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California: Jerry Brown kicked off clean energy revolution once, aims to do it again

Jerry Brown, then and nowTrivia questions for energy geeks: Which state approved the country's first energy-efficiency standards for appliances? The first green building codes? The first big wind farms? And who was governor when all those fine things happened? The answer is California under Gov. Jerry Brown -- aka Governor Moonbeam -- who just happens to be running for the office again, some 30 years later. Last week, Brown, the Democratic nominee, unveiled a clean-energy plan to put far more solar panels on California's rooftops, in addition to appointing a renewable energy czar and strengthening those sexy appliance standards. Of …

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California is no longer leading the pack on wind energy

Last year, California suffered the ultimate indignity in its quest to be the "greenest state." It was passed by red Texas -- the oil heartland -- for the title of state with the most wind-power generating capacity. The numbers get even more depressing. Last year, California's wind capacity grew at a slower rate than any of the other top 10 wind-producing states. Texas's wind production grew at a 39 percent clip and (What's the Matter With) Kansas' grew by 38 percent; California managed relatively meager 10 percent growth. That still leaves the Golden State as the No. 2 wind producer …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Goldman Sachs and other financial powerhouses get into the Texas wind biz

What is Goldman Sachs doing in rural Texas? Probably some of its bankers have wondered that themselves, when they find they're three hours from the nearest latte. A Texas turbine. Photo: NREL / Cielo Wind Power One of Goldman's subsidiaries, Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy, is constructing a $600 million, 400-megawatt wind farm in the boonies west of Dallas. Financiers of other wind-power projects and explorations, spread across central and west Texas, include Wells Fargo; JPMorgan Chase; Macquarie, Australia's largest investment bank; and John Deere's credit division, which already has close ties to rural America. To some extent, the lure of …

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Microsoft’s Vista boasts energy-saving features, but does that mean it’s eco-friendly?

Most of the chatter about Vista, Microsoft's new operating system, centers on whether the techies in Redmond have outsmarted the hackers this time around. But might the system also slow destruction of the environmental variety? Microsoft is touting Vista's new energy-saving features, even as critics are pointing out that the system has some eco-downsides as well. How green is my Vista? Photo: iStockphoto The efficiency advances involve sleep mode, a computer's ability to power down after an idle spell. With Vista, says Microsoft, sleep will be as energy efficient as shutdown. "We've worked very hard to make the sleep experience …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Fast food goes organic and natural

The succulent wares of Whole Foods' enormous flagship store in Austin are always tempting, but especially so during a harried lunch hour. Everything in the vast prepared-food section looks irresistible. The salad bar features a mountain of fresh, organic toppings. Pricing is mostly by weight, so one can escape with a cup of splendid, coconutty split-pea soup and a small salad for less than $6. For those who have the time, dozens of tables are available for sit-down dining. A different kind of drive-thru. Photos: iStockphoto As the $14 billion organic food industry gathers steam, the concept of healthy fast …

Read more: Food