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Dan Haugen's Posts

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Planes’ gains & automobiles: Air travel outpaces driving in fuel efficiency

airplane
Shutterstock

If you traveled by air over the holidays, you may have landed with a bit of green guilt. Conventional wisdom says that driving a relatively fuel-efficient car is usually better for the environment than flying. That may no longer be the case, though, according to new calculations from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. Over the last four decades, driving has steadily lost the fuel-efficiency edge it once held over flying. In 1970, the per-passenger-mile fuel intensity for flying was twice that of an average car trip. “That is no longer the case for the average vehicle,” says Michael Sivak, director …

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Swedish co-op creates a stake for women in wind industry

Editor’s note: Dan Haugen is traveling in Scandinavia this month as part of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Climate Media Fellowship program.

Unable to afford a share of a community wind farm, Wanja Wallemyr started a co-op for women only.
Unable to afford a share of a community wind farm, Wanja Wallemyr started a co-op for women only.

FALKÖPING, SWEDEN -- When Wanja Wallemyr learned a community wind project would be built a few kilometers from her family farm, she knew she wanted to be a part of it.

Only problem: She couldn’t afford the 1 million Swedish Krona (roughly $154,000) minimum investment on her own.

That was in 2007, just as the farmer and rural activist was also preparing to attend a regional conference on creating economic opportunities for women.

With both issues on her mind, she came up with a single solution: Wallemyr would start an all-women wind energy co-operative.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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In unlikely alliance, Wisconsin libertarians back solar plan

Solar panels outside a Wisconsin home.
Peter Howe
Solar panels outside a Wisconsin home.

A group of conservative Tea Party activists in Atlanta turned heads this summer when they announced a partnership with the local Sierra Club chapter to help pressure Georgia’s largest electric utility to boost its investment in solar power.

Six weeks later, solar power picked up another unexpected supporter in Wisconsin, where on Aug. 20, the state's Libertarian Party endorsed a clean energy group’s proposal to let customers lease solar panels and other small renewable generators.

“Most of us don’t trust the environmental movement because they’ve cried wolf forever and ever. There are all kinds of philosophical disagreements, but at the end of the day this was pretty much a no-brainer,” said Paul Ehlers, state party chair.

The proposal they endorsed would clarify state law to allow leasing and other types of third-party ownership for solar panels, wind turbines, and other generators, in which neither the electric customer nor their local utility owns the system.

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Could utilities’ future be selling light instead of electrons?

lightbulb
david pacey

What if instead of offering electricity by the kilowatt-hour, utilities sold light, cooling, and screen time?

That’s the idea behind a new utility business model being discussed by a civic leadership group in Minnesota that’s looking for ways to better promote energy efficiency in the state.