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Solar power sets a record in California

July 14 -- This factoid came across my desk a few weeks ago:

On June 1, California recorded a record hourly peak of 4,767 megawatts of solar electricity to the grid, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported.

In short, the folks who supply electrical power, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), are using record amounts of utility-generated solar, even if it is only about 5,000 MW out of a summer demand of 35,000 MW. >>View Article

How one island powered itself with a volcano

July 14 -- The eastern Caribbean island of Montserrat has suffered more than its fair share of natural disasters.

In 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck the island, causing massive destruction with more than 90 percent of the island’s structures damaged. In 1995, just as the island started to recover, the island’s Soufrière Hills volcano burst into life, entering a cycle of eruptive activity that continues to the present day. The eruption had an enormous impact on the island, killing 19 people, leaving two-thirds of the island nation uninhabitable and in 1997 completely burying the capital city, Plymouth, under yards of volcanic rock, ash and mud. More than half the island’s population of around 10,000 were compelled to emigrate.

Today, however, Montserrat is putting this violent geological heritage to good use. Known as the “Emerald Isle” of the Caribbean because of its historical ties with the Irish, Montserrat (in fact a British dependent territory) is poised to become one of the world’s few metaphorically “green” and sustainable islands. The same geological forces unleashed by the Soufrière Hills volcano are being harnessed to power the island’s electricity grid from a geothermal source. >>View Article

UPDATED: Iowa Supreme Court rules in favor of Eagle Point Solar

July 14 -- The Iowa Supreme Court ruled today that a local solar energy company did not act as a public utility when it attempted to enter a third-party power purchase agreement with the city of Dubuque.

In a split decision, the court ruled, 4-2, with one abstention, in favor of Eagle Point Solar, filing as SZ Enterprises, against the Iowa Utilities Board. The court found that the power purchase agreement (PPA) didn’t infringe on Alliant Energy’s exclusive operating area. >>View Article

Poll: Two Jared Polis-backed energy measures would pass

July 14 -- A May poll shows support among a majority of Coloradans for two energy-related ballot measures backed by Rep. Jared Polis that critics maintain would hurt the state’s oil-and-gas industry.

The poll from Benenson Strategy Group asked voters about two of the proposed ballot measures, both backed by Polis, D-Boulder. Initiative 88 would require drilling rigs to be set back 2,000 feet from homes — four times the current state rule. Initiative 89 would create the so-called Environmental Bill of Rights. >>View Article

Gulf Stream gold: Mining green energy from Atlantic currents

July 14 -- The Gulf Stream meanders clockwise from the Gulf of Mexico, past the mid-Atlantic coast toward Europe. It is one of the most powerful currents in the world, and it is full of life.

Many species of pelagic fish, endangered marine turtles and other marine organisms roam the relentless conveyor belt of warm blue water unhindered, flowing beyond the shores of Florida. Their travels were relatively unhindered — until now.

Landbound humanity is hoping to capitalize on the Gulf Stream’s fast-flowing waters, eyeing them as a potential source of endless power and a possible solution to Florida’s energy needs. >>View Article

Despite Ohio Freeze, Renewable Energy Continues To Be Hot

July 11 -- Last month, Ohio Governor Kasich signed legislation putting a two-year ‘freeze’ on the state’s proven, successful, and money-saving renewable energy standard. Doing so, he is moving Ohio backward as other states move forward, developing job-creating CO2-neutral/CO2-light, clean renewable energy.

This new state law freezes economic growth in a sector that employs 25,000 people in Ohio, while costing Ohio consumers plenty of their hard-earned money. This news underscores two important things: first, the power of incumbent fossil fuel interests to pass damaging, unpopular legislation, and secondly, just how out of step Ohio’s elected officials are with their own constituents. >>View Article

Renewable fuel makes Ukraine less vulnerable

July 11 -- If Ukraine can build a renewable energy sector based on its vast agricultural production, it won’t need Russian energy and could, perhaps, protect its sovereignty to a much greater extent than it can today because of its Achilles’ heel of energy dependence.

Instead of propping up Ukraine’s inefficient energy sector, the United States and Europe should provide technical and financial assistance to Ukraine so it can pursue a renewable energy strategy that would promote its energy independence, provide jobs in rural areas, boost farm income and reduce greenhouse gases. >>View Article

Senate OKs Wyden-Merkley bill to boost geothermal

July 11 -- Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., on Thursday applauded the Senate’s passage of their legislation to encourage more geothermal energy production on federal lands.

The Geothermal Production Expansion Act of 2013, S. 363, streamlines the federal geothermal leasing program to encourage development of geothermal power by making adjacent development rights available at fair market rates. >>View Article

Wind energy seen as key commodity in Oklahoma

July 11 -- It’s no secret Oklahoma is a windy state, but now wind could be put to use to benefit other areas of the United States.

Clean Line Energy Partners is developing a project that will take advantage of the abundant wind source in Oklahoma and transfer it to other parts of the country. Christopher Hardy, Clean Line Energy Partners associate, said Oklahoma is able to generate up to 30 times its electric demand through wind power. >>View Article

Why Big Tech Companies Are Investing In Renewable Energy

July 11 -- When it was completed in 2013, the London Array was the largest offshore wind farm in the world, designed to produce a gigawatt of electricity. In April of this year, Google GOOGL +0.67% announced that it had contracted for that much renewable energy over the course of seven different purchase agreements since 2011—the largest one being the most recent purchase agreement for 407 megawatts of wind-sourced power from MidAmerican Energy Company to supply its data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

One gigawatt was almost 20 percent of the wind power capacity for the whole state of Iowa in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Renewable energy seems like a natural solution for data centers, which are notoriously electricity hungry. Not surprisingly, the purchase of large contracts and certificates by big tech companies to green their images is driving a new wave of interest in renewable energy. But will utilities need to significantly expand their capacity to meet this demand? >>View Article

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