Global Heatwave Hits Commodities

July 25, 2018

Bloomberg:  "A heatwave across swathes of North America, Europe and Asia, coupled with a worsening drought in some areas, is causing spikes in the prices of anything from wheat to electricity. Cotton plants are stunted in parched Texas fields, French rivers are too warm to effectively cool nuclear reactors and the Russian wheat crop is faltering.

"The scorching heat is extracting a heavy human cost – contributing to floods in Japan and Laos and wildfires near Athens. Relief from soaring temperatures, which topped 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Arctic Circle, may not arrive for at least two weeks."


Climate Refugees

July 01, 2018

climate_refugees_0.jpg

New York Times:  "Last year I traveled to southern Guatemala, the source of one of the largest migrations of unauthorized immigrants to the United States in recent years. It’s clear why people are leaving: Guatemala is a country rife with political conflict, endemic racism against indigenous people, poverty and, increasingly, gang violence.

"But there’s another, lesser-known dimension to this migration. Drought and rising temperatures in Guatemala are making it harder for people to make a living or even survive, thus compounding the already tenuous political situation for the 16.6 million people who live there.

"In the town of Jumaytepeque, which is in Central America’s dry corridor, a group of farmers took me to see their coffee crops. Coffee was responsible for the majority of the community’s income but had been decimated by a plague known as coffee rust, or la roya. Plagues like these aren’t necessarily caused by climate change, but it exacerbates them, and roya is now infecting plants at higher elevations as those heights become warmer. Making matters worse, stress from the drought has made these plants more vulnerable to the plague.

“'We can’t make a living purely off coffee anymore,' one young farmer told me in the dappled shade of his coffee plantation, pointing to the limp, yellow roya-pocked leaves all around us. Young people like him, he explained, either move to the cities and try to make a go of it amid the gang violence, 'or they go north,' he said, to the United States."


Renewables Less Expensive

June 11, 2018

Wall Street Journal: "In many places, opting for renewables 'is a purely economic choice,' said Danielle Merfeld, the chief technology officer of GE’s renewable energy unit. 'In most places, it is cheaper and other technologies have become more expensive.'”

"Recent power auctions have suggested that renewable energy prices have further to fall. Earlier this year, an auction in Saudi Arabia awarded a contract to build a 300-megawatt solar facility for $17.90 a megawatt hour. Very low labor costs in the Middle East and India are resulting in record-breaking low bids for solar.

"A Mexican auction last year drew international bids for power at an unsubsidized price of below $21 per megawatt hour. That was substantially below the spot market price for electricity, which averaged around $70 per megawatt hour last year, said Veronica Irastorza, an associate director of economic consulting firm NERA and a former Mexican undersecretary of energy planning.

"In Canada, an auction in Alberta in December awarded four wind contracts for an average of $37 a megawatt hour, subsidy-free. The Albertan government planned to award contracts for only 400 megawatts, but bumped it up to 600 megawatts when it saw the prices offered, which were slightly below the average price for electricity on the province’s grid in 2018."


Losing Enormous Amounts of Clean Energy

June 02, 2018

New York Times: "Since 2013, five nuclear power plants have been retired in Florida, Wisconsin, California, Vermont and Nebraska, the result of a mix of political opposition and competition from gas. Six more plants, including Three Mile Island and California’s Diablo Canyon, have announced that they will close between now and 2025, even though they could technically operate for decades."

"Those shutdowns would take enormous amounts of clean energy off the grid. The six retiring nuclear plants generated nearly 60 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year, more than all of America’s solar panels combined, according to an analysis by Environmental Progress, a green group pushing to save nuclear power."

Grist: "Something big has to change, and fast, in order to prevent us from going over the climate cliff. Increasingly, that something appears to be a shift in our attitudes toward nuclear energy."

Union of Concerned Scientists:  "Yet limiting the worst effects of climate change may also require other low- or no-carbon energy solutions, including nuclear power."

James Hansen: "To solve the climate problem, policy must be based on facts and not prejudice. Alongside renewables, Nuclear will make the difference between the world missing crucial climate targets or achieving them."


Corporate Heavyweights Push for Regional Toll Network

May 21, 2018

Washington Post: "A group of corporate leaders is pushing for a robust, interconnected network of toll lanes from Baltimore to Richmond, saying the region should embrace tolling to improve the reliability of the region’s roadways and reduce congestion while generating a funding stream to pay for transportation infrastructure."

"The Greater Washington Partnership has identified principles it says can guide elected and government officials to successfully grow the toll road network."

“'We have done tolling separately in Virginia and Maryland, but we really need to do this as a region,' said Joe McAndrew, the group’s director of transportation policy. 'We need to be thinking about this to incorporate and benefit the broader transportation system.'”

Greater Washington Partnership:

"1. Tolling investments should improve the transportation system, not just the tolled facility

"2. Toll planning should be coordinated regionally to deliver the benefits of greater mobility and reliability to all consumers of the transportation system

"3. Decision-makers should prioritize providing enhanced connectivity to the greatest number of people, not moving the most vehicles or generating the most revenue

"4. Consumers of all income levels should benefit from the tolling investment, including those without the financial means to afford the tolls

"5. Tolling revenue should be invested in cost-effective public transportation enhancements

"6. Public agencies should conduct robust and broad public engagement to develop goals, performance metrics and public benefit assessments for each tolling project, whether delivered by the public agency or by a public-private partnership."


Consumer Benefits from Solar Mandate

May 10, 2018

Wall Street Journal: "The California Energy Commission voted 5-0 to approve a mandate that residential buildings up to three stories high, including single-family homes and condos, be built with solar installations starting in 2020."

"The commission expects the cost of adding solar, when combined with other revised efficiency standards, to add about $40 to an average monthly payment on a 30-year mortgage. However it estimates the investment would more than pay for itself, with consumers on average saving $80 a month on heating, cooling and lighting bills."

“'The buyer of that home absolutely gets their money back,' Mr. McAllister said. 'Out-of-pocket, they are actually better off.'”


Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community

February 15, 2018

Director of National Intelligence:  "The impacts of the long-term trends toward a warming climate, more air pollution, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity are likely to fuel economic and social discontent—and possibly upheaval—through 2018." 


Warehouse Project Must Evaluate Renewable Energy Technologies

February 15, 2018

Pages_from_01_Vol_4_Original_DEIR_Sections_1.0-3.0_(1_of_3).jpgThe Riverside County Superior Court has overturned the City of Moreno Valley's approval of the World Logistics Center--a 2,710 acre project for the construction of 41.4 million square feet of “high-cube logistics” warehousing.

CCEC notified the city repeatedly beginning in April, 2013, that it should evaluate the renewable energy potential of the project including rooftop solar, energy storage, and microgrid technologies. 

CCEC engaged advanced energy modeling for the project undertaken by HOMER Energy which found a “compelling opportunity” for the integration of renewable energy.

The Riverside County Superior Court concluded, "The City failed to conduct 'a good faith reasoned analysis' of cost-effective renewable energy in the FEIR."


Electric Vehicle Excitement Among Policymakers Utterly Lost on Consumers

February 13, 2018

electric-car-charging-stations-at-target-in-fremont-ca-photo-by-jack-brown_100419235_l.jpg

UC Davis: "There are no paths to meet the PEV commitments and promises being made by automakers and politicians unless consumers are engaged in the transition to electric drive. Evidence from California says consumers are not. The excitement among policymakers, automakers, and advocates as more PEV models enter the market place, more charging is installed, and more PEVs are sold each successive year is utterly lost on the vast majority of the car-buying public—even in California, touted as being among the global PEV market leaders. The problem is the number of car owning households that are paying attention to PEVs is not growing."


TRPA Releases Robust Multimodal Transportation Planning Tool

February 06, 2018

GIS_Tool.jpg

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has released an outstanding new transportation mapping tool which provides a graphical view of an evolving, multimodal transportation system.