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Clean Energy Momentum: Ranking State Progress (2017)

The full report and supporting information is available at the link, along with an interactive presentation of the findings.

Clean Energy Momentum: Ranking State Progress (2017)

States across the country are displaying clean energy leadership.
Executive summary
Full report
Technical document

Sometimes progress is easy to see. Such is the case with clean energy, as wind, solar, and energy efficiency programs continue to grow and expand.

But where exactly is the progress happening? Which states are driving clean energy, and in what ways?

Our Clean Energy Momentum state ranking examines the data behind clean energy leadership. Using a set of 12 easy-to-understand metrics, we found that multiple states stand out as clear winners, including California, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and others—not all of whom are expected.

Clean energy winners:
California is a clear clean energy leader, and a well-rounded one, with top 10 showings in eight of our 12 metrics.

The West Coast in general performs well: Hawaii, Oregon and Washington all appear in our overall top 10.

Vermont secures second place, in part because it offers the highest number of clean energy jobs per capita in the nation.

Other Northeast winners include Massachusetts, strong on energy efficiency, clean energy jobs, solar, and more, and Rhode Island, a top performer in energy savings, and on its renewable energy and climate policies. Maine and New York also perform well.

Iowa rounds out the top 10, boosted by a top score for making it easy for companies to buy renewable energy. Other Heartland standouts include Minnesota, with good performances on energy efficiency measures; South Dakota, with the country’s highest renewables portion of in-state generation; and Kansas, which has enjoyed the nation’s largest percentage increase in renewable energy generation.

Post-Fukushima Disaster: Opposite Energy Policies- A Loss For Japan And A Win For Germany

How Opposite Energy Policies Turned The Fukushima Disaster Into A Loss For Japan And A Win For Germany

Amory B. Lovins

Japan thinks of itself as famously poor in energy, but this national identity rests on a semantic confusion. Japan is indeed poor in fossil fuels—but among all major industrial countries, it’s the richest in renewable energy like sun, wind, and geothermal. For example, Japan has nine times Germany’s renewable energy resources. Yet Japan makes about nine times less of its electricity from renewables (excluding hydropower) than Germany does.

That’s not because Japan has inferior engineers or weaker industries, but only because Japan’s government allows its powerful allies—regional utility monopolies—to protect their profits by blocking competitors. Since there’s no mandatory wholesale power market, only about 1% of power is traded, and utilities own almost all the wires and power plants and hence can decide whom they will allow to compete against their own assets, the vibrant independent power sector has only a 2.3% market share; under real competition it would take most of the rest. These conditions have caused an extraordinary divergence between Japan’s and Germany’s electricity outcomes.

Before the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, both Germany and Japan were nearly 30% nuclear-pow­ered. In the next four months, Germany restored, and sped up by a year, the nuclear phaseout schedule originally agreed with industry in 2001–02. With the concurrence of all political parties, 41% of Germany’s nuclear power capacity—eight units of 17, including five similar to those at Fukushima and seven from the 1970s—got promptly shut down, with the rest to follow during 2015–22.

In 2010, those eight units produced 22.8% of Germany’s electricity. Yet a comprehensive package of seven other laws passed at the same time coordinated efficiency, renewable, and other initiatives to ensure reliable and low-carbon energy supplies throughout and long after the phaseout. The German nuclear shutdown, though executed decisively, built on a longstanding deliberative policy evolution consistent with the nuclear construction halts or operating phaseouts adopted in seven other nearby countries both before and after Fukushima....

Continues at https://www.forbes.com/sites/amorylovins/2014/06/28/how-opposite-energy-policies-turned-the-fukushima-disaster-into-a-loss-for-japan-and-a-win-for-germany/#53cf144210ee

Mr. Stephens may as well look to supermarket tabloids for evidence about climate

Misrepresenting the German Energy Situation

Amory Lovins responds to Bret Stephens’s New York Times article “Climate of Unintended Consequences”

May 5, 2017 | By Amory Lovins

Mr. Stephens misrepresents the German energy situation in three ways. First, he compares 2016’s record renewable electricity production with the whole economy’s carbon dioxide emissions. In 2015–16, those rose 0.9 percent—one-third due to leap day and a cold winter—as transport fuels and the gas that heats half the buildings got efficient and renewable slower than renewable electricity grew. Yet Germany’s coal burn fell in 2016, both in total and in the power sector, as renewables generated 29 percent of 2016 electricity and met 32 percent of domestic needs. (The difference was record net exports, 9 percent of production, notably to offset France’s nuclear decline with cheaper German wholesale power.)

Next, Mr. Stephens cherry-picks his emissions comparison with 2009, when the deep global recession made GDP nosedive to 13 percent below 2016’s, so energy use and emissions plummeted too, facilitating his deceptive conclusion that “emissions are almost exactly what they were in 2009.” But that’s wrong anyway. During 2009–2016, renewable electricity grew 98 percent (nearly twice nuclear’s decline), and the power sector’s CO2 emissions fell 3.5 percent, or 16 percent per dollar of GNP—hardly an “illusion of ecological virtue.” Germany’s renewables significantly cut its CO2 emissions, and helped make wholesale electricity prices some of the lowest in Europe (as Germany’s rising power exports confirm).

Third, Mr. Stephens cites German households’ high electric bills without mentioning that as a longstanding policy, home electricity is heavily taxed, averaging 55 percent taxes and fees. Only 22 percent pays for renewables—not just for the households themselves but also for billions of Euros of annual cross-subsidy to thousands of industries, though German taxpayers don’t subsidize renewables as Americans do.

Mr. Stephens is in good company in misunderstanding German energy policy and outcomes. Both have been widely misrepresented, including by the New York Times. Some of the most common misconceptions are corrected here, here, and here. Today, Mr. Stephens’s latest post recommends Der Spiegel as a “reputable” source on German energy policy. Its sensationalist campaign against renewables has long astonished German and other readers. Mr. Stephens may as well look to supermarket tabloids for evidence about climate.

See also



Bambis revenge? Deer photographed nibbling on human bones, a first

Warning: This post includes images of human remains that might be disturbing to some readers.

Bambi’s revenge? Deer photographed nibbling on human bones, a first.
By Karin Brulliard May 9 at 8:00 AM

A white-tailed deer. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

A young Texas deer gnaws on a human rib bone in January 2015. (Meckel et. al., ‘White-tailed Deer as a Taphonomic Agent: Photographic Evidence of White-tailed Deer Gnawing on Human Bone,’ Journal of Forensic Sciences, John Wiley & Sons Inc.)

A young Texas deer gnaws on a human rib bone in January 2015. (Meckel et. al., ‘White-tailed Deer as a Taphonomic Agent: Photographic Evidence of White-tailed Deer Gnawing on Human Bone,’ Journal of Forensic Sciences, John Wiley & Sons Inc.)

Although they are herbivores, deer have been spotted eating meat and gnawing on bones before. But not these kind of bones....

We’ll get right out of the way that no horrified relatives are just now learning that their missing loved one’s fate was to be deer dinner. The body from which these bones came was placed with the highest scientific goals in mind on the floor of that forest, which is better known as the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility in San Marcos, Texas.

The 26-acre facility is one of several “body farms” around the nation where researchers plunk donated bodies out in the elements to study the process of human decay and decomposition. Usually the bodies are placed inside a cage to prevent the interference of scavengers. But sometimes they’re left unprotected to see just who might come along to snack on the carcass. Images from remote cameras have revealed that regular diners include rodents, coyotes, raccoons and foxes.

This particular body, which researchers deposited in July 2014, was initially stripped by vultures. Then, the following January, a remote camera snapped shots of a new visitor to the scene: a young white-tailed deer. It looked very dainty but for the human rib bone “extending from the side of the mouth like a cigar,” in the words of the researchers, who wrote about these first-ever images in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

Eight days later at the same location, a deer — maybe the same one — was spotted casually gnawing on another rib bone, looking like one of those rare people who make it through a giant turkey leg at a Renaissance festival....


R & D mayors explain why their cities are pursuing 100% renewable energy.

The Republican mayor of Abita Springs, Louisiana and the Democratic mayor of Columbia, South Carolina explain why their cities are pursuing 100% renewable energy.

Abita Springs aims to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030
Sara Pagones
In just 13 years, Abita Springs' elected and civic leaders hope to be able to say that everything in the town, from homes and businesses to public buildings and street lights, runs totally on renewable energy — something only a handful of places can claim.

The goal, which the Town Council adopted by resolution last month, is ambitious, Mayor Greg Lemons acknowledges. Abita Springs, population 2,900, is a small town that doesn't have a lot of money to spend.


Abita Springs is the first municipality in Louisiana — and the 25th in the entire country — to commit to 100 percent renewable energy, according to a Sierra Club initiative called Ready for 100.

Lemons said he's not a fan of some of the Sierra Club's politics. But the Republican mayor, who has a business background, sees renewable energy, in this case solar power, as a way to save money now and in the future, when fossil fuels become scarcer and more expensive....

South Carolina’s Capital Inches Closer to 100 Percent Renewables
by Leon Kaye

Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, recently became a co-chair for the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100 Percent Clean Energy Campaign.

Benjamin’s addition to the growing list of mayors who say they will transition their communities to 100 percent renewable energy is largely symbolic: To date, the city government has not released a target date or plan by which Columbia will ditch fossil fuels in favor of clean technologies. And the Democratic mayor’s city is also the capital of a deeply red state.

South Carolina’s legislature has passed some climate-friendly bills in recent years, but it did not always move quickly on the adoption of a clean-energy agenda. Incentives for investing in renewables in South Carolina are scarcer than in other U.S. states.

Nevertheless, Benjamin and his city of 132,000 are making an important point. At a time when the federal government appears poised to abandon its role as a global leader on climate action, the reality is that cities can take the lead in mitigating climate risks by scaling clean-energy technologies. And in doing so, Columbia joins a group of cities as diverse as Atlanta, San Diego and Grand Rapids, Michigan, that say they are keen on doing their part to stall climate change while modernizing their economies.

In a recent interview with the the smart cities blog CityLab...

Almost everything you know about clean energy is outdated

Almost everything you know about clean energy is outdated
“This is a different world from three years ago” — renewables are no longer “alternative energy.”

Renewables and efficiency have already won the battle for the future of electricity.

At least, that was the message at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Summit in New York City last week. In his must-see keynote talk, BNEF founder and chair Michael Liebreich explained that if you blinked, you missed the clean energy revolution: “This is a different world from three years ago.”

BNEF has been at the forefront of documenting the clean energy revolution, which continues to be ignored or misreported by major media outlets like the New York Times.

At last year’s summit, Leibreich debunked the myth promoted by Bill Gates and others that we needed a clean energy miracle to solve the climate problem, in a keynote titled “In Search of the Miraculous.”


More: https://thinkprogress.org/watch-almost-everything-you-know-about-clean-energy-is-outdated-594cd2bfccdd

Text summary of the presentation is here:
And last week, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Chairman Michael Liebreich made his case that Gates’ “miracle” is already here. Liebreich cites several key data points in making his case.

- Plummeting Costs for Wind and Solar: “Wind unsubsidized at 3¢ US per kilowatt hour. There is no other form of generating capacity that can produce power to build at 3¢ a kilowatt hour…[Solar] costs [have] come down by a factor of 150 since 1975. We’ve seen volume up by 115,000. How much more ‘miracally’ do you need your miracles to be?”

- Clean Energy Scaling: “In terms of scale, solar have seen seven doublings in 15 years. And even wind, four doublings in 15 years. To be a miracle you need scale and there you see the rate at which those technologies are growing.”

- Low-Cost Solar Lighting: “Now Bill Gates also showed, in his concern for the need for a miracle, this picture – a girl studying by the light of a candle. Well that technology…that is a solar lamp and it costs two dollars. The entire population of children studying by candlelight could be given those lamps for a cost of just over one billion dollars, or more to the point that families could, perhaps, buy them for two dollars each.”

- Rooftop Solar: “We’ve done a lot of work on rooftop solar. 99 million households by 2020 will be using rooftop solar systems, not just tiny lanterns, but also larger ones. This trend gets underestimated persistently. The IEA forecasts for wind and solar over years have gone up and up and up…In the case of solar, fourteen-fold increase since the year 2000.”

- Electric Cars: “Electricity is not the whole energy system. We need to talk about a few other areas where there are potential miracles. This one I call the miracle of Musk…Nearly two thirds of U.S. households have second cars. Tell me why they wouldn’t all, or almost, all go electric in the next decade?”

- Batteries: “The price of batteries is coming down 77 percent by the time the gigafactories and other battery manufacturers scale up in 2018. And we project that out, experience curves, and you can see that cost parity with internal combustion cars will be between 2022 [and] 2026, depending on price of oil and so on.”

- Smart Grid: “Now there will also be miracles, implications of the solar and the renewable energy shift and the electrification of vehicles nowhere more than in the grid. We have to have a grid to tie it all together. It’s not just a smart grid… in the future, new technologies that will be playing these roles of balancing long-term, medium-term, and short-term. We’re talking demand response, battery storage, thermal storage, chemical storage, power to gas.”

Nuclear power is unreliable

Watts Bar 2 Off Until Summer; Concerns over Safety Culture Persist
May 4, 2017
By Wayne Barber

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit, which went offline in March because of an equipment problem, is expected to remain down until sometime this summer, according to CEO Bill Johnson.

The 1,100-MW reactor, the nation’s newest, had begun operation in October 2016. It has been out of service since March 23 following a structural failure in the unit’s condenser, a three-story-high heat exchanger.

Because of the tight space inside the condenser, “the logistics of doing this work are quite tricky,” Johnson said during a May 2 conference call on the federally owned utility’s financial results. He said he could not be more specific about the return-to-service date.


In response to a question, Johnson said that TVA has been working for more than a year to address concerns raised by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the corporation’s inspector general about the safety culture at Watts Bar. The commission cited a “chilled work environment” in a March 2016 report.

Inspector General Richard Moore said last month that he remained unconvinced that “TVA corrective actions will bring about sustainable change.” ...


Intermittent or variable?
by Craig Morris
23 Jan 2014
Wind and solar power are often considered unreliable, especially by their detractors. But Craig Morris recently realized he needed to change his terminology – after learning how intermittent conventional power plants are....

...while production of wind and solar power fluctuate (to use the German term), giant amounts of renewable generation capacity do not simultaneously go off-line.

Conventional plants can fail quickly. In a recent storm that hit Europe, the social media world was concerned about wind turbines being blown away, but I could not find any news of such a thing happening. We do know that the Ringhals nuclear plant, with a capacity of 878 MW, failed completely, however, as one of its blocks did again just a few weeks later.

In North America, the recent Arctic cold knocked out power plants across the country, with 39,500 MW going off-line in a single day within the PJM grid, 21 percent of PJM’s total generation capacity. Roughly 19,000 MW was coal plants, followed by 9,000 MW of natural gas turbines, 1,600 MW of nuclear (probably a single plant), and “nearly 1,500 MW of wind.” (One wonders whether it was the wind turbines themselves that failed or grid connections to the turbines.)

The PJM area was not alone, either....

America: equity and equality in health (The Lancet)

America: equity and equality in health

The Lancet devotes special issue to growing U.S. health inequality

Leading British medical journal The Lancet has published a series of papers exploring persistent and growing health inequality in the United States. The series was published in the April 8, 2017 issue of The Lancet, and was curated by PNHP co-founders Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, along with Dr. Samuel Dickman.

"America: equity and equality in health" explores the effects of racial segregation, mass incarceration, economic inequality, and a lack of universal health care in the U.S. It comes at an important time in the national health care debate, as policymakers are grappling with the failure of the GOP "repeal and replace" bill, the American Health Care Act, and citizens are demanding a better health care system; one that addresses the gaps that remain after implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Below, you can access links to the series papers; various interviews and events; national media coverage of the series; and an extensive infographic.

To read PNHP's news release on the series, click here: http://www.pnhp.org. The full series can be accessed for free (registration required) at http://www.thelancet.com/us-health.

The Emerging Worldwide Alliance of Parties on the Far Right, Led by Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump

The Emerging Worldwide Alliance of Parties on the Far Right, Led by Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump
Lawrence S. Wittner

April 27, 2017

The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
Volume 15 | Issue 9 | Number3

Political parties on the far right are today enjoying a surge of support and access to government power that they have not experienced since their heyday in the 1930s.

This phenomenon is particularly striking in Europe, where massive migration, sluggish economic growth, and terrorism have stirred up zealous nationalism and Islamophobia, but it resonates through large areas of the world including the Asia-Pacific. In France, the National Front―founded in 1972 by former Nazi collaborators and other rightists employing anti-Semitic and racist appeals―has tried to soften its image somewhat under the recent leadership of Marine Le Pen. Nevertheless, Le Pen’s current campaign for the French presidency, in which she is one of two leading candidates facing a runoff, includes speeches delivered against a screen filled with immigrants committing crimes, jihadists plotting savage attacks, and European Union (EU) bureaucrats destroying French jobs, while she assails multiculturalism and promises to “restore order.” In Germany, the Alternative for Germany party, established three years ago, won up to 25 percent of the vote in state elections in March 2016. Led by Frauke Petry, the party calls for sealing the EU’s borders (by shooting migrants, if necessary), forcing the migrants who remain to adopt traditional German culture, and thoroughly rejecting Islam, including a ban on constructing mosques. According to the party platform, “Islam does not belong in Germany.”

Elsewhere in Europe, the story is much the same. In Britain, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), led until recently by Nigel Farage, arose from obscurity to become the nation’s third largest party. Focused on drastically reducing immigration and championing nationalism (including pulling Britain out of the EU), UKIP absorbed the constituency of neo-fascist groups and successfully led the struggle for Brexit. In the Netherlands, a hotly-contested parliamentary election in March 2017 saw the far right Party for Freedom emerge as the nation’s second largest political party. Calling for recording the ethnicity of all Dutch citizens and closing all Islamic schools, the party is headed by Geert Wilders, who has been tried twice in that country for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. In Italy, the Northern League (so-named because it originally pledged to liberate industrious Italian workers in the north from subsidizing lazy Italians in the south), demands drastic curbs on immigration and removal of Italy from the Eurozone. Its leader, Matteo Salvini, contends that Islam is “incompatible” with Western society.

Other European parties of the far right include Hungary’s Jobbik (the country’s third-largest party, which is vehemently hostile to immigration, the EU, and homosexuality), the Sweden Democrats (now vying for second place among Sweden’s parties, with roots in the white supremacist movement and a platform of heavily restricting immigration and opposing the EU), Austria’s Freedom Party (which, founded decades ago by Nazis, nearly won two recent 2016 presidential elections, vigorously opposes immigration, and proclaims “yes to families rather than gender madness”), and the People’s Party-Our Slovakia (which supports leaving the EU and the Eurozone and whose leader has argued that “even one immigrant is one too many”).

Only one of these rising parties is usually referred to as fascist: Greece’s Golden Dawn. Exploiting Greece’s economic crisis and, especially, hatred of refugees and other migrants, Golden Dawn has promoted virulent nationalism emphasizing the supposed racial superiority of Greeks to emerge as Greece’s third-largest party. Golden Dawn spokesman, Elias Kasidiaris, is known for sporting a swastika on his shoulder and for reading passages in parliament from the anti-Semitic hoax, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The party also employs a swastika-like flag, as well as gangs of black-shirted thugs who beat up immigrants. Party leaders, in fact, are on trial for numerous crimes, including violent attacks upon migrants.

Other far right parties in Europe, although striving for greater respectability, also provide reminders of 1920s- and 1930s-style fascism....

Full article at http://apjjf.org/2017/09/Wittner.html

Senators Send Sneering Letter to Rick Perry Over Proposed Study

Posted to Energy May 02, 2017 by Erin Mundal

Monday was mail day, rather than May Day, for Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who received a letter from seven Democratic senators expressing concern over a proposed study of the effect of regulation on the American energy market. Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Mazie Hirono D-Hawaii, Al Franken, D-Minn., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., wrote in a heated terms about the proposed study, which they called a “thinly disguised attempt” to promote coal and nuclear power at the expense of wind and solar.


“The study, as you have framed it, appears to be intended to blame wind and solar power for the financial difficulties facing coal and nuclear electric generators and to suggest that renewable energy resources threaten the reliability of the grid,” the senators wrote.

“Perhaps that is why Travis Fisher, a former official with the Koch Brothers-funded Institute for Energy Research….was chosen to lead the study,” they continued.


In conclusion, the senators again attacked Fisher, saying that for a 60 day review “conducted by ideologues associated with a Koch Brothers-affiliated think tank” to supplant formal scientific research “would be a grave disservice to American taxpayers” and potentially an “international embarrassment.”

The letter closed with a note on Perry’s time as governor of Texas, when he “demonstrated that renewable energy can enhance fuel diversity, reduce energy prices, and improve grid reliability and resilience.”

“We had mistakenly hoped that you would pursue these same results for the nation,” the senators wrote.

The letter came in response to an April 14 memo from Perry to his chief of staff calling for a study of the long term reliability of America’s electric grid. Expressing concern about how “certain policies are affecting, and potentially putting at risk, energy security and reliability,” he called for a 60-day study examining whether burdensome regulations were forcing the premature closure of baseline power plants, including coal and nuclear facilities.

“We are blessed as a nation to have an abundance of domestic energy resources, such as coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric, all of which provide affordable baseload power and contribute to a stable, reliable and resilient grid,” Perry wrote in the memo.


However, representatives from the nuclear energy industry welcomed the proposed study.

“New York and Illinois moved to save their reactors because they too saw nuclear energy as offering a value that should not be characterized by price alone,” said Maria Korsnick, president and chief executive of the Nuclear Energy Institute. “We’re glad to see that Secretary Perry and the Trump administration see the problem as well.”

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