The Energy Overseer
2nd Quarter 2006 Greenwire Articles and Archives
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06/21/06 Auckland blackout stirs energy politics
New Zealand's first big winter storm brought dozens of local power outages, including a massive blackout in Auckland that left more than 700,000 people without power and cost businesses an estimated $70 million on June 12. The blackout stirred memories of extended outages experienced by Auckland residents in 1998 and raised political recriminations against national grid operator Transpower and the ruling Labour government for failure to maintain and upgrade the nation's electrical system. Read this story and other New Zealand updates.
06/16/06 Calif. governor promises to "get to the bottom" of puzzling gas price spikes
California drivers experienced a "unique" but unexplained spike in prices for automobile fuels this spring, far in excess of the usual premium that they pay compared to national averages. During a news conference in Sacramento, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "The California market experienced a unique spike in prices. There is no clear evidence as to what caused this spike, but for some reason our prices were higher" than those elsewhere.
06/15/06 Calif. desalination project advances
The Carlsbad, Calif., council this week approved land-use permits for a $270 million ocean-water desalination facility proposed by Poseidon Resources that would be one of North America's largest, producing up to 50 million gallons per day of drinking water by 2009.
06/15/06 U.S. proposes $725M land purchase to solve Calif. drainage problem
The federal government would pay about $725 million to retire more than 300,000 acres of highly valuable California farm land under a newly issued environmental impact statement for the San Luis Drainage Feature. The government would buy about half the land within the Westlands Water District. Westlands, the state's largest water district, is on the western side of the San Joaquin Valley, along the Interstate 5 corridor.
06/09/06 Survey sees bright future for distributed energy technologies
High energy prices and growing concerns about reliability have boosted the market for distributed energy technologies and renewable resources, according to a new survey of industry executives and investors. While wind-powered generation and energy efficiency technologies are already proving profitable, about three quarters of survey respondents see the distributed energy sector overall being profitable within five years.
06/07/06 Calif. municipal utilities pledge to meet state carbon goals
California's municipal utilities promised this week to develop and implement plans to match stringent state energy and carbon reduction goals mandated for investor-owned utilities in the state. Jan Schori, general manager of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, announced public power's "intent to do its proportional share" in meeting goals for energy efficiency, adding renewable resources and limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
05/26/06 Calif. regulators maintain RPS goal, set utility auctions
Despite growing concerns that California might not meet ambitious goals for renewable resources to comprise 20 percent of retail energy sellers' portfolios by 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission declined yesterday to order utilities to accelerate their yearly procurement programs. But the order did not rule out the possibility that utilities could build their own renewable power facilities, instead of contracting with third parties. The ruling ordered the three regulated utilities to revise their RPS plans for 2006.
05/26/06 States a 'major driver' of renewable development
At least 14 states have set up funds to promote commercialization of renewable energy technologies that collect about $500 million a year from utility ratepayers, according to a new report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "State clean energy funds are positioned to be a major driver of renewable energy development," the report says.
05/24/06 Shuttered PG&E station might become 'clean tech' zone
Eight years after promising to close and dismantle the aged Hunters Point power station, Pacific Gas & Electric hosted a community ceremony yesterday on the shore of San Francisco Bay, during which the 77-year-old power station was disconnected from the nearby transmission switchyard. PG&E will spend $65 million to tear down the plant and clean up the property for reuse. Exactly what that will entail is uncertain, but San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told Greenwire he has an idea. "I want whatever the community will want," Newsom said. "But I am tipping toward creating an industrial green zone for renewable and clean technologies." Find the story here.
05/16/06 Largest Calif. lake 'on brink of collapse'05/16/06 California facing a flood of bond measures
The Salton Sea -- California's largest lake and a critical oasis for migrating birds -- is facing a precipitous decline in both water quantity and quality over the next decade, a group of government and environmental researchers said in a report released Monday. Recent agreements to transfer water out of the lake and other actions have both increased the amount of water taken from the Sea and are expected to reduce inflows by 50 percent over the next 30 years.
MONTEREY, Calif. -- California voters will find two separate initiatives devoted to water project spending on their November ballots that, combined, would raise up to $8.5 billion for a variety of clean water, levee repair and fish restoration projects. And that's not all. An association of public water agencies is already working on a separate ballot measure for 2008 that could add another $8.5 billion in water-related spending.
05/01/06 Still more economy to be gained, says Fermi prize winner Rosenfeld
No matter how many times California Energy Commission member Art Rosenfeld hears praise for helping make California the most energy-efficient state in the nation, he knows that even more can be done to save energy. And, even at age 80, he is relentless about searching the globe for the next great ideas for implementing efficiencies, whether in big leaps or in small increments. "Incremental is pretty good," Rosenfeld told Greenwire.
04/26/06 Gov. Schwarzenegger urges gas-price inquiry
As prices at the pump edged toward all-time highs, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) asked the California Energy Commission this week to launch another investigation into the causes of gasoline and diesel fuel price spikes. Schwarzenegger also issued an executive order directing state agencies to expand the use of biofuels, and he set new goals for in-state production of fuels from corn, rice straw and municipal solid waste.
04/18/06 Calif. bans once-through water cooling at coastal power plants
The California State Lands Commission voted unanimously yesterday to ban the use of once-through water cooling at coastal power plants in a bid to stop "killing large numbers of fish and other wildlife, larvae and eggs" in the facilities' cooling systems. The ban, which takes effect immediately, would prevent power plants from obtaining leases from the Lands Commission unless they employ alternative cooling methods.
04/12/06 Schwarzenegger vows 'sensible and deliberate' effort on emissions
While reaffirming his commitment to California's bold plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signaled a more cautious approach yesterday to establishing absolute limits on emissions of carbon and other pollutants linked to global climate change. The Republican governor said the state should establish an inventory of carbon emissions, then proceed in a "sensible and deliberate way" to meet goals he enunciated nearly a year ago to cut California's total carbon output to 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below that by 2050.
04/12/06 Pacific pipe deal inked as PG&E hedges against high gas prices
PG&E Corporation, Williams and the Fort Chicago Energy Partners yesterday formalized their agreement to build and operate a 225-mile natural gas pipeline from Coos Bay, Oregon, to near the California border at Malin. The pipeline will allow gas utilities, power plant owners and other energy users in California, Oregon and Nevada to access fuel from the proposed Jordan Cove LNG terminal at Coos Bay beginning in 2010.
04/11/06 Volatile electricity rates spark state political fights
Fears of soaring electricity prices, spurred by volatile fuel costs and the termination of retail rate freezes, have reignited fierce state political battles over restructured energy markets. The most bitter fight may be in Maryland, where the end of a rate freeze for Baltimore Gas & Electric portends retail rate hikes of as much as 72 percent by July 1. But similar concerns have arisen in Delaware, Illinois, Connecticut, parts of Pennsylvania and other states where rate freezes imposed as a part of power market restructuring are giving way to market-based prices.
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