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June 18th, 2012 Archives
Published: June 16, 2012
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney endorsed an aggressive program to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, pushed to close old coal-fired power plants and embraced wind and solar power. Then came his bids for the Republican presidential nomination, first in 2008 and now in 2012. On climate change as on other issues, he has transformed himself, bit by reactionary bit.
Today he is a proclaimed skeptic on global warming, a champion of oil and other fossil fuels, a critic of federal efforts to develop cleaner energy sources and a sworn enemy of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr. Romney has plainly decided that satisfying his party’s antiregulatory base is essential to his political future. But the policies he espouses would be devastating for the country and the planet. If there are doubts on that point, the most recent findings from the International Energy Agency should dispel them: the agency reports an alarming one-year increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, largely because of increasing coal use around the world.
The agency also said that keeping global temperatures below a dangerous threshold is “still within reach” if nations aggressively reduce fossil-fuel consumption while nurturing low-carbon alternatives. And where is Mr. Romney on that? Nowhere.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/opinion/sunday/energy-etch-a-sketch.html?_r=1Share This Post
Transmission line ties San Diego to desert solar resources
By Morgan Lee
Originally published June 16, 2012 at 6 a.m., updated June 16, 2012 at 8:13 p.m.
San Diego’s electron highway into the desert has arrived.
With electricity switched on Sunday morning, the 500,000-volt transmission line cuts a jagged line across San Diego’s mountainous backdrop, skirting past reservoirs, the majestic El Cajon peak and the high country’s eagle nesting grounds.
Descending to the Imperial Valley desert floor, silvery lattice transmission towers trail off toward the horizon.
The destination is a substation near El Centro. But to those who built and named it, the Sunrise Powerlink also leads toward a clean-energy future by opening a pathway to large-scale solar, wind and geothermal power generating plants.
Sunrise, whose new transmission backbone cost $1.88 billion, has doubled the capacity for importing electricity from the Imperial Valley to the crowded California coast.
The venture — spurred on by aggressive state mandates for renewable energy and federal tax incentives — will be paid for by utility customers in the state.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jun/16/electron-highway-pulls-san-diego/Share This Post
And why that could show up in your electric bill
Original source: http://blogs.kqed.org/climatewatch/2012/06/17/hydropower-with-a-shrinking-snowpack/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kqed%2FClimateWatchBlog+%28KQED%27s+Climate+Watch+Blog%29
June 17, 2012 | 10:00 PM | By Craig Miller
While much is uncertain about California’s warming climate, there is little doubt that it’s already changing the fundamentals of how most of us get our water. In fact, the Bureau of Reclamation has estimated that the Sierra snowpack could be reduced by half as soon as a decade from now.
And that has some far-reaching implications that could even show up on your electric bill.
“When you hear people talk about a depleted snowpack, it’s because of warmer temperatures and the snow just cannot stay in the hills,” says Robert Shibatani, a hydrologist and consultant to numerous government agencies. He says the “hydrograph” for California — the “usual” pattern of precipitation and runoff — is already changing. “There’s no question about it,” he told me in a recent interview. “That’s not an if. It’s not even a when, because I can tell you the when. It’s happening now.”
Shibatani says it’s not that we’ll get less precipitation, necessarily, but warming temperatures will mean more of it falling as rain at higher elevations. And the relatively steady runoff we’ve come to count on to fill the reservoirs and spin the turbines throughout the summer and fall will be compressed into the late winter and early spring.
“What it’s gonna mean is that we’re gonna spill more often,” says Einar Maisch, strategic planning director for the Placer County Water Agency. “And that means we’re gonna lose generation.”Share This Post
New business models may not be as sexy as new technology. But their impact could be just as great.
June 18, 2012
Dr. Bailey is executive director of the Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Wolfram is faculty co-director of the Energy Institute and an associate professor at Haas. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until 2008, most people paid for their rooftop solar panels upfront, usually laying out at least $15,000 and sometimes as much as $60,000. Such a hefty cost limited the market for residential solar installations to cash-rich homeowners, restricting the potential for growth. .
Then came solar leases, which allow customers to make monthly payments. Solar costs have come down, so customers with smaller systems can now pay as little as $100 per month and nothing upfront.
The result: The market has opened up to a whole new group of homeowners.
Since 2010, third-party-owned residential solar installations have taken off, while customer-owned systems have remained flat. In California, the biggest solar market, most customers are now opting for third-party installations.
Outside the Lab
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304203604577395943820313450.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Posted: 06/15/2012 3:36 pm
Chris Warren Editor in Chief, U.S. edition of 'Photon' magazine
I was flat out wrong. Last week I wrote a long post detailing all the reasons why I thought New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should back an ambitious piece of legislation called the New York Solar Jobs Act, which would set the Empire State on a path towards real leadership in renewable energy generation. In the story, I argued that Cuomo's support for this particular bill -- or for similar legislation that would achieve the same goals -- would be a real game changer for solar both in New York and around the country.
So why was I wrong? Well, it's certainly not because I've changed my tune on the myriad benefits landmark solar legislation would provide to New Yorkers. Indeed, it's as clear as ever to me that crafting a long-term policy that provides the certainty and scale solar companies need to invest and hire is essential to achieving the kind of economic development everyone in the state craves. Then there is the powerful cost-savings benefit. As just one example, installing a significant amount of solar in New York would lead to what's called "wholesale price suppression," in which utilities can rely on solar power to provide electricity to run air conditioners on hot days instead of paying exorbitant amounts to obtain all the juice required to keep people cool in the summer. Finally, I argued that Cuomo's embrace of solar would change the national dialogue around solar in very positive ways, much as he did when he affirmed the right of same-sex people to wed.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-warren/sheldon-silver-new-yorks-_b_1601090.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=GreenShare This Post
Published: Friday, June 15, 2012, 12:07 PM Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012, 5:31 PM
By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian
Gov. John Kitzhaber on Friday named Susan Ackerman to be chairwoman of the Oregon Public Utility Commission, the powerful three-member body that regulates customer rates and services of the state's investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities, as well as certain water companies..
Ackerman, 55, was appointed to the PUC in 2010 to serve out the remaining two years of then-PUC Chairman Lee Beyer's term. She is starting a second term that will expire in 2016.
As a commissioner, Ackerman is paid $127,884 a year. As head of the agency she’ll be eligible for a pay bump of about 5 percent.
Ackerman is a veteran utility lawyer who worked for the Bonneville Power Administration and spent 13 years as a lawyer at Northwest Natural Gas Co. before starting a private practice in 2002, where she represented publicly owned utilities and independent power producers.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2012/06/kitzhaber_appoints_ackerman_as.htmlShare This Post
Published: Friday, June 15, 2012, 1:15 PM Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012, 6:39 PM
By John Funk, The Plain Dealer
Hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and gas poses little risk of an earthquake, a massive new study says.
But the injection of used fracking water into deep wells -- like the one in Youngstown connected to a dozen earthquakes -- poses a higher risk, a special committee organized by the National Research Council on behalf of the national Academies of Science and Engineering concluded in a report Friday.
The 11-member team of academic geologists and engineers did the study for Congress at the request of the U.S. Department of Energy. The researchers said no federal or state regulation prohibits the industry from inducing earthquakes.
The committee's 240-page report noted that scientists know what causes earthquakes but don't have enough geological and industry data to predict when a well or a fracking job might cause an earthquake large enough to be a problem.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2012/06/fracking_fluid_injection_wells.htmlShare This Post
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Pumping high-pressure water and sand underground to break up shale rocks and harvest natural gas or oil - the practice known as fracking - poses little risk of triggering significant earthquakes, a government-sponsored scientific committee reported Friday.
But the method of disposing the wastewater from fracking by injecting it permanently underground could cause an increased risk of earthquakes strong enough for people to feel, the scientists said.
The report from the Natural Research Council on induced seismic risks from new energy technologies also said that disposing liquefied carbon dioxide from power plants to slow human-caused global warming - technically known as carbon capture and sequestration - also calls for concern about seismic risks.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/06/16/MNS11P2P5E.DTLShare This Post
Posted: 06/17/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
By Mark Jaffe
The Denver Post
A few months ago, executives at Golden-based Luca Technologies thought they were set for a breakout year — but the markets and the federal government had other ideas.
In April, a planned initial public stock offering was canceled, and in May, so was Luca's federal permit application to use its biotech coal-to-gas process in a Wyoming natural-gas field.
Two weeks ago, about 20 of its 70 employees were laid off, and the company has gone through $80 million of the $100 million it has raised from investors, according to Brian Cree, Luca's chief operating officer.
"We'll be looking for additional private capital," Cree said.
Luca and federal Bureau of Land Management officials are trading verbal blows about who is at fault, but one thing both sides agree on is how difficult it is to launch a cutting-edge technology.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_20870605Share This Post
School districts are using solar power to cut their energy bills—and cope with budget cuts
By JIM CARLTON June 18, 2012
Solar power has long been touted for its environmental impact. But now it has a new role: saving teachers' jobs.
School districts across the country are turning to solar power to cut their electricity costs. With the money they're saving, they are able to retain more teachers and programs in the face of budget cuts. As a bonus, some schools are using solar installations to teach kids about renewable energy.
More than 500 K-12 schools in 43 states have installed solar panels, many of them over the past three years as solar-power costs have fallen by more than one-third, according to estimates by the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group in Washington, D.C., and GTM Research, a Greentech Media Inc. unit in Boston.
"It really is one of the fastest-growing markets and probably will have the most impact in our society, because it will put money back into more teachers and expand education," says Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303674004577433930635426386.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Posted: 06/15/2012 4:33 pm
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins CEO, Green for All
As the days get longer, more and more Americans are cranking up their air conditioners and turning on their fans. Meanwhile, their energy costs continue to climb -- and they're feeling it. In a poll last week, nearly 8 out of 10 people said saving on energy costs was deeply important to them -- more important than issues like the federal deficit.
This isn't news to the millions of low-income families who worry every single day about their utility bills -- the families who are struggling to stay cool as temperatures climb. But it is a good reminder to our nation's leaders that energy policies hit folks at home, and in their wallets. By making it a priority to help Americans achieve energy savings, our leaders can provide real help to struggling families.
Government has a big role to play in bringing energy savings to consumers. In fact, existing federal efficiency standards for appliances alone will have saved consumers a net $1.1 trillion by 2035, according to a recent report.
Cutting electricity use is also one of the best ways we can create good jobs for Americans. Upgrading and constructing buildings is labor-intensive, and the work has to be performed on-site, which creates lots of jobs -- jobs that stay in local communities.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phaedra-ellislamkins/its-summertime-and-energy_b_1601262.html?utm_hp_ref=greenShare This Post
Sunday, June 17, 2012
The headquarters of San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission was conceived in 2007 with aspirations to be the greenest office building in the urban United States.
As the sleek, 13-story box at 525 Golden Gate Ave. is readied for its Wednesday ribbon-cutting, reality falls short of the early grand vision. But the finished product still includes sustainable design features that push the norm and - most promising of all from an architectural standpoint - enliven the building's presence on the skyline and along the sidewalk.
You see this in the unusual landscaping along Polk Street that blurs the line between inside and out, and the horizontal blades of opaque glass that soften the appearance of the side of the building that faces City Hall. Above Golden Gate Avenue are the most expressive strokes of all: four egg-beater-like wind turbines on view behind a 200-foot-high, 22-foot-wide curtain of polycarbonate squares that ripple in the wind and, when the sun goes down, form a grid of flickering lights.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/06/17/BA4S1P2A9P.DTLShare This Post
Replacing gasoline in our cars could be an energy game changer. Here's what we need to do to get from here to there.
By TOM FOWLER June 18, 2012
America has a wealth of natural gas in the ground. So, how do we get it into our cars?
To see the locations of natural-gas fueling stations around the U.S., click on the "CNG" and "LNG" tabs above this map .
The recent deluge of low-cost shale gas is already changing the way the country runs. Electric utilities are turning to gas to power their turbines, and chemical companies that rely on the fuel are coming back to the U.S. after years of investing overseas.
But the holy grail is transportation.
Every day, we consume 70% of our oil getting from place to place—and produce more than 30% of our greenhouse gases along the way. If we could run our vehicles on natural gas, it could kill two birds with one stone: Not only is natural gas a lot cheaper than oil right now, but its emissions are much cleaner than gasoline or diesel.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304192704577406431047638416.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Published Sunday, Jun. 17, 2012
The train – its cars full of government officials, families, students, business people and a few tourists – leaves Oakland, rolls along the edge of San Pablo Bay, travels past wetlands and cropland and arrives in Sacramento.
During the two-hour trip, the scenery is stunning – everything from a view of Marin County's mountains across the bay to glimpses of small, isolated homes beside wetlands populated by egrets, ducks, geese and red-winged blackbirds.
If someone had told me in the 1970s, when I lived and worked in Sacramento, that a few decades hence such a passenger-filled train would exist and that it would be a national leader with its on-time performance record, I would have dismissed that person as a befuddled dreamer.
California's love affair with the automobile has been, as we all know, notorious.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/17/4565878/capitol-corridor-hums-along.htmlShare This Post
An environmental meeting this week in Brazil may not accomplish much of note. But promoters say that's OK.
By JOHN BIERS June 18, 2012
Thousands of officials from government, business and other groups are converging on Rio this week to advance the cause of sustainable development. Their timing couldn't be worse.
The conference, led by the United Nations, comes as leading Western powers struggle to recover from one of the worst economic downturns in memory. The event also comes hot on the heels of other global environmental gatherings that have fallen short of hopes, leading to summit fatigue and diminished expectations.
Some news coverage has already depicted the meeting as a failure, in part because some prominent world leaders won't attend and in part because there isn't a clear agenda to frame the discussion.
But supporters say the problem isn't with the summit. Instead, they argue, the problem stems from unrealistic expectations. They believe that the summits can succeed—if people start to think about the kinds of things that such events can accomplish, instead of simply focusing on what they can't.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303360504577409740365832330.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post