energy

As Oil Prices Fall, Who Wins And Who Loses?

Oct 16, 2014

With oil around $85 a barrel and tumbling to its lowest levels in several years, here's the upside: Gasoline prices are down, the U.S. is feeling less dependent on foreign crude, and serious economic pressure is growing on oil producers such as Iran and Russia.

Here's the downside: The low demand for oil reflects a fragile global economy that's vulnerable to additional shocks, like falling stock markets around the world.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Gina McCarthy, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visited Connecticut on Tuesday.

It was a homecoming of sorts for McCarthy, who was commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009. 

Flickr Creative Commons / kennymatic

The Connecticut Energy Marketers Association is a trade group representing about 600 heating oil and propane dealers. In a complaint, it alleges the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection didn't adequately assess the environmental impact of Governor Dannel Malloy's Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which plans to add 900 miles of natural gas pipelines in the state.

Jeff Kubina/flickr creative commons

Church and community leaders have added their voices to the calls for Connecticut Light and Power to withdraw its latest rate request. CL&P has caused uproar by proposing to increase the fixed fees that it charges customers to raise an additional $221 million. 

Northeast Utilities

State environmental officials are taking a closer look at the impact of more than two billion gallons of water discharged into Long Island Sound from Connecticut's nuclear plant.

why 137 / Creative Commons

Last weekend's climate change march brought thousands of protesters to New York City. A new bill now making its way through the U.S. Senate is also aiming to reduce the impact of so-called atmospheric "super pollutants."

On the eve of the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a Massachusetts environmental group called for aggressive limits on power plant emissions.

Activists who have been working for months on a climate change plan for Springfield, Massachusetts say they must factor in an unwanted development — the possible construction of a wood-burning power plant in the city.

Neighborhood representatives, community organizers, and people from health-focused organizations have been brainstorming ways to improve the environment and reduce greenhouse gases with a goal to present a plan to the Springfield City Council by the end of the year.

The Connecticut Supreme Court has sided with a state agency regulating wind energy, rejecting a challenge by opponents of a wind power project.

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts has green-lighted an appeal to try to block construction of a wood-burning power plant. 

   The council authorized the filing of a notice of appeal of last month’s Massachusetts Land Court ruling that reinstated the building permit for the biomass project.  Dozens of project opponents urged the council to act prior to a September 15th deadline.   City Councilor Tim Allen said a lawyer advised the council the appeal has a 25 percent chance of success.

In the power business, it's all about managing the peaks.

During the hottest days of summer, electric utilities run at full capacity to keep giant cities comfortably cool. But most of the rest of the year, half that capacity goes unused — and that's highly inefficient.

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts will hold a special meeting on whether to continue the fight over a wood-burning power plant.

Facing a Sept. 15th deadline to file an appeal to the court ruling that restored the building permit for the controversial plant, city council meeting notices have been posted for both Sept. 10 and 11.   City Councilor Tim Allen opposes the biomass plant, but is uncertain if he’ll vote to appeal last month’s decision by the Massachusetts Land Court.

Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority

A new solar array in Hartford is the first solar-energy project to be built atop a closed landfill in the state. At peak capacity, it's expected to power about 1,000 homes per day.

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts is considering whether to appeal a court ruling that reinstated the building permit for a wood-burning power plant.

Springfield City Council President Mike Fenton said he will poll the council members to determine if they want to hold a special meeting to vote on whether to appeal last months’ ruling by the Massachusetts Land Court.  Fenton said councilors met privately with an attorney this week to discuss the pros and cons of a possible appeal.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has put out for public comment a draft environmental impact statement concerning a proposed pipeline expansion project in the Northeast. The expansion includes property belonging to the Indian Point Nuclear power plant.

Some good news heading into the long weekend: Labor Day gas prices are at their lowest level in four years.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the nationwide average for retail regular was $3.45 per gallon on Aug. 25 — that's the lowest average price for a Monday ahead of Labor Day since 2010, and it's about $0.25 per gallon less than at the end of June this year. The current price is down from the record average of $3.83 for the 2012 holiday.

Northeast Utilities

Federal regulators say they could impose more inspections and greater oversight of Connecticut's nuclear power plant due to repeated problems with a critical water pump. 

Sean Phillips / U.S. Navy

The sub base in New London is hosting a meeting between the Navy and energy industry to exchange information about renewable energy, a mini-electric grid, and industry research. 

University of New Hampshire

Residents using outdoor wood burning furnaces to heat their homes and businesses could now be eligible for state money. A new program offers cash for the removal or replacement of old heating units.

Northeast Utilities

Federal inspectors have cited Connecticut's nuclear plant for three minor safety violations, including a worker who breathed in radioactive material.

Brian Cassidy / Creative Commons

Consumer advocates say that new laws passed this year will help electric consumers dealing with higher-than-expected rates from so-called "third-party" electric providers. Many of these companies offer lower initial rates than the major utilities -- Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating -- but the rates can later spike, often without warning. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new “bill of rights” has gone into effect for Connecticut’s electricity consumers. The bill is aimed at creating greater transparency in the marketing practices of third-party electric suppliers -- after many consumers complained that their electricity bills were increasing without warning.

The coal industry made its presence known in Pittsburgh this week for public hearings on President Obama's controversial plan to address climate change. A key element is rules the Environmental Protection Agency proposed in June. They would cut greenhouse gas emissions — chiefly carbon dioxide — from existing power plants. The national goal is 30 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

CandiceDawn/iStock / Thinkstock

Federal proposals to cap carbon emissions could actually benefit some states economically, according to a new study released on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

South Portland, Maine, is known as the place where Liberty ships were built by tens of thousands of workers during World War II. Now, the city's waterfront is home to an oil terminal and the beginning of a 236-mile-long pipeline.

For more than 70 years, the Portland Montreal Pipeline Corp. has pumped crude oil up through the pipeline, across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, to be refined in Montreal.

A group of opponents of the Vermont Gas Systems pipeline say the cost of Vermont Gas Systems’ pipeline from Colchester to Addison County is no longer justifiable in light of a recently announced cost increase.

New Hampshire is hosting the latest summit between the governors of the New England states and the Premiers of Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. The conference takes place Monday at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, and follows a similar meeting held in Quebec last September

CandiceDawn/iStock / Thinkstock

Connecticut has to wait for more federal action on cross-border pollution, according to a top environmental official who visited Hartford.

Governor Dannel Malloy

Connecticut's revised state budget and a host of new laws take effect Tuesday after being passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Dannel Malloy.

In an attempt to stop the juggernaut advance of the Sunni extremist group ISIS, Iraq's central government says the fight for the country's largest oil refinery is far from over. A military official says 40 militants have been killed.

"Iraqi government officials say an elite special operations force is holding off ISIS militants at the Beiji refinery 160 miles north of the capital," NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Erbil. "But local police report ISIS is tightening a grip on the facility."

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