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JOHN UPTON, San Francisco Examiner, August 22, 2010

The view to the west from Ocean Beach could one day be cluttered with scores of spinning windmills, generating power.

San Francisco under Mayor Gavin Newsom has long explored the possibility of tapping alternative energy sources, including tidal, wave, solar, geothermal and wind power.

San Francisco is reviewing the environmental impacts of a planned project that would place underwater devices off Ocean Beach to harness wave power, which is a nascent form of renewable energy. The review and its approvals are expected to wrap up within a year.

City leaders are starting to think that construction of the wave power project could help them assess the viability of a more visually striking proposal: a wind farm.

Ocean Beach was found by UC Berkeley professor Ronald Yeung to have good potential for a powerful wave energy farm. Waves that roll into the beach are created by Arctic tempests.

The finding was confirmed last year by city contractors, who determined a facility could provide up to 30 megawatts of electricity — enough power for 30,000 homes.

Environmental review work under way involves studying sediment movement and tracking whale migration patterns to determine the best places on the sea floor to attach futuristic wave power devices.

Recent changes in federal regulations could limit San Francisco to working within three miles of the shoreline because offshore renewable energy projects now require expensive leases instead of less-expensive permits, although the process is clouded by uncertainty.

The federal Mineral Management Services agency has responsibility for regulating offshore renewable energy resources, including wave and power farms, but the agency is being overhauled in the wake of the Gulf oil spill disaster.

The recent regulatory changes could see offshore energy rights snapped up by deep-pocketed oil or utility companies under anticipated bidding processes.

On San Francisco’s clearest days, visitors to Ocean Beach can sometimes see the Farallon Islands, which are 27 miles west of San Francisco — nearly 10 times further out to sea than the three-mile offshore border.

After safe and potentially powerful locations have been identified, wave energy technology will be selected from a growing suite of options including devices that float near the surface, those that hover in midwater and undulating seabed equipment inspired by kelp.

The next step would involve applying for permits and installing the equipment.

Somewhere along the way, costs will be determined and funds will need to be raised by officials or set aside by lawmakers.

Once the wave-catching equipment is in place, it could be used to help determine wind velocities and other factors that make the difference between viable and unviable wind farm sites.

“What we really need to do is put some wind anemometers out there,” Newsom’s sustainability adviser Johanna Partin said. “There are a couple of buoys off the coast with wind meters on them, but they are spread out and few and far between. As we move forward with our wave plans, we’re hoping there are ways to tie in some wind testing. If we’re putting stuff out there anyway then maybe we can tack on wind anemometers.”

Partin characterized plans for a wind farm off Ocean Beach as highly speculative but realistic.

Wind power facilities are growing in numbers in California and around the world.

But wind farms are often opposed by communities because of fears about noise, vibrations, ugliness and strobe-light effects that can be caused when blades spin and reflect rays from the sun.

A controversial and heavily opposed 130-turbine project that could produce 468 megawatts of power in Nantucket Sound received federal approvals in May.

West Coast facilities, however, are expected to be more expensive and complicated to construct.

“The challenge for us on the West Coast is that the water is so much deeper than it is on the East Coast,” Partin said.

Treasure Island is planned site for turbine test

A low-lying island in the middle of the windswept Bay will be used as a wind-power testing ground.

The former Navy base Treasure Island is about to be used in an international project to test cutting-edge wind turbines. It was transferred last week to to San Francisco to be developed by private companies in a $100 million-plus deal.

The testing grounds, planned in a southwest pocket of the island, could be visible from the Ferry Building.

The first turbines to be tested are known as “vertical axis” turbines, meaning they lack old-fashioned windmill blades, which can be noisy and deadly for birds.

The devices to be tested were developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in cooperation with Russian companies. Five were manufactured in Russia and delivered to California earlier this year.

The wind-technology relationship, which was funded with $2 million in federal funds, grew out of an anti-nuclear-proliferation program started in 1993.

“The vertical machines should be good in gusty low-wind conditions, which are those which you expect in an urban environment,” lead LBNL researcher Glen Dahlbacka said recently.

The machines were designed to minimize noise and are easily built.

“They’re relatively easy to work up in a fiberglass shop,” Dahlbacka said.

Eventually, each device could be coupled with solar panels to provide enough power for a modest home, Dahlbacka said.

The team is not expected to be the only group to test wind turbines on the island.

San Francisco plans to provide space for green-tech and clean-tech companies to test their wind-power devices on the island to help achieve product certification under federal standards adopted in January.

The program could help San Francisco attract environmental technology companies.

“It’s an opportunity to attract and retain clean-tech companies,” Department of the Environment official Danielle Murray said. “We’ve just started putting feelers out to the industry.”

The proposed testing grounds might have to shift around as the island is developed with thousands of homes and other buildings in the coming years.

“We need to work with them with regards to where these things go and how they would interact with the development project,” Wilson Meany Sullivan developer Kheay Loke said.

— John Upton

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MendoCoastCurrent, July 27, 2010

On Aug 7-8, 2010 filmmaker Michael Moore will livecast the hearings of the Kent State Truth Tribunal, streaming in real-time the accounts of participants and witnesses to the events surrounding the 1970 Kent State shootings, that left four students dead and nine injured. This livecast is a continuation of the first real-time broadcast of a truth-seeking initiative on Kent State and will be broadcast on www.MichaelMoore.com from 9am-5pm PT. The Tribunal in San Francisco follows a four-day tribunal in Kent, Ohio in early May which marked the 40th anniversary of the campus shootings and assembled over 70 testimonies.

The Kent State Truth Tribunal in May resulted in an outpouring of original participant testimonies, some who shared their stories for the first time since the shootings, forty years ago. Demand for participation was immense at the 40th anniversary yet many witnesses and participants in the events surrounding the shootings were not able to travel to Ohio.

“San Francisco was a cultural and political hub in the sixties and seventies and it is no accident that so many young people scarred by the events of Kent State headed west after the tragic events of May 1970. Forty years later, the west remains a progressive mecca and many Kent State participants made the west coast their home, like me. We will collect their experiences of the Kent State shootings to continue to try to learn the truth about Kent State in 2010,” said Laurel Krause, tribunal founder and sister of Allison Krause, one of four students killed at Kent.

The Kent State Truth Tribunal was convened by family members of students killed at Kent State in order to record and preserve the stories of those directly affected by the shootings and reveal the truth of what happened on that day 40 years ago. The Ohio National Guard, who opened fire on the protesters, has never publicized the findings of its internal investigation into command responsibility for the shootings.

Michael Moore commented on the truth tribunal: “40 years after the Kent State killings, justice still has not been served. The Kent State Truth Tribunal brings us closer to that goal by sharing first-hand accounts with the public. I am grateful for their efforts and hopeful that some day the truth will come out.”

Three days after the original Kent State Truth Tribunal the Cleveland Plain Dealer broke a major story about a recorded order to fire given to the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. Then on June 15th, in the U.K., British Prime Minister David Cameron apologized for the killings of Bloody Sunday, a strikingly similar event in 1972 where British paratroopers fired on demonstrators, killing 14 people.

Tribunal organizers are asking the United States government to acknowledge the ‘wrongs’ of May 4, 1970, in the hope of reclaiming what was lost that day – freedom to protest and to peacefully assemble and the democratic right to question the government and hold it accountable for wrongdoings.

The Truth Tribunal is generating a comprehensive historical record of the Kent State massacre. Interviews are being conducted by award-winning filmmaker Emily Kunstler and like the 40th anniversary hearings, will be simultaneously livecast on the home page of www.MichaelMoore.com. Archived interviews can be found on http://TruthTribunal.org/testimonials. The footage and mementos from the tribunal will be physically archived and available for viewing by the public as part of the permanent collection at the renowned Tamiment Library at New York University.

The west coast tribunal will take place over the weekend of August 7 & 8, 2010 at 150 Green Street, San Francisco, California. Organizers are asking for all original participants and witnesses of the event surrounding the 1970 Kent State shootings to pre-register at www.TruthTribunal.org/preregister. An East Coast Tribunal will follow in New York City on October 9 & 10.

On May 4, 1970 the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students protesting America’s invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. In a day that changed America, four students were killed and nine were wounded as they protested against the war. The incident triggered national outrage in a country already divided. In immediate response to the Kent State shootings, more than four million students rose up in dissent across 900 campuses, generating the only nationwide student protest in U.S. history. No one has been held responsible for the deaths and injuries that resulted from the shootings.

For more information, visit: http://www.truthtribunal.org

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MendoCoastCurrent, July 21, 2010

Back in spring 1970, just after the shootings at Kent State, the Kent State University (KSU) campus went on lockdown and every KSU student was forced to leave within hours, many for good. Since we formed the Kent State Truth Tribunal (KSTT), I have heard many KSTT participants recollect their experiences driving out west immediately after. I can picture this mass exodus of Kent Staters championing the back-to-land movement of the sixties and early seventies, in search of a safe haven, close to nature. I can relate as the west coast called to me years later.

Since so many original participants and witnesses that live on the west coast could not make it back to Kent for the 40th anniversary of the shootings, we are now gearing up for our San Francisco Tribunal on August 7 and 8 from 9-5pm.

Every original participant and witness of the 1970 Kent State shootings is invited to come to San Francisco to “share their truth” at the Kent State Truth Tribunal on August 7 and 8. Please pre-register here: http://TruthTribunal.org/preregister

As the first new media, truth-seeking initiative, the Kent State Truth Tribunal will continue to broadcast live at http://MichaelMoore.com on August 7 & 8 from 9am to 5pm Pacific, each weekend day. Every narrative will be livecast from our studio into your home via Michael Moore’s website, so be sure to watch!

We know the 1970 Kent State shootings wounded more than nine protesters – Kent State wounded a generation. Every young man facing the Vietnam draft and every person protesting the war saw themselves ‘shot dead’ in America that day. These wounds have not healed. The true story of the killings of Kent State remains untold, unknown and unrecorded.

The truth about Kent State will help to heal this generations pain. To enable this, we call for the United States government to acknowledge the ‘wrongs’ of May 4, 1970. We are reclaiming what was lost that day – freedom to protest and to peacefully assemble and our democratic right to question our government and hold it accountable for wrongdoings.

Gathering the collective stories of the witnesses of this seminal event in the history of American protest is our call to begin this assembly.

We’re focusing our gaze on San Francisco in early August and we continue on our path toward healing at our next tribunal in New York City on October 9 and 10.

Mark your calendars to watch the Kent State Truth Tribunal in San Francisco from your home computer at MichaelMoore.com. The truth at Kent State will broadcast live through the testimonials of witnesses and participants of the 1970 Kent State shootings.

Please join us.

Attend: August 7 and 8 in San Francisco from 9am to 5pm Pacific. To pre-register: http://TruthTribunal.org/preregister KSTT pre-registration guarantees your space and participation is free.

Watch: From 9am to 5pm, Pacific, you’ll see ‘live, streaming Kent State truth’ at http://MichaelMoore.com.

Questions?  ContactKSTT@gmail.com

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JOHN KING, The San Francisco Chronicle, December 19, 2008

dungenessThe impacts of climate change are a hot topic among scientists and environmental activists.  Now the Bay Conservation and Development Commission wants to hear from another perspective: the design community.

The state agency is preparing to launch a $125,000 competition that will invite architects, planners and engineers to bring innovative proposals “to climate proof the Bay Area,” in the words of the competition outline.

The aim isn’t to stop climate change from happening, say officials, or to build impregnable levees. The goal is to get designers thinking creatively about how to prepare for a world where the sea level might climb several feet – inundating large portions of the developed region unless something is done

“We are looking for ideas that can lead to future standards about how to deal with rising tides,” said Brad McCrea, a development design analyst for the commission. “We want to move the discussion forward.”

The commission approved a $25,000 contract with David Meckel to manage the competition. This means selecting the design jury as well as framing the rules – such as deciding whether design teams will be asked to look at specific sites or respond to broader issues.

“There’s an opportunity to suggest ideas that can be applied to our bay but have universal access,” said Meckel, whose design competition work is a sideline to his role as director of research for the California College of the Arts. “If one of the results is a solution for protecting low-lying freeways, for example, other cities are welcome to steal it.”

As now envisioned, $10,000 awards would go to each of the five entrants who present the most innovative schemes for adapting our urban region to natural changes. The current timetable calls for the competition to be launched in the spring and conclude by the end of 2009.

Given the relatively modest prize, Meckel suggested it’s unlikely that major architectural and/or engineering firms will respond.

“More likely we’d get something from three young staffers in the back room” of a large firm, said Meckel. “It’s a great way for emerging talent to step out.”

Still, commission officials say they’re looking for provocative and plausible examples of what the competition brief calls “resilient shoreline development techniques.”

“We all want it to go beyond cool-looking ideas,” McCrea said. “What’s needed are multidiscipline solutions … that go beyond what we think of when we talk about ‘protecting the shoreline.’ ”

The competition is the latest sign of how a commission created in 1965 to keep the bay from shrinking now grapples with the opposite problem: projections that show climate change could lift the level of the bay by more than a yard at high tide by 2050.

Left unchecked, this would submerge much of Silicon Valley as well as stretches of Highway 101 on the Peninsula. Marin County subdivisions along Richardson Bay would be imperiled; so would the Oakland and San Francisco airports.

Other coastal regions face similar impacts – which is why the commission wants the competition to have as wide an impact as possible. Current plans call for presenting the top entries in public forums and a competition catalog.

Another factor that might draw attention: the novelty.

“There’s been nothing with a focus like this that I’ve heard of in this country,” said G. Stanley Collyer, editor of Competitions, a professional quarterly.

“Ideas competitions can really have value if people take them seriously,” Collyer said. “If this one comes up with interesting ideas, it could be a model for other communities.”

“What’s needed are multidiscipline solutions … that go beyond ‘protecting the shoreline.’ “

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SolanoCountyBusinessNews.com, November 27, 2008

aboutEscondido-based EnXco, a subsidaiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles Co., recently announced that it has closed on the project financing for the Shiloh II Wind Energy Project under construction in the Montezuma Hills area of Solano County, California.

Lenders to the projects are Nord/LB as lead administrative agent, Dexia and Credit Industriel et Commercial; equity arranged by JP Morgan as lead investor with Wells Fargo and New York Life rounding out the investor group.

Construction of the 150-megawatt wind farm, consisting of 75 REpower 2 MW turbines, began in May, with commercial operation expected in December 2008. Pacific Gas & Electric will purchase the power generated under a 20-year power purchase agreement. The Shiloh II wind farm will be operated and maintained by EnXco Service Corporation.

“Bringing the financing to completion during this current financial crisis is testimony to the quality of our projects as well as to the long-term relationship with our financial partners,” said Tristan Grimbert, president and CEO of EnXco in a press release announcing the financing deal. “Even though funding is scarce, this further confirms that first class, high-quality projects will succeed.”

EnXco, Inc. develops, constructs, operates and manages renewable energy projects throughout the United States.

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