In the Pipeline: 9/8/11

In an effort to advert more solar bankruptcies, the Obama administration is now financing 160,000 solar installation on military bases Mercury News (9/7/11) reports: Foster City-based SolarCity, which has installed solar panels on 16,000 homes nationwide, on Wednesday announced an ambitious $1 billion plan to put solar panels on 160,000 houses and other buildings on military bases in 33 states…The move signals that the military, which is eager to reduce its energy use, is becoming a key consumer of clean technology — and at a scale far larger than ever seen in the private sector…”This is the largest domestic residential rooftop solar project in history,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “This groundbreaking project is expected to create hundreds of jobs for Americans and provide clean, renewable power to our military families.”…The “SolarStrong” project is being funded by USRG Renewable Finance and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and has been awarded a guarantee from the Department of Energy to cover up to 80 percent of a $344 million loan…”One hundred sixty-thousand homes is big for anyone,” SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said in an interview. “It’s 10 times the size of what we’ve done to date and would basically double the number of solar installations in the U.S.”…The first phase of the project, which will provide solar power to more than 2,000 military family homes, is already under way at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. SolarCity plans to target not only military housing but also community centers, administrative offices, maintenance buildings and storage.

At what point does this constitute criminal negligence? New York Times (9/8/11) reports: Undeterred by the bankruptcy filing of a California solar company that got $535 million in federal loan guarantees, the Energy Department is issuing two more large loan guarantees, albeit to companies that look like safer bets… The department will announce Thursday that it has completed a $150 million loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies, a company with a new way to make the silicon wafers used in solar cells. The company, based in Lexington, Mass., is the star pupil of the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy, or ARPA-E, which makes grants to entities with radical ideas with great potential value; 1366 appears well on the way to being the first of the project recipients to reach commercial application.,,The company casts the wafers from molten silicon, cutting costs in half. The conventional method is to slice the wafers from a big block, turning half the silicon into dust. While Solyndra, the company that filed for bankruptcy, tried to sell a markedly different product, 1366 offers a commodity product made in a different way with lower production costs…Jonathan M. Silver, the head of the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, said, “It’s a process innovation, not a product innovation. They can produce silicon wafers with much less material and many fewer steps.”…The price at which 1366 will sell its product is not clear, but Mr. Silver said he expected the company to continue to drive down the market price of solar cells.

Whether we like it or not, Canadian oil sands will be refined in the U.S. — the best and safest way will be through a pipeline, but rail or shipping will work too Forbes (9/8/11) reports: Canadian tar sands oil will almost certainly find their way to U.S. refineries even if a $7 billion pipeline from western Canada to the Gulf Coast doesn’t gain federal approval, a U.S. State Department consultant has concluded…Lexington, Mass.-based EnSys Energy & Systems Inc.’s report said if the proposed 1,980-mile-long Keystone XL pipeline or a similar pipeline project is halted, it would be “difficult to visualize a situation” that would prevent the Canadian oil from making its way to U.S. refineries by rail, barge or trucks…The study commissioned by the State Department estimated that rail alone could haul 1.25 million barrels of Canadian crude daily by 2030, or nearly twice the amount of the proposed pipeline…”U.S. and Canadian rail sectors have a history of expanding to meet clearly defined demand increases,” according to the study, which cited North Dakota’s booming oil patch as a recent example…The analysis was done at the request of the State Department, which determined last month that the proposed pipeline project would not have significant environmental impacts along its U.S. route…The Keystone XL pipeline, a project of TransCanada Corp. of Calgary, would carry crude extracted from tar sands near Hardisty to the Gulf Coast via Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. A spur also is planned to tap into North Dakota’s oil patch.

First, and as always, Chris Tucker is as cool as the other side of the pillow.  Second, it would have been good if someone, maybe someone who had done some focus groups or polling early on, had suggested to the industry that “hydraulic fracturing” was a suboptimal phrase Fuel Fix (9/8/11) reports: The Marcellus Shale natural-gas industry has gotten tripped up by the F-bomb…Not that word…“Fracking has become almost a dirty word,” said Brian McDermott, spokesman for Gregory FCA Communications, an Ardmore public relations firm that has measured popular sentiments associated with various resource-extraction terms. It found fracking lacking, scoring even lower in positives than strip-mining…Fracking, of course, is short for hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural-gas recovery process. The word — harsh, threatening and vaguely profane — has become a linguistic weapon in the shale-gas culture wars…The fracas over fracturing will be on full display in Philadelphia this week as the Marcellus Shale Coalition holds a two-day conference to promote the industry…Anti-drilling activists plan a Wednesday protest outside the Convention Center, providing a stage for some censor-defying chants employing the new F-word…The oil and gas industry is irked about what it calls mischaracterizations of fracking, not the least of which is how the word is spelled. In the trade press, it is frac…But as the shale-gas boom took off, and the mainstream media took interest, the K got appended to frac to reduce the chance of mispronunciation. Otherwise, fracing might look like it rhymes with racing…The new spelling has an unfortunate resemblance to one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words, providing anti-drilling activists with a bounty of double entendres…“I take exception to the fact that drilling opponents have taken to using frack as euphemism for a curse word I can’t print in this family newsletter,” wrote Will Brackett, managing editor of the Powell Shale Digest, a trade weekly based in Fort Worth, Texas…Mr. Brackett now inserts an apostrophe into the noun — frac’ing — to avoid the offensive K. But his adaptation has failed to win widespread acceptance.

Economic growth?  Jobs?  Tax revenue?  Domestic energy production?  Are you sure all those are related? Houston Chronicle (9/7/11) reports: The congressional super committee searching for ways to pare at least $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit should open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling instead of increasing taxes, a top House Republican said Wednesday…Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., the head of the House Natural Resources Committee, said he would make that ANWR recommendation to the 12-member panel, which holds its first public meeting today…Under Congress’ debt ceiling deal, the newly created deficit reduction committee has until Nov. 23 to approve a plan to cut $1.2 trillion or more from the deficit over the next decade. If the committee fails to reach a compromise or it doesn’t pass Congress, automatic, across-the-board cuts in domestic and defense spending would start in 2013…Since Republicans on the panel and in the House are unlikely to support any plan that hikes taxes to raise revenue, the lawmakers on the joint committee need to search for other solutions, Hastings noted….”They need to find a means to increase revenue to the federal government without raising taxes (and) this is a logical extension of that,” Hastings said at a wide-ranging summit on energy-related jobs sponsored by The Hill newspaper and the American Petroleum Institute….”Increasing American energy production is one of the easiest ways to generate federal revenue.”…According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil harbored in the Arctic refuge’s coastal plain. At peak production, that could supply the U.S. with up to 1.45 million barrels of oil daily.

So at least someone in town gets the idea that the real jobs in energy involve domestic production of affordable, reliable energy rather than throwing money at pinwheels E&E News (9/7/11) reports: As President Obama is gearing up for his much-publicized jobs speech tomorrow night, House Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee are setting up their own jobs pitch — for more domestic energy production…The panel tomorrow will hold the first of a two-part oversight hearing on the potential to create jobs in the domestic energy sector…”American energy and mineral production, whether onshore, offshore or renewable, already employs millions of Americans and could support millions of additional jobs by simply harnessing the resources we have here at home,” Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said in a statement. “Yet during the first two years of the Obama Administration, American energy production has faced constant obstacles from unnecessary government regulations and red tape.”…The hearing comes after Republicans and energy industry advocates for months have attempted to tie together the sluggish economy with a slowdown in domestic oil and gas drilling activities and an increase in energy production regulations…”The offshore energy industry has shed thousands of jobs and lost the potential to create millions, renewable energy jobs have seen little growth, and the mining industry is facing job-destroying proposed new rules,” Hastings said. “It’s simply unacceptable for this administration to put the brakes on the job-creating potential of some of America’s leading economic contributors.”

See, the great thing about Florida is that they are completely unaware of how ridiculous and nonsensical they look when talking about energy exploration Miami Herald (9/7/11) reports: Gov. Rick Scott found himself on both sides of the fence on Tuesday when he said in a speech that he supports oil drilling in the Everglades, then hours later issued a clarification that he didn’t mean “an expansion of drilling.”..Scott’s remarks to the Tallahassee-based Economics Club of Florida were prompted by an audience member who asked whether the governor agreed with Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann’s call last week for oil drilling in the Everglades for “additional energy.”…“You know we already have drilling in the Everglades. We already have oil wells in the Everglades,’’ Scott replied. “There’s a road in Naples called ‘Oil Well Road,’ so we already have oil drilling. We’ve had it since 1943.’’…He noted that most Floridians are “very shocked” to learn that drilling is happening in Florida. He added that “I think we have to be very cautious if there’s going to be any more drilling.”…The comments unleashed immediate warnings from environmentalists, who have fought for decades to shield South Florida’s crucial watershed from additional oil drilling as they attempt to restore the Everglades ecosystem….”My suggestion to the Governor is quite simple: Don’t go there,’’ said Kirk Fordham, CEO of the Everglades Foundation, the non-profit agency formed to advocate for protection of the state’s River of Grass. “Unless Governor Scott wants to unleash a firestorm of opposition from hunters, fishermen, conservationists and millions of Floridians who depend on the Everglades for their water supply, he should abandon any notion of encouraging drilling in this sacred place.”

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