Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Federal Briefs

Trump Imposes 30% Tariff on Imported Solar Panels

President Trump on Monday imposed a 30% tariff on the import of solar panels, following a recommendation by the International Trade Commission.

The tariffs, less severe than those sought by solar panel manufacturers Suniva and SolarWorld, will gradually decrease to 15% over the next four years. The solar industry and environmentalists criticized the decision.

Trump acted under a provision of trade law that, after an examination by the ITC, leaves the final decision on tariffs to the president. The provision has not been used since 2002, when President George W. Bush imposed tariffs on imported steel. Trump also imposed a 20% tariff on imported washing machines.

More: The Washington Post

NRC Officials Select Resident Inspectors for NY Plants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said officials in King of Prussia, Pa., have selected new resident inspectors at two Exelon nuclear power plants in Scriba, N.Y.

Beth E. Sienel was selected to be the new resident inspector at Nine Mile Point, joining Senior Resident Inspector Eric Miller at the two-unit plant.

Gregory F. Stock was selected to be the new resident inspector at the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant. Stock, who had been a resident inspector at Nine Mile Point, joins Senior Resident Inspector Ken Kolaczyk at the plant.

More: Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Nuclear Regulatory Commission

NEMA CEO Calls for Infrastructure Modernization Strategy

National Electrical Manufacturers Association President and CEO Kevin J. Cosgriff said Jan. 18 that Congress and the Trump administration need to “develop a broad-based infrastructure modernization strategy that includes not only roads and bridges but also ports, water systems, buildings and the electric grid.”

Cosgriff’s organization, a trade group for makers of electrical and medical imaging equipment, joined other business groups, business executives, policymakers and investors at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce America’s Infrastructure Summit to discuss how the country’s infrastructure can be modernized.

“Plans that utilize advanced, digitized electrification technologies will grow the economy, create new jobs and improve our competitive position in a global economy,” Cosgriff said.

More: National Electrical Manufacturers Association

API CEO Gerard Stepping Down in August

American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard said Jan. 17 he would step down when his contract ends in August.

Until then, Gerard will continue to direct API’s work and help it search for a new CEO.

Gerard joined API in 2008 after serving as president and CEO of the National Mining Association and the American Chemistry Council. Under his leadership, API’s membership grew nearly 50%, as the organization added members from every sector of the petroleum industry.

More: American Petroleum Institute

Uranium Producers Ask Commerce Department for Import Relief

Two Colorado uranium companies, Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy, on Jan. 16 jointly submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce asking for relief under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 from “imports of uranium products that threaten national security.”

The companies said they are seeking a quota on uranium imports and to have at least 25% of the U.S. nuclear market reserved for U.S. uranium companies.

The companies said domestic uranium producers fulfill less than 5% of U.S. demand, while imports from businesses owned or subsidized by governments in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan fulfill nearly 40% of it.

More: Denver Business Journal

Trump to Announce Solar Tariff Decision ‘Pretty Soon’

President Trump told Reuters in an interview Wednesday that he would announce his decision “pretty soon” on whether to put tariffs on imported solar panels in a trade case initiated by bankrupt solar panel manufacturer Suniva last year.

Trump has until Jan. 26 to decide whether to impose tariffs. Although he didn’t say what his decision would be, he did complain about the effect imported solar panels are having on domestic solar panel manufacturers.

“You know, they dump ’em — government-subsidized, lots of things happening — they dump the panels, then everybody goes out of business,” he said.

More: Reuters

Big Power CEOs Tried to Convince Entergy, NextEra to Stay in NEI

The CEOs of American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Exelon and Southern Co. tried last week to convince Entergy and NextEra Energy to remain members of the Nuclear Energy Institute, according to an email by NEI Board Chairman Don Brandt that was obtained by Politico.

“We implored [Entergy CEO Leo Denault] to reconsider his decision” at an Edison Electric Institute board meeting last week, Brandt wrote in the email.

NextEra CEO Jim Robo, Brandt wrote, “appears more hardened on his decision” to take his company out of NEI.

More: Politico

Leaker of Perry-Murray Photos Seeking Whistleblower Protection

Edelman | Energy.gov

Simon Edelman, who as a Department of Energy photographer took and subsequently leaked photographs of a meeting last March between Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray, has filed a complaint with the department’s inspector general and is seeking whistleblower protection.

In his complaint, Edelman said he became alarmed during the meeting, in which Perry agreed to implement Murray’s “action plan,” which called for, among other things, “immediate action … to require organized power markets to value fuel security, fuel diversity and ancillary services that only baseload generating assets, especially coal plants, can provide.” (See Photos Show Murray’s Role in Perry Coal NOPR.) He said he decided to leak the photos to In These Times (which provided them to RTO Insider) and The Washington Post after the department issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to FERC calling for RTOs with energy and capacity markets to pay generators with 90-day supplies of onsite fuel their full operating costs.

The day after the photos were published by In These Times, Edelman was placed on administrative leave without pay and later declined to renew his employment contract. Edelman also has recorded a conversation, heard by The New York Times, with a former colleague who told him to transfer ownership of the Google Drive folder in which the photos were stored to the department.

More: The New York Times

Trump Administration Working to Increase Renewable Use, Interior Official Says

The Trump Administration is working “quite aggressively” to increase renewable energy use in the United States as part of the president’s plan to boost the country’s energy independence, Vincent DeVito, the energy counselor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, said Tuesday.

DeVito spoke to reporters in Copenhagen while on a fact-finding trip to Denmark, home to Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s biggest wind-turbine maker, and Orsted, the world’s biggest offshore wind-farm operator.

DeVito said the Trump administration was increasing federal funding for offshore wind investments and its choice of energy sources would be dictated solely by market considerations, a statement that would seem to fly in the face of the administration’s efforts to prop up the coal industry.

More: Bloomberg Politics

EPA Provides More Information on CPP Repeal Listening Sessions

EPA has announced the locations, dates and times of the three “listening sessions” it will hold to get feedback about its proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

The sessions in Kansas City, Mo., San Francisco and Gillette, Wyo., will be held Feb. 21, Feb. 28 and March 27, respectively.

EPA said it will provide further details on the listening sessions and reopen public comment on the repeal with the publication of an upcoming Federal Register notice.

More: EPA

Capuano Begins as EIA Administrator

Capuano | Rice.edu

Linda Capuano began serving on Jan. 9 as the ninth administrator of the Energy Information Administration.

Prior to joining EIA, Capuano was a fellow in energy technology at the Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies. She also taught operations strategy for the executive MBA program of Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

More: Energy Information Administration

Former Armstrong Coal Exec Joins TVA Board

Kenneth Allen, who spent five decades in the coal industry, most recently as chief operating officer of Armstrong Coal, has joined the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors.

Allen was confirmed by the Senate in December. Also joining the board were James “Skip” Thompson of Decatur, Ala.; Jeff W. Smith of Knoxville, Tenn.; and A.D. Frazier of Mineral Bluff, Ga.

More: The Associated Press

Fossil Fuel Plants Make up Most Retirements

Nearly all the utility-scale power plants that were retired 2007-2018 in the U.S. were fossil fuel plants, the Energy Information Administration said Jan. 9.

Coal plants (47%) and natural gas steam turbine plants (26%) accounted for the highest percentages of retirements.

EIA said coal plants and natural gas steam turbine plants will account for the most retirements through 2020, based on information reported to it.

More: Energy Information Administration

Zinke Launches Biggest Reorganization in Interior’s History

Zinke

Secretary Ryan Zinke on Jan. 10 launched the largest reorganization in the Interior Department’s history.

The reorganization would divide the country into 13 regions that would be defined by watersheds and geographic basins.

It also would include relocating the headquarters of some of Interior’s bureaus, such as Land Management and Reclamation.

More: The Washington Post

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