Energy

Photo: A drilling site in Rio Blanco and Garfield counties, CO.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service via Flickr

The commission that’s writing North Carolina’s rules on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or fracking, is getting ready to present its recommendations to the General Assembly. The Mining and Energy Commission has been working since Sept. 2012, and today will debate the last eight rules it is preparing.

A few people like Sharon Garbutt have been following the Mining and Energy Commission. Garbutt has been volunteering to take children on field trips to the Haw River for 20 years. Most of the time, the kids love it.

A picture of segments of pipeline.
Harald Hoyer / Creative Commons

Two major energy companies want to build a second natural gas pipeline into North Carolina.

Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas are soliciting proposals for a pipeline that could carry 900 million cubic feet of gas per day.

Duke is shifting a significant portion of its energy portfolio from coal into natural gas. Piedmont transports gas for both companies via the Transco line from the Texas gulf.

Piedmont spokesman David Trusty said production was interrupted after Hurricane Katrina. He says the companies want to be able to diversify their natural gas sources.

Dan Vermeer Executive Director of the Center for Energy Development and the Global Environment
fuqua.duke.edu / Center for Energy Development and the Global Environment

    

When he graduated from college, Daniel Vermeer did not want a job. He wanted only to wander through Asia and continue learning about world religions. But his adventures led him to some unexpected destinations, including corporate America. He led water sustainability projects for Coca-Cola and advised Fortune 50 companies on their water policies. 

Fracking the Marcellus Shale: a rig and gas well operation.
wcn 247 / Flickr

The panel that is writing the rules that may become North Carolina’s fracking laws will not require drilling companies to disclose which chemicals they use to extract gas.

Members of the Energy and Mining Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the rule, which stumped them for more than a year and drew  input from environmental and business groups.

The new process dissolves lignin into the PIL, leaving cellulose behind as a solid.
Ezinne Achinvu / North Carolina State University

As corn prices rise and ethanol production competes with food sources, the energy industry is looking for other ways to produce biofuels.

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a simple, efficient and inexpensive way to extract energy-rich cellulose from non-edible plant matter, like corn husks, grasses, and wood chips.

PhD student Ezinne Achinivu  says labs often run into trouble trying to remove a protective material called lignin. It's bonded to the cellulose, but hinders its efficiency.

Duke Energy provides electricity for most of North Carolina since the 2012 merger.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy is introducing a program to provide its largest customers with renewable power.   The utility's 'Green Source Rider' initiative would give companies that use large amounts of power an option to use renewable energy in their new or expanded facilities.

Duke Energy will ask participating customers what their new power preference is: wind, solar or some other source.  Spokesman Jeff Brooks says it's then up to the utility to find them ample amounts..

Duke University
Duke University

Duke University trustee Ralph Eads and his wife are giving $5.5 million dollars to the school, most of it going to support Duke's Energy Initiative. Part of it will go toward the creation of the new Eads Professor of the Practice in Energy Finance.

Construction workers monitor the a solar farm in Fuquay Varina
http://www.stratasolar.com / Strata Solar

North Carolina companies are in the midst of a sustainable energy boom. Solar farms have bloomed, wind farms could be on their way, and local entrepreneurs are experimenting with biofuels and solar power. But cheap natural gas and new legislation could slow sustainable energy growth.

Experts are discussing these advancements at the North Carolina Department of Commerce's 10th Annual Sustainable Energy Conference in Raleigh today. Keynote speaker Marilyn Brown is a professor from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She said today on The State of Things that many people are looking to fracking for natural gas to solve our energy needs.

CHP system at UNC
www.southeastcleanenergy.org

Energy watchdog group NC WARN is asking state utilities commissioners to look at an alternative way for companies to generate electrical power.  NC WARN sent a report to commissioners outlining a process called "cogeneration” that allows businesses to use an on-site turbine to generate electricity and capture escaping heat.  The group's report says doing that can drop the rate of wasted energy from 55 percent to as low as 20 percent.

Dominion North Carolina Power plans to study the prospect of wind and solar energy on the Outer Banks for small-scale power grids.  The utility is launching a three-year research project at its office in Kitty Hawk. The plans include four wind turbines, solar panels and a storage battery that will work to reduce the amount of power the office pulls from the grid.  Project manager Sarah Cosby says that network creates a so-called micro-grid that could be useful for small communities during power outages.

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