energy | KUOW News and Information

energy

Screenshot from appropriations.house.gov

Both Democrats and Republicans pushed back against cuts proposed for the U.S. Department of Energy when Energy Secretary Rick Perry came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Washington state Republicans criticized Trump administration proposals to lop one-fourth off efforts to clean up radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and sell off much of the Northwest’s high-voltage power grid.

Tesoro workers killed in a 2010 refinery explosion are commemorated outside city hall in Everett, Washington.
KUOW Photo / Bond Huberman

The largest workplace-safety fine in Washington history has been overturned.

A state appeals judge on Friday rejected a $2.4 million fine that oil company Tesoro faced after an explosion that killed seven workers in Anacortes.

A smart meter.
Wikimedia Commons

Seattle City Light will place advanced meters in homes and apartment buildings this summer.

Crews will start installing the meters north of the Ship Canal and work their way south.


Trump's Budget Proposes Selling Off BPA Grid

May 24, 2017

One of President Trump’s ideas to generate revenue is not sitting well with some Northwest utilities. The proposed budget includes a plan to sell off publicly-owned transmission lines, like those owned by the Bonneville Power Administration.

The BPA operates about three-quarters of the high-voltage transmission systems in its territory, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee before a meeting Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Seattle. The two were to discuss trade, regional economic development, and climate.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Seattle Wednesday, protesters rallied on the steps of the Canadian consulate downtown.

The Native and environmental activists were protesting pipelines Trudeau approved in November, including the Trans Mountain pipeline that would multiply oil tanker traffic through British Columbia and Washington waters up to sevenfold.

The Big Horn Wind Farm in Klickitat County, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Alex Williams (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8c39me

Puget Sound Energy is launching a program that will bring a new wind farm to the state. PSE’s new Green Direct program is set up as an alternative way for major utility customers to buy their energy.

Kevin Butt's job is to find cleaner ways to power Toyota. One of the hardest places to do that is at the automaker's sprawling plant in central Kentucky, a state where nearly 90 percent of electricity still comes from coal.

Butt points out a new engine assembly line, where a conveyor belt moves in a slow circle. He says it was specially designed with a more efficient motor. There are also enormous fans overhead and LED lights, all changes that save millions.

Northwest rivers are running high as all that winter snowpack melts into spring runoff.

And that means the region is producing too much of a good thing: carbon-free, renewable energy in the form of both dam-generated hydropower along with electricity from spinning wind-farm turbines.

That's prompted the federal government to take an action it avoided during the last four years of drought conditions: shutting down wind power.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson
KUOW photo/Amy Radil

Attorneys general from 11 states are taking new action against the Trump Administration over energy efficiency standards. They are working to protect an Obama-administration rule they think is in jeopardy.

New efficiency standards for coolers and fans were supposed to go into effect by now. However, the Trump Administration has put them on hold until Sept 30.

An EnergyGuide sticker on a television includes the EnergyStar seal, meaning it's an efficient set.
KUOW photo/Gil Aegerter

The Trump administration wants to end the EnergyStar program – you might know it from labels that mark the most energy-efficient appliances when you shop for a TV, refrigerator or computer.

Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash of the University of Washington told KUOW’s Emily Fox that ending the program doesn’t make sense, for a number of reasons.


President Trump promises coal workers their jobs will come back as he signs an executive order to scale back federal energy regulations.
EPA.gov

No one said the word “climate” on stage this week when President Trump signed an executive order aimed at scuttling the Clean Power Plan.

West Coast energy regulators met Tuesday in Seattle to renew their pledge to join forces in reducing the region's shared carbon footprint.

The chairs of the Washington, Oregon and California utility commissions cited as one of their goals the improved integration of the West Coast's power grids.

Washington's peak energy draw happens when people turn up their thermostats in the winter. Meanwhile, Californians' heavy reliance power is during the summer, when air conditioners are running, said Dave Danner, chair of the Utilities Commission of Washington.

The route for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, which links up with the Bakken Pipeline.
Energy Transfer Partners release

The City of Seattle promised last month that it would stop banking with Wells Fargo, because the bank pledged hundreds of millions in loan money to build the Dakota Access Pipeline.

America’s energy future is often cast as a battle that pits fossil fuels such as coal and gas against wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. But in the Pacific Northwest, we've already slashed greenhouse gas emissions — and saved big bucks — with a clean energy source that often doesn't even get mentioned in policy debates.

Dan Cunningham is installing an adjustable metal frame, covered in red fabric, in the open front door at a house in Ashland, Oregon.

The High Mercury tanker, part of a fleet co-owned by Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, in Haro Strait with Vancouver Island in the background Feb. 15.
Courtesy of Jane Cogan

If one thing is clear from Wilbur Ross's financial disclosure forms, it's that the billionaire nominee for Secretary of Commerce lives in a world most Americans can only fantasize about.


In a surprising move, China's commerce ministry has announced that the country would be suspending its coal imports from North Korea. China released a statement Saturday saying that the freeze in imports will begin Sunday and will be in place through the end of the year.

There have been no executive orders yet to undo President Barack Obama's signature climate plan, but many officials and environmental groups consider it as good as dead. The Clean Power Plan is on hold while a legal battle plays out, and even if an appeals court upholds it — a decision could come any day — the Trump administration is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The state of New York decided to forge ahead anyway. Like a number of other mostly liberal states, it is continuing with efforts to drive down the carbon emissions that drive climate change.

C-SPAN

Efforts to rein in planet-warming pollution in Washington state could be hindered by federal officials once Donald Trump becomes president.

Governor Jay Inslee.
Flickr Photo/GovInslee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed a carbon tax within weeks of Washington voters' rejecting what would have been the nation's first such tax. Inslee's proposal is a big part of his plan to raise $4 billion in new revenue, with $3 billion of it going to improve education.

Updated 7:51 a.m. ET Dec. 14 with official announcement of Perry's nomination.

It's a good thing former Texas Gov. Rick Perry once forgot he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy, because President-elect Donald Trump is nominating him to lead the agency.

“For a lot of Americans the image they carry in their imagination of Indian peoples is teepees, war bonnets, and Sitting Bull at Wounded Knee and Custer’s last stand – these are those people. This is that place,” said Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes, describing the scene of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.

“Once again, here we are. They’re getting chased off a piece of land that’s in the path of a pipeline.”


The Columbia Generating Station outside Richland, Washington, is the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant. Now, the federal government is auditing the plant to make sure it could weather flooding.

Taking Down Snake River Dams: It's Back On The Table

Oct 21, 2016

Starting Monday people will get a chance to weigh-in on a controversial question: Should four dams come down on the lower Snake River? They’re facing renewed scrutiny because of a court-ordered analysis on how the dams are harming salmon.

Last May, a federal judge — for the fifth time — rejected the government’s plan for protecting threatened and endangered salmon in the Columbia River system. He said agencies must take a new look at all approaches to managing the dams — including breaching those on the lower Snake River in southeast Washington.

Swan Lake Valley is a patchwork of farm fields and grazing land about 20 minutes from Klamath Falls. The slopes of the surrounding juniper-scattered hills rise sharply from the valley floor, brown against the green of hay and alfalfa below.

A startup company from North Idaho captivated donors and YouTube viewers worldwide a few years ago with its idea for turning roads and parking lots into solar farms. Now that far-out idea is available for public inspection for the first time.

Hydroelectric power may not be a carbon-free energy source after all.

A new study from Washington State University finds that reservoirs behind dams produce more greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought.

Tesoro workers killed in a 2010 refinery explosion are commemorated outside city hall in Everett, Washington.
KUOW Photo / Bond Huberman

A nearly six-year-long legal battle drew to a close Thursday when attorneys made their final arguments on whether Texas oil company Tesoro is responsible for an explosion that killed seven workers at its refinery in Anacortes, Washington, in 2010.


Oregon State University and Stanford University developed an energy conservation program which showed that children’s energy-saving behaviors impact their parents’ own habits.

The program, called Girls Learning Environment and Energy, or GLEE, was tested on 30 Girl Scout troops in Northern California, and the results were positive, not only for the children but also for their entire families.

Researchers found that the energy-saving behavior the Girl Scouts gained continued for more than seven months after the program ended.

Engineers at Oregon State have created a free, open-source computer program that can determine a stream or river’s potential as an energy source. They released the program last Thursday.

OSU’s new software compiles a network of global climate data and calibrates it with local data collected by users to assess a region’s hydropower potential.

Kendra Sharp, a professor of humanitarian engineering at OSU, said giving previously off-the-grid areas power was the main goal of the program.

Oregon lawmakers continued to debate the future of the state's Department of Energy on Monday, when a special legislative panel grilled the leader of that agency against the backdrop of a potential criminal investigation.

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