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‘Dell of solar’ seeks to make it cheap and user-friendly to get rooftop PV

Today, a company called Sungevity announced the availability of what they're calling the cheapest solar system in the world: a rooftop solar panel system, fully installed, for $2,000. That's as much as I paid for my computer. For that price, the average home will save $21,000 in electricity over 25 years -- a 45 percent return on investment. From a simple web interface, customers can plug in their address and Sungevity will use satellite and aerial imagery to assess their rooftop solar potential and offer them a range of options within 24 hours. Ordering can be done online, as easily …

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NYT Magazine’s fawning piece on Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers

There's no doubt about it: Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers is the most adept figure in corporate America at making himself look better than he is. He's proven it again in an extremely flattering profile in The New York Times Sunday Magazine. The piece refers to Rogers as "one of the electricity industry's most vocal environmentalists." Indeed, the piece reports that many "prominent environmentalists" are his "friends" and quotes in particular Eileen Claussen, head of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, saying, "It's fair to say that we wouldn't be where we are in Congress if it weren't for …

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Carmaker knows most efficient freight system: trains

Interesting presser from Honda this week: HONDA LAUNCHES AUTO-MAX RAILCAR FLEET: MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY - RESPONSIBLE PRODUCT DISTRIBUTION WITH INDUSTRY-FIRST FLEET TORRANCE, CA, June 19, 2008 -- Honda has fully deployed its fleet of Auto-Max® railcars, achieving a significant reduction in the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions associated with its automobile distribution activities in the United States. The 400-car fleet of more space-efficient Auto-Max; railcars is the only such automaker-operated fleet in use in the United States. Including the Auto-Max fleet shipments, American Honda currently transports about 82 percent of its Honda and Acura automobiles across the country by rail, achieving …

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Radioactive deja vu in the American West

This is a guest essay from Chip Ward, author and board member of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. It was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. ----- In the American West, we take global warming personally. Like those polar bears desperately hunting for dwindling ice flows, we feel we're on the frontlines of the new weather regime. The West is drying up. For example, canyon-hugging conservationists and jet-boating gear-heads have argued for several years about whether to "drain" Lake Powell, the 200 mile-long reservoir that once drowned the redrock Eden which was Glen Canyon. …

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What do oil lobbyists think about drilling for oil?

Here, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell discusses McCain's plan to drill, drill, drill with RNC deputy chairman and McCain supporter Frank Donatelli: What Mitchell didn't tell you: Before joining the RNC, Donatelli was a registered lobbyist. For whom, you ask? What type of clients? Three guesses! Oh, fine, you got it the first time: ExxonMobil Corp. and Dominion Resources. But why would MSNBC viewers need to know that?

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Iconic Ford SUV plant to be idled for summer

Photo: Dean Souglass Ford will close its Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne for nine weeks -- four weeks longer than previously announced -- starting on June 23. Birthplace to Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions, the MTP has come in for hard times due to the plummeting market for SUVs. Since January, Expedition sales are down 31 percent; Navigators, 22 percent. Once bread and butter for American automakers, SUVs have fallen victim to $4-a-gallon gasoline. To the lay observer, the temporary MTP closure is just another symptom of the shift away from SUVs, but it actually signifies a whole lot more …

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NYC comptroller urges scrutiny of tax-free bonds for coal-fired power plants

It hasn't made big news yet outside of specialty publications such as Bond Buyer. But a call this week by New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson could cast a new cloud over a half-dozen or more planned new coal-fired electric power plants. Thompson called on the U.S. Treasury Department to investigate the practice of using tax-free bonds to finance new coal plants. In the letter, online at http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov, Thompson pointed to recent research which found that coal plants were poor candidates for federal financing and problematic for investors. There are at least a half-dozen planned new power plants that …

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Considering recycled energy will politically facilitate a national clean energy plan

There is a tendency to frame the politics of clean energy as a debate between the enlightened, forward thinkers on the coasts and the paleolithic environment-hating coal barons in the Southeast and Midwest. It makes a good sound bite, but confuses the ends and the means. Yes, there are strong vested interests in the coal belt and the rust belt that consistently resist GHG caps and clean energy policy. But so long as we frame the clean energy conversation as a wealth transfer from dirty states to clean states, our success will remain contingent upon our ability to get senators, …

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The case for fuel-agnostic efficiency

Those of us who care about energy and environmental policy have a bad habit: the lazy but rhetorically convenient tendency to refer to energy issues as if they were fuel issues. From solar to coal to uranium, we have developed a shorthand that uses these words to describe a whole fuel-chain, from raw fuel extraction/recovery to end-use consumption. But the language is dangerous. What matters is efficiency -- true, fuel-agnostic efficiency, applied equally to every possible fuel-chain we know. Not because efficiency is an alternative to any given fuel, but because any other energy policy is ultimately unsustainable, in every …

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Oil industry turns to PR offensive to diffuse anger over record prices

Faced with angry consumers incensed at high oil and gasoline prices, oil companies in the U.S. and Europe have turned to well-funded PR campaigns in an attempt to shift their image from profit-hungry oil-mongers to responsible innovators fulfilling their duty as energy providers. ExxonMobil has led the most recent effort to sway the public; on June 1, Exxon released a barrage of TV and print ads, peppering the airwaves and major newspapers with a message of innovation and utility. Meanwhile, car manufacturers have been eager to paint themselves as being equally innovative and oh-so-close to divorcing petroleum altogether. General Motors …