July 7, 2015

Buffett Scores Cheapest Electricity Rate With Nevada Solar Farms

Warren Buffett’s Nevada utility has lined up what may be the cheapest electricity in the U.S., and it’s from a solar farm.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s NV Energy agreed to pay 3.87 cents a kilowatt-hour for power from a 100-megawatt project that First Solar Inc. is developing, according to a filing with regulators.

That’s a bargain. Last year the utility was paying 13.77 cents a kilowatt-hour for renewable energy. The rapid decline is a sign that solar energy is becoming a mainstream technology with fewer perceived risks. It’s also related to the 70 percent plunge in the price of panels since 2010, and the fact that the project will be built in Nevada, the third-sunniest state.

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February 9, 2015

Climate Is Big Issue for Hispanics, and Personal

LA home with refinery in background
WASHINGTON — Alfredo Padilla grew up in Texas as a migrant farmworker who followed the harvest with his parents to pick sugar beets in Minnesota each summer. He has not forgotten the aches of labor or how much the weather — too little rain, or too much — affected the family livelihood.

Now an insurance lawyer in Carrizo Springs, Tex., he said he was concerned about global warming.

"It’s obviously happening, the flooding, the record droughts," said Mr. Padilla, who agrees with the science that human activities are the leading cause of climate change. "And all this affects poor people harder. The jobs are more based on weather. And when there are hurricanes, when there is flooding, who gets hit the worst? The people on the poor side of town".

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January 19, 2015

Residential solar panels better investment than stocks

Residential solar installation

Residential solar panels better investment than stocks
A report issued by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) claims that investing in residential solar power is a better bet than the stock market. In fact, in 42 of the 52 largest cities in America, solar electricity costs less right now than buying electricity from the grid.

Surprised? Many people are. But the cost of solar panels has dropped sharply over the past few years. Where once only wealthy people could afford a solar panels, now the cost of is well within reach of most home owners.

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Jan. 14, 2015

Uranquinty Power Station

Photo by Bidgee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

EUC members concerned about gas plant study

While the future makeup of the city’s energy portfolio potentially rests on an upcoming independent review of a proposed natural gas plant, members of the Electric Utility Commission continue to vocalize their concerns about the study.

Vice Chair Karen Hadden and Commissioner Joep Meijer sent a letter Thursday to Austin Energy staff scrutinizing potential underlying assumptions and requesting that the study be fair and comprehensive in its cost, benefit and risk analysis of the natural gas plant and renewable alternatives such as wind and solar.

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Mon, Jan 12, 2015

10 cities aiming for 100 percent clean energy

As nation states delay, these cities have ambitious renewable energy goals.

Scientists have been fairly unequivocal in their warnings that we must ditch fossil fuels entirely if we are to have any hope of reversing climate change. Yet despite significant progress in the last year, historic announcements like the China-U.S. climate pact are still pushing a less ambitious, more incremental approach to cutting our emissions.

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DEC. 21, 2014

Energy-Storage Plans Gain Ground in California

Ice Energy Bear MachinesIn an unusual competition in California, proposals for energy storage systems beat out hundreds of bids to construct new power plants as a way to meet peak power needs.

Southern California Edison has retired its San Onofre nuclear reactors and is planning to retire natural gas units with environmentally troublesome cooling systems. So it invited proposals for storage — including conventional batteries and giant ice packs — and new gas-fired power plants.

To the surprise of the utility and even the storage companies, in many cases storage won. Demand response, or agreements with customers who volunteer to be unplugged at certain times, also did well.

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Oct. 17, 2014

Austin Plan for Renewable Energy at Odds With Utility

Webberville Solar Farm

Late this summer, the Austin City Council trumpeted its commitment to a progressive energy policy by calling for a dramatic expansion in solar power generation, earning accolades from environmental advocates across the country.

But the city-owned utility, Austin Energy, has balked at the council’s proposal and said it would be too expensive for ratepayers. And since then, a debate has ensued over how to be politically progressive and economically practical at the same time.

Resolution 157, which council members passed in August amid controversy, directed Austin Energy to make sure that 65 percent of the city’s energy needs are met with renewable resources in just over a decade. In less than three years, the resolution adds, the utility should strive to completely replace power generation from an old natural gas-fired plant with solar power.

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