Wind Energy’s Viability Trumpeted In Volatile Market

English: Taken by Neutronic

English: Taken by Neutronic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’s 700 commercial wind turbines loom large along ridges, but their number and size belie their contribution to electricity generation.

Despite government subsidies, technological advancements that improved the turbines’ efficiency, and environmental advantages over burning fossil fuels, wind energy provided just 1.5 percent of the state’s electricity last year and less than 4 percent of the nation’s.

“In Pennsylvania it’s pretty anemic,” said Gregory Reed, a University of Pittsburgh professor who directs the Electric Power Initiative and is associate director of the school’s Center for Energy.

State law requires 18 percent of electricity must come from alternative fuel sources and renewables such as wind, solar and hydropower by 2021.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/5415886-74/wind-pennsylvania-energy#ixzz2w5Fb48vJ
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Stability Spurs More Growth In Pittsburgh

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Slow and steady wins the race: It works for the tortoise, and it seems to be working for Pittsburgh.

The latest annual “Pittsburgh Today and Tomorrow” report by PittsburghTODAY found that Pittsburgh continues to make modest economic progress after years of decline.

PittsburghTODAY is a nonprofit part of the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for Social & Urban Research that tracks the region’s progress compared with 15 other areas of similar size, geographic and demographic makeups.

Doug Hueck, program director for PittsburghTODAY, highlighted data regarding population growth, unemployment levels and housing appreciation rates as examples of the city’s revival.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/02/22/Stability-spurs-more-growth-here/stories/201402220041#ixzz2u57osImH

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Pittsburgh Solar Tour To Show Local Applications Of Solar Power

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roger Westman can easily tell when his solar panels are working. On a sunny day, his electric meter runs backward. But his rain garden? To see how it does the job, he braved a couple of downpours last fall.

“There’s good ol’ me, standing out there with an umbrella,” he said, laughing.

So, what was the verdict?

“It worked marvelously. It never overflowed, and in a half-hour to an hour it completely drained.”

Sustainable rain or shine, the house in Point Breeze that he shares with William Stevens is one of 23 stops on the Pittsburgh Solar Tour, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Most are homes with solar water heaters or photovoltaic panels like the 6.9-kilowatt solar array on the roof of Mr. Westman and Mr. Stevens’ house. But the free tour organized by PennFuture will also include institutions that have gone solar, electric bicycles that tour-goers can try, and a tractor whose horsepower comes from the sun.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/life/home/pittsburgh-solar-tour-to-show-local-applications-of-solar-power-707245/#ixzz2hWWiGLFY

Pittsburgh-Area Hotels Find Niche In Oil, Gas Workers

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To endear a hotel to the oil and gas crowd, give them a place to eat and sleep at all hours of the day, a place to wash their boots, a warm place to smoke in the winter and a cold beer once in a while.

So goes the formula developed by Tejas Gosai, president of the Washington, Pa.-based business Shale Hotel Inc.  The company is managing two hotels geared toward oil and gas workers, building two others and preparing to turn the Monroeville Holiday Inn into an industry destination for workers summoned here by the Marcellus Shale, the natural gas deposit underlying much of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Gosai represents a group of four doctors, among them his father, who bought the 187-room Monroeville hotel in June.  His goal is to replicate there what he has helped to do in Bentleyville — attract at least half of the guests from oil and gas fields.

The Gosais have been in the hotel business for a dozen years.  Kam Gosai, a practicing physician in Washington County, co-owns the Holiday Inn Express and the Best Western Garden Inn in Bentleyville.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/pittsburgh-area-hotels-find-niche-in-oil-gas-workers-694646/#ixzz2YT5pEbAE

Turning Cow Dung Into Electricity

Picture 487Dairy farmer Ron Koetsier’s 1,200 cows produce roughly 90 tons of manure daily, and for the last three decades, he has tried unsuccessfully to turn the stinky dung into energy to power his 450-acre farm in Visalia.

He installed a nearly $1-million renewable energy system in 1985 that used the methane from manure to create electricity for his farm.  In 2002, he replaced that system with newer technology, but he hit a snag when air-quality standards called for expensive retrofits to reduce air pollution; he eventually shut down the system in 2009.

In a few weeks, however, Koetsier’s renewable-energy efforts will get a reboot as a new company replaces his current system with one that is expected to satisfy strict air standards in the highly polluted San Joaquin Valley.

A decade or so ago, dozens of California dairy farmers built million-dollar systems called methane digesters that convert manure into power.  Then, unexpected pollution problems, regulatory roadblocks and low rates of return killed most such digester systems, leaving only a handful in operation.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/la-fi-dairy-digester-20130609,0,2083458.story

South Side Site Becoming Pittsburgh’s Second Compressed Natural Gas Station

English: Symbol used for vehicles powered by c...

English: Symbol used for vehicles powered by compressed natural gas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A former Exxon station in Station Square is becoming the city’s second compressed natural gas station with the help of state funding announced this week.

The station, located near the T station at the edge of the Smithfield Street Bridge, is currently under construction.  It will be owned by Desdemona Holdings LP and operate under the American Natural Retail brand.

Desdemona Holdings received a $372,300 grant and $248,200 loan to help complete the project.  Desdemona is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cleopatra Resources LLC, a New York-based energy company with local offices near Homestead.

A timetable for completion was not given.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/south-side-site-becoming-citys-second-cng-station-687147/#ixzz2T04Iwgfq

Met-Ed To Invest $116 Million

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Metropolitan-Edison Co. plans a $116 million expansion of its electrical infrastructure in 15 counties, including Berks, the utility said Thursday.

In northern Berks, the FirstEnergy subsidiary will spend nearly $10 million to improve service and capacity for future growth in an area now serving 40,000 to 50,000 customers, according to Scott Surgeoner, Met-Ed spokesman.

On Thursday, workers tackled the upgrade at the Northkill substation along Route 183 in Jefferson Township. The project in Berks should be completed by June.

The area includes everything within the parameters of Route 183 north from Route 222 to Interstate 78, east to Route 61 and south to Route 222.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=468434

Gas Industry In Berks: What’s In The Pipeline

Counties constituting the Endless Mountains Re...

Counties constituting the Endless Mountains Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DUSHORE – Now that the major surgery that took place last year in the beautiful northern tier of Pennsylvania is complete, Frank Carr Jr. can tell Berks Countians what it is like to have an interstate natural gas pipeline implanted in your land.

You get paid. You see your land temporarily torn up.  You have the right to object.

Ultimately, though, you may have no choice.

“To me, it just doesn’t seem right that they can come in and tell you where they are going,” said Carr, who co-owns a 500-acre dairy farm in Bradford County.  “But I also know they have got to get the gas to market, and it is all a part of that.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=467029

Days Of Promise Fade For Ethanol

Editor’s note:  Wondering when we will end our dependence on foreign oil?  This isn’t the way to do it!

Backed by government subsidies and mandates, hundreds of ethanol plants rose among the golden fields of the Corn Belt, bringing jobs and business to small towns, providing farmers with a new market for their crops and generating billions of dollars in revenue for the producers of this corn-based fuel blend.

Those days of promise and prosperity are vanishing.

Nearly 10 percent of the nation’s ethanol plants have stopped production over the past year, in part because the drought that has ravaged much of the nation’s crops pushed commodity prices so high that ethanol has become too expensive to produce.

A dip in gasoline consumption has compounded the industry’s problem by reducing the demand for ethanol.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/us/17ethanol.html?hp&_r=0

PPL Plans To Cut Rates For Electricity

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The state Public Utility Commission really wants electric users to switch from their utility to one of the dozens of alternative suppliers.

But PPL Electric Utilities inadvertently keeps giving electric users more motivation to stick with them.

PPL will cut its residential rate by 4.1 percent Friday, reflecting the cheaper prices it’s paying to obtain power on the wholesale market.

This latest change, announced Tuesday, is the third consecutive quarterly rate reduction for PPL.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/819772_PPL-plans-to-cut-rates-for-electricity.html#ixzz2MEX5j5I5

PA Marcellus Topped 2 Trillion Cubic Feet Of Gas In 2012

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’s Marcellus and other shale wells produced more than 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012, continuing a trend of production growth despite fewer drilling rigs in the field.

New production data reported by natural gas drilling companies and released by the state Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday showed that 1.1 trillion cubic feet of gas flowed from unconventional wells in the state during the second half of 2012.

The wells produced an average of 6.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day between July and December, or enough to fulfill about 9 percent of the nation’s daily natural gas demand.  The U.S. consumed about 70 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/pa-marcellus-topped-2-trillion-cubic-feet-of-gas-in-2012-1.1447325

PPL Customers Will See About 4 Percent Increase In Bill

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Customers of PPL Electric Utilities will see monthly bills increase by about 4 percent next year, resulting from recent state Public Utility Commission action.

The PUC on Dec. 5 granted Allentown-based PPL a 10.4 percent rate of return on income for shareholders.  The approval will increase the average bill for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatts of electricity monthly by about $4.77 to $116.37, according to a PUC estimate.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/ppl-customers-will-see-about-4-percent-increase-in-bill-1.1415026

UGI Cutting Residential Gas Rates 3.8 Percent

Maybe now you can afford to turn the thermostat up a hair.

UGI Utilities said Thursday that it will cut its residential rates another 3.8 percent, effective Saturday.

The reduction reflects UGI’s lower costs to buy natural gas on the wholesale market.

With the latest cut, the average residential heating customer’s bill will slide to $86.17 per month from $89.55.

UGI has roughly 70,000 customers in Lancaster County, about 90 percent of which are residential.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/787401_UGI-cutting-residential-gas-rates-3-8-percent.html#ixzz2DeW7I55J

PPL Eyes New Round Of Energy Initiatives

Got an old fridge to get rid of? PPL Electric Utilities still will take it, pay you and recycle it.

Want new discount-price CFL bulbs?  PPL still will sell them to you.

Hope to get paid for trimming your air-conditioning use next summer?  Sorry, those days are gone.

PPL on Friday asked for state approval of its second generation of “E-power” energy-efficiency initiatives.

The 18 measures, subject to the state Public Utility Commission‘s action, are a mix of first-generation carryovers and newcomers.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/779340_PPL-eyes-new-round-of-energy-initiatives.html#ixzz2CV52XGJS

U.S. May Soon Become World’s Top Oil Producer

English: basic map of USA

English: basic map of USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEW YORK — U.S. oil output is surging so fast that the United States could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest producer.

Driven by high prices and new drilling methods, U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to rise 7 percent this year to an average of 10.9 million barrels per day. This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951.

The boom has surprised even the experts.

“Five years ago, if I or anyone had predicted today’s production growth, people would have thought we were crazy,” says Jim Burkhard, head of oil markets research at IHS CERA, an energy consulting firm.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121023/NEWS04/121029786/u-s-may-soon-become-world-s-top-oil-producer&pager=full_story

Marcellus Shale Reserves Larger Than Expected

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PITTSBURGH, PA – There’s been plenty of debate over the Marcellus Shale natural gas field, but new research adds a twist that could impact political and environmental battles.  Two independent financial firms say the Marcellus isn’t just the biggest natural gas field in the country – it’s the cheapest place for energy companies to drill.

One of the reports adds that the Marcellus reserves that lie below parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York are far larger than recent government estimates, while another said the powerful combination of resource, cost and location is altering natural gas prices and market trends across the nation.

The Marcellus could contain “almost half of the current proven natural gas reserves in the U.S.,” a report from Standard & Poor’s issued this week said.

Another recent report from ITG Investment Research, a worldwide financial firm based in New York, found that a detailed analysis of Marcellus well production data suggested that federal government estimates of its reserves “are grossly understated.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/gas-drilling/marcellus-shale-reserves-larger-than-expected-1.1391569

Area Counties Share Marcellus Shale Impact Fees

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Staff and wire reports Chester County will receive the lowest amount of money among suburban Philadelphia counties from the state as part of the Marcellus Shale Impact fee distribution announced recently by the Corbett administration.

The county is in line to receive $423,255.23 from the state, far less than the $1.29 million that Philadelphia will receive. The highest amount of the four Philadelphia suburbs is the $678,613.66 that Montgomery County will receive.

Berks County will receive $349,067, Bucks County will receive $530,461.69 and Delaware County will receive $474.238.17.  Distribution for the southeastern Pennsylvania counties is based on population.

State law restricts how the money can be spent, allowing for such uses as fixing roads and building or repairing water and sewer infrastructure.  County officials could not answer Wednesday where the funds here would go, but said they would be in line with the state’s restrictions.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121017/NEWS01/121019427/area-counties-share-marcellus-shale-impact-fees

Electricity Costs Increase For PECO Customers

The 473,000 PECO customers who have made the switch to an alternative energy supplier must have felt pretty good about their choice Monday.

“PECO’s energy delivery rates have not changed but the price we are paying to purchase electricity for customers who have not switched to an alternative provider has gone up 21.5 percent from the third to the fourth quarter,” said PECO spokeswoman Cathy Engle Menendez.

“The price is adjusted quarterly and tied directly to the wholesale cost of electricity.  We have no control over this price.  It’s a pass-through.”

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/the-mercury/story/electricity-costs-increase-peco-customers/1

PPL’s Brunner Island Coal-Fired Power Plant Here To Stay

All around the country, utilities are shuttering coal-fired power plants or converting them to natural gas, which has become a cheap, plentiful fuel.

But the hulking 51-year-old Brunner Island power plant perched along the Susquehanna River at Lancaster County‘s western boundary will continue to be a major power-producer for years to come, according to its owner, PPL.

“Brunner Island remains an important part of PPL’s future.  The company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental improvements at the plant to keep it viable for the long term,” said George Lewis, PPL’s director of corporate communications.

Brunner Island produces enough power to drive 1 million homes.  But keeping it chugging along will buck a national trend and require even more investments in pollution equipment.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/715580_PPL-s-Brunner-Island-coal-fired-power-plant-here-to-stay.html#ixzz23okhy4D9

Marcellus Shale Becoming Top US Natural Gas Field

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PITTSBURGH, PA (AP) — The Marcellus Shale is about to become the most productive natural gas field in the United States, according to new data from energy industry analysts and the federal government.

Though serious drilling only began five years ago, the sheer volume of Marcellus production suggests that in some ways there’s no going back, even as New York debates whether to allow drilling in its portion of the shale, which also lies under large parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

The top spot for the Marcellus “doesn’t surprise me,” said Jay Apt, a professor of technology at Carnegie Mellon University. “But will it lead to industries that spring up to use that gas?” he asked, adding that much of the bounty could also end up being shipped to Canada, the Gulf Coast or overseas.

In 2008, Marcellus production barely registered on national energy reports. In July, the combined output from Pennsylvania and West Virginia wells was about 7.4 billion cubic feet per day, according to Kyle Martinez, an analyst at Bentek Energy. That’s more than double the 3.6 billion cubic feet from last April, and represents over 25 percent of national shale gas production.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/marcellus-shale-becoming-top-us-natural-gas-field-1.1355101