Category Archives: Solar

Deadline for FERC rulemaking comments 2018-07-25

In addition to probably signing onto comments by a larger entity, WWALS is preparing comments for FERC in response to its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about “Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Facilities”. FERC’s current deadline is this Wednesday, 25 July 2018. Please send any suggestions you may have to wwalswatershed@gmail.com. Or file your own comments. Apologies for the late request.

Here’s what FERC has asked for:

In the NOI, the Commission sought input on whether, and if so how, the Commission should adjust: (1) its methodology for determining whether there is a need for a proposed project, including the Commission’s consideration of precedent agreements and contracts for service as evidence of such need; (2) its consideration of the potential exercise of eminent domain and of landowner interests related to a proposed project; and (3) its evaluation of the environmental impact of a proposed project. The Commission also sought input on whether there are specific changes the Commission could consider implementing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its certificate processes including pre-filing, post-filing, and post-order issuance.

South Georgia and north Florida
Sabal Trail through south Georgia and north Florida.
Map by Geology Prof. Can Denizman for WWALS.net, 17 September 2016, as part of Sabal Trail maps digitized.

Here are some relevant documents, starting with a how-to in case you want to file your own comments directly with FERC: Continue reading

Powelson leaves FERC with a split board as Sabal Trail loses legal cases 2018-07-02

Just one day before FERC admitted Sierra Club won in D.C. District Court, and a week after Sabal Trail Sabal Trail lost a jury trial in the U.S. Middle District of Georgia in Valdosta, something else at FERC put pause to further pipeline and LNG export rubberstamps.

Ellen M. Gilmer, Rod Kuckro and Sam Mintz, E&& News, 2 July 2018, Powelson’s departure means fallout for pipelines, policies,

Robert F. Powelson by FERC
Photo: FERC, of Robert F. Powelson, via E&E News

Robert Powelson’s decision to exit the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission less than a year into his term could leave natural gas pipeline developers in the lurch and policy critics scrambling for how to approach the commission’s coming 2-2 partisan split.

That’s the consensus among Continue reading

FERC and Sabal Trail admit Sierra Club won 2018-07-03

One week after losing a jury trial in the U.S. Middle District Court of Georgia, the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline and its purveyor of federal eminent domain, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), declined to appeal their huge DC District Court loss of last August.

Sierra Club, Press Release, 3 July 2018, Fracked Gas Pipeline Company and Federal Regulator Will Not Seek Supreme Court Review of Landmark Ruling: Existing Decision Means FERC Must Consider Downstream Greenhouse Gas Emissions,

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Neither the builders of the fracked gas Sabal Trail Pipeline nor the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will ask the Supreme Court to review a landmark ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from last year. That decision required FERC to consider the effects of downstream greenhouse gases when deciding whether to approve proposed pipelines that transport gas.

In response, Sierra Club Staff Attorney Elly Benson released the following statement:

Elly Benson, Sierra Club Attorney
Elly Benson, Sierra Club Staff Attorney

“We are glad to see FERC accept its responsibility to consider greenhouse gas emissions from burning transported gas at downstream power plants. These dirty, dangerous, and unnecessary pipelines pose a threat to our communities and climate. They should not be proposed, much less built, at a time when clean, renewable energy sources are abundant and affordable. We will continue to monitor the pipeline permitting process to ensure the law is followed.”

The pipeline industry press was not thrilled. Charlie Passut, Natural Gas Intelligence, 5 July 2018, FERC Declines to Appeal Landmark GHG Case to Supreme Court, Continue reading

Landowner wins over Sabal Trail in jury trial, jsq on Scott James radio 2018-06-29

The just compensation for property takings required by the Fifth Amendment is not “just” compensation, said Scott James. And a jury of peers of a landowner told Sabal Trail to pay up five times what it offered for an easement for its fracked gas pipeline.

“…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
—Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Scott said this jury award was big news and asked if it was just compensation. I said yes, front page in the Valdosta Daily Times.


VDT front page

And five times is more just than before. But how is a one-time payment Continue reading

SR26 Solar Farm, Trenton, Gilchrist County, Florida

What needs no washing, no irrigation, emits no wastewater, and disturbs no wetlands, while producing revenue for years after local installation jobs? 74.9 Megawatts AC of solar power going in at 4370 SW 80 Street, Trenton, Florida, assuming the Gilchrist BOCC approved it last week as staff recommended.

Area, Maps

Gilchrist Board of County Commissioners, Full Agenda, June 4, 2018, page 69: Continue reading

Randy Dowdy calls for independent investigation of Sabal Trail soil mixing 2018-03-06

Dear pipeline companies: if you gouge through a rock-star farmer’s world-record-holding soybean fields, you may find he gets national coverage.

Bryan Mitchell, March 6, 2018 08:16 AM, AgWeb powered by Farm Journal, Pipeline Nightmare: Randy Dowdy Calls For Independent Investigation,

Randy Dowdy’s soil death is no mystery, insists the Georgia producer, and now a federal inspection report appears to back his claims of soil damage on record-breaking farmland due to pipeline construction. A letter (Feb. 6) from the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) to the Sabal Trail Pipeline Project describes “topsoil and subsoil mixing” on Dowdy’s farming operation, yet significantly does not address issues of noncompliance.

GA-BR-029.000 Dowdy south field, Little Creek, MP 217, 1657-PL-DG-70197-219,, Dowdy parcel 053 00161 Brooks County, GA
GA-BR-029.000 Dowdy south field, Little Creek, MP 217, 1657-PL-DG-70197-219, 30.9439700, -83.6154600

Dowdy signed Continue reading

Fossil fuels are a far bigger threat than the Russians

Leaks of hazardous materials, explosions, land takings, sinkholes, frac-outs: these are far bigger threats than Texas Rep. Lamar Smith’s Committee report “that states Russian agents were attempting to disrupt U.S. energy markets and using social media to purportedly stir up protests against pipelines such as Sabal Trail,” as a reporter asked me about recently. Smith’s report doesn’t mention that solar and wind power are growing far faster than his favorite, fracked methane gas.

Energy source growth by sector
Business Council for Sustainable Energy by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, February 2018, 2018 Sustainable Energy in America.

Elsewhere I already looked behind Lamar Smith’s fossil fuel smoke and mirrors, and found I post more on social media than the tiny Russian numbers that horrify him.

His actual examples are seriously rolling-on-the-floor laughable, such as this: Continue reading

FERC inadvertently clears path for renewable energy via storage 2018-02-15

FERC just let slip the wolves of sun and wind by enabling the storage that those sunny twenty-first-century “aggregated distributed energy resources” (DER) will use to blow down the straw houses of traditional twentieth-century so-called baseload capacity coal, oil, and nuclear power plants.

FERC Commissioner Robert F. Powelson called out the “participation model” Thursday’s twin orders enable, bypassing many traditional charges by accounting for physical characteristics that do not change over time, recognizing that batteries, sun, and wind power are basically different from old-style dinosaur power plants. Commissioner Neil Chatterjee named Senators Ed Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse as proponents of these new rules, which is very interesting since both have long been proponents of renewable energy, and Sen. Whitehouse called out FERC for failing to implement the DC Circuit Court’s Order on greenhouse gases. Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur said “Electric storage is like a ‘Swiss army knife’”. Maybe more like the South Australian storage utility player that has already out-responded natural gas during coal plant outages. Commissioner Richard Glick says sun and wind power “no less than energy storage, have the potential to play a leading role in the electric grid of the future”. None of the Commissioners could bring themselves to say what they all know: sun, wind, water power with storage will be the electric grid of the future. Former FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff and I were right in 2013: solar power will provide more U.S. electricity than any other source by 2023, on the way to complete conversion of everything to sun, wind, water, and storage by 2050.

Frequency response of Tesla South Australian battery
Giles Parkinson, Reneweconomy, 23 January 2018, Tesla big battery moves from show-boating to money-making.

Gavin Bade, UtilityDive, Feb. 15, 2018, FERC issues storage, reliability orders, calls conference on aggregated DERs, Continue reading

FERC cry of wolf delays mandate from DC Circuit Court 2018-01-07 2018-02-07

Court mandate delayed because of FERC crying wolf, even though Sabal Trail has been shut down most of the past six, now seven weeks. So the three little pigs get a temporary reprieve from the Big Bad Wolf of sun and wind power.

Gavin Bade, E&E News, Feb. 8, 2018, Court filings stave off Sabal Trail pipeline shutdown, for now,

But Wednesday came and went this week with no word from the court.

E&E reports that may be because judges need time to consider some last-minute filings in the case.

What are FERC and Sabal Trail so scared of? The wind and the sun:

‘Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.’

So he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew his house in, and ate up the little pig.

Illustration In English Fairy Tales, Jacobs, J., 1895, via Boston Public Library, Three Little Pigs
Illustration for The Story of the Three Little Pigs, in English Fairy Tales, Joseph Jacobs, 1895 New York: Grosset & Dunlap (2nd edition?) Boston Public Library.

For the entire four years since the Sabal Trail pipeline was first announced in 2013, renewable energy has produced more new U.S. energy than natural gas, according to FERC’s own Office of Energy Projects Energy Infrastructure Update For December 2017. Those are the wolves Continue reading

FERC cries wolf for Sabal Trail to DC Circuit Court 2018-01-06 2018-02-06

Update 2018-02-08: FERC cry of wolf delays mandate from DC Circuit Court 2018-01-07 2018-02-07.

Instead of answering Sabal Trail’s Friday cry of wolf by issuing new certificates yesterday, FERC instead took that cry to the DC Circuit Court, asking for a delay of today’s issue of a mandate.

FERC did not issue new certificates yesterday, and the Court did not issue a mandate today. Of course, today was merely the first day the Court could have issued a mandate, so we’ll see.

Don’t listen to FERC and Sabal Trail’s cries of wolf, Court! What’s really eating their pipelines is solar and wind power taking over the market.

Illustration by Francis Barlow Aesop's fable The Boy who Cried Wolf, called by him DE PASTORIS PUERO ET AGRICOLIS, 1687
The illustration by Francis Barlow Aesop’s fable “The Boy who Cried Wolf”, called by him DE PASTORIS PUERO ET AGRICOLIS, 1687

For the fourth year running, renewable energy has produced more new U.S. energy than natural gas, according to FERC’s own Office of Energy Projects Energy Infrastructure Update For December 2017. Four years means ever since the Sabal Trail pipeline was first announced in 2013. Those are the wolves after those poor pipeline Applicants: solar and wind power.

Gavin Bade, Utility Dive, Feb. 6, 2018, FERC asks DC Circuit to delay issuing order to halt Sabal Trail pipeline, Continue reading