September 1, 2010 - vehicle energy efficiency; federal renewable power?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A stone wall, forgotten in the woods in Bath, Maine.  Most stone walls in New England were built between 1750 and 1850; in 1940, a United States government survey estimated that there were more than 250,000 miles of stone walls in New England -- almost all built by manual labor and power from draft animals, during a time of lower energy intensity.
From the vehicle energy efficiency department: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation are jointly revising vehicle window stickers for the 2012 model year. This Wired article describes one option they are considering: assigning new vehicles letter grades for fuel efficiency.  (Examples from the article: Nissan Leaf: A+.  Plug-in Toyota Prius: A.  Toyota Camry: B-.)  Electric vehicles appear more likely to play a larger role in transportation in years to come.

Some may recall the day in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House.  They didn't stay there long; President Reagan removed them in 1986.  By 1990, they were donated to Unity College in Maine.  Now, Bill McKibben and others are taking the solar panels to Washington in an effort to convince President Obama to install solar or other renewable generation at his house -- not to mention the federal government's role as the nation's largest energy consumer.

I watched this week's deliberations of the Maine PUC as the Commissioners conditionally approved Central Maine Power's plan to upgrade a section of its 34.5 kV transmission line to 115 kV.  The reason?  To let power from Record Hill Wind LLC's project reach the grid.  The Commission required the wind developer to make a three-month prepayment to CMP of all construction costs, and report to the Commission quarterly as the project moves forward.

Island issues: I've written before about the difficulties of ensuring a water supply on island communities -- both potable water for drinking and any old water for firefighting.  Monhegan, for example, has a culture that is purposely very alert to fire danger.  Today's news has an example of why: fire destroyed a home on Pole Island in Quahog Bay in Harpswell -- despite valiant efforts by firefighters, neighbors and volunteers.

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