Archive for January, 2010

Solar Electricity and Nuclear Energy are both CO2-free, but…

January 31, 2010 Leave a comment

…Nuclear Energy produces radioactive waste.

* Solar Electricity is CO2-free without the radioactive part.



“The [pro-nuclear] campaign faces two challenges: the huge cost of construction and the lack of permanent storage for nuclear waste.

The Obama administration has blocked a 22-year project to dump waste from reactors in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain….

Much of the push for nuclear power comes from the conservative south, which has more reactors than anywhere else in the US and which is less suited than other regions for wind or solar development.”

* Photograph related to article shows “a storage facility for highly radioactive waste at Sellafield nuclear plant.”


“Levels of radioactive tritium have risen rapidly in recent weeks in the groundwater surrounding Vermont’s sole nuclear power plant, leading both longtime supporters and foes of the reactor to question whether it will be allowed to keep operating….

The plant began searching for tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, under a 2007 nuclear industry initiative. The industry began the effort because leaks had been found at reactors in Illinois and New York….

Levels found in the last few days exceed the federal standard for drinking water, although they were found in monitoring wells, not drinking water wells. The state has moved to weekly from monthly testing at the elementary school across the street from the plant, but has not detected anything unusual off the plant site….

Mr. Ball said that some legislators had told him that the discovery of the radioactive contamination “gave them pause” and that they wanted more information before voting [in 2012 to extend the nuclear plant’s operating license for the next 20 years]….

Tritium is usually incorporated into a water molecule, and such molecules behave chemically just as ordinary water does. But it gives off a beta particle that can cause damage inside the body. Like ordinary water molecules, those incorporating tritium pass through the body quickly.

In November, technicians measured tritium at Vermont Yankee at 700 picocuries per liter. But in January the plant notified the state that the level had risen to thousands of picocuries per liter. In one monitoring well, it recently exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for drinking water, which is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

Plant workers also found that water in a concrete trench that holds pipes in one building contained millions of picocuries of tritium per liter, as well as traces of other radioactive materials.

It was not immediately clear if water could find its way from that trench into the groundwater.

Under federal rules, the plant does not have to alert the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the presence of tritium in the groundwater unless the level reaches 30,000 picocuries per liter. At that point it would have 30 days to tell the commission, and specify what it planned to do.

Robert Williams, a spokesman for Vermont Yankee, said the company was working hard to find a leak. “It’s a necessarily slow and methodical process,” he said. The plant is already in touch with federal and state regulators, he added.

Dozens of reactors around the country have had their 40-year licenses extended by 20 years without much debate. Under the Atomic Energy Act, such decisions are usually the sole purview of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But Vermont struck a deal with Entergy when it bought the plant in 2002 that gave legislators a veto role. An official with the federal nuclear commission noted that if the state blocked a license renewal, Entergy could file a court challenge.

Vermont Yankee is the largest generator of power in Vermont. But New England’s power grid has a surplus of electricity because of the recession.

And Entergy is seeking permission to spin off Vermont Yankee and five of its other reactors into a new subsidiary, a move that the plant’s opponents view as an attempt to limit Entergy’s legal liability.”


The week-long storm in California (when not pouring rain), Jan. 2010

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

You don’t want these sea levels rising, trust me.

Pictures from Laguna Beach, CA in January 2010…

Global sea levels rising (due to excess CO2) like a Tsunami in LA

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Have you ever seen these signs in Southern California? There are signs like these in Newport Beach, which is about 40 to 50 miles south of the center of Los Angeles. The “Tsunami Evacuation Route” signs below are from Culver City, approximately 3 miles east of Marina del Rey and the beach.

I don’t know about you, but I like these beach cities the way they are…without the coastal flooding.



“The report warns that as the effects of global warming continue, California’s 1,100 miles of coastline – a major attraction for tourism, recreation and other important economic activities – will face increased threats of rising sea levels, aggravating impacts of coastal storms and runoff from upstream flooding.”

*Check out the map>>>

LADWP uses 44% coal in 2009, up from 32% in 2007

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Something ain’t right in Los Angeles when we’re using the dirtiest form of energy to power the TV, computers and the rest of the electricity funneling through our homes and offices…coal makes up almost 50% of our energy mix. Burning black lumps of coal is not helping to reduce carbon emissions, I assure you.

* Notice that solar electricity comprises less than 1 % of LADWP’s power mix. Less than one measly percent!?

Full disclosure: I have sold solar electricity in the past and I intend to advocate for solar in the future. However, as a journalist, I must also make plain that prices will go up when LA transitions to natural gas and sources of renewable energy, like solar. Coal is dirty and cheap. Solar is clean and worth the investment… for the jobs it will create, the environment it will preserve, the energy independence it will produce…which will all contribute to stabilizing our economy for generations to come.

See, we will pay an “environmental price” for burning coal…such as ice caps melting, sea levels rising, coastal areas flooding. Excessive CO2 emissions from fossil fuels threaten to strip away precious land resources needed by the 7 billion people on Earth. Don’t believe me? Go ask your neighborhood climate scientist. And look at a map one time. There are a lot of coastal areas around the globe…they’re called port towns. LA is one big port town. It’s foolish for us to taunt the sea by continuing our unnecessary burning of coal. The “environmental price” is too high.

2009 Power Content Label

Energy Resources

LADWP Power*


LADWP Green Power** (projected) 2007 CA Power Mix***

(for comparison)

Eligible Renewable**** 14% 100% 10%
-Biomass & waste 1% <1%
-Geothermal 2% 2%
-Small hydroelectric 5% 25% 6%
-Solar <1% <1%
-Wind 6% 75% 2%
Coal 44% 32%
Large Hydroelectric 7% 24%
Natural Gas 26% 31%
Nuclear 9% 3%
Other <1% 0%
TOTAL 100% 100% 100%
* 100% of LADWP Power is specifically purchased from individual suppliers.

** 100% of LADWP Green Power is specifically purchased from individual suppliers.

*** Percentages are estimated annually by the California Energy Commission based on the electricity sold to California consumers during the previous year.

**** In accordance with Los Angeles City Council’s action on 10-5-04 for File No. 03-2688 (RPS).

For specific information about this electricity product, contact LADWP at 1-800-DIAL-DWP. For general information about the Power Content Label, contact the California Energy Commission at 1-800-555-7794 or

Don’t confuse the Oligarchy with the Pentaverate

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment
Categories: Comic Relief Tags:

The Supreme Court gives advantage to the Oligarchy

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

When the Supreme Court Justices voted 5-4 in favor of unlimited corporate spending for political campaigns…the Supreme Court gave disproportionate advantage to the people with all the $$$.

The Oligarchy can buy politicians and influence the political process endlessly now…legally. Remember the top 20% have received over 90% of this country’s wealth during the last 20-plus years.


“Here are some dramatic facts that sum up how the wealth distribution became even more concentrated between 1983 and 2004, in good part due to the tax cuts for the wealthy and the defeat of labor unions: Of all the new financial wealth created by the American economy in that 21-year-period, fully 42% of it went to the top 1%. A whopping 94% went to the top 20%, which of course means that the bottom 80% received only 6% of all the new financial wealth generated in the United States during the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s (Wolff, 2007).”

All the Oligarchy has to do is act through a corporate board of directors to affect a political campaign (and potentially without being named, if the lawyer James Bopp, Jr. of The Citizens United case has his way).

Related article:

We need Congress to make new laws to supersede the Supreme Court’s poor decision that would lead to deleterious, and possibly disastrous, outcomes for our Democracy in the United States of America.

Opinion-Editorial from the New York Times:


“The majority is deeply wrong on the law. Most wrongheaded of all is its insistence that corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights. It is an odd claim since companies are creations of the state that exist to make money. They are given special privileges, including different tax rates, to do just that. It was a fundamental misreading of the Constitution to say that these artificial legal constructs have the same right to spend money on politics as ordinary Americans have to speak out in support of a candidate….

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens warned that the ruling not only threatens democracy but “will, I fear, do damage to this institution.” History is, indeed, likely to look harshly not only on the decision but the court that delivered it. The Citizens United ruling is likely to be viewed as a shameful bookend to Bush v. Gore. With one 5-to-4 decision, the court’s conservative majority stopped valid votes from being counted to ensure the election of a conservative president. Now a similar conservative majority has distorted the political system to ensure that Republican candidates will be at an enormous advantage in future elections.

Congress and members of the public who care about fair elections and clean government need to mobilize right away, a cause President Obama has said he would join. Congress should repair the presidential public finance system and create another one for Congressional elections to help ordinary Americans contribute to campaigns. It should also enact a law requiring publicly traded corporations to get the approval of their shareholders before spending on political campaigns.

These would be important steps, but they would not be enough. The real solution lies in getting the court’s ruling overturned. The four dissenters made an eloquent case for why the decision was wrong on the law and dangerous. With one more vote, they could rescue democracy.”

* see page 88 for the opinions of the 4 judges who voted to preserve limitations on corporate-campaign contributions

The Sun

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I see it as an enormously powerful orb at the center of our world…a big, burning ball of yellow fire that will produce CO2-free electricity for millions more years. Now that’s sustainability!

In the future, we will have more hammer-and-nail jobs for solar installers and increased “green” manufacturing on planet Earth. No one will think twice about the free-floating photons splashing down upon every available rooftop to charge up our houses and our cars.

Some day soon, the electric plug-in car will be in the majority of garages in California and throughout the Sunbelt states. And solar-electric panels will be on the multitude of roofs from San Francisco to Miami providing the power for those rechargeable cars.

It’s the cynosure of our sky. A naturally occurring, readily available, renewable source of energy: The Sun. Don’t look at it too long, though. It’s so powerful it’ll hurt your eyes.


The manufacturing plants can run off renewable energy, too. Imagine solar-electric panels on the roofs of the solar factories.

We need silicon to make the solar cells into semi-conductors. Or we can use copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGs). We need aluminum for the frames and copper for the wiring. Mining would be required, but I don’t see that as an out-of-the-norm business expense of manufacturing.

The price of solar would also be tied to the commodities markets. Prices of these materials will go up as demand for solar increases. So the sooner you go solar the better for your wallet…the price of electricity from the grid keeps going up too, but the state rebates are disappearing. However, thanks to the 2008 Democrats, the 30% federal tax credit is good until 2016.

* Yes, you can write off 30% of the price of a solar system: you can take that as a lump-sum payment or amortize it over 5 years for federal taxes, 13 years for California state taxes. The 2005 Republican-led Congress instituted the 30% tax credit for commercial properties, but knee-capped the payment at $2,000.00 for residential properties, aka people’s homes. The Democrats made it 30% for everybody.

The environmental impact of manufacturing solar-electric panels with “green” technology pales in comparison to the puff of black smoke coming from coal-burning factories. We will be using natural gas as a transition fuel for the next 25 to 50 years, because it is the cleanest burning of the fossil fuels and we have it in great abundance under our soil. However, as a fossil fuel, natural gas produces carbon emissions when burned to make electricity.

That’s why we look to the Sun.

Eventually the solar industry can power itself, so that the process from manufacturing to installation to everyday use is CO2-free. That way we benefit our environment—no coastal flooding from icecaps melting. We keep the icecaps where they are. We also put a cap on the cost of running our homes, offices and cars. In the process we become energy independent and improve our national security.


There are different solar panels with different price points. Silicon panels outperform all others–meaning you need fewer panels. Thin-film and CIGs are priced lower but they are not as efficient –meaning you need more panels for the same energy.

Solar-electricity works.

It spins your meter backwards!

As long as the panels are pointed toward the equator they will make electricity for a bell-curve distribution over a 365-day year (assuming minimal shading on solar area). It’s all about spring & summer sun–longer hours of sunlight mean more kWh (kilowatt hour) production. We compensate for this bell curve when sizing a system to offset the home’s average monthly kWh usage.

There isn’t one kind of solar panel, just like there isn’t one kind of car.

You have to remember, there are a lot of different kinds of houses and buildings out there. Some people have roof for days and they can put up twice as many panels, no problem. Other people have limited usable roof so they need more efficient panels. If you need/want more output for the same footprint, you can get a top of the line SunPower panel. If roof space is not an issue, you can get an Evergreen panel. Both are U.S. companies.

There are dozens of other choices, too.

Sanyo, BP, Mitsubishi, Sharp, FirstSolar, Suntech, and on and on.

FirstSolar is also a U.S. company:

What you want to know is kW output: the amount of kilowatts that the system will generate.

For example: a 5kW solar system in California would offset about 825 kWh per month or 9,900 kWh per year. Why? Because in California, we get about 5.5 usable hours of sunlight per day (averaging over a 365-day year). We get about 4 usable hours in the winter and about 7 usable hours in the summer.

Solar is part of the solution to our energy problems.

“I got sunshine on my mind

I know it’s shining all the time

The Day is split between the dark & the light

We keep spinnin’ around and around, all right”


Also, most solar-electric panels have a 25-year warranty (usually covering about 90% of electricial output for the first 10 years and 80% of wattage for the full 25 years)–this is the industry standard. The anticipated lifespan of a solar-electric panel is typically 40-plus years.

Solar-electricity works to spin your utility meter backwards!

Fande = Fact & Evidence; Cande = Conjecture & Exaggeration

Bring your Fande, leave your Cande!