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April 6, 2018

Energy – SciPol Weekly, March 31 – April 6

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Government

Reuters – U.S. ethanol groups bristle as EPA frees refiners from biofuels law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the request of 25 small refineries to be exempted from the nation’s biofuels laws, an agency source said on Wednesday, marking a big increase from previous years and triggering an outcry from farm groups worried the move will hurt ethanol demand.

The Hill – California to fight Trump’s ‘politically motivated’ car standards plan

California officials promised Monday to put up a fight against the Trump administration’s newly announced decision to lower standards for car tailpipe emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency declared Monday afternoon that the Obama-era greenhouse gas rules for cars made between 2022 and 2025 are too ambitious and should be eased.

Industry

Axios – Investors stunned over oil producer’s climate-change exemption

A new twist is unfolding in the fight between activist investors and the oil industry: an unprecedented move by federal regulators allowing a major producer to preemptively kill a shareholder resolution on climate change without a vote.

Bloomberg Technology – Energy Transfer Says ‘Cyber Attack’ Shut Pipeline Data System

A cyber attack that hobbled the electronic communication system used by a major U.S. pipeline network has been overcome. Energy Transfer Partners LP was confident that, after 6 p.m. New York time on Monday, files could safely be exchanged through the EDI platform provided by third-party Energy Services Group LLC, the pipeline company said in a notice. Earlier in the day, it reported a shutdown of the system because of an attack, while saying there was no effect on the flow of natural gas.

Cleveland – Power grid manager PJM to Energy Department: There is no emergency

Power grid manager PJM Interconnection on Friday urged the U.S. Department of Energy not to take extraordinary action ordering subsidies to keep uncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants operating.

The Post and Courier – How hedge funds are suing nuclear plant contractors that South Carolina utilities didn't

Westinghouse's nuclear reactor business had become a "de facto Ponzi scheme" by the time it foundered — a money pit that could only be filled by signing up more and more customers to build power plants. That's the case laid out in bankruptcy court filings by Citigroup and a group of hedge funds that have set out to do what a pair of South Carolina power companies didn’t: squeeze more money from the troubled company that could lower power bills for customers.

Utility Dive – California ISO mulls double duty for transmission-connected storage assets

The California ISO has launched a proceeding to consider how transmission-connected storage assets that provide cost-based services might also participate in energy and ancillary services markets. The California grid operator has previously avoided turning to storage as part of the Transmission Planning Process but has recently approved projects following a federal policy statement in 2017 on the issue.

Other

Energy News Network – In North Carolina, lots of hog waste — but can it scale as an energy source?

The molecules combusted at a North Carolina power plant now include some that originated not from fossil deposits locked deep in the earth’s crust, but from a group of nearby hog farms in Duplin County. The renewable natural gas project in the heart of hog country is a first for North Carolina, and backers say it won’t be the last.

Greentech Media – Renewables or Nuclear? A New Front in the Academic War Over Decarbonization

The debate over the fastest way to decarbonize the grid is intensifying, as experts debate a paper from last December claiming modular renewables could beat nuclear power. 

Utility Dive – Utilities take note: Hybrid renewables projects are coming

An innovation in renewables generation that could change the way utilities think about meeting reliability and peak demand took some big steps forward in 2017. Only a few U.S. utilities are pursuing hybrid projects that combine wind, solar and/or battery storage in various combinations