Fossil energy prices continue rise, PTC not yet renewed, etc.

US coal prices remained at record highs, with the only significant change this past week being the 8.8% increase to $118 per ton of Northern Appalachian coal. The oil market generally agreed with my sentiment yesterday that Saudi Arabia’s production announcement was mostly underwhelming, especially with the news of disrupted production in Nigeria. Oil gained over 1%, approaching its record in the upper $130s per barrel. And natural gas rose more than 1% to $13.23 per MBtu on anticipation that the emerging summer heat will prevent sufficient storage buildup for winter. China recently bought LNG supplies ~$13.90 per MBtu so if we want to attract more LNG tankers, it looks as though natural gas prices will need to climb another 5% or so.

The price signal is clearly showing we need to increase efficiency and diversify further generation to renewables. But unfortunately federal tax credits for solar and wind have not been renewed by Congress yet. While I would understand a reduction in the tax credit from the ~2 cents per kWh level as renewables grow, it is negligent for Congress to abandon the renewable energy industry at just the moment we need their help the most. In fact, a recent report by GE Financial Services believes tax revenues from wind power growth more than make up for the government investment via tax credits.

In more encouraging news, the number of campuses signed on to the University Presidents Climate Commitment to zero greenhouse gas emissions (climate neutrality) just swelled past 550, including my undergraduate alma mater the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which signed the commitment many months ago and sports a large solar thermal array on one of our key dormitories (where I played many fun basketball games with friends). Here’s to growth in that initiative and others by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and other great allies throughout the nonprofit climate and energy community.

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