SmartReads is your weekly guide to all things green. This week, you’ll find a special Huffington Post book review written by SmartPower president Brian Keane, who has his own book, Green Is Good, arriving in October.
The Huffington Post: Green Is Good: It’s Not an Illusion — I’ve read several reviews of Ozzie Zehner’s book, Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism, and I must say, they’ve all been too kind. [August 23, 2012]
Columbia Journalism Review: Candidates clam up on climate — Nary a word has been spoken about climate change on the presidential campaign trail, and it’s a silence that some journalists find deafening. [August 21, 2012]
Cheshire Patch: Cheshire’s Temple Beth David Earns $500 in Energy Efficiency Rewards — With the $500 reward money, Temple Beth David replaced 32 incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs), leading to an overall wattage reduction of nearly 77 percent. [August 22, 2012]
The Washington Post: Bush Administration 2012 climate emissions goal met — In 2002, the Bush Administration unveiled its climate policy centered around the goal of reducing greenhouse gas intensity 18 percent by 2012. Ten years later (long after most have probably forgotten about it), data indicate the goal has been achieved, at least to an approximate degree. [August 21, 2012]
The Boston Globe: Mayor Menino to install solar panels on his house — Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has been pushing real estate developers and property owners to make their buildings more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Now he’s going green at home, too: Menino is installing solar panels on the roof of his home to help promote a state program that makes it cheaper for residents to go solar. [August 23, 2012]
Durham Patch: Solarize Durham - Why not? — Why not solar? Views of mountain top mining, fracking disasters and oil spills make this technology look pretty darn good. [August 16, 2012]
EIA: Natural gas, renewables dominate electric capacity additions in first half of 2012 — During the first half of 2012, 165 new electric power generators were added in 33 states, for a total of 8,098 megawatts (MW) of new capacity. Of the ten states with the highest levels of capacity additions, most of the new capacity uses natural gas or renewable energy sources. [August 20, 2012]
NPR: Don’t Charge That Electric Car Battery; Just Change It — It looks like a bright new car wash, but it’s a battery swapping station for electric cars in Israel. When a vehicle pulls up, it is slowly pulled through a conveyor. The spent battery is taken out and replaced with one that is fully charged. The entire process takes less than five minutes. [August 21, 2012]
USA Today: Column: Detroit owes us better mileage — When President Obama signs tough new auto mileage and emissions standards in coming days, the United States will take the biggest single step of any nation to combat global warming. It’s a great deal, but automakers must behave responsibly. If they shun their gas-guzzling ways, they can assure its success. [August 21, 2012]
We know you can’t catch every article during your busy week, so we’ve consolidated the recent top energy news stories for you in one easy list. Share your favorite energy, environment and efficiency articles with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.
Forbes: Solar Power More Competitive Than Decision-Makers Or Consumers Realize – Are the decision-makers entrusted with determining the future of energy infrastructure operating under an outdated understanding of the cost-competitiveness of solar power? In many cases, the answer is yes, according to a paper released last week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). [May 24, 2012]
Boston.com: Connecticut subsidies seen spurring home solar power – Installing solar panels could cost, on average, $35,000, according to a state energy agency spokesman. [May 20, 2012]
TreeHugger: Solar Backpacks to Charge Marines in the Field – In an effort to reduce the energy supply needs and lessen the risks of U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) forward deployed forces, researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have prototyped and are field-testing one solution: A mobile solar power pack, with high efficiency, flexible solar cells coupled to a high capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. [May 24, 2012]
Boston Herald: Obama calls for keeping production tax credit to save clean-energy jobs – From a wind-power factory in this battleground state, President Barack Obama urged Congress to extend tax credits he said would save jobs in the field of clean-energy production. [May 24, 2012]
Huffington Post: Saudi Arabia Eyes Solar Power For Future – Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, may finally be getting serious about overcoming the technical and financial hurdles for tapping its other main resource: sunshine. [May 23, 2012]
Earth Techling: Robot To Wash Solar Panels Among Winning Student Inventions – Students took home $200,000 in prizes for green ideas at an awards ceremony recently held at California Institute of Technology for a Department of Energy competition. [May 19, 2012]
SmartPlanet: All-in-one ‘V-Pole’ charges electric cars, lights the street – Who says a street lamp should just light our city streets?… At the top of the pole there’s an LED street light, and built into the pole there’s Wi-Fi, technology to wirelessly charge your electric car, and cell phone infrastructure [May 25, 2012]
Los Angeles Times: Nissan Leaf’s U.S. sales may jump after production starts here – Nissan sold just 370 Leaf electric vehicles in the U.S. last month and only 2,103 so far this year. To put this in perspective, the U.S. auto industry has sold almost 4.7-million vehicles this year. But as Andy Palmer, executive vice president of Nissan’s Yokohama, Japan-based global operations, notes, the U.S. sales numbers don’t provide much of a marker for the success of the first mass-market electric car in several generations. [May 24, 2012]
New York Times: Cramming for Degrees in Hybrids – LIKE many college students, Katherine Bovee, a master’s degree candidate at Ohio State University in Columbus, struggled to find a focus for her undergraduate studies. Wanting to sample a broad range of possibilities, she enrolled in a mechanical engineering program. [May 18, 2012]
Los Angeles Times: Consumer Reports: Car buyers care most about fuel economy – Fuel economy is the top feature buyers consider when shopping for a new car, according to a recent survey by Consumer Reports. [May 22, 2012]
East Hampton-Portland Patch: Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge Rewards Resident for Early Action – Last week, the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge performed a free LED lighting upgrade — worth more than $1,000 — for raffle winner and East Hampton resident Jamie Owen. [May 21, 2012]
We know you can’t catch every article during your busy work week, so we’ve consolidated the week’s top articles for you in one easy list. Share your favorite energy, environmental and efficiency related articles with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.
CLEAN & RENEWABLE ENERGY
Huffington Post: Earth Day Energy Quiz Yields Alarming Results – Rather than telling people how to be more energy efficient this Earth Day, SmartPower decided to test consumers’ knowledge of energy efficiency with a 10-question quiz. Instead of receiving the varied results we expected, we noticed that there were some surprisingly common incorrect answers. [April 25, 2012]
Market Watch: New Data Shows 97% of Americans Overestimate the Cost of Installing Solar Panels – Sunrun, the nation’s largest home solar company, today announced results of a nationwide poll assessing Americans’ beliefs about the desirability and costs of installing a home solar system. Among the results is data indicating 97% of Americans overestimate the cost of going solar, while nearly 8 out of 10 of those who do not already have solar panels say they would install solar if cost were not a factor. [April 25, 2012]
CNN: Turning up the heat to drive down carbon emissions and energy bills – It’s an illuminating idea which its creators hope will help drive up energy efficiency and bring down buildings’ carbon emissions. Mixing the idea of Google’s Street View with multi-spectral thermal camera technology, Massachusetts-based startup Essess is building a giant database mapping residential and commercial properties in the U.S. [April 24, 2012]
Phoenix Business Journal: APS listed as top solar energy developer – Arizona Public Service Co. landed third on a list of the nation’s top ten utility developers of solar power in 2011, according to a report by the Solar Electric Power Association. [April 22, 2012]
Yahoo!: NRG Energy, MidAmerican Solar and First Solar Celebrate 100 MW Milestone for 290 MW Agua Caliente Solar Project – Representatives from NRG Energy, Inc. (NRG - News), MidAmerican Solar and First Solar, Inc. (FSLR - News) gathered with federal and local officials today at the 290 megawatt (AC) Agua Caliente solar project in Yuma County, Ariz., to celebrate the project’s first 100 megawatts (MW) being delivered to the grid, making it North America’s largest photovoltaic (PV) power plant in operation. [April 25, 2012]
POLITICO: Chevy Volt a charged issue – About 15 months after the Volt and Nissan Leaf hit the market, dealers have reported selling about 23,300 cars of both models. By comparison, it took Toyota five years to reach the same figure with its Prius in the U.S. [April 24, 2012]
The Atlantic Cities: Green Infrastructure Could Save Cities Billions – Compared to canvas grocery bags or CFL light bulbs or even solar panels, larger “green infrastructure” projects such as roof gardens or permeable streets can be hugely expensive. It turns out, however, that they’re actually not that expensive when compared to the costs of building more traditional infrastructure, and can even save money. [April 24, 2012]
Earth Techling: eBay Adds More Renewable Energy To Power Data Center – You probably don’t think about all that email you have saved in your inbox. But all of those correspondences, not to mention documents, pictures and videos are being saved thanks to the help of data centers located all over the United States. And those data centers are energy hogs. [April 21, 2012]
USA Today: Family takes long, winding road to their ‘green’ house – Some people love cars, the faster the better. Others indulge in food, fashion or football. I like houses, always have. And lucky me, I got the chance to build my dream home. [April 23, 2012]
Los Angeles Times: Public split over elimination of U.S. energy subsidies, poll finds – The American public is divided about whether to eliminate federal subsidies for any form of energy and is giving less support to nuclear power and U.S. funding of renewable energy, a new poll has found. [April 26, 2012]
USA Today: ‘Green’ schools that go beyond basics: One Indiana school is not only drilling its students on academics, but it’s also drilling holes in its campus to tap geothermal energy. A Vermont college is into burning wood chips as a way to save money. [April 20, 2012]
SmartReads is a weekly summary of all the latest clean energy and energy efficiency news. Send us your tips on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.
Huffington Post: America’s Pastime and Its Clean Energy Future – Baseball is back and the outfield has never looked so green! [April 10, 2012]
Yahoo! News: US grabs lead over China in clean energy race – The United States has regained the lead in the clean energy race, investing $48 billion last year to surpass China, which held the world’s top spending spot since 2009, said a study Wednesday. [April 11, 2012]
Pew Report: Global Clean Energy Investment a Record $263 Billion in 2011 – Global clean energy finance and investment grew to $263 billion in 2011, a 6.5 percent increase over the previous year, according to new research released by The Pew Charitable Trusts. [April 11, 2012]
Arizona Republic: Arizona’s solar energy plans vex military – A solar tower nearly twice the height of the Empire State building. Hundreds of spinning 200-foot-tall wind turbines. A 500-mile high-voltage power line from central New Mexico to southern Arizona. Those are among the projects the renewable-energy industry sees in Arizona’s future. [April 7, 2012]
SmartPlanet: How is the US Air Force adapting to renewable energy? – For fuel-consumptive industries, the shift to renewable energy can be an expensive process — one that requires extensive planning, investment, and occasionally battles in the political arena. [April 11, 2012]
The Guardian: Windfarms do not cause long-term damage to bird populations, study finds - A major new study has quashed fears that onshore windfarms are causing long-term damage to bird populations, but found new evidence that some species are harmed when windfarms are built. [April 12, 2012]
Bloomberg: Wind Power Seen Surging as Custom Barges Cut Set-up Costs – Offshore wind-power producers from Dong Energy A/S to RWE AG (RWE) are building custom ships at record rates to reduce the cost of the technology that’s three times as pricey as electricity from coal plants. [April 10, 2012]
New York Times: Real-Time Data to Reduce Electric Use – WHEN Max Dunn walks through his kitchen in San Jose, Calif., he often glances at the home energy monitor that sits on the countertop. The monitor resembles a car’s GPS device and connects wirelessly to the home’s power meter. [April 10, 2012]
Treehugger: How Smart Meters Transform Our Relationship to Energy - From a DIY remote to turn off any TV to the notion of outlawing standby buttons on electronics, we’ve seen plenty of novel ways to cut back on pointless use of energy. But how much do we actually spend on energy that is literally doing nothing for us? [April 6, 2012]
LA Times: Higher gas prices cause less public anger this time – Gas prices have soared about 15% in the last six months, hitting $3.94 a gallon on average nationwide, and $4.29 in California. [April 6, 2012]
SmartReads is a weekly summary of all the latest clean energy and energy efficiency news. Send us your tips on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.
CLEAN & RENEWABLE ENERGY
Huffington Post: Top 10 Green Spring Cleaning Tips by SmartPower’s Brian F. Keane – Since we survived winter — if you can call it that — and have already begun the transition to spring, I wanted to share some of my favorite green, spring cleaning tips. And of course, with Saint Patrick’s Day just behind us… what better time to be green? [March 19, 2012]
AOL Energy: Wall Street Speaks On Renewable Energy: Focusing On Fundamentals – As some of the most tempting government financial incentives begin to fade from the renewable energy space ahead of deadlines at the end of 2012, bankers and project developers specializing in renewable energy projects are reworking their models. [March 20, 2012]
New York Times: Obama’s Energy Blitz – After taking heat over gasoline prices, President Obama visits a photovoltaic plant in Nevada and oil fields in New Mexico to underline his “all of the above” energy policy. [March 21, 2012]
Bloomberg: Solar 15% Returns Lure Investments From Google to Buffett – U.S. solar developers are luring cash at record rates from investors ranging from Warren Buffett to Google Inc. (GOOG) and KKR & Co. by offering returns on projects four times those available for Treasury securities. [March 19, 2012]
NPR: What’s Making Americans Less Hungry For Gasoline? - The price of gasoline keeps rising for Americans, but it’s not because of rising demand from consumers. [March 22, 2012]
Huffington Post: U.S. Oil Drilling May Not Improve Gas Prices, Study Says – It’s the political cure-all for high gas prices: Drill here, drill now. But more U.S. drilling has not changed how deeply the gas pump drills into your wallet, math and history show. [March 21, 2012]
Politico: ‘Global Warming’ Gets A Rebranding – Shhhh! Don’t talk about global warming! There’s been a change in climate for Washington’s greenhouse gang, and they’ve come to this conclusion: To win, they have to talk about other topics, like gas prices and kids choking on pollutants. [March 21, 2012]
MSNBC: Could This $30 Million Green Tower Be the Future of World Cities? – An office building that lasts 250 years with no monthly electricity or water bills? It may sound like an environmentalist’s pipe dream, but it will soon be a reality, say the builders of what they hope will be the biggest office tower in the nation that produces as much water and electricity as it consumes. [March 20, 2012]
Allow us to let you in on a well-kept secret:
Energy isn’t a political issue. It’s a consumer issue.
So explains SmartPower President Brian F. Keane in an eloquently worded Huffington Post piece this week. Calling out a recent Washington Post article about the huge gap between Dems and Republicans on clean energy, Keane says the mainstream media is off the mark:
While it makes for a nice headline, this data misses the point. Clean energy isn’t a Democratic issue or Republican issue. It’s a consumer issue - and, ultimately, a jobs issue. According to the Solar Foundation’s 2011 Solar Jobs Census, the solar industry grew 6.8 percent from August 2010 to August 2011, nearly 10 times faster than the overall economy grew during the same period.
Meanwhile, Keane points out, consumers across the country aren’t waiting for Washington:
They’re choosing clean energy because it’s good for their wallets - and good for their communities. In Arizona, which moved from eighth to third in the Solar Jobs Census’s job growth rankings, homeowners of all political leanings are leasing and purchasing solar energy systems for their homes because it’s saving them money and supporting local contractors. Arizona SmartPower’s Arizona Solar Challenge, which encourages solar adoption as a way to put solar on 5 percent of homes by the year 2015, has already signed on 15 communities. Two of those have already met their 5 percent goal - and are forging ahead to achieve even more.
Way to go, Brian! And way to go Arizona SmartPower.
SmartPower President Brian F. Keane has a brand new column on the Huffington Post, taking House Republicans to task for walking away from the debt ceiling negotiation table - especially since bipartisan efforts have solved big fiscal problems in the past:
Twenty years ago I worked for two U.S. senators, one Democrat, Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.), and one Republican, Warren Rudman (R-N.H.). They had joined forces to create an organization called the Concord Coalition, designed to eliminate the federal budget deficit. If you recall, in 1992 the overwhelming economic concern was our deficit spending. Our work at Concord, along with the leadership of President Clinton and a number of courageous Democrats in the House of Representatives, helped eliminate the federal budget deficit.
Indeed, it was President Clinton’s 1993 budget deal that created the glide path to a zero deficit. That’s right: in 1993, without a single Republican vote, we took our economy from “deficits as far as the eyes can see” to a surplus that resulted in one of the longest economic booms in our country’s history.
Read more over at the Huffington Post.
Last month, President Obama tapped clean energy specialist John Bryson to head the Commerce Department. Bryson is a former utility executive and a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In a new Huffington Post column, SmartPower President Brian F. Keane says this appointment makes it clear that the ill affection toward “bad guy” utility companies is making way for a new phase of climate consciousness:
Obama’s nomination of Bryson reveals a new approach to coping with climate change — one that’s also a way of coping with the recession. Placing a [former] utility exec as head in the top U.S. trade chair signals that utility companies and clean energy programs are obvious partners in the fight to create jobs and increase global competitiveness. … It doesn’t hurt that these economy boosters are also crucial for combatting global warming and ensuring future generations have the tools to continue doing so.
Read more over at the Huffington Post.
Whether you’re left, right, Republican or Democrat, and whether you drive a car or a bicycle, the cost of gasoline in America affects you.
Until we have a million electric vehicles on the road, supported by an interstate network of charging stations, or until we’ve scaled down the cost of hydrogen and biodiesel-fueled vehicles and connected American cities with high-speed rail, the average American’s pool of transportation choices won’t grow.
This is why my organization is hard at work in Arizona and across the nation to promote EV technology and foster understanding of its benefits to consumers. This is also why it’s so important that our leaders are thinking big and taking action on this issue.
Apart from very real concerns about global warming and environmental degradation, there are very present concerns of poverty and survival, and these concerns are inseparable from how much it costs American families to get from point A to point B.
- Brian F. Keane
From “A Two-Pronged Approach For Relief at the Pump,” Huffington Post, April 29, 2011
Energy efficiency is really the first renewable: the gateway drug, if you will, that can hook American consumers on the benefits of an energy-smart lifestyle.
Encouraging American home and business owners to be more energy efficient places them on what I call the food chain of sustainability. Your ask starts small, with compact fluorescent light bulbs and turning down the thermostat a degree or two. Once consumers see how easy and impactful these actions can be, they are more likely to move up to bigger ones, like purchasing energy efficient appliances and upgrading their insulation. Then, they’ll want to talk to their friends about how much they’re saving. And further along the food chain, they will be knowledgeable enough about their energy use to understand the benefits and cost savings associated with purchasing or generating their own clean energy.
-Brian F. Keane
From “Efficiency: The Gateway Drug of Energy Policy,” Huffington Post, March 30, 2011