Renew or Join
Members and friends: Please be sure to renew your NCAC membership before the end of the year. Still $20! It’s a bargain.
If you renew by December 31st, you will be included in the 2018 NCAC directory. If you are still thinking about joining, this could be the moment!
NCAC Goes to Houston for USAEE Conference
Several NCAC members attended the annual conference for the U.S. Association for Energy Economics in Houston in November. The theme was "Riding the Energy Cycles" and the meeting featured prominent energy academics and practitioners. Some of these were NCAC members, including Bob McNally, who spoke on boom-bust oil market cycles. Other topics included innovation in energy finance and investment, the future of the refining sector, changing ties with Mexico, electricity markets, energy entrepreneurship, oil and gas market strategies, and the role of the U.S. as a natural gas and oil market maker.
United States, Canada, and Mexico Launch North American Energy Information Website
NCAC member Natalie Kempkey presented the North American Cooperation on Energy Information (NACEI) initiative to the public for the first time at the USAEE-IAEE 35th Annual Conference in Houston.
In 2014, the Energy Secretaries of Mexico and the United States and the Energy Minister from Canada met to advance an agenda that expands the continent's leadership in energy, strengthens North American energy security, and supports shared economic prosperity and environmental performance.
As part of this initiative, a trilateral memorandum of understanding on energy information cooperation was signed in December 2014. The trilateral MOU created an institutional framework for consultation and for sharing publicly available information among the participants. The goal is to encourage ongoing dialogue, cooperation and deliverables on improved information and energy outlooks for the North American region.
Canada, Mexico, and the United States launched a website in three languages as part of the NACEI effort. The website contains an energy mapping system for North American infrastructure and resources, energy trade data, and the outcome of an energy outlook project. The website also includes a glossary of terms: definitions for each country and the International Energy Agency and the United Nations are compared. For more information please visit NACEI.org.
NCAC-USAEE’s Mentorship Program Goes Online
Need some advice on career opportunities, leads to new work or professional connections in the energy sector? NCAC has established an online Mentorship Program which enables members to tap into the deep reservoir of experience and knowledge of energy industries, markets and development, and career opportunities, embodied in its membership. The program is available to all NCAC members.
Any member can serve as a mentor. Over the past year, fifteen mentees have met with eight of the 27 NCAC members who have signed up to be mentors. NCAC’s success has prompted the national USAEE to consider starting its own mentorship program, which would greatly widen the opportunities for NCAC members to connect with peers in other areas of the nation.
This coming year we hope to see more members taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the Mentorship Program. We also are exploring ways to improve and enrichen the mentee-mentor interactions to make it a more effective service for NCAC members.
This includes inviting the mentors and mentees to attend NCAC’s joint Happy Hour with OurEnergyPolicy.org this coming April.
Links to further information about NCAC’s Mentorship Program, and easy directions to sign up either as a Mentor or Mentee, can be found on NCAC’s website (www.ncac-usaee.org/mentorship). Joel Yudken oversees the mentorship program and can be reached at email@example.com.
Spring Conference Planning Underway
NCAC Vice President Michael Ratner has reached out to George Washington University to find the best location for the April 2018 NCAC conference. The conference will focus on innovation in the energy space. The working title is Energy Technologies & Innovations: A Disturbance in the [Market] Force. The team working on the conference has been energized by the upcoming December 14 release of the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi.
November 17 NCAC Luncheon - Tony Clark - Identity Crisis in Energy Markets
The hot topic in Washington energy circles has been the recent DOE NOPR proposing FERC create a rule favorable to power plants that have 90 days of onsite generation resources, because they contribute “reliability and resilience” to the electricity grid. Many energy professionals say they are shocked by the obvious favoritism this NOPR shows to coal and nuclear generation.
But according to former FERC commissioner Tony Clark, this DOE NOPR is just another “branch from the same tree of around-market subsidies and solutions” that the industry is well aware of. Working around the electricity markets to subsidize certain favored forms of generation has been common at least since the 1970s, he says. Think of PURPA, which had the goal of promoting renewable energy; production tax credits; renewable portfolio standards; all were political tradeoffs in electricity markets. More recently, markets have RECs and ZECs. Clark made several predictions:
- Things will get more tense before they get clearer and easier.
- Underlying factors driving states to get involved with these markets are not going away.
- Environmental policy issues will become more intensely debated.
- Underlying FERC issues today are primarily related to coal and nuclear units, but others may develop.
- The courts are trending towards giving states a free hand, but it will all eventually end up in FERC’s lap.
Finally, Clark predicted that the next type of generation units that are going to be stressed (and possibly closed) are natural gas plants. The market didn’t consider how much renewable power was going to come on line, he says. Any resource with variable costs, such as gas, is going to be stressed by competition from zero-cost resources.
Clark is currently a senior advisor at Wilkinson Barker Knauer. His remarks to NCAC are more fully fleshed out in a recent white paperdetailing the changes to the various electricity markets across the U.S. In the paper, he explains that “Markets were never designed for job creation, tax preservation, politically popular generation, or anything other than reliable, affordable electricity” and he offers suggestions for a way out of the markets’ identity crisis.
Upcoming Technical Trip to Power Plant and National Energy Technology Laboratory
The NCAC is in the planning stages of an overnight technical trip to Morgantown, West Virginia, in March 2018 that will comprise a visit to two very important sites. We plan to tour both the Longview Power Plant, a generator built in 2011 that is the most efficient coal-fired plant in the country, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), which addresses research and development for coal.
We are still trying to settle on a date that works for both facilities. This trip will be highly educational and stimulating. NETL needs information on all visitors in advance, so a signup form will be made available as soon as possible. David Givens is leading the planning for the trip. He says additional volunteer opportunities may present themselves as the trip draws closer.
Member of the Month
In November, our Member of the Month was Jon Gallinger, P.E.
He writes: I have more than 25 years of experience working on energy and environmental issues. My engineering background has enabled me to work in several areas, including HVAC design, R&D, business development, government relations, and now consulting. Former employers include an integrated natural gas company, two not-for-profit energy research organizations and two multi-national power generation equipment manufacturers.
Stay tuned for the next Member of the Month!
Happy Holidays From NCAC