May 17, 2020

Is Fracking Cemeteries Immoral? Plot Owners Have No Say

energy digital
Fracking
Hydraulic Fracturing
cemeteries
Admin
3 min
Fracking cemeteries could improve the grounds
To frack or not to frack in cemeteries, that's the new question natural gas companies are asking loved ones of the dead. Deep underground, ancient...

 

To frack or not to frack in cemeteries, that's the new question natural gas companies are asking loved ones of the dead. Deep underground, ancient shale formations hold lucrative quantities of natural gas in places like Ohio, Colorado and Mississippi in veterans' final resting places to parks, playgrounds, churches and residential back yards.

The shale boom, though good for the economy, has not only raised environmental concerns, but is now starting to dabble in questions of morality. Many fear that drilling activity would pollute peaceful places of mourning with noisy, smelly and unsightly industrial activity. But defenders argue the drilling would take place so deep that it wouldn't disturb cemeteries, and would actually generate revenue to enhance the roads and grounds that surround them.

Township trustees have received a proposal this year to lease the mineral rights at the 122 year-old Lowellville Cemetery in eastern Ohio for $140,000 in addition to 16 percent of any royalties for oil and gas. In Texas, a proposal from Campbell Development LLC was declined, despite the company's claims that drilling activity would not stir any graves. In Youngstown, hydraulic fracturing has already caused a series of earthquakes, and the city is fighting for a ban on any fracking activity.

According John Stephenson, president of the Texas Cemeteries Association, people are just misinformed.

"A lot of it just has to do with the way that it's presented," he told the Associated Press. "You're hundreds of feet below the ground, and it's not disturbing any graves."

Stephenson has leased mineral rights for two of his cemeteries in the last few years, each housing 75,000 graves. That revenue has helped him improve the site during hard economic times. Similarly, the Catholic Cemeteries Association in Pittsburgh has seen benefits in leasing rights of 11 of its cemeteries since 2008.

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Despite the many benefits some are seeing, the real issue is deeper than the rigs themselves—it's still just a little too taboo for most.

"You know what it is, it's emotional," Poland Township Administrator Jim Scharville told the Associate Press. "A lot of people don't want any type of drilling. There's something about disturbing the sanctuary of a cemetery. We're not talking about dinosaurs now and creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago. We're talking about loved ones who have died, people we knew."

Plot owners have no legal claim to the mineral rights of a cemetery, which has become of particular concern in Colorado, where the National Cemetery Association is looking for a new site for a new cemetery for veterans. Thus far, the association has been successful in getting drilling operations to move away from a veterans' cemetery in Natchez, Miss. Let's hope they can preserve the mood elsewhere too.

 

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Ofwat
Utilities
water
prices
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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