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bananas

bananas's Journal
bananas's Journal
October 2, 2015

State utility regulator re-examines secret meetings

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2015/sep/30/citylights-california-utility-drop-secret-meetings/

State utility regulator re-examines secret meetings

Don’t expect big changes yet

By Don Bauder, Sept. 30, 2015

By now, savvy folks know that the California Public Utilities Commission has to clean up its act — thoroughly. Commissioners and staff members used illegal, back-channel communications with Southern California Edison to fleece ratepayers over costs of closing the San Onofre nuclear plant. Similarly, commission members were secretly helping Pacific Gas and Electric in its attempt to get a light penalty for its negligence leading to the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and incinerated a neighborhood.

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“Strumwasser wrote a good report,” says Bill Powers of San Diego’s Powers Engineering. “It shows how the formal decision-making process is corrupted by the free-wheeling heavy hitters, the utilities. The system is stacked against the little guy, and the only defense for the little guy is sunlight” — openness, transparency.

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Loretta Lynch, former president of the commission, says the regulatory body now is a “corrupt, co-opted agency that makes decisions behind closed doors.” It “does what it wants” no matter what administrative law judges say. For example, the commission is spending more than $5 million on attorneys to represent the commission in state and federal investigations. But an indictment of a state agency is out of the question. Thus, she asks, “Is the (commission) trying to help Peevey by hiring criminal defense lawyers? Are they impeding the investigations?”

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The so-called reform attempts “don’t attack the core problem, which is utilities providing funding to the decision makers — free trips, dinners, contributions, employment opportunities down the road,” says Mike Aguirre, San Diego attorney who is fighting the predations of Edison and the commission. He says that O’Neill calls the use of the defective parts at San Onofre an accident that can’t be blamed on anyone. “The steam generators failed in a year. They were supposed to last 40 years. Nobody’s fault?” The report is “pabulum and tranquilizers.

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October 2, 2015

Solar power vs. SDG&E: Utilities commission soon to rule on measure to end net metering

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2015/oct/01/ticker-solar-power-vs-sdge/?google_editors_picks=true

Solar power vs. SDG&E

Utilities commission soon to rule on measure to end net metering

By Dave Rice, Oct. 1, 2015

A statewide panel convened by the Sierra Club on Wednesday (September 30) took aim at efforts by San Diego Gas & Electric and other utilities statewide that could limit the spread of private solar installations across California. The group also pushed for a bill that would expand solar use in low-income neighborhoods.

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"AB 693 will create a 300-megawatt program to put solar on multi-family affordable housing," says Cervas. "It will invest up to $100 million per year over the next ten years — if signed, it will be the largest investment in solar for the environmental justice community to date."

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Legislation requires the commission, by the end of 2015, to consider changing net-metering rules once a cap of 5 percent of the state's total energy generation is met. That cap is expected to be hit in the first quarter of 2016 by SDG&E’s customers, the fastest of the three investor-owned utility regions in the state.

"The reality is that utilities see solar power as a threat to their way of doing business," Churchill asserts. "They're monopolies that make money building big, expensive power plants and transporting it — having customers harness free sunshine directly threatens that business model.

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October 1, 2015

Russia admits targeting non-Isis groups in Syria as airstrikes continue

Source: Guardian

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Significantly, Russia’s official line appeared to change on Thursday, with a spokesman for Putin saying Russia was going after other groups in addition to Isis. “These organisations are well known and the targets are chosen in coordination with the armed forces of Syria,” the spokesman said.

Russia, like Syria, says all opponents of Assad are terrorists. Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, earlier dismissed reports of targeting non-Isis positions, describing “the rumours” as unfounded. “Our targets are solely the positions of objects and equipment belonging to the armed terrorist group Isil,” Russia Today quoted Lavrov as saying.

Syrian civil defence volunteers put the total civilian death toll from Wednesday’s strikes on Homs and Hama at 40, including eight children. The volunteer group said thermobaric missiles had been used and claimed that they struck a public market, bread distribution point and administrative buildings in Homs, as well as civilian homes.

“We can’t believe an even more advanced military power has arrived in Syria to kill civilians,” said one civil defence volunteer in a statement issued by his organisation.

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Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/01/russia-targeting-non-isis-groups-syria-airstrikes

October 1, 2015

'Moonspike' Kickstarter Project Aims to Crowdfund Rocket to the Moon

Source: Space.com

A team of rocketeers launched an out-of-this-world Kickstarter campaign today (Oct. 1) to raise $1 million for "Moonspike" – an ambitious project to launch the first crowdfunded rocket to the moon.

The Moonspike project aims to launch a small titanium payload carrying photos and videos from project backers into space, and ultimately crash it into the moon. The resulting dust plume from the impact should observable from orbit, its backers say. While a science return from the mission would be desirable, the main goal is to see if a small group of engineers can create a moon rocket and payload for a reasonable amount of money, Chris Larmour, a co-founder of the project and serial space entrepreneur, told Space.com in an e-mail. It's the first campaign of its kind, with the Kickstarter page going live at 7 a.m. ET (1100 GMT) today.

"We've been working hard to develop our rocket and spacecraft designs over the past few months and today we are opening up our feasibility study document to the public," Larmour said. The other co-founder is Kristian von Bengtson, also a co-founder of Danish private space travel group Cophenhagen Suborbitals. [Related: How Crowdfunding Helps Spur Space Projects]

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The crowdfunding campaign will be "all or nothing," he acknowledged, with no Plan B if they don't raise the desired million. But if it does end up working out, the group plans to raise several tens of millions of dollars more through more traditional equity financing routes. The initial Kickstarter money will be used for hardware development and other setup to make investors more interested in the product, he added.

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Read more: http://www.space.com/30712-moonspike-private-moon-rocket-kickstarter-campaign.html

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