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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Show today

Enjoy the live stream today:


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thanks to Jack Gregg

For making us aware of a growing environmental and economic issue:  Gas leaks escaping from old pipes running under our cities.  The environmental hazards are clear; the economic are less defined as they span the costs of fixing the problem versus the ultimate costs of ignoring the leaks and dealing with the catastrophic damage that is sure to follow some day.


Intriguing issue, one that is worthy of our attention here and on a future show.

This from Jack: Here is the link:
 
Similar news for small towns.  Some are filing law suits
http://gassafetyusa.com/newton-tree-survey-progress-4252010/

And this:  

Thousands of gas leaks in Boston area

As use of methane increases, old pipes pose risks, group says; utility companies see no danger

August 17, 2011|By Neena SatijaGlobe Correspondent
"When Nathan Phillips started driving the streets of Boston looking for natural gas leaks, he was stunned to find they numbered in the thousands.
The Boston University associate professor of geography and the environment wanted to document the extent of leaks because of concerns that the gas could harm trees and add to greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Then he found a leak that posed a more immediate danger, and it was near his home.
Phillips found the leak at a manhole in front of the West Newton Cinema. Twice in the past month, he detected the levels of methane in the atmosphere there to be about 6 percent, which regulators and gas companies consider a potential explosion hazard."
Also, some towns are starting to sue:  

Towns say gas harms trees

Nahant, Saugus sue National Grid


Two area towns are taking legal action to force National Grid to compensate them for damage to trees on public land that they say is being caused by underground natural gas leaks.

Others:  

Town to sue over gas leak damage

November 21, 2010 
Quincy will be filing a complaint with National Grid after a recent survey by the Massachusetts Shade Tree Trust discovered 323 gas leaks throughout the city, ranging from grade one, the most serious type of leak, to grade three, those deemed not hazardous by National Grid. The grade three leaks, some of which have been leaking for as long as 10 years, have caused damage to $1.5 million worth of city trees, the trust says. Quincy will be filing its complaint alongside Hingham, Brookline, and Milton for damage to trees in those towns. — Jessica Bartlett
No doubt this touches every older city.  Again, should a utility consider  $1.5 million damage to city trees not significant?  Are we all willing to pay more for energy, which we will, if the utility does step up and replace the pipes?

We'd love to hear your comments.


  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nice, green profile on a leading convenience store

Great to find companies that are distinguishing themselves on sustainable business.  Our thanks to WisBusiness for sharing this story with us.  We will profile Kwik Trip stores on a future show.



In the meantime, if you see one of the stores, stop in and let them know you saw them, and support them, through Renewable Now.  Here's the link:  http://bizopinion.wisbusiness.com/2011/08/greenbiz-kwik-trip-becoming-leader-in.html

Part of the story: " If you stop to gas up and get something to eat at a Kwik Trip store, pause to look around for a moment.

The signs might be somewhat inconspicuous, but you very likely could be standing in one of the “green” stores that is making La Crosse-based Kwik Trip a national leader in sustainable energy convenience stores.

“Many of our guests (how Kwik Trip refers to customers) probably don’t even see the initiatives that have been taken, but we believe they and the community as a whole are benefiting from them,” said David Ring, community relations coordinator for the company.

Roughly half of the convenience stores in the country that have qualified for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification of the U.S. Green Building Council are owned and operated by Kwik Trip.

The company has constructed 12 such stores and has 14 more in the planning stages. Changes to existing stores to make them more energy efficient also are on-going.

Kwik Trip spokespeople emphasize the greening of their stores is being done “because it is the right thing to do,” but also because it makes business sense.

“There’s certainly a balanced approach,” Ring said. “What makes sense for the environment, and is it cost effective?”

Leah Nicklaus Berlin, development coordinator for Kwik Trip, said most of the green initiatives have payback periods of five years or less. “Anything under five years is a no-brainer,” she said.

Initiatives are across the operations of the chain, following the vertically integrated structure of the company as a whole. Low-energy lighting, low-flow toilets and sinks and more efficient motors for coolers and other machinery in the stores cut energy use and save money.

Most of these efforts are planned to go into most, if not all, Kwik Trip stores, and there are more than 400 of those and counting. In Iowa, Kwik Trip operates as Kwik Star.

Kwik Trip has started to recapture water from its car washes and reuse it through a reverse osmosis process. That, along with the changes in sinks and toilets, projects to save 4.7 million gallons of water a year.

“That’s the equivalent of washing 87,000 cars or filling 316 backyard swimming pools,” Ring said.

LED (light-emitting diode) lighting has already shown savings. Canopy lights in new stores save about $3,946 per year. Changes to coolers and freezers are saving $375,291 per year across the stores.

Berlin said energy management systems, which can be monitored from the La Crosse headquarters, are being installed in many stores. “That allows a monitoring of energy efficiency throughout the company,” she said.

Other initiatives include skylights and additional windows for day lighting, heat recovery water heaters, refrigeration waste heat recovery, using more concrete than asphalt in lots to allow for less lighting and heat, and recycling efforts.

Berlin said making new stores energy efficient might add as much as 10 percent to building costs, but the payback more than makes up for that extra cost.

Discussions on greening of the chain started about three to five years ago, according to Berlin. “We felt it was the right approach for our customers and the community as a whole,” she said. “But, we also felt it has to make sense from a business standpoint. It has to be cost effective.”

Ring said some initiatives are in very early stages. For example, 14 stores in Wisconsin, eight in Minnesota and three in Iowa have electric car re-charging stations. The chain also is offering ethanol blends, biodiesel and natural gas at some of its stores and plans to increase those.
 "


I wonder if the next thing this inventive company will offer is charging of batteries for EV owners?  Be a great next step in their progression.


Again, from a business side of green, a very good example of how a company, in the crowded field of convenience stores, turns ecological advantages into economic gain.


Also, our best wishes to those on the East Coast of the US as they struggle to recover from the devastation of Irene.




Saturday, August 27, 2011

GM and LG to Design Electric Vehicles Together

Our changing technology, and our new emphasis on electrifying transportation, opens many doors to new, innovative partnerships.  Here's a great example:  GM and LG coming together to design electric cars.  A new, unique collaborative that would never have happened without our move towards sustainability.

Great reading.  Here's the link: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2011/08/26/gm-and-lg-to-design-electric-vehicles-together/.

"Part of the story:  GM and electronics manufacturer LG are to design and engineer electric vehicles together.
The automaker say that the agreement will help it expand the variety of EVs it makes, by using LG’s proven expertise in batteries and other systems. For LG, the arrangement represents a widening of its portfolio as an automotive solution provider, the electronics manufacturer says.
LG already supplies batteries for the Chevrolet Volt (pictured) and Opel Ampera extended-range electric vehicles.
Earlier this week, Ford and Toyota signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at developing advanced hybrid systems for light trucks and SUVs."
New investments, new jobs if we change, evolve and buy these new, innovative products.
To those of you on the East Coast of the US, stay safe.   Our prayers are with you.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

We are happy to help...

We are happy to share this helping opportunity with you:


You are our voice -- and we need you now more than ever. On September 14, starting at 7 p.m. Central Time, we will broadcast the reality of the climate crisis from around the globe for 24 hours straight. And to make sure this event gets the attention of the world, we need you to lend your voice to the cause.

Specifically, we would like to share your Twitter and Facebook influence. We have created an innovative tool that allows you to donate your accounts to the cause. If you choose to donate, we'll be able to access your account to help you post information about the event to your friends and followers. Your donation starts on Sept. 13 and ends on Sept. 15 when the event is over.

Click below and authorize us to share our updates through your accounts.

Donate your Facebook Status and Twitter Feed.
Donate your status
Don't worry -- we won't have access to any of your personal information. Your accounts will still work normally, and we will only post updates and important details a few times each hour. And if this whole thing doesn't work for you, you can revoke our access at anytime.

What you're doing is important. You're lending your voice to ours and amplifying our message. If we want to share the truth about the climate crisis, we need your help.

Donate here: http://climaterealityproject.org/#donate-network

If you don't have a Twitter or Facebook account, don't fret. Anything you can do to help spread the word is immensely appreciated.

Thanks for your help,

Nicole Haber
Digital Director
The Climate Reality Project
Please let us know if you end up helping.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The business side of green

Here is a great story that gets to the heart of the economics of green.  From Brazil:


Brazilian wind power cheaper than natural gas


Cost competitiveness of renewables underlined as wind energy projects win 78 of 92 energy auctions

24 Aug 2011
"The Brazilian authorities have this week confirmed that wind power in the country currently costs less than natural gas, after a series of energy auctions saw wind farm operators undercut other forms of energy generation.
Seventy-eight wind power projects won contracts in last week's energy auctions held by Brazil's National Electric Power Agency, totalling 1,928MW and priced at approximately 99.5 reals (£37.4) per MWh.
By comparison, the average price for power generated with natural gas is currently 103 reals (£38.7) per MWh in Brazil, while the average price for energy determined through the auctions was 102.07 reals per MWh.
According to Brazil's Energy Research Company (EPE), wind power is also now trading around 19 per cent cheaper per MWh than the average price in Brazil last year, suggesting the price of the technology is becoming a more competitive.
EPE president and chief executive Mauricio Tolmasquim said the auctions show that wind and natural gas are competitive, predicting wind prices will continue to fall in Brazil.
"That wind power plants have been contracted at two digit prices, below 100 reals per MWh, showcases the energy market competition through auctions," he said. "That wind power could reach these lows versus natural gas was unimaginable until recently."
The energy auctions for a total of 92 projects were the first in Brazil for 2011, and also featured biomass, hydro-electric and natural gas projects.
Investments amounted to 11.2bn reals in total, for 3,962MW of energy that is slated to start generating in 2014.
EPE has predicted that Brazil's windpower potential of 143GW could rise to 300GW with the use of better turbine technology. However, it also expects Brazil's total power consumption to rise 60 per cent between 2010 and 2020, reflecting the country's rapid economic growth and expanding middle class.
But despite the positive outlook for wind, underpinned by tax breaks and strong wind resources, some analysts have expressed doubts that the sector can meet the government's targets.
Adriano Pires, an energy expert with the Brazilian Centre for Infrastructure, told Reuters that a 2004 scheme which offered to buy wind power at higher rates than other types of generation might have spurred a naive optimism for the sector.
"Brazil has a history of euphoria when it comes to power generation," he said. "Right now wind power is the darling of the government, but that doesn't mean it's going to be sustainable in the long run."
The migration to renewable energy will happen, without lots of outside influences, when the prices are competitive with other forms of production.   If Brazil can maintain those pricing levels on wind, they will be on their way to sustainable energy.
Keep in mind that Brazil is one of the BRIC countries, so they have lots of growth to power.
What country is next?




Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We thought you should know that as of today over 150 people, including 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, have been arrested at the White House.

We are not a political blog or show, but we do support, and give you a chance to support, the effort to stop the building of the Keystone Sands pipeline, which we feel is a terrible idea, fraught with incredible environmental risk.  We prefer to push for reductions in energy use, and a concurrent expansion of renewable energy of all kinds.

Also, we encourage dialogue on both sides, and try not to promote a narrow view.  We understand there is possible economic gain, a new source of energy coming down from Canada, possibly replacing some of our imported oil.  Let us know if you support the pipeline.  We will give you a platform to articulate your position.

We will carefully follow the story.

Here's the petition as sent to us:


"There are three ways that you can stand in solidarity from wherever you are:
1. Sign the petition to President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline -- we’ve already rocketed past our initial goal of 35,000 signatures and are hoping to add as many names as possible before we deliver it to White House officials on September 3rd.
2. Send in a solidarity message or photo to the people taking action at the White House.
3. Take part in Moving Planet -- a worldwide climate rally on September 24 -- and move beyond all fossil fuels in the loudest, most beautiful way possible. 
You probably know that building the Keystone XL pipeline is a terrible idea. The oil it will carry from Canada’s tar sands will travel all the way from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Think: oil spilling all over America's heartland. Think: way more CO2 all over the atmosphere, since the tar sands are among the most carbon-intensive of all the fossil fuels. With so many strikes against the Keystone pipeline, it’s understandable that folks are so fired up and willing to put their bodies on the line to stop it. 350.org isn’t organizing the action in DC, but there’s a separate website to find out more about the two weeks of daily sit-ins at the White House (today was just day #3).
When nominated for President in 2008, Barack Obama promised that his administration would ensure “the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” It’s not a protest I feel like I’ve been watching unfold here in DC -- but a big and beautiful reminder of that vision. "

Monday, August 22, 2011

BMW Factory to Use 100% On-Site Wind

Have you ever wondered what wind or solar was really capable of in terms of power production?  I know we've been told that they both have significant limitations yet, here's BMW announcing they will power an entire factory, one making 200,000 cars per year, with wind.  Not so insignificant, in my view.

Here's the link to the article on Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2011/08/22/bmw-factory-to-use-100-on-site-wind/

And the article:

 " Automaker BMW is to power its Leipzig, Germany, factory using wind power alone.


The company plans to build four turbines at the Leipzig facility that should provide the necessary energy by 2013, the AFP reports. BMW said that it hopes the plant can become an example of green best practice for its other factories.
In 2011 the Leipzig plant is forecast to build 200,000 cars.
In July, a BMW dealership near Vancouver became the first business in British Columbia to install a commercial-scale turbine.
The Auto West Group’s egg beater-shaped, vertical-axis turbine is the latest green addition to the dealership, which has solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and rooftop gardens."
Most of us use a lot less energy than a BMW factory.  Clearly,  their financial return on this must be very good, and we will certainly try to get them on a show to talk about this.  In the meantime don't underestimate the potential of the wind or sun to power your business or KW needs at home.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Questions for the Governor on Monday/Weekend Edition

As posted, we are doing 4 shows tomorrow, including what will be a great interview with Governor Chafee of RI.

There's two interesting stories going on right now we will touch on.  First, this headline yesterday:


Ken Salazar: Offshore Wind Farms Will Rise In Rhode Island  


Salazar Offshore Wind
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday announced the federal government will move forward with plans to accept applications to develop wind facilities off the coast of Rhode Island.
By 2012, Salazar predicted, "the first offshore leases for wind power in the federal waters off Rhode Island will in fact be signed by the United States of America and those developers of offshore wind."


The secretary boasted that the National Renewable Energy Lab has estimated Rhode Island's offshore wind farms could generate 1,000 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power most of the United States.


The project has support from the state's congressional delegation as well as from Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
"We're leading the way and it is appropriate that we are because these are the best waters for offshore wind ...” said Chafee, citing Rhode Island’s shallow coastal waters and overall proximity to the ocean. “We also have the property here, the old navy base,” he added, “which can be a springboard off to all the industries that will grow.”


Normally, that is all good news, but think back to the Deepwater Project, which we reported on, which has ecological risk, running cable back to the mainland, and heavy opposition to the project because of the agreed rate National Grid accepted for those kilowatts...pegged at a lot more than the going commercial rate.  Will this project suffer the same financial setbacks?

The other story touches on the Governor's effort to negotiate an extended agreement with Toray Plastics (who, by the way, and ironically, has sued the state, utility company and others involved in Deepwater to block the project), looking for expansion and new jobs, and part of his effort includes looking to bring them renewable energy, hydro, from Quebec, Canada.

This is a very interesting study of the confusing intersection of the environment and economy, trying to navigate through without crashing and burning.

Stay tuned and enjoy the weekend.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Come to Arpin on Monday for our latest, live filming of shows

On Monday, August 22, between 10-2, we will be shooting our next four shows, including our show with Governor Chaffee which will be an interesting retrospective on his dad and his dad's influence on the environment, and how that is shaping his view and will shape his administration's work on the environment.

Here's our invite:

  This will be a great morning and production of four great shows.  Please send us an RSVP on your attendance for any and all the shows.

The shows will be shot at Arpin's Corporate offices in the W. Warwick Industrial Park, right off RT.2, which makes it easy for everyone to get in and out.

Come be part of a live audience and, maybe, even get to ask some questions and be on the show.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thank you to Mark Learn

Mark just sent us a great guide to EV/plug in vehicles that will get anyone excited about all the models coming and what is possible.  To really get a good feel for this guide, use this link and go to the original page:  http://www.pluginamerica.org/vehicles.

Here is part of it to wet your appetite:


What's Coming, When

Virtually every major auto manufacturer in the world, along with numerous smaller outfits, is developing a plug-in vehicle and Plug In America is tracking their progress. Our list below represents highway-capable cars and trucks, 2- and 3-wheeled, and commercial vehicles. To be included on this list, legitimate companies must have completed a concept, demonstration, or mule vehicle, and we list these at our discretion. Low-speed electric vehicles are not included. Vehicle prices listed do not include rebates.
If you have an update to this list, please fill us in. Plug In America needs your support to keep this list current. Please become a member or make a donation today!

This is a great guide.  You know our show is pushing very hard to move the world to the electric revolution.  We will reach out to this group and get them on a future show.

Please let us know what models you like and are interested in.  We will bring you more information on those cars.

It is time to plug in and drive.

Monday, August 15, 2011

EcoRI News

We are lucky enough to have a new partnership with EcoRI News, a great organization and environmental news reporting group--http://www.ecori.org--and are using one of their stories today.

Unfortunately, it is not a positive one.  This is the environment getting scarred/sacrificed for potential economic growth.  Here's the link:  http://www.ecori.org/front-page-journal/2011/8/10/clear-cutting-of-native-habitat-at-quonset.html.

The Headline:

Clear-Cutting of Native Habitat at Quonset

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News stafNORTH KINGSTOWN —  

"It's reminiscent of the mass chopping of Truffula trees in Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax." 
Four hundred acres of mostly undisturbed public land in the Quonset Business Park is being clear-cut to make space for prospective business tenants.
The clearing, including the leveling of hundreds of mature trees, is part of a master plan to make the business park more attractive to light industry and manufacturing.
According the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), a quasi-state agency overseen by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, the land is owned by the Navy. A spokesman for the QDC said the wooded areas will be reduced to "pad-ready" grassy fields. Some trees are being spared. Permitting or an environmental review was not required for the clearing of trees, but the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Coastal Resources Management Corporation must approve future construction.
Jonathan Campanini of the Rhode Island Tree Council wasn't familiar with the Quonset land clearing, but said the state lacks a comprehensive forest conservation act.
"The goal of such an act is to save as many established trees as possible while still allowing building to proceed," he wrote in an e-mail. "This is the blind spot in DEM strategic planning and will come back to haunt Rhode Island in years ahead." 
How can we justify shredding native land, with a canopy of trees providing shade and clean air, when we have empty buildings, empty, cleared land littering this state?  We understand, and support, the need for investments in creating new jobs, new opportunities.  But this seems like a very bad approach.  We would expect more from the managers of Quonset's Economic Development group, and more from the town and state.
We are filming a new show with the Governor of RI next Monday.  We will be sure to ask him about this decision.  
Thank you to EcoRINews for their coverage.  



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Obama unveils first fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks/Weekend Edition

The Arpin Group, and our green business show, welcome this news:  President Obama met with industry officials yesterday to discuss new first-of-their-kind fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles.


Here's the story's link:  http://www.brighterenergy.org/25776/news/transport/obama-unveils-first-fuel-efficiency-standards-for-heavy-trucks/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BrighterEnergy%2FNews+%28BrighterEnergy.org+%C2%BB

Some of the article:  "The White House said the standards will save American businesses that operate and own these commercial vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards in close coordination with the companies that met with the president today as well as other stakeholders, following requests from companies to develop this program.
The cost savings for American businesses are on top of the $1.7 trillion that American families will save at the pump from the historic fuel-efficiency standards announced by the Obama Administration for cars and light duty trucks, including the model year 2017-2025 agreement announced by the President last month."
Look at how well this fits with our focus on the business side of green.  Here is a new law that will provide cleaner air and save the transportation industry, though the life of the bill, 50b.  Yes, we will spend more to build and buy the trucks, but that investment will come back many times to the owners and operators of our trucks, and will reduce the carbon footprint, by a lot, of the industry.
We will bring on a DOT and EPA expert to take a closer look at the bill and its impact on our economy and environment.
Arpin and Renewable Now look forward to sharing a cleaner road with you.  




Friday, August 12, 2011

Sorry for the delay

We hope you tuned in live to our newest show on Weds but, if not, it is now available on demand.  Enjoy.



Great News from Project Get Ready

Our thanks to Al Dahlberg of Project Get Ready, who did one of our early shows and has been a regular contributor, for a great update on EV's that we wanted to share with you:

"I recently attended the Plug-In 2011 conference in Raleigh, NC and I wanted to give you an update and highlights.

Short takes:

1) Plug in electric vehicles are here and they are terrific cars!  A test drive in the Leaf or the Volt will dispel any doubts about the quality of these cars.  The vehicles are pulling well ahead of EV planning.

2) There is a wide discrepancy between utilities in EV planning and preparation: some of which are key players/leaders in this area and  others which seem oblivious to the gradual electrification of the automobile.

3) The charging equipment market is the Wild West! Dozens of companies making scores of products with new ones coming out or soon to arrive any day.  Interesting partnerships are forming: Ford/Leviton charging equipment offered through Best Buy (installers) and GE equipment being sold through Lowe's.  GM is partnered with SPX, Nissan with AeroVironment.

4) There is a LOT of EV planning to do that hasn't been done and a lot that we don't know yet: uniform signage, ADA compliance, training first responders, encouraging off peak charging, EV friendly codes and regulations, expedited permitting/inspection, etc. This is a nascent market with huge potential and pitfalls.

5) The batteries for EVs are good, getting better, but the major advances will be cost reductions through economies of scale.  As battery prices drop more vehicles will get electrified and convenience charging will become more common.


Vehicle Information:

Chevy Volt:  production ramping up to 60,000 vehicles/year by end of 2011.  Over 4 million miles driven in Volts already, 2/3 of which are electric.  People are going 1,000 miles on one tank of gas, filling up once a month on average.  Customers prefer Level II charging, but 
are ok with Level I, which over half of people are using. Customers are classic early tech adopters, 90% men.  Much higher customer satisfaction rates than normal, GM surprised by luxury buyers choosing the Volt.

Nissan Leaf:  4,400 deliveries in the US, 10,000 globally so far.  Tennessee plant online by end of 2012 with 150,000/year capacity and 200,000 batteries/year.  MA/CT orders begin this fall, RI orders begin this winter.  82% of Leaf owners are new to Nissan, primary "conquest" is Prius owners.  Almost all drive less than 60 miles/day, average 30 miles/day, 7 mile average trip.  Average charge is 3 hours.  Most buyers are well educated, tech savvy, high income.  Nissan surprised by how many buyers are single car owners."
 
From a business side of green, there are some very salient, positive points in Al's recap:
 
1.  Any car that is averaging 1000 miles on a tank of gas is great with me, and is turning out a terrific ROI.
 
2.  Getting retailers like Lowe's and Best Buy into the marketing and sales of chargers will bring EV's very quickly into the mainstream.
 
3.  Any commercial product that generates positive customer reviews and reactions, as these cars are, is destined for greatness.
 
Now, we need to broaden the customer base past 90 % men who are techies to drivers of all types.  However, with these kinds of results, that should be easy.