Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Northern California’

March 23, 2011

A west coast, community project to collect rain water & test for radioactive nuclides.

A grassroots project collecting rain water on the Mendocino coast. Commencing on 3/19/11, we are in process now as we collect samples of rain water for radioactive nuclides analysis & testing during the course of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

With 5-10 collection sites on the Mendocino coast, we are pleased to be working with UC Berkeley in analyzing the collection data. Ironically, they are sampling rain water, offering a clever and inexpensive method utilizing coffee filters.

The process to collect rain water and participate is straight-forward yet we encourage collection participants to be able to follow directions, ensuring our collection data is accurate and meaningful.

Our Mission at onset ~ To conduct a meaningful and accurate collection of rain water that enables Mendocino county residents to become better informed about our environment.

To learn more about the Mendocino RadiaRain Project, go here on facebook ~ http://on.fb.me/emL1Mv

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, March 14, 2011

Dear President Obama,

Continuing to hear comments that you, your administration and your cabinet members consider nuclear power as a clean, renewable solution is most alarming.

Mr. President, let’s consider the nuclear event occurring in Japan right now and learn the simple truth that any safe renewable energy portfolio DOES NOT include nuclear energy.

The ramifications of the current Japanese nuclear trauma will be felt worldwide as will the fall-out, for months and possibly years to come.

Mr. President, I strongly encourage your team to change course, hit the ground running in alternative, renewable and sustainable energy r&d right now.

Here’s a solution that may be started TODAY ~ http://bit.ly/t7ov1

I call it Mendocino Energy and am not attached to the name, yet very passionate about this important safe, renewable energy development concept. Time has come for us to get rolling!

Mendocino Energy ~ At this core energy technology incubator, energy policy is created as renewable energy technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing, refinement and implementation.

The Vision

Mendocino Energy is located on the Mendocino coast, three plus hours north of San Francisco, Silicon Valley. On the waterfront of Fort Bragg, utilizing a portion of the now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site to innovate in best practices, cost-efficient, safe renewable and sustainable energy development – wind, wave, solar, bioremediation, green-ag/algae, smart grid and grid technologies, et al.

The process is collaborative in creating, identifying and engineering optimum, commercial-scale, sustainable, renewable energy solutions with acumen.

Start-ups, utility companies, universities (e.g. Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford), EPRI, the federal government (FERC, DOE, DOI) and the world’s greatest minds gathering at this fast-tracked, unique coming-together of a green work force and the U.S. government, creating responsible, safe renewable energy technologies to quickly identify best commercialization candidates and build-outs.

The campus is quickly constructed on healthy areas of the Mill Site as in the past, this waterfront, 400+ acre industry created contaminated areas where mushroom bioremediation is underway.

Determining best sitings for projects in solar thermal, wind turbines and mills, algae farming, bioremediation; taking the important first steps towards establishing U.S. leadership in renewable energy and the global green economy.

With deep concern & hope,

Laurel Krause

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, March 11, 2011

Awakened this morning to a tsunami warning phone call on the landline from Sargent Barney warning of an impending tsunami to occur in just over half an hour at 7:23 a.m. He continued that it was due to a 9.0 earthquake in Japan hours earlier. Our coastal community is urgently called to prepare for a tsunami. At risk situations are at land elevations of 150 ft and below, especially low lying areas at & near river mouths here on the coast of northern California. The reverse-911 tsunami warning phone call suggested everyone go to higher ground immediately and it was 6:55am.

First action was to call a close neighbor without a land line suggesting we meet at our highest ground probably between 250-300 feet. Packing stuff I needed, making a pot of coffee, I am writing this post right now and it’s 9:17am.

I packed my car, went to highest ground here as suggested. Around 9am, a friend called to say the tsunami had been downgraded. The tsunami has passed (or so I believe right now). It was an excellent exercise.

Realized long after the early morning reverse-911 warning that the tsunami sirens were not sounded here on the coast.

A friend mentioned that a tsunami drill had been scheduled for March 11, not sure of the time.

Redheaded Blackbelt also has tsunami updates for Humboldt county ~ http://bit.ly/hspXcz

10:20 am: Here’s the NOAA Tsunami report ~

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE EUREKA CA
1020 AM PST FRI MAR 11 2011
REDWOOD COAST-MENDOCINO COAST-
1020 AM PST FRI MAR 11 2011

...A TSUNAMI WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR DEL NORTE...HUMBOLDT
AND MENDOCINO COUNTIES COASTAL AREAS...

EARTHQUAKE DATA...
 PRELIMINARY MAGNITUDE 8.9.
 LOCATION 38.2 NORTH 142.5 EAST.
 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU JAPAN.
 TIME 2146 PST MAR 10 2011.

A TSUNAMI WAS GENERATED AND HAS CAUSE DAMAGED ALONG THE DEL NORTE
COUNTY AND DAMAGE ALONG THE HUMBOLDT AND MENDOCINO COASTS IS
STILL EXPECTED. PERSONS AT THE COAST SHOULD BE ALERT TO
INSTRUCTIONS FROM LOCAL EMERGENCY OFFICIALS.

DAMAGING WAVES HAVE BEEN OBSERVED ACROSS HAWAIIAN ISLANDS.
DAMAGING WAVES HAVE ARRIVED AT CRESCENT CITY HARBOR WHERE ALL
DOCKS HAVE BEEN DESTROYED. WAVES HAVE BROKEN OVER THE SPIT AT
STONE LAGOON. A 3 FOOT WAVE HAS BEEN REPORTED IN HUMBOLDT BAY. A
2-4 FOOT FLOOD WAVE WAS REPORTED MOVING UP THE MAD RIVER AT 8:45
AM PST. DAMAGING WAVES WILL CONTINUE FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS.

MEASUREMENTS OR REPORTS OF TSUNAMI WAVE ACTIVITY
GAUGE LOCATION        TIME      AMPLITUDE
CRESCENT CITY CA     844 AM       8.1FT
NORTH SPIT HUMBOLDT  830 AM       3.1FT
ARENA COVE           917 AM       5.3FT

REMEMBER...DONT BE FOOLED...TSUNAMI WAVES CAN SEEM STOP FOR LONG
PERIODS AND THEN BEGIN AGAIN. WAIT FOR THE OFFICIAL ALL CLEAR TO
RETURN TO THREATENED AREAS.

IN DEL NORTE COUNTY...PEOPLE ARE ORDERED TO EVACUATE TO ABOVE 9TH
STREET. SHELTER LOCATIONS INCLUDE SMITH RIVER ELEMENTARY...DEL NORTE
HIGH SCHOOL AND YUROK TRIBAL OFFICE IN KLAMATH.

IN HUMBOLDT AND MENDOCINO COUNTIES...PEOPLE ARE ADVISED TO STAY
OFF BEACHES...NOT TRAVEL BY WATERCRAFT AND EVACUATE LOW LYING
COASTAL AREAS IMMEDIATELY UNTIL ADVISED THAT IT IS SAFE TO RETURN.

PEOPLE SHOULD STAY CLEAR OF LOW LYING AREAS ALONG COASTAL RIVERS AS
TSUNAMI WAVES CAN TRAVEL UP FROM THE MOUTH OF COASTAL RIVERS.

BULLETINS WILL BE ISSUED HOURLY OR SOONER IF CONDITIONS WARRANT
TO KEEP YOU INFORMED OF THE PROGRESS OF THIS EVENT. IF AVAILABLE...
REFER TO THE INTERNET SITE HTTP://TSUNAMI.GOV FOR MORE INFORMATION.

DUE TO RAPIDLY CHANGING CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH TSUNAMI WAVE
ACTIVITY...LISTENERS ARE URGED TO TUNE TO LOCAL EMERGENCY ALERT
SYSTEM MEDIA FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION ISSUED BY LOCAL DISASTER
PREPAREDNESS AUTHORITIES. THEY WILL PROVIDE DETAILS ON THE
EVACUATION OF LOW-LYING AREAS...IF NECESSARY...AND WHEN IT IS SAFE
TO RETURN AFTER THE TSUNAMI HAS PASSED.
****************************************

It’s 4:44 pm March 11, 2011: Receive the reverse-911 phone call ‘canceling the tsunami warning’ on the coast.

****************************************

4:50pm March 11, 2011: Governor Brown “has ordered San Mateo, Del Norte, Humboldt and Santa Cruz counties to utilize state aid in handling local emergencies, and repairing “damage to ports, harbors and infrastructure” caused by the tsunami. ~ http://bit.ly/fQxMIl

March 15, 2011: Mendocino Town Seeks Aid for $4M Tsunami Damage ~ http://bit.ly/gWy090

Videos of today’s Japanese tsunami and the 8.9 earthquake ~

Video taken near Crescent City, CA morning of March 11, 2011 ~

Read Full Post »

Ukiah Daily, March 9, 2010

Cool Small Wind Device

Mendocino County, along with the counties of Sonoma, Lake, Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity and Siskiyou will be receiving a $4.4 million grant from the California Energy Commission to initiate the proposed North Coast Energy Independence Program. The NCEIP is patterned after and represents an expansion of the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program. Implementation of the NCEIP will provide Mendocino County residents and businesses access to funding for residential and commercial energy efficiency and water conservation improvements, and stimulate the County’s economy through development of clean technology jobs.

The NCEIP will be implemented through the North Coast Integrated Regional Water Management Group, a coalition of Mendocino and six other North Coast counties. The NCIRWMG’s governance committee will serve as the principal contact with the California Energy Commission and administer the grant on behalf of the participating North Coast counties. Start-up and implementation of the NCEIP will occur within each county under direction of the respective County Board of Supervisors.

The North Coast and Sonoma County Energy Independence programs are the product of recent State legislation, Assembly Bill 811. Assembly bill 811 became law in 2008 and authorizes cities and counties to finance the installation of energy and water efficiency improvements to existing structures within a designated geographic area. Under AB 811, a city or county can loan money to property owners for the installation of permanent energy and water energy efficiency improvements, with the loan being repaid as a part of the property owner’s regular property tax payments. Repayment of the loan is tied to the property. Consequently, when the property changes ownership the loan repayment obligation automatically transfers to the new property owner.

Read Full Post »

FRANK HARTZELL, Mendocino Beacon, February 25, 2010

The Southern California investment company with a federal permit to develop wave energy in waters off Mendocino has entered into a partnership with one of the world’s top companies in the field.

GreenWave Energy Solutions recently entered into a memo of understanding, or MOU, with Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) of New Jersey, a move which makes wave energy off the village of Mendocino much more likely than ever.

Earlier this month, Ocean Power Technologies earned a federal license to develop wave energy off Reedsport, Ore., a groundbreaking move in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process.

Ocean Power Technologies had its own FERC wave energy preliminary permit off Cape Mendocino but last year gave up on that site as impractical. OPT, which has since eclipsed many of its hydrokinetics competitors, plans to bring its experience to developing waters off Mendocino, the FERC permit states.

OPT recently deployed one of its Power Buoys off Hawaii, where it is also developing wave energy. OPT has been granted the exclusive right to sell their patented WEC devices to GreenWave for the generation of electrical power off Mendocino.

The existence of GreenWave’s FERC preliminary permit already spells doom for the creation of any new Marine Life Protection Act (MLPAI) Initiative protection of the claimed area.

GreenWave told FERC in its latest progress report that the firm has a target date of April 2012 for filing a license to actually develop electricity off Mendocino.

A preliminary permit gives exclusive study rights to an area to the applicant and also provides automatic preference to a license to actually produce power in the ocean.

“The proposed 100 megawatt GreenWave Mendocino Wave Park is estimated to generate an average of 250 GigaWatt-hours annually. GreenWave has contacted most or all of the stakeholders … and will continue to conduct community outreach and informational efforts to keep all stakeholders apprised of progress and plans related to the environmental studies and development of this proposed wave energy project,” the FERC filing by GreenWave President Wayne Burkamp states.

GreenWave and Ocean Power Technologies plan joint meetings locally beginning in March, the filing states. The two firms plan to file full details of the wave energy project with FERC by March and then discuss those plans in public meetings with locals.

Wave energy has generated substantial local opposition led by local fishermen. The environmental community in Mendocino has also opposed wave energy. Environmentalists in Humboldt County have not been involved in the issue.

PG&E, faced with local opposition, withdrew its Fort Bragg wave energy development application and continued its effort in friendlier Humboldt County, then added a second site in Southern California.

National environmental groups signed off on wave energy in a letter to president Obama. But the Obama administration studied the issue and, like Fort Bragg residents, learned the technology raised serious environmental issues and was too theoretical to help with the nation’s energy needs in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, fishing and civic groups have been seeking to construct a public process that protects the ocean.

A group formed in Fort Bragg, Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics (FISH) is the lead plaintiff on a lawsuit against FERC challenging FERC’s issuance of the exclusive development rights to waters off Mendocino to GreenWave. The city of Fort Bragg, County of Mendocino, the Ocean Protection Council, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen and the Recreational Fishing Alliance are also part of the challenge.

The lawsuit, with filings due in federal court this spring and summer, asserts that FERC failed to follow environmental laws or create a comprehensive plan before issuing wave energy permits.

“GreenWave has reviewed the allegations contained in the complaint and believes the allegations are without merit. GreenWave is monitoring this litigation and will provide any support that FERC believes necessary,” GreenWave’s recent filing states.

PG&E said the reason it abandoned its Fort Bragg development site was Noyo Harbor is unsuitable. That hasn’t discouraged GreenWave so far.

Background

The exclusive three-year preliminary permit granted in May 2009 to GreenWave stretches from just north of Albion to off Point Cabrillo, about a half-mile to three miles offshore.

Five men from the Thousand Oaks area of Southern California, including Tony Strickland, a Republican state senator, formed GreenWave Energy Solutions about two years ago.

Strickland, one of the state’s most ardent deregulators and anti-tax advocates, won the state Legislature’s closest race last November by a handful of votes, California’s closest major race. He made his involvement in alternative energy a key part of his campaign.

Green Wave Energy Solutions when formed was composed of Burkamp, Strickland, engineer Bill Bustamante and prominent housing developers Dean Kunicki and Gary Gorian.

Calls to GreenWave’s message phone number revealed Strickland and the others are still involved.

GreenWave does not mention Strickland, or any local members of the California Legislature among its communications with the Legislature in its report to FERC.

“GreenWave has participated in numerous meetings with California state government officials regarding various aspects of the permitting process and the political dynamics of development of a wave farm, in this district. GreenWave has met with various legislative personnel including California State Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (39th District). Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (75th District), and Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Chief Deputy Legislative Assistant, John Moffatt.

“These meetings involved discussions regarding the future of wave energy in California, working to streamline the permitting process in California and questions related to legislation which would assist in wave energy development,” the FERC filing states.

The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative process has concentrated solely on restricting and banning fishing, despite broader general ocean protection goals in the act. An opinion issued by the California Attorney General’s office states that any prior legal claim (such as a preliminary permit for wave energy) precludes the establishment of any type of new marine protected area. However, that fact has not yet been introduced into the discussions of creation of “arrays” or fishing restricted areas, despite large areas off limits in both Humboldt and Mendocino counties due to permits granted to PG&E and GreenWave.

Editor’s Note: Phenomenal reporting by Frank Hartzell, thank you!

Read Full Post »

Editor’s Note: In late December 2009, the sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco vacated their home on the floating piers. This article may shed some light on what’s happening on the SF coast and the reasons for their leaving.  Like many others, we wonder where they went and for what reasons.

PETER FIMRITE, San Francisco Chronicle, September 22, 2009

By Bierstadt AlbertA humpback whale that suddenly rose out of the water and splashed down near the Farallon Islands provided a research vessel full of scientists with a surprising bonanza of research data.

“Whale poop!” shouted several researchers in unison, as biologists scrambled to collect the floating reddish specimens Saturday as part of a comprehensive study of the ocean’s ecology off the Northern California coast.

The color of the whale excrement meant that the huge creature had been feeding mostly on a tiny shrimp-like crustacean called krill instead of fish and anchovies, its preferred food in recent decades. It is a change in diet that several bird species at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge are unable to make, according to researchers in a joint ocean survey by the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and PRBO Conservation Science.

As a result, colonies of fish-eating cormorants, seagulls and murres failed to breed this year on the Farallon Islands. Over the past few months, dozens of dead birds and even sea lions have been found on local beaches.

Anchovies have disappeared, and scientists don’t know why. The researchers on the vessel believe that, in their absence, birds and mammals like humpback whales that eat krill are thriving while the ones that are eating only fish are in trouble, and the whale excrement served as evidence.

“We’ve had an extraordinary number of dead animals,” said Jan Roletto, the research coordinator for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. “It seems to be that the animals that suffered the most were the animals that forage on anchovies.”

Brandt’s cormorants, a black bird with white plumes that can dive as deep as 300 feet for its prey, did not produce any chicks this year on the Farallones or on Alcatraz. That’s compared with 15,000 chicks in 2007.

Breeding fails

For the anchovy-loving bird, it was the first complete breeding failure in 40 years during a year without El Niño conditions so far, according to scientists at PRBO, formerly known as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory.

Western gulls and common murres produced about one-seventh of the number of chicks they normally hatch. Researchers on the Farallones reported an increase in predation on the chicks that were produced, mainly because the parents were too far away looking for food.

Beachgoers probably noticed the death toll. Six to eight times the normal number of dead cormorants and sea lions were found on Bay Area beaches in May, June and July, according to researchers. The death toll in each case involves birds and marine mammals that prey on anchovies and other fish.

The deaths and breeding failures are all the more troubling because there appears to be plenty of krill, rockfish and other prey species to feed the seagoing birds and mammals.

Jaime Jahncke, the director of marine ecology for PRBO, said common murres had previous breeding failures in 1982-83 and in 1991-92, but both times the problems were linked to El Niño, a weather condition associated with warmer ocean temperatures and atmospheric conditions that cause heavy storms. Although forecasters say an El Niño is forming in the tropics, it has not yet hit California, Jahncke said.

No explanation

“I don’t know what it means, but it’s not good,” Jahncke said. “There are a lot of changes happening, and none of them have a clear explanation.”

Seagoing birds and mammals near the Farallon Islands depend on krill, anchovies and other prey that are attracted to conditions produced when cold, deep ocean currents bounce off the underwater outcropping called the Cordell Bank, forcing nutrients upward. The nutrients are most abundant during the transition from winter to spring.

Spring arrives an average of 20 days earlier than it did in 1970, Jahncke said. There has also been an increase in the strength of the upwellings over the past two decades, he said.

Apart from the lack of anchovies, that is probably a good thing.

The team of scientists on the boat spotted several blue whales before the humpback put on its show.

The abundance of blue whales, which feed almost exclusively on krill, and the evidence provided by the humpback made it clear that there is plenty of krill in the ocean.

“Whales primarily over the last decade have been feeding on fish,” said Lisa Etherington, the research coordinator for the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. “The last couple of years they’ve been feeding on krill. We don’t know why.”

Wild fluctuations

Jahncke said salmon smolt also feed on krill, a fact that may or may not help the beleaguered Central Coast chinook. The Cassin’s auklet, a small, chunky seabird that feeds on krill, had above-average nesting success this year.

But wild fluctuations are now almost normal, according to the researchers, who are concerned that the El Niño predicted for next year will cause a further decline in the numbers of birds.

Read Full Post »

EMILY AVILES, Ode Magazine, October 26, 2009

mainLately, the shores of San Francisco, California have been attracting more than wet-suit clad surfers and their boards.

A site five miles off the city’s western beach is being considered for a new Oceanside Wave Energy project.

Australian energy company BioPower Systems is collaborating with the City of San Francisco to investigate wave energy generation from the Pacific Ocean.

Wave power, not to be confused with tidal power, takes advantage of energy from the actual surface waves of the ocean. People have attempted to harness this power since 1890, but with little success. However, that may change thanks to BioPower Systems application of biomimicry.

The ideas underlying the company’s novel technologies reap the full benefit of billions of years of underwater evolution. The proposed bioWAVE ocean wave power system will sway like sea plants in ocean waves. Each lightweight unit—developed for 250kW, 500kW, 1000kW capacities—will then connect to a utility-size power grid via subsea cables. It’s now predicted that the same Californian waves that propel sundry surfers could generate between 10MW and 100MW of power. That’s enough energy to power between 3,000 to 30,000 homes annually.

If this project is indeed determined feasible—and it does look hopeful—BioPower Systems and the City of San Francisco will begin to develop a way to deliver clean renewable electricity to the city’s power grid. By 2012 that “hella rad swell” could be something electrifying.

Click here to view a full animation of the bioWAVE farm in action.

Read Full Post »

Dan Bacher, October 23, 2009

Image by Larry R. Wagner

Image by Larry R. Wagner

Environmentalists and fishermen on California’s North Coast are calling for an independent investigation into the killing of an endangered blue whale off Fort Bragg by a mapping survey boat contracted by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

In order to stop the killing of any more whales, locals are also asking for an immediate suspension of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process that the boat was collecting habitat data for.

The 72-foot female blue whale, a new mother, perished on Monday, October 19, after being hit by the 78-foot Pacific Star, under contract to NOAA to update maps of the ocean floor

Jim Milbury, spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said the boat was doing multi-sonar beam surveys to update marine charts and to determine the habitat to be used in state and federal marine protected area designations.

“We know that the whale’s death was caused by the collision with the boat because the boat crew called us to report the collision,” said Milbury. “After the collision, the dead whale washed up on the beach off Fort Bragg.”

Collisions with boats are relatively infrequent, but the Fort Bragg blue whale was the second to perish from a collision with a boat this fall. On October 9, a 50-foot blue whale was found floating in a kelp bed off Big Sur along the Monterey County coast after an undetermined vessel hit it.

The National Geographic and other media outlets gushed that the Fort Bragg blue whale’s death provided a unique opportunity for scientists to study a whale.

“Though unable to move the blue whale, scientists and students are leaping at the research opportunity, scrambling down rock faces to take tissue samples and eventually one of the 11-foot-long (3.5-meter-long) flippers,” according to an article at National Geographic.

However, fishermen, environmentalists and seaweed harvesters are outraged that the vessel, conducting surveys designed to designate habitat to be included in no-fishing zones that will kick Indian Tribes, fishermen and seaweed harvesters off their traditional areas, was negligent in trying to avoid a collision with the whale. Many believe that the sonar beams coming from the boat may have disoriented the whale, causing it to collide with the boat.

Fearing the endangered animals could soon become extinct, the International Whaling Commission banned all hunting of blue whales in 1966. There are now an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 blue whales in the Northern Hemisphere. The longest known blue whale measured 106 feet long and 200 tons. Whales are an average life span of 80 to 90 years.

Local environmentalists and fishermen have decided to name the dead whale “Jane” after Jane Lubchenko, the NOAA administrator who is running the federal fishery “management” scheme that resulted in the whale’s death.

“The NOAA vessel was mapping both federal and state waters, and part of that data will be used in the MLPA process,” said Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. “I guarantee you she wants to have a federal MPA process to close large chunks of the ocean out to 200 miles. The state MLPA process is just the beginning.”

The RFA, Ocean Protection Coalition and other conservation groups have asked for a suspension of the MLPA process, due to lack of dedicated funding, numerous conflicts of interests by MLPA decision makers and the lack of clarity about what type of activities are allowed in reserves. This tragic incident only highlights the urgent need to suspend the corrupt and out-of-control MLPA corporate greenwashing process that is opposed by the vast majority of North Coast residents.

“How many blue whales must be killed in the name of so-called ‘ocean protection,’” asked Martin. “How many of these beautiful and magnificent animals must be sacrificed at the altar of corporate-funded marine ‘protection’?”

Martin emphasized, “The whale is a metaphor for North Coast communities who have been run over by NOAA, an agency on auto pilot. The Department of Fish and Game is riding their coattails using this habitat data in the MLPA process.”

Among the communities of the North Coast dramatically impacted by the corrupt MLPA process is the Kashia Pomo Tribe, who have sustainably harvested seaweed, mussels and abalone off Stewarts Point for centuries. However, the California Fish and Game Commission in August, under orders from Governor Arnold Schwarzeneger, banned the Kashia Tribe, seaweed harvesters, fishermen and abalone divers from their traditional harvesting areas in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

As Lester Pinola, past chairman of the Kashia Rancheria, said in a public hearing prior to the Commission August 5 vote, “What you are doing to us is taking the food out of our mouths. When the first settlers came to the coast, they didn’t how to feed themselves. Our people showed them how to eat out of the ocean. In my opinion, this was a big mistake.”

Everybody who cares about the health of our oceans and coastal communities should support a full, independent and impartial investigation of the killing of “Jane ” the whale by a NOAA contract boat. At the same time, the MLPA process, rife with conflict of interests, mission creep and corruption of the democratic process, should be immediately suspended.

Read Full Post »

Editor’s Note:  When walking Manny, my dog, at Seaside Beach on the Mendocino coast on October 3rd, I noticed evidence from the tsunami in the dramatically high water markings left behind and advised below:

Ukiah Daily Journal, September 29, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoA 25-inch tsunami is expected to hit the Mendocino Coast tonight at 8:53 p.m., according to county and federal officials.

An 8-magnitude earthquake Tuesday morning near Pago Pago, American Samoa triggered a tsunami advisory for the California coast. The National Weather Service issued the advisory for the California and Oregon coasts, warning of possible dangerous currents.

“We’re advising people not to go out in their boats and stay away from low-lying areas,” Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Tuesday evening.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center says an advisory means that a tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water in imminent or expected.

Widespread inundation is not expected.

The waves are expected to begin arriving about 9 p.m. and built toward the most hazardous period early Wednesday morning.

Read Full Post »

Editor’s Note: To learn more about the Kent State Truth Tribunal, go to www.TruthTribunal.org. Please lend your support to our efforts for Truth & Justice.

A tribute to my sister, slain 1970 Kent State University student protestor against the Vietnam War, Allison Krause.

Becoming Galvanized by Laurel Krause & Delaney Rose Brown

laurelnallison2Putting the finishing touches on my face, I looked in the mirror and had a funny feeling about the day ahead.  I saw a healthy, bright-eyed, intense 53 year old woman glancing back with excitement and dashes of hope and desirability in knowing a nice man had just called to ask me out on a date that afternoon.  I accepted the invitation and as I dashed around my place, I realized it had been a while.  It felt like today was going to be different and maybe extraordinary, perhaps even life-changing.

Feeling optimistic and energized, I walked outside onto my front deck to take in the warm, late morning California sunshine and the calming beauty of my view on the rural Mendocino coast.  I turned around to look at the sun and feel the winter mid-day rays shine on me.

Unsure if it was real or if I imagined it, I tried to focus my over-40 eyes; it looked like the lead Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy marching towards me from the gate.  Nearly two-dozen men followed behind like bees in a hive, some fiddling with the gate to take it off its track while others were coming through in vehicles and, most disturbingly, officers aggressively following the Deputy marching towards me.  It was hard to fathom why so many officers were coming at me and Manny, my small dog that Friday noon.

There I was, standing barefoot in a beautiful dress pretty with perfume, and all the grace of the day suddenly vanished.  I immediately felt raw with shock.

Grabbing the deck rail to steady myself, I moaned “Ohhhh shittttt!”

Then before my eyes, the officers morphed into a platoon of Ohio National Guardsmen marching onto my land through the gate.  A soundtrack played in my head and everything went fuzzy:

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?        –“Ohio,” Neil Young, CSN&Y

In that split-second, I was back at Kent State University in 1970 when the Ohio National Guard shot and killed my sister, Allison Krause, during the Vietnam War protests on campus.  My time was up, les jeux sont faits and now they were coming for me too.

This was the first time I flashed back and revisited the utter shock, raw devastation and feeling of total loss since Allison died.  Back in early May 1970, I remember hearing my first news of Allison from a neighbor as I arrived home from junior high that afternoon, “Allison has been hurt.”

As the emotions took over, I began to physically, mentally and spiritually re-feel the learning of my sister’s death at the doorsteps of our home.  I broke down and couldn’t maintain control of anything in our environment, myself included.  I watched the progression of events outside of myself, as a witness instead of really being there, and having this happen to my family and me.

Later in life I learned that I was born into this world, the child of Arthur and Doris Krause and little sister of Allison Krause, to integrate balance into my surroundings and live in harmony.  In following this life path, I have sometimes yielded to the signposts of life that pop up to offer guidance.  Other times I have shielded my view of them, denied them or ignored them altogether.  As I’ve aged, I have had this opportunity to come to terms with myself.

I’ve learned that until health, balance or resolution is achieved and harmony is found, the signposts only get stronger, or shall I say, fiercer…and they continue to revisit until the message is finally decoded and hopefully integrated.

Focusing on my breath, I buckled to the ground while painful emotions ran through me, returning me to the moment.  Here I was experiencing one heck of a signpost as the sheriff’s deputy steadied me on the deck of my home and flashed the search warrant in my face to snap me back to reality – they were here because I was cultivating medical marijuana.  They cuffed me and read my rights as I sobbed hysterically.  While the cops searched through everything in my home, I was arrested and taken to jail.

Whether I missed the date or stood him up that day, there was no doubt I blew it with my suitor.  But it was nonetheless true that this Friday in late February was personally unforgettable and life changing.  It wasn’t exactly the kind of day I had imagined earlier or would have even asked for, but sometimes we are simply receivers of environmental impact, having little control or power over circumstances.  As we navigate through key life situations, there are choices and decisions we must make and therein lies our power: how we manage and exert our essence.  The outcome of events largely depends on how we respond to the situation, hopefully by creating an opportunity for positive growth to take away from it.

Arriving back home that night to my ravished land, I found doors left open, the gate was thrown off its hinge and the inside of my home strewn with debris from the enforcement teams raiding my property. It was hard to believe that my land, a place I had personally toiled on and developed these past five years, felt so negated and exposed.  In the supposed safety of my beloved home, I was scared, ravaged and vulnerable.

It wasn’t until the second month following my bust that I put together the pieces and realized the telltale signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Even though the sheriff’s men didn’t pull their guns on me during the arrest, once I saw the guns in their holsters, I feared for my life.  As they marched onto my property, I believed they were going to shoot and kill me, just like Allison.

Back in that state of mind, I again felt the same pain I experienced losing Allison nearly forty years ago. This is how PTSD manifests. This was how I took care of myself back then, what I did at the onslaught of extreme loss on a personal and cosmic level.

Cricket, one of Allison’s friends from Kent State and a therapist, suggested one late night phone call after the bust that PTSD doesn’t ever go away.  She suggested that the best way to deal with the pain of PTSD was to make something good come out of the remembrance, the suffering and the pain.

That’s when I decided to make the bust something good for me, good for all.  It was my only choice, the only solution to cure this memorable, generational, personal angst.  My mantra became, “This is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

And it has been.

Recounting my bust six months hence, I continue to confuse my words.  I replace the sheriff’s deputies with national guardsmen.  At night in dreams I see the guardsmen marching through my gate in unison.  My bust triggered the post-traumatic stress I experienced from my sister being murdered at Kent State in 1970.  She was protesting against the Vietnam War, most specifically, the Cambodian Invasion along with Nixon’s verbal harassment of the protesting students, calling them ‘bums.’  My sister, Allison Beth Krause, was shot dead by the National Guard with dum-dum bullets that exploded upon impact, as she protested more than a football field away from her killers, the U.S. government.

Back in 1970 with my parents in the room where Allison laid lifeless, I watched from outside in the hospital hall.  I saw what used to be ‘her’ lying there.  I noticed that her spirit had already left, and everyone was a mess.  My parents identified her body and as we walked the halls in the hospital, we heard others murmur, “they should’ve shot more.”

Like any fifteen-year-old, my coping mechanisms were undeveloped at best.  Every evening, I remember spending hours in my bedroom practicing calligraphy to Neil Young’s ‘After the Goldrush’…artistically copying phrases of his music…smoking marijuana to calm and numb my pain.  Feebly attempting to come to terms with the loss of my sister, and like so many others, the loss of feeling safe in the United States.

Years later I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of what happened to Allison.  Over thirty years later to help alleviate the effects of this emotional disorder, which is commonly characterized by long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning, I began cultivating my own medicine, marijuana.

How ironic, I thought. The medicine that kept me safe from experiencing PTSD now led me to relive that horrible experience as the cops marched onto my property.  There was no getting away from it.  No matter how much medical marijuana I smoked, I couldn’t change the fact that my sister was killed and I had not healed from it. None of us had healed from it.

Right after my bust, I could barely put a sentence together, yet after a few days back home from jail, I got really mad.  As a medical marijuana caregiver/patient, I had the proper documents and made every effort to grow marijuana legally on my rural, gated property, and I ended up getting arrested.  How did this happen?

Two weeks later as I entered my ‘not guilty’ plea in court, I learned that the seeds of my bust were sown with nuisance complaints.  Mendocino County nuisance ordinances encourage anyone who doesn’t like his or her neighbors, to send anonymous letters to the Sheriff complaining of ‘foul odors’ and road traffic.  These anonymous letters are basically crafted templates to complain of fabricated nuisances…at least in my case.  Taking advantage of this ordinance, hateful residents in Mendocino County found a way to make trouble for their neighbors by criminalizing them, especially the newcomers to the community.

I moved to the Mendocino coast five years ago, when I purchased five acres of undeveloped land in a rural area next to an agricultural preserve.  It was the first and only property my real estate agent showed me in 2004, and there was no doubt this magical spot called me.  When I arrived, it felt as if I was summoned, and now it’s clear that Allison and Dad were those pulling forces.

I remember parking my car at the end of the dirt driveway and looking out, enchanted by the view and turning to ask my friend, “Is that the ocean?”  I knew it was.  I saw this awesome, remote landscape before me and was captivated by the beautiful ecosystem of life.  The rolling meadows extending miles to the sea with hawks soaring above the fields, searching for prey.  Mice sheltering in the grasses that feed the cows continually grazing as they wander their weekly path across vast acreage that I observe each day, intending to minimize my impact.

My neighbors however, did not share my enthusiasm for my active life here, and they quickly judged me as a ‘city slicker.’  I had somehow missed their angry sentiments when I decided to make my move to the coast.   But the fact remained that I had already sunk everything I had into creating this fantasy-come-true and with the the bust, I was thrown down an even deeper financial hole.  My dream was crashing in on me.

After my bust, sporadic harassment continued as neighbors pulled pranks, engaged in petty vandalism and pursued other childish haunting tricks.  As I watched with dread, I felt exposed, off-balanced…almost shameful.  Then I remembered the Kent State hate mail my family received for over a decade after Allison was killed. While there were many very supportive, loving people and notes that came forward, the hatefulness of those scribbled letters had tremendous resonance.  Over time, I learned that the letter writers’ issues and angst sent our way (and now at me again) had very little to do with us.  I now see it as a manifestation related to duality, polarization and prejudice…us v. them, conservative v. progressive, rich v. poor, powerful v. downtrodden.

The days following my bust crept by; I burrowed in and rarely left my land.  In an effort to heal, I opened myself up and dug deep into my essence, asking for divine guidance.  That Spring, I often created rituals at my firepit, beckoning for direction and instruction.  I was asking to hear how I could be of best service to all.  That was when I heard Allison and my Dad come forward.  They wanted me to get active…to do something important for them.

As I recovered, I noticed that I was decoding the signposts in my life easier and quicker than usual, with increased clarity.  I realized the persecution I was living through was similar to what many Americans and global citizens experience daily.  This harassment even had parallels to Allison’s experience before she was murdered at Kent State almost forty years ago.

I began to see the interconnectedness of these events.  Full circle, I saw how the enduring effects of Kent State continue impacting today through powerful reverberations  Unresolved energy and extreme disharmony of this magnitude continued to reappear, rerunning on similar themes from the past, becoming stronger and continuing to add more insult to injury until we make things right. It became clear that this is true on a personal level as well as in collective consciousness.

The universe had already begun to push me towards searching for the truth with the signposts and alarming events. I started to understand this wasn’t something I could simply run away from.  At a very deep level, there was unfinished business surrounding cause and effect of certain events in my life and I was encouraged to take a hard look at it.

One fateful day in early April, the telephone rang.  My friend Alan Canfora, a wounded student in the Kent State Massacre, called to invite me to speak at Kent State University’s 39th memorial event. Normally I don’t relish public speaking, yet I quickly accepted.

So I began tailoring a speech for the Kent State memorial with Delaney Brown, a young activist living in the area.  Through the process of writing Speaking Your Truth, we were compelled to learn more about the recently re-discovered audio tape that recorded the Kent State protest on May 4th, 1970.  On that day, a student placed a microphone outside his dorm room window to record the protests on campus.  A copy of a copy (at 4th or 5th generation), hidden away and unearthed from the Yale Library only two years ago in 2007, the original audio tape has never been studied, forensically examined or explored.  Listen to tape here.

Those among the community directly involved in the Kent State Massacre, agree this audio tape holds the key to unlocking the truth at Kent State.  This new information or ‘truth’ is critically important as it contains documented evidence of a recorded ‘Order to Shoot’ that has been continually denied.  With the discovery and proof of an order to shoot, we finally document the intent to kill and ultimately reveal the truth about what occurred.  This is the truth that was so long ago suppressed and denied as guardsman and government officials continually perjured their testimonies to support their cover-up.  The contents of this audio tape shall play a dramatic role in the history of the Kent State Massacre as well as our own individual, national and global perceptions of the event.

I realized I had to focus my energy on that tape and become involved in isolating the ‘Order to Shoot’ given by the Ohio National Guard, to finally learn the truth about Kent State.  As the Strubbe tape had never been explored or analyzed, I wanted to help make that happen and follow it down.

Read Full Post »

JAMES RICKMAN, Seeking Alpha, June 8, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoOceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface. As the world’s largest solar collectors, oceans generate thermal energy from the sun. They also produce mechanical energy from the tides and waves. Even though the sun affects all ocean activity, the gravitational pull of the moon primarily drives the tides, and the wind powers the ocean waves.

Wave energy is the capture of the power from waves on the surface of the ocean. It is one of the newer forms of renewable or ‘green’ energy under development, not as advanced as solar energy, fuel cells, wind energy, ethanol, geothermal companies, and flywheels. However, interest in wave energy is increasing and may be the wave of the future in coastal areas according to many sources including the International Energy Agency Implementing Agreement on Ocean Energy Systems (Report 2009).

Although fewer than 12 MW of ocean power capacity has been installed to date worldwide, we find a significant increase of investments reaching over $2 billion for R&D worldwide within the ocean power market including the development of commercial ocean wave power combination wind farms within the next three years.

Tidal turbines are a new technology that can be used in many tidal areas. They are basically wind turbines that can be located anywhere there is strong tidal flow. Because water is about 800 times denser than air, tidal turbines will have to be much sturdier than wind turbines. They will be heavier and more expensive to build but will be able to capture more energy. For example, in the U.S. Pacific Northwest region alone, it’s feasible that wave energy could produce 40–70 kilowatts (kW) per meter (3.3 feet) of western coastline. Renewable energy analysts believe there is enough energy in the ocean waves to provide up to 2 terawatts of electricity.

Companies to Watch in the Developing Wave Power Industry:

Siemens AG (SI) is a joint venture partner of Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation, a leader in advanced hydro power technology and services, which owns Wavegen, Scotland’s first wave power company. Wavegen’s device is known as an oscillating water column, which is normally sited at the shoreline rather than in open water. A small facility is already connected to the Scottish power grid, and the company is working on another project in Northern Spain.

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc (OPTT) develops proprietary systems that generate electricity through ocean waves. Its PowerBuoy system is used to supply electricity to local and regional electric power grids. Iberdrola hired the company to build and operate a small wave power station off Santona, Spain, and is talking with French oil major Total (TOT) about another wave energy project off the French coast. It is also working on projects in England, Scotland, Hawaii, and Oregon.

Pelamis Wave Power, formerly known as Ocean Power Delivery, is a privately held company which has several owners including various venture capital funds, General Electric Energy (GE) and Norsk Hydro ADR (NHYDY.PK). Pelamis Wave Power is an excellent example of Scottish success in developing groundbreaking technology which may put Scotland at the forefront of Europe’s renewable revolution and create over 18,000 green high wage jobs in Scotland over the next decade. The Pelamis project is also being studied by Chevron (CVX).

Endesa SA ADS (ELEYY.PK) is a Spanish electric utility which is developing, in partnership with Pelamis, the world’s first full scale commercial wave power farm off Aguçadoura, Portugal which powers over 15,000 homes. A second phase of the project is now planned to increase the installed capacity from 2.25MW to 21MW using a further 25 Pelamis machines.

RWE AG ADR (RWEOY.PK) is a German management holding company with six divisions involved in power and energy. It is developing wave power stations in Siadar Bay on the Isle of Lewis off the coast of Scotland.

Australia’s Oceanlinx offers an oscillating wave column design and counts Germany’s largest power generator RWE as an investor. It has multiple projects in Australia and the U.S., as well as South Africa, Mexico, and Britain.

Alstom (AOMFF.PK) has also announced development in the promising but challenging field of capturing energy from waves and tides adding to the further interest from major renewable power developers in this emerging industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced several wave energy developments including a cost-shared value of over $18 million, under the DOE’s competitive solicitation for Advanced Water Power Projects. The projects will advance commercial viability, cost-competitiveness, and market acceptance of new technologies that can harness renewable energy from oceans and rivers. The DOE has selected the following organizations and projects for grant awards:

First Topic Area: Technology Development (Up to $600,000 for up to two years)

Electric Power Research Institute, Inc (EPRI) (Palo Alto, Calif.) Fish-friendly hydropower turbine development & deployment. EPRI will address the additional developmental engineering required to prepare a more efficient and environmentally friendly hydropower turbine for the commercial market and allow it to compete with traditional designs.

Verdant Power Inc. (New York, N.Y.) Improved structure and fabrication of large, high-power kinetic hydropower systems rotors. Verdant will design, analyze, develop for manufacture, fabricate and thoroughly test an improved turbine blade design structure to allow for larger, higher-power and more cost-effective tidal power turbines.

Public Utility District #1 of Snohomish County (SnoPUD) (Everett, Wash.) Puget Sound Tidal Energy In-Water Testing and Development Project. SnoPUD will conduct in-water testing and demonstration of tidal flow technology as a first step toward potential construction of a commercial-scale power plant. The specific goal of this proposal is to complete engineering design and obtain construction approvals for a Puget Sound tidal pilot demonstration plant in the Admiralty Inlet region of the Sound.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company – San Francisco, Calif. WaveConnect Wave Energy In-Water Testing and Development Project. PG&E will complete engineering design, conduct baseline environmental studies, and submit all license construction and operation applications required for a wave energy demonstration plant for the Humboldt WaveConnect site in Northern California.

Concepts ETI, Inc (White River Junction, Vt.) Development and Demonstration of an Ocean Wave Converter (OWC) Power System. Concepts ETI will prepare detailed design, manufacturing and installation drawings of an OWC. They will then manufacture and install the system in Maui, Hawaii.

Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT) – Manassas, Va., Advanced Composite Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion – “OTEC”, cold water pipe project. Lockheed Martin will validate manufacturing techniques for coldwater pipes critical to OTEC in order to help create a more cost-effective OTEC system.

Second Topic Area, Market Acceleration (Award size: up to $500,000)

Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, Calif.) Wave Energy Resource Assessment and GIS Database for the U.S. EPRI will determine the naturally available resource base and the maximum practicable extractable wave energy resource in the U.S., as well as the annual electrical energy which could be produced by typical wave energy conversion devices from that resource.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation (Atlanta, Ga.) Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the U.S. Georgia Tech will utilize an advanced ocean circulation numerical model to predict tidal currents and compute both available and effective power densities for distribution to potential project developers and the general public.

Re Vision Consulting, LLC (Sacramento, Calif.) Best Siting Practices for Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies With Respect to Environmental and Navigational Impacts. Re Vision will establish baseline, technology-based scenarios to identify potential concerns in the siting of marine and hydrokinetic energy devices, and to provide information and data to industry and regulators.

Pacific Energy Ventures, LLC (Portland, Ore.) Siting Protocol for Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Projects. Pacific Energy Ventures will bring together a multi-disciplinary team in an iterative and collaborative process to develop, review, and recommend how emerging hydrokinetic technologies can be sited to minimize environmental impacts.

PCCI, Inc. (Alexandria, Va.) Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Technologies: Identification of Potential Navigational Impacts and Mitigation Measures. PCCI will provide improved guidance to help developers understand how marine and hydrokinetic devices can be sited to minimize navigational impact and to expedite the U.S. Coast Guard review process.

Science Applications International Corporation (SAI) – San Diego, Calif., International Standards Development for Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy. SAIC will assist in the development of relevant marine and hydrokinetic energy industry standards, provide consistency and predictability to their development, and increase U.S. industry’s collaboration and representation in the development process.

Third Topic Area, National Marine Energy Centers (Award size: up to $1.25 million for up to five years)

Oregon State University, and University of Washington – Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center. OSU and UW will partner to develop the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center with a full range of capabilities to support wave and tidal energy development for the U.S. Center activities are structured to: facilitate device commercialization, inform regulatory and policy decisions, and close key gaps in understanding.

University of Hawaii (Honolulu, Hawaii) National Renewable Marine Energy Center in Hawaii will facilitate the development and implementation of commercial wave energy systems and to assist the private sector in moving ocean thermal energy conversion systems beyond proof-of-concept to pre-commercialization, long-term testing.

Types of Hydro Turbines

There are two main types of hydro turbines: impulse and reaction. The type of hydropower turbine selected for a project is based on the height of standing water— the flow, or volume of water, at the site. Other deciding factors include how deep the turbine must be set, efficiency, and cost.

Impulse Turbines

The impulse turbine generally uses the velocity of the water to move the runner and discharges to atmospheric pressure. The water stream hits each bucket on the runner. There is no suction on the down side of the turbine, and the water flows out the bottom of the turbine housing after hitting the runner. An impulse turbine, for example Pelton or Cross-Flow is generally suitable for high head, low flow applications.

Reaction Turbines

A reaction turbine develops power from the combined action of pressure and moving water. The runner is placed directly in the water stream flowing over the blades rather than striking each individually. Reaction turbines include the Propeller, Bulb, Straflo, Tube, Kaplan, Francis or Kenetic are generally used for sites with lower head and higher flows than compared with the impulse turbines.

Types of Hydropower Plants

There are three types of hydropower facilities: impoundment, diversion, and pumped storage. Some hydropower plants use dams and some do not.

Many dams were built for other purposes and hydropower was added later. In the United States, there are about 80,000 dams of which only 2,400 produce power. The other dams are for recreation, stock/farm ponds, flood control, water supply, and irrigation. Hydropower plants range in size from small systems for a home or village to large projects producing electricity for utilities.

Impoundment

The most common type of hydroelectric power plant (above image) is an impoundment facility. An impoundment facility, typically a large hydropower system, uses a dam to store river water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity. The water may be released either to meet changing electricity needs or to maintain a constant reservoir level.

The Future of Ocean and Wave Energy

Wave energy devices extract energy directly from surface waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface. Renewable energy analysts believe there is enough energy in the ocean waves to provide up to 2 terawatts of electricity. (A terawatt is equal to a trillion watts.)

Wave energy rich areas of the world include the western coasts of Scotland, northern Canada, southern Africa, Japan, Australia, and the northeastern and northwestern coasts of the United States. In the Pacific Northwest alone, it’s feasible that wave energy could produce 40–70 kilowatts (kW) per meter (3.3 feet) of western coastline. The West Coast of the United States is more than a 1,000 miles long.
In general, careful site selection is the key to keeping the environmental impacts of wave energy systems to a minimum. Wave energy system planners can choose sites that preserve scenic shorefronts. They also can avoid areas where wave energy systems can significantly alter flow patterns of sediment on the ocean floor.

Economically, wave energy systems are just beginning to compete with traditional power sources. However, the costs to produce wave energy are quickly coming down. Some European experts predict that wave power devices will soon find lucrative niche markets. Once built, they have low operation and maintenance costs because the fuel they use — seawater — is FREE.

The current cost of wave energy vs. traditional electric power sources?

It has been estimated that improving technology and economies of scale will allow wave generators to produce electricity at a cost comparable to wind-driven turbines, which produce energy at about 4.5 cents kWh.

For now, the best wave generator technology in place in the United Kingdom is producing energy at an average projected/assessed cost of 6.7 cents kWh.

In comparison, electricity generated by large scale coal burning power plants costs about 2.6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Combined-cycle natural gas turbine technology, the primary source of new electric power capacity is about 3 cents per kilowatt hour or higher. It is not unusual to average costs of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour and up for municipal utilities districts.

Currently, the United States, Brazil, Europe, Scotland, Germany, Portugal, Canada and France all lead the developing wave energy industry that will return 30% growth or more for the next five years.

Read Full Post »

OurGreenJourney, May 20, 2009

AB-811-Sonoma-1st-InstallSonoma County has funded its first clean energy loan secured by a lien on property taxes. As we have posted before, the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program is California’s first county wide energy efficiency financing district, authorized by AB 811.

The loan of $25,500 went to homeowners and paid for a 5 kilowatt photovoltaic system, net of an $8,200 California Solar Initiative rebate, and 30% tax credit on the remaining system cost. And it’s reported that there is already $6 million worth of applications for more loans from the programs.

During the Urban Land Institute’s Developing Green Conference last week, the participants talked seriously about the critical milestones that would affect the success of this funding mechanism:

The additional property tax liens created by these loans might disturb some commercial real estate lenders who might see them as a threat to the priority of their loan.

Several folks felt that lenders might become more relaxed about this when they compared the actual loan size to their own mortgage loans (very small), as well as the fact that the loan might accomplish energy efficiency retrofits which upgrade the property – and possibly even its cash flow and value. Note that Sonoma County’s program tells commercial property owners to get the approval of their lenders before applying for their loans.

We’re all still waiting to see that the bond markets will buy paper based on these types of loans, their terms, pricing and conditions. That acceptance is needed to bring increased secondary market liquidity to these funding mechanisms. Without it, these size programs will remain too limited to have much environmental impact and potentially just wither on the vine.

Homebuilders and homeowners should think for a second –> what does it mean for home prices in those areas where homeowners have direct access to easy credit for clean energy systems, energy efficiency retrofits, not to mention some pretty good rebates and tax credits?

Do you think that easy access to this type of green financing (and the benefits of the retrofits that it enables) makes it harder for other property owners to sell their unretrofitted properties at market rates? Will more homebuilders have to build green homes to compete?

Yes, AB 811’s gonna keep things interesting — and good — for a while.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, May 20, 2009

Mendocino-Energy-Mill-SiteAt this core energy technology incubator, energy policy is created as renewable energy technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing, refinement and implementation.

The Vision

Mendocino Energy is located on the Mendocino coast, three plus hours north of San Francisco/Silicon Valley. On the waterfront of Fort Bragg, utilizing a portion of the now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site to innovate in best practices, cost-efficient, safe renewable and sustainable energy development – wind, wave, solar, bioremediation, green-ag/algae, smart grid and grid technologies, et al.

The process is collaborative in creating, identifying and engineering optimum, commercial-scale, sustainable, renewable energy solutions…with acumen.

Start-ups, utilities companies, universities (e.g. Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford), EPRI, the federal government (FERC, DOE, DOI) and the world’s greatest minds gathering at this fast-tracked, unique coming-together of a green work force and the U.S. government, creating responsible, safe renewable energy technologies to quickly identify best commercialization candidates and build-outs.

The campus is quickly constructed on healthy areas of the Mill Site as in the past, this waterfront, 400+ acre industry created contaminated areas where mushroom bioremediation is underway.

Determining best sitings for projects in solar thermal, wind turbines and mills, algae farming, bioremediation; taking the important first steps towards establishing U.S. leadership in renewable energy and the global green economy.

Read Full Post »

Excerpts of FRANK HARTZELL’s article, Mendocino Beacon, May 7, 2009

gweclogo1GreenWave Energy Solutions, an “alternative energy startup has been granted a three-year preliminary permit to study wave energy off Mendocino.

It’s locals’ first look at action by a newly recast Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is tasked by the Obama Administration to make a greater push to develop alternative energy.

On May 1, FERC issued an exclusive preliminary permit to GreenWave Energy Solutions LLC. The permit’s area stretches from just north of Albion to off Point Cabrillo, about a half-mile from shore to three miles offshore.

Five men from the Thousand Oaks area of Southern California, including Tony Strickland, a Republican state senator, formed GreenWave Energy Solutions about two years ago.

Strickland, one of the state’s most ardent deregulators and anti-tax advocates, won the state Legislature’s closest race last November by a handful of votes. He made his involvement in alternative energy a key part of his campaign.

Green Wave Energy Solutions is composed of president Wayne Burkamp, Strickland, engineer Bill Bustamante, developer Dean Kunicki and developer Gary Gorian. Kunicki and Gorian are major real estate developers in Southern California.

The preliminary permit reserves that area solely for GreenWave and also gives the company first rights to apply for a long-term power license in state waters.”

“The GreenWave proposal envisions eventual construction of a power plant with more than twice the capacity of that planned by PG&E. GreenWave’s Burkamp said the firm is not a shell corporation or a subsidiary of any other company.

GreenWave hopes to someday install 10 to 100 Pelamis or OPT hydrokinetic devices capable of producing 100 megawatts, with a 2- to 3-mile long powerline running to shore, the permit application states.

FERC’s permit conditions for GreenWave don’t vary much from those imposed by FERC under the former Bush Administration.

But locals made this preliminary permit one of the longest ever. And the application has more interveners and more people commenting than any other “hydrokinetic” project in the nation. FERC has issued and is considering hydrokinetic permits from the Yukon River to the Florida Keys for wave, tidal, ocean current and river flow power.

While issuing the permit, FERC briefly responds to each point raised by locals.

“As for the concerns raised by Mendocino County and Laurel Krause regarding the financial capability and experience of the applicant, it has been the Commission’s policy for some time that, at least where there is no competition for a permit, the Commission will not base grant of the permit on proof of an applicant’s ability to finance or perform studies under the permit,” FERC wrote. “However, as discussed below, application of the Commission’s strict scrutiny policy may include cancellation of the permit if the applicant is unable to demonstrate, for financial or other reasons, adequate progress toward the possible development of a license application.”

Although FERC is an independent agency, President Obama appointed Jon Wellinghoff as chairman of the five-member commission after the chairman under President Bush resigned and left FERC. With the commission now split 2-2 between Republicans and Democrats, Obama now has the opportunity to change its direction with his appointment of a new fifth member.

FERC also recently accepted three preliminary permit applications from Sonoma County to study wave energy off its shores, a nod to local government that signals a change of direction for the independent federal commission.

That change began when Mendocino County and the City of Fort Bragg protested exclusion from the process and a lawsuit was threatened.

The permit is the first wave energy permit since the Obama Administration released new standards for the process of generating alternative energy on the outer continental shelf.

Under that plan, FERC has complete control of the wave energy process inside three miles. For projects like PG&E’s wave energy proposal, which extends on both sides of the three-mile line, a Minerals Management Service lease is required past state waters. PG&E withdrew from its efforts to get a MMS lease last year.

GreenWave’s permit area appears to extend just beyond the three-mile limit. John Romero of MMS said neither PG&E or GreenWave has sought a lease from MMS.

GreenWave’s application says the initial phase will involve spending between $1 million and $2 million and will be financed entirely through private equity.

“The estimated cost of the second phase (the actual installation of wave energy devices in the water and the generation of power from these devices) will be $20 million to $40 million,” the application states.

Burkamp told the newspaper that GreenWave’s application is different from PG&E’s in that GreenWave will focus on solving environmental issues, while PG&E Wave Connect is set up to test rival technologies.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, April 26, 2009

berkeleysolar1The California Energy Commission is conducting a workshop on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 in Sacramento, to discuss the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provisions related to funding for energy projects.

The workshop will focus on Assembly Bill 811 (Levine, Chapter 159, Statutes of 2008) that finances the installation of energy efficiency improvements, distributed generation and renewable energy sources through contractual assessments to determine if and how ARRA money can advance these programs in local jurisdictions.

This workshop is intended to inform and discuss with the public and various stakeholders the types of projects that may be funded, eligible recipients of funds and application processes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street
First Floor, Hearing Room A
Sacramento, California

Remote Attendance
Webcast – Presentations and audio from this meeting will be broadcast over the Internet through Windows Media. For details, please go to [www.energy.ca.gov/webcast/].

Webcast participants will be able to submit questions on areas of interest during the meeting to be addressed by workshop participants via e-mail at [AB811@energy.state.ca.us].

Purpose
Energy Commission staff are exploring the efficacy of supporting AB 811 type programs with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. These would promote the installation of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources or energy efficiency improvements that are permanently fixed to real property and are financed through the use of contractual assessments. Included in this discussion will be the costs and benefits of financing such a program, local and state barriers that may exist to implementing AB 811 related programs, and exploring other financing mechanisms that could be quickly implemented to achieve similar energy efficiency project installation and financing as described in AB 811.

Note that the following criteria for project priorities and expending ARRA funds will be taken into consideration when discussing AB 811 and/or other funding:

  1. Effectiveness in stimulating and creating or retaining green jobs in California;
  2. Achieve lasting and measureable energy benefits consistent with the “Loading Order” priority of energy efficiency systems;
  3. Expend money efficiently, with accountability and minimal administrative burden;
  4. Contribute to meeting California’s energy policy goals as defined by the Energy Commission’s Integrated Energy Policy Report, California Air Resources Board’s AB 32 Scoping Plan as well as other relevant energy policy documents; and
  5. Leverage other federal, state, local and private financing to sustain the economy.

Background
ARRA of 2009 will provide nationally $787 billion in economic investment. The goals of ARRA are to jump start the economy and create jobs for Americans.

The Energy Commission is expected to administer three programs that include: the State Energy Program for approximately $226 million; the Energy Efficiency and Conservation and Block Grant Program for approximately $49.6 million; and the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program estimated at approximately $30 million.

In addition, there is more than $37 billion available nationwide that the United States Department of Energy (DOE) will administer through competitive grants and other financing for energy- and climate change-related programs. The Energy Commission will work with other state agencies, utilities, and other public and private entities to identify ways to leverage these funds for California projects.

Read Full Post »

MARK CLAYTON, The Christian Science Monitor, April 24, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoThree miles off the craggy, wave-crashing coastline near Humboldt Bay, California, deep ocean swells roll through a swath of ocean that is soon to be the site of the nation’s first major wave energy project.

Like other renewable energy technology, ocean energy generated by waves, tidal currents or steady offshore winds has been considered full of promise yet perennially years from reaching full-blown commercial development.

That’s still true – commercial-scale deployment is at least five years away. Yet there are fresh signs that ocean power is surging. And if all goes well, WaveConnect, the wave energy pilot project at Humboldt that’s being developed by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), could by next year deploy five commercial-scale wave systems, each putting 1 megawatt of ocean-generated power onto the electric grid.

At less than 1% of the capacity of a big coal-fired power plant, that might seem a pittance. Yet studies show that wave energy could one day produce enough power to supply 17% of California’s electric needs – and make a sizable dent in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Nationwide, ocean power’s potential is far larger. Waves alone could produce 10,000 megawatts of power, about 6.5% of US electricity demand – or as much as produced by conventional hydropower dam generators, estimated the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the research arm of the public utility industry based in Palo Alto, California, in 2007. All together, offshore wind, tidal power, and waves could meet 10% of US electricity needs.

That potential hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Obama administration. After years of jurisdictional bickering, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Department of Interior — MMS last month moved to clarify permitting requirements that have long slowed ocean energy development.

While the Bush administration requested zero for its Department of Energy ocean power R&D budget a few years ago, the agency has reversed course and now plans to quadruple funding to $40 million in the next fiscal year.

If the WaveConnect pilot project succeeds, experts say that the Humboldt site, along with another off Mendocino County to the south, could expand to 80 megawatts. Success there could fling open the door to commercial-scale projects not only along California’s surf-pounding coast but prompt a bicoastal US wave power development surge.

“Even without much support, ocean power has proliferated in the last two to three years, with many more companies trying new and different technology,” says George Hagerman, an ocean energy researcher at the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute in Arlington, Va.

Wave and tidal current energy are today at about the same stage as land-based wind power was in the early 1980s, he says, but with “a lot more development just waiting to see that first commercial success.”

More than 50 companies worldwide and 17 US-based companies are now developing ocean power prototypes, an EPRI survey shows. As of last fall, FERC tallied 34 tidal power and nine wave power permits with another 20 tidal current, four wave energy, and three ocean current applications pending.

Some of those permits are held by Christopher Sauer’s company, Ocean Renewable Power of Portland, Maine, which expects to deploy an underwater tidal current generator in a channel near Eastport, Maine, later this year.

After testing a prototype since December 2007, Mr. Sauer is now ready to deploy a far more powerful series of turbines using “foils” – not unlike an airplane propeller – to efficiently convert water current that’s around six knots into as much as 100,000 watts of power. To do that requires a series of “stacked” turbines totaling 52 feet wide by 14 feet high.

“This is definitely not a tinkertoy,” Sauer says.

Tidal energy, as demonstrated by Verdant Power’s efforts in New York City’s East River, could one day provide the US with 3,000 megawatts of power, EPRI says. Yet a limited number of appropriate sites with fast current means that wave and offshore wind energy have the largest potential.

“Wave energy technology is still very much in emerging pre-commercial stage,” says Roger Bedard, ocean technology leader for EPRI. “But what we’re seeing with the PG&E WaveConnect is an important project that could have a significant impact.”

Funding is a problem. As with most renewable power, financing for ocean power has been becalmed by the nation’s financial crisis. Some 17 Wall Street finance companies that had funded renewables, including ocean power, are now down to about seven, says John Miller, director of the Marine Renewable Energy Center at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Even so, entrepreneurs like Sauer aren’t close to giving up – and even believe that the funding tide may have turned. Private equity and the state of Maine provided funding at a critical time, he says.

“It’s really been a struggle, particularly since mid-September when Bear Sterns went down,” Sauers says. “We worked without pay for a while, but we made it through.”

Venture capitalists are not involved in ocean energy right now, he admits. Yet he does get his phone calls returned. “They’re not writing checks yet, but they’re talking more,” he says.

When they do start writing checks, it may be to propel devices such as the Pelamis and the PowerBuoy. Makers of those devices, and more than a dozen wave energy companies worldwide, will soon vie to be among five businesses selected to send their machines to the ocean off Humboldt.

One of the major challenges they will face is “survivability” in the face of towering winter waves. By that measure, one of the more successful generators – success defined by time at sea without breaking or sinking – is the Pelamis, a series of red metal cylinders connected by hinges and hydraulic pistons.

Looking a bit like a red bullet train, several of the units were until recently floating on the undulating sea surface off the coast of Portugal. The Pelamis coverts waves to electric power as hydraulic cylinders connecting its floating cylinders expand and contract thereby squeezing fluid through a power unit that extracts energy.

An evaluation of a Pelamis unit installed off the coast of Massachusetts a few years ago found that for $273 million, a wave farm with 206 of the devices could produce energy at a cost of about 13.4 cents a kilowatt hours. Such costs would drop sharply and be competitive with onshore wind energy if the industry settled on a technology and mass-produced it.

“Even with worst-case assumptions, the economics of wave energy compares favorably to wind energy,” the 2004 study conducted for EPRI found.

One US-based contestant for a WaveConnect slot is likely to be the PowerBuoy, a 135-five-foot-long steel cylinder made by Ocean Power Technology (OPT) of Pennington, N.J. Inside the cylinder that is suspended by a float, a pistonlike structure moves up and down with the bobbing of the waves. That drives a generator, sending up to 150 kilowatts of power to a cable on the ocean bottom. A dozen or more buoys tethered to the ocean floor make a power plant.

“Survivability” is a critical concern for all ocean power systems. Constant battering by waves has sunk more than one wave generator. But one of PowerBuoy’s main claims is that its 56-foot-long prototype unit operated continuously for two years before being pulled for inspection.

“The ability to ride out passing huge waves is a very important part of our system,” says Charles Dunleavy, OPT’s chief financial officer. “Right now, the industry is basically just trying to assimilate and deal with many different technologies as well as the cost of putting structures out there in the ocean.”

Beside survivability and economics, though, the critical question of impact on the environment remains.

“We think they’re benign,” EPRI’s Mr. Bedard says. “But we’ve never put large arrays of energy devices in the ocean before. If you make these things big enough, they would have a negative impact.”

Mr. Dunleavy is optimistic that OPT’s technology is “not efficient enough to rob coastlines and their ecosystems of needed waves. A formal evaluation found the company’s PowerBuoy installed near a Navy base in Hawaii as having “no significant impact,” he says.

Gauging the environmental impacts of various systems will be studied closely in the WaveConnect program, along with observations gathered from fishermen, surfers, and coastal-impact groups, says David Eisenhauer, a PG&E spokesman, says.

“There’s definitely good potential for this project,” says Mr. Eisenhauer. “It’s our responsibility to explore any renewable energy we can bring to our customers – but only if it can be done in an economically and environmentally feasible way.”

Offshore wind is getting a boost, too. On April 22, the Obama administration laid out new rules on offshore leases, royalty payments, and easement that are designed to pave the way for investors.

Offshore wind energy is a commercially ready technology, with 10,000 megawatts of wind energy already deployed off European shores. Studies have shown that the US has about 500,000 megawatts of potential offshore energy. Across 10 to 11 East Coast states, offshore wind could supply as much as 20% of the states’ electricity demand without the need for long transmission lines, Hagerman notes.

But development has lagged, thanks to political opposition and regulatory hurdles. So the US remains about five years behind Europe on wave and tidal and farther than that on offshore wind, Bedard says. “They have 10,000 megawatts of offshore wind and we have zero.”

While more costly than land-based wind power, new offshore wind projects have been shown in some studies to have a lower cost of energy than coal projects of the same size and closer to the cost of energy of a new natural-gas fired power plant, Hagerman says.

Offshore wind is the only ocean energy technology ready to be deployed in gigawatt quantities in the next decade, Bedard says. Beyond that, wave and tidal will play important roles.

For offshore wind developers, that means federal efforts to clarify the rules on developing ocean wind energy can’t come soon enough. Burt Hamner plans a hybrid approach to ocean energy – using platforms that produce 10% wave energy and 90% wind energy.

But Mr. Hamner’s dual-power system has run into a bureaucratic tangle – with the Minerals Management Service and FERC both wanting his company to meet widely divergent permit requirements, he says.

“What the public has to understand is that we are faced with a flat-out energy crisis,” Hamner says. “We have to change the regulatory system to develop a structure that’s realistic for what we’re doing.”

To be feasible, costs for offshore wind systems must come down. But even so, a big offshore wind farm with hundreds of turbines might cost $4 billion – while a larger coal-fired power plant is just as much and a nuclear power even more, he contends.

“There is no cheap solution,” Hamner says. “But if we’re successful, the prize could be a big one.”

Read Full Post »

JEFF QUACKENBUSH, North Bay Business Journal, October 6, 2008

Santa Rosa – Sonoma County governments have aggressive goals and strategies for curbing gases blamed for climate change, and they now have a new tool for enticing owners of existing commercial and residential structures into reducing emissions via energy-efficient upgrades.

Several North Bay local governments have put in place green-building standards to encourage or require green building practices and materials on new construction. Green-building standards are gelling in St. Helena, Napa and Napa County.

Yet cutting emissions attributed to existing homes and commercial buildings has been one of the biggest challenges toward the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. 

Assembly Bill 811, signed in July, gives cities and counties authority to create benefit assessment districts in which property owners can decide to “finance” energy upgrades. Owners would enter a “loan” contract with a local government and pay it back via an item on their property-tax bills that would be passed from one owner to the next over 10 or 20 years. It would be senior to any other debt.

Sonoma County is one of the first governments statewide to pursue such districts. 

Sustainable Napa County has been holding workshops with solar-energy vendors on innovative financing programs, and the group is in early talks with local lawmakers about implementing financing akin to the AB 811-like Berkeley First effort, according to program manager Sally Seymour.

Go Solar Marin early 2008 offered assistance for residential photovoltaic systems. The Marin Clean Energy community choice aggregation program for creating renewable-energy power stations and selling electricity to residents is in development.

Last September, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors opted to explore an AB 811 district. The concept will be tested with Sonoma County Water Agency efforts in the Airport Business Center business park near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, along Eighth Street East near Sonoma and with homes around the community of Geyserville.

An Airport Green Business Community has formed to increase energy and water efficiency, and businesses representing about two-thirds of the business park’s square footage are participating. The effort is seen as a model for such parks nationwide. Highly treated recycled wastewater from a water agency plant in the park would be used for heating and cooling buildings – saving businesses up to half on utility rates – and irrigating landscapes.

The water agency is exploring a similar use of recycled wastewater from its Sonoma Valley plant for wine-related industrial operations along Eighth Street East and potentially in the Geyserville area from a small treatment plant there. 

One of the prime movers for the county’s AB 811 and other greenhouse gas-fighting efforts is water agency General Manager Randy Poole. The water agency committed to offsetting all carbon dioxide emissions connected to its operations by 2015. “If this program is successful this could be an economic stimulus package not only for the county but also for the country,” Mr. Poole said.

Sonoma County governments signed onto the Climate Action Campaign to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 25% below 1990 levels by 2015, 10 years sooner than the state’s goal under AB 32. Other municipalities in the county have expressed interest in joining the district, and airport-area businesses have too.

“We’re hoping that interest converts into dollars,” said county Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector Rod Dole. 

County government is moving methodically toward implementing AB 811 because costs to the cash-cautious county could be considerable to get the program started. For example, the city of Palm Desert, an AB 811 leader, has put $2.5 million in city money toward lowering interest rates for property owners to 7% from 8 % the county is paying for the financing.

Mr. Dole thinks the county may not have to dip into its coffers for initial projects. One possible source is bank lines of credit to local government, through which a bank would buy a note, say, for $4 million to cover 100 $40,000 private solar projects.

Average funding per project in Palm Desert for replacement of pool pumps and air-conditioners was $40,000. Mr. Dole anticipates similar per-project averages locally.

Another source would be issuance of private-active bonds after enough proposed projects are amassed. Mr. Dole estimates that $10 million to $15 million in total projects would be enough to spur that effort. In either case, the county would have to offer property owners financing at interest rates, with a margin to cover financing and administrative costs, comparable to home-equity or construction loans, according to Mr. Dole.

Read Full Post »

COLIN SULLIVAN, The New York Times, April 14, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoPalo Alto — Technology for tapping ocean waves, tides and rivers for electricity is far from commercial viability and lagging well behind wind, solar and other fledgling power sectors, a panel of experts said last week during a forum here on climate change and marine ecosystems.

While the potential for marine energy is great, ocean wave and tidal energy projects are still winding their way through an early research and development phase, these experts said.

“It’s basically not commercially financeable yet,” said Edwin Feo, a partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, during a conference at Stanford University. “They are still a long ways from getting access to the capital and being deployed, because they are simply immature technologies.”

Ocean and tidal energy are renewable sources that can be used to meet California’s renewable portfolio standard of 10 percent of electricity by 2010. But the industry has been hampered by uncertainty about environmental effects, poor economics, jurisdictional tieups and scattered progress for a handful of entrepreneurs.

Finavera Renewables, based in British Columbia, recently canceled all of its wave projects, bringing to a close what was the first permit for wave power from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And last fall, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) denied Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s application for a power purchase agreement with Finavera Renewables, citing the technology’s immaturity.

Roger Bedard, head of the Electric Power Research Institute’s wave power research unit, said the United States is at least five and maybe 10 years away from the first commercial project in marine waters. A buoy at a Marine Corps base in Hawaii is the only wave-powered device that has been connected to the power grid so far in the United States. The first pilot tidal project, in New York’s East River, took five years to get a permit from FERC.

Feo, who handles renewable energy project financing at his law firm, says more than 80 ocean, tidal and river technologies are being tested by start-ups that do not have much access to capital or guarantee of long-term access to their resource. That has translated into little interest from the investment community.

“Most of these companies are start-ups,” Feo said. “From a project perspective, that doesn’t work. People who put money into projects expect long-term returns.”

William Douros of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expressed similar concerns and said agency officials have been trying to sort through early jurisdictional disputes and the development of some technologies that would “take up a lot of space on the sea floor.”

“You would think offshore wave energy projects are a given,” Douros said. “And yet, from our perspective, from within our agency, there are still a lot of questions.”

‘Really exciting times’

But the belief in marine energy is there in some quarters, prompting the Interior Department to clear up jurisdictional disputes with FERC for projects outside 3 miles from state waters. Under an agreement announced last week, Interior will issue leases for offshore wave and current energy development, while FREC will license the projects.

The agreement gives Interior’s Minerals Management Service exclusive jurisdiction over the production, transportation or transmission of energy from offshore wind and solar projects. MMS and FERC will share responsibilities for hydrokinetic projects, such as wave, tidal and ocean current.

Maurice Hill, who works on the leasing program at MMS, said the agency is developing “a comprehensive approach” to offshore energy development. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar himself has been holding regional meetings and will visit San Francisco this week to talk shop as part of that process.

Hill said MMS and the U.S. Geological Survey will issue a report within 45 days on potential development and then go public with its leasing program.

“These next couple of months are really exciting times, especially on the OCS,” he said.

Still, Hill acknowledged that the industry is in an early stage and said federal officials are approaching environmental effects especially with caution.

“We don’t know how they’ll work,” he said. “We’re testing at this stage.”

‘Highly energetic’ West Coast waves

But if projects do lurch forward, the Electric Power Research Institute’s Bedard said, the resource potential is off the charts. He believes it is possible to have 10 gigawatts of ocean wave energy online by 2025, and 3 gigawatts of river and ocean energy up in the same time frame.

The potential is greatest on the West Coast, Bedard said, where “highly energetic” waves pound the long coastline over thousands of miles. Alaska and California have the most to gain, he said, with Oregon, Washington and Hawaii not far behind.

To Feo, a key concern is the length of time MMS chooses to issue leases to developers. He said the typical MMS conditional lease time of two, three or five years won’t work for ocean wave technology because entrepreneurs need longer-term commitments to build projects and show investors the industry is here to say.

“It just won’t work” at two, three or five years, Feo said. “Sooner or later, you have to get beyond pilot projects.”

Hill refused to answer questions about the length of the leases being considered by MMS.

Read Full Post »

Publisher’s Note:  Feb 09, 2009 – Not only has Finavera surrendered their Makah Bay license noted below, they also announced surrendering the Humboldt County, California Preliminary Permit to explore wave energy:

“Finavera Renewables has filed applications to surrender its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for the Makah Bay Wave Energy Pilot Project in Washington and the Humboldt County Preliminary Permit for a proposed wave energy project in California.”

MendoCoastCurrent readers may recall Finavera’s inability to secure CPUC funding for the Humboldt project; noted below capitalization, financial climate as key reasons in these actions.

MendoCoastCurrent, February 6, 2009

finavera-wavepark-graphicToday Finavera Renewables surrendered their Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Makah Bay, Washington wave energy project license, commenting that the Makah Bay Finavera project “never emerged from the planning stages.”

And “due to the current economic climate and the restrictions on capital necessary to continue development of this early-stage experimental Project, the Project has become uneconomic.  Efforts by Finavera to transfer the license were not successful.  Therefore, Finavera respectfully requests that the <FERC> Commission allow it to surrender its license for the Project. ”

Back in early 2007, Finavera’s Makah Bay project looked like it would become the first U.S. and west coast project deployment of wave energy devices.  And this project also had a unique status based on Native American Indian land/coastal waters, so the rules of FERC, MMS were different due to sovereign status.

Then AquaBuoy, Finavera’s premier wave energy device, sank off the Oregon coast due to a bilge pump failure in late October 2007.  

Recently noted was Finavera’s comment that they are currently focusing their renewable energy efforts toward wind energy projects closer to their homebase in British Columbia, Canada and in Ireland.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, January 31, 2009

On January 26, 2009, Lockheed Martin and Ocean Power Technologies agreed to work together to develop a commercial-scale wave energy project off the coasts of Oregon or California.

OPT is providing their expertise in project and site development as they build the plant’s power take-off and control systems with their PowerBuoy for electricity generation.  Lockheed will build, integrate and deploy the plant as well as provide operating and maintenance services. Lockheed and OPT have already worked together on maritime projects for the U.S. government.

Spanish utility Iberdrola is using OPT’s PowerBuoy on the Spainish coast in Santoña for first phase deployment, hoping to become the first commercial-scale wave energy device in the world.  In the Spainish project, Lockheed and Ocean Power are working toward an increased cost-performance of a power-purchasing agreement from which this U.S. wave energy project may benefit.

Read Full Post »

Editors Note:  On May 11, 2009, PG&E pulled-out of Mendocino WaveConnect, read it here: http://tinyurl.com/qwlbg6 . The remains of the $6M are now solely allocated to Humboldt WaveConnect.

MendoCoastCurrent, January 29, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoPG&E caught a major renewable energy wave today as the California Public Utilities Commission approved $4.8 million in funding their centerpiece wave energy project, WaveConnect. The program also received an additional $1.2 million in matching funds from the Department of Energy. PG&E’s WaveConnect, a project already two years in the making, launches with a $6M kitty.

WaveConnect is chartered with exploring wave energy development off the coasts of Mendocino and Humboldt counties in Northern California. The stakeholders in this region are dyed-in-the-wool political activists, living in environmentally-centric coastal communities and have reacted protectively, sounding alarms that PG&E and the Federal government’s wave energy plans may foul, diminish and destroy the Pacific Ocean and marine life.

Over the two years that PG&E and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) advanced WaveConnect, only recently have environmental concerns and study become part of the discussion. The opportunity for Mendocino and Humboldt coastal communities and local governments to embrace wave energy development and connect with WaveConnect has not gone well, especially as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has disallowed the City of Fort Bragg and local fishermen to be party in the WaveConnect FERC Preliminary Permitting.

Jonathan Marshall, publisher of Next100, a PG&E blog, wrote “PG&E’s first step will be to conduct meetings with local stakeholders and agencies to learn about their issues and concerns. After completing appropriate environmental reviews and permit applications, which could take a couple of years, PG&E then plans to build an undersea infrastructure, including power transmission cables, to support wave energy demonstration projects. The utility will then invite manufacturers of wave energy devices to install them offshore for testing and comparison.”

“The anticipated cost of wave power compares favorably to the early days of solar and wind,” says William Toman, WaveConnect project manager at PG&E. “It will take several stages of design evolution to lower costs and increase reliability.” The CPUC and the DOE are betting on this evolution as in this funding scenario engineered by PG&E, the CPUC awards $4.8M in ratepayer funds while the DOE $1.2M is a matching grant.

Wave energy may become a key source of renewable energy in California. It’s proposed that the 745-mile coastline could produce 1/5th of California’s energy needs if, admittedly a big if, economic, environmental, land use and grid connection issues — and community issues — don’t stand in the way.

Marshall wrote in closing “Making ocean power technology work reliably and at a competitive price will be the first big challenge. Serving offshore installations with power transmission lines will be another economic and engineering hurdle. Finally, ocean power developers must also convince local communities and government regulators that their installations will not destroy marine life, cause boating collisions or navigational hazards, or degrade ocean views.”

Read Full Post »

Please Take Action By MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2009 before 2:00 pm!

MendoCoastCurrent, January 29, 2009

ferc_seal1Just a couple of weeks ago, Ann Miles, Director of Hydropower Licensing at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission visited the Mendocino coast.  The centerpiece of her presentation on January 13, 2009 at Fort Bragg Town Hall was to explain the FERC Hydokinetic Licensing process.

For all those present at the meeting, Ms. Miles informed the Mendocino community of the WRONG DATE to file citizen Motions to Intervene in the Green Wave LLC proposed FERC project on the Mendocino village coastline.

FERC has kindly updated the mis-information and has indicated they wish to have the correct date promoted.  This correct date to file Motions to Intervene (directions follow) is now Monday, February 9, 2009 no later than 2:00 P.M. PST.

* * * * * * * *

Here’s a novel and effective way for you, your company and your family to state your position to the Federal Government on Mendocino wave energy development. It’s pretty simple to do, it’s empowering and it’s effective in that each filing can make a difference. Interested? Read on.

This action relates to Green Wave Energy Solutions’ application for a wave energy Preliminary Permit that was recently accepted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Since early December 2008, FERC has enabled a process for the public and interested parties to share their views (intervene).  The best way to participate is go online to the FERC web site and use the guide below to share your views on the Green Wave FERC hydrokinetic application.

Click on this HERE for a step-by-step instruction guide authored by Elizabeth Mitchell, FERC Coordinator for Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics, FISH.

More about the FERC and Green Wave Energy Solutions Mendocino Wave Energy Permit

An application for a wave energy project in the ocean off Mendocino, California has been filed by Green Wave Energy Solutions, LLC.  Green Wave has made an application to put 10 to 100 wave energy devices in 17 square miles of ocean, between 0.5 and 2.6 miles offshore, running roughly north and south between the Navarro River and Point Cabrillo on the North Coast of California.

On December 9, 2008, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) began the permit process for the project by issuing a “Notice of Preliminary Permit Applications Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comment, Motions to Intervene, and Competing Applications.”  

The law provides that interested individuals and organizations may become parties to the permit process.  In order to become a party, you and/or your organization(s) must file a “Motion to Intervene.”  The deadline for intervening in the Green Wave Project is Monday, February 9, 2009 by 2:00 P.M. PST.

You may intervene no matter what your current views are on the merits of wave energy.  Intervention gives you a place at the table as a full party to the permit process.  It also enables you to appeal future FERC rulings with respect to the permit. 

Intervening is not difficult, and you do not have to be a lawyer to do it.  If you file your motion to intervene by the Monday, February 9, 2009 deadline, and no one opposes your intervention, you automatically become a party after 15 days.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, January 29, 2009

As the Monday, February 9, 2009 before 2 p.m. deadline for filing FERC Motion to Intervene papers regarding the Green Wave LLC wave energy preliminary permit off the Mendocino village coast approaches, locals, the City of Fort Bragg and fishing organization are participating and electronically filing their views with FERC.

Here’s the excellent brief filed by the County of  Mendocino, California:  HERE

Have you filed your FERC Motion to Intervene today?

Read Full Post »

STEPHEN POWER, The Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2009
images1Interior Secretary Ken Salazar indicated Tuesday that the Obama Administration could be open to expanded offshore drilling and is considering doing away with a controversial program that allows oil companies to pay in kind for oil and natural gas taken from public lands.

Salazar inherited a Bush Administration plan that would open tracts off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts where drilling had previously been prohibited. Environmental groups want the Obama administration to re-impose a ban on expanded offshore drilling that President George W. Bush lifted last year.

Asked in an interview with The Wall Street Journal whether President Barack Obama might try to reinstate the ban, Salazar paused 18 seconds before saying: “I don’t know.”

“We have significant drilling already in many places of the Gulf coast. We have drilling in many places off the Alaska shorelines. There are other places that hold potential for exploration. We’ll develop our guidelines as to how we’re going to look at it. But we’re still at the beginning of an information-gathering process,” he said.

Asked about the Bush administration’s proposal to open certain areas of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to drilling and whether he saw any opportunities for expanded development of the nation’s offshore areas, Salazar said: “When you look at the whole [outer continental shelf], it’s a huge potential. And it has to be done carefully. We don’t want to ruin the beaches of Florida and the coastlines of other places that are sensitive.”

“On the other hand, there are places where it may be appropriate for us to have reconnaissance and exploration and even development. Those are questions that we are exploring and hopefully over the months ahead we’ll have answers to these questions,” he said.

Salazar left the door open to curtailing the “royalty-in-kind” program, under which the government receives oil or natural gas instead of cash for payments of royalties from companies that lease federal property for oil and gas development, and then sells the product into the marketplace and returns the proceeds to the Treasury. “We’re going to put everything on the table — I think everything needs to be looked at,” Salazar said.

Meanwhile, Salazar said new legislation may be needed to overhaul the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service, a bureau of Interior that manages the nation’s offshore oil and natural gas reserves.

Salazar said his top priority is to restore confidence in the agency, and in particular the MMS, which was rocked last fall by a report from the department’s inspector general that accused some MMS employees of accepting gifts from and having sex with oil and gas industry representatives whose activities they were supposed to regulate.

Although the Bush administration late last year announced disciplinary action ranging from warnings to termination of more than a half-dozen workers implicated in the report, Salazar said he is mulling “whether additional actions are required.”

Many environmental groups are looking to Salazar to reverse certain policy changes made in the final months of the Bush administration, including new regulations on commercial oil-shale development that the groups say lock in inappropriately low royalty rates for energy firms. Salazar said he and his aides intend to review “all those issues” and that “I expect that there will be changes.”

Read Full Post »

Let Your Voice Be Heard by March 23, 2009

by MendoCoastCurrent and pointarenabasin

Beginning January 22, 2009 and ending on March 23, 2009, a 60-day Public Comment Period opened regarding new offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling in the pristine waters off northern California.

And while this is a multi-step process and before things are cast in stone, NOW is the time to share your views.

FROM THE FEDERAL REGISTER – REQUEST FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR – Minerals Management Service

Request for Comments on the Draft Proposed 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2010-2015 and Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed 5-Year Program

AGENCY: Minerals Management Service, Interior.

ACTION: Request for Comments.

SUMMARY: The Minerals Management Service (MMS) requests comments on the Draft Proposed 5-year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2010-2015 (DPP). This draft proposal is for a new oil and gas program to succeed the current program that is currently set to expire on June 30, 2012, and forms the basis for conducting the studies and analyses the Secretary will consider in making future decisions on what areas of the OCS to include in the program.

DATES: Please submit comments and information to the MMS no later than March 23, 2009.

LINK:  Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Under the tab “More Search Options,” click “Advanced Docket Search,” then select “Minerals Management Service” from the agency drop-down menu, then click the submit button. In the Docket ID column, select MMS-2008-OMM-0045 to submit public comments and to view related materials available for this Notice.

Mail or hand-carry comments to the Department of the Interior; Minerals Management Service; Attention: Leasing Division (LD); 381 Elden Street, MS-4010; Herndon, Virginia 20170-4817. Please reference “2010-2015 Oil and Gas Leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf,” in your comments and include your name and return address.

Summary of the Draft Proposed Program

In developing the DPP for 2010-2015, the MMS considered oil and gas leasing in the areas of the OCS that are included in the current 5-year program for 2007-2012 and additional areas off Alaska, Pacific coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic coast. Some of these additional areas had been subject to annual congressional moratoria prohibiting oil and gas leasing. However, the moratoria expired on September 30, 2008. The DPP includes lease sales in offshore areas that have the highest oil and gas resource values and highest industry interest.

It has been promoted that 47 comments from oil and gas companies or associations nominated specific planning areas to be included in the new 5-Year program; some nominated all planning area.  

Wave energy reporter Frank Hartzell claims that the nominations may have been fabricated, see In Last Days, Bush Inflicts North Coast Offshore Oil Plan.

Table A–Draft Proposed Program for 2010-2015–Lease Sale Schedule

———————————————————————

Sale Number Area Year

———————————————————————

236…………………… Northern California………..2014

Pacific Region

The Pacific Region consists of 4 planning areas–Washington-Oregon, Northern California, Central California, and Southern California. The DPP schedules one sale in the Northern California Planning Area and two in the Southern California Planning Area. The proposed sales are in areas of known hydrocarbon potential – the Point Arena Basin in Northern California.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Preparation

Pursuant to section 102(2)(C) of NEPA, the MMS intends to prepare an EIS for the new 5-year OCS oil and gas leasing program for 2010-2015. This notice starts the formal scoping process for the EIS under 40 CFR 1501.7, and solicits information regarding issues and alternatives that should be evaluated in the EIS. The EIS will analyzethe potential impacts of the adoption of the proposed 5-year program.

The comments that MMS has received in response to the August 2008, Request for Comments, and the comments received during scoping for the 2007-2012 5-Year EIS have identified environmental issues and concerns that MMS will consider in the EIS. In summary, these include climate change as an impact factor in cumulative analyses, the effects of the OCS program on climate change, potential impacts from accidental oil spills, potential impacts to tourism and recreation activities, and ecological impacts from potential degradation of marine and coastal habitats. Additionally alternatives will be developed and analyzed during the EIS process based on scoping comments and governmental communications. Alternatives may include increasing or decreasing the number or frequency of sales, coastal buffers, limiting areas available for leasing, and excluding parts of or entire planning areas.

Scoping Meetings

Meetings will be held between now and March 23, 2009 to receive scoping comments on the EIS including –

Ft. Bragg/Ukiah, California; TBA

Next Steps in the Process

The MMS plans to issue the proposed program and draft EIS in mid-summer 2009 for a 90-day comment period and plans to issue the proposed final program and final EIS in spring 2010. The Secretary of the Interior may approve the new 5-year program 60 days later to go into effect as of July 1, 2010.

Read Full Post »

JANE KAY, San Francisco Chronicle, January 17, 2009

ba-drilling0117__sfcg1232159552_part1The U.S. Interior Department, acting in President Bush’s final days in office, proposed on Friday opening up 130 million acres off of California’s coast to drilling for oil and natural gas, including areas off Humboldt and Mendocino counties and from San Luis Obispo south to San Diego.

After a hands-off policy for a quarter-century, the administration submitted plans to sell oil and gas leases for most of the U.S. coast, from the Gulf of Maine to Chesapeake Bay and the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Coast.

New drilling also was proposed in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, one of the nation’s most plentiful sources of fish, and the Arctic Ocean.

Washington, Oregon and protected parts of Florida were excluded along with waters off San Francisco Bay that lie within national marine sanctuaries.

On Friday, the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups greeted the news with praise, saying it is time for domestic energy supplies to be released from the moratorium.

But environmental groups and some Democratic leaders who oppose California drilling criticized the 11th-hour move, vowing to work with the Obama administration to promote energy independence based on clean, renewable technologies.

“President Bush’s last-ditch effort to open our coasts to new drilling is nothing more than a parting gift to his buddies in the oil and gas industry,” said Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the platform blowout that spilled 3 million gallons of black crude oil on 35 miles of beaches around Santa Barbara, Capps said, “New offshore drilling would not lower gas prices, make us more energy independent or get our economy back on track.”

Richard Charter, a longtime environmental lobbyist who now works for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, called the government’s move “an extremist act.”

“What we see today is the political equivalent of a rock star trashing the hotel room right before checkout,” he said.

The Interior Department used a lapse in the congressional moratorium in October and a cancellation of a presidential prohibition in July to set in motion the lease-sale program – which the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama could cancel or proceed with.

Obama has said he would consider some offshore oil drilling as part of a comprehensive energy plan. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Obama’s pick for interior secretary, hasn’t given his views on offshore drilling in California. He said in his confirmation hearings Thursday that he will confer with the administration’s team.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with the governors of Oregon and Washington, opposes new offshore oil drilling despite the new revenue it would offer the cash-strapped state.

The federal government has failed to make a case for a new program because energy resources are insignificant in the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico, already-sold leases aren’t being used, and no protections are in place to protect the environment, the governors said.

In Friday’s announcement, Interior Department officials proposed three new lease sales, one in Northern California and two in Southern California in “areas with known hydrocarbon potential.” The proposals, which were based on requests from seven oil companies that weren’t named, would include:

— As many as 44 million acres of federal waters, which start 3 miles from the shoreline, off Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

— As many as 89 million acres off of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties. One lease would require equipment operating at a diagonal to drill within the Santa Barbara Ecological Preserve. In Southern California, there are 79 existing leases with 43 producing and 36 undeveloped.

There will be a 60-day comment period, with hearings in Ukiah, Fort Bragg, Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Diego. Dates for the hearings have not been announced.

If sales are allowed, they could occur as soon as 2014.

About 60%  of California citizens who commented on new oil-and-gas development were opposed to new drilling, according to the Interior Department’s oil-drilling agency, the Minerals Management Service.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, January 17, 2009

Here’s the post from MendoCoastCurrent in the Citizen’s Briefing Book at President-elect Barack Obama’s change.gov site:

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force

Immediately establish and staff a Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force chartered with exploring and fast-tracking the development, exploration and commercialization of environmentally-sensitive renewable energy solutions in solar, wind, wave, green-ag, et al.

At this ‘world-class incubator,’ federal energy policy development is created as cutting-edge technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing to refinement and implementation.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

If you wish to support this, please vote up this post at :

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

Mendocino Energy:

Renewable energy incubator and campus on the Mendocino coast exploring nascent and organic technology solutions in wind, wave, solar, green-ag, bioremediation and coastal energy, located on the 400+ acre waterfront G-P Mill site.

Mendocino Energy may be a Campus in Obama’s Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force.

Vision:

Mendocino Energy is located on the Mendocino coast, three plus hours north of San Francisco/Silicon Valley.  On the waterfront of Fort Bragg, a portion of the now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site shall be used for exploring best practices, cost-efficient, environmentally-sensitive renewable and sustainable energy development – wind, wave, solar, bioremediation, green-ag, among many others. The end goal is to identify and engineer optimum, commercial-scale, sustainable, renewable energy solutions.

Start-ups, universities (e.g., Stanford’s newly-funded energy institute), the federal government (RED) and the world’s greatest minds working together to create, collaborate, compete and participate in this fast-tracked exploration.

The campus is quickly constructed of green, temp-portable structures (also a green technology) on the healthiest areas of the Mill Site as in the past, this waterfront, 400+ acre created contaminated areas where mushroom bioremediation is currently being tested (one more sustainable technology requiring exploration). So, readying the site and determining best sites for solar thermal, wind turbines and mills, wave energy, etc.

To learn more about these technologies, especially wave energy, RSS MendoCoastCurrent.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, January 17, 2009

Today at the Citizen’s Briefing Book at President-elect Barack Obama’s change.gov site, I shared this:

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force

Immediately establish and staff a Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force chartered with exploring and fast-tracking the development, exploration and commercialization of environmentally-sensitive renewable energy solutions in solar, wind, wave, green-ag, et al.

In this world-class ‘incubator’ federal energy policy development is created as cutting-edge technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing to refinement and implementation.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

If you wish to support this, please vote up this post at :

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force.

Thank you so much!

Read Full Post »

FRANK HARTZELL’s article with MendoCoastCurrent edits, January 15, 2009

After nearly two years of local pleas for specifics on the WaveConnect project, PG&E representatives surprised Fort Bragg and Mendocino County representatives with many new details.

Those included the promise by PG&E that all environmental studies would be public, not private information. In the recent past, PG&E had been resisting calls by competitors and ratepayer advocates before the California Public Utilities Commission to make public more information learned during the WaveConnect study.

Another surprise was that PG&E has found about 10 different viable wave energy technologies — far more than first envisioned. The utility will choose the top three or four wave energy devices and test those under a pilot project license.

On Tuesday, the pilot license process became the biggest issue for wave energy officials gathered at Town Hall to hear two top officials explain the roles of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, and the California Coastal Commission.

Both Tom Luster, who will oversee all wave energy projects for the California Coastal Commission and 23-year FERC veteran Ann Miles, FERC Director of Hydropower Licensing said Fort Bragg has had more interest in wave energy than anywhere else in California.

Miles said PG&E would need to file for a conventional license by this March under FERC rules. Using the “faster” pilot license gives them until March 2010 to get started.

Miles provided lengthy and knowledgeable explanations of convoluted FERC processes during the three-hour meeting. But PG&E’s new announcements, which came in private meetings last week, overshadowed the presentations by the top state and federal officials.

Luster explained how the California Coastal Commission would work with the State Lands Commission to review any wave energy project within three miles of shore.

PG&E is now saying their 40-megawatt powerplant will be located “well beyond” that three-mile state limit. The powerplant would likely come after the five-year pilot project license.

That announcement unexpectedly changed the game for the state.

Luster said the big power cable that extends to shore would be regulated by the Coastal Commission, but development beyond three miles would be regulated only for “federal consistency.”

While planning for an eventual project many miles from shore, PG&E will give up on areas more than three miles from shore for now, they have told FERC.

PG&E told Fort Bragg they would site the pilot project much closer to shore, to avoid the jurisdictional conflict between FERC and fellow federal agency Minerals Management Service, or MMS.

FERC claims the authority to be the regulatory authority for all water energy projects in the United States. MMS claims authority for ocean federal waters, which are those more than three miles from shore.

PG&E’s 68-square-mile preliminary permit area, which runs from Point Cabrillo to Cleone and to more than three miles offshore, will be trimmed down to eliminate areas beyond the federal-state jurisdiction line.

PG&E representatives are now promising significant help to local governments.

It was reported that all of the power generated by the 40 megawatt WaveConnect would be consumed in Mendocino County and would provide for nearly all of Fort Bragg’s electric demand when WaveConnect is generating.

Additionally, PG&E intends to pay their expenses, including reviewing, permitting and the community process for public participation.

Miles said FERC has no requirements in place to determine that a developer be able to pay for removal of devices in case of bankruptcy or disaster.

Luster said the State Lands Commission handles financial arrangements, such as bonding of projects.

Miles was making her first ever visit to Northern California. She was set to answer questions from the general public at a Town Hall forum Tuesday night.

Read Full Post »

CBS 5 with MendoCoastCurrent edits, January 8, 2009

oil_rigNew legislation may prevent oil drilling off the California coast in Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

Growing concern about the nation’s reliance on foreign oil has led to rekindled enthusiasm in some quarters for coastal oil drilling, and renewed efforts to protect the Northern California coast.

Two bills introduced when Congress convened this week place a ban on coastal oil drilling in Northern California, one by creating a marine sanctuary off the Sonoma coast. 

Rep. Lynn Woolsey of Marin and Sonoma counties attempted to push the marine sanctuary bill through when a 26-year moratorium on offshore oil drilling expired last year. 

Another bill by Rep. Mike Thompson of Northern California permanently bans drilling off the coasts of Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties. 

Both said without quick action, new oil rigs may soon dot California’s coast.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, January 7, 2009

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher today issued the following statement:

Today I announce my intention to step down as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), effective January 20, 2009. Although my term as commissioner does not end until 2012, I will also immediately begin to recuse myself from FERC business, as I explore other career opportunities.  

Read Full Post »

JANE KAY, The San Francisco Chronicle, December 29, 2008

ba-drilling1229__sfcg1230351957The federal government is taking steps that may open California’s fabled coast to oil drilling in as few as three years, an action that could place dozens of platforms off the Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt coasts, and raises the specter of spills, air pollution and increased ship traffic into San Francisco Bay.

Millions of acres of oil deposits, mapped in the 1980s when then-Interior Secretary James Watt and Energy Secretary Donald Hodel pushed for California exploration, lie a few miles from the forested North Coast and near the mouth of the Russian River, as well as off Malibu, Santa Monica and La Jolla in Southern California.

“These are the targets,” said Richard Charter, a lobbyist for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund who worked for three decades to win congressional bans on offshore drilling. “You couldn’t design a better formula to create adverse impacts on California’s coastal-dependent economy.”

The bans that protected both of the nation’s coasts beginning in 1981, from California to the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic Coast and the Straits of Florida, ended this year when Congress let the moratorium lapse.

President-elect Barack Obama hasn’t said whether he would overturn President Bush’s lifting last summer of the ban on drilling, as gas prices reached a historic high. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Col., Obama’s pick as interior secretary and head of the nation’s ocean-drilling agency, hasn’t said what he would do in coastal waters.

The Interior Department has moved to open some or all federal waters, which begin 3 miles from shore and are outside state control, for exploration as early as 2010. Rigs could go up in 2012.

National marine sanctuaries off San Francisco and Monterey bays are off-limits in California. Areas open to drilling extend from Bodega Bay north to the Oregon border and from Morro Bay south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Drilling foes say the impacts of explosive blasts from seismic air guns that map rock formations, increased vessel traffic and oil spills should be enough to persuade federal agencies to thwart petroleum exploration. California’s treasured coast, with its migrating whales, millions of seabirds, sea otters, fish and crab feeding grounds, beaches and tidal waters, are at risk, Charter and other opponents say.

According to the Interior Department, coastal areas nationwide that were affected by the drilling ban contain 18 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in what the agency called yet-to-be-discovered fields. The estimates are conservative and are based on seismic surveys in the late 1970s and early 1980s, before the moratorium went into effect.

California’s Share

The agency’s last estimate puts about 10 billion barrels in California, enough to supply the nation for 17 months. That breaks down to 2.1 billion barrels from Point Arena in Mendocino County to the Oregon border, 2.3 billion from Point Arena south to San Luis Obispo County and 5.6 billion between there and Mexico.

“If you were allowed to go out and do new exploration, those numbers could go up or down. In most cases, you would expect them to go up,” said Dave Smith, deputy communications officer of the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, which oversees energy development in federal waters.

In California, any exploration and drilling would be close to shore, experts say. In contrast to the Gulf of Mexico, where drilling could occur in waters 10,000 feet deep, California’s holdings lie on its narrow, shallow continental shelf, the underwater edge of land where creatures died over the millennia to produce the oil.

If the Interior Department decides to explore off California’s coast, it could probably do so, some attorneys say. If a state objects to a lease plan, the president has the final say.

Once an area has been leased, the California Coastal Commission may review an oil company’s plan to explore or extract resources to assess if it is consistent with the state’s coastal management program. Conflicts can end up in court, said Alison Dettmer, the commission’s deputy director.

Californians have generally opposed drilling since a platform blowout in 1969 splashed 3 million gallons of black, gooey crude oil on 35 miles of beaches around Santa Barbara, killing otters and seabirds. The destruction of shoreline and wildlife sparked activism and led to the creation of the Coastal Commission.

But when gas prices peaked a few months ago amid cries of “drill, baby, drill” at rallies for GOP presidential candidate John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin, 51 percent of Californians said they favored more offshore drilling, according to a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.

In July, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne jump-started the development of a new oil and natural gas leasing program and pushed up possible new coastal activity by two years.

The Interior Department is reviewing comments about which coastal areas to include in the next five-year leasing plan. Oil companies want all of the nation’s coastal areas open and say they can produce oil offshore in a way that protects the environment. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who opposes new offshore development, has offered comments, as have environmental groups.

Obama’s Energy Plans

Obama’s administration and Congress will have the final say over which regions, if any, would be put up for possible lease sales. In Congress earlier this year, Salazar, Obama’s nominee for interior secretary, supported a bipartisan bill allowing exploration and production 50 miles out from the southern Atlantic coast with state approval. The bill died.

“We’ve been encouraged that the president-elect has chosen Sen. Salazar,” said Dan Naatz, vice president for federal resources with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a group with 5,000 members that drill 90% of the oil and natural gas wells in the United States. “He’s from the West, and he understands federal land policy, which is really key.”

During this year’s presidential campaign, Obama was bombarded by questions about high gas prices and said new domestic drilling wouldn’t do much to lower gasoline prices but could have a place in a comprehensive energy program.

After introducing his green team of environment and energy chiefs recently, Obama said the foundation of the nation’s energy independence lies in the “power of wind and solar, in new crops and new technologies, in the innovation of our scientists and entrepreneurs and the dedication and skill of our workforce.”

He spoke of moving “beyond our oil addiction,” creating “a new, hybrid economy” and investing in “renewable energy that will give life to new businesses and industries.”

Obama didn’t mention oil drilling. When a reporter asked him if he would reinstate the moratorium, he said he wasn’t happy that the moratorium was allowed to lapse in Congress without a broader thought to how the country was going to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

He reiterated his campaign position that he was open to the idea of offshore drilling if it was part of a comprehensive package, adding that he would turn over the question to his team.

In the 1970s and 1980s, before the moratorium on offshore drilling fully took effect, the federal government produced a series of maps showing areas in California of prospective interest to the oil industry. Those maps offer clues to where oil companies would bid if they had the opportunity.

North Coast

The last proposed lease sale in 1987, thwarted by the moratorium, would have opened 6.5 million acres off the North Coast. Off Mendocino and Humboldt counties, the tracts for sale lay from 3 to 27 miles offshore, and some of the 24 planned platforms, some of them 300 feet tall and each with dozens of wells, would have been visible from land.

Tourism and commercial fisheries would have been affected, according to an environmental review then, while as many as 240 new oil tanker trips from Fort Bragg and Eureka to San Francisco Bay refineries were predicted under the full development scenario. The probability of one or more spills occurring would be 94 percent for accidents involving 1,000 barrels or more, according to documents.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, recently said oil drilling will be part of a comprehensive energy policy focusing on renewable sources, but she would like to see drilling occur only on land and in the Gulf of Mexico where infrastructure is in place.

Capps well remembers the Santa Barbara spill almost 40 years ago.

“I was living in Goleta. I just had two children, and my husband was a young professor at UC Santa Barbara. It was a devastating experience,” she said. “The birds and other animals got trapped in the oil. So many people waded out in boots just inch by inch trying to rescue our wildlife. It ruined our tourism for many years.

“I think about it all the time, especially last week when we had had a spill at the same platform. It was a small spill, 1,000 gallons, but it was a wake-up call.”

Read Full Post »

Excerpts from article by FRANK HARTZELL, The Mendocino Beacon, December 24, 2008

On January 13, 2009, from 5-7p.m. at Fort Bragg Town Hall, a “top official from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will appear to explain the agency’s strategy on developing what it calls “hydrokinetic” power as an alterative energy source.

Ann F. Miles, FERC’s director of the Division of Hydropower Licensing, will meet with county and city officials before attending the public meeting in Fort Bragg.

“The FISH Committee is looking forward to FERC’s visit, and welcomes the opportunity to learn about the different FERC licensing processes for wave energy, and how fishermen and other affected people can participate and have their voices heard,” said attorney Elizabeth Mitchell, who represents the Fisherman Involved for Safe Hydrokinetics.

Ocean waters off the Mendocino Coast, from Little River to Cleone, are now claimed under exclusive study permits by two different wave energy developers. GreenWave LLC claims 17 square miles of waters from Little River to Point Cabrillo, while PG&E claims 68 square miles from Point Cabrillo to Cleone.

Preliminary permits granted by FERC give not only exclusive study rights to the claimants, but also licensing priority to develop wave energy upon successful completion of the three-year studies.

Fort Bragg has become ground-zero for wave energy regulation. The federal Minerals Management Service, which is involved in an open feud with FERC over wave energy regulation, has sought to make Fort Bragg its test case.

FERC drew local ire by denying local efforts to intervene in the study process. At one point, protesters carried signs targeting the obscure federal agency with messages such as “Don’t FERC with us.”

One FERC insider said commissioners had complained that more fuss had been made in tiny Fort Bragg than the entire rest of the nation.

FERC later relented and on appeal granted intervener status to Mendocino County, for the PG&E project. The period to intervene and comment on GreenWave’s permit closes Friday, Feb. 6. As yet, nobody has filed anything with FERC, according to its Website.

“The commission’s existing procedures are well-established and well-suited to address this expansion of conventional hydropower with new technologies,” Miles told Congress last year, “and we are prepared to learn from experience in this rapidly evolving area and to make whatever regulatory adjustments are appropriate in order to help realize the potential of this renewable energy resource.”

FERC expanded its domain into all tidal, wave, river flow and ocean current study and licensing with its novel concept of a unified “hydrokinetic” regulation.

From the Yukon River in Alaska to the ocean currents off the Florida Keys, FERC has grown its regulatory territory dramatically since the start of the Bush administration. The agency is now explaining how dam regulation and wave energy innovation can go together. FERC recently granted the first hydrokinetic plant permit for production of energy in the Mississippi River in the state of Minnesota.

The independent agency has moved quickly with Neo-Con era disdain for regulation, eschewing calls from fellow federal and state agencies for a conventional rulemaking process. Instead FERC has adjusted its process as it goes along.

In her presentation to Congress, Miles focused on wave energy, not the more prevalent river current energy plans. She said wave energy projects will likely occur close to shore, not far out in federal waters.

“The cumulative costs of development … make it advantageous to locate projects nearer to the shore,” Miles told Congress.

Locals have complained that FERC has no intelligible process for public input. Governments and critics of FERC have been frustrated in efforts to get details.

FERC is a uniquely independent federal agency. It is under the Department of Energy but does not report to DOE, a structure that was created during the Great Depression. The president appoints FERC commissioners.

Read Full Post »

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.’ “

Read Full Post »

Redwood Times, December 17, 2008

cudrefin_switzerlandashxCalifornia State Senator Patricia Wiggins has introduced new legislation to encourage more production of solar power by compensating smaller producers for all of the solar power that they generate.

Currently, residential electric customers can participate in the state’s solar program, known as the California Solar Initiative, and receive subsidies for the installation of photovoltaic panels to produce solar power. They may also participate in “net-energy metering,” a program that gives customers credits for the amount of solar power they produce against their electric bills. However, power produced beyond their own use is returned to their electric provider for free.

SB 7 would not only allow residential utility customers to continue to receive credits for the solar power they produce for their own use, it would also allow them to contribute more solar-based power to the electrical grid and be compensated for it at the same rate a utility provider would pay.

The state already has legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by getting 33% of its power from renewable sources.

SB7 “offers a fair and reasonable path to increased production of solar power, and it contributes a win-win for solar power producers, utility providers and our environment,” Wiggins said.

Read Full Post »

Excerpts from FRANK HARTZELL’s article at the Mendocino Beacon, December 11, 2008

On December 9, 2008  “the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted a Southern California development company exclusive rights to 17 square miles off the town of Mendocino for a wave energy study.

GreenWave LLC’s intent is to eventually produce a 100 megawatt wave energy power plant, more than twice as big as the 40 megawatt project Pacific Gas & Electric plans off Fort Bragg.

Due to redefining of the preliminary permit process by FERC, the new preliminary permit does not encourage in-water testing. It does give sole claim and study rights to GreenWave, blocking any local study of the same area.

More valuable, the preliminary permit gives GreenWave exclusive first rights to a license to build a wave energy farm, upon completion of the three-year study.

The preliminary permit came more than a year after GreenWave, of Thousand Oaks, filed for two preliminary permits. FERC had initially rejected the GreenWave application as too sketchy.

GreenWave also was granted a preliminary permit on Tuesday for a nearly identical proposal off San Luis Obispo.

GreenWave is a partnership which consists of five men including Tony Strickland, a leading Republican politician in California, who was recently narrowly elected to the state Assembly. Strickland made his wave energy venture a key point of his campaign. His opponent in a heavily Republican district attacked this as “greening” of one of the most conservative politicians in the state.

That race, one of the closest in California this year, was decided this week in favor of Strickland, who prevailed over Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson by less than 1,000 votes.

FERC had criticized GreenWave for too few details about who was behind the venture and for not having information about the technology to be used.

GreenWave responded by emphatically stating that they weren’t ready to name any particular technology.

“Given the time-horizon for getting through the permitting process and the uncertainties of what the technologies will actually look like, GreenWave believes that it would be misleading to provide detailed specifications of a technology at this stage of the development process. GreenWave intends to select the most suitable commercially ready technology as part of the process once preliminary permits have been issued by FERC to further study the site,” the Green Wave filing states.

However, FERC’s permit says GreenWave will be using the Pelamis device in the permit issued on Tuesday. The Pelamis, which resembles a series of giant redwood log segments on a string, is the only currently viable commercial technology. The company has said it would use only the most seasoned technology.

The issuance is apparently based on an about face made by GreenWave in documents submitted to FERC but not available on the public Website with the rest of the filings.

The permit says 10 to 100 Pelamis devices will be used, having a total installed capacity of 100 megawatts. Connecting the project to shore will be a 2- to 3-mile-long, 36 kilovolt transmission line,

The project site begins a half mile offshore and extends to 2.6 miles from shore in water depths that range from 120 to 390 feet, the GreenWave application says.

Local governments, groups and even residents now have a chance to file motions of intervention, which allows the intervener to play an official role in the process.

Read Full Post »

MARGOT ROOSEVELT, The Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2008

california_mapCalifornia regulators adopted the nation’s first comprehensive plan to slash greenhouse gases on December 11th and characterized it as a model for President-elect Barack Obama, who has pledged an aggressive national and international effort to combat global warming.

The ambitious blueprint by the world’s eighth-largest economy would cut the state’s emissions by 15% from today’s level over the next 12 years, bringing them down to 1990 levels.

Approved by the state’s Air Resources Board in a unanimous vote, the 134 page plan lays out targets for virtually every sector of the economy, including automobiles, refineries, buildings and landfills. It would require a third of California’s electricity to come from solar energy, wind farms and other renewable sources — far more than any state currently requires.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been a vigorous advocate of the plan, vowed that it would “unleash the full force of California’s innovation and technology for a healthier planet.”

Businesses, however, are sharply divided.

Automakers oppose California’s pending crackdown on carbon dioxide emissions from cars, a regulation that more than a dozen states have pledged to adopt. Manufacturers want regulators to lower the cost of complying, saying it will lead to billions of dollars in higher electricity costs.

“This plan is an economic train wreck waiting to happen,” James Duran of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce told the board, saying that it would cause financial hardship to minority-owned companies.

But Bob Epstein, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, led a coalition of energy, technology and Hollywood executives, including Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, in endorsing the plan as a spur to the state’s lagging economy.

Investors have poured $2.5 billion into California cleantech companies in the first nine months of the year, up from $1.8 billion for all of 2007, he said, a level that eclipsed the software industry.

“This plan is a clear signal to investors to invest in California,” Epstein said.

Schwarzenegger, a sharp critic of President Bush’s opposition to climate legislation, said, “When you look at today’s depressed economy, green tech is one of the few bright spots out there.”

California’s plan will be “a road map for the rest of the nation,” he predicted.

After an aborted attempt last spring, Congress is expected to renew its efforts to craft climate legislation next year. Many of the elements in contention are addressed in California’s blueprint, including a cap and trade program that would allow industries to reduce emissions more cheaply.

In 18 months of public hearings and workshops, hundreds of people testified and more than 43,000 comments were submitted. More than 250,000 copies of the plan have been viewed or downloaded from the air board’s website in the last two months.

The state’s blueprint will be implemented over the next two years through industry specific regulations. Republican legislators have called on Schwarzenegger to delay the plan, citing the dire state of California’s economy and criticism of the air board’s economic models.

Fears were also expressed by city and county officials who said the plan’s effort to force land use changes infringes on local powers. Environmentalists want more ambitious strategies to curb the sprawl that has led to a rapid increase in driving, and thus in greenhouse gases.

Worldwide, emissions of planet warming gases, which are mainly formed by burning fossil fuels, have been growing far more rapidly than scientists had predicted. California is expected to experience severe damage from climate change by mid-century, including water shortages from a shrinking snowpack, increased wildfires, rising ocean levels and pollution aggravating heat waves.

Given the state’s fast growing population and sprawling suburban development, its emissions are on track to increase by 30% over 1990 levels by 2020. The new blueprint would slash the state’s carbon footprint over the next 12 years by a total of 174 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions — the equivalent of 4 metric tons for every resident.

Despite the reach of the state’s effort, it would barely make a dent in global warming: The state’s emissions account for about 1.5% of the world’s emissions. Nonetheless, air board Chairwoman Mary Nichols said California’s leadership has spurred other states to move ahead. “We are filling a vacuum left by inaction at the federal level,” she said.

More than two dozen states have committed to capping emissions since California passed its landmark 2006 global warming law, the trigger for this action by the Air Resources Board.

California has joined with four Canadian provinces and seven western states to form a regional cap and trade program. Under the program, the states would set a total allowable amount of emissions — as California did in its blueprint. Utilities and other large industries would be required to obtain allowances to cover their emissions. If companies cut emissions more than required, they can sell their extra emission reductions to firms that are not able to meet their targets.

A cap and trade system has been adopted in Europe, where it was initially fraught with logistical problems and afforded windfall profits to many industries. California’s system, which would apply to industries responsible for 85% of its emissions, is the most controversial aspect of its plan.

Groups representing low income residents of polluted urban areas testified that allowing industries to trade in emissions would lead to dirtier plants in their neighborhoods. Under California’s plan, industries would also be allowed to buy “offsets” — emission reductions from projects in other states, or possibly foreign nations, to avoid making their own reductions.

However, the board assuaged many environmentalists Thursday when it pledged that it would gradually move toward a system to auction 100% of greenhouse gas permits, rather than give the permits away for free, as was initially the case in Europe.

Bernadette del Chiaro, an energy analyst for Environment California, predicted the auctions could bring in $1 billion at the outset and up to $340 million per year by 2020.

“This is huge,” she said. “Revenue from polluters would be used to transit to a green economy.”

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurent, December 9, 2008

sri-wave-generator1SRI International, an independent, nonprofit research and development organization, demonstrated and tested a buoy-mounted, wave powered generator in the ocean near Santa Cruz, Calif. This demonstration was part of a program sponsored by HYPER DRIVE Corporation, a Japanese company focused on the development of wave powered generators around the world. The generator converts energy from ocean waves to electrical energy.

This wave-powered generator is unique in that it uses SRI’s Electroactive Polymer Artificial Muscle (EPAM™) technology, a rubbery material that can generate electricity by simply being stretched and allowed to return to its original shape. This “artificial muscle” technology can generate electricity directly from the motion of waves without the need for complicated and costly hydraulic transmissions that are typically found in other wave-power generators.

In 2004, the technology was licensed exclusively to Artificial Muscle Inc., an SRI spin-off company. HYPER DRIVE has licensed the background technology for wave power generator applications from Artificial Muscle Inc., and application-related technology from SRI International.

An earlier version of the generator was deployed in August 2007, in Tampa Bay, Florida. The Tampa Bay experiment used a generator design that was intended to show how the EPAM™ technology could supply electricity to existing buoys, such as navigation buoys, and eliminate the need to replace large numbers of costly batteries. In today’s experiment, SRI will test a new design that shows how the technology might be used on a buoy intended to harvest larger amounts of power for use on shore or nearby industries.

The EPAM™ technology allows rubbery polymers to change shape in response to applied electrical energy, much like biological muscles change shape in response to an electrical stimulus. As a generator, the technology operates in reverse — changing the shape of the polymer creates electrical energy. Since this solution requires few moving parts and is based on relatively low-cost polymers, there is great potential for low-cost production of electricity.

“In our first demonstration we proved that SRI’s wave-powered generator could be mounted on a typical buoy and operate in a marine environment,” said Philip von Guggenberg, director of business development, SRI International. “For this demonstration, we will test a new design that we anticipate will produce greater amounts of energy in harbors and bays, as well as unprotected ocean waters. For this reason, this year’s test location was selected to be off the coast of Northern California.”

“HYPER DRIVE is excited to see the new wave powered buoy design and the results it will produce,” said Shuji Yonemura, CEO, HYPER DRIVE. “We look forward to seeing this technology at work in an ocean environment.”

Although the power output of the buoy is still quite modest, the same basic design can be used to produce significantly greater amounts of power. The long-term goal of this development is to design a system that will supply electricity to the buoy or to feed the power grid on land. The wave powered generator tested today in the Pacific Ocean could, in time, produce many kilowatts of power from a relatively small buoy.

Background

HYPER DRIVE Corporation, founded in 2006, is a venture-backed startup company based in Tokyo, Japan. The company is focused on the application of EPAM™ to wave power generation. HYPER DRIVE is the only company to commercially develop SRI’s EPAM™ technology for wave powered generation. The company is planning large scale (hundreds of watts or several kilowatts) sea trials in Japan in the near future. HYPER DRIVE has been developing other water-based EPAM™ generators including a watermill generator, and continues to focus on developing power-generating systems using water, wind, and other renewable energy. In December 2007, HYPER DRIVE won the “best paper award” at the Eco Design Fifth International Symposium on Environmentally Conscious Design and Inverse Manufacturing. 

Artificial Muscle, Inc. (AMI) is a high-technology company that designs and manufactures actuator and sensing components based on the new technology platform called electroactive polymer artificial muscle (EPAM™). AMI was founded by SRI International, which is a Silicon Valley nonprofit research and development institute that has a history of more than 60 years of developing advanced technologies, to exclusively commercialize artificial muscle technology. EPAM™ technology was developed at SRI over a 12-year period. AMI became an independent company in early 2004 with venture fund financing from Vanguard Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, and NGEN Partners.

Read Full Post »

JESSICA LUSSENHOP, Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 9, 2008

“I hope I don’t get seasick,” says a Japanese translator as she and several visitors from the Tokyo-based company Hyper Drive prepare to board Velocity, a 60-foot Stagnaro whale-watching boat, to see the newest model of the company’s ocean wave-powered generator—which is at this very moment bouncing around in the waves about a mile off the Santa Cruz Harbor, creating small amounts of electricity.

Hyper Drive’s president and CEO, Shuji Yonemura, is explaining with some difficulty through his translator how the device actually works. “Within 10 years, we can bring it to land,” says the translator. “Powering a city. A whole city.”

Chief technology officer Mikio Waki chimes in, reporting that the trial model that is working today is producing about 20 joules of energy each time it bobs in the water. That’s enough to power a dim light bulb.

Roy Kornbluh, the principal research engineer from the illustrious Menlo Park research firm SRI International, asks the translator politely if he may clarify. “We are only making small amounts of energy today,” he says. “The focus is on the way we are making energy, using artificial muscle technology.”

Hyper Drive is a start-up company that partnered with SRI’s scientists looking to commercialize the device’s energy-gathering capabilities. This demonstration is the generator’s second run; the first was in August 2007 in St. Petersburg, Florida, when a buoy was tested in relatively placid Atlantic waters to determine if it could operate in a marine environment. This time the investors at Hyper Drive and the scientists from SRI International were looking for more active waters to determine whether or not their invention—a rubber-like material called Electroactive Polymer Artificial Muscle (EPAM)—could use the heaving motion of the waves to generate power. Philip von Guggenberg, the director of business development at SRI, figured Santa Cruz’s early-winter chop was a convenient solution.

“We’re hoping there’s not a hurricane,” he says. “But we are certainly looking for bigger waves.”

To the Japanese translator’s chagrin, after a rather placid morning, the afternoon waves have picked up. A quick trip takes the Velocity out to where the canary-yellow buoy is jostling about in the ocean, connected by a length of thick rope to the Shana Rae, a smaller boat equipped with computer equipment taking a reading 10 times every second. A legion of life-vest-clad scientists are clustered on its deck, including the main inventor of the artificial muscle, Ron Pelrine, identifiable by his bushy beard.

The Velocity pulls up alongside the buoy to allow its passengers to watch, entering into the same rocking dance.

Mounted on top of the buoy are two long cylindrical tubes, and inside, what looks like the black bellows of an elongated accordion is pumping jerkily up and down in response to the waves. The black material is the artificial muscle, a polymer coated in an electricity-conducing material. As the material expands and contracts, a small amount of mechanical energy is changed to electric energy, collected, and detected on the Shana Rae. Two jaunty white arms protruding from the base of the buoy serve to amplify the pitching motion, producing even more work inside the tubes. It seems wonderfully simple, almost too simple to have dragged five Japanese business-people, three U.S. Department of Energy representatives, one PG&E representative and a half-dozen of SRI’s brightest minds out into the ocean. But the simplicity is the whole point.

“Power-generating buoys exist, but they work on conventional approaches. The waves pump a cylinder, that spins a turbine, that drives a rotary,” says Kornbluh. “This is very simple. We like to say it’s just a souped-up rubber band.”

Everything has to start somewhere.

As the frantic appetite for energy alternatives brings all sorts of solutions out into the open, it’s easy to look at each skeptically, with their far-off promises for real solutions. SRI International’s solution is intriguing not just because of the uniqueness of its EPAM model, but also because of the enterprise’s track record.

SRI was one of the birthplaces of the Internet, a concept that once sounded so ridiculous that companies like AT&T turned their noses up at it. On Oct. 29, 1969, at 10:30pm, a scientist at UCLA used an interface message processor, or “node,” to talk to another node at SRI. It was the first host-to-host peep the Internet made. In 1977, SRI sent an inter-network transmission from a van in Menlo Park, through London, and back to USC.

The Tuesday after the EPAM demo in Santa Cruz marks the 40th anniversary of the so-called Mother of All Demonstrations in 1968, when SRI scientist Doug Engelbart showed how to use the first computer mouse. The grainy black-and-white videos show Engelbart, his hair scrupulously combed, explaining how to type, cut and paste, save a file, as well as use teleconference, multiple windows and hypertext linking.

The ’60s also brought Shakey the Robot, the first mobile robot able to reason its surroundings. From those beginnings in robotics, fast forward to the ’90s, when Roy Kornbluh wrote the paper that would jumpstart EPAM, a treatise on the need for a polymer that would bend and move like a muscle, as opposed to the static joints that named Shakey.

“We started with a clean sheet of paper and thought, what can we come up with to simulate a muscle,” says Pelrine. “We decided one of the best approaches would be to put a polymer between two electrodes.”

A current through the polymer caused expansion and contraction, which could create muscle-like movement—more fluid, more durable. And Pelrine also saw that the opposite was possible.

If the polymer were stretched and then allowed to relax, this would create energy, usable if captured by a material that can conduct electricity. Using polymers from commercial silicon and rubber, one branch of the project used EPAM to create a line of spidery little robots, while work began in earnest on the wave powered generator as well.

“There’s nothing necessarily magic about the material itself, but how it’s used,” Pelrine says.

On the Velocity, things are progressing well. Someone has their head hanging over the edge on one side, but on the other side, that’s good news for Pelrine and Kornbluh, who’re getting lots of data thanks to the raucous sea.

“This is really good,” says Pelrine from the Shana Rae. “We’re really psyched.”

“Every technician loves to see their creativity turned into reality,” Kornbluh says.

Of course, it’s the next step that is truly important. Hyper Drive hopes to use SRI’s technology to create larger units within two years that will generate about 100 watts of power. While too small to power a grid, this would be useful in producing self-sustaining navigational buoys that currently run on expensive lithium batteries that need replacing. In five to 10 years, von Guggenberg says, the company hopes to be able to produce kilowatts for large-scale industrial uses, for example, seaside industries like canneries. Then someday, of course, the groups hope to feed a power grid, perhaps with long string of buoys rolling up and down in the seashore, side by side, sending the power landward.

“Put this at a seawall or breakwater,” Kornbluh says. “Why not make it work for you?”

They are still toying with the ways of capturing that energy. Ideas include an actual line that runs from the buoys to land, a pipeline for hydrogen broken down by the buoy’s electrical power, or rechargeable battery cells that could be harvested from the buoy.

Though Santa Cruz has been ideal for the demo, von Guggenberg and the rest aren’t sure when they’ll be back for their next trial, or if they’ll return at all. “We can do it anywhere,” says von Guggenberg—pointing out yet another virtue of the technology.

Suddenly, right in front of the buoy, a seal leaps high into the air. He jumps over and over, circling the Velocity, the buoy and the Shana Rae again and again, to the delight of the Japanese visitors.

Von Guggenberg sighs. “Most of the time we work in the lab,” he says. “We love it when our customers ask us to take their experiment out. This is a lot more fun.”

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, November 21, 2008

San Francisco — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced that it has entered into a long-term agreement with Hatchet Ridge Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Babcock & Brown, to purchase up to 103 megawatts (MW) of wind energy. The project will generate up to 303 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy annually. This is equivalent to the energy needed to serve nearly 44,000 homes on an annual basis.

“This wind energy will provide our northern and central California customers with clean, emission-free power,” said Fong Wan, Sr. VP of Energy Procurement for PG&E. He added that, “our agreement with Hatchet Ridge Wind is another important step to increasing our diverse renewable energy portfolio.”

The Hatchet Ridge Wind project will be located on a portion of Hatchet Mountain in Burney, California. Babcock & Brown said that deliveries from the project are expected to begin by December 31, 2009. Since 2002, PG&E has entered into contracts for more than 24% of its future deliveries from renewable sources. On average, more than 50% of the energy PG&E delivers comes from generating sources that emit no carbon dioxide, making PG&E’s energy among the cleanest in the nation.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, November 9, 2008

frankhartzellMendoCoastCurrent applauds Frank Hartzell’s reporting in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and the Mendocino Beacon, and in winning reporting awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Better Newspapers Contest for work published in 2007. The awards were recently announced at CNPA’s annual awards luncheon in late October 2008.

Reporter Frank Hartzell’s on-going, in-depth and insightful coverage of the Mendocino coast’s wave energy development projects won First Place for Environmental & Agricultural Resource Reporting among weeklies with small circulations.

Mr. Hartzell is a key community forerunner in informing and deciphering both technological and governmental policies, developments and environmental impact(s) of the forward-moving ocean power technology developments on the Mendocino coast.  Many now consider Fort Bragg and the Mendocino coast “Ground Zero” in U.S. wave energy commercial development.

Mark Massara, head of the California Coastal Program for the Sierra Club, credited Mr. Hartzell’s coverage as the only in-depth information about wave energy being written.  And local people have generated the only viable criticism of the process, he said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a key player in federal energy policy, has extensively quoted Mr. Hartzell’s coverage, even cataloging and creating timelines from his authored newspaper articles.

Thank you, Frank Hartzell, for your superb work in researching and educating the Mendocino coast community in wave energy developments and in supporting us to act from knowledge in our role as environmental stewards.

Read Full Post »

MATT NAUMAN, San Jose Mercury News, October 27, 2008

The California Public Utilities Commission rejected a Pacific Gas & Electric contract for wave energy, saying the utility was going to pay too much for a technology that’s still largely experimental.

Last December, PG&E said it would be the first utility in the nation to get energy from ocean waves after signing a power purchase agreement with Finavera Renewables, which planned to operate a “wave farm” about 21/2 miles off the coast of Eureka. The deal was for 2 megawatts of power starting in 2012.

But the California PUC this month nixed the deal, saying wave energy technology was “in a nascent stage” and that Finavera’s system was “not currently viable.” The commission noted that a prototype buoy deployed by Finavera off the Oregon coast in 2007 sank before its six week test period was concluded.

The CPUC, which oversees power deals and rate hikes from the state’s big utilities, also said the San Francisco utility was going to pay too high a price for the wave-energy contract. The financial terms of power deals are not released publicly.

“We respectfully disagree with the decision,” PG&E spokeswoman Jennifer Zerwer said. The utility will continue to pursue wave energy projects, she said, including through its Emerging Renewables Resource Program proposal that would fund two wave projects off the Mendocino County and Humboldt County coast that’s currently waiting PUC approval.

In a letter to the PUC, Brian Cherry, PG&E’s vice president of regulatory relations, said the rejection of the deal would have “a chilling effect on wave development in California.” The rejection will send wave companies to states other than California, he wrote.

Finavera Renewables, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, said the decision puts California “out of step” with the policies of the federal government, other states and cities. CEO Jason Bak said Finavera would try to form a private wave-energy consortium to diversify the risk and attract more funding for wave-energy technology. He also said the company would now focus on its wind projects in Canada and Ireland.

A report released Monday suggested that wave energy has great potential to be a source of renewable power. While only about 10 megawatts of ocean power have been installed worldwide to date, a report by researcher Greentech Media and the nonprofit Prometheus Institute found that could grow to 1 gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) of power by 2015. In California, 1 megawatt of power is enough to provide electricity for 750 homes.

More than $4 billion will be invested in ocean-wave research and the construction of wave farms over the next six years, the report says.

Daniel Englander, co-author of that report, doesn’t see the CPUC decision as a death blow for wave energy projects. “PG&E picked the wrong company,” he said. “Finavera isn’t a bad company, it’s just that their technology isn’t at a stage where it’s ready to deliver power commercially.”

Still, he expects several companies will have production-ready ocean power systems capable of delivering 2 megawatts or more within five years.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, October 16, 2008

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) claimed that it has jurisdiction over hydroelectric projects located on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), pointing to laws that define its role.

FERC addressed the jurisdictional question, raised by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Mineral Management Service (MMS), in the context of a rehearing order on two preliminary permits issued to PG&E to study the feasibility of developing wave energy projects in the OCS off the California coast. The projects are the Humboldt Project off the coast of the Samoa Peninsula in Humboldt County near Eureka, and the Mendocino Project off the coast of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.

Commissioner Philip Moeller said the development of viable hydrokinetic resources needs a streamlined process like FERC’s. “It is indisputable that renewable energy is a valuable resource and hydrokinetic projects could harness a vast resource of new hydropower,” he said. “Instead of legal battles, my preference, and this Commission’s, has been to reach out to federal agencies and states to work in a cooperative manner to the same goal: timely development of a new renewable power resource in a responsible manner after input from all affected stakeholders.”

MMS has asserted that FERC only has jurisdiction to issue licenses and preliminary permits for projects within state waters, which for most states is defined as extending three miles offshore. Projects beyond state waters are considered to be located in the OCS.

But FERC says the Federal Power Act (FPA) gives it two bases of authority to issue preliminary permits and licensees for hydroelectric projects located on the OCS. First, the law expressly grants FERC jurisdiction to license in “navigable waters” without limitation as well as in “streams or other bodies of water over which Congress has jurisdiction.” 

The second authority is for those projects located on “reservations” of the United States. FERC concludes that the OCS is land owned by the United States, qualifying it to be a “reservation” under the FPA. “The Supreme Court of the United States has consistently held that the United States owns the submerged lands off its shores, beginning from the low-water mark,” FERC said.

Finally, FERC addressed comments by MMS about the meaning of the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) as it relates to the jurisdiction question for hydroelectric projects located on the OCS. MMS asserted that EPAct 2005 intended for MMS to be the lead federal regulatory authority over wave and ocean current energy projects in the OCS.

In this order, FERC notes that EPAct 2005 does not limit the scope of its authority over hydroelectric power or withdraw FERC jurisdiction over projects in the OCS. “To the contrary, Congress expressly preserved the Commission’s comprehensive hydroelectric licensing authority under the FPA by including two saving clauses….,” FERC said.

FERC Chairman Kelliher stressed today that FERC recognizes the role of Interior, which through the Minerals Management Service (MMS) manages lands on the OCS. There is no conflict with FERC’s role as the licensing agency, he said.

“We have proposed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MMS that carefully delineates the roles of the two agencies in a manner that respects both our licensing, and Interior’s resource, roles,” Kelliher said. “We stand ready to enter into the MOU to clarify those roles.”

A preliminary permit gives the holder of a permit priority over the site for three years while the holder studies the feasibility of developing the site. It does not authorize construction of any kind. A license authorizes construction and operation of a hydroelectric facility.

FERC’s order also finds that although two local governments, the City of Fort Bragg and Mendocino County, asserted that they did not receive personal notification from FERC of the filing of the preliminary permit applications, only Mendocino County acted in a timely manner once it received actual notice of the application in order to preserve its right to intervene. As a result, Mendocino County’s request for late intervention is granted. However, the order finds that Mendocino has not provided grounds for the Commission to revoke the Mendocino Project permit or to reopen that proceeding. The order also denies motions for late intervention in both proceedings by FISH Committee.

Read Full Post »

Excerpts from FRANK HARTZELL’s article in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News, September 18, 2008

PG&E “expects to be granted $1.2 million this week by the U.S. Department of Energy to study wave energy off Fort Bragg and Eureka” and is seeking “the new money earlier this summer to move its local wave energy study under a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) preliminary permit to the commercial stage. In order to complete that study and get test equipment into the water, the Department of Energy grant is needed, PG&E says.”

“The most recent news of the federal Department of Energy grant will be a study undertaken by the utility as part of a team that includes Humboldt State University and the University of Texas at Austin. PG&E hopes the money will eventually make the project commercially viable.”

“PG&E believes there is potential to generate renewable, emission free, environmentally benign, and cost effective energy from wave energy at selected sites in the PG&E service territory in Northern California, and that successful wave energy demonstration may enable significant commercial development resulting in important benefits for both the Northern California region and the country,” the grant application by the utility states.”

“Clearly, PG&E needs to do in-water testing for wave energy to be viable. FERC’s preliminary permit process no longer allows for that to happen. FERC anticipates issuing a license to PG&E for wave energy off Humboldt next spring. A license would allow in-water testing and even legal power generation.”

PG&E’s objective is “to conduct in-water testing and evaluation of commercial/near-commercial WEC [wave energy converter] technology representative of what would be expected to be used in a commercial-scale power plant. This will enable PG&E to make an informed evaluation of WEC technology as to whether, and to what extent, wave energy should be included in PG&E’s energy portfolio, while simultaneously facilitating the commercial development of this new industry,” the PG&E application states.

“PG&E is the primary proposing organization and its project team includes CH2MHill, EPRI, University of Texas at Austin, Humboldt State University and other contractors to be named later.”

Read Full Post »

KEVIN McCALLUM, The Press Democrat, September 19, 2008

Three months after smoke from wildfires carpeted California’s vineyards, some winemakers in the thick of harvest are reporting grapes giving off unusual odors that may be signs of smoke taint.

Smoke from wildfires makes the sun look red as it sets over a vineyard off Geysers Road in June.

While it’s too early to generalize about the scope of the potential problem, some troubling reports are filtering in from Mendocino County, which earlier this summer endured some of the fiercest wildfires and worst air quality in memory.

“Winemakers are saying that they think stuff is smelling funny to them, and they want to know what’s going on,” said Glenn McGourty, viticulture adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Mendocino.

While worrisome for winemakers, consumers may not need to worry about tasting smoke instead of oak in their favorite chardonnay because winemakers have sophisticated filtration tools to remove offending flavors.

To help winemakers understand their options, McGourty hosted a workshop last week in Ukiah to share some Australian research on the subject.

About 20 people, mostly winemakers, attended, he said. Not all were reporting problems. Many were there to educate themselves as a precautionary measure given the scope of the fires, which broke out on the North Coast after a June 21 lightning storm.

Some took more than a month to extinguish.

“There were 120 fires in Mendocino County, and there were fires on all sides of our wine grape areas,” McGourty said.

Laboratories, such as Vinquiry in Windsor, are seeing a stream of grapes and juice samples coming in for tests that can identify smoke taint.

“We’re definitely getting a few samples here and there that are tainted by smoke taint,” said Michelle Bowen, director of laboratory operations at Vinquiry.

The aroma “is kind of smoked salmony and fishy, and people are picking it up in the juice right now.”

Bob Kreisher, president of Santa Rosa-based wine filtration company Memstar North America, said many winemakers he speaks with report test results confirming smoke taint.

“It’s really hard to say how widespread it is at this point,” said Kreisher, whose company removes the compounds that produce smoke-tainted wine. “I would say it’s widespread and common but not ubiquitous.”

Not everyone agrees with that assessment.

Sonoma County, where skies turned hazy, did not have a major blaze itself this summer and appears to have been spared.

Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County WineGrape Commission, said he’s heard no concerns here.

“Certainly, a lot of grapes have been tasted by now, and lots of fermented product has probably been tasted as well, and there’s not been a peep from anyone that I’ve heard of in this county,” Frey said.

His counterpart in Lake County, Shannon Gunier, had a similar reaction.

“We’re not really seeing the same problem Mendocino is,” Gunier said. She pointed out that many of the county’s fires were on the eastern edge of the county, east of most of the grape-growing areas.

Gordon Burns, president of ETS laboratories in St. Helena, said he receives about 1,500 samples a day from wineries this time of year, and only a small fraction this year are requesting smoke taint tests.

No one in the industry can yet say just how big a problem exists, Burns said.

One reason for the uncertainty is that some research suggests taint can’t necessarily be detected from tasting grapes or unfermented juice. Studies have shown the compounds that cause smoke taint—guaiacol and 4-ethylguaiacol — bind to sugar and aren’t fully released until fermentation, Burns said.

McGourty doubts Mendocino County is unique in being affected by the phenomenon. The problems are turning up “all over the North Coast,” but McGourty thinks “nobody wants to own up.”

Some winemakers are concerned but also have reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Sarah Bennett, research enologist and co-owner of Navarro Vineyards, said she and winemaker Jim Klein have been keeping a close eye on the grapes as they move through the earlier stages of harvest.

Fires were all around their 90 acres of Anderson Valley vineyards in the early summer, as the grapes were growing rapidly.

One blaze came within about 1½ miles of a vineyard.

Firefighting helicopters took a million gallons of water from the winery’s Boonville irrigation pond, she said.

While there were some days when it was too smoky for workers to spend much time outside, the Anderson Valley’s proximity to the coast helped, she said.

“We definitely had some days where it cleared out,” she said. As a precaution, they are regularly sampling grapes in the vineyard to see if they can detect funky flavors. So far, everything seems fine. So they wait and hope and educate themselves as best they can.

Some of their preliminary research suggests the gentle way they make their wines — mostly pinot noir, gewurztraminer, riesling and chardonnay — may minimize any problems that could arise.

Some harvesting methods the winery uses may reduce the amount of taint that makes it into the wines, Bennett said.

Research suggests that when the grapes get warm or when they get mushed during harvest, as with mechanical harvesters, the skins can get broken.

Because offending smoky compounds concentrate in the skins, this can exacerbate the problem, she said.

But Navarro picks its grapes by hand at night, which may reduce problems.

Research also shows that gently pressing grapes may reduce the amount of compounds squeezed out of the skins, she said. But Navarro already uses settings more gentle than suggested maximum levels, she said.

Another way to manage problem grapes may be to segregate them from the rest of the crop, but that won’t be terribly difficult either, because the winery already tends to pick grapes in small batches and keeps them in different tanks, she said.

Whatever the scale of the problem, McGourty is confident winemakers will be able to muddle through.

“The good news is that there seems to be the technology to fix things if something is wrong,” McGourty said, referring to filtration companies that specialize in removing the compounds. “Winemakers are wizards at taking problems and turning them into drinkable products.”

Read Full Post »

Excerpts from FRANK HARTZELL’s article at the Mendocino Beacon, September 4, 2008

PG&E decided last week not to be the national test case for the Minerals Management Service’s wave energy program.

Just two weeks earlier, the utility officially filed paperwork to pursue those same far offshore wave energy leases. None of the filings have yet been provided to this newspaper by PG&E, or presented to the public locally.

Why such a quick change of mind?

“In early August we said yes to enter into negotiations for the (MMS) Mendocino project,” said PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris. “Within the following three weeks we hoped there would be change to the economic and commercial terms of the interim lease, which did not occur.

“At that point we made the decision to stop negotiations until the final rules are made available,” said Morris.

Minerals Management Service officials did not respond to questions about what they will do next, now that their test case is gone.

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) believes it must charge private companies and promote competition for leases of public resources — which the competing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gives to the first company in line at no direct cost.

After no competing firms emerged by the May 19 deadline, the MMS abandoned the idea of competitive bidding and proposed charging $3 per acre annually to lease the areas.

“PG&E has concluded that the project costs, including the significant rental fees, of going forward under an interim lease are unacceptably high, particularly in light of the absence of any competitive advantage at the commercial leasing stage,” said Morris.

AND

Recent Offshore Development Timeline

  • April — MMS releases its interim alternative energy application process. The MMS picks one site for each kind of energy proposed to be generated on the Outer Continental Shelf, wave, current, tide and wind. PG&E’s twin projects in Fort Bragg and Eureka are the wave energy choice.
  • May — When no other developer applies for the 200 square miles of ocean that PG&E has claimed off Eureka and Fort Bragg, the MMS proposes a $3 per acre annual fee.
  • August 1 — MMS announces a new initiative to open more areas to offshore oil drilling. Email and regular mail public comments are being taken through Sept. 5 on what areas should be opened.
  • August 6 — PG&E officially applies for the new MMS leases at $3 per acre.
  • August 15 — MMS holds a seminar in San Francisco to explain the new alternative energy process. PG&E attends.
  • August 26 — Mendocino County moves ahead with suing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, over its wave energy process.
  • August 26 — PG&E reverses its position of August 6 and announces it won’t pursue the interim leases, instead waiting until MMS finishes its rulemaking process later in 2008 or early 2009.
  • August 29 — PG&E files a six-month progress report with FERC. The company claims a large amount of local outreach in the report, naming numerous public meetings it has held. The company has revealed little or no new information at any of those meetings. The status report also mentions the company collaborated with two universities in June on filing a request with the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • August 31 — California State Senate passes a joint resolution asking Congress to renew the federal waters Outer Continental Shelf offshore drilling moratorium. This resolution, AJR 51, authored by Assemblyman Pedro Nava, had been passed by the California State Assembly earlier this summer.
  • September and October — Congress must pass new annual moratorium for protections off the Mendocino Coast and much of the East and West Coasts to continue. Republicans nationally make creating new drilling wherever possible a key campaign issue. A rival GOP plan would open up only certain Eastern states and new areas in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling.

Read Full Post »

MADDALENA JACKSON with MendoCoastCurrent edit, The Sacramento Bee, August 11, 2008

Oil companies, some politicians and commuters paying $4 for a gallon of gas might look at California’s coast and think of crude oil pooled below the sea floor.

California’s North Coast, however, holds promise of another energy bounty.

In less time than it would take to fire up new offshore oil drills, waters off our coast could host undulating buoys driven by waves, producing abundant electricity for a power-thirsty state.

The Electric Power Research Institute estimates enough wave power can be extracted from coastal waters to account for about 15% of California’s electricity production.

Offshore wave technology is promising, but it’s untried. They also raise concerns about potential damage to the coast’s prized vistas and fish industry.

One proposal that’s progressing is to draw electricity from waves off the Mendocino coast already has generated problems for developers, government agencies and coastal residents.

Moreover, the potential for waves depends on someone building transmission lines to connect offshore power to the state’s grid.

Northern California’s biggest utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., may be that someone.

Out at sea, the ocean’s surface ripples rhythmically, and the up-and-down motion can be harnessed to produce electrical energy, via bobbing buoys, jointed snakes and undulating tubes.

PG&E plans to capture some of that potential. It has preliminary permits for two projects – one off Fort Bragg in Mendocino County and one off Eureka.

The Fort Bragg project, expected to yield 40 megawatts of electricity, would be “an undersea power plug,” said PG&E project manager Bill Toman. It “would provide about 20% of electricity consumption of Mendocino County.”

PG&E would build the expensive transmission lines. The utility would select three or four developers to test their power generators.

Results will lead to “a decision about whether we would build our own wave energy farm,” he said.

Mendocino coast residents are examining PG&E’s plans with cautious concern.

“Wave energy sounds like a good idea, as long as it doesn’t harm the environment,” said Bruce Lewis, a nature photographer and volunteer light-keeper at the Point Cabrillo Light Station. “Using the power of the waves seems like a better way of generating power than building oil platforms off the coast.”

Others are wary. “When you first hear about it, you think, ‘That’s a great idea!’ ” said Jim Martin, director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

He’s concerned wave power may interfere with fisheries. He wonders if electrical signatures from the devices also might disturb fish.

His biggest complaint right now, however, is that local fishermen and residents have had no say in the planning.

Martin is also associated with Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics, or FISH. With local lawyer Elizabeth Mitchell, FISH is battling for a role in the planning.

A federal deadline has passed for gaining an official voice in the legal planning for the wave projects, alongside PG&E and federal energy regulators.

Mitchell has filed a request for a belated entree with the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission. She argues that an isolated community, with limited high-speed Internet service, and few residents who even know what FERC is, could not have met the deadline.

Mitchell said she’s concerned that permits have been granted without environmental analysis or even identified technology. “We are guinea pigs for a worldwide science experiment without any rational planning.”

PG&E’s permit comes from FERC. But there is a question over wave power jurisdiction. The federal Minerals Management Service has jurisdiction from three to 200 miles offshore, and by years end hopes to have rules in place for alternative energy leases, said spokesman John Romero.

FERC, however, oversees onshore hydropower applications and has claimed jurisdiction for wave technology up to 12 miles offshore, based on its reading of legal documents.

“It’s a problem for anyone in charge of proposing a project,” PG&E’s Toman said. “At some point, it will hold things up.”

A delay would be welcome, Martin said. “A huge reason people come up here is to look at the ocean, and to reconnect with nature.”

Read Full Post »

DAVID R. BAKER, The San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 2008

The U.S. Interior Department ratcheted up the pressure on Congress Wednesday to open more of the country’s coastline to offshore oil drilling, a move petroleum companies have sought for decades.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said his department will lay the groundwork for selling undersea oil-drilling leases on the outer continental shelf, including areas now protected by a congressional ban. Republicans are pushing hard to end the moratorium, which was imposed in 1982 and covers most of the East and West coasts.

The Interior Department has no authority to lift the ban. But if Congress votes to open the coasts to drilling, the department could hit the ground running, selling leases as early as 2011. Exploratory drilling would probably begin a few years after that.

“Americans continue to struggle with high gas prices, and it’s important that we do more to develop domestic sources of energy,” Kempthorne said.

As a first step, the Interior Department will solicit comments from oil companies, state governors, environmental groups and others as to which specific stretches of seafloor should be leased for drilling. The department will consider areas that are already open – such as the Gulf of Mexico – as well as those that aren’t.

The move pleased oil industry groups as well as politicians who want more offshore oil production.

“We’ve got to get off foreign oil. We’ve got to use our own domestic production,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona (Riverside County), who introduced legislation this month to lift the moratorium. He said royalties from oil pumped off the California coast could be a boon to state government.

“I think it’s a better solution than raising taxes,” Calvert said. “Why don’t we take advantage of the resources we know we have and help address the structural deficit problem in California?”

But leading congressional Democrats remain adamantly opposed to lifting the ban. They note that most of the estimated oil reserves on the outer continental shelf – about 79% – lie in areas that are already open to drilling.

“This is nothing more than a political stunt to divert attention from the high gas prices that have resulted from having two oil men in the White House,” California Sen. Barbara Boxer said Wednesday.

Environmental groups also panned the Interior Department plan. Like the congressional Democrats, they want the nation to invest more heavily in alternative energy sources and start weaning itself off oil.

“There’s simply no way, with 2% of the world’s oil reserves, that you can solve our problems by drilling” on the outer continental shelf, said Jim Presswood, an energy issues advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Interior Department officials said Wednesday that they also want to increase the development of alternative energy sources offshore. For two years, the department has studied leasing portions of the outer continental shelf to companies that want to build offshore windmills or install buoys that generate electricity as they bob up and down on the waves.

PG&E has proposed two such wave energy projects off the coasts of Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

The Interior Department’s alternative energy effort will dovetail with the new push on offshore oil drilling, Kempthorne said.

“Alternative energy development and traditional energy development are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

Although the department will ask for comments from governors, that doesn’t mean the governors would be able to veto offshore drilling in federal waters near their states. States control the waters within 3 miles of shore, but can’t directly control development farther out.

Kempthorne and other Interior Department officials emphasized on Wednesday their desire to work with the governors. But they said Congress would have to determine how much authority to give the states should legislators lift the drilling moratorium.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes offshore drilling. This week, the Republican governor touted an agreement with his counterparts in Oregon and Washington to work together to protect the coastal environment, an agreement that includes rejecting offshore oil drilling.

“The governor understands that people are frustrated with the soaring price of gas, but in California, we know offshore drilling is not the answer,” said Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Lisa Page.

Read Full Post »

DAVID R. BAKER, Village Green/SFGate.com, July 23, 2008

Drilling for undersea oil along the east and west coasts has quickly turned into one of America’s loudest political fights, as anyone reading the comments on SFGate can attest. But it’s not the Bush administration’s only plan for offshore energy.

For the past few years, the administration has been studying how to open the coasts to renewable energy projects, things like wave farms and underwater turbines designed to generate electricity by harnessing the tides. The Minerals Management Service — the same federal agency that sells offshore oil leases — has quietly pieced together a program to grant leases for testing renewable energy projects at sea.

On July 23, 2007, the service reported that it would move forward with the lease program, which will include two locations along the northern California coast.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co., California’s largest utility, wants a lease to study wave power off of Humboldt and Mendocino counties. Oil giant Chevron proposed a similar study along Mendocino but later dropped the project. A smaller company, Marine Sciences of San Diego, is seeking a lease that would cover some of the same offshore areas as PG&E’s Humboldt proposal.

The Minerals Management Service wants PG&E and Marine Sciences to collaborate on the project, rather than grant the two companies overlapping leases. Each lease will cover a specific patch of the ocean and will run for five years. Companies receiving the leases will be allowed to test equipment at sea — equipment such as buoys that generate electricity as they bob up and down on the waves. But the companies will not be allowed to set up commercial operations there.

Before any leases are handed out, the service will continue studying potential environmental pitfalls. Some north coast residents worry that a cluster of power-generating bouys tethered to the seafloor could interfere with fishing or the migration of whales. The service would like to start handing out leases as early as this fall and may be able to do so with some sites on the east coast. But the California leases could easily take longer, said service spokesman John Romero.

“The hope is we can do these things sooner than later, but bottom line, we’re not going to compromise the environmental review process,” he said.

Read Full Post »

Publishers Note: In early August 2008, FERC Denied Rehearing the Mendocino Coast related to the following post. This is one in a series of actions that Federal Government has taken to obstruct community involvement and begin the necessary dialog on environmental concerns.

MendoCoastCurrent, July 21, 2008

An alliance of Northern California coast commercial and recreational fishing associations known as Fishermen Interested in Safe Hydrokinetics (FISH) has announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is extending its time to consider the FISH committee request for public participation and environmental analysis in developing federal licensing regulations for nascent wave energy generation projects.

In this Request for Rehearing to FERC, the FISH committee seeks a public-notice-and-comment rulemaking process for the federal licensing of hydrokinetic (wave energy) FERC energy development projects, implementation of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and compliance with other federal laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act. Also joining in this request are the County of Mendocino, the City of Fort Bragg, the Recreational Fishing Alliance and Lincoln County, Oregon.

As the Mendocino coast may lead the United States in wave energy generation exploration, it’s evident to the FISH Committee, coastal governments and concerned citizens that there is a need for responsible federal energy development guidelines and practices including national regulations and environmental impact study before any FERC wave energy licenses are issued. These sought-after guidelines and procedures require rulemaking with public participation in tandem with environmental impact analysis through-out the wave energy development process, including the offshore experimental and pilot stages of exploration.

In the past, the FERC response to concerns on wave energy development has been to exclude rulemaking and shun public input. A comment made by FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller and noted in a New York Times article underlines their position, “Let’s get this stuff in the water and find out what it has to offer.”

Unlike FERC, a related federal agency also involved in wave energy development, the Minerals Management Service or MMS, is utilizing a public process to develop regulations for ocean wave energy projects and has completed a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.

The project areas of consideration are two wave energy projects proposed for the coast off Mendocino County, one of the most productive marine areas on the West Coast. One proposal covers 68 square miles, and the second covers 17 square miles. Both wave energy projects would require significant exclusion zones in the last remaining fishing grounds off Mendocino County.

“Naturally, fishermen are concerned whenever we hear proposals to close off big areas of the ocean to fishing, but we’re just as concerned about the potential environmental impacts to marine species our fisheries depend on,” said Jim Martin of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), a national grassroots political lobby for saltwater sportfishermen, and one of the founding members of FISH. “We hope FERC uses the extra time it has extended itself to carefully consider these issues and do the right thing.”

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, July 19, 2008, 6:30 pm

Date/Time Started: June 20, 2008, 6:00 pm

Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit

County: Mendocino County

Location: Throughout Mendocino County

Acres Burned: 54,817 acres

Containment: 100% contained

Structures Threatened: No current threat

Structures Destroyed: 1 residence and 1 outbuilding

Injuries: 47

Evacuations: All Evacuations have been lifted

Road Closures: All roads are currently open

Evacuation Centers: All Evacuation Centers are on standby

Cause: Lightning

Cooperating Agencies: CAL FIRE, Marin County, CDCR, CHP, CCC, Mendocino County Sheriff, all local government FPD in Mendocino County, State OES, BLM, BIA, NWS, numerous county fire departments, National Guard, private timber companies and consulting foresters/representatives.

Total Fire Personnel: 1,922 (917 CAL FIRE)

Engines: 102

Fire crews: 60

Helicopters 8

Dozers: 12

Water tenders: 28

Costs to date: $48.5 million

Conditions: The Mendocino Lightning Complex consisted of 129 fires that burned in Mendocino County.

Significant mop-up and patrol operations continue on all fires throughout the incident.

Favorable weather conditions are expected to continue over the next several days.

Containment of all fires on the Mendocino Lightning Complex has been achieved.

Residents are reminded that smoke and flare-ups may continue within control lines.

Firefighters will continue to extinguish any remaining hot spots and will be patrolling all fires for several weeks.

Fixed wing and rotary aircraft will continue to operate in fire areas to ensure complete extinguishment of all fires.

The Governor has declared Mendocino County a State of Emergency due to redwood timber loss and significant threat to life, residential, commercial and resource loss.

CAL FIRE Incident Command Team #4 is assigned to this incident.

Read Full Post »

CHRIS BOWMAN, Sacramento Bee, July 18, 2008

If every cloud has a silver lining, what good can be said of the big brown dome of wildfire smoke that capped much of California these past few weeks? Plenty, say ecologists who study the effects of fire on the landscape.

While the siege of lightning-sparked fires continues to inundate parts of Northern California with hazardously smoky air, the blazes also consumed more than 1,400 square miles of dangerously overgrown forests and oak woodlands – the size of nearly three Lake Tahoe basins – leaving that much less fuel for future, more catastrophic and expensive fires.

Federal land managers in California are retooling their firefighting strategies to capture more of the public safety, economic and environmental benefits of letting wildfires run their natural course without overwhelming the public with smoke and destroying homes.

That’s a tough balancing act in the nation’s most populous state, which already endures the smoggiest and grittiest air in the country. But in a select few remote national forests, parks and wilderness areas, ecologists say, the federal government has been weaning itself off Smokey Bear’s admonitions with measurable success.

“We didn’t have any injuries. We didn’t burn any houses, and we cleared out 15,000 acres of dense vegetation that hasn’t seen fire in decades and, in some places, a century – and that’s a good thing,” said Brent Skaggs, a U.S. Forest Service fire management officer who let nature take its course under close watch – and tricky weather – in the Clover fire that was recently contained in the Sequoia and Inyo national forests.

Federal officials call it “reintroducing fire” to the landscape. Historically, wildfire smoke filled the Central Valley and draped the mountains flanking much of the summer and fall. Extinguishing the fires became a federal mandate with the creation of the Forest Service at the turn of the 20th century.

The firefighting made it safer to extend development into the woods, but also made for more dangerous forests with the buildup of deadwood that would have otherwise gone up in smoke. As a result, modern blazes recur more frequently. And they often do more damage than good to the flora and fauna – humans included.

Backing off from total fire suppression and letting fire run more of its natural course effectively inoculates the forest from more virulent fires that denude large swaths of the landscape, which in turn invites mudslides.

“We could have suppressed it and had the thing out earlier, Skaggs said of the Clover fire, which was discovered May 31. “But by doing that we would be just prolonging the inevitable. We had an opportunity to manage fire or have it manage us.”

The practice, of course, could backfire. A sudden shift in wind direction or unexpected gusts in the unnaturally dense forests could turn such experiments into disasters – plastering communities with smoke or, worse, burning them down.

Fire managers have reduced the chances of a hands-off fire running awry by limiting the practice to the remote backcountry of the central Sierra and the desolate northern corners of the state.

Namely: Portions of the Mendocino, Klamath and Shasta-Trinity national forests that encompassed large wilderness areas; Lassen National Park and the neighboring Lava Beds National Monument and Modoc National Forest; and Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon national parks and surrounding Stanislaus and Sequoia national forests. Managers of these forests have plans in place for using the let-it-burn approach, known in firefighting parlance as “wildfire use” or “appropriate management response.”

Even then, the practice cannot be used without a series of approvals up the Forest Service line of command, from the ranger on the ground to the brass at headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Beyond that, forest officials in many cases need the permission of local air pollution control districts.

The Forest Service had a tough time getting the cooperation of pollution regulators when it began “wildfire use” about five years ago, said Trent Procter, air quality program manager for the agency’s Pacific Southwest region, which includes California.

Working against the agency were earlier “prescribed burns” – deliberately set to thin out fire-prone thickets – that went awry at Lake Tahoe and the Stanislaus forest.

Relations have since improved. “They realize that in the absence of (natural burns), we’ll end up with more catastrophic wildfires like those we have now, where the smoke will be worse, Procter said.

For its part, the Forest Service recently added at least a dozen portable air pollution samplers to the state Air Resources Board’s network for monitoring the smoke levels, which reached the hazardous level Thursday in the Trinity County seat of Weaverville, said Jeff Cook, an emergency response coordinator with the air board.

Starting today, the federal agency will be providing “smoke forecasts” enabling the air board to give the public more advance warning of unhealthful conditions.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, July 18, 2008, 7:00 am

Date/Time Started: June 20, 2008, 6:00 pm

Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit

County: Mendocino County

Location: Throughout Mendocino County

Acres Burned: 53,300

Containment: 100% contained

Structures Threatened: No current threat

Structures Destroyed: 1 residence and 1 outbuilding

Injuries: 46

Fatalities: 1

Evacuations: All evacuations have been lifted

Road Closures: All roads are currently open

Evacuation Centers: All Evacuation Centers have been placed on standby

Cause: Lightning Cooperating Agencies: CAL FIRE, Marin County, CDCR, CHP, CCC, Mendocino County Sheriff, all local government FPD in Mendocino County, State OES, BLM, BIA, NWS, numerous county fire departments, National Guard, private timber companies and consulting foresters/representatives.

Total Fire Personnel: 2,088 (1,002 CAL FIRE)

Engines: 119

Fire crews: 63

Helicopters 10

Dozers: 18

Water tenders: 45

Costs to date: $45.8 million

Conditions: The Mendocino Lightning Complex consisted of 129 fires that burned in Mendocino County.

Significant mop-up and patrol operations continue on all fires throughout the incident. Favorable weather conditions are expected to continue over the next several days. Containment of all fires on the Mendocino Lightning Complex has been achieved.

The Governor has declared Mendocino County a State of Emergency due to redwood timber loss and significant threat to life, residential, commercial and resource loss.

CAL FIRE Incident Command Team #4 is assigned to this incident.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, July 17, 2008, 6:30 am

Date/Time Started: June 20, 2008, 6 pm

Administrative Unit: CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit

County: Mendocino County

Location: Throughout Mendocino County

Acres Burned: 53,300

Containment: 95% contained

Expected Containment: July 17, 2008

Structures Threatened: No current threat

Structures Destroyed: 1 Residence and 1 Outbuilding

Injuries: 45

Fatalities: 1

Evacuations: All evacuations have been lifted

Road Closures: All roads are currently open

Evacuation Centers: All Evacuation Centers have been placed on standby

Cause: Lightning

Cooperating Agencies: CAL FIRE, Marin County, CDCR, CHP, CCC, Mendocino County Sheriff, all local government FPD in Mendocino County, State OES, BLM, BIA, NWS, numerous county fire departments, National Guard, private timber companies and consulting foresters/representatives.

Total Fire Personnel: 2,290 (1,033 CAL FIRE)

Engines: 141

Fire crews: 71

Helicopters 10

Dozers: 21

Water tenders: 52

Costs to date: $43.5 million

Conditions: The Mendocino Lightning Complex currently consists of 129 fires burning in Mendocino County. There are currently two active fires.

Significant mop-up and patrol operations continue on all fires throughout the incident. Favorable weather conditions continue to be predicted over the next several days. Firefighters are taking advantage of the favorable weather conditions and are making substantial progress on containment. Residents are reminded that they may see increased fire and smoke in the areas of planned firing operations.

The Governor has declared Mendocino County a State of Emergency due to redwood timber loss and significant threat to life, residential, commercial and resource loss.

CAL FIRE Incident Command Team #4 is assigned to this incident.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »