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By CORAL DAVENPORTMAY 11, 2015
Demonstrators in Seattle last month marched in protest of an oil rig leased by Shell that is bound for the Arctic Ocean.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Monday gave conditional approval to allow Shell to start drilling for oil off the Alaskan coast this summer, a major victory for the petroleum industry and a devastating blow to environmentalists.
The decision adds a complex new chapter to the legacy of President Obama, who has pursued the most ambitious environmental agenda of any president but has sought to balance those moves by opening up untouched federal waters to new oil and gas drilling.Share This Post
Low oil prices are especially challenging for producers in North Dakota, where the cost of production is high. Pipeline spills and an oil train derailment there last week add another dimension to the difficult oil drilling picture in the state.
By Andy Tully, Oilprice.com MAY 11, 2015
This hasn’t been a good week for the oil industry in North Dakota.
First, a train carrying crude for Hess Corp. derailed and burned in central North Dakota on May 6, forcing the evacuation of 40 people from the nearby town of Heimdal. It was at least the third oil-car accident in North America so far this year.
Now a pipeline spill of 63,000 gallons of highly concentrated saltwater, a byproduct of oil production, has snaked its way along a tributary to taint the waters of Smishek Lake in northwestern North Dakota. But the accident isn’t expected to pollute local drinking water. (Related: Is Solar Energy Ready To Compete With Oil And Other Fossil Fuels?)
The area is near the town of Powers Lake, N.D., about 75 miles northeast of Williston, a center of the state’s recent boom in oil recovery from underground shale formations. The brine from oil production is far saltier than seawater and can kill vegetation with which it comes into contact.Share This Post
WASHINGTON 5/11/2015 @ 2:55PM 733 views
Forbes Staff , Contributor
GUEST POST WRITTEN BY
William S. Scherman, Charles H. Haake and Jason J. Fleischer
Scherman is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Haake is of counsel at the firm and Fleischer is a senior associate.
Imagine that a federal agency seeks to fundamentally change the way electricity is provided to every household, school and factory in the United States. In fact, the agency’s proposal is so sweeping and dramatic that across the nation independent experts have raised concerns about it. According to the Nation’s reliability expert, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the agency’s proposal “may represent a significant reliability challenge” to the electric grid. The independent entity that runs New York’s power grid—the NYISO—similarly warned that the proposal “presents potentially serious reliability implications for New York.” And a Commissioner at the federal agency actually charged with regulating our nation’s power grid testified to Congress that the proposal “has the potential to completely undermine the market principles that underpin dispatch” of our Nation’s power systems, and that it may have “profound reliability implications.” All that might get your attention, right?Share This Post
Add another storage partnership to the list.
May 12, 2015
Add SunPower and Stem to the list.
For the last five months, SunPower has been reselling Stem's behind-the-meter battery systems to commercial customers across the U.S. The companies are not revealing the number of systems they've installed through the partnership, but SunPower's Ivo Steklac said he expects storage to help increase commercial-sector business "rather dramatically" based on early activity.
"It's a market pull. Our customers are asking for these solutions," said Steklac, SunPower's GM of residential and commercial energy solutions.
SunPower's reseller agreement with Stem was signed just weeks after it entered into a similar partnership with Sunverge, which gave SunPower access to a battery and software solution for residential applications in the U.S. and Australia.
SunPower has been talking about integrating storage with solar for the last couple of years, but it has yet to scale beyond pilots. Steklac said the move into commercial batteries was a sign of SunPower's confidence in the long-term potential for storage services.
"We're going to be touching a much larger number of customers by offering storage," said Steklac. For now, SunPower is going after customers in markets like California and New York, where high demand charges for commercial and industrial customers make batteries much more competitive.
Adding storage to its suite of services allows SunPower to reach customers who may not have suitable roof space or a lease arrangement that will allow them to install solar. It also gives existing solar customers more options for managing their energy use.Share This Post
Microgrids are not so micro anymore.
May 11, 2015
When a traditional infrastructure asset investor like Stonepeak Partners is ready to bankroll microgrids with a $250 million finance facility, it's a sign of the mainstreaming of grid modernization. Energizing Co. will be the sole project developer for the $250 million Stonepeak fund focused on microgrids and grid modernization.
But these microgrids are not so micro.
Once the domain of military bases and remote communities, nowadays microgrids conjure up relatively small projects rooted in the public sector -- cities, communities, and campuses maintaining critical services during outages or natural disasters. (GTM Research has defined a microgrid as an independently operable part of the distribution network, including distributed energy sources, loads and network assets, that is controlled within clearly defined geographical boundaries and can operate in grid-connected or islanded mode.)
Really big microgridsShare This Post
Neil Winton Contributor
I cover Europe’s car manufacturers, their business, tech, products
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
AUTOS 5/11/2015 @ 12:10PM 7,825 views
Tesla Motors TSLA +2.07% investors are confident about the prospects for its venture into the home and business battery market, but more cautious observers point to the company’s probable need to raise new money, and others wonder if this might all be a bit too ambitious.
Investor confidence, for the time being, can be measured by Tesla’s share price performance since the April 30 announcement the company plans to sell batteries to store electricity for homes, businesses and utilities. Tesla shares have climbed steadily from around $230 to just over $240.
Morgan Stanley MS -1.49% auto analyst Adam Jonas, in a report published Monday, said if investors a couple of years ago had been told Tesla would now be burning nearly $1.5 billion of cash and ruling out profits before 2020, maybe the stock price would be well below $100. Tesla’s net loss was $154 million in the first quarter
“The missing ingredient is the continued enthusiasm around Tesla’s addressable market opportunity for products that address many of the world’s problems in the areas of both energy and transportation. (CEO) Elon (Musk) and the team may be getting by on monetizing the imagination of the investment community. But the thing some may be underestimating is: Imagination is real,” Jonas said.Share This Post
May 11, 2015 Updated: May 11, 2015 3:28pm
Five years ago, San Francisco launched an unusual way for homeowners to afford solar panels — only to put the program on hold after federal regulators objected.
Now it’s back. And this time, it’s helping deal with the drought as well.
GreenFinanceSF will help residents and business owners pay for solar arrays as well as energy-efficiency upgrades to their buildings. In an added twist, the program will now finance water-saving home renovation projects as well, such as installing systems to collect gray water from bathroom sinks and showers.
GreenFinanceSF uses a form of financing known as Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, that was born in Berkeley in 2008 and soon spread nationwide. PACE programs let property owners borrow money for home efficiency or solar projects, repaying the money as a line item on their property taxes. The up-front cash for the projects typically comes from bonds issued by the organization or government agency running the program.Share This Post
San Francisco Chronicle
May 11, 2015
Photo: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press
A private property sign hangs on the fence of a shut down injection well located next to an almond orchard owned by Palla Farms, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Bakersfield, Calif. Palla Farms filed suite blaming several oil companies for contaminating the local groundwater and killing cherry trees. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
It’s time to stop temporizing about a bureaucratic foul-up that threatens underwater water supplies across a swath of California’s oil fields. Two environmental groups are going to court, demanding Sacramento ban the practice of pumping drilling wastes into the earth where the fluids can taint drinking supplies.
In a drought-damaged state, the situation is mind boggling. Due to a mix up, federal and state authorities have allowed oil firms to inject left over drilling run-off back underground to get rid of it. When the problem was finally noticed, the state moved to shut down 23 injection wells but allowed hundreds more to operate for another two years while health studies are done.Share This Post
Decision would cut usage for senior rights holders
Recent rain helped delay curtailments
Agency expects ruling in ‘weeks, not months’
BY DALE KASLER AND PHILLIP REESE
California’s water regulators spent last week hammering cities and suburbs, implementing first-ever cutbacks in urban water use in response to the state’s prolonged drought.
Now they’re turning their attention back to agriculture.
State Water Resources Control Board officials said Monday that they expect to issue “curtailment orders” soon to the state’s most senior water rights holders, effectively shutting off the flow of river water to some of the major agricultural districts in California.
The senior holders are mostly agricultural districts that enjoy rights that are off-limits to regulators except for the most dire circumstances. It’s a measure of the severity of California’s drought, now in its fourth year, that those senior rights are about to get cut off. The last time that happened was during another punishing drought in the late 1970s.
“We’re talking weeks, not months,” before a decision is made, said water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus in a meeting with reporters and editors of The Sacramento Bee. The board first signaled more than a month ago that senior rights would be curtailed.Share This Post
MAY 11, 2015 4:42 PM ET
The drought across much of the Western U.S. is now in its fourth year. In California — where it's the most intense — farms are not under the same strict orders to conserve as cities are.
And inside the agriculture industry, farmers are quietly debating how best to respond to the drought. Given uncertainty around pending state regulations, some say there may be an incentive to not invest in water-saving technologies right now.
In the world of water conservation, there are a few no-brainer solutions. Take drip irrigation.
In the Salinas Valley — known as the Salad Bowl of the World — a big green, creaky tractor rolls over the acres of empty fields. It's not planting seeds. It's laying down a long thin rubber tube — called drip tape.
Michael Antle, farm manager with Tanimura & Antle, points to the levers that pull the tape, like a sewing machine pulls thread from a wheel, and inject it into the ground. "The weight of the soil on top of the tape holds it in," he explains.
Drip irrigation is not new tech; it's just tried and true tech. The co-founder of Antle's grandfather's farm, George Tanimura, introduced this method for lettuce decades ago. (The drip method was used as far back as 1st century B.C. China.)
Tanimura & Antle workers use tractors to install drip tape into fields that will be used to grow lettuce and other crops in California's Salinas Valley.
The tape has little slits. Turn on the faucet and water seeps out, gradually, close to the seeds. It's the farmer's version of a low-flow toilet — and a nice way to save water in windy Salinas Valley.
Scott Rossi, another manager here, says regular sprinklers are constantly missing their mark in this wind. "It's blowing pretty good, I'd say 12 miles an hour," he says. "We're pretty much slaves to the weather."
Drill Versus DripShare This Post
If supply cuts occur, Southern California would lose out
By Bradley J. Fikes8:30 P.M.MAY 11, 2015
FILE - In this April 16, 2013 file photo, the high water mark for Lake Mead is seen on Hoover Dam and its spillway near Boulder City, Nev. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File) The Associated Press
California’s drought emergency woes have worsened, with a shortage on the Colorado River next year becoming increasingly likely. Odds of a shortage rose from 33 percent to 50 percent from April 1 to May 1, Metropolitan Water District, Southern California’s largest water wholesaler, said Monday.
Also Monday, a Metropolitan committee also unsuccessfully considered a proposal to spend an extra $150 million on water conservation projects, such as paying to replace grass with low water-use landscaping. The committee unexpectedly deadlocked, with some members, including San Diego representatives, objecting to the cost. The full Metropolitan board will take up the proposal Tuesday.
Southern California get nearly all of its water from the Colorado and from Northern California. Both sources are severely strained. This year, Metropolitan is getting just 20 percent of contracted supplies from Northern California.Share This Post
By Eric Holthaus on 11 May 2015
Two weeks ago, Lake Mead, which sits on the border of Nevada and Arizona, set a new record low — the first time since the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s that the lake’s surface has dipped below 1,080 feet above sea level. The West’s drought is so bad that official plans for water rationing have now begun — with Arizona’s farmers first on the chopping block. Yes, despite the drought’s epicenter in California, it’s Arizona that will bear the brunt of the West’s epic dry spell.
The huge Lake Mead — which used to be the nation’s largest reservoir — serves as the main water storage facility on the Colorado River. Amid one of the worst droughts in millennia, record lows at Lake Mead are becoming an annual event — last year’s low was 7 feet higher than this year’s expected June nadir, 1,073 feet.
If, come Jan. 1, Lake Mead’s level is below 1,075 feet, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the river, will declare an official shortage for the first time ever — setting into motion a series of already agreed-upon mandatory cuts in water outlays, primarily to Arizona. (Nevada and Mexico will also receive smaller cuts.) The latest forecasts give a 33 percent chance of this happening. There’s a greater than 75 percent chance of the same scenario on Jan. 1, 2017. Barring a sudden unexpected end to the drought, official shortage conditions are likely for the indefinite future.Share This Post
Hawaii Passes Legislation to Go 100% Renewable￼An update on state-level clean energy news from around the countryJulia Pyper May 11, 2015In the last few weeks, state-level stakeholders around the country have been busy reforming renewable portfolio standards, proposing changes to net metering policies, and studying the potential effects of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Also, in an unprecedented move, the Hawaii state legislature voted to make electricity generation 100 percent renewable by 2045.More on these developments in our state dispatch below.As action unfolds in the states, there’s also been some meaningful activity on clean energy at the federal level in recent weeks. Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine, introduced a bold piece of legislation last week designed to promote personal energy independence through advanced technologies. The bill would ensure that distributed energy resources are able to be connected to the grid in a reasonable timeframe for a reasonable price, and with reasonable compensation for the benefits they offer utilities. Also last week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced legislation that would boost funding for smart grid technology.In other federal news, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Order 745 demand response case. Also in the courts, judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit appear likely to dismiss the first legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan.And now to the states. (You can find last month’s state news roundup here.)
http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/hawaii-passes-legislation-to-go-100-renewableShare This Post
The state’s cap-and-trade fund will see a revenue surge
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders must decide how to spend it
Port improvements, energy-efficient trucks, solar energy among the ideas
By Jeremy B. Whitejwhite@sacbee.com
With California’s growing cap-and-trade program expected to yield a budgetary bonanza, lawmakers and interest groups have ample ideas for how to spend the money. Floating proposals ahead of a pivotal period for budget negotiations, they say they want to fund port improvements, pay for heavy-duty trucks and ferries, nurture urban rivers, sponge up carbon in soil and provide discounted bus passes.
They are vying for a surge in new revenue that will be available this budget cycle and could continue pouring in for years to come.
“It’s the next big fight,” said Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno. “It’s going to continue to be a fight as more revenue comes in.”Share This Post
New housing for farm laborers in Woodland features solar panels, part of California’s green energy boom. | Renée C. Byer firstname.lastname@example.org
By Azizza Goinesand Michael ChanSpecial to The Bee
Azizza Goines is president and CEO of the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce. Michael Chan is president of ASIAN Inc.
Nine years ago, California committed to reducing the carbon pollution that leads to climate change. Today, that commitment is paying off – not just with cleaner air, but also good jobs and strengthened local economies.
As leaders of the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce and ASIAN, Inc., we’ve too often seen our members left on the sidelines when a new industry starts to boom. This time, our state’s growing Latino, African American and Asian American communities are in the thick of things, and we’re seeing the difference.
But don’t take our word for it. Listen to Connie Stewart, Denny Sysaknoi and Jesse Magallanes. They all have jobs that didn’t exist not too long ago, in fields that are growing because California chose to be on the cutting edge of clean energy.
Stewart puts together circuit boards at US Hybrid in Torrance, which converts high-polluting vehicles into cleaner ones. It deployed America’s first hybrid electric street sweepers in 2010 and released the second batch last year.
Sysaknoi and Magallanes are solar installers in the Central Valley. Both came to their jobs after extremely tough passages in their lives. Sysaknoi grew up in a rough part of Fresno and came within inches of getting sucked into a life of guns and gangs. But after a scary but brief brush with the law, he changed directions and got into vocational training that led to a career as a solar installer.Share This Post