Friday, April 2, 2010

Stretching slightly beyond energy policy: the Town of Scarborough has finally acquired the parking lot at Higgins Beach. What do you get when you take the Portland area's most consistent surf beach, then ban on-street parking, then charge two arms and a leg for parking in the one private lot in the village? Angry surfers. Higgins was always my favorite break when we lived in Portland, but the parking scene -- especially in summer -- was always a nightmare. If the dirt parking lot was ever built on, it would have eliminated the one place beachgoers could have parked for miles around. The owner of the 1.5 acre lot, plus a 10 acre (presumably unbuildable) strip near the marsh, wanted nearly $1.5 million. Fortunately, a deal has been cut, using $632,145 from the Land for Maine's Future program, a matching amount from the town's bond and $7,270 from fundraising by The Trust for Public Land and the Surfrider Foundation. Thank you.

The Tesoro oil refinery in Anacortes, Washington suffered an explosion and a fire, killing 4 people and leaving 3 more missing.

More on the landslide in Winslow, Maine after the removal of the Fort Halifax dam: Maine Department of Environmental Protection has ordered (former) dam licensee NextEra to study and report on what went wrong. (A bit of pedigree is useful here, since it can be confusing: NextEra Energy Resources is the entity in question, formerly known as Florida Power & Light Energy, or sometimes known as FPLE Maine Hydro LLC.) The landslide threatens the Fort Hill Cemetery, with graves as old as the mid-1700s.

Rail issues: a Pan Am train derailed in downtown Norridgewock Wednesday.

There's a fair amount of hype going around about the weaknesses of the federal EnergyStar appliance rating program.

In Colorado, dominant utility Xcel Energy is replacing 900 MW of coal plants -- 30% of the entire Colorado coal-fueled generation -- with natural gas plants, all because the legislature enacted the Colorado Clean Air – Clean Jobs Act, which caps emissions at 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. Now it's a race for regulatory approval: by December, utility proposals must be approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, and must be operational by 2017.

Did you know that until this week, there had only been one known tropical cyclone in the South Atlantic Ocean? Now there have been two. Today, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-12 identified Tropical Storm 90Q off the coast of Argentina.

In Los Angeles, a good editorial from the LA Times bashing the Department of Water and Power board for endorsing Mayor Villaraigosa's proposed rate hike to fund electric efficiency -- which as reported yesterday, didn't pass.

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