By Bill Sheets
EVERETT, Wash. —When an initiative was proposed six years ago to require large utilities to provide energy from renewable sources, supporters said it would do more than just help the environment.
It would spur investment and create jobs, save ratepayers money through conservation and through cheaper power, which in turn would help the economy.
Opponents said it would cost money and jobs by raising utility rates to cover the cost of new, unproven technology that’s more expensive than the economical hydropower prevalent in the region. That hydropower – with its effect on salmon runs aside – is Earth-friendly in that it doesn’t pollute the air and doesn’t have to be mined.
The initiative was supported primarily by environmental groups and opposed by some business groups and utilities in the state. Voters in November 2006 approved I-937 by roughly 52 percent to 48 percent. Read more.
By Bianca Fortis
The Centralia Chronicle
As the last part of a $30 million overhaul of the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery, Tacoma Public Utilities has completed a $481,000 remodel of the hatchery’s visitor center.
The grand opening of the center was last week.
Chris Gleason, the community and media services manager at Tacoma Public Utilities, said the hatchery had a welcome center before the remodeling, but it was outdated and visitors would often leave disappointed.
“We wanted to make this a destination where people will walk away informed, not disappointed,” Gleason said.
The focus of the center is an “interactive survival maze,” in which visitors can track the life cycle of salmon, which are represented by marbles.Read more
By Frank Jordans
GENEVA — Global investment in renewable energy reached a record of $257 billion last year, with solar attracting more than half the total spending, according to a U.N. report released Monday.
Investment in solar energy surged to $147 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 52 percent thanks to strong demand for rooftop photovoltaic installations in Germany, Italy, China and Britain.
Large-scale solar thermal installations in Spain and the United States also contributed to growth during a fiercely competitive year for the solar industry. Several large American and German manufacturers fell victim to price pressure from Chinese rivals that helped to halve the cost of photovoltaic modules in 2011. Read more.
Are environmental regulations making it more difficult for the Bureau of Reclamation to keep hydropower affordable and reliable? During today’s OnPoint, Michael Connor, commissioner of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the second-largest producer of hydropower in the western United States, discusses regulatory and policy hurdles facing hydropower. He also explains how the Bureau of Reclamation is planning for a possible water crisis in the nation.