Tuesday, July 31, 2007

PUC Talking REC's.

The PUC is convening a public workshop in San Francisco September 5-7 on REC trading and compliance with the RPS.

According to the meeting notice:

“Presentations and discussions will cover the reasons for allowing REC trading, market rules for a REC trading market, and party proposals. Parties from affected proceedings, including R.06-03-004 and R.06-04-009, are encouraged to participate.”

In a bulletin circulated by the law firm Stoel Rives, the firm notes:

“Section 399.16 of the California Public Utilities Code, as amended by SB 107 in 2006, gave the CPUC the discretion to authorize the use of RECs to meet the RPS, subject to certain conditions. One of those conditions was the establishment of a tracking system for credits in the service territory of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council ("WECC"). On June 25, 2007, the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS), a renewable energy registry and tracking system for the WECC, successfully went online, meeting the requirements of section 399.16.”

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Renwable Ephiphany.

Evidence continues to pile up that the media is finally waking up to the reality of the renewable energy paradox in California.

In today’s San Jose Mercury News, Sarah Jane Tribble reports on PGE’s contract with SolEl to supply solar power. Tribble notes that the contract ups PGE’s renewable portfolio to 18% and she makes some “gosh, would you believe it?” observations about renewable energy that should surprise nobody who is bored enough to read this blog”:

“Experts say it is impossible to say how an increase in renewable energy use will affect customer bills because there are a number of factors that contribute to the price of power. But it is clear that new environmentally friendly sources of energy cost more than traditional sources.

While natural gas and clean-coal technologies cost about 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, solar technologies can cost four times that. Even more, renewable fuels provide intermittent power, working only when the wind blows or the sun shines.”


“PG&E declines to talk about the cost of renewables and how much they may affect customer bills, citing competitive reasons. However, the company confirms that renewables usually cost more than natural gas or coal.”

In other news, the Sunrise Powerlink project appears to be in a world of hurt

PG&E makes major solar play [San Jose Mercury News]

Sempra's Sunrise transmission project delayed -PUC [Reuters]

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rudy’s Moonshot Energy Plan.

GOP Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani outlined the broad strokes of his energy policy at a stop in San Francisco.

After making the requisite political pledge to support ethanol (it’s a rule, all presidential candidates, regardless of party affiliation, must worship at the altar of Archer Daniels Midland), Rudy went a step further and proposed a massive, government-funded alternative energy system.

Comparing the development of alternative energy sources to “putting a man on the moon,” Rudy said that "The government has to organize a program like the government organized putting a man on the moon," he said. "We do it by supporting everything. … This is not just a private enterprise."

Even in San Francisco, this more than likely left a few Republicans scratching their heads, so Rudy quickly retreated to safer ground, couching his policy as a part of the global war on terror (“… [development of alternative energy sources would] defuse dramatically the reach and the power of Islamic terrorism”), and advocating new offshore oil drilling.

Just another day on the hustings…

Giuliani Says His Energy Plan Would Aid Planet, Fight Terror [New York Sun]

Monday, July 23, 2007

Underwater Standoff.

The city of San Francisco has gone to FERC to block PG&E’s request for preliminary permits to build two wave energy farms off the coast of Mendocino County.

San Francisco, which wears its support for local clean energy projects on its sleeve, is arguing that, if PG&E gets its permit, it will set off a wave (pun intended) of speculators who will tie up choice wave farm locations and actually prevent development of bona fide projects.

Preliminary permits give holders up to three years to conduct a feasibility study and the right of first refusal on the permitted location for an actual project.

The proposed PG&E project consists of two 40 MW wave farms consisting of eight to two hundred wave generators each.

Given that San Francisco is in the process of dumping PG&E altogether, this fight could get nasty and make for good regulatory theater. However, that would only obscure the fact that wave energy is quite possibly a major league boondoggle that might not even make it off the drawing board if the environmental community poses serious opposition due to the impact on the fragile marine ecosystem.

PG&E, San Francisco Battle Over Wave Energy [Green Wombat]

Friday, July 20, 2007

Anybody Wanna Talk About LNG?

Here's a little raw meat for a Friday...

The LNG lobby is gearing up for another fight, this one over SB 412, the bill that seeks to require the CEC to do another study to assess the need for LNG in California.

The Center for LNG, an industry trade group, argues—predictably-- that the study is unnecessary because, “In their 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report, The California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission determined that California needs LNG to ensure the state has enough affordable natural gas supplies to meet growing demand.”

Proponents of the bill argue—also predictably—that the California can do just fine without LNG and the study is absolutely necessary.

If the bill passes, the study must be completed by November 2008.


This is a fool’s errand, make no mistake. There is simply no way this document doesn’t get politicized to the point of becoming irrelevant (politicized by both sides, mind you).

The simple fact is, we need more clean burning energy in California, but how do you answer the question, “Do we need LNG, per se?” without injecting a point of view into the conclusion?

Obviously, I think LNG is a net-positive. My noble adversary JJ and the rest of the spear-throwing chorus, disagree vehemently.

So we’ll get another study that will either validate the 2005 analysis, in which case, nothing has changed, or it will do a 180 and say we don’t need it, in which case the document will reek of politics and, still nothing will have changed.

Practically speaking, the LNG war is going to continue to be fought at the regulatory and procedural level, not the policy level. The Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission and any other agency with even the remotest slice of jurisdiction over a given project will be ground zero for this brawl, not the Senate.

So, sure, spend the money and time to do the report, at least it will give us all something to argue about…

Center For LNG: California Bill Seeking LNG Study is Redundant and Wasteful [Press Release]

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Inside SCE's Green Machine.

Neal Dikeman of the Cleantech blog offers an interesting peak behind the curtain at Southern California Edison. Dikeman blogs about his interview with Stuart Hemphill, the Director of Renewable and Alternative Power for SCE.

Among the high points:

- SCE has a team of 40 people working on renewable power generaion/supply.

- Hemphill brags that SCE is the greenest utility in the country.

- In 2006 SCE purchased 13 Billion kwh of electricity from renewables, about 17% of its needs.

- More than half of this green power is geothermal, with solar and wind making up the rest.

- For SCE, the biggest issue is not supply of green power but transmission.

- SCE buys 90% of the country’s solar energy.

- SCE has $17 Billion in capital to be spent over the next 5 years in transmission and distribution, but that could be/will be held up by regulators and environmental groups.

- The market for building green power plants is so active right now that SCE has no interest in building any of its own.

- Utilities are doing a great job at going green; Energy Services Companies aren’t doing squat (according to Hemphill).

- REC’s are the key to meeting the green mandate.

The entire post is interesting and worth a read…

Big Green Power is Flowing, But Where Are The Power Lines? [Cleantech Blog]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

To Nuke or Not to Nuke?

Green Wombat reports that the CEC is on a collision course with Assemblyman Chuck DeVore’s nascent ballot initiative that seeks to lift the moratorium on new nuclear power in California.

In a draft report, the CEC concludes that nuclear isn’t likely any time soon and that it isn’t even that “green” of an option because it threatens marine life with water discharge from cooling processes and it sucks money away from other alternative energy options. However, the CEC is artfully hedging its bet with this conclusion:

"Ultimately, this debate over whether nuclear power should be part of a greenhouse gas reduction strategy is constrained by our limited knowledge of what other resources will be available," they state. "Consequently, the best path right now may to pursue all options and defer decisions until more is

No New Nukes for California [Green Wombat]
Nuclear Power in California: 2007 Status Report [CEC]

Monday, July 16, 2007

Not So Viable Alternatives.

The New York Times has a “Drawbacks of Alternative Energy 101” piece in today’s edition.

Matt Wald breaks down some of the problems associated with wind and solar: peak generation hours are inconsistent with peak demand and a lack of a broadly implemented storage technology,

There’s nothing particularly new here other than some information about storage technologies that may or may not work, but it is worth noting that, as more states follow California’s lead and go green, the problems are getting more attention and are harder to ignore.

Storing Sunshine [New York Times]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wind Energy Works... on Wall Street.

It’s no secret that wind energy’s effectiveness hasn’t caught up with its hype, but that hasn’t stopped Wall Street from jumping on board.

Seeking Alpha breaks down the top 12 stock plays in the wind energy market, noting that “Wind power generation rose over 300% between 2000, and 2006. Did you know that it provides 20% of the electricity in Denmark, 9% of the electricity in Spain, and 7% of the electricity in Germany?”

I’m not suggesting anybody invest, but the piece is a good primer on the companies that are driving the industry.

12 Wind Powered Stocks For Your Portfolio [Seeking Alpha]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Taking Nuclear Straight To The Voters.

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore has joined with Fresno Nuclear Energy Group, LLC to officially launch a ballot initiative to overturn the ban on nuclear power in California.

The initiative, called the “California Energy Independence and Zero Carbon Dioxide Emission Electrical Generation Act of 2008” was filed with the Attorney General for Title and Summary yesterday. Proponents will need to collect 500,000 signatures in order for it to qualify for the 2008 ballot.

For more, you can check out the Power For California Web site.

Power for California Launches Clean Nuclear Power Ballot Measure with the Attorney General’s Office [Business Wire]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fur Flies Over Sunrise Powerlink.

SDG&E was on the hot seat last night at a PUC hearing on the Sunrise Powerlink project.

Under what sounds like withering cross-examination, by TURN, UCAN, and the PUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates, company rep James Avery stated that there was no guarantee there would be sufficient renewable energy coming from solar suppliers, and that the project could exceed its $1.3 billion budget.

SDG&E is sticking to its guns, however, and arguing that without Sunrise, county residents will be forced to continue relying on fossil fuels.

SDG&E official faces foes of Sunrise Powerlink [San Diego union Tribune]

Monday, July 09, 2007

But It Sounded So Good In The Press Release...

From the San Jose Mercury News, this is rich:

"During the past two years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration sunk more than $17 million into a state fleet of cars and trucks designed to be environmentally friendly.

So far, the 1,138 "flex-fuel" vehicles have traveled a collective 10 million miles and burned more than 413,202 gallons of gas.

But not one drop has been high-grade ethanol - the fuel that promised to turn the passenger fleet into clean driving machines.

That's because the vehicles have no access to ethanol pumping stations. There was none when the Chevrolet Impala sedans and Silverado trucks were purchased and none is scheduled to open until December 2009. That's four years after the vehicles first hit the road.

Even worse, the flex-fuel vehicles are actually chugging out more smog and greenhouse gases than many vehicles in the state's old fleet - as much as 2,000 extra tons annually.

As a result, energy experts question whether the administration's zest to "look green" has come at the expense of real environmental progress.

If they're right, Schwarzenegger's office isn't the first to bungle with alternative fuel. The latest purchases are the state's fifth attempt in two decades to shift the vehicles its employees use on the job to cleaner fuel.

The failed moves have cost taxpayers millions of dollars in construction costs and staff time."

You can read the entire thing at:

Green facade: Why the state's eco-friendly cars aren't doing the job [San Jose Mercury News]

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Obama’s Support For Nuclear Power Making Some Greens See Red.

If recent presidential fundraising reports are any indication, Barack Obama is a man on the move. But according to some in the environmental community, he’s moving in the wrong direction.

The blog Dissident Voice takes Obama to task for being in the pocket of the nuclear power industry. The authors of the post also claim that the Clinton Administration was similarly on the take and, while they don’t address the Bush Administration, you can only imagine how they feel about W and Dick Cheney!

Dissident Voice notes that Obama has taken almost $160,000 from nuclear heavyweight Excelon in his previous campaigns and that he committed the unpardonable sin of stating for the record that nuclear power should remain an option under consideration, given its comparably benign CO2 emissions. But Dissident Voice disagrees:

“Sadly for the credibility of the atom lobby, some of their more eye-grabbing numbers don’t check out. For example, as noted in a report by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuke industry claims that the world’s 447 nuclear plants reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent. But the true villain behind global warming is carbon. Existing nuclear plants save only about 5 percent of total CO2 emissions, hardly a bargain given the costs and risks associated with nuclear power.”

But there’s no denying that Obama has achieved national credibility and influence (and the campaign bank account that comes with such credibility and influence), so maybe Obama is just the man to move the ball forward on nuclear power.

Barack Obama’s Nuclear Ambitions [Dissident Voice]

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Retailers Own Up To "Hot Gas"

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is reporting that Tesoro is acknowledging the “hot gasoline issue” with decals on gas pumps that will inform motorists that, due to warm weather, the energy efficiency of the gasoline they are buying aint what it used to be.

The FTCR puts the cost of the “rip-off” at only $.50 a tank, but notes that in the aggregate, that’s a $450 million bill nationally.

This decal will probably fit nicely where the old MTBE decal used to be, right next to the Prop 65 decal. Pretty soon gas pumps will look more like stock cars...

California Gas Stations Admit 'Hot Fuel' Ripoff [Yuba Net]