Friday, November 24, 2006

City Utilities End Coal Fired Electricity Contracts in California

In what is hopefully the start of a new trend, several Southern California cities have decided not to renew long-term contracts for coal-fired electricity, choosing instead to turn to cleaner sources of electricity.

City officials told Utah-based Intermountain Power Agency they wouldn't be renewing their contracts for coal-fired power, which expire in 2027, and would instead be looking for alternative energy sources.

"It's a huge change," said Mayor Todd Campbell of Burbank, one of the cities that decided not to renew its contract.

The cities are Pasadena, Glendale, Riverside and Anaheim. They join the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which has already choosen not to renew the contract with Intermountain. Currently coal fired electricity makes up a significant percentage of their power, for example Pasadena Water & Power says that the Intermountain plant is 65 percent of our energy.

Intermountain's general manager Reed Searle said the company had worked for three years on the renewals and was now looking at ways to modernize its plants to bring them into compliance with California's greenhouse gas legislation that takes effect on the first of January.

The cities' decision came after increased pressure from politicians and environmentalists.

Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to an umbrella group for the cities last week saying she was "shocked and dismayed" by an initial decision last month by Burbank to renew the contract.

Phyllis Currie, general manager of Pasadena Water & Power said the utilities wanted to explain how important Intermountain was to California cities. "It's a serious issue when you tell us to walk away from that," she said.

The move could put Southern California in the forefront nationally of the commercial use of alternative energy in coming years.

Intermountain has extended its renewal offer for power from the plants until 2023 from the previous deadline of May 2007 in the hope state regulators will let utility officials renew the contracts if greenhouse gases are reduced. Electricity utilities are starting to feel the pressure for "clean" coal.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

$402m Tidal Energy Plant For New Zealand

New Zealand’s Northern Advocate reports that a US $402 million (NZ $600m) proposal to generate electricity with 200 tidal-powered turbines submerged at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour could get under way next year. The harbour is one of the largest in the world. It’s a broad shallow harbour covering an area of over three hundred square miles and has more than two thousand miles of shoreline. It has a two and a half mile wide entrance to the Tasman Sea halfway along its length.

Although officially called a harbour, the Kaipara is rarely used for shipping, owing to the treacherous tides and bars at its mouth. For this reason, no large settlements lie close to its shores, although small communities dot its coastline.

Crest Energy has applied to the Northland Regional Council for resource consent to set the 22m-tall turbines on the seafloor along about 8km of the 30m deep main channel at the harbour entrance.

The tidal energy is expected to get the turbines generating 200 megawatts of power - enough for 250,000 homes. The turbines, shielded from fish, would sit on heavy concrete pylons and be at least 5m from the surface at low tide. Leisure craft and barges could pass over them, but would be restricted from anchoring in the turbine area.

Two 30km-long cables 125mm in diameter would feed electricity into the national grid.

Crest Energy claims the size and commercial scale of the Kaipara project would make it the largest of its kind in the world.

If the project gets the green light, possibly around the middle of next year, the company plans to raise about $50 million to begin building turbines.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Buy This Alternative Book

Here at the Alternative Energy Blog, while not underestimating the scale of the challenges facing the world, we like to talk about solutions. Another website that has consistently done this is World Changing, which started as an award winning group blog, became a non-profit and has now also become a 600 page book.

This firecracker of a book is about the future of the world, full of big ideas on how humanity, technology and our environment can interact in a positive way. If you are tired of pessimistic doom and gloom tomes on the state of the world and the business as usual messages of many of our political & business leaders, this is the book for you. It is a optimistic read, overflowing with ideas for change.

What are you waiting for?

Go buy World Changing and instead of the Barefoot Contessa, let's see barefoot solar engineers on the top sellers list.