By the time the late August application deadline had expired, a Department of Energy program to distribute $615 million to fund projects demonstrating smart-grid technology had attracted 140 proposals requesting a total of $2.3 billion.
“The response is very encouraging,” said Jen Stutsman, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department. “We expect some very competitive projects.”
With companies required to chip in 50 percent of the cost, the $615 million in grants will support at least $1.2 billion in smart-grid projects.
The term “smart grid” covers a number of approaches to modernizing the nation’s aging electrical infrastructure. Innovations run the gamut, from home thermostats that automatically adjust in response to overall demands on the grid, to advances in power transmission and energy storage, which will help integrate resources like wind and solar into the nation’s electrical mix.
The aim of the Energy Department program “” part of the $3.9 billion in stimulus funds targeting the nation’s electrical system “” is to take smart-grid technologies out of the laboratory and test their wide-scale viability and cost-effectiveness.
As the old saying goes: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Or in the case of Toyota: “You can’t have your green and fight it too.”
With a well-earned reputation as a leader in the development of fuel efficient cars it boggles my mind that Toyota continues to be a supporter of the US Chamber of Commerce – an organization that is leading the charge against President Obama’s clean energy agenda. Other big supporters of the Chamber of Commerce have been distancing themselves from the organization over their archaic standpoint on the issue of climate change….
If Toyota is genuinely committed to sustainability as they say they are, then they can can take their lead from Nike, Exelon and others and stop supporting the US Chamber and their attack on the Obama administration’s clean energy and climate change reforms. If they don’t leave the US Chamber, then we know where their motivations truly lie.
Senate Democrats tried out a new catch phrase Wednesday to sell their global warming bill: pollution reduction and investment, or PRI….
The idea to remake cap and trade into pollution reduction and investment came from Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., author of the bill unveiled Wednesday. He came up with it about a month ago to refocus attention on what the bill would do, not how it goes about doing it.
“Cap and trade doesn’t mean anything to people, ” Kerry said in an interview, insisting that “this is an actual description of what’s happening here.”
At a news conference on the bill, cap and trade, the legislation’s centerpiece, got nary a mention. Instead, the buzz words were “national security,” “economic growth” and “jobs from clean energy development.” Kerry and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the other key sponsor, entitled it The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.
“We are here and we introduced this legislation because of one word “” security,” said Kerry. “It is time to reinvent the way Americans use energy.”
The words “cap and trade,” “global warming” and “climate” also didn’t appear in a White House statement responding to the bill’s introduction.
“With the draft legislation … we are one step closer to putting America in control of our energy future and making America more energy independent,” Obama said. “My administration is deeply committed to passing a bill that creates new American jobs and the clean energy incentives that foster innovation.”
Cap and trade is still the centerpiece of the Senate bill, as it is in the House-passed version. Under cap and trade, emissions of heat-trapping gases from power plants, refineries and factories would face increasingly more stringent limits, or caps. Companies could then invest in pollution-reducing technologies, or buy and sell permits to meet the cap “” the trade portion.
The bill calls for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, and an 80 percent cut by mid-century.
At last, the definitive version of the Senate’s first stab at energy and climate legislation is out. Here’s a quick summary, a section-by-section breakdown, and the whole beast.
We’ll dive into some of the details later, but for now what’s interesting is how the bill’s biggest supporters are pitching what, if enacted, would be one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation in U.S. history.
For co-sponsor Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the committee on environment and public works, the “Clean Energy Jobs and America Power Act” addresses the “major challenges” facing the country:
“protecting our children and the earth from dangerous pollution;
putting America back in control of our energy future;
creating the policies that will lead to millions of new jobs; and
Through our example, inspiring similar actions around the world to avoid an unstable and dangerous future.”
She highlighted some of the main differences between the Senate bill and the one passed by the House in June. That includes tougher short-term targets for emissions reductions; greater use of carbon offsets and a “price collar” to keep the cost of the program in check; and more investment in natural gas and nuclear power.
But the big selling point, Sen. Boxer said, is jobs. She cited a new study from the University of California at Berkeley that concluded that energy and climate legislation could create as many as 1.9 million jobs by 2020 and increase””not shrink””national GDP by 0.2% to 0.7%.
Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) unveiled plans yesterday for installing turbines on rooftops around the city, with a goal of commercializing small-scale wind power and bringing down the cost of renewable electricity.
The plans envision turbines on public and private buildings, as well as at Ocean Beach and Treasure Island. Newsom said demonstration turbines could be placed on the W Hotel, outside City Hall and on a new Public Utilities Commission building.
“We want to challenge the perception that wind is a rural or suburban phenomenon and not an urban resource,” Newsom said. Small-scale wind power could contribute significantly to the city’s goal of generating 50 megawatts of electricity from renewables by 2030, he said.
The plan offers 29 recommendations for promoting turbines, including easing permitting costs and shortening approval times for turbine manufacturers and producing maps of wind potential highlighting neighborhoods and individual buildings.
“The key issues are siting, installation cost, permitting and wildlife,” said Todd Pelman, CEO of turbine manufacturer Blue Green Pacific.
About 40 turbine manufacturers have been certified by the International Electrotechnical Commission, which certifies their models’ qualifications for state rebates. The American Wind Energy Association and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council are working on a joint certification process that will start accepting applications later this fall for turbines under 65 kilowatts.
Consumers need more third-party evaluations to compare models, the report says. It recommends that manufacturers create information labels similar to the federal Energy Star program for appliances and adhere to the pending industry standards to ease certification.
Pelman said he was heartened by city officials’ approach to permitting. “Even if we come up against any boundaries or barriers, everyone’s on board to work through it,” he said. Blue Green Pacific’s 150-pound rooftop turbine, which generates a maximum of half a kilowatt, is already at three sites here, including the San Francisco Zoo.
The report recommends refunding manufacturers’ permitting costs and studying small-scale turbines’ effect on birds and bats, for which little information exists.
Newsom cautioned that it is too early to discuss financial incentives for wind projects on the municipal level, but he said homeowners might be able to pay for their turbines through their property tax bills, a financing method first introduced by the city of Berkeley for solar installations.
The sweeping legislation unveiled in the U.S. Senate today aims to curb climate change, arguably one of the biggest tasks ever undertaken on this planet. But it’s a bill that runs to more than 800 pages, and hidden in its folds is a provision that could turn a noted symbol of New York City “” the yellow taxicab “” green.
And it wouldn’t just be in New York. Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and other major U.S. cities would be able to create taxi fleets made up entirely of hybrid vehicles under the proposed Green Taxis Act of 2009.
Offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who now fills Hillary Clinton’s former seat in the Senate, the measure aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 296,000 tons in New York City alone, which its sponsors say would be like taking some 35,000 cars off the road and save drivers $4,500 annually in gas costs.
“By creating an all hybrid taxi fleet, we can improve air quality and lower carbon emissions,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “As a mother with an asthmatic child, I believe this is a win-win for our children and our efforts to combat climate change.”
“Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate changes,” notes a new study from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) that looks at how climate change will affect food production around the world by 2050.
“Developing countries are likely to be hardest hit by climate change and will suffer bigger declines in crop yields,” said Gerald Nelson, lead author of the study and an IFPRI research fellow, in a conference call with journalists on Tuesday.
Temperatures will rise to “intolerable levels” for some plants, he noted, while higher temperatures will encourage proliferation of weeds, insects, and crop diseases.
And those negatives won’t necessarily be offset by an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations. In the laboratory, plants generally respond favorably to higher levels of CO2, but the story is different in farm fields. There, higher concentrations can cause more insect damage.
Overall, says the study, “Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation,” the effects of climate change on agriculture and the world’s food supply are likely to be negative.
South Asia will see large declines in crop yields, the study predicts through “detailed modeling of crop growth under climate change with insights from an extremely detailed global agriculture model, using two climate scenarios to simulate future climate.” Sub-Saharan Africa will also fare poorly.
China, northern Russia, and Canada should see some improvement in their ability to grow more crops, but that won’t be enough to offset what happens in the rest of the world.
By 2050, wheat prices will have increased by an estimated 170-194 percent, rice by 113-121 percent, and maize by 148-153 percent because of climate change.
This leads the researchers to suggest that 40 years from now, the impact of climate change will cause 25 million more children to become malnourished.