New Report: Walmart’s Dirty Energy Secret

Date: 20 Nov 2014 | posted in: Energy, Retail | 2 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Walmart talks a lot of talk about its renewable energy initiatives, but a new ILSR report finds that all that hype is just slick greenwashing hiding the company’s massive coal consumption. In this first-of-its-kind analysis, ILSR calculated that Walmart is one of the nation’s largest users of coal-fired electricity. Despite pledging nearly a decade ago to shift to 100 percent renewable energy, Walmart today derives only 3 percent of its U.S. electricity from its renewable energy projects — far less than many small businesses and competing chains. Several national environmental leaders — including Michael Brune of Sierra Club, Bill McKibben of 350.org, and Jeremy Hays of Green For All — joined ILSR in releasing the study and calling for change.… Read More

A David and Goliath Fight to Tap World Class Solar – Episode 14 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

Date: 16 Jan 2014 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States, Podcast | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

“It’s the most inspirational work that I’m doing…this is an inspirational and aspirational effort…at the heart of it is love of place and energy democracy.” Citizens of Santa Fe, NM, are exploring the economic and environmental benefits of more local … Read More

Watch: Why Coal and Nuclear (Baseload) Are Not Compatible with a Renewable Future

Date: 16 Oct 2013 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 2 Facebooktwitterredditmail

As renewable energy grows, the grid needs to grow more flexible to accommodate variations in the wind and sun. This video explains the limitations of “baseload” nuclear and coal power plants to work alongside large amounts of clean power.… Read More

The Challenge of Reconciling a Centralized v. Decentralized Electricity System

Date: 17 Oct 2011 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 2 Facebooktwitterredditmail

As Americans transition their electricity system to the 21st century, they should ask this question.  Does it make sense to pursue strategies such as accelerating the development of new high-voltage power lines that reinforce an outdated paradigm of electricity delivery, … Read More

Cost of Fossil Fuels Makes Renewables a Harder Sell?

Date: 8 Nov 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This story on Sunday suggests that utilities are pulling back from investments in renewable energy over concerns about the cost

Invenergy…had a contract to sell [wind] power to a utility in Virginia, but state regulators rejected the deal, citing the recession and the lower prices of natural gas and other fossil fuels.

“The ratepayers of Virginia must be protected from costs for renewable energy that are unreasonably high,” the regulators said. Wind power would have increased the monthly bill of a typical residential customer by 0.2 percent.

Based on what price forecast?  The following chart illustrates the complexity of relying on fossil fuel prices when making decisions about renewable energy.  Note that wind and solar prices are relatively stable (i.e. zero).

The chart does a good job of showing the futility of predicting natural gas prices, but the timeline smooths out coal price changes, particularly by region.  Here’s a closer look at coal prices since 2007, courtesy of the federal EIA:

Utilities that are making shortsighted decisions about renewables based on current fossil fuel price trajectories are going to get burned, and so are their ratepayers. 

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