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Five Reasons Solar’s Win Over Gas in Minnesota is Just the Beginning

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Flickr user /\ \/\/ /\

Solar advocates were popping corks when a New Year’s Eve ruling by an administrative law judge in Minnesota said that distributed solar arrays were a more cost-effective resource than natural gas to meet Xcel Energy’s peak power needs. The energy media were aflutter for weeks, but many missed the bigger significance. If solar trumps gas for peaking power in Minnesota, there’s little reason to be building new natural gas peaking capacity anywhere in the country.  Ever again. Let’s look at the 5 reasons why solar’s triumph over natural gas is likely to stick: Solar Wins on Cost It’s not the …

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Making a Renewable Energy Revolution

What is needed if we are to have a chance of enacting a renewable energy revolution in enough time to prevent widespread and catastrophic climate disruption? Revolutions happen when: ~~A majority of people are either actively or passively in support of the changes that, cumulatively, would constitute a revolution; ~~The ruling powers-that-be are divided, unsure of how to handle rising resistance and with some going over to the side of the revolution; and, ~~The revolutionaries are organized and united. As far as the first requirement, broad mass support, results from a recent poll by the Yale Project on Climate Change …

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Western Marylanders Arrested in Stop Cove Point Protest

CUMBERLAND—A local Unitarian minister and three western Maryland residents were arrested just before noon today outside the Allegany County Courthouse in Cumberland for peacefully protesting Virginia-based Dominion Resources’ plan to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point in southern Maryland. The protesters blocked the courthouse entrance to demand justice in the controversial federal handling of the massive $3.8 billion project, which would take nearly a billion cubic feet of gas per day from fracking wells across the Appalachian region, liquefy it on the Chesapeake Bay, and export it to Asia. “I am here today as both a …

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Are Electric Utilities Already Dead?

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Rick Payette, Flickr

For the last six months, the energy news sphere (perhaps led by the Edison Electric Institute) has been rife with a discussion about the threat to the utility business from distributed energy like local solar, as their customers shift to getting their own power from nearby renewable resources.  Reports and news stories – e.g. “Adapt or Die” – suggest changes to the electric utility business model are imminent as power generation shifts from massive to medium scale and from remote to local. For some utilities, this discussion is not a forecast, but a post-mortem. Electric utilities have always built infrastructure …

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Meet Ross Bhappu, the money behind coal export proposals on the Columbia River

The coal industry’s efforts to export huge amounts of taxpayer-owned coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia has generated unprecedented opposition in the Pacific Northwest - tens of thousands of people have rallied, attended public hearings, and called on their elected officials to oppose coal export terminals that would disrupt and pollute communities and pose one of the biggest threats to the climate of any fossil fuel project in the world. This controversy, along with the high risk nature of these proposals, has meant that many investors have avoided backing them. A major signal of these investor concerns came in …

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Can the World Feed China?

By Lester R. Brown Overnight, China has become a leading world grain importer, set to buy a staggering 22 million tons in the 2013–14 trade year, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture projections. As recently as 2006—just eight years ago—China had a grain surplus and was exporting 10 million tons. What caused this dramatic shift? It wasn’t until 20 years ago, after I wrote an article entitled “Who Will Feed China?”, that I began to fully appreciate what a sensitive political issue food security was to the Chinese. The country’s leaders were all survivors of the Great Famine …

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New Poll, Rally Show WV, NC and Beyond are Fed Up With Coal Industry’s Pollution

West Virginians hold the coal industry responsible for air and water contamination in the state, and they are tired of the stranglehold they believe the industry's lobbyists have on state politics. That's just one of many powerful findings of a new poll out today about the aftermath of the January coal chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia. The Sierra Club and Hart Research Associates polled West Virginia voters, and look at the results: 1) West Virginians do not view the January coal chemical spill as an isolated incident - 69 percent think the spill was a result of companies acting …

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Get old. Get free. Get over oil.

I’m going to burn my driver’s license when I turn 75.  Maybe sooner.  I’d like to do it at the offices of Koch Enterprises, if I can get a ride home. You may think this is a choice to sacrifice some freedom.  But it’s the opposite:  a declaration of independence from the tyranny of oil. So I have twenty years – plenty of time – to build the family and community ties and the physical infrastructure for a car-free life.  Having made this pledge, I’m much more committed to mixed-use development, transit investment, and babysitting my prospective grandkids so someone …

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The #1 Solar Utility is in…Iowa?

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It may be one of the oldest cooperative utilities in the country, but in the next six months, Farmers Electric Cooperative (FEC) of southeastern Iowa will be leading the nation in this 21st century energy source. Upon completion of a new solar array, the 640-member cooperative will have over 1,500 Watts of solar per customer on their system, nearly double the #2 utility. It’s also the most reliable utility in Iowa. How can a small, member-owned utility be “America’s Most Progressive Utility“? Find out in this interview with FEC Manager Warren McKenna, recorded via Skype, on November 18, 2013. Local …

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Green sleaze: The EPA helps corporations scrub their images while screwing the planet

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Shutterstock

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is so progressive on climate change that it is currently responsible for the entirety of U.S. climate policy. The agency is moving forward with regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants, by far the largest source of CO2 emissions in the country, and has already locked in historic vehicle mileage standards. The current EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, is both a climate warrior and a down-to-earth person, who fully understands the climate challenge and intends to use EPA authority to fix it. In short, the EPA is amazing, and may even save civilization through its …