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Southern California leaders to fight climate change’s effects on health


FILE- In this April 3, 2014, file photo, giant machines dig for brown coal at the open-cast mining Garzweiler near the city of Grevenbroich, western Germany. A global health commission organized by the prestigious British medical journal Lancet recommended in a report published Monday, June 22, 2015, substituting cleaner energy worldwide for coal will reduce air pollution and give Earth a better chance at avoiding dangerous climate change. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

By Susan Abram, Los Angeles Daily News

POSTED: 06/23/15, 6:06 PM PDT |


FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. A global health commission organized by the prestigious British medical journal Lancet recommended in a report published Monday, June 22, 2015, substituting cleaner energy worldwide for coal will reduce air pollution and give Earth a better chance at avoiding dangerous climate change. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

Climate change threatens to undermine the last 50 years in economic development and progress in global public health unless leaders from every sector work to change dependence on fossil fuels, a new report concluded.

The report, published Monday in The Lancet, Britain’s medical journal, is considered a major study on climate change and its effect on public health. The study’s authors build on a report released in 2009 and press for major changes over the next five years, including the rapid phase-out of the 2,200 coal-fired plants currently proposed globally.

Otherwise, the authors warn of more heat waves, floods, drought and the spread of disease, lack of food, displacement and mental health issues, all because of dependence on fossil fuels.

“Tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of this century,” according to the authors. “Many mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change are ‘no-regret’ options, which lead to direct reductions in the burden of ill health, enhance community resilience, alleviate poverty and address global inequity.”

Local health leaders who gathered Tuesday at downtown Los Angeles’ California Endowment headquarters pledged their commitment to work together and agreed with the report’s recommendations. Better access to more public transportation, bike paths, water conservation and other efforts need to continue to move forward in Southern California, many said. Those from the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and various environmental groups called on lawmakers to push for policies that would reduce emissions that poison the air.

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Debate over California’s renewable energy expansion goes through the roof

State could get half of its energy from renewable sources in the future

Policy would provide a boost to energy companies seeking to grow

Solar rooftop industry fears it will be left out


JUNE 23, 2015

A political fight over California’s renewable energy industry is playing out in the corridors of power, but it deals with something closer to home: your rooftop.

Capitol policymakers are advancing an ambitious proposal to have renewable sources generate half of the state’s electricity by 2030, up from the 33 percent benchmark already in law.

The full force of California’s political establishment backs the goal: Gov. Jerry Brown pitched the idea, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, has promoted it aggressively, and bills enshrining the new standard passed both the Senate and the Assembly with strong Democratic support.

The question now seems less whether the new goal will be enacted than how utilities will get there. With the clean energy industry anticipating an opportunity for more business, California’s rooftop solar firms are fighting to be included – and meeting resistance from other industry players.

“The rooftop solar is going to be a big policy issue,” said Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, who chairs the committee overseeing utilities and energy. “It’s also going to be a big political issue.”


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SunEdison Extends Solar-plus-Storage Ambitions with Green Charge Networks


A new solar-battery dynamic duo for California’s market

Jeff St. John
June 24, 2015

SunEdison has made some big moves into energy storage this year -- first by acquiring startup Solar Grid Storage and its pipeline of mid-Atlantic projects, and then by tapping Imergy’s flow batteries for off-grid projects in the developing world.

On Wednesday the solar and wind power developer revealed its plans for California, arguably the world’s biggest opportunity for energy storage, via a partnership with behind-the-meter battery startup Green Charge Networks. Under the strategic agreement, the two companies will jointly market and develop solar-storage projects, each providing its own low or no-cost financing, with an eye on capturing the lucrative energy-plus-demand charge opportunities in the state’s commercial and municipal sectors.

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Exxon Mobil halts production following California pipeline spill

Posted on June 23, 2015 | By Robert Grattan

HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil said Tuesday it had stopped production at three offshore platforms that shipped oil to an onshore processing plant isolated after a California pipeline ruptured and was shut down.

The May 19 breach of Plains All American’s 24-inch oil pipeline spilled up to 101,000 gallons of crude along the California coast and took the Santa Barbara County pipeline out of service. The shutdown closed off an artery connecting Exxon Mobil’s nearby Santa Ynez processing plant to refineries.

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As quake debate intensifies, Texas funds additional research

Posted on June 23, 2015 | By Rhiannon Meyers

Texas will deploy additional sensors to study a rash of earthquakes shaking the state as researchers try to determine whether the tremors are linked to the underground disposal of oilfield waste.

Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed a bill to spend $4.47 million over the next two years for a new seismic monitoring program to better pinpoint the location and source of the quakes.

“People are concerned and scared about the earthquakes and they want to get some answers,” said Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, who authored the original legislation. His proposed bill was later folded into the state’s supplemental budget.

The earthquake debate has intensified following a series of tremors that have rattled North Texas, including a record 4.0 earthquake that struck Johnson County in May. The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling in the state, found no evidence connecting the quake to wastewater injection wells.

However, a study led by Southern Methodist University earlier this year linked a rash of tremors in 2013 and 2014 to two nearby wells where drilling waste was injected underground at high pressures. In a hearing with state regulators earlier this month, the companies operating the wells, XTO Energy and EnerVest Operating, challenged the findings. XTO, Exxon’s natural gas subsidiary, said the tremors were natural occurrences because they happened 2.5 miles below the well.

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CA lines up plenty of power for summer

By Morgan Lee2:18 P.M.JUNE 23, 2015

Managers of the electrical grid announced Tuesday that plenty of power should be available this summer to meet demands in the San Diego area, despite some reductions in power supplies from drought conditions.

Southern California electricity demands typically hit their peak during hot summer and early autumn as a result of energy-intensive air conditioning systems. Meanwhile, a prolonged drought is reducing reserves of hydro electric power at dams, mostly in Northern California.

The drought may trigger more electricity imports from outside the state, but should not affect reliability, according to the state’s main grid manager, the California Independent System Operator.

The organization expects electricity supplies to exceed peak demands by 25 percent under normal weather conditions, or by 9.5 percent under the kind of extreme heat wave that arrives once in a decade.

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US Microgrid Capacity Will More Than Double by 2020—and Include a Lot More Renewables


UC San Diego

Grid Edge Live 2015 kicks off with a look at the increasingly diverse microgrid market.

Julia Pyper
June 23, 2015

A decade ago, microgrids were mostly the subject of academic research papers. Today, they are becoming a reality.

Over the next five years, the cumulative operational capacity of microgrids in the U.S. is expected to more than double, from 1,283 megawatts in 2015 to 2,855 megawatts by 2020, according to the latest figures from GTM Research. Total microgrid market value over this period is expected to exceed $3.5 billion.

“This trend signals a shift toward increasing commercial viability,” said Omar Saadeh, GTM senior analyst, who kicked off the Grid Edge Live microgrid pre-conference today in San Diego.

“As the price of energy storage drops, the price of integrating renewables becomes substantially lower and the technology continues to mature -- which will be happening over the next few years. We expect far greater adoption of microgrids by communities and corporations looking for electricity reliability,” he said.

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Biomimicry Could Lead To Solar Cells That Store Energy For Several Weeks, New Study Says

William Pentland Contributor

I write about energy and environmental issues.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

ENERGY 6/23/2015 @ 9:29PM 1,424 views

The lack of low cost, large scale energy storage systems is a big problem for solar power. Today, the typical solar cell can only store energy for only a few microseconds. As a result, customers equipped with solar panels will for the foreseeable future remain dependent on the electric power grid.

This is why so many green energy gurus consider hybrid systems combining solar and storage to be the mother of all disruptive technologies.

A new study by chemists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) suggests that rather than combining solar and storage, it may be easier to design solar cells that can do double duty as batteries.

The study, which was published in the most recent issue of the journal Science, describes a process for designing solar cells is capable of storing electricity for as long as several weeks at a time.

The solar cells, which are made from plastic rather than silicon, mimic a mechanism used by plants to generate energy through photosynthesis.

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Under new plan, Folsom Lake could be dangerously dry within months

Plan sets minimum of 120,000 acre-feet of water in lake by October

Lake levels fell to 150,000 acre-feet early last year

Intake valves may not work at 90,000 acre-feet


JUNE 23, 2015

Folsom Lake water levels will likely drop to historic lows by summer’s end, possibly hovering just above the point where cities and water agencies can still draw water from the reservoir, according to interviews with federal and local officials.

The nation’s attention turned to Folsom Lake early last year as photos of a long-submerged mining town and miles of dry lakebed captured the severity of California’s drought. At its lowest point during that period, Folsom Lake contained about 150,000 acre-feet of water, or roughly 15 percent of capacity.

This year could be worse. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has sharply increased flows out of Folsom this month to protect fish and maintain the right amount of salinity in the Delta. The lake is at its lowest point for this time of year in decades. And hardly any snowmelt will flow to the rescue from the Sierra.

Federal officials have set a target of “120,000 acre-feet or higher at the lake” by the end of September, Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Erin Curtis said. Folsom Lake levels have never been that low. Intake valves that draw water from the lake may not work if levels fall to 80,000 or 90,000 acre-feet, local water officials said.

Folsom Lake is the primary source of urban water for several Sacramento suburbs, including Folsom, Roseville and Granite Bay. It is part of a much larger system of dams and reservoirs that make up the state and federal water projects that pipe freshwater to cities and farms statewide.

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Stockton judge won’t hear local farmers’ case over water cuts

San Joaquin County Superior court between the State Water Board and the Banta-Carbona Irrigation District to decide whether it is legal for the state to stop water diversions to senior water rights holders in the district.

By Kurtis Alexander Updated 3:34 am, Wednesday, June 24, 2015

STOCKTON — Dozens of Central Valley farmers who were hoping a local judge would come to their aid and fend off sweeping state water restrictions imposed on some of California’s most senior water rights holders were dealt a blow Tuesday when the court declined to hear their case, citing a potential for “local prejudices.”

San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Carter P. Holly, after three hours of arguments, honored a request by state water officials to transfer the challenge to their conservation measures to a less partial county. A new site has not been determined.

The lawsuit brought by the Banta-Carbona Irrigation District in Tracy is the first to question the state’s authority to demand that those with century-old water claims stop pumping from rivers and creeks in light of the drought.

Although the case was filed on behalf of just 75 or so growers, it could affect thousands of farmers, water districts and communities whose supplies hinge on senior water rights. It is viewed as a crucial test of the state’s power to manage water use during the drought.

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Elon Musk: Good Vision, Bad Math

Michael Lynch Contributor

I analyze petroleum economics and energy policy.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

ENERGY 6/24/2015 @ 8:19AM 361 views

Elon Musk has become a 21st century rock star and his every move and pronouncement, um, tweet, sends frissons throughout the automotive and energy industries, or at least the press covering them. His aspirations are truly awe-inspiring and I would personally love to see both SpaceX and the Hyperloop come to fruition, but realize that they are more visionary than practical. (The former will probably succeed, the latter, I have doubts.) But he must be having lots of fun, and I wish him the best of luck.

Tesla Motors is another story. The vision involved bringing an entrepreneurial spirit to the business of designing and marketing electric vehicles, based on the premise that the conservatism of the large automakers in Detroit prevented them from accomplishing this. I’ve long noted that the problem was a physical one: batteries simply do not have a high energy density. Enough batteries to run a car makes the vehicle expensive. This is a problem of chemistry, not management and not electronics. (See the book Powerhouse by Steve LeVine.)

Tesla Motors sold 32,000 vehicles last year and continues to achieve volume targets. However, it is selling into the luxury car market, which doesn’t provide much indication for how it will do when they release a cheaper model. Predictions of sales reaching 500,000 a year by 2020, quintupling the US market for battery electric vehicles, allow the numbers for the battery gigafactory to look realistic, but the risk of massive overcapacity if that level doesn’t develop could make Tesla the next Fisker—or maybe Solyndra.

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This electric scooter comes with swappable batteries

By Suzanne Jacobs on 18 Jun 2015

Eat your heart out, Elon Musk: A Taiwanese company called Gogoro has developed an electric scooter that, according to The Verge, can get 62 miles on a single charge, while traveling at up to 60 miles per hour. And when that charge runs out, instead of plugging in, drivers will just have to swing by a swapping station for fresh batteries.

Here’s The Verge with more details:

For [$4,140], customers get the scooter itself, one year of theft insurance, and two years of free maintenance and roadside servicing. More importantly, they also get two years’ access to “all-you-can-swap” electric batteries from Gogoro’s charging stations. These batteries are the only way of charging the Superscooter though, and Gogoro is staying quiet about how much they’ll cost after the initial two years are up.


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Despite US sanctions, Shell partners up with Russian energy giant

Western sanctions on Russia haven't stopped Royal Dutch Shell from partnering with Russia's Gazprom on several projects, writes Charles Kennedy. Many of the projects will help Russian gas get to Europe.

By Charles Kennedy, JUNE 23, 2015

    Russian energy giant Gazprom is building up a global portfolio with a western oil major.

    Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell are teaming up on several energy projects that will benefit both. The two energy companies have agreed to build an expansion of the Nord Stream Pipeline, a major natural gas pipeline that travels beneath the Baltic Sea. The pipeline is a priority for Russia, which will allow it to expand its natural gas exports to Europe while also cutting out Ukraine from the mix.

    Gazprom, Shell, along with E.ON and OMV – two gas importers in Western Europe – have agreed to build the $11 billion expansion of Nord Stream. (Related: How Driverless Cars Will Upend Energy Markets)

    Recommended: Five hopeful signs global energy is getting cleaner

    Separately, Gazprom and Shell may expand a massive LNG project on the island of Sakhalin, a $20 billion project. Sakhalin is Russia’s only LNG project, and the two sides have agreed to add a third train. Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller toldReuters that the two companies may even go further by agreeing to asset swaps. By expanding their cooperation, Miller says “we will be creating a global strategic partnership” with Shell. (Related: Why The Oil Rally May Well Be Over)

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    Natural Gas Revolution: ‘Stakes Are Too High To Fail’

    Ken Silverstein Contributor

    I write about the global energy business.

    Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

    BUSINESS 6/22/2015 @ 1:07PM 13,052 views


    If the United States is to see strong economic growth, the oomph will come from the increase in oil and natural gas production — ironic, given that this phenomenon has occurred on President Obama’s watch, when the development of green energy has been touted as the great economic hope.

    Certainly, renewable energy is part of the country’s new energy fabric and one that is creating jobs and fewer pollutants in many parts of the country. But without a doubt, it’s been the expansion of oil and natural gas production that has lifted the country’s economic prospects while natural gas has also been providing an environmental assist.

    In a new study released this month, the Harvard Business School and the Boston Consulting Group say this is all good stuff. The increase in production — and the subsequent inexpensive price — is allowing natural gas to replace coal-fired generation in many states. At the same time, the newfound abundance is attracting other industrials to our shores, creating new jobs and more wealth.

    “America’s abundant and low-cost unconventional gas-and-oil resources are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the nation’s economic and energy trajectory,” the Harvard/Boston Consulting study says. “The U.S. now has a global energy advantage, with wholesale natural-gas prices averaging about one-third of those in most other industrial countries.”

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    The Way We Get Electricity Is About to Change Forever

    pastedGraphic.pdf By Tom Randall

    The renewable-energy boom is here. Trillions of dollars will be invested over the next 25 years, driving some of the most profound changes yet in how humans get their electricity. That's according to a new forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that plots out global power markets to 2040 .

    Here are six massive shifts coming soon to power markets near you:

    1. Solar Prices Keep Crashing

    The price of solar power will continue to fall, until it becomes the cheapest form of power in a rapidly expanding number of national markets. By 2026, utility-scale solar will be competitive for the majority of the world, according to BNEF. The lifetime cost of a photovoltaic solar-power plant will drop by almost half over the next 25 years, even as the prices of fossil fuels creep higher.

    More from Mexico to Overtake Russia by 2050 as U.S. Slides

    Solar power will eventually get so cheap that it will outcompete new fossil-fuel plants and even start to supplant some existing coal and gas plants, potentially stranding billions in fossil-fuel infrastructure. The industrial age was built on coal. The next 25 years will be the end of its dominance.

    2. Solar Billions Become Solar Trillions

    With solar power so cheap, investments will surge. Expect $3.7 trillion in solar investments between now and 2040, according to BNEF. Solar alone will account for more than a third of new power capacity worldwide. Here's how that looks on a chart, with solar appropriately dressed in yellow and fossil fuels in pernicious gray:

    More from Greece Given 48 Hours to Reach Deal as EU Weighs Debt

    1. The Revolution Will Be Decentralized

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