Southern California environment news and trends

Top 5 tweets from the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0 about @JerryBrownGov Moonbeam

Back now from the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. 

I think it's easy to forget while in the state of California just how entertaining the loosey-goosey wit and wisdom of Governor Jerry Brown is to those less familiar with his word stylings. But I had the luxury of being in Nevada for the past two days; I'll be bringing you the conference highlights. For now: the best five tweets about the Governor's comments during the NCES panel among Brown, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

Gregoire said perhaps the most substantive thing, which is that the United States should have a national energy standard - like the ones all three governors' states have established. (In doing so she echoed Energy Secretary Steve Chu, who made the same point earlier in the day.)

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Big & hot in the Mojave desert at Brightsource's Ivanpah project

Got out to Brightsource's Ivanpah energy project yesterday, just near the state border, in eastern San Bernardino county.  Everything about Ivanpah is big: it'll double the amount of solar thermal energy available in the US when it's done, and a lot of it will come to southern California via Edison. (It's also big-unpopular with desert conservation activists in southern California; we'll talk about that another time.)

That picture, above, is from the rental car -  the temperature when I got to the parking lot near Primm. Didn't feel quite like that - but I drank 2 liters of water, so that probably helped. Also, the breeze. 

I should say up front it was a pretty controlled experience - part of it necessarily - as it's an enormous and active construction site - part of it corporate preference. Educational, still, and all, en route to the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0 that I'll catch up to today. 

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Blythe scraps solar thermal for photovoltaic

Just how low can the price of solar photovoltaic arrays go? Low enough to keep a Riverside County project (and its construction jobs) alive. 

Last week Solar Millennium announced it would pause the Blythe project - proposed as a gigawatt of concentrated solar thermal energy in 2009, approved in 2010 by the Bureau of Land Management and the state of California - for "retooling." The Inland Empire got freaked, a little - that project has meant an oasis of jobs in the desert - ecological, and metaphorical-economic. 

But the retooling is already over. Now half of that power will come from solar panels - 500 megawatts coming from panels like the kind people put on their rooftops.

Blythe needs re-permitting to switch to solar photovoltaic - they're reinitiating the process with the BLM and California's Energy Commission. But Solar Millennium will be able to bring power on more quickly, in a smaller but steadier trickle, once it starts.

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LA Department of Water and Power's solar incentive program to restart Sept. 1

Concerns from the solar industry about the LADWP's solar incentive program crystallized in the middle of yesterday's 7 1/2 hour LA City Council meeting. With the City Council sending the program back to DWP and back into gear as of September 1, they may not have been answered. A problem is that nothing the city council has asked of the solar industry and the DWP in the last two days of council sessions tells us whether they were. 

Ken Button, the president of Verengo, and SunRun's director of government affairs, Ethan Sprague, represented companies that offer lease-based financing of PV rooftop installations. Sprague told the council that "90 percent of the lease market" was objecting to the DWP's new solar rebates. He and Button estimated that people who could have spent little to nothing up front would have to spend four to five thousand dollars under the new program. 

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Morning Greens: Coast, coal, climate policies, and coyotes

Welcome to Morning Greens, where your host is wondering what's up with fennel toothpaste. Some major news in California yesterday along the coastline, so let's jump right in. 

It's worth mentioning again, cause, well, wow. Peter Douglas announced he would leave the executive director position of the Coastal Commission at the beginning of November (though he'll go on medical leave next Monday). Noaki Schwartz broke the news for AP, here's my blog, and read Tony Barboza's take in the Los Angeles Times. Then take a nap, because that's a lot of reading.

From Long Beach to Seal Beach, environmentalists are excited about the addition of 100 acres of the former Hellman Ranch to the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority. KPCC's own Caitlin Carroll reports, "As the salt marsh returns to its natural state, more native birds like herons, egrets and raptors might return too." Raptors are cool!

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