Featured photo from our gallery:
May 9th, 2012 Archives
Posted: 05/08/2012 8:34 am
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. President, Waterkeeper Alliance; professor, Pace University
Last week, the world got a preview of America's new post Citizens United petro plutocracy with the oil lords flexing their political muscles like oil soaked body builders pumped up on a steroid drip of campaign dollars. It was all about fracking. The petro tycoons first orchestrated the forced resignation of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) top frack patch enforcer, then adeptly forced the same cowed agency to stall its release of a damaging scientific study on fracking and finally strong armed the Interior Department to open America's public lands to gas companies without prior disclosure of their frack chemicals.
On Monday, the oil industry showcased its political muscle by forcing the resignation of EPA's popular environmental enforcement chief for the Gulf region, Dr. Al Armendariz. Dr. Al was beloved by environmentalists, civic leaders, and poor and minority communities across five states for his willingness to strictly enforce environmental rules regardless of the lawbreakers' political clout. But Armendariz's courage won him powerful enemies as well. He was steadfastly undeterred by relentless pressure from polluters and their allies including political intrigue, hamstringing budget cuts, and even death threats directed at him and his family. But this week, the world's most powerful cartel -- an international syndicate feared even by the Obama Administration -- finally brought Dr. Armendariz down. Armendariz's mistake was promising to enforce the law against Big Oil in the shale gas fields.Share This Post
By IAN AUSTEN May 8, 2012, 6:30 pm
Canada will probably not meet its already-diminished greenhouse gas reduction targets, the country’s environment commissioner warned on Tuesday in a report to Parliament. He blamed a lack of government oversight, particularly for the oil and gas industry, which is Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas related emissions.
The current Conservative government withdrew Canada from its reduction commitments under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and replaced them with the more limited goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. That matches the approach taken by the United States, which did not sign the Kyoto Protocol.
“Canada has made a variety of commitments and set a number of targets to reduce greenhouse gas (G.H.G.) emissions since 1992,” the environment commissioner, Scott Vaughan, wrote in the audit. “These targets have become significantly less ambitious over time.”
Rather than declining, Mr. Vaughan projected, emissions will be 7.4 percent higher in 2020 than they were in 2005.
“Environment Canada has no overall implementation plan that indicates how different regulations and federal departments and agencies will work together to achieve the reductions required to meet the 2020 target,” his report said.
Part of the Conservative Party’s plan involved setting targets for specific business sectors. But so far the government has yet to create any regulations for the oil and gas industry.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/08/report-upbraids-canadian-government-on-emissions/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By Steven Mufson, Published: May 8
The Interior Department on Tuesday approved Anadarko Petroleum’s plan to drill 3,675 new natural gas wells in Utah’s Uintah basin after a 41 / 2-year approval process that involved Native American tribes, state agencies and environmental groups.
Anadarko said it plans to spend $10 billion drilling the wells over the next decade, doubling its natural gas production in the area to 1 billion cubic feet a day and creating as many as 2,900 jobs, directly and indirectly, during construction.
The approval covered an unusual number of wells and marshaled support from an unusual range of interest groups. In addition, the Obama administration, battered by oil industry criticism of its pace for issuing leases on federal lands, highlighted the approval and the jobs it will create.
The action doesn’t open any new land for production, because the drilling will take place on leases already owned by Anadarko. But the step by Interior assuaged some in Utah, where shortly after taking office President Obama had canceled 77 leases issued by President George W. Bush.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/interior-approves-anadarkos-plan-for-utah-gas-wells/2012/05/08/gIQARIqVBU_story.htmlShare This Post
U.S. officials on Tuesday approved a plan by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. to drill 3,700 natural-gas wells in eastern Utah, capping a yearslong review of a project that will be one of the largest in the region.
Approval for the Greater Natural Buttes project in the Uintah Basin, announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, comes as the Obama administration is supporting natural-gas production as a way to create jobs with a cleaner-burning fuel than coal or oil.
Once Anadarko's wells are up and running, they would be expected to produce about one billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, according to Anadarko, enough to heat or cool about 5.5 million homes.
"It's a significant amount of natural gas," said John Christiansen, a spokesman for Anadarko, which already has 2,200 wells in the region.
The Greater Natural Buttes project is the uncommon case in which an energy company won the support of environmental groups, which are often vocal critics of oil and natural-gas development. Anadarko agreed to pull previous proposals to expand drilling to new areas, including parts of a proposed red-rock wilderness area, said Heidi McIntosh of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, an environmental group.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304451104577392190273330530.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By ANDREW C. REVKIN May 3, 2012, 3:00 pm
It’s worth noting Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s remarks on energy, climate and security last night at an Environmental Defense Fund event honoring the Defense Department for its work on the intersection of these issues. Here’s an excerpt:
Our mission at the Department is to secure this nation against threats to our homeland and to our people. In the 21st century, the reality is that there are environmental threats which constitute threats to our national security. For example, the area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security: rising sea levels, to severe droughts, to the melting of the polar caps, to more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
I was pointing out the other day that with the polar cap melting, we now have problems with regard to who claims the area in the polar region. And very frankly, one of the things I hope we get a chance to work on is to finally get the United States of America to approve the Law of the Seas treaty, which has been hanging out there for so long. We are the only industrialized nation that has not approved that treaty. It’s time that we did that.
The quest for energy is another area that continues to shape and reshape the strategic environment – from the destabilizing consequences of resource competition to the efforts of potential adversaries to block the free flow of energy.
To read the entire article go to: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/secretary-of-defense-on-climate-foresight-and-the-national-interest/Share This Post
May 8th, 2012, 8:22 pm ·
Operators of the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant now say more than 1,300 steam generator tubes have been plugged in the plant’s two idled reactor units.
And despite statements Thursday from an executive with the operator, Southern California Edison, suggesting a possible restart of the reactors next month, the utility company said Tuesday that no date has been set.
The earlier statement was an estimate, Edison said, and any startup plans must have prior approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Both of San Onofre’s reactors have been shut down since January, one unit for routine maintenance and the other after a leaky steam generator tube allowed a minor release of radioactive gas, prompting operators to shut it down as well.
To read the entire article go to: http://sciencedude.ocregister.com/2012/05/08/1300-onofre-tubes-plugged-no-restart-date/171428/Share This Post
May 8 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Sam Pearson Desert Dispatch, Barstow, Calif.
A study by the University of Tennessee's Baker Center for Public Policy says that solar energy is subsidized at about the same rate as other energy sources.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.energycentral.com/functional/news/news_detail.cfm?did=24504661Share This Post
firstname.lastname@example.org Published Wednesday, May. 09, 2012
The solar power business pipeline between the Sacramento area and New Jersey continues to produce energy projects and hundreds of jobs.
On Tuesday, Roseville-based SPI Solar said it has an agreement to design and build multiple solar energy facilities in New Jersey.
The deal with a subsidiary of New Jersey-based KDC Solar LLC calls for construction at the Mountain Creek Resort and Grand Cascades Golf Resort in Vernon, N.J.
Specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
KDC will own and operate the three facilities, which will include a mix of fixed ground components and custom-made solar parking canopies. The combined sites will provide more than 8 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity generation per year.
The deal is the latest in a series of New Jersey projects involving Sacramento-area companies lured by Garden State incentives, which are considered some of the most attractive in the solar industry.
El Dorado Hills-based solar power developer Premier Power Renewable Energy Inc. has likewise benefited.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/09/4476216/rosevilles-spi-solar-lands-new.htmlShare This Post
The Wall Street giant will partner with Clean Power Finance to face SolarCity, SunRun, and the rest of the gang.
Herman K. Trabish: May 3, 2012
Fueling the rush into the residential solar leasing business, Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) subsidiary MS Solar Solutions Corp. is partnering with Clean Power Finance (CPF) to help fund up to $300 million in residential solar leases. MySolar is the new solar lease provider.
Solar developer and power purchase agreement (PPA) provider Main Street Power Co., a Morgan Stanley partner in previous utility and commercial scale solar projects, will take on some of the wide range of compliance and reporting activities and responsibilities associated with deployment.
The basic idea behind CPF, CEO Nat Kreamer explained, is “to connect the capital market with the solar market.” This deal adds “major financial institutions” to the CPF list of backers that includes Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and Google Ventures.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/morgan-stanley-brings-300-million-to-residential-solar-leasing/Share This Post
New transmission lines will be needed to carry power from the desert to the Bay Area
By Ryan Jacobs on May 7, 2012 - 12:01 a.m. PDT
Original source: http://www.baycitizen.org/energy/story/desert-solar-projects-costs/
On a desolate stretch of the Mojave Desert, twenty miles northeast of Barstow, construction workers recently began laying the foundation for a 2.8 square mile solar power plant. By 2014, electricity will flow from the facility into nearby power lines to homes and businesses throughout Northern California.
The plant will help PG&E meet a state mandate requiring utilities to provide 33 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2020. The utility has agreed to purchase power from the facility for about $1.25 billion — a price above the market rate — for at least 25 years.
Last year, when the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved PG&E’s contract with the Mojave Solar Project, consumer advocates raised questions about the terms of the deal, which won’t become public until 2017, three years after the plant goes online.
The contract does not include the cost to expand and upgrade transmission lines that will carry power from the desert to Northern California. The CPUC has approved contracts for 51 solar energy generating projects in remote locations throughout the state, like the Mojave. Those projects and other renewable projects still in development will require more than $12 billion in transmission line expansions and upgrades over the next decade, the CPUC estimates.
Most of those costs will be divided proportionally among California ratepayers, with PG&E’s ratepayers picking up approximately $5.2 billion — or 43% — of the tab. The California Independent System Operator, which controls the lines and monitors capacity, estimates utilities will need to spend billions more to reinforce their transmission infrastructures.
But some environmentalists argue that the state is unnecessarily burdening ratepayers with the costs of upgrading and expanding transmission lines. They say California is ignoring a less expensive and more environmentally-friendly alternative: putting solar projects on rooftops and landfills closer to urban centers, where energy can flow directly into local grids.
“The train is rolling down the track of putting almost all of our energy in the boonies,” said Bill Powers, who outlined a “smart energy plan” in a recent report for Pacific Environment, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization. “Does that make sense or is it just an artifact of an inappropriate financial incentive framework?”
Powers, a San Diego-based mechanical engineer, argues that his plan would save the state’s ratepayers billions of dollars. He says that utility companies reap the benefits of desert solar projects, because they can profit from expanding and upgrading their transmission lines. Regulators often allow utilities to earn a 12 percent rate of return on transmission investments.Share This Post
Khosla Ventures-funded cogen system harvests the sun for hot water, as well as electricity
Eric Wesoff: May 7, 2012
We've reported on Cogenra a few times in the past -- upon the company's unstealthing in 2010 and for its first customer announcements. Cogenra is a distributed solar cogeneration company that combines photovoltaic (PV) electricity production and heat collection to deliver electricity and hot water for commercial, industrial and institutional applications.
The firm uses mirrors and single-axis trackers to focus light on a photovoltaic cell assembly. Heat normally lost in a typical PV-only product is used to heat water that actively cools the solar cells. Cooler solar cells mean better electrical energy harvest while the hot water is used for heating or process water. It's a turnkey system meant to be easily assembled on rooftops or on the ground.
We reported on the firm as it explored ground-mounted usage at the Sonoma Wine Company and when the firm installed a 75-kilowatt solar cogeneration project at General Hydroponics, a Santa Rosa, California-based manufacturer of indoor agricultural systems and nutrients. The Hydroponics project was installed by Cogenra partner Sun Light & Power, with a construction period that spanned less than three weeks.
But the company is now ramping up and adding more customers and repeat business.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Cogenras-PV-and-Hot-Water-Business-Heating-Up/#Share This Post
Bill Opalka | May 08, 2012
Gamesa and a development partner are suspending further development of an offshore wind turbine off the coast of Virginia, citing the massive amounts of capital needed to pursue a project with a cloudy future due to uncertain federal support.Share This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD May 8, 2012, 9:49 am
Acciona, a big renewable energy company based in Spain, says it is naming its new 32-megawatt wind farm in Oklahoma “Big Smile.” The name is an oblique reference to an Acciona employee who died last year, the company says.
That makes the wind farm one of the few in the United States not named for its location or a nearby geographic feature. Google lists 102 operating wind farms of 120 megawatts or more in this country, plus two under construction and 24 proposed, none of which are named after anyone, although some bear the name of a town that was named after a person long ago.
From the Buffalo Ridge wind farm in Minnesota to the Grand Ridge wind farm in Illinois, from Crow Lake in South Dakota to White Creek in Washington State, from Bent Tree in Minnesota to Leaning Juniper in Oregon, the naming convention for wind farms is clear.
Other kinds of generation stations are named after people, however. The Hoover Dam on the Colorado River is named after the country’s 31st president, although Hoover initially opposed it; the Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia is named for the legendary Nez Perce leader. Then there are nuclear plants like Robert E. Ginna, near Rochester, N.Y., and H.B. Robinson, near Hartsville, S.C., both named after executives of area utilities, as are coal plants like Dean Mitchell in Indiana, Philip Sporn in West Virginia and W.S. Lee in South Carolina.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/08/when-the-wind-whispers-whose-name-does-it-call/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post