Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Smart Electric Meters in TX

The Dallas Morning News:

By the end of this year, some electricity consumers in North Texas may have the option to save money by using power in the evening rather than during the day.

Thanks to a major power line upgrade that starts this week, electricity companies could charge different rates based on what time of day electricity is used. Customers who sign up for such pricing plans could get rock-bottom prices at night and on weekends, but pay a hefty premium for power during peak hours.

Consumers will be able to monitor their electricity use and charges in real time, and some will be able to connect to the Internet through power lines.

This week TXU Corp. began installing the initial 10,000 smart meters in Dallas. The new meters are a key piece of a four-year technology upgrade that will turn North Texas power lines into a communications network.

Power Plant Protesters

Dallas Morning News:

Merrill Lynch & Co., the world's third-largest securities firm, is drawing the scorn of global-warming activists for its role in financing TXU Corp.'s $10 billion plan to build 11 coal-fueled power plants in Texas.

More than a dozen demonstrators costumed as Wall Street financiers - black dress coats, white spats, top hats fashioned from cardboard - congregated outside the entrance to the company's New York City headquarters Tuesday morning and handed leaflets to employees arriving for work. "Merrill Lynch - Banking on Climate Destruction," the leaflets said.

Micro Power for the Home

CNet News:
A Massachusetts company next month will release a combination power generator and space heater, a system that can cut down on electricity bills, according to backers--at least while the heat is running.

Climate Energy was formed in the year 2000 to bring "micro-combined heat and power," or micro-CHP, to consumers in the U.S.

Combined heat and power systems, already available for industry and large buildings, are designed to harvest what is normally wasted heat during the process of power generation. As fuel is burned to make electricity, the resulting heat is captured and piped through a home's existing hot-air heating system.

Climate Energy's system is designed around a Honda internal combustion engine that burns natural gas to generate electricity. A heat exchanger feeds any captured heat to a furnace, which then distributes the hot air.

If sized right, the combined heat and power unit can heat a home during the cold months of the year and slash a home's electricity bills, according to the company's president and CEO, Eric Guyer.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Utility Lobbying in Texas

Dallas Morning News:

AUSTIN – Texas utility companies are poised to spend more than any other industry to lobby lawmakers this year, state records show, as the firms seek to keep permits for coal-fired power plants on track and stave off hard-nosed environmental standards and new controls on prices.

Energy companies have signed off on more than 350 lobbying contracts for 2007 and intend to spend between $10 million and $20 million protecting their interests this session, according to a Dallas Morning News analysis of state lobbying reports.

Understaffed Commission in NY

The New York Times:
The staff size at the New York State Public Service Commission declined by nearly one-third under the Pataki administration, and the reduction contributed to a failure by the agency to adequately monitor Consolidated Edison’s performance, according to a report to be released today by a State Assembly task force...

The task force found that the commission had about 800 employees in 1995, when George E. Pataki began the first of his three terms as governor, and now — partly due to deregulation — has about 550. Nearly 40 percent of the staff is 55 or older and is expected to retire within a decade.

Demand Response Savings in PJM

Yahoo! News:
A study has found that a modest reduction in electricity use during peak hours would reduce energy prices by at least $57 million to $182 million annually in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The study, prepared by The Brattle Group, examined the effects of reducing electricity use by three percent during the highest use hours for five utility areas. It notes that, "More widespread participation and deeper curtailments would result in even greater price impacts."

The five Mid-Atlantic public utility commissions and PJM Interconnection worked together on the study. The objective was to demonstrate actual savings possible from greater use of demand response.

See the report.

Water Storage in California

U.S. Water News:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, alluding to the drastic changes global warming could have on the state's water supply, is proposing spending $4.5 billion to create two reservoirs and store more water in groundwater aquifers.

The items are a key aspect of the governor's $43.3 billion bond plan, which he revealed during his state-of-the-state address. One of the proposed reservoirs would be in a valley about 60 miles north of Sacramento, while the other would be near Fresno.

The projects are supported by farmers but opposed by many Democrats and environmentalists.

Desalination Plant in NY

The New York Times:
There was a time not long ago when the Hudson River was little more than a convenient dump site, a river so heavily used and contaminated that a state commission once referred to it as New York’s open sewer. But Rockland County residents may soon be drinking its water.

A regional water supply company that serves Rockland County submitted a plan this month to build a desalination plant that would tap the Hudson to address Rockland’s long-term water needs. The company, United Water New York, would build the plant by 2015 and supply Rockland residents with 7.5 million gallons of drinking water a day...

United Water, which supplies water to more than two dozen municipalities across the country, estimates that construction of the desalination plant would cost nearly $80 million, which the company will pay for in part by raising rates. It would be built in the vicinity of Stony Point, just across the Hudson from the Indian Point nuclear plant, and include a complex treatment system that must remove not only toxic chemicals like PCBs, tritium and strontium 90, but also an array of dissolved solids like sodium, sulfate and magnesium.

Oil Rigs to Wind Farms

The Gulf Coast is littered with the carcasses of unused oil equipment. Now those structures are being repurposed to build the first offshore wind farm in the United States...

Wind energy is the most promising carbon-free, nonnuclear alternative to fossil-fueled grid power. But regions with enough space and breeze for land-based wind farms—mostly in the Midwest—are far from coastal population centers; the cost of running transmission lines between generators and users is a major disincentive. That’s why wind-power entrepreneurs have set their sights on coastal waters. In the Atlantic, off Cape Cod, the 450-megawatt Cape Wind installation has been in the works for five years. But that project is mired in NIMBY activism and has yet to pass its initial federally mandated environmental review. (Ironically, a cabal of local property owners, including green-energy backers like US senator Edward Kennedy, are leading the fight against Cape Wind for fear it will mar the environment off Martha’s Vineyard.) Another project proposed for New York’s Long Island Sound has run into similar difficulties, and plans for wind farms off California have foundered on the expense of sinking pilings in the deeper Pacific coast waters.

Leave it to a couple of Gulf Coast good ol’ boys to take up the slack.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Recycling Wastewater

Reuters has a nice primer on the recycling of wastewater into potable water. Enjoy!

WV Approves American Water Spinoff

NY Newsday:
West Virginia regulators on Friday approved a German company's plan to spin off American Water Works Co. in an initial public offering.

West Virginia American Water is a subsidiary of American Water.

In its order, the Public Service Commission also approved the merger of American Water's immediate corporate parent, London-based Thames Water Aqua Holdings, into American Water. Thames is a subsidiary of Germany-based RWE-AG, which provides electricity, water, gas and environmental services to more than 120 million business and residential customers in Europe and North America.

$400 Million Verdict in WV NatGas Case

The Charleston Gazette:

In a court decision that could have ripple effects for natural-gas royalty contracts throughout West Virginia, a Roane County jury has ruled that one of the state’s biggest gas production companies cheated gas-rights owners out of more than $100 million.

The jury ordered Columbia Natural Resources LLC and two other gas companies associated with it to pay a class of about 8,000 plaintiffs nearly $405 million.

It found that Columbia Natural Resources shortchanged the plaintiffs by $134.3 million and deserved to pay $271 million more in punitive damages.

Public-Private Partnerships in Water

Partnerships between private water utilities and municipalities will become increasingly important in helping cities overcome the "huge burdens of infrastructure improvement and the conservation of water," according to Donald L. Correll, president and CEO of American Water, the country's largest privately owned water services company.

Local Governments Challenge FCC


The nation's chief telecommunications regulator stands accused of misrepresenting the facts while pushing through rules that will make it easier for big phone companies to get into cable television.

The policy change won approval by the Federal Communications Commission on a 3-2 vote Dec. 20. That angered local government officials who claim the agency overstepped its authority and now promise a legal challenge. The vote also drew the threat of a "legislative fix" from a powerful congressman.

The new rules are meant to spur more competition for cable television providers. They require local governments to speed up the approval process for new competitors, cap the fees paid by new entrants and ease requirements that competitors build systems that reach every home.

The Race to Build New Nukes

The Wall Street Journal (subscription):

With the U.S. on the verge of building a new generation of nuclear power plants, potential owners are racing to identify and lock down the best sites in order to secure billions of dollars in federal subsidies pledged to first-comers.

Their efforts will test local and national attitudes more than two decades after nuclear accidents made headlines. They also represent a considerable financial gamble for the utility industry, which is moving ahead at a rapid pace despite uncertainty ranging from environmental opposition to finding a home for radioactive nuclear waste...

A flood of applications seeking permission to build at least 30 reactors, primarily in the South, is expected to pour into the Nuclear Regulatory Commission beginning late this year. If built, the reactors would boost the nation's electricity supply by more than 30,000 megawatts, or 3%.
The TVA may be the first out of the box:
The Tennessee Valley Authority will submit applications to build two new nuclear reactors under the government's streamlined licensing process and restart its oldest reactor after a 22-year shutdown at Browns Ferry, TVA officials told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The public utility also plans to decide by August whether to spend up to $2 billion to complete the unfinished Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, the newspaper reported Sunday.

The total cost could exceed $7 billion for design and construction, officials said.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Texas Deregulation

Houston Chronicle:
The state's much-touted total deregulation of electric utilities leaves millions of Texas households exactly where they were before — with only one utility company and one rate to choose from.

Customers primarily of the state's largest power companies — Houston-based Reliant Energy, Dallas-based TXU Corp., and Direct Energy, in sparsely populated areas of north Texas and the Coastal Bend — can take advantage of the utility deregulation that was "completed" Jan. 1.

But that leaves as many as 40 percent on the outside of the state's plan to try to lower electric rates in a state with rates among the highest in the nation.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

CTE Shareholders Approve Merger

Business Newswire:
Commonwealth Telephone Enterprises, Inc. (“CTE”), announced this afternoon that its shareholders have overwhelmingly voted in favor of the proposal to adopt the Agreement and Plan of Merger dated as of September 17, 2006, among CTE, Citizens Communications Company (“Citizens”) and CF Merger Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Citizens, pursuant to which CF Merger Corp. will merge with and into CTE, with CTE surviving as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Citizens. Approximately 98% of the votes cast at the special meeting of shareholders held today were cast in favor of the transaction.

BGE's Demand Side Management

The Baltimore Sun:
Baltimore Gas and Electric will announce today a plan intended to reduce power demand at peak times and give customers more control over soaring energy bills by installing "smart" meters at every home and boosting incentives for conservation.

BGE will offer new financial rewards for customers to shift their power use to off-peak hours and will expand existing programs that pay customers to let BGE remotely control use of air conditioners and water heaters on days when energy demand is high.

Dominion Assets to be Sold

The Columbus Dispatch:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley are working together to acquire the oil and gas assets of utility company Dominion Resources Inc. in a deal that could top $15 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

The investment banks of the two companies are part of a group of private-equity players hoping to buy the Virginia utility’s oil-and-natural-gas exploration and production businesses. The parties declined to comment yesterday.

California Agency Sues PUC

AP via CBSNews:
The South Coast Air Quality Management District sued California public utility officials, claiming the liquefied natural gas that officials approved for use in the state could worsen air pollution.

Energy providers plan to spend about $3 billion on the construction of seven natural gas terminals on the coast of California and Baja in Mexico. The air-quality agency alleges that natural gas could set back progress toward clean air. The lawsuits were filed with the California appeals court and the state Supreme Court.

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved a standard that will allow oil companies and other energy providers to burn the gas to generate power. Because imported liquefied natural gas burns hotter than domestic gas, it creates more pollution.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Granite Power

The New York Times:
The United States could generate as much electricity by 2050 as that flowing today from all of the country’s nuclear power plants by developing technologies that tap heat locked in deep layers of granite, according to a new study commissioned by the Energy Department.
View the Study.

NatGas Futures Prices Up

February natural gas rallied 33.4 cents, or 4.9%, to $7.22 per million British thermal units. It traded as high as $7.23, its strongest level since Dec. 18, buoyed by colder weather forecasts for parts of the nation. February crude climbed 76 cents to $52.75 a barrel. The energy market "seems to be embracing a shift in the weather pattern to an extended period of colder temperatures, which will improve the demand outlook," Michael Fitzpatrick, an analyst at Fimat USA, said in a research note Monday.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Old Dams Need Attention

The New York Times:
In 2005, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave United States dams a D, a grade that is still justified two years later.

For starters, the nation’s dam stock is rapidly aging. Most dams need major repairs 25 to 50 years after they’re built, and most United States dams are at least 25 years old; some... were built more than a century ago.

As dams age, their danger increases. This is a matter of not just advancing decrepitude, but “hazard creep” — the tendency of developers to build directly downstream from dams, in the path of floods that would follow dam failures. The result is that even though Americans now build few dams, more and more dams threaten people’s lives. Chiefly for this reason, the number of dams identified in one estimate as capable of causing death and in need of rehabilitation more than doubled from 1999 to 2006, from around 500 to nearly 1,400. The civil engineers’ 2005 report placed the number of unsafe dams much higher, at more than 3,500.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lower Demand for New Area Codes


Despite growing demand for phone numbers, the need for new area codes sharply declined since 2001, mainly because new regulations cut down on wasted telephone numbers.

The stress on area codes also eased as the end of the telecommunications boom chased small startup companies from the phone market, freeing numbers those companies had hoped to provide. Consumers also dumped pagers for cell phones.

As a result, area codes old and new are in better shape than expected five years ago.

Cell Users Subsidize Land Lines

AP via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Cellular subscribers are paying hundreds of millions of dollars each year to subsidize landline telephone service, enriching big telecommunications companies while providing little or no benefit to cell phone users.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Credits for Michigan Customers

Detroit Free Press:

More than 220,000 customers who lost power during an ice storm this week might get a $25 credit on their next bill.

At some point, the storm affected about 120,000 customers of DTE Energy Co. in southeastern Michigan and at least 104,000 customers of CMS Energy Corp.'s Consumers Energy subsidiary elsewhere in the southern half of the state.

BGE's New Rates

Baltimore Sun via TMCNet:
Electricity bills for customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. are projected to rise by a less-than-expected 47 percent -- or about $550 for the year -- starting in June, based on bids the utility received from wholesale energy suppliers this week.

AT&T's Unity Program

DMN via

AT&T customers who sign up for both wireless and land-line phone service from the company will soon be able to call any of their fellow 100 million AT&T customers for free.

San Antonio-based AT&T Inc. is announcing the new program — called Unity — today.

Maine Power Grid

Portsmouth Herald:
A preliminary report by the Maine Public Utilities Commission says Maine ratepayers don't get enough in return for participating in the regional power grid and concludes there are "no insurmountable legal, economic or technical barriers" to leaving it.

The 39-page report delivered to the Maine Legislature this week says "reasonable alternatives" to participation in the grid include creating an independent transmission company and establishing power-swapping arrangements with neighboring Canadian provinces.

Friday, January 19, 2007

ConEd Faces Millions in Penalties

The New York Times:
Consolidated Edison now faces the prospect of $9.3 million in penalties and tens of millions of dollars in additional sanctions as the result of a scathing state report into its handling of the nine-day blackout in Queens that left 174,000 people without power last summer.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Desalination Plant on the Hudson

The Journal News:

United Water New York's Rockland customers could be drinking Hudson River water by 2015.

The company submitted plans to the state Public Service Commission yesterday to build a $79 million desalination plant that would use water from the Hudson.

Verizon Wants Dereg in VA


Verizon Communications Inc., Virginia's largest provider of local telephone service, asked state regulators on Wednesday to allow the company to remove pricing restrictions because the market is getting more competitive.

In filings with the State Corporation Commission, Verizon Virginia and Verizon South said regulation is not needed amid changing technologies and increased options for wireless, Internet and cable phone services.

Nuclear Divers

Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Divers are in great demand these days. Power companies need them to maintain many of the world's 442 nuclear reactors. They're also called on to repair aging bridges and water tanks. And oil companies need them to fix offshore platforms damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

That has done little to increase pay for nuclear divers, who start at salaries of about $30,000 a year. Experienced divers certified for specialized work can make close to $100,000. Offshore divers make still more but have to live on a ship for months at a time.

Nuclear reactors range in size, from 35 feet to 70 feet tall, and 14 feet to 20 feet wide, depending on the type of technology. They are enclosed in steel-reinforced concrete structures. During operation, boiling water reactors are partially filled with about 60,000 gallons of water that circulates to cool the fuel and also turns into steam to power the turbine. Pressurized reactors hold 35,000 gallons of water during operations. When the reactor is shut down for refueling and maintenance, the vessel and secondary pools, also called the cavity, are filled with more than 500,000 gallons of water that further cools down the reactor and acts as a guard against radiation.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Opportunities in Water
Experts believe there's boundless opportunity for creative inventors who can help meet the world's growing water needs.

In recent years, many water entrepreneurs have seen fat payoffs. Major corporations interested in building water businesses have been spending lavishly to acquire new products.

Mirant to Sell 6 NatGas Plants

Mirant will sell six natural gas-fired power plants to LS Power Equity Partners, an asset management company, for $1.4 billion, the energy said Tuesday. After accounting for project-level debt, Mirant will reap about $1.3 billion, money that it said it would reinvest in other projects or return to shareholders.

Verizon to Spin Off Landlines in NE
Verizon Communications Inc., the second-largest U.S. local telephone company, plans to shed phone lines in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont as part of a strategy to focus on its wireless and television businesses.

Verizon will spin off the assets, which will then be bought by FairPoint Communications Inc. in a transaction worth a total of $2.72 billion, the companies said today in a statement. FairPoint shares jumped 15 percent, the biggest one-day gain since it sold shares to the public in February 2005.

Verizon shareholders will get $1.02 billion in FairPoint stock and own 60 percent of the expanded company. FairPoint's phone lines will rise from about 250,000 to 1.6 million, creating the eighth-largest U.S. telephone provider. The sale advances New York-based Verizon's plan to rely on divisions such as Verizon Wireless, where revenue grew 18 percent in the third quarter.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Local Telcos Block Wireless

If you're ditching your home phone to go wireless only, your local phone company has your number.

The problem, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile say, is the local phone giants don't want to give that number up.

In a recent petition to the Federal Communications Commission, the two cellphone carriers say local phone companies are making it difficult for consumers to transfer land-line numbers to wireless phones. And they say that's dissuading many people from using mobile phones exclusively.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Natural Gas Prices

Barron's (subscription):

NATURAL-GAS HAS COOLED OFF MORE THAN MOST other commodities lately -- thanks to unseasonably warm temperatures this winter. Even with cold snaps and big snow dumps in Denver, last month was the fourth-warmest December since the U.S. began keeping records in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The result: Demand has sagged and prices have followed. And there are few catalysts in sight on the near horizon.

In December, prices for near-month natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were about half what they were the previous year. On Dec. 27, January gas futures closed at $5.838 per million British thermal units, the lowest late-December closing price since 2002. Over all, 2006 was the warmest year on record in the U.S.

More on natural gas prices from MarketWatch.

Monday, January 08, 2007

States Sue FERC Over Surcharge

AP via
Connecticut and Massachusetts are taking federal energy regulators to court over a surcharge that will cost electricity consumers in both states hundreds of millions of dollars over the next four years.

The states filed a lawsuit Dec. 28 in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. They're seeking to stop the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from imposing the surcharge, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Thursday.

The fee was designed to encourage development of new power plants to help meet growing demand, but Blumenthal said the money will go to existing power generators without requiring them to build new plants or produce more electricity.

Blast at Ohio Plant
An explosion at a coal-burning power plant killed a worker delivering liquid hydrogen and injured nine others Monday, authorities said.

Officials weren't sure what caused the blast outside the Muskingum River Plant, said Vikki Michalski, a spokeswoman for American Electric Power.

Nuclear Resurgence

The Washington Post:

Faced with evidence that coal- and oil-fired electric plants are overheating the planet, and alarmed by soaring demand for electricity, governments from South America to Asia are turning once again to a power source mostly shunned for two decades as too dangerous and too costly.

Globally, 29 nuclear power plants are being built. Well over 100 more have been written into the development plans of governments for the next three decades. India and China each are rushing to build dozens of reactors. The United States and the countries of Western Europe, led by new nuclear champions, are reconsidering their cooled romance with atomic power. International agencies have come on board; even the Persian Gulf oil states have announced plans for nuclear generators.

FCC Privacy Rules

Four months after Hewlett-Packard's spying scandal, the Federal Communications Commission is expected within weeks to set new rules protecting personal phone records from unauthorized disclosure.

The move follows last summer's revelations that investigators for Hewlett-Packard used deception to obtain the phone records of board members and reporters in an effort to identify the sources of news leaks about company matters.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Flip Side of Amaranth

FT via MarketWatch:
A Wikipedia entry for John Arnold, a 32-year-old hedge fund manager specialising in the energy sector, says that while "almost nothing is known" about his personal life, "his robot dancing still needs improvement".

Dancing ability notwithstanding, Mr Arnold has emerged as a leading player on the global energy trading stage.

The trading success of his Houston-based Centaurus Energy fund in recent times looks all the more interesting in comparison with the fortunes of Brian Hunter, the infamous Amaranth Advisors trader, also 32 years old, who last year presided over the loss of $6bn and the eventual closure of his fund. His bet on a rise in the price of natural gas this winter turned out to be spectacularly incorrect...

Mr Arnold generated gains of up to 150 per cent last year, according to hedge fund market sources.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

PP&L President Steps Down

Central PA Business Journal:
The president of PPL Corp.’s electricity-distribution subsidiary retired Jan. 1 for health reasons, the company said in a written statement. John F. Sipics had led the unit since 2003.

William H. Spence, PPL Corp.’s chief operating officer, will take over for Sipics until a permanent successor is named.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

NRC: Dominion Nuke OK
Dominion Virginia Power has cleared another environmental review in its goal to build more nuclear reactors at its North Anna Power Station.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a final environmental impact statement that adding reactors at the plant wouldn't pose significant environmental concerns. The report also said that the NRC's staff recommends that the agency issue early site permits for proposed North Anna Units 3 and 4.

PSEG Sells Indiana Plant to AEP

AP via
The parent of New Jersey's biggest gas and electric distribution utility plans to take a loss with its sale of a 2 1/2-year-old Indiana electric plant, fueled by increasingly expensive natural gas, to one of the country's largest electricity generators.

Newark-based holding company Public Service Enterprise Group said Tuesday it has agreed to sell the Lawrenceburg Energy Center in Lawrenceburg, Ind., for $325 million to AEP Generating Co., a subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power.

Mild Winter = Low NatGas Prices

AP via

Falling natural gas prices have prompted the state's two primary gas utilities to cut prices for more than 1 million customers.

State regulators approved cuts Tuesday for PSNC Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas, retroactive to Monday...

The price cuts were the result of falling wholesale prices brought on by this winter's mild weather.
This situation may not last long:

National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp... expects the cost of natural gas supplies to get more expensive.

The company is required by the state to lay out its annual purchased gas cost projection for the period extending from Aug. 1, 2007, through July 31, 2008.

National Fuel is betting overall gas cost expenses will go up and that will translate into higher monthly bills for consumers.

Customers Pound Ameren at Hearing

Belleville News-Democrat:
Irate customers blasted Ameren Corp. on Tuesday during a public hearing on the utility company's request to raise rates...

Customers who spoke at a hearing at a St. Louis County library were almost unanimous in saying that Ameren has earned too much profit while investing too little in infrastructure and customer service.

Ameren filed its rate request this summer before major storms knocked out power to more than 600,000 customers -- some losing electricity for up to a week. Ice storms in November caused another major blackout, with 500,000 customers losing power and repairs again stretching on for days.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Aqua Closes NY Water Service Deal

Philadelphia Business Journal:

Aqua America Inc. said Tuesday that its Aqua New York Inc. subsidiary has closed on a nearly $51 million acquisition announced last May.

Aqua New York acquired New York Water Service Corp. from Utilities & Industries Corp. for $27.4 million in cash and the assumption of $23.5 million in debt.

Thousands Without Power in Nebraska

The Grand Island Independent:
Despite spending most of the day trying to restore power to thousands of Nebraskans, utility officials estimated Monday evening that thousands of Nebraskans remained without power.

Beth Boesch, a spokeswoman for Nebraska Public Power District, said from an operations center in York that officials said around 15,000 utility customers would have no power in their plugs Tuesday to prepare breakfast.

From a prior story:
The combination of ice and snow that fell across much of the state this weekend left thousands of Nebraskans without power Sunday.

Most of the power outages were reported in central and northeastern Nebraska where the extra weight of freezing rain and ice brought power lines and tree limbs to the ground.

Not In My Back Yard

The Post & Courier (Charleston, S.C.):

South Carolina Electric & Gas says it can better serve the town with a new 115,000-volt transmission line, but residents of Hamlin Plantation, Raven's Run, Hamlin Park and Six Mile say they don't want the line and its 70-foot-tall steel towers in their neighborhoods.

The residents said they are worried about the resale value of their homes and possible health effects of having a powerful transmission line so close. They also worry about the line marring the character of their neighborhoods and the impact of the project if the line is constructed in environmentally sensitive areas.

Compact Flourescent Bulbs & WalMart

The New York Times:

A compact fluorescent has clear advantages over the widely used incandescent light — it uses 75 percent less electricity, lasts 10 times longer, produces 450 pounds fewer greenhouse gases from power plants and saves consumers $30 over the life of each bulb. But it is eight times as expensive as a traditional bulb, gives off a harsher light and has a peculiar appearance.

As a result, the bulbs have languished on store shelves for a quarter century; only 6 percent of households use the bulbs today.

Which is what makes Wal-Mart’s goal so wildly ambitious. If it succeeds in selling 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs a year by 2008, total sales of the bulbs in the United States would increase by 50 percent, saving Americans $3 billion in electricity costs and avoiding the need to build additional power plants for the equivalent of 450,000 new homes.

That would send shockwaves — some intended, others not — across the lighting industry. Because compact fluorescent bulbs last up to eight years, giant manufacturers, like General Electric and Osram Sylvania, would sell far fewer lights. Because the bulbs are made in Asia, some American manufacturing jobs could be lost. And because the bulbs contain mercury, there is a risk of pollution when millions of consumers throw them away.