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Sunday, September 21, 2014

54
votes
U.S. crude falls for third day on dollar strength

Bloomburg -- Gasoline futures rose 2 percent to $2.6114 a gallon on the Nymex, the biggest daily increase since Sept. 3. Prices are up 3.7 percent this week. Ultra low sulfur diesel climbed 0.2 percent to $2.7166. The fuel fell 0.9 percent this week.

West Texas Intermediate crude fell Friday for a third day on rising U.S. inventories as a stronger dollar weighed on commodity prices. Brent futures rose on supply risks.

Stockpiles increased last week for the first time since Aug. 8, according to the Energy Information Administration. The dollar gained as the Federal Reserve moves closer to raising interest rates.

Brent widened its premium to WTI on signs of lower OPEC output. Gasoline futures jumped on surging Gulf Coast spot prices.

“Oil continues to come under pressure from the idea that we have am  (read more)

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883 Comments

47
votes
Spectra, Northeast Utilities partner on $3 billion project to bring more natural gas to New England

BDN -- PORTLAND, Maine — The Houston-based Spectra Energy announced Tuesday that Northeast Utilities, New England’s largest electric utility, plans to be a co-investor in a $3 billion effort to expand two major natural gas pipelines in the region, one of which runs through Maine.

Spectra’s pipeline expansion proposal was made public to a regional group coordinating energy policy in June, but the investment partnership with Northeast Utilities is new.

“I think it certainly signals the potential for a partnership that would really bring not only the resources but the experience to address New England’s natural gas capacity problems,” said Patrick Woodcock, director of Maine’s Governor’s Energy Office.

Marylee Hanley, a spokeswoman with Spectra, said the pipeline project, dubbed its Northeast Acc  (read more)

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809 Comments

45
votes
Inventor Rethinks How Car Cup Holders Should Work — This Is the Result

TheBlaze -- For as long as cup holders have been in cars, their design has largely gone unchanged. For the most part, cup holders are a low base with higher sides, typically in a center console, that keeps the vessel containing a drink in one place.

But it’s the liquid inside that’s often the problem. As the vehicle stops, goes uphill or over a speed bump, the liquid will follow, which even with the most innovative of lids can result in a mess.

This common issue is probably why the video of new cup holder invention started going viral on Reddit. The video shows cups without lids sitting in a holder between two seats as driver puts them to the test. The holder called the Maksimatic follows each move of the car, making sure the liquid remains in the cup despite its lidless state.(VIDEO)  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
617 Comments

42
votes
Audi first with Cali autonomous driving permit

Autonet -- California has issued Audi the state's first autonomous driving permit, allowing the automaker to test self-driving vehicles on public roads. This coincides with a broad range of new regulations taking effect regarding the testing of automated driving in California.

Autonomous technology is the new frontier in the automotive world as carmakers get ready for what they believe is the next big change set to sweep the industry. Cruise control is no longer the only way to let your car do the driving.  (read more)

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143 Comments

37
votes
6 Things a Flowback Supervisor Who ‘Grossed 6 Figures the Year I Turned 20' Revealed About Work in t

TheBlaze -- On Friday, one of those souls (under the username Wyojones) took to Reddit for an “Ask Me Anything,” sharing details of his life working as a flowback supervisor in Wyoming and Colorado — and how he earned six figures the year he turned 20.

1. You can make money right away — if you’re willing to work.

“Average is a 12 hour shift with 2-3 hours paid drive time to get from the hotel to job site and back,” Wyojones said of jobs in the oil fields. “Overtime after 40.”

He said it doesn’t take specialized skills to get an entry-level job.

“It’s s labor job, and at the lower levels labor is what gets you in,” Wyojones wrote. “And the lower levels still pay a couple grand a week.”

Asked for some more specifics on starting pay levels, he wrote, “$1,500 a week is pretty decent.”  (read more)

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44 Comments

Saturday, September 20, 2014

53
votes
LED lighting saving money and labor in hog country

midwestenergy.com -- Over the past few years, LED fixtures have taken over streetlights in cities and towns across the country. Next up: American agriculture, especially Midwestern hog-confinement operations.

In Washington County, Iowa, the bullseye of hog production in the state, LEDs “are coming on, and increasing in popularity exponentially,” said Jason Prochaska, owner of Sitler’s Supplies. Since his business began selling a combined LED fixture and bulb about 18 months ago, Prochaska said, “We’ve been doing a ton of projects. We’ve probably sold close to 10,000.”

And hog-confinement buildings, which are seemingly under perpetual construction in this part of the world, use a lot of electricity.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1358 Comments

47
votes
Do Wind Turbines Need to be Aesthetically Pleasing?

energydigital.com -- Here is a tale of two turbines.

One is utilitarian—maximizing efficiency while scaling back style. The other is a work of art masquerading as an energy source. In the end, they ultimately serve the same purpose—or do they?

The first turbine is a project of French energy giant EDF. The squat new turbines have several blades, are smaller, and supposedly less obtrusive than traditional turbines. However, to quote The Telegraph, to move toward this style of turbine would mean “wind turbines [would] take a turn for the uglier.”

The turbines are set to go into a new farm at Fos-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean cost, close to Marseilles and will consist of 13 turbines. The 26 MW farm has the potential to power 60,000 homes and is set to begin operations in 2016.

..The U.S.’ first offshore wind f
 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1332 Comments

45
votes
In film on alternative car fuels, former Shell executive speaks out

Reuters -- Frustrated by what he describes as a lack of political courage, a former president of the U.S. unit of Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) takes centre stage in a new documentary film that makes the case for using alternative fuels in cars.

The movie, "PUMP," blames oil companies, and what is described as their obstructive tactics, as well as political inertia for preventing the widespread adoption of cheaper and cleaner fuels based on natural gas and alcohol in the United States, world's largest economy.

The former Shell executive, John Hofmeister, has devoted himself to criticizing what he describes as an unhealthy dependence on oil and the high price of gasoline faced by consumers at the pump.

"We have more oil and natural gas than we will ever need" in the United States, Hofmeister, who...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
94 Comments

44
votes
Loring Development Authority feeling the power of alternative energy

BDN -- LIMESTONE, Maine — On an old concrete parking lot next to a deserted building on the former Loring Air Force Base, there is something very exciting and environmentally friendly going on.

Every day, from sunrise to sundown, 720 state-of-the art solar panels mounted on 30 dual-axis tracking devices produce up to 200 kilowatt-hours of power for the Loring Development Authority.

Combined with another 216 fixed-mount panels that went on line in the fall of 2012, the arrays generate enough electricity to power 55 Maine homes and offset 250 tons of carbon annually.

“We have all the ingredients we needed for a successful large-scale solar project,” LDA President Carl Flora said. “We have a well-developed power infrastructure in place and a lot of wide open spaces. Loring is a big place and is  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1180 Comments

43
votes
Privacy advocates take another hit in debate over access to license plate scanner data

AP / Fox News -- A California judge's ruling against a tech entrepreneur seeking access to records kept secret in government databases detailing the comings and goings of millions of cars in the San Diego area via license plate scans was the second legal setback within a month for privacy advocates.

An initial ruling issued Thursday upheld the right of authorities to block the public from viewing information collected on vehicles by networks of cameras on stoplights and police cars. A judge will hear arguments Friday in the case before the ruling becomes final.

The expanding databases are the subject of a broad debate pitting privacy rights against public safety concerns. A LA judge ruled last month that authorities there don't have to disclose records of the 3 million plates they scan each week.  (read more)

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55 Comments

Friday, September 19, 2014

54
votes
New Orleans solar company attracts $40 million in financing, plans national expansion

nola.com -- Five years ago, entrepreneur Aaron Dirks was looking into installing solar panels on a Lower Garden District home he and his wife were renovating. He encountered a process that was both costly and complex.

Dirks, a self-described "tree-hugging Republican," had the time, money and interest to jump through the hoops. But he quickly realized many of the people who could benefit most from energy savings did not.

"The people and families that need it the most don't have time to fill out paperwork," Dirks said.

Dirks teamed with fellow entrepreneur Tom Neyhart in 2011 to start PosiGen, a New Orleans-based solar leasing and energy efficiency company that tailors services to low- and middle-income buyers.

PosiGen has grown quickly, employing 165 workers and installing more than 4,000 systems

 (read more)

Submitted Sep 19, 2014 By:
1305 Comments

51
votes
Saudi Arabia could fight ISIS with oil — if it can bear the price

Finacial Post -- Saudi Arabia might end up doing more in the growing multilateral campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) than its muted response so far has suggested: Using its oil-market power to drive down the price of oil, which the insurgent group relies on to fund its Islamist rebellion.
While the industry is mindful of a disruption caused by a price collapse, companies are comforted by lower differentials between Canadian and U.S. crude
“What could Arab countries offer the West to help contain this threat? Lower oil prices,”  (read more)

Submitted Sep 19, 2014 By:
615 Comments

49
votes
Californians Face 'Hidden' Gas Tax in 2015

GasBuddy Blog -- California wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.  And in order to do that, it passed a law (AB 32) that will be the first of its kind in the U.S.  Beginning January 1, 2015, the penalty on carbon emissions will also apply to transportation fuels; to oil and gas.  That means if your car runs on gas or diesel, you’ll pay more. Exactly how much more?  Nobody knows.  Apparently state legislators felt compelled to approve the law first and do the math later.  They don’t believe they need to share the pesky details with the folks who elected them.  Based on input from various industry organizations and consumer groups, it’s estimated that the cap & trade ‘tax’ on carbon emissions has the potential to increase California’s retail gasoline prices from 16 cents to 76 cents per gallon.  Most expect at least a 15-cent increase beginning in 2015....  (read more)

Submitted Sep 19, 2014 By:
1646 Comments

48
votes
Solar soldiers: U.S. to train veterans to install solar panels

CBS News -- The jobs training program is among a host of initiatives the White House says will cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million tons through 2030, plus save billions of dollars on energy bills for homeowners and businesses. It will launch this fall at one or more military bases and train a total of at least 50,000 workers, including veterans.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 19, 2014 By:
188 Comments

48
votes
Autumn gas prices expected to hit a 4-year low

CNBC -- The national average price for a gallon of regular gas, already down to $3.37, could drop another 20 cents-good news for consumers this fall ahead of the holiday shopping season, according to Gasbuddy.com.

Analysts say prices could fall to a range of $3.15 to $3.25, and that more than 30 states can expect prices under $3 a gallon.

Typically when gas prices fall, it has a positive impact on consumer spending. Gasbuddy says that due to the decline in prices consumers will spend $2.5 billion less on gas this fall than they did last year and that the money saved could trickle into other areas of the economy

Prices have fallen for a several reasons, the first of which includes seasonal factors. First, every fall the industry switches from its summer blend of gas, to the cheaper winter blend  (read more)

Submitted Sep 19, 2014 By:
1587 Comments

Thursday, September 18, 2014

63
votes
A Radar Gun that Catches Driver Texting Is in Development

Auto Evolution -- ComSonics, a Virginia-based company, is developing a radar gun-like device with which police officers will be able to detect drivers who are texting. The gadget uses the telltale radio frequencies that emit from a vehicle when someone inside is using a cellphone.

According to Malcolm McIntyre of ComSonics, the technology of the new radar is similar to what cable repairmen use to find where a cable is damaged, from a rodent, for instance. They basically look for frequencies leaking in a transmission, McIntyre said.

According to the source, a text message emits different frequencies to phone call and data transfer, that can be distinguished by the device the tech company is working at.

..The only problem is whether engineers will find a way to identify who's phone was being used or they  (read more)

Submitted Sep 18, 2014 By:
604 Comments

61
votes
An independent Scotland could become an energy industry powerhouse

Fortune --
If the Scots vote to secede from the U.K., nearly all of the British North Sea oil fields, as well as half of its natural gas fields, would end up under Edinburgh’s control.

Scotland would be wise to wave goodbye to the United Kingdom and vote in favor of independence.

While there are both positives and negatives to cutting the cord with Westminster, there is one factor in particular that should tip the scales in favor of the “Yes” camp—energy. Nearly all of the U.K.’s North Sea oil fields, as well as half of its natural gas fields, would end up under Edinburgh’s control, turning Scotland into an energy exporting powerhouse.

London has done a poor job managing the North Sea, leading to sharp declines in production across the board. An independent Scotland could wipe the slate clean and  (read more)

Submitted Sep 18, 2014 By:
1304 Comments

57
votes
U.S. crude output surges to highest since ' 86 on shale boom

worldoil.com -- U.S. crude production climbed to the highest level in more than 28 years last week as the shale boom moved the country closer to energy independence.

Output rose 248,000 bpd to 8.838 million, the most since March 1986, according to Energy Information Administration data. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has unlocked supplies from shale formations in the central U.S., including the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas.

“The shale boom hasn’t run its course yet,” Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts, said by phone. “The U.S. is in a good and improving position as far as oil supply is concerned.”
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 18, 2014 By:
1330 Comments

54
votes
Charge your phone using ‘urine-tricity’

CNBC -- Waste not, want not, the saying goes, and researchers at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory are turning something we all produce – urine – into clean electricity, or 'urine-tricity'.
It sounds outlandish, but earlier this year, at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair in New Delhi, India – co-hosted by the Indian Department of Biotechnology and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – the team exhibited a functional urinal that was able to charge a phone using just urine, a world first.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 18, 2014 By:
1082 Comments

49
votes
Brakes Slipping? Screeching? Grinding? Don't Delay Repairs

GasBuddy Blog -- Don't put off the small stuff because it almost always becomes a big problem later. Automotive News advises that if you think there's a problem, you need to get it checked.  NOW. Many service stations such as Midas will perform a basic brake check to determine the extent of any problems. If you hear any brake noise such as screeching, squeaking or grinding, you should immediately have your brakes checked.Worn out brake pads, calipers and drums might be the issue, but it could also be a problem with your master cylinder, individual wheel cylinders or simply a lack of fluid. Here's a rundown from the minor problems to the major ones, and their costs: ...  (read more)

Submitted Sep 18, 2014 By:
1569 Comments

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

57
votes
Oil and gas companies court military veterans as shale boom grows

Powersource Post Gazette.com -- John MacZura, an Army infantry veteran, started work a week after graduation.

Before receiving his petroleum engineering degree from Penn State in 2013, Mr. MacZura, 30, had already piqued the interest of five or six oil and gas companies. He had job offers from three. He eventually joined Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas, where he now works as a completions engineer.

“The military plays a large part in how I got to where I’m at today,” said Mr. MacZura. He spent four years stationed at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and two in the National Guard.

“I can’t say I was a commodity, but I was definitely sought after by companies,” he said.

Finding work in the energy sector isn't a new concept for veterans, but there has been an increased interest in recent years due to the shale gas boom.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
1102 Comments

56
votes
Nanoribbon film keeps glass ice-free

ScienceDaily -- Rice University scientists who created a deicing film for radar domes have now refined the technology to work as a transparent coating for glass.

The new work by Rice chemist James Tour and his colleagues could keep glass surfaces from windshields to skyscrapers free of ice and fog while retaining their transparency to radio frequencies (RF).

The technology was introduced this month in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces.

The material is made of graphene nanoribbons, atom-thick strips of carbon created by splitting nanotubes, a process also invented by the Tour lab. Whether sprayed, painted or spin-coated, the ribbons are transparent and conduct both heat and electricity.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
1358 Comments

53
votes
Tesla wins direct sales lawsuit in Mass

autoweek.com -- Massachusetts’ highest court on Monday threw out a lawsuit seeking to block Tesla Motors Inc. from selling its luxury electric cars directly to consumers in the state, enabling it to bypass traditional dealerships.

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court unanimously concluded that the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association and two dealers lacked standing to block direct Tesla sales under a state law designed to protect franchise owners from abuses by car manufacturers.

Justice Margot Botsford wrote that the law was aimed at protecting dealers from unfair practices of manufacturers and distributors “with which they are associated, generally in a franchise relationship,” rather than unaffiliated manufacturers.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
67 Comments

52
votes
Solar Prices Drop 80 Percent Since 2008, Onshore Wind Also Falls

planetsave.com -- Fortunately, says the new report from IRENA, renewable energy can become a major force in this transformation. Its deployment is already accelerating rapidly. Just look at the dramatic drop in the costs of photovoltaics: we’ve seen solar prices drop 80 percent over just the past six years, according to the IRENA report. Solar is already at parity in Italy, Germany, and Spain, and it is fast approaching that point in several other nations.

Not only are solar statistics amazing, but nearly 100 countries have installed wind capacity now, and onshore wind power costs have also fallen significantly (18% since 2009). IRENA calculates that renewables now make up 58% of all new power capacity additions worldwide.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
1116 Comments

49
votes
Nissan faces battery plant cuts as electric car hopes fade

Fox Business -- Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn is preparing to cut battery manufacturing, people familiar with the matter said, in a new reversal on electric cars that has reopened deep divisions with alliance partner Renault.

The plan, which faces stiff resistance within the Japanese carmaker, would see U.S. and British production phased out and a reduced output of next-generation batteries concentrated at its domestic plant, two alliance sources told Reuters.

In what may also prove a politically sensitive blow to Japan Inc., Nissan would follow Renault by taking cheaper batteries from South Korea's LG Chem for some future vehicles, including models made in China.

"We set out to be a leader in battery manufacturing but it turned out to be less competitive than we'd wanted," said one executive on condition o  (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
313 Comments