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Maine’s Emphasis on Clean Energy, Environment Pays Off

December 9 -- As world leaders gather in France, it is clear climate change poses challenges and unique opportunities for the United States. Here at home, there are few places where this is as readily apparent as the state of Maine, where environmental stewardship is directly tied to citizens’ way of life. From the state’s picturesque coastline and its maritime industries to its working forests and recreational landscapes, it is the environment that truly serves as the primary economic driver in the Pine Tree State. Thankfully, Sen. Susan Collins’ actions in support of domestic, affordable, clean energy solutions represent responsible approaches that will help ensure a better quality of life for future generations.

This year, the Clean Power Plan was announced as a national policy aimed at achieving a 32 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by the year 2030. As is often the case in Washington, political pressure has spurred division on the plan, along with efforts to block its implementation. Instead of seeking to terminate the plan in its entirety, Collins has worked to bring the federal plan in line with the work already being accomplished by government, private industry and energy consumers in Maine to address greenhouse gas emissions. >>View Article 

State's Largest Solar Array Now Generating Power at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport

December 4 -- Minnesota’s largest solar power project is now generating electricity atop two parking ramps at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The 3 million-watt system containing 8,705 solar panels went online Tuesday, and is expected to supply 20 percent of the electricity used in Terminal 1 and to cut carbon emissions by nearly 7,000 tons per year, airport officials said.

“It is a big deal for us,” said Dennis Probst, executive vice president for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

The $20 million solar project is the first of two at the airport. The commission recently approved a plan to install a 1.3 million-watt solar array atop a parking ramp at Terminal 2, at a cost of $8.5 million. Construction is expected to begin next year. >>View Article 

Capitalism Can Survive Cutting Carbon

December 4 -- It has been a source of enormous pleasure for me during the past five years to see the solar power skeptics proven wrong. Back in 2010, I almost never saw articles about solar's potential to replace fossil fuels as our primary energy source. Then, in early 2011, futurist Ramez Naam posted one of the most important articles in recent history. The post, titled "Smaller, cheaper, faster: Does Moore's law apply to solar cells?", demonstrated how solar power prices had been declining exponentially at a steady clip for decades.

Naam quickly brought media attention to the solar revolution, and the floodgates opened. Suddenly, everyone -- including me -- was writing starry-eyed pieces about how solar would not only save us from Peak Coal and usher in an era of energy abundance, but might even save us from global warming in the bargain. >>View Article 

Long a Leader in Wind Power, Xcel Sees Advantages in Owning More Wind Farms

December 4 -- Top executives of Xcel Energy, long a national leader in wind power, said Thursday that they see further investment opportunities in wind farms, including acquisition of older projects whose electricity the utility now purchases under long-term agreements.

“It’s a great deal,” Ben Fowke, chief executive of the Minneapolis-based electric and gas utility, said about wind energy. >>View Article 

Al Gore To Investors: Invest In Renewables Or Risk Stranded Assets

December 4 -- PARIS—Investors should move their assets from fossil fuels to renewable energy not just for social or moral reasons, former Vice President Al Gore said here moments ago, but for their own financial health.

“Investors need to look at the pattern that is unfolding lest they be trapped holding stranded assets,” Gore told about a thousand reporters and diplomats gathered at COP 21, the Paris Climate Conference.

Smart investors already know, Gore said, there are many pathways to stranding. The UN climate effort is one, the effort by provinces that have launched carbon markets is another, and economic inevitability is the third:

“Another pathway to stranding is precisely this dramatic cost down-curve for renewable energy that is competing directly with carbon sources.” >>View Article 

UC Davis Obtains Largest Solar Power Plant on a U.S. College Campus

December 4 -- On Nov. 20, UC Davis and renewable energy company SunPower Corporation announced the completion of a 16.3-megawatt solar power plant. The project, which started in fall 2014, will provide 14 percent of the campus’ electrical needs and is the largest solar power plant on a U.S. college campus.

“This is a compelling example of how, with partners such as SunPower, we at UC Davis are reducing our carbon footprint,” said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi in a press release. “By taking steps to aggressively reduce our carbon emissions, we can set an example to the nation and the world of what can be achieved when we combine political will with science and innovation.”

The plant is located on a 62-acres of land on the south side of Interstate 80 and is owned and operated by SunPower, who sells the energy to UC Davis. Along with the solar and hydroelectric energy the university already uses, the plant is part of UC Davis’ plan to acquire 60 percent of its energy from renewable and carbon-free sources by 2017. >>View Article 

Google Just Announced a Gigantic New Clean Energy Purchase

December 4 -- Due to the ongoing Paris climate conference, we’re in a season of major clean energy announcements — from Bill Gates’ coalition of billionaires pledged to support breakthrough technologies to stunning plans for Africa to install 300 gigawatts of renewable capacity by 2030.

And now Google, the company that has in many ways been the leader of corporate clean energy purchasing, has announced its biggest new move yet.

With the ultimate goal of powering everything that it does with clean energy, Google has been signing global “power purchase agreements” to buy clean energy, usually wind, in long term contracts. This electricity can then be used, either directly or indirectly, to power its data centers, which are major consumers of power. Thus, your Google searches, e-mails, and more are increasingly powered by wind and solar. >>View Article 

5 Drivers Making 100% Renewables Possible

December 4 -- Five years ago, it was a reality of the electricity sector that companies and governments could not expect to be powered by 100% renewable energy, except under exceptional circumstances.

The first U.S. municipality to get to 100% renewables was Greensburg, Kansas, in 2010, and that was because the city was wiped out by a tornado and rebuilt from its foundations.

But now, five factors are coming together in the energy industry to transform that reality, outlined in a new report from Clean Edge and SolarCity, the nation's leading rooftop solar installer. >>View Article 

Opinion: The Clean Power Plan Would Make the Air Latinos Breathe Significantly Cleaner

December 4 -- Coloradans know all too well the importance of the environment for our state’s tourism industry and the jobs it supports. But our families’ health is also deeply intertwined with the state of our environment. Hispanics suffer disproportionately from the carbon pollution that fuels the problem. For us, climate change is not a distant future event — it’s affecting us now.

As the world’s leaders gather in Paris to discuss a coordinated global agreement to roll back climate change, we need to keep in mind the immediacy of this issue for our community. >>View Article 

There’s a Workable Plan for Lowering Global Emissions by 40% in 20 Years

December 4 -- The long-anticipated United Nations Climate Change Conference began Nov. 30 in Paris and will continue through Dec. 10—yet there is almost no chance that it will produce an agreement anywhere near adequate for achieving the climate stabilization targets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for 2050 or an intermediate target for 2035.

Despite significant pledges on behalf of their countries, political leaders throughout the world simply do not want to make major cuts in their consumption of oil, coal, and natural gas, which is the major source of global carbon dioxide emissions. Even putting aside the obvious self-interest and political power of both public and private fossil-fuel companies, most political leaders remain convinced that significantly cutting fossil-fuel consumption will slow economic growth and cost jobs—a price they are unwilling to pay. >>View Article 

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