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Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

If you live in AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, MA, MD, OR, NY, then you’re in luck – solar panels for your home are now available at affordable rates.  Sungevity, one of the country’s leading residential solar providers, has partnered with The Sierra Club to help homeowners go solar easily and affordably;  the new partnership will help families save money on electricity and reduce pollution.

Here are some reasons why you should go solar and how you can get a price quote from Sungevity.  If you don’t live in these states, pass this onto your friends and family who do; hopefully, the partnership will grow to include more than 9 states.  If you need a refresher, or a quick 101 on how solar panels work, I think this article provides a good explanation.

And if you want solar energy in your neighborhood, well, doing nothing never gets anyone anywhere – so contact your local energy provider or your local government officials for more information so that you can save money on your energy bills and have cleaner air in your community. Cheers.

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Can you guess the source of this famous phrase?  Congrats, Family Feud.  The show has had many hosts over the years, but did you know Richard Dawson was the first and longest host of the show?  Depending on your age you know of Dawson or you caught reruns on the Game Show network (it’s not in the basic cable package); this week Dawson passed away and many will remember him as the kissing host that made housewives and contestants blush.

Dawson doing this thing.

Now that you’re caught up on the history of Family Feud, The Associated Press released survey findings this week from a AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll that shows Americans are more interested in reducing their energy bills and energy use than taking a vacation. This could be a result of more families across the U.S. facing new hardships, but the realization that being energy-efficient can save people money is excellent.  The results found that nearly 9 in 10 people said they had taken some action in the last year to save energy (that’s music to my ears).  Smaller steps, such as turning off the lights, turning down the heat, installing more energy-saving appliances and driving less, were the more common ways respondents said they chose to reduce energy in the last year.  Small steps can have huge savings.  My own sister simply unplugged all the electronics when they were not in use in my family’s house for one month and saved $100!  Now it’s a common habit.  Renewable energy from our land’s resources such as wind and solar are increasingly becoming more popular (stay tuned on a post for affordable solar panels), and can be a great source of energy because they won’t run out, such as natural gas or crude oil.  Small steps go a long way, especially when everyone is doing it.  Cheers.

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Of all the headlines floating around over the past week, one in particular caught my eye.  Rather, it wasn’t a headline; it was a picture of one adorable creature.

Check yourself if you don't think this is cute.

Maybe it’s just me.  Perhaps my soft spot is softer than yours, a byproduct of not having outgrown my childhood love for reptiles and still secretly aspiring to achieve my life-long dream of becoming a paleontologist.

A young Indy right here.

But that is neither here nor now.

What is here and is now is that two of our great passions—protecting animals and generating energy from renewable sources—may be on a course to collide.  The Washington Post brought this issue to light this past week in discussing how BrightSource Energy’s $2.2 billion solar farm project in the Mojave desert is being brought to a standstill by the threatened desert tortoise.

What are the facts in this case?  Accounts say that BrightSource was warned that they would be infringing on a part of the Mojave rich with these hardshells–the exact number of which was unknown.  Yet, because the site is ideal for solar energy generation, BrightSource decided to pursue.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife granted BrightSource a permit to move a maximum of 38 tortoises from the location and a total of three accidental deaths per year over the three years of planned construction.

Their first concession to the tortoise came at the expense of 10 percent of the project’s expected power output, by adopting a re-designed plan that reduced the size of the solar towers.  They then agreed to build a 50-mile fence, at a cost of $50,000 per mile, to prevent tortoises from relocating back into harms way once removed.  During all of this, biologists surveying the site continued to find more and more tortoises than estimates yielded.  In all, BrightSource has spent $56 million so far to protect and relocate the tortoises, but even this has been met with problems for the tortoise.  BrightSource, for their end, states that their efforts to help the tortoise could sink the project–and in turn sink California’s efforts to meet its proposed renewable energy goals.

This story highlights the need and often overlooked importance of the National Environment Policy Act’s environmental impact statement (EIS).  You’ve probably heard a lot about the EIS recently; it’s been at the heart of the Keystone XL struggle, with Nebraskans asking to complete a new environmentally impact statement that reviews a pipeline course that does not run through the Sandhills region.  The whole purpose of an EIS is to assess the impacts of a particular project.  Whether or not it is actually required of a project, the value of such considerations comes to light in situations such as this one with BrightSource and the desert tortoise.  It’s clear that a thorough and well conducted EIS can actually help companies (believe it or not) avoid situations that may end up costing them $56 million dollars more than they were anticipating for a project.

So now I’ll pose the question to you: What do we do in a situation like this?  Do we protect this cherished species at all costs or try at all costs to maintain our place as the top renewable energy using nation? (Check on Christian Science Monitor‘s article for more on that.)  Weigh in with your thoughts.

My thought on the situation: this beloved species has weathered 220 million years on this planet; it would certainly be a shame that it be lost to the war on fossil fuels.

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Seriously.  You’ve been slacking, and you know it.  You said to yourself, “It’s okay that he’s shorter than me… I’ll just wear flats.”  You then compromised further by saying, “He may be prematurely balding, but he’s so nice to me.  I deserve a nice boy.”  Finally, you convinced yourself that “even though he doesn’t like Spinach (as he should), he must get his greens elsewhere…”.  Ladies, you know you do this.  Keep it up, and you’re going to end up settling.  Settling for less than you deserve.

This is not okay, ladies.

Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico doesn’t think that’s okay.  He is trying to look out for you.  He wants you to have hope, no matter how unrealistic that hope actually is.  As his parting gift from the U.S. Senate, he’s giving you some standards.

Ah. That's better.

Now, he doesn’t think that you, much like the rest of the country, will actually adopt his standards.  Even though he’s going to try to ease you into them.  In fact, he’s not going to punish you if you slip up and compromise on an item or two.  In fact, he says he’ll simply reward you for your good behavior.  He’ll reward you for even marginally good behavior, like dating someone who is your height instead of your ideal 6’4”.  Because dating someone your same height is progress.

It’s funny how the clean energy standard proposed by Mr. Bingaman is much like a dating standard, isn’t it?  Just ponder it for a minute.  This week, he, as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced yet another attempt at a clean energy standard (or, if we’re getting technical an “energy standard,” since there was an attempt for it to be a renewable energy standard before it was a clean energy standard) with his creatively titled bill “The Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012.”

The bill only applies to utilities that are selling electricity to retail customers, which means that the vast majority of municipal and cooperative utilities will never need to meet the standard.  Those that do have to meet the standard would simply have to sell a certain percentage of their electricity from clean sources.  Like those standards proposed before, the percentage would grow over a period of time.  Utilities would be given credit that can be used toward meeting the standard based upon an energy’s carbon emissions.  So utilities that don’t emit carbon (renewable or energies considered clean (nuclear)) receive a full credit; using energies that are “cleaner” (natural gas, coal with carbon capture and storage) will get half credit.  The system would go into effect starting in 2015 and only for the largest utilities (think the girl friends you have who really, really need help), amounting to only 8% of all utilities.   In 2025, the bill would apply to 13% of utilities.  So it’s really only applying to those utilities that have the biggest impact.

Wonderfully, the bill doesn’t cost the government anything to execute.  Furthermore, the Energy Information Administration estimates that the bill will have little to no effect on nationally averaged electricity prices during the first ten years of the program.

The sad truth is, like many women out there, our country will end up settling for less and suffering for it.  Bingaman can’t even promote his bill in the name of reducing GHGs or helping to combat climate change.  He is promoting simply as an energy bill that will help move our country on a path toward better, domestically produced energies.

I agree with many other folks who say this is great because it keeps the conversation going (C2ES’s Nikki Roy, CAP’s Joe Romm, UCS’s Angela Anderson).  But like so many other things in life (dating), how many times are you going to touch the stove before you realize you’re going to get burned?  This is the sound of settling.

Whew. That was a close one.

For a summary of the bill, check out the Senate Energy and Natural Resources website: http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=fc9b3145-c145-4c29-b0c7-36068482b127

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