Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Clean Energy Uprising in California

This is fascinating to me. A little old fashioned David vs. Goliath or raw mutiny. The people of San Francisco are trying to oust Pacific Gas and Electric as their utility provider. That's right, the people! want PG&E to go bye bye because they don't provide enough of their electricity from renewable sources. Dare to dream big kids. California already does.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wind Turbine Blade Crashes Down in Illinois Field

Ouch. If there's one thing that cannot happen (like skyscrapers falling down for no reason or automobiles blowing up on impact) is a wind turbine blade cracking and falling off. I betcha they'd be a lot better off if they would've gone with wind turbines built in the Vestas plants right here in Colorado, as opposed to the turbines from India they used. Note to self, buy local.

Coal Versus Wind in West Virginia: From the Old Habits Die Hard Edition

In-depth article on the insatiable greed of mountain-top coal removal and the desire by the locals in West Virginia for something cleaner and more responsible. I've never been to West Virginia, so all I have is the news reports or stories I've heard over the years that have revealed the inner workings of the coal business and how it affects the residents. In the past I've tended to cut coal-mining some slack because it provided jobs (although extremely dangerous) for the local residents and their families. This in turn provided tax revenue to fuel their schools, roads, and businesses. So coal was a ticket to a better life in some respects and coal provides a lot of our electricity (around 50%). However, I also understand the complete and utter environmental devastation that is caused by both typical coal-mining and mountain-top coal removal, not to mention the by-products of burning the coal to produce electricity. Doesn't there come a time when quality of life trumps money? I think that the folks of West Virginia are beginning to see the light. We'll see if they can prevail over big business and provide a cleaner future for themselves and subsequent generations.

Xcel Energy Lowers Solar Credits, Angering Solar Installers

Well it was expected that Xcel would reduce the amount paid for solar renewable energy credits (they dropped it to $1.50 from $2.50). On the one hand I don't blame them for doing it since the Federal government extended solar credits in the recent financial bailout bill. Also, according to Xcel's calculations with the $1.50 per watt credit the consumer would have to come up with about $425 out of pocket to pay for a 4.5 kilowatt system. However, the amount of notice for the credit reduction that Xcel gave to the community and solar installers was too short and on the sly. Perhaps it's time to start another ballot initiative that requires Colorado to get 40% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, instead of the current 20% by 2020? That might bring back the $2.50 per watt credit, eh?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Big Difference in Obama's and McCain's Plans for Our Energy Future

Great article on the difference between Obama's and McCain's energy plans. Both plans do not go far enough in my opinion, but there is one plan that is heads and shoulders above the other. Read the article and find out who you should vote for.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

U.S. Forest Service Turns to Cow Power

Kudos to the U.S. Forest Service for finding alternative methods of creating electricity. Now, methane is still a fossil fuel, but this cow power plant is capturing the methane from cow manure and other agricultural waste to burn it in order to generate electricity. If the methane wasn't captured it would just waft into the air and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions (the article says that methane is 20 times more harmful than CO2 in trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere). So I can't complain too much. I betcha we could capture a lot of that there methane up in Greeley, Colorado.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Momentum Slows for Alternative Energy

I've been watching gas prices fall with trepidation for a couple of months now. It's always the same in this short attention span and myopic theater of a country. When our pocket books are lifted in the form of higher gas prices we scream like newborns. Then when gas prices go back to "normal" we act as if nothing happened and quickly forget the pain that we were supposedly feeling at the time. There's no planning for the future. There's no thinking about the "what ifs." It's sad really.

I haven't given up hope for investment in renewable energy and for America to one day be the RE capital of the world. But as gas prices plunge and as our economy keeps slipping into a deep recession, I realize that it is going to take longer than I would like and a longer amount of time than we can afford.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

UN Says Their "Green Economy Initiative" Can Save World's Economy

The UN's "Green Economy Initiative" sounds like a great plan. Well researched and well thought out. There is no reason why we can't create a global, cleantech economy, which would go a long way to easing the recession that we are now in. So check it out and see what you can do to contribute to a renewable energy economy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Funds, Too, Are Mining New Energy Sources

Good article in the NY Times on, "exchange traded funds" which are beginning to focus on alternative energy sources. There aren't a lot of these type of funds yet but they have proliferated over the last year. Let's hope that with the increasing price of oil (and dwindling supply) the alternative energy market will take off here in the States.

Oh, and at the top of the article check out the picture of a Vestas wind turbine blade plant in Colorado.

Aurora, Colorado Lands Massive Solar Project

Another article on the, "Solar Technology Acceleration Center" to be built in Aurora, Colorado. I am getting more excited with each article I read on this center. You and I will be able to see and use cutting edge solar technologies faster with this testing facility. Sweet.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Midwest Research Institute Will Develop Solar Test Facility

Excellent. Midwest Research Institute (MRI) is going to build a solar test and evaluation facility in Aurora, Colorado. This will help universities and solar businesses bring their solar technologies to the market faster. This is good news for the RE industry and for Colorado.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Credit Crunch Creates Catch-22 on Renewable Energy

So here's a man who is fed up with high utility bills. Like any rational being, he decides to take some action and reduce that expenditure that he pays out to the utility each month by installing solar panels on his roof. He goes to his bank to ask for a loan because he doesn't have the 10's of thousands of dollars to pay the solar company. He's told that credit has dried up and he can't get that loan.

Even though I am optimistic I have a gnawing feeling that this will be the rule for the foreseeable future (even with the RE tax credits). Credit is drying up folks and there is nothing that we can do about it. I'm just thinking out loud here but I sure hope that this doesn't kill the RE industry, otherwise there are going to be a lot of people unable to heat their homes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Call for a New U.S. Renewable Energy Policy

This opinion piece makes the case for a new comprehensive federal renewable energy policy. The author gives numerous facts to show that all we have to do is change our thinking just a wee bit and we can go from the biggest polluter and energy consumer for our size to something dramatically less. For instance:

A 2007 Department of Energy report states that energy efficiency measures can reduce the nation's energy demand growth 50 percent by 2025.

50 percent. That's an incredible amount from just completing energy audits (and subsequent retrofits) on all of our buildings. Here's another tidbit from the article:

"The measures that would drastically cut our carbon emissions also would create millions of good-paying domestic jobs in clean industries. Furthermore, jobs in the green collar labor force are resistant to offshoring."

Made in America could be a household term again and job creation could ease some of the pain this recession impose upon us. There's much that could happen with the right leadership, from Congress and more importantly from the President of the United States. I sure hope that an RE policy is at the very top of the agenda in the next administration.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Building Jobs with Renewable Energy: Colorado's Booming Energy Business

Great article on Colorado's bright future as a renewable energy leader. I am convinced that we can become the RE capital of the U.S. if not the world. We have the educated workforce, the desire to innovate, and a solid foundation of educational and research institutions on the Front Range (think Colorado School of Mines, NREL, and Red Rocks Community College). It's possible with a little perseverance and elbow grease. In addition, the impending recession doesn't have to be as brutal if we can begin to think about how to transition the old economy workforce to the new RE economy workforce.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Green Energy Boom In Bailout Bill

More info on the renewable energy (RE) tax credits in the "bailout" bill. But this one has a bit more on the how much the RE industry could benefit. Have a gander.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Crisis Puts Tax Moves Into Play

Well, it looks like I am going to get the renewable energy (RE) tax credits that I keep asking for. The Senate managed to stuff it in the financial "bailout" bill along with other bits of pork. So it's bittersweet and maybe a bit depressing. This is not the way I want to see the RE tax credits go down and it seems a bit dirty to me. I'd rather have the RE tax credits paid for with a reduction or elimination of the oil and gas tax credits. But the oil and gas lobby is too large and powerful I guess. We'll see if this financial bailout bill passes the House.

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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