18 March 2021

1) Griddy Energy, the Texas power retailer, filed for bankruptcy, becoming the latest casualty of the cold weather blast and sweeping blackouts that pushed electricity prices to historic highs. The company, after its customers received exorbitant power bills, blamed its downfall on Texas’s grid operator Ercot who is blamed for destroying Griddy’s business. Griddy is at least the third to file for bankruptcy. Ercot owes more than $29 million dollars, making the grid operator Texas’ largest unsecured creditor. Texas is unusual in the U.S. in that homeowners and businesses can choose from a number of power providers. Griddy charges wholesale prices instead of fixed ones, and knowing that rate structure would mean massive bills for its customers as power prices climbed, the company made the unusual move of pleading with customers to switch to another provider in mid-February, but some customers who didn’t switch in time were stuck with bills for thousands of dollars.

2) The world’s three biggest consumers of coal, the most dirty of the fossil fuels, are getting ready to boost usage so much that it’ll almost be as if the pandemic-induced drop in emissions never happened. The U.S. power plants will consume 16% more coal this year, and then an additional 3% in 2022. China and India, which together account for almost two-thirds of coal demand, have no plans to cut back in the near term. This means higher emissions, and in the U.S., the gains may undermine President Biden’s push to reestablish America as an environmental leader and raise pressure for him to quickly implement his climate agenda. Coal consumption at U.S. power plants is almost returning to 2019 levels. While in recent years, China has reduced the share of coal in their energy mix, total power consumption has risen, so its usage has also climbed. China has the world’s largest number of coal-fired power plants, so it’ll be tough to shift to alternatives. India is also a very long way from a clean grid, with coal continuing to account for around 70% of its electrical generation. Consumption at their power plants will rise 10% this year, and is set to increase every year through at least 2027.

3) Although little known to most people, sand is another natural resource becoming scarce. So China has launched a crackdown on illegal sand mining operations on the Yangtze river, which have made large parts of central China more vulnerable to drought. Sand mining in the river and its connecting lakes and tributaries has also affected shipping routes and made it harder for authorities to control summer floods.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 MAR 21:

Dow 33,015.37 up by 189.42
Nasdaq 13,525.20 up by 53.64
S&P 500 3,974.12 up by 11.41

10 Year Yield: up at 1.64%

Oil: down at $64.63

22 February 2021

1) There have been many reports about the crumbling weakness of American infrastructure, something that became apparent to many people with the recent hard freeze across the country. Example- in two hours Texas’s electric grid almost came crashing down. Electric demand for heat was soaring, then three coal plants followed quickly by a gas plant dropped out. If insufficient power came in, the grid wouldn’t be able to support the energy demand from customers and the other power plants that supply them, causing a cycle of dysfunction. As many as 5 million homes and businesses were abruptly thrust into frigid darkness for nearly four straight days as the crisis continued, ensnaring more than a dozen other states as far as away as California. Wind power was the first to go, as dense fog settled over turbine fleets, freezing on contact. Their blades iced over, so wind farms completely ceased. Then gas generation began declining. As the cold deepened, demand climbed sharply, hitting and then exceeding the state’s all-time winter peak. Gas well shut-ins in West Texas caused gas supplies to dip, reducing pressure at gas plants and forcing them offline, so virtually all of the generation falling off the grid came from coal or gas plants. In the span of 30 minutes, 2.6 gigawatts of capacity had disappeared from Texas’s power grid, enough to power half a million homes. Demand kept climbing, and plants kept falling offline. To stem the plunge, operators started shedding load. Operators removed 10 gigawatts of demand, essentially cutting power to 2 million homes in one fell swoop. As blackouts spread across the state, power was cut not only to homes and businesses but to the compressor stations that drive natural gas pipelines further cutting off the flow of gas supplies to power plants.

2) Now Maersk , the world’s largest shipping line, is taking a historic step toward not using fossil fuels for propulsion. About half of Maersk’s 200 biggest customers have set science-based or zero-carbon targets for their supply chains, or are in the process of doing so. The firm wants to have net-zero emissions from its operations by 2050, and helped found a research center focused on decarbonizing the industry. Getting hold of enough carbon-neutral fuel will be Maersk’s biggest challenge, given the current lack of availability.

3) Some experts are predicting that because of the rare convergence of three economic triggers, we are about to see a massive buying frenzy into the technology sector of the stock market. No details were shared.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 FEB 21:

Dow 31,494.32 up by 0.98
Nasdaq 13,874.46 up by 9.11
S&P 500 3,906.71 down by 7.26

10 Year Yield: up at 1.34%

Oil: down at $59.01

8 January 2020

1) Coal consumption in America dropped sharply last year, reaching its lowest level since 1975, with power plants switching to cheaper natural gas and renewables. This shift has cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10%, but other sources also contribute to growing planet warming pollution last year. The U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, as well as other greenhouse warming gases, contributing 14% of all annual greenhouse emissions.

2) The federal government is close to selling a group of nursing homes it took over eighteen months ago, a result of the biggest default in the history of a government mortgage insurance program which provides critical support to the nursing home industry. The previous owner defaulted on $146 million dollar worth of mortgages leaving the government to take possession of the facilities, which they have been working to find new owner-operators.

3) A new pizza making robot was unveiled at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronis Show) in Las Vegas, which attracts 200,000 people across the world. The machine is placed adjacent to the oven so pizzas automatically go in for cooking. The robot can make up to 300 12 inch customized pizzas an hour, while making consistent pies. Several companies are engaged in developing pizza robots including Little Caesar’s and Domino’s. The robots for the fast food industry is growing in response to demands for a minimum wage of $15 an hour for restaurant workers.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 JAN 202:

Dow                28,583.68    down    119.70
Nasdaq            9,068.58    down        2.88
S&P 500           3,237.18    down        9.10

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.83%

Oil:    up   at    $63.21