April 29, 2016

Will natural gas pipelines be overbuilt?

Overestimating the need for natural gas and the subsequent overbuilding of pipelines is a possibility, according to some experts in the field. NOT Dominion Power of course. That fear of not having sufficient natural gas for their power plants that are being converted from coal is what they are selling to regulatory entities. And to elected officials in Tidewater Virginia.

What most folks do not realize is that natural gas pipelines are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and that agency does not have the same level of oversight as state regulatory commissions. The main factor that FERC looks at is whether a pipeline developer has been able to recruit enough companies to contract for capacity on that pipeline, not whether it is truly needed. If the pipeline is fully subscribed, it's a go. And who ultimately pays for that pipeline? You got it: the public.

Look for more on this topic from your local media. It will most likely not be on the front page.

April 18, 2016

Dominion Power is powerful, but confusing

In all their responses to not converting their aging York River power plant from coal to gas, company spokespersons simply say that is "not feasible." How they define that phrase is not clear.

Is it the cost? Proposals have not been made public as far as I know. No cost estimates that I have read about. Only that costs have vacillated over the last few years, especially after Dominion starting pushing for a James River power lines crossing.

Dominion folks claim that sufficient gas cannot get to that York River plant. But now I read that the plant currently runs only at times when demand is high. That seems to contradict their lack of gas argument.

According to a recent Daily Press article, "Dominion spokeswoman Bonita Billingsley Harris said the company has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for permission to keep the Yorktown coal units running until June 2017.

She said the company understands that the EPA will issue its permission on or shortly after its current exemption expires. The plant, which runs only at times when demand is high, is not currently generating power."

April 12, 2016

Solar Mickey Mouse?

Yes, it seems that sometime this spring, Walt Disney World Resort in California will have this incredible solar farm with 48,000 solar panels operational. Duke Energy Florida is constructing it.

Zika alert

The aedes aegypti mosquito has received a lot of PR in recent months. The female is the one that transmits Zika and other diseases, and she will bite during the day. After doing yardwork yesterday (wearing DEET to thwart chiggers), I researched what she looked like. Seriously? You think I can see these white markings? Before I swat her?

More important, this mosquito already lives in 30 states. And Virginia is one of them.