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LEDs, Not Solar, Have Transformed Their Industry


Disruption is already in full force in the lighting industry.

by Katherine Tweed

August 25, 2016


For all of the talk about the disruptive nature of wind and solar on the utility sector, there is another clean energy technology that has already quietly rocked its own industry: light-emitting diodes.

Goldman Sachs recently released 60 charts that show the transformation that’s occurring in the low-carbon economy. The financial institution calls LEDs one of the fastest technology shifts in human history. While wind and solar are challenging the traditional electric generation sector, they have not upended it yet the way LEDs have overtaken the lighting industry. By 2020, LEDs will make up 69 percent of sales and close to 100 percent by 2025, up from nearly nothing in 2010.

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California’s Emissions Goal Is a ‘Milestone’ on Climate Efforts


LOS ANGELES — California will extend its landmark climate change legislation to 2030, a move that climate specialists say solidifies the state’s role as a leader in the effort to curb heat-trapping emissions.

Lawmakers have passed, and Gov. Jerry Brown has promised to sign, bills requiring the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels.

Though the governor had already set a similar goal in an executive order, the legislation will lock the goals into law. The ambitious plan targets both power plants and vehicle emissions.

“This is a real commitment backed up by real power,” Mr. Brown said, calling it a milestone in the state’s climate change efforts. He criticized the oil industry, which fought the legislation, as “Trump-inspired acolytes.”

“The effort to decarbonize our economy in California and in our country is a tough hill, and there is opposition,” he said. “They have been vanquished, and vanquished in a very solid way. So bring it on; there will be more battles and more victories.”

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Colorado aims to slash its climate pollution

By Ben Adler on Aug 26, 2016 4:35 am

Colorado is going to get its own version of the Clean Power Plan, by executive order of Gov. John Hickenlooper (D). His plan, announced on Wednesday, will order a 35 percent cut by 2030 in greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, and an interim target of a 25 percent cut by 2025.

The state already has a climate change adaptation plan, with elements such as water conservation and low-carbon transportation, that Hickenlooper released last year.

Climate change is an especially serious threat to Colorado, Hickenlooper notes, where the beauty of its snow-capped mountains and the popularity of outdoor sports such as skiing are major factors in the state’s economy and quality of life. But Colorado also has large extractive industries, such as coal mining and gas drilling.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has been criticized by Colorado environmentalists for his opposition to some stringent fracking regulations. He is against two anti-fracking initiatives going on the state ballot this November, pending a review of the qualifying petition signatures. One would establish a 2,500-foot setback zone for oil and gas activity from any occupied buildings and the other would allow local governments to ban fracking.

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Gov. Brown extends Sonoma County’s lauded climate protection program


THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | August 25, 2016, 6:59PM

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation extending a lauded Sonoma County program to tackle climate change and promote reduction of greenhouse gases.

The Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority was formed in 2009 to help coordinate countywide climate protection efforts. It was the first local government agency in the nation created specifically to address climate change.

“Due to the incredible work of the Regional Climate Protection Authority, Sonoma County is far exceeding its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg.

In 2014, the White House recognized the program as a national model for battling climate change.

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Community Choice Gaining Critical Mass


AUG 2016

Community energy choice is spreading like wildfire because of its greener energy pastures at lower costs. Former ratepayers of Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison—unless they decide not to become part of a city or county aggregation program— get access to power with a bigger slice of green energy, anywhere from 35 percent to 100 percent renewable resources, with base level renewable energy plans undercutting utility power prices.

Local energy providers not only provide and promise more and cheaper default renewable energy supplies, but also pay former investor-owned utility customers with net metered solar rooftops 1 cent more per kWh on average for excess power fed to the grid.

Existing and emerging community energy providers only compete in private utility territory. They don’t mess with customers of city and county public power agencies.

Community energy successes, however, have prompted legislation attempting to create roadblocks for community choice throughout the state. A bill was gutted and amended behind closed doors earlier this month to add what were said to be burdensome greenhouse gas reporting requirements for cities and counties offering energy choice (see story:

There are four operating community energy providers in California, which largely replace private utility generation supplies. They are Marin Clean Energy, Sonoma Clean Power, Lancaster Community Choice Energy and most recently Clean Power San Francisco (see story: A couple county energy choice programs are projected to come online over the next few months. A number of others in Southern and Northern California are percolating.

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Senate passes crackdown on state Public Utilities Commission

By Melody Gutierrez

August 25, 2016 Updated: August 25, 2016 10:03pm

    SACRAMENTO — A year after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed six bills aimed at increasing the transparency and accountability of the California Public Utilities Commission, a suite of reforms is again on the governor’s desk, but this time it’s expected to earn his signature

    SB215 by state Sens. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Ben Hueso, D-Logan Heights (San Diego County), passed the Legislature on Thursday after a unanimous bipartisan vote in the state Senate. The bill would require commissioners and other decision-makers to disclose their ex parte meetings and provide substantive descriptions of what is said at those meetings, while prohibiting judge-shopping by utilities and increasing penalties to a maximum $50,000 per violation.

    The bill would also authorize the attorney general to prosecute anyone who violates the ex parte rules.

    “I claim this to be a major victory for ratepayers in California,” Leno said.

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    Report Finds Big Energy Companies Gave Big $ and Got Big Favors From Governor Brown With Dollars and Decisions Flowing In Close Proximity To Each Other




    Jamie Court & Carmen Balber


    Santa Monica, CA—Public interest group Consumer Watchdog today reported that twenty-six energy companies including the state’s three major investor-owned utilities, Occidental, Chevron, and NRG—all with business before the state—donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor. Donations were often made within days or weeks of winning favors. The three major investor-owned utilities alone contributed nearly $6 million.

    An exhaustive review of campaign records, publicly-released emails and other documents at, court filings, and media reports, shows that Brown personally intervened in regulatory decisions favoring the energy industry, and points to Brown and his operatives having used the Democratic Party as a political slush fund to receive contributions from unpopular energy companies in amounts greater than permitted to his candidate committee. Between 2011 and 2014, the energy companies tracked by Brown’s Dirty Hands donated $4.4 million to the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party gave $4.7 million to Brown’s re-election. Earmarking to the Democratic Party is illegal. Consumer Watchdog is forwarding its report to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

    “The timing of energy industry donations around important legislation and key pro-industry amendments, as well as key regulatory decisions in which Brown personally intervened, raises troubling questions about whether quid pro quos are routine for this administration,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker, author of the report, Brown’s Dirty Hands. “While Brown paints himself as a foe of fossil fuels, his Administration promoted reckless oil drilling, burning dirty natural gas to make electricity, and used old hands from industry and government, placed in key regulatory positions, to protect the fossil fuel-reliant energy industry.”

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    Greens won’t let Obama get away with bragging about his public lands record

    By Emma Foehringer Merchant on Aug 25, 2016

    President Obama may have protected more land and water than any other U.S. president — 265 million acres of it — but he’s also responsible for leasing more than 10 million acres of federal lands for oil and gas development.

    WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility plan to push his environmental limits even further. On Thursday, the groups filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, in the hope that his (or the next) administration will halt oil and gas federal leases while reviewing systemwide reform. Interior’s coal leasing program is undergoing a similar review.

    The latest in a string of lawsuits to curtail federal oil and gas leasing, the groups are looking to block 397 lease sales across 380,000 acres. They claim the federal government is violating the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to consider environmental impacts.

    2016 analysis from the Stockholm Environment Institute found that cutting off future lease sales and declining to renew existing ones for coal, oil, and gas would reduce global carbon pollution by 100 million metric tons annually by 2030.

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    North Dakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why

    By JACK HEALYAUG. 26, 2016



    A protester rode a horse through the construction site for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in south central North Dakota.


    Daniella Zalcman for The New York Times

    This week, an impassioned fight over a 1,170-mile oil pipeline moved from the prairies of North Dakota to a federal courtroom in Washington. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation lies just south of the pipeline’s charted path across ranches and under the Missouri River, has asked a judge to halt construction. The American Indian tribe argues that a leak or spill could be ruinous.

    It may take until Sept. 9 for a federal judge to decide whether to allow the Dakota Access pipeline to move ahead, or grant an injunction that would press the pause button on construction.

    Here is a look at how the battle over the pipeline has become an environmental and cultural flash point, stirring passion across the Plains and drawing hundreds of protesters to camp out in rural North Dakota.

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    Key Energy joins ranks of oil-related companies filing bankruptcy

    Posted by David Hunn

    Date: August 25, 2016

    Linn Energy filed for bankruptcy on May 11. It reported $9.3 billion in debt at the end of 2015.

    See the other energy companies who have fallen victim to the oil crash in 2016.

    Oilfield service company Key Energy Services plans to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy by Nov. 8, the Houston-based company said in a regulatory filing.

    The restructuring plan, which must be approved by creditors, would give bondholders control of the company. Senior note holders would own about 95 percent of the reorganized company’s shares, according to the Securities & Exchange Commission filing. Private-equity firm Platinum Equity, which has agreed to support the plan, would be the largest shareholder. Current shareholders would lose almost all of their equity.

    RELATED: Heavy debt loads could slow energy’s recovery

    Key Energy had borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars during the shale boom. When oil prices tanked in 2014, Key couldn’t keep up with its loan obligations. By the end of 2015, the company had amassed nearly $1 billion in long-term debt. That same year, Key reported more than $1 billion in operations losses.

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    Colorado vulnerable in federal extraction ban, U.S. Chamber says

    “What if” scenario forecasts big job, revenue and GDP losses


    Brennan Linsley, Associated Press file In this March 29, 2013 file photo, a worker helps monitor water pumping pressure and temperature, at an oil and natural gas extraction site, outside Rifle, on the Western Slope of Colorado.


    August 24, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico are the states most at risk economically if a ban on extracting coal, natural gas and oil from federal lands ever takes hold, according to an analysis from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    Colorado stands to lose 50,000 jobs, $124 million in state royalties and $8.3 billion in economic activity following a ban, the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy said in a report Wednesday.

    “There are real, serious and disastrous impacts down the road,” Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the Institute said of an outright ban, which is gaining traction in Democratic circles.

    Supporters of the “keep it in the ground” movement have swarmed Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auctions, citing concerns about carbon emissions and climate change and a desire to preserve public lands.

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    Railroad Commission sides with Eastman in pipeline dispute

    Posted by David Hunn

    Date: August 24, 2016

      State oil and gas commissioners on Wednesday ruled that Houston-based Westlake Chemical cannot charge a free-market rate for use of its Texas pipeline, concluding a 3-year-old dispute.

      The state Railroad Commission, which has the power to set pipeline rates, set a price below what Westlake was charging a customer, Eastman Chemical, to use the pipeline. Eastman filed a complaint with the commission after Westlake nearly doubled its rate in 2013, to $3.50 per 100 pounds from $1.90. The Railroad Commission, on a 2-1 votes, set a rate of $2.45 per 100 pounds.

      The dispute between Westlake and Eastman has has been carefully watched by pipeline, chemical and oil industry leaders. Some were anxious to see if the commission would award Westlake a market rate, something it has not yet allowed.

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      Climate change measure heads toward Jerry Brown

      AUGUST 24, 2016 2:55 PM


      California is set to extend its historic greenhouse gas emissions targets after the state Senate on Wednesday sent a reauthorization bill to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has vociferously championed policies to combat climate change during his final term in office.

      Senate Bill 32 would place in statute his executive order to reduce emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, an expansion of current law that mandates California reach 1990 levels by 2020. It passed the Senate 25-13, largely along party lines, to a round of applause on the floor.

      Sen. Fran Pavley, a Democrat from Agoura Hills who authored the original regulation a decade ago, said the success of that law proved there was “not a false choice between a healthy environment and a sound economy.”

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      Lawmakers, Jerry Brown claim major political victory on climate change bills

      AUGUST 24, 2016 12:34 PM

      In giving final approval to a pair of linked climate bills, lawmakers on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 handed a victory to Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders, who called the measures essential to preserving the state’s ambitious climate program. David Siders The Sacramento Bee


      Surmounting political obstacles to policies that have made California a national model on fighting climate change, lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a pair of bills to sustain the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

      In giving final approval to a pair of linked climate bills, lawmakers handed a victory to Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders, who called the measures essential to preserving the state’s ambitious climate program.

      “This is a real commitment backed up by real power,” Brown said.

      One of the measures, Senate Bill 32, would require California to slash greenhouse gas levels to 40 percent below their 1990 levels by 2030, extending the state’s authority to enact sweeping climate policies beyond an approaching 2020 limit. The other, Assembly Bill 197, sought to build support for those goals by giving legislators more power over the Air Resources Board. Brown is certain to sign both.

      Both bills succeeded despite a lobbying push from the oil industry and reticence from business-oriented Democrats, whose combined resistance scuttled a major 2015 measure that would have mandated a 50 percent cut in California’s petroleum use. That setback fueled concerns that Brown and legislative allies would be unable to overcome the same forces in 2016.

      “It isn’t only Donald Trump trying to stop the effort to clean up the air and to combat climate change. There are a lot of Trump-inspired acolytes that even walk the halls of this state Capitol. But they have been vanquished,” Brown said, alluding to the clout of oil companies and to the “very powerful lobbying by these organizations whose goal is to keep the Earth and California dirty.”

      The twin legislative successes presage a battle over the state’s cap-and-trade program, which compels businesses to buy permits for the greenhouse gases they put into the air. Encumbered by a court challenge and two subpar auctions of emissions allowances, the system’s fate will likely be central to next year’s legislative session.

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      With new climate legislation, Gov. Brown gets even with the oil industry



      American flags fly near the Shell refinery in Martinez, Calif.



      August 25, 2016, 12:05 a.m.

      Gov. Jerry Brown got mad and one year later has gotten even with the oil lobby.

      It’s a textbook example of what can happen in a representative democracy when a leader is willing to settle for realistic goals. It’s what results when one doesn’t get too greedy and agrees to compromise.

      It’s also symptomatic of one-party control. Dominant Democrats in Sacramento hang together more often than not, and that produces victories when only a simple majority vote is required. And that’s usually.

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