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Setting an example for the feds

State renewable electricity standards create jobs while cutting pollution

Since the federal government has so far refused to adopt a nationwide renewable electricity standard (RES) the states have stepped in. Some 25 states, plus D.C., have adopted an RES, also known as a renewable portfolio standard, which requires utilities to purchase a rising percentage of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar. A new report by U.S. PIRG details the myriad benefits of state action to promote renewables: "Reaping the Rewards: How State Renewable Electricity Standards Are Cutting Pollution, Saving Money, Creating Jobs and Fueling a Clean Energy Boom." Here are some of the conclusions: In 2006, …

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Discover Brilliant: Renewables and baseload

What does the future hold for renewables?

Again, I babbled away too long in an interview (a great one) and missed the beginning of "Baseload Challenge and the Realities of Renewables." PIER, California Energy Commission, Gerry Braun, Renewables Team Lead SAIC, Chris McCall, Program Manager Sterling Planet, Mel Jones, CEO I really wanted to see all of this one. But let's jump in. Jones says comparing renewables and existing baseload is apples and oranges. Renewables are hobbled by the its competitors being heavily subsidized. Renewables have to have guaranteed return and guaranteed buyers. Also, most baseload doesn't pay for transmission costs, which is where renewables have a …

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Bush administration push for drilling in Colorado angers GOP constituency

Republicans in western Colorado, long a GOP stronghold, are losing patience with the Bush administration's relentless push for resource extraction in the state. According to a new report from the Wilderness Society, western Colorado currently has 4,500 oil and gas wells on federal public lands, and 22,000 more are in the proverbial pipeline. A total of 126,000 new wells in total are predicted to puncture Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Utah in the next 20 years. Ranchers and hunters in Colorado are a big anti-drilling contingent, but are joined by plain ol' unhappy residents who dislike seeing semis instead …

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My backyard carbon sink

Can planting trees offset your carbon footprint?

When my wife and I bought our house, the yard was typical for our neighborhood: a mostly barren plain of lawn so sunbaked that you could bounce a tennis ball off it. So being eco-groovy types, we've tried to improve the place: we put in a rain barrel, built a natural drainage system, and added topsoil planting berms. But I'm most proud of the trees we've planted: a pair of akebono cherries in the parking strip and a white-star magnolia in the front yard; and in the backyard, a shore pine, a Chinese dogwood, a couple of vine maples, a …

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Discover Brilliant: Demand response

How to enable consumers to be responsive to electricity prices

I had an interview so I missed most of "The Emerging Models for Demand-Response Technology." I walked in about halfway through. Reliant Energy, Mark Jacobs, CEO EnerNOC, Scott McGaraghan, Director of Business Development--West Coast IBM, Ron Ambrosio, Global Research Leader--Energy & Utilities  PG&E, Janice Berman, Senior Director of Customer Generation and Emerging Technologies Tons of interesting stuff being said, but I'm too late to helpfully summarize. Suffice to say, lots of people are out there working on ways to get information into consumers' hands, enabling them to modify their energy use based on price and environmental signals. There are nifty …

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The mantle of Galileo

More on climate skepticism

I often get weird but enjoyable e-mails forwarded to me. This week, it's an exchange between well-known climate skeptic Fred Singer and a group at MIT setting up a climate change seminar. It seems that some members opposed the idea of inviting Fred, which Fred found offensive: It has come to my attention that Mr. XXXX has addressed a long letter to members of the committee organizing the MIT Seminar series "The Great Climate Change Debate." Apparently, he considers any debate superfluous and strongly objects to my participation. Mr. XXXX appeals to 'authority' and 'consensus'; I prefer to examine the …

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Karl Rove, global warming, and Bush's legacy

Rove believes that Bush’s policies will look good in hindsight

Karl Rove thinks history will be kinder to President Bush than the public and the pundits are today: I believe history will provide a more clear-eyed verdict on this president's leadership than the anger of current critics would suggest. President Bush will be viewed as a far-sighted leader who confronted the key test of the 21st century. Not! On the path set by Bush's do-nothing climate policies, future generations -- including historians -- will be living in a ruined climate for centuries, with brutal summer-long heat waves, endless droughts, unstoppable sea-level rise, mass extinction, and on and on. If we …

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Discover Brilliant: Plug-in hybrids

A panel discussion on how much plug-ins rule

Today at lunch: "Squeezing the Balloon -- The Opportunities and Challenges in Plug-In Hybrids," by conference moderator P.S. Reilly. Also: Andy somebody from UC Davis, John Baker from Austin Energy Andy: Oil prices are rising, peak oil's on the way, automakers are worried they won't be able to sell their cars. Plug-ins offer redundancy -- two sources of energy. Baker: We see it as a way of addressing climate change. Third guy whose name I didn't catch: I looked at it as a problem, since it would move tons of demand to electricity. But I came to see that doing …

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Native Americans likely to be hit especially hard by climate change, says report

Climate change is likely to hit disadvantaged groups the hardest, and that includes Native Americans, according to a new report. Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder predict that rising seas will flood tribal lands in Florida and droughts will involve tribes in water wars in the Southwest; coastal towns in Alaska are already suffering from melting sea ice and erosion-causing storms. "We've been left out in a number of other major initiatives," says Native American advocate Steven Etsitty, who says the Navajo have been involved in climate talks with the U.S. EPA. "This is another important one, and …

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Discover Brilliant: Smart grid

Grid experts discuss why the grid is broken and how to fix it

Next up, "A Brilliant Energy Grid for North America." Geek heaven! Here's the line-up: California Energy Commission, Merwin Brown, Director of Transmission Research, PIER (moderator) Modern Grid Initiative, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Steve Pullins, Team Leader, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Clark Gellings, VP of Technology Innovation IBM, Ron Ambrosio, Global Research Leader -- Energy & Utilities Itron, Mike Burns, Senior Product Manager, AMI Applications What's wrong with the grid? Gellings: Load is growing about twice as fast as transmission capacity, and has been for over 10 years. Lots of congestion. We've modernized virtually every industry in the U.S. except this …

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