Last updateThu, 14 Dec 2017 8pm


Heating Fuel Up 27% for Customers this Winter

The outlook for residential bills during the upcoming months of November through March – the winter heating season – is up from the past two winters that featured unseasonably warm temperatures and historically low natural gas commodity prices.

National Fuel, in its annual winter forecast, predicts that customers should expect to pay on average nearly 27% more than last winter when a typical customer paid $464 for the five-month heating season. Assuming this year’s winter sees normal average temperatures, a typical residential customer should expect to pay about $588. An increase was in the making after customers saw the lowest natural gas bills in nearly 20 years in the past two winters thanks to a fortunate combination of mild winter weather and rock-bottom natural gas prices. 

Renewables Growth Squeezing Natural Gas and Coal

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable electricity is expected to grow by more than a third by 2022 to over 8,000 terawatt hours, which is equivalent to the total power consumption of China, India and Germany combined. By then, renewables will account for 30% of power generation, up from 24% in 2016. The growth in renewable generation will be twice as large as that of gas and coal combined. Though coal remains the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, renewables close the generation gap with coal by half in just five years. 

Energy Efficiency Gains at Risk of Slowing Down

The recent acceleration in global energy efficiency gains risks slowing down if governments do not maintain their focus on implementing new efficiency policies, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency.

Global energy intensity – the energy used per unit of gross domestic product – fell by 1.8% in 2016, a sign the global economy generated more value from its energy. Improvement seen in 2016 confirms the strong progress seen since the start of the decade.

But this progress masks some concerning policy trends. While efficiency codes and standards grew to cover about 32% of global energy use in 2016, nearly all of the increase in coverage came from existing policies and over two-thirds of global energy use is still not covered. 

FERC Approves Kinder Morgan NGL Pipeline Project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved Kinder Morgan’s $412 million Utica Marcellus Texas project. The proposed project involves the abandonment and conversion of 964 miles of natural gas service on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline system, the construction of approximately 200 miles of new pipeline from Louisiana to Texas, and new storage capacity and laterals in Ohio, all with an anticipated in-service date in the fourth quarter of 2018. 

NRC Investigating Valve Failure at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has launched a special inspection into the failure of a high-pressure coolant injection discharge valve on Unit 3 of the Browns Ferry nuclear plant. The plant, operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is located about 32 miles west of Huntsville, AL.

On Sept. 24, during routine testing, the high-pressure coolant injection system unexpectedly pumped water into the reactor vessel instead of a storage tank, and TVA later determined that a failed nut on a valve allowed it to remain partially open. Other plant systems responded as expected, but the valve failure prompted the NRC to begin the special inspection.

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