Southern California environment news and trends

California leads U.S. in wind power installations

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David McNew/Getty Images

When the Annual Market Report from the American Wind Energy Association is announced this week, findings will include that at $2 billion, California ranked first in new wind power installations last year. That works out to more than double the state’s wind capacity in the last decade.

“The total amount of wind energy installations in 2011 created a banner year for wind generation in California and is helping to drive California closer to reaching its goal of 33% renewable energy,” said Nancy Rader, executive director of the California Wind Energy Association to the L.A. Times.

Wind power currently accounts for 5 percent of the state’s energy needs, with the industry supporting between 4,000 and 5,000 employees.


LA County offering $2000 for green home upgrades

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Wayne National Forest/Flickr

To commemorate 10,000 homes in California environmentally efficient enough to earn the GreenPoint Rated label, Energy Upgrade California is offering L.A. County residents up to $2,000 in rebates to bring their homes up to the same standard.

For a home to qualify for a GreenPoint Rated label, it has to meet requirements across five categories: energy efficiency, resource conservation, indoor air quality, water conservation and livable community benefits, such as bike accessibility. There is an additional $8,000 in rebates available for extensive and often high-cost energy efficiency upgrades like insulation and duct sealing.

“A green home is good for the planet, healthier for you and your family -- and now, with these new rebates, getting the label that proves your home is green is basically free,” said Howard Choy, GM of the County Office of Sustainability in a press release. “We hope these rebates will encourage more Los Angeles homeowners to consider going green.”


California’s lone gray wolf returns

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It really has been a long, strange trip for the wolf known as OR7 by wildlife managers. The animal first came to prominence back at the first of the year, when he became California’s first gray wolf since 1947, wandering over from Oregon. It was big enough news that Oregon Wild had a naming contest for it, resulting in the classic rock-inspired moniker, Journey.

High hopes that Journey would mate and restart the California gray wolf populated seemed to be dashed in early March, when unable to find a mate, the animal returned to Oregon. At the time, Russ Morgan, the wolf coordinator with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said there was still reason to keep hope alive.

"It's possible OR7 will cross back into California and be using areas in both states," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "While wolves crossing state boundaries may be significant for people, wolves and other wildlife don't pay attention to state borders."


Gov. Jerry Brown drives electric highway development

Max Whittaker/Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown.

The $120 settlement Governor Jerry Brown and the California Public Utilities Commission reached with NRG Energy late last month will pave the way for sweeping upgrades to the state’s infrastructure aimed squarely at drivers of EVs.   

According to Triple Pundit, The plan is to install 200 new public fast charging stations and an additional 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 locales throughout California.

This follows Gov. Brown’s recent executive order that set goals to have at least 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on California roadways by the year 2025.

“This executive order strengthens California’s position as a national leader in zero-emission vehicles,” Gov. Brown said in a statement cited by The Bottom Line. “The settlement will dramatically expand California’s electric vehicle infrastructure, helping to clean our air and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”


City of Claremont earns green award

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Steven Cuevas

Noridan troupe member in rehearsal for Claremont's "eco-parade".

Claremont is the first city in California to be honored with the “Silver” award in recognition of sustainability efforts in the community. It’s one of only four cities — Monrovia, Riverside and Santa Clarita — to be recognized by the California Green Communities for their commitment.

Among Claremont’s green initiatives include improving energy efficiency and water conservation at city buildings and promoting physical activity through public education and environmental upgrading. The city was also responsible for a unique homeowner assistance program for instigating energy-conserving retrofits such as HVAC optimization and converting to solar panels.

"Our City takes its commitment to sustainability seriously," remarked Mayor Sam Pedroza in a press release. "It is a priority for the City Council and it is a consideration in every project and program we provide. Achieving the Silver level status validates the tremendous work this community has done."