"Energy and Global Warming News for May 21st: Google rolls out home energy software"
Google’s initiative to allow people to monitor their energy use on their computers took a step forward on Wednesday, as the company announced partnerships with eight electric utilities that will be the first to use its “Power Meter.”
Essentially, the secure software gadget will interact with the intelligent metering devices currently being installed by utilities for their customers. The software will “show consumers their home energy information almost in real time, right on their computer,” the company says.
Googlers testing the device, which includes a graphic-rich, Web-based interface, have reported learning which appliances cause the largest spike in home energy use “” causing them to make changes like ensuring that an energy-intensive dishwasher or washing machine is fully loaded.
“One of my colleagues learned that her pool pump had been operating for years,” said Dan Reicher, the head of climate change programs at Google.org, with whom I spoke last month….
Google cites studies that suggest consumers could cut their electricity bills by 5 percent to 15 percent if they had access to information about how much electricity they are consuming.
Existential question: Would such savings be energy efficiency — or conservation?
Average electricity prices would rise less than 1 percent under any of the leading Democratic plans for a national renewable energy standard (RES), according to a federal study released today.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory examined plans from Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, who proposed an 20 percent RES by 2021, with a quarter of that being met by efficiency; Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who offered 25 percent by 2025, with no efficiency substitutions; and Rep. Henry Waxman of California, who called for 25 percent by 2025, with efficiency allowed for a fifth of the standard.
The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee appears to have enough support to include a renewable electricity standard in comprehensive energy legislation today.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s (D-N.M.) draft bill has picked up the support of Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, according to Robert Dillon, a spokesman for the committee minority. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) will also support the measure, according to Bill Wicker, a Bingaman spokesman.
Three key House Democratic committee chairmen signaled yesterday that they too want to take a swing at the sweeping global warming package that Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is trying to pass out of committee this week.
Offering perhaps the biggest road block to a floor debate, Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) told reporters that he plans to put President Obama’s health care reform agenda ahead of Waxman’s global warming bill. “We have to deal with health care first,” Rangel said.
It was the venue least likely to produce controversy of any kind: A hand-picked panel of economic bigwigs meeting in a publicly webcast session with President Barack Obama to exchange semi-scripted speeches about “green jobs” and the economy.
But for all that, the president heard some real criticism of his proposal for a cap and trade plan to limit carbon emissions Wednesday morning during the first quarterly meeting of his new Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
Obama seemed eager to invite disagreement in a meeting where he otherwise heard some typical presidential fawning – board members talked repeatedly of Obama’s “leadership,” his “influence” and the ways in which he could “use the bully pulpit.”
“To the extent that there’s any skepticism in the room, I want to make sure that gets put on the table and we have a real conversation,” Obama said.
House Democrats backing controversial climate change legislation have been getting a hidden helping hand this week from Al Gore.
Over the past few days, the former vice president and environmental activist has mobilized his green grass roots, marshaled his well-endowed lobbying organization and even personally called Democratic committee members in an effort to push the bill through the House Energy and Commerce Committee and through Congress.
“I have enormous respect for Al Gore. When it comes to climate change, he’s the guru,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).
Engel said Gore called him on Saturday to try to persuade him to vote for the legislation. The two, who had never spoken privately before, had a ‘nice, lengthy conversation,’ said the congressman.
Gore said he supported the legislation “despite the compromises that had to be made” because it was moving the country toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Worried that an important loan-guarantee program has ground to a standstill, renewable energy industry associations sent a letter Wednesday to President Obama urging him to speed the program along.
The signers represented virtually every type of clean energy “” wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, nuclear, combined heat and power, and biomass “” and reflected the industry’s concern that a loan guarantee program for clean energy projects approved in the stimulus package was stuck in the federal bureaucracy, as has been a similar loan program that predates the stimulus.
Thanks to lower fuel costs and a proliferation of travel bargains, Americans are expected to hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend in bigger numbers than last year.
Gasoline is selling for an average of $2.33 a gallon, up from $2.06 just last month, according to AAA, the automobile club, and a steep rise from the recent low of $1.67 a gallon in December. A cutback in refining production and the expected rebound in driving this weekend are helping to push up prices at the pump.
Some analysts expect to see gas rise above $2.50 a gallon this summer.
The number of people traveling by car this weekend is projected to rise by 2.7 percent compared with 2008, to 27 million people, according to projections from AAA. Last year, road travel fell by 9.6 percent when prices surged, according to the automobile group.
China confirmed Thursday that it will demand rich nations cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 in upcoming global climate change negotiations.
In a position paper published for negotiations to be held in Copenhagen in December, China – one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases that cause global warming – did not commit to any legally binding reductions.
“Developed countries shall undertake to reduce their GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions in aggregate by at least 40 percent below their 1990 level by 2020,” said the paper, posted on China’s planning agency’s website.
“Developed countries shall take responsibility for their historical cumulative emissions and current high per capita emissions to change their unsustainable way of life and to substantially reduce their emissions.”
Global temperatures could rise by more than 7C this century killing billions of people and leaving the world on the brink of total collapse, according to new research.
The study, carried out in unprecedented detail, projected that without “rapid and massive action” temperatures worldwide will increase by as much as 7.4C (13.3F) by 2100, from levels seen in 2000.
If carbon emissions are not cut by 25 per cent to 40 per cent by the year 2020, higher ocean temperatures could kill off vast marine ecosystems and half the fish in them, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which warned that 100 million people earning a living off the sea could be forced to leave inundated coastlines and find new jobs.
Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten