Southern California environment news and trends

Natural gas catches up with coal in America

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David McNew/Getty Images

The AES Corporation 495-megawatt Alamitos natural gas-fired power station stands on October 1, 2009 in Long Beach, California.

There’s nothing quite like the first time. That’s the sentiment behind last week’s announcement by the U.S. Energy Information Association that the amount of electricity being generated by natural gas is in a dead-heat with the amount derived from coal.

As reported by Treehugger, April data shows that natural gas plants generated 32 percent of the nation’s power, the same share produced by coal plants. That’s 95.9 million megawatthours from natural gas, compared to 96.0 megawatthours from coal.

According to the EIA, natural gas was able to catch up due to prices being at a 10-year low in April and reduced demand for electricity thanks to a mild winter (and spring). The EPA also recently imposed new rules limiting emissions of mercury, chromium and more. Another far more controversial reason behind the natural gas boom is the hydraulic drilling process of “fracking.”


Pure energy: San Diego’s controversial Sunrise Powerlink activated

San Diego Gas & Electric announced this week that the much-debated Sunrise Powerlink has been completed and energized. The 117-mile, 500,000 volt transmission line that connects San Diego with the Imperial Valley is the culmination of close $1.9 billion, five years of environmental reviews and 18 months of construction. According to NASDAQ, The review was so extensive that it is being considered “the most comprehensive study of a proposed transmission power line in state history.”

“Putting the Sunrise Powerlink into service is the final milestone in a complex and challenging energy project that ranks among the largest and most significant in the history of San Diego Gas & Electric,” said Jessie J. Knight Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of SDG&E in a press release. “Design, planning, construction and implementation of the project required scores of public hearings, detailed construction schedules to accommodate a wide array of environmental regulations and coordination of thousands of helicopter flights to ferry crews and material to the construction sites along the route.”


New bill aims to give all Californians clean energy options

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Jaime Rius/AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to renewable energy, millions of Californians (more than 75 percent of all households) are unable to participate for any number of reasons. Primary among those reasons: Renting instead of owning a home. A proposed new bill is aiming to remove that restriction and offer clean energy options to those millions of renters and more residents currently unable to do so.

As reported by the Davis Enterprise, Democratic State Senator Lois Wolk debuted Senate Bill 843 last week, with the intention of offering the option to said renters and other California power consumers.

“This bill would give millions of Californians the option to buy a portion of the power that is generated at a community renewable energy facility off site and to receive a credit on their utility bill for the clean energy that they purchase,” Wolk said at a Davis news conference last Friday (May 11).