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energy

Donald Trump marched through the Republican presidential primary field this year on the strength of a focused message: America used to be great. It isn't anymore. And that's mostly the fault of the Obama administration.

On Thursday, Trump applied that same thesis to American energy production. "America's incredible energy potential remains untapped," he told a North Dakota audience in what was billed as a major policy address. "It's totally self-inflicted. It's a wound, and it's a wound we have to heal."

San Francisco will soon begin requiring new buildings to have solar panels installed on the roof.

It's the first major U.S. city to have such a requirement, according to Scott Weiner, the city supervisor who introduced the bill.

An Oregon start-up that’s trying to use kites to generate electricity has secured close to a quarter of a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state agencies.

Beaverton-based eWind Solutions is working with Oregon State University to develop kites that generate power by flying in a figure ‘8’ pattern. The hope is that will make the kites pull hard on their cords, which are attached to a ground-based ratchet system that spins a power generator.

Is The Future Of Solar Bright In Oregon?

Apr 14, 2016

When the most recent legislative session ended in Oregon, the state’s energy future looked very different than it had just a few months earlier. Lawmakers moved to get Oregon off of coal by 2030. And that means replacing one-third of the state’s power supply in just 14 years.

Renewable energy development will likely benefit – and in particular, Oregon’s new laws are setting up solar as a potential big winner.

Port of Vancouver commissioners are looking for input at a hearing Tuesday about how to move forward with the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.

The Port wants to hear from the public about how to proceed with a proposed lease amendment from the backers of the Vancouver Energy Project.

The hearing will be held at Clark College. It’s expected to last about 12 hours.

The company behind a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal on Oregon’s southern coast has been busy lining up customers in Asia.

On Friday, the Canadian firm Veresen announced a preliminary purchase agreement with the Japanese trading company ITOCHU. Two weeks earlier, Veresen said it had a similar agreement in place with another Japanese firm, JERA.

Both deals are for 1.5 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year for 20 years. If finalized, they vouch for half the expected production capacity of the proposed LNG terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Americans throw away about a third of our available food.

But what some see as trash, others are seeing as a business opportunity. A new facility known as the Heartland Biogas Project is taking wasted food from Colorado's most populous areas and turning it into electricity. Through a technology known as anaerobic digestion, spoiled milk, old pet food and vats of grease combine with helpful bacteria in massive tanks to generate gas.

Renewable energy like solar and wind is booming across the country as the costs of production have come down. But the sun doesn't always shine, and the wind doesn't blow when we need it to.

This challenge has sparked a technology race to store energy — one that goes beyond your typical battery.

Heat Storage: Molten Salt And A Giant Solar Farm

Batteries are often used to store solar power, but it can be a costly endeavor.

A federal court ordered the U.S. Department of Energy Friday to step up its solutions and timeline to clean up tank waste at Hanford in southeast Washington.

One of the last actions Oregon lawmakers took before adjourning Thursday was passing a landmark clean-energy bill.

The Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Bill lays out a timeline for Oregonians to stop paying for electricity from coal-fired power plants through its two largest utilities, PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric.

One of the Northwest’s selling points is its cheap hydropower. That’s why in recent years data centers have sprouted along the Columbia River in both Washington and Oregon.

But in north central Washington, an emerging power-hungry industry is meeting with some resistance. It involves the making and managing of the virtual currency called bitcoin.

Solstice's Joe Santucci says new technologies reduce the need for power-hungry lights. But they aren't totally embracing LEDs.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Marijuana growers in the Northwest are going to use a lot of electricity in the next 20 years, enough to power up to 200,000 homes, according to a recent forecast.

That’s because a lighting module to grow four marijuana plants takes as much energy as 29 refrigerators.

U.S. oil dropped below $30 a barrel during trading Tuesday. That’s the lowest price since December 2003.

The dip in price happened on the same day Washington state held a public hearing about a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

Oil was more than $100 per barrel when the Vancouver Energy Project was first announced back in the summer of 2013.

Still, backers of the oil terminal said the joint venture, between oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries, is insulated from current market conditions.

Oregon Utilities Agree To Phase Out Coal-Fired Power

Jan 6, 2016

Oregon utilities have agreed to support a bill that would phase out coal-fired power in Oregon by 2030.

The agreement follows negotiations with the backers of a proposed ballot measure that set the same target for eliminating coal from the state's electrical supply.

The proposed legislation would only affect Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, which together serve about 70 percent of Oregon's electricity. It also calls for doubling the amount of renewable energy the utilities generate by 2040.

A report by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council finds the region can meet nearly all of its energy needs for the next 20 years without building new power plants.

The exceptions may come from the need to replace the power from coal plants that are being retired.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has made clean energy a signature issue of his administration. But some state clean energy grant money is flowing to startup companies staffed by former top state officials.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has set his sights on a clean energy future for the state. Since taking office he’s helped convince the legislature to put $75 million into a Clean Energy Fund.

Activists deliver a petition asking the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

While the world's richest man was meeting with world leaders in Paris at the global climate summit, climate activists marched on his foundation's Seattle headquarters Monday.

Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
Flickr Photo/Ryan Raffa (CC BY SA 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1iMN9iL

Ross Reynolds talks to Emily Parkhurst, an editor for the Puget Sound Business Journal, about the University of Washington's new deal with Tsinghua University in Beijing to study clean energy technology.

An energy company wants to build a transfer terminal in Longview, Washington that could handle liquefied petroleum gas and crude oil, according to documents reviewed Friday by OPB.

The project is an expansion on an already proposed oil refinery for Longview.

The documents were obtained by Columbia River Keeper through a public records request. They describe an “off-load and transfer terminal” at the Port of Longview that could handle up to two unit trains per day.

What if there were a way to take the waste heat that spews from car tailpipes or power plant chimneys and turn it into electricity? Matt Scullin thinks there is, and he's formed a company to turn that idea into a reality.

The key to Scullin's plans is something called thermoelectrics. "A thermoelectric is a material that turns heat into electricity," he says.

Electric vehicles charging on the state Capitol campus in Olympia, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Washington State House Republicans (CC BY ND 2.0)

David Hyde talks to Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett about why he and others are trying to get Puget Sound Energy to reduce reliance on coal.  

Clark County Judge David Gregerson ruled Friday that port leaders in Vancouver, Washington didn’t violate state laws in 2013 when they negotiated a lease for an oil terminal.

The lease between Tesoro-Savage companies and the port remains in place. If built, the terminal project could ship 360,000 barrels of oil daily from the port to refineries along the West Coast.

Dean Smith, who retired from the NSA, now tracks oil trains. He has gotten more information to the state in one week than oil companies have in three years.
EarthFix/KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

EVERETT, Wash. – Dean Smith, 72, sits in his car by the tracks north of Seattle.

It’s a dark, rainy Tuesday night, and Smith waits for an oil train to come through town. These trains are distinctive: A mile long, they haul 100 or so black, pill-shaped cars that each carry 30,000 gallons of crude oil.

The Clean Energy Governor And The Columbia River Oil Refinery

Jun 7, 2015

A new oil refinery is the last thing you might expect Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's administration to be courting. After all, Inslee has developed a national reputation as a champion of curbing the use of fossil fuels.

U.S. Coast Guard

A new report from The National Transportation Safety Board says poor planning and risk assessment by Shell Oil led to the wreck of the Kulluk oil rig off the coast of Alaska in December 2012.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Protesters of Arctic drilling have run afoul of the ocean environment in their own small way.

In addition to assembling a flotilla of kayaks on Seattle's Elliott Bay last weekend, the activists brought in a construction barge. It's a solar-powered platform for protests against Shell Oil's plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. But the protesters anchored their solar barge over one of Seattle's most popular sites for scuba diving. 

The Oregon Department of Energy announced $1.5 million in grants Thursday to developers across the state. Of the 17 projects the department funded, all but one involves solar power.

The one exception is a $110,000 hydroelectric project for the Sisters Irrigation District. The solar recipients include a school, two ranches, a theater, a visitors center, and two affordable housing projects.

The biggest awards were $250,000 each for proposals based in Klamath Falls, Sheridan and St. Paul.

As the energy giant Shell moves floating drill rigs from shipyards in Asia to Alaska's north coast, hundreds of kayakers took to the water in a flotilla of protest.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

In some ways, this protest was like any other: banners everywhere, with messages like "Climate Justice" and "Shell No." 

But there were sounds you don't hear at the usual Seattle demonstration: Splashing and clanking sounds as boats moved through downtown waters.

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Ross Reynolds talks with King County Executive Dow Constantine about his concerns about coal and what he wants the state to do about it.

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