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Stephen Lacey's Posts

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Biomass is the new coal

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Dominion, one of the largest utilities in the U.S., says it wants to convert three of its Virginia coal plants to run on waste biomass from timber operations. If approved by the state's regulatory commission, it could bring about 150 megawatts of renewable capacity to the state and turn two "peaking" coal plants that operate only 25 percent of the time into round-the-clock generators that operate 90 percent of the time. Like other coal-to-biomass projects we've reported on in the past, this one will create about 250 direct and indirect local jobs and only cost the …

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Google says delaying clean energy will cost the U.S. trillions

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Google, a leader of innovation in the digital economy, says that without a private and public focus on innovation in renewables, storage, and electric vehicles, the cost of delaying the clean energy economy could be in the trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy. Google released an analysis of the economic impact of clean energy innovation today, modeling a variety of long-term scenarios and their influence on GDP growth, energy costs, and greenhouse gases. They used McKinsey's Low Carbon Economics Tool, which provides models to assess the macroeconomic impact of climate and energy policies: Based on …

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Court rules California's cap-and-trade program can advance

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. After a period of legal uncertainty, a California court has ruled that the state can proceed with developing a cap-and-trade program. Last month, a Superior Court judge put a temporary hold on the program, saying that California's Air Resources Board hadn't properly explored alternatives to a cap-and-trade system. This latest ruling allows regulators to keep working on the details of the market structure as the court deliberates the matter: A source with the appellate court said it could take well over a year before the busy court weighed in on the matter, which should give state …

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Used fuel-efficient compact cars increase 30 percent in value

A year-old Prius can cost almost the same as a new Prius. Cross-posted from Climate Progress. So your home is worth half of what it used to be, the stock market makes you jittery, and gold is far too expensive to buy. Don't fret! There may still be something tangible in your life gaining value: your used, fuel-efficient car. Yes, experience says that an automobile is not an asset -- most start declining in value as soon they're driven off the lot. But with new demand for fuel-efficient automobiles, used "gas-sipping" cars are actually worth 30 percent more than they …

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How utilities make money while investing in cleaner generation

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. One of the biggest targets for GOP presidential candidates this year is the EPA. Any new regulation of mercury or air toxics from power plants has gotten conservatives up in arms, with leading candidates claiming the EPA "monitors the economy," is "anti-business," and should be renamed "the Job-Killing Organization of America." That strong rhetoric is largely in reaction to proposed rules that will lower the amount of mercury, arsenic, lead, and air toxics that power producers are allowed to emit. Those rules, which have been in the making for over a decade, have come under fire …

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Top five coolest ways to integrate renewable energy into the grid

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Intermittent renewables at high penetrations will bring new challenges for the grid. But how big will they be? And is it true that wind and solar will necessarily need storage or natural gas back-up at high levels? The International Energy Agency (IEA) wanted to know, so it modeled a variety of high-penetration scenarios in eight geographic regions around the world. Hugo Chandler, a senior policy analyst with the IEA, explains the organization's findings to Climate Progress: Variability is not just some new phenomenon in grid management. What we found is that renewable energy is not fundamentally …

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Breaking news: Energy-efficiency programs work, save us millions

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Since 2004, 26 states have put long-term energy efficiency resource standards (EERS) into place. Like renewable energy standards, these programs set long-term targets for demand reductions that power providers must meet -- usually by helping end-use customers save energy. A new report out from the American Council on Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE) looks at 19 of those programs [PDF] that have been in place for over two years. And guess what? Thus far, the programs are working. According to ACEEE, "almost every state with an EERS is on track, meeting, or exceeding goals in 2010." To …

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Green jobs are real: U.S. solar employs more people than steel

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. People want to know: Are green jobs real? The answer is resoundingly "yes." With roughly 93,500 direct and indirect jobs, the American solar industry now employs about 20,000 more workers than the U.S. steel production sector. The American steel industry has historically been a symbol of the country's industrial might and economic prosperity. But today, the solar industry has the potential to overtake that image as we build a new, clean-energy economy. Last week, Germany's economic development agency announced similarly big news: There are now more than 100,000 workers employed in the German solar photovoltaic (PV) …

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Solar gets cheap fast

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. There's a joke in the solar industry about when "grid parity" -- the time when solar becomes as cheap as fossil sources -- will happen. Ron Kenedi, the former VP in Sharp Solar's U.S. business liked to throw out random dates, telling me once "November 21, 2012" in jest. The truth is, it will happen in phases -- one market and one technology at a time. But according to two top solar executives -- Tom Dinwoodie, chief technology officer and founder of SunPower and Dan Shugar, former president of SunPower and current CEO of Solaria -- …

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Americans want fuel-efficient cars — can Detroit keep up?

The fuel-efficient Ford Focus is in high demand. The Ford Econoline van? Not so much.Photo: Ford Motor CompanyCross-posted from Climate Progress. This post was cowritten by Tyce Herrman. With gas prices just below the $4 per gallon mark and possibly climbing to $5 per gallon later this summer, Americans are demanding more fuel-efficient automobiles. But U.S. automakers are having trouble keeping up with that demand, according to a poll by Reuters: Higher car prices and a shortage of fuel-efficient vehicles likely threw a roadblock in the U.S. auto industry's recovery path in May, when the Japan crisis had its biggest …