Monthly Archives: May 2010

LA Spars Over Green Energy

City officials and Los Angeles’s power company are sparring over big increases in electricity rates that the utility says it needs to pay for a push into renewable energy.

So far, the city council is balking at the requests. But both sides agree the utility will need more revenue, making some substantial increases likely later this year.

Los Angeles’s case could serve as a warning to officials in other cities and states who are also trying to change the energy mix of local utilities, substituting more power from renewable sources, such as wind and sun, for power from coal- or gas-burning plants.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the nation’s largest municipal utility, says it needs to collect significantly more money to manage costs associated with an ambitious plan to get more electricity from renewable resources and less from coal.

The utility currently gets about half of its power from coal, an unusually large amount for a utility in California, a state with no significant coal deposits.

The city’s goal is to get 20% of its electricity from green sources by the end of the year, which it is on track to achieve. It hopes to raise that to 35% to 40% by 2020.

Renewable power from sources such as wind turbines and solar farms, however, is considerably more costly than the coal-based electricity it replaces.

The city council had authorized the utility to raise rates 5%, or 0.6 cents a kilowatt hour, on April 1. That plan dissolved Thursday, when the utility’s board instead moved to impose an increase of about 5.7% and was halted by the city council, postponing any action for three months.

Jan Perry, a city council member who is chairwoman of an energy subcommittee, said the appointed utility board “overplayed its hand” in thinking it could ignore the wishes of the city’s elected officials.

Other council members accused the utility of extortion for threatening to withhold a $73 million payment to the city, which is running a deep deficit, until the department gets a satisfactory rate increase.

A looming revenue shortfall at the Los Angeles utility prompted its board last month to demand a double-digit increase of 2.7 cents a kilowatt hour this year, broken into several increases.

The budget crunch stems from lingering effects of high fuel costs two years ago and, more recently, increased purchases of renewable energy. The utility has been unable to charge customers the full amount of its rising costs because the city council has capped rates.

“The utility needs to raise rates. The mayor’s main concern is to make sure the citizens get something back for it, like cleaner energy and green jobs,” said Sarah Hamilton, press secretary for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Many businesses oppose rate increases in a weak economy. On Tuesday, the city council heard objections from residents and business owners. A representative of brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, for example, indicated the rate increase could cost it up to $2 million a year.

Others said the city’s goal to generate green jobs was undercut by high electricity prices that would drive businesses from the city.

“We’re going to lose a lot of jobs,” warned Councilman Greig Smith. “And this proposal doesn’t shut down a single coal plant.”

New Mexico’s green energy future

What if there was a way to create thousands of sustainable, well-paying jobs in New Mexico without any cost to taxpayers? What if New Mexico could position itself as the country’s leading provider of clean, renewable energy? And what if someone trying to represent hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans in Congress opposed these developments? That is exactly what Steve Pearce is doing, and that’s why he’d be a poor choice for the Second District in 2011.

Climate change has become a central issue in the campaign between Harry Teague and Steve Pearce. Indeed, it was only after Teague voted for the House’s sweeping climate change legislation last June that Pearce, who had been mulling a bid for governor, decided to try to reclaim his old seat in Congress. Now, Pearce is using Teague’s vote for the House bill, which would establish a cap-and-trade system to regulate carbon emissions, as ammo in his quest to portray the first-term Democrat as out of touch with the needs of southern New Mexicans.

But Pearce’s argument lacks both validity and vision. The accusation that the House bill, also known as Waxman-Markey, would eliminate oil jobs for New Mexicans is unfounded for two reasons. First, Congressman Teague, much to the chagrin of some progressive voters who actually studied the bill, secured a deal with Democratic leadership in which oil producers would not be taxed at the wellhead, where most southern New Mexican oilmen make their money.

Second, alternative energy is actually a better job creator than fossil fuels. According to the New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD), green job production in New Mexico grew by 50 percent between 1998 and 2007, more than 25 times the pace of overall job growth, which expanded by a sluggish 1.9 percent. The EDD also reports that each $1 million invested in clean energy and energy efficiency will create 16.7 jobs compared with only 5.3 if the money were invested in oil and gas. Finally, the department, citing studies conducted by the American Solar Energy Society, claims that investment in green energy could create 236,800 jobs for New Mexicans by 2030.

And these numbers only scratch the surface. New Mexico has perhaps the most dynamic renewable energy resources of any state. According to the Energy Atlas, an online repository for national energy statistics, the Land of Enchantment boasts the country’s second highest solar energy production potential, the seventh highest for geothermal energy, and the 12th highest for wind.

Yet Pearce continues to mislead voters. In an interview with the Artesia Daily Press last August, Pearce said “We should be encouraging the domestic production of energy, and Waxman-Markey is going to discourage it. So, the whole thing is wrong. In other words, it’s going to make us more dependent on foreign oil; not less dependent.” Really? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a non-partisan analytical office within the Department of Energy, Waxman-Markey would cut U.S. foreign oil consumption by $650 billion between now and 2030, yield savings of $6,500 per American household, and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 20 percent by 2025. The climate change legislation Teague voted for would do a lot of things, but increase the United States’ dependence on foreign oil isn’t one of them.

New Mexico won’t capitalize on its potential to serve as a leader in the green economy without tough, smart public policy. Waxman-Markey provides the impetus by incentivizing investments in green energy production. Moreover, by capping carbon emissions, the legislation forces businesses to shift into cleaner, renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, industries in which New Mexico has the ability to lead. New production on the domestic front would also serve to limit U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Rather than putting New Mexico on the defensive, Waxman-Markey places the ball firmly in New Mexico’s court. Teague seems to understand this. He voted for climate change legislation because it places a premium on the resources that New Mexico naturally holds in abundance.

Southern New Mexico currently faces staggering levels of unemployment. Voters want bold, innovative leaders who will design and support policies that send them back to work. Yet, Steve Pearce continues to use scare tactics to mislead southern New Mexicans on the true economic implications of climate change legislation.

Should such tactics surprise us? Perhaps not. After all, how much can we really expect from someone who has based their entire energy policy on a three-word talking point? “Drill baby, drill!” is a sound bite, not a solution.

 

Wind Energy Experts Blow Into Ames

Experts in wind energy are gathering in Ames this week to talk about the future of their industry.Wind energy production made up 40 percent of all the new energy generated in the U.S. last year, but experts said there are challenges ahead if the industry wants to continue that growth. All renewable energy sources combined, including wind, are less than 5 percent of U.S. energy sources.”We added 35 new manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and we didn’t lose a single job, in fact we added new jobs,” aid Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.Bode and other experts are attending two conferences in Ames this week that focus on wind energy. The first was hosted by the Iowa Alliance for Wind Innovation and Novel Development. The second conference will be hosted by the Iowa Wind Energy Association and started Tuesday afternoon.Many of the experts said they consider Iowa to be a leader in wind energy. They said it’s more than just the growth of wind farms in the state; it’s also the state’s investment in incentives to draw green companies here.”You lead manufacturing in the U.S. in wind. You lead more wind manufacturing jobs than any other state,” said Bode.Experts said that being a leader brings with it the challenge of maintaining that position and continuing to grow. One of the biggest challenges is how to move the power from wind farms to places beyond Iowa’s borders.”I mean we’re lucky here in Iowa that we do have some transmission availability and we do have wind availability, but there’s a lot of states that may have wind but not transmission,” said Bob Loyd, the chief operating manager and plant manager at Clipper Windpower in Cedar Rapids.Experts said that expanding the ability to move the power generated by wind farms across state boundaries would take a national policy. There’s a push to get Congress to develop a renewable energy standard to make it easier to export wind energy generated in Iowa.”To drive people into the technology of renewable energy be it solar, be it geothermal, be it wind power is critically important that’s our most important resource,” said Steve Nolet, principal engineer and director of innovation at TPI Composites.Experts said another challenge is to get universities to develop renewable energy programs.

If you have an old car and aren’t sure what to do with it capital auto auction can help Donate Your Old Car And Help Your Community Donate Or Sell Your Old Car Through Capital Auto Auction

If you have an old car and aren’t sure what to do with it capital auto auction can help.  We get auction vehicles from all over and a large number come from consignments and vehicles that have been donated to charity. The first decision that needs to be made is do if you want to keep your vehicle or get rid of it. If you don’t want to keep the vehicle the next step is to opt between junking, selling or donating your car.

 

You can sell your vehicle through our used auto auction quick and effortlessly. All you have to do is go online and fill out the consignment form. If you we have room and your vehicle is accepted the next step is t wait for the money. We clean your vehicle, get it ready for auction and do all the advertising and after your auction vehicle has been sold we cut you a check. Letting us sell your auction vehicle at our public auction is much easier and safer than doing it all yourself. You won’t have to worry about advertising, dealings with potential buyers and negotiating a fair price. You also won’t have worry about finding a place to store your vehicle while waiting for it to sell.

 

Now if you want to help those in need donating your vehicle is the perfect choice. All you have to do is go online to our website http://www.capitalautoauction.com and choose to donate to one of the many wonderful charities that we partner with. This is truly a situation where everyone wins. The charity gets the proceeds for the donated vehicle and is able to put those funds toward helping other. You get a tax deduction and the satisfaction of having done a good deed. As for us we get the opportunity to help someone find better use for an old car while helping a charity obtain much needed donations and possibly turn your old car into someone else’s new used vehicle.  Whatever you decide we can help just give us a call or a click!

 

 

Car Donations Improve Emergency Preparedness

Next month will be the Red Cross of Southeastern Philadelphia’s eighth annual walk-run to save lives event and more than one thousand participants have already registered. The event will raise money for Red Cross house in Philadelphia which provides temporary lodging for special needs victims of disaster. While you may not be able to participate in the annual walk-run event, you can participate in your local Red Cross vehicle donation program. The walk-run will also raise money for emergency services and supplies for the local chapter. If the walk-run isn’t an option for you donating you car is also a great way to raise funds.

 

Red Cross has also found a life saving alternative to spring break. Instead of watching television and lazing away the week, teenagers can receiving lifeguard training for the spring and summer months. If you’re looking for away to assist your local Red Cross you don’t have to go further than your driveway, donating your old or unwanted car will help your local Red Cross gather emergency supplies and continue to provide service when they are needed most.

 

Emergency preparedness will be extremely important in the coming months when severe weather season arrives and storms are likely to intensify. Donating your car will help Red Cross be able to give assistance to those who may be affected by natural disaster by providing the charity with resources to help those in need. It’s understandable that not everyone can donate money or time to help their local charity however; donating a car that you can no longer use or simply don’t want is a way helping yourself as well as the charity. You as the donor are able to remove a vehicle that is of no use to you while receiving a tax deduction for a charitable car donation.

 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Power

Everywhere you turn, from TV or advocacy groups to the Obama administration, people are talking about solar power.Why is everyone so interested in solar power? While it is the many advantages that excite so many people, there are also a number of disadvantages.Overcoming the disadvantages can be accomplished if you have some knowledge and are willing to put in a little work yourself.

Advantages

Never-ending source of energy

The sun produces solar energy so there is an infinite supply. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks of the year the sun is producing energy. Solar energy will continue to be available long after fossil fuels like oil and natural gas run out. As more and more of these limited fossil fuels are used up, the price will continue to increase The opposite is true of solar energy! It will never run out and the cost will continue to go down as technology gets better and better.

Free energy

As long as you can look out the window and see the sun shining, solar power will continue to be free. There is an initial cost for solar panels and equipment, but there is no ongoing cost for solar electricity aside from maintaining of the equipment and battery replacement if batteries are used. With enough solar panels, you can stop paying electric bills to the power company forever. This is called living off grid.  If you can generate more electricity than you need, you can stay connected to the grid and actually sell the extra electricity to the power company!

Reduce greenhouse gasses

If you are one of the people worried about global warming, solar energy is the solution!Fossil fuels like oil and natural gas produce a lot of greenhouse gasses, but solar electricity produces none at all. If you wish to lower your carbon footprint, solar electricity is a great way to do it. There are no emissions of any kind produced by solar energy.

Reduce dependence on foreign oil

Dependence on foreign oil is widely considered one of the biggest security threats today. Our dependence on foreign oil could be reduced or eliminated completely by the use of solar energy. Any power that is currently generated with foreign oil can be directly replaced by domestically produced solar electricity.

Disadvantages

Initial cost

Most people consider initial cost to the be the biggest disadvantages to solar power. The ongoing cost of solar energy is very small, but the cost of buying and installing solar panels can be quite high. If you want to see how much it would cost to install enough solar panels to power your home and get a spreadsheet to do the calculations, please check out Solar Panel CostSolar Panels Cost.

With the required know-how, the initial cost can be reduced a great deal by building solar panels yourself. For instructions on how to build your own solar panel, take a look at DIY Solar Panel.

Necessary space

Solar panels must be oriented so they point to the south and also need enough space for all the panels. Solar panels produce the most electricity in parts of the world that a great deal of sun. Areas that get a lot of sun are ideal for solar panels. There are solar maps available that show the average sun in different areas. Solar panels located in areas with larger scores will produce more electricity with a solar panel of the same size. You will need more solar panels to generate sufficient electricity to power your house if you live in an area with a lower score.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to solar electricity. The advantages of solar power, however, outweigh the disadvantages. Builiding your own solar panel is one way to avoid many of the disadvantages. For the best guide to building your own solar panel, check out Green DIY Energy.

 

Donated Cars Help Create Job Training Programs

It’s no secret that the past few years haven’t exactly been the easiest of economic times. More and more people are donating unwanted items and things that are no longer economically practical. Donating your unwanted vehicle or car that isn’t running is economically smart and helps those in need. The proceeds go towards programs that teach people to make better financial decisions and become more independent.

Goodwill offers financial advice online and locally. All you have to do is contact your local Goodwill to receive help with everything from taxes to creating a savings plan. In addition Goodwill supplys jobs for those who are disabled and disadvantage in order to help them gain the necessary skills to become viable members of the workforce.

Car donations are a large part of makes these programs possible. A process as simple as calling in or submitting an internet car donation can help someone down on their luck get receive the skills and training needed to enter the job market as a viable candidate back on their feet. Donating your car can also help you get a break on your taxes for doing something good. Not to mention you can also get tax advice from Goodwill as well.

Even the company that you work for can get a tax break through Goodwill’s car donation program for doing a good deed and enriching the community donating a car that’s no longer used. All you have to do is provide the company name and tax identification number. Company vehicles tend to be in better shape and have a better chance of being resold and bringing in more funds that can go towards building better relationships with local businesses to help create jobs and training programs. Donate your personal or company car and make a difference. 

The Goodwill website also has links to other sitesgeared toward helping people acheive financial stability and independence like thebeehive.org that gives users valuable information and tips on how to manage their finances, healthcare and education costs. Goodwill even works with people who already have jobs and are trying to acquire skills that will help them advance in the workplace.

 

Grant helps new Carroll school go green

The new Carroll ISD middle school will be one of the greenest schools in the state when it opens in fall 2011.

The district received a $2 million State Energy Conservation Office grant through the state comptroller’s office. There was $32 million in SECO grants available and Carroll received the maximum amount allowed. The district must pay $1 million in matching funds.

Superintendent David Faltys said the money will be used to install a 40,000-50,000 square foot solar array on the building. Faltys said the panels should pay for themselves in 6-8 years.

“With this grant it will put our district at the forefront of utilizing green energy strategies,” said Faltys. “We will make the building as energy efficient as possible. We believe this will be the largest solar array on any school in the state and possibly the largest east of the Grand Canyon.”

In addition to the solar panels, the school also has other design elements to help cut down on energy costs. Faltys said most of the large windows face north and the south-facing windows feature awnings. Also, many of the inside areas of the school – such as the library — are lit with natural light when possible. Faltys said artificial lights could be on sensors and would come on when needed, but if it was sunny outside, the skylights would let in all of the light that is needed.

The district will also heat and cool water with an innovative process.

“The biggest thing is that we are going to use geothermal energy for heating and cooling of water,” said Faltys. “There will be between 1,200-1,400 wells, each 250-300 feet deep, drilled on the property. Water will be constantly pumped up and down to keep it around 68 degrees which makes heating and cooling easier. Some estimates say we could save 30 percent on the energy cost per year.”

The new campus, located on Kirkwood Boulevard, is under construction and should be completed in June 2011 before opening in August.

Need A Good Used Car Fast? Capital Has You Covered

Are you looking for a new car and on a budget? Well capital auto auction is the place for you. Every week we sell thousands of auction vehicles for less than a thousand dollars. If you have $200 for a deposit and a driver’s license you could have a car as soon as this Saturday.

We have a wide choice of auction vehicles at unbeatable prices. Just come into one of our four locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Philadelphia or New Hampshire and take a look around during the week. On Saturday you can come in and bid on the auction vehicle you want and take it home with you the same day. We also have a live/drive feature that allows you to test drive the vehicle before you buy.

You can also browse, bid and buy at our online auto auction. We’ll even have the vehicle shipped from one of our four locations to where you live. The public auction doesn’t stop with just vehicles either At this auction our selection isn’t limited to vehicles . We also have boats, motorcycles, and motor homes. All of our vehicles are sold as is, which means you’ll know the history and condition before you make the purchase. Feel free to ask as many questions as you need and we’ll be happy to answer them.

Due to our large selection of vehicles choosing which auction vehicle best fits your needs may be difficult when you realize that you can’t loose. . Whether you’re looking for a diamond in the rough, a family vehicle or you child’s first car we’ve got what you need. Just come on in or go online at http://www.capitalautoauction.com  and take a look, you won’t be disappointed. We have a wide selection and something for everyone’s taste and budget don’t waste anymore time come in look around and leave with the auction vehicle of your dreams at an affordable price.

 

 

Making “Green” History, W San Francisco Becomes First Hotel Belonging to Major Brand to Earn Silver LEED Certification for an Existing Building

Crowning an industry-leading, employee-driven green program, the four-diamond W San Francisco made history this week by earning the first LEED certification of an existing building belonging to a major hotel brand.

With its Silver LEED certification, W San Francisco becomes only the seventh hotel in the United States to receive the recognition for an existing building. Stringent criteria for an existing building certification measure “operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale, with the goal of maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts,” according to the U.S. green energy Council, which administers LEED.

“For our guests, the green experience at W San Francisco is a seamless part of their overall W experience, which is extremely gratifying for us,” said Michael Pace, W San Francisco’s General Manager, and a sought-after speaker on green business practices. “W San Francisco is a leader in the area of sustainability and green practices for W Hotels Worldwide. Green has become part of modern living and is expected by our guests, who can feel our team’s true passion for green practices, which are infused in everything we do, everyday.”

Certified by the state of California as a green business, W San Francisco began its green program in 2007 with the passion of employees helping launch it. W San Francisco also won a 2008 “Good Earthkeeping” award, recognizing environmental leadership, from the California Hotel & Lodging Association.

Among the energy efficiency steps taken at W San Francisco without negatively impacting the sensory experience and atmosphere of the hotel: More than 70 percent of guestroom lighting and 90 percent of back-of-house lighting is energy efficient, using CFLs, LEDs, motion sensors, and other technologies; the hotel’s HVAC cooling towers were replaced with energy-efficient models, saving 300 kWh/year; motion sensors power off HVAC in unoccupied guestrooms; and ENERGY STAR power management features are activated on all PCs. Management continues to track energy usage and savings with a third-party vendor through the hotel’s utility company, PG&E. Lastly, to further improve energy efficiency and encourage the use of renewable energy, management is considering installing wind turbines on the hotel’s roof–a first for a commercial building in the city.

W San Francisco added a green component to the W signature meeting experience, “Sensory Meetings,” where all food and beverage is organic, biodynamic, and local. The hotel also hosts “zero-waste,” carbon-neutral events through a partnership with “Live Neutral” carbon offsets.

W San Francisco’s LEED certification means another milestone for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!hot/quotes/nls/hot (HOT 48.65, +0.63, +1.31%) , the hotel’s parent company, adding to their portfolio of four new construction (LEED-NC) properties to obtain the coveted designation. Worldwide, Starwood has a total of 67 hotels that are either LEED certified or registered for or pursuing LEED certification.

Element, Starwood’s new “green from the ground up” brand, made its own history by becoming first major hotel brand to mandate that all properties pursue LEED certification.

LEED is an internationally recognized, third-party certification for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. The LEED rating system is designed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing the environmental impacts of buildings and improving occupant health and well-being. LEED’s rating system offers four certification levels for new construction — Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum — that correspond to the number of credits accrued in five green design categories.

The LEED for Existing Buildings Rating System helps building owners and operators measure operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale, with the goal of maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts. LEED for Existing Buildings addresses whole-building cleaning and maintenance issues (including chemical use), recycling programs, exterior maintenance programs, and systems upgrades. It can be applied both to existing buildings seeking LEED certification for the first time and to projects previously certified under LEED for New Construction, Schools, or Core & Shell.

About W San Francisco

Located in the heart of the SoMA district, W San Francisco is the ultimate urban oasis with panoramic views of the city’s skyline and a breathtaking view of the Bay Bridge. W San Francisco’s contemporary style is mixed with Asian influences and whimsical touches such as Chinese checker boards and framed origami butterflies made from old San Francisco trolley tickets, symbolizing the hybrid of an iconic American city and its marriage with Asian culture. With over seven state-of-the-art meeting room and banquet spaces, we can conform to your every need. The Living Room and meeting rooms include stylish metro sleeping pods and a glowing fireplace which is a perfect gathering spot for cocktails or an energetic place to work. Premiere attractions include San Francisco’s hottest bar and restaurant, XYZ which draws a fashionable, cool crowd every night. Centrally located and minutes from Union Square, W San Francisco is in a prime location offering walking distance to key interest points such as Museum of Modern Art, Yerba Buena Gardens, and the Waterfront. A favorite venue for film screenings, fashion gatherings and music events, W San Francisco has firmly established itself as the most hip, stylish and forward-thinking lifestyle hotel in the city. www.whotels.com/sanfrancisco

About Starwood

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1000 properties in nearly 100 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis(R), The Luxury Collection(R), W(R), Westin(R), Le Meridien(R), Sheraton(R), Four Points(R) by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft(R), and Element(SM). Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.