Saturday, December 27, 2008

Colorado Seeks Protections Amid Energy Boom

This article really demonstrates the recklessness which the Colorado oil and gas industry and Republican Colorado state lawmakers exhibit towards human, animal, and environmental life. I wouldn't refer to myself as a strict environmentalist. I think there needs to be some balance between commerce and the environment. And yes, "jobs" in the oil and gas industry in Colorado are important as one of the arguments from the article goes. But a nurse's vital organs almost failed because she inhaled from a patient's boots some secret sauce used during the natural gas extraction process and natural gas proponents still think that we should proceed with business as usual? Am I so naive as to think that someday these people will come to their senses and stop this myopic gratification for some long-term sustainability?

I have another bit of wishful thinking. I would like it if there were mandatory field trips for all of these blind supporters of the oil and gas industry to these natural gas drilling sites so they could see just how much damage this does to the air, land, and water around the area. I bet that these field trips would open a few eyes and show exactly how we get the non-renewable fuel that powers our furnaces and hot water heaters. Only then may we see a change in behavior and a reduction in myopic and political posturing.

Web Portal Helps Facilitate Minnesota Renewable Energy Roundtable

This is a good idea. The state of Minnesota is using technology to bring renewable energy enthusiasts, leaders, and participants together to help further the state's RE agenda. They call it the Renewable Energy Roundtable. From the article:

"There will be information about strategies that are being developed on issues like green-power jobs, curriculum development, research and public policy that will affect people who don't directly participate in the Roundtable," says AURI's Valerie Gravseth, Roundtable coordinator. "Our hope is that it becomes a credible source of information and a go-to place to learn about what's going on in renewable energy."

You can access the web portal via this link: MN's Renewable Energy Roundtable Portal

I hope Colorado develops something like this to bring all of the RE leaders in the state together. Governor Ritter are you reading?

Friday, December 26, 2008

There Is No Such Thing As Clean Coal, Part 2

Remember the first article on the the coal slurry spill in Tennessee? The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) estimated the spill at 2.6 million cubic yards. Well they've just about doubled it to 5.4 million cubic yards. From the article:

"Hundreds of fish were floating dead downstream from the plant Tuesday, and state and federal agencies have yet to complete water quality testing."

And then a TVA knucklehead says this:

"TVA spokesman Gil Francis has said the fish may have died from the freezing cold that contributed to the breach, not pollutants."

Are you kidding me?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Efficient Holiday Lighting Gains More Converts

This just great. Even though these LED holiday lights are relatively expensive people are still buying them. You gotta spend money to make money. And I salivate at the prospect of inexpensive LED lights for every room in the house. Patience, patience.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

There Is No Such Thing As Clean Coal

This environmental disaster in Tennessee is sad:

"Millions of yards of ashy sludge broke through a dike at TVA's Kingston coal-fired plant Monday, covering hundreds of acres, knocking one home off its foundation and putting environmentalists on edge about toxic chemicals that may be seeping into the ground and flowing downriver."

and this:

"About 2.6 million cubic yards of slurry — enough to fill 798 Olympic-size swimming pools — rolled out of the pond Monday, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cleanup will take at least several weeks, or, in a worst-case scenario, years."

and this:

"Coal ash can carry toxic substances that include mercury, arsenic and lead, according to a federal study. The amount of poisons in TVA's ashy wastes that could irritate skin, trigger allergies and even cause cancer or neurological problems could not be determined Monday, officials said."

"Could not be determined." Yeah right.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Energy-Generating Floors to Power Tokyo Subways

Chalk another one up for the ingenious department. By walking over the floor, human kinetic energy (in the form of walking crowds) can generate electricity to power the subway's ticketing systems. The article says that about 25 square meters can create about 1400kw per day. Wow. Just think of other places where we can generate electricity using "piezoelectric" flooring.

Coffee Grounds as Biodiesel?

Seriously this is great. Speaking for myself, I have a pot of coffee 6-7 days a week. Most of the grounds go into the trash. It would be nice if we could figure out a way to save those used grounds for a biofuel producer. What other waste products can be converted to biofuel?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Would Burying CO2 Help in Climate Crisis?

An article in the USA Today asks the question. I remain skeptical that you can simply bury CO2 underneath the surface and that it will stay there forever and not return the atmosphere by seeping out or being expelled by some seismic activity. I'm certainly no scientist. To me it just seems like a waste of money when we can put that money into technology that doesn't create CO2. But what if there is a major climate crisis and we have to reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere?

Homeowners Sell Energy to Power Company

Aaahhh those crazy Canucks. They are doing exactly what needs to happen here in the U.S.- allow individuals to sell their excess power back to the utility company at a decent rate. Some info from the article:

"Modelled after programs in Germany and Japan, the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP) pays guaranteed, preferential rates over a 20-year term for wind, solar, hydro or biomass developments that have capacities of less than 10 megawatts and connect to a local distribution grid."

This will help the utilities meet their renewable energy quotas (being passed by state legislatures all across the country) in addition to reinforcing the localization of energy production. Let's hope that the we can be as progressive in our energy production methods.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Xcel Seeks Hike in Renewable Energy Fee

As our utility rates increase over the coming years, the ROI for generating our own power via PV, wind, or solar thermal, for example, becomes more enticing and happens quicker. What would you rather do, keep paying increasing rates to a utility for a service or at worst have to pay no utility bill or at best have the utility cut you a check? Think about how magnificent it would be if each of our communities would generate power on our roof tops or in our yards for our selves and each other. Think about a world without utilities generating power and just worrying about power transmission. Change is good.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Solar Boost for the Sunshine State

Looks like Florida is going to get their first concentrated solar plant (CSP) soon. And this plant will use natural gas to provide base load power when the sun isn't shining. If you need a CSP primer check this blog post out. Congrats to Florida for getting their very own CSP plant.

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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