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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Scholarships available for Green School Energy Challenge

Ready to take action on climate and energy with your class?
Sign up for Green School Energy Challenge

Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP) moved the kick-off date for Green School Energy Challenge 2018/19 to October 25, so there’s still time for you to join this year’s cohort and lead your class in saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. GSEC is an academics-to-action professional learning program bridging science and engineering with social aspects of addressing climate change — also saving money for communities and empowering youth. VEEP provides the curriculum resources, equipment, and support you need to take on a classroom or school project. PD hours or graduate credits available.

VEEP also has two scholarships available for the program; please contact us or indicate on your registration form if cost is a barrier to you or your school participating in the program. Register and more info >

Battenkill Community Paddle & Clean Ups – Sunday Sept 23

Volunteers show off their collected can bounty during clean up.

Come out on Sunday September 23 beginning at Noon for a fall paddle & clean up at three sites on the Battenkill.   Battenkill Conservancy is once again inviting the any and all river lovers to meet at one of 3 launch sites to enjoy a group paddle and clean up of the river.  Volunteers will meet at one of three designated sites to launch a canoe or kayak and collect cans and other debris deposited along a specific stretch of the river.  Mike Bodnar of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has worked with the groups to provide sturdy collection bags and remove the any garbage free of charge.  For the upper stretch of the paddle and clean up, Battenkill Valley Outdoors, located on Route 313, will be offering equipment and shuttle services for a limited number of volunteers.  The 2nd meet up site will begin at the Schmidt Meadow Preserve off Skellie Road in Jackson and go down river to the Hollingsworth & Vose Center Falls take out area.  The 3rd site begins on Hegeman Bridge Rd, Greenwich where its crosses the Battenkill and volunteers will paddle to the Middle Falls Canoe/Kayak launch.  BkC’s reusable “Collect a Can” shopping bags will be given to all participants to collect returnable cans. Refreshments and snacks will be waiting at the take out areas and rides back to each launch site will be provided.

The Community Paddles begin at Noon with volunteers expected to be back at their cars by 3pm.    Volunteers who do not have their own canoe or kayak and plan to meet up at Battenkill Valley Outdoors must pre-register as equipment availability is limited to 12 people.  To pre-register or for additional information, email bkc@battenkillconservancy.org or call 518-677-2545.

September 19 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “Miami’s Existence Is Threatened With As Little As 18″ Of Sea Level Rise” • Miami is very vulnerable to the effects of climate change. It sees sunny day flooding as regularly as clockwork. It has the third-tallest skyline in the US, but most of the buildings are close are sea level. It is built on porous sandstone, so even a seawall will not work. [CleanTechnica]

Miami area (Hoberman Collection | UIG via Getty Images)

  • “Q&A: Why Offshore Wind is the Future” • Energy company Ørsted has abandoned the oil and gas business it began with for renewables. Now it has eleven offshore wind farms in the UK, including the world’s biggest, Walney Extension. Matthew Wright, Ørsted UK managing director, explains the thinking behind the move. [Raconteur]
  • “More Than 130 Companies Have Made Science-Based Targets This Year Alone” • Since the beginning of the year, more than 130 companies have joined the Science Based Targets initiative, pushing the total number of companies close to 500 and representative of about one-eighth of total global market capitalization. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Trump administration rewrites Obama-era rule for potent greenhouse gas” • The Trump administration has finished rewriting an Obama administration rule on methane pollution from oil and gas wells on public lands. The new rule eliminates regulations for the companies that operate on federal land some call complicated and expensive. [CNN]
  • “Indian Point Relicensed – Closing Still Set” • The NRC has approved license extensions for the Indian Point nuclear reactor units 2 and 3 to 2024 and 2025, respectively. Entergy, however, agreed with New York State to cease operations at Indian Point 2 by April 30, 2020 and Indian Point 3 by April 30, 2021, unless some emergency develops. [Patch.com]

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

September 18 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “The Public Wants Renewable Energy and They Want It Now!” • Utility companies, like automakers, would like to party like it’s 1999 forever, but consumers are beginning to realize their future lies with zero emissions vehicles and renewable energy. The transition has begun. If the people will lead, their leaders will follow. Spread the word! [CleanTechnica]

Floating wind turbine

  • “SoCalGas to Offer Renewable Natural Gas at its Fueling Stations for the First Time” • Southern California Gas Co announced it will soon begin using renewable natural gas at the 25 utility-owned natural gas vehicle fueling stations across its service territory, as well as at six fueling stations in the San Diego area. [Markets Insider]
  • “S&P Global: Coal-fired power stations are a poor investment” • Private investment in coal-fired power plants is highly unlikely due to poor investment returns, S&P Global said. Its analysis shows renewable energy backed by battery storage or gas offers the most prudent investment, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald. [Energy Matters]
  • “Germany embarks on quest for methane fuel” • A research project is exploring the potential use of methane fuel from renewable sources in the German energy, transport and shipping industries. The government-funded lead project will aim to develop and study technologies to enable methane-based fuels from renewables. [The Motorship]
  • “Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant inaccessible due to flooding, workers stranded” • Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant, about 30 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, has declared a state of emergency as the 1,200-acre complex remains cut off by flood waters of Hurricane Florence and is inaccessible to outside personnel. [Insurance News Net]

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

September 17 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “Colorado rolls with climate shift, grappling with low river flows and a complicated debate over reservoirs” • Colorado’s ongoing shift toward a hotter and drier climate is spurring such quick adaptations as allowing taller stacks of hay on trucks rolling into the state. But it is also forcing a scramble to examine climate change. [Canon City Daily Record]

Sunrise at a low reservoir (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

  • “Oyster Creek shutting down for good today: 5 things you need to know” • The aging nuclear reactor at Oyster Creek is closing after a half-century run. The station has been a local icon since its construction in the 1960s. It has also been the source of concern for local people, who will continue to worry about safety during decommissioning. [Asbury Park Press]
  • “Nature Roars. Washington Hears Nothing.” • As if this past summer of merciless heat waves, droughts, and megafires were not warning enough, in the past several days the elements sounded another alarm about global warming caused by burning fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the EPA proposed weakening the rules on methane. [New York Times]
  • “India’s solar energy capacity is growing” • India’s electricity sector is transforming rapidly. A 50% decline in wind and solar tariffs since 2016 means renewable energy is now the lowest cost source of new generation. This has turned the established order in India on its head. Unsurprisingly, capital for new coal has dried up. [pv magazine India]
  • “‘Tsunami’ of new wind and solar projects drives renewables output to a record” • Clean energy’s share of total Australian grid supply for the 12 months to August was a record 16.1%. When rooftop solar is added, the 12-month share rose to 19.7%. This is just shy of the 2020 Renewable Energy Target set for large-scale renewables. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

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

September 16 Green Energy News


Headline News:

  • “Optimism trumps despair at San Francisco climate summit” • Mayors, governors, entrepreneurs, chief executives, investors, and celebrities delivered a double-edged message at the close of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco: Global warming is making the planet unlivable – but we know how to fix it. [The Japan Times]

Woman dressed as a tree (AFP-JIJI)

  • “Hurricane Florence Is 50 Miles Larger, with 50% More Rain, Thanks to Climate Change” • For the first time, researchers have calculated the impact of climate change on a hurricane as it was active. Hurricane Florence, they found, was about 50 miles (80 km) larger and dumped 50% more rain than it would have had without climate change. [Infosurhoy]
  • “Marubeni’s shock exit from coal” • Japanese energy giant Marubeni Corp is getting out of coal and accelerating its shift into renewable energy dramatically, according to a story in Nikkei. If the story is true, it will send shockwaves around the energy world and confirm that renewable energy is not just cleaner, but more economic than coal. [Michael West News]
  • “China demolishes high emission power plants with installed capacity two times more than Britain’s total” • Britain’s total installed power plant capacity is about 70,000 MW, but the gross installed capacity of the power plants demolished in China was 170,000 MW, a Chinese senior official said at the Global Climate Action Summit. [ecns]
  • “Moving Beyond Coal at the Global Climate Action Summit” • America will meet its Paris Climate Agreement targets, the director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign said. Over 200 new coal plants stopped construction, over half of US coal plants closed (273 and counting), and coal cannot compete with renewable power. [Red, Green, and Blue]

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

2018 Renewable Energy & Sustainable Living Fair

Community Advocates for Sustainable Energy will hold its third annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair at Doane Stuart School (199 Washington Ave, Rensselaer, NY) on Saturday, October 20th from 10 am – 4 pm. It is the largest event of its kind in the Capital District and beyond. This event is free and open to the public with free parking.

The public is invited to enjoy this one-stop shopping event for information and products about renewable energy and living a more sustainable life. There will be food and children’s activities in addition to displays and information. Workshops on a variety of topics will also be offered.

This year the Capital District Electric Vehicle Drivers Club will demonstrate their electric vehicles. Doane Stuart School will give tours of its “Green Roof.” There will be information about solar installations at your home through community solar, and about how to buy your electricity through a renewable energy supplier. One can learn more about heat pumps and geothermal heating and cooling (with new tax credits and rebates).

Green and zero energy building techniques will be shown. Replacement windows and other energy efficient products and services will be displayed. One can learn how to invest one’s money in sustainable businesses. An all-natural, non-GMO special ultra-low-maintenance grass seed will be available.

Not for profit organizations will provide information on how to sign up for a free NYSERDA energy audit, how one’s town can become a “Climate Smart Community,” the best ways to compost, fighting for environmental justice, lobbying for a carbon tax, biomass heating, the power of Community Choice Aggregation, making healthy soil, recycling, HVCC’s Clean Energy Management Program, bicycling options in the Capital District, a comprehensive green energy newspaper, interfaith environment spiritual leadership, local climate advocacy organizations, creating Freezer Meal Kits, a car sharing service, and restoring carbon to the soil.

There is still space available for up to 13 more exhibitors as of this writing. To register, go to: www.stopnypipeline.org .

Contact Becky Meier or Bob Connors at 518-781-4686 or email: beckyjmeier@gmail.com for more information.

September 15 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “Worsening storms are the price of greed” • The necessary and terrifyingly overdue efforts to combat climate change at the source of worsening storms are simply not being made in the US. Instead, even small victories, such as reducing pollution from coal and US participation in the Paris Climate Accord, are being walked back. [CNN]

Boat wedged between trees by Hurricane Florence

  • “Hurricane Florence is the latest setback to struggling flood insurance program” • Hurricane Florence will bring flooding and destruction to thousands of homes in the Carolinas and Virginia. It is another blow to the federal program providing insurance against flood damage that has already had $16 billion in debt forgiven by congress. [CNN]
  • “Hurricane Florence Is Part Of What Al Gore Got Right In An Inconvenient Truth” • This was supposed to be a lighter-than-usual season due to the El Niño cycle, but due to climate change, lighter does not mean what it used to. In context of this, it’s worth revisiting the predictions made in Al Gore’s film to assess their quality. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Texas electric grid did just fine without coal-fired power plants” • A hot summer, during which critics said the Electric Reliability Council of Texas would fail because it relied too much on wind energy, instead proved grids can close uneconomical coal plants, rely on renewable energy, and still provide reliability and reasonable prices. [Houston Chronicle]
  • “Gov Brown says California to Launch Satellite to Track Pollutants Causing Climate Change” • Gov Jerry Brown said California will launch a satellite to monitor pollutants that contribute to climate change. The governor announced the project during the closing of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. [USA Herald]

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

 

End of “Net-Metering” Casts Shadow Over Future of New York Solar

FernandoAH / E+ / Getty Images

On a bright August afternoon in Brooklyn, the sun beat down fiercely as New Yorkers scrambled for slivers of shade. Except for Shaugh Dolcy. The 43-year-old software developer proudly basked in the rays on the roof of his four-story building and showed off the brand-new solar rig that glistened brightly against the blue sky.

Dolcy’s wife, Tamara, chased their six-year-old son, Rhys, through the expanse of silver and black panels, some resting at a slant a few feet above the rooftop and others towering on 20-foot poles, creating an impressive metal canopy.

The solar project, which was installed in June, is now powering all eight apartments and the common areas in the building, an affordable-housing co-op. It has the potential to lower the residents’ electricity bills from over $100 a month to a mere $15, said Annabelle Heckler, another tenant.

“We’re all really excited about it,” she said. A sunny day turns their rooftop into a mini-power plant, and means less money goes to Con Edison.

Affordable-housing units aren’t generally the places you’d expect solar energy, as the cost of buying and installing the technology has associated it with eco-conscious suburbanites who have cash to burn. But low-income communities stand to benefit the most from the decrease in energy costs solar energy provides, said Stephan Roundtree, environmental policy and advocacy coordinator for WE ACT, an environmental justice organization in northern Manhattan. Electricity is the highest bill low-income residents in the neighborhood pay after rent, he said.

Installing community solar — a collection of panels used by multiple households — was a simple process under net metering, which enables tenants like Dolcy and Heckler to sell excess electricity their solar-energy system produces to utilities for credit on their bill. However, several states, including New York, have either ended it or weakened it, under political pressure from large utilities.

In September 2017, the state Public Service Commission approved a new policy called Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER), which will phase out reverse metering in favor of a system where utilities set how much they will pay based on when and where the solar panels provide electricity to the grid. The commission proposed it after receiving criticism from utility companies that net metering oversimplifies solar pricing mechanisms.

New York has already lost over $800 million in investments and thousands of potential green-collar jobs since VDER was put into effect, said Chris Carrick, the energy program manager for the five-county Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board. A co-op in Inwood that wanted to install a similar system abandoned it after the value of solar energy decreased.

Advocates worry that VDER will continue to have crippling effects on New York’s growing solar industry and vow to make this a campaign issue if Gov. Andrew Cuomo fails to address it.

The governor said in 2015 that clean power would become available to all New Yorkers “regardless of their zip code or income.” But his administration has yet to come up with a plan to reinstate net metering, which advocates say is crucial for keeping solar prices affordable, predictable and easy to understand.

“We need to acknowledge that utilities have been pushing back against net metering,” said Carrick. Con Edison, one of the largest utilities in the US, was one of the companies that submitted comments against net metering and in favor of VDER to the state Department of Public Service as early as 2016. The Con Edison Employees PAC has donated thousands of dollars to Cuomo’s election campaigns over the past decade, according to the New York State Board of Elections.

States including Hawaii, Arizona, Maine, Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have also switched to other policies. However, net metering continues to be popular. An August 2017 survey by the University of Michigan found 76 percent of respondents supported it.

While VDER makes the valuing of solar energy more nuanced, it also makes it more complicated to participate in community solar projects, said Kelly Roache, director of inclusion at Solstice, an organization dedicated to promoting affordable community solar.

VDER only considers the market value of solar energy and decreases in greenhouse gas emissions, she explained. It fails to count other environmental benefits of community solar power, such as decreasing co-pollutants and particulate matter from fossil fuels and offering an affordable energy option to marginalized communities.

Low-income communities and communities of color “are on both ends of the experience of injustice,” she added. They are more likely to experience pollution from the fossil-fuel industry and to spend a large portion of their income on utility bills.

In other parts of New York State, community solar helps fill in the gap for those who aren’t able to install rooftop panels and allows customers to buy a share of panels in another location, said Carrick. For those who can’t afford to invest in shares, there are pay-as-you-go options that work like monthly cell-phone plans.

Solar currently provides over 9,000 jobs and powers more than 200,000 homes in New York State. Carrick said the energy program at the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board has approved 35 community solar projects that could provide power for up to 8,000 residents. Many were slated to be built on closed landfills — land that otherwise has no meaningful use.

But most of these projects will no longer be viable under VDER and are currently on hold, he said.

Facing pressure from community and environmental activists, the Assembly passed A.10474, a bill to reinstate net metering, by a large margin in June. But the state Senate version, S.08273, failed to make it through the Republican-controlled upper house.

Advocates are pushing for action from Cuomo’s office. “We are fully prepared to do whatever we can to make this a campaign issue,” said Carrick.

The newspaper Naomi Klein calls “utterly unique,” full of insightful dispatches from around the world, The Indypendent offers a fresh take on today’s events.

September 14 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “Gas-related explosions set fire to homes near Boston” • At least one person has been killed and others injured in 60 to 80 incidents thought to be gas explosions and fires in towns north of Boston. A fire chief said investigators suspect the fires were caused by “over-pressurisation of a gas main” belonging to Columbia Gas lines. [BBC]

Damaged house (Getty Images)

  • “DNV GL Predicts Global Energy Demand To Peak In 2035” • The world’s energy demand is expected to decline from 2035 onward, according to global risk management and quality assurance company DNV GL. It published a report predicting that the demand decline will result in a reshaping of energy investment trends. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Wind and solar power are unstoppable, even without government support: Deloitte report” • Australian wind and solar power are booming despite the Australian government’s retreat on carbon emissions and energy policy, a Deloitte report claims. The report also says Australia enjoys the lowest global cost for solar panels. [Energy Matters]
  • “NY To Phase Out Hydrofluorocarbons, Thumbs Nose At Trump Administration” • Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that his administration will phase out the use of HFCs, one of the most powerful climate pollutants on earth. This contravenes Trump administration federal mandates not to regulate HFCs. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Legislators Narrowly Override Sununu’s Biomass Veto, But Fall Short On Net Metering” • New Hampshire’s timber industry scored a major victory as legislators narrowly voted to overturn the governor’s veto of a bill subsidizing biomass plants. But they fell just short of overturning a veto of a bill subsidizing net metering. [New Hampshire Public Radio]

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