PLEASE TAKE TIME TO GLANCE THROUGH WHAT MAY BE BORING PUBLIC POLICY TO SEE WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO REVERSE GLOBAL CONTROL OF OUR VITAL INFRASTRUCTURE.
If you wonder why Clinton neo-liberals are using the same concept of diversification giving quality and effectiveness in every policy they push----education reform, health care reform, and energy diversity-----it is because they are using this diversification as a tool to undermine Federal laws regulating these industries. It has nothing to do with quality education, access for all to health care, or environmental choices in energy systems that are not really GREEN...
IT IS SIMPLY TO UNDERMINE FEDERAL LAWS WRITTEN TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC AND TO CONTROL MONOPOLIES IN OUR VITAL NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE.
So, all of this GREEN energy bang from Obama -----from windmill, solar, natural gas, and battery-----are all being done under the guise of environment and alternative fuel----yet the major source of energy in the US to homes, businesses, et al ----electricity -----has been and still is the most effective, efficient, and cost effective energy source. As they 'diversify' energy sources natural gas----which is oil-drilling on steroids with fracking-----is clearly moving as the mainstream energy source along with oil. We are now told the US is energy independent with fracking and oil sources.
The novelty of electric cars and driver-less vehicles run by technology all taking every option of freedom from the American people as we will not be the ones owning these vehicles---they will be too expensive. We will be forced out of driving and into this robotic system of transport.
Below you see what is the Republican policy of deregulation of the energy industry and redefining state public utilities to being able to cross state lines----flash forward a few decades from this 'reform' and we have Exelon now a regional energy corporation controlling all diversified energy models. These handful of regional energy corporations are now involved in creating these SMART GRIDS that will have consolidation of all energy sources to what will no doubt be one or two global energy corporations.
ALL OF THIS VIOLATES PUHCA OF COURSE AND IT IS NOW VIOLATING ANTI-TRUST AND MONOPOLY LAWS. Global corporations are buying these energy corporations and often simply opertating them is different businesses while still owned by the same global investment corporations. Someone that wants to reverse all of this consolidation that is Clinton neo-liberalism and Bush neo-conservatism-----simply needs to fight in court the violation of anti-trust and proving all these energy corporations are ultimately owned by the same entities.
Baltimore City Hall and Baltimore's Maryland Assembly pols are the source of every deregulation and consolidation of energy law coming to the Maryland Assembly because they work for Wall Street Baltimore Development and neo-conservative Johns Hopkins whose endowment owns much of investment firms involved in these global energy corporations.
ALL MARYLAND ASSEMBLY AND BALTIMORE POLS WORK HARD TO HAND ALL PUBLIC UTILITIES AND SERVICES TO GLOBAL CORPORATIONS. GET RID OF THEM.
So, Wall Street global pols are arguing that all of this diversification in energy sources---windmills, solar, natural gas, battery will end worries about monopoly even as huge global corporations control them. It is the same logic that having all consumer sources under a few brand names that are now globally owned is not a violation of anti-trust because there are lots of choices even though they are price-fixed at the same price----the reality is wind power will never add more than a few percentage% in Maryland, solar has not been promoted at all and will lose its subsidy making it affordable-----THIS DIVERSITY FARCE IS BEING USED TO CIRCUMVENT PUHCA.
HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT ALL THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS THAT WERE FORMED TO PUSH THESE ALTERNATIVE ENERGIES ARE SILENT ON HOW THIS UNDERMINES OUR REGULATED PUBLIC UTILITIES?
Below you see the same arguments used for deregulation but as we see over and over and over----all that happens is extreme consolidation into monopolies that kill competition and free markets. So the argument is false----PLEASE STOP BELIEVING THIS MESS.
PUHCA and Restructuring
Enactment of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT) increased competition in the electric generating sector by creating new entities that generate and sell electricity at wholesale without being regulated as utilities under PUHCA.(8) Success of these regulatory entities was made possible by new technologies, such as gas combined-cycle turbines. These generators are smaller than typical baseload facilities, allowing them to compete economically in the power market. Once again, marginal costs were below average costs. However, the economies of scale argument, which was once used as a rationale for a monopoly situation, no longer exists.
Comprehensive legislation to restructure the electric utility industry was introduced in the 105th Congress and is expected to continue to be an active issue in the 106th Congress. Proposals to increase competition in the electric utility industry involve segmenting the industry into three functions-- generation, transmission and distribution. Generation would be subject to competition, while transmission and distribution would be subject to federal and state regulation, respectively. This type of restructuring would permit retail consumers to choose their electricity generators. In addition, most comprehensive electric utility restructuring legislation addresses PURPA's mandatory purchase requirements, and retail competition, as well as PUHCA reform (see CRS Issue Brief IB10006, Electricity: The Road Toward Restructuring).
As the restructuring debate has evolved, utilities and the SEC have called for reform or repeal of PUHCA, asserting that PUHCA has achieved what it was designed to do and, it is argued, PUHCA discourages competition. Calls for PUHCA reform are not new. In the 1980s, utilities sought to diversify in order to exploit the benefits of independent power producers under PURPA. In 1982, the SEC recommended to Congress that PUHCA be repealed. Repeal legislation was not passed in the 1980s in part due to concerns about consumer protection. In 1995, the SEC concluded a study of the regulation of public utility holding companies. The SEC called for a conditional repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act, with a transition period. The SEC:
...believes that the Act [PUHCA] continues to play a role in protecting energy consumers. Most importantly, the SEC can obtain, audit and oversee a multistate holding company system's books and records, particularly in regard to affiliate transactions.... Past efforts to repeal the Act were unsuccessful largely because they failed to account for the continuing importance of this aspect of the regulatory scheme.
In following the [repeal] option preferred by the Division [SEC], Congress would repeal the Holding Company Act, including its limits on financing and geographic and business diversification. At the same time, Congress would enact new provisions to ensure access to books and records required for the effective discharge of a state's regulatory responsibilities and to establish federal audit authority and oversight of intrasystem transactions. The task of carrying out these provisions logically should be given to the federal agency that most directly protects energy consumers, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.(9)
The main argument for PUHCA reform has been that its provisions are antiquated and PUHCA has already achieved its goal by making holding companies manageable. Moreover, it is argued that various other regulations since PUHCA's enactment have been instituted to prevent holding company abuse. An additional argument for PUHCA reform has been made by electric utilities that want to further diversify their assets. Electric utilities contend that reform would allow utilities to improve their risk profiles through diversification in much the same way as in other businesses: the risk of any one investment is diluted by the risk associated with all investments. Utility holding companies that have been exempt from SEC regulation argue that PUHCA discourages diversification because the SEC could repeal exempt status if the exemption would be "detrimental to the public interest." Also, it is argued that PUHCA places consumers at a disadvantage by inhibiting competition in the electric utility industry.(10)
Opponents of PUHCA repeal, including some consumer groups, state regulators, the American Public Power Association(11), and small business groups, argue that until the industry completes its transition to a competitive market, PUHCA's regulations are needed to protect consumers.(12) Arguments against stand-alone PUHCA repeal include:
- concerns over market power (large utilities with numerous market advantages could inhibit competition);
- PUHCA guards against monopolies and anti-competitive behavior;
- possible increased risk of cross-subsidization between a regulated portion of utility holding company business and their unregulated business activities; and,
- concern that states will lack authority or resources to monitor interstate holding company activities.
Below you see where Bush in 1992 passed laws that would move towards deregulation and global market-building of US energy corporations. So, what was once simply state public electricity holding companies went to state private energy corporations buying public utilities to now US private energy corporations buying globally. So, the once public state utility is now moved to a national regional corporation that will become a global corporation and VIOLA----what was all supposed to give diversity and cost savings is milking the American people dry and full of fraud.
A COMPLEX MAZE OF LEGAL REQUIREMENTS-----is of course laws meant to protect consumers from just what is happening now. Republican voters always fall for this deregulation and anti-public sector scheme----but now Clinton neo-liberals like Obama has labor and justice pushing all this under the guise of JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. So, Obama and Clinton neo-liberals came to power in 2009 and super-sized Bush's attack on Federal laws like PUHCA while pretending they were diversifying and doing GREEN policy.
WHO DID CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS HAVE OUT PROMOTING THIS FAKE DIVERSIFICATION SO THEY COULD UNDERMINE PUHCA AND HAND US ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE TO GLOBAL CORPORATIONS? NATIONAL LABOR AND JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS BECAUSE IT WAS ABOUT JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.
'PUHCA, which is administered by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), regulates the acquisition and ownership by U.S. companies of electric and gas public utility companies. A public utility holding company is basically a company that owns a U.S. or foreign electric or gas utility company.(14) In the absence of an exemption--several of which are provided by PUHCA--A public utility holding company, as well as its public utility and non-utility subsidiaries, is subject under PUHCA to a complex maze of legal requirements. It was argued in 1992 that those legal requirements would pose obstacles to U.S. investment in foreign utilities.'
As you see Bush and this deregulation and US global expansion of energy corporations set in place the privatization of public energy around the world----just as Trans Pacific Trade Pact is being used to get rid of public health around the world.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (the "Act") has been signed into law by President Bush
. The Act repeals the longstanding Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 ("PUHCA"). The Act also amends the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 ("PURPA") so as to change the rights of "Qualifying Facilities." This client alert summarizes these two major changes to federal energy legislation. REPEAL OF PUHCA; MERGER AUTHORITY OF FERC
PUHCA has been repealed. Some of the most notable changes associated with PUHCA repeal include:
- PUHCA repeal becomes effective 6 months after the date of enactment of the Act.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") is given approval authority over mergers of public utility companies, over the acquisition, sale or other disposition of more than $10,000,000 in assets or stock of a public utility company or holding company, and over the leasing of more than $10,000,000 in public utility assets. Notably, for the first time, FERC is given jurisdiction over mergers, purchases and leases of generation assets that are used for interstate wholesale power sales.
- FERC is required to consider whether disposition, consolidation, acquisition or change in control will result in cross-subsidization of a non-utility associate company or will involve a pledge or encumbrance of utility assets for the benefit of an associate company. FERC also must find that such transaction is consistent with the public interest.
- Public utility holding companies, and their associate and affiliate companies, still must maintain and make available to FERC and to state utility commissions on a confidential basis books, accounts and other records relevant to costs incurred by public utilities.
- FERC must conduct a rulemaking within 90 days after the effective PUHCA repeal date regarding exemptions to Federal access to books and records of holding companies owning only qualifying facilities, exempt wholesale generators, or foreign utility companies.
- FERC’s authority to require that jurisdictional rates are just and reasonable is amended to explicitly call out the need for FERC to prevent cross-subsidization involving regulated utilities.
- Within 4 months after the date of enactment, FERC must issue regulations necessary to implement the new legislation.
- Within 4 months after the date of enactment, FERC must submit to Congress detailed recommendations on technical and conforming amendments necessary to implement PUHCA repeal.
- A holding company system or a state commission with jurisdiction over a public utility within a holding company system may elect to authorize FERC to review and authorize the allocation of the costs for non-power goods or administrative or management services provided by an associate company organized specifically to provide such goods or services to the public utility.
PUHCA originally broke up the nation’s gas and electric utility holding companies and limited the ability of gas and electric utilities to recombine. PUHCA required that holding companies systems be simplified so as to be limited, with relatively few minor exceptions, to the operations of a single integrated public utility system and to such other businesses as are reasonably incidental, or economically necessary or appropriate to the operations of the integrated system.
PUHCA repeal will open opportunities for utility acquisitions and mergers that have not been permitted since 1935. For example, when the repeal becomes effective:
- Parties may acquire multiple operating electric or gas utility companies that are not part of a single integrated public utility system.
- Parties may create combined multi-state gas and electric companies. The long-touted "convergence" of widespread electric and gas utility companies may now begin to occur.
- Non-utility companies in the United States may be able to invest surplus funds, or newly-raised funds, to acquire major interests in or to control of public utility companies.
- Individual investment funds may be able to acquire major interests in, or control of, multiple public utility companies.
- Holding companies, which under PUHCA would have been registered holding companies, will no longer be restricted from engaging in unrelated business activities.
Prior to passage of the Act contains, utilities have been required to buy capacity when needed and all energy made available to it by Qualifying Facilities. The Act alters the PURPA requirements in major respects.
- The mandatory purchase obligation is terminated if the Qualifying Facility has non-discriminatory access to competitive wholesale markets for capacity and energy. Utilities must make a filing at FERC to be relieved of their purchase obligation on this basis.
- In addition, the mandatory purchase obligation will not apply to any new Qualifying Cogeneration Facility, unless (a) the thermal output the new Qualifying Cogeneration Facility is used in a productive and beneficial matter, (b) the electric, thermal, and chemical output of the new Qualifying Cogeneration Facility is used fundamentally for industrial, commercial or institutional purposes, and is not intended fundamentally for sale to a utility, and (c) the new Qualifying Cogeneration Facility complies with rules ensuring the continuing progress in the development of efficient Qualifying Facility generating technology. FERC must issue new rules within 180 days to implement these requirements with respect to new Qualifying Cogeneration Facilities.
- The Act eliminates restrictions on public utility ownership of Qualifying Facilities. The Act provides that utilities and their affiliates can invest in and control Qualifying Facilities.
- Add several new federal ratemaking standards that state utility commissions must consider whether to implement. These new standards include provisions dealing with net metering, diversity and fossil fuel efficiency considerations in utility resource planning, time-of-use based rate schedules, and interconnection for customers with on-site generating facilities.
- Authorizes the Secretary of Energy to provide notice to state regulatory authorities and public utilities regarding technologies and ratemaking methods for advanced metering and communications and their use in demand response programs.
- Makes the Secretary of Energy responsible for educating consumers on advanced metering, for working with states and utilities to identify and address barriers to demand response programs, and for providing a report to Congress by January 1, 2007 that identifies and quantifies the benefits of demand response and makes a recommendation on achieving those benefits.
- What a super-majority of Democrats coming to office in 2009 would do to keep the American people from the same consequences that made FDR create public utility laws would be to VOID Bush's energy deregulation laws to stop what we know will be the return of the same conditions as brought the Great Depression----but Obama and Clinton neo-liberals in Congress did not reverse this reform Act of Bush-----they super-sized it and gave it room to grow like wildfire. That is what a Republican does----throws the American people under the bus to maximize corporate profits.
Now, since our Congressional leaders work for global corporations we need to use our local and state government to break down these monopolies---and they are already monopolies. O'Malley used the alternative energy scam to make it OK to hand our state energy to global corporations----the windmill project is owned by a European energy managing corporation----the GREEN energy credits are being sold to Texas energy corporations for example. None of it has anything to do with GREEN---it simply breaks down the centralized public utility structure. Know what? If you enforced environmental law----monopoly laws-----if you made sure that all regulations were being followed----these global corporations wouldn't want to be in your state. Take the profiteering and fraud away and these big guys could care less about simply providing service.
This is not socialism folks-----the public sector was created to give citizens a voice, power to control public policy-----and to protect vital services.
Trust-busting to public utility: How the New Deal built NE Tenn's municipal power grid
Nathan Baker • Jul 14, 2015 at 1:00 AM
A federal antitrust law passed in the wake of the economically devastating stock market crash of 1929 helped to shift control of utilities in Northeast Tennessee and elsewhere away from private companies into the hands of local municipalities, a structure maintained by most today.
Before the crash and the ensuing Great Depression, after the conclusion of World War I, the lavish Roaring Twenties took hold, a time marked by excess and the general philosophy that the U.S. stock market would continue to rise indefinitely.
The decade was ruled by largess, and led to the creation of gargantuan holding companies with tentacles creeping into and controlling subsidiaries in disjointed areas of the country.
One industry virtually dominated by holding companies was the private electric utility, in which, according to a National Power Policy Committee report, 13 companies controlled 75 percent of the utility industry in 1932, with three holding 40 percent of electric operations, a concentration of power the authors of the report said was “a form of private socialism inimical to the functioning of democratic institutions.”
The structure of the holding companies, with one company holding a controlling share in dozens of other, smaller companies scattered across the continent, presented difficulties for state regulators and allowed companies to misrepresent their earnings to investors, setting up a teetering economic tower that exacerbated the country’s decline into ruin once the first blocks began to topple.
Fervently pushed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of his New Deal reforms, Congress passed the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 following contentious debate, a monumental lobbying effort launched against it by the utility industry and a subsequent Senate investigation into the companies’ lobbying practices.
The new law encouraged holding companies to sell off their stakes in unrelated, non-geographically contiguous areas or face a divestment order from the Securities Exchange Commission.
Northeast Tennessee Subsidiaries
Decades before local officials, Tennessee Valley Authority representatives and private utility leaders met in Bristol, Virginia, in 1945 to divvy up the area’s utility service systems under a federal order, the industry under the private holding company system began to take shape.
In 1913, Cities Services Co., which later became the fossil fuel-oriented Citgo, bought the Watauga Power Company, as documented by author Tom Lee in his book “The Tennessee-Virginia Tri-Cties: Urbanization in Appalachia,” a purchase that provided the corporation ownership of the Wilbur Dam on the Watauga River and control of Bristol’s electric service.
Twenty years later, Cities Services had acquired utilities in Carter and Johnson counties, Jonesborough, Greeneville, Johnson City, Erwin and in North Carolina, and formed the subsidiary East Tennessee Light and Power.
Understanding the implications of the Public Utility Holding Company Act, TVA, which at that point had already begun building hydroelectric dams of its own, began providing cost feasibility and rate estimations to utilities to advocate public ownership of the means of electric distribution.
Johnson City’s leaders seemed well interested in the prospect of TVA power, but a brief-lived bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. B. Carroll Reece, representing the Tri-Cities area, challenged the municipal ownership.
According to Lee, Reece and Judge Thad A. Cox, builder of Johnson City’s Oaks Castle, held similar business interests and pushed for a utility district in Northeast Tennessee to purchase and distribute power. The two would have stood to reap the monetary benefits of such a utility district, but the ratepayers would have likely paid more than TVA’s rate, Lee wrote.
In written correspondence, Reece criticized the damming of rivers for hydroelectric generation as driving residents from fertile river valleys and called Roosevelt’s new deal “socialistic.”
Reece’s bill was quickly defeated in committee, however, and in 1943, Johnson City formed a committee to coordinate with TVA the purchase and transfer of a portion of East Tennessee Light and Power.
In 1945, after the TVA reached an agreement with the subsidiary, Johnson City launched a $2.3 million bond issue to allow the municipality to purchase surrounding distribution systems. Both Bristols followed suit, as did Elizabethton, Erwin and Greeneville.
Kingsport, which was not under East Tennessee Light and Power at the time, but served by another private company, decided to leave its electric distribution under private control.
To govern the newly formed municipal systems, each city set up a board of directors, a form of management still in place today in all the communities except Elizabethton, which dissolved its board and put the utility under the direct control of the City Council in 2005.
As I said, Obama and Congressional neo-liberals had the majority and the power to reverse this deregulation by Bush but instead they super-sized the deregulation. So, every time I hear that it is the Republican's fault-----CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS ARE REPUBLICANS FOR GOODNESS SAKE. Did you hear your national labor and justice organizations shouting about how bad dismantling these regulations on energy were or did they march people out to support what was sold as environmental policy? Did environmental groups support all this alternative energy scam as GREEN----without telling you what was behind all of the environmental devastation happening around the nation from fracking to battery/nano-technology? THERE WAS NOT A SOUND ABOUT REPEALING BUSH'S DEREGULATION OF THE ENERGY SECTOR FROM ANY LABOR OR JUSTICE GROUP. This is how you know your organization leaders are working for Clinton neo-liberals and global corporations----they should be protecting you and I and they are working for corporate power and profit.
As it says below-----we need localized, clean energy systems and we can do that by making sure whatever corporation is allowed to operate in Baltimore or Maryland is held to existing laws and cannot profiteer, defraud, or abuse the low-income population. Rate increases being handed out by a corporate Maryland Public Services Commission can be challenged as we are simply being made to pay for all operating costs for these energy corporations. MAKE IT HARD FOR THEM TO DO BUSINESS WHILE BUILDING LOCAL ENERGY STRUCTURES. You can bet FERC, like SEC are not doing their jobs so do it for them!
'The 10th anniversary of the Energy Policy Act is a good reminder that it is long past time for a paradigm shift. We need localized, efficient and clean energy systems now to meet our energy needs and safely power our communities.'
Published on Monday, July 27, 2015 by Food & Water Watch Blog
Three Ways The Energy Policy Act Ushered In The Frackopoly
byWenonah Hauter 7 CommentsOne of the biggest oil and gas industry giveaways happened 10 years ago this week, when Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. (Photo: Mary Crandall/flickr/cc)
This is a good week to reflect on Dick Cheney’s role in facilitating fracking. Early in the George W. Bush administration, he put together a task force made up of energy industry CEO’s and lobbyists, known as EPACT 2005, which rewrote energy policy.The damage this legislation did is much broader than is usually discussed.
This has become increasingly apparent to me as I researched and wrote my new book, Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment (to be released next spring). The tremendous political power of the energy industry unleashed the tragic policy decisions in EPACT 2005. In fact, their increasing pwer over the past hundred years has locked us in to dependence on fossil fuels and other dirty energy sources. Federal funding was key in developing the technologies that are used for fracking today. Removal of federal oversight of natural gas pricing and changes in the rules around the transportation of natural gas in pipes also helped eventually drive the shale gas boom. Decisions in the 1990’s concerning the deregulation of the electric industry – how electricity is generated, sold on the wholesale market and delivered to consumers – also drove the use of natural gas-fired generation.
But one of the biggest oil and gas industry giveaways happened 10 years ago this week, when Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
This giant energy bill had massive handouts and incentives for the fossil fuel, nuclear and ethanol industries, with minimal incentives for renewables and energy efficiency. This bill was largely written by the lobbyists of the oil and gas industry and other dirty energy interests. The long forgotten shyster Kenneth Lay, of Enron fame (or infamy) was one of the leading lobbyists for deregulation of the electric industry and the giveaways to the energy industry in EPACT 2005. Lay and other Enron officials lobbied the Clinton and Bush Administrations for significant deregulation of energy markets that paved the way for fracking—and many of the policies were signed into law by President Bush on August 8, 2005.
Here are three specific ways the Energy Policy Act promoted fracking.
- The Halliburton Loophole
The loophole clouded the otherwise clear lines of liability for companies that contaminated water. It also makes it a nightmare for health professionals treating victims of fracking-related injuries, because they can’t get the information they need to provide proper care.
- FERC granted power of imminent domain in siting new gas infrastructure
FERC was given the authority to approve the siting, construction, expansion and operation of LNG terminals. It was also authorized to be the lead agency coordinating compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, one of the nation’s most important laws for protecting the environment.
Combined with the powers granted to FERC when it was created, and the fact that it is an independent agency unresponsive to politics, EPACT 2005 made certain that affected communities would be virtually powerless to fight against this unneeded infrastructure.
- Repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act
Among the key consumer and investor protections in PUHCA, it prohibited non-utilities (such as oil companies or investment banks) from ownership of gas or electric utilities, and empowered the SEC to oversee the business dealings of utilities to prevent the reappearance of the huge multistate utility cartels that had previously ripped off customers and ruined investors. Utilities were required to provide the SEC with detailed financial information and to have financial transactions approved—from issuing securities to reorganizing.
PUCHA’s strong regulatory authority was replaced by giving FERC the authority to review electric utility mergers and acquisitions.
And as could have been predicted, FERC did not prevent the consolidation of the electric utility industry. The repeal of PUHCA unleashed energy market speculation and created extremely large energy companies with outsized influence on our political system. According to OpenSecrets.org, since 1998 the top 10 electric utilities, listed below, have spent $581 million on lobbying the federal government. One of the little-recognized benefits of PUHCA was in preventing corporate utilities from becoming political powerhouses. Their increased size and profits have enabled them to influence policy on a much broader scale.
Today, a handful of giant companies operate subsidiaries that provide electricity and half of them are involved in trading energy on Wall Street. Deregulatory measures have incentivized them to sell as much electricity as possible, much of it generated by natural gas. They are:
- Exelon Corp
- Duke Energy
- Southern Company
- Xcel Energy
- PPL Corp
- PG&E Corp.
- Public Service Electric & Gas
- American Electric Power
The 10th anniversary of the Energy Policy Act is a good reminder that it is long past time for a paradigm shift. We need localized, efficient and clean energy systems now to meet our energy needs and safely power our communities.
© 2014 Food & Water Watch
A deregulated energy industry will not care about maintaining safety and infrastructure---they just let things go until they cannot. I had a BGE worker pulled up some natural gas lines on my street to put in new. Before then our gas stove pilots would not stay lit. Now, I know the the new process of liquified gas is causing blockage all over the nation as it does not travel through pipes correctly. We are hearing of more and more explosions of gas lines and it is because of these kinds of problems. A Federal government protecting the American people would not allow national natural gas corporations to change how they formulate natural gas in order to transport it and then not fix that formulation when delivered to homes through pipeline. ENERGY CORPORATIONS ARE CHANGING THE FORMULA THAT LIQUIFIES NATURAL GAS IN ORDER TO EASIER TRANSPORT ----AND THEN NOT REVERTING BACK TO WHAT WOULD FLOW SAFELY THREW PIPES BECAUSE THAT WOULD COST MONEY AND LOSE PROFITS. In my case-----that gas pipeline outside my house was becoming more and more blocked and it is this kind of blockage that leads to these explosions.
Your pols know this is happening----they know this is dangerous----and they know they have the ability to require energy corporations do this----AND THEY ARE SILENT BECAUSE THEY WORK FOR THE ENERGY CORPORATIONS AS CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS.
I want to say to my labor union friends----when I said this to the BGE employee working with my gas furnace during this repair----all he said was----YOU KNOW TOO MUCH. Union workers who allow all of this dismantling of regulations and privatization of all that is public just to support their corporation ----at the peril of society-----WE NEED LABOR UNIONS FIGHTING WITH JUSTICE! THIS IS THE DEMOCRATIC BASE----LABOR AND JUSTICE.
Jan 29, 2013 @ 12:10 PM 8,069 views
Pipeline Explosion Rattles Natural Gas Industry
I write about the global energy business.
WASHINGTON - MARCH 30: Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, testifies on Capitol Hill on March 30, 2011 in Washington, DC. The motorcoach safety hearing comes after recent bus accidents put a spotlight on oversight of buses and bus drivers. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
On December 11, 2012, Sue Bonham stood at the epicenter of her home in Sissonville, WV and thought that the earth would swallow her. Projectiles were flying while her household items were sizzling and melting -- after a natural gas delivery pipeline had burst and shaken the whole neighborhood there.
“I thought my home and I would explode at any moment,” the elderly woman said, as she explained that horrifying day to a U.S. Senate panel and to federal government regulators in Charleston, WV on Monday. “I was suffocating and thought I’d be burned alive.” Altogether, four homes were incinerated but no one died.
The increased concerns over pipeline safety are occurring alongside the boom in shale gas, which is touted as this country’s energy savior — giving the United States at least a century’s worth of newfound natural gas. But if shale gas that is embedded in rocks and found a mile beneath the ground is to reach its promise, it would need an expanded infrastructure in place.
At present, 2.5 million miles of existing natural gas pipelines exist in the United States, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Half of that was installed prior to 1970, meaning that the standards by which they have been built are not as strict as the more recently constructed lines. With the share of natural gas used to fuel power plants expected to keep rising, gas producers are saying that between 29,000 and 62,000 miles of new pipeline is needed over the next 25 years.
How can policymakers reconcile the need for safety with that of trying to accommodate an expected surge in shale gas? The age of the underground lines is less important than whether they are getting adequately maintained, says Deborah Hersman, chair of the safety board, at the hearing. Current law requires that pipelines be inspected every seven years, although those located near population centers necessitate more frequent oversight.
Recommended by Forbes “If it is adequately maintained and inspected, age is not an issue,” she said at the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee hearing that is chaired by Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-WV. In the case of the pipeline eruption in Sissonville, Hersman said that it was an older line that had “corroded,” or which had lost 70 percent of the wall’s thickness. The line is owned by NiSource Gas Transmission and is operated by its subsidiary Columbia Gas Transmission.
The explosion in West Virginia comes about two years after one in Northern California. There, a pipeline owned by PG&E Corp. erupted, killing nine people and destroying 38 homes. In that situation, the National Transportation Safety Board assigned much of the blame on the utility, saying that it had no methods in place to detect structural weaknesses in its pipeline. It also said that the PG&E did not have shut-off valves that would have limited the explosion’s severity.
Altogether, the risk of pipeline accidents has been steadily declining, says the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Despite the increased use of energy, incidents involving death or major injury have fallen by about 10 percent every three years. The risks of hazardous liquid pipeline spills that do lots of ecological damage have also dropped by 5 percent a year.
The hazardous materials agency has 135 inspectors, says Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. “We require them — the pipeline operators — to respond ‘promptly,’” she says, recognizing that that Columbia Gas has been sharply criticized for the 60 minutes it had taken to turn off the gas during the Sissonville pipeline accident.
“When operators have an alert in a control room, they should alert the authorities and immediately move to shutting it down,” especially if the line is losing pressure, Quarterman told the committee. If the gas pressure is reduced, it is a clear sign that leakage is occurring.
To that end, a government watchdog group is recommending the use of automatic shut-off valves, as opposed to those that must be manually attended. Susan Fleming, who authored a report by the General Accountability Office, told the U.S. Senate panel that such automation could have shut off the Sissonville line within minutes. She adds, however, that the cost of those devices can be high and that they may turn off gas in the event of a false alarm.
Fleming went on to say that the industry does not collect valued information that could help government monitors. Proper metrics such as the amount of time it takes to identify a problem and to close a valve are essential. It’s about applying “lessons learned” to mitigate the fallout of future episodes.
As for the December 2012 event, NiSource says that it was able to isolate the incident and to secure the site while “working proactively with federal state officials to design and implement an Integrity Assurance plan that will ensure a safe return to service and the long-term integrity of the line.”
Columbia Transmission’s response team is on duty 24-hours a day, seven days a week, adds Jimmy Staton, chief executive of NiSource Gas Transmission Storage, before the committee. He says that Columbia’s engineering team will complete the repair work so that the line can be returned to service, albeit at a reduced pressure than before the accident — and with the approval of federal and state regulators.
Staton concluded his testimony by saying that his company is systematically replacing its aging infrastructure and expanding its ability to perform state-of-the-art maintenance and inspections without interrupting service. It will be investing $2 billion in this program over the next five years, he says.
The pipeline industry, generally, says that most of the accidents that occur do so outside the purview of the operator. It says that such factors as “excavation” account for most incident reports while 10 percent are the result of corrosion, construction or operation of the lines.
However, a 2011 pipeline safety law is intended to minimize all accidents. The measure lays the foundation to require the use of remote controlled and automatic shut-off valves on new pipelines. It also requires authorities to be notified before any excavation occurs. And, it mandates operators verify records and re-establish lines’ maximum operating pressures while also increasing penalties on operators that fail to meet such standards.
“Natural gas transmission is relatively safe but that is like saying that flying is safe until your plane goes down,” Rockefeller told reporters before the hearing.
The pipeline accident in Sissonville, WV didn’t just shake the home of Sue Bonham. It also rattled the whole natural gas sector, which must work closely with federal and state monitors to secure the infrastructure and to give the public confidence. A failure to do so would have far-reaching implications for an industry that is considered America’s bridge to energy independence.