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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

53
votes
Falling price of solar panels leads utilities to lobby for taxes

Bangor Daily News -- MADRID — A year after Spain, the sunniest country in Europe, issued notice of a law forcing solar energy-equipped homes and offices to pay a punitive tax, architect Inaki Alonso reinstalled a 250-watt solar panel on a beam over his Madrid roof terrace.

“The government wanted people to be afraid to generate their own energy, but they haven’t dared to actually pass the law,” Alonso said as he tightened screws on the panel on a sunny summer day this month. He had removed solar panels from the roof last year.

“We’re tired of being afraid,” he said.

Halfway across the globe, in the “sunshine state” of Queensland, Australia, electrical engineer David Smyth says the war waged by some governments and utilities against distributed energy, the term used for power generated by solar panels, is alr  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
1239 Comments

53
votes
What Happens When Oil Drops Below $90 a Barrel?

24/7 Wall -- U.S. pump prices are expected to fall below $3 a gallon in many U.S. states and cities by the end of 2014. Consumers will finally get some relief from prices that rose above $4 a gallon in many cities earlier this year.

And it's not just gasoline pump prices. Airline fuel consumption has dropped almost 15% since its peak in 2005, partly due to cutting down on the number of flights, but also due to flying at slower speeds and reducing weight in order to consume less fuel. Between 2004 and 2011, the average ground speed of seven major U.S. air carriers decreased by 1.1%. Planes have cut weight by eliminating magazines, heating ovens and even safety equipment for water landings if the planes don’t fly over water.

Domestic jet fuel prices have fallen from around $2.90 a gallon to around $2.7  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
1369 Comments

48
votes
Why Peak-Oil Predictions Haven't Come True

WSJ -- Have we beaten "peak oil"?

For decades, it has been a doomsday scenario looming large in the popular imagination: The world's oil production tops out and then starts an inexorable decline—sending costs soaring and forcing nations to lay down strict rationing programs and battle for shrinking reserves.

U.S. oil production did peak in the 1970s and sank for decades after, exactly as the theory predicted. But then it did something the theory didn't predict: It started rising again in 2009, and hasn't stopped, thanks to a leap forward in oil-field technology.

To the peak-oil adherents, this is just a respite, and decline is inevitable. But a growing tide of oil-industry experts argue that peak oil looks at the situation in the wrong way. The real constraints we face are technological and ec  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
607 Comments

47
votes
Rosneft, ExxonMobil Open New Oil Field In Arctic Ocean

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty --
R
ussia's largest oil company, Rosneft, says it has opened a new oil field in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean with U.S. partner ExxonMobil.

The announcement comes after the United States targeted Rosneft and its chief Igor Sechin with sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine conflict.

Rosneft said in a statement September 27 that the estimated deposits exceed 100 million tons of light crude oil.

Light crude oil is has a low density and is more expensive than heavy crude oil because it produces a higher percentage of gasoline and diesel fuel when refined.

It said the new field, named Pobeda (Victory), also contains an estimated 338 million cubic meters of gas.

However, it remained unclear if commercially viable quantities of oil could be recovered from the well and its d  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
77 Comments

43
votes
Third firm courts Maine regulators for cash to back natural gas pipeline expansion

Bangor Daily News -- PORTLAND, Maine — Three companies have formally offered natural gas pipeline capacity to state regulators, who are considering whether they should charge a new fee to all of Maine’s electricity customers to help pay for projects designed to bring more natural gas into the Northeast.

On Monday, Houston-based Spectra Energy presented a plan for expanding existing pipelines spanning the Northeast, a shot back at the Houston-based Kinder Morgan, which delivered details of its proposal for a new pipeline to regulators last week.

“We wanted the state to understand that we have real tangible proposals for them to consider,” said Greg Crisp, Spectra’s director of business development.

Days before Kinder Morgan sent its plan to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Spectra had announced Northea  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
565 Comments

Monday, September 29, 2014

61
votes
America’s Favorite Place to Fill up on Gas (Hint: It’s not Costco)

The Motley Fool -- How satisfied were you with your most recent trip to the gas station; Do you expect to return to the same place next time?

If you answered "very" and "yes" to those two questions then it's a safe bet that you drive past a few gas stations on your way to a totally different type of retailer to buy your fuel.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1067 Comments

60
votes
Why China stays out of Islamic State fight, for now

YAHOO NEW ZEALAND -- China is the top oil investor in Iraq, and Islamic State leaders say they have Chinese recruits. But Beijing is reluctant to get involved due to limited military capability in the Middle East and mistrust of US intentions.

One might expect China to be heavily invested in the international fight to stop Islamic State jihadists from taking over Iraq and Syria: For starters, China is the number one investor in Iraq's oil industry.

Yet, Beijing is almost nowhere to be seen in anti-IS coalition discussions. Why?

There are reasons enough for China to get involved.

The Asian giant’s economy depends on the Middle East for half its imported energy.

China now imports more oil from the region than the United States does, and is the largest investor in the Iraqi oil industry.

 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1444 Comments

54
votes
Watch This Trooper Shockingly Shooting a Driver With No Reason [Video]

AutoEvolution -- police officer from Columbia, South Carolina is facing a 20-year charge after he shot an unarmed man at a gas station, earlier this month. The dashcam video released today shows the cop exiting his vehicle and asking a driver for ID. The man goes to his car to get it, when, apparently for no reason, the cop starts shooting him in the thigh. Fortunately the driver survived.

Lance Corporal Sean Groubert, a state trooper who was fired after shooting an unarmed man at a gas station on the 4th of September, has been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, jail records show. The incredible shooting happened in the parking lot of a Circle K in Colombia, South Carolina, after Groubert pulled Levar Edward Jones over for a seatbelt violation.

According to an arrest  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1483 Comments

43
votes
Predicting electric power outages before they happen

Science Daily -- The largest power outage in United States history, the 2003 Northeast blackout, began with one power line in Ohio going offline and ended with more than 50 million people without power throughout the Northeast and the Canadian province of Ontario.

Despite the apparent failure of the electric grid during such cascading events, blackouts aren't necessarily grid failures. Blackouts are often the result of automated protection measures that ensure power surges or downed power lines don't damage trees, people, appliances or other parts of the grid.

In the past, utility engineers have used static models of local electric grids to aim for single-contingency, worst-case scenario protection strategies rather than dynamic, real-time solutions to a unique grid disturbance.
 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
53 Comments

40
votes
Nissan LEAF Cleans More Than Air Pollution in London

Torquenews -- A Nissan LEAF is powering a "reverse graffiti" artist in London, creating street art out of street grime.

Many people in London are helping to clear the air of the city by driving all-electric cars like the best-selling Nissan LEAF. As the number one selling electric car in the world, the LEAF can certainly help with that. Now, an artist is using the LEAF to create "Reverse Graffiti," which removes dirt and grime with art.

In this case, Moose, the man who says he invented the Reverse Graffiti idea, unveiled a mass-scale mural of the London skyline with hints at the plug-in future its transportation holds. The mural is a striking scene of familiar buildings interwoven with the promise of a cleaner, brighter future.
 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
427 Comments

Sunday, September 28, 2014

63
votes
U.S. sanctions could leave Exxon with nothing from new Russian oil discovery

Examiner.com -- In a most ironic turn of events from the ongoing economic sanctions being imposed upon Russia by the U.S. over the Ukrainian proxy war, a massive new oil discovery in the Arctic Ocean by the world's largest energy producer on Sept. 27 could lead to a major U.S. oil firm receiving nothing from their partnership with Russia in finding this underwater reserve due to a deadline imposed by the Obama administration which restricts U.S. oil companies from assisting the Eurasian state beginning next month. Today's announcement of oil reserves found in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean are estimated to be larger than those known to be stored in the Gulf of Mexico, and are valued on the low end in the hundreds of billions of dollars, with a potential to become trillions dependent upon final...  (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
301 Comments

63
votes
Electric bills heading up this winter

The Boston Globe -- Massachusetts consumers will pay significantly higher electric bills this winter as a persistent shortage of natural gas for generating plants drives power prices to record levels.

The cost for a typical household could top $150 a month, based on an announcement this week from one of the state’s two dominant utilities, National Grid. It said its rates will increase by a whopping 37 percent over last winter’s, solely because the cost of buying electricity from power plants has soared to the highest level in decades, according to a company spokesman.


Other utilities, including NStar, are also warning customers to brace for higher electric bills this winter, but they have not determined final rates for the winter.

“This is pretty bad, and it’s going to really have a bearing on a lot  (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
994 Comments

61
votes
I-57/I-294 Interchange Won't Accept Cash

Chicago Heights Patch -- The Illinois Tollway will host three I-PASS roadshow events in August to give residents, business owners and stakeholders opportunities to learn about and provide feedback on the agency’s plans to open the new I-57/I-294 interchange this fall.

This is the first interstate-to-interstate connection on the Tollway system where there is no toll collection point on the mainline roadway for customers who wish to pay cash.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
480 Comments

61
votes
Gas Prices Continue Pullback Despite Middle East Turmoil

Fox news -- Despite ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, gasoline prices have continued their summer-long descent.

The U.S. initiated air strikes in Iraq last month to target Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State militants. In recent weeks, the battle was extended to Syria, where American and allied fighter jets have conducted more air strikes.

But in an unusual contrast, prices at the pump are showing no signs of upward pressure. Travel group AAA said the average price for a gallon of regular gas currently sits at $3.34, nine cents below the month-ago average.

Friday’s gas prices are also at a four-year low for this time of year. Since June 28, the national average has dropped 34 cents a gallon.

Rapid growth in domestic oil production -- driven by unconventional shale plays -- has lessened the impact of  (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
1403 Comments

60
votes
Scientists revolutionize solar power with new "gold nanocluster" technology

Phys.org -- Scientists at Western University have discovered that a small molecule created with just 144 atoms of gold can increase solar cell performance by more than 10 per cent. These findings, published recently by the high-impact journal Nanoscale, represent a game-changing innovation that holds the potential to take solar power mainstream and dramatically decrease the world's dependence on traditional, resource-based sources of energy, says Giovanni Fanchini from Western's Faculty of Science.

Fanchini, the Canada Research Chair in Carbon-based Nanomaterials and Nano-optoelectronics, says the new technology could easily be fast-tracked and integrated into prototypes of solar panels in one to two years and solar-powered phones in as little as five years.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
55 Comments

Saturday, September 27, 2014

60
votes
Domestic bliss? U.S. gas production brings prices down

Westchester NY Journal News -- Gasoline prices normally drop in autumn, but this September they're falling even further thanks the oil produced in the United States — some of it by fracking, one analyst said.

A gallon of regular cost an average of just over $3.34 across the country on Friday, down about 9 cents from a year earlier.

The lower prices have been a relief for wedding photographer Chris Perino, who was gassing up his Toyota Corolla at the Mobil station on the Hutchinson River Parkway on Friday. Spending some $70 each week on gas to travel the tri-state area, the Port Chester resident doesn't hesitate to buy his gas in New York when the prices drop.

"I can fill up here instead of waiting until I get to Jersey," he said.

Lower gas prices help fuel the economy, Welsh said.

"That extra $20 a week, or $40 a m  (read more)

Submitted Sep 27, 2014 By:
679 Comments

58
votes
Solar and Wind Outshine Fossil Fuels

earthtechling.com -- A major U.S. investment bank’s latest analysis shows that even without subsidies, wind and solar energy are on track to be competitive with fossil-fuel and nuclear power sources in the U.S.

Asset management firm Lazard released its eighth annual report Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis, showing that renewable energy can compete with coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants on a cost basis. Couched in the cautious language of risk/benefit analysis, it said, “Certain alternative energy generation technologies are cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies under some scenarios.”
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 27, 2014 By:
1438 Comments

54
votes
Consortium plans 1.2GW wind storage for LA

Windpower Monthly -- The project involves the construction of a wind farm in Wyoming, a 525-mile transmission line and a salt-cavern compressed-air storage system, with an operational target date of 2023.

The four caverns, each almost 400-metres high, would be able to hold enough air to generate 6TWh of electricity at a power of 1.2GW.

The system would work by using excess power from the wind project to inject high-pressure air into the caverns. This could then be released at times of peak demand to turn turbines at the surface.

It has been proposed by Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand and Duke-American Transmission, which estimate the project will cost $8 billion.

The companies said they will formally submit their proposal to the Southern California Public Power Authority by ea  (read more)

Submitted Sep 27, 2014 By:
1280 Comments

50
votes
Top 10 states where you’re likely to hit a deer

Bold Ride -- Sure, deer are beautiful to look at it, even if personally I think they’re basically over-sized rats benefiting from the good PR surrounding Bambi. Either way, their good looks and over population come at a high price, especially in 10 states where your odds of smashing into one with your car dramatically increase.
1. West Virginia 1 in 39
2. Pennsylvania 1 in 71
3. Montana 1 in 75
4. Iowa 1 in 77
5. South Dakota 1 in 82
6. Mississippi 1 in 84
7. Wisconsin 1 in 85
8. Minnesota 1 in 88
9. Virginia 1 in 88
10. South Carolina 1 in 93  (read more)

Submitted Sep 27, 2014 By:
78 Comments

48
votes
INTERVIEW-New Alberta premier sees oil pipelines as key to growth

Reuters -- Jim Prentice, the one-time federal minister and investment banker sworn in as premier of Alberta earlier this month, said on Friday the Canadian province must secure new oil-export pipelines to ensure the growth of its oil sands sector.

In an interview, Prentice said Alberta, which produces more than three million barrels of oil per day, would strongly back more pipeline projects to ship its crude overseas and minimize its reliance on the U.S. market, where Western Canada crude trades at a discount. New pipelines would also draw more investment in Alberta's oil sands, he added.

"If we don't achieve global access, we won't achieve global prices," Prentice said in an interview with Reuters. "If we don't secure global prices, we are going to continue to be a discount supplier of energy."

 (read more)

Submitted Sep 27, 2014 By:
520 Comments

Friday, September 26, 2014

62
votes
Prices at the pump head below $3 in much of US

AP -- The price of a gallon of gasoline may soon start with a "2'' across much the country.

Gasoline prices typically decline in autumn, and this year they are being pulled even lower by falling global oil prices. By the end of the year, up to 30 states could have an average gasoline price of less than $3 a gallon.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 26, 2014 By:
624 Comments

57
votes
Solar Advocates Fight Utilities Over Grid Access

npr.org -- The solar power business is growing quickly in the U.S. More than 500,000 homeowners and businesses installed solar panels in just the first half of this year, according to a Solar Energy Industries Association report.

When people get electricity from the sun, they don't buy it from their local power company. But that utility still must have the generators and power lines to provide electricity when the sun is not shining. That's creating conflicts across the country.

At issue is something called "net metering" — a benefit designed to encourage homeowners to pay the upfront cost of installing solar. When the panels produce more electricity than the homeowner uses, the excess is pushed back to the grid where the local utility buys it. In some cases you can actually see the meter going in  (read more)

Submitted Sep 26, 2014 By:
1022 Comments

56
votes
Oil prices plunging despite ISIS

CNN -- Oil prices have fallen sharply over the past few months -- even though the terrorist organization ISIS has taken control of some refineries in Syria and Iraq.
Prices haven't shot up since the United States and its allies have started to conduct airstrikes against ISIS oil targets in Syria either.
It may seem strange that prices haven't skyrocketed.
Typically, tension in the Middle East has caused serious concerns about oil supply being taken off the market.
But experts say there are several reasons why the ISIS situation has not pushed energy prices up ... and that the trend should continue.
ISIS supply disruption is minimal. While ISIS has made headway in eastern Syria and northern Iraq it has not yet been able to take control of many oil properties in the southern part of Iraq. Unless...  (read more)

Submitted Sep 26, 2014 By:
1490 Comments

55
votes
Wyoming wind farm plan hinges on huge Utah caverns

AP -- CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A proposal to export twice as much Wyoming wind power to Los Angeles as the amount of electricity generated by the Hoover Dam includes an engineering feat even more massive than that famous structure: Four chambers, each approaching the size of the Empire State Building, would be carved from an underground salt deposit to hold huge volumes of compressed air.

Related: Dresser-Rand among companies proposing $8 billion wind farm to power Los Angeles

The caverns in central Utah would serve as a kind of massive battery on a scale never before seen, helping to overcome the fact that – even in Wyoming – wind doesn’t blow all the time.

Air would be pumped into the caverns when power demand is low and wind is high, typically at night. During times of increased demand, the compre  (read more)

Submitted Sep 26, 2014 By:
313 Comments

55
votes
New device in development to catch texting drivers

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..myfox8.comA Virginia company is developing a radar gunlike device that would help police catch drivers as they text, according to the Virginian-Pilot.The technology works by detecting the telltale radio frequencies that emit from a vehicle when someone inside is using a cellphone, said Malcolm McIntyre of ComSonics. Cable repairmen use similar means to find where a cable is damaged - from a rodent, for instance - by looking for frequencies leaking in a transmission, McIntyre said.A text message, phone call and data transfer emit different frequencies that can be distinguished by the device ComSonics is working on, according to McIntyre. That would prove particularly useful for law enforcement in states such as Virginia, where texting behind the wheel is banned but talking on the phone is legal for adult drivers....  (read more)

Submitted Sep 26, 2014 By:
1603 Comments