Topic: Energy
June 21, 2017

Decommissioning nuclear plants in Europe and North America from 2020 threatens global plans to cut carbon emissions unless governments build new nuclear plants or expand the use of renewables, a top International Energy Agency official said. Nuclear is now the largest low-carbon power source in Europe and the United States, about three times bigger than wind and solar combined, according to IEA data. But most reactors were built in the 1970s and early 80s, and will reach the end of their life around 2020. With the average nuclear plant running for 8,000 hours a year versus 1,500-2,000 hours for a solar plant, governments must expand renewable investments to replace old nuclear plants if they are to meet decarbonization targets, IEA Chief Economist Laszlo Varro told Reuters.

June 20, 2017

In November last year, the European Commission’s Clean Energy Package proposed a 30 percent energy efficiency target for 2030. . . This was, as it turns out, wishful thinking, at least in this Council. Several Member States are pushing for even weaker targets. A vote on this is expected for next Monday. In particular, proposals are being prepared to water down the provisions in Article 7 of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), which delivers about half of the entire savings of the Directive and is a key driver for energy efficiency in Europe.

. . . If accepted, these proposals will reduce the current ambition levels by more than 80 percent and perhaps as much as 100 percent depending on the amount of excess savings and how Member States apply these proposed terms. 

June 9, 2017

The average nationwide gasoline price on Friday was the lowest for this point of the year since 2005, according to GasBuddy, a website and smartphone app designed to help drivers find the best deals at the pump. . . The average driver in South Carolina could fill up for $2.02 a gallon on Friday, compared with $3.06 in California and Hawaii, according to AAA. The Western states are seeing the biggest increases from last year, because of rising demand by drivers and unplanned maintenance of local refineries. Drivers in New Jersey are paying 23 cents a gallon more than a year ago because of an increase in gasoline taxes.

May 26, 2017

How much does it really cost Californians to use renewable energy, and who’s going to pay for it? That’s the question raised by Southern California Edison’s proposed rate hike of nearly 13 percent.

The list of people who are upset about the increase includes the members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 12. “SCE’s habit of raising rates on its ratepayers indiscriminately has to stop,” wrote union official Ronald J. Sikorski in a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission. “Working families can’t afford it and neither can seniors on fixed incomes.”

But Edison says the money is needed to upgrade its infrastructure to handle the many demands of California policies, like mandates for 50 percent renewable power by 2030, and a goal of 1.5 million plug-in electric vehicles on the road by 2025 (up from about 285,000 now).

May 19, 2017

Sure, for the fortunate few, they might have to miss a couple of coffees a week, but this reality only applies to the outliers in California. A tech worker in San Francisco won’t worry about a gas tax when their commute consists of a 20-minute walk or using their taxpayer-subsidized Tesla to make the drive into work. Opposition to a gas tax increase becomes rare when you can afford to live close to work or purchase a new, fuel efficient vehicle.

I, however, come from a community with a very different point of view. Before the vote on the gas tax increase, I spoke with dozens of people from my district to really understand how this would impact their daily lives. Juan Robles, husband and father, drives 200 miles a day selling rocks from a quarry. He’s not sure his company will be able to stay in California because of increased taxes. This doesn’t seem like just a $10 cost for Juan.

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