LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) – U.S. electricity regulators have
begun drafting new reliability standards to protect the power
grid from a repeat of severe geomagnetic storms like those that
crippled the U.S. telegraph service in 1859 and blacked out
Quebec in 1989.
Experts remain divided about just how much damage the grid
would sustain in the event of another big solar storm, but
regulators are taking a safety-first approach, ordering
reliability coordinators and transmission operators to start
LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) – “We are concerned that voluntary
measures may not be sufficient to constitute a reasonable
response to the risk of physical attack on the electricity
system,” four senior U.S. senators wrote in a letter to
regulators this month.
The letter was prompted by a Wall Street Journal
investigation into a night-time sniper attack in April 2013 on
the Metcalf substation in southern California which threatened
to blackout power to thousands of homes (“Assault on California
power station raises alarm on potential for terrorism”, Feb. 4).
LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Electricity suppliers should be
paid according to the services they provide, including reliable
and environmentally friendly heat, light and power, rather than
the quantity of electricity they supply, according to green
groups and retailers themselves.
“The retail electricity distribution business should not be
viewed or regulated as if it were a commodity business,” the
Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and Natural Resources Defense
Council (NRDC) said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) – North America’s bitter cold and
Britain’s intense storms and flooding are due to heavy rain,
caused by higher coastal temperatures, in Indonesia and tropical
western Pacific via shifts in the jet stream, the UK
Meteorological Office says. (“Recent storms and floods in the
UK” Feb. 11).
A “persistent pattern of enhanced rainfall” – 50 percent
higher than normal in December and January – created westerly
winds that pulled storms into the region from the northern
Pacific, linking weather systems in the tropics with those
closer to the polar regions.
LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Finding a better way to store
electrical energy is the single biggest breakthrough needed to
tackle climate change. But the goal of developing batteries that
are lighter, as well as more compact, powerful and affordable
remains frustratingly elusive.
Virtually all usable energy on Earth originates from the
sun: wind, solar, wood, even fossil fuels. Oil, gas and coal are
simply the fossilised remains of organisms that lived in ancient
forests, lakes and seas, which relied on photosynthesis to
harness the sun’s energy.
LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Below normal rain and snow fall
along the Pacific coast and Rocky mountains this winter will
sharply reduce hydropower production and increase reliance on
coal and gas-fired generation throughout the western states in
Two-thirds of all U.S. hydropower production is concentrated
in the 11 states of the Pacific and Mountain West, where it
supplies around 28 percent of the region’s electricity
LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Water supplies across the western
and southwestern United States are becoming severely strained as
more people move into areas with limited rainfall and shrinking
Since the turn of the century, the 15 states that the
federal government includes in its Pacific, Mountain and West
South Central census divisions have seen their population rise
by almost 17 million.
LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) – For 25 years, U.S. specialists in
international relations have been predicting water shortages
will become a source of conflict.
But the real water wars are brewing at home, where farmers,
environmentalists and the oil and gas industry are falling out
over water supplies in the drought-stricken Southwest.
LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) – High oil prices have radically
reshaped fuel consumption in the airline industry – a sector
where demand was supposed to be insensitive to the cost of crude
because there are few obvious alternatives.
Travelling across continents and oceans by road, rail or sea
is impractical, and there is no real substitute for using
refined petroleum products to power aircraft.
LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) – “All political lives, unless they
are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure,”
wrote Enoch Powell, a former member of Britain’s parliament who
held controversial views on immigration and national identity.
Much the same could be said of business careers, as Shell’s
former chief executive Peter Voser has learned the hard
way. His strategy of continuing to invest in complex
megaprojects through the oil industry cycle is now blamed for
the company’s recent profit warning and underperformance.