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10Jul/17Off

Editorial: Here’s how Jerry Brown can truly build a lasting environmental legacy

JULY 07, 2017 6:00 AM

BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement that he will host the world’s climate leaders in San Francisco was well-timed. Ensuring he will remain relevant as his days in office come to an end, the event will take place in September 2018, at the height of the campaign to replace him.
But for all the acclaim that Brown receives internationally for his leadership in the fight against climate change, the governor has work to do in Sacramento to cement his environmentalist legacy.
His aides wheel, deal and draft a compromise to extend the cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases and generate billions for years beyond his time in office, while forward-looking corporations are making clear how quickly the world is changing.
Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk tweeted the other day that the mid-market Model 3, an electric vehicle selling for a base of $35,000, would roll off the Fremont assembly line this month. Volvo, owned by China’s Geely Automobile Holdings, made the flashy declaration that by 2019, all its new cars would have electric motors.
Though some of the vehicles will be hybrids, the notion that a venerable Swedish automaker, known for producing safe but not slick cars, is fully committing to an electric fleet should spur other companies to make the same commitment.

For most Californians, a $40,000 car is hardly affordable. Leases on lower-end EVs might make financial sense for moderate or low-income Californians, though not make practical sense. The state must ensure that charging stations are spread beyond the Silicon Valley and West L.A.
The California Air Resources Board is reviewing a plan by Volkswagen to spend part of its $800 million penalty for lying about diesel emissions to build electric charging stations in out-of-the-way locales, vital if the state is to reach Brown’s goal of having 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025, as detailed by The Sacramento Bee’s Alexei Koseff.
All that notwithstanding, the car culture California helped create is changing. With apps, ride-sharing, and, soon enough, driverless vehicles, car ownership, we are told, will become passé. To get around, mass transit will be more popular. Buses and trucks powered by diesel are a source of much pollution. That’s changing, too.
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expected to award a contract to begin transforming its 2,200-bus fleet into electric buses this month, and intends to have an all-electric fleet in 13 years. An initial contract for 60 buses is expected to go to the Canadian-based company, New Flyer. We don’t endorse protectionism, but there should be room for public agencies to reward companies that manufacture or assemble electric buses in California.
One such company, Proterra, moved to Burlingame from South Carolina, and operates a factory east of Los Angeles, recognizing that high costs of doing business here aside, California is committed to green energy. Its buses transport commuters in Stockton and soon in Fresno, among other locales. It’s the sort of green economy company that should be nurtured.
In an interview with an editorial board member, Ryan Popple, Proterra’s chief executive officer, predicted that by 2019, electric buses will cost less than diesel-hybrid-powered buses. By 2021, they will be on par with buses fueled by natural gas. Its factory can turn out 100 buses a year, with plans to increase production, and provide solid jobs for workers who don’t have advanced degrees.
Musk built his massive battery factory outside Reno, in part because Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Silver State’s Legislature provided rich incentives, and because California could not guarantee that Tesla could get the permits needed to quickly construct the factory. That shouldn’t happen again.
http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article160144879.html

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10Jul/17Off

Renewables Generated More Power Than Nuclear in March and April 

Utility-scale renewable electricity generation surpassed nuclear for the first time since Reagan was president.
by Eric Wesoff
July 07, 2017

Solar farms planted on an abandoned nuclear plant site or powering a coal museum or atop a strip mine offer stark images of the ascendance of renewables.   
But forget metaphorical images -- utility-scale renewable electricity generation in March and April actually surpassed nuclear for the first time since July 1984. (Ronald Reagan was president, and "When Doves Cry" was the No. 1 hit on the radio.)
Recent months have seen record generation from wind and solar, as well as increases in hydroelectric power because of 2017's wet winter (note that these numbers, from the Energy Information Administration, do not include distributed solar). Most of the time, conventional hydroelectric generation is still the primary source of renewable electricity.
But one of the takeaways from this data set is the emergence of wind in the last decade as a material slice of the energy mix. The U.S. wind industry installed more than 8 gigawatts in 2015 and did it again in 2016. The country now has over 84 gigawatts of installed wind capacity.
Another takeaway is the relatively diminutive contribution from solar, which falls between geothermal and biomass in its annual contribution. The U.S. installed 14.5 gigawatts of solar last year, up 95 percent over 2015. 
And still, more than 60 percent of all utility-scale electricity generating capacity that came on-line in 2016 was from wind and solar technologies, according to EIA.
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Renewables-Generated-More-Power-Than-Nuclear-in-March-and-April

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10Jul/17Off

Utilities fighting against rooftop solar are only hastening their own doom

Batteries are going to make rooftop solar invulnerable.
Updated by David Roberts@drvoxdavid@vox.com Jul 7, 2017, 1:10pm EDT

(Shutterstock)
Several of the big trends in clean electricity depend, in one way or another, on batteries. How fast batteries get better and cheaper will help determine how fast renewable energy grows, how fast fossil fuel power plants get shut down, and how fast the vehicle fleet electrifies.

The consulting firm McKinsey & Company recently released an analysis noting that batteries, like solar panels before them, are getting cheaper much faster than anyone expected — and the consequences for the power sector are going to be immense.
Batteries have entered a virtuous, self-reinforcing cycle. This graphic, adapted from a Ramez Naam post, captures it:

(Javier Zaraccina)
As they get cheaper, batteries make sense for more commercial applications. As new markets for storage grow, demand for batteries increases. As demand increases, economies of scale kick in and batteries get cheaper. Rinse, repeat.

The McKinsey analysis shows this dynamic playing out within the power sector, both “behind the meter” (batteries inside a customer’s home or building) and “in front of the meter” (batteries assembled into large-scale storage installations). Batteries are soon going to disrupt power markets at all scales.

The whole analysis is interesting, but I want to focus in on the way batteries will affect rooftop solar. Across the country, intense battles are being waged as utilities push back against the rapid spread of rooftop solar. (See, as the latest example, Nevada.) Batteries, McKinsey reveals, are going to scramble those battles, making them effectively unwinnable for utilities. The existential crisis they hoped to avoid by slowing rooftop solar is going to slam into them twice as hard once batteries enter the picture.
To begin, let’s back up a bit. To understand the role of batteries, first you have to understand why utilities don’t like rooftop solar in the first place — and what they’re doing to stop it.

Utilities’ problem with rooftop solar power, in 250 words or less
Utilities don’t make money selling electricity — for that, they can only recover costs. They are, after all, monopolies.
Investor-owned utilities make money by investing in grid infrastructure and then charging ratepayers the cost of that infrastructure plus a “reasonable rate of return,” as defined by the state public utility commission (PUC). They make money, in other words, by building stuff.
Utilities generally recover their costs-plus-returns from ratepayers through flat volumetric rates — “flat” means the rate is the same for everyone, at all times of day, and “volumetric” means that the more a customer uses, the more she pays.

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When a customer installs solar panels, it hurts the utility in two ways.
One, it reduces demand for utility power. Utilities generally don’t want lower demand. To justify building stuff, they need to be able to project higher demand.
Two, the more solar customers reduce their utility bills by generating their own power, the more utilities have to charge other, non-solar customers more, to cover their costs-plus-returns. This pisses the other customers off. And it incentivizes them to install solar themselves!
Utilities are terrified of the “death spiral” that could ensue as more customers are driven to generate their own power. So they are increasingly fighting back.
“The utilities’ response,” McKinsey writes, “has been to design rates that reduce the incentive to install solar by moving to time-of-use pricing structures, implementing demand charges, or trying to reduce how much they pay customers for the electricity they produce that is exported to the grid.”
Those battles are ongoing across the country.
Enter batteries.
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/7/7/15927250/utilities-rooftop-solar-batteries

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10Jul/17Off

Power restored to thousands in San Fernando Valley after DWP facility explosion

Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters battled a major fire at the DWP plaint in Reseda on Saturday, July 9, 2017. The huge circuit breaker unit exploded and burned for hours. LAFD used foam rigs to put out the fire. As of 10 P.M., more than 140,000 people were without power. (Photo by Gene Blevins, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Photos: 140,000 without power after DWP transformer explosion, fire

By Matthew Carey, Correspondent
POSTED: 07/09/17, 8:48 AM PDT |

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power crews work to clean up the aftermath Sunday morning of an explosion and fire at a Northridge utility station. Photo by Gene Blevins

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said Sunday crews worked through the night to restore electricity to some 94,000 San Fernando Valley homes and businesses that remained powerless following an explosion and billowing fire at a Northridge utility station Saturday night.
In a 5:30 a.m. news release, DWP said many remained without electricity. But by 8:46 a.m., the utility tweeted that the power was back on after around-the-clock efforts.
“All the customers are restored; we feel great about it,” DWP spokesman Michael Ventre said by phone Sunday. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience for people who were out of power, but our guys worked extremely hard all night in difficult conditions to restore power as safely and as quickly as possible.”

Fire and DWP officials attributed the cause of the fire at DWP’s transmission site, known as Receiving Station J, to an accidental “mechanical malfunction,” but no further details were offered Sunday.
The station at Wilbur Avenue and Parthenia Street turns high voltage power into lower voltage power to distribute to customers.
“While efforts to make permanent repairs are the primary focus of all involved, a full investigation into the cause of the fire that occurred Saturday evening will also be conducted and reported publicly,” DWP said Sunday in a statement.

• Related Story: DWP crews work Sunday to restore power to 94,000 in Valley as another hot day looms
The event plunged much of the San Fernando Valley into darkness Saturday night, affecting street lights and traffic signals, causing businesses to close early and prompting residents to find ways to try to deal with the unusually oppressive heat.
With the power restored Sunday, fans were again blowing inside a workshop across the street from the DWP facility. Ernesto Córtez, 44, works there painting cabinets. He said he spent Saturday night inside the workshop where he often sleeps, but without power the temperature soared.
http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20170709/power-restored-to-thousands-in-san-fernando-valley-after-dwp-facility-explosion

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10Jul/17Off

Trump administration may let California keep emissions standards

By Carolyn Lochhead
July 9, 2017 Updated: July 9, 2017 9:17pm

Photo: Noah Berger, Special To The Chronicle

California’s auto emissions rules set the standard for automakers. The Trump administration appears likely to back off on challenging them.

The Trump administration may be quietly conceding defeat to California on car tailpipe emissions, the biggest battleground in the state’s showdown with President Trump over climate change.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt backed away last month from his threats to challenge California’s unique legal authority, known as a waiver, to set aggressive limits on vehicle emissions, including greenhouse gases.

Although Pruitt left the door open to a future challenge, experts said he is running out of time to stop California from dictating national pollution standards on cars, the nation’s primary source of greenhouse gas emissions.
“The auto manufacturers aren’t going to make two different kinds of cars, California and non-California, so by default they’re really required to make cars to the California standards,” said Michael Steel, a lawyer in the San Francisco office of the Morrison Foerster firm who advises companies on environmental compliance.
Because of the long lead time needed to design cars, Steel said, “It’s kind of too late” for the administration to block California’s rules. “There’s a timing issue in terms of whether you can effectively turn the clock back any later than now.”
California is the nation’s largest car market, and a dozen other states, comprising more than 40 percent of the U.S. population, have adopted California’s emissions standards.
Last week’s decisions by Chinese-owned Volvo to put electric engines in all its new cars, and by France to phase out gasoline and diesel cars by 2040, only strengthened California’s hand.
“I don’t want to attribute any one automaker’s statements to our regs,” said Joshua Cunningham, head of the California Air Resources Board’s clean cars branch, which develops the state’s car pollution standards. “But given the broad momentum of California’s regulations and what’s happening in Europe and in China, I think the industry sees some pretty consistent signals from a lot of governments that long-term emissions requirements are going to continue to get more strict.”
http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Trump-administration-may-let-California-keep-11276368.php

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30Jun/17Off

The Case for Utilities to Bundle Their Energy Businesses—Before They’re Cannibalized 

Experts at Grid Edge World Forum 2017 explain why utilities are buying up distributed energy companies and “anything that gets them closer to customers.”
by Jeff St. John
June 29, 2017
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The utility industry has already been undergoing significant change over the past 25 years, with the rise of independent grid operators, competitive energy markets and the split of vertically-integrated business models.
But the rise of distributed energy is creating more turmoil for the utility industry than even these epochal changes. And because these changes are being driven by fundamental advances in technology, they’re happening at a pace and scale that’s increasingly outside the utility’s control. 
These underlying trends -- or “megatrends," if you will -- have created a world in which utilities are increasingly moving into unfamiliar markets and business models, according to experts at Greentech Media’s Grid Edge World Forum 2017 conference in San Jose.
“There are two no-regret decisions for utilities -- renewable energy and anything that gets them closer to customers,” said Andrew Bennett, senior vice president and “Internet of Things Evangelist” for Schneider Electric North America, during a Wednesday panel session. “Look at all the acquisitions that are taking place on the commercial side of utilities, both European and in the U.S. over the last year.” 
Large-scale renewables have long been a part of many utilities’ portfolios, but this trend has been accelerating over the past few years. Notable examples include Duke Energy Renewables, the utility giant’s new business created by the acquisition of California solar installer REC Solar and energy management company Phoenix Energy Technologies. Other utility moves into commercial solar include NextEra's acquisition of Smart Energy Capital and Edison International's purchase of SoCore.
Utilities are also getting closer to customers. Some of the biggest U.S. examples include Southern Company’s $431 million purchase of PowerSecure and its 1.5-gigawatt fleet of backup power systems, and Edison International’s creation of its energy services business through the acquisition of a roster of energy service providers and renewable power developers.
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European utilities have been following suit. France’s EDF formed its distributed electricity and storage business unit earlier this year, building on its 2016 acquisition of groSolar. French utility Engie bought U.S. energy services provider Ecova and OpTerra Energy Services, as well as behind-the-meter battery startup Green Charge Networks. And Italian utility Enel’s U.S. subsidiary has joined the fray with its purchase of behind-the-meter energy storage project developer Demand Energy, and most recently, demand response market leader EnerNOC.
All of these acquisitions share several common characteristics, Bennett said. First, they’re bringing utilities opportunities in territories outside their core regulated services territories. After all, “you’re not going to self-cannibalize your steady income,” he said. 
Second, they’re aimed at capturing the growing share of large commercial and industrial customers that are looking for more control of their energy usage. “They’re going to take those high-end customers, because the customers want it.” 
These two trends are mutually reinforcing, he noted. The defection of C&I customers from traditional utility relationships is already happening, “and at a scale that’s pretty large,” said Bennett, pointing to high-profile examples like MGM’s Nevada casinos paying $87 million to drop service from utility NV Energy and take up with retail power provider Tenaska. 
It doesn’t take too many of these losses to have a significant impact on a utility, he noted. “You don’t need to lose 10 percent of your customers. You just have to lose a few percentage points of your top customers that are subsidizing major portions of your grid costs.” 
Regulatory efforts are underway to enable distributed energy to play a role in utility operations, as with California’s DRP proceeding and New York’s REV initiative, as well as to play a role in energy markets run by transmission system operators such as California ISO or PJM.
But “regulator-driven change hasn’t been particularly successful” in this industry, noted Michael Carlson, president of Siemens Digital Grid, noted, citing the experience of California’s abortive deregulation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 
Regulatory changes can also take too long to keep pace with changes being wrought by technology, noted Todd Glass, a partner with law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
Still, despite the rise of contenders like Tesla and SolarCity, the utilities’ deep pockets and central role as energy provider for the majority of the country could put them in position to offer the complete package of products and services that many customers are looking for, said Glass. 
“I don’t know who the ultimate competitors or providers of services will be in the future,” he said. “You’re going to have larger companies offering bundled services.”
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-case-for-utilities-to-bundle-their-energy-business-before-theyre-can

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30Jun/17Off

Jerry Brown went to China to fight climate change. But can he do it in his own backyard?

JUNE 30, 2017 12:01 AM

BY CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO, ALEXEI KOSEFF AND TARYN LUNA
ccadelago@sacbee.com

In a room once occupied by Republican Gov. Earl Warren, Jerry Brown toasted legislators from across the aisle at a recent climate luncheon in the stately Governor’s Mansion.
Republican lawmakers, the Democratic governor said emphatically, are an essential component of the coalition he needs to pass a bullet-proof extension of California’s cap and trade system, a complex, market-based program viewed as the linchpin of his climate change fight.
“I am very confident that the key to that objective are Republicans,” Brown told reporters.

Brown has made climate change the focus of his return to the governorship. He’s hammered Donald Trump for his withdrawal from the Paris accords and cast GOP climate skeptics as “troglodytes.” He’s just returned from China, where he held up the state’s environmental policies as a model for the world.
Now he wants to convince two-thirds of the Legislature to keep a version of the program going beyond 2020. He believes he needs Republicans because he can’t count on all the votes from Democrats, including an influential bloc of business-friendly lawmakers. He has argued in the past that businesses should prefer to keep the system intact rather than face more stringent controls.

Brown’s negotiating moves at the Capitol in recent weeks underscore the lengths he is willing to go to maintain his state’s status as a global climate leader. Arriving at a compromise, however, has proven difficult.
Cautious lawmakers say privately they are not especially keen on sticking out their necks for a program many concede they don’t fully understand and that critics could cast as raising gas prices again.
Environmentalists fret that an eventual deal will be too friendly to the oil industry and impede the state’s ability to meet its aggressive greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Republicans say they want to be part of the solution, as long as costs for consumers and industry are kept down.
While early drafts of bill language circulate, the Brown administration stresses it’s continuing to work with everyone: legislators, environmental organizations, agriculture, business interests, groups worried about low-income communities that historically have struggled with pollution.
“We have to put the coalition together,” Nancy McFadden, Brown’s executive secretary, said in an interview Thursday. “Are we going to get all Republicans? Absolutely not. Do we want more than one or two? Yes. Are we going to get all moderate Democrats, whoever they are? No, probably not. And are we going to get all progressives? No. But we are aiming to get 54 (votes), or more.”
http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article158975044.html

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30Jun/17Off

As Trump moves to grow oil and gas, House considers curbing environmental suits

By James Osborne Updated 7:42 am, Friday, June 30, 2017

WASHINGTON – When it comes to expanding U.S. oil and gas production, President Donald Trump has few greater hurdles than litigation from environmental groups that can tie up companies and federal agencies for years.
Now Republicans in Congress are examining ways by which to reduce the delays such litigation can bring to drilling and mining projects on federal lands.
"In reality a legal subindustry has thrived from endless environmental litigation," Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louis., said at a hearing in the House Committee on Natural Resources this week. "Our legal system is an important avenue for citizens seeking redress of wrongs perpetuated by the federal government... however special interests repeatedly exploit our legal system to further their own agendas."

So far House Republicans have not introduced any legislation or made specific recommendations on how the Department of Interior might go about speeding up the legal process. But members of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations heard testimony this week from an attorney that has frequently represented the oil and gas industry and Caroline Lobdell, head of the Western Resources Legal Center, which trains law students for careers representing mining, timber, oil and gas and ranching interests.
Lobdell recommended a series of administrative changes at the Department of Interior, including moves to reduce environmental groups ability to recover attorneys' fees and reducing the practice of putting strict requirements on companies operating on federal lands.
http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/As-Trump-moves-to-expand-oil-and-gas-House-11256123.php

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30Jun/17Off

Sacramento is no L.A. That’s why Volkswagen is bringing electric car program here

JUNE 29, 2017 3:00 PM

BY DALE KASLER AND RYAN LILLIS
dkasler@sacbee.com

Sacramento motorists probably know this already: For all its sprawl and lengthy commutes, the city is far more manageable then Los Angeles.
Which is why Sacramento, and not Los Angeles, is about to be showered with a fleet of electric cars supplied by Volkswagen.
The carmaker announced Thursday it has chosen Sacramento as its first “Green City,” the place where it plans to spend $44 million building an electric car-sharing service, a slew of vehicle-charging stations and other benefits.
The program is part of the $14.7 billion settlement Volkswagen made with state and federal officials last fall after admitting it rigged thousands of diesel cars with software designed to get around air pollution regulations. Of the $14.7 billion, Volkswagen pledged to spend $800 million over ten years promoting electric car usage in California.
Mark McNabb, president of Volkswagen’s Electrify America subsidiary, said a car-sharing program is a way of making electric cars available to moderate- and low-income motorists who can’t afford the $30,000 price tag.

Volkswagen in March made Sacramento its tentative choice for the Green City designation. Then community leaders from Los Angeles made a concerted effort to replace Sacramento, arguing that L.A.’s global profile would create a more visible platform for promoting the virtues of zero emission vehicles.
Company officials, however, decided to stick with Sacramento. A key reason: The city is much more compact than Los Angeles, which makes it more suitable for a fleet of cars that can’t travel more than 100 to 200 miles without having to be recharged.
“L.A. is a monster. Commuting patterns are very different,” McNabb said. “Sacramento has ideal commuting patterns.”

He added that Volkswagen could learn from its experience in Sacramento and apply those lessons to a larger city. Volkswagen plans to designate a second Green City in a few years and will “continue to have discussions with L.A,” he said.
http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article158920754.html

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30Jun/17Off

Where to plug in? Lack of charging options is a big barrier to electric car adoption in California

Emily Guerin June 29, 04:59 PM
Angie Vorhies plugs in the charging cord to her Nissan Leaf electric vehicle at a San Diego mall in November 2013. LENNY IGNELZI/AP

http://www.scpr.org/news/2017/06/29/73379/where-to-plug-in-lack-of-charging-options-is-a-big/

California has just 300,000 electric vehicles – far short of Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of 1.5 million by 2025. A new report says one of the biggest barriers to getting more electric cars on the road is a lack of places to plug in.
In the past, the price of electric cars was an impediment to their adoption. But cost is no longer as daunting as electric car batteries have gotten cheaper, subsidies have increased, and dealerships have begun offering affordable leases. 
Now, the question of where to charge is a bigger issue, especially for the 40 percent of Californians who live in multi-unit apartment buildings, said Ethan Elkind, lead author of the UCLA and Berkeley Law school study. Many of them don't have a dedicated parking spot, which makes it difficult to charge an electric car at home.
"It's really telling that 80 percent of electric vehicle drivers live in a single family home," Elkind said.
There are two big problems with increasing access to charging for apartment-dwellers. The first is convincing landlords or employers to install chargers. 
The average installation cost for a charger is $2,200, according to the Idaho National Laboratory. In California, a 2014 law requires landlords to allow their tenants to install electric chargers -- but it doesn't apply to rent-controlled buildings and those with fewer than five parking spots.
Another issue is the cost of electricity. Public chargers, like those at malls or near highways, and those at workplaces are subject to commercial electricity rates, which are higher than residential rates. At times, it can cost so much to charge an electric car that it makes more sense to drive a gasoline-powered vehicle.
The report offers an array of possible solutions, including:
Incentives to bring down the costs of installing chargers at workplaces
Changing commercial electricity rates to make public charging more cost-effective
Re-jiggering municipal parking rules to allow for curbside charging
Building public charging "plazas" where apartment-dwellers could leave their cars parked overnight.
The challenge is daunting. As the report notes, "to meet the 1.5 million electric vehicle target by 2025, the state will need to see an exponential growth in electric vehicle sales."

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30Jun/17Off

Demand for Chevy’s electric cars is higher in Colorado than nation as new Bolt EV debuts

New Bolt EV can drive 230 miles on a single charge


Chevrolet The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is the automaker’s first long-range electric vehicle. The Bolt EV, which hit Colorado dealers in May 2017, can drive 230 miles on a single charge.
By TAMARA CHUANG | tchuang@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: June 27, 2017 at 6:26 pm | UPDATED: June 28, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Colorado’s thirst for electric vehicles was key for Chevrolet picking the state to sell its new Bolt EV before other states nationwide. The Bolt is the automaker’s latest plug-in car that goes 230 miles on a single charge.
More than 6,000 Bolt EV’s have sold since debuting in California and Oregon in December and last month in Colorado, according to Fred Ligouri, the company’s manager of electric vehicle communication. The new car will be available to dealers in the remaining 30 states in August.
Colorado is particularly fond of Chevy’s electric fleet, which includes the Chevrolet Volt, the hybrid electric car that debuted in 2011 and can drive 53 miles on one charge. Sales of the Volt nationwide increased 58 percent between 2015 to 2016. In the same period in Colorado, Volt sales grew 74 percent.
“Colorado has been (interested) for a long time. It certainly seems like the mindset is right,” Ligouri said. ” There’s a great amount of charging infrastructure, especially in the eastern half of the state, which makes it very viable, especially with the added range of the EV Bolt.”

Demand for Chevy’s electric cars is higher in Colorado than nation as new Bolt EV debuts

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30Jun/17Off

How climate change could threaten the water supply for millions of Californians

JUNE 30, 2017 4:00 AM

BY DALE KASLER AND RYAN SABALOW
dkasler@sacbee.com

When it comes to California and climate change, the predictions are staggering: coastal airports besieged by floodwaters, entire beaches disappearing as sea levels rise.
Another disturbing scenario is brewing inland, in the sleepy backwaters of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It’s a threat to the Delta’s ecosystem that could swallow up a significant portion of California’s water supply.
Scientists from government and academia say rising sea levels caused by climate change will bring more salt water into the Delta, the hub of California’s water-delivery network. As a result, millions of gallons of fresh water will have to be flushed through the Delta, and out into the ocean, to keep salinity from inundating the massive pumping stations near Tracy. That will leave less water available for San Joaquin Valley farmers and the 19 million Southern Californians and Bay Area residents who depend on Delta water – eventually as much as 475,000 acre-feet of water each year, enough to fill Folsom Lake halfway, according to one study by the Public Policy Institute of California.
“With rising sea levels, with climate change, that creates additional pressure coming in from the ocean,” said Michael Anderson, the state’s climatologist, in a recent interview. “Sea level rise is going to become more of an influence.”
It figures to become a pocketbook issue for practically any Californian who drinks water that runs through the Delta. A 2010 study by scientists from UC Davis said rising seas, coupled with the inundation of some islands in the western Delta, will translate into higher costs for purifying water for human use. The additional cost could go as high as $1 billion a year, “making the Delta less desirable as a conventional water source,” the study said.
http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article158679214.html

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30Jun/17Off

Environmentalists, fishing groups file lawsuits to block Delta tunnels plan

By PAUL ROGERS | progers@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: June 29, 2017 at 2:46 pm | UPDATED: June 30, 2017 at 4:50 am

Kicking off what are expected to be years of legal battles, a coalition of environmental and fishing groups on Thursday filed the first major lawsuits over California Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan to build two massive, 35-mile-long tunnels under the Delta to make it easier to move water from Northern California to the south.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Bay Institute and Golden Gate Salmon Association filed two lawsuits in U.S District Court in San Francisco.
They challenged approvals given earlier this week by the Trump administration, which said the project won’t cause significant harm to salmon, smelt and other fish and wildlife.
“This version of the tunnels will wipe out California’s salmon fishery and the families and communities that rely on salmon,” said John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, based in Petaluma. “The problem is the state basically allowed the water users to design the tunnels and they’re so huge that the federal fish and wildlife agencies are basically throwing up their hands. It’s like they let the fox design the hen house.”
Officials with the state Department of Water Resources, which is overseeing the project, did not comment on the suit. Nor did the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“We don’t comment on active litigation,” said Shane Hunt, a spokesman for the service.

In this Feb. 23, 2016, file photo, a sign opposing a proposed tunnel plan to ship water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California is displayed near Freeport, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Brown is proposing to build two tunnels, each 40 feet in diameter, under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The idea is to divert water from the Sacramento River north of Sacramento near the town of Freeport, reducing reliance on the massive state and federal pumps at Tracy — which draw water south to cities and farms and are sometimes shut down to protect endangered salmon, smelt and other fish.
The environmentally sensitive Delta, an area of marshes, sloughs and islands between the Bay Area and Sacramento that is roughly the size of Yosemite National Park, is a linchpin of California’s water system. The Delta provides drinking water to 25 million people from Contra Costa County to Los Angeles and San Diego, and irrigation water to 3 million acres of farmland in the San Joaquin Valley and other areas.

Environmentalists, Delta farmers and some Northern California lawmakers call the tunnels project a water grab by Los Angeles and corporate farmers in the Central Valley that would harm the water quality of the San Francisco Bay and the Delta, and drive salmon, smelt and other fish to extinction.

Brown is counting on major water agencies in the state, including the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Westlands Water District in Fresno and the Kern County Water Agency, to pay for the tunnels’ $15 billion construction costs through raising water rates and property taxes.
None of the agencies has yet committed to the project, but most are expected to vote over the next few months.
http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/29/environmentalists-fishing-groups-file-lawsuit-to-block-delta-tunnels-plan/

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27Jun/17Off

Rick Perry promises new age of American ‘energy dominance’

By James Osborne Updated 8:01 pm, Monday, June 26, 2017



Photo: Erik Schelzig, STF

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FILE - In this May 22, 2017 file photo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry speaks at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, File)


WASHINGTON – Energy Secretary Rick Perry described a new U.S. energy age Monday, one in which the nation increases domestic energy production across the board, including fossil fuels, not only to reduce reliance on foreign oil, but also to become energy supplier to the world.
"For years, Washington stood in the way of our energy dominance, and that changes now," Perry said during a White House briefing Monday. "An energy-dominant America means a self-reliant, a secure nation, free from geopolitical turmoil of other nations who seek to use energy as an economic weapon."

In what were his most forceful statements since taking over the Energy Department earlier this year, Perry echoed President Trump's "America First" message in describing a national energy policy that would not allow environmental interests to outweigh economic ones while using the nation's "abundant domestic energy resources for good, both here at home and abroad."

That is sure to play well in the oil fields of Texas and other parts of the United States where crackdowns on greenhouse gas emissions have raised drilling costs and drawn sharp rebuke from oil industry lobbyists. It is just as sure to be welcomed along the Gulf Coast, where energy companies are spending billions to build pipelines, storage terminals and export facilities to ship West Texas crude and natural gas to foreign markets.
The commitment to fossil fuels stands in sharp contrast to the policies of the Obama administration and political leaders across most of the developed world, who advocate for decreasing the world's reliance on fossil fuels in favor of cleaner forms of energy to slow the effects of climate change.

Perry spoke to the administration's "commitment to clean energy," urging the development of technology that captures carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions and the need to secure the country's ailing nuclear power industry. But he did so as part of an "all of the above strategy," in which fossil fuels, including coal, nuclear energy and renewable sources like wind and solar all compete in a free market to reduce U.S. energy costs.
Growing domestic fossil fuels even as efforts to curtail their use gain momentum around the world is likely to pose a serious challenge for Trump and his administration. Trump has made reviving coal a particular focus, but the outlook for that industry is particularly daunting, considering the competition from cheaper and cleaner natural gas, said Bud Weinstein, associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University.
"I don't know how realistic [Trump] is," he said. "He's catering to a constituency that got him elected."
http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Rick-Perry-promises-new-age-of-American-energy-11248619.php

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27Jun/17Off

Canadian oil sands industry faces innovation or bust

With high costs of extraction and an exodus of large oil companies, the Canadian oil sands industry demands innovation to succeed. Can determined entrepreneurs find new, cheaper methods to keep up with the US shale industry? 

JUNE 20, 2017 CALGARY—In the boreal forests and on the remote prairies of Alberta, Canada, a handful of firms are running pilot projects they hope will end a two-decade drought in innovation and stem the exodus of top global energy firms from Canada's oil sands.
They are searching for a breakthrough that will cut the cost of pumping the tar-like oil from the country's vast underground bitumen reservoirs and better compete with the booming shale industry in the United States.
If they fail, a bigger chunk of the world's third-largest oil reserves will stay in the ground. Canada's oil sands sector has become one of the biggest victims of the global oil price crash that began in 2014 when top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia flooded the market with cheap crude to drive out high cost competitors.

This year alone, oil majors have sold over $22.5 billion of assets in Canada's energy industry, and been lured south to invest in the higher returns of US shale.
Joseph Kuhach is among the entrepreneurs in Canada hoping they can turn the tide. He runs a small Calgary-based firm, Nsolv, that is testing the use of solvents to liquefy the bitumen buried in the sands and make it flow as oil.
Mr. Kuhach says using solvents can cut 20 to 40 percent from the cost of producing the oil. The technique currently used is to use steam to heat the sands underground to extract the oil.
It's a hard sell, he said, to Canadian producers struggling with low oil prices. They are reluctant to invest in a multi-million dollar technology that is unproven on a commercial scale, he said.
"The comment I hear so often when I am talking to companies is, 'We want to be the very first in line to be second'," said Kuhach. "It's easier to go after incremental improvements that they can back away from with no great cost and no great risk."
https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2017/0620/Canadian-oil-sands-industry-faces-innovation-or-bust

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