Xcel appears to be backing away from new transmission lines to the San Luis Valley. This infrastructure is required to implement the several hundred megawatts of solar-thermal generation that they proposed in their 2007 resource plan. Solar thermal is the only renewable power (other than pumped hydro, which has limited availability) for which energy storage is potentially feasible right now (e.g. using huge tanks of molten salt). It’s interesting to contrast the utility’s statements on the San Luis Valley project with what they’re saying about the Pawnee retrofit, and what they said about the Comanche 3 plant.
Leslie Glustrom is to be barred from intervening in the Colorado Public Utilities Commission dockets. She’s been doing the kind of discovery and oversight work that the regulatory body and the Office of Consumer Council should be doing on their own, but apparently lack the spine to carry out. This is bad for our energy system, and bad for our democracy.
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Continue reading Links for the week of August 28th, 2009
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- Wal-Mart To Become Green Umpire – Wal-Mart arguably has more control over and insight into its supply chain than any other company on earth. The information they need in order to be able to force their suppliers to produce the goods as cheaply as humanly possible overlaps substantially with the information required to provide transparent information about the environmental impacts of those same products. Wal-Mart says they want to use this power for good… for telling, in condensed form, the sustainability back-story for their products. But will they tell the truth? Will it be transparent? Will it be verifiable? And even if it is… will their customers care? Might it change their customer base?
- Howtoons – A series of comics which both tell stories, and inspire kids to build their own toys and tools. Wonderful hacker propaganda.
- Where's the Real Bottleneck in Scientific Computing? – A story about a computer scientist talking to physicists who have hundreds of thousands of lines of code, and don't know what version control or unit testing is. Hmm. I guess I don't really know what unit testing is either.
- Software Carpentry – A Python based tutorial for scientists and engineers who need to learn how to (actually) program. How could it have taken this long to appear?
- Losing $63 Billion to Gray Market – P&G sells the same bleach and diapers to distributors in the US and Honduras, at wildly different prices. Enterprising Central American businessmen then re-ship goods to US making a tidy profit. This is a gray market? Sounds like a free market to me! Industry isn't "losing" $63B, they're just not being allowed to cheat their American customers. Remember how in capitalism competition is supposed to drive the cost of goods to the cost of production? Where were these guys in Econ 101? (tagged: economics trade policy )
- Britain’s Antiterror Officer Resigns – The prevalence of citizen collected surveillance, whether it be news media or cell-phone videos has made it clear what a bunch of liars the Authorities are. When given the chance to cover their own asses by abusing the institutionalized trust we have in them, they seem almost always to do so. The cameras are here. They are ubiquitous. They are not going away. They might as well record the cops. (tagged: transparency security police terrorism surveillance media )
- Bill Moyers Journal William K. Black – Interview with a former regulator who worked to restructure the Savings and Loans in the 1980s, on the current state of affairs. (tagged: finance economics bailout banking moyers politics regulation )
- Sabotage suspected in widespread phone outage in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties – Two targeted snips of fiber optic cables in the south bay have cut off hundreds of thousands of people from cell, landline, and network connectivity, including 911 access. Working hypothesis: disgruntled union workers, upset at the fact that contract negotiations are ongoing after expiration this Saturday. How fragile our little world is it seems. (tagged: terrorism security technology internet )
- Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world – Ten suggestions from Nassim Taleb, which we are almost certainly not going to implement voluntarily. (tagged: economics finance bailout taleb probability banking )
- Overcoming Obstacles to U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change – Guidelines from the Brookings Institute for the US and China to cooperatively address climate change and clean energy issues, without being combative. Executive summary sounds good, whole thing is 80 pages long. Given the positive economics for many energy efficiency measures, I thought there should have been a little more focus on the often erroneous assumption that addressing these issues has to be costly. (tagged: energy sustainability china policy climate efficiency brookings )
- Amendment to Eliminate Bike Infrastructure in Stimulus – DeMint (R – SC) and Coburn (R – OK) are trying to kill all bike infrastructure investment in the stimulus package. Call them and your own senators and make sure it doesn't happen! (tagged: politics bicycle infrastructure policy transportation stimulus )
- The Transparent Society – The essay that later became Brin's book of the same name, in which he argues that first, universal surveillance is coming, whether we like it or not, and second, that a world which is transparent – in which surveillance goes both (all) ways, is vastly preferable to one in which the illusion of privacy is maintained, and the powerful are the only ones with access to our information. (tagged: technology privacy transparency surveillance brin wired )
- Make Love Not Porn – Hardcore (esp. internet) porn has unfortunately come (ha!) to substitute for sex-ed in our culture, so says Cindy Gallop. I think she has a point. And so she made this website, to try and point out the flawed generalizations that one might arrive at from being "educated" by online porn. I think it's worth noting also though, that the diversity of pornography on the web has steadily increased over time, and there's a lot of positive and realistic, and non-exploitive depiction of sex out there now, if you want to look for it. In particular Abby Winters, Beautiful Agony, and I Shot Myself come to mind. It's ironic (absurd?) that the site has an "18+ only" clickthrough on the front page. (tagged: porn sex love ted education )
- Dept. of Energy to draft energy efficiency rules… 30 years late. – I can't believe I'd never heard of this. Apparently for the last 30 years, presidents have been refusing to direct the Dept. of Energy to draft enforceable energy efficiency regulations, despite being directed under law to do so by Congress. Finally in 2005, 14 states sued, and won, and Bush still failed to comply in a timely manner. How many other instances of the executive branch (both democrat and republican!) completely ignoring Congress on important issues are there? It's rare enough that Congress gets anything right – that the president should ignore them when they do is unconscionable! (tagged: politics policy energy nytimes green efficiency standards regulation )