Tag Archives: California

Is Porter Ranch the natural gas industry’s Three Mile Island?

Thirty-six years ago, Three Mile Island turned public opinion against nuclear power. The worst in history, right now still spewing after three months and Los Angeles County and the state of California have declared emergencies at Porter Ranch, is the “natural” gas industry’s Three Mile Island.

Nuclear, too was touted as safe, clean, and infamously “too cheap to meter”. It turned out to be none of those things, and neither is fracked methane. Three Mile Island alone didn’t stop the thousands of nukes President Nixon promised, but it sure helped. The Porter Ranch disaster has already lasted far longer, had worse direct effects, and is in the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area.

Plus TMI was the first U.S. civilian nuclear accident. The “natural” gas industry has leaks, corrosion, fires, explosions, and now earthquakes monthly and sometimes daily. Sure, the shadow of nuclear war hung over the nuclear power industry, but the monthly fireballs from methane explosions hangs over the natural gas industry. The 2010 San Bruno, California explosion is back in the news because, says AP 13 January 2015: PROSECUTORS: PG&E RESISTED RECORD-KEEPING CHANGE AFTER SAN BRUNO BLAST.

It’s time for a complete moratorium on all new natural gas projects, like the moratorium on all new nuclear projects after Three Mile Island. Instead, let’s get on with what we didn’t have back then: solar and wind power already less expensive than any other sources of power, far cleaner and safer, much faster to deploy, using no water, and requiring no eminent domain.

In 1962 President John F. Kennedy famously said: Continue reading

Demanding the state PUC get a friendly judge: a best practice for utilities?

300x225 Title page, in A Best Practices Leadership Forum for Small Utilities, by Carol A. Brown, Chief of Staff to President Michael R. Peevey, 2 April 2013 A utility didn’t stop at blowing up a Calfornia neighborhood, it also demanded the Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) get a favorable judge for that 2010 San Bruno natural gas pipe explosion. The CPUC president’s chief of staff just last year wrote slides praising his Legacy as Best Practices. Does that legacy include suborning justice? He’s still there, although she was fired, and three PG&E executives “ended their employment”. How many other PG&E and other utility executives and CPUC and other state regulators follow those same Best Practices?

Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press, 15 September 2014, PG&E Officials Removed for Improper Communications,

Four senior officials with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the state commission regulating it were removed or resigned over emails released Monday showing the utility and state regulators appeared to negotiate which judge would be assigned to hear one of the utility’s rate cases.

The emails show the commission ultimately assigned to the case a judge for whom PG&E had expressed a preference, rather than another judge who PG&E said “has a history of being very hard on us.”

Also Monday, California Public Utilities Commission president Michael Peevey, who was included Continue reading

Solar Power Hot Topic on LAKE blog

Some like pithy posts, and others like long historical summaries: see the Solar Hot Topic for the latter. I’ve just added links about solar parking lots, Oakland, CA, Dublin, GA and Lowndes High Schools, and super-lobbying group ALEC’s efforts in every state legislature to oppose solar power.

Solar will win, simply because it’s already cheaper than anything else and the prices keep going down. The fossil industry will delay as long as possible to suck up more profit, but even Wall Street has turned against fossilized utilities that aren’t doing renewables yet. We the people will win. We just need to stop the fossil junkies from doing more damage before they lose. The sun is already rising.


All new U.S. energy was solar in October 2013

While ten nukes were shut down or cancelled in 2013, solar power continues its compound-interest-curve ever-faster deployment. Zero (0) new nukes were built in 2013 and in October all new U.S. utility-scale power was solar. Unfortunately, the biggest of those was Southern Company’s Campo Verde, which powers California, not Georgia or the southeast, but that is changing now.

Todd Woody wrote for The Atlantic 26 November 2013, Solar Energy Was America’s Sole New Power Source in October: Get ready for a photovoltaic building boom.

In October, power plants generating 530 megawatts of electricity came online in the United States. And every single electron put on the grid came from the sun, according to a report released today.

That’s apparently not even counting rooftop solar.

The report is Solar the sole capacity completed in October, at 530 MW, by Althena Enguerra for SNL 25 November 2013. Continue reading

Solar is now competitive with … natural gas –Crossborder Energy study

Colorado, California, North Carolina: when will Georgia catch up in solar power? What will it take to get the Georgia legislature to realize all Georgians will benefit economically from much more solar power than GA PSC in July required Georgia Power to buy? And why should we permit a methane gas pipeline to gash through Georgia to profit executives in Houston and Juno Beach, Florida when we could be deploying solar everywhere in Georgia for local jobs, profit, lower electric bills, and clean air and water?

Here’s the study that showed solar benefits outweigh costs in North Carolina, The Benefits and Costs of Solar Generation for Electric Ratepayers in North Carolina, by R. Thomas Beach and Patrick G. McGuire for Crossborder Energy, 18 October 2013.

Wholesale solar PPA prices provide perhaps the most dramatic evidence of the continued decline in solar PV costs. Solar PPA prices have fallen dramatically over the past several years, to the point that, in some regions of the U.S., solar is now competitive with other generation resources, including wind and natural gas. Xcel Energy in Colorado recently announced that it is proposing to add 170 MW of utility-scale solar to its system, with its CEO stating “[f]or the first time ever, we are adding cost competitive utility scale solar to the system.”33 The California electric utilities make public each year the average PPA prices for renewable contracts approved by the CPUC in the prior year. Figure 3 shows the trend in the prices for their solar PV PPAs; CPUC contract approval can occur up to a year or more after bids are received, so the figure is indicative of prices through roughly 2011.34 2012 solicitations for solar PPAs in California in the 3 MW to 20 MW size range through the Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM) have yielded market-clearing prices in the 8 to 9 cents per kWh range.3

The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) conducts and publishes regular national surveys of the installed costs of solar PV; these surveys include Continue reading

Solar Oakland Schools expect 45% savings

Maybe local school districts would like to do this. Dublin, GA High School did. Lowndes County School District has the bond rating to do it.

SunPower PR in WSJ today, Oakland Unified School District Plans to Reduce Electricity Costs by Nearly Half with SunPower Solar Systems at 16 Schools,

SAN JOSE, Calif., Dec. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) today announced that it is designing and building high efficiency SunPower solar power systems for 16 schools in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in Oakland, Calif. Once completed in 2014, the district estimates it will reduce electricity costs at those facilities by 46 percent.

“Our contract with SunPower will enable Oakland Unified School District to Continue reading

Jellyfish 1 Nuke 0

One of the world’s largest nuclear reactors was shut down Sunday by jellyfish. Not a tsunami, not an earthquake, not a blizzard, not even hot water: jellyfish. And it’s not the first time or the first reactor. Tell me again how reliable centralized baseload power is?

AP reported yesterday, Jellyfish force nuclear plant shutdown in Sweden: Tonnes of jellyfish clog pipes that bring in cool water to the plant’s turbines

Operators of the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden had to scramble reactor number three on Sunday after tonnes of jellyfish clogged the pipes that bring in cool water to the plant’s turbines.

By Tuesday, the pipes had been cleaned of the jellyfish and engineers were preparing to restart the reactor, which at 1,400 megawatts of output is the largest boiling-water reactor in the world, said Anders Osterberg, a spokesman for OKG, the plant operator.

All three Continue reading

Diablo Canyon nuclear units 2 and 1 down one after another

The local newspaper didn’t look past PG&E’s news about unit 2 coming back up (lightning strike) to notice that unit 1 had been down (pipe leak) a few weeks before.

Diablo Canyon 1 and 2 from 16 June 2013 to 16 July 2013

David Sneed wrote for the San Luis Obispo Tribune 16 July 2013, Diablo Canyon’s Unit 2 reactor back at full power, Continue reading

Sterlizing female inmates without approval: California prisons

As recently as 2010. Has anybody checked Georgia prisons recently?

Corey G. Johnson wrote for Center for Investigative Reporting 7 July 2013, Female inmates sterilized in California prisons without approval,

Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years — and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.

From 1997 to 2010, the state paid doctors $147,460 to perform the procedure, according to a database of contracted medical services for state prisoners.

The women were signed up for the surgery while they were pregnant and housed at either the California Institution for Women in Corona or Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, which is now a men’s prison.

How did this happen?

Continue reading

L.A. rooftop solar sprawling power plant

The L.A. Times’ online poll is currently running 92% yes on “Is distributed generation the future of electric grids?” And Los Angeles is doing something about distributed rooftop solar power. Something we could be doing right here in south Georgia. If Georgia Power won’t do it, local governments could. After all, if the Industrial Authority can float bonds to buy land for business parks that sit vacant, it could float bonds to fund rooftop solar. Or maybe sell some of that land to pay for solar.

John Upton wrote for grist 27 June 2013, L.A. launches nation’s largest solar rooftop program,

The first small shoots of what will grow into a sprawling solar power plant have sprouted in Los Angeles.

L.A.’s Department of Water and Power is rolling out the country’s biggest urban rooftop program, which will pay residents for solar energy they produce in excess of their own needs. That will give residents a reason to install more solar capacity on their roofs than they can use in their homes.

According to Catherine Green in the L.A. Times yesterday, L.A. program lets DWP pay customers to generate solar power: Clean L.A. Solar’s goal is to add 150 megawatts, or enough to power 30,000 homes, to the city grids. Continue reading