Watch This Space! An open letter from INREA President

Welcome back to the beginning!
Many INREA members have been wondering where we went as instability in membership on the board has slowed both progress and communications. But, if you watch this blog and our soon-to-be-new website, you will soon see the results of a new ground swell of activity in INREA. Since the new board was voted in at the end of February, momentum has been building.
We will soon be asking for you, our membership, to become more engaged, and we will provide ample and specific opportunities for that engagement.
First–restating our mission. We are renewing our focus on building public awareness and aiding in the education on issues of renewable energy in all its forms.

How will we do that? This year, we will focus on two very high-profile activities:
1. The Indiana Renewable Energy Conference, July 20-21.Discussion panels are being formed now on topics of geothermal, small wind, solar thermal, and PV thermal. There will be many opportunities to teach, learn, and most of all, HELP!
2. The National Solar Tour, October 1. You can see details from previous solar tours on the indianarenew.org. We will need local organizers throughout the state to help and/or host tours in their own communities, to showcase real people who own real renewable systems and allow-close-up experiences.
Next–mobilizing our membership. This may be the first you have heard of these events. Why might that be? We have not gotten the word out as effectively as we should. Well, we’re making some significant mechanical changes to improve communications to our members. Here is what is happening:
*** The new members of the board have gotten acclimated and are starting to gain traction. Those new board members are:
- Chris Rohaly, President
- Chris Maher, Vice President
- Mark Oehler, Treasurer
- Travis Murphy, At Large Member
*** The website, indianarenew.org, is undergoing a refresh, and should be updated in the near future. If you are web-savvy and can volunteer of your time to help with upkeep once the transition is complete, please let us know.
*** The ASES convention in May — INREA will represent the state of Indiana in the person of Chris Maher, Vice President.
*** Our IRS tax status, which has been a bit of a soap opera, appears close to being resolved after the resubmission of lost paperwork.
*** For those who are following energy legislation, this has been a busy year in the State House. Please see the IDEA blog (indianadg.wordpress.blog) for all the details.
I’m pleased to trusted to serve as your president. We (the Board of Directors) have great plans: more programs, face-to-face meetings with members, membership drives, newsletters: but these plans cannot be executed by a board of directors. We welcome your input, invite your suggestions & expertise, and more than anything, request your involvement. That alone will enable the resurgence of INREA and further renewable energy understanding across the state.
Please feel free to contact any of the board members with questions or input. Information on every member, including contact information, will be included on the updated website, or you can reply to me via this blog post.
Thanks for your past and future support. Let’s get the word out!
Best Regards,
Chris Rohaly
Green Alternatives, Inc
2011 President, Indiana Renewable Energy Association
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Purdue Researchers Say US lacks infrastructure to consume more ethanol

Tue, 2011-01-04 10:56
Byline: Brian Wallheimer, Purdue University

The United States doesn’t have the infrastructure to meet the federal mandate for renewable fuel use with ethanol, but could meet the standard with significant increases in cellulosic and next-generation biofuels, according to a Purdue University study.

The United States doesn’t have the infrastructure to meet the federal mandate for renewable fuel use with ethanol, but could meet the standard with significant increases in cellulosic and next-generation biofuels, according to a Purdue University study.

Wally Tyner, the James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics, and co-authors Frank Dooley, a Purdue professor of agricultural economics, and Daniela Viteri, a former Purdue graduate student, used U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency data to determine that the United States is at the “blending wall,” the saturation point for ethanol use. Without new technology or a significant increase in infrastructure, Tyner predicts that the country will not be able to consume more ethanol than is being currently produced.

The federal Renewable Fuel Standard requires an increase of renewable fuel production to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. About 13 billion gallons of renewable fuel was required for 2010, the same amount Tyner predicts is the threshold for U.S. infrastructure and consumption ability.

“You can’t get there with ethanol,” said Tyner, whose findings were published in the December issue of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Tyner said there simply aren’t enough flex-fuel vehicles, which use an 85 percent ethanol blend, or E85 stations to distribute more biofuels. According to EPA estimates, flex-fuel vehicles make up 7.3 million of the 240 million vehicles on the nation’s roads. Of those, about 3 million of flex-fuel vehicle owners aren’t even aware they can use E85 fuel.

There are only about 2,000 E85 fuel pumps in the United States, and it took more than 20 years to install them.

“Even if you could produce a whole bunch of E85, there is no way to distribute it,” Tyner said. “We would need to install about 2,000 pumps per year through 2022 to do it. You’re not going to go from 100 per year to 2,000 per year overnight. It’s just not going to happen.”

And even if the fuel could be distributed, E85 would have to be substantially cheaper than gasoline to entice consumers to use it because E85 gets lower mileage, Tyner said. If gasoline were $3 per gallon, E85 would have to be $2.34 per gallon to break even on mileage.

There is talk of increasing the maximum amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline for regular vehicles from 10 percent to 15 percent. But Tyner said that even if the EPA does allow it, the blending wall would be reached again in about four years.

Tyner said advances in the production of thermo-chemical biofuels, which are created by using heat to chemically alter biomass and create fuels, would be necessary to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard. He said those fuels would be similar enough to gasoline to allow unlimited blending and would increase the amount of biofuel that could be used.

“Producing the hydrocarbons directly doesn’t have the infrastructure problems of ethanol, and there is no blend wall because you’re producing gasoline,” Tyner said. “If that comes on and works, then we get there. There is significant potential to produce drop-in hydrocarbons from cellulosic feedstocks.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture funded Tyner’s research.

Source URL: http://westernfarmpress.com/rice/us-lacks-infrastructure-consume-more-ethanol

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Renewable energy ordinance passed in Naperville, IL

Original article: http://napervillesun.suntimes.com/news/2985851-418/wind-council-ordinance-systems-solar.html

By Jenette Sturges

jsturges@stmedianetwork.com

Last Modified: Dec 23, 2010 03:12AM

There was a lot of wind blowing through the council chambers Tuesday night, but after an hour and a half’s discussion, council members finally agreed — small wind turbines are in.

The Naperville City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday to approve an ordinance that adds a Small Wind and Solar Energy Systems chapter to the city’s code book.

The new ordinance permits small wind roof-mounted turbines in commercial and industrial districts and ground-mounted wind systems in industrial districts. Both ground and roof-mounted turbines are allowed in all other zoning districts — including residential neighborhoods — so long as owners are willing to have their proposed turbines vetted through the city’s lengthy conditional use process.

“I think we made the right decision in not eliminating it from the residential areas, but to take each individual case as it comes along,” said Mayor A. George Pradel. “Because we don’t even know how much interest there is in it or how viable it is for the area.”

The conditional use process, which requires a hearing before the Plan Commission and City Council approval before a turbine could be installed, would give the city and nearby neighbors opportunity to weigh in on individual proposals.

Two options were presented to the council Tuesday night, both more restrictive than the ordinance finally passed. One proposed wind ordinance would have prohibited wind systems entirely from Naperville until they could be studied further, and the other prohibited wind systems in residential districts.

Both also include a plethora of other restrictions for wind turbines and solar panels, including height, setbacks, signage and color.

But council members ultimately came down in favor of wind, or at least considering different wind systems in an effort to spur further improvement of the technology.

“We need to put the issue out there to challenge people on the issue of sound,” said Councilman Doug Krause. “We could still be using Apple IIe computers, but things change. We’re looking for something that’s compact, that’s quiet, and if you don’t challenge them, it’s not going to happen.”

Exactly what criteria the Plan Commission and council will use to determine if a wind system is appropriate for Naperville residences was not decided upon, but guidelines established in a previous version of the ordinance included 60-foot height restrictions and a setback 1.1 times the height of the turbine. Sound was another concern for council members who feared disruption in neighborhoods from a noisy turbine.

Council members also discussed the return on investment for these systems, which cost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars, but did not determine whether an individual’s ability to save money with a turbine or solar panels would be a factor in approval.

“When you look at our consumption, there’s zero return on investment now,” said Jodi Trendler of Naperville for Clean Energy and Conservation, the group that has been pushing for approval of renewable energy. “Everything you do will be a return compared to what you have now.”

Councilmen James Boyajian, Paul Hinterlong and Richard Furstenau voted against the ordinance’s adoption.

“There is a place for research and development. I’m just not sure it’s in my backyard or my neighbor’s backyard,” said Boyajian. “It’s like we’re not ready for this yet, which is why I’m not supportive of the wind element.”

Most council members did favor the ordinance’s new guidelines for how solar panels should be implemented.

Both ground-mounted and roof-mounted solar systems would be permitted in commercial areas but would need to go through the conditional use process before being built in neighborhoods.

This article brought to you by the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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Pre-election Look at Federal Energy Legislation Options by Neil Brown with Office of Sen. Lugar

Join us for a Webinar on October 21

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar Seat Now at:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/792913553

The Indiana Renewable Energy Association in conjunction with Indiana Distributed Energy Advocates are sponsoring a Special Webinar with Neil Brown with the Office of Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana.

Sen. Lugar and his proposed federal energy policy was the subject of a recent Indianapolis Star Guest Editorial by John Mutz. See http://indianarenew.blogspot.com/2010/10/mutz-says-lugar-plan-outshines-other.html

Although no one can predict the outcome of the November 2nd elections and its impact on federal energy policy, we can look back at what policies and proposals were introduced and look forward to see those that might be on the table during the lame duck session of Congress.

In early June, Sen. Lugar introduced his Practical Energy and Climate Plan or S. 3464. Later in June, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) prepared a memorandum that provided a short summary and comparison of four legislative proposals that were under some level of consideration in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Lugar’s proposal was one of the four discussed. While all four proposals fall within the broad category of energy and climate change policy, the specifics of the proposals vary significantly, and their approaches vary in many ways.

For more details and a link to the CRS report, visit http://indianadg.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/crs-comparison-of-selected-energy-climate-change-bills/

Brown will both look back and look forward on these federal energy and climate change proposals.

Neil Brown is an advisor to Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana. He serves as a Senior Professional Staff Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with responsibility for energy security and the Nunn-Lugar non-proliferation program. Neil earned masters degrees in political theory and forced migration while studying as a Rhodes Scholar at University of Oxford (UK). He also holds a BA from Harvard University. He has done substantial field work while living in South Asia, Namibia and Egypt, and he has previously worked with the Harvard Institute for International Development and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In 2009, Neil was a Washington Fellow of the National Review Institute. He is a board member of the Association of American Rhodes Scholars, a trustee of the Merton College Charitable Corporation. Neil is from Iowa, where his family farm is located.

Webinar Title: Pre-election Look at Federal Energy Legislation Options by Neil Brown with Office of Sen. Dick Lugar


Date: Thursday, October 21, 2010


Time: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EDT

This article brought to you by the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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Mutz says Lugar plan outshines other energy bills

http://www.indystar.com/article/20101012/OPINION01/10120313/Lugar-plan-outshines-other-energy-bills

Written by John Mutz

It’s no secret that Indiana’s economy is struggling to regain its footing. Like the rest of the country, we’ve lost a lot of jobs and our unemployment rate is higher than it has been in many years.

What may be surprising to some, though, are the great strides our state is making in the area of clean energy industries during these difficult economic times.

Relatively quietly, Indiana is making a name for itself as an outstanding place to manufacture electric cars and the batteries that run them, not to mention solar panels and parts for wind turbines.

Gov. Mitch Daniels and his team have rightly begun to focus on this area of opportunity for Hoosiers. Over the last year, Abound Solar in Tipton, Wind Stream Technologies in New Albany, EnerDel in Central Indiana, Anderson-based Bright Automotive, Brevini USA in Muncie, and Elkhart’s Think North America have made headlines for creating jobs and giving our economy a much-needed boost.

A number of well-established companies are also having a huge impact.

Remy International in Pendleton just entered a partnership to bring a new-generation electric drive system to market. Cummins just received more than $38 million in federal grants to develop a highly efficient and clean diesel engine. Allison Transmission’s new hybrid drive manufacturing plant in Indianapolis will employ 100 when it reaches full production.

Duke Energy is investing more than $2.8 billion into its coal gasification plant, which will burn a cleaner gas to produce power.

With these innovations, we’re ahead of the clean energy curve, but now we need some changes to federal policy to remain there. Energy independence should be a priority in Washington. So far the House has passed a bill, and the Senate has not reached a consensus on climate change energy legislation.

One bright spot has been the fact that Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar is among those who believe that the country needs to take steps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He’s filed a bill that will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, or about 1.6 billion metric tons — the equivalent of taking more than 240 million cars off our roads. His bill is a balanced approach that provides a reasonable step toward this goal, and it provides economic incentives that will support the growing Indiana clean energy business.

The evidence that clean energy leads to good, high-paying jobs for Hoosiers is clear. However, if you need more evidence consider this: China vaulted past Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines and is poised to expand even further. In addition, the Chinese have emerged as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and are pushing hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants.

No matter what the case, we do need additional legislation at the federal level. It is better to consider an approach that doesn’t threaten Hoosier jobs, such as cap-and-trade, but still moves us toward the goal of energy independence. Lugar’s bill does this.

Mutz is a consultant and private investor, former two-term lieutenant governor of Indiana, former president of Lilly Endowment and former president of Cinergy/PSI Indiana.

This article brought to you by the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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US House Passes Bill Supporting Algae-based Fuels

Algal Biomass Organization Hails Passage of H.R. 4168
Legislation Removes a Major Barrier to Commercialization of Algae-Based Biofuels

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Algal Biomass Organization (ABO), the trade association for the U.S. algae industry, today praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 4168, the Algae-based Renewable Fuel Promotion Act. ABO specifically recognized Reps. Harry Teague (D-NM), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) for leading efforts to give algae-based biofuel tax parity with cellulosic biofuels with respect to a $1.01 per gallon production tax credit and a 50 percent bonus depreciation for biofuel plant property.

“Today, the House sent an unmistakable message of bipartisan support to the hundreds of companies, scientists, entrepreneurs and government agencies working to accelerate the development of algae-based fuels, which will create jobs, decrease emissions and reduce our nation’s dependence on imported fossil fuels,” said Mary Rosenthal, Executive Director of ABO. “The passage of this bill is a huge first step towards our goal of creating parity for algae-based biofuels within the tax code and among various other government programs.”

This article brought to you by the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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Solar panel manufacturer may open in Tipton County two years earlier than

by Ken de la Bastide and Daniel Human, Kokomo Tribune Staff Writers

TIPTON – The Colorado solar panel manufacturer planning to move into the never-used transmission plant in Tipton County could come to Indiana about two years sooner than originally expected, company and county officials said Wednesday.

Abound Solar Inc. plans to close Nov. 16 on its purchase of the former Getrag Transmission LLC plant at the corner of U.S. 31 and Ind. 28, said company spokesman Mark Chen.

The company originally planned to have created 850 jobs by 2013, but hiring could now begin as soon as late 2011, Chen said.

The solar panel manufacturer is moving forward with its plans more quickly to keep up with the increasing number of orders it is receiving, Chen said.

Abound hasn’t finished mapping out how many of the 850 jobs it would initially create or when operations would begin in Tipton, he said.

President Barack Obama announced in July that Abound Solar would receive a $400 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to expand its operations in Colorado, then purchase the never-used, approximately 800,000-square-foot factory.

The company had one manufacturing line in place before the loan at its plant in Longmont, Colo.

The Department of Energy will give Abound $50 million to put in a second line and another $50 million for a third in Longmont. The company will then receive $300 million to install eight lines in Tipton.

Tipton County Commissioner Jane Harper said Abound exercised its option to purchase the building from a trust established in 2009 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Michigan after Getrag filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company has entered into a binding agreement with the trust, Harper said.

Abound is purchasing the building from the trust for $25 million with Tipton County providing $13 million through Tax Increment Financing to lower the purchase price, she said.

The proceeds of the sale will go to contractors who were not paid for work done when Getrag filed for bankruptcy.

“This is the best deal for Tipton County,” Harper said of Abound purchasing the facility. “It fits best with the community and our green technology.

“With our predominant agricultural base, the establishment of Abound Solar at the crossroads of our community and three wind-energy companies with plans to place wind farms in our county, we can create a unique marketing opportunity in selling Tipton County and its products as the ‘green’ capital,” she said.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Abound Solar Inc. up to $11.85 million in performance-based tax credits and $250,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. The IEDC will also provide work force and ombudsperson assistance.

Tipton County has approved additional incentives, including tax abatements for the company along with TIF money to the trust that owns the building.

The Getrag plant was being constructed as a joint venture between Chrysler and Germany-based Getrag. The plant was expected to provide more than 1,000 jobs. But soon before construction ended in 2008, Chrysler pulled out of the agreement and filed a lawsuit against Getrag. Getrag then filed for bankruptcy and backed out of the project, leaving the plant empty since.

This article brought to by Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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USDA Seeks Applications from Producers to Conduct Renewable Energy Feasibility Studies

Release No. 0445.10
Contact: Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384
WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of funding under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems for agriculture producers and rural small businesses.

“Renewable energy production represents a promising revenue source for America’s producers while meeting the nation’s need for new sources of renewable energy,” Vilsack said. “These grants will help encourage the development of viable renewable energy projects across the nation and help small business owners, farmers, ranchers and agriculture producers conduct feasibility studies that identify renewable energy opportunities.”

Eligible feasibility studies for renewable energy systems include projects that will produce energy from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro power and hydrogen-based sources. The energy to be produced includes heat, electricity or fuel. For all projects, the system must be located in a rural area, must be technically feasible and must be owned by the applicant. More information is available by visiting http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_ReapGrants.html.

Under this notice, USDA is making $3 million available to conduct feasibility studies. Grants are limited to $50,000 per study and the application deadline is October 5, 2010. The funding announced today is authorized under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. More information on how to apply for funding is available in the August 6, 2010 Federal Register, page 47525.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in the nation’s capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or  (202) 720-6382  (TDD).

This article brought to you by the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants

Release No. 0410.10

Contact:

Jay Fletcher (202) 690-0498

186 Projects Help Farmers and Rural Businesses Become More Efficient

Des Moines, Iowa, August 17, 2010  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA Rural Development is providing $23.4 million in loans and grants for 186 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Vilsack made the announcement while visiting the Iowa State Fair.

“President Obama and I are committed to helping our nation become energy independent by helping rural businesses become more energy efficient,” Vilsack said. “This funding will not only help our farmers and small businesses reduce energy costs, but also more efficient and competitive.”

For example, Primus Farms, Inc. of Grundy, Iowa, has been selected to receive a $23,162 grant and a $23,162 loan. This funding will be used to replace an outdated grain dryer with a new, highly efficient grain dryer projecting over 54.58 percent in annual energy savings.

In Franklin, Mass., Berkshire East Ski Area has been selected for a $1.5 million guaranteed loan to assist rural small businesses in developing a renewable energy system. This project will fund a large wind energy generation system that will offset the firm’s energy use and provide a portion for sale.

USDA energy efficiency programs often yield double digit energy savings. The Glen Coble & Sons, Inc., ranch in Mullen, Neb., reduced its electricity draw from the local utility by 30 percent after it received a $14,725 USDA Rural Development grant in 2008 to install five wind turbines.

REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies, energy audits, and renewable energy development assistance. More information on the REAP program, which was authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, is at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_ReapResEei.html

Funding of each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. The following is a complete list of REAP recipients announced today. Award Recipients

Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation’s capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382  (TDD).

For additional information contact:

Sharon Ellison

Rural Development

U. S. Department of Agriculture

5975 Lakeside Boulevard

Indianapolis, Indiana 46278

Phone: 317. 290. 3100 Ext. 429
Fax: 317 .290. 3127

http://www.rurdev.usda.gov

“Committed to the future of rural communities”

“Estamos dedicados al futuro de las comunidades rurales”

This article brought to you by the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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Duke Energy earnings heat up; regulatory momentum cools

http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2010/08/09/story12.html?b=1281326400^3759041&s=industry&i=green#ixzz0wDvBlT00

Friday, August 6, 2010

With energy bills stuck in Congress, utility prepares for coming EPA regulation

Charlotte Business Journal – by John Downey Senior staff writer

Duke Energy Corp. reported better than expected earnings for the second quarter and has outperformed utility stock indexes since the start of 2009. But in the long term, this may prove the summer of Duke’s discontent.

Federal carbon regulation, which Chief Executive Jim Rogers pushed and on which Duke spent hundreds of thousands in lobbying costs, is dead. Come Jan. 2, the Environmental Protection Agency will impose limits on carbon, and Rogers acknowledges that will be more costly — to Duke and its customers — than the legislation he and Duke supported.

Duke and the industry as a whole have started running into resistance to smart-grid proposals. That digital upgrade to transmission and distribution systems holds considerable promise for energy efficiency and ultimately cutting customer use in a time of rising prices. But the costs of the conversion are giving some regulators pause.

Duke’s basic strategy for producing energy from renewable resources is being called into question in the Carolinas. And Duke continues to skirmish with regulators over treatment of payments under its Save-A-Watt initiative.

Rogers repeatedly says the power industry needs to know what the ground rules will be as it spends billions in the next 10 to 20 years to replace its aging coal plants, undertake nuclear construction, adopt renewable-energy sources and implement smart grid and other efficiency programs.

“We haven’t gotten clarity from the regulators. I don’t think we’ve got clarity from Congress,” he says. “But on some level that is predictable and it should be expected.”

Rogers describes himself as an optimist. The summer of 2010, at least, gives him a lot to be optimistic about.
Adjusted earnings of 34 cents per share reported this week for the second quarter beat analyst expectations by eight cents. While hot summer temperatures across the Southeast and Midwest played a role in that, Chief Financial Officer Lynn Good says it was led by a double-digit increase in industrial demand.

Industrial use is not yet back to pre-recession levels, she says. But when demand first jumped in the first quarter, Duke executives wondered whether that was a blip or the start of the trend. Duke’s industrial customers now say those demand levels are sustainable through 2010, Good says.

And Duke’s stock is performing well. Since January 2009, Duke’s stock has risen 20.6% to close at $17.37 a share at the beginning of this week. The Dow Jones Utility Index, by comparison, rose 4% over that period.

And last month, Duke Energy Indiana borrowed $500 million in the bond market at an unheard of rate of 3.75% for 10 years. “That’s the lowest coupon for utility companies since they started keeping records in 1962,” Rogers says.

So things are good now. But it’s hard to prepare for a future in which Rogers expects rising energy costs and constraints on carbon when rules and regulations have not caught up to the new realities.

While much of the power industry has resisted carbon regulation, Duke joined with other industrial giants and some major environmental groups to shape it. Duke wanted to minimize the impact on coal-dependent regions and utilities — and ultimately utility customers — while setting the rules replacing the existing fleet.
“We were successful beyond expectations with the Waxman-Markey bill (in the House) last year, and we were making progress with the Kerry-Lieberman bill in the Senate,” Rogers says. “We didn’t succeed (and) the failure to get across the goal line is bad news for our customers.”

That deal essentially fell apart in late April. Sen. Lindsay Graham was working on a bill with Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. But when Senate leaders announced they would push forward on immigration legislation, Graham objected and withdrew his support on energy. The bill never regained traction.

Duke won a big victory on smart grid this year by getting a $200 million federal grant to support a $900 million plan to install the system in Ohio and Indiana. Ohio regulators agreed. Indiana balked. Duke then scaled down its Indiana plan to a $22 million pilot program to install the technology for 40,000 customers.
Duke has yet to approach Carolinas regulators, who have often been less receptive than those in the Midwest on smart grid. “I view this part of the assignment as not a failure,” Rogers says. “I view it as a work in progress.”

Duke has also failed to get rulings in North Carolina that it wanted to clarify the treatment of payments for investing in efficiency under Save-A-Watt. And an issue before N.C. regulators threatens Duke’s plans to rely on wood as a biomass fuel to meet state requirements for renewable energy.

Rogers says he is not discouraged. “We’re meeting predictable, I believe, resistance to changing the model for our business and for our industry,” he says. “If people don’t understand what I’m trying to achieve, I’m failing in my explanation of it. I have more work to do.”

Read more: Duke Energy earnings heat up; regulatory momentum cools – Charlotte Business Journal

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