Calif. program subsidized more efficient energy use for both rich and poor. Guess whose habits didn’t change?

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 20th, 2015

A 2005 subsidy to encourage more efficient energy use in sunny California worked remarkably well to reduce energy usage in lower-income communities, a new study determined. But the program had little effect on people’s behavior in cooler and wealthier coastal residences, so the study raises questions about the program’s overall cost-effectiveness. Because substantial rebates were paid to the richer, coast-dwelling participants in the program, which is no longer in effect, the study’s author concludes that it was not as cost-efficient at reducing carbon emissions as it may have been.

Cost of Calif. crisis climbs to $2.74B — study

Source: Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 20th, 2015

California’s four-year drought is hitting the state’s agricultural sector hard economically. The statewide impact to agriculture and related industries is $2.74 billion, up from $2.2 billion in 2014, according to a report out today from the University of California, Davis, Center for Watershed Sciences. The state’s agricultural economy will lose about $1.84 billion and 10,100 seasonal jobs because of the drought, with the Central Valley hardest hit, the report says. That’s about 30 percent more workers and cropland out of production than last year. Most idled land is in the Tulare Basin.

Grain Belt Express hits dead end with Missouri Public Service Commission

Source: Eric Dundon, Hannibal Courier-Post managing editor • Posted: Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Another setback for a wind energy project proposed to go through Ralls County has developers evaluating “all available options to move the project forward in Missouri.” Should the developers of the Grain Belt Express seek to move forward with the multi-state wind line project, it could include filings with the appellate court in Missouri.

MacArthur Foundation vows to push climate solutions, starting with $50M pledge to green groups

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 20th, 2015

The charitable foundation known for its annual “genius grants” and its public broadcasting underwriter’s message promoting “a more just, verdant and peaceful world” is deepening its commitment to addressing climate change under a new multimillion-dollar program aimed at building leadership capacity and political consensus around climate solutions. Roughly $50 million in initial funding, announced yesterday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will be shared by nine nonprofits engaged in climate policy and advocacy. It is being characterized by the foundation as “a down payment on a major new commitment to help curb global climate disruption by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Wind slowdown stirs debate about industry’s plans for extreme weather

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Lower-than-average winds in the western United States in the first half of the year have cut into production and revenues at wind farms there, according to company data. Now, the industry is trying to figure out how it will deal with variable weather in the future. Wind energy is booming in the United States, with prices at an all-time low. The sector grew 8 percent in 2014, boosting domestic capacity to almost 66,000 megawatts and providing around 4.4 percent of the country’s electricity, according to the Department of Energy

Google launches ‘Project Sunroof’ to scan rooftops for solar potential

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Google is hoping to spur rooftop solar adoption with a new map that shows individual properties’ capacity to save money — and directs potential customers to solar installers. The Silicon Valley company yesterday released a website, building on the popular Google Maps application, that analyzes properties’ solar generation potential. Users can enter an address or simply scan a street to see rooftops depicted in bright yellow, with purple shadows where sun is less plentiful.

Inside Microsoft’s wind energy strategy

Source: By Stephen Abbott, Greenbiz • Posted: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Over the past two years, Microsoft has contracted for 285 MW of renewable powerfrom two off-site wind energy projects. These two wind farms — capable of generating enough electricity to power 125,000 U.S. homes — could not have been built without the long-term off-take agreement provided by Microsoft, demonstrating the large-scale impact that companies can have on renewable energy deployment.

E.P.A. Announces New Rules to Cut Methane Emissions

Source: By GARDINER HARRIS and CORAL DAVENPORT, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed the first federal regulations requiring the nation’s oil and gas industry to cut emissions of methane as part of an expanding and increasingly aggressive effort to combat climate change. In a conference call with reporters, Janet McCabe, the Environmental Protection Agency’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, said the rules were designed to ensure that oil and gas companies reduced waste and sold more gas that would otherwise be lost, while protecting the climate and the health of the public.

EPA proposes crackdown on methane emissions

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

U.S. EPA today proposed methane rules for new and modified oil and natural gas operations, setting in motion a regulatory apparatus that eventually could cover leakage from the entire sector. Addressing four of the five segments that EPA considered regulating, the draft rule would require the oil and gas industry to find and repair leaks, capture natural gas from the completion of hydraulically fractured oil wells, limit emissions from new and modified pneumatic pumps on well pads, and limit emissions from several types of equipment used at natural gas transmission compressor stations.

Fossil fuel investments responsible for losses of $5B in CA public pension funds

Source: By David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle • Posted: Monday, August 17th, 2015

California’s public pension funds, CalPERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, have lost more than $5 billion from their investments in fossil fuels from June 2014 to June 2015. Many fossil fuel stocks have continued to plunge as oil and coal prices drop, according to an analysis from environmental group The report comes as some push forward legislation that would make the funds divest from coal companies.