By Roy L Hales
Reprinted with permission from: http://www.sandiegolovesgreen.
January 16, 2013 (San Diego)--Justin Gillis, of the New York Times Green Blog, titles his introduction to the recently released Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report” as “An Alarm in the offing on Climate Change.” Personally, I find it reminiscent of a modern day Book of Revelation - only many of the predicted calamities are aimed directly at me and mine. The message is not new. Some scientists have been warning us about Climate change for decades. What is new, is that this is a Government report which, Gilllis writes, “minces no words”. He adds a note of caution, that “it is a draft, so we don’t know what final language will make it into the report.”
By Miriam Raftery
January 16, 2013 (San Diego) – Wind industry professionals and government leaders gathered at the Hilton in La Jolla-Torrey Pines for a four-day conference sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association January 14-17.
On opening day, a Regional Wind Energy Summit-West was held focusing on on demand and challenges in the region, as well as new opportunities for wind energy developers in the western United States ranging from corporate clients and point-of-use projects to repowering older wind farms.
Much to the chagrin of California’s three public utilities companies, residential solar is booming
By Roy L. Hales
Reprinted with permission from San Diego Loves Green; original published at http://www.sandiegolovesgreen.com/articles/energy/residential-solar-industry-booming/
January 15, 2013 (San Diego)--According to the Vote Solar Initiative, 1,400 megawatts (MW) of PV installations are now operating on the homes or businesses of 134,000 Californians. In a recent study, they conclude that, the benefits to ratepayers in SCE, PG&E, and SDG&E territories will be around $92.2 million a year “by the time the state’s net metering program is fully subscribed at 5% of peak demand.” Two thirds of these installations are in low and median income neighbourhoods.
Prominent East County residents turn out in support
By Miriam Raftery
January 14, 2013 (San Diego) –In Marin County, 80% of utility customers now buy power from a local energy cooperative supported by their local government. Now a similar effort is making strides toward giving SDG&E customers an alternative option to purchase power from a public utility backed by the City of San Diego.
Elections have consequences---and Mayor Bob Filner has voiced strong support for creation of a San Diego Energy District. One of Mayor Filner’s first actions was to write a letter of support for SDED’s plans to create a community choice aggregate (CCA) local energy district that aims to purchase power from locally produced clean and renewable resources, primarily rooftop and parking lot solar.
Last week, a full house packed a meeting held by the San Diego Energy Foundation, the driving force behind the San Diego Energy District. The Foundation recently received a $50,000 donation from the Protect Our Communities Foundation (an East County group that fought against Sunrise Powerlink) to conduct a feasibility study due out this summer. Leaders from other East County organizations were also among the attendees.
“There is nothing altruistic about this.” – Don Renard, Boulevard resident, on planned destruction of his rural community to create an energy corridor
“I don’t know of any community facing this many energy projects.” – Donna Tisdale, Chair, Boulevard Planning Group
By Miriam Raftery
January 11, 2013 (Boulevard)--Retired tugboat captain Don Renard worked hard all his life before purchasing a little piece of heaven in San Diego's rural East County. He bought a historic house, the former Ruby Store, once a stage coach stop in Boulevard. He and his family have been working to restore it—in between savoring quiet times spent watching the hawks, owls and song birds among the old oak groves around their home.
But there’s a squall of epic proportions on the horizon. Soon, the Renard family’s home is slated to be surrounded by an industrial solar “farm”—on all four sides. In every direction, 360 degrees, massive panels 30 feet high or so will track the sun. Some will be just 300 feet from his doorstep.
By Miriam Raftery
January 10, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- How long can we expect wind turbines built in our region to last? It’s a key question, since early wear and tear can sharply reduce efficiency, sticking ratepayers with hefty electricity bills. Now, a new study of 3,000 wind turbines finds that they are wearing down faster than manufacturers expected. The study, which claims to be the largest of its kind, examined both onshore and offshore turbines operating between 2000 and 2001.
Brain cancer, sperm damage among risks
January 8, 2012 (New York)-- A new report by the BioInitiative Working Group 2012 says that evidence for risks to health has substantially increased since 2007 from electromagnetic fields and wireless technologies (radiofrequency radiation). The Report reviews over 1800 new scientific studies. Cell phone users, parents-to-be, young children and pregnant women are at particular risk.
By Miriam Raftery
January 8, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – ECM has previously reported about serious health problems experienced by people living near the Shirley Wind Farm in Wisconsin, where county health officials sought emergency declaration for families forced to relocate. That’s relevant here in East County, where four industrial-scale wind energy facilities propose to place turbines close to homes.
Now a Public Service Commission study has proven “dangerous levels” of infrasound generated by those turbines. Four acoustical experts conducted C-weighted sound tests in December and found high readings oflow-frequency noise, or infrasound. One researcher became ill himself with symptoms similar to those experience by residents. Symptoms of the afflicted families include heart palpitations, ear infections, muscle and join pain, and general malaise.
By Miriam Raftery
January 9, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Spanish utility giant Iberdrola Renewables still plans on “going ahead with Tule Wind” in McCain Valley near Boulevard despite a string of financial setbacks, Paul Copleman, media relations spokesman at Iberdrola USA, told ECM.
Iberdrola, the world’s largest operator of wind farms, sold off $1.1 billion in assets in 2012 to reduce its staggering 32 million euros of debt as the company's Standard and Poors Rating teetered just above junk bond status. Assets sold included 32 wind farms in France to GE.
Iberdrola also divested itself of some natural gas assets and in the U .S., Energy Network, Energetix and NYSEG Solutions. In addition, the company has has quietly abandoned efforts to pursue at least one U.S. wind project and potentially more.
Gas-powered plant is pitched to provide backup for non-windy days at Ocotillo wind project—also owned by Carlyle
By Miriam Raftery
January 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) –Cogentrix has sold a majority of its North American assets, including Quail Brush GENCO (applicant for the Quail Brush power plant near Mission Trails) to subsidiaries of Carlyle Entities, managed by the Carlyle Group. View letter to California Energy Commission with details.
Cogentrix had argued that the Quail Brush gas-fired “peaker” power plant was necessary to meet energy needs when there is now enough wind or sunshine for large-scale wind and solar projects.
Carlyle's 2009 Annual Report confirms that Carlyle also founded Pattern Energy, developer of the Ocotillo Express Wind project, a site that has drawn criticism for minimal wind resources. But now, if Quail Brush is built, Carlyle stands to profit whether the wind blows or not.
By Miriam Raftery
December 29, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—“Scenic resources are among the biggest values we can offer to the American people,” Will Metz, Cleveland National Forest Supervisor, told ECM.
The U.S. Forest Service is now weighing a proposal to protect vast tracts of federal forests as roadless wilderness—including 42,000 of Cleveland National Forest. That includes the lands around Cedar Creek and above Cedar Creek Falls, Eagle Peak, the upper San Diego River Gorge, and the Caliente area.
The proposal will likely be open for public comment in January and could be finalized by mid-2013. While the USFS would then manage the lands as wilderness, it would take an act of Congress to formalize the designation.
UPDATE: The President has signed into law a fiscal cliff deal that includes extension of the wind production tax credits, and also makes it easier for wind develpers to get them. Projects now only need to break ground to qualify, not meet construction milestones.
December 31, 2012 (San Diego's East County) – ECM sources in Washington have informed us that language to extend $12 billion in wind production tax credits through 2013 have been added to a tentative deal reached to avert the “fiscal cliff.” Senate leaders and President Barack Obama have agreed on the deal, which the Senate is expected to vote on tonight. The House, however, has adjourned and will likely vote tomorrow or the next day.
Extension of the wind tax credits could have major ramifications for San Diego’s East County, where Iberdrola’s Tule Wind has been approved but not yet built. Other wind projects are also proposed in our region. The wind industry has indicated that without a tax credit extension, many planned wind projects may not be built.
A national effort has been launched by wind power opponents asking citizens to urge Congressional members to oppose any deal that includes a wind tax credit extension. Local residents are among those contacting their Senators and House representatives to urge that wind production tax credit extensions not be granted.
By Miriam Raftery
December 20, 2012 (Boulevard) –Soitec Solar has applied for amendments to the Boulevard Community Plan in order to build for commercial/industrial-scale solar projects totaling 8,938,000 square feet (over 1,400 acres) of concentrating solar PV. The “super modules”, each 30 feet tall, would track the sun to produce renewable energy. The largest of the projects, Rugged Solar, is proposed for property owned by Hamann Companies of El Cajon.
At a meeting with county staff in Boulevard on December 18, about two dozen people braved cold and stormy weather to attend. “None of the local property owners supported the projects,” Boulevard Planning Group Chair told ECM after the meeting. “They were in shock when I distributed copies of the attached photos.”
By Miriam Raftery
Environmentalists voice concerns over impacts on desert views and habitat
December 20, 2012 – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced on Monday the completion of two new long-term power purchase agreements in Imperial Valley totaling 40 megawatts (MW) of solar energy. The power is to be produced in Brawley and Calipatria with diverse business enterprise (DBE) participation.
“SDG&E has made a concerted effort to increase the number of diverse-owned suppliers we do business with in electric procurement,” said Matt Burkhart, SDG&E’s vice president of electric and fuel procurement. “
NASA debunks the “Mayan apocalypse” doomsday predictions
Photo credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kurin
December 20, 2012 (Washington D.C.)—December 21, 2012 won’t be the end of the world as some have claimed, just another winter solstice. That’s the word from NASA, which further states, “Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, the claims behind the end of the world quickly unravel when pinned down to the 2012 timeline.”
Below, NASA scientists answer related questions:
December 14, 2012 (Santee) -- The city of Santee dedicated on Tuesday, December 11 a 107-acre open space parcel along the San Diego River as a future public trail and parkway at a ceremony located at the 9600 block of Magnolia Avenue.
The event marked the transfer of the property from private to public ownership, a project spearheaded by the San Diego River Conservancy that was four years in the making.
“The San Diego River Conservancy is proud to have been the catalyst for the conservation of the Walker Property,” said Mike Nelson, executive officer for the San Diego River Conservancy. “It is a remarkable addition to a river park that will someday extend from the Cuyamaca Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
Elf visit, BMW dealership, and Hanson-Cox support letters also hot topics at council meeting
By Miriam Raftery and Janis Mork
December 13, 2012 (El Cajon) – “We’re going back to our roots in El Cajon, because this was agricultural community,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told East County Magazine after the El Cajon Council unanimously approved both community gardens and chicken ownership for city residents.
Kendrick noted that the El Cajon valley was the grape-growing capital of the United States before Prohibition and orange groves once occupied the hillsides. “There is great soil on the valley floor,” he said, adding that residents will now be able to grow fresh vegetables on numerous vacant lots in the community.
LIGHTS, BLADE SHADOWS DISTURB RESIDENCES IN OCOTILLO AFTER PATTERN ENERGY BRINGS WIND PROJECT ONLINE
By Miriam Raftery, videos by Jim Pelley
December 9, 2012 (Ocotillo) –Ocotillo Express Wind, built on 12,500 acres of public, formerly protected federal Bureau of Land Management property, is now filled by dozens of towering wind turbines. Each massive turbine flashes red lights all night long. During the day, long blade shadows whirl across the desert sands, so there is no time when beleaguered Ocotillo residents or campers may escape the industrial impacts.
Moonshot for Green Job Creation Within Reach of New San Diego Leaders, Community
By Kathleen Connell
December 8, 2012 (San Diego)--As the post-election celebrations end and 2013 approaches, new leaders have been elected in San Diego in what many consider a historic moment in the region. At the same time, San Diegans, the nation, and the globe are struggling to come out of a recession so deep, it is often referred to as the second Great Depression. Meanwhile profound challenges - climate change and Hurricane Sandy - have swept through the East Coast and the consciousness of Americans as Sandy pushed the detritus of climate denial aside in its terrible force, damage and cost.
By Walter G. Meyer
December 4, 2012 (San Diego)--In what is hoped will be a model for future trainings and a revolution in architecture, Southwestern College recently conducted a class called “Smart Building Technician.” The name doesn’t begin to do justice to the depth of the material covered in the class, which was made possible through a grant to UnitedGREEN from SDG&E arranged by Heartland Coalition board member Chuck Brands.
Instructor Kimon Onuma (at left in green shirt) lines up the class participants (including course manager Chuck Brands fifth from left in white shirt) for a graduation photo.
E - The Environmental Magazine
December 4, 2012 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: What are the new nutrition standards for school lunches that have some students boycotting their cafeterias and discarding the food?
-- Melissa Makowsky, Trenton, NJ
Indeed, some 31 million American kids participating in the federally supported National School Lunch Program have been getting more whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables in their diets—whether they like it or not. The change is due to new school meal standards unveiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last January, per the order of 2010’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The new standards are based on the Institute of Medicine’s science-based recommendations, and are the first upgrade to nutritional standards for school meals since 1995 when low- and no-fat foods were all the rage.
December 2, 2012 (El Cajon) -- Cuyamaca College, known throughout the state for its longtime commitment to the green movement, is hosting its third annual Sustainability Symposium Thursday, Dec. 13, at the college’s performing arts theater.
This is the first year the 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. forum will be followed by a Green Vendor and Networking Fair from 1:30-3:30 p.m. In another first, the event doubles as a scholarship fundraiser for students pursuing careers in green or sustainable industries.
November 29, 2012 (El Cajon) – A Native Plant Garden Tour will take place in the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, 12122 Cuyamaca College Dr. West, El Cajon on December 1 at 10:30 a.m. The Native Plant tour, guided by Garden Docent, Jan Tubiolo, explores the lifestyle of the Kumeyaay Indians in southern California and the tremendous role native plants played in every aspect of their lives.
November 27, 2012 (San Diego) – Arbor Day in Mission Trails is being celebrated at the Kumeyaay Lake Campground day use parking lot on December 1. Everyone is invited to take part in the planting of oak trees. Volunteers may help with the planting, or as act as cheerleaders for those that are.
Volunteers are also need to pull weeds and help with general landscape maintenance of the area. Some shovels will be available. Gloves and shoes are recommended.
By Terry Weiner, Desert Protective Council
November 23, 2012 (San Diego)—There is a real danger that Production Tax Credits (PTCs) for industrial wind projects will be extended. They are due to expire at year’s end, but Congress may vote soon on a proposal to extend those credits. Extension of PTCs could be surreptitiously attached as a rider to the upcoming congressional budget bill.
If you want to protect our mountains, deserts, scenic and rural areas, wildlife and Native American cultural sites, please join me immediately in asking your members of Congress not to renew tax credits for these large-scale projects remote from places where the energy will be used.
There are much cleaner, less destructive, more efficient ways to meet our nation’s energy needs!
November 25, 2012 (Santee) – The Santee Lakes Foundation, in concert with San Diego State University, SDG&E and the Santee Lakes Preserve presents the inaugural “Lighting at the Lakes – 2012” December 8 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Lake One under the new Pavilion.
SERIES ON WIND TURBINE NOISE AND INFRASOUND ISSUES PUBLISHED BY INTERNATIONAL GROUP SHOW PROBLEMS 25 MILES FROM WINDFARMS
By Miriam Raftery
November 22, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW) has published the first two in a three-part series on infrasound and low frequency noise problems reportedly caused by windfarms.
By Lori Abbott, California News Service
November 17, 2012 (San Diego)-Congress returned to Washington, D.C., to begin its lame-duck session, but a veterans' group has not given up the fight for legislation to protect parts of the California desert. A bill by Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) would designate as wilderness more than 21,000 acres of Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia in northern San Diego County.
By Miriam Raftery
November 12, 2012 (Boulevard)—At the latest Boulevard Planning Group meeting, community members including Native Americans shared heart-wrenching stories of how the nation's quest for renewable energy is upending their lives, dividing their communities,imperiling their health, and threatening their futures.
As in Ocotillo, where a wind project has anguished tribal members and residents with destruction of cultural and environmental resources, the community of Boulevard now faces an onslaught of massive "green" energy projects on public, tribal and private lands.