City of Burnaby Calls for NEB Panel Suspension over Kinder Morgan Pipeline

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project has failed to gain social licence from the provincial government, or any Lower Mainland municipality or First Nation, and the National Energy Board (. . .

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.burnabynow.com

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“[…] In a fiery double-barrel blast, Gregory McDade, legal counsel for the City of Burnaby, fired one barrel at Kinder Morgan Inc., the company behind the expansion project, and the other at the NEB panel itself.

Citing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to overhaul the NEB, which he criticized for becoming politicized, McDade said, “Burnaby should not be the last victim of a flawed process.

“The City of Burnaby calls upon this panel to suspend these hearings,” McDade said. “We call upon this panel to reset the process in a way that keeps faith with the public trust that the prime minister of Canada has claimed he has.”

McDade quoted Trudeau, who said, “Governments grant permits, but only communities grant permission.”

“Let me be clear, this pipeline does not have community permission,” McDade said. “Not from the community of Burnaby, nor from any of the Lower Mainland municipalities, nor from the public or the Government of British Columbia.” […]

The Trans Mountain pipeline was originally built in the 1950s and fed a number of B.C. refineries that made gasoline, diesel and jet fuel for domestic use.

The Chevron plant in Burnaby, where the pipeline terminates, is the only refinery left in the Lower Mainland. As it stands, it has to compete with other companies for the oil that moves from the pipeline.

A twinning of the pipeline would triple its carrying capacity. But that’s by no means a guarantee that the Chevron refinery will necessarily have access to more oil. Of the 890,000 barrels per day an expanded pipeline would move, 707,500 barrels are spoken for by 13 shippers in offtake agreements, with the oil destined for refineries outside of Canada.

“This is not a pipeline, I say, to bring oil to the Lower Mainland to supply local industry, to bring us gasoline, as the pipeline was in the 1950s,” McDade said. “This is a pipeline solely for export. No benefits to B.C. at all, but all the burdens and all the risk are borne here.”

Of the 49 interveners making oral presentations at the Burnaby public hearings, 19 are B.C. First Nations, including three key Lower Mainland groups – the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh – all of whom are opposed to the project.

The expanded pipeline would increase oil tanker traffic to 34 per month from the current five. Musqueam Councillor Morgan Guerin said on Jan. 19 that the wake caused by tankers means small fishing vessels would have to stop every time a tanker goes by.

The Musqueam would view that as a potential infringement of their aboriginal rights to fish – a right that was affirmed in the landmark Sparrow case. […]”

 

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In Supreme Court, a Battle Over Fracking and Citizens’ Rights

Jessica Ernst’s long fight to challenge legislation putting energy regulator above the law reaches top court.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.thetyee.ca

“[…] After years of legal wrangling, Jessica Ernst and Alberta’s powerful energy regulator finally squared off in the Supreme Court of Canada yesterday.

For almost two hours, all nine justices questioned lawyers from both sides in a case that will determine if legislation can grant government agencies blanket immunity from lawsuits based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

At times the debate was so bogged down in legal jargon and little known cases that it felt as though the participants were holding a conversation in a foreign language. […]

Ernst alleges the Alberta Energy Regulator violated her rights by characterizing her as a “criminal threat” and barring all communication with her.

The claims are part of her multipronged lawsuit related to the regulation of fracking. She says fracking contaminated aquifers near her homestead near Rosebud, about 110 kilometres east of Calgary, and is seeking $33 million in damages. […]

The Supreme Court hearing dealt with Ernst’s allegation that the provincial energy regulator denied her the right to raise her concerns about groundwater contamination. She argues that the legislation shielding the regulator from citizen’s lawsuits should not bar charter claims.

Lawyers for Ernst, the BC Civil Liberties Association and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights all argued that the Alberta Energy Regulator’s immunity clause undermined the spirit of Canada’s charter, which is designed to protect citizens from government abuses of power.

It is patently unfair to allow a government to violate a citizen’s basic freedoms and then deny them an appropriate remedy in the courts, especially when the charter itself grants that right, they argued. […]

Eight years ago, Ernst sued Alberta Environment, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (which has since become the Alberta Energy Regulator) and Encana, one of Canada’s largest unconventional gas drillers. She claimed her well water had been contaminated by fracking and government agencies had failed to investigate the problems.

But the regulator argued that it couldn’t be sued because it had an immunity clause that protected it from civil action.

After an Alberta Court of Appeal agreed, Ernst’s lawyers appealed the matter to the Supreme Court in 2014.

Initially three provincial governments and the federal government announced their intention to intervene in the case.

“But once they looked at the arguments, they withdrew,” said Murray Klippenstein, another of Ernst’s lawyers, after yesterday’s hearing.

“So there was no government here to support the argument of the [regulator],” added Klippenstein. “It kind of shows in a common sense sort of way how ridiculous the position is.”

The case made legal history, too. “This is the first time the Supreme Court has heard a case about human rights with an environmental context,” noted Lynda Collins, a professor of law at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Environmental Law and Global Studies.

She said the case concerns the right of a citizen to pinpoint environmental wrongs, such as groundwater contamination, without being penalized by a regulatory body.

Whenever a regulator allegedly takes punitive measures against a citizen addressing key environmental issues in the public interest, “you have a serious allegation,” added Collins. […]

The case is being closely watched by Canada’s oil and gas industry. In 2014, Borden Ladner Gervais, Canada’s largest national full-service law firm, included the Ernst case in a top 10 list of important judicial decisions affecting the energy industry.

“The Ernst case has brought into focus the potential for regulator or provincial liability arising out of oil and gas operations…. If Ernst proceeds to trial, it will likely provide more guidance on the scope of the duty of care and the standard of care required by the province and the oil and gas operator to discharge their duties in the context of hydraulic fracturing.”

The fracking industry has been the subject of scores of lawsuits across North America. Landowners have sued over property damage and personal injury related to industry-caused earthquakes, air pollution and the contamination of groundwater.

In one major Texas case, a jury awarded one family $3 million. The verdict found that Aruba Petroleum “intentionally created a private nuisance” though its drilling, fracking and production activities at 21 gas wells near the Parrs’ Wise County home over a three-year period between 2008 and 2011. […]”

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State and Solar Advocates Complete Legal Agreement for Full Net Metering Credit to Utilities

The Act 236 agreement also settles rules for legal solar leasing.

Source: www.utilitydive.com

>”[…]  The South Carolina Public Service Commission last week approved a settlement agreement between Duke Energy Carolinas, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and major environmental groups that allows rooftop solar owners to get full retail value for electricity their systems send to the grid.The agreement on net energy metering (NEM) is part of Act 236, passed in 2014 after a consultation process involving renewable energy-interested stakeholders. Solar systems installed before the end of 2020 will earn full retail value bill credit for each kilowatt-hour that goes to the grid.Act 236 also legalizes third party ownership of solar, more widely known as solar leasing, and sets up rules by which leasing companies like SolarCity and Sunrun must operate.

Dive Insight:  To study the emerging solar opportunity, a South Carolina General Assembly-created oversight group organized a coalition of environmentalists, solar advocates, and utilities and electric cooperatives into an Energy Advisory Council in 2013. Act 236 was formulated out of its report.

The NEM settlement also raises the size limit of eligible systems from 100 kW to 1 MW and raises the cap on NEM systems from 0.2% of each utility’s peak capacity to 2%.

Act 236 requires leasing companies to be certified by the state and limits the size of leased residential systems to 20kW and leased commercial systems to 1000kW. Leased systems can only serve one customer and one location and cannot sell electricity to third parties. The total of leased solar is capped at no more than 2% of a utility’s residential, commercial, or industrial customers average retail peak demand.

Groups that led the settlement with the utilities include the Coastal Conservation League, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. […]”<

 

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Operations – Systems & Controls, Maintenance & Commissioning

Michigan’s Consumers Energy to retire 9 coal plants by 2016

New EPA regulations are an opportunity to modernize the generating fleet, according to a Consumers Energy official.

Source: www.utilitydive.com

>”[…] Consumers Energy will shutter nine coal plants in Michigan as EPA air pollution regulations make them unprofitable to operate, MLive reports. And the Michigan utility won’t be the only one. A wave of coal retirements will roll across the Midwest by early 2016, shuttering more than 60 generating plants, a Consumers official told the “Greening of the Great Lakes” weekly radio program.In addition to the regulations under the Clean Power Plan and other EPA programs, Consumers says many of the nine coal plants were built in the 1950s and are simply at the end of their productive lives.  […]

Last year Consumers Energy announced it had selected AMEC to run the utility’s decommissioning program for the planned retirement of seven operating units at the utility’s three oldest coal-fired generating plants. Though there is still uncertainty over just what impact a slate of EPA regulations will have, Consumers last year said the power plants being decommissioned have an average operating life-span of more than 60 years and collectively represented approximately 950 MW of electric capacity.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, but as it stands the regulations could apply to 1,400 generators at more than 600 of the nation’s largest power plants.

Federal regulators believe the tighter controls could prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year by limiting mercury, particulate matter, and other harmful pollutants it says are hazardous to public health.”<

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UK Renewable Energy Subsidy Underwrites Development

Energy secretary, Ed Davey, says new subsidy scheme will help underwrite green energy and reduce reliance on imported gas

Source: www.theguardian.com

>”[…] “Solar has been the rising star in the coalition’s renewable energy programme and has been championed recently by the Prime Minister at the UN and by Ministers at conference,” said Paul Barwell, chief executive of the STA.

“Why is the UK government putting this industry’s incredible achievements on solar power at risk? To curtail its growth now is just perverse and unjustified on budgetary grounds – solar has only consumed around 1% of the renewables obligation budget,” he added.

He was supported by Friends of the Earth, whose renewable energy campaigner, Alasdair Cameron, argued the government move would be bad news for jobs, the climate and people wanting to plug into clean power.

“Solar could be cheaper than fossil fuels in just a few years, but it needs a little more help from government to get it there. Failure to invest now will mean a huge missed opportunity for the UK economy,” he said.

The raised budget to £300m has been welcomed by the wider renewable power sector but industry officials said the complex structure and cost would unfairly benefit large utilities at the expense of smaller and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). […]”<

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DOE Proposes Major Energy Efficiency Changes for Commercial Air Conditioners

The White House announced a number of commitments to energy efficiency this morning, not the least of which is a proposed energy efficiency standard for rooftop air conditioners that could produce the largest electricity savings under any U.S. appliance efficiency…

 

image courtesy of http://akbrown.com/?page_id=278

Source: switchboard.nrdc.org

>”[…] NRDC strongly applauds today’s White House’s efficiency and clean energy announcements which come the same week that a new energy-savings standard became effective for refrigerators and freezers, with the majority of models cutting their energy use by 20 to 25 percent, thanks to a 2010 consensus recommendation to the Department of Energy (DOE) from refrigerator manufacturers, efficiency advocates, consumer groups and states.

According to the White House, the rooftop air conditioner proposed standard announced would help cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons, and could save consumers nearly $10 billion on their energy bills through 2030.  […]

The announcement follows significant groundwork by DOE in this product category, including DOE’s High Performance Rooftop Unit Challenge, a competition among manufacturers to produce efficient cooling units that cut their energy use almost in half and are still affordable in the commercial and industrial real estate space. DOE worked with members of its Commercial Building Energy Alliances (CBEA), which includes many large commercial building owners, to create a challenge specification that rooftop air conditioning manufacturers could meet. As part of the challenge, CBEA members, including Target, Walmart, Macy’s and McDonald’s, expressed strong interest in potentially purchasing high-efficiency roof-top units, helping to drive buyer support for the challenge levels. Manufacturers Daikin McQuay and Carrier succeeded in producing rooftop ACs that met the challenge specifications and resulted in substantial energy reductions.

Also included in today’s announcement are further savings from building energy codes. DOE will issue its final determination that the latest commercial building energy code – ASHRAE 90.1-2013 – saves energy compared to the previous version. Once DOE issues a positive determination that the new code saves energy compared to the previous code, individual states will consider the code for adoption leading to energy savings in new buildings and major retrofits in those states. DOE will also issue its preliminary determination on the latest residential energy-saving building code – the IECC 2015. DOE estimates that the updated commercial building standards will reduces energy bills for states and the federal government, while cutting emissions by 230 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2030.  […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Design – Architecture & Engineering

California Real Estate Assn’ Educates Members on Building Energy Performance & Benchmarking

In California, brokers are at the heart of every non-residential sale or lease. Can the AIR organization get them on board with benchmarking?

Source: www.greenbiz.com

>”Commercial buildings are some of California’s largest energy- and water-guzzlers. With 58 percent of the state locked in the highest category of drought, many commercial property owners are seeing increased utility bills, and with a new building energy benchmarking and disclosure law on the books, building owners seek energy efficiency solutions as a common-sense way to ease some of the pressure. One key trade association in California, the AIR Commercial Real Estate Association, is taking the lead by educating its members on the benefits of energy efficiency.

AIR, founded in 1960, is a regional commercial real estate brokers association with more than 1,700 members across southern California, and is one of the nation’s largest organizations of its kind. It’s recognized across the U.S. for its ever-expanding library of sample lease forms, which members use to stay updated on industry and lease language trends — several of which now include sustainability. When California’s energy benchmarking law, AB 1103, went into effect in January, AIR responded by creating sample energy disclosure lease and sale addenda (PDF) and began educating its members on these new tools.

Brokers are in the thick of it

The law states that any time a non-residential building owner finances, sells or leases a whole building, the property owner is required to use Energy Star portfolio manager to benchmark the building and provide the Energy Star rating and supporting consumption information to the lender, buyer or tenant in the transaction. As brokers are central to every aspect of a commercial transaction, their participation is essential for the law to have its intended effect. AIR’s lease and sale addenda effectively address these energy disclosure requirements in one document, providing real estate professionals, building owners, tenants and attorneys with a framework template for compliance with the regulation.

Brokers hold the key to increasing stakeholder awareness, potentially boosting compliance rates, benchmarking data quality and ultimately better building performance and energy management — and educating the community about new regulations and tools is essential to unlocking this potential.”<

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CEC Delays Energy Benchmarking and Disclosure Requirements 2 Years for Smaller Buildings

 

>”[…]Compliance with AB 1103 is not suspended, and will continue to be required, for the sale, lease, or financing of buildings over 10,000 square feet that are otherwise subject to the regulations based upon occupancy type.

Significant barriers to compliance with AB 1103

An Emergency Rulemaking Action requires a description of specific facts justifying the immediate action. In justifying the two-year delay, the CEC explained that several stakeholders had expressed concerns about significant barriers to compliance with AB 1103. The CEC noted the following factors in justifying the two-year delay:

  • Some utilities have required tenant consents before releasing utility usage data despite letters sent from the CEC to utilities in July 2013 prohibiting such requirement. This requirement to obtain tenant consents significantly increases compliance costs.
  • Smaller utilities have expressed concerns with their ability to comply given limited staff and resources.
  • The Portfolio Manager platform and software has experienced significant technical problems.
  • The expansion in scope to smaller buildings would increase the number of compliance requests received by utilities, impeding their ability to address barriers to compliance.
  • Smaller building owners may lack the expertise, resources, or capacity necessary to overcome current barriers to compliance without incurring undue expense.
  • Based on initial disclosure data following the January 1, 2014 implementation, it became apparent that “the required disclosures were not being made for the majority of transactions for which they were required.”
  • The development of best practices approaches is lowering compliance costs and paving the way to greater compliance. The additional two years will facilitate lower costs and higher compliance rates before further expanding the program to smaller buildings.”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Operations – Systems & Controls, Maintenance & Commissioning

Utilities and Energy Efficiency – How to Bridge the Gap

energy-efficiency-pyramid

Image found at: http://bit.ly/1bAHOiM

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Operations – Systems & Controls, Maintenance & Commissioning

As much as such improvements can provide positive financial returns to utility customers, the utilities themselves face some very real financial barriers to offering customer energy efficiency programs.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The inherent conflict between a utility’s business objectives and the objectives of customer energy efficiency programs has long been recognized. Alternative regulatory mechanisms can be implemented that not only make utilities indifferent to the amount of energy they sell, but that also can provide positive earnings from their customer energy efficiency programs. Alternative regulatory mechanisms such as “decoupling,” (separating an utility’s revenues from the amount of energy it sells to customers) are in place in a growing number of states.

Since the premise of these alternative regulatory mechanisms is that they can protect utilities from suffering financial harm from energy efficiency programs, ACEEE examined the experiences of a selected group of utilities to find out how well such regulations have worked. The utilities we selected all have relatively large-scale energy efficiency programs that serve all types of customers. We interviewed utility program managers and executives as well as clean-energy advocates and regulators. We also examined the financial performance of these utilities as represented by their stock performance.

What we found is that these utilities all have performed well financially. We found no evidence to suggest that energy efficiency programs have had negative effects on shareholder returns. While addressing utility business concerns with energy efficiency programs is clearly important, doing so is really just one part of comprehensive policies and regulations that support customer energy efficiency programs. Other keys to successful energy efficiency programs include:

Strong commitments to energy efficiency by regulators and utilities,Ongoing collaboration among utilities and stakeholders,Shared sense of purpose and common goals, and Willingness to experiment and learn from experiences.

See on aceee.org

Obama approves border-crossing pipeline carrying corrosive fracked gas diluent to Alberta Tar-Sands

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

But the pipeline has problems with stress corrosion cracking. Is it safe to expand?

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Kinder Morgan Cochin LLC is now allowed to reverse and expand to build a 1,900-mile proposed pipeline to transport gas produced by hydraulic fracturing of the Eagle Ford Shale basin in Texas north into Alberta. It would carry gas condensate that is used to dilute the bitumen in the tar sands. The extra-thick oil produced in the tar sands needs to be cut with 30 per cent condensate so it can be carried, according to the Financial Post.

The Cochin pipeline has had some safety issues in the past, however. Last year, the National Energy Board sent Kinder Morgan a letter regarding Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC) failure in the U.S. back in 2003. At the time, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued an order imposing a 20 per cent pressure restriction on the pipeline. Kinder Morgan later voluntarily imposed a further restriction on the operating pressure and received approval to increase  the operating pressure of the pipeline in US to 6895 kPa (1000 psi) in March 2012.<

See on www.vancouverobserver.com