Showing posts with label vote. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vote. Show all posts

Monday, February 2, 2009

Iowa's green energy policy struggle

The presence of prairie winds and rich soil makes Iowa literally fertile ground for developing alternative energy sources from wind turbines and biofuels.


Iowa invested $6m in wind turbine manufacturing

But the landscape is also a reminder that achieving energy independence is a formidable challenge and making an agricultural economy green is not easy.

Farm workers cannot take subways to work, farmers have to drive long distances into the fields to sow and harvest their crops and to deliver them to markets.

Farm animals themselves, not to put too fine a point on it, produce methane - a powerful greenhouse gas - that is trapped in the atmosphere.

Those challenges have not stopped the state setting itself ambitious goals.

Energy pioneers

The Iowa Climate Change Advisory Panel recently wrote a report for Governor Chet Culver setting out how the state can reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2030.

The state has set up an Office of Energy Independence - surely the perfect place, I thought, to test how easy it will be for President Obama to achieve energy independence for the whole of America.

There are plenty of energy pioneers to be found in Iowa.

I feel like I'm doing something more than just building a washing machine, I'm building something for everyone to capitalise on

Crugar Tuttle
Wind turbine factory worker

Roger Neuberger, a farmer, lives near Clear Lake in the north-west part of the State - where the wind blows hardest.

He gets money from an energy company each year for making room for two wind turbines on his land.

Mr Neuberger has promised the energy company that he will not publicly reveal how much he is being paid, but other farmers have let it be known that, depending on when their contracts were signed, they can receive somewhere between $2,000 (£1,400) and $4,000 per turbine every year for the next 30 years.

Mr Neuberger is very happy, if rather modest about his role at the new frontier.

Asked if he felt like a pioneer, he replied: "Yeah, I suppose so."

"There were a number of farmers who didn't want to do this because they didn't understand - they were concerned how they were going to be treated. We've been treated wonderful. I couldn't ask for anything better."

Foreign oil

Iowa hopes that wind energy will deliver more than just electricity - and that investment in wind technology will help to transform towns depressed by unemployment.

Towns like Newton, which is just to the east of the capital, Des Moines.

Nearly 2,000 people lost their jobs in Newton when the town's biggest employer, Whirlpool, shut its doors in 2007.


Is ethanol really a clean alternative to fossil fuels?
Hundreds of those same workers, who once made washing machine parts, now make blades for wind turbines at the TPI factory.

But the jobs did not come cheap.

The state gave the manufacturer $6m in subsidies and tax breaks - in return the company promised to hire 500 people.

Larry Crady worked at Whirlpool for 23 years, making coin-operated laundry machines.

"It just wows you when you see a blade open and close," Larry says. "When you pull that blade out of the mould it's exciting, I feel like I'm doing something more than just building a washing machine, I'm building something for everyone to capitalise on."

Mr Crady's sense of wonder is understandable - the plant certainly has the "wow" factor.

The turbine blades are as long as a 747 jet and the factory is longer than an aircraft carrier.

It is fitting, then, that - according to the plant's manager - so many of those that work there feel that making the blades is as much about national security as it is about electricity.

"A lot of us in this company and in wind energy have a sense of calling to this," Crugar Tuttle says. "I think in the interview process it comes out with a lot of our veterans that this is about weaning us off foreign oil."

But wind energy is a long way from delivering independence for Iowa any time soon.

It provides just 8% of Iowa's energy needs.

If it is to go any way towards making the rest of the country energy independent, a distribution grid would be needed.

Controversial

President Obama has promised to invest $150bn in renewable energy over the next 10 years.

He hopes to increase dramatically the contribution that wind, solar and other renewable sources can make to the country's energy supply.

According to current projections, renewables will still be providing only 8% of the country's energy supply 20 years from now.

Certainly, energy independence will not be possible without replacing the foreign petrol used in cars.

We need sources of power that are constant and don't rely on things like whether the wind's blowing or the sun's shining

Phil Wyse
Iowa state representative

Many Iowans think the solution is biofuels (as do most presidential candidates - albeit only while they are campaigning in the crucial Iowa caucuses).

Refineries across the state produce 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol a year - enough to replace 10% of the petrol in America's cars.

But biofuels are controversial.

A UN report says they drive up the price of food.

And is ethanol really clean?

We visited POET's ethanol plant in Hanlontown in the northern part of Iowa.

The plant, like most in the state, is powered by fossil fuels.

I spoke to POET's Vice President for Project Development, Larry Ward.

He insists that despite the use of natural gas in the production of ethanol, it is a good bargain.

"There's a tremendous net gain from an energy standpoint. Using natural gas to produce ethanol you have a gain - for every unit of energy you put into the plant you get two units of energy out."

The trouble is, many of Iowa's ethanol refineries use coal - the dirtiest fuel of all.

It is one of the reasons why Iowa will soon be building another coal-fired power plant.

More than half of all the electricity produced by the new plant is expected to be used to fuel the state's ethanol refineries.

King coal

Another problem is that Iowa gets very cold in winter.

How many Americans would risk living in a place where January temperatures hover around -18F, if they had to rely on sun or wind power for heat?

What happens when the sun goes down and the wind dies?

That is why, despite the push for ethanol and wind power, coal is still king when it comes to powering Iowa.

It currently provides 85% of the state's energy needs.

Phil Wyse, a state representative for 22 years, believes Iowa and America need nuclear power.

"We need sources of power that are constant and don't rely on things like whether the wind's blowing or the sun's shining," he says.

"Alternative to coal? Nuclear more in the mix."

Despite all the wind energy and ethanol Iowa strives to produce, carbon emissions are still growing here - and they are 1% higher than the average for the whole of the US.

Iowa may have much to show the rest of America about green energy - including how hard it will be to make America energy independent.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday, November 21, 2008

Phone Makers Monitor Charger Energy Consumption


Mobile manufacturers launch star rating system comparing the energy consumption of chargers


November 19, 2008 - Espoo, Finland - A group of mobile manufacturers has launched a common energy rating system for chargers, making it easier for consumers to compare and choose the one that saves the most energy. The star rating system developed and supported by LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson is one of a series of measures being taken by the industry to reduce the environmental footprint of its products.

Many consumers are unaware that chargers consume electricity when disconnected from the phone but left plugged into the wall socket. Around two thirds of the energy used by mobile devices is wasted in this way. Manufacturers are addressing this by continually improving the efficiency of their chargers and in making it easier for consumers to pick the ones using the least energy.

The new rating system indicates how much energy each charger uses when left plugged into the wall socket after charging is completed. The ratings covers all chargers currently sold by the five companies, and range from five stars for the most efficient chargers down to zero stars for the ones consuming the most energy. If the more than three billion people owning mobile devices today switched to a four or five star charger, this could save the same amount of energy each year as produced by two medium sized power plants.

People will be able to visit the websites of each manufacturer to view and compare the results for every charger. The ratings are based on the European Commission's energy standards for chargers and the internationally recognized Energy Star standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. The ratings will be reviewed regularly and developed further in order to drive constant improvement.

Many of the manufacturers are also working on other ways to reduce energy consumption. Most major producers have begun introducing visual alerts into their devices to remind people to unplug the charger from the mains when the battery is fully charged.

The group of manufacturers was initially created as part of a European Commission Integrated Product Policy pilot project looking at how different industries could reduce the environmental impact of their products and inform consumers of better choices. Nokia proposed the mobile phone sector to the Commission and was joined by a number of manufacturers, operators and others in the industry.

Phone Makers Monitor Charger Energy Consumption

Mobile manufacturers launch star rating system comparing the energy consumption of chargers


November 19, 2008 - Espoo, Finland - A group of mobile manufacturers has launched a common energy rating system for chargers, making it easier for consumers to compare and choose the one that saves the most energy. The star rating system developed and supported by LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson is one of a series of measures being taken by the industry to reduce the environmental footprint of its products.

Many consumers are unaware that chargers consume electricity when disconnected from the phone but left plugged into the wall socket. Around two thirds of the energy used by mobile devices is wasted in this way. Manufacturers are addressing this by continually improving the efficiency of their chargers and in making it easier for consumers to pick the ones using the least energy.

The new rating system indicates how much energy each charger uses when left plugged into the wall socket after charging is completed. The ratings covers all chargers currently sold by the five companies, and range from five stars for the most efficient chargers down to zero stars for the ones consuming the most energy. If the more than three billion people owning mobile devices today switched to a four or five star charger, this could save the same amount of energy each year as produced by two medium sized power plants.

People will be able to visit the websites of each manufacturer to view and compare the results for every charger. The ratings are based on the European Commission's energy standards for chargers and the internationally recognized Energy Star standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. The ratings will be reviewed regularly and developed further in order to drive constant improvement.

Many of the manufacturers are also working on other ways to reduce energy consumption. Most major producers have begun introducing visual alerts into their devices to remind people to unplug the charger from the mains when the battery is fully charged.

The group of manufacturers was initially created as part of a European Commission Integrated Product Policy pilot project looking at how different industries could reduce the environmental impact of their products and inform consumers of better choices. Nokia proposed the mobile phone sector to the Commission and was joined by a number of manufacturers, operators and others in the industry.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Exciting - And Green - Ways To Get Around

Whether you're aiming to reduce your carbon footprint, save some money on petrol or just beat the traffic blues, there are some cheap, green and exciting ways of getting around that can replace your motor car.

read more | digg story

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ID Theft

Notification Laws Doesn't Slow Identity Theft


In 2003, California's SB 1386 went into law. The law required businesses that suffered data breaches to disclose the breach to all those exposed. The idea was that notifying people would reduce identity theft. Over the last five years, 42 other states had enacted similar laws. But have these laws had an impact on the rates of identity theft?

According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University the answer is no. Researches could find not statistical link between the breach notification laws and rates of identity theft.

The conclusion matches what I would expect. Data breaches are not the same as data thefts. A data breach is most likely just an error and the data usually ends up in the trash. A data theft is the result of a deliberate act where the data is most likely being used for nefarious purposes.

Laws should allow some flexibility for a business to alert consumers when a real theft occurs but doesn't raise an undue scare for a lost tape that can only be read by a few machines.

Read More.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Californians against Waste

Dear Supporter,

On Tuesday, February 5th, you will have the chance to make an important decision about the future of California's environment.

Californians Against Waste has been helping California's environment for over thirty years now and we couldn't have been able to do this without help from the environmental leaders in the state legislature. Currently, California's legislative term limits are just about the tightest in the country, and remain a barrier to effective governing, which is why CAW supports Proposition 93. Prop 93 strikes a balance that would still stick legislators with tight term limits, but allow legislators more time in one house, greatly increasing continuity and institutional memory necessary to be effective leaders.

The flaw in our current system is that it keeps legislators from gaining enough experience to be effective and to oversee the implementation of often complex, important legislation, including environmental laws.

Additionally, the current system often requires some of our best legislative allies to run against each other when their Assembly terms expire--after just 6 years. Case in point, CAW Legislators-of-the-Year Lloyd Levine and Fran Pavley have carried several successful recycling bills each during their 6 years in the Assembly. Now they are forced to run against each other for the Senate seat of another termed out CAW legislator-of-the-year: State Senator Sheila Kuehl.
Currently, legislators can serve up to three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate, for a total of 14 years. Prop 93 would reduce the total amount of time a legislator can serve in the Legislature to 12 years, but allow a legislator to serve all 12 years in the Assembly or the Senate. This limit gives legislators time to gain experience, but still maintains a healthy turnover rate to allow for new issues to be brought up. It also helps drastically reduce the political jockeying that dominates Sacramento and help stabilize our system by breaking the cycle of legislators constantly wanting to move up the political ladder.

The Yes on Proposition 93 campaign has produced a video featuring Assemblymember John Laird of Santa Cruz, discussing the impact reforming term limits will have on environmental issues in California. Watch the video.

Other environmental groups support Prop. 93, including the Sierra Club and the CA League of Conservation Voters.

Thanks,Mark Murray

Executive Director

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles

http://www.ewastedisposal.net