Thinking Long-Term About Power Plants

A new report warns against the folly of over-investing in natural gas

By Thibault Worth

As the nation's power plants age, a new report warns against relying too much on natural gas.

The nation’s power plants are aging. An increasing number require replacement parts; others can’t keep up with new environmental regulations.

A report released today [PDF] by the Boston-based think tank Ceres estimates that in the next two decades, up to $100 billion will be invested in the electric utility industry every year – twice the amount invested in recent years.

According to the report, that boom in investment will take place in a shifting regulatory environment. Air pollution and greenhouse gas restrictions will increase, and fossil fuel-burning power plants will have to keep up. Governments are setting requirements for energy from renewable sources. (California, for example, is targeting a 33% renewable energy ratio by 2020.) Smart grids and new consumer technologies are changing how people think about energy production and consumption.

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Fast-Forward: What the New Fuel Economy Standard Will Mean to You

Talking turkey: 54.5 MPG = Another $17 in your pocket this weekend

This morning's commute, 405 North, Los Angeles

If we all were driving cars that averaged the newly announced federal standard for fuel efficiency, Californians would save $34.9 million this Thanksgiving weekend. At least, those are the numbers from a report released today In Culver City by Environment California. That $17 per family spells another four holiday pies or a few more lattes on the way home. Put that slice of information on your Christmas list — not for this year but for 2025. Even with the usual exemptions and provisions, the new standard announced by the Obama administration would still effectively almost double the average gas mileage for a carmaker’s fleet in those 14 years. Continue reading

International Agency Issues Dire Warning

Navajo Generating Station, near Page, AZ

By Susanne Rust

Just as the federal government released its annual index of greenhouse gases, showing a steady increase over the past 21 years, the International Energy Agency warned that we are on the path to 11-degree warming if we don’t curb emissions now.

“Delaying action is a false economy: For every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would be needed to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions,” the authors of the energy agency report wrote in their 2011 World Energy Outlook.
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The True Price of Gasoline

It’s even higher than you think

With the price of gas hovering near $4.00 per gallon (still almost a buck more than a year ago, despite the recent retreat), most Californians are already in “station shock.”

But what does gas actually cost? There’s the price at the pump, sure, but what about the hidden costs of pollution in terms of health and the environment?

The Center for Investigative Reporting takes us along on the journey that a gallon of gas makes, from oil field to gas tan, keeping a tally along the way.

California Watch, at the Center for Investigative Reporting is a content partner of KQED and Climate Watch.

Report: Solar Panels Boost Home Prices

Photo: Shuka Kalantari

A new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab could help California’s homeowners decide whether or not to “go solar.” Researchers found that on average, homeowners who recently installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels recouped most or all of their investment when they sold their homes.

“A house that has a PV system compared to a house that doesn’t have a PV system is expected to sell for more,” said Ben Hoen, the lead researcher on the study and a principal research associate at Berkeley Lab. “This is for systems that are relatively new – between 1.5 to 2.5 years old.”
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