In the Pipeline: 4/9/12

First Energy would argue that they are not intentionally causing a shortage in the capacity markets in order to make a bunch of money from unsuspecting ratepayers.  I like to argue that I am taller and better looking than people think I am Platts Energy (4/8/12) reports: West Virginia regulators ordered FirstEnergy not to begin retiring three coal-fired plants in the state totaling 660 MW until regulators have a chance to review the company’s justification for the closings…The Public Service Commission said it has concerns about the retirements and it wants to evaluate the factors the company used to warrant their closings…The plants are the 292-MW Albright in Preston County, 242-MW Willow Island in Pleasants County and 126-MW Rivesville in Marion County. The plants will be closed by September 1, FirstEnergy said…Regulators asked FirstEnergy whether the retirements would produce upward pressure on capacity prices in the PJM Interconnection and the effect the closings would have on the net cost of service from an increase in capacity prices. It asked for a copy of PJM’s Reliability Status Report regarding how the closings would affect reliability.

This is not the April Fools’ Day version.  This is a legitimate, accurate story.  Which should make you a little queasy The Hill (4/6/12) reports: The Energy Department said Thursday it expects to begin tentatively approving new taxpayer-backed loans for renewable energy projects in the coming months…The announcement comes about seven months after Solyndra, the California solar firm that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the administration in 2009, went bankrupt, setting off a firestorm in Washington.

It is significantly less ridiculous than the Chevy Volt or the Nissan Leaf.  And taxpayers aren’t paying rich people to buy it Wall Street Journal (4/8/12) reports: The second day of media previews at the New York International Auto Show is traditionally quiet, with less pressure than opening day and far fewer important press conferences. Many reporters leave the show early on day two so they can catch flights home or get back to their offices…This year, though, many are likely to stick around at least until 1:35 p.m., which is when the press conference for flying-car maker Terrafugia Inc. is scheduled to begin. Indeed, the road-and airworthy vehicle on display, called the Transition, may attract as much attention from people from inside the auto industry as from those writing about it.

Thank goodness.  Matt Damon is finally here to help us work out national energy policy.  Words cannot express the relief of a grateful Nation Politico (4/8/12) reports: Matt Damon will star in “The Promised Land,” an anti-fracking movie set to begin filming later this month…WME Agency, which represents Damon, confirmed that the “Good Will Hunting” star has signed on to the movie and co-wrote the film, and that it is, indeed, about hydraulic fracturing — the controversial practice of pumping a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into a well to break up rock and help extract natural gas.

These are the endangered polar bears that poorly-informed but well-meaning people (kind of like Matt Damon) are always talking about.  Happily, they can now read this and learn something Globe and Mail (4/7/12) reports: The debate about climate change and its impact on polar bears has intensified with the release of a survey that shows the bear population in a key part of northern Canada is far larger than many scientists thought, and might be growing…The number of bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay, believed to be among the most threatened bear subpopulations, stands at 1,013 and could be even higher, according to the results of an aerial survey released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. That’s 66 per cent higher than estimates by other researchers who forecasted the numbers would fall to as low as 610 because of warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin bears’ ability to hunt. The Hudson Bay region, which straddles Nunavut and Manitoba, is critical because it’s considered a bellwether for how polar bears are doing elsewhere in the Arctic.

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