From Romney running against the wind in Iowa to a solar opponent’s lost election in Florida, clean energy has overcome some heated political battles this week. Send us your favorite stories on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.
NPR: Obama Backs Wind Energy, Romney Favors Coal — President Obama was in Iowa Tuesday, touting the electric potential of wind power. Republican rival Mitt Romney was in Ohio, talking up coal. Each candidate accused the other of standing in the way of the rival energy source. [August 15, 2012]
POLITICO: Cliff Stearns Concedes in GOP Primary — The outcome in Tuesday’s election was an unexpected fall from power for Stearns, who had used his chairmanship of a key House Energy and Commerce subcommittee to put the White House on the hot seat over Solyndra and help trigger this year’s Komen-Planned Parenthood blow-up. [August 15, 2012]
The New York Times: Mine Plan Puts Two Kentucky Fixtures on Collision Course — The signs begin around Girl Scout Road, yellow placards dotting yards and affixed to trees along Route 231 here. “No Coal Trucks” they say, or, more to the point, “Stop Strip Mining.” [August 14, 2012]
Bloomberg: Solar Company to Create More Than 300 Jobs in NC — A designer and manufacturer of solar power mounting systems plans will set up its U.S. headquarters in Shelby, N.C. and create more than 300 jobs at a production and distribution facility.[August 14, 2012]
PhillyBurbs.com: Unemployed Get Chance at Green Energy Industry — Through a $306,265 grant from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the state Energy Sector Partnership, BCC’s corporate college is offering qualified residents a tuition-free green-energy technology training program. [August 13, 2012]
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Arizona Republic: APS to use state land for solar plant - The Arizona State Land Department will earn $10 million during a 35-year lease for its first solar power plant, a Yuma project that will power Arizona Public Service Co. [April 4, 2012]
NREL: Solar Leases Attracting New Demographic – The sun is shining on homeowners in less affluent neighborhoods who are discovering they can afford solar energy after all — by leasing rather than buying the panels on their roofs. [April 3, 2012]
Grist: Blown away: Wind power growing faster than other top electricity sources – A new picture is emerging in the U.S. power sector. In 2007, electricity generation from coal peaked, dropping by close to 4 percent annually between 2007 and 2011. Meanwhile, wind-generated electricity grew by a whopping 36 percent each year. [April 4, 2012]
Bedford-Katonah Patch: 66 Local Leaders Take Action to Reduce Emissions and Save Homeowners Money – The Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium (NWEAC) hosted the 2012 Regional Leadership Summit, bringing together an influential group of more than 200 municipal and community leaders for an evening dedicated to advancing regional sustainability initiatives. [March 31, 2012]
Green Car Reports: Plug-In Car Sales Soar In March, Led by Chevrolet Volt - Car sales overall continued their upward trend last month, but sales of plug-in cars soared in March to more than 3,800 units. The bulk of those sales came from a resurging Chevy Volt, which logged its highest-ever single-month sales figure. [April 3, 2012]
NPR: Oil Scare Turns FedEx On To Energy Efficiency – The rising cost of oil isn’t just a hit to the family budget. Businesses are hurt, too. Few are more affected than firms like FedEx. [April 2, 2012]
POLITICO: Gas prices fuel congressional campaign rhetoric – President Barack Obama isn’t the only candidate who has to worry about gasoline price spikes. Take a look at members of Congress and their challengers, who are going all out to express concern about the plight of American motorists — often with personal stories of their own sticker shock. [March 30, 2012]
Huffington Post College: Green Lethargy Among College Students? Not So Fast! by SmartPower’s Brian F. Keane - As we begin Earth Month, it would seem that we’re seeing conventional wisdom turned on its head. I’m talking, of course, about the widespread assumption that college students are spearheading the renewed green movement across our nation. [April 6, 2012]
Bloomberg: Buffett Says Shortcuts on Environment Can Risk Profits – Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said companies won’t last if they fail to consider the impact of their businesses on the environment. [April 2, 2012]
Southern California Public Radio: NBA tips off Green Week 2012 – NBA Green Week is the latest initiative in the NBA’s ongoing push for sustainable lifestyle changes. [April 3, 2012]
GreenBiz: Just Undo It: Nike, NASA partner on waste innovation challenge – Nike is joining with NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State to identify 10 “game changing” innovations that transform waste systems in both developed and developing countries. [April 2, 2012]
The New York Times: On Facebook, Some Friendly Energy Rivalry – So, would you stop washing your clothes in warm water if your best friend tried doing it in cold and said her jeans were coming out clean? Would you be more likely to weatherize your house if your college roommate said that it had cut her heating bill by 30 percent? And if your mom got one of those power strips that turn off devices that suck electricity in the middle of the night, would you do the same? [April 3, 2012]
For stats on the country’s largest purchasers of clean energy, look no further than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest listing of Top Green Power Purchasers.
Once again, department store chain Kohl’s leads the Retail Top 20, with Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Staples rounding out the top five spots. Perhaps not surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Energy leads the federal government in green power purchasing, with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. EPA not far behind.
Among higher education institutions, the University of Pennsylvania takes first place, getting 48 percent of its energy from solar and wind (including a percentage of on-site generation). And the City of Houston, TX, leads the Top 20 Local Government pack, with 35 percent of its energy coming from wind.
More on the lists, from the EPA’s announcement:
EPA’s Green Power Partnership works with more than 1,300 partner organizations to voluntarily purchase green power to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional electricity use. Overall, EPA’s Green Power Partners are using more than 22 billion kWh of green power annually, equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of more than 1.9 million average American homes.
Check out all the lists on the EPA website.
Nearly a decade in the making, Cape Wind - what will be America’s first offshore wind farm - was a done deal after receiving federal approval in April. Or so it seemed. Ever since, anti-wind groups have fought tooth and nail against the project, which would power most of Cape Cod and offset the consumption of 113 million gallons of oil each year.
The latest setback: a federal appeals court has overturned the Federal Aviation Administration’s ruling that Cape Wind’s turbines present no danger for local air traffic. Of course, wind foes wasted no time celebrating the ruling, declaring it “a key step toward Cape Wind’s ultimate failure.”
The new delay could pose problems for Cape Wind, which still seeks investors and purchasers for half its projected output (National Grid has agreed to buy the other half). Without purchasers lined up, the project could struggle to raise capital, and scaling back the project would mean less output with higher per-watt costs.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Via AP:
Bill Short, a consultant working the renewable energy industry, said the ruling was a blow to Cape Wind, but the project can likely withstand any delay because it already has a buyer for half its power under very favorable terms.
"(It’s like) driving down the road and you’ve hit one hellacious, enormous pothole and it has given you a flat tire. That’s what this is like (for Cape Wind)," he said. "As opposed to you’re driving down the road and your car goes into a sinkhole and you don’t come out."
In an increasingly globalized world where we all pay dearly for oil - some with money, and some with blood - it’s frustrating to hear anyone cheer the failure of innovative clean energy projects, especially ones that will create jobs. As the AP story points out, Cape Wind backers say the project’s costs are worth the benefits, “including kicking off a new clean energy industry, while lowering carbon emissions and reducing dependence on foreign oil.”
Hopefully investors will see through the red tape and get this project on track - for good.
SmartPower Program Assistant Daniel Francis was recently approached by Think Talk Radio to represent the liberal perspective in a debate about the role energy policy will play in the 2012 presidential election.
Think Talk Radio acknowledges its “conservative ideals,” yet still values voices from all sides. Daniel represented the clean energy side, supporting presidential candidates that accept human-caused climate change and advocate for a green economy.
When asked about the future of offshore drilling, Daniel replied that such measures would simply serve as “a short term fix to a long term problem.” And when asked which GOP hopeful is, in his opinion, most suited to take on the appropriate energy policy, he said,
None of them. But if I had to choose strictly for environmental policy it would be Jon Huntsman. He’s been very vocal about his belief in climate change and I think for that very reason he’s been overlooked by a majority of the Republican electorate.
When asked what we should do in the interim while oil prices continue to rise and green jobs falter, he said,
This is something we should have started on yesterday and the day before that. This isn’t an issue that is going to go away. Oil is a finite resource, as is natural gas. We can’t keep prolonging these decisions for other generations to deal with — we have to deal with them now.
To listen to the program, please visit ThinkTalkRadio.com. You can find the program — “Top 3 GOP” What are their views on energy and oil? — under the Our Shows tab.
It’s getting windier in Texas: Duke Energy is planning a 200MW wind farm.
Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial business unit of Duke Energy, will build, own and operate the 200-megawatt (MW) Los Vientos I Windpower Project in Willacy County, approximately 120 miles south of Corpus Christi and 20 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico.
Duke Energy will sell all of the output from the wind farm and associated renewable energy credits to CPS Energy under the terms of a 25-year agreement. CPS Energy already buys all of the electricity generated at Duke Energy Renewables’ 14-MW (16-MW direct current) Blue Wing Solar Project in San Antonio. The Blue Wing solar farm, which consists of approximately 215,000 photovoltaic panels, achieved commercial operation in November 2010.
SmartPower President Brian F. Keane has been following a local dispute over wind turbine noise in Maine’s Fox Islands. Today, a new development:
An attorney representing several homeowners living closest to a three-turbine wind installation on the island of Vinalhaven in Maine’s Penobscot Bay filed a formal complaint with the Maine Public Utilities Commission on Monday.
The complaint charges that the Fox Island Electric Cooperative, the local utility, and Fox Island Wind, the developer of the wind installation which is owned by the utility, have engaged in repeated harassment of the homeowners, who have argued since shortly after the turbines came online in late 2009 that the machines have been in violation of state noise ordinances.
Learning to live with wind turbines - and understanding the fact that they make less noise than a variety of household appliances - is an important part of increasing the amount of clean energy we produce and use. Although a majority of the Vinalhaven residents support the Fox Islands turbines, it’s the squeaky few who get the grease - and the lion’s share of media attention.
What do you think? Do you live near wind turbines? We want to hear from you.
Iowa: Not just for caucusing. According to the Iowa Department of Economic Development, that state gets 15 percent of its electricity from wind - the most in the nation - and counting:
That number is expected to reach 20 percent later this year when Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy completes its expansion, bringing Iowa one step closer to its goal of generating half the state’s electricity from wind by the year 2030. That would also allow it to export 30 percent of its wind energy to other states.
Not surprisingly, the wind industry has been a huge boon to Iowa’s economy. Some quick facts:
Like the Iowa Department of Economic Development on Facebook to learn more.
[Image: "Top of Iowa wind farm" by J. Baldwin]
The campus of American University just got a little greener.
The Class of 2011 has presented University President Neil Kerwin with a $13,000 gift, earmarked for the installation of an on-campus wind turbine:
The $13,000 raised by the class will support a new vertical axis wind turbine, to be placed on the top level of the Sports Center Garage, which will provide enough electricity to power the Tavern. The turbine was designed by SIS professor Terrence Sankar.
Prior to commencement on Friday, May 6, at the Toast to Graduates, a check for $12,150 was presented to President Neil Kerwin; funds raised in an evening event the night prior brought the total to $13,000. Approximately 1,000 individuals, including over 300 students, contributed to the gift, which was raised through a range of fund raisers — from cupcake and wing sales to social events like this year’s senior semi-formal.
Way to go, AU!