Wednesday, November 14, 2007

California Making Progress on Green Energy, But Lots Left To Do

The policy/advocacy group “Next 10” is issuing its California Green Innovation Index today. The group calls the Index an annual “report card” for California’s green energy efforts.

All in the report shows progress, but notes that, in order to make an impact, more—a lot more—has to be done.

Highlights of the report include:

-- The amount of greenhouse gases produced for every Californian has dropped since 1990. At the same time, California's per-capita gross domestic product - the value of the services and goods produced in the state - has risen. The state's economy, in other words, has been thriving despite the reduction in per-person emissions.

-- California emits less greenhouse gas per person than any other state except Rhode Island. California's economy produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions for every dollar of gross domestic product than Germany, Japan or the United Kingdom.

-- Californians pay less on their monthly electricity bills than do residents of many other states. In 2005, for example, California's average monthly electricity bill was $74, compared with $135 in Texas. Although mild weather plays a part, so do tough energy-efficiency standards adopted in the 1970s for buildings and appliances.

-- Those energy-efficiency standards saved California residents and businesses $56 billion between 1975 and 2003.

-- About 22,000 Californians were directly employed by green-tech companies in 2006. In the same year, California's green-tech businesses soaked up 36 percent of all the money venture capitalists spent on the industry within the United States.

-- About 76 percent of Californians polled as part of the study said they are using energy-efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and 84 percent said they have turned down their heating and air-conditioning systems to save power.

-- Although California's overall demand for petroleum has increased since 1970, the amount consumed per person has fallen.

-- The number of miles Californians drive each year per person peaked in 2002 at 9,068 and dropped to 8,943 miles in 2005, the last year for which information is available. Despite California's reputation as the land of the long commute, people in the rest of the country actually drive more, logging 10,249 miles on the road each year.

California fighting global warming with technology, greenbacks [San Francisco Chronicle]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

LNG Proposals Persist in Ventura

Although Australian resources giant BHP Billiton recently abandoned plans to build a liquefied natual gas terminal along the Ventura County coast, two proposals remain in the, er, pipeline.

Houston-based NorthernStar Natural Gas Inc. is seeking to convert an oil platform 12.6miles off the coast of Oxnard into a liquefied natural gas terminal that could produce up to 1.4billion cubic feet of gas per day.

Meanwhile, Woodside Natural Gas is hoping to establish a plant 27miles off the coast near Los Angeles International Airport using an offshore buoy system.

Experts said the proposals are among nearly a dozen along the coast intended to meet growing demand for natural gas - seen as a more environmentally friendly fuel source than oil or coal - as domestic supplies run dry and more states vie for California's supply of natural gas.

Economic arguments made against the Cabrillo Port proposal seem less relevant now given the comparative price of oil to natural gas. With oil approaching $100 a barrell, the BTU-cost of natural gas is now about half that of oil--meaning that the costs of importation could be easily absorbed before there is pricing parity on a BTU-level.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

PG&E Pulling Plug on Competition

In Northern California, Pacific Gas and Electric is trying to keep its competitors at bay, trying to block public power from selling retail electricity.

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District is seeking to provide retail
electric services to about 35,000 customers in the Manteca, Ripon and Escalon
areas by acquiring PG&E Co.'s existing facility.

On Oct. 1, the state Third Appellate District Court granted a writ of
petition from the irrigation district, agreeing to hear both sides of the

District officials filed the writ after an Aug. 6 decision in which a
San Joaquin County Superior Court judge ruled that the county Local Agency
Formation Commission, or LAFCO, acted within its means during a June 16, 2006,
meeting when the agency voted against a proposal by the irrigation district to
purchase a power distribution system from PG&E.

On Nov. 1, PG&E and LAFCO filed a joint petition to present
arguments against the irrigation district.

Funny that the big corporation seems so defensive about a little competition from the public sector, isn't it?

L.A.'s Mister Green

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is pushing West L.A. Lawyer David Nahai to replace Ron Deaton at the helm of the LA Department of Water and Power--and the move isn't sitting well with some.

Get this straight, David Nahai is no match for Brian D’Arcy, the boss of the most powerful union in town, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18. The union represents 90 percent of the DWP’s workforce and pretty much owns the place, including management. D’Arcy will eat Nahai’s lunch. D’Arcy’s gone untamed by more powerful general managers and couldn’t be caged by two mayors. This guy’s got so much pull that he won an 18 to 30 percent pay raise for his workers during the transition from Mayor Hahn to Mayor Ambition. To this day, neither Hahn nor Mayor Ambition will say the raise went down on their watch. What we know for sure is that D’Arcy’s union fed $307,000 into Mayor Ambition’s campaign fund in 2005, and that ratepayers are now stuck with covering the tab for the stealth raise.

But LADWP has more problems than just those of its union. Reliability and rising rates are causing the City Council to call into question the department's management--both of which may put a roadblock in the way of Nahai's worthwhile green goals.

Back in the Saddle

Sorry for the hiatus. When the power went out in August with the heatwaves, it kinda reminded me of how draining daily posting can be. But the power crisis is just one of many in California that deserves attention--even if it can't be on a daily basis!

Thanks for all your comments and wishes during the time off!