Category: Energy

KBH Energy Center’s Recent Research on ESA’s Impact on Energy Projects

KBH Energy Center pic
KBH Energy Center
Image: kbhenergycenter.utexas.edu

From his office in Oklahoma City, Duke Ligon oversees all aspects of Mekusukey Oil Company, which maintains a portfolio of mineral interests throughout the United States. In tandem with his work as owner and manager of Mekusukey Oil, Duke Ligon guides the mission of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law and Business as co-chair of the executive council.

In addition to promoting energy leaders of the future, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center, commonly known as KBH Energy Center, produces original research on issues of interest to the energy sector. For example, in response to the complaints of many industry groups that the Endangered Species Act requires a lengthy consultation process prior to starting energy projects, the center recently published research exploring the impact of the Endangered Species Act on such projects.

The research found that only a small number of energy projects on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management were subject to a consultation between 2010 and 2014. Of those energy projects, consultations on oil and gas projects took relatively little time, while consultations on renewable energy projects took substantially longer. None of these projects were stopped due to the Endangered Species Act. While industry representatives complained that the consultations delayed projects significantly, the paper concluded that measures were being taken to make the consultation process more streamlined and standardized.

The Developing Role of Federal Energy Regulations

Duke Ligon - Diverse Experience as Oklahoma City Oil Executive
Duke Ligon, Oklahoma City

As an attorney and a board member of multiple energy production companies, Duke Ligon of Oklahoma City has an interest in laws regulating the energy industry. Duke Ligon is co-chair of the executive council of Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business, working with the University of Texas to inform rising generations of energy producers about industry regulation.

Legal regulations surrounding energy production, transmission, and consumption serve a range of purposes. The Department of Energy was established in 1977 as a direct response to the energy crisis of that decade. Prior to the DoE, such matters were addressed by the Federal Power Commission established in 1920, but the resource scarcity of the Great Depression and WWII, in addition to the growing demand on power systems and fuel sources over the 20th century, gradually led the government to take more direct action.

Recent years have seen the government’s mission expand further with the growing concerns regarding foreign dependence, pollution, and climate change. Besides offering incentives for innovations in energy efficiency and emission reduction, the Department of Energy has determined that it would set an example of responsible energy use. It is committed that by 2025, the federal government will draw at least 30 percent of its energy use from renewable sources and that at least 25 percent would be from clean energy.

Renewable Energy Slowly Replacing Coal in the United States

Devon Energy pic
Devon Energy
Image: devonenergy.com

An energy lawyer, Duke Ligon of Oklahoma City is the senior vice president of Devon Energy. Focused on renewable energy in the United States, Duke Ligon of Oklahoma City has been involved in domestic energy policy planning, responsible for the growth in renewable energy.

As renewable energy continues to gain market share in terms of total power generated in the United States, carbon-emitting coal’s contribution is fast depreciating.

Wind and solar accounted for over two-thirds of new electricity generation in the United States in 2015 The remainder was dominated by cheap natural gas made popular by hydraulic fracturing. This marked the second year in a row that US investment in renewable sources vastly outpaced investment in fossil fuels.

Cheap wind energy has contributed immensely to the rise of renewable energy. The cost of wind energy has reduced by two-thirds in six years, largely because of the falling cost of wind turbines, effectively making it the lowest-cost source of energy.

In the Great Plains and Sun Belt regions of the United States, private equity investment is constructing massive renewable energy projects alongside laying out hundreds of miles of transmission lines. With 48,800 wind turbines already in operation, powering an estimated 20 million homes, the United States is already a leader in wind energy globally. It is estimated that by 2030, wind energy will account for 20 percent of the country’s electricity.

All the while coal energy has dropped drastically from generating half of the energy in the United States to only a third. As more coal companies file for bankruptcy protection, coal mines now employ an estimated 56,700 Americans, a tenth of what they used to employ at their peak.

Europe Leading the Way in Switch to Renewable Energy

 

Energy Bar Association pic
Energy Bar Association
Image: eba-net.org

Duke Ligon of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is a decorated veteran who served in both the US army and US intelligence. An attorney focused on energy law, Duke Ligon of Oklahoma City is a member of the Energy Bar Association, which recently published an article lauding renewable energy in Europe.

Demonstrating that a future free from fossil fuels is possible, Portugal recently set the bar high by running on clean energy for four straight days. For a continuous stretch of 107 hours, Portugal relied on wind, sunlight, and hydropower energy to power its homes and industries, becoming the latest European country to set a milestone in the use of renewable energy.

Europe has been making headlines because of its commitment to renewable energy. Only recently, solar and wind energy powered Germany for an entire day, even causing an energy surplus and negative power prices, while the UK reported four instances of renewable energy generation.

Wind is the leading source of renewable energy in Europe. In Portugal, for example, 48 percent of the energy generated in 2015 was renewable, 22 percent of which was from wind. Denmark and Spain, Europe’s leading powerhouses in renewable energy, surpassed domestic targets in 2015 and are set to export surplus energy to their neighbors.

Not to be left behind, other European countries such as Germany, Poland, France, and the UK ramped up their wind power capacity, putting Europe ahead of the pack in the push for renewable energy.