The ever-decreasing cost of electricity from batteries is giving fossil fuels a run for their money as renewable energy projects combined with battery storage become increasingly competitive power supply options. The LCOE for lithium-ion batteries has fallen 35% to $187/MWh since the first half of 2018, research company BNEF said Tuesday. Going back to 2012, BNEF found the cost of battery storage has dropped 76%, from almost $800/MWh.
Archive for date: March 26th, 2019
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Spring is just around the corner — and whether you’re a novice plant enthusiast or a green-thumbed gardener, it’s time to get growing. After a seven-year drought finally came to an end this winter, California has been hit with a deluge of vibrant greenery and super blooms. But we’re still keeping an eye out for how to make our own backyards more sustainable and water-friendly.
Every minute, about 400 gallons flow past pressure gauges and shut-off valves into a 2-foot-high concrete box that marks the top of Beltz Well 12. If a pilot program goes well, this whole system could play a pivotal role in the water security of communities from Aptos to UCSC. Normally, water is pumping out of this well, not into it. As part of the reversal process, engineers went into the well and removed column piping, which now lies in a pile under a plastic tarp off to the side. Two 35,000-gallon tanks sit empty.
The agency that manages Oroville Dam says the facility’s rebuilt spillway is likely to be pressed into service for the first time as soon as next week. The Department of Water Resources announced Tuesday that Lake Oroville has risen close to the point where the agency will need to release water to maintain empty reservoir space for runoff from incoming storms and spring snowmelt. DWR said it will give the public between 24 and 72 hours advance notice of a release, which can be expected to cause relatively rapid rises on the Feather River downstream of the dam.
Water may cascade down Oroville Dam’s rebuilt spillway next week for the first time since a massive crater formed in its nearly half-mile long surface two years ago — a major milestone in the saga that triggered the evacuation of 188,000 people and a $1.1 billion repair job to the country’s tallest dam.
A storm forecast to hit this week is expected to fill Lake Oroville to the point that state dam operators might need to open the spillway gates to manage lake levels, state officials said Tuesday.
Four hours east of Los Angeles, in a drought-stricken area of a drought-afflicted state, is a small town called Blythe where alfalfa is king. More than half of the town’s 94,000 acres are bushy blue-green fields growing the crop. Massive industrial storehouses line the southern end of town, packed with thousands upon thousands of stacks of alfalfa bales ready to be fed to dairy cows – but not cows in California’s Central Valley or Montana’s rangelands. Instead, the alfalfa will be fed to cows in Saudi Arabia.
Thanks to an infusion of cash from the Metropolitan Water District, Long Beach residents can now get more money and replace more turf with drought-tolerant landscaping. The Long Beach Water Department announced changes to the water conservation program Tuesday. In addition to reopening applications to receive rebates, there were a number of changes to the residential program. Starting Monday, April 1, the front yard conversion incentive goes to $3 per square foot of turf removed (from $2). The maximum square footage allowed for rebate has increased from 1,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet.
More than 100 organizations representing water and agricultural interests in the Western U.S. urged Congress today to use any infrastructure package under consideration to help address severe hydrological conditions in the West. “As a nation we must continually invest in the Western water infrastructure necessary to meet current and future demands,” the groups stated in a letter sent to key congressional committees and Western senators. “Our existing water infrastructure in the West is aging and in need of rehabilitation and improvement.”
The latest forecasts show stormy weather will ramp up up across interior Northern California by midweek, hitting hardest Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. It’s the second system of the week, according to National Weather Service, after the first dropped showers in the Sacramento Valley and light snow in the Sierra range Monday and early Tuesday. Heavy snow is expected to have a major impact in the mountains Wednesday, and NWS is strongly discouraging mountain travel through Thursday. NWS and Caltrans have said on Twitter that chain controls appear all but certain and highway closures are possible at higher elevations.
The wildfire liabilities that sent investor-owned Pacific Gas & Electric into Chapter 11 are beginning to have a rating impact on California’s public electric utilities. PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January, facing billions of dollars in claims for property damage and loss of life from wildfires in its service area. Rating agencies have also downgraded California’s two other large investor-owned utilities because of similar risks they face from operations in high-risk wildfire areas and California’s inverse condemnation law.