Tag Archives: DoE

Energy storage technology research at Binghamton U. NY

What would happen if VSU applied for such a research grant?

According to its own PR of 19 June 2014, Binghamton University receives $12.8 million for innovative energy research,

The NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage (NECCES) at Binghamton University has been awarded a $12.8 million, four-year grant, announced Wednesday by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. One of 32 grants awarded for a total of $100 million to fund Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), it will help accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy.

One of 32 grants? Some EFRC partner institutions Continue reading

Fourth extension on Vogtle nuclear loan guarantee deadline

Southern Company doesn’t want to pay $17 to $52 million to get an $8.33 billion federal loan guarantee. That’s 0.2% to 0.62%. Why should we guarantee SO’s bad bet for pennies down? Let’s just call it off!

Ray Henry wrote for AP yesterday, Talks continue over Ga. nuclear plant loans,

Three years after the U.S. government promised $8.3 billion in lending for a nuclear plant in Georgia, Southern Co. and its partners have not sealed a deal.

President Barack Obama’s administration recently agreed to a fourth extension of the deadline for finalizing lending agreements between Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power and the other owners of the nuclear plant now under construction. Congress authorized the funding in 2005 to revive a nuclear industry that at the time expected growth.

Few utilities secured even a preliminary agreement, mostly because power companies dropped plans to build nuclear plants. The Great Recession trimmed the demand for energy, and plummeting natural gas prices made it cheaper to build gas-fired plants. The slumping economy also pushed interest rates to historic lows, reducing borrowing costs and undercutting the need for subsidized lending.

All that and ten nukes have been closed or cancelled in the past year. Even France’s EDF has exited nukes in the U.S. and has already built more U.S. solar and wind power than SO’s new Plant Vogtle nukes would produce.

Southern Company now claims this federal loan guarantee isn’t necessary: Continue reading

Vogtle nuke loan deadline extended for third time

We don’t know the federal cost estimates or the terms and conditions or why Plant Vogtle just got another three month extension on that $8.33 billion federal loan guarantee.

Rob Pavey wrote for the August Chronicle yesterday, Federal loan guarantee offer for Vogtle expansion extended again,

The owners of Plant Vogtle have secured — for the third time — an extension to allow further negotiation with the U.S. Energy Department over its 2010 offer of up to $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees to help finance two new nuclear reactors.

Georgia Power and co-owners Oglethorpe Power and Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia were conditionally approved in February 2010 for loan-guarantee financing, in which the government promises to assume a company’s debt if the company defaults. However, the details were never agreed on. Two extensions have since expired, with the most recent deadline — June 30 — passing without any formal agreement in place. Jeannice M.W. Hall, a Southern Co. spokeswoman, said in an e-mail Wednesday that the new extension sets a Sept. 30 deadline for completing the loan guarantee arrangements.

With Southern Company’s stock already downgraded because of Kemper Coal and Plant Vogtle, after S&P’s downgraded SO’s credit, and with still more cost overruns at Kemper on top of Vogtle being 19 months late and a billion dollars over budget, as Gloria Tatum asked back in May, why is SO gambling on nuclear instead of solar?

If you’re tired of this, you can ask DoE Secretary Ernest Moniz to revoke that loan.


Sun dancing as a Georgia Trend

GSEA, GaSU, Georgia Power, and even me are quoted in a Georgia Trend feature about solar power in Georgia. As Mahatma Gandhi is alleged to have said when asked his opinion of western civilization: “that would be a good idea!”

Jerry Grillo wrote for Georgia Trend July 2013, Sun Dancing: As Georgia’s solar capacity shoots skyward, a new state utility is proposed,

It’s the sun, the sol of our solar system, to which everything that lives and moves, including the wind, owes its existence. Without the sun, there is no us, no Earth. You can’t miss it. It’s the biggest thing in the sky, the biggest thing for at least 24 trillion miles, and at 4.5 billion years old it is middle-aged and remains the most abundant source of power between here and Alpha Centauri, zapping our planet every minute with more energy than humanity can consume in a year.

The best thing is, the sun is free. Still, for most of those eons, capturing the sun’s energy for human consumption has been like picking crops with a catcher’s mitt.

But over the past few years, photovoltaic technology (“photo” for light, “voltaic” meaning electricity) has gotten way more efficient, and the previously prohibitive price has fallen dramatically, setting the stage for what’s happening now in Georgia: Solar deployment and interest are increasing dramatically.

“This is a very dynamic time for solar energy, and it demonstrates a pent-up demand and interest in solar energy for Georgia,” says Mark Bell, chair of the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) and president of Atlanta-based Empower Energy Tech-nology. “There’s a great potential here for real, sustainable economic development.”

Grillo was pretty thorough in getting a range of points of view (with the notable exception of Georgia Sierra Club), and the whole article is well worth reading.

Among the things I told Grillo back at the beginning of May, I’m especially glad he included this:

Continue reading

Why CWIP is a bad idea

Iowa is rejecting CWIP, and Georgia can, too. Here’s why.

Herman K. Trabish wrote for Green Tech Media 22 February 2012, The Nuclear Industry’s Answer to Its Marketplace Woes: Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) financing shifts the risks of nuclear energy to utility ratepayers,

A sign of the nuclear industry’s difficult situation in the aftermath of Fukushima is a proposal before the Iowa legislature
“Construction Work in Progress was intended to circumvent the core consumer protection of the regulatory decision-making process,”
that would allow utility MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, to build a new nuclear facility in the state using Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) financing (also called advanced cost recovery).

“Investment in nuclear power is the antithesis of the kind of investments you would want to make under the current uncertain conditions,” explained nuclear industry authority Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment. “They cannot raise the capital to build these plants in normal markets under the normal regulatory structures.”

CWIP would allow the utility to raise the money necessary to build a nuclear power plant by billing ratepayers in advance of and during construction.

“Construction Work in Progress was intended to circumvent the core consumer protection of the regulatory decision-making process,” Cooper explained. “It exposes ratepayers to all the risk.” The nuclear industry’s answer to its post-Fukushima challenges, he said, “is to simply rip out the heart of consumer protection and turn the logic of capital markets on their head.”

And the Iowa Utilities Board staff agreed with Cooper and recommended against CWIP.
His message to policymakers is simple, Cooper said. “This is an investment you would not make with your own money. Therefore, you should not make it with the ratepayers’ money.”
Meanwhile, in Georgia: Continue reading

U.S. has plenty of solar energy everywhere —Jennifer DeCesaro of DoE

Jennifer DeCesaro of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) said she liked showing a map of U.S. insolation outside the U.S. southwest because then she could point out that Spain has not as good resources and a larger solar market, while Germany, the world leader in deployed solar, has solar resources like the state of Alaska. So the U.S. has plenty of solar energy everywhere.

She made a few other comparisons between U.S. and Germany. U.S.: 30% investment tax credit. Germany: National Feed-in Tariff.

She talked about SunShot: the Apollo mission of our time. It aims to reduce solar costs by 75% by the end of the decade, making solar cost-competitive with fossil fuels without subsidy.

Actual panels cost about the same in U.S. and Germany, but the rest Continue reading

Solar Companies Booming in Buffalo

There’s still time to lead the solar parade:
“The solar market is the fastest-growing market worldwide, bar none,” said Ryne P. Raffaelle, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Center for Photovoltaics in Colorado. “For the last half-dozen years, it’s grown at about a 40 to 45 percent compound annual growth rate per year.”

That growth is expected to accelerate next year, said Raffaelle, who was a Rochester Institute of Technology faculty member for 10 years. But the vast majority of that growth, both in the manufacturing and deployment of systems, is happening outside the United States. Asia has taken a “commanding lead” in manufacturing, and Europe leads in deployment, he said.

“But the rest of the world, they’re still watching the United States. They still see us as the 800-pound gorilla,” Raffaelle said. “It’s like, ‘When are they going to do something?'”

That was from a conference held in the Buffalo area recently.

In Buffalo, New York, they’re not just talking about solar power: Continue reading

Longterm local jobs that cannot be exported: solar installation

A press release by Southface promises:
Long-term jobs that cannot be exported will also come from developing workers skilled in the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, and solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems.
How will that happen?
October 29, 2009 –
Led by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, six southern states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will join together to create a “Southern Regional Resource and Training Program” to train a robust workforce in the installation of solar technologies for the burgeoning solar industry. Southface will deliver solar installation training through its new Green Jobs Training Center, and will serve on the program’s advisory board.
Southface is based in Atlanta. This is supposed to be a regional program, so maybe we can get some of these jobs right here in Lowndes County. The DoE says:
* University of Central Florida ($2,800,000)
This project will create the Southern Alternative Energy Training Network, which will develop industry-recognized and staff-alternative energy training centers throughout the southern U.S. The resulting programs will create a trained pipeline of workers to meet current and future employment demands needed by the solar industry.
UCF is the coordinator, but there’s no reason a training center couldn’t be in Valdosta. Who at VSU should be involved in this?