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The Renewable Energy Renaissance

The real Renaissance is in renewable energy whose sources could meet 25% of the nation's energy needs by 2025. Renewable technologies can help restore political and economic stability as well as save money…and the planet.

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Thursday
Aug262010

Big California solar energy push moves forward

California's long-awaited boom in solar power plant construction took a major step forward Wednesday when state regulators approved the first in a string of projects that will soon blanket thousands of acres of desert with mirrors harnessing the energy of the sun. SFGate.

Monday
Aug232010

Can mine waste heaps provide a renewable energy future?

Solar panels on landfill at Fort Carson, COIt’s difficult to look out over miles of waste rock and tailings from a century of copper mining in the American Southwest and see anything but environmental destruction. But a growing number of mining companies and renewable energy developers are beginning to use these vast plains of disturbed dirt as the ideal spots for large-scale solar and wind power projects. Miller-McCune.

Monday
Aug162010

Solar Panel Recycling Gears Up

As solar moves from the fringe to the mainstream, insiders and watchdog groups are beginning to talk about producer responsibility and recycling in an attempt to sidestep the pitfalls of electronic waste and retain the industry's green credibility. The Daily Green
Wednesday
Aug112010

Off the grid families pioneer sustainable energy lifestyles

Sustainable model home near Taos, NMAn increasing range of Americans are leading a snug, even smug, lifestyle totally or mostly unhitched from public utilities. Using nature – the sun, wind, water, and the earth itself – they cheaply warm and cool their homes and power everything from a blender to a giant flat-screen TV to a raging hot tub. Christian Science Monitor.

Saturday
Jul242010

U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee passes good solar roofs bill, two bad nuclear bills

On July 22, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, passed a flurry of bills, including one good renewable energy bill, and two bad nuclear power bills.

The first bad nuclear bill is S. 2052, a "nuclear energy research initiative," which would authorize $50 million annually from fiscal 2011 through 2015 for the Energy Department to conduct research for lowering the cost of nuclear reactor systems. It would include the research of modular reactors, small-scale reactors, balance-of-plant issues, cost-efficient manufacturing and construction, licensing issues and enhanced proliferation controls. In carrying out the research, the department would be required to consult with the departments of Commerce and Treasury, as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The bill would require the department, within 180 days of the bill's enactment, to publish on its website a five-year strategy to lower the costs of nuclear reactors and to hold a public workshop for comment. What's not mentioned is the fact that if $50 million per year could significantly lower the cost for new atomic reactors, the nuclear power industry would have already done this. After all, the twin-reactor Indian Point nuclear power plant made $1.2 million in before-tax net profit in 2009, so $50 million isn't that much money for such a filthy rich industry. But than again, if the nuclear industry can get taxpayers to cover such costs, why not just pocket that much more as profit?

The second bad nuclear bill, S. 2812, entitled "Nuclear Power 2021, with an amendment," would require the Energy Department to work with private sector partners in a program to develop a standard design for two small modular nuclear reactors and to get the two designs certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by 2018. At least one of the reactors would be required to have a capacity of 50 megawatts or less. Requiring a date certain reactor design certification from NRC increases safety risks, by pressuring NRC to approve an unsafe design before safety flaws are corrected. This bill smacks of the same pitfalls as "Nuclear Power 2010," a Bush administration program launched on Feb. 14, 2002 -- the very same day the dangerously flawed Yucca Mountain dump got the official thumbs up. "Nuclear Power 2010" aimed to not only certify, but even construct and begin operations at two full-scale atomic reactors by 2010. The reactors chosen for the program, the AP1000 and the ESBWR, have been plagued with design defects. The AP1000's shield building is vulnerable to earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes, and is not even structurally sound enough to hold up an emergency cooling water tank on its upper roof. The ESBWR was so flawed, NRC staff had to ask 6,000 Requests for Additional Information on its design -- of the 6 ESBWRs proposed across the U.S., all but one has been cancelled.

The good renewable bill is the "10 Million Solar Roofs & 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act," S. 3460, which, if "fully implemented, this legislation would lead to 30,000 MW of new PV, tripling our total current U.S. solar energy capacity. It would increase by almost 20 times our current energy output from PV panels. The legislation would rapidly increase production of solar panels, driving down the price of PV systems and it would mean the creation of over a million new jobs."

Not only is Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent of Vermont) the sponsor of S. 3460, he was the only Senator on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to oppose the two bad nuclear bills described above. No matter where you live, call Sen. Sanders' office at (202) 224-5141, fax him at (202) 228-0776, or fill out his webform at http://sanders.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm, to thank him for opposing nuclear power and supporting solar power!

Check the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee member list to see if you're Senator is on there, and contact them to express your disappointment in their support for the bad nuclear power bills.