These City Bus Routes Are Going All-Electric ― And Saving Money

Nashville is one of several cities that have started integrating electric buses into their routes. The buses are more expensive up front but save cities money on fuel and other costs. Credit: Proterra

By Lyndsey Gilpin for Inside Climate News – Two years ago, the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) in Louisville, Kentucky, bought 10 electric buses to replace its aging diesel fleet. The agency installed two on-route chargers, where the buses now stop to recharge in less than 10 minutes before continuing their downtown route. TARC officials liked the buses so much, they’ve since ordered five more. A few hours to the south in Nashville, Tennessee, nine electric buses have been running fixed routes around the Music City since 2015. And across the country in Park City, Utah, the local transit authority recently purchased six electric buses to help reach a goal of a net-zero carbon footprint by 2022. In all, 40 transit authorities in the United States have looked to Proterra, an electric bus manufacturer based in South Carolina and California, to help them transition away from diesel buses and toward a solution that can save cities money and lower their emissions. Since 2004, Proterra has sold more than 400 buses to city transit authorities. The company has a waiting list of orders, and it recently opened a new manufacturing facility outside of Los Angeles that will employ 100 people and ramp up production to 400 buses a year. It’s also pushing the envelope for what electric power might do for public transit. Last month, Proterra broke world records by test-driving an electric bus 1,100 miles on a single charge. The trip put the previous record for an electric bus―632 miles―to shame, and was more than triple the average mileage of a Tesla.

PG&E Power Lines Linked To Wine Country Fires

People walk past fallen transformer along Parker Hill Road in Santa Rosa, Calif. on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

By Paul Rogers for The Mercury News – “The historic wind event that swept across PG&E service area late Sunday and early Monday packed hurricane-strength winds in excess of 75 mph in some cases,” said PG&E spokesman Matt Nauman. “These destructive winds, along with millions of trees weakened by years of drought and recent renewed vegetation growth from winter storms, all contributed to some trees, branches and debris impacting our electric lines across the North Bay,” he added. “In some cases, we have found instances of wires down, broken poles and impacted infrastructure. Where those have occurred, we have reported them to the CPUC and CalFire. Our thoughts are with all those individuals who were impacted by these devastating wildfires.” PG&E and other large utilities in California have a long history of being found responsible for major wildfires because of inadequate maintenance of their power lines. In April, the state Public Utilities Commission fined PG&E $8.3 million for failing to maintain a power line that sparked the Butte Fire in Amador County in September 2015. That fire burned for 22 days, killing two people, destroying 549 homes and charring 70,868 acres. CalFire announced last year that it will seek to force PG&E to pay $90 million in firefighting costs. More than 1,000 lawsuits and claims are still pending against the utility. “It was more than just a lack of maintenance. It was a complete disregard for their requirements of vegetation management in rural areas,” said Burlingame attorney Frank Pitre, who sued on behalf of the victims.

General Motors Is Going All Electric

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By Alex Davies for Wired – AFTER MORE THAN a century peddling vehicles that pollute the atmosphere, General Motors is ending its relationship with gasoline and diesel. This morning, the American automotive giant announced that it is working toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future. That starts with two new, fully electric models next year—then at least 18 more by 2023. That product onslaught puts the company at the forefront of an increasingly large crowd of automakers proclaiming the age of electricity and promising to move away from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. In recent months, Volvo, Aston Martin, and Jaguar Land Rover have announced similar moves. GM’s declaration, though, is particularly noteworthy because it’s among the very largest automakers on the planet. It sold 10 million cars last year, ranging from pickups to SUVs to urban runabouts. “General Motors believes the future is all-electric,” says Mark Reuss, the company’s head of product. “We are far along in our plan to lead the way to that future world.” Reuss did not give a date for the death knell of the GM gas- or diesel-powered car, saying the transition will happen at different speeds in different markets and regions. The new all-electric models will be a mix of battery electric cars and fuel cell-powered vehicles. To be sure, GM’s sudden jolt of electricity is planned with its shareholders in mind. The Trump Administration may be moving to roll back fuel efficiency requirements in the US, but the rest of the world is insisting on an electric age.

How Electricity Cooperatives In The US Are Paving The Way For A Renewable Future

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By Kevin Stark for Shareable – That’s exactly how the cooperative system is supposed to work, he added. It’s an example of a core tenant of electricity cooperatives: sharing ideas. “It’s a mission. It’s time for us to learn from them and do what they are doing.” Woolery said. Wynn signs on to this philosophy too. In 2017, he wrote an open invitation for any other co-op to copy the program. “It is really hard to argue against energy efficiency,” Woolery says, adding that it’s all about economic development. “We want to create jobs and opportunity and wealth that stays in Appalachia, because so much has been extracted from it.” So far, How$martKY has funneled $2.5 million to local contractors for performing efficiency upgrades on homes, but the program hasn’t reached the same scale as in Roanoke. Still, he’s worked with organizations from California to Arkansas to develop similar programs. He testified on behalf of the program at the Kentucky state legislature in the city of Frankfort. Most recently, Woolery went to the Lausitz region of Eastern Germany for a summit on how coal communities can transition to renewable energy.

People In The US Are Using Less Electricity Than A Decade Ago

One of five banners entitled The Worker in the New World Order, painted for the founding convention of ICEM (International Confederation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers’ Unions–now merged into INDUSTRIALL). Dedicated to then-imprisoned Nigerian oil workers. Copyright © 1995.  Mike Alewitz

By Steve Hanley for Clean Technica – This startling finding seems counterintuitive, given the rise in the number of appliances and digital devices in American homes over the last decade, but major advances in efficiency — especially in flat-screen televisions — as well as a shift to smaller and smaller devices for much of our entertainment — TVs to laptops to tablets and smartphones — mean less total electricity is being used even though the number of items powered by electricity has increased substantially. Overall, residential electricity sales declined 3% from 2010 to 2016, and 7% on a per capita basis according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Americans are watching less TV, preferring laptops and tablets instead. The use of smartphones, which use very little electricity, is also rising. Although people are spending more time online, they are using Chromebooks and tablets more frequently, both of which use less electricity than the dinosaurs that used to take up space in our living rooms. ENERGY STAR–rated appliances represent another area in which the items we rely on for refrigeration, washing, and drying of clothes use less electricity than their predecessors.

Renewable Record: Wind And Solar Supplied 10% Of US Electricity In March

Activists demand that the COP20 government delegates approve measures to foment investment in renewable energies and eliminate their huge subsidies for fossil fuels. Credit: Joshua Wiese/IPS

By Julian Spector for GTM – March produced the highest share of wind and solar generation the U.S. has ever seen. The saying about March — “in like a lion, out like a lamb” — plays extremely well for renewable generation. Wind and solar together crossed the 10 percent mark of total U.S. electricity production in March, reports the Energy Information Administration. That’s the first time they’ve reached double-digit market share for a month, marking an important milestone in the growth of renewables nationwide. Wind supplied 8 percent of U.S. electricity and solar produced 2 percent. Overall for 2016, wind supplied 5.6 percent of generation, utility-scale solar contributed 0.9 percent, and small-scale solar about 0.5 percent, for a cumulative total of 7 percent. Why did the record occur in March, when the days haven’t reached their sunny summer maximum? Most of the electricity is still coming from wind, for one thing. And more of that wind comes from Texas than any other state, by a long shot. The winds blow more forcefully in Texas and surrounding states in the spring.

Maryland Is Making It Cheaper To Store Electricity

Home battery storage can be paired with solar to make houses run on clean energy. CREDIT: AP Photo/Matt York

By Samantha Page for Think Progress – Maryland legislators this week took a step towards modernizing their state’s electricity grid by passing a bill which will encourage businesses and homeowners to invest in battery storage. The bill, which passed unanimously in the state senate and by a vote of 101–11 in the house of delegates, provides a 30 percent tax rebate on battery storage systems for homes and businesses. “Energy storage can be a game changer for transforming Maryland’s power sector into one that is cleaner, lower cost, and more reliable,” James McGarry, Maryland policy director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said in a statement emailed to ThinkProgress. “By providing incentives for energy storage, [this bill] will help to move Maryland toward a clean energy future — providing myriad benefits to consumers, our economy, and our environment.” The bill is just the latest in a series of environmental moves from the state legislature, which passed a fracking ban last week and successfully overturned a gubernatorial veto in order to increase the amount of electricity that comes from renewables energy earlier this year.

VW’s Environmental Settlement Includes 400 EV Fast Charging Stations

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By James Ayre for Clean Technica – As part of its court settlements with with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Volkswagen will build around 400 electric vehicle fast-charging stations in the US, according to reports. The $2 billion settlement will see the majority of stations — to be comprised of 150 kW and 320 kW DC fast-chargers, around 5 chargers to a station — installed in metro areas with high expected demand for electric vehicles. Note that these are genuinely “fast charging” rates, much faster than current non-Tesla fast chargers. The first US high-power, superfast-charging station with 150 kW of power is currently being constructed for the EVgo charging network (visualizations of that station from EVgo below).

Massive Blackout Hits Puerto Rico

Flickr/Tim & Selena Middleton

By Talia Tirella for PIX 11 – PUERTO RICO — Classes at public schools has been canceled for the second day in a row in Puerto Rico as power is slowly being restored following a massive blackout that struck the island Wednesday. About 375,000 customers throughout the island have power restored, Gov. Alejandro Garcia-Padilla said in a news conference Thursday night. Since some Puerto Ricans remain in the dark on Friday, the governor has canceled classes for public schools for the second day in the row.

The Netherlands Could Soon Ban The Sale Of Non-Electric Cars

AP PHOTO/PETER DEJONG

By Katie Valentine for Climate Progress – The lower house of the Dutch parliament passed a motion recently that would ban the sales of non-electric cars in the country by 2025. The motion still needs to pass the Senate to become binding, but if it does, it would mean that the only non-electric cars allowed in the Netherlands would be those already on the road today: anyone in the country looking to buy a new car would have to buy electric. Such a law would, naturally, lead to a big increase in electric car ownership in the Netherlands. Already, the Netherlands is doing pretty well on EV purchasing…

40% Of U.S. Electricity Could Come From Rooftop Solar

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By S.E. Smith for Care 2 – With rooftop solar arrays becoming more common, the Department of Energy decided to do some exploring to quantify exactly how much energy Americans could generate if they installed photovoltaic systems efficiently and extensively. What they found was startling: The country could meet 39 percent of its energy needs through rooftop photovoltaics, and, surprisingly, small structures like private homes are likely to return the best results.

For Second Year Renewable Energy Largest Source Of New US Electricity

Activists demand that the COP20 government delegates approve measures to foment investment in renewable energies and eliminate their huge subsidies for fossil fuels. Credit: Joshua Wiese/IPS

By Joe Ryan for Bloomberg Business – Renewable energy was the biggest source of new power added to U.S. electricity grids last year as falling prices and government incentives made wind and solar increasingly viable alternatives to fossil fuels. Developers installed 16 gigawatts of clean energy in 2015, or 68 percent of all new capacity, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in its Sustainable Energy in America Factbook released Thursday with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. That was the second straight year that clean power eclipsed fossil fuels.

Thousands Of Iraqis Protest Against Corruption And Power Cuts

Iraq protest 2015

By Agency France Press -Thousands of people demonstrated in Baghdad against rampant corruption and the abysmal electricity services that plague Iraq, calling for officials to be held to account. “All of you together to the court, all of you are thieves,” chanted protesters gathered at Tahrir Square and carrying Iraqi flags. “Friday after Friday, we’ll get the corrupt out.” Protesters also turned out in Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad, to air similar grievances, an AFP journalist said. Baghdad and other cities have seen weeks of protests against the poor quality of services, especially power cuts that leave Iraqis with only a few hours of electricity per day as temperatures top 50C.

Wind Power Generates 140% Of Denmark’s Electricity Demand

The Conservative UK government has announced a withdrawal of support for onshore windfarms. Denmark’s windfarms have strong government backing. Photograph: Max Mudie/Alamy

By Arthur Nelsen in The Guardian – So much power was produced by Denmark’s windfarms on Thursday that the country was able to meet its domestic electricity demand and export power to Norway, Germany and Sweden. On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%. Interconnectors allowed 80% of the power surplus to be shared equally between Germany and Norway, which can store it in hydropower systems for use later. Sweden took the remaining fifth of excess power. “It shows that a world powered 100% by renewable energy is no fantasy,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for trade body the European Wind Energy Association.

Obama May Privatize New Deal Gem, Tennessee Valley Authority

Source: EIA (2013)

By Joel Yudken in The Economic Policy Institute – The Obama administration is considering whether to divest all or part of the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as a means to pay down the U.S. debt. The selling off of all or part of the TVA to private ownership would have far-reaching consequences, especially for the 9 million people in the 80,000-square-mile region—encompassing parts of Tennessee, northern Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia—to whom the TVA provides electricity and other services. The proposal has sparked a debate about the benefits and problems that divestiture might bring. Conservatives have long opposed the TVA on the grounds that it is an illegitimate government intrusion into the marketplace.