Tag Archives: Economy

Wind turbines – coming to a home near you

From the New York Times on Saturday, February 14, 2009:

Wind turbines typically spin from tall towers on hills and plains. But in these green times, some companies hope smaller turbines will soon rise above a more domestic spot: homes and garages.

An Energy Ball turbine.  Adam Bird for The New York Times

The rooftop turbines send the electricity they generate straight on to the home’s circuit box. Then owners in a suitably wind-swept location can watch the needle on their electricity meter turn backward instead of forward, reducing their utility bills while using a renewable resource.

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Modular housing — still going green

From the New York Times on Wednesday, February 11, 2009:

The modular housing industry likes to say that it has always had a few characteristics that today might be considered eco-friendly — from reduced waste to a smaller construction footprint.

“In a modular plant, recycling is huge,” says Chad Harvey, the deputy director of the Modular Building Systems Association. “Everything is used and reused.”

But it’s only recently — and increasingly amid the flagging housing market — that manufacturers of factory-built homes have realized that concepts like efficiency and sustainability can make for good business strategy.

High-end modular housing companies like Michelle Kaufmann Designs and LivingHomes — both based in California — are taking the green concept to new levels, catering to the luxury market with amenities like built-in rainwater harvesting, grey water reuse, tankless water heaters and bamboo flooring.

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Grand plan for wind energy transmission

New York Times, 2/10/09

New York Times, 2/10/09

From the New York Times on Tuesday, February 10, 2009:

… This study covered the United States east of the Rockies, minus Texas and Florida, and was prompted by the utilities’ concern that state quotas for renewable energy, already in place — or a proposed federal mandate — would have to be met with wind energy generated much farther from the point of consumption than is common today.

The plan is “conceptual” and the system would not be completed until 2024.

The Joint Coordinated System Plan, as it is called, has been in development for months, according to the Midwest Independent System Operator, which is steering the project — and the full report will not be ready until the fall. But details of the plan were revealed on Monday in order to coincide with debate over the stimulus bill.

“This is information we believe that our leaders need to consider as they begin work under a new administration and start defining our energy future,” said John Bear, the president and chief executive of the Midwest I.S.O.

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Line drying clothes can save up to 10% of home energy costs

From the Los Angeles Times on Friday, January 6, 2009:

When clothes dryers account for at least 6% of the electricity used by U.S. households, is it any wonder that line-drying is coming back? In places where the practice is banned as an unsightly nuisance to neighbors, right-to-dry activists and blogging eco-moms are forming an alliance. Their cause: to reduce energy consumption and to call upon sunlight rather than bleach to get those whites even whiter.

The movement also includes homeowners pinched by rising electric bills as well as some celebrity converts. Yes, there’s even a blog dedicated to tracking who’s who in L.A. line-drying. (For the curious, it’s blog.linedryit.com/eco_facts/, which lists the likes of “The O.C.” actress Rachel Bilson and singer Olivia Newton-John.)

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Google introduces home "smart energy" meters

From the New York Times on Tuesday, February 10, 2009:

If people knew how much electricity they are using every time they turn on the lights, fire up the oven or lower the thermostat on their air conditioner, they would make smarter decisions about their energy use, and presumably, conserve more.

That’s the idea behind a prototype service that Google unveiled Tuesday, which my colleague Matthew Wald and I wrote about in Tuesday’s paper. The service, which will be called Google PowerMeter, will allow users to measure their energy use in real time. It one of many new consumer products that would-be enabled by so-called “smart grid” technologies, and it is one of Google many new initiatives in the energy area.

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Obama's plans for "smarter" electric grid awaited

From New York Times on Friday, February 6, 2009:

Environmentalists dream of a bigger and “smarter” electric grid that could move vast amounts of clean electricity from windswept plains and sunny deserts to distant cities.

Such a grid, they argue, could help utilities match demand with supply on the hottest afternoons, allow customers to decide when to run their appliances and decrease the risk of blackouts, like the one that paralyzed much of the East in 2003.

The Obama administration has vowed to make the grid smarter and tougher, allocating $11 billion in grants and loan guarantees to the task in the economic stimulus package passed by the House last week.

But it will take a lot more than money to transform the grid from a form that served well in the last century, when electricity was produced mostly near the point of consumption, and when the imperative was meeting demand, no matter how high it grew.

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Governor Palin proposes energy corporation

From the Anchorage Daily News on Sunday, February 8, 2009:

Gov. Sarah Palin plans to introduce a bill calling for creating a joint corporation of the six Railbelt electric utilities.

Palin says such an entity could unite a “fragmented group of rival utilities” and could save rate payers $40 million annually.

The utilities are Fairbanks-based Golden Valley Electric Association, Homer Electric Association, Anchorage’s Municipal Light and Power, Chugach Electric Association, the City of Seward and Matanuska Electric Association.

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2009 Economic Stimulus package amendment would add house purchase tax credit

From the Washington Post on Thursday, February 5, 2009:

Seeking to jump-start the housing market, the Senate added new tax relief for homebuyers to its $900 billion economic stimulus bill yesterday as the legislation moved toward a final vote.

The amendment, offered by  Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), represents a significant victory for Republicans. GOP lawmakers have complained that the package includes few of their priorities for easing the economic crisis, including more help for the housing sector, which has been devastated by foreclosures and the frozen credit market.

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Wind and solar manufacturers feeling the economic pinch

From the New York Times on Tuesday, February 3, 2009:

Wind and solar power have been growing at a blistering pace in recent years, and that growth seemed likely to accelerate under the green-minded Obama administration. But because of the credit crisis and the broader economic downturn, the opposite is happening: installation of wind and solar power is plummeting.

Towers for wind turbines on the ground at the DMI Industries plant in West Fargo, N.D. Falling sales and tight credit have forced the company to lay off nearly 20 percent of its employees.

Factories building parts for these industries have announced a wave of layoffs in recent weeks, and trade groups are projecting 30 to 50 percent declines this year in installation of new equipment, barring more help from the government.

Prices for turbines and solar panels, which soared when the boom began a few years ago, are falling. Communities that were patting themselves on the back just last year for attracting a wind or solar plant are now coping with cutbacks.

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Land dispute may delay Fairbanks alternative energy project

From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on Monday, February 2, 2009:

Businessman Bernie Karl said he’s ready to move ahead with a prototype power system: A small-scale energy plant he’d link to indoor food production and biofuel cultivation.

The project — which he said he started eyeing a few years ago — has drawn recent interest from public officials and researchers looking to ride Karl’s coattails.

The original plan — for a 400 kilowatt, carbon-neutral, co-generation, vegetation and waste-paper-fed energy plant between Fairbanks and North Pole — carries the prospect of benefitting from a proposed agriculture project on 600 acres nearby.

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