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Archive for the 'Alternative Energy' Category

OBAMA’S STIMULUS PACKAGE REWARDS LONG SUFFERING GREENS

Posted in Alternative Energy, Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, Global Warming, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Living, Will Wonders Never Cease Department on February 16th, 2009

PACKAGE CONTAINS OVER 60 BILLION IN DIRECT SPENDING ON GREEN INITIATIVES AND ANOTHER 20 BILLION EARMARKED FOR GREEN TAX INCENTIVES

The final stimulus package which President Obama is expected to sign into law today, President’s Day, contains many victories for environmentalists with over $6o billion in direct spending on green initiatives and another $20 billion earmarked for green tax incentives.

While this package is by no means a cure-all, it is a vital he first step into a new green age and is necessary to combat the ever-worsening effects of Global Warming.

That being said, here in no particular order is the breakdown:

$11 billion for the construction of an advanced Digital Smart Grid and $7.5 billion for renewable energy and transmission-line construction, which will enable the renewable energy to be moved from the rural areas that best lend themselves to wind, solar and thermal installations, to the cities where the power is needed;

$2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable-energy research;

$6.3 billion for local government energy-efficiency grants;

$400 million for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency for Energy for the development of alternative energy sources;

$500 million for green jobs programs through the Workforce Investment Act;

$5 billion to weatherize old buildings;

$4.5 billion to boost the energy efficiency of federal buildings;

$2.25 billion for the HOME Investment Partners Program to fund energy-efficiency retrofits for low-income housing;

$5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program to fund the retrofits of 1 million modest-income homes, saving the families living there an average $350 a year;

$6.3 billion to improve federally backed and public housing projects with new insulation, windows and furnaces. For every dollar spent, such programs are expected to produce about $3 in electricity savings. The legislation also provides tax breaks for higher-income households making similar improvements;

$1.2 billion to fund the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental cleanup programs, including the long neglected Superfund;

$510 million for energy-efficiency retrofits for Native American housing programs;

$420 million for energy-efficiency improvements at the Department of Defense;

$300 million for Department of Defense research on energy efficiency at military installations;

$6 billion for cleaning up toxins on former military sites;

$6 billion for new loan guarantees for wind and solar;

The package also extends tax credits for wind-energy production for three years where previously they had to be renewed year to year. But more importantly, the legislation allows renewable-energy developers to get cash grants in exchange for the tax credits, which is crucial in light of the current economic downturn and the fact that many companies engaged in renewable-energy haven’t had the profits against which to take a tax credit;

Over $17 billion for public transportation;

$8.4 billion for transit capital assistance programs;

$9.3 billion for high-speed rail, intercity rail and Amtrak;

$27.5 billion for highways though some of that highway money could be redirected to fund public transit, if states and municipalities decide it should;

$300 million in grants and loans for technologies that reduce highly toxic diesel emissions;

$6 billion for improvements to drinking-water systems;

A tax credit of up to $7,500 for families that buy plug-in hybrids;

The new bill also allocates $300 million for a federal fleet of hybrid vehicles.

But perhaps the best of all is what was left out of the final draft of the stimulus package: the $50 billion in federal loan guarantees to the nuclear industry, as well as all money for coal and for the farce that is clean coal.

Denis

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A BRIGHT SPOT IN A NASTY DARK CLOUD

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Sustainable Living on January 11th, 2009

FEDERAL BAILOUT PROGRAM CONTAINS BENEFITS FOR GREENS

Editors Note! I realize I am a little bit late getting around to the following posting, but for the last month or so – - basically since the Presidential Election – - I just haven’t have the urge to come to this place and spew down logic, sanity, or in some instances. vitriol for public consumption, no matter how loyal that public is. Blogger burnout, I hear the malady is known as! And to be honest my friends, it has been a long time in coming – seven long years here and over ten at the Recoveringliberal.com. Millions of words, most of which I’m proud of, though I do wish that I had spent more time on occasion getting the grammar and sentence construction better. But no matter, what’s passed is passed. I am now back and as critical and caffeine deprived as ever.

So here goes…

In the time I have been regrouping, much has happened. One of the major events worthy of comment is George Bush’s $700 billion dollar parting gift to the financial industry, know in financial circles and among those trying to sound smart as the TARP, which is short for the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Talk about Christmas for adults, this bold and blatant giveaway to administration cronies on Wall Street and in the banking industry is just the latest clusterfuck in a presidential administration known for its clusterfucks. (Think Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Afghanistan, tax breaks for the wealthy, etc.)

The sad fact is with over 50% of the cash disbursed, no one, not Congress, not the White House, no one knows what the hell the money went for. It was supposed to bolster the sagging financial industry with enough ready cash so they could start making loans again, and refinance the ones already issued that were troubled. But to date it appears that neither of these things has occurred, nor does it seem that they will be done any time in the future.

In essence friends, once again the American People (us) have been screwed!

But all is not gloom and doom, I am happy to report. First off, Congress could have, but did not release all $700 billion dollars requested to the Bush administration. Whether this was due to an inherent distrust of the Texas Mob Family – which I would like to think (and would probably be wrong thinking) was the reason, or the more likely reality that Congress just couldn’t get its shit together quick enough to hand out all the cash before Bush left office – is a matter for discussion. What needs no discussing is the good news that only half of the Tarp money – $350 billion dollars – is missing. But best of all – and the reason that this clusterfuck is even being discussed in an environmental blog – are that while Congress had the administration and the boys and girls on Wall Street over a barrel, someone or ones in congress had the good sense to tack some well deserved gifts for environmentalists onto this shit worthless piece of legislation.

These include:

A $3,000.00 credit for the purchase of plug-in hybrids;

The extension of the 30% tax credit for new solar power facilities through 2016; and

The replacement of the $2,000.00 tax credit limit for those who install solar panels on their homes with a more generous 30% federal tax deduction. The best part is that this deduction is in addition to any state incentives, which may be available.

Also included in the legislation were incentives for bio-fuel and wind, which while they are less generous than those offered for solar and for plug-in hybrids are real all the same.

Now we just have to have the money to buy the plug-in hybrids and the solar panels, which in our country’s current economic tailspin is not that easily forthcoming.

What the incoming administration needs to do – - among the thousands of things already on its plate – - is to figure out a way to make cheap, affordable financing available to homeowners to finance their conversion to solar. I think a program, which would allow homeowners to pay for the installation over ten or twenty years would be in order. This way the money that they would normally pay to Edison could be redirected to finance the conversion.

What do you think?

LIB

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WIND ADVOCATE, T. BOONE PICKENS DELAYS BUILDING WORLD’S LARGEST WIND FARM

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, News Brief, Sustainable Energy on November 12th, 2008

CITES LOWER COST FUEL ALTERNATIVES AS HIS REASON

The poster child of wind energy, Texas billionaire, T. Boone Pickens, has announced that he is delaying plans to build the world’s largest wind farm. Pickens, famous for his self financed multi-million dollar media campaign extolling the virtues of wind energy as a key part of a national strategy to break our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, cites the fall in natural gas prices as the reason for his decision. At current prices it is cheaper to generate electricity from natural gas than it is from wind power.

Apparently the carbon that this method of energy generation would produce is of little concern to Mr. Pickens. But then, correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t he an oil man until reinventing himself as the guru of the wind turbine?

Pickens is expected to begin taking delivery on $2 billion in wind turbines, starting in 2010.

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THE EFFORTLESS WAY TO SUPPORT ALTERNATIVE ENERGY TECHNOLOGY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Ethical Living on October 9th, 2008

SWITCHING YOUR HOME TO ALTERNATIVE ENERGY MAY BE AS EASY AS MAKING A PHONE CALL

Clean Renewable Energy

Clean Renewable EnergyPutting your money where your principles are for many of us means switching our homes to alternatively produced sources of renewable energy. Now contrary to what you might think, this does not mean running out and purchasing a roof full of solar panels, nor does it mean that you will have to did up that precious backyard veggie garden to make room for an ugly old windmill. No my friends, it is not that complicated. Usually all it takes is a phone call to your local energy provider. And best of all, powering your home with clean, green, renewable energy doesn’t cost all that much more than your current electrical service.

To learn more, contact your local energy provider.

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NEWS WATCH! SENATE RENEWS TAX BREAKS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy on September 24th, 2008

LEGISLATION EXPECTED TO TRIPLE INVESTMENT IN RENEAWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY AND CREATE UP TO 440,000 JOBS.

It was good to see bailout mania in the US Senate grind to a halt long enough, yesterday, for the Senators to take up a matter critical to Environmentalists – -the new tax bill.

As we reported on this site as early as August 12th of this year, the current investment tax credits for the solar power industry and for homeowners installing solar and wind equipment were due to expire at the end of he year. The fact that Congress had to date failed to renew these credits was widely being blamed at that time for the slowdown of investment in the renewable energy sector.

The action, which the Senate took yesterday in overwhelmingly passing the new tax bill by a vote of 92-2, will correct that situation. Besides renewing, through 2016, the investment tax credit for those investing in the solar power industry, and for homeowners who install solar and wind equipment at their home, the package worth a total of $17 billion dollars, is expected to more than triple investment in the industry to $325 billion dollars, while creating about 440,000 jobs between now and 2016.
Source: Solar Energy Association as reported on MSNBC.com.

Additionally, Taxpayers will be able to claim a credit of up to $7,500 for purchasing plug-in electric cars, and production credits are extended to wind, biomass and wave and tide facilities. There are incentives to use smart meters for more efficient home energy use.

- – Denis

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NEWS WATCH! BAD DAYS MAY BE AHEAD FOR SOLAR INDUSTRY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Congressional Inaction, Cool Products, News Brief on September 17th, 2008

CONGRESS DRAGS ITS FEET RENEWING FEDERAL INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT

solarmodul1.JPGThe way it looks today, the federal investment tax credit (ITC), the financial instrument that powers many American homeowner’s move to solar power, may go away at the end of this year, unless Congress puts their partisan differences aside and renews the credit.

Should the ITC be allowed to expire, the cost to the US’s fledging Solar Industry could be as much as $8 billion dollars in investments and more than 39,000 solar-related jobs in 2009 alone.

Whereas should the ITC be renewed between now and the end of the year, “it could create enough solar energy to power as many as five million homes and provide tens of thousands of new jobs while eliminating 130 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year”, according to NatGeo’s Green Guide.

Hopefully we will not have to wait until the next administration to see action on this all-important measure. What our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, need to appreciate is that besides significantly reducing our nation’s carbon footprint, support of green industry and the jobs that it would create, would go a long way toward healing the ills created by the outsourcing of so many American jobs. Fix the job situation in this country and everything will work itself out.

– Denis

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ANTIQUATED ELECTRIC GRID HAMPERS THE SPREAD OF WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, News Brief, Sustainable Energy on September 1st, 2008

UPGRADING THE GRID IS A LOGISTIC NIGHTMARE WITH 500 OWNERS AND FIFTY STATES WEIGHING IN.

windturbin11.jpgAs is so often the case when discussing ways to reduce our carbon footprint, there are good and bad issues that need to be addressed.

In this instance, the good news is that wind and solar power are finally being seriously recognized for their ability to generate massive amounts of clean, non-toxic, relatively inexpensive eclectic power.

The bad news, however, is that our nation’s eclectic transmission “grid” – - the superhighway of sorts that you hear so much about and through which energy travels from point of generation to point of use – - is so hopelessly outdated that significant amounts of this clean new power is unable to make its way to the areas that need it the most.

Simple problem you might say. Just build a new one the way T. Boone ‘Windaddy’ Pickens is doing way down yonder in ole’ Texas town. Problem solved, you say with the smirk of one who have merely spoken the obvious, and is sorta’ amazed that others didn’t mention it first.

But my friends, it is not so easy…

The current grid is not only over a century old, and held together with chewing gum and band-aids, but bits and pieces of it are owned by over 500 separate entities.

Before renovations could proceed, all 500 of them would have to agree on the plan that would then have to be approved by the 50 sates that maintain regulatory control over those companies and this system. Then there are the permits – - mountains of state, federal and local permits – - not to mention the battles with the property owners that must approve every addition to the “grid”.

In short, this is one long drawn-out logistical nightmare.

Of course, we could always go in another direction and kiss off the grid altogether and adopt a more localized model. This would differ from our current system in that the power generated in an area would stay in that area and not be parsed out to wherever.

But even this is inferior to the idea that is starting to take hold among independent minded men and women lately, which is for homeowners and apartment owning entities to generate their own electric power through a combination of rooftop wind and solar generating apparatus.

This would be the best scenario, as it would allow individuals and families to get totally off the grid and say goodbye to out of control eclectic bills that will only continue to rise in the months and years to come.

Now I know your going to tell me how expensive going solar or adding wind turbines can be. Here, there is more good news, which is that as the apparatus becomes more mainstream; costs are coming down from previous sky-high levels.

As of this writing, numerous additional manufacturing companies – - both domestic and foreign – - have entered the business of manufacturing the technology for such conversions, meaning not only is their greater flexibility in pricing, but more options in terms of styling and materials used.

These include the introduction of ordinary looking ceiling tiles that are actually photovoltaic panels, as well as numerous styles of low profile wind turbines intended to replace those huge propeller drive assemblies in areas where space is at a premium.

Furthermore, numerous states and the federal government now have financing options – - in the form of tax credits – - available for homeowners seeking to make the switch to wind and/or solar.

Additionally, some of the panel-manufacturing companies have started offering long-term lease/purchase agreements allowing homeowners to install now and pay over time with the money that otherwise would have gone to the power companies.

Now thats a win-win if I ever heard one.

- DENIS

EDITOR’S NOTE! In the coming months we will make it a point to feature some of the latest technological advances in this field.

Continue reading about the “grid”

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NEWS WATCH! CALIFORNIA SAYS A BIG YES TO SOLAR ENERGY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Living on August 15th, 2008

GOLDEN STATE WILL BUILD TWO SOLAR ARRAYS CAPABLE OF GENERATING AS MUCH ELECTRICITY AS A LARGE COAL-BURNING POWER PLANT OR A SMALL NUCLEAR PLANT

solarfarm2.jpegPlans have just been announced to build two solar power installations here in our home state of California, which during peak hours on a sunny day will generate more than 800 megawatts of power, or 12 times as much electricity as the largest solar farm does today.

The two solar farms, which will cover an estimated 12.5 square miles of San Luis Obispo County in Central California, are expected to generate enough electricity to supply 239,000 homes. Viewed another way, this is as much power as is generated by a large coal-burning plant or a small nuclear plant, without the obvious environmental devastation both of these energy sources creates.

Two California companies will split the task with Hayward, California-based OptiSolar Inc., building the larger of the two installations. Plans call for the privately held company’s Topaz Solar Farm to generate 550 MW of solar power when it is fully operational in 2013. The company plans to utilize amorphous silicon solar panels, which are less costly than the traditional silicon-based panels that dominate the market.

Joining OptiSolar Inc in the massive task is San Jose-based SunPower Inc., which will build a 250 MW solar ranch, also in Central California. SunPower’s silicon-based solar cells are among the most efficient in the industry at transforming sunlight into electricity. The latter project is expected to be fully operational in 2012.

Both deals, however, are contingent upon the extension of key federal tax credits the renewal of which is tied up in the congressional fight over offshore drilling.

Plans are for both companies to sell the electricity generated to Pacific Gas & Electric, to help the utility meet a state mandate that 20 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources by 2010.

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NEWS WATCH! RETAILERS LOVE AFFAIR WITH SOLAR POWER BLOSSOMS

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Cool Products, Corporate Responsibility, Eco -Chic on August 12th, 2008

WAL-MART STORES, KOHL’S, SAFEWAY AND WHOLE FOODS MARKET AMONG CHAINS RACING TO JUMP ON THE SOLAR BANDWAGON

a-wind-turbine.jpgSolar power is coming to the nation’s retail sector in a big way with Kohl’s stores announcing plans to add solar panels to 85 stores in addition to the 43 that already have them. Macy’s, similarly, plans to install the energy harvesting devices atop 40 more stores this year for a total of 58 stores where at least part of the energy used comes from the sun.

Also wading into the renewable energy fray is supermarket chain, Safeway, where plans call for installing panels atop 23 stores. These retailers are not alone in moving to solar energy. Other chains, including Whole Foods Market, BJ’s Wholesale Club, REI and Wal-Mart, are planning solar projects of their own.

While analysts, according to the New York Times, are not sure how much power the rooftop projects could ultimately produce, the initial estimate is that the solar panels will generate between 10 and 40 percent of the power a store needs, a significant reduction in energy demand in many communities where big box retailers use a disproportionate amount of the available energy.

Not surprisingly, most of the solar conversions to date are centered in California, New Jersey and Connecticut, states where generous incentives are offered for renewable energy projects.

For this phenomena to mainstream nationwide two things must happen. First, the federal government must reauthorize the renewable energy tax credit currently bogged down in the Congressional deadlock over offshore oil drilling and slated to expire at the end of this year. Second, the individual states need to come up with their own incentive plans the way California, New Jersey and Connecticut have.

Whether or not this will come to pass at anytime soon is unknown. What is known is that far too many states still have a vested interest in, and love affair with, coal, even though, we all know that it is among the dirtiest and most toxic of all the energy sources available.

But this is not a battle that can be won with logic. Nor is it one that can be won today. In the interim, the environmental movement should relish it’s victories – - and the move by the major retail players to embrace solar, for whatever their reasons – - is a major victory.

And while the temptation is there to force the issue of incentive plans on a state by state basis, it is not the best use of the green movements time or limited financial resources. Better to leave this battle to the Wal-Marts and Macy’s of the world, as they are better suited to the challenge.

Just know, that when these retailers see the savings that renewable energy will eventually bring to their bottom line, they will lead the fight for local incentives in a manner that the environmental movement could only dream of.

In the meantime, let’s just hope that this mainstream acceptance of solar will one day soon broaden to include wind power as well. There are currently on the market, numerous low profile wind turbines (such as the one featured in the image above) manufactured with city dwellers in mind that offer the benefits of this clean renewable energy source without the drawback of those ugly fifty feet tall spinning propeller turbines.

Perhaps by combining both sources of renewable energy, the day will come when these retail giants will be entirely off the grid, which would eliminate much of the CO2 currently discharged into our atmosphere.

One can only hope.

- – Denis

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HOW TO SAFELY HANDLE COMPACT FLOURESCENT LIGHTS (CFL’S)

Posted in Alternative Energy, Cool Products, Health Watch, News Brief, Toxin Alert! on August 6th, 2008

BECAUSE CFL’S CONTAIN A SMALL AMOUNT OF MERCURY, THE EPA HAS ESTABLISHED GUIDELINES TO OBSERVE WHEN HANDLING, DISPOSING OF, OR CLEANING UP BROKEN CFL’S

250px-compact-flourescent-bulb2.jpg As more and more of us convert out incandescent home lighting to the new soft light compact fluorescent lights, it is important to remember that these odd looking bulbs contain small amounts of mercury.

For that reason the EPA has developed guidelines to observe when handling, disposing of, or cleaning up broken CFL’s.

We here at Greenourscene.com urge you to take a moment and observe the best ways to handle CFL’s.

-Denis

INSTALLING CFL’S

Be careful when removing the bulb from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it.

Always screw and unscrew the light bulb by its base (not the glass), and NEVER forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket.

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN A CFL WEARS OUT?

PROPER DISPOSAL: Contact your area recycling company to see if they have a program for disposing of worn out or broken CFL’s. If the answer is no, or you are unsure of who to contact, go to www.epa.gov/bulbrecycling or ww.earth911.org to identify local recycling options.

NOTE! Some areas permit you to put used or broken CFLs in the garbage. If this applies to your area seal the bulb in two plastic bags and put it into the outside trash, or other protected outside location, for the next normal trash collection.

It is important that you NEVER send a fluorescent light bulb or any other product containing mercury to an incinerator.

WHAT IS THE SAFEST WAY TO CLEAN UP A BROKEN CFL?

BEFORE CLEAN-UP:

Air Out the Room – Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.

Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

CLEAN-UP STEPS FOR HARD SURFACES

Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.

Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass pieces and powder.

Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.

Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

CLEAN-UP STEPS FOR CARPETING OR RUG:

Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.

Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.

If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.

Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag

CLEAN-UP STEPS FOR CLOTHING, BEDDING, ETC.:

If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.

You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.

If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

DISPOSAL OF CLEAN-UP MATERIALS

Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.

Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.

Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

FUTURE CLEANING OF CARPETING OR RUG

Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.

Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes

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