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|April 1st, 2009, 04:42 AM||#61|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Likes (Received): 27
Black is back for California drivers (actually, it never left)
The Great California Black Car Crisis is over — for now at least.
The Los Angeles Times
The California Air Resources Board said Friday that it has no plans “at this time” to regulate car paint as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and never intended to outlaw black cars in the first place.
“We are by no means interested in banning or restricting car colors,” CARB spokesman Stanley Young said.
Reports that regulators were planning to banish black cars from the Golden State in an effort to reduce air pollution created a global uproar, perhaps best expressed in this headline from Rush Limbaugh’s website: “Tyrants Want to Ban Black Cars.”
The purported black car ban was said to be part of the “cool cars” initiative being cooked up by the air board, which is looking for ways to follow the legislature’s mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. Greenhouse gases are a cause of global warming, and automotive tailpipe emissions are a major source.
One solution: lower the temperature inside parked cars, thereby reducing the amount of air conditioning — and engine power and gasoline — needed to keep the occupants cool and comfortable.
CARB looked at two possible ways to achieve this: mandating the use of reflective paints that reduce the amount of solar heat absorbed by a vehicle, and requiring manufacturers to install glass with reflective coatings to achieve the same purpose.
When word got out that CARB couldn’t find a reflective version of deep black paint that suited its needs, auto enthusiast blogs and conservative commentators smelled another “kooky California” story — or “out-of-control government” expose, take your pick — and jumped in with relish.
The fact that black is the second most popular color among car owners in the U.S. — behind white — helped stoke the outrage. The Truth About Cars, a blog that brings a smart sensibility to its automotive commentary, opined that “regulating car color comes across as nothing more than an exercise in bureaucratic power for its own sake.”
CARB ultimately decided to ditch the paint scheme and move ahead with just the reflective glass mandate (which is not window tinting, by the way; it’s a reflective clear coat).
The air board is now taking public comments on its proposed reflective glass rules, which it estimates will add $31-$50 to the cost of a new vehicle while saving Californians millions of gallons of fuel a year by 2020 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions significantly. (You can read the various iterations of the cool cars rules and get info on submitting a comment here.)
A final vote on the rules may come at the air board’s meeting in late June.
So, did the bureaucrats really intend to ban black cars, only to be foiled by an outraged citizenry? That’s hard to say. Young notes that it’s not unusual for CARB to get an earful over its proposed regs, and in this case, “it wasn’t exactly opposition” that killed the paint initiative. “It was an appraisal that the technology was not yet mature enough to deliver what we hoped to achieve.”
Moreover, the CARB PowerPoint presentation that got everyone’s fan belt in a twist never actually recommends that black cars be banned. It merely — “sinisterly,” Rush might say — notes that “jet black remains an issue.”
Still, the timing is interesting. Although the workshop at which the paint plan was discussed was held on March 12, the decision to drop the idea wasn’t made until this week, according to Young — the very same week, sinisterly enough, that Limbaugh referred to the CARB rule makers as tyrants.
Coincidence? We report, you decide.
-- Martin Zimmerman
|April 6th, 2009, 11:07 AM||#62|
L O S A N G E L E S
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Henderson NV
Likes (Received): 30
Ports' clean-rig program
puts truckers in more comfortable driver's seat
Ann Johansson / For The Times
Heriberto Perez Jr., an independent owner-operator, is leasing a 2009 Kenworth T800 that runs on liquefied natural gas. The new truck keeps the foul-smelling emissions from older rigs at the Port of Los Angeles out of his climate-controlled cab, he says.
Dumping exhaust-spewing rides for new trucks that offer comparative luxury is one advantage of complying with the L.A. and Long Beach harbor complex's lower-emissions effort.
April 6, 2009
The cargo is pretty much the same -- a rusty 40-foot container filled on a recent morning with 50,000 pounds of Asia-bound hay cubes. The trip on a recent Saturday also was unchanged: the few miles between the 51-year-old Los Angeles Harbor Grain Terminal and the TraPac Inc. terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.
But that's where the similarities end.
Heriberto S. Perez Jr. used to drive an exhaust-spewing 1988 Freightliner that lurched through the streets on the strength of air-polluting diesel fuel. The truck had no air conditioner, a broken window and only a fraction of its original power.
Now he travels to and from the local ports in a sparkling new 2009 Kenworth T800 liquefied natural gas truck with a drive train that derives 95% of its power from natural gas.
Such a truck never would have been seen at the harbor before October, when the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach launched an ambitious plan to replace 16,800 older rigs by 2012 with the nation's lowest-emissions fleet.
The Kenworth required just one smooth try to latch on to a container and its chassis, and it pulled away as if the 250-ton load weighed almost nothing. Inside the quiet, almost stylish, air-conditioned cab, there was no hint that 5% of the truck's power came from diesel fuel. The only odor: the familiar organic compounds known as new car smell.
"After my old truck, which was banned from the ports in October, this feels like I'm driving a Cadillac," said Perez, of Fontana, who is leasing the rig and at first had to deal with suspicion from his wife when he was no longer coming home smelling like a tailpipe.
"She wanted to know where I had been," Perez said. "She figured I wasn't going to work."
The truck wasn't an easy call for Perez, an independent owner-operator responsible for his own rig. If he wants to continue driving to and from the Port of Los Angeles, he's been told, he will have to become an employee of a certified trucking concession under stipulations of the clean-truck program. That requirement has been challenged in federal court by the American Trucking Assn. and the Federal Maritime Commission.
Last month, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a lower court judge to reconsider her refusal to block the provision requiring all independent owner-operators to become employees. Perez was pleased, preferring the freedom of being his own boss and setting his own hours and rules.
"I have a seven-year truck lease, and what happens if I'm not an employee in five years like they said I have to be? I can't drive the truck?" Perez said.
In the meantime, Perez drives exclusively for the Los Angeles Harbor Grain Terminal.
The terminal handles exports -- grains, mostly -- from Midwest farms, transferring them from rail cars to traditional cargo containers for the trip across the Pacific. Pound for pound, however, like most U.S. exports, they are worth only a fraction of the finished-goods imports bound for U.S. store shelves. That makes it difficult for shippers to pay the $70-per-container clean-truck fee that the ports require for cargo hauled by trucks that don't meet 2007 pollution limits.
Grain terminal Vice President Dwight Robinson had already begun hearing from customers who were considering a switch to the Port of Oakland, which does not yet have a clean-truck fee. Robinson and Grain terminal President Howard Wallace had been huddling with drivers, brainstorming on how they might acquire trucks new enough to be exempt from the fees.
Enter Perez, with a personal credit rating so far north of 700 that he would be the envy of most Wall Street bankers. Armed with a $105,000 grant from the ports' clean-truck program, Perez came back to Wallace and Robinson with hard numbers on just how much hauling he would need to do to pay off the lease and handle the much higher insurance on the $185,000 Kenworth.
It works out that Perez needs to get more jobs than the other truckers, who drive older rigs. On Saturday, for example, with 13 available drivers, at least three of the 10 jobs scheduled were being held for Perez. So far, it hasn't caused any friction with the other truckers, Grain Terminal officials say.
Back at the ports, Perez's rig doesn't stand out much among the other trucks. At the TraPac terminal and the nearby SSA Marine terminal, about half the vehicles have that dull primer paintlike finish and faded chrome look typical of older port trucks suffering from long exposure to diesel exhaust and salty air. The other half are an assortment of gleaming new Macks, Sterlings and Kenworths, with the occasional new Volvo sprinkled in.
The difference between old and new is something that can be sensed almost immediately as trucks line up at terminal gates.
When they are new enough to be certified as clean idlers, the fumes are barely perceptible or nonexistent. When the vehicles are older and dirtier, the gunk accumulates in the nostrils, throat and lungs.
"I don't come home nauseous from all those diesel fumes anymore," Perez said.
Although he now sits apart from that in a climate-controlled cab, Perez still has stresses to deal with.
Valid radio frequency identification tags on his truck, which identify him as a qualified driver and note the status of his truck, sometimes show up as invalid on terminal gate scanners. That kicks him out of the line. Delays at the terminals put him perilously close to missing that crucial number of jobs he has to reach to cover the costs of the new truck.
But he'll take them, given the benefits he would have never expected at this time last year. Among them, a new truck suspension that means his back no longer feels as if his vertebrae have been rearranged by the end of the day. And the new truck filters out quite a bit of the headache-producing noise of other truck engines, air brakes, rail crossing signals, rail car clanking, locomotives and yard cranes.
"I almost don't mind waiting anymore -- almost," Perez said.
Los Angeles Times
|April 15th, 2009, 11:39 AM||#63|
L O S A N G E L E S
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Henderson NV
Likes (Received): 30
Mayor touts Green Corridor
but can Downtown Support His New Industry?
Looking southeast from City Hall over Downtown's Arts District and Industrial District.
.April 14 2009
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — In his State of the City speech this afternoon, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promoted the creation of a five-mile "CleanTech Corridor" that would stretch north through Downtown's Industrial District. The project would "transform our industrial core into ground zero for green jobs," Villaraigosa said.
Unsaid, though, is just how the city plans to turn antiquated industrial land with small plots into space that would support new green businesses.
The industrial land between the Downtown core and the Los Angeles River was laid out in the early 1900s. Lot sizes are small and the streets are even smaller. Railroads were the lifeblood of industry, and the grid of buildings and streets was built to support boxcars, not semi-trucks.
While the industrial district has a number of great old buildings, most of them are simply unsuitable for industry today. Low ceilings make manufacturing impossible, and lots lack the loading docks that business demands.
Villaraigosa said today that he wants to see a day when "clean technology is as synonymous with Los Angeles as motion pictures." He hopes to create a "business corridor bringing together researchers, designers and manufacturers from around the world dedicated to sustainable solutions and to creating green-collar jobs."
The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) has been pushing the Mayor's agenda for industrial CleanTech, advertising the agency's twenty acre plot at Santa Fe and Washington as the CleanTech Manufacturing Center, the southern anchor of the proposed corridor.
Discussions that mix the 20-acre site, formerly the Crown Coach school bus factory, and the small plots scattered through the Industrial District do a disservice to the conversation.
The Crown Coach site is an empty parcel of land, able to be shaped into whatever use one might want to put on it. The rest of the land along the river is a maze of tiny parcels and tiny blocks. Assembling large chunks of land is lengthy at best, and often simply infeasible. Infrastructure such as power and communications is also outdated and would need to be updates for more current users.
One would be hard-pressed to find evidence that a cash-strapped city can offer the incentives necessary to get new industry interested in such complicated land. In the meantime, the single-focused push has put a stop to other creative uses that find the funky layouts appealing. While a push for green jobs is nice, stifling potential development isn't.
|April 29th, 2009, 04:47 AM||#64|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Likes (Received): 27
New Solar Panel Milestone: L.A. Metro, Chevron Energy Solutions Unveil Nation's Largest Solar Panel Installation at a Transit Facility
- 1.2 megawatt solar panel system, energy efficiency upgrades expected to cut facility's electricity requirements in half to save $550,000 per year
LOS ANGELES, April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today unveiled a groundbreaking energy efficiency and renewable power project with the installation of the nation's largest solar panel system at a transit facility. It is also the largest solar panel installation within the City of Los Angeles.
The 6,720 individual solar panels at Metro's Support Services Center in downtown Los Angeles - Metro's central maintenance facility for buses - will generate 1.2 megawatt, or 1,200 kilowatts of renewable, emission-free power. Along with other energy-efficient improvements, the project is expected to cut the facility's annual $1.1 million energy bill in half to approximately $550,000. Metro will reduce its purchase of utility power, which is anticipated to reduce carbon emissions by more than 3,700 metric tons, equivalent to planting more than 550 acres of trees and taking more than 600 cars off the road.
"Los Angeles is now one step closer to becoming the solar capital of the United States," said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa. "Today's unveiling of the City's largest solar-powered facility will not only generate clean, renewable energy, but will provide the kinds of green jobs that this economy so desperately needs."
The project is a public/private partnership between Metro and Chevron Energy Solutions. The $16.5 million project will receive about $6.3 million in incentives from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Southern California Gas Co., (SoCalGas), and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The project was financed by Bank of America.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Metro to help it achieve its sustainability goals," said John Mahoney, Chief Operating Officer of Chevron Energy Solutions. "Metro is demonstrating how a transit authority can reduce its energy consumption and use clean, renewable power."
California-based Chevron Energy Solutions, which designed and installed the solar photovoltaic system, will provide long-term oversight of the facility's solar panel array and related new equipment and, in addition, will guarantee the energy savings and the level of energy generated by the solar panel array for the next 10 years.
Other energy conservation measures at the facility include the installation of new Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, compressed air systems, and the replacement of about 4,000 lighting fixtures, all controlled by a state-of-the-art energy management system.
"This is the kind of environmental responsibility we need to see more of in Los Angelees," said L.A. City Councilmember and Metro Director Jose Huizar. "This cleaner running facility tells us that we can and should build greener industries in our city, particularly in areas prone to higher pollutant levels. Today, Metro and its partners are setting a green standard that others need to emulate."
For completing this project, Metro expects to receive incentives of 4.9 million from LADWP, up to $633,000 from Southern California Gas Co. and $807,000 from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. To date, Metro has received $2.6 million in incentives from SoCalGas for its previous installations of solar systems providing 851 kilowatts of electricity.
LADWP provided $4.1 million through its Solar Incentive Program as well as nearly $800,000 in incentives for energy efficiency technologies such as high efficiency air conditioning unit upgrades, installation of a cool roof, lighting efficiency measures, compressed air system upgrades, energy management systems, and others.
"We applaud Metro for helping to lead a clean and green tech revolution in Los Angeles. Metro's solar system and energy efficiency upgrades will lower the city's carbon footprint and increase the amount of clean, renewable energy produced here," said David Nahai, LADWP Chief Executive Officer and General Manager.
"We commend Metro for its leadership in the use of renewable energy and energy-efficient equipment that will help the state meet its greenhouse gas emissions-reduction goals, move us toward energy independence and reduce energy costs," said Hal D. Snyder, Vice President of Customer Solutions at SoCalGas.
The Metro Support Services Center is used for the rebuilding of bus engines, transmissions, and general bus repair. Spanning 27 acres, the 400,000-square-foot facility consists of five separate buildings where highly trained and certified technicians and mechanics keep Metro's bus fleet in all of the agency's 11 operating divisions in top condition.
"Metro's Support Services Center uses a huge amount of electricity every year," said Arthur T. Leahy, Metro CEO. "The facility's use of solar energy sets a real benchmark for Metro to reach its goals of using new technologies to reduce carbon emissions and operating costs."
In 2006, Metro completed a massive solar energy project encompassing 1,648 solar panels at its Metro Bus Divisions 8 and 15 in the San Fernando Valley, and two years later 1,632 solar panels were installed at its Carson bus division.
More recently, Metro's new "ecologically green" San Gabriel Valley Sector office was built to the specifications of a GOLD rating by the leadership in Energy and Enviromental Design (LEED). The San Gabriel building consumes 33 percent less electricity than a conventional building and surpasses the State of California's already strict standards for building energy use by 25 percent and water consumption standards by 50 percent.
Chevron Energy Solutions designs, constructs and operates facility projects, including infrastructure and renewable power systems, that increase energy efficiency, reduce energy costs, and ensure reliable power for public institutions and businesses. Since 2000, Chevron Energy Solutions has developed hundreds of projects involving energy efficiency or renewable power for education, government and business customers in the United States. For more information, visit www.chevronenergy.com.
|May 19th, 2009, 06:20 AM||#65|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Likes (Received): 27
U.S. following California's lead to limit auto emissions
The Obama administration is set to announce guidelines Tuesday that will toughen federal mileage standards. The national policy will mimic California's.
By Jim Tankersley and Richard Simon
From the Los Angeles Times
2:16 PM PDT, May 18, 2009
Reporting from Washington — The federal government, major U.S. automakers and the state of California have reached an agreement that will force cars and trucks across the country to achieve dramatically better gas mileage by 2016, a deal that environmentalists are hailing as a major step to curb global warming.
President Obama will announce the agreement on Tuesday, joined by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others.
The national policy will mimic, with slight modifications, a policy that California officials fought the Bush administration for years to implement, said several sources who requested anonymity when discussing the yet-to-be released details of the agreement.
It will force a 30% reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions of all automobiles sold in the United States by 2016. The policy will toughen existing federal mileage rules with a harmonized standard that automakers and environmentalists have long sought -- and which administration officials have said for months they were working to set.
The agreement is contingent on the Environmental Protection Agency granting California's request to set its own strict emissions limits for vehicles, and on the EPA finalizing a proposed rule that would declare greenhouse gases a public-health danger and subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.
Sources with knowledge of the agreement said that if the EPA takes those steps -- and in concert with the Department of Transportation issues the new vehicle emissions limits -- automakers would drop their lawsuits against California's proposal. California, in turn, would essentially agree to delay its limits, allowing them to begin ramping up for model year 2012, instead of this year.
The sources said the national limits are projected to reduce total U.S. oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels between 2011 and 2016. California would retain its authority to set stricter limits than the federal government after 2016, or it could negotiate a deal with the automakers and the White House.
"This is the biggest single step to curbing global warming," said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, an environmental group. "It's a major step forward in cutting auto emissions, and California blazed the trail."
The California rules do not limit mileage explicitly. But by capping the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists blame for global warming, they would effectively require vehicles to achieve as much as 42 miles per gallon by 2020, according to some estimates.
California first attempted to regulate vehicle emissions in 2002. More than a dozen states have sought to adopt its standards. The Bush administration denied their requests, a decision that Obama ordered the EPA to revisit shortly after taking office.
Obama's EPA also issued a draft ruling last month that declared greenhouse gases pose a danger to public health and are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. The proposal singles out cars and trucks, which comprise about one quarter of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, for regulation.
The EPA began public hearings on the proposal today, the same day that a House committee began debating a major energy bill that includes economy-wide greenhouse gas emission limits.
Administration officials long have said they were drafting a single rule that would unite the greenhouse gas regulations and toughened fuel-economy standards, which Congress approved in 2007. The officials have cast such standards as a key to encouraging the deployment and sale of the fuel-sipping cars that Obama calls the key to the Detroit automakers' recovery -- and key to the international fight against global warming.
In his announcement on federal support for the automakers in March, Obama declared: "I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal: The United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars."
Auto companies and their congressional allies urged Obama to set a national emissions standard instead of allowing a "patchwork" of state laws. California officials agreed, but said they wouldn't settle for any national standards that were weaker than their state's standards.
Several leading Democrats on Capitol Hill welcomed reports of the national emissions limits agreement today.
"This is good news for all of us who have fought long and hard to reduce global warming pollution, create clean energy jobs and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a written statement.
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), an author of the House energy bill who also co-wrote the 2007 bill increasing fuel economy standards, said in a statement that "after years of oil price inflation, policy stagnation and automotive industry litigation, President Obama has solved the energy and economic policy equivalent of a Rubik's Cube."
|May 30th, 2009, 07:12 AM||#66|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Likes (Received): 27
A solar plant that's worth its salt
The mineral is a key part of a Santa Monica firm's proposed alternative energy project in the desert. The technology was proved workable in a pilot project near Barstow in the 1990s.
By Peter Pae
From the Los Angeles Times
May 29, 2009
Just past Barstow on Interstate 15, Las Vegas-bound travelers can eye a tower resembling a lighthouse rising out of the desert encircled by more than 1,800 mirrors the size of billboards.
The complex is often mistaken for a science fiction movie set, but it is actually a power plant that once used molten salt, water and the sun's heat to produce electricity.
Now a storied rocket maker in Canoga Park and a renewable energy company in Santa Monica are hoping to take what they learned at the long-closed desert facility to build a much larger plant that could power 100,000 homes -- all from a mix of sun, salt and rocket science once believed too futuristic to succeed.
The Santa Monica-based energy firm SolarReserve has licensed the technology, developed by engineers at Rocketdyne.
"Molten salt is the secret sauce," said SolarReserve President Terry Murphy.
It is one of at least 80 large solar projects on the drawing board in California, but the molten salt technology is considered one of the more unusual and -- to some energy analysts -- one of the more promising in the latest rush to build clean electricity generation.
"It's actually something we'll likely see in a few years," said Nathaniel Bullard, a solar energy analyst with New Energy Finance in Alexandria, Va. "It's moving along in a nice way, and they have good capital behind it."
SolarReserve, which is financing and marketing the project, said it is working on agreements with several utilities to buy electricity generated from the plant. It hopes to have several announcements in a few months that could help jump-start construction of the first plant, which would probably be on private land in the Southwest, Murphy said.
The company last fall secured $140 million in venture capital.
The plant could begin operating by early 2013. It would use an array of 15,000 heliostats, or large tilting mirrors about 25 feet wide, to direct sunlight to a solar collector atop a 600-foot-tall tower -- somewhat like a lighthouse in reverse.
The mirrors would heat up molten salt flowing through the receiver to more than 1,000 degrees, hot enough to turn water into powerful steam in a device called a heat exchanger. The steam, like that coming out of a nozzle of a boiling tea kettle, would drive a turbine to create electricity.
The molten salt, once cooled, would then be pumped back through the solar collector to start the process all over again. "The plant has no emissions, and if you have a leak or something, you can just shovel it up and take it home with you to use for your barbecue," Murphy said.
The molten salt can be stored for days if not weeks and then used to generate electricity at any time. Many other solar technologies work only when the sun is shining. Storing electricity in a battery works for cars and homes but not on a massive scale that would be needed to power thousands of homes.
"You can put that into a storage tank that would look much like a tank at an oil refinery," Murphy said. "We can store that energy almost indefinitely."
While there are high hopes for the technology, some environmentalists have criticized solar-thermal plants for requiring vast tracts of land as well as precious water for generating steam and for cooling the turbines.
The array of the mirrored heliostats for the SolarReserve plant would take up about two square miles. Transmission lines would also be needed to transport the power where it's needed. With dozens of solar, wind and geothermal projects planned for California's deserts, some fear that this unique habitat will be destroyed.
But SolarReserve officials said that the plant would use one-tenth the amount of water required by a conventional plant and that mirrors will be "benign" to the environment.
The technology, with the exception of using salt, is similar to those that Rocketdyne engineers developed for the nation's more notable space programs.
At the sprawling Canoga Park facility, the engineers who came up with the SolarReserve technology also developed the power system for the International Space Station, the rocket engine for the space shuttle, and the propulsion system for the Apollo lunar module.
Rocketdyne's aerospace heritage stretches back to the earliest years of rocket development, when it was founded shortly after World War II to study German V-2 rocket technology. After becoming part of Rockwell International in the late 1960s, the company was sold to Boeing Co. in 1996.
United Technologies bought the Rocketdyne unit from Boeing for $700 million in 2005 primarily for its expertise in rocket engines. It didn't know about the solar project until after the acquisition.
Now Rocketdyne believes it can generate $1 billion in revenue from making the components for the plant, including the tower that would collect the sun's concentrated heat from thousands of mirrors.
The solar collector in many ways is similar to the inside of a rocket nozzle that has to withstand thousands of degrees of heat, said Rick Howerton, Rocketdyne's program manager for concentrated solar power who previously worked on the space station program.
The solar-thermal technology was proved workable more than a decade ago at the Barstow pilot plant. But the complex was shuttered in 1999 when the cost of natural gas fell to one-tenth of what it is today.
Also there wasn't as much concern for the environment then, Murphy said. "It was ahead of its time. The market hadn't caught up to it."
|June 11th, 2009, 04:18 AM||#68|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Likes (Received): 27
California leading growth in nation's green jobs economy, study finds
In 2007 alone, clean energy spurred the opening of 10,209 businesses with 125,390 jobs in the Golden State, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
By Marc Lifsher
From the Los Angeles Times
5:57 PM PDT, June 10, 2009
Reporting from Sacramento — New "green" jobs sprouted faster than the overall workforce expanded in California and across the nation from 1998 to 2007, according to a study released Wednesday by the PEW Charitable Trusts.
Even in the current economic downturn, investments in venture capital projects such as energy efficiency programs and renewable energy are expected to continue expanding, fueled by billions of dollars in federal economic recovery grants, the research foundation predicted in its "Clean Energy Economy" report.
California led the nation in all categories measured. In 2007 alone, clean energy spurred the opening of 10,209 businesses with 125,390 jobs in the state. Venture capital investments in the Golden State totaled nearly $6.6 billion from 2006 to 2008, about five times greater than investments in runner-up Massachusetts.
"California is a leader in America's clean energy economy and always has been," said Lori Grange, interim deputy director of the foundation's Pew Center on the States.
Green energy investments from 1998 to 2007 generated 15% more jobs than did the California economy overall, according to the Pew report, despite the dot.com bust in the early 2000s and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. During that period, California's clean jobs total rose 7.7% compared with 6.7% for the state's overall job growth.
The pace of green jobs growth was greater proportionately in the rest of the nation, possibly because other states had smaller green sectors to begin with. The number of new environment-related jobs grew 9.1% in the nine-year span ending in 2007 -- 2 1/2 times faster than the U.S. workforce as a whole, the Pew report said.
The new jobs pay anywhere from $21,000 to $111,000 a year for various positions including clerks, construction workers, skilled craftsmen and engineers. Fields that will need more workers include clean energy production, energy efficiency, environmentally friendly manufacturing, and conservation and pollution control.
The expansion of the green jobs economy could continue to pay dividends well into future, according to UC Berkeley researcher David Roland-Holst in another study released earlier this week. Using more wind, solar and other types of renewable electricity could generate as many as 87,000 new jobs in California by 2050, the study said.
Though creating jobs clearly helps the economy, it should not be the sole motivation for boosting spending on green technology, said Severin Borenstein, director of the UC Energy Institute at Berkeley.
"It makes sense investing in the green economy because of the environmental issues and energy issues we face," he said. "A side benefit will be that it also builds jobs."
|June 21st, 2009, 12:36 AM||#69|
City-data mods.. Terrible
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Los Angeles/LA Metro/ OC/Irvine
Likes (Received): 0
Oh Cool good to see La win something!
|July 27th, 2009, 06:49 AM||#70|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Likes (Received): 27
Wildflower reserve concerned about proposed racetrack
Each year, thousands of people behold the state flower at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. A proposed motor sports park nearby has environmentalists, visitors, residents and parks officials nervous.
By Ann M. Simmons
From the Los Angeles Times
July 27, 2009
During peak seasons, the hardened landscape in the desert beyond Lancaster turns into a golden welcome mat for the thousands who come to see the poppy fields.
It's a dizzying spectacle that the state estimates draws upward of 100,000 visitors a year to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. There's a trail, an interpretive center and not much else -- except the sensory experience of viewing the state flower in full bloom.
But the neighborhood could be changing.
An Orange County man who owns 320 acres of Mojave Desert land next to the poppy fields wants to carve out a 3.6-mile course for racing, driving and testing cars. The proposed Fairmont Butte Motorsports Park would be used primarily for events sponsored by car clubs and racing organizations.
But the fact that the track would be only a mile from the state-protected reserve has alarmed environmentalists, residents, visitors and state parks officials, who fear the loss of serenity and vast stretches of land where wildflowers frequently grow.
"It's a terribly inappropriate business for that area," said Milt Stark, president of the Poppy Reserve/Mojave Desert Interpretive Assn., a volunteer group that gives tours and talks at the wildflower sanctuary.
"Visitors who come to see the poppies come out there to have peace and quiet."
Tom Malloy sees it differently. For the last seven years he has been trying to win approval to develop a motor sports park on his land, which is near the tiny community of Fairmont. The land is vacant, used primarily by trespassers who are looking for a place to race motorcycles or shoot guns.
"I feel the racetrack, run the way I want it run, would be an asset to the area," said Malloy, who owns a Los Angeles-based shoring equipment firm.
The racetrack would operate only during the daytime, Malloy said, and there would be no grandstand or large seating area, allowing for only a few spectators. He doesn't anticipate a throng of racing enthusiasts pouring into the area.
But according to a draft environmental impact report filed with Los Angeles County earlier this month, the park could expose nearby residents to dust during construction and excessive noise once it is up and running. It could also adversely affect the area's wildlife, which includes lizards, badgers and burrowing owls.
Most upsetting for flora and fauna lovers, the proposed racetrack would result in the loss of almost 140 acres within the project site, where seasonal wildflowers such as poppies, California buckwheat scrub and purple needle grass typically grow.
Though mitigation measures have been suggested to help reduce the dust, muffle the noise and decrease the risk of harm to wildlife, "no feasible measures exist" to prevent to loss of the wildflower fields, according to the impact report. The effects would be "significant and unavoidable."
Kathy Weatherman, a state parks superintendent in the Tehachapi area, said that in 2005 her agency sent a notice to the county's planning department outlining concerns about the proximity of the proposed track to the 1,800-acre reserve.
The southern portion of the project site falls within the boundaries of a county-designated "significant ecological area," a designation meant to protect the habitat of rare, endangered or threatened plants or animals.
Malloy contends that his venture will actually help the area. If given the go-ahead, he said, he would clean up the spent bullet casings that now litter much of the site, along with the trash and used household items that have been dumped there.
Trespassing motorcycle enthusiasts, whose bootleg racing sessions have transformed vegetation-ripe soil into bare dirt, would have to "go someplace else," he said.
Stark and others said the racetrack probably would attract more bikers and "people who are interested in that kind of thing."
Dean Webb, a local environmental activist and an Antelope Valley resident since 1960, said people driving on California 138 will be drawn to the track, bringing traffic and a stream of off-roaders.
"I hate to put it this way, but it would be, 'There goes the neighborhood,' " Stark said.
Not only the neighborhood, but the entire ambience of the community, said Mike Powell, who volunteers at the reserve. He worries that if Malloy gets approval, other enterprises will ask to set up shop nearby.
"That project represents the start of a significant threat to the kind of lifestyle and environment that many people moved out here for," Powell said.
The tranquillity and stark landscape are what compelled Northridge resident Linda Wang to visit the poppy reserve one recent season. She couldn't envision having a motor sports park nearby.
"I think it would be a little weird," she said.
|October 25th, 2009, 04:47 AM||#71|
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Friday, Oct. 23, 2009
Despite Its Woes, California's Dream Still Lives
By Michael Grunwald
California, you may have heard, is an apocalyptic mess of raging wildfires, soaring unemployment, mass foreclosures and political paralysis. It's dysfunctional. It's ungovernable. Its bond rating is barely above junk. It's so broke, it had to hand out IOUs while its leaders debated how many prisoners to release and parks to close. Nevada aired ads mocking California's business climate to lure its entrepreneurs. The media portray California as a noir fantasyland of overcrowded schools, perpetual droughts, celebrity breakdowns, illegal immigration, hellish congestion and general malaise, captured in headlines like "Meltdown on the Ocean" and "California's Wipeout Economy" and "Will California Become America's First Failed State?" (See pictures of the clean-up after California wildfires.)
Actually, it won't.
Ignore the California whinery. It's still a dream state. In fact, the pioneering megastate that gave us microchips, freeways, blue jeans, tax revolts, extreme sports, energy efficiency, health clubs, Google searches, Craigslist, iPhones and the Hollywood vision of success is still the cutting edge of the American future — economically, environmentally, demographically, culturally and maybe politically. It's the greenest and most diverse state, the most globalized in general and most Asia-oriented in particular at a time when the world is heading in all those directions. It's also an unparalleled engine of innovation, the mecca of high tech, biotech and now clean tech. In 2008, California's wipeout economy attracted more venture capital than the rest of the nation combined. Somehow its supposedly hostile business climate has nurtured Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, Twitter, Disney, Cisco, Intel, eBay, YouTube, MySpace, the Gap and countless other companies that drive the way we live. (See pictures of California First Lady Maria Shriver.)
"Whenever we have a problem, everyone makes a big drama — 'Oh, my God, it's the end. California is over,'" Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told me. "It's all bogus." Schwarzenegger likes spin and drama too — he's issued warnings about a "financial Armageddon" — and he literally blew smoke in my eyes while we spoke. But his belief in the anything-is-possible dream of California is more than spin; he is, after all, its ultimate embodiment. (See how marijuana is taxed in California.)
California, to borrow a phrase, will be back. It's been stuck in an awful recession — not quite as awful as Nevada's — but it's getting unstuck. It's made nasty cuts to close ugly deficits, but it hasn't had to release prisoners or close parks, and its IOUs are being paid. Its businesses aren't fleeing to Nevada or anywhere else; Jed Kolko, an economist at the Public Policy Institute of California, has shown that fewer than one-tenth of 1% of its jobs leave the state each year. Even California's real problems tend to get magnified by its size. If it were a country, it would be in the G-8. So, yes, California has the most foreclosures and layoffs. With 38 million residents and a $1.8 trillion economy, it also has by far the most homes and jobs. (See pictures of California modernist homes.)
It can be perilous to generalize about a place this gigantic, an overwhelmingly metropolitan state that leads the nation in agricultural production, a majority-minority state with a white-majority electorate. There are real differences between (crunchy, techy) Northern and (hipster, surfer) Southern California, and especially (richer, denser, bluer) coastal and (poorer, sparser, redder) inland California. But one generalization has held true from the Gold Rush to the human-potential movement to the dotcom boom: California stands for change, for disruption of the status quo. "California is not another American state," concluded Carey McWilliams in his 1949 history California: The Great Exception. "It is a revolution within the states."
Today, it's still the home of the new new thing. It is electric-vehicle start-ups like Tesla, Fisker and Better Place taking on the Big Three, or the local-organic foodies behind California cuisine going after Big Ag. It's Kaiser Permanente, the HMO whose model of salaried doctors in group practice may be the future of health care, or the University of California at Irvine's law school, which opened this semester with free tuition and was instantly more selective than Harvard or Yale. It's SpaceX, the private rocket-launching company, or Kogi, the Korean taco truck that announces its location over Twitter to flash mobs of Angelenos. "The beauty of California is the idea that you can reinvent yourself and do something totally creative," says Kogi's Roy Choi, a former chef at the Beverly Hilton. "It's still the Wild West that way."
California is a state of early adopters — not only in fashion, technology and design but in politics too. Its voters approved huge bonds for stem-cell research, high-speed rail and repairs to aging infrastructure while Washington was dragging its feet; its politicians adopted first-in-the-nation greenhouse-gas regulations, green building codes and efficiency standards for automobiles and appliances that have rearranged the national energy debate. Yes, it was also an early adopter of subprime mortgages — Countrywide, Golden West and IndyMac were all California-based — but life on the frontier has always been risky. "This is the most dynamic place for change on earth," genomic pioneer J. Craig Venter said on a recent tour of his San Diego labs, where researchers are studying ways to convert algae into oil, coal into natural gas and human wastewater into electricity. "That's why we're here." Dressed in shorts, flip-flops and a crazy-loud floral shirt on a typically perfect day, Venter noted that California's quality of life isn't bad either: "It is pretty nice not to have to wear pants."
California has long inspired its own premature obituaries. The 1855 book The Land of Gold dismissed it as "lawless, penniless and powerless." TIME published a woe-is-California issue called "The Endangered Dream" in 1991 after the aerospace industry collapsed. But even with 12% unemployment, California still has an enviably young and productive workforce. And it's still a magnet for dice-rolling dreamers who want to start anew, make money and change the world, with or without pants. "I see my own pattern repeated again and again — people who want to invent the future and aren't afraid to fail," says billionaire Silicon Valley financier Vinod Khosla, an Indian immigrant who helped found Sun Microsystems and recently unveiled a $1.1 billion venture fund for investments in clean technology.
Which just happens to be the next California gold rush.
The New Gold Rush
Tom Dinwoodie is standing on a roof, staring at the future. The roof covers Richmond's grand "daylight factory" overlooking San Francisco Bay, where Ford built Model A's before World War II and then the iconic Rosie the Riveter built jeeps and tanks during the war. Now SunPower Corp. uses it to assemble the world's most efficient solar panels, including a sleek array on its roof. That's where Dinwoodie, SunPower's chief technology officer, likes to go to look across the bay at a collection of hulking tanks in which Chevron stores fossil fuels. If we don't stop global warming, he says, that water will rise. But if solar and other renewables keep growing as fast as they are in California, "we'll turn those tanks into hot tubs."
If you think solar is an eco-fantasy, you probably don't live in California, where rooftop installations have doubled for two years in a row, to 50,000, heading to the state goal of 1 million by 2017. The San Francisco utility Pacific Gas & Electric, which recently bolted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over climate policy, has 40% of the nation's solar roofs in its territory. SunPower now has more than 5,000 employees. It's building massive power plants for utilities, as well as roof panels for big-box stores, complete subdivisions and individual homes. Prices are plummeting, and competition is fierce, most of it from California firms like BrightSource, Solar City, eSolar, Nanosolar and Solyndra. "The scramble is on, and California is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the country," says Dinwoodie. "That's true of all energy issues." (Read a 2003 profile of Arnold Schwarzenegger.)
When it comes to energy, California is not just ahead of the game; it's playing a different game. Its carbon emissions per capita are less than half the U.S. average. And from 2006 to '08, it attracted $3 of every $5 invested in U.S. clean tech — five times as much as the No. 2 state. It's by far the national leader in green jobs, green patents, supply from renewables and savings from efficiency. It's also leading the way toward electric cars, zero-emission homes, advanced biofuels and a smarter grid: its electric utilities plan to install smart meters in every California home. It's even launched a belated battle against car-dependent sprawl, with unprecedented rules forcing communities to consider carbon emissions in their land-use plans.
California has been preparing for its clean-energy future for a long time. Starting in the energy crisis of the 1970s, California revamped its electricity markets so that utilities could make more money by helping their customers use less power. It also began enacting groundbreaking efficiency standards for buildings, appliances, pool heaters and almost anything else that needs juice. It just proposed the first standards for flat-screen TVs. As a result, per capita energy use has remained stable in California while soaring 50% nationwide, saving Californians an estimated $56 billion and avoiding the need for 24 new gas-fired power plants. On the supply side, the state has required utilities to provide one-fifth of their power from renewables by 2010, which will jump to one-third by 2020. And California's soup-to-nuts effort to slash emissions — including a cap-and-trade regimen in 2012 — is the blueprint for federal climate legislation. (Download a PDF on California's industries, labs and technologies.)
This public-sector foresight has created alluring opportunities for the most tech-savvy private sector on earth. The venture capitalists behind the high-tech and biotech booms see clean tech as the next big score. The necessary engineers, scientists, accountants, lawyers, marketers and other knowledge workers are already there. "We've already turned industries on their heads, so we assume we can do it again," says Steve Dolezalek, VantagePoint Venture Partners' managing director, who oversaw the firm's software and life-sciences investments before heading its clean-tech group.
The lines between sectors are blurring fast. As its name suggests, eSolar is essentially a software play; its added value is advanced code that positions vast arrays of mirrors to the millimeter to maximize their exposure to sunlight. The company was spawned by IdeaLab, a Pasadena incubator that developed NetZero, Picasa, pay-per-click ads and online car-selling. "We only do ideas that challenge the status quo, and California is the only place we'd do it," says CEO Bill Gross. (See pictures of San Francisco.)
Chip-industry veterans are also drifting into solar, as well as LED lighting and green materials, while Cisco, which made the guts of the Internet, is pivoting to make the guts of the digitized grid. San Diego's cluster of more than 500 biotech companies is now the world capital of algae-to-fuel experiments, including a new $600 million joint venture between ExxonMobil and Venter's Synthetic Genomics. Khosla's investments include Calera, a carbon-capturing-cement start-up founded by a Stanford expert in medical cement; Amyris, which has Berkeley malaria researchers working to turn sugar into diesel; and Soladigm, which exploits semiconductor-industry expertise to make energy-efficient windows.
California scores poorly in most "business friendly" ratings, which tend to focus on tax rates and wage levels rather than on, say, worker productivity or creativity. And the state has more than its share of no-no-no types protesting nanotechnology, synthetic biology and even some SunPower solar-energy projects, which could possibly imperil kangaroo rats and fairy shrimp. But the state's business culture fetishizes long-shot ventures and game-changing ideas. Failure is appreciated, not stigmatized, and an entrepreneur without a few busted start-ups on his re'sume' is almost suspect. (See TIME's City Guide: Los Angeles.)
Guido Jouret, who oversees Cisco's emerging technologies, explained this creative destruction when we talked over TelePresence, an ultra-high-definition substitute for the hassle, expense and carbon footprint of business travel. We were 3,000 miles (4,800 km) apart, but I kept forgetting we weren't at the same conference table. One of Steven Spielberg's cinematographers helped Cisco get the illusion of intimacy just right. "California has a very welcoming attitude, but it's a Darwinian society," Jouret said. "Companies come and grow and die, and no one sheds a tear. And there's a real sense that it isn't worth doing if it won't change the world."
California's high-tech community has concluded en masse that the next Google guys are going to be the visionaries who figure out how to harness the sun, build a battery to store the wind or engineer the renewable fuel that won't compete with the food supply. (It could be the actual Google guys, who have launched an aggressive clean-energy initiative.) "Inventing a better gadget isn't enough anymore. We're trying to reshape the way people live," says SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive, a South African who went to California for the world underwater-hockey championships, got caught up in the Internet boom and never left. He built and sold an IT-support company; now he's reshaping its software to monitor solar panels.
The State of Progress
So why all the end-is-nighism? Schwarzenegger thinks California gets slagged nationwide for the same reason the U.S. gets slagged worldwide: it's natural to resent the big kahuna. (He should know; his approval rating has dipped below 30%.) In a poolside interview after hosting a global climate summit in Century City, he suggested that outsiders envy California's immense resources — beaches, mountains and redwoods; Hollywood, Napa and Disneyland; the best in stem-cell research, fruits and vegetables, entertainment and fashion. (He was sporting a suit with a zebra-print lining.) "We're all about the cutting edge," he said. "I mean, come on. California is wild!" He's right about the schadenfreude, and it was fun to hear him say the word. It is easy to gloat when the cool jock with the hot girlfriend wrecks his sweet car, especially if he seems kind of smug. I was reminded of this during Rob Lowe's talk at the summit, when he declared that everyone has an obligation to join the fight against global warming, then continued, "For my part, I'll be doing The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
Then again, California has legitimate problems that inspire legitimate criticism: gangs, sprawl, disturbing dropout rates, water shortages that don't seem to stop farmers from irrigating rice and cotton in the desert, the crazymaking traffic that Hollywood immortalized in Falling Down. It's still sitting on a fault line. Its expensive housing, even after the real estate crash, poses a real obstacle to the dream of upward mobility. So do its public schools and other public services, which have been deteriorating for years — in part because older white voters have been reluctant to subsidize younger minorities. (Watch TIME's 10 Questions video with Nancy Pelosi.)
This gets to the one area where California really is dysfunctional: its budget. Californians generally enjoy government spending more than they enjoy paying for it, which is a national problem, but they've also straitjacketed their politicians with scads of lobbyist-produced ballot initiatives locking in huge outlays for various goodies, as well as the notorious Proposition 13, which has severely restricted local property taxes since 1978. California is also one of only three states that need a two-thirds supermajority to pass a budget or raise taxes, a virtual impossibility in its ultra-partisan legislature. So it relies on a boom-and-bust tax base that even many liberals admit is overreliant on the rich. The state's economy actually grew last year, but its revenues crashed because its top earners had lower incomes and capital gains. That meant sharp cutbacks, especially in education, which in California is unusually dependent on state cash. "We have an incredibly dynamic economy, but we'll still end up in federal receivership if our government can't pay its bills," says historian Kevin Starr, a prolific chronicler of the state.
Fortunately, help may be on the way. Nonpartisan groups like Repair California and California Forward have built momentum for sweeping reforms that could stop the unsustainable chaos — including an end to the two-thirds rule, limits on ballot initiatives and a new system of taxation. Schwarzenegger is pushing for a gargantuan water-sharing agreement that could help prevent the state from running dry. And his potential successors are also formidable go-getters with forward-thinking credentials — including former governor and current attorney general Jerry Brown, golden-boy San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Brown, the early front runner, was widely mocked as Governor Moonbeam back in the 1970s, but some of his ideas — including energy efficiency, as well as the emergency-communications satellite that inspired his nickname — no longer seem so flaky. (Download a PDF on California's industries, labs and technologies.)
But the krazy-Kalifornia criticism is likely to continue regardless of the facts on the ground — not just because of envy, but because of ideology as well. The collapse of the Golden State provides an irresistible parable for hippie-lefty vegan politics, the failure of a quasi-Scandinavian progressive experiment symbolized by MoveOn.org, Daily Kos and the Sierra Club; yoga, crystals and medical marijuana; "Hollywood values" and "San Francisco values." California has a tradition of activist government, and public support for the University of California, federal energy labs and the military-aerospace-industrial complex played a huge role in creating Silicon Valley, San Diego's biotech cluster and the state's other private-sector centers of innovation. So it's been a juicy target for right-wingers who consider Schwarzenegger a squishy sellout. If a low-carbon, Big Government, change-obsessed state with high taxes on the wealthy, draconian environmental regulations, a porous border and the nation's most vibrant labor movement were imploding, what would that say about the age of Obama?
Then again, the home state of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has been a conservative trendsetter as well, leading the backlash against taxes, affirmative action and illegal aliens and enacting the first three-strikes law against career criminals. Its economy is much closer than the nation's to a true model of free-enterprise capitalism, in which government sets rules and enforces a level playing field but declines to pick winners. And what could be more Californian than the conservative megapastor Rick Warren urging his multimedia flock to make a fresh start with a forgiving God? "A clean slate is possible!" he wrote in his best seller God's Power to Change Your Life. "It's a lot like my son's Etch A Sketch."
In any case, California is not imploding, which ought to be heartening to Americans regardless of ideology or geography. Because America is essentially the land of the Etch A Sketch, and California is America but more so, beckoning dreamers who want to cook Korean tacos or convert fuel tanks into hot tubs. It's progressive more in the literal than in the political sense of the word. And it's where America is going: a greener, more advanced and more global economy; a browner and more metropolitan population; and, yes, some staggering debts and other governance problems that need to be resolved. It's expensive and crowded — because people still want to be there! — and it's recovering from an economic earthquake. But it continues to have a powerful claim on the future. "In the depths of the breakdown, you can see the next narrative," says Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution's metropolitan-policy program. "It's California. The next economy is already in place there, and it's amazing."
|October 25th, 2009, 06:13 AM||#72|
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I thought that VZN had posted this already in the Economy thread.
'Los Angeles is raw, uncouth and bizarre, but it's a place of substance. It has more new horizons than any other place." - Werner Herzog
|November 18th, 2009, 08:11 AM||#74|
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Irvine Unified approves ambitious solar plan
By SEAN EMERY
The Orange County Register
IRVINE – School leaders on Tuesday agreed to partner with Sun Edison for an ambitious plan to install solar panels at nearly two-dozen Irvine Unified campuses, potentially saving millions in energy costs.
Irvine Unified trustees unanimously agreed to lease portions of district property to Sun Edison, which will construct and maintain the solar systems and sell energy to the district. Irvine Unified staffers say the program could save up to $17 million in energy costs over the next two decades.
Irvine Unified staffers described the plan as the largest public school solar installation effort in California.
The effort will begin with construction of solar panels at Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, before eventually expanding to 20 additional campuses and district properties.
Sun Edison will build and run the solar systems at their own expense.
In return, the company will take advantage of tax credits the school district isn't eligible for.
Along with providing renewable and clean energy, the agreement also allows schools to purchase energy at predictable costs, Irvine Unified officials said.
It will also allow district staffers and students to see continuous energy usage updates online.
"I think the students are going to get a huge kick out of this," school board member Mike Parham said. "For them to see these graphs at their own school site. ... It gives them ownership of it."
|January 26th, 2010, 06:51 AM||#75|
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Environmental groups try to block parts of California's green building code
The Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council are among six groups waging a last-minute campaign to derail some of the rules, saying they aren't tough enough.
By Margot Roosevelt
The Los Angeles Times
January 11, 2010
Environmental groups are mounting a last-ditch effort to derail key elements of the state's first-in-the-nation green building code -- a major initiative of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration.
The proposed code, likely to be adopted Tuesday, would slash water use, mandate the recycling of construction waste, cut back on polluting materials and step up enforcement of energy efficiency in new homes, schools, hospitals and commercial buildings statewide.
"It is going to change the whole fabric of how buildings are built by integrating green practices into our everyday building code," said David Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission. "The rest of the nation will be looking at what we have done."
But critics say the rules fall short of rigorous standards adopted by Los Angeles, San Francisco and more than 50 California jurisdictions in league with the U.S. Green Building Council, a national nonprofit group of architects, engineers and construction companies.
The council's voluntary Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards have become an industry norm in recent years, with architects and construction firms competing on four levels -- LEED basic, silver, gold or platinum -- to market their buildings as green.
In 2004, Schwarzenegger ordered that all new state buildings meet at least a LEED silver level.
But parts of the state's new code, which would take effect in January 2011, would amount to "a setback for California's leadership on green building," according to a Dec. 22 letter from six groups. They included the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Global Green, along with two nonprofit certification groups, the Green Building Council and Berkeley-based Build It Green.
The groups largely applaud the code's mandatory rules as a baseline minimum standard.
But they take issue with its two-tier labeling system for stricter voluntary measures, CalGreen, saying it would be open to conflicting interpretations and be unenforceable by local building inspectors.
"The tiers cause confusion in the marketplace and the potential for builders to label their buildings green without substantiating their claims," said Elizabeth Echols, director of the Green Building Council's Northern California chapter. Many local officials who would be responsible for verifying builder claims do not have the technical expertise that LEED and other third-party verifiers provide, she added.
More than 200 architects, engineers and builders have e-mailed Schwarznegger in the last three days to oppose the CalGreen label.
"The last thing we need is a new government rating system," said Phil Williams, vice president of Webcor, the state's biggest contractor.
But Dan Pellissier, a deputy cabinet official who met with critics last week, alleged that the Green Building Council is leading opposition to CalGreen because it does not want competition to its own private-sector LEED brand.
Meanwhile, many builders want an alternative to LEED. "The cost for owners to go through this rating system is astronomical -- in a very challenging commercial real estate market," contended Sandra Boyle, an executive vice president of Glenborough, a San Mateo developer.
Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, said the building commission had tightened its proposal based on the board's requests, but she acknowledged it might not be as rigorous as third-party systems.
Still, she added, "it is a heck of a lot better than anything we have now."
The new code would require developers to slash water use in their buildings by 20%, using more efficient toilets, shower heads and faucets.
The code would divert half of all construction waste away from landfills by requiring recycling. And it would allow buildings to be occupied only after strict energy standards were verified.
|May 2nd, 2010, 05:58 AM||#76|
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Chinese Automaker to Roll Into L.A.
By Deborah Crowe
Los Angeles Business Journal
Friday, April 30, 2010
State and local officials announced Friday that Chinese hybrid electric automaker BYD Co. will open its U.S. headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
China’s fourth-largest automaker expects to create at least 150 jobs here by 2011 as it rolls out its fleet of vehicles to California markets first before expanding throughout the country.
“By bringing global alternative energy companies to Los Angeles, we are securing our future and building the foundation for an emerging industry that will attract good paying, green collar jobs for generations of Angelenos,” said Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa during a City Hall press conference that included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa’s new jobs czar, Austin Beutner, who negotiated the deal.
BYD plans to move into 1800 South Figueroa in the Downtown Business Improvement District during the fourth quarter. In addition to corporate headquarters, the building will house the company’s research & development arm, which will develop versions of their popular vehicles now selling in China for the U.S. consumer market.
“Installing a U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles well prepares us for distribution of our product throughout the United States and sets the stage for release our all-electric crossover vehicle, the e6,” said Chairman Wang Chuan-fu in a statement.
BYD, founded in 1995, was known for making cell phone batteries, but expanded into automobiles in 2003 and debuted China’s first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle n 2008.
"BYD's decision to set up shop in the U.S. is no surprise -- the company said long ago that it wanted to have a presence here,” said John O'Dell, senior editor for Edmunds' GreenCarAdvisor.com. "It also should serve as yet another wake-up call for U.S. automakers - China expects to be the world leader in EV production and is going to aggressively market its electric-drive vehicles around the globe.”
The Business Journal last month reported that city and county officials had been wooing BYD for several months. Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich met with BYD executives both in China and Los Angeles.
“It would be a tremendous boost to our economy and economic growth and prosperity,” Tony Bell, spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, said at the time.
|May 11th, 2010, 04:34 AM||#77|
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South Coast Plaza unveils networked car-charging stations
May 10th, 2010, 2:45 pm
posted by Matt Degen
The Orange County Register
South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa has installed high-tech electric-vehicle charging stations that will do a lot more than just juice up your car while you get your shopping fix.
The charging stations, by Coulomb Technologies, are actually networked, meaning their high-tech wizardly can do things like send you a text message when your car is fully charged, or enable you to find a station via Google maps on a cell phone.
South Coast Plaza says it is the first shopping center in the nation to be using this technology, and it joins other green efforts at the site such as a waste-water disposal program and the use of drought-tolerant plants.
The stations, which are free to use, are located in the lower-level parking structure by the Crate & Barrel Home Store at 3333 Bear St.
At present there are just two stations available, but that number has the potential for much growth as mainstream electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf come to market as early as this year.
Ed Begley Jr., co-star of the Planet Green series “Living With Ed,” took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the charging stations April 24 along with local officials.
Begley himself drove his plug-in Toyota RAV4 to the event, but the vehicle’s plug in was not compatible with the new charging systems.
The new systems will, however, be suitable for the new and coming crop of electric vehicles.
According to a South Coast Plaza spokeswoman, the charging stations are already influencing shoppers.
“A Tesla owner from Anaheim Hills came to the ribbon cutting,” said Beverly Morgan, “and she said now that the stations are installed, she will start shopping here.”
|May 24th, 2010, 06:04 AM||#78|
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Proposed CleanTech Corridor in downtown L.A. gets boost
Land use experts from the Urban Land Institute issue recommendations for the area envisioned as a hot spot for environmentally sustainable companies.
By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times
May 22, 2010
The four-mile stretch of land adjacent to the Los Angeles River in the city's downtown is rife with deteriorating buildings, crumbling sidewalks and potholed streets.
But a cleanup crew and the presence of creative, green-minded businesses could freshen up the strip and help transform it into a major clean technology district, a panel of land use experts said Friday.
The city's much-touted plan to turn the dilapidating industrial area into the proposed CleanTech Corridor got a boost when 10 land use and real estate professionals from the nonprofit Urban Land Institute unveiled their recommendations for revitalizing the area.
The panel said the city needed to spruce up the "underperforming" area by scaling back manufacturing activity while recruiting smaller start-up companies.
The section is being envisioned as a clean-tech incubator and industrial park that would draw jobs to the city, burnishing its profile as a hot spot for environmentally sustainable companies.
But the ambitious project has hit some rough patches ¡X organizers originally hoped to see a CleanTech Manufacturing Center anchoring the south end of the strip this year or next. A push from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office last year to secure Italian rail manufacturer AnsaldoBreda as a tenant fell through.
The volunteer panel, sponsored by the city Community Redevelopment Agency and the L.A. Department of Water and Power, spent five days in Los Angeles touring the area.
The strip, they concluded, could someday model itself after the SoMa quarter of San Francisco or the Pearl District in Portland, Ore. ¡X both areas that were known as decaying warehouse and industrial centers before being revamped with artsy, cutting-edge businesses.
The land institute group focused on the middle portion of a corridor that stretches roughly four miles long and one mile wide along the river and east of Alameda Street. More than a quarter of the jobs in the area are in manufacturing, and most residents are renters whose median income is $17,769, nearly $30,000 below the city's median.
The neighborhood also has problems with lax garbage removal and illegal parking, panelists reported.
But the area, with its historic, multi-use buildings and its concentration of small companies, is attractive to high-tech firms, the panelists said. The city also could draw young entrepreneurs and creative companies by publicizing Los Angeles' urban lifestyle and its proximity to universities, Asian and Mexican markets, and the garment and crafts districts.
Innovators and boutiques that can make prototypes and custom goods such as Pixar Animation Studios and West Coast Choppers fit the bill, the panel said. So do a solar firm, electric-car manufacturers and even a garment recycling business that have already expressed interest.
Panelists also proposed an extended Metro system to boost access to the area, with three new stations and an outdoor art park near the river. Railways would be moved underground and greenery would be planted.
Buildings, panelists said, could embody eco-friendly ideals with rooftop gardens full of native plants, storm water recycling systems and alternative energy generators.
City officials also plan to offer employment and investment tax credits, permit expediting assistance, workforce recruitment and training, utility rebates and other financial incentives.
"To delay may mean that others cherry-pick on our target," said panelist Sharon E. Pandak, an attorney from Virginia. "L.A. can benefit by getting there first."
|September 6th, 2010, 12:26 AM||#79|
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|November 27th, 2010, 07:44 AM||#80|
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