Tag Archives: Xcel Energy

Friday Linkage 5/31/2019

It’s the last day of May, which means the high summer is just around the corner.

The crazy thing is that my summer trip to the Rocky Mountains is being altered by the presence of snow from this amazing winter.  The recpath through Ten Mile Canyon is closed due to avalanche debris removal.  Several 14er summits are closed until late summer (e.g. August) because of snowpack.

However, A-Basin might still be open by the time I roll into Summit County so I have that going for me.

On to the links…

Energy Department says Gas Permit Promotes ‘Molecules of Freedom’—That’s right kids, for those of you too young to remember “freedom fries” the Orwellian Trump administration has now rebranded natural gas as “freedom molecules.”  You cannot make this stuff up.

Renewable Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look More Expensive Than Ever—The market has spoken.  Renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels.  The future is now.

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets—The price wars have been won and renewables beat coal.  Now, market forces are being superseded by back door shenanigans.

Rich Farmers, Not Mom-and-Pop Farms, Will Collect Most of Trump’s Tariff Bailout—This is America under Trump.  The rich get bailouts and everyone else is left holding the check.  Don’t believe me?  Ask any contractor that has ever done work with Trump.

Mining Has Been King in Idaho for Generations. A Little-Known Law Might Stop That.—Mining is king across the west.  Outdoor recreation is the new king.

The Bus Wars are Over. Electricity — and China — Won.—Here’s the thing, anyone can buy a lot of electric buses.  Just because China has “won” so far does not mean that another country cannot leapfrog.  The energy transition is not a zero sum game where there must be a winner for every loser.

Visualization: 2012–2019 US Electric Car Sales (This Is A Must See)—This image is just fun to watch.

EV Charging Sites Now Outnumber Petrol Stations in UK—Never mind the plugs available in many homes.  If you build it, the people will come.

Algae: Single-Celled Savior Of The Climate Crisis—I feel like we have been talking about algae as a source for oils and other compounds for decades with the breakthrough just around the corner.  The problem is that we never seem to turn the corner.

A Major US Utility is Moving Toward 100% Clean Energy Faster than Expected—This is happening under a Trump administration.  Imagine how fast the transition could be under a progressive president.  I am hoping that the last few years have been storing up momentum for the transition like winding a spring.  Once some barriers are removed it will be like letting go of a slingshot.

Illinois Will Make Polluters Pay for Coal Ash Cleanup—How expensive will coal be for utilities when they are forced to pay for the cleanup of the leftovers?

The Ticket to 100% Renewable Power is Underneath Our Feet—Geothermal energy is the unloved member of the renewable energy family.  Part of it is that I think the technology, at face value, resembles fossil fuel electricity generating plants and even utilizes some of the same drilling technology.  However, geothermal is green and it is base load power.

Cool Your Home Without Air Conditioning—It’s almost air conditioning season here in the Midwest, although a cool and wet spring has moderated that arrival somewhat.  Just going a little bit longer without turning on the AC can be a big energy saver.

Scientists Develop a Super-Strong Wood that Completely Reflects the Sun’s Heat—How do I get siding made of this material?

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Friday Linkage 5/24/2019

You may not believe climate change is here and you may not believe that the strange weather we have seen this spring is the future, but I have seen what our flagrant disregard for science has wrought and it is not pretty.

Rain events that were once rare are now common.  Floods in Iowa are an annual or more regular occurrence.  My prediction is that after a wet and cold spring we will have a hot and dry summer.  Nothing like a little baking heat and drought to bookend the seasons.

On to the links…

How the Baby Boomers Wrecked the Economy for Millennials—Let’s start a new trend where we replace “Millennials are killing…” with “Baby Boomers wrecked…”  Never has a generation produced so little when given so much and left such a mess for future generations to clean up.  As a member of the tail end of Generation X—whatever the hell that means anymore—I feel like we will spend the next twenty years sweeping up the rubble of Baby Boomers’ excess.

If 2020 Democrats Are Going to Be Serious About Climate, They Need to Cut Out Congress—The U.S. Senate is a retrograde institution run by a power hungry vestige of the post-Civil War southern power structure who cares for nothing other than his own political power.  The 2020 Democratic nominees need a plan that can be acted on from Day One in office.

Scientists Have Pinpointed the Mystery Source of an Ozone-Destroying Chemical—Trump may be wrong on almost everything, but his desire to realign our relationship with China may not be that awful.  His methods are crap, but there is something fundamentally rotten about the way that China does business.  Agreements are meaningless, business is paramount, everything else be damned…kind of sounds like the modern Republican Party.

Xcel’s Plan to 2030: Close Two Coal Plants, Extend Nuclear Plant, Add More Solar—Coal is dead.  It is just going to take some time for the dinosaur to roll over and actually know its dead.

Puerto Rico Got Rid of Its Coal Ash Pits. Now the Company Responsible Is Moving Them to Florida.—At what point can we just write off the entire state of Florida?  If there is a bad idea that has failed everywhere else, it will get a new lease on life in Florida.  If there is a grifter who has been run out of every town in America, that person will eventually end up somewhere in Florida.

Critics Question Ethics Behind Impossible Burger’s Rapid Fast-Food Expansion—The purity police are out to get Impossible Foods now that they are working with fast food chains.  This is ridiculous.  Every animal based burger replaced with a plant based burger is a win.

Impossible Foods’ Rising Empire of Almost-Meat—The buzz is there.  Now it is time for Impossible Foods to see if they can execute in an efficient enough manner to actually scale their business.

It’s Not Just Salt, Sugar, Fat: Study Finds Ultra-Processed Foods Drive Weight Gain—Maybe the new guideline should be “If you cannot figure out how to make the food at home you should not eat that food.”  Can’t figure out how to make a homemade PopTart?  Do not eat a PopTart.

It is Solved by Walking—Just putting one foot in front of the other is a powerful choice in a world defined by our mechanized transport.

Americans Need More Bike Transit – And these Nonprofits are Bringing It—Bicycles are a humble solution to the problem of transportation emissions.

There Is No Excuse for You to Casually Drink Bottled Water—Outside of people dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, why are we even having this discussion about bottled water?

It’s Time to Embrace American Hemp Production—Did you have that guy in your dorm who always liked to tell you about the magic nature of hemp?  I remember that guy.  Maybe he was not so crazy after all.

Friday Linkage 2/9/2018

So Herr Trump wants a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue now.  Why?  Probably because he got to go to a parade in France and he cannot be upstaged by the French.

Can we just allow this doofus to get a few parades, drive a few tanks, make a few speeches, and let him believe he is the President of the United States while some adults actually do the governing?  I do not think that I can take three more years of this clown.

On to the links…

The Dark Reason so Many Millennials are Miserable and Broke—This is a lot more important than I think even the authors believe.  People are literally living in a way that is trying to compete with complete strangers on social media platforms and it’s killing them.  Not literally, which has to be the millennials favorite word, but spiritually.  Just stop.

Why Trump Wants to Repeal an Obama-Era Clean Water Rule—The reason why he wants to repeal this rule has to do with him hating anything to do with Obama and Scott Pruitt being a toady for industry.  The real question will be what these stooges come up with to replace the current rules.

Every Climate Denier in Trump’s Cabinet—It is always good to see what kind of no talent ass clowns Trumps has surrounded himself with these days.  Now, it is likely that by the end of the month several of these people will have angered the head cheese puff so take it with a grain of salt.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Debate over 100% Renewable Energy—No one knows what is possible or probable because the assumptions we make today will not be in valid in three to five years anyway.  The one thing I think we all can agree on is that clean energy is better than fossil fuel energy.  Anything after that is just a discussion about degrees of development.

Regulatory Relief Didn’t Help Coal Industry in 2017 and Can’t Save it in 2018—Trump can hold a hundred rallies and talk about “beautiful clean coal” all he wants because the market does not want it anymore.  It’s called a death spiral for a reason.

Coal’s Foes and Friends get Fired up in Hearing Over Future of Xcel Plants in Colorado—This is like trench warfare.  Each coal plant that gets retired is not going to be replaced with other coal fired power, so it is gone forever.  However, you have to fight every battle anew and each fight is entered with renewed vigor by all sides.

5 Graphs Explain Coal in Trump’s First Year—It’s not a pretty picture if you like “beautiful clean coal.”

Squaw Valley to Be First Ski Resort in U.S. to Run Just on Renewables—If you ski then you understand how at risk our pastime is to the impacts of climate change.  The powers that be running these ski resorts are woke to the reality.

Australian Solar Installs Are Going Through The Roof—Australia can feel like the future and a vision of the past all at the same time.

Tesla To Construct Virtual Solar Power Plant Using 50,000 Homes In South Australia—Let’s consider Australia to be the laboratory for what large scale solar power integrating into a larger grid looks like for the future of every sunny place in the world.  If they get it figured out we just scale it worldwide.

Nebraska Republican Seeks to Hobble Wind Power by Redefining it as Not ‘Renewable’—This is why Nebraska should not be allowed to have nice things.

What Bison in South Dakota can Teach us About Fighting Climate Change—Land use and agriculture are two areas where we can make dramatic gains in the fight against catastrophic climate change without having to confront the same demons of the fossil fuel industrial complex.

Being A Homebody Has A Surprising Environmental Upside—Anyone who spends a bunch of time at home—like me—understands this almost implicitly.  Once you get away from the temptation of online shopping—buying stuff is not good no matter how green the product—it becomes almost like a passion project.

Climate Strange—Maybe we should all just embrace a little bit of our weird side.  I got looked at a little bit strange when I put solar panels on my roof, but now at least a half dozen homes have panels on the roof in my neighborhood.  Who’s strange now?  Hopefully my bike commuting catches on in a similar way.

H&M is Closing Stores as Sales Shrink—Could we finally be reaching a point when we are past peak fast fashion crap?

Friday Linkage 9/1/2017

As we witness the damage in Houston and the surrounding area as a result of Hurricane Harvey our thoughts will turn to the recovery.  Knowing Texas this will be a great time to be a rich developer and a bad time to be anyone else.  My guess is that whole communities will get bulldozed to make way for developments that no one really asked for and lead to a wholesale change of what is a very diverse city.

Plus, our flaccid cantaloupe of a leader actually praised the size of the crowd which was comprised of refugees from the storm.

On to the links…

Pay Heed to What Nature Is Telling Us—Right wingers and Republicans in general are too concerned with staying in power by satiating a rabid base that thinks climate change is some socialist conspiracy designed to rip their guns and freedom away to actually do something constructive.  It is incumbent on the rest of us—as in the majority of Americans—to drive our nation forward in a positive direction.

The Death of US Coal, In Charts—The data does not lie and hucksters like Jim Justice know this to be true.  No one is adding new coal fired generation capacity and most utilities are removing such capacity.  It’s called a death spiral.

The (Only) Culprit Of Coal’s Demise—[http://oilprice.com/Energy/Coal/The-Only-Culprit-Of-Coals-Demise.html]  Cheap natural gas is the first order effect on coal.  It is the primary driver for the decline in coal use, but other secondary factors have played an increasingly important role.  Call it piling on if you will.

Xcel Energy Plans to Retire Two Coal-Fired Plants in Pueblo, Increase Renewables—If only Colorado Springs could finally close the awful Drake power plant in the middle of town.

Coal in Decline: An Energy Industry on Life Support—It’s not just true in the U.S. but in Australia as well.  What the Australian case shows is that as these plants age retirement will become a more attractive financial option given the state of electricity markets.

Australia Generates Enough Renewable Energy to Power 70% of Homes—Maybe this is why coal is in such trouble in Australia.  The next step is to figure out a grid level storage system to take excess supply and apply it to peak demand periods.

Wind Power Costs Could See Another 50% Reduction by 2030—How is that for a gut punch to coal and natural gas?

Wind Power Costs Could Drop 50%. Solar PV Could Provide up to 50% of Global Power. Damn.—Believe it.

America’s First U.S.-Built Offshore Wind Installation Vessel—By 2018 the U.S. will have a mobile work platform designed for installing offshore wind turbines.  This is how we put the knowledge paid for by the offshore drilling industry to good use.

Shuttle Fleet At Zion National Park Adds Proterra E2 Electric Bus—Heavy use commercial and fleet vehicles like garbage trucks and busses should be the first focus of the electrification drive because these diesel monsters put on huge miles per year and spew a lot of bad stuff into the air.  Plus, with fuel costs being such a large component of the cost of ownership the operators are keen to save money.  Additionally, electric drivetrains are simpler to maintain.

Class 7 All-Electric Truck From Cummins Revealed—No one is saying that the first heavy duty tractor trailers to get electrified need to be able to drive across Nebraska on I-80 in one charge.  There is a large market of shorter haul trucks—think the multi-modal system out of the port in Los Angeles—that could go electric first.

China’s Crazy Plan to Keep Sand From Swallowing the World—If there is one place where people do not sit around endlessly discussing an idea to determine if it is too crazy to succeed it has to be China.  Generally this leads to bad air and questionable development, but in this case the outcome is decidedly greener.

How We Stayed Cool in the Summer Heat Without AC—Man are we over air conditioned.

Friday Linkage 9/4/2015

Damn, I looked up and it was September. Without cable and no more HDTV football season will not be the same. Listening to games on the radio, however, gives me the opportunity to spend some time in the shop working on a handful of projects that have languished most of the summer.

On to the links…

MidAmerican Energy Announces New Wind Farms—By the end of 2015, MidAmerican will get 42 percent of its power from wind versus 36 percent from coal. That is an impressive renewable energy footprint that is only going to get bigger with the construction of these recently announced projects.

Simple Solar From Cedar Falls Utilities — Crowdfunded Community Solar—Iowa has a long way to go with regard to climate change mitigation, but there are a lot of good things happening on the ground. Cedar Falls, famous for its public internet company, is also getting into the community solar game.

Xcel Energy Taking Heat for Slow Rollout of Solar Garden Program in Minnesota—Meanwhile, Xcel in Minnesota seems to be doing everything to kill the community solar project with a thousand cuts.

Solar Power on at Large and Small Scale—Ahhh, infographics. How I have missed thee:

Solar-The-large-and-small-case-01-1

Solar Energy Means Jobs, Savings, and a Low-Cost Future—Solar is good. ‘Nuff said:

solar-in-missouri-means-jobs-savings-low-cost-future-ILSR

Hawaii’s Going 100 Percent Renewable, And It’s Not Using Natural Gas As A ‘Transition’—Hawaii is going to try and make the leap to all renewables without taking the baby step of using natural gas as a bridge fuel. I wish them the best of luck because the islands can be a laboratory for the rest of the United States.

Florida Public Service Commission OKs FPL’s Plan To Purchase & Shut Down 250 MW Coal Plant, As Means Of Getting Out Of Costly PPA—This is how you know coal is troubled. It is easier for a power company to buy and shut down a plant as a means of avoiding contractual power purchase obligations than to go ahead with the contract.

Digging into Big Coal’s Climate Connections—The great thing about bankruptcy of a public company in the U.S. is the enormous amount of information that becomes public as a result. Alpha Natural Resource’s bankruptcy is pulling the curtain back on climate shenanigans.

Unicornomics—If you want to understand right wing thinking in the 21st century you need to understand that it is based on the belief that reality and facts are secondary to dogma. I want a unicorn farm, but that does not mean I am going to get a unicorn farm.

Farmed Fish could bring Us Cheaper Food, but is it Ethical?—Aquaculture is the future of the fish on our tables because we have trashed and overfished the oceans. There are a lot of problems with aquaculture, but we can try to work through those for a better system.

9 of 10 Seabirds Have Glow Sticks, Lighters, Toy Cars, Other Plastics in their Guts—We have trashed the planet, the animals are paying the price, and we have to figure out a way to start cleaning up after ourselves.

Climate Change Means One World’s Death and Another’s Birth—The world is going to change. It might change at a pace that is understandable on the human being’s lifespan. This is unprecedented.

The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South—This story kind of bummed me out because kudzu was the plant from a horror movie in my youth. It was the cautionary tale that every biology teacher used to illustrate the folly of trying to mess with nature.

Friday Linkage 5/1/2015

It’s hard to believe it’s May already. April disappeared in too much work and too little home life. I am committing to turning that around this month with a half dozen projects I want to tackle. First up is the transformation of a forlorn flower bed into a seasonal vegetable garden. Oh yeah!

On to the links…

New Study Shows Climate Change Is Already Hurting Coffee Growth—Here is something to take the buzz out of your morning coffee. Shade grown methods may help, but I have a feeling we are going to have to get used to the bitterness of robusta beans sooner rather than later.

The Company That Sells One In Five Chickens In The U.S. Will Stop Using Antibiotics—If you care about antibiotic resistant bacteria then you should care about this announcement. Public pressure and good sense, not government policy, is changing behavior. It probably helps that traditional fast food chains, which buy a lot of value added processed chicken, are hurting because of concerns just like this and need to bow to market pressure as well.

The Senate’s Top Climate Denier Redefines Chutzpah—James Inhofe has to be the biggest piece of scum in the Senate right now, which is a bold statement for a body that counts among its members Ted Cruz. However, Inhofe—a noted climate denier—has decided to use the threat of climate change to promote his agenda of nuclear power. Nothing like hypocrisy to make the world go round.

U.S. Maps Pinpoint Earthquakes Linked to Quest for Oil and Gas—Climate change may be hard for people to grasp—what do you mean it might get colder when the planet warms?—but manmade earthquakes should be easy to understand. We are literally changing the geological stability of the ground beneath our feet.

North America’s Oil And Gas Industry Has Taken Over 7 Million Acres Of Land Since 2000—Haven’t we given enough to oil and gas companies? Considering that these companies are some of the most profitable in the history of capitalism and these same companies tend to be subsidized through a variety of mechanisms maybe it is time to say stop.

Experiment in Irvine takes Crops’ Water Use to New Lows—As California comes to terms with what may be a new, very dry normal the ability of farmers to use less and less water to grow valuable crops will be essential.

California’s Irrigation Varies by Crop—Why is California even bothering growing corn and alfalfa with scarce water:

california-crops-water-sources1

How Does Solar “Take Cars off the Road”?—The symbolism of “cars off the road” is easy to understand but it obscured the fact of how much energy our buildings use. Plus, only bicycles take vehicles “off the road.”

First U.S. Offshore Wind Project Breaks Ground— The project is small, but it represents a lot of potential. Imagine putting clean power generation just off the coast from millions of people in the densely populated northeastern United States?

Global Solar Demand To Grow 30% To 57 GW—I do not know where the tipping point is for when solar will be so rapidly deployed that it will fundamentally alter our relationship with utilities and the power grid, but it has to be coming soon.

Xcel Energy wants Size Limits on its Minnesota Community Solar Gardens—Xcel Energy under estimated the demand and the ability of enterprising companies to figure a way around its rules. Now it wants to put the genie back in the bottle. Given how beholden Minnesota lawmakers are to this particular power company I am inclined to believe that it will happen.

China Could Get 85 Percent Of Its Electricity From Renewables By 2050—If there is one country that needs to set an aggressive renewables target it is China. The insatiable demand for electric power has been fed by coal which has fouled the air to such a degree as to be criminal.

Dubai Confirms 800 MW Expansion For Iconic Solar Power Project—It’s a great time to be a solar advocate when only projects in the hundreds of megawatt range get your blood pumping. Too bad this is to support unsustainable development in Dubai.

Countries that Lead the Switch to Clean Energy will Reap the Financial Rewards—Those countries that make the commitment early will be poised to lead a new phase of economic growth and prosperity, while the countries that slavishly hold on to the outdated model will be forced to adapt late and at a higher cost.

The Top Imported Good in Each State, in One Map—Fixr puts together some interesting maps. This one shows the top import into each state in terms of value:

us-imports-map-final

What Did Recycling Look Like In 280 BC?—This is a little tongue in cheek, but it makes you think about just how much our modern world has changed:

1221586735551459366

Hungry Pelicans Credited with Gobbling Thousands of Goldfish Infesting Boulder Lake—Generally, the removal of invasive species requires some serious human intervention. This time Mother Nature provided a very clean solution. Hungry pelicans hovered up thousands of rapidly multiplying goldfish in a veritable invasive species buffet.

An Alternative-Medicine Believer’s Journey Back to Science—Any time you disagree with someone on scientific or technical grounds and the response is death threats you know you have struck a nerve and probably found the truth. Various alternative medicine communities—be it the anti-vaccine crowd or the anti-gluten fanatics or whatever graces the couch of Dr. Oz this week—have a problem with people seeking actual scientific truth because it will probably impact their pocketbook.

Friday Linkage 10/4/2013

The government is shut down, the debt ceiling is about to be reached, and all we hear is politicians crowing on the news shows about how no one wants to “compromise.”  Note to any tea party Republicans, when you only control one chamber of the legislature and do not occupy the office of the executive compromise does not equal getting everything you want.  As it was said so many times during the second Bush’s dastardly administration, elections have consequences.  I also remember a lot of these same blowhards saying “love it or leave it” but that sentiment seems to be one that only bloviating Rush Limbaugh types like to bust out.

On to the links…

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions down 11 Percent Since 2007—There are a lot of interesting graphs to drive home the point, but comes down to some pretty simple facts—we are burning less coal, driving fewer miles, and getting more miles per gallon from our cars.

America’s First “Legal” Hemp Crop in Almost 60 Years—It’s legality can be questioned because the federal government probably does not view it the same as state authorities.  Granted, the feds have other things to worry about right now.  It’s a small step, but hemp could be an interesting crop for farmers to add to the rotation.

Can the Economy go Full Circle—The idea of a circular economy—where new goods are produced from old goods without using new resources—is the holy grail of the green community.  Instead of downcycling, things are truly recycled.

Tastes Like Chicken—Is non-meat meat the future?  If you read this article by uber food dude Alton Brown there might be a glimmer of hope for faux meat to reach the promise of replacing the conventional meat in the future.

The Benefit of Frozen Foods—I do not get why people hate on frozen foods so much.  Sure, it seems like buying reusable bags full of fresh food all the time is the best solution but there is a place for frozen foods in the equation of healthy living.  I am not talking about frozen pizzas or T.V. dinners.  Think about the utility of frozen vegetables or fruits.

The Nacho Dorito Taste—Do you want to know why you crave a half dozen Doritos Los Tacos at 2 AM?  Watch this video from Michael Moss and find out.  Or, just stay blissfully ignorant about the ways that our brains are manipulated by food scientists.  Hmmmm, tacos…

IKEA to Sell Residential Solar Panels in Britain—A lot of analysts talk about something meeting the China or India price.  That is the point when things become affordable in emerging markets.  Well, for the developed world I think it should be called the IKEA price.  Now you are going to be able to buy a solar PV system at everyone’s favorite purveyor of flat pack furniture.

Xcel Energy Opens Way to Solar Gardens—Solar gardens are a sweet idea.  A lot of people do not live in homes that can take advantage of roof mounted racks of solar panels.  These people would probably like to take advantage of renewable energy.  This is where a solar garden comes in.  You buy into a portion of the power produced and the array is built in a location that is suitable.  It’s a great idea because it expands the pool of people who can participate and it scales up projects to take advantage of cost efficiencies.

Iceland Seeks to Cash in on its Abundant Renewable Energy—Iceland is always a fascinating country to me.  Something about it just intrigues me.  Already the country gets most of its electricity from renewable sources, geothermal and hydro, and it is looking to export that power via an undersea cable to Europe.  I guess international banking was a bust, so something had to give.

Composting Made Easy—Besides making your children do it, I dig the idea of just burying kitchen scraps in the garden.  A lot of permaculture gardens use a similar method of burying organic matter to decompose deep within beds.

How to Grow a Food Forest—I just love food forests.  There is something magical about a lush landscape that produces food.  It’s like living in Pixie Hollow.

Siberian Tigers Making a Comeback in China—It looks like one of the most endangered apex predators in the world has a shot at survival.  If an animal can make a comeback in China, it can probably be something that is repeated just about anywhere else.

Elephant Says Goodbye to an Old Friend—As elephants are slaughtered in Africa, it is essential to remember the humanity of these majestic creatures.  Here is a picture of an elephant standing guard over an old friend who has passed away.  It’s gut wrenching and touching at the same time.