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Energy Briefs: Biofuels / Mighty Wind / Berry Petroleum / Dry Year

Energy Commission To Offer $5Mil Grant To Mendota Biofuel Maker

The California Energy Commission is expected to award a $5 million grant to Mendota Bioenergy,LLC at their Feb 28 meeting. The agenda items reads as follows: MENDOTA BIOENERGY, LLC. Possible approval of Grant Agreement ARV-12-033 for $4,998,399 with Mendota Bioenergy, LLC to design, construct, and operate the Advanced Biorefinery Center-Mendota Integrated Demonstration Plant. The project includes a 12-month harvest plan for 10,000 tons of energy beets and advanced enzyme and microbial conversion of the feedstock to 285,000 gallons of 200-proof advanced biofuel ethanol. The project also supports the design of a future 40 million gallons per year Advanced Biorefinery Center in Mendota, CA. The feedstock includes beets grown nearby.

Mighty Wind: 59 New Wind Projects On Line
The US Energy Information Service reports that approximately 40% of the total 2012 wind capacity additions (12,620 MW) came online in December, just before the scheduled expiration of the wind production tax credit (PTC). During December 2012, 59 new wind projects totaling 5,253 MW began commercial operation, the largest-ever single-month capacity increase for U.S. wind energy. About 50% of the total December wind capacity additions were installed in three states: Texas (1,120MW), Oklahoma (794 MW), and California (730 MW).
Wind plant developers reported throughout 2012 increasing amounts of new capacity scheduled to enter commercial operation before the end of the year. To qualify for the PTC last year, wind projects had to begin commercial operation by December 31.
On New Year’s Day, Congress enacted a one-year extension of the PTC and also relaxed the rules. Under this extension, projects that begin construction before the end of 2013 are eligible to receive a 2.2 ¢/kWh PTC for generation over a 10-year period.
For 2012 as a whole, the four leading states for wind capacity installations were California (1,789 MW), Kansas (1,447 MW), Texas (1,504 MW), and Oklahoma (1,382 MW). Wind turbines installed during 2012 were concentrated in the midwestern and southern Great Plains regions. These are regions with high-potential wind resources, low population density (thus reducing problems related to siting and permitting), and existing and planned transmission lines to carry wind power to where the electricity is needed.

Kern oil patch

Berry Petroleum With Large Stake in California – Purchased

LINN Energy, LLC (Nasdaq:LINE), LinnCo, LLC (Nasdaq:LNCO) and Berry Petroleum Company (NYSE:BRY) last week announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which LINN and LinnCo will acquire all of Berry’s outstanding shares for total consideration of $4.3 billion, including the assumption of debt.  With the buy-out Houston based Linn will up its oil production and increase its holdings in California and the Permian Basin in western Texas increasing its proven reserves by 34 percent and its production capabilities by 30 percent. Berry’s reserves are estimated to be about 75 percent oil and liquids vs lower priced natural gas. Berry’s largest holding here is Midway-Sunset and North Midway in Kern County. About half of Berry’s capital has been invested in California where some expect a oil boom from its Monterey Shale formation. This formation is thought to hold over 400 billion barrels of oil, according to IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates That would be close to half the conventional oil in Saudi Arabia.

Hydro Outlook Below Normal

The Northwest River Forecast Center’s most recent 2013 projections for April to September—typically the high hydro season—call for normal to below-normal water supply. This outlook is similar to last year’s, and significantly lower than 2011, which was an exceptionally high water year. Within the region, the driest forecasts relative to the norm are in the southeast, and the wettest forecasts are in the northwest. The water forecast is a key driver of EIA’s short-term energy outlook for hydropower generation in the region.
For this year’s forecast, the NWRFC shifted its reference period from 1971-2000 to 1981-2010, reflecting a drier measurement of normal. At the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River (a widely used reference point for the Pacific Northwest), the new 1981-2010 normal runoff is 101 million acre-feet, slightly lower than the 1971-2000 value of 107 million acre-feet.
In California’s Central Valley – runoff could be as low as 61% of average says the state Department Of Water Resources.  DWR’s outlook suggests that the April-July period could produce as little as 770,000 acre-feet of San Joaquin River runoff, or just 61% of average. In 2012, 558,917 acre-feet (44% of average) of runoff was generated by the San Joaquin’s melting snowpack during a very dry year. This water year DWR has dropped the southern San Joaquin Valley’s overall 2013 outlook into a “dry year” classification. After a wet start to the water year  few storms have entered California since the New Year.

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