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Batteries included

California to green its grid with energy storage

With intermittent sources like wind and solar becoming more common, energy storage is increasingly seen as crucial for greening the grid.Photo: mike_tnIn just about every story on renewable energy, there's a familiar cast of characters: green power developers, utilities, and sundry state and federal regulators. But there's one key player that often lurks in the background -- the grid operator. In the Golden State, most of the power grid is controlled by the California Independent System Operator. Based in a suburb of Sacramento, Cal ISO, as it's known, essentially ensures that electricity supply and demand stay in balance to prevent …

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Hi-ho, Silver State!

Southern California Edison signs another big photovoltaic farm deal

Solar farms could be sprouting in the Nevada desert.Photo: FotowatioSouthern California Edison on Wednesday announced another big photovoltaic power plant deal, this time to buy electricity from a 250-megawatt solar farm to be built by First Solar. Add that contract to 831 megawatts' worth of photovoltaic power purchase agreements the Los Angeles utility signed with SunPower and Fotowatio in January, and you're talking some serious solar -- more than a gigawatt. At peak output, that's the equivalent capacity of a big nuclear power plant. I wouldn't be surprised to see SoCal Edison execs tooling around town with "I ♥ PV" …

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ray of hope

Keep the Solar Decathlon on the National Mall!

The Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in 2009.Photo: NREL Solar DecathlonThe National Mall has long served as the nation's front yard, a place where citizens can gather and display what's important to them -- whether it's a protest to end wars, a rally to restore sanity, or even a celebration of mid-Atlantic maritime communities. Every other year since 2002, the National Mall has played host to the Solar Decathlon, a building competition sponsored by the Department of Energy that puts 20 solar-powered homes designed by college students from around the globe on display for a two week long design …