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Archive for the ‘Fuel Cells’ Category

You can make your voice heard right now at the Delaware Public Service Commission (PSC) to protect against future electric bill increases.

The PSC is considering a regulation on how to calculate the cost impact on electric bills of Delaware’s requirement that our electric suppliers purchase more expensive and unreliable wind and solar power every year.  In 2010 the legislature amended the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Act (REPSA) to include a cost cap of 3% on electric bills. The legislature figured there was value in using renewable power, but it didn’t want to overburden ratepayers, many who are living paycheck to paycheck.  Thus, it wrote a cap into the law that said electric bills should never go up by more than 3 percent to buy renewables.  If the cap was exceeded, the requirement for more renewable power was to be frozen until costs came down.  In 2011, the legislature again amended REPSA to allow a portion of the cost of fuel cell generation that Delmarva is forced to buy (and for which ratepayers are forced to pay) to count as renewable energy so Delmarva would not have to buy as much wind and solar power.

Well, that cap was exceeded in 2013. Renewables now add about 9% to electric bills, or $100 a year to residential bills, but there is no freeze!  Some industrial customers are paying a job-killing half million to a million dollars a year.

The story of how a freeze was avoided should make your blood boil.  The legislature added the 3% cost cap in 2010 and told the PSC to draft a regulation governing the cost cap calculations, with DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate (Division) performing the actual calculations.  Then, the two agencies would consult to determine whether a freeze was called for. This division of labor made sense.  The PSC regularly balances the competing objectives of price, reliability, and environmental concerns in approving utility rates.  The Division of Energy & Climate advocates for renewable energy, which could potentially bias its approach to a cost cap calculation regulation to avoid a freeze.

The PSC ducked its responsibility, impermissibly delegating the duty for drafting the cost cap regulation to the Division.  The Division took its sweet time finalizing the regulation (almost four years), until the end of 2015 — thus avoiding doing a calculation that would have led to a freeze.  Moreover, the Division’s final regulation twisted the calculation process to avoid a freeze.  First, it flatly ignored the cost of the Bloom Energy fuel cell project.  Look at your electric bill: you will see the Renewable Compliance Charge broken into the fuel cell cost (Delaware Qualified Fuel Cell) and the wind and solar cost separately.  Divide the charge by your total bill to see what percentage you are paying.  Even though the fuel cells are fueled by conventional natural gas, the legislature approved fuel cell generation counting against the RPS requirements at twice the rate of an actual wind farm!

Second, the Division attempted to calculate the value of unpriced externalities, such as the health impacts of less air pollution, and count those externalities as part of the cost of electric supply.  In doing so, it used outdated emissions data, outdated health impact values, and counted jobs created in the solar industry, while ignoring jobs lost because of higher electric rates.  After exaggerating the benefits, it wanted to allow another 3% price increase!

The REPSA requires that our electric suppliers purchase 25% of their power from renewable sources by 2025; the current year’s target is 14.5%.  The idea was to generate renewable power in-state.  Instead, we are only generating about 1% of the power we use from in-state solar projects.  The rest is coming from landfill gas and biomass projects that were in place before the REPSA became law, natural gas-fired fuel cells, and out-of-state windfarms that raise electric bills but create no Delaware jobs. The point is that for all its cost and effort, the REPSA isn’t even close to doing what it was supposed to – but it is increasing the amount that Delawareans pay for electricity.

The Delaware Public Advocate (DPA), a state agency tasked with advocating the lowest reasonable rates for regulated utility consumers, and CRI petitioned the PSC to do its job and issue regulations.  The PSC refused.  The DPA appealed the PSC’s order and won!

The PSC has now drafted proposed cost cap regulations.  To read them, go to http://regulations.delaware.gov/register/march2017/proposed/20%20DE%20Reg%20713%2003-01-17.htm .

Here’s where you come in.

The PSC did eliminate the use of externalities in the cost cap calculations.  However, the wording is not clear enough: the fuel cell costs are excluded from the cost cap calculation.

CRI thinks the cost cap calculations should take into account the cost to buy solar and wind power and the amount going toward Bloom energy fuel cells when calculating the total cost of REPSA compliance.

If you think so too, let the PSC know. Written public comments are due by Monday, April 24, and the PSC will conduct a public hearing at 1 PM, April 6.  Written comments may be sent to Joseph DeLosa, Public Service Commission, 861 Silver Lake Blvd., Cannon Building Suite 100, Dover, DE 19904, or by e-mail to joseph.delosa@state.de.us.  The hearing is at the same location.

We are encouraging submission of written comments to the PSC similar to the following with the subject line “Regulation Docket No. 56”: “We support the proposed regulation, but please add clarifying language to ensure that the net cost of Renewable Energy Credits from a Qualified Fuel Cell Provider shall be included in the RPS Cost Cap Calculation.”                            

The improved regulation will probably result in a freeze to the increasing requirement for wind and solar power.  It will keep the cost from rising further.  (Interestingly, the price of solar installations has fallen so far it is likely that new solar projects will still be built without the state mandate, as is happening at many locations across America now).

David T. Stevenson
Director, Center for Energy Competitiveness
Caesar Rodney Institute

 

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By now, many of you, especially those of you who live or work in New Castle County, are aware that Bloom Energy has been, over the last year or so, collecting fees from Delmarva Power ratepayers but not disclosing the cost to consumers; nowhere on people’s utility bills will you see any surcharge for Bloom Energy, though you have already been paying it. The cost? Over $1 BILLION in subisidies from both Delaware taxpayers and Delmarva Power ratepayers, combined. From the original article:

”      Delmarva and Bloom admitted electric ratepayers would be stuck paying above market prices for power. They said it would be worth it because of claimed economic development benefit of jobs at a new fuel cell factory, offsetting higher future electric prices for conventional power, the avoided cost of buying renewable energy credits, and environmental benefits. Two years down the road our predictions are coming true:

·         The cost will be at least three times expected and could go to a half billion dollars over the twenty year life of the project
·         Overall economic development potential will be one third expected and the Delaware solar industry has been decimated by the offsets in Solar Renewable Energy Credits
·         Environmental benefits would have been eight to ten times higher if a conventional natural gas power plant had been built and electric rates would have gone down instead of up”
Some are trying to argue that CRI and those who oppose the Bloom Energy deal are not giving the company time to develop its business model and hire the workers they promised to do. The problem is not just that they are behind; that would in of itself be the least of the problems. CRI has doubts there is any work going on at all in the plant, and an attempt by the News Journal’s Aaron Nathan to visit the site to inspect the plant was denied. Why would Bloom Energy not want Aaron to visit? It’s not like the facility was off-limits to outsiders. Secretary of DNREC Colin O’Mara was allowed to walk into the plant and announce that Bloom Energy was still on schedule to complete its stated objectives of operating their Delaware plant on schedule. Keep in mind the News Journal editorial board still supports the Bloom Energy deal, so it isn’t like Bloom is showing their facility to a hostile entity.
We hope our elected officials learn a lesson and realize that gambling with taxpayer money, even in the name of “investment in the future” “jobs” and “green energy” is not a smart idea. Had Bloom been required to have competed with other companies for the technology (Fuel Cell Inc. is suing Governor Markell and five members of the Public Service Commission for not giving other companies a chance to bid on the contract) and focused more money and time on building the facility and not lobbying, they may have been able to succeed. Instead, as CRI believes, Bloom will begin construction of their fuel cells in Delaware and then realizing the cost it would need to keep the operation going, will cease operations in Delaware and move them elsewhere.  As Dave wrote in “The Bloom Prophecy”:
“The first 6 megawatts of a 50 megawatt power supply contract with Delmarva Power can come from Bloom’s California manufacturing facility.  We expect Bloom will deliver the first 6 megawatts and then will pull out of the contract and abandon plans to manufacture in Delaware so the funds can be invested in India or elsewhere in Asia.  It makes no economic sense to build a manufacturing plant for one large order for fuel cells to be utilized by Delmarva Power.

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please enjoy another guest blog post from Lindsay Leveen, from greenexplored.com
No doubt Bloom Energy knows the way to San Jose.  They do not need Dionne Warwick to show them the way.  They were pleased to announce on their website on October 29, 2012 that they placed two boxes at the San Jose Pavilion where the Sharks play NHL hockey.
Bloom provided the Sharks spokesman the data in the press release that they will save 4.8 million pounds of CO2 emissions over a ten year period with the two boxes at the Pavilion.    I contacted the Sharks Spokesman (Jim Sparaco) by email and told him that if the PG&E data on the grid emissions only being 393 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour are correct and the data in the Bloom permit filing in Delaware are correct and if the boxes have an uptime of 95% then the Pavilion will in fact be adding 16.3 million more pounds of CO2 over the ten year period than the case where they continued to simply buy electricity off of the grid from PG&E.
The Sharks Spokesman replied to my email that he had contacted Bloom to ask about the discrepancy between the data Bloom provided him for his press release and the PG&E and Bloom Delaware data.  I am happy that the spokesman takes his job seriously and does not want to be the cause of greenwashing.
Today I sent an email to the spokesman as well as the Mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed, and helped inform the Mayor of the possible greenwashing at the state-of-the-art arena.    You see the mayor was quoted in the press release as follows:  “Congratulations to HP Pavilion for being the first arena in the nation to implement Bloom Energy’s cutting-edge fuel cell technology.”  Yeah Mr. Mayor this cutting-edge technology may well be an illusion.
The City of San Jose owns the arena and they are therefore directly responsible for the emissions of CO2 and VOCs as well as the toxic and hazardous solid wastes that accumulate in the Bloom Boxes.  I am sure that the Mayor just like the spokesman was given misleading information by Bloom.
We now have evidence that Bloom gave the operators of the San Jose Pavilion the data on their emissions.  Bloom can either respond to the spokesman and the mayor that PG&E is fibbing about the grid emissions and / or that Bloom provided Delaware with incorrect information in a permit application submitted under penalty of perjury.  Or they can tell the city of San Jose that the boxes will not save 4.8 million pounds of CO2 emissions over the 10 years.
No matter what Bloom tells the Spokesman or the Mayor their data somewhere are not correct.  Won’t it be nice if they misled Delaware rather than San Jose?  That is a crime under penalty of perjury.  If they misled San Jose rather than Delaware that is a crime against me and my neighbors as we all pay money into the SGIP to lower carbon emissions.  We all breathe the crisp air in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Interestingly the population of Delaware (917,012) is similar to the population of the city of San Jose (982,765).  It looks like Bloom likes boondoggling in places with approximately one million people.  My congressman pretends to represent the 707,530 people living in the 2nd Congressional district of California.  While Mr. Huffman is a champion boondoggler, Bloom has him beat by an extra 275,235 people in San Jose and 209,482 extra people in the First State.
Now the zinger!!! The  Secretary of the Delaware  Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is Collin O’Mara.    Quoting from the DNREC web site “Prior to joining Governor Markell, Secretary O’Mara served as the Clean Tech Strategist for the City of San Jose, and was the primary architect of the city of San Jose’s Green Vision, built upon the belief that environmental sustainability and smart economic development are inextricably linked and entirely compatible. “
Wow there is a link between the San Jose Boondoggle and The Delaware Boondoggle.  It is Mr. O’Mara!!!  Honestly the whole thing reads like a novel called “Carbon Dioxide Into The Wind”.  Our hero is Green not Rhett and the leading high maintenance person is O’Mara not O’Hara.  But the key line from this book is “frankly my dear Scollin, I do give a damn!”

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from the Caesar Rodney Institute:

 

Lawsuit against the Bloom Energy Deal to be Heard Next Week

Wilmington- The lawsuit against the Bloom Energy deal approved by Governor Jack Markell and five members of the Public Service Commission will be heard at the US District Court on Wednesday, November 14, at 2 PM. The hearing will be in Courtroom 6C on 844 North King Street in front of Judge Christopher J. Burke. The hearing is open to the public, and all are encouraged to attend.

The plaintiffs are John Nichols and Fuel Cell Energy of Connecticut. Mr. Nichols is a citizen who believes his rights as a taxpayer and local resident are being violated as a result of a government-backed deal to provide over $600 million in taxpayer stimulus. Fuel Cell Energy believes they were unable to sell their products in Delaware because Bloom Energy had already been chosen to take the deal offered by the government.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Cause of Action, a non-profit which works to protect the public and taxpayer interests in favor of government accountability and transparency. The Caesar Rodney Institute provided expert testimony in Mr. Nichols’ hearing at the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board on June 13 of this year. CRI’s testimony and research data on the Bloom Energy deal will be considered as part of the lawsuit.

Please contact:

Barrett Kidner

Chairman and CEO

(302) 734-4935

bek@caesarrodney.org

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Some of you have probably thought to yourselves sometime recently, “whatever happened to the lawsuit against Governor Markell?” After accusing us of being a right-wing think tank who opposes jobs for the middle class, Team Markell has asked for an extension of time to respond to the Cause of Action Lawsuit. No official word on whether the five named members of the Public Service Commission have responded to the suit, but we believe they too have asked for an extension to review the lawsuit. None of them commented on the case at the time it was filed.

Additionally, Mr. Nichols filed an appeal of the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board’s (CZICB) decision last month to deny him standing to pursue a grievance against Bloom Energy. His court date against them will be in September. A win for John means the CZICB will have to re-hear John’s case. A win for the CZICB means the decision in June will stand, and no further challenges can be made.

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John Nichols, the plaintiff involved in the suit against Governor Markell and five members of the Public Service Commission, has filed a suit in New Castle County Superior Court against the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board (CZICB). This is in direct challenge to the CZICB’s rejection of John’s allowance for standing in the case. The board ruled 4-3 around 10:30 AM on June 13th that John had standing, but at 4 pm on the same day voted 5-0 with 2 abstentions to say John didn’t have standing after all. The debate centers on whether John can be considered an “aggrieved” person since Bloom’s “energy servers” have not actually been built yet. John’s argument is that since these boxes, based on studies and evidence presented at the hearing, WOULD harm the environment and Delmarva Power ratepayers, he will be directly harmed by the CZICB’s decision to deny him standing. If the Superior Court finds in John’s favor, the CZICB would be required to go back and review the case based on the science of the “energy servers”, and John would be considered to be an aggrieved individual in this case.

A copy of the complaint:

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE

IN AND FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY

JOHN A. NICHOLS,

Appellant,

V. CA. N0. N12A-07-

STATE COASTAL ZONE INDUSTRIAL

CONTROL BOARD, DELAWARE
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL

-RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL

CONTROL, and DIAMOND
GENERATION PARTNERS, LLC,

Appellees.

NOTICE OF APPEAL

Appellant John A. Nichols (“Niohols”) hereby takes appeal pursuant to  Del. C. § 7008

and Superior Court Civil Rule 72 from the decision announced by the State Coastal Zone

Industrial Control Board (“B0ard”) on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 which denied him standing to

pursue an appeal of the grant of a permit application to Diamond State Generation Partners, LLC

by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources And Environmental Control on the grounds

that the evidence in the record established Nichols possessed standing under the broad “any

aggrieved person” statutory scope of 7 Def. C. § 7007(b).

ABBOTT LAW FIRM

Attorneys for Appellant John A. Nichols
Dated: July 2, 2012

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DOVER, DE – Cause of Action, a Washington D.C.-based legal advocacy group, has filed suit today in US Federal Court, District of Delaware, against Governor Jack Markell and five members of the Delaware Public Service Commission.

The Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI), a Delaware-based non-partisan think tank, has challenged the merits of utilizing high-cost Solid Oxide Fuel Cells to produce electrical power for sale to ratepayers of Delmarva Power, Delaware’s largest energy utility provider.  CRI was the sole entity opposing the contract between Delmarva Power and Bloom Energy at the Delaware Public Service rate hearings in October of 2011, on the basis the economic impact on Delaware’s economy would be negative because of the contract.  CRI has been concerned about the constitutionality of the contract from the very beginning.

Since CRI and John Nichols, a citizen activist, were not able to convince the Public Service Commission to change its views on either the economic or environmental impact of the permit application, Mr. Nichols decided to take his case to the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board.  He challenged the permit application on whether Bloom Energy had the right to build its Solid Oxide Fuel Cell technology in lands that were considered protected for wildlife. CRI funded expert testimony as part of Mr. Nichols’ motion to appear the permit decision.

The Board voted to deny Mr. Nichols standing at the hearing, which allowed Bloom Energy to proceed with installation of its Solid Oxide Fuel Cell units in the Coastal Zone.  Mr. Nichols opted to file a lawsuit against Governor Markell and five members of the Public Service Commission, using information CRI provided during testimony.  He was joined by Fuel Cell Energy, Inc., a company which makes fuel cells, and which feels it was denied the opportunity to do business in Delaware because of the government’s decision to not open the bidding process to outside companies.

Caesar Rodney Institute 

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