Lead Stories

EU Puts Brakes on Russia Natural Gas Pipelines
Vanessa Mock – The Wall Street Journal
The European Union has slammed the brakes on two big Russian pipeline projects to supply more natural gas to Europe, as part of its efforts to turn up the heat on Moscow over its incursion into Crimea.

EU parliament backs law to curb “super” greenhouse gases
Michael Szabo and Barbara Lewis – Reuters
The European Parliament on Wednesday backed a law to curb the use of “super” greenhouse gases used in fridges and air conditioners, which have a global warming potential thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.

European utilities E.ON, Enel to close power plants, cut dividends
Christoph Steitz and Stephen Jewkes – Reuters
E.ON and Enel, two of Europe’s largest power utilities, are to shut more plants and cut costs, they announced on Wednesday, joining rivals in warning that the industry crisis will weigh on profits for years to come.

Abbott Pushes Carbon Tax Repeal Agenda
Mary Swire – Tax-News.com
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has launched his party’s campaign to secure seats in the Western Australia Senate by-election with its plans to scrap the mining and carbon taxes.
Speaking in Perth, he described the levies as “anti-Western Australia taxes,” and stressed that the state would get a better deal if the Senate agreed to repeal them. The High Court has declared Western Australia’s Senate results from September’s general election void.

Norway to Raise Oil Fund’s Exposure to Renewable Energy
Kjetil Malkenes Hovland – The Wall Street Journal
Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg plans to increase the Scandinavian nation’s $840 billion oil fund’s exposure to renewable energy, reflecting a continuing shift toward using its vast wealth to combat climate change.

Chinese Cadres Told Going Green Rivals GDP to Rise in Party
Chinese cadres at the first legislative meeting with Xi Jinping as President are grappling with new performance metrics that will determine how they get ahead in the Communist Party.
For decades, the solution for local officials was to promote economic growth rates that exceeded national targets, and to bring in revenue as land was sold to developers. Now, aspiring leaders are being judged on an array of issues including how they tackle the environment and improve people’s lives.

Vestas tops GE for wind installations
Business Spectator
Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has regained its position as the world-leading turbine installer, reaching first place in the top five companies in terms of total capacity installed, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData’s unique wind turbine installation figures for 2013.

Plug Power Expects EBITDA Income in 2014 as Orders Quadruple
Christopher Martin – Bloomberg
Plug Power Inc. (PLUG), the fuel-cell system maker that’s the best performer on the Nasdaq in the past year, said operations will come closer to a profit this year as orders quadruple and production costs decline.

Musk’s Tesla Hires Chief Spokesman From Renault-Nissan
Alan Ohnsman and Keith Naughton – Bloomberg
Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), preparing to sell electric cars in China as it fights auto dealers in the U.S., is hiring a veteran of Carlos Ghosn’s Renault SA-Nissan Motor Co. alliance to manage its marketing and message.

Big two ruled out for Tesla ‘gigafactory’
Business Spectator
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Tesla’s $5 billion ‘gigafactory’ won’t be built in California, despite the electric car market being based in the state, at Palo Alto, and having an existing factory there also, at Fremont.
According to the newspaper, Tesla eliminated California as an option on Friday, citing a spokesman from Governor Jerry Brown’s administration involved in negotiations with the EV maker.


“Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Regulations: Lessons Learned”
Richard D. Morgenstern, Ph.D. Resources for the Future (RFF)
March 14, 2014
12:00 Noon, PDT (WEBCAST) Byron Sher Auditorium, 2nd Floor, Cal/EPA Building 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California

Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) 2014
March 26-28, 2014
San Francisco, California

GLOBE 2014
13th Biennial Conference and Trade Fair on Business and Sustainability
March 26-28, 2014
Vancouver, British Columbia

Solar Summit
Greentech Media’s flagship annual solar conference that focuses on global market trends, relevant technologies and project finance. With sessions on everything from Latin American market dynamics to BOS innovations, Solar Summit attracts high-level decision makers from all areas of the industry.
April 14-16, 2014
Phoenix, Arizona

Minnesota’s Marquee Solar Event
The Midwest Solar Expo is bringing together solar leaders from across the Midwest to advance dialogue on key issues, provide insight on the latest industry trends and best practices, and serve as a nexus between the solar industry and the public.
May 16, 2014
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Chevron warns California carbon rules will make gasoline too costly
Ernest Scheyder – Reuters
Pending California carbon regulations could make it too expensive to operate refineries in the most populous U.S. state, drastically increasing gasoline prices and costing thousands of jobs, a senior Chevron Corp executive said.

‘Social Cost Of Carbon’ Too Low, Report Says
Kate Sheppard – Huffington Post
The U.S. government uses $37 as its estimate of how much a ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere costs, including decreased agricultural productivity, damage from rising sea levels and harm to human health related to climate change. The Obama administration updated that figure, known as the “social cost of carbon,” in November.

Natural Gas/Coal

Wyoming high court remands fracking secrets case
A Wyoming Supreme Court ruling Wednesday will give environmentalists another chance to argue in favor of public disclosure of the ingredients in the chemical products used in hydraulic fracturing in the state.

Natural-Gas Exports 101: Beyond Ukraine
Amy Harder – The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. government is facing pressure from all corners to ramp up natural-gas exports as a way to weaken Russia’s hand over Ukraine. To the casual observer, this debate might have seemed to come out of nowhere. So we thought it might help to break it down for you.

Sempra Energy, AGL Said to Be Interested in Energen Unit
Matthew Monks – Bloomberg
Sempra Energy and AGL Resources Inc. (GAS) have expressed interest in buying Energen Corp.’s natural gas utility, which could fetch more than $1 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said. The shares rose.

What’s this Coal Miner Doing Selling Gas Assets?
Reuben Brewer – The Motley Fool
Rhino Resource Partners (NYSE: RNO  ) is a coal focused miner. However, like CONSOL Energy (NYSE: CNX  ) , Natural Resource Partners (NYSE: NRP  ) , and Penn Virginia Resource Partners  (NYSE: PVR  ) , it’s been broadening its reach to include natural gas assets. That’s been a big part of the company’s growth story, so why did it just agree to sell out of natural gas?

We Energies quietly buying up sites near Oak Creek plant
Journal Sentinel
We Energies has been quietly buying millions of dollars in properties next to the Oak Creek power plant, in an area that has been plagued by polluted groundwater.
Since 2009, the utility has bought 20 properties totaling more than $5.2 million near the massive coal-fired plant on the shore of Lake Michigan, records show.

Natural Gas Is Going Down, Any Way You Slice It [VIDEO]

Energy XXI to Acquire EPL Oil & Gas for $1.5 Billion
Jim Polson – Bloomberg
Energy XXI (Bermuda) Ltd. (EXXI) agreed to acquire EPL Oil & Gas Inc. (EPL) for $1.5 billion to become the largest publicly traded independent producer on the Gulf of Mexico shelf.
The purchase price of $39 a share for EPL stockholders represents a 34 percent premium over the company’s closing price yesterday, according to a statement today. The transaction will be 65 percent cash and 35 percent Energy XXI common shares.


U.S. Risks National Blackout From Small-Scale Attack
Rebecca Smith – The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis.

Clouds Shroud China’s Bloated Solar Sector
Abheek Bhattacharya – The Wall Street Journal
For a Chinese solar-equipment maker to default may seem like a rare sign of consolidation in an overcrowded sector. Yet don’t expect new light to shine on this industry.
Shanghai Chaori Solar has become the first company of any stripe to default in China’s domestic bond market. That it was a solar company underscores Beijing’s desire to instill some market discipline in a bloated sector fueled by local government-funded companies that have kept making panels despite plummeting prices in recent years.

Japan Plans to Set Deadline for Solar Projects, Kyodo Reports
Chisaki Watanabe – Bloomberg
Japan plans to impose a new rule under which project approvals will be canceled if developers of solar power stations fail to secure land and equipment within six months, the Kyodo news agency reported yesterday.

Modi Signals Solar Revolution for Power Market: Corporate India
Natalie Obiko Pearson and Debjit Chakraborty – Bloomberg
Narendra Modi hasn’t said much about how he’d govern India if he wins the general election in May. One thing is clear: he’s signaling a clean energy revolution to end blackouts and revive economic growth.

Minnesota becomes first state to set ‘value of solar’ tariff
Dan Haugen – Midwest Energy News
Minnesota utility regulators on Wednesday approved the nation’s first statewide formula for calculating the value of customer-generated solar power.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted 3-2 in favor of a proposal aimed at settling the perennial debate over how much solar power is worth to a utility and its ratepayers, as well as society and the environment.

Indiana governor to decide fate of energy efficiency standard
Jeffrey Tomich – E&E Publishing
The future of Indiana’s 2-year-old energy savings mandate is in the hands of Republican Gov. Mike Pence after the state Senate overwhelmingly voted yesterday to end the program on Dec. 31.
The Senate voted 37-8 in favor of S.B. 340, which would eliminate a requirement for Indiana investor-owned utilities to reduce retail electricity sales by 2 percent by 2019.

No decision on hydro gas plant for 4 years
Bruce Owen – Winnipeg Free Press
It’s been dubbed Plan 5 and it doesn’t include the proposed Conawapa mega-generating station.
Instead of building the estimated $10.7-billion Conawapa dam in the next few years, Manitoba Hydro has floated the idea of building a cheaper natural gas-burning plant to produce electricity.

Japan Regulator Selects First Reactors for Possible Restart
Mari Iwata – The Wall Street Journal
Japan’s nuclear power regulator has chosen two reactors in southwestern Japan as the first candidates for being restarted under new regulations meant to prevent another disaster like the one at Fukushima in 2011.


California’s spending on water is lacking, says PPIC; get ready to pass the hat
Molly Peterson – Southern California Public Radio
A new study from the Public Policy Institute of California finds “critical” funding shortages of as much as 10 percent for key elements of the state’s water system. And guess who’s going to pay for those? In an 81-page report, PPIC authors suggest federal money for water projects is likely to diminish – so if there’s a need to pass the hat for more funding, water consumers — including residential, farm and business interests — are likely to foot the bill.

BNP Sees Bond Value on Cresting Water Utility Risks: U.K. Credit
Louise Downing – Bloomberg
The bonds of U.K. water utilities are again offering value after the threat of price curbs rattled investors, according to BNP Paribas SA.
“Bond risks have peaked in the water industry,” James Sparrow, a London-based BNP credit analyst, said yesterday. “Although regulatory uncertainty will remain throughout the rest of 2014, I expect spreads to gradually tighten as the uncertainty recedes.”


Why Do So Many Oil Trains Keep Blowing Up? [VIDEO]
Since July 2013 four trains carrying Bakken crude from North Dakota have exploded, erupting in massive fireballs and, in one case, killing 47 people. There are several reason why these trains are exploding — there’s more oil traveling on rails than ever before and Bakken oil is more combustible than other types of crude. Even though we know what the problems are, the solutions to prevent such accidents are anything but easy.

Iowa sees job growth from clean energy
Christopher Doering – Des Moines Register
Iowa, which generates a quarter of its electricity by wind, made plans last year to add up to 1,400 clean energy and clean transportation jobs in the state, according to the nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs.
In a report released Wednesday, the group said during the fourth quarter alone, Iowa ranked the  fifth largest for job creation, trailing only Texas, Arizona, New York and California.

Asia-Pacific failing to save forests, grassland loss
Stian Reklev – Reuters
Asia-Pacific nations are failing to halt the loss of natural forests and grasslands, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday, robbing people of their livelihoods and worsening environmental problems like desertification and climate change.

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