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June, 2012 Archives
By KATE YANDELL June 28, 2012, 6:52 pm
This last week, record temperatures and wildfires have scorched the western United States. The National Climate Data Center reports that 41 heat records (at various of 6,027 weather stations around the country) have been broken or tied since Sunday, mostly in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska, which is quite unusual for this time of year.
Since Saturday, a wildfire near Colorado Springs has burned over 18,000 acres, and 34 other large fires are still burning in the country.
Scientists participating in a conference call arranged by the nonprofit science outreach group Climate Communication Thursday morning said that although they could not directly link this week's events to global warming, there was agreement that they fit into a pattern of extreme weather events and catastrophic fires that climate scientists predict will only worsen in the decades to come.
"What we're seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like," said Michael Oppenheimer, a geoscientist at Princeton University. "It looks like heat. It looks like fires. It looks like this type of environmental disaster."
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/pondering-a-link-between-forest-fires-and-climate-change/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
June 29, 2012 Elizabeth McCarthy
Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=6219
A bill to sell up to 2,000 MW of renewable energy to private utility customers to help the state reach its 33 percent alternative energy mandate narrowly passed June 25.
The measure, SB 843 by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), permits ratepayers in tightly guarded investor-owned utility territories to invest in power produced by renewable projects up to 20 MW in size.
“It is another opportunity to open [the renewables market] to more than those who can afford solar on their roofs,” said Wolk. She added that the bill also enables the state to tap into $2 billion of federal tax incentives until 2016 to develop alternative energy resources.
Under the measure, ratepayers--residential and business--would receive credits on utility bills for power purchased from non-utility renewable developers. The price of the power would be tied to the aggregate annual price of energy paid by utilities.
According to the California Public Utilities Commission, the average price was 11.9 cents/ kWh between 2003-2011.Share This Post
Brendan DeMelle: Fracking Industry Enjoyed Privileged Access to Controversial New York DEC Environmental Review
Posted: 06/28/2012 11:58 am
Full disclosure: I worked at EWG from 2000-2004.
Documents obtained by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show that bureaucrats within the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) granted the oil and gas industry premature access to highly controversial draft regulations for shale gas fracking in the state. New York placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for gas in order to evaluate the science on the risks posed to drinking water, air quality and the health of New York's citizens and the environment.
The documents, obtained by EWG through New York's Freedom of Information Law, show that the fracking industry received an unfair advantage thanks to DEC officials who provided detailed summaries of their proposed rules exclusively to oil and gas industry representatives. This allowed industry a six-week head start to lobby state officials to weaken the proposed standards before the public was granted access to the plan.
Of particular concern, a lobbyist for scandal-ridden gas giant Chesapeake Energy used the exclusive access to the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) to attempt to weaken the proposed rules restricting discharges of radioactive wastewater.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brendan-demelle/fracking-industry-dec-access_b_1633872.html?utm_hp_ref=greenShare This Post
By MIREYA NAVARRO une 29, 2012, 9:55 am
The State University of New York at Buffalo has rebuffed calls for an investigation of the work of a new institute it founded that is devoted to the study of shale gas drilling, saying it is defending the freedom of faculty members to conduct research.
The university’s Shale Resources and Society Institute came under fire last month after it released a study asserting that state regulation in Pennsylvania had made hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Marcellus Shale considerably safer.
A government watchdog group quickly raised questions about the study’s data and the authors’ ties to the oil and gas industry, and a group of professors and students called for a broader inquiry into the genesis of the institute, which issued the report only weeks after its creation in April.
In a statement posted on Thursday on the university’s Web site, officials said the work of the institute was consistent with the mission of a public research university and that its researchers were entitled to delve into controversial subjects like fracking without interference.
“The university’s role is to create a forum for objective research and informed debate – not to dictate the position taken by its faculty members,” the statement said.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/university-will-not-investigate-fracking-institute/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By JACK HEALY June 28, 2012
MEEKER, Colo. — The news of a nationwide energy boom is almost too much for people in this town built atop a sea of oil shale and natural gas, where rusting tanks line the highways and ExxonMobil helped to finance the 4-H club’s new community center.
Elsewhere — seemingly everywhere else but here, locals say — an oil and gas stampede is transforming towns from the green hills of western Pennsylvania to the plains of North Dakota and eastern Colorado, bringing a flood of money, jobs and attendant environmental concerns.
But here, in a region rich in natural resources, where oil and gas jobs form the bedrock of the local economy, the boom has dried up. Energy jobs have flowed to Wyoming, Texas and Pennsylvania. Main Street businesses are struggling, and big new schools built to accommodate a surge of students from the last energy rush are now watching their enrollments dwindle.
“We’re sitting here dead,” said Shawn Bolton, a Republican county commissioner who runs a construction business serving oil and gas companies. Four years ago, he had 125 employees, most of them working here on the Western Slope of Colorado. Now, Mr. Bolton said, all but a handful of his 70 remaining employees are working out of state.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/us/energy-boom-turns-to-bust-in-colorado.html?_r=1Share This Post
Richard Simon | Los Angeles Times
last updated: June 29, 2012 06:39:08 AM
WASHINGTON -- ]
Two years after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, Congress is poised to steer a large chunk of the fines that will be paid by BP - up to $21 billion by one estimate - to the Gulf Coast to help restore coastal ecosystems and rebuild economies in the region.
A transportation bill negotiated by the House and Senate calls for steering 80 percent of the penalties from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill to the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The bill could clear Congress before the end of the week.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/06/28/v-print/154315/bps-fines-for-oil-spill-appear.htmlShare This Post
email@example.com Published Friday, Jun. 29, 2012
It's a quiet Rancho Cordova neighborhood of more than 100 recently built homes, surrounded by open land. Shorts-clad residents walk among well-groomed lawns, and birds chirp on the rooftops.
Who would guess that this is a testing ground for the future utilization, storage and management of solar power nationwide?
More than 40 Sacramento Municipal Utility District household customers in the Anatolia community just east of Sunrise and Kiefer boulevards are participating in a two-year project to help the utility, the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy better understand the best ways to use solar power.
The nearly $6 million project includes $4.3 million in funding from the Energy Department under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $500,000 from the Energy Commission.
"There's really nothing else like this in the nation. It's one of a kind," said SMUD's Ed Sanchez, project manager for distributed generation and storage, energy research and development.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/29/4597987/rancho-cordova-neighbors-on-solar.htmlShare This Post
By REBECCA SMITH June 28, 2012, 7:43 p.m. ET
Texas regulators voted Thursday to allow electricity generators to charge up to 50% more for wholesale power in the state, an action that critics worried would lead to sharply higher costs for residents and businesses in a hot summer that already is seeing usage records.
Concerned about adequate electricity supplies, the Texas Public Utility Commission raised a price cap for wholesale electricity sales, already the highest in the nation, to $4,500 a megawatt hour from $3,000.
Officials said they hoped that greater pricing flexibility would provide incentives for companies to build more generating plants in Texas, which badly needs them because the state's power grid is largely unconnected to other states. Steadily growing electricity demand caused anxiety in recent days when power users—amid sweltering temperatures—set two daily records for electricity consumed in June.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304830704577494931542578446.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By DIANE CARDWELL June 28, 2012, 2:50 pm
The Long Island Power Authority approved a new program on Thursday to encourage developers to build medium-scale solar projects using a financing mechanism, the feed-in tariff, that has resulted in both booms and busts overseas.
European Pressphoto Agency
Under the program, called the Clean Solar Initiative, the utility will purchase all of the electricity produced by the projects, which must be at least 50 kilowatts in size and are expected to go no larger than about 3 megawatts, at a rate of 22 cents per kilowatt hour over the life of a 20-year contract.
Utility officials say the rate is high enough to guarantee a steady return to investors but low enough that it can compete with other solar electricity and even with the conventional power that the power authority buys to meet summer daytime peak demand.
“The developer is really just selling straight to us,” said Michael D. Hervey, the utility’s chief operating officer. In the summer, he added, solar power plants could displace the small fossil fuel generators now used when demand is high.
“The solar power plant is less expensive,” he said. “So from the standpoint of peaking capacity, this is a much better bargain for our customers.”
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/with-feed-in-financing-modest-solar-projects-for-long-island/?scp=3&sq=solar&st=SearchShare This Post
What happened to the promise of thin-film PV?
MJ Shiao: June 22, 2012
Following up on Part One of our series on thin-film PV based on GTM Research's Thin Film 2012–2016 report, we take a more incisive look at the manufacturing and competitiveness of thin film, as well as the levers suppliers can use to drive down costs.
In order to understand the competitive dynamics between crystalline silicon (c-Si) and thin-film PV, we must first look at the staple of PV market competitiveness: manufacturing costs. In the figures below, we break down the typical cost structures for a leading Chinese multicrystalline silicon PV module manufacturer and our estimates for First Solar’s Malaysia facility running at full utilization in 2012. Although overall costs are dissimilar, the cost of the multicrystalline silicon comes to about $0.82/W versus just $0.63/W for First Solar (not including stock-based compensation, warranty, and recycling). These examples serve as a benchmark for cost-structure comparisons of mature facilities.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/thin-film-manufacturing-in-a-sub-dollar-the-watt-market-ii/Share This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD June 28, 2012
WASHINGTON — Abound Solar, a solar panel maker that received a $400 million loan guarantee from the federal government, announced on Thursday that it would file for bankruptcy amid plummeting prices and intense competition from Chinese manufacturers in the solar equipment market.
The failure of Abound, which tapped about $68 million of the loan guarantee before the Energy Department cut off its credit last September, comes after the collapse last year of Solyndra, another high-tech solar panel maker that had received federal funds.
Republicans, including Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, seized on Solyndra’s failure as evidence that the Obama administration wa`s wasting taxpayer money by supporting clean energy companies.
Abound Solar, of Loveland, Colo., with manufacturing in Tipton, Ind., had been struggling for months. In February, it announced it was closing its factory to conserve resources while it tried to start production of a more advanced product. The company produced panels that made electricity directly from sunlight using a chemistry called cadmium telluride, which was intended to have a cost advantage over the more common silicon cells. But that cost advantage eroded as silicon cells plunged in price.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/business/energy-environment/abound-solar-says-it-will-file-for-bankruptcy.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
The proposed measure includes Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's 'America Fast Forward' initiative to speed expansion of the region's transit system.
By Richard Simon and Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times
June 28, 2012, 7:28 p.m.
As he seeks to build a legacy as a big-project transportation mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday made gains at home and in Washington in his efforts to speed expansion of the Los Angeles region's transit system.
Congress is expected as early as Friday to approve a long-awaited transportation bill that includes a measure sought by Villaraigosa during at least two years of lobbying federal officials.
The bill would expand a federal loan program that could provide the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority with at least $350 million over the next two years and $3.3 billion more in the future for transit projects.
A report by House-Senate negotiators said the expanded loan program would help communities "leverage their transportation resources and stretch federal dollars further than they have been stretched before."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-transit-20120629,0,7805527.storyShare This Post
Honda's insurance option for electric Fit buyers could save a single man living in a Southland suburb as much as $600 a year. But only 1,100 of the cars will be available for lease beginning next month.
By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
June 28, 2012, 9:00 p.m.
Honda Motor Co.'s new electric vehicle comes with an unusual option: collision insurance without any deductible.
It's the latest enticement to move electric cars off showrooms and narrow the cost gap with less expensive gasoline-powered vehicles.
"It is a really interesting marketing tool," said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive.
Detroit automakers have generally shied away from offering insurance for drivers. General Motors Co. experimented with the concept last year, offering a year of free auto insurance for new-car buyers in Oregon and Washington. GM let the offer expire without expanding the program.
Honda officials said they see the offer as a way to remove a barrier to the introduction of their first electric car in the U.S. They were concerned that insurers would have trouble rating the financial risk of covering the repairs of such a low-volume vehicle.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-autos-honda-fit-20120629,0,2557048.storyShare This Post
By LESLIE KAUFMAN June 28, 2012, 2:01 pm
Electric car sales have so far ranged from disappointing to dismal. But Lee Broughton, head of corporate sustainability for Enterprise Holdings, the parent of Enterprise, National and Alamo, has an idea about how they might be improved: by enlisting an American demographic he calls the “urban eco-curious.”
In 2010 Enterprise invested in electric vehicles, buying 350 Nissan Leafs, but it found that its customers were not really interested. Consumers hesitate to rent them for the same reason that they hesitate to purchase: “range anxiety,” or worry about how far the car will go without a charge.
But Mr. Broughton said that Enterprise had the very same challenge when it introduced hybrids into its fleet in 2003. Over time it was able to educate its consumers, he said, and now, when gas is over $3 a gallon, Enterprise cannot keep hybrids on its lots even though they cost more to rent.
Rental car companies are in a perfect position to educate consumers about the new technology, Enterprise’s chief executive, Andy Taylor, suggests. “We have the capacity to provide the perfect channel for introducing, testing and socializing new vehicle and other transportation innovations,” he said in a speech this week.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/car-rentals-for-the-eco-curious/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Posted: 06/25/2012 2:31 pm
Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law
In the late 1990s, in Texas, the energy industry developed new techniques to release gas and oil from underground rock formations by injecting pressurized streams of water and chemicals into the ground. The hydrofracturing -- or "fracking" -- gold rush ensued, and now it is not limited to traditional energy-producing states, but rather reaches from the Great Plains to New England. The scale of this energy revolution in the United States can hardly be over-stated. There are now wells being developed in more than a dozen states, with projections that the United States will become the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. Whether you are from Illinois or New York, Maryland or Pennsylvania, you already are, or soon will be, living in a state literally covered with hydraulic fracturing operations.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-a-dana/after-the-fracking-is-done_b_1618706.html?utm_hp_ref=greenShare This Post