Friday, January 29, 2010

Pelosi Statement on President's Announcement of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Target

/PRNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today on President Obama's announcement of a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for the federal government:

"The effort to build a future founded on sustainability, clean energy, and conservation begins in homes and offices nationwide. The federal government is no exception.

"Our 'Green the Capitol' initiative is a symbol of Congress' commitment to the future. We've reduced our reliance on fossil fuels with wind power and conservation, started printing the Congressional Record on 100 percent recycled paper, replaced traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives, and increased recycling across all Members' offices. So far, we have already reduced our carbon footprint by 74 percent. These steps save money for our nation's taxpayers, create good-paying jobs, and cut pollution caused by global warming.

"President Obama's announcement marks a critical step forward in our effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the federal government -- the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy. This measure will spur investment in clean energy jobs, place innovation at the center of our economic agenda, and decrease the emissions that harm our environment.

"With the President's renewed call to complete work on a clean energy bill this year, we look forward to putting people to work building up the industries of tomorrow, reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and preserving our natural resources for generations to come."

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Teetering Biodiesel Industry Awaits President Obama's Remarks on Job Creation in His State of the Union Address

/PRNewswire/ -- Tonight, President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver his first State of the Union Address. Though the President is widely expected to highlight a host of new initiatives to create new "green collar" jobs in the speech, the failure of Congress to extend the existing biodiesel tax incentive has placed 23,000 existing jobs that are supported by the domestic biodiesel industry at risk.

Manning Feraci, the National Biodiesel Board's Vice President of Federal Affairs noted, "If Congress and the Administration are serious about creating green jobs, the first immediate step they should take is to extend the biodiesel tax incentive as soon as possible. Expiration of the biodiesel tax incentive on December 31, 2009 has devastated the industry, severely curtailed domestic biodiesel production, and placed 23,000 good-paying jobs in immediate jeopardy. Biodiesel companies have already started shedding employees, and this will continue at an accelerated pace unless Congress and the President act swiftly to reinstate this effective tax incentive."

Biodiesel is a diesel replacement fuel made from agricultural oils, fats and waste greases that meets a specific commercial fuel definition and specification. The fuel significantly reduces harmful emissions including greenhouse gas emissions compared to petroleum diesel fuel. The biodiesel tax incentive is structured in a manner that makes the fuel price competitive with diesel fuel in the marketplace. Thus, absent the tax incentive, biodiesel is significantly more expensive that petroleum diesel fuel. On December 31, 2009, Congress adjourned and allowed the biodiesel tax incentive to expire.

"If Congress and the Administration truly want to protect and promote green job creation, they should act immediately to extend the biodiesel tax incentive," concluded Feraci.

The National Biodiesel Board is the national trade association of the biodiesel industry and is the coordinating body for biodiesel research and development in the U.S. NBB's membership is comprised of state, national, and international feedstock and feedstock processor organizations, biodiesel producers, fuel marketers and distributors, and technology providers.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Southern Company and Ted Turner Join Forces to Explore Renewable Energy Projects

/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company CEO David Ratcliffe and visionary business leader and environmentalist Ted Turner today announced a strategic alliance to pursue development of renewable energy projects in the United States.

"This alliance unites our common goal to explore and develop new renewable energy projects," said CEO David Ratcliffe. "We have said for some time that renewable energy should play an increasing role in this country's energy mix and that Southern Company would seek opportunities to expand our renewable portfolio where it makes sense. This is evidence of that commitment."

"I've always been passionate about developing renewable energy, and I'm excited to join forces with Southern Company to explore our renewable energy potential," said Ted Turner, owner of Turner Renewable Energy. "Southern Company's experience in power project development, construction and operations, and customer relations help make this a strong alliance, and I look forward to working together."

Initially, Southern Company and Turner will focus on developing and investing in large scale solar photovoltaic projects in the U.S. Southwest where solar resources are currently most efficient and in demand, with the goal of further commercializing the technology and making it more cost competitive.

Southern Company and Turner also may consider developing other renewable technologies.

Turner is the largest individual landowner in North America with more than two million acres. The alliance will explore renewable projects both on Turner land as well as other suitable sites.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Atlanta Gas Light STRIDES Forward with Pilot Program Designed to Encourage Economic Growth

/PRNewswire/ -- Atlanta Gas Light received approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) today on a new program designed to encourage economic growth and spur the addition of new customers under the Georgia Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement Program or (STRIDE). The new program will not increase monthly rates to consumers, but instead will be collected through the existing STRIDE surcharge for an additional three years.

The program, known as the Integrated Customer Growth Program or i-CGP, will allow Atlanta Gas Light to invest up to $45 million to extend its pipeline facilities to serve customers without pipeline access. The new program will also allow Atlanta Gas Light to install pipelines to create new economic development corridors in order to help spur growth.

The new line extension program under i-CGP is available for both residential and commercial customers. Currently many customers that want natural gas service and who are not located near an existing pipeline are required to make a cash payment to have service established. This has been a significant disincentive, particularly under the current economic conditions. The i-CGP program will reduce or eliminate this requirement for many potential customers.

The new strategic corridor development program will allow Atlanta Gas Light to make major investments to extend its gas distribution facilities to areas where growth is forecasted, or to locations where existing development does not have access to natural gas. This will be a new resource that will allow Atlanta Gas Light to work with state and local economic development officials to attract new business, with the potential of bringing jobs to Georgia.

"The Georgia Public Service Commission has given Atlanta Gas Light a new regulatory framework to restore growth on our system and help keep the pressure to increase rates down," said Suzanne Sitherwood, president, Atlanta Gas Light. "It also allows us to be a partner to spur economic development in more communities throughout the state where natural gas service is not presently available."

To avoid an increase in monthly rates due to the program, i-CGP will extend the duration of the STRIDE program by three years.

Atlanta Gas Light received approval from the PSC for its STRIDE program in October. STRIDE will install new pipeline and liquefied natural gas facilities throughout metro Atlanta to improve system reliability and operational performance on peak demand days. The first three year construction program of $175.7 million is underway and should be completed by 2012.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Higher Gas Bills Prompt Georgia Consumers to Review Rates at Allconnect

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Following this week’s announcement by the Georgia Public Service Commission warning of higher natural gas bills, consumers are accessing Allconnect.com to evaluate rate plans and ensure they pay the lowest price possible.

“The Commission noted that the cold weather is expected to continue”

The Commission noted that December 2009 was 30% colder than the previous year resulting in consumers using more gas and receiving higher bills. Consequently, Georgia consumers are visiting Allconnect.com for an easy way to review natural gas providers and plans, including the option to compare variable versus fixed rate plans.

By entering their home address at Allconnect.com, consumers find a one-stop resource to find the lowest price and most convenient plan for their household. This free, online service not only shows current rates, but also highlights any special promotions, such as gift cards or bill credits for new customers. One-time fees, contract terms, and other specifics are clearly spelled out, and there is a best-price guarantee.

Allconnect.com is a free online resource to review and compare costs and choices for natural gas, and other essential home services including high speed Internet, phone, cable TV, satellite TV, home security systems, and electricity. Consumers also have the option to call 1-800-ALLCONNECT to reach a Home Services Consultant who will review the different rates and plans specific to the caller’s address.

“The Commission noted that the cold weather is expected to continue,” says Mark Miller, Allconnect CEO. “Even in Georgia, winter is not going to be over anytime soon. By reviewing their natural gas plans and rates at Allconnect, consumers could find savings immediately.”

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

HHS Provides an Additional $1.2 Billion to States to Help Low-Income Households with Energy Costs

Georgia receives $21,120,355 to assist low income Georgians with expected high heating bills due to recent cold snap.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the release of $1.2 billion to states to help low income citizens in the coming weeks with their heating bills. These funds represent grants to states, tribes and territories under the
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

"The release of these funds will assist millions of Americans who may not be in the position to afford heating costs during these cold winter months," Secretary Sebelius said. "More low-income families will now have the chance to use their income for other necessities."

LIHEAP helps eligible families pay the costs of heating and insulating their homes in the winter and cooling their homes in the summer. HHS is releasing such a large allocation of LIHEAP funds now in order to ensure that states have resources available to support their energy assistance programs as the weather turns colder and the nation faces high unemployment rates.

"LIHEAP helps more than six million low-income households deal with energy costs," said Carmen R. Nazario, assistant secretary for children and families. "We will continue to work with states, tribes and territories to assure their heating assistance programs work effectively."

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Southern Company Sets Winter Peak Demand Record Again; Third Record in Seven Days Tops Summer Peak Demand

/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company today (January 11) announced it has set its third record for winter peak demand in the past seven days. Between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. EST, preliminary peak demand for electricity averaged approximately 37,224 megawatts, exceeding by 1,363 megawatts Southern Company's January 6 winter time peak of 35,861 megawatts. Today's peak also exceeds Southern Company's 2009 summer peak demand, which was 36,505 megawatts.

"While last summer was cooler than normal, it is still very unusual in our part of the country for a winter peak to be higher than a summer peak," said Greg Darnell, Southern Company Generation Fleet Operations manager.

According to Darnell, the primary contributor to the record loads of the past week was "sustained cold temperatures." Monday morning's "system temperature" - the average temperature weighted across five cities in Southern Company's service territory - was 18 degrees Fahrenheit, with especially cold readings in the coastal region of the service territory. The "system temperature" had been 19 degrees last Wednesday, Jan 6, and 18 degrees Tuesday, Jan. 5.

Last Wednesday's peak exceeded the record of 35,580 megawatts set last Tuesday, between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. EST, by 281 megawatts. The Tuesday peak had surpassed by 139 megawatts Southern Company's previous winter record of 35,441 megawatts set Feb. 5, 2009.

System peak demand is an indicator of how hard Southern Company's generating plants are working and what is required to ensure the reliable supply of electricity needed by customers. The peak demand number reported by fleet operations represents the average peak demand for electricity generated during a one-hour period and reflects the retail and wholesale obligations of Southern Company.

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AGL Resources Sets New Company Record for Peak-Day Gas Delivery

/PRNewswire/ -- AGL Resources (NYSE:AGL) today (January 11) announced that its six distribution companies have helped customers weather the cold temperatures dominating the East Coast by breaking the company record for peak-day natural gas delivery twice during the past week.

On Jan. 8, the company delivered 3,078,064 dekatherms of natural gas to customers within AGL Resources' footprint, which stretches from New Jersey to Florida. The company operates Atlanta Gas Light in Georgia, Chattanooga Gas in Tennessee, Elizabethtown Gas in New Jersey, Elkton Gas in Maryland, Florida City Gas in Florida and Virginia Natural Gas in Virginia.

The new record enabled AGL Resources to surpass the 3 million dekatherm mark for the first time in the company's 154-year history. The company's previous peak-day delivery record was set just five days earlier. On Jan. 3, AGL Resources provided customers with 2,926,099 dekatherms of natural gas.

"This has been an exceptional cold snap for the eastern United States, and I am proud that our local distribution companies have responded by ensuring that our customers have had the natural gas they needed to stay warm and safe," said Hank Linginfelter, executive vice president of Utility Operations.

"The ability of natural gas to meet the needs of millions of customers during this demanding period is even more impressive when you consider that it is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel and that we have more than 100 years of proven reserves in North America," Linginfelter said. "When you add it all up, natural gas is unsurpassed when it comes to a safe and reliable energy source that is environmentally friendly and domestically abundant."

During the first eight days of 2010, AGL Resources' Gas Control organization managed the safe and efficient delivery of more than 21.5 million dekatherms of natural gas to customers in six states.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

GE Smart Home-Energy Panel Tells Consumers What’s Happening with Their Power Profile

(BUSINESS WIRE)--GE (NYSE: GE) is introducing an in-home, multi-function energy information panel that will give consumers insight and control to help them manage energy usage and understand costs. The sleek, touch-screen panel will wirelessly connect to a household’s smart meter, appliances and thermostats, via ZigBee® or Wi-Fi®, to gather information, manage usage and deliver the real-time knowledge that empowers smarter energy choices.

“As part of our smart grid suite of offerings, the panels will empower consumers to better manage their energy usage based on real-time information. The panels will connect consumers with the knowledge they need to be better energy stewards and take charge of their energy use and carbon footprint.”

The panels are the result of a development effort between GE and OpenPeak, Inc., a leading communications technology developer. The device looks like a tabletop picture frame and can be placed virtually anywhere within a home. The panels are available to consumers through their utilities today. Functionality is dependent on the utility’s selection of applications.

With information from GE smart meters combined with dynamic pricing programs* from utilities , the panel will tell consumers the best times to perform high-energy-consumption tasks, such as drying clothes, running pool pumps and washing dishes. The panels even will be able to be programmed to control smart appliances, thermostats and heating and cooling devices—reacting to pricing and demand changes instantly. Over time, the device will act as an energy consultant, trending data and making recommendations to better manage energy use.

"Information is power. Give consumers more information about their energy usage and they’ll find ways to make better decisions,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president—transmission and distribution for GE Energy. “As part of our smart grid suite of offerings, the panels will empower consumers to better manage their energy usage based on real-time information. The panels will connect consumers with the knowledge they need to be better energy stewards and take charge of their energy use and carbon footprint.”

In addition to energy management, GE’s smart panels also will connect with Internet news, sports, music, weather services, social networks like facebook® and instant messaging. This multi-functionality helps make the panels a focal point for household information.

“Combining other useful information and entertainment applications with energy management information increases the frequency of consumer interactions with the device,” said Dan Gittleman, CEO of OpenPeak. “And frequent consumer engagement means a greater number of opportunities to communicate important energy consumption and conservation information.”

Consumers who opt in to the social networking aspect of the panel will be able to compare their consumption to neighborhood and city averages, seeing how they stack up against like households. Those comparisons may inspire increased conservation and modified behavior for some homes.

Through industry collaborations, GE will deliver one of the broadest portfolio offerings of carbon-smart technologies in the industry to modernize electrical systems from the power plant to the consumer. From smarter appliances and technologies for plug-in hybrid vehicles, to providing renewable technologies and smart meters, GE’s innovation and leadership is delivering integrated, large-scale smart grid deployments, leveraging technology synergies and delivering results. www.itsyoursmartgrid.com.

*Dynamic pricing and time of use (TOU) programs provide for variable pricing of energy based on the time of day. Dynamic pricing and TOU programs are provided by the utility and may or may not be available in your area. Availability of dynamic pricing programs in a particular market is dependent upon the utility serving that market.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Georgia Power to Delay Plant Mitchell Conversion to Biomass

/PRNewswire/ -- With the uncertainty of how future U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations might affect industrial boiler emissions, Georgia Power has decided to delay the conversion of coal-fueled Plant Mitchell in Albany, Ga., to biomass until the EPA rules are better defined in April 2010.

The anticipated industrial boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule, or "IB MACT," would regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants, such as certain acid gases, organics, metals, and possibly other pollutants, from industrial boilers and would likely affect biomass boilers like the one planned for Plant Mitchell.

"Georgia Power is committed to furthering the development of renewable energy in Georgia," said Jeff Burleson, Georgia Power's director of Resource Policy and Planning. "We're disappointed to have to delay this large biomass project and the benefits it can deliver. However, by delaying capital spending on the project we're significantly reducing the cost risk to customers."

Georgia Power had originally planned to begin retrofit construction at Plant Mitchell in April 2011 with the unit becoming operational in June 2012. A new project schedule has yet to be determined.

Once the new EPA rules are better defined, Georgia Power will evaluate the potential impact they might have on the conversion project at Plant Mitchell. The company plans to study other boiler technologies in the event the rules significantly impact the cost of the biomass boiler conversion currently planned for the plant.

Upon conversion, Plant Mitchell will have lower emissions and will be one of the largest wood biomass plants in the United States. It will also have lower fuel and operating costs when compared to continued operation using coal, thereby making the plant more cost-effective for customers.

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