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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Florida Power and Light looks to add solar power to the Suncoast

abc7 WWSB MySuncoast -- They may look like something straight out of science fiction, but these panels are actually gathering sunlight and turning it into energy to power our homes and offices. Now -- Florida Power and Light is hoping to use this energy to their advantage.
"Right now we use a lot of natural gas and we use nuclear and we're very excited to bring more solar into the mix," says Sarah Gatewood, a spokesperson for FPL.
FPL's plan is to take the area around their natural gas plant in Manatee County and turn it into a farm of solar panels. The same goes for Desoto and Charlotte counties.
"It will be hundreds of acres of solar panels and all of the electricity generated there goes straight to the grid for all of FPL's customers to enjoy."  (read more)

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New Jersey mayors join opposition to drilling in Atlantic

CBS News -- Mayors of several New Jersey shore towns are joining with members of Congress from the state to oppose allowing oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

President Barack Obama's administration this week proposed allowing drilling rights to areas 50 miles off the coasts of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia to be auctioned off no sooner than 2021, when Obama is long out of office.

While some officials in the region closest to the drilling support the concept, officials from New Jersey are vigorously opposing it, arguing that the U.S. should be pushing for more renewable energy and that it's not even known what kind of oil reserves are under the ocean in the region. But their main concern seems to be the possibility of a spill.

Don Guardian, the Republican Mayor of Atlantic City,  (read more)

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Mexico cuts spending by $8.4 billion because of oil price drop, high-speed rail put on hold

Associated Press -- MEXICO CITY — Mexico said Friday it will cut government spending by $8.4 billion this year because of a drop in revenues due to declining oil prices.

Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said the government will put on hold plans for a high-speed rail project that has been marred by allegations of favoritism.

Mexico has seen prices for its oil fall in recent months from around $100 to $38.42 per barrel. The government relies on oil revenues for about a third of its budget.

The cuts, to be borne mainly by the state-owned oil and electricity companies, are equivalent to about 0.7 percent of Mexico's GDP.

A Mexican firm allied with Chinese companies won the high-speed rail contract in November. They were the only bidders for the proposed railway, which would connect Mexico City with the nearby  (read more)

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Union not happy with latest company offer in refinery negotiations

FuelFix -- Members of the United Steelworkers union are preparing for a strike and companies are training supervisors in case they’re needed to keep plants running as labor talks go to the wire.

At 12:01 a.m. Sunday, contracts covering 30,000 workers at refineries, pipelines, oil terminals and petrochemical plants nationwide —including about 5,000 in Houston — are set to expire.

A team of union negotiators is meeting with representatives of Shell Oil Co., which is negotiating on behalf of the industry. The contracts cover 64 percent of the nation’s refining capacity, according to the United Steelworkers.

If a tentative deal is reached at the national bargaining table, local unions will vote on it. If it gets a thumbs up, the agreement would set the national standard for wages and benefits.
 (read more)

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Xcel proposes low-cost, off-peak rates for plug-in cars

Star Tribune -- Plugging in an electric vehicle soon will get significantly cheaper for Minnesota customers of Xcel Energy Inc., the state’s largest power company.

The utility asked state regulators Friday to approve a rate for overnight home charging of electric cars at a 43 percent discount to residential service. The rate, if approved as proposed, likely will roll out in about six months, Xcel said.

“We are trying to provide more options for customers,” Chris Clark, president of Xcel’s Minnesota regional operations, said in an interview Friday. “This is really how we’re seeing the future. We think customers are going to want to tailor their energy services to what their particular uses are.”

Clark said electric vehicle owners would save about $9 per month under the proposed rate of 3.3 cents per kil  (read more)

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Where's the bottom? Traders spooked by oil drop fear getting 'face ripped off' as bets go awry

FOX BUSINESS-AP -- The plunge in oil has crushed the Russian ruble, erased $80 billion from Exxon Mobil's market value and pushed Venezuela to the brink of economic collapse.

But to Justin Thomas, the real drama in oil unfolds on a smaller scale, a story told in tiny, second-by-second moves in prices on his computer screen. Lately, most of the moves have been down, taking a toll on him and other traders who believe oil should have turned up by now.

"It was quiet, then there was chaos," said Thomas after a few losing bets earlier this month from his one-man office in Boise, Idaho. "The market changes, and you lose your confidence."

Thomas is one of thousands of oil traders who have helped turn market fundamentals — lots of oil, not enough demand — into a plunge of nearly 60 percent in the price of crude...  (read more)

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Shell urges shareholders to accept climate resolution

The Guardian -- Shell is set to confront the risk that climate change may pose to its future, after backing a resolution from activist shareholders. The move came on the same day it announced $15bn (£10bn) in cost cutting due to plummeting oil prices and said it wanted to resume drilling for oil in the Arctic.

The resolution, filed by 150 investors who control hundreds of billions of pounds, requires the oil major to test whether its business model is compatible with the pledge by the world’s nations to limit global warming to 2C.

The 2C target means only a quarter of existing, exploitable fossil fuel reserves are burnable, according to a series of recent analyses. That implies trillions of dollars of oil, gas and coal held by investors could become worthless  (read more)

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Energy hypocrisy: Ethanol isn't a good fuel, but it's not going away anytime soon

The Guardian -- Bad policy has entrenched ethanol in the US energy industry despite its many drawbacks. Lawmakers have introduced legislation to end its use and make way for other biofuels, but with gas prices on the downswing, it may not be enough.

Ethanol was supposed to do a lot for the US.

It was supposed to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It was supposed to combat climate change. It was supposed to be a gateway for more renewable fuels technology. It was supposed to reduce gasoline prices because it was cheaper.

So when Congress mandated in 2005 that 10% of the nation’s fuel supply had to be blended with ethanol, which is derived from corn, there were some idealistic hopes that renewable fuels would wean us off fossil fuels.

It hasn’t worked that way.

The US is reducing its dependenc  (read more)

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Senate OKs Keystone pipeline bill despite veto threat

yakima herald -- In a 62-36 vote, 53 Republicans and nine Democrats approved a bill seeking to force completion of the 840-mile pipeline that Obama has vowed to veto while federal environmental reviews continue.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Rooftop Solar Increases a Home’s Selling Price Across Multiple Markets

SciAm -- On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a report showing that homes with solar panels typically sell for $15,000 greater than those without solar panels installed. The study analyzed data collected from over 22,000 homes between 2002 and 2013 to measure the effect that solar panels have on a home’s market selling price. The report’s findings come as a boon not only to homeowners with solar panels, but also to the real estate industry, which has struggled to place a price on rooftop solar in the past.  (read more)

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Detroit auto show: What in this world is Toyota's FV2 concept?

MLive -- Is it a glorified motorcycle? A bobsled made for roads? A futuristic transport pod?

Whatever you'd call it, Toyota's FV2 concept was in Detroit for the 2015 North American International Auto Show. Unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, the vehicle is meant to signal a future in which driving is not only fun, but a bonding experience between man and machine.

Though a bit of a sideshow at Toyota's expansive stand in the Cobo Center, the FV2 still drew a crowd. At random, it would shift from side to side, while a series of colorful light designs moved across its black, pod-like body.

As explained in the video below, the FV2 is moved by the body balance of the driver, sort of like if you're sledding down a hill of snow. It has no steering wheel.(VIDEO)  (read more)

Submitted Jan 29, 2015 By:

Study: Newer vehicles getting safer

Detroit News -- The chance of dying when behind the wheel of a newer car is falling dramatically as automakers add high-tech safety features, a report released Thursday finds.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said death rates for drivers in late-model vehicles fell by more than one-third over three years — but there is a wide range between the safest models and those with the highest death rates.

Gloria Bergquiest, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. and others, said newer vehicles are safer.

“Today’s new vehicles come with many safety advancements, and we urge everyone to consider buying a new vehicle with automatic braking or one of the other advanced crash-avoidance systems,” she said.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 29, 2015 By:

Gas prices finally stop falling

CNN Money -- The steady four-month decline in gas prices which has saved motorists more than a dollar per gallon has ended, at least for the moment.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas edged up a fraction of a penny to take the national average to $2.04 from $2.03 on Tuesday, according to AAA. It marked the first increase in 123 days, the longest such streak on record. Wednesday, the average price stayed unchanged.
Before this week, the last time the average price increased was November 25, when the national average stood at $3.35 a gallon.

This week's slight uptick followed increases in wholesale gas prices and crude oil prices on commodity markets earlier this week. The death of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud last week prompted some uncertainty in markets on whether the Saudi  (read more)

Submitted Jan 29, 2015 By:

Florida Power & Light to Triple Solar Capacity by End of 2016

Bloomberg -- (Bloomberg) -- NextEra Energy Inc.’s Florida Power & Light Co. is planning to build three solar plants to triple its photovoltaic capacity by the end of 2016.
The utility is adding more than 1 million panels to increase output capacity to about 335 megawatts from 110 megawatts, according to a statement from Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra on Monday.
Florida Power & Light “is optimistic that it could potentially add even more solar energy generation to complement its natural gas and nuclear resources while continuing to meet the electricity needs of Florida’s growing economy and population,” NextEra said.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 29, 2015 By:

Union workers press their case for contract demands at Lyondell refinery

Fuel Fix -- In an effort to show support for ongoing labor negotiations, about 150 employees of LyondellBasell Refinery in Houston fanned out in front of the plant late Wednesday afternoon.

The employees, many still in their blue work jumpsuits, carried signs that read “Fair Contract Now” and “Solidary is Strength” while passing drivers honked their horns.

The rally, which was scheduled for afternoon shift change, was organized by the United Steelworkers union, which is conducting nationwide oil worker bargaining negotiations at an undisclosed location. Local union officials are also trying to hammer out what’s known as “local issues” at each plant.

Current contracts expire at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 1. for most of the 30,000 oil workers – including 5,000 in Houston – covered by the labor agreements.

 (read more)

Submitted Jan 29, 2015 By:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Iraq Oil Surge to Fan OPEC Rivalry That Triggered Slump

BloombergBusiness -- The battle for customers among OPEC members that helped trigger oil’s collapse is about to escalate.

Iraqi crude production is climbing from a 35-year high as it adds growing Kurdish supplies to its exports while southern oilfields remain unscathed by Islamic State militants. Finding customers for the new output means offering more attractive terms than rivals in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries say Citigroup Inc. DNB ASA and Barclays Plc.

Oil’s biggest slump in six years gained momentum in October as a wave of discounts by Middle Eastern producers signaled OPEC members were intent on defending market share against booming shale output from the U.S. The price of Saudi crude for Asian buyers was cut to the lowest in at least 14 years last month, a move followed by Iraq...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 28, 2015 By:

Vessel weighs anchor as oil dispute hangs in scales of justice

Fuel Fix -- An oil tanker anchored off the coast of Galveston since July amid an international legal dispute finally has sailed.

The United Kalavryta carried 1 million barrels of crude from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. The Baghdad government considered the crude stolen property that had been smuggled out of the country.

As lawyers for Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government debated the fate of the crude in U.S. federal court maritime companies became skittish about becoming involved in the imbroglio and were unwilling to unload the crude for its unidentified buyer.

So the tanker and its cargo remained in international waters about 60 miles off Galveston. Since July the price of crude oil has fallen by more than half diminishing the value of the tanker’s cargo.

It now is headed...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 28, 2015 By:

Natural gas prices bounce as blizzard blows

CNN -- Prices for natural gas are bouncing this morning in New York as a blizzard blasts through the northeastern United States.
Natural gas futures are up 3.5% to roughly $3 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Traders appear to be expecting a surge in heating demand because of the blizzard.
Roughly half of American households use natural gas for heating and cooking.
The bounce comes as prices have taken a sharp fall over the last few weeks. Natural gas prices have plunged by about 35% since late November as unusually warm temperatures in the eastern United States have crimped overall demand.
Raymond James energy analyst Pavel Molchanov said natural gas prices have "always been notoriously weather-sensitive."
"Right now, in the midst of an epic blizzard (and thi  (read more)

Submitted Jan 28, 2015 By:

The New Tesla Car Has A Button Called ‘Insane Mode’

Business Insider -- Tesla introduced its dual-motor Model S late last year, and among the many improvements it has over the original Model S is its incredible acceleration.
The standard Model S can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is pretty fast, but the new dual-motor Model S can get there in just 3.2 seconds — "roller-coaster stuff," in other words.

That kind of acceleration is comparable to some of the world’s fastest sports cars from Lamborghini and Ferrari, and even the McLaren F1 supercar.

You can go into “Insane Mode" by coming to a complete stop and toggling a button on the digital console, which will quickly accelerate the car to 60 to 70 mph in just a few wild seconds.

Most people have the same shocked reaction, as no one is really expecting “Insane Mode” to actually live up to its promi  (read more)

Submitted Jan 28, 2015 By:

EIA: Crude oil inventories surge again, while gasoline inventories drop

GasBuddy Blog -- The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report Wednesday on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

Crude oil inventories increased by 8.9 million barrels to a total of 406.7 million barrels. At 406.7 million barrels, inventories are 49.1 million barrels above last year (13.7%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline inventories decreased by 2.6 million barrels to 238.3 million barrels. At 238.3 million barrels, inventories are up 3.9 million barrels, or 1.7% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-1.7mb); Midwest (+0.3mb); Gulf Coast (-0.3mb); Rockies (-0.2mb); and West Coast (-0.6mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this informa  (read more)

Submitted Jan 28, 2015 By:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pennsylvania motorists now pay highest gas taxes in U.S.

GasBuddy Blog -- It's official.  Pennsylvania has passed New York and California by earning the dubious distinction of having the highest gasoline taxes in the nation. Combined with the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, Pennsylvania's state tax of 50.5 cpg. brings the combined tax to 68.9 cents per gallon.  Californians pay 63.7 cents per gal., NewYorkers pay 63.4 cents per gal., according to the American Petroleum Institute..

Adding insult to in jury, Pennsylvania plans to take even more money away from its residents later this year. On July 1, annual passenger car and motorcycle registration will rise by $1 to $37 and $19, respectively. Pickup truck registration will rise $1.50, to $60 and antique, classic and collectible vehicle registration by $2, to $77.Vehicle inspection stickers that now cost $5 could also rise, as of July 1. And the base license fee, which does not include the cost of the photo, will rise $1, to $22 on July 1. ...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 27, 2015 By:

Oil steadies after Opec says prices may have bottomed but risk jump to $200

The National-Reuters -- Brent crude oil prices held above $48 on Tuesday following comments from Opec that prices may have found a floor.

Opec secretary-general Abdullah Al-Badri said oil prices may have bottomed out and he warned of a risk of a future jump to $200 a barrel if investment in new supplies was too low.

“Crude oil markets continue to consolidate near term,” ANZ analysts said, adding that Brent traded in the range of $48-$50 last week and showed little direction.

“Opec’s secretary general commented yesterday that prices may have bottomed, but there was no imminent prospect of Opec producers sitting down to discuss cutbacks until mid-year” ANZ said.

March Brent crude rose 17 cents to $48.33 a barrel at 0347 GMT, after settling down 1.3 per cent on Monday.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for...  (read more)

Submitted Jan 27, 2015 By:

Analyst: End to gas below $2 coming soon

Fox 5 -- LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -
While we bask in the relief of $1.99 a gallon gasoline, one analyst said Monday the steep price drop shouldn't last very long.
According to Patrick DeHaan of, the $1.99 price seen around the country should be the lowest the recent drops will get before a standard seasonal lift.

“Refineries have been processing less crude oil and thus producing less gasoline, which will contribute to a soft bottoming out of the national average before a small recovery back in the very low $2's," said DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with gas price indicating website.

DeHaan, though, said 2015 should have far lower prices than the previous year.

“We'll be subject to a seasonal lift in gasoline prices as refineries slow production to do maintenance and to make  (read more)

Submitted Jan 27, 2015 By:

Oil slides despite OPEC talk of a floor

Reuters -- Reuters) - Oil fell in see-saw trade on Monday, with U.S. crude ending at its lowest in nearly six years, as traders discounted comments from OPEC's top official about the market finally finding a bottom.

It was an up-and-down session for crude, which gyrated along with the U.S. dollar in the wake of a decisive Greek election victory by the left-wing Syriza party.

Prices initially rallied after OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said oil may have hit a floor and could move higher very soon, the first comments he has made on the subject during crude's seven-month-long price rout.

But the gains proved fleeting as global benchmark Brent LCOc1 fell 1.3 percent to $48.16. U.S. crude CLc1 lost almost 1 percent, settling at $45.15, the lowest settlement price for the existing front-month  (read more)

Submitted Jan 27, 2015 By:

New-generation solar panels far cheaper, more efficient

Yahoo! Tech -- A new generation of solar panels made from a mineral called perovskite has the potential to convert solar energy into household electricity more cheaply than ever before, according to a study from Briain's Exeter University.

Super-thin, custom-colored panels attached to a building's windows may become a "holy grail" for India and African countries, one of the authors of the study told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"In those countries these types of material will be like a holy grail: they can both shade windows ... and at the same time produce electricity," he said.

Unlike other solar panels, those made of perovskite can absorb most of the solar spectrum and work in various atmospheric conditions, rather than only in direct sunlight.  (read more)

Submitted Jan 27, 2015 By: