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March 26 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • After President Trump granted a permit for TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline, the National Audubon Society issued a statement saying that the Keystone XL pipeline puts America’s birds and people in danger, and would further destabilize our changing climate. The pipeline will only make the future more uncertain. [Sierra Sun Times]
Sandhill Crane (Photo: Sheldon Goldstein / Audubon Photography Awards)

Sandhill Crane (Photo: Sheldon Goldstein / Audubon Photography Awards)

  • The German Aerospace Center just powered up a massive “artificial sun.” Using an array of 149 gigantic spotlights, it produces “synlight,” which can heat things up to 5,432°F. The effort is part of research to use sunlight to make hydrogen to use for fuel. With an artificial sun, the research can continue on rainy days. [Smithsonian]
  • Construction of the second largest commercial solar array in the state of New York is expected to begin next month, as developer Invenergy prepares to break ground at the former Tallgrass golf course in Shoreham. The 24.9-MW array is being developed under a 20-year contract with the Long Island Power Authority. [Newsday]
  • Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Carnegie Mellon University announced a new index to measure carbon dioxide emissions from the US electrical power generation sector. The Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index will track the environmental performance of US power producers, comparing current and historical data. [Concord Register]
  • After years of assembling some very complex pieces, officials close to the project to build a renewable energy biomass cogeneration facility adjacent to Albany’s Procter & Gamble say things are progressing as planned and that the $200 million plant should begin producing energy and steam for its customers in the next few months. [The Albany Herald]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Brattleboro Town Meeting Expresses Concern

Calling for investigation of the possibility
of treason and crimes against humanity

By George Harvey

One of the wonderful things we have in the Vermont is a real democracy, in which the voice of the people can be heard. The Representative Town Meeting of Brattleboro, Vermont voted on the following motion, which I brought to the floor on March 25, 2017:

I move that the Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting express its concern that the federal government is ignoring the health and well-being of its citizens, violating the guarantees of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, violating our right to a government that represents its citizens; concern that these acts may involve collusion with a hostile foreign power; and that for that reason, the identities and actions of the parties responsible should be investigated and, as it is found fitting, prosecuted for treason against the United States and crimes against humanity.

I addressed the issue as follows:

According to the World Health Organization, another person dies of problems associated with outdoor air pollution about every ten seconds. The problem arises mostly from our use of fossil fuels.

Here in Vermont, our health is at risk. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, air pollution in the US cost the country $500 billion in 2010. The American Lung Association in California said the medical costs associated with use of fossil fuels in Vermont for transportation alone come to $330 million per year. That’s $480 per person, mostly masked in medical insurance and taxes.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, nearly the entire state of Vermont is in a different hardiness zone than it was in 1990, meaning that it is ten degrees warmer on the coldest winter nights. This has allowed increased numbers of deer ticks, bringing us Lyme disease. The change in climate is almost certainly due to our use of fossil fuels.

Our environment is at risk, and with it the well-being of future generations. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, we have lost about 73% of our sea bird populations in the last sixty years. According to the World Wildlife Fund, we have lost about 60% of our wildlife populations worldwide in the last forty years, and we are seeing another species go extinct about every ten minutes. Most of the loss is associated with the use of fossil fuels.

The geographical ranges of moose and ticks have never overlapped, so moose have no instinct to groom for ticks. Now, with climate change brought about mostly by fossil fuels, dead moose are being found with upwards of 60,000 winter ticks on them. According to an article in the Boston Globe, over 70% of moose calves in New Hampshire and Maine are killed by winter ticks. This is just one more example of the problems of climate change.

Flood insurance claims in the US came to $82 million in 1978. With growth of the population and inflation, we could expect that to rise by a factor of six since then, but it has not. It has gone up by a factor of 42. This is according to data from the US federal government. A major factor in the increased costs is climate change.

The current federal administration is clearly focused on the benefit of big businesses of or associated with the fossil fuels industry. These industries put hundreds of millions of dollars into buying supportive congressional seats. Their election goals appears to have been supported covertly by the government of Russia, which has for years been hostile to our country, and gets 65% of its export revenue from the sale of fossil fuels.

(I would note that Richard Painter, the White House ethics attorney for George W Bush, refers to the possible connections between the Trump administration and Russia as potentially treasonous.)

No one rose to speak against the issue, and it was passed without further substantive discussion with very few votes in dissent.

March 25 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • President Donald Trump has announced that he is granting approval to the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Trump said the 1,900-mile pipeline, which will cross much of the Great Plains in a path from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, will be “the first of many infrastructure projects” he believes will stimulate jobs. [National Geographic]
Pipes near Cushing, Oklahoma (Photo: Larry W Smith, EPA)

Pipes near Cushing, Oklahoma (Photo: Larry W Smith, EPA)

  • “Keystone XL is no done deal” • On paper, the TransCanada Corporation has obtained the Trump administration’s blessings to add hundreds of miles of pipeline through the Midwest. It is a permission twice denied by President Barack Obama two years ago, but it’s premature to assume the project will actually get built. [Baltimore Sun]
  • Beijing and the entire surrounding province of Hebei will be planting trees and creating new greenbelts, according to reports. The idea is apparently to leverage existing rivers, wetlands, mountains, and open spaces, to create a “green necklace” that will help to reduce smog problems, the Hebei government has revealed. [CleanTechnica]
  • Three European transmission system operators have signed a trilateral agreement this week that intends to develop a large renewable European electricity system in the North Sea. It is expected that the North Sea Wind Power Hub could supply as many as 70 to 100 million people in Europe with renewable energy by 2050. [CleanTechnica]
  • Myron Ebell, the longtime climate-science denier who led President Donald Trump’s pre-inauguration EPA transition team, says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is among the “swamp creatures” that have infiltrated the president’s administration. Tillerson has supported keeping the US in the Paris climate agreement. [Huffington Post]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Natural Gas Power Plants Emit up to 120 Times More Methane Than Previously Estimated

Nat gasBy Steve Horn • Monday, March 20, 2017 – 17:45

Researchers at Purdue University and the Environmental Defense Fund have concluded in a recent study that natural gas power plants release 21–120 times more methane than earlier estimates.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study also found that for oil refineries, emission rates were 11–90 times more than initial estimates. Natural gas, long touted as a cleaner and more climate-friendly alternative to burning coal, is obtained in the U.S. mostly via the controversial horizontal drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

The scientists measured air emissions at three natural gas-fired power plants and three refineries in Utah, Indiana, and Illinois using Purdue’s flying chemistry lab, the Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR). They compared their results to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

“Power plants currently use more than one third of natural gas consumed in the U.S. and the volume used is expected to increase as market forces drive the replacement of coal with cheaper natural gas,” the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said in a press release. The nonprofit commissioned and funded the study with a grant from the Afred P. Sloan Foundation.

“But if natural gas is going to deliver on its promise, methane emissions due to leaks, venting, and flaring need to be kept to a minimum.”

Click here to read the full article.

Largest Solar Farm East of the Mississippi: Gulf Power solar farm project close to completion

Gulf Power announced its solar farm project on Eglin Air Force Base is about halfway done. The plant will be the largest solar farm east of the Mississippi with 1.5 million panels. The solar farm will take up more than 700 football fields of space on Eglin reserve.  Click here to learn more.

Breaking News on Keystone XL:

Sierra LogoBreaking: The Trump administration just approved the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, but this fight is far from over.

Take action: Urge the Nebraska PSC to reject the state permit!

The Trump administration just approved the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and reversed the rejection of the project under the Obama administration. The decision isn’t shocking. It’s just another step taken by Trump and his billionaire cabinet cronies to line the pockets of Big Oil at the expense of communities.

The good news is this fight is far from over, and we can win. TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, must still get approval to route the pipeline through Nebraska, and the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) is taking public comments now. 

We stopped Keystone XL before because people like you took 1.9 million actions — from sending letters to the White House to joining rallies across the country — to fight back. We can win again now by urging the Nebraska PSC to block the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.

President Obama was right to reject this pipeline. It poses a grave and immediate threat to our climate and to every community it cuts through. Keystone XL would carry 830,000 barrels of the world’s dirtiest oil — tar sands — every day from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. It would be responsible for annual greenhouse gas emissions each year equal to 37.7 million cars — a disaster for our climate. It’s also yet another example of the government trampling on the rights of Indigenous peoples: Keystone XL would cut directly through Sioux treaty lands and near several other tribal reservations and the Ponca Trail of Tears, yet Tribal Nations in Nebraska and South Dakota have not been properly consulted.

A report from the University of Nebraska determined that Keystone XL is likely to have 91 significant spills, putting water sources and wildlife habitat at risk along the entire 1,179-mile route. Keystone XL would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, which is one of the country’s largest sources of freshwater. A spill in the aquifer would threaten the drinking water for millions of Americans as well as the livelihood of local ranchers and farmers. The pipeline also lies within one mile of thousands of water wells in Nebraska, Montana, and South Dakota — putting even more people at risk of losing access to clean water. 1 

We can still stop the Keystone XL pipeline by urging the Nebraska PSC to reject the state permit. Fight back by submitting a public comment now.

This pipeline is bigger than Trump. It’s about the Native Nations whose land and water are threatened, the farmers and ranchers whose land would be taken away to benefit a corporation, and the special places — like the Nebraska Sandhills which are home to threatened wildlife, including whooping cranes, sandhill cranes, and bald eagles — that lie in the path of this dirty pipeline. We will not let this pipeline be constructed — we will continue to fight alongside our allies to stop Keystone XL.

This fight has never been easy, but we won before because we refused to back down. We are not about to stop now, and we can win again. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal called Keystone XL “inevitable” but 6 years later, thanks to you, there’s still no pipeline. 

Today is not the end of our fight, it’s the day that we show the Trump administration what this movement is made of. Submit your comment against Keystone XL now.

March 24 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • The declining cost of wind generation has many utilities looking to add it into their portfolios, a trend that could accelerate the demise of aging coal plants. According to new analysis from Moody’s Investor Services, some 56 GW of Midwest coal-fired generation is at risk, as wind energy comes online with lower costs. [Utility Dive]
Rainbows will not keep coal alive. (Credit: Flickr user Mike Baird

Rainbows will not keep coal alive. (Credit: Flickr user Mike Baird

  • According to 2017 Key Trends in Hydropower, published this week by the International Hydropower Association, a total of 31.5 GW of hydropower capacity was commissioned worldwide in 2016, including 6.4 GW of pumped storage, nearly twice the amount installed in 2015. Hydropower capacity is now 1,246 GW. [CleanTechnica]
  • Global PV manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells said it has been awarded a tender to construct a 1-GW solar power plant in Turkey, in partnership with Kalyon. The Karapinar YEKA project will be the largest solar plant in the region. It will have 1,000 MW AC of capacity, enough to power over 600,000 households. [Renewable Energy Magazine]
  • E.ON will be one of the first companies to stabilize the German electricity grid with wind power. This is made possible by the integration of a wind farm in Brandenburg into E.ON’s Virtual Power Plant. The wind farm is made part of a virtual power plant having 3,800 MW generation output from various sources. [Windtech International]
  • A proposed national budget from the Trump Administration seeks to greenlight the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The move, if approved by Congress, would overturn the policy of the Obama Administration, which froze the Yucca Mountain project in 2009 over concerns that it was unfit to store nuclear waste. [Bellona]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Granite State Solar expands, breaking ground on new property in Bow, NH

Granite State Solar, a New Hampshire-based provider of photovoltaic solar and high-efficiency home heating and cooling systems, announces that they have broken ground on the construction of their new headquarters in central New Hampshire.

The 3-acre property located in the town of Bow, will feature a new office and warehouse building to be completed at just under 10,000 square feet. The move will make room for additional vehicles, equipment and “Most importantly” according to partner, Alan Gauntt, “the much-needed office space will facilitate the hiring of additional staff to support our growth in New Hampshire and expansion into Vermont and other New England states.”

As the leading installer of residential solar in the state of New Hampshire, GSS has been offering cutting-edge solar design, sales and installation services throughout New Hampshire since 2008. All GSS installation work is performed by teams of full-time electricians.  “Because Granite State Solar does everything in-house and not through subcontractors, having enough space for both materials and personnel is critical…”  says co-owner Erik Shifflett. “We’re creating the living-wage jobs NH needs – with health insurance benefits covered at 100% and paid continuing education to further skills and careers.”

Partners Alan Gauntt & Erik Shifflett are excited for the new opportunities that this space will make possible.  In the meantime, the Boscawen NH office will continue to serve residential and commercial clients as GSS prepares for the much-anticipated move to their new home.

March 23 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • Toshiba and Ormat Technologies have commissioned the first 110-MW unit of the $1.17 billion Sarulla geothermal power plant located in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The 320.8-MW power plant uses technologies from Toshiba and Ormat to provide a high efficiency and 100% reinjection of the used geothermal fluid. [Energy Business Review]
Sarulla geothermal plant (Toshiba photo)

Sarulla geothermal plant (Toshiba image)

  • Fifty Massachusetts lawmakers put their support behind a bill that would transition the state’s energy system to renewable sources. All of the state’s electricity would be required to come from clean energy initiatives like solar and wind by 2035. Energy for heating and transportation would all be renewably sourced by 2050. [pvbuzz media]
  • Xcel Energy announced it has proposed the development of 11 new wind facilities in seven states, which would add 3,380 MW in new wind generation. The proposals would boost the utility’s wind portfolio by 50% and increase wind’s share of Xcel’s total generation to 35%. The proposals would come online through 2021. [Power Engineering Magazine]
  • Madison, Wisconsin and Abita Springs, Louisiana are moving to 100% renewable energy following city council votes. Madison and Abita Springs are the first cities in Wisconsin and Louisiana to make this commitment. They join 23 other cities across the United States, from large ones like San Diego to small ones like Greensburg, Kansas. [EcoWatch]
  • Exxon officials have been ordered by a New York judge to explain how the company overlooked a shadow email account used by its former CEO Rex Tillerson while the company was under subpoena by the New York attorney general’s office. Tillerson had used an alias email account under the name “Wayne Tracker.” [InsideClimate News]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Funding Available for Biomass Feasibility Studies! Deadline 3/29

NH Wood Energy Coucil

Is your town, school, or business considering this type of switch? Now is the perfect time to audit your facility to see what type of biomass system can work and at what cost. This is a valuable service made possible through a US Forest Service grant at little to no-cost to your organization or municipality. But there is limited time left to apply! We must get your application no later than 3/29 and we must commit the funds by 3/31/17.

To learn more and view the application visit here!

To ask questions and/or get assistance to meet this deadline, call us at 603-226-4732 or email