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Adam Browning's Posts

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AZ Court of Appeals upholds Arizona renewable energy rules

In the ongoing and odd ideological battle against renewable energy, the Goldwater Institute has serially tried to invalidate Arizona’s renewable energy rules, saying the Arizona Corporation Commission didn’t have the authority,  God and the Constitution demand the mythical unsubsidized coal, perhaps a communist plot hmm?, yadada, etc. The AZ Court of Appeals just told them to go pound sand.  The ruling, here (pdf). Underlying this legal victory is a re-affirmation of the value of renewable energy to Arizona.  The court essentially found that the Commission acted in the public interest, and had a robust record to back it up. From …

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The most important film event of the year

The most important film event of the year is just around the corner. I refer, of course, not to the Oscars, but to its fun-loving cousin from Northern California, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. What’s the draw? It’s held in Nevada City, a Hallmark-perfect (literally) town in the Sierra foothills. It features great films about important environmental subjects–half of whom show up in the audience. And it benefits the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), a great organization working for a gem of a river. For fuller event flavor, here’s my review in Grist from last year. This year, …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Plug-in cars didn't just happen

The past few weeks have seen the realization of a dream long-held by many: several major car companies started to deliver -- into dealership and garages -- production plug-in vehicles.  Count it as a milestone advacne in the fight against climate change...but as a part of the celebration, it's useful to remember that this change didn't just happen on its own.  That it is happening now is due to the work of tireless advocates and enthusiasts from around the world.  Felix Kramer's recount of CalCar's efforts in the battle are a good reminder of how change begins with a dream, …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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It's not just about carbon anymore

California's Prop 23 just got a whole lot worse

You've probably heard of the California ballot initiative that aims to repeal AB 32, the state's landmark greenhouse gas law. It's called Proposition 23 and it's backed by millions in Texas oil money. Well, it's not just about carbon anymore. Prop 23 just got a whole lot worse for solar and renewables in general. Here's why. On the last day of session, the state legislature failed to pass SB 722, a bill that would have raised the state's renewable energy requirement (RPS) to 33 percent by 2020. We are left with the current law -- 20 percent by 2010 -- …

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After all that work, Commission takes Monday off to relax

Big day for solar at the California Public Utilities Commission

Today, the California Public Utilities Commission issued two big solar decisions. The first was to approve the San Diego Gas and Electric PV program, which will bring on-line 100 MW of PV over the next few year, in 1-5 MW increments. The utility will build and own 26 MW, and buy a further 74 MW through competitive auctions. This program mirrors similar programs in PG+E and SCE utility territories, for a total of 1.1 GW statewide. Details here, Union Tribune article here. Secondly, the Commission approved 2 big PV projects that are being developed by First Solar, for a total …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Friday book review

Perhaps you are going on one last vacation before the end of summer (if so, you are not from San Francisco, where summer never even started) and are thinking of a beach book.  May I make a suggestion?  If you havent read the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, or its siblings, don't.  I realize that this advice is relevant to perhaps an audience of 2, as it seems the entire world is enthralled, but let me make my case. One, the preoccupation with rape and sex torture is, well, really disturbing.  Two, the guy writes about as well as Dan …

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The Kochs are screwing the environment

Please, do yourself a favor, and read Jane Mayer's article in the New Yorker about the corporate underwriting of the anti-environmental agenda.  You will find it time well spent.

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Progress in California's renewable wholesale distributed generation market

Southern California Edison (SCE), one of the state's largest utilities, has had a voluntary Renewable Standard Offer Program for the past several years. It's a fixed-price offer to buy wholesale renewable energy from systems under 20 MW in size, with the price set at the the cost of new natural gas generation. In 2009, SCE contracted for 140 MW of solar photovoltaics (chart of contracts) under this program. These contracts used the 2008 MPR price [PDF] (every year, the state calculates the Market Price Referent--it’s the 20 year levelized cost of energy of a combined-cycle natural gas plant, meant to …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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get on it

Bikes for urban mobility

Great news: a recent court ruling in California paves the way for significant new freedom, strikes a blow for equality, and heralds a new era of hope and joy.  I refer, of course, to a Superior Court judge lifting an injunction against creating bike lanes and related bike-friendly infrastructure in San Francisco. Bike lanes make a huge difference for the safety, comfort, and appeal of bike riding in urban areas, and go a long way towards changing a culture towards more carbon-and-human friendly transportation options. All of which is an excuse to bring up what I really want to talk …

Read more: Cities

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Don't know much about botany?

Book review: 'How to Grow a School Garden'

You know what I like about summer? Everything. But especially gardening. This year, I took a new tack on battling my yard's clay soil and spent a pleasant spring weekend slapping together raised beds. A few trips to Grizzly Peak Stables (another added benefit of gardening: an opportunity to shovel horse manure without having to go to the state capitol ...) and now my tomatoes are head-high and fecund with grape-clusters of bottled sunshine. You can't buy tomatoes like this for love or money. More than the produce, I love the minor manual labor, the quiet moments of reflection during …

Read more: Food