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Energy and Global Warming News for May 13
Joe Romm, 14 May 09
Article Photo

Solar Hot Water for Toronto Homeowners

Solar Thermal comes to Canada (!), and guess who’s selling them the solar panels: not us.

In an innovative joint venture, Canadian natural gas giant Enbridge Gas Distribution has teamed up with green electricity marketer Bullfrog Power and the City of Toronto to promote solar thermal systems that promise to slash residential hot water heating costs by as much as 60 percent, or about $260 per year.

Under the program, announced Tuesday, London-based EnerWorks will supply the panels, which are certified for year-round use.

Homeowners can qualify for federal and provincial rebates to offset half of the $7,000-$10,000 capital outlay. Enbridge has anted up a $400,000 grant to further reduce costs for some residents.

Moderate Rise in Utility Bills Projected in Study of Cap-and-Trade Law

A Texas study projects that the average household would pay $17 to $27 more a month by 2013 if the U.S. Congress passes carbon cap-and-trade legislation. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the state’s power grid, projected that utility bills could rise by $27 if electricity use remains the same, and by as little as $17 if higher energy prices created by cap-and-trade legislation encourage consumers to use less energy.

In March, the average utility bill in Texas ranged from $110 to $160. Analysts said the ERCOT study did not consider a major long-term benefit of cap-and-trade legislation: The accelerated development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies brought about by rising prices for fossil fuels.

Whitehouse: Senate Is Corrupted By Carbon Pollution Cash

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), in a Senate hearing on the EPA budget this morning, decried the extraordinary amount of spending by corporate global warming polluters to lobby Congress. Reading from a report on new lobbying disclosures, Whitehouse noted that carbon polluters such as electric utilities and oil and gas companies have spent nearly $80 million on lobbying just in the first quarter of 2009.

Climate Pollution Cash Shaping Fate Of Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Legislation

In a moment of candor, ACES co-sponsor Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), the chair of the subcommittee in question, explained that fellow Democrats acting as representatives for climate polluters were holding up the bill:

“If we can reach agreement with the coal sector, with the steel, with the auto sector, with the refining sector on our committee, which is very representative of the Congress as a whole, then we believe that’ll be a template for passage in the Senate, as well. Because the agreements we’ll reach will be the very same agreements that those industry leaders … will be able to represent to senators are the basis for passage of legislation that they can support.”

Members of Markey’s energy and environment subcommittee with strong ties to those sectors include Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA: $50,942 from steel), Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN: $113,033 from auto), Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT: $177,946 from coal), and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX: $330,613 from oil).

$3B pledge jump-starts massive offshore wind project

The world’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, will begin construction this summer after the British government doubled the incentives for offshore wind energy, the project’s main owner, Denmark’s DONG Energy, said today.

The 1,000-megawatt Thames Estuary behemoth had been in doubt after Royal Dutch Shell PLC pulled out of the scheme last year because of rising costs, leaving DONG with a 50 percent stake, Germany’s E.ON with 30 percent and Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy fund, Masdar, with 20 percent.

Now the three partners have pledged to invest $3 billion for the 630-megawatt first phase of the project, which will be completed in time to deliver wind energy to the London Olympics in 2012.

G.E. Announces New York Battery Factory

General Electric announced today a $100 million investment to build a new factory in upstate New York that will make batteries — a sector with huge potential, according to G.E.’s chairman and chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt.

“We think the business gets to about $500 million in annual revenue by 2015,” Mr. Immelt told Green Inc., referring to the battery business. It could become a “$1 billion business a few years after that,” he added.

The batteries to be built at the new factory are not lithium-ion, the type widely considered to be the future of hybrid and electric cars.

Instead, they are sodium-based batteries — which will help to power G.E.’s hybrid locomotives after those are commercialized in 2010. The rationale, explained Mark Little, the director of global research at G.E., is that the sodium batteries store “a heck of a lot more energy” than lithium-ion ones.

Home Energy Savings Are Made In The Shade

Trees positioned to shade the west and south sides of a house may decrease summertime electric bills by 5 percent on average, according to a recent study of California homes by researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Compiled by Carlin Rosengarten

This piece originally appeared in Climate Progress.

Photo credit: Flickr/Alex Barth.

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