Weekend reads, Jan. - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Procurement, GHG Emissions, Industrial, Regulation, Utilities, Regulation, Solar  -  January 7, 2017

Weekend reads: Garbage power; a winery's climate change battle; solar for Trump's wall & more

Every Saturday, we'll bring you five most interesting — or quirky; it is the weekend after all — energy stories from the prior week that you may have missed from around the web. This weekend's reads:

Falcons, Drones, Data: A Winery Battles Climate Change (The New York Times): On a misty autumn morning in Sonoma County, Calif., Katie Jackson headed into the vineyards to assess the harvest. It was late in the season, and an army of field workers was rushing to pick the grapes before the first rains, however faint, began falling. But on this day, Ms. Jackson, the vice president of sustainability and external affairs at Jackson Family Wines, was not just minding the usual haul of cabernet, chardonnay and merlot grapes. She also checked on the sophisticated network of systems she had put in place to help crops adapt to a changing climate.

The great garbage fire debate: Should we be burning our trash into energy? (Salon): Earlier this year, a video explaining Sweden’s efficient trash burning system made the Facebook rounds, touting a shocking statistic: less than one percent of this country’s household waste ends up in a landfill. Instead, much of it is incinerated and converted into usable electricity and heat via waste-to-energy plants. In the U.S., the clip left the social media community scratching its collective head, and asking: Why aren’t Americans burning more of our own garbage?

MIA: Military's renewables goals short on security, environmental benefits (SNL Energy):  At Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, a sprawling facility on the North Carolina coast, a clearing the size of about 80 soccer fields is covered in enough solar panels to meet approximately 3% of the installation’s annual energy needs. The Duke Energy Corp.-owned solar farm, which started generating electricity a year ago, is helping the Navy to meet some of its renewable energy goals. However, the solar farm at Camp Lejeune provides the military little in the way of direct security or environmental benefits.

Giving the Mainstream Media credit for getting things right on Solar (Jigar Shah via LinkedIn): Last August, I wrote a piece lambasting my favorite radio show, American Public Media's Marketplace, for their uninformed views on wind and solar power. The show bills itself as "the most widely heard program on business and the economy — radio or television, commercial or public broadcasting — in the country. On Friday, December 30th, 2016 they redeemed themselves. At the third minute, John Carney and Linnette Lopez talk about putting solar panels on President-elect Donald Trump's "Freedom and Friendship Wall."

How will Rick Perry run the Department of Energy? (Utility Dive): In mid-December, President-elect Donald Trump announced he would name former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to head the Department of Energy, a seemingly ironic choice, since Perry once proposed shuttering the entire agency. Perry called the decision a “tremendous honor,” but has said little of his plans for the agency. Even so, his coming nomination has divided energy observers, with some arguing he is not as qualified as the scientists who led the DOE under President Obama.  The split extends to the Texas energy sector, where some worry his approach will favor a pay-to-play DOE. Others, though, say his strategy of putting business ahead of policy could work at the department.


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