Energy in the News: Friday, February 9

Friday, February 09, 2018

There were several stories this week about Daniel Raimi’s new book, The Fracking Debate:

Fracking comes with risks, but it can benefit the economy — and the environment

The Hill, feat Daniel Raimi, Read more

Q&A: On balance, shale revolution has been a benefit, author says

Houston Chronicle, feat. Daniel Raimi, Read more

Fracks and Frictions

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Energy 360 podcast, feat. Daniel Raimi, Listen


The truth about ‘raw’ water

The Washington Post, feat. Greg Keoleian

For once, I’m ahead of the curve! I’ve been drinking raw water all my life.

I know what you’re thinking. “Aha! She drinks raw water! That’s why she’s such a remarkable thinker, with such penetrating insight on so many issues!”

Okay, maybe not.

My raw water consumption was an accident. In the Cape Cod town where I spent my childhood summer vacations, the tap water tasted terrible, but there was a bubbler right outside the town hall, gushing a constant stream straight from an underground spring. Like other locals, my family had a motley assortment of jugs that we regularly filled from it, and I still occasionally use it.

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Disturbing losses of protective ozone near Earth’s equator may be tied to short-lived chemicals

Science, feat. Richard Rood

Thirty years after nations banded together to phase out chemicals that destroy stratospheric ozone, the gaping hole in the earth’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation shield above Antarctica is shrinking. But new findings suggest that at mid-latitudes, where most people live, the ozone layer in the lower stratosphere is growing more tenuous--for reasons that scientists are struggling to fathom.

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Toyota failed to fix defect that can cause Prius to overheat and lose power, dealer claims in lawsuit

Los Angeles Times, feat. Heath Hofmann

After Toyota issued a 2016 recall to fix a key electronic component on its Priuses, one of California's largest dealers said the cars were still coming in after overheating and leaving drivers stranded in traffic.

Toyota said the problem on model years 2010-14 had been taken care of with a software change.

But having seen more than 100 post-recall failures, Roger Hogan — whose family owns Claremont Toyota and Capistrano Toyota — warned customers about the issue and refused to resell used Priuses he'd gotten as trade-ins. Today, he has 70 of the cars, worth $1 million, parked at his dealerships.

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U-M's Mcity announces second-phase funding Affiliate members

WDIV-TV, feat. Huei Peng

University of Michigan's automated vehicle testing facility, Mcity, has some big news.

Over the next three years, 42 companies will invest $150,000 each in the public-private research and development initiative.

The Affiliate members come from various industry sectors, from car manufacturers to insurance providers and suppliers.

This reflects -- and confirms -- Mcity's role as a leader in connecting companies to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technology and the headway it's made in the fields of traffic safety, energy conservation and accessibility.

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Why a big utility is embracing wind and solar

The New York Times

Imagine planning your next trip and finding that Delta was selling first-class seats for less than the cramped middle seats in the back of the plane.

So you fly first class to New York and walk into the best French restaurant, only to discover that every dish is cheaper than the burger and fries down the street. Waiter, bring the duck à l’orange!

Fanciful as that might sound, something a bit like it is happening right now in the world of electricity.

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New "smart neighborhood" planned for Highland Park

Michigan Radio

Thompson Elementary School in Highland Park has been vacant for 20 years. It's a scrapped-out shell of a building, reflecting the economic troubles of the city overall.

But now, there's a plan for it. The proposed Parker Village project will convert the school into a community center surrounded by energy efficient, net-zero homes that its developer, Juan Shannon, is calling a "smart neighborhood."

The plan is for the community to incorporate renewable energy sources and technologies like motion-sensing street lights, electric vehicle charging stations, and aquaponic gardens.

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Ohio State University joins new University Climate Change Coalition

Cleveland News

The Ohio State University has joined the newly launched University Climate Change Coalition, an alliance of 13 leading research universities that will create a collaborative model to help local communities achieve climate goals.

The initial group of universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico has committed to mobilize resources and expertise to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states, Ohio State said in a news release.

All members have pledged to reduce their institutions' carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral.

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DTE told to explain power shutoffs

The Detroit News

A Michigan regulatory agency wants DTE Energy to explain why it cut off power to several thousand customers last year after implementing a new billing system.

The Michigan Public Service Commission scheduled a March 2 hearing on the matter at its offices in Lansing.

After DTE changed its billing system in April, gas and electric customers began complaining to the commission that their power was improperly turned off and they never received a warning, as required by state law.

After being contacted by the commission last year, DTE submitted a report last month that described the extent of the problem. But, one week after Jan. 22 report, DTE discovered additional customers who had been affected, it wrote in a follow-up letter.

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Grid complexity is increasing exponentially. Is blockchain the answer?

Utility Dive

Visions for the utility grid of tomorrow often include armies of smaller resources connected and helping balance supply and demand. For example, grid services that might be supplied by an electric vehicle.

As EV adoption picks up speed and utilities learn to incorporate them as grid management resources, the sheer volume of data moving around will grow exponentially. A home charging station might participate in demand response programs, provide services to the grid, and purchase energy from a nearby solar generator. Each of those tiny transactions has a cost, and it takes time to settle the ledger.

Regardless of the size of the grid — whether a microgrid with a few hundred users or a regional grid with millions of users — grid complexity is about to rise.

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The US solar industry records first year of job losses

Greentech Media

Last year was a rough one for the U.S. solar industry.

Adjustments following the 2016 solar boom, angst surrounding the Section 201 trade case, and a slowdown in established solar markets all contributed to an overarching 3.8 percent cutback in solar jobs over the past year, according to The Solar Foundation's latest National Solar Jobs Census. Between 2016 and 2017, the industry lost 9,800 jobs, marking the first drop ever recorded in the National Solar Jobs Census since it started collecting data in 2010.

Adding to that list of challenges are a number of bankruptcies and snafus at high-profile companies such as SolarCity, according to GTM Research solar analyst Allison Mond. Some companies also had difficulty signing on new customers now that installers have already picked the low-hanging fruit in terms of interested customers.

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U.S. is now a net gas exporter. That's the good news

E&E Energywire

The United States ended 2017 as a net exporter of natural gas, for the first time in decades. But booming natural gas and other energy commodities exports from the United States did absolutely nothing to alleviate the nation's gargantuan trade deficit.

Past energy trade trends coupled with future trade growth projections mean rising U.S. energy exports are unlikely to put a dent in the world's largest goods trade deficit — a gap so colossal that it has previously prompted warnings from U.N. economists concerned about the unbalanced global trading network.

The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis published the latest trade data yesterday, compiling goods and services trade data for all of 2017. A deeper dive into the data shows substantial gains in U.S. exports of coal, crude oil, pipeline natural gas and liquefied natural gas compared to prior years.

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China demands compensation for U.S. solar tariffs: WTO filings


China has sent the United States a demand for talks on compensation for steep U.S. tariffs imposed on imported solar panels and washing machines, World Trade Organization filings showed on Tuesday.

China said it was asserting its right as a major exporter to demand compensation, and said it believed the U.S. measures broke numerous WTO rules. China’s move follows similar steps by Taiwan and South Korea.

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SMRs a 'game-changer' for troubled US nuke industry, DOE tells Congress

Utility Dive

At the outset, Tuesday's hearing on U.S. nuclear energy at the House Energy and Commerce Committee looked set to be a glum affair. Last year's failure of the V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina means there is currently only one nuclear project under construction in the United States, and federal officials say not many more are in the pipeline.

"We have a pipeline that once had around 27 [nuclear] units in 2007-2008 working its way through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission," said Edward McGinnis, principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy at DOE.  "[Today,] we have a grand total of one construction and operation license going thru with Florida Power and Light and one SMR design."

That SMR design, however, could be a "game changer" for the industry in terms of its cost compared with larger, traditional reactors.

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