White House releases strategy to reduce methane emissions
Reducing methane emissions is a powerful way to take action on climate change; and putting methane to use can support local economies with a source of clean energy that generates revenue, spurs investment, improves safety, and leads to cleaner air.
In his Climate Action Plan, President Barack Obama directed the Administration to develop a comprehensive, interagency strategy to cut methane emissions and on March 28 the White House released its strategy.
Currently, methane accounts for nearly 9 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. And although U.S. methane emissions have decreased by 11 percent since 1990, they are projected to increase through 2030 if additional action is not taken.
As a key element of the Climate Action Plan, this strategy outlines new actions to reduce methane emissions. These actions will improve public health and safety while providing more energy to power our communities, farms, factories, and power plants. These steps will also make an important contribution to meeting the Administration goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
Estimates show that steps along these lines could deliver greenhouse gas emissions reductions up to 90 million metric tons in 2020. The Administration is pursuing a targeted strategy that builds on progress to date and takes steps to further cut methane emissions from a number of key sources:
Oil and Gas: Building on the success of voluntary programs and targeted regulations in reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, the Administration will take new actions to encourage additional cost-effective reductions.
Landfills: The Environmental Protection Agency proposed updated standards to reduce methane from new landfills and take public comment on whether to update standards for existing landfills. Through the Landfill Methane Outreach Program, EPA will further reduce methane emissions through voluntary programs – partnering with industry, state, and local leaders, many of whom are putting the methane waste to use powering their communities
Coal Mines: In April of 2014, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will release an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to gather public input on the development of a program for the capture and sale, or disposal, of waste mine methane on lands leased by the Federal government. In addition, EPA will continue to partner with industry through its voluntary program to reduce institutional, technical, regulatory, and financial barriers to beneficial methane recovery and use at coal mines
Agriculture: In June, in partnership with the dairy industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, EPA and the Department of Energy will jointly release a “Biogas Roadmap” outlining voluntary strategies to accelerate adoption of methane digesters and other cost-effective technologies to reduce U.S. dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. USDA and EPA will also continue to support biodigester technology deployment by providing financial and technical assistance through voluntary programs.
Beyond these actions to reduce domestic methane emissions, the United States is also helping partners around the world to reduce methane emissions, including through the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the Global Methane Initiative.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
"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 Ventures, Wave 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.