Wednesday, April 27, 2011

As Gas Prices Rise, Traffic Accidents Decrease

Editor Note:  What an interesting consequence.......

Newswise — As gasoline prices reach $4 a gallon throughout the nation, pain at the pump seems to have at least one silver lining for drivers.

A study by Mississippi State's Social Science Research Center indicates that rising gas prices create an accompanying decline in all traffic accidents, including drunk-driving crashes.

Researcher Guangqing Chi, an assistant professor of sociology at the university, recently published his findings in the Journal of Safety Research and Accident Analysis and Prevention.

An SSRC demographer, Chi examined a range of factors related to driving-related accidents in the state, including age, gender and race. The study analyzed total traffic crashes between April 2004 and December 2008, comparing gas prices to traffic safety statistics.

"The results suggest that prices have both short-term and intermediate-term effects on reducing traffic crashes," he reports in the journal article.

Among other points, the research also shows gas prices having a short-term impact on crashes involving younger drivers and intermediate-term impact related to older drivers and men.

Chi said short-term impact refers to immediate effects, for example how a current month's average gasoline prices affect the same month's traffic crashes. Intermediate-term impact refers to effects over a one-year subsequent time period.

While previous research linked traffic-related fatalities to gas price fluctuations, limited research has shown the effects of prices on all traffic accidents. No research previously examined the link between drunk-driving crashes and gas prices, Chi observed.

His research also found significant connections between gas prices and a reduced frequency of alcohol-related crashes.

Other researchers contributing to the study include SSRC director Arthur Cosby; David Levinson, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota; and Mohammed Quddus, a senior lecturer in transportation studies at the University of Loughborough, United Kingdom.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Georgia Power to Develop Water Research Center

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power President and CEO Paul Bowers today announced the company will host an innovative research facility to develop and test water conservation technologies at Georgia Power's Plant Bowen, near Cartersville, Ga.

The Water Research Center (WRC) will provide a venue for developing and testing technologies to improve water efficiency by addressing withdrawal, consumption and recycling throughout the power generation process.

Georgia Power is collaborating with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to add broader industry perspective and guidance to the project. Expected to be fully operational by August 2012, the WRC will include seven separate research focus areas: moisture recovery, cooling tower and advanced cooling systems, zero liquid discharge options, low volume wastewater treatment, solid waste landfill water management, carbon technology water issues, and water modeling, monitoring and best management practices.

"We are pleased to work with EPRI and technology suppliers in this first-of-a-kind project," said Bowers. "Water research and conservation is vital for the continued prosperity of our state, and we will contribute to that effort."

Dr. Michael Howard, president and CEO of EPRI, said: "We are excited about the water treatment and conservation research projects envisioned for the WRC. The center can be the catalyst to advance new technology options that address the industry's current and future water challenges."

The center is an extension of a pilot project that began in May 2010 at Plant Bowen to identify opportunities to address water withdrawal, consumption and recycling. As a result of the pilot project, technology has been implemented to reduce water withdrawals for the plant's scrubber process, an environmental control that reduces sulfur dioxide emissions.

Results from research conducted at the WRC will be shared with Georgia Power and other EPRI members. Appropriate technologies can be implemented by utilities worldwide to address water issues.

The center, which will be operated by the Southern Research Institute, may also serve to educate students and community leaders about the importance of water conservation.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.

The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the environment. EPRI also provides technology, policy and economic analyses to drive long-range research and development planning, and supports research in emerging technologies. EPRI's members represent more than 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to 40 countries. EPRI's principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.


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Friday, April 15, 2011

Southern Company CEO Tells Congress That Proposed Standard Will Impact Economy and Electric Reliability and Affordability

/PRNewswire/ -- Thomas A Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company, today told members of Congress that proposed regulations aimed at emissions from power plants could reduce reliability, raise electricity prices, slow economic development and eliminate American jobs.

"My message today is that the reliability and affordability that Americans deserve could be at risk," Fanning said in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power in Washington.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulation on further reducing air emissions from coal-fired power plants. The new regulation, known as Utility MACT (maximum achievable control technology), covers 125 different types of emissions. The EPA has allowed 60 days for comment.

"This is nearly a thousand-page rule with nearly a thousand more pages of technical supporting documents," Fanning said. "Sixty days is plainly inadequate for the industry to analyze this rule and its effects and offer meaningful comments."

Of greater concern, said Fanning, is the three years mandated for compliance.

"In just three years, utilities would have to develop compliance strategies for each plant, engineer solutions on a unit-by-unit basis, obtain required environmental permits, gain state public utility commission regulatory approval, actually procure and install the required technology, test the technology and implement any operational changes, and then demonstrate full compliance," Fanning said.

A study conducted for the Edison Electric Institute by ICF, Fanning testified, concluded that for the U.S. by 2015 over 80,000 megawatts of scrubbers and over 160,000 megawatts of fabric filter baghouses would have to be constructed and almost 80,000 megawatts of current coal capacity would have to be replaced.

"As the CEO of a company that has installed more pollution controls than any other utility," Fanning said, "I tell you that this cannot be done in three years."

Fanning also stressed that the Utility MACT proposal could cost the industry as much as $300 billion over the next five years.


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Friday, April 8, 2011

Oglethorpe Power Completes Purchase of Combined Cycle Units

/PRNewswire/ -- Oglethorpe Power Corporation today completed the purchase of two natural gas-fired, combined cycle generating units in Murray County, Ga. with the acquisition of KGen Murray I and II, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of KGen Power Corporation. The purchase price was approximately $529 million, including working capital and other closing adjustments.

The two Murray units represent an aggregate summer planning reserve generating capacity of about 1,220 megawatts (MW). This brings Oglethorpe Power's total owned generating capacity to approximately 7,048 MW.

The Murray acquisition also includes an existing power purchase and sale agreement with Georgia Power Company for the entire output of Murray I through May 31, 2012. Initially, both units are planned to be operated independently of the other generating facilities owned and operated by Oglethorpe Power but will be integrated into the system as needed.

Oglethorpe Power first disclosed that it was negotiating to purchase some then-unnamed natural gas facilities in October 2010 and followed in January 2011 with an announcement that it had signed a purchase and sale agreement for the Murray units, subject to applicable regulatory approvals and approval by KGen stockholders.

"We couldn't be more pleased with today's acquisition," said Elizabeth B. Higgins, executive vice president and chief financial officer. "This purchase gives Oglethorpe Power and our Member Systems a significant block of generating capacity at a very reasonable cost without the added time and additional expense of constructing a new facility."

In purchasing the Murray units, Oglethorpe Power has now officially canceled construction of a planned 605-megawatt, combined cycle generating plant that was in the siting stage.

Ms. Higgins said Oglethorpe Power expects long-term financing for the Murray units to come primarily from loans guaranteed by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Taxable bonds would make up the difference for any amount not funded through the RUS loan program.

Oglethorpe Power Corporation (OPC) is the nation's largest power supply cooperative with more than $7 billion in assets serving 39 Electric Membership Corporations which, collectively, provide electricity to 4.1 million Georgians.

A proponent of conscientious energy development and use, OPC 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 7,048 MW, as well as purchased power.

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