Business & Technology

Charged Up

San Diego utility charges ahead with electric-car plan

A Nissan Leaf being charged.Photo: NissanWith the first mass-market electric cars set to hit California roads later this year, the state’s utilities have been working to ensure that early adopters — who tend to be clustered in places like Berkeley and Santa Monica — don’t overload neighborhood transformers and trigger local blackouts. One way to do that is to encourage drivers not to plug in all at the same time — say, when they arrive home from work and also crank up the air conditioning — by setting variable electricity rates that reward those who postpone charging until demand falls …

I CAN CHANGE

MMS gets a makeover, smell lingers

Newly appointed Bureau of Ocean Energy Director Michael Bromwich and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar testify before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee regarding reforms to strengthen offshore oil and gas oversight and enforcement.Photo and caption: U.S. Department of the InteriorIt’s a classic Washington paint job: new name, new leader, new promises about tossing bad apples. And so Minerals Management Services, the Interior Department agency that’s become the poster child of government corruption and ineptitude has been disappeared. We now have the Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOE), with a fresh director — Michael Bromwich, a former inspector general in the …

BP: Bad PR

BP’s most ironic ads ever [SLIDESHOW]

Sometimes you can only fully appreciate something if you look at it many years later. Pictures of celebrities before they were famous, for example. BP’s case, however, is less “Wow! Look at how cute and awkward they were” and more “Wow! Look at how they tried to sucker us!” If you go back far enough, you’ll find they’ve been positioning themselves as a shiny, happy company for decades — even before their 2000 brand shift when they merged with Amoco, took over Arco, and famously changed their tagline to “Beyond Petroleum.” That’s also when the company embraced the sun/star happy …

greenwash it down with a glass of milk

How green was my organic milk? A podcast with author Heather Rogers

Heather RogersThink you’re saving the environment by buying organic or fueling your car with corn oil? Heather Rogers, author of Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution, says that “green” products aren’t always as environmentally responsible as they appear. In this PBS interview with Need to Know host Alison Stewart, she discusses the truth about organic foods and biofuels, among other things.

Berry cool

New Agtivist: Shakirah Simley wants to preserve justice

Shakira Simley at the San Francisco Underground Market.(Photo by Monica Jensen/SF Public Press via Flickr) In our New Agtivist interview series, we talk to people who are working to change this country’s f’ed-up food system in inspiring ways. Shakirah Simley is a food justice activist with an unusual weapon: pectin. She’s the founder and creative force behind Slow Jams, a socially conscious artisanal jam company in Oakland, Calif. She also works full-time for the public health organization Prevention Institute, a not-for-profit dedicated to addressing health disparities and food and recreational inequities. Born in the South Bronx, Simley grew up in …

The Lowe's down

Home improvement giant invests in energy retrofit startup

Photo: aka Kath via FlickrI usually don’t write about companies’ funding announcements, unless the amount of money raised is particularly eye-popping. But when Recurve announced Wednesday that it had scored $8 million in its latest round of fund-raising, what caught my attention was who decided to invest in the San Francisco energy retrofit startup. Along with the venture capital firms re-upping their investments — RockPort Capital Partners and Shasta Ventures — was a new investor, Lowe’s. That the home improvement giant — $47 billion in sales, 1,700 stores — would invest in a relatively small “green energy remodeling” outfit is …

BP: Beaten Pinata?

‘Reasonably high’ chance BP files for bankruptcy

Bankruptcy expert Peter S. KaufmanPhoto: Gordian GroupThere is a reasonably high chance that BP could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the next few years, or even months, and the result would be an “absolute horror” for the government, according to a bankruptcy expert. Peter S. Kaufman, the President of investment bank Gordian Group and head of the firm’s Restructuring and Distressed M&A practice, told me that if he had BP’s ear, “I’d advise them to explore the option of bankruptcy.” If he had the government’s ear, he’d tell them to stop berating the company to the point where BP …

miconstrued minconstruction

Must-sea TV on the oil spill from Comedy Central

Staying up-to-date on the oil spill sucks a little bit less thanks to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (and Grist!). Here are the latest offerings from Day 62 of “The Strife Aquatic.” Worth watching!

Grilled Cheese?! Now that's what I call a hamburger!

WTFood: Friendly’s Grilled Cheese Burger Melt

Since KFC introduced the Double Down earlier this year, fast food chains are tripping over themselves to slap together as many of their limited menu items as possible. In the process they’re churning out some pretty disturbing food-like substances. You can add the Grilled Cheese Burger Melt from the Friendly’s restaurant chain to the growing list of WTFood items. This monster packs 1,500 calories and 97 grams of fat, but I guess that’s what happens when you sell three sandwiches as one (at least it’s two-thirds vegetarian!). Photo: Friendly’s Friendly’s, KFC, and IHOP still have nothing on SNL’s “Taco Town,” …

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