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This article was published on 07.24.14.
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New water contracts would cover 25 to 40 years. CN&R, 09.02.04.
Nestlé opens a new bottled-water plant in Sacramento. SN&R, 07.30.09.
Sacramento’s uncharted water shortage isn’t just a blip. This is the new reality. SN&R, 02.06.14.
Sacramento reduced its water consumption by 13 percent in May compared to how much we used during the three prior years, according to recent reports in The Sacramento Bee. (That’s still 7 percent above the governor’s requested 20 percent, but who’s keeping track?) Still, we are obviously in the middle of the worst drought in a generation.
Some of us are letting our lawns turn brown—or “gold,” as publicists for the state point out—plus shortening our showers, keeping the car dirty, and trying all sorts of other conservation tricks.
Other parts of the state aren’t doing as well. In fact, water consumption in California’s urban south, along the coast from Los Angeles to the border, is actually up 8 percent. That’s unacceptable.
But what’s even more frustrating is realizing that even though Sacramentans are reducing what comes out of our taps and is wasted down the drain, other people in this community are making a huge profit on water.
We’re thinking specifically of Nestlé, the corporate giant that opened a water-bottling plant—over many objections—in south Sacramento in 2009. While it took a while to get up and running, the plant is estimated to bottle more than 200,000 gallons of water per day.Share This Post
By Matthew Philips July 23, 2014
In the latest chapter of the exploding oil trains saga, the Obama administration has finally released its proposal on how to make them safer and, hopefully, less prone to blowing up. The fixes include phasing out old tank cars, enforcing lower speed limits, using better brakes, and possibly making railroads reroute trains containing large amounts of oil around populated areas.
To read the entire article go to: http://origin-www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-23/the-white-house-has-a-plan-to-stop-oil-train-explosions-eventuallyShare This Post
Why were 50 earthmovers grading a massive site near Reno on Sunday?
July 22, 2014
It appears that work has already begun on the site of the new $5 billion Tesla Giga factory near Reno, Nevada. It's the planned location of the world's largest lithium-ion battery factory and the potential enabler of lower-cost Tesla electric vehicles.
It's either that or a really big pizza factory.
Yesterday, our unnamed source (Bob Tregilus) hiked a few high-desert ridges in Storey County, Nevada to take pictures of 50 earthmovers moving earth at a site that Tregilus estimated to be large enough to accommodate the proposed 10-million-square-foot factory. Tregilus has also heard whispers about a secret project from construction industry folks and locals.Share This Post
Elias Hinckley argues that utilities can benefit by taking oil’s share of the transportation market.
July 22, 2014
Energy use in the U.S. can be split into two large pies. One pie is electricity use in homes, buildings and industry. The other is transportation, which is powered primarily by liquid fuels like gasoline and diesel.
There are some exceptions, as well as a few overlapping categories of fuel use. For example, there's direct industrial use of liquid fuel (a fairly significant quantity), some liquids burned to make electricity (this used to be a significant amount, but is now only a very small amount), and now a very small amount of electricity used to power electric vehicles (EVs).
American consumers spend, on average, more than $1 billion every day on each of these energy uses.
Electric utilities have never made a serious effort to attack the transportation market at scale. Historically, this made sense. Transportation infrastructure was built around liquid fuels and there was no viable electric-drive alternative.
Within the past few years, a technological transformation has occurred in the electric vehicle sector. The possibility of a utility taking a piece of the oil companies’ market share is becoming much more likely.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Electric-Vehicles-Offer-a-Major-Growth-Opportunity-for-Utilities?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDailyShare This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALDJULY 22, 2014
CORTLANDT, N.Y. — A giant power plant that kills tiny fish eggs is leading engineers, government officials, politicians and advocates of all stripes into a fourth year of debate about which side represents concern for the environment, and whether the fish are actually the issue.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation opened hearings on Tuesday on renewing water quality permits for the Indian Point nuclear reactors and possibly shutting them down for two or three hot-weather months during the Hudson River’s peak fish migration season, as an alternative to building two cooling towers. No decision will come for at least another two years “at the very earliest,” according to the department.
The idea is ostensibly to reduce the number of small aquatic organisms that are parboiled when they are sucked through its cooling water intake system, or killed when they hit the intake screens.
Riverkeeper, a group focused on the Hudson, asserts that the plants have killed a billion fish a year for the last 40 years, which it characterizes as a “severe” impact.
The department is seeking to force the plant, owned by Entergy, to get the water permits as part of its license renewal, and favors cooling towers as the “best technology available.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/nyregion/hearings-on-water-permits-for-indian-pt.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By Roger Drouin
Citizens trying to stop the piping of tar-sands oil through their community wore blue “Clear Skies” shirts at a city council meeting in South Portland, Maine, this week. But they might as well have been wearing boxing gloves. The small city struck a mighty blow against Canadian tar-sands extraction.
“It’s been a long fight,” said resident Andy Jones after a 6-1 city council vote on Monday to approve the Clear Skies Ordinance, which will block the loading of heavy tar-sands bitumen onto tankers at the city’s port.
The measure is intended to stop ExxonMobil and partner companies from bringing Albertan tar-sands oil east through an aging pipeline network to the city’s waterfront. Currently, the pipeline transports conventional oil west from Portland to Canada; the companies want to reverse its flow.Share This Post
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says its new plan for vetting proposals to sell liquefied natural gas overseas is aimed at streamlining the review process, but energy companies and aspiring exporters say the government’s approach could have the opposite effect.
“The proposed changes . . . will actually exacerbate delays in the current review process for LNG export authorizations” and “create regulatory uncertainty,” said Erik Milito, upstream director for the American Petroleum Institute, in written comments filed with the Energy Department.
The Energy Department’s proposed approach, announced in May, would prioritize reviews for more commercially advanced projects, instead of considering natural gas export applications on a first-come, first-served order largely based on when they were filed. Under the proposal, the department would wait to evaluate export applications until the projects first have cleared separate environmental reviews, usually while being vetted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/07/22/industry-pans-feds-plan-for-gas-exports/Share This Post
Hint: They don’t hate them.
July 22, 2014
Despite a surge of interest, microgrid development in the U.S. has been one giant R&D experiment.
There is just over a gigawatt worth of microgrids scattered throughout the country. While many of those projects have proved their value during major storms or extended outages, they are largely custom-engineered and limited to public facilities like schools, hospitals and military bases. They're also highly dependent on fossil fuels, rather than renewables.
That is slowly starting to change. According to a recent report from GTM Research, microgrid development is expected to grow by around 700 to 800 megawatts in the next three years. Some of those new projects will extend to private commercial operations and include solar PV, battery storage and biogas, but the vast majority will still be based on the traditional model.
"The applications are still largely limited," said Timothy Qualheim, VP of Strategy Solutions at S&C Electric Company. "The non-governmental projects are still less than 10 percent of the market, and a lot of them are pet projects."
So how can microgrids evolve into something more significant than one-off installations limited to a narrow set of customers? There is not a single, simple answer. A lot will depend on improvements to state-level planning, how energy markets value ancillary services, the frequency of outages, the economics of distributed energy and how ownership models change.
As grid planners sort through those matters and attempt to streamline the development process, another big question arises: What role will utilities play in these projects?Share This Post
A complex network of communications to automate the grid edge and integrate distributed energy
July 22, 2014
Distributed intelligence is all the rage in the smart grid industry these days. The idea is to turn smart meters, grid-hardened routers and other devices into computing platforms, capable of analyzing and processing floods of data at the speeds needed to manage disruptions that happen too fast for central systems to handle.
It’s a tricky endeavor, requiring a marriage of hardware, networking and software to manage multiple tasks. So far, two key contenders for utility platforms have been Silver Spring Networks, with its SilverLink Sensor Network technology, and Cisco, with its Linux-enabled IOx grid router. Both have a host of software vendors building apps to do everything from disaggregate household energy usage to manage grid voltage on circuits with lots of solar PV.
Underlying that premise, however, is the assumption that the underlying “platform” -- a bunch of hardened grid computers, linked by wireless networks -- is cleaning, filtering, analyzing, condensing and sharing all that data at the level required to make real-world decisions. These are the areas of expertise that Vancouver, B.C.-based startup Bit Stew has staked out, and on Tuesday it announced that it’s taking them to the edge, embedded in Cisco’s connected grid router (CGR) platform.Share This Post
Posted: 07/22/2014 07:15:34 PM PDT
Major water districts in California are quietly considering using property taxes -- and possibly raising them without a vote of the public -- to help fund Gov. Jerry Brown's $25 billion plan to build two massive tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Most property tax hikes require a two-thirds vote, as required under California's landmark Proposition 13, which voters passed in 1978. But the water agencies contend they are not bound by that requirement.
They say they were given the authority to raise property taxes to pay for the State Water Project, a vast system of dams and canals, in both a 1959 law and a year later in a statewide ballot measure. And those predate Proposition 13.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_26198239/property-taxes-could-pay-25-billion-delta-tunnels?source=rssShare This Post
By Matt Weiser
Published: Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014 - 11:39 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014 - 11:38 pm
State and federal wildlife agencies Tuesday unveiled ambitious plans to restore endangered salmon and steelhead fish in California’s Central Valley, including returning them to some habitats where they were shut out decades ago by dams and other development.
Although the two plans differ somewhat, officials said they both aim to prevent extinction of three species: endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, and threatened Central Valley steelhead.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/07/22/6574107/state-feds-unveil-central-valley.htmlShare This Post
By JAD MOUAWAD JULY 23, 2014
Federal regulators said Wednesday that they would require railroads and oil shippers to use stronger tank cars to transport crude oil across the nation within two years, offering a speedier timetable than initially expected in response to a spate of derailments and spills involving oil trains over the last year.
The timetable is faster than a similar effort in Canada, which plans to phase out older tank cars within three years.
The proposed rules announced by the Transportation Department offer a wide range of measures to enhance the safety of oil trains, many of which had already been adopted by railroads on a voluntary basis in recent months, such as notifying state emergency responders about train traffic, reducing speed limits or picking the safest route.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/business/government-proposes-faster-changes-in-rail-tank-cars.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 07/22/14, 11:07 PM PDT |
An oil-by-rail project that could lower California gas prices and reduce the state’s reliance on foreign oil is facing increasing opposition over environmental concerns.
Tesoro Corp. has partnered with Savage Companies on plans to build an energy distribution terminal in Vancouver, Wash. The oil would be brought to the facility by rail and then shipped by tankers and barges to California refineries where it would be converted into gasoline.
Tesoro hopes to begin shipping up to 360,000 barrels of North American crude a day to the port by the middle of next year. The project, they say, would provide “a viable domestic alternative” to foreign supply options.
But a string of fiery rail crashes has some fearing that Tesoro’s project could cause more of the same.
A rail accident that occurred late last year in Casselton, N.D., forced residents to evacuate the town. Another July 2013 derailment in Quebec, Canada, spewed about 1.6 million gallons of crude which ignited a fire that killed 47 people.
“Those crashes have to do with non-qualifed tankers cars that don’t have enough reinforcement to haul the oil,” industry analyst Bob van der Valk said. “When they crash the bottom just falls apart.”
That has put pressure on the oil industry and regulators to improve the safety of oil shipments.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sbsun.com/article/20140722/NEWS/140729827Share This Post
By Ben Adler
When I travel to a rural area, I assume that renting a car will be a necessity. In fact, I assume it in much of the U.S. Except in a few older coastal or Upper Midwest inner cities, it’s hard to get around in America without driving. So imagine my surprise upon arriving in Aspen, Colo., for a reporting trip and the Aspen Ideas Festival, and finding that a surprisingly good bus system and bike-share program could get me almost everywhere I needed to go. And it didn’t cost an arm and a leg — just an arm. A broken arm. It turns out Aspen is so pro-pedestrian that it can actually create difficulties for visiting cyclists. But that’s not the worst problem to have.Share This Post
By ANDREW E. KRAMERJULY 22, 2014
MOSCOW — Exxon Mobil, which is assisting a Russian state energy company in exploring the Arctic Ocean for oil and natural gas, took a pivotal step to further this project over the weekend.
A drilling rig to be operated by Exxon set sail from Norway on Saturday, two days after the downing of a passenger airliner in Ukraine led to mounting pressure in the United States and Europe for new sanctions against Russia. Those sanctions could target the country’s important energy industry.
For the Russian oil industry, much is riding on this summer’s prospecting mission to the Kara Sea, the body of water between the northern coast of European Russia and the Novaya Zemlya island chain. Russia depends on petroleum for about 60 percent of its export revenue, and for geopolitical clout, while on-land fields in Siberia are in decline.Share This Post