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MONDAY, OCT 20, 2014 04:00 AM PDT
It may be fun to bash today's youth -- but here's where the awful job economy and ailing planet actually came from
Readers of this post have no doubt seen articles admonishing millennials for their perceived apocalyptic effect on the workforce, society, family and everywhere in between. The seemingly endless list of complaints about millennials begins with lazy and pampered, and ends with “selfies.” The accusations, guilt and fear-mongering are unfounded and – even worse – are mostly blame-shifting. Frankly, I am tired of it. What makes the millennial-bashing even more unbearable is the generation that is slinging the mud: the baby boomers.
Baby boomers came of age in an era of unprecedented prosperity. They were raised by parents who had survived poverty, war and the true sacrifice of a generation burdened with great moral struggles. As a whole, they experienced economic and physical security. Baby boomers received, by today’s standards, inexpensive and widely available education, preparing them for a thriving and open job market. Success at the beginning created a strong foundation for financial and personal success on a level the world had never known.
This led to America’s greatest asset: the middle class. So what did they do with all their good fortune? From the time the baby boomers took over, the United States has experienced an economic environment plagued with unfounded asset and real-estate bubbles and collapses. The bubbles were caused by blind greed on the part of investors, and a blind eye on the part of regulators. The baby boomers forced the financial and banking system out of relative security to high-risk systems.
The perfect example of this was the 2008 collapse of the toxic housing debt market. In government, baby boomers ballooned the defense budget beyond the point of reason. They then raided government programs to pay for their mistakes. Regarding the environment, baby boomers left the United States reliant on coal (cough, cough) while eroding the advanced nuclear energy infrastructure built by their parents. We can thank baby boomer leadership for a nation that has no sound policy on foreign affairs, the environment, energy, social welfare, human rights, terrorism, technology development, education, debt, etc. The point being, baby boomer leadership has provided America with a government that is the most partisan and self-serving the union has ever seen, and remains entirely reactive to the world around it.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.salon.com/2014/10/20/baby_boomers_ruined_america_why_blaming_millennials_is_misguided_and_annoying/Share This Post
Groups are weighing in on EPA’s new plan to regulate carbon.
October 20, 2014
When the EPA released its highly anticipated draft rule to slash carbon emissions from existing power plants in June, it signaled the beginning of a contentious, multi-year process of review and implementation -- that is, if anything ever actually gets implemented.
The proposed plan sets state-by-state emissions reduction targets for the power sector with the overarching goal of achieving a 30 percent reduction in national electricity sector emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. The rule identifies four pathways to compliance: utility efficiency programs, demand-side management, and fuel switching from coal to nuclear power and gas, as well as renewable energy adoption.
Under pressure from Congress, the Obama administration announced last month it was extending the closure date of the public comment period on the Clean Power Plan from October 16 to December 1. As comments continue to roll in (there are currently more than 1.1 million), several prominent groups weighed in last week on what they thought the rule should look like.
More than 500 solar industry leaders from hundreds of businesses, including SolarCity, SunEdison, First Solar, EnergySage and others, released a letter to the White House Thursday endorsing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and highlighting the potential for solar energy to cut down on carbon pollution.
“As solar power installers, manufacturers, designers, aggregators, product suppliers, and consultants, we welcome the unveiling of the Clean Power Plan,” reads the letter, organized by the advocacy group Environment America.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Is-the-EPA-Too-Conservative-in-Its-Clean-Energy-Projections-Under-New-CarboShare This Post
BY SEAN COCKERHAM
McClatchy Washington BureauOctober 20, 2014
WASHINGTON — Pressure is growing on regulators in California and Washington, D.C., to crack down on methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is accelerating the warming of the planet.
Methane, the main component of natural gas, escapes into the atmosphere through leaks in drilling operations and pipeline delivery. Sometimes the gas is vented or intentionally burned as waste by oil companies, particularly in the Bakken fields of North Dakota.
The Environmental Protection Agency is considering new rules to target methane emissions from oil and gas, which account for a quarter of the methane emissions in the United States, according to the agency.
In California, the nation’s second-largest natural gas consumer, Gov. Jerry Brown has just signed a bill requiring the California Air Resources Board to come up with a comprehensive strategy to cut such emissions.
“Although we’ve been taking action in various ways, we actually did not make a big effort to include methane initially in our climate program,” California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols said Monday at the Center for American Progress, a Washington research center with ties to the Obama administration.
Nichols said California’s climate plan focused on carbon dioxide, which isn’t as potent a greenhouse gas as methane but remains in the atmosphere far longer.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/10/20/244058_california-looks-to-curb-methane.html?rh=1Share This Post
October 18, 2014 | Updated: October 20, 2014 10:33am
A compost experiment that began seven years ago on a Marin County ranch has uncovered a disarmingly simple and benign way to remove carbon dioxide from the air, holding the potential to turn the vast rangeland of California and the world into a weapon against climate change.
The concept grew out of a unique Bay Area alignment of a biotech fortune, a world-class research institution and progressive-minded Marin ranchers. It has captured the attention of the White House, the Brown administration, the city of San Francisco, officials in Brazil and China, and even House Republicans, who may not believe in climate change but like the idea that “carbon farming” could mean profits for ranchers.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/A-sprinkle-of-compost-helps-rangeland-lock-up-5832244.php?Share This Post
By David Robert
20 Oct 2014 1:11 PM
After I published a piece about the prospect of a federal bailout for Central Appalachian coal miners, I got an email from my friend, West Virginia native Jeff Young. He works in environmental communications now, but for years he covered coal country for PRI’s Living on Earth. I asked if I could publish it. He gave it a quick polish and it appears below. He stresses that these views are his alone.Share This Post
The federal government’s top energy analysts don’t know exactly how much oil is flowing from wells in Texas and Oklahoma today. Nor do they know how much natural gas is currently being extracted from wells in Pennsylvania and Colorado.
FuelFix reporter Jennifer A. Dlouhy looks at how the federal Energy Information Administration relies on state agencies for data about oil production, sometimes two years late. For natural gas, the EIA is collecting data from an outdated survey of producers in five states that was designed before technological advancements opened up new plays across the country.
In a story on HoustonChronicle.com, Dlouhy details the implications of the outdated information and how the EIA wants to fix the situation.
To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/10/20/government-lags-in-measuring-gush-of-u-s-crude/Share This Post
Tying data into every step of the multi-billion-dollar efficiency program process
October 20, 2014
U.S. utilities spent $4.8 billion on energy efficiency programs and initiatives in 2012, and that funding is set to double by 2025. That’s a lot of money driving utility customers to identify and eliminate waste and to invest in their own energy-savvy systems.
But is that money being spent efficiently? Retroficiency, the Boston-based startup that’s delivering “virtual” efficiency audits to buildings and property portfolios around the country, says its new Building Efficiency Intelligence (BEI) platform can help answer that question -- and deliver a positive result.
Retroficiency officially launched its BEI platform this week as a commercially available, cloud-based software product. But according to its Monday announcement, the company’s already been using the platform for some time with some of its largest customers, which include utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric, Consolidated Edison and National Grid, and program administrators like CLEAResult and Nexant.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/retroficiency-builds-the-end-to-end-efficiency-analytics-platformShare This Post
by Chris Clarke
October 20, 2014 6:17 PM
The agency that operates California's power grid is reporting that this past summer saw no major outages in the state despite frequent heat waves that boosted power consumption during peak periods.
The hot summer was the third in which the state has been deprived of power from the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant, leaving Southern California with about 2,200 fewer megawatts of power generating capacity. According to the California Independent System Operators (CaISO), which operates the power grid in most of California and a portion of southern Nevada, California's record drought cut output from the state's hydroelectric plants by another 1,628 megawatts.
But despite those shortfalls and wildfires that threatened transmission lines near San Diego, California stayed powered up this summer -- and much of the credit goes to the state's increased renewable energy capacity, which set output records this summer.
"No matter the conditions, CaISO's main objective is to keep the power flowing to the nearly 30 million consumers we serve," said CaISO Vice President Eric Schmitt. "We had challenging drought conditions that limited hydro electricity production, hotter than normal temperatures and wildfires that threatened high-voltage power lines. Yet, grid operators working round the clock overcame those challenges to maintain reliability."
A series of wildfires in San Diego County in mid-May threatened local transmission lines, but didn't end up cutting off power. Fires elsewhere in the state posed no threat to power lines.
And California's more than 15,000 megawatts of renewable energy plants connected to the grid more than made up for the deficit from San Onofre and drought-stricken large hydroelectric plants. California's 5,900 megawatts' worth of wind turbines hit a record output of 4,768 megawatts on April 12, while the state's 5,500 or so megawatts of grid-tied solar fed a record 4,903 megawatts of solar power into the grid on September 29. (That's not counting power from the state's 3,000 megawatts or so of rooftop solar not tied directly to CaISO's grid.)Share This Post
We’re due to make a decisive move toward increasingly sophisticated electricity pricing, Bronski writes, including time-of-use pricing that would financially incent customers like me to shift my energy management in ways that can benefit both me and the grid.
By Peter Bronski, RMI Outlet OCTOBER 20, 2014
Like many at RMI, I care about climate change and reducing the carbon intensity of the electric grid. I also care about my monthly electricity bill, and I’m keenly interested in keeping it as low as reasonably possible. If there are things I can do as a homeowner to tackle both topics, I’m all for it. And so, for example, I swapped out my home’s incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs; they’ve reduced my monthly consumption and bill in one fell swoop.
But until earlier this year, there was a big elephant in the room—or, more accurately, mounted to the wall: our thermostat. It was old, with a broken screen so that we couldn’t read what setting it was on. My wife and I pressed the temperature up and down buttons until we got the house to what we thought was a comfortable temperature—without knowing exactly what the temperature was—and then simply pressed the “hold” button to keep our house at that temperature, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s a horribly inefficient (and expensive) way to condition a house, yet we muddled along that way for far too long.
WHEN AC AND PEAK GRID DEMAND COLLIDE
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2014/1020/Not-all-power-is-created-equally.-So-why-does-it-all-cost-the-sameShare This Post
There’s some value to storage—but it’s not what proponents typically claim.
October 17, 2014
Energy storage has become this year’s cause célèbre.
The main selling point for storage, forged into a meme by story after story in the press, is that storage is needed to compensate for the variable output of wind and solar. “Today, the power grid isn’t able to easily handle the rapid fluctuations in the production of wind and solar power,” is just a random sample quote.
But this claim is not true now, and will not be true for quite some time. The electricity grid is by far the most cost-effective and reliable way to deal with the variability of wind and solar, just like it deals with the variability of demand.
Storage may have a business case, but backing up wind and solar is not it for now. And a number of recent studies are raising uncomfortable questions.
To understand why, we need to start with a few fundamental facts about the grid.Share This Post
Heather Clancy Contributor
I write about technology for conservation, efficiency and reuse.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own
10/20/2014 @ 12:03PM
Right now, the main driver is installations for industrial and commercial buildings, where fuel cells are gaining credibility as a power back-up alternative during outages or to complement demand response strategies (in which business reduce their load on the electric grid for a break in pricing).
Two big geographies for that back-up market are North America and emerging economies in Southeast Asia.
In late July, for example, Bloom Energy signed a deal with Exelon, which will provide equity financing for 21 megawatts of capacity at 75 commercial facilities in California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The agreement supports Bloom’s Electrons “power as a service” program. The buyers of these projects include new customers, plus repeat clients like AT&T . (Bloom also cites Apple , eBay, Google and Walmart as big reference accounts.)
To read the entire article go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/heatherclancy/2014/10/20/energy-storage-fuels-pick-up-in-fuel-cell-sales/?ss=energyShare This Post
Small, scrappy loan-platform startups versus the big solar players
October 20, 2014
Using a loan to finance a residential solar system is not a new idea -- but new entrants, new investors and new financial models are changing the way people purchase and invest in solar. More than $200 million has flowed into solar loans in the last few weeks.
Sungage just landed a $100 million solar loan fund from a large credit union, and Mosaic just announced that PartnerRe, a global reinsurer which is very attentive to risk, will provide up to $100 million to back Mosaic’s residential solar loan program.
Last month Dividend Solar raised a solar loan fund in the "eight figures" from "a group of well-known and very sophisticated Wall Street investors," according to the firm's CEO. SolarCity announced its PPA-lookalike loan product earlier this month.
Direct ownership of solar via loans is gaining traction because PV systems continue to get cheaper while financing options continue to improve.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/200-Million-More-Flows-to-Residential-Solar-Loans-Through-Sungage-and-MosaShare This Post
October 20, 2014
After two controversial attempts to change net metering policy in San Antonio, CPS Energy, the utility serving the city, thinks it has found a new incentive model for solar that local installers can support.
Rather than trying to adjust net metering by adding fees or a new way to calculate solar's value, CPS wants to overhaul solar support structures completely. And it’s looking to the wholesale market for inspiration.
Under a pilot plan proposed earlier this month, CPS would create a competitive bidding process for residential and small commercial power-purchase agreements (PPAs). The systems would be hosted on customer rooftops but connected to the grid on the utility side of the meter. CPS says the plan will drive down pricing, help it account for fixed grid costs and also provide an opportunity to deploy smart inverters for grid support.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Will-the-Solar-Industry-Get-Behind-CPS-Energys-Alternative-to-Net-MeteringShare This Post
BY BETTINA BOXALL
October 21, 2014, 1:00 a.m.
The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5.
"Congress Created Dust Bowl." "Stop the Politicians' Water Crisis." "No Water No Jobs."
They dot the Westlands Water District like angry salutations, marking the territory of California's most formidable water warrior. Their message is clear: Politicians and environmental laws are more to blame for Westlands' dusty brown fields than the drought that has parched California for the last three years.
In truth, neither is to blame for Westlands' woes so much as the simple fact that the nation's largest irrigation district is in the wrong place.
In a state where three-quarters of the water use is by agriculture, powerful farm districts such as Westlands play an outsized role in the rough-and-tumble world of water politics.
To read the entire article go to: http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-81734748/Share This Post
BY JEREMY B. WHITEJWHITE@SACBEE.COM
10/20/2014 10:54 AM 10/20/2014 1:27 PMJOSE LUIS VILLEGAS/JVILLEGAS@SACBEE.COM
Battles over water rights, wet years flowing into dry ones, Jerry Brown gubernatorial tenures – in California, some storylines recur.
Brown highlighted his long experience with the state’s most contentious issue as he addressed a water policy conference at Stanford University on Monday morning. Voters will soon decide whether to authorize $7.5 billion in new borrowing for water projects via a water bond on the November ballot.
Half a century ago, Brown noted, voters narrowly passed another Proposition 1: a 1960 measure aiding the California State Water Project, a massive plumbing system now spanning the state. Brown has been stumping for the new water bond, calling it necessary to update the state’s aging water infrastructure.
“I am confident Proposition 1 will pass again,” Brown said. “Water is not only complicated,” he added. “It is long debated.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article3105318.htmlShare This Post