As World’s Largest Solar Thermal Plant Opens, California Looks to End Solar Wars

In a few weeks, the largest solar plant of its kind in the world will start producing power in California’s Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will supply both Northern and Southern California, inching the state one step closer to its ambitious renewable energy goal.

But like many of the large solar projects being built in the Mojave, Ivanpah ran into delays and controversy over its environmental impact. Now, in an effort to streamline the process, state officials are trying to broker an agreement between conservation groups and solar companies on a path forward for renewable energy.

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Department of Energy Releases New Report on Energy Sector Vulnerablities

The U.S. Department of Energy released a new report which assesses how America’s critical energy and electricity infrastructure is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Historically high temperatures in recent years have been accompanied by droughts and extreme heat waves, more wildfires than usual, and several intense storms that caused power and fuel disruptions for millions of people.

These trends are expected to continue, which could further impact energy systems critical to the nation’s economy.

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Lancaster Requires New Residences to Produce Solar Energy

The Lancaster, CA City Council unanimously approved changes to the city’s zoning code that require housing developers to install solar with every new home they build.

New single family homes must meet minimum solar system requirements in the same way that they must meet minimum parking space requirements.

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Energy Commission Awards More Than $5.5 Million to Support Green Transportation

Funded Projects Include Biofuels Production and Vehicle Buy-Downs

SACRAMENTO, March 20, 2013 – The California Energy Commission today approved $5,580,773 for clean-energy transportation projects ranging from producing biofuels to making trucks run cleaner.

“These investments are moving the state forward toward a clean transportation sector,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “Today’s awards will help to expand renewable biofuels, further the development of zero emission vehicles, and provide incentives to make alternative fuel vehicles more affordable. These projects protect the environment and public health, while keeping California in the lead in developing green transportation technologies.”

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Markey: GRID Act Passage Long Overdue

Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) is urging the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Fred Upton (R-MI), to take immediate action toward passing the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act, which Markey calls a bipartisan bill aimed at hardening the nation’s electrical grid and critical infrastructure against cyberattacks.

Broadly put, the GRID Act would give the president the authority to impose emergency defensive measures, with or without notice, on maintainers of critical infrastructure in response to what is perceived as an imminent threat to the nation’s electrical grid.

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A news release from Congressman Markey referred to the February 2013 revelations of computer intrusions by hackers associated with the Chinese military. Mr. Markey wrote:

“Most troubling were the theft of blueprints for the software control systems that control parts of our electrical grid, and hacking efforts that literally left the electronic infiltrators a keystroke away from being able to cause widespread destruction to our electrical infrastructure.”

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California City Will Power Traffic Lights with Solar Bus Shelters

The City of Perris, California is preparing to install six solar-powered bus shelters in different locations around the city.

The grid-tied shelters will have 1.2-kilowatt solar arrays on their roofs. They’ll also be connected to traffic lights at the location, and will be able to generate approximately 25 percent of the electricity needed to power the traffic lights.

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Weather-Related Power Outages and Electric System Resiliency

High winds, especially when combined with precipitation from seasonal storms, can cause damage to electricity utility systems, resulting in service interruptions to large numbers of electricity customers.

While most such power outages are caused by damage from trees and tree limbs falling on local electricity distribution lines and poles, major power outages tend to be caused by damage to electricity transmission lines which carry bulk power long distances.

Download this Congressional Research Service report (PDF)

California Energy Commission & U.S. Dept. of Energy

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