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.'”
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."
February 15, 2018
The 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."
February 13, 2018
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."
February 06, 2018
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has released an outstanding new transportation mapping tool which provides a graphical view of an evolving, multimodal transportation system.
January 29, 2018
Judge Charles Wachob of the Placer County Superior Court has approved the settlement negotiated by CCEC with Placer County over the Tahoe Basin Area Plan, addressing long-term growth and development on the West Shore and North Shore of Lake Tahoe.
CCEC objected to the county's conclusion that nothing further could be done to address deteriorating traffic congestion and impacts on the environment and quality of life.
Under the settlement the Placer County Department of Public Works will retain Nelson Nygaard of San Francisco, a highly-regarded transportation planning firm with expertise in sustainable pedestrian, bike and transit-oriented solutions.
The scope of work for Nelson Nygaard is attached. The steps under the Settlement Agreement are--
- DPW to retain Nelson Nygaard
- DPW to provide information needed to Nelson Nygaard
- First public workshop to be held to explain traffic demand management solutions and take community input
- Nelson Nygaard to prepare report discussing the full-range of potentially feasible congestion policies
- Nelson Nygaard to discuss potential cost-savings with more sustainable transportation modes
- County to invite comments by TART and TRPA on draft report
- Second public workshop held to explain options and to take public input
- DPW to submit report and recommendations to Board of Supervisors for approval
- DPW to implement the approved strategies.
Work at the county is expected to kick off mid-February. Public workshop dates have not been scheduled, but the public will be notified.
January 21, 2018
Utility Dive: "The California Public Utilities Commission last week approved new market rules for energy storage aimed at enabling the resources to stack incremental value and revenue streams through the delivery of multiple services to the wholesale market, distribution grid, transmission system and other venues."
January 21, 2018
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Increased forest fire activity across the western United States in recent decades has contributed to widespread forest mortality, carbon emissions, periods of degraded air quality, and substantial fire suppression expenditures. Although numerous factors aided the recent rise in fire activity, observed warming and drying have significantly increased fire-season fuel aridity, fostering a more favorable fire environment across forested systems. We demonstrate that human-caused climate change caused over half of the documented increases in fuel aridity since the 1970s and doubled the cumulative forest fire area since 1984."
January 19, 2018
Edhat: "Since train tracks reopened on Thursday, January 11, 2018, following the devastating mudslides near Montecito, the Pacific Surfliner has served as the only viable ground transportation option for thousands of people between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In response to the unprecedented demand for train travel in the area, 15 additional railcars were secured from throughout the state to add more than 2,000 seats to the 10 daily Pacific Surfliner trains serving Santa Barbara County."
January 17, 2018
Walker Wilson: The November 1st 2017 hike of the California excise tax on gasoline is a controversial raise in taxation on a nearly universally consumed commodity in the U.S. Although there are many who view it as such, the tax, whether beneficial or harmful, is certainly not controversial in the sense that gas taxes have existed for almost one hundred years in the U.S. In fact, the first state tax on gasoline was enacted in Oregon in February of 1919. That makes the current tax hike only one year short of a hundred year anniversary.
The tax was an overall success because within ten years all of the lower forty eight states also adopted gas taxes of their own. The first gas tax at a federal level occurred under the administration of Herbert Hoover along with the Revenue act of 1932. In 1932, balancing the budget took on an altogether higher significance than previously, with the economy in shambles during the depression, but using revenue from taxing gas to fund highway infrastructure was an idea that was supposed to be effective even in a time of less economic turmoil. The tax was one cent per gallon and was imposed along with the state taxes. During the term of Herbert Hoover, the government looked for any available source of additional funding, but in our modern era, extra infrastructure funding is also greatly needed. Balancing the federal budget has become increasingly difficult with more threats of government shutdown and an increasing budget deficit. This makes it at least worthwhile to explore new sources of funding, or in this case, to re-examine existing ones.
The most recent grade given by the American Society of Civil Engineers to America’s infrastructure was a D+. Roads in particular also scored a D. With a large deficit and urgent repairs needed, many see the gas tax as a convenient way to fund much needed repairs. This can be especially attractive when one doesn’t want to divert funding from other sources. Other reasoning behind raising the gas tax is based on the idea that the tax is meant to compensate for the costs associated with using fuel products, such as air pollution, while those who oppose raising the tax are primarily concerned with the extra costs it will incur to consumers. While the cost to consumers should not be taken lightly, the U.S consumer on average pays less than consumers in other industrialized nations. According to OECD data on consumptive tax trends, out of industrialized nations only Mexico pays a lower gas tax, because it pays none at all. While the overall effect of the current raise in the gas tax has yet to be determined, it is safe to say that the idea of a gas tax is nothing new, and an occasional raise of the rate is something we should become accustomed to hearing proposed for as long as we continue to use these products.