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Will South Florida be the shortest-lived state in the union?

By Eve Andrews 22 Oct 2014 4:31 PM

Original source:

Philip Stoddard, mayor of South Miami, Fla., has expressed that the city — and much of the rest of the state of Florida — would like to secede from its motherland. Honestly, fair! Florida is widely recognized as the State That Sense Forgot, so I’d also be trying to get the hell out of dodge.

Kidding (sort of)! The real reason for Stoddard’s breakup threats is that he’s fed up with the state’s refusal to comprehensively address sea-level rise, which threatens to wipe out the southern end of Florida. While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates sea-level rise to be between 1.7 and 3.2 feet before 2100, climate scientists have actually estimated the figures to be closer to 2.3 to 4 feet — and 6.5 to 9.8 feet by the year 2300. That is very, very bad news for a state that sits just barely above sea level.

From ThinkProgress:

“It’s very apparent that the attitude of the northern part of the state is that they would just love to saw the state in half and just let us float off into the Caribbean,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard said. “They’ve made that abundantly clear every possible opportunity and I would love to give them the opportunity to do that.”

Hmm. OK. This smacks a bit of the “You want to break up with me? FINE! I’m leaving anyway!!” approach, but for the sake of argument, we’ve put together a projection of how things look for South Florida if Stoddard makes good on his threat (a very, very, very unlikely prospect):

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Commentary: Solar to be leading source of electricity by 2050?

Posted on October 22, 2014 at 10:45 am by Matt Smith in Solar, Technology

Schneider Electric’s CMO, Chris Hummel, pondered recently on Twitter whether the IEA’s claim that solar energy could be the leading source of electricity by 2050 was achievable.

My initial reaction was hum-dee-dum…not a chance! Then I thought about it, then some more, grabbed my research shovel and started digging…

Wanting to benchmark this optimism with something familiar, I started close to home, and with California. For the golden state has the the most aggressive renewable energy target in the US, aiming to get 33% of its electricity needs from renewables by 2020. Not only is this an impressive target, but one it looks set to surpass. Not bad for a state with the same size economy as Brazil. (um, wow).

Perhaps solar’s goal was not as unachievable as I first thought. Expanding from the golden state to the other 49, I decided to next assess the entire US through the EIA’s long-term outlook. This was considerably less optimistic. It projects that renewables (solar and wind) will only account for 16% of total US electricity generation by 2040. By no means a small number, this incremental improvement is not even close to the acceleration needed to overtake fossil fuels:

To read the entire article go to:

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California fracking fight draws big money

Posted on October 22, 2014 at 4:13 pm by Joshua Cain in Hydraulic fracturing, Politics/Policy

A pair of ballot measures that would ban “high-intensity” oil and gas drilling operations in two California counties is getting a lot of attention from the oil and gas industry, with an industry-backed group pouring millions into an opposition campaign.

Measure P in Santa Barbara County would ban a list of techniques for unlocking underground oil and gas reservoirs, most notably hydraulic fracturing. The group sponsoring Measure P, Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, said the processes should be banned because of concerns over the chemicals used and because “the threatened proliferation of new wells threatens the County’s famed scenic vistas, robust tourism industry and quality of life.” Measure J in San Benito County listed similar concerns in its ballot text.

The industry-backed political action committee, Californians for Energy Independence, Including Energy Producers, said the bans would results in California losing 1,000 jobs and $16 million in local tax revenue. The group has received huge contributions from several Houston-based companies, including oil and gas giants Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum.

Local bans on the process are nothing new — hundreds of local counties across the country have outlawed the well stimulation technique responsible for the shale oil boom in the United States.

But the industry appears to be drawing a line in Santa Barbara and San Benito — Californians for Energy Independence has gathered $7.6 million in contributions to fight the measures, according to documents filed with the California Secretary of State. That number towers over contributions to the pro-ban side, which has recieved just $284,000 so far, according to the Santa Barbara Independent.

To read the entire article go to:

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FERC highlights New England gas markets as winter approaches

Posted on October 22, 2014 at 4:58 pm by Robert Grattan in Natural gas, Pipeline

HOUSTON — A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission study is warning that infrastructure constraints in New England could send the region’s natural gas prices soaring this winter from recent lows to among the highest in the world for a second year.

The commission’s Energy Market Assessment, delivered last week, noted that while forecasters didn’t expect the coming winter to be as severe as last year’s, there is a risk for a colder-than-normal season. The threat — combined with a continued infrastructure shortage — has sent an October measure of winter futures prices for gas near Boston to an average of more than $21, about 80 percent higher than traders bid them up before the last winter, according to the regulator’s analysts.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, oversees a large sector of the midstream and electricity industry.

After the briefing last week, commissioner Tony Clark laid out his interpretation of the problem: A lack of infrastructure has isolated natural gas markets in New England and the Northeast.

“That’s a huge concern,” Clark said at the presentation, “That seems to be what’s driving all this. It’s really not a supply problem that we have in this country, but we have a rather severe infrastructure problem.”

To read the entire article go to:

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Honeywell’s battle with Google’s Nest Labs over home thermostats heats up this winter

By John Funk, The Plain Dealer

on October 23, 2014 at 8:00 AM, updated October 23, 2014 at 8:06 AM

CLEVELAND --Two of the nation's technology giants are wooing Ohio consumers this winter with sophisticated thermostats.

Honeywell International, a global technology and manufacturing company and a maker of thermostats for more than 100 years, is poised to battle Google's Nest Labs, the inventor of the easily programmable and "self-learning" thermostat just three years ago.

Both are promising devices that will figure out how warm or cool you want your house to be, know when you are home or not and then save you over $100 or more annually in cooling and heating costs.

And, no surprise, each company's thermostat comes ready to communicate with its owner via smart phone, though the Nest device does not even require that.

The heated battle for consumer hearts and wallets won't be fought only in hardware stores and big box retailers such as Lowe's and Home Depot.

Each company has partnered with gas and power companies to create package deals aimed at helping the energy companies grab more customers and the smart thermostats get into more homes.

To read the entire article go to:

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Itron Extends Its Grid Edge Smarts to End Loads

Turning thermostats, pumps, AC units and water heaters into nodes of grid intelligence

Jeff St. John
October 22, 2014

Itron has taken the next logical step in its push to embed computing power and analytics capabilities in the devices that make up the smart grid -- by moving beyond the grid itself and into the devices that use its power.

On Monday, Itron announced that it’s expanding its “edge intelligence” platform to include smart thermostats, pool pumps, water heater and air conditioner controllers, and a host of other load control devices. It’s the first set of devices to be linked through Itron’s Riva platform -- the IPv6-capable, Linux-programmable distributed technology platform it developed with partner Cisco Systems over the past few years and officially unveiled last week.

To read the entire article go to:

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Here’s everything wrong with BP’s latest absurd self-defense

WEDNESDAY, OCT 22, 2014 11:44 AM PDT

While it's true that things could have been worse, the oil company is blatantly trying to whitewash recent history


Good news, everyone: BP didn’t ruin the Gulf of Mexico. It says so, right in the pages of Politico magazine, in an article called “No, BP Didn’t Ruin the Gulf.” It’s written by Geoff Morrell, who happens to be the senior vice president of U.S. communications and external affairs for the oil giant — so we can trust he knows what he’s talking about.

The claim that all is well – packaged this time around as a story about “How the Gulf Coast recovery defied expectations” — is actually old hat for BP, which has been assuring us of more or less the same thing since long before it had any real evidence to back up that claim. And this latest attempt remains a bit premature from a scientific perspective: As Morrell himself acknowledges, the federally conducted Natural Resource Damage Assessment, which will have the definitive word on the spill’s environmental and economic impact and set up a game plan for restoration, is not yet complete.

Still, it’s true that, even with the 11 deaths caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the wildlife lost in the spill’s immediate aftermath, the whole thing could have been a lot worse than, four years later, it’s turned out to be. Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco, who directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at the time of the spill, acknowledged as much in an interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune. ”But the caution is that we still don’t fully know the true nature, the true extent of the damage,” she continued, “which is why it’s so important that the ongoing damage assessment efforts continue.”

From a legal perspective, of course, the article’s timing makes a lot of sense: BP is still trying to get back damage payments it says it was never supposed to pay. (It has so far paid out about $4 billion of its $9.2 billion settlement of private damage claims.) And it’s still waiting to find out how liable it will be held under the Clean Water Act; the company could be on the line for up to $18 billion in fines, depending on how much oil a federal judge decides was spilled into the Gulf. It’s also possible that BP will be held responsible for punitive damages, which, as Fuel Fix explains, could leave even more plaintiffs eligible for payouts.

To read the entire article go to:

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Panasonic Teams Up With Powertree Services to Build Solar-Storage EV Chargers

The offering will combine vehicle charging with solar PV and battery backup.

Julia Pyper

October 22, 2014

Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company announced this week it's partnering with Powertree Services Inc. to build out 68 electric-vehicle charging stations combined with solar systems and battery storage at multi-unit residences in San Francisco.

The project provides several benefits to building owners. They can offer residents convenient EV charging powered by on-site PV panels. And the solar system, combined with batteries, can provide backup power in the event of a grid outage. The batteries also enable a more streamlined EV charger installation process by either deferring or eliminating the need for expensive electrical system upgrades at the housing facility.

To read the entire article go to:

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Enphase Charges Into the Energy Storage Market

Can the microinverter maker manage batteries like solar panels?

Eric Wesoff

October 21, 2014

Enphase didn't exhibit at last year's Solar Power International, but the microinverter specialist has traveled to Las Vegas this year with an improved microinverter -- and a bit of a surprise.

5th generation microinverter

Paul Nahi, Enphase's CEO, said the firm's fifth-generation microinverter is its "most technologically advanced microinverter -- this was not even possible to do when we started the company."

He noted that the 275-watt, 97 percent CEC efficiency microinverter "needed to address the complexity of the grid" with reactive power control, volt/VAR and ride-through.

Enphase claims that the new device is Rule 21-ready. (Rule 21 regulates grid-interconnected distributed generation resources, including customer-owned solar.) The unit is also fully bidirectional.

The storage surprise

To read the entire article go to:

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Energy Storage Is Preventing Blackouts But Its High Cost Is Impeding Progress

Ken Silverstein Contributor

I write about the global energy business.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

BUSINESS 10/21/2014 @ 8:00AM 2,646 views

Now that Duke Energy DUK +1.37% Corp. has successfully tested its wind-integrated energy storage project in Texas, what does that mean for the future of the technology?

The “Notrees Energy Storage Project” is not what the average person might envision — a battery that soaks up the grid’s electrons at night and then releases that electricity during the day if the wind is not blowing. While that’s the long term objective, the battery’s main function right now is to feed the electrical network with the energy it would need if a power surge occurs that would cause the grid to overload and the lights to go out.

“When we detect frequency changes, we will respond before the grid operator even knows that there has been problem,” says Jeff Gates, with Duke’s Notrees, in an interview with Public Utilities Fortnightly. The grid operator is the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which contracts with Duke to deliver electrons as needed — just as it would a traditional coal-or natural gas-fired generator. The project has been commercial since December 2012.

Simply, each time an industrial outlet or a residential customer uses electricity, the system operator is tasked with matching the demand with the existing supplies. And when something tips that balance, the “frequency” can fluctuate and machines will automatically shut down. That’s how cascading blackouts are started.

To read the entire article go to:

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How do SolarCity’s new bonds stack up against other green investments?

The California solar company’s new bonds offer a green middle ground between CDs and stocks. But are they the best option for private investors?

Clean-energy stocks’ performance over the last couple of years proves that it’s possible to do well – sometimes very well – while doing good. Unfortunately, it’s also possible to lose a lot of money.

Case in point: solar installer SolarCity’s stock value has more than quintupled since its 2012 IPO, but has fallen 40% since the start of the year. Swings like these are just too wild for many investors to stomach.

So the news that California-based SolarCity launched the first public offering of solar bonds last week likely piqued the interest of sustainability-minded investors seeking more stability. But how do these bonds really stack up against other sustainable investment options?

SolarCity’s bonds, which are available to retail investors in all 50 states, represent energy projects across the country. They start at $1,000, mature in one to seven years, and pay up to 4% interest. Buyers face no price risk – unlike volatile stock values, the bonds pay a fixed amount – but the bonds are backed only by the company’s ability to pay.

To read the entire article go to:

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This Startup Gets DOE Grant To Create A Solar FICO Score Card

GREEN TECH 10/22/2014 @ 2:42PM

Ucilia Wang Contributor

I write about renewable energy, electric cars and water tech

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

A solar analytics startup is set to receive a $500,000 federal grant to create a rating system that will help investors make solar power project investment decisions.

The project builds on a database of solar panel performance that the startup, KWh Analytics, created using a previous grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program. The new grant is part of the $53 million announced by the energy department to support solar R&D projects by businesses and universities.

California-based KWh, founded in 2012, has amassed the raw performance data of about 40,000 working systems of nearly 1 gigawatt from roughly a dozen states. The data, which include residential, commercial and utility-scale projects, come from banks and other investors who receive from KWh analyses of their projects’ energy output.

To read the entire article go to:

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Crunched for a day: Activists shut down Sacramento’s Nestlé plant

Protesters accuse corporation of exploiting city water during drought

By Nick Miller

This article was published on 10.23.14.

To read the entire article go to:

Apparently it’s pretty easy to close Sacramento’s largest water-bottling plant. At least for a day.

As early as 4 a.m. this past Thursday, protesters started arriving at south Sac’s Nestlé headquarters in hopes of turning off the water. A skeleton crew of Nestlé workers was already there at the main gate, inside the Florin Fruitridge Industrial Park, when the activists started taping off the driveway to block access to the facility. Employees then casually made a few phone calls and locked the main gate.

“And just like that, nobody else got in to work that day,” explained James “Faygo” Clark, who helped organize the protest.

Turns out, Nestlé had caught word of the shutdown on October 16, which organizers had planned on Facebook weeks in advance and on Twitter with the hashtag “#CrunchNestle.”

Clark says that, at the peak of the day, about 100 protesters took part in the action. Teams monitored the front and back entrances to the plant, holding signs that read “Water for people not profit” and “Wake up! We’re in a drought!” while preventing all trucks from entering. “And only two truckers got mad,” Clark said. Police observed the happenings, but there were no arrests.

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After an early bet on Tesla, Daimler cashes in

by Katie Fehrenbacher 17 HOURS AGO


Daimler was an early believer in Tesla, but now that the Silicon Valley car maker has grown up, it looks time to move on.

Tesla was an entirely different company five years ago. Back in the spring of 2009, when Tesla was in a more precarious position than it is today, German auto giant Daimler bought a 10 percent stake in Tesla, worth a reported $50 million at the time. The deal, which was accompanied by a battery supply partnership, was a crucial moment for the then-struggling and cash-strapped electric car startup.

Now a little over five years later, Daimler announced on Wednesday that is has sold off the remaining amount of its stake in Tesla for $780 million. That stake was actually down to 4 percent (from the original 10 percent), as Daimler had sold off almost half of its initial stake in Tesla to an investing arm of the government of Abu Dhabi a few months after it first bought it. That fifty million dollar investment valued Tesla at $550 million in 2009; today Tesla has a market cap of $29.3 billion.

To read the entire article go to:

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Sacramento crude oil transfers halted; air quality official says permit was granted in error


10/22/2014 11:16 AM 10/22/2014 9:43 PM

A Sacramento fuel distributor has agreed to stop unloading train shipments of crude oil at McClellan Business Park after the county’s top air quality official said his agency mistakenly skirted the state’s environmental rules by issuing a permit for the operation.

InterState Oil Co. said in a letter Wednesday to the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality District that as of Nov. 7 it will no longer use McClellan as a transfer station for crude oil shipments to the Bay Area.

The move settles a lawsuit filed in September by EarthJustice, a San Francisco-based environmental group, that contended the Sacramento air quality district should not have granted InterState Oil a permit to transfer crude oil from trains to tanker trucks bound for Bay Area oil refineries without a full environmental impact review.

To read the entire article go to:

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