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Kathleen Wolf Davis | Mar 04, 2014
By Brittany Bynum
Duke Energy has proposed to nearly double its capacity for solar energy in North Carolina by the end of 2015.
The corporation currently has 350 megawatts of solar power from developers, which compares to the size of a small power plant, according to Randy Wheeless, communications manager of Duke Energy. With the new proposal, Duke Energy will add an additional 300 megawatts of power by renewable means. (See a hosted image map of the sites at this link.)
To read the entire article go to: http://www.intelligentutility.com/article/14/03/duke-energy-proposes-plans-brighter-cleaner-future?utm_source=2014_03_05&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=IU_DAILY&utm_content=243426Share This Post
By Eve Andrews
The U.S. agriculture and energy sectors might be facing a Jets and Sharks situation: Our railroad system just ain’t big enough for the two of them! Unfortunately, this scenario is unlikely to involve a highly choreographed mambo dance-off, not that we wouldn’t love to see Rex Tillerson’s moves. He’d make a great Bernardo.
American farmers are becoming concerned that coal and oil companies’ increased use of railroad shipping will crowd out grain trains. The Western Organization of Resource Councils warns in a recent report that railway congestion will only increase in coming years, especially as coal export facilities are built up in the Pacific Northwest. The report largely focuses on traffic between the coal-rich Powder River Basin region of southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming, and port cities such as Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, Wash.
Compounding the coal issue, oil transport by train has exponentially increased in recent years. There were more than 40 times as many oil shipments by rail last year as there were just five years prior.
From the WORC report:Share This Post
By Ben Adler
10 Mar 2014 6:49 PM
The media was impressed by a piece of good news on Monday: Last year, the number of trips Americans took on mass transit reached its highest point since 1956, according to a report from the American Public Transportation Association. Unfortunately, stories on the subject are leaving out an important statistic: How many Americans were there in 1956?
The answer, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is 168.9 million. In 2013, the population was 314.1 million. Keep that in mind when you read articles about transit ridership’s rebound.
The New York Times, for example, devoted 651 words to its story on the new report. It listed the well-established reasons that transit use is rising: Gas prices are going up and younger people are less addicted to driving. And it notes the relevant fact that mass transit ridership is rising faster than population growth. So it is rising in relative terms.
But the Times neglects to point out the larger relative term: Compared to 60 years ago (when mass transit systems were actually less comfortable; the New York City subway wasn’t even air-conditioned), transit ridership is way down. The important number, after all, isn’t total transit trips taken, it’s total transit trips divided by population. Since our population has nearly doubled since 1956, that means our transit use has been cut in half.
Americans made a series of disastrous decisions in the 1950s through roughly 2005, moving us heavily toward suburban sprawl and driving. And we kept on making them even in the face of gathering evidence that they were contributing to the environmental catastrophe of climate change. A shift back toward a better system is worth celebrating, but keep the champagne corked until we’ve actually increased the percentage of Americans taking mass transit, not just improved slightly from a terrible low point.
Ben Adler covers climate change policy for Grist. When he isn't contemplating the world's end, he writes about cities, politics, architecture, and media. You can follow him on Twitter.Share This Post
By Michael Cabanatuan Updated 5:18 am, Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Aside from the cable cars, and that oh-so-rare bus that shows up on time with plenty of empty seats, riding the F-Market line's historic streetcars seems to be everybody's favorite Muni experience. That may explain the strong reaction to a Municipal Transportation Agency proposal to triple the cost of riding the restored streetcars to $6.
Commuters, visitors, merchants and tourism officials have hopped on board the streetcar of opposition being piloted by the Market Street Railway, a volunteer group that helps Muni preserve the historic F-Market line cars. Last week, Supervisors David Chiu and Scott Wiener joined the effort.
"We think this is a terrible idea," said Rick Laubscher, president of the Market Street Railway. "Opposition to this goes so deep."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Plan-would-triple-cost-of-riding-S-F-s-historic-5305166.phpShare This Post
March 10, 2014, 12:19 pm
Over the weekend, ahead of a round of low-level climate treaty talks that kicked off today in Bonn, Germany, Secretary of State John Kerry sent a fresh signal that he plans to keep global warming at the top of the State Department’s agenda.
The signal came in the form of Kerry’s first policy guidance message to all of his far-flung diplomats. Here’s an excerpt and link to the full document:
The Secretary’s Policy Guidance on Elevating Climate Change Across All Our Platforms
The environment has been one of the central causes of my life. I was just 26 when I participated in the very first Earth Day at home in Massachusetts. It was an eye-opening immersion into the power of grassroots action to force an issue onto the national radar screen and demand change. More than 20 million Americans–fully one-tenth of our country’s population at the time–came together to express a wake-up call. And they didn’t stop there. They elected a Congress that passed the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and the first wave of legislation that set us on a path to change the face of the planet we share with the rest of humanity.
To read the entire article go to: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/kerry-orders-u-s-diplomats-to-press-case-for-climate-action/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Germany has a bold plan for a clean-energy future. A majority of the public is on board even though they're paying a steep price – but industry is balking.
By David J. Unger, Staff writer / March 9, 2014
Rich silver deposits first lured settlers to Germany's Freiburg im Breisgau back in the 12th century, but today this quaint city is anything but medieval. Freiburg is a prototype for a clean-energy future that Germany is aggressively pursuing.
Nations across the globe are looking increasingly to wind, water, and the sun to power their economies in the decades to come. But Germany stands apart as a global leader in the industrialized world's push to limit fossil-fuel consumption. Forging a stable path to a post-carbon economy would be a watershed moment in human history – not to mention a tremendous economic boon for whoever finds the way. But it will not be easy to shift off the coal, oil, and natural gas that have powered global economic development for centuries.
In Freiburg – where silicon has overtaken silver as the city's focus – the energy transition is getting a trial run.
Solar panels line the train station's glassy facade, from which visitors alight into a bustling shopping district. Photovoltaic panels top the pitched roofs of churches, schools, and houses in sleepy residential quarters and help power the local soccer stadium and city hall. Students from all over the world study renewable-energy engineering at the University of Freiburg, established under the Habsburgs more than 500 years ago. After they graduate, they might get a job up the street at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Europe's largest solar research facility.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2014/0309/Germany-s-aggressive-push-for-a-clean-energy-future-videoShare This Post
Record-shattering 5,000 megawatt & 2,500 megawatt solar projects get green light in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir
March 4, 2014
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Martin Sojka
The largest solar power plant in the world is a California project 550 megawatts (MW) in size. Dwarfing that, the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has just given the green light to a 5,000 MW solar project and a 2,500 MW solar project. Granted, these projects will likely be composed of many separate solar power plants. Nonetheless, 7,500 MW is about three-fourths of the entire solar power capacity in the United States at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2013.
These solar projects totaling 7,500 MW add on to a 4,000 MW solar "ultra mega" project that recently received a memorandum of understanding in another Indian state, Rajasthan. Again, a little simple math shows that these three projects together would have a power capacity surpassing all the solar power installed in the US. Staggering.Share This Post
3/05/2014 @ 2:50PM 2,213 views
What’s happening in Kansas could be happening in your state. It’s not completely clear that the efforts to rollback the statewide renewable energy requirements there — and in 16 other states — will succeed. But it is obvious that, nationally, the tax preference given to renewables is fading.
Here’s the parallel: Most free market planners are opposed to mandatory statutes that require utilities to offer certain amounts of green energy. Kansas has those, along with about 30 states — in some form or another. Meantime, the production tax credit given to wind energy expired at year-end 2013. While it could get resurrected in a tax compromise, it could also permanently die down.
Just how state legislators and federal lawmakers resolve those issues will have profound economic consequences: Utilities are devising their portfolio strategies while the associated businesses are trying to make their hiring plans. Reaching an equilibrium is never easy.Share This Post
By David Siders
Published: Saturday, Mar. 8, 2014 - 10:53 pm
Activists protesting Brown’s permissiveness of hydraulic fracturing, a controversial form of oil extraction, held signs and chanted feet from the podium where Brown addressed the California Democratic Party’s annual convention. The demonstration provoked Brown to defend his environmental record and to accuse environmentalists, like other Californians, of driving too much.
“All you guys who like to make noise, just listen a moment,” Brown said. “Californians, and most of you included, are driving over 330 billion miles a year. Three hundred and thirty billion miles a year, and 99 percent is fossil fuel.”
The exchange overshadowed Brown’s first major speech since announcing just more than a week ago that he will seek re-election. The activists gained attention in part because of the boisterousness of their protest and in part because Brown – facing relatively safe election prospects – said little on any other subject he has not said before.
“You can be sure that everything that needs to be done to fight climate change that we can accomplish, we’ll do it,” Brown said. “And I ask all of you, every one of you in this room, to join in a crusade to protect our climate, to find other ways of mobility, and to make sure this California dream is alive and well both now and for generations to come.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/03/08/6221247/environmentalists-protest-gov.htmlShare This Post
on March 07, 2014 at 5:07 PM, updated March 07, 2014 at 5:18 PM
COLUMBUS - The "sweet spot" in Ohio's Utica shale is turning out to be much smaller than once believed, a veteran state geologist has concluded.
But the production so far from that small area has pushed companies that build gas processing plants into a construction frenzy in an effort to handle the billions cubic feet of gas being produced, according to an executive from a leading "midstream" company building in Ohio.
Larry Wickstrom, the former chief geologist for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and now in private business, told the 1500 attending the Ohio Oil and Gas Association's annual winter conference on Friday that the most productive wells drilled so far are in a strip that runs from Carroll County in the North to Washington County in the south.
"The real hot spot on the play will be more toward the south than some folks originally thought," he said.
Wickstrom noted that he has assembled privately available data and limited public data for his conclusions, not the final production data for all of 2013 that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has yet to publish.
Peter MacKenzie, the association's vice president of operations, on Thursday estimated that Ohio gas wells produced more than 203 billion cubic feet of gas in 2013 - more than double the 89.4 billion cubic feet produced in 2012.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2014/03/utica_shale_play_smaller_than.htmlShare This Post
Sand is used in the fracking process, and there's plenty of it to be mined in the upper Midwest. As a sand-mining boom has emerged, residents are divided over whether it's lifting or ruining their communities.
By Richard Mertens, Correspondent / March 9, 2014
Sand has become a valuable – and deeply divisive – commodity in the upper Midwest. Hydraulic fracturing, a method of extraction also known as fracking that has boosted oil and natural gas production across the United States, requires sand, and there's plenty of it here. And so in dozens of small towns and rural townships in Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and especially Wisconsin, the demand for frac sand, as it's called, has brought a surge of new mining activity. Scores of companies have poured in, eager to take advantage of the thick sandstone that underlies the bluffs and ridges of the region's picturesque river country.
The sand rush has created jobs and enriched landowners, but it also has divided neighbors, strained local governments, and set off fierce debates over its benefits and its costs to the land, public health, and quality of life.
"I don't think we were surprised that they found ways to extract it," says John Kimmel, the mayor of Arcadia, a town of 3,000 residents in Wisconsin's Trempealeau County. "I think we were surprised at the effect it's had on the community – and on how many mines have just started to pop up all over."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2014/0309/Next-fracking-controversy-In-the-Midwest-a-storm-brews-over-frac-sand-videoShare This Post
LUSBY, Md. — Sixty miles from the nation’s capital, on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, seven massive natural gas tanks tower over white pipelines that snake into the sea.
Their destination is an offshore dock one mile from the coast, with two piers that jut like outstretched arms into the water, waiting for massive tankers to unload liquefied natural gas destined for customers along the East Coast.
But Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Resources now wants to turn its entire Cove Point operation around, reversing the flow so it can liquefy the natural gas now pouring out of Pennsylvania wells and load it onto tankers bound for India and Japan.
Dominion’s plan to expand the 40-year-old Cove Point LNG terminal is one of roughly two dozen similar ventures around the United States aimed at exploiting the current drilling boom and giving natural gas producers a crack at Asian markets hungry for the fossil fuel.
The company has said the gas liquefied at its Cove Point facility could come from fields across the United States — including wells as far away as Texas — though the Marcellus is a likely source. For the next two decades, the natural gas would go to Tokyo’s Sumitomo Corp. and New Delhi-based GAIL India.
To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/03/09/stakes-are-high-for-lng-export-plan/Share This Post
Posted: 03/07/2014 3:46 pm EST Updated: 03/07/2014 3:59 pm EST
Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center
In the overheated Capitol Hill politics, even energy efficiency is controversial. The bipartisan team of Senators Shaheen and Portman unfortunately face considerable hurdles in their common sense efforts to advance focused energy efficiency legislation.
By contrast, in the Midwest Heartland, there is a quiet revolution as game changing energy efficiency is moving forward. Midwest electricity demand is declining on a weather-normalized basis. This is attributable to:
1. Energy efficiency programs that utilities, environmental organizations and consumer groups are working together to design and effectively implement in several Midwest states. $2.5-$3 billion of energy efficiency program investments over the past several years are, indeed, moving the needle.
2. Federal appliance efficiency standards that are having an impact as people and business purchase new products and equipment. The much more energy efficient new models are replacing less efficient appliances and other equipment.
3. The technological improvements in lighting, air conditioners, refrigerators and chillers, a wide range of appliances, furnaces, computers, big-screen TVs and pumps and motors that people are installing in their homes and businesses. They're all more energy efficient which saves business and residential consumers money on their utility bills while also reducing pollution.
All of this is occurring at a time of overall Midwest regional economic growth.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-learner/game-changing-quiet-revol_b_4921199.htmlShare This Post
By Rebecca Leber on March 7, 2014 at 1:33 pm
BP CEO Robert Dudley had a busy year fighting the massive settlement he agreed to in 2012 that would pay for economic losses from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. His corporation may still be mired in lawsuits, but Dudley received a big pay raise last year that is worth triple his total pay from 2012. Counting his salary, bonus, and stock options, Dudley’s compensation was $8.7 million. With his pension included, Dudley cleared $13.2 million.
“BP has made strong progress over the past three years under Bob Dudley’s leadership – particularly in areas such as safety, operations and building for the future through reserve replacement – and his remuneration reflects this,” a BP spokesman said. “The great majority of his potential pay is directly dependent on BP’s performance in areas essential both to the delivery of the company’s strategy and to the long-term interests of its shareholders.”
When it comes to Dudley’s peers, CEO salaries are not a great indicator of performance. In the financial sector, 32 percent of the best-paid CEOs were the ones who would get bailouts, were fired, or caught for fraud. In 2010, when BP was still in damage-control over the spill, GOP lawmakers blocked raising the liability cap for oil spills at $75 million, which Democrats argued was a bailout for oil disasters. In fact, after former CEO Tony Hayward resigned from BP, he walked away with a year’s worth of salary, totaling $1.6 million and a $17 million pension. BP and the rest of the oil industry also continue to benefit from $4 billion in annual federal tax breaks.
Dudley now leads one of the most profitable oil companies in the world, pulling in a $13.4 billion profit last year. His leadership also includes defending BP’s aggressive legal tactics to lower its debts over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Payments to residents and local businesses “are going out to pay people who suffered, in many cases, no losses from the spill,” Dudley said in an interview last year. “And this is just not right. I don’t think it’s right for America.” But BP lost another one of its appeals this Tuesday to change the terms of its settlement with local businesses it claims filed exaggerated or invented losses. BP has so far paid a little over a third of a total $9.2 billion estimate.Share This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALDMARCH 9, 2014
Lessons From Fukushima
Three years after a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the crisis is still unfolding. In the United States, the disaster served as a warning to the nuclear industry.
PEACH BOTTOM, Pa. — Stored near the twin nuclear reactors here, safely above the flood level of the Susquehanna River, is a gleaming new six-wheel pickup truck with a metal blade on the front that can plow away debris from an earthquake or other disaster. Attached to the back is a trailer that carries a giant diesel-powered pump that can deliver 500 gallons of water a minute.
If the operators at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan had owned such equipment when the tsunami struck three years ago Tuesday, they might have staved off disaster, plant operators say.
Now, here at the Peach Bottom nuclear plant, which has the same design as Fukushima Daiichi, engineers and technicians are busy applying such lessons, preparing for a worst-case scenario even worse than the plant’s designers envisioned in the 1970s.
“After Fukushima, we have to ask, what if we were wrong?” said Michael Pacilio, Exelon’s chief nuclear officer, showing off the truck and other purchases.
Exelon operates 17 of the 100 commercial power reactors in this country, and expects to spend $400 million to $500 million in post-Fukushima upgrades
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/business/after-fukushima-utilities-prepare-for-worst.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0Share This Post