QUICK NEWS, 2-22: NET METERING FOR CALIF WILL BOOST SUN; GOOGLE TO BE A UTILITY; NEW, BETTER MAPS OF SUN, WIND; THE TROUBLE WITH NATURAL GAS
NET METERING FOR CALIF WILL BOOST SUN
Calif. moves to expand solar market for homeowners
Samantha Young, February 19, 2010 (AP via BusinessWeek)
"More Californians who put solar panels on their roofs could sell the excess electricity they generate under legislation approved by California lawmakers.
"The bill…would allow utilities to buy up to 5 percent of their energy from customers. Current law limits those purchases to 2.5 percent."
Net metering is high up on the Solar Bill of Rights. (click to enlarge)
"The Assembly adopted the bill…on a 53-1 vote…[Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger] intends to sign it…
"Supporters say the measure will increase the use of solar technology and offset high electricity costs. The current cap threatened to close the market to new solar users…"
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"Consumer advocates argue the bill is flawed because none of the renewable energy homeowners sell to utilities would count toward the state's renewable-energy mandates. The state's utilities must generate 33 percent of their power from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, by 2030.
"If utilities want to claim credit for the renewable electricity they buy from their customers, they would be required to pay homeowners and business owners a surcharge…[and] the rest of the state's energy customers would be asked to foot the bill."
GOOGLE TO BE A UTILITY
Google Cleared on Power Bid
Mark Peters, February 19, 2010 (Wall Street Journal)
"U.S. energy regulators approved a request by Google Inc. to become an electricity marketer, allowing the Internet giant to buy and sell bulk power like a utility.
"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously backed Google's application for what is known as market-based rate authority. The Internet company currently doesn't own generation facilities or transmission lines to deliver power and isn't planning to use the new authority for retail purposes, FERC officials said…"
From Googleorg via YouTube
"Most electricity marketers are utilities or power generators, but some large power users such as grocer Safeway Inc. and consumer-products maker Kimberly-Clark Corp. have been granted the authority by FERC.
"Google has said its interest in the power markets stems from a desire to manage its own energy supplies and gain better access to renewable power. The company doesn't provide information on its electricity use, but it operates massive networks including large data centers."
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"A spokeswoman for the company has said Google has no plans to sell its energy-management service or speculate in energy markets. But she acknowledged the company isn't completely sure how it will proceed…
"Google does offer an online tool to help consumers manage their energy use known as Google's PowerMeter. The company has partnered with utilities on this project."
NEW, BETTER MAPS OF SUN, WIND
3TIER Launches Next Generation Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools; Highest resolution global datasets detail seasonal variability
February 17, 2010 (3Tier)
"...3TIER® [has released] of a new suite of global Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools that will change the way renewable energy professionals decide where to develop renewable resources by providing immediate access to seasonal variability data, which is critical to understanding a site’s energy potential…
"3TIER’s Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools use a dynamic, point-and-click Web-based interface. They enable renewable energy developers, financiers, and manufacturers to instantly access information about any location worldwide, and compare-and-contrast sites with the click of a mouse…"
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"Based on sophisticated and globally consistent methodologies, the datasets provide more detail than any on-demand renewable energy information service currently available. The Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools are subscription-based products…
"…[For wind, the tool provides]… Monthly mean wind speed…Annual mean wind speed…Annual mean wind direction…[and] Data available for 20 m, 50 m, and 80 m above ground heights…"
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"…[For solar, the tool provides]…Annual and monthly mean Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI)… Annual and monthly mean Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI)… Annual and monthly mean Diffuse Horizontal Irradiance (DIF)…
"The suite provides access to 3TIER’s 5 km resolution global wind dataset and the company’s 3km resolution solar irradiance dataset. Coverage of the solar dataset currently includes North America, India, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Global solar coverage will be achieved in the coming months as data is validated."
THE TROUBLE WITH NATURAL GAS
House Panel Probing Natural Gas 'Hydrofracking' Process
Ian Talley, February 19, 2010 (Dow Jones Newswires via Nasdaq)
"The House Energy and Commerce Committee…[has begun] an investigation into the potential impacts of a natural gas production process called "hydrofracking" on the environment and human health.
"Environmentalists and some lawmakers are pressing to give the Environmental Protection Agency federal oversight of the process, concerned that the drilling technique is contaminating water supplies."