MO Commission Stiffles Alternative Power Generation

The people of Missouri have gotten on board with generating energy via wind and solar technologies.  Their Easy Connection Act is a law specifically intended to promote alternative energy solutions.  just as the people of Missouri  are climbing on board, though, the Missouri Public Service Commission imposed a regulation which would most certainly stop homeowners’ and small businesses’ efforts dead in its tracks.

The MO Public Service Commission (MPSC) has instituted a requirement that anyone who generates less than 10 kilowatts must carry $100,000 in liability insurance, while those generating 10 to 100 kilowatts must carry 1 million dollars in liabiliity insurance.  This requirement goes directly against the spirit and intent of the state’s “Easy Connection Act,” which encourages generating power by harnessing solar and wind, and prescribes the crediting of electricity put back into the grid.  Obviously, whatever the cost of such insurance, it would drive people away from generating their own electricity by forcing them to incur a recurring annual insurance which could very well be more costly than the value of the electricity generated.

Missouri Renew, the citizen’s action group which pushed for the Easy Connect Act, has filed suit against the MPSC.  They cite that there has been no incident of loss, no lawsuit, and that there is no basis for the requirement.  The Commission counters that they want to be protected in case someone is harmed while messing with the connection box.

If the state wants to be protected, perhaps it should be the one purchasing the policy.  It’s certainly not a realistic concern, and obviously moves in direct conflict with responsible generation of electricity.  We’re forced to wonder whose side the Commission is on.

The MPSC can be reached at 573-751-3234, by email at:, or by mail to the Public Service Commission, Governor Office Bldg, 200 Madison Street, PO Box 360, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0360.  The Commissioners are: Chairman Jeff Davis, Connie Murray, Robert Clayton III, Terry Jarrett, and Kevin Dunn.

Thinking Of Mom On The Holidays

She gave us a womb to develop in, and then birth. She has kept us warm, sheltered, safe, nurtured, and given us a sense of stability and security. She tends to our needs, while giving us the freedom to wander and explore and figure out our place in life. She provided us with siblings to learn from, to know and enjoy. We take romps with her, we frolic in the sun, in the water, in the rain and snow with her. We play in the mud, and grow into men and women with her. We build our homes with her, and when we pass on from this life, she cradles us again. The earth is indeed our mother.

This holiday season, amidst all the festivities, the kids and decorations and food and parties, let’s pause for just a bit, think of all the times shared with our mother, Earth. Let’s be thankful for them, reminisce a bit, and renew our pledge to protect her as she has protected us.

None of us would intentionally do anything to harm either of our mothers, right? Take a minute to think, now, of the ways we may have hurt either of them unintentionally. Perhaps it was a careless word or gesture, some thoughtless unintentional act. Moms absorb a lot, they take a lot without a word of protest, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt them, and that doesn’t mean we should add to the already heavy burden that they both carry for us.

So call up your mom, tell her you love her. Remind the both of you of the good you’ve shared, thank her, and remember to be gentle with her. Hold your tongue — and your trash. Pitch in, lend a hand, so she doesn’t have so much to do. Remind the both of you that you do appreciate and love her. Make your new year’s resolution early. Vow to be kinder to your mother from now on — not just on the holidays, but every day. It’s gotta be tough. She does so much for all of us kids. Let’s make her life easier from now on.

Happy Holidays, Mom!

Wind Energy – Morocco Launches the Largest Wind Farm in Africa

On June 28, 2010, it was announced that Morocco has inaugurated a $3.13 million USD wind farm in Melloussa, which is near the major port city of Tangiers, just across the Straits of Gibraltar. The king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, presided over the festivities of this important event.

In all, the wind farm has 165 turbines able to produce 140 megawatts of power by the wind alone. Like the Spain and the U.A.E., Morocco is demonstrating that they are increasingly forward-thinking about non-petroleum energy sources. A recently released draft proposes another wind plant, at a cost of $3.5 billion USD. This, coupled with the newly inaugurated wind farm near Tangiers, would bring the country’s reliance upon renewable power up to 42% by the beginning of the next decade.

When a more prosperous nation develops such technologies, this is an enlightened perspective. For a country like Morocco to do so, when so much of their nation is much less financially prosperous, it is a noteworthy commitment to a Greener world. Join us in congratulating His Highness for the vision, and the people of Maroc for this milestone development!

Going Green – UK’s First Carbon Budget, Energy & Green Jobs

UK’s first ‘Carbon Budget’ – Investment in renewables, energy efficiency & green jobs

UK Chancellor Alistair Darling unveiled a series of ‘green’ initiatives in the UK’s first ever ‘carbon budget’ this week, with around £1 billion pounds set aside to encourage alternative and efficient energy use and deliver ‘green jobs’. The budget promised carbon emission cuts of 34 per cent by 2020. Darling called the move a “landmark step”. The increased target is well ahead of the 20 per cent promised at EU level and sets UK targets well above those in the US. Greenpeace dismissed the energy saving initiatives, expected to save around 380,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, as “woeful”. “The emissions saved per year represent about two weeks’ emissions from Radcliffe-on-Soar coal-powered station” said the environment group’s spokesperson. Lord Turner, chairman of the Climate Change Committee and one of the central figures behind the budget, commented “The carbon budgets provide the UK with the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world. We need to start reducing our emissions now, and we need tough policies and strong leadership from government.”

Offshore Wind Development – Offshore wind is one of the big winners from latest budget, Darling adding that Britain needed cleaner energy investment, talking of a new “North Sea energy hub”, built around offshore wind and including gas storage and carbon capture. “The credit squeeze is holding back major offshore wind projects. I want to lift the barriers — through £525 million pounds of new financial support over the next two years for offshore wind, funded through the renewables obligation. The potential is enormous,” he said. “I am confident that this will lead to major projects getting the go-ahead quickly, providing enough electricity to meet the needs of up to 3 million households.” This is still someway short however, of the £2 billion pounds asked for by the wind industry but should be enough to benefit a number proposed projects that are under threat including the London Array, the world’s largest. Paul Golby, chief executive of Eon UK, which holds a 30 per cent stake in the London Array, said he was “certain” the move “would help transform wind power in the UK”.

Green Buildings – An additional £435 million pounds of extra support will be provided “to deliver energy efficiency measures — for homes, businesses and public buildings” such as weatherproofing. The government also announced that from a £500 million pounds package designed to kick-start the building industry it would spend £100 million pounds helping local authorities to build low-carbon homes.

Car Scrappage & Green Cars – In an attempt to boost sales within the struggling automotive industry and encourage people to switch to greener, more efficient vehicles, Darling confirmed that the government will launch a scrappage scheme worth £2,000 per car. The scheme covers the 10 million cars in the UK currently older than 10 years. The scheme kicks in next month and is likely to run until next March or until the money runs out, whichever is soonest. The Chancellor also announced a major reform to vehicle excise duty next year “to encourage manufacturers to produce cleaner cars” new bands will be introduced offering an “incentive to encourage drivers to choose the least polluting car”.

Green-collar Jobs – The Governments green jobs strategy was key to this carbon budget. Darling claimed government spending on environmental initiatives in the fight against climate change would create large numbers of “green-collar jobs”. He claimed that there “could be over a million jobs in our environmental industries within the next two decades” providing “huge opportunities” for business. “These budgets give industry the certainty needed to develop and use low-carbon technology – cutting emissions, creating new businesses and jobs.” Funding for skills development and training also increased, with £260 million pounds focused on “sectors with strong future demand” which should benefit those in green industry sectors.

Other Energy Investment – The Chancellor confirmed plans for a further two CCS demonstration plants maintaining an option to build a further two in the future, how these projects will be funded was not confirmed. Darling also announced that highly efficient CHP plants are to be exempted from the climate change levy from 2013 which he predicts will bring forward £2.5 billion pounds of investment from the private sector.

Submitted by Sam Newell at Renewable Energy Jobs

solar, energy, power

Nanosolar of Palo Alto, California is emerging as the world leader in solar energy technology. The companies solar electricity panel production utilizing a unique printing technique, delivers cost efficiency, enabling applications to deliver green power on an expanded basis.

The offset printing press combined with a proprietary Nanoparticle ink (which Nanosolar owns the processes and designs to) produce the world’s most cost-efficient solar cells and deliver them in many versatile product forms. Solar cells can now be printed on flexible sheets of metal or plastic, and fabrics in rolls which can be applied to large surfaces.

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are among the prominent investors in the companies Thin-film solar cell technology. Other noted investors in Nanosolar include Mohr Davidow Ventures and Benchmark Capital. Nanosolar holds at least 42 patents on the technology. Contributers from the scientific community include Stanford professor Michael McGehee, a leading expert on photovoltaic technology, and the University of California at Berkeley.

U.N Renovation may HINT of Green, but it’s really all Red.

When we read the news, “Renovating the U.N., with Hints of Green,” we were prepared to be excited about the idea of the U.N. doing some sort of Green retrofit that would reduce energy use, lower carbon footprint…. SOME hint of positive direction. The truth was disappointingly different. While the U.N. building IS undergoing a renovation (which will mean five years of that mammoth structure standing unused while alternative offices are occupied,) the only hint of Green is both color and money. How much? Two BILLION dollars.

Let’s make sure we’re getting this right. The United Nations, which is funded by taxpayers, us going to redecorate and spend 2 BILLION dollars and five years to do so? What could the engineers of this plot possibly be thinking of? The world’s economy is on a runaway downhill slide, and you want to displace 5000 U.N. workers, spend money to rent some OTHER place for them, while you leave that structure unused during a 5-year 2 BILLION dollar renovation of the existing structure — because you don’t like the wall colors and paintings?

It’s possible one of us isn’t thinking clearly, or has lost the plot altogether. The Powers That Be don’t seem to mind spending that money to “green” things up in terms of ambiance. Here’s a novel thought: How about a much more worthy and justifiable pursuit?

What else might that same two BILLION dollars do? How about purchasing wind turbines that would provide Green electricity for something like 250-500 THOUSAND homes? Seems that would be a lot more Green than a couple coats of paint in the U.N. house.

To be fair, some of the renovation may be in order. Increasing security features for the structure, for example. After all, we’re in a war on Terrorists, right? Then again, if we were paying more attention to Going Green, maybe the terrorists would be busy leaving us alone, and we wouldn’t have to worry about being attacked for our politics and philosophical persuasions. Just a thought — a truly Green thought.

Obama’s E.P.A. To Re-examine Bush’s Coal Policies

As most people know, in his final hours, ex-President GW Bush’s administration threw a few extra wrenches in the protecting of the natural resources of the nation.  From unlikely oil leases near some of the most pristine parts  of the nation, to carte blanche for coal mining operations and extremely suspect orders that give the USFWS nearly unlimited and  broad-reaching power over what to deem safe to molest.

Recent orders from President Obama’s administration put these last minute actions on hold, while they’re examined and appraised.  If it is determined that they were not acting in the best interest of the People of the United States, it’s likely they’ll be countermanded altogether.  That President Obama would make such an order demonstrates that the U.S. is clearly in much safer, more responsible hands. 

What’s at risk?  Polar bears,  land near National Parks, and now this latest examination of Bush’s instructions that the E.P.A. should NOT consider the effects of pollution when deciding on regulations regarding coal-generated power plants.   Go ahead and blink along with the rest of us as we reread it.  Bush did that?  Yes, he did. 

The past eight years have been hell on the environment.  The previous President clearly held the extremely unscientific view that it doesn’t matter what we do. Lisa Smith, the incoming E.P.A. Administrator, is a breath of fresh air, in that she will have the government looking at the facts and realities, rather than rubber-stamping anything that stands to make money. Obviously, we’re glad to see this. The toll of using carbon-based fuels is clearly unacceptable as well as unnecessary. Some say that the coal and oil industries will take a hit in such circumstances. It’s hard to imagine any other result, but that changes nothing. Plantation owners took a hit, per se, as well, when their ability to own other human beings was revoked as well.

Investing in Green energy sources will make this issue all the more obsolete. It is important that Green energy supporters continue to be outspoken. So long as President Obama continues to have support for this change of direction, he is able to continue to carry us into a new energy age.

Going Green – UPDATE: Disasterous TVA Plant Has History of Spills

Many of you are probably already aware of the recent massive and devastating coal ash spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) power plant in eastern Tennessee. That spill, which poured some five million cubic yards of toxic coal ash out, flooding the nearby area and spreading into the nearby river, is considered the largest ecological disaster of its kind. The flood of toxic sludge destroyed three homes and damaged several dozen properties. There were no immediate injuries or deaths, but at least one nearby resident is complaining of headaches and chronic sore throat.

Last week Tom Kilgore, CEO of the TVA, admitted to the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee that the plant had suffered two less severe leaks over the past five years, but that the breaches had not been properly or adequately repaired. The confession was made to the Senate’s Environment & Public Works Committee, and was referred to as “noticeable seepage”. Those events occurred in 2003 and 2005, making the problem appear to be regular and cyclic.

Mr. Kilgore begged off that heavy rains and freezing temperatures had probably contributed to the breach. The explanation offered does nothing to explain or justify why such conditions weren’t anticipated and provided for. The TVA plant’s holding ponds are not lined either. While this is not illegal (yet,) it is unwise, takes an unhealthy risk. Concerns remain as to what affect the ash will have once the water dries out, leaving the toxic substances to become airborne where it will be breathed and settle in people’s homes.

Committee chairwoman, Senator Barbara Boxer (D, CA,) was outspokenly critical of the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to declare coal ash a hazardous waste and for refusing to set national standards for its storage and disposal. She cites this disaster as proof of a need for closer oversight and better precautions regarding such toxic wastes. Senator Boxer also claimed to a portion of responsibility for the spill, admiting that she had been chairwoman of the environment panel since 2007 but had paid no attention to the T.V.A.’s hazardous byproducts.

Senator Boxer and other members of the Environment and Public Works Committee said they would press for new coal ash regulations, including a requirement that it be stored in lined pits and dried, rather than just being dropped into the waste pond, to prevent the toxic substances from pouring into towns and rivers as it did in December of 2008.

There are over thirteen-hundred waste ponds in the U.S., amounting to billions of gallons of fly ash. This byproduct of coal-generated electricity contains heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury. which are known to cause cancer, respiratory disease, crippling nervous system disorders and reproductive problems.

All of this serves as further proof that we MUST put aside fossil-fuel based energy technologies and embrace alternative energy sources — the sooner, the better.

Off The Grid-On The Grid-Grid Tied

bulb.jpgOn-Grid energy storage allows producers of electric energy to send their excess electricity to the transmission grid, or to a temporary electricity storage site which can be used as a producer of energy if the demand ever becomes great.  This is a stellar method of storing off-peak power which can be used during peak electricity usage times.  This can also make it unnecessary for photovoltaic or wind turbine users to keep battery storage, because connecting themselves to the grid makes what is essentially a giant battery available to them.  Grid energy storage is generally very closely related to the concept of distributed generation, which only functions correctly when arrangements like vehicle-to-grid systems and net metering are put into place.  Additionally, regulatory support is often needed.

Off-grid renewable energy sources and systems tend to offer users a greater amount of support.  Off-grid systems offer renewable energy which is captured by solar panels, water turbine systems and wind which is friendly to the environment as it serves as an energy source which is completely free of pollution.  Off-grid systems also provide complete freedom from utility bills, as well as freedom from a power supply which can be interrupted.  Why allow yourself to be connected to an energy line when instead, you can store and utilize energy that you created all on your own?  Off-grid renewable energy systems utilize energy that is gathered from the wind, the sun and the water.  Numerous sources of renewable energy are needed in order to provide the power that you need, and an energy storage site is required so that energy can be used even when the river is calm, the wind is not blowing or when the sun has set for the evening.

Grid-tied electrical systems, which are also called ‘tied to grid’ or ‘grid tie’ systems, are grid energy storage systems which feed excess capacities back to the local main electric grid.  This means that when insufficient amounts of energy are being generated, or when batteries are not fully charged, the electricity can be drawn from this mains grid in order to make up for the short fall.  If a battery is being used to store electricity, the system is typically called battery-to-grid or B2G, or vehicle-to-grid or V2G.  Essentially DC or Direct Current electricity is passed to a grid-tied inverter which creates the alternating current and generates phrase-matched electricity.

Wrong Tool, Dull Tool, or No Tool?

The Obama administration, which promised to be the most outspoken defender of wildlife and wild spaces since Teddy Roosevelt, seems to be falling far short of the mark at the hands of Secretary Salizar.  Though they started off strong by rescinding the last-minute oil leases the Bush administration had rubber-stamped, the track record since then hasn’t been terribly favorable.  In fact, it could be said to be unconcerned.

The latest in this trend is Salizar’s statement that the Endangered Species Act’s protections are the wrong tools to be using against global warming.  He said this in response to concerns about the polar bears.  The problem, Mr. Salizar, is that the bears themselves need something done NOW, not when you get around to curing global warming.    In fact, they’re one of the reasons we care about global warming.  So get a tool, any tool, and get at doing SOMEthing.  I’ll take the ESA as one. Or are you too dull a tool yourself?

If that seems overly harsh, realize that Mr. Salizar’s administration has also actively thwarted the efforts of several falconers to propagate species of eagles nad falcons.  These well-intended raptor enthusiasts want to spend their own money to import and breed the birds in captivity, ensuring their genetic survival.  But the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s CITES office prefers to respond by harassing them, burying them in paperwork for well  over 6 months, when that same CITES paperwork is routinely completed by other countries in a matter of minutes.   That’s just one of the many flaws and holes emerging in the Salizar story.

They say “The buck stops here.”  In Mr. Salizar’s case, we’re left to wonder if he knows what the buck is, or even where it starts… and this writer begins to worry that perhaps we didn’t get the change we voted for after all.