Stripping and Selling America

September 20, 2017


Get real clear on this.
The Republican Party has made common cause with the global fossil fuel industry, with Russian Oligarchs, and with the violent White Supremacist right wing,  in order to make war on the very idea that there can be any institution, any interest, any law, that limits the greed or the reach of those with great wealth and power.

Interior Secretary Zinke proposes first steps, only the first steps,  in the handover of America’s Crown Jewels to the rape, ruin, and run crowd.

Reuters via AOL News:

WASHINGTON, Sept 18 (Reuters) – The head of U.S. Department of the Interior called for changes to the management of 10 national monuments that would lift restrictions on activities such as logging and mining and shrink the area covered of at least four of the sites, the Washington Post reported.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that President Donald Trump reduce the boundaries of the monuments known as Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou.

Zinke also called for relaxing current restrictions within some of the monuments’ boundaries for activities such as grazing, logging, coal mining and commercial fishing, according to a copy of the memo that the Post obtained.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante monument has areas that “contain an estimated several billion tons of coal and large oil deposits,” Zinke’s report said, suggesting that it could be opened to energy production if Trump makes a reduction in the footprint of the monument.

The Trump administration has promoted “energy dominance,” or plans to produce more coal, oil, and gas for domestic use and selling to allies. With Grand Staircase-Escalante being remote, and oil and coal being plentiful elsewhere, it is uncertain if energy interests would actually drill and mine there, if the monument’s boundaries were changed.


Zinke noted that most public comment on the monuments review ”were overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining existing monuments” but were the result of “a well-orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations.” Opponents of the monuments tended to be local residents associated with grazing, timber production, mining, hunting and fishing and motorized recreation, he wrote.

“It appears that certain monuments were designated to prevent economic activity such as grazing, mining and timber production rather than to protect specific objects,” Zinke found. He said many also failed to adequately account for local opinion.

Zinke noted that areas protected by the 1.8 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante, created in 1996, contain “several billion tons or coal and large oil deposits. In the case of Cascade-Siskikou, created by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and expanded by Obama eight days before he left office, there are 4 to 6 million board feet of lumber on 16,591 acres set aside by a 1937 federal law for sustainable timber production. Zinke recommended ending the prohibition on logging on that land.

Except for red crab and American lobster fisheries, commercial fishing is currently prohibited in the 3,972 square miles of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off Cape Cod. Zinke recommended lifting the fishing ban there and at the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll monuments in the Pacific that have an economic impact on American Samoa.

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Washington Post:

“Maria is developing the dreaded pinhole eye,” wrote National Hurricane Center forecaster Jack Beven on Monday evening, as the storm reached Category 4 intensity.

That inward contraction of a hurricane’s eye can be one telltale indicator of what hurricane gurus technically call “rapid intensification,” although a more evocative word might simply be “explosion.” Whatever you call it, it’s something we keep seeing this year. Harvey, Irma, Jose and now Maria have rapidly strengthened — and all too often, have done it just before striking land.

It’s a dangerous and scary phenomenon that scientists and forecasters are still trying to understand.

“It’s not a common event. Typically, that occurs in maybe 5 percent of our forecasts,” said Mark DeMaria, acting deputy director of the National Hurricane Center.

But DeMaria said that this season is seeing more rapid intensification events than usual and that Maria, in particular, appears to have set a key record for hurricane rapid intensification in the Atlantic.

“Looking back through the records, Maria went from a tropical depression to a Category 5 hurricane in just two and a half days,” he said. “I couldn’t find any other tropical cyclones in our historical record that went that quickly from a depression to a Category 5 hurricane.”

That’s a big problem, because rapid intensification sets the stage for worst-case scenarios. Sadly, that’s what happened to the Caribbean island of Dominica on Monday night, hit by Maria at full Category 5 strength.

There’s little chance to warn people or for them to prepare if rapid intensification occurs, so forecasters naturally want to be able to have a handle on it — but it’s a struggle.

“One of the key issues is that it remains quite difficult to predict on a day-to-day basis. And of course, it’s something we would very much like to be able to predict, especially when an intensifying storm is near land,” said Gabriel Vecchi, a hurricane expert at Princeton University.

The National Hurricane Center technically defines rapid intensification as a wind speed increase of at least 35 miles per hour in 24 hours. All four of the most intense Atlantic storms in 2017 beat that easily:

  • On the evening of Aug. 24, a day before landfall, Harvey was a Category 1 hurricane with 85-mile-per hour winds. Twenty-four hours later, at landfall in Texas, the storm was a Category 4 with 130-mile-per-hour winds.
  • At 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 4, Hurricane Irma was already a strong Category 3 storm with 120-mile-per-hour winds. But Irma then radically strengthened further, becoming a superpowered upper-end Category 5 storm with 180-mile-per-hour winds in just 24 hours.
  • Following behind Irma in the middle of the day on Sept. 7, Hurricane Jose was a Category 1 storm with 90-mile-per-hour winds. Twenty-four hours later, it was rated a high-end Category 4 with 150-mile-per-hour winds.
  • Beven’s “pinhole eye” language came as Hurricane Maria reached Category 4 intensity, despite having been a Category 1 just 12 hours earlier. But Maria wasn’t done. The storm would leap further to Category 5 strength, ultimately increasing in intensity by 65 miles per hour in 24 hours.

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Maria Update September 20

September 20, 2017


Utility Dive:

California is a leader in both renewable energy resources and energy storage. The state has one of the highest renewable portfolio standards in the U.S., mandating that 50% of all electric power be sourced from renewable resources by 2030, and the state has the first and some of the most robust incentives for energy storage.

AB 2514 requires the state’s three investor owned utilities to procure 1.3 GW of energy storage by 2020, and AB 2868 requires each IOU to deploy an additional 166 MW of behind-the-meter and/or distribution tied storage.

The IOUs are already well on their way to meet their goals. Southern California Edison has 400 MW of storage in its portfolio toward its 582 MW target. But installing energy storage is one thing, using it to meet other goals is another.

California is a restructured state, so utilities there generally do not own or build power plants. Nor do utilities control the dispatch of those plants. That is the job of the California ISO.

Soaking up solar power during the day and dispatching it in the evening is often cited as a renewable-enabling use for energy storage, but in practice the renewable-enabling potential of storage is often not so simple.

SCE, for instance, does not necessarily make decisions to charge batteries when solar power output is abundant and to discharge them when solar power begins to wane. But the utility still owns some generation assets and is responsible for how it bids those assets into CAISO’s real-time and day-ahead energy markets.

Storage + gas

SCE has found that one of the not so obvious, but most effective uses for energy storage is combining it with a conventional power plant. In April, SCE installed what it called the “world’s first” low-emission hybrid battery storage-gas turbine peaker system. The so-called Hybrid Enhanced Gas Turbine (Hybrid EGT) was the result of a partnership between SCE, GE and Wellhead Power Solutions. SCE installed the systems at substations in Norwalk and Rancho Cucamonga. Each system pairs an 11 MW, 4.3 MWh battery with a 50 MW peaker

“It is a novel way of installing storage,” Vibhu Kaushik, principal manager, asset management and generation strategy, at SCE told Utility Dive.

Adding batteries to the turbines means that the machines are always on and can be used respond to CAISO’s frequency regulation market. The peakers were already participating in that market, but the batteries let them respond more quickly and be relieved by the peakers when they ramp up five or 10 minutes later. Those five minutes add up. Over the life of the plant – it is about seven years into an expected 40 year life – the batteries will reduce operating costs by 60%, and the batteries will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut water consumption by 2 million gallons a year, Kaushik said.

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Creating Europe’s Wind Hub

September 19, 2017

Europe working on giant wind energy hub in North Sea.

Something similar overdue for US.

Morning Consult:

The long-anticipated Department of Energy electricity grid reliability study finally came out and addressed how to best ensure a reliable power source for American families and businesses. A few key insights from the report highlight that wind energy makes the electric grid more reliable, and that additional investment in transmission lines is essential to unlocking more renewables across the nation.

Wind provides important grid services like voltage control and frequency regulation, which help grid operators ride through disturbances better than any other fuel source. That increases resilience, helping the grid bounce back from disruptions like cyberattacks and storms.

Wind energy is fuel-free and needs no cooling water, unlike fossil plants, so grid operators consider wind energy to be a resilient resource. Wind also provides a lot of electricity during periods of extreme weather, when other electricity sources have struggled in the past. In fact, during the polar vortex of 2014, wind energy saved Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states more than $1 billion in just two days. Thanks to wind energy’s stable price and high output during the vortex, wind kept electricity flowing while other power plants experienced unexpected outages and higher prices.

Wind energy’s reliability and resiliency benefits are keeping the lights on for a lower price, but more transmission is key to maximizing those benefits.

The DOE study agrees with grid operators and other experts that investing in transmission infrastructure helps move cheaper power to reach more people, similar to how a highway system efficiently moves products to market. The report states “[t]ransmission investments provide an array of benefits that include providing reliable electricity service to customers, relieving congestion, facilitating robust wholesale market competition, enabling a diverse and changing portfolio, and mitigating damage and limiting customer outages (resilience) during adverse conditions.” Transmission projects also help deliver clean energy from rural America to areas with high energy demand, where it is needed to power homes and businesses.

Investing in transmission is a win-win: It makes the grid stronger, delivers more renewable energy, and benefits outweigh its costs. For example, the grid operator in much of the Midwest, MISO, has stated that current transmission projects will provide $13 billion to $50 billion in net benefits over the next 20 to 40 years — savings of $275 to $1,000 per person. MISO’s Multi-Value Projects, which include 17 different transmission lines, will also enable more than 41 million megawatt hours of wind energy to be delivered throughout the Midwest every year.

The DOE report hit the nail on the head that wind energy is providing real benefits for grid reliability and that transmission is crucial to magnifying these benefits. This is also good news for the American economy. This past year, wind energy eclipsed 100,000 American workers, and wind jobs are growingnine times faster than the average U.S. industry. Wind power has invested more than $143 billion in the United States over the last decade, much of the value going to rural communities that need new economic opportunity. Wind also provides jobs for workers in the struggling rust belt, with more than 500 U.S. factories now building wind-related parts. Wind energy is putting Americans to work and building a stronger, more resilient grid for tomorrow.


CNN 11 o’clock update

Tim Pandajis tracking again,

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Meteorologist Tim Pandajis of Channel 13 in Richmond is a viral weather super-Geek for this hurricane season.