Tag Archives: ghg reduction

Sonoma Clean Power, utilities face battle over energy costs

Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The North Bay pioneered a new type of public energy program in California seven years ago that now appears poised to change who buys electricity for homes and businesses across large swaths of the state.The programs, of which Sonoma Clean Power was an early leader, have expanded dramatically over the past several years.

Their growth is leading experts to examine how well the programs are boosting the use of renewable electricity compared to the private utilities that formerly served the same communities.

The growth is also prompting a face-off between the public programs and California’s three biggest private utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric. In the dispute, both sides have suggested their ratepayers are getting a bum deal in how the state has set the rules for this new era. For the public programs, the outcome has high-stakes implications because their customers could end up paying considerably more to offset the growing costs for excess power that the utilities contracted for but no longer need.

The public programs, typically known as Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA, agencies, have grown to control about 5 percent of the state’s electricity market, a new study reports. But both utilities and other experts say that number will increase markedly as other communities join the trend.

“I think everyone who’s watching this thinks that there is going to be very rapid growth in the coming years,” said Matthew Freedman, an attorney in San Francisco with the Utility Reform Network, a ratepayer advocacy group known as TURN. Some utilities, he said, have predicted that half their customers could switch to the public programs within a decade.

Read more at: Sonoma Clean Power, utilities face battle over energy costs | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Local Organizations

Novato goes “deep green” in commitment to sustainability

NOVATO NEWS

At their May 2 meeting, the Novato City Council unanimously voted to participate in Marin Clean Energy’s (MCE) Deep Green/100% Renewable Energy Program, in which all the energy used comes from renewable sources—50% wind and 50% solar generated in California. Additionally, the Council vote included  conducting energy audits on City facilities to further reduce energy use.

“This year we are taking our commitment to sustainability to the next level,” said Mayor Denise Athas. “We are going beyond only greening our city operations and vehicle fleets. We are investing in programs and staffing to set a new standard for climate leadership and ensure a sustainable future for our community.”

Currently, the City is a participant in MCE’s Light Green program, which means at least 50% of the City’s electricity is being provided by renewable sources. For the past year, MCE has been able to provide 52% renewable energy, which is broken down as follows: Wind: 36%, Biomass/bio-waste, geothermal and small hydro: 11%, Solar: 5%. The remaining portion of the City’s electricity is generated through large hydroelectric, gas and unspecific sources of power (as reported by the California Energy Commission’s Power Source Disclosure Program).

MCE partners with PG&E to give residents and businesses choices about how much of their electricity comes from renewable sources. There are currently three different levels of MCE participation customers can choose from:

1) Light Green: 50% of energy used comes from renewable sources.

2) Deep Green: 100% of energy used comes from renewable sources.

3) Local Sol: 100% of energy used is locally produced solar energy (program is limited to residential customers).

The City’s participation in the Deep Green program, a stated goal in the City’s adopted Climate Change Action Plan, will save approximately 300 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which would meet 86% of the City’s 2020 target to reduce its emission levels.

Read more at: City of Novato, CA : News : City Goes “Deep Green” in Commitment to Sustainability

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living

Healthy diet good for climate change

Tim Radford, CLIMATE NEWS NETWORK

US-based research has found that even a modest switch to a more vegetable-based diet could lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists have worked out how to combat climate change and improve human health, one mouthful at a time.

The answer is a familiar one: they calculate that a relatively modest switch towards a more vegetable-based diet could, in the US at least, lead to a reduction of 222kg in greenhouse gas emissions per person per year, while cutting the relative risk of coronary heart disease, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes by 20% to 40%.

It could also reduce US healthcare costs by at least $77bn a year and possibly $93bn.

The US spends $3tn on healthcare every year – 18% of gross domestic product – and a significant proportion of health costs are associated with obesity and illnesses linked to diet.

Read more at: Healthy diet good for climate change – Climate News NetworkClimate News Network

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Climate Change & Energy

Bay Area air regulators outline plan to combat climate change 

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Read the draft plan: Spare the Air, Cool the Climate

Watch a video about the plan.

Lorna Ho of Santa Rosa, proud driver of an all-electric Nissan Leaf, said she’s happy to be part of the vanguard in combating climate change.

Ho, a retiree, gave up her gas-guzzling Mercedes that got 15 mpg in September and leased a Leaf that hums along on battery power, releasing zero pollutants.“All of that matters to me,” said Ho, who was recharging her vehicle Thursday at a power station at Coddingtown. “I’m very much aware of what’s going on in the environment.”

She’s also in sync with an ambitious pollution-fighting plan unveiled this week by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the regulatory agency best known for issuing winter “spare the air” alerts that prohibit burning wood in fireplaces and wood stoves on chilly nights when the air is likely to be fouled.

Now, the district’s “Spare the Air, Cool the Climate” plan lays out a blueprint for curbing tons of Bay Area greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with a payoff of avoiding nearly $1 billion in social and economic costs.

“This is a major initiative,” said Kristine Roselius, an air district spokeswoman, noting that the Trump administration is dismantling numerous clean air measures. “The Bay Area is marching forward. It’s too important to stop.

”The Bay Area air district covers most of Sonoma County, including Windsor, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Sebastopol, and all or part of eight other counties surrounding San Francisco Bay.

The plan, approved unanimously by the district’s 24 board members Wednesday, lays the groundwork for bringing Bay Area greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

It aims at big targets, such as oil refineries and diesel engines, emphasizes small, personal choices such as walking or biking to work, as well as eating more vegetarian and vegan meals.

“We really have to go beyond governmental actions to changes that people can make in their everyday lives,” said Abby Young, the district’s climate protection manager.

The plan, which includes 85 measures to curb Bay Area pollutants, “reaches beyond business as usual” for the district, she said. It targets pollutants from industry, transportation, agriculture, homes and businesses.

The air district will use its own authority to limit some emissions, and will work with cities and other agencies on issues related to transportation. The regulations will not be implemented for some time.

Read more at: Bay Area air regulators outline plan to combat climate change | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Transportation

It can be done: Carbon emissions in the UK have fallen to a 120-year low 

Akshat Rathi, QUARTZ

The last time the UK emitted less carbon dioxide than it did in 2016, most Brits were still traveling by horse and carriage.

Last year, the UK emitted 381 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to an analysis by Carbon Brief. The last time the country spewed less of the greenhouse gas was way back in 1894. (Industrial strikes in 1921 and 1926 also resulted in lower emissions, but for unintended reasons.)

Carbon emissions in 2016 fell by 5.8% compared with 2015, and the use of coal fell by a record 52% over the same period. More oil and gas was burned that year, but both are relatively cleaner fuels. The UK also generated more power from wind than coal for the first time ever last year.

The precipitous drop in coal use was attributed to UK’s carbon tax, which doubled in 2015 to £18 ($22) per metric ton of CO2.

Carbon emissions in 2016 fell by 5.8% compared with 2015, and the use of coal fell by a record 52% over the same period. More oil and gas was burned that year, but both are relatively cleaner fuels. The UK also generated more power from wind than coal for the first time ever last year.

The precipitous drop in coal use was attributed to UK’s carbon tax, which doubled in 2015 to £18 ($22) per metric ton of CO2.

Source: Carbon emissions in the UK have fallen to a 120-year low — Quartz

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

How electric utilities could revive their sagging fortunes and decarbonize the country

David Roberts, VOX

These are gloomy times for electric utilities. After more than a century of fairly steady and predictable growth, they have entered stagnant waters. Demand for electricity is sluggish. Distributed energy resources (solar panels, batteries, etc.) are chipping away at their market share. Climate activists are always yelling at them for burning so many fossil fuels. It’s no fun.

Despite the industry’s much-hyped “death spiral” — in which customers abandon utilities for distributed energy, prices rise on remaining customers, more customers leave, etc. — these troubles are probably not fatal. Even under aggressive projections, most electricity will come from utility-scale power plants through the middle of the century. Utilities will still be needed. But they do seem to be heading inexorably toward a much-diminished role, with much-diminished profits.

Still, buck up, utility execs, all is not lost! There is a possible future in which utilities become bigger and more important than ever. What’s more, it is a future in which they take the lead in decarbonizing the country.

They could be heroes.

That is the good news in a recent paper from research consultancy The Brattle Group. It outlines a scenario in which utilities thrive, greenhouse gas emissions decline, and everyone joins hands in song.

The key to everything (coincidentally, my long-time obsession) is electrification.

Read more at: How electric utilities could revive their sagging fortunes and decarbonize the country – Vox

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Transportation

Sonoma Clean Power adds electric vehicles to its fight to address climate change

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The launch of Sonoma Clean Power in spring of 2014 is widely cited as the single largest action Sonoma County has taken to address climate change locally.

The public agency and the county’s dominant electricity provider is credited with reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through large-scale purchase and delivery of renewable power from non-fossil-fuel burning sources, including geothermal and wind. Additional contracts are expected to add solar and more wind power to the mix next year, ambitious moves that represent the agency’s core mission of sourcing electricity from county- and state-based sources, while helping to stabilize rates.

Now, Sonoma Clean Power is making another huge bet: that it can convince hundreds of Sonoma County residents over the next two months to ditch their gas-guzzling vehicles for more fuel-efficient wheels.

The public agency has launched a new, $2.5 million venture to help people purchase electric vehicles and install at-home charging stations, further advancing efforts to reduce climate change by targeting the largest source of pollution in Sonoma County — tailpipe emissions.

“If just 100,000 cars switched from driving on oil to driving on local renewables, we’d go a long way in achieving our climate change goals. That’s pretty extraordinary,” said Geof Syphers, chief executive officer of Sonoma Clean Power. “The state has some really strong objectives related to reducing emissions, but the state doesn’t really know how to achieve them, so this is our opportunity to experiment with relatively low risk.”

Starting Oct. 27 and through Jan. 5, Sonoma Clean Power will offer its customers $2,500 discounts — on a first-come, first-served basis — to purchase or lease a Nissan Leaf or a BMW i3, two models of electric vehicles on the market. Nissan and BMW have offered additional on-the-spot rebates against the purchase price of the vehicles at Santa Rosa-based Jim Bone Nissan and Hansel BMW.

Nissan is offering a $10,000 immediate rebate on Leaf purchases and up to $11,625 for the lease option, and BMW is offering $10,500 off for purchases and $9,500 off for leasing.

Low-income Sonoma Clean Power customers are eligible for an even greater discount of $5,000. Additional state rebates and federal tax credits are available for the purchase of electric vehicles.

Read more at: Sonoma Clean Power adds electric vehicles to its fight to address climate change | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Transportation

Global deal reached to limit use of hydrofluorocarbons 

Chris Johnston and staff, THE GUARDIAN

Also see: How bad is your air conditioner for the planet? at NYTimes.com.

A global deal to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the battle to combat climate change is a “monumental step forward”, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has said.

The agreement, announced on Saturday morning after all-night negotiations in Kigali, Rwanda, caps and reduces the use of HFCs – a key contributor to greenhouse gases – in a gradual process beginning in 2019, with action by developed countries including the US, the world’s second worst polluter.

More than 100 developing countries, including China, the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter, will start taking action in 2024, sparking concern from some groups that the action would be implemented too slowly to make a difference. A small group of countries, including India, Pakistan and some Gulf states, also pushed for and secured a later start in 2028, saying their economies need more time to grow. That is three years earlier than India, the world’s third worst polluter, had first proposed.

Worldwide use of HFCs has soared in the past decade as rapidly growing countries like China and India have widely adopted air conditioning in homes, offices and cars. But HFC gases are thousands of times more destructive to the climate than carbon dioxide, and scientists say their growing use threatens to undermine the Paris accord by 195 countries, an agreement last year to reduce climate emissions.

President Barack Obama praised the deal on Saturday morning, calling the agreement “an ambitious and far reaching solution” to a “rapidly growing threat to the health of our planet”.

Read more at: Climate change: global deal reached to limit use of hydrofluorocarbons | Environment | The Guardian

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living

Sonoma County Climate Action 2020: Litigation over the county’s Climate Action Plan

Fred Allebach, SONOMA VALLEY SUN

The County of Sonoma and it’s nine cities together are formulating a plan to collectively decrease greenhouse gas emissions. This plan is called Sonoma County Climate Action 2020, and until a lawsuit was recently filed challenging some of its underlying assumptions, the cities were prepared to sign onto the plan. This report provides background information about the plan, and where things stand today.

In 1850 the Industrial Revolution kicked off an era of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that began to accumulate in the earth’s atmosphere. As the world’s population grew by the billions, human-caused GHG emissions environmental impacts became greater and greater, especially since the 1950s.

By the mid 1980s, human-caused climate change was acknowledged as a serious problem. and precipitated the first articulation of sustainability principles. These include concepts such as the triple bottom line, full cost accounting and systems literacy.

California, being a vanguard state, in 2006 the Schwarzenegger administration began a series of measures and bills that put the state on track to reducing GHG emissions to 15% below 1990 levels by the year 2020.

Sonoma County and Individual Cities Take Local Action

Sonoma County took the ball and ran with it, each jurisdiction setting even deeper reduction goals (25% below 1990) and creating the nation’s first Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) in 2009.  This was seen as cutting edge throughout the entire United States. The RCPA then worked to create a Climate Action 2020 plan for Sonoma County, finalized in July of 2016.

Each Sonoma County municipality was included in the Climate Action Plan (CAP), and able to choose from among a slate of possible voluntary local GHG emissions reduction measures that would be their contribution to the overall plan. A combination of the number of local measures chosen from the RCPA list, plus the overall amount of carbon reduced, added up to the percent of a city’s contribution to the CAP.

Read more at: In-Depth Report: Sonoma County Climate Action 2020 | Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living

Sonoma County to offer incentives for drivers to switch to electric cars 

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County wants to convince drivers to ditch their gas-guzzling vehicles for more energy-efficient electric cars as part of an ambitious countywide initiative that could offer residents financial incentives this year to make the switch.

Backed by the Board of Supervisors, several programs are underway that county officials hope will boost the number of electric vehicles on the road, and develop the public and private charging network to support them.

The effort would help to reduce greenhouse gases and stave off the impacts of climate change, officials said.

“This is one of those areas where Sonoma County wants to be a leader,” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo, the board chairman.

“We know that electric vehicles are the most effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and in order to get more clean cars on the roads, we have to get them in the hands of those who can benefit the most — middle-class workers.”

The county is planning to offer residents and businesses grants and rebate checks to purchase new cars or help with the installation of charging stations at homes or workplaces.

Read more at: Sonoma County to offer incentives for drivers to switch to electric cars | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living, Transportation