A handful of stories of interest:
- The boom in shale gas has been a boon to homeowners who use gas, local economies with the resource, and manufacturers who make stuff with it, but it has “upended the ambitious growth plans of companies that produce power from wind, nuclear energy and coal. Those plans were based on the assumption that supplies of natural gas would be tight, and prices high.”
- So I wonder about the implications of low natural gas prices for ambitious off-shore wind power plans. My general attitude is that so long as it is shareholder money being risked, not ratepayer money, then go for it. Unfortunately, renewable power policies will ensure that ratepayers and taxpayers end up covering all or most of the excess costs. Anyone willing to guess whether the external benefits from these projects is sufficient to justify the high cost?
- The nation’s strategic helium reserve is running out. Peak helium? No, just awkward federal pricing policies as the government winds down its stockpile according to the Washington Post. Related: a new helium production facility being built in Wyoming. What I didn’t know before: helium is generally found commingled with natural gas, though only a few fields have high enough concentrations to make recovery economical.
- Policies change over time, and the transitions between old and new regimes can either go smoothly or not. If a national cap-and-trade program were to be established, we can be sure that the program will be changed from time to time. Scholars at Resources for the Future have examined how the EPA has handled policy changes affecting the NOx and SO2 cap-and-trade systems. Short answer: sometimes well and sometimes badly.