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Category Archives: ‘Climate Change & the Green Economy’
Original source: http://email@example.com
Last week, I posted on the fight between electric utilities and solar advocates over rooftop solar power. Today, I want to pull back the lens and begin to tackle the bigger question: How should utilities work? What’s the right way to provision and manage electricity in the 21st century?
There’s very little public discussion of utilities or utility regulations, especially relative to sexier topics like fracking or electric cars. That’s mainly because the subject is excruciatingly boring, a thicket of obscure institutions and processes, opaque jargon, and acronyms out the wazoo. Whether PURPA allows IOUs to customize RFPs for low-carbon QFs is actually quite important, but you, dear reader, don’t know it, because you fell asleep halfway through this sentence. Utilities are shielded by a force field of tedium.
It’s is an unfortunate state of affairs, because this is going to be the century of electricity. Everything that can be electrified will be. (This point calls for its own post, but mark my words: transportation, heat, even lots of industrial work is going to shift to electricity.) So the question of how best to manage electricity is key to both economic competitiveness and ecological sustainability.
It’s time to start talking about utilities. I, your courageous blogger and servant, am going to attempt to lay out, at a high level, how utilities work and why, the challenges facing them, and what a utility more suited to the 21st century might look like. It’s a complicated problem, but I think the basics are approachable by ordinary citizens, who very much need to get involved and speak up on these issues. Occupy PUCs! (You’ll get that joke after you read my next few posts.)
Why utilities are the way they areShare This Post
By David Siders
Published: Tuesday, May. 21, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Tuesday, May. 21, 2013 - 8:04 am
BERKELEY – Of all the speeches politicians give, one of the most difficult may be the commencement address, given as it is to an audience that is often hot and tired and preoccupied with its own excitement – or anxiety – about the future.
Leaving the podium on Monday at UC Berkeley, Gov. Jerry Brown said he thought he might have given a commencement speech in Santa Clara when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, but he was sure this was the first one for which he had prepared remarks.
A script is appropriate for such a sober occasion, he said.
Brown, addressing graduates of the university's political science department, told the students that climate change is a greater threat to their future than any number of other problems, from the home mortgage crisis and student debt to growing inequality and war abroad.
"Of course the changes in our climate are not happening in political time," said Brown, who has made climate change a focus of his administration. "By Twitter standards, the pace is very slow but inexorable and, most troubling, soon to be irreversible."
The Democratic governor told the graduates, "That's the world you face. But you have the skills and the knowledge and the sense of the good. You can make change."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/21/5435478/jerry-brown-on-script-urges-berkeley.htmlShare This Post
Monday, May 20, 2013
By David Wagner
Original source: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/may/20/obama-urges-san-diegans-call-out-rep-duncan-hunter/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kpbs%2Flocal+%28KPBS+News%3A+Local+Headlines%29
President Obama's non-profit launched a website today urging Twitter users to "call out" Republicans in Congress who dispute the science behind man-made climate change. The interactive site helps users find their nearest Congressional climate skeptic and allows them to send these lawmakers a message reading, "Stop denying the science of #climate change. It's time for Congress to act."
The site was put together by Organizing for Action (OFA), the group that emerged out of President Obama's re-election campaign. If the campaign takes off, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter should expect an influx of tweets coming his way.
Rep. Hunter's district covers the eastern and northern edges of San Diego County. He was included in OFA's roundup of climate change deniers over statements he made at a 2009 forum put on by the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce:
Nobody really knows the cause ... It could be caused by carbon dioxide or methane. Maybe we should kill the cows to stop the methane, or stop breathing to stop the CO2 ... Thousands of people die every year of cold, so if we had global warming it would save lives ... We ought to look out for people. The earth can take care of itself.
Scientists who say humans don't play a role in climate change are becoming "a vanishingly small" minority, according to the latest survey of climatology research. A study published in Environmental Research Letters last week reveals that more than 97 percent of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals agree that the Earth's temperature is rising due to human activities.
Meanwhile, President Obama has himself been criticized for not being tough on climate change. Environmentalists plan to picket OFA events. They're calling on the Obama administration to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which would pump energy-intensive tar sand oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.Share This Post
Original source: http://grist.org/list/everyone-relax-sarah-palin-has-proven-theres-no-such-thing-as-climate-change/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&sub_email=dkschultz%40gmail.com
Pack up your temperature sensors, your climate-modeling supercomputers, your tree and ice core sample equipment. Sarah Palin has spoken on climate change, and she says it’s snowing in Alaska, ergo “global warming my gluteus maximus,” Q.E.D. And you know it’s science because she used the Latin word for “ass.”Share This Post
May 17, 2013
Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=6873
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission focused its summer electricity forecast concerns on California and to some extent Texas May 16.
Despite concerns about the continuing San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station outage, the Western Electricity Coordinating Council forecasts that California will hold a 19 percent electricity reserve margin this year. The state considers a 15-17 percent cushion a safe bet.
Even so, federal regulatory staff expects the San Onofre shutdown will “pressure” wholesale market prices up and lead to market price volatility.
Separately, California’s cap-and-trade market concerns the commission because members say it could lessen imports to the state.
“I can kind of see a very bad scenario lining up,” Commissioner Phil Moeller said.Share This Post
By John Upton
America passed a milestone on Monday, according to electric-vehicle advocacy group Plug-In America. That’s when the 100,000th EV was sold in the U.S., the group estimates.
From Plug-In America board member Barry Woods’ blog:
Based on the average US household size, this means that over a quarter million people are now being exposed regularly to the benefits of electric transportation. The vehicles themselves are reaching an even greater number of people simply by being on the road — perhaps as many as 1 million or more people per day. While much work remains to be done, 100,000 vehicles means that we are ever closer to the tipping point for electric transportation.
And like an EV driver who passes a gas station — and just keeps on driving — the nation is expected to sail past this milestone and keep on snapping up ever more of these clean-running cars. From Treehugger:
In 2011, the first full year with the current crop of plug-ins on the market, fewer than 20,000 were sold. In 2012, that number tripled to over 50,000. And it’s currently expected that more than 100,000 plug-ins will be sold in 2013 alone. Not a bad growth rate for a technology that is still maturing (like personal computers in the 1980s or cellphones in the 1990s).
How good is business for the nation’s electric-auto makers and sellers? A press release from Plug-In America says that the all-electric Nissan Leaf has been outselling all other Nissan models in some markets this year, and that Tesla’s Model S sedan is outselling the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7 series, and the Audi A8. For another sign of the health of the EV market, check out Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweet from Monday:
That’s about Tesla repaying a federal loan nine years before it comes due. From Bloomberg:
Loans for Tesla, Ford, Nissan and Fisker were all awarded from a program created under President George W. Bush in 2007 and implemented by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Tesla plans to use $452.4 million to pay off its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan, with interest, the company said in a statement. … Based on the $25.4 million already paid to the Energy Department, taxpayers may see as much as a $12.8 million profit, based on company filings.
Despite some major hiccups, the electric-vehicle industry is now really starting to rev its engines.Share This Post
by Chris Clarke
on May 20, 2013 1:37 PM
Here's some good news for Northern Californians who like to breathe: the first battery-powered electric buses in the north part of the state are rolling out in Stockton, thanks to the California Energy Commission. Two fast-charging buses will join the San Joaquin Regional Transit District's fleet in the city of Stockton, relieving a bit of the Central Valley airshed's air pollution problem.
Relatively close to the Bay Area and its offshore winds, Stockton enjoys a bit cleaner air than some of its neighbors in the Central Valley. Still, particulate matter pollution is a serious issue in Stockton, with levels rising to the "moderate pollution" level or above more than half the time during the cooler months.
Particulate matter pollution has been implicated in cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as respiratory ailments and a host of other ills. As diesel exhaust is a major source of urban particulate matter, replacing diesel buses with zero-emission electric buses can only help public health -- not just in Stockton, but in those communities downwind with worse air such as Fresno and Bakersfield.
The buses, built by Proterra, were bought with a $2.56 million grant from the California Energy Commission through the AB118 Air Quality Improvement Program. Similar buses are now in service with Foothill Transit in Pomona.
The grant will also cover the cost of a sophisticated automatic charging station built by California company AeroVironment. Designed to simplfy the process of charging, the stations will recognize the buses as they approach, then guide the bus into proper charging position without the driver's help. A ten-minute charge will provide enough energy for two hours of travel.
"The San Joaquin Regional Transit District deserves to be congratulated as the first transit property in all of Northern California to put battery electric buses into revenue service. This is a major milestone, and a big first step in the effort to improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley," said John Boesel, President and CEO of the clean transit group CALSTART.
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The Boeing 787 Dreamliner's return to US passenger flight is an important step for a company eager to demonstrate the potential for lithium-ion technology in aviation. Despite a preventative fix, the root of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner's battery problems remains unclear.
By David J. Unger, Correspondent / May 20, 2013
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner returned to American skies Thursday for its first US passenger flight since overheating batteries grounded the fleet in January.
Why It Matters
Energy: Lithium-ion batteries pack tremendous power into small spaces but are prone to overheating
Environment: A lighter plane means less fuel consumed and less CO2 emitted.
It's an encouraging sign, not just for the beleaguered airplane manufacturer, but for lithium-ion technology as well. The powerful, lightweight batteries had overheating and other problems when they were first used in laptop computers and electric cars. But manufacturers ironed out many of those issues, and there's hope for a similar learning curve in aviation.Share This Post
Tesla Motors is on a remarkable run for a company that not long ago seemed to be sputtering.
In the past month, Tesla’s stock value has doubled to more than $90 a share. That gives the California-based company a total market value of $10.6 billion, greater than that of Italian automaker Fiat, worth less than $8 billion.
Such dramatic success, and the brash confidence of founder Elon Musk, has some fans calling Tesla the first successful new American car maker in more than a generation.
But some analysts say the electrifying rise is not what it seems.Share This Post
Tesla Motors has set its sights on 'battery-swapping' technology. In theory, that would mean drivers of Tesla Motors cars could recharge faster than the time it takes to fill up a tank of gas. It's a bit of a holy grail for an electric car industry eager to overcome 'range anxiety.'
By David J. Unger, Correspondent / May 16, 2013
"There is a way for the Tesla Model S to be recharged throughout the country faster than you could fill a gas tank."
It's a bit of a holy grail for an industry eager to overcome "range anxiety," the fear of running out of power. But what if electric cars could refuel as quickly and conveniently as gas cars?
Mr. Musk's tweet, as well as a hint dropped in Tesla's latest quarterly report, suggests the company is working on a "battery-swapping" feature that would accomplish exactly that.
It would probably work this way: Once a driver was low on power, he could drive to a station that would swap out his battery for another fully charged one.Share This Post
Published: May 14, 2013
Bike share was easy for New York City to love in the abstract. It was not about adding bike lanes at the expense of something else; it was about sharing something that did not yet exist.
But with the program two weeks away, many New Yorkers have turned against bike share, and for one simple reason: They did not expect it to look like this.
In recent weeks, hundreds of stations have sprouted in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn — empty husks sprawled 30 or 50 spaces long on city sidewalks and streets, anticipating rows of bicycles that will soon protrude from the kiosk slots. The critics say the kiosks are a blight. They clash with the character of residential areas of the West Village or Fort Greene, Brooklyn. They are already magnets for pigeons, garbage bags and dogs in need of relief.
Lawsuits have been prepared. Kiosks have been defaced. At one community meeting, an inelegant analogy was drawn between the Bloomberg administration and the Taliban. “None of us are against bikes — most of us have bikes that we stow in our building,” said Lynn Ellsworth, 54, from TriBeCa. “But why they put these giant racks in these little streets is crazy to me.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/nyregion/complaints-rise-as-bike-share-program-nears.html?ref=nyregionShare This Post
Published: May 20, 2013
HONG KONG — The Obama administration and the European Union have each decided to negotiate settlements with China in the world’s largest antidumping and antisubsidy trade cases involving China’s roughly $30 billion a year in solar panel shipments to the West, officials and trade advisers in Beijing, Brussels and Washington said.
The plan that is starting to take shape would essentially carve up the global solar panel market into a series of regional markets. It would sharply raise the price of solar panels exported from China, the world’s dominant producer, by requiring Chinese companies to charge more while limiting the total number of solar panels they could ship.
In exchange, Chinese companies would no longer be charged steep taxes on their exports of solar panels. The United States is already collecting tariffs totaling about 30 percent while the European Union is expected to impose similar tariffs of about 50 percent on June 5, and may backdate them to March 5.Share This Post
By PALKO KARASZ
Published: May 21, 2013
BUCHAREST — With more wind turbines already built than any of its neighbors, Romania has gained a reputation as a prime location for green energy investors. Yet proposals now to cut subsidies for clean energy producers have deeply alarmed foreign companies drawn to its market.
In recent years, the country has been host to a boom in renewable projects. Wind farm generating capacity in particular soared to 1,794 megawatts last year, from just 13.1 megawatts in 2009.
Under legislation enacted in 2008 and implemented in 2011, energy distributors have been required in the past two years to purchase “green certificates” for every megawatt hour of power that they sold. The certificates are issued to wind, hydro and solar power producers who can sell them directly to distributors or trade them on the state-owned power market, Opcom. Distributors can — and do — pass on the cost of buying certificates to their customers.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/22/business/energy-environment/romania-changes-course-on-renewable-energy.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By CHRISTOPHER F. SCHUETZE
Published: May 21, 2013
The Hague — After this newspaper has been read, it may be used to line a birdcage, recycled, burned, stuffed into a landfill or converted into something even more powerful than the press: electricity.
“There is a cleaner way of dealing with things that people cast away,” said Andy Harris, vice president of Waste to Energy Canada, which is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. “We shouldn’t see it as waste, we should see it as a source of energy.”
Nowhere more so than in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe. Still challenged by a legacy of environmental neglect inherited from the former Soviet Union, those that have joined the European Union now must conform to strict waste directives issued by the European Commission. Poland, like others in the region, has had to amend national laws to keep within environmentally friendly European guidelines.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/22/business/energy-environment/trash-burning-with-a-clean-energy-twist.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Here’s the secret sauce: E+C-Co+Be+Ext.
Adam James: May 16, 2013
The process of valuing energy resources can be very complex. As a result, the current model for assessing value is a reflection of the assets that have traditionally populated the grid, such as large centralized power plants, sprawling transmission and distribution lines, and the inherent costs for operating and managing this system. The valuation model has been to compensate these big investments over long periods of time through consumer’s electricity bills.
However, there is a transformation underway that is uprooting this model. Since distributed energy -- including energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, and storage -- reduces consumer’s bills, the value it offers must be fairly accounted for and compensated.
A new paper from Travis Bradford of Columbia University and Anne Hoskins of Princeton University has tackled this issue head on, laying the groundwork for an expert energy policy roundtable that will aim to come up with a new model for valuing distributed energy. The full report has two important points:Share This Post