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Voting began on Election Day 2012 with energy still playing a major part in the Presidential Contest. Polls indicated that President Obama may have received a crucial last-minute bounce from Hurricane Sandy, which once again raised concerns about global warming. Republican candidate Mitt Romney has ignored the issue, concentrating on reviving the coal industry instead, while President Obama has made it a centerpiece of his administration. The Hurricane once again prompted stories that climate change is real and that a new approach to energy independence is needed. We’ll find out tonight what the voters had to say . . . or maybe tomorrow . . . or maybe next week.

Even as voters went to the polls, large portions of New Jersey and the Northeast remained without electricity. Gas lines are shrinking and new supplies seem to be on the way, but parts of the Jersey Shore and Staten Island are devastated. The region’s three nuclear reactors have been back online since last Friday, allaying fears that the hurricane might do them some particular damage. But the experience has prompted speculation on whether energy independence is really possible and whether the electric grid should be rebuilt around natural gas.

Things have come up roses for ousted Duke Energy CEO William Johnson, who has been chosen to head the much larger Tennessee Valley Authority. The former Progress chief joked about his short tenure at Duke but didn’t reveal any further details. Duke’s release of the merger documents may shed a little more light on the incident, however.

Ethanol continues its slump as the US drought has driven up corn prices and squeezed refinery margins. BP abandoned plans for a Florida plant, signaling a larger exit from renewables and prompting the joke that BP now stands for “Back to Petroleum.” New Energy Corp. is closing Indiana’s oldest ethanol refinery in South Bend. Brazil’s sugar ethanol exports have surged to fill the gap created by the US decline but Abengoa, a Spanish company, has resumed production at its 88-million-gallon-per-year plant in Madison, Illinois.

Finally, Russia is flexing its energy muscles as Rosneft emerges as the world’s biggest oil company after its acquisition of BP’s Russian operations. Oil output has reached a post-Soviet high. RusHydro, the state-owned hydroelectric corporation, is talking about a $12 billion expansion program. And Sintex, a private Russian natural gas company, is eyeing production in Greece. Is Russia the new Energy Empire? That’s a question MoneyWorld considers.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to vote.

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