Natural Gas NOW Picks of the Week – March 2, 2019

NaturalGasNOWTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Natural Gas NOW readers pass along a lot of stuff every week about natural gas, fractivist antics, emissions, renewables, and other news relating to energy. As usual, emphasis is added.

So, You’re Saying Houston Beats New York for Opportunity?

New York is no land of opportunity any more?

In fact, as a new Brookings study shows, millennials are not moving en masse to metros with dense big cities, but away from them. According to demographer Bill Frey, the 2013–2017 American Community Survey shows that New York now suffers the largest net annual outmigration of post-college millennials (ages 25–34) of any metro area—some 38,000 annually—followed by Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Diego. New York’s losses are 75 percent higher than during the previous five-year period.

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Houston, Texas – Where Millennials are now going as they’re leaving New York

By contrast, the biggest winner is Houston, a metro area that many planners and urban theorists regard with contempt. The Bayou City gained nearly 15,000 millennials net last year, while other big gainers included Dallas–Fort Worth and Austin, which gained 12,700 and 9,000, respectively. Last year, according to a Texas realtors report, a net 22,000 Californians moved to the Lone Star State.

Hmm…Houston. Texas. Oil and gas.

New York? Not so much.

Then Why Are You Saying Natural Gas
Development Is Bad for the DRBC Region?

DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell is Governor Tom Wolf’s alternate on the DRBC and is doing his best to support the latter’s politically inspired ban on natural gas development in the region, but this is what he says when he’s in Harrisburg where they drink the water from the SRBC where thousands of wells have been drilled and water quality has improved:

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell said during a recent state hearing that natural gas has helped Pennsylvania to meet its Clean Power Plan goals.

We were already well on our way in large part – and have actually since met what were proposed [Clean Power Plan] goals – primarily because of the shift toward cleaner natural gas,” McDonnell said.

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The Appalachian Basin, which includes Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, accounted for 18 percent of total U.S. carbon emissions reductions and 21.5 percent of total U.S. carbon emissions reductions for electricity generation from 2005 to 2015, according to the most recent Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. Pennsylvania’s overall carbon emissions fell by more than 17 percent and carbon emissions from electricity generation decrease by approximately 30 percent from 2005 to 2015. 

Well, consistency has never this administration’s strong point, has it?

Abusive Contracts?

Following the hurricane in Puerto Rico that destroyed so much of its electrical grid, solar advocates dreamed of converting the Commonwealth to renewable energy, Solar companies such as Sunnova also rushed in to take advantage, with not so great results it appears from a USA Today investigation:

Madeline Batista of Naguabo, in the southeast part of the island, said she signed a contract with Sunnova in 2014 to buy solar energy and rent 16 photovoltaic panels. Her bill, just for the panels, was $98 a month for 25 years, with an additional payment of about $60 a month to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA. Her monthly electric bill has not gone down, she said, even though her power consumption has remained the same.

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“If I can get out of this contract, it would be wonderful,” she said.

Batista left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to live with a son in North Carolina, but her husband, Rafael Rivera, stayed behind to continue paying for the solar panels, she said.

“That contract was very abusive,” she said…

Sunnova’s rush to corner the residential solar market in Puerto Rico misled customers and installed systems vulnerable to storms, said Cecilio Ortiz Garcia  of the National Institute for Energy and Island Sustainability at the University of Puerto Rico. It also created a private monopoly that will slow efforts to transform Puerto Rico into a solar, energy-independent island, he said.

You don’t say?

California County to Restrict Solar Energy
Projects As State Mandates 60% Renewables

Contrast some paragraphs from the above story. First, there’s this one regarding what the state is planning:

Legislators passed a bill last year requiring California to get 60% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and to eliminate the burning of fossil fuels for electricity by 2045. State officials also hope to put 5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, up from an estimated 550,000 EVs that have been sold in California to date.

Electric vehicles are, of course, primarily powered by natural gas but let’s not nitpick. Instead, focus on this reality of what it means to implement the state mandate:

Brian Hammer thought he and his wife would retire to the abandoned Lucerne Valley farmhouse they bought nearly a decade ago in the rural high desert northeast of Los Angeles. They paid the full $55,000 asking price, then rehabbed the house themselves, stripping it down and installing new wiring, plumbing and appliances.

Now Hammer worries all that time and money were wasted.

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An energy developer is planning to build a 483-acre solar farm that Hammer says would come within a few dozen feet of his house. He doesn’t want to live next to an industrial energy project, which he says would destroy the area’s rural character, fuel dust storms and harm the Mojave Desert ecology. Those are common concerns among residents of rural San Bernardino County, who have been fighting for years to block large solar farms even as California ramps up its renewable energy targets.

“It’s been soul-crushing to think that our blood, sweat and tears were poured into this, and it can be taken away with the disturbance of the land,” Hammer said as he stood in the yard behind the house, trying to imagine how a field of solar panels beyond his fence would affect the 360-degree views of a valley ringed by mountains.

There you have it. This is the real world pushback that every solar and wind projects faces. Everyone wants the projects in someone else’s backyard. It’s inevitable and the one big fact renewables advocates refuse to acknowledge, which is why natural gas is, short of nuclear energy, still the least land consumptive method of energy development that also offers also lowers emissions.

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2 thoughts on “Natural Gas NOW Picks of the Week – March 2, 2019

  1. Let us not forget that Puerto Rico produces most of its electricity by burning oil. The island is decades behind when it comes to making electricity. Thus, like Hawaii, its electricity costs are far, far higher than costs on the the mainland of the US.
    PREPA management ignored the need for maintenance and repair of the power delivery system. Thus, when the hurricane struck, the power lines were destroyed. The fault lies with the Puerto Rican management — no one else.

  2. I worked in Houston in 2017 following Hurricane Harvey and have never seen so much municipal planning and construction going on, literally thousands of new homes being built. Not surprisingly I met six different families who told me that they had graduated from Binghamton University and had loved the area, but had moved to Houston for work. A state open for business always draws people.

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