Unalaska Says “No” to Geothermal Project. Berkley Gas Bans Not So Clever.

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Today’s Key Takeaways: Unalaska rejects new terms proposed for geothermal project. Oil demand in US surges. Bans on natural gas dropping in CA. Nova Minerals ramps up gold exploration in Alaska.


Unalaska pulls plug on Makushin geothermal project
Theo Greenley, KUCB, Unalaska/Alaska Public Media, March 1, 2024

The City of Unalaska is pulling out of the Makushin geothermal project after the city council on Tuesday rejected new terms requested by the company building the project. The project’s goal was to harness energy from an active volcano to power the community, which has relied on diesel since World War II.

It was the fourth time that the joint venture between the Ounalashka Corp. and Chena Power, called OCCP, asked to amend its terms for the roughly $200 million project. This time they wanted to raise the rate they would charge the city for electricity.

City Manager Bil Homka said in a memo last week that he encouraged the council not to agree to the rate hike and to let the power purchase agreement expire.

While council members all voiced general support for the project, the consensus was that they had lost confidence that the project would be completed on a reasonable timeline.

“I’ve been in full support of this, and I want to see this thing go through, but at the same time, we’ve done more than enough,” said Councilmember Alejandro “Bong” Tungul. “We’ve done three resolution amendments to extend it, and I still don’t see anything that will get it moved forward.”

Representatives of the project pushed back against some of the claims made in the council packet, including that the project would be unable to secure funding.

“We acknowledge the frustration that all parties have and are experiencing due to the project delivery timelines,” said program manager Dave Mathews in a memo to city council. “OCCP does have financing and is proceeding with project development.”

Local resident Travis Swangel was among several community members who spoke out in favor of the geothermal project. He called the project “one of the most important and pivotal projects in the community’s history” and urged the city to be patient.

Councilmember Shari Coleman made a request to the city to allow a six-month extension for the geothermal project to find funding, but she was unable to find support and the motion was denied, effectively ending the city’s participation in the project


Oil Demand at 4-Year High to Hold Steady for 2024, EIA Says
Josyana Joshua, February 29, 2024

  • US revises fuel consumption figures higher for December
  • EIA expects 2024 demand to rise but stay below 2019 level

Oil demand in the US surged to a four-year high in 2023 and is expected to hold near that level through 2024.

Domestic fuel consumption reached 20.23 million barrels a day last year, the highest level since 2019, according to Energy Information Administration data released Thursday. US demand should continue to strengthen this year to an average 20.39 million barrels a day, just below 2019 levels, said the agency.

Forecasts for oil use are being closely watched by market participants, with global balances teetering into oversupply. The EIA has in recent years come under fire for underestimating US demand in its weekly reports, only to revise them markedly higher in the monthly data.

In its Thursday report, the EIA raised its estimate for December jet fuel demand by 5%. The agency also revised its figures for year-end gasoline and diesel consumption.


Palo Alto Drops Ban On Natural Gas – Will New York And Other Places Follow?
Daniel Markind, Forbes, March 4, 2024

Amid much fanfare, in 2022, the City of Palo Alto, California, home to Stanford University, amended its building code to require that every new building within its borders be all electric. This followed the lead of the City of Berkeley, California, which had previously banned natural gas infrastructure in 2019. At the time, Berkeley considered its law a clever way to bypass any law that would prohibit the use of natural gas entirely, which, it no doubt recognized, might be legally uncertain despite the evident desire to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, despite Berkeley’s attempt at cleverness, in 2023, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, writing in California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, saw through Berkeley’s scheme and invalidated the Berkeley law as violating the U. S. Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA). In January 2024, the Ninth Circuit denied Berkeley’s request for a rehearing on the case. A few weeks later, Palo Alto announced that it will consider a proposal from the City Department of Planning and Development Services to stop enforcement of that municipality’s own all-electric requirement.

Palo Alto’s retreat could be a precursor to more municipalities dropping similar all-electric requirements that have been enacted elsewhere over the past few years – all or most to help battle climate change. Berkeley’s ban was different from Palo Alto’s, in that Berkeley banned all natural gas infrastructure within the City’s borders and is included in the city’s health and safety code, while Palo Alto included its ban in that City’s building code. However, the Berkeley Court ruled that such a distinction should not make a difference. The Ninth Circuit held that the EPCA is “concerned with the end-user’s ability to use installed covered products at their intended final destinations, like restaurants.” Neither the Berkeley nor the Palo Alto restriction would pass Ninth Circuit scrutiny under that reasoning.



Nova Minerals ramps up exploration at Estelle Gold Project in prolific region of Alaska
Proactive, February 29, 2024

How it is doing

28 Feb 2024

Nova Minerals Ltd (ASX:NVA, OTCQB:NVAAF) anticipates it will complete the regulatory steps necessary to dual list to the Nasdaq in the June quarter, having made solid progress toward that goal over the last few months.

The company intends to undertake an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq within months, subject to market conditions, Nasdaq listing approval and satisfaction of US regulatory requirements.

Nova believes the dual listing will provide an easier path of investment for parties interested in the US-based Estelle Gold Project, the company’s flagship asset.

It would also give Nova Minerals access to a wide range of new funding options, including potential US State and Federal grants for critical minerals.

The company has received more high-grade results — up to 74.5 g/t gold, 2,720 g/t silver, 10.6% copper and 1.3% antimony — from the Stoney, West Wing and T5 prospects at its flagship Estelle Gold Project in the prolific Tintina Gold Belt in Alaska. 

“The greater Stoney area, which now includes West Wing and T5, has a strong polymetallic signature with elevated levels of silver, copper, and antimony – in addition to gold. Our field crews are eager to get back here in 2024 to follow up on these anomalies and to collect chip samples across the main Stoney Vein,” said Nova head of Exploration Hans Hoffman.