bill provides incentives that will lead to the greater use of domestically produced natural gas as a transportation fuel. It will replace higher-cost and higher emitting gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles with newer, cleaner, and lower cost natural-gas powered vehicles. This bill, which would increase the manufacturing of natural gas vehicles, will also create American jobs, strengthening the U.S. automotive industry and the overall economy.

Included in the bill are key elements that would: extend the tax credit for natural gas used as a transportation fuel; expand a tax credit for 80 percent of the additional incremental cost when purchasing any dedicated natural gas vehicle and increase the refueling property tax credit from $50,000 to $100,000 per station; create incentives for manufacturers to sell natural gas vehicles in the United States; and require that a percentage of the vehicles the federal government buys over the next five years run on natural gas.

"We applaud U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Orrin Hatch for introducing the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act (NAT GAS Act) today. We appreciate their leadership, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for recognizing the critically important role American-produced, clean-burning natural gas can play in helping reduce carbon emissions. This bill addresses our country's economic and security priorities in a way that benefits all Americans.

The introduction of the NAT GAS Act today in the Senate represents one more major step toward putting one of our most valued natural resources in our country to greater use. The Act proposes that vehicles, especially heavy, medium, and light-duty trucks and buses, run on natural gas.

Natural gas is clean, American and affordable and multiple recent ground-breaking studies have confirmed we have abundant reserves in the United States to power our economy for decades to come. This legislation lays the groundwork to begin reducing our troublesome dependence on foreign oil and puts America on track towards a more promising energy future. No energy source can do more for America's environment and economy in the immediate future than natural gas."

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New UPS Sustainability Report Sets Carbon Reduction Goal

(BUSINESS WIRE)--In a significant move that once again demonstrates its environmental leadership, UPS (NYSE:UPS) has adopted a plan to cut the carbon emissions of its airline by an additional 20 percent by 2020, for a cumulative reduction of 42 percent since 1990.

The goal is laid out in the latest edition of UPS’s Sustainability Report, released today at the website http://www.responsibility.ups.com/sustainability. The report shows the UPS Airlines already is a leader in fuel efficiency in the package delivery sector with an efficiency factor of 1.42 CO2 pounds per Available Ton Mile.

The report further discloses UPS’s total global carbon inventory including Scope 1 (direct) emissions as well as Scope 2 and 3 (indirect) emissions, a level of reporting unusual for its industry.

“We believe this is important not just for UPS but also for our customers and society,” UPS Chairman and CEO Scott Davis writes in the Sustainability Report. “The fact is that customers rely on the transportation and logistics industry as part of their supply chains. They need accurate information from the industry in order to calculate their own CO2 inventories and report them to the public. For that reason, we advocate full disclosure (Scopes 1, 2 and 3) for the entire transportation and logistics industry.”

The aircraft goal is the first of a series of carbon reduction goals that the company plans to set in the coming years, according to Bob Stoffel, UPS senior vice president and the executive responsible for UPS’s sustainability program.

“We set our first goal for aircraft emissions because our jet planes are the source of 53% of UPS’s carbon output,” Stoffel added.

UPS intends to achieve its 2020 airline goals by investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft types and engines; fuel-saving operational initiatives, and the introduction of biofuels.

The report extensively outlines UPS’s approach to reducing its environmental impact and explains how the company intends to make improvements going forward. The report also discusses in detail how the company uses an integrated and flexible transportation network to reduce its carbon intensity and save fuel.

“This is the most comprehensive, data-rich and global report we have ever produced since UPS released the industry’s first report in 2002,” Stoffel said. “It is a showcase of our renewed commitment to transparency and sustainable business practices.”

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