Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Burying Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Remember the name "Thornton, CA." If a pilot project paid for by the US Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission is successful, Thornton, CA may go down in history as the town that saved the planet from global warming.

Thornton's unique geology makes it the perfect spot to test technology desinged to trap greenhouse gas underground, preventing its emission into the atmosphere. The Thornton test will focus on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Store gas underground; turn leftovers into energy. [California Connected]

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sacramento Bee: Yes to LNG.

The Sacramento Bee lays out the case for LNG in an editorial today.

According to the Bee:

"Rejecting an LNG terminal along the Southern California coast means embracing something else that has its own set of risks."

"Natural gas is a bedrock of the state's energy policy for reasons that make great sense. This requires access to the gas that the state needs. That requires one LNG terminal, most likely, for now."

I couldn't have said it better myslef.

Natual Gas Imports Part of Balance Solution [Sacramento Bee]

Friday, October 27, 2006

California Cities Buy Into Texas Gas Field

The Southern California Public Power Authority has purchased a share of a natural gas field on the Barnett Shale in Texas as a way to secure fuel for natural gas-fired power plants, the authority said on Thursday.

Most of the fuel will be used to run the 300-megawatt SCPPA Magnolia Power plant in Burbank. The city of Burbank operates the plant that on most days runs as a baseload plant producing between 120 and 242 megawatts. On high-demand summer days, it can produce up to 310 megawatts output.

Devon Energy will operate the drills in the Newark East Field of the Barnett Shale in Texas and is expected to yield 67 billion cubic feet of equivalent of proven reserves.

SCPPA represents southern California cities Anaheim, Burbank, Pasadena and Colton and the Turlock Irrigation District.

Southern Calif. cities buy share in natgas field [Reuters]

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arnold Stumps for Solar.

Arnold Schwarzenegger pumped up a crowd at America's largest solar power conference with a speech affirming his strong commitment to solar and other forms of clean energy.

Schwarzenegger's speech topped off the Solar Power 2006 conference and expo, a weeklong conference attended by moore than 9,000 people.

He touted solar power's role in delivering on his promises to protect the environment and grow the economy. The Governor's support for solar power will yield $3.2 billion in incentives over the next ten years.

Schwarzenegger closes America's largest ever solar event [RenewableEnergyAccess.com]

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Still MORE Fallout From the Malibu LNG Protest.

Thanks to National Association of Manufacturers blog for this deliciosly ironic item about our Malibu friends. I guess the Hollywood activist surfers aren't as green as they would lead you to believe?

Hollywood Hypocrisy Update [National Association of Manufacturers]

UC Davis Kicks Off Biogas Project.

UC Davis commenced a new project to turn methane gas from decaying foodstuff and other organic material into usable energy.

According to UC Davis researchers:

For every ton of zucchini or lettuce or broccoli or any other kind of food waste that goes through the system, enough power will be produced to serve 10 homes for a 24-hour period. With five million tons of food waste going into California's landfills each year, that's a lot of wasted power. "Because the waste is created all over the state, we don't have to truck it in," said Konwinski. "We can make plants all over the country or all over the state."

Table Scraps Provide New Power Source [ABC News 10]

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fallout From the Malibu LNG Protest.

Even the Brits are mocking us.

If sound science and demonstrated need won't quell the celebrity insurrection in Malibu, maybe a little ego bashing will? Wishful thinking, I know.

From the UK's Hecklerspray.com:

Thanks to its prime location in quite a nice place in the world, more exciting celebrity news happens in Malibu than, say, Wiltshire. When Mel Gibson got drunk and slagged off all the [EXPLETIVE DELETED], it happened in Malibu. When Britney Spears temporarily decided to go Hindu, she did it in Malibu. When, um, Shannen Doherty crashed her car, she did it Malibu. See? That's literally three things that have happened in Malibu. And they've all been topped by this.

Every Single Malibu Celebrity In Massive Gas Strop [Hecklerspray.com]

Wind Energy Development to Increase In the Wake of SB 107

Western Wind Energy announced that it is tageting 30 sites in California for the development of new wind energy resources. The move comes in the wake of the Gov. Schwarzenegger's signature of SB 107.
According to Western Energy, the 30 sites total over 1,200 megawatts.

Western Wind Energy Corp. - Site Acquisition Strategy for California [Press Release via Yahoo!]

Monday, October 23, 2006

Lake Elsinore Hydroelectric Update

The controversial Lake Elsinore hydroelectric project ("LEAPS") has been amended and resubmitted for consideration. The project now proposes to bury high power transmission lines so as not to interfere with hangliding and other recreational activities (not to mention home owner concers).

The project, which is being put forth by Nevada Hydro, would pump water from Lake Elsinore uphill to a reservoir that would then release the water through hydroelectric turbines back down to the Lake.

The Press Enterprise article has a good summary of the project and a timeline.

Plan 'buries' power lines [Riverside Press Enterprise]

The Malibu Millionaires Go Surfing.

Honestly, this has become so tedious that initially I was inclined to overlook it. However, I have so much ink invested in these guys already, I kind of have to acknowledge them. So here goes:

Yesterday Pierce Brosnan and a handful of other really, really rich Hollywood activists who are petrified that the proposed Cabrillo Port LNG terminal might in some way impact their really, really privileged lifestyle by obscuring their view, staged a protest at Surfrider Beach in Malibu.

This bizarre photo op included a bunch of surfers floating around in formation, and 46 year old, one-time A-list actress Darryl Hannah parading around in front of papparazzi in a wet suit.

The only truly notable thing about this protest is that we now know Dick Van Dyke is still alive and kicking. Glad to hear it... I always like him in those "stop, drop, and roll" fire prevention videos he did in the 70's and 80's.

By the way, we still need access to cheap, clean alternative energy sources.

A Wave of Celebrity Protest in Malibu [Los Angeles Times]

Friday, October 20, 2006

Old McDonald Had an... LNG Terminal.

Ventura County's love-hate relationship continues as the Farm Bureau of Ventura County gives Cabrillo Port a big thumbs-up.

Rory Cox, who still hates LNG (Cox is everywhere on this issue) also weighs in.

As published in the Ventura County Reporter:

"But at least one powerful organization has expressed its support for Australian energy firm BHP Billiton’s proposal to install a floating LNG terminal off the coast of Oxnard: the Farm Bureau of Ventura County. The group, which stands at the head of the county’s billion-dollar agricultural industry, unanimously voted on Oct. 16 to support Billiton’s Cabrillo Port project, citing concerns over the domestic supply of natural gas"

In other LNG news, it looks like Chevron is going to team up with that affable chap, Hugo Chavez, and build and LNG facility in Venezuala. Stay tuned.

In Support of LNG [Ventura County Reporter]

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Not so bad after all...

Who knew we had this kind of influence?

Just a day after we roughed up the Ventura County Star for shilling for anti-LNG propagandists, the paper does a 180 and highlights the benefits of LNG in a laudatory piece on trash hauler Harrison Industries' decision to convert its vehicle fleet to LNG-powered vehicles.

The paper even touts the environmental benefits of LNG use:

"Within two weeks, Harrison expects to have 31 trash trucks running on the clean-burning fossil fuel, curbing diesel emissions in the neighborhoods of some of its 70,000 customers."

County praises trash hauler for switch to LNG for trucks [Ventury County Star]

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ventura County Star On LNG.

Before the rise of the blogosphere, the mainstream media was free to stray off the reservation with impunity-- to publish positions in support of a polical agenda that were so outlandish and divorced from reality to be almost laughable.

But alas, no more! When papers like the Ventura County Star print popagandist op-eds the likes of Rory Cox's piece in today's paper, we're here to call them out on it.

Cox, who is a Program Director for San Francisco-based "Pacific Environment" (sounds objective, already doesn't it?), penned a piece in today's Star claiming that the argument over proposed LNG terminals shouldn't be "where" we put them, but "why" we need them.

Cox must be new to California. To suggest that we don't need a new source of clean, reliable energy demonstrates either hypocrisy or ignorance.

Cox argues further that we shouldn't develop LNG resources because the Russian government once shut down an LNG plant. This argument makes so little sense that I can't even begin to address it.

Cox then argues that LNG will increase energy bills and harm the environment. I can respond in two words: "Wrong" and "Wrong".

I'm all for the First Amendment-- it's what we're all about in the blogosphere. But, the Ventura County Star has done its readers an enormous disservice by giving a patina of legitimacy to Cox's poorly informed, politically motivated propaganda.

Californians (and readers of the Ventura County Star) are capable of deciding for themselves what direction our state should take, but they are at a tremendous disadvantage in doing so when ostensibly "legitimate" media outlets like the Ventura County Star reduce themselves to modern-day carnival barkers by peddling this kind of misinformation and propaganda.

Before bringing LNG to our shores, we need to question 'why?' [Ventura County Star]

EDITOR'S NOTE: In case you missed the connection, the above photo is of Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the former Iraqi Minister of Informtion and the patron saint of propagandists. You might recall some of his more outlandish claims like the one after Baghdad fell: "There are no Americans in Baghdad! None."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Sun Shines on Google.

Google plans to install a massive solar-power system at its headquarters, committing to one of the largest corporate solar installations in the country at a time when technology companies' support for alternative energy is on the rise.

The search company says the system, which is expected to be operational in early 2007, will supply about 30% of the peak energy needs of six buildings in and around its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

The system is being installed at an undisclosed price by Energy Innovations Inc. of Pasadena, Calif., which says such solar installations typically pay for themselves in power-cost savings in five to 10 years and last about 25 years.

Google, which trades at approximately 55x earnings makes no secret about its penchant for doing deals that defy economic sense (because it can afford to), so this could be just a publicity stunt to reinforce its oft-lampooned credo, "Don't be evil."

However, if it works, look for Sergey and Larry to go solar at their various massive, power-sucking server farms, the first of which is currently under construction in Oregon.

Google Campus to Get Solar Power As Alternative Fuels Gain Interest [Wall Street Journal]

Monday, October 16, 2006

LNG Prominent on Next Governor's Agenda.

Today's San Francisco Chronicle has a piece about LNG's curious absence from the long list of issues being debated as part of the gubernatorial election. As noted earlier, Phil Angelides claims to oppose LNG (out of desperation); Gov. Schwarzenegger supports it (but apparently he doesn't support it smack, dab in the middle of one of our busiest ports).

The Chronicle notes that the next governor will have to make a decision on LNG almost immediately into his term. It looks more and more like Schwarzenegger is going to be the next governor, so that's good news for LNG and better news for California which desperately needs dependable new sources of clean, safe energy.

Liquefied gas' future in hands of next governor [San Francisco Chronicle]

Sempra Settles State Lawsuit.

Sempra Energy said Friday it would pay customers of its San Diego Gas & Electric Co. subsidiary nearly $6 million and would give the utility a discounted option to buy a Nevada power plant as part of a broad settlement that ends a state lawsuit and two investigations into the company's actions during California's 2000-01 energy crisis.

The agreement would "provide significant benefits to SDG&E's customers," said Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. Sempra, which didn't admit wrongdoing, settled to remove "the financial uncertainties of these energy-crisis-related cases," President Neal E. Schmale said.

The suit had alleged that Sempra shorted SDG&E customers during the energy crisis by sending gas to Mexico.

Sempra, State Settle Suit Over Power Crisis [Los Angeles Times]

Friday, October 13, 2006

Long Beach LNG Project Takes Another Punch.

This can't be good news for Sound Energy Solutions' long-shot proposal to site an LNG terminal at the Port of Long Beach:

Yesterday Gov. Schwarzenegger, citing unprecededented vulnerability at California's ports, signed and exectuive order creating the "California Maritime Security Council."

The new Council is designed to make the ports safer by coordinating and sharing information among the federal, state and local governments at our ports.

While the new Council hasn't voiced an opinion on the proposed LNG terminal, it's pretty much a given that they're not going to like the idea of a terrorist-attack-waiting-to-happen at the epicenter of their turf.

Sound Energy Solutions has a lot invested in this deal though, so, perhaps through some skillfull lobbying they will be able to negotiate a compromise--like agreeing not to paint a big red and white "bullseye" target logo on the roof.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Executive Order Creating California Maritime Security Council [Official Press Release]

PG&E's New Strategy is Bullsh#!. Literally.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said Thursday that it would purchase natural gas derived from cow manure at California dairy farms to fuel power plants.

Depending on the timing of regulatory approvals, the gas could be flowing to PG&E by the end of 2007, assuming the deal passes the smell test. (OK, I made that last part up.)

PG&E to Buy Cow Manure Gas [Los Angeles Times]

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Metal Recycling Company Generates Its Own Power... Sort Of.

Ther Riverside Press Enterprise has a glowing profile of a metal recycling company that generates 60% of its own power using a combination of fuel cells and microturbine technology.

According to the PE:

Fuel cells create energy by converting natural gas into electricity without burning it. The main byproducts of the process are heat and water.

The microturbines, which were built by Capstone Turbine Corp. in Chatsworth, are small rotary engines that create energy by burning natural gas but with much lower nitrogen-oxide emissions.

But before you think this is the silver bullet that is going to solve all of California's energy and air quality needs, consider this. The project cost over $4.2 million... and AQMD paid for it with a grant. So much for being a workable solution.

Underscoring this complete lack of practicality, a company executive told the PE, "Our thought was, as long as it didn't cost us significantly more money to do this, we'll commit to it." Precisely.

Fontana firm uses fuel cells, microturbines for 60 percent of its energy. [Riverside Press Enterprise]

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Prop 87 Tab Breaks Record.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the combined spending on Prop 87 by "pro" and "con" forces has set a new record for California-- $105 million, so far...

Just to recap, Prop 87 seeks to put a tax on oil production to pay for alternative energy R&D. According to the article in the Union Trib:

The tax would be based on a sliding scale from 1.5 percent to 6 percent, depending on the world price, with higher oil prices increasing the tax rate.

At its highest level, the 6 percent tax would add $3.60 to a barrel selling for $60. It could raise up to $485 million a year, and it would end once $4 billion is collected.

Prop 87 campaign spending sets record [San Diego Union Tribune]

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Solar's outlook is partly cloudy.

With consumer demand for solar power technology booming thanks to government subsidies, manufactureres are having a hard time keeping up and this threatens to drive prices sky high.

According to the Contra Costa Times:

Yet subsidizing demand for products already in short supply raises a red flag for economists, who view that as a classic recipe for skyrocketing prices. So the silicon shortage, combined with a limited workforce of qualified installers, makes this a bad time to pour money into the state's solar industry, said Severin Borenstein, director of the UC Energy Institute.

The Times also notes that solar energy, despite its growing popularity, is still only a small part of California's overall energy portfolio:

But even on the brightest day, solar remains a long way from providing the power needed by the state's contemporary consumers and industries. The existing flotilla of solar systems produces less electricity than the state's 63rd-largest power plant, a small 165-megawatt natural-gas fired generator in Oakland owned by an affiliate of Chevron Corp.

Given recent revelations about the true state of California's preparendness to meet its new green energy mandate, this troubling news.

Solar power shines, despite clouds [Contra Costa Times]

Monday, October 09, 2006

Don't Forget About Mexico.

Today's Los Angeles Times profiles "the other" LNG project-- Costa Azul, which is being built by Sempra north of Ensenada on Mexico's Baja peninsula. It seems that while competing LNG projects in California have been busy beating their respective heads against a wall in their daily tangle with government red tape and community opposition, Sempra has been quietly forging ahead.

Costa Azul is actually ahead of schedule and could begin processing as much as 1 billion cubic feet of gas as early as 2008.

This ups the ante for competing LNG projects in California because once Sempra's project comes on line, there is really only going to be enough marketplace demand for one other project. That means either Cabrillo Port or Long Beach Harbor bites the dust. Now that the stakes have been raised, look for increased maneuvering by both supporters and detractors of both projects.

The Malibu millionaires surely will continue to play the "victim" card, at least for a while-- the holidays are approaching, which is "party season" then, before you know it, it's "Oscar season" (even privileged "activists" need to keep their priorirties straight!)

And in Long Beach, you can expect to see area residents turn up the volume in their opposition to the LNG terminal that Sound Energy Solutions wants to put in the middle of their community.

Between these two projects, the choice seems astonishingly simple-- an invisible offsore, floating facility, or a massive industrial complex in the middle of an urban neighborhood. But, this is California where nothing ever makes any sense so who knows how this is going to turn out.

Friday, October 06, 2006

007's Covert LNG Mission Becoming Transparent.

The Malibu LNG drama is starting to get a little silly.

A couple of weeks ago I commented on the coalition of movie stars led by actor Pierce Brosnan that opposes the Cabrillo Port project. Initially they called it a safety risk, then changed tacks and played the environmental card.

While it's patently obvious that this is purely a NIMBY issue and they simply are trying to protect their privileged lifestyle, the environmental objection at least seemed germane to the debate over the proposed project-- or so I thought.

Brosnan et al, are hanging their environmental argument on greenhouse gas emissions and particualte matter that could cause asthma.

THE FACILITY IS 14 MILES OUT IN THE OCEAN. A kid in Malibu has a greater chance of getting ashthma while waiting in the parking lot at NOBU for the valet attendant to fetch Mommy's Range Rover... I mean, come on.

If Brosnan and his comrades are successful in killing Cabrillo Port, then an LNG terminal will likely go somewhere else like Mexico or Long Beach. I guess poor Mexican kids or minority families living next to the Port of Long Beach don't get asthma?

I've said it before-- California needs new, alternative energy solutions and, while controversial, LNG is a viable option that needs to be debated openly and honestly. Brosnan and company's disingenuous, self-interested smear campaign threatens to prevent that debate from taking place.

Resident opposition to drilling fueled by pollution concerns [The Graphic]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

California's Heavyweight Bout Against Global Warming.

Dan Weintraub lays out just how perilous the road ahead is for regualtors charged with meeting the greenhouse gas emissions mandate. Most of the heavy lifting will be on the Air Resources Board, and the size and scope of the problem is staggering.

According to Weintraub:

What will it take to achieve the benchmark? Consider that California could take every one of its 14 million passenger cars off the road, and still be less than halfway toward its goal. Shutting down 100 state-of-the-art, natural-gas-fired power plants still wouldn't get us there. Closing the entire cement industry, although it is a major source of greenhouse gases, wouldn't finish the job.

CARB is set to come out next summer with its recommendations for first steps--what Weintraub calls "lowing hanging fruit". What comes after that is anybody's guess.

Air board will do the real work on global warming. [Sacramento Bee]

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Contra Costa Times is reporting that Safeway is now the largest corporate purchaser of green energy in California, after it announced it was buying an additional 174,000 megawatts of wind energy-- enough to power its corporate headquarters and all of its San Francisco stores.

The supermarket chain estimates that this additional commitment to wind power will remove 110,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air.

Safeway goes green in energy purchase [Contra Costa Times]

Monday, October 02, 2006

LA DWP Asleep at the Switch?

Now this would be a scene worthy of Jeopardy!

Contestant: "I'll take bureacratic nightmares with no possible workable solution, for $1,000, Alex"

Alex Trebek: "This municipal utility, the nation's largest, has a mandate to deliver 20% of its power from renewable sources by the year 2010, but so far, it's done squat and any hope to meet the deadline has probably vanished."

Conestant: "What is the LA DWP, Alex?"

Alex Trebek: "Righ you are!"

The LA Times yesterday ran a long piece on how utterly unprepared the DWP is to meet the renewable energy mandate. According to the Times:

"So far the transition has been slow, and critics are skeptical that the agency has the will or know-how to make such a significant shift so quickly. The $3.9-billion department — by far the city's largest — is widely seen as insular, if not arrogant, and has at times been hostile to pressure from outsiders."

A week or so ago, we mentioned the San Francisco's Chronicle's claim that California as a whole was not prepared to meet the new renewables standard. This is, at best, a distrubing "us too" from DWP.

DWP at an Energy Crossroads [Los Angeles Times]