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Laura Wisland

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About the author: Laura Wisland is a senior energy analyst and an expert on California renewable energy policies. She holds a master’s degree in public policy. See Laura's full bio.

Solar Power Soars to New Heights in California

Solar power in California continues to blaze ahead with record-setting developments and utilities ahead of schedule in meeting their targets for procuring renewable sources of electricity. So what’s next for renewable energy in the Golden State? Read More

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Renewable Energy in California Deserts: New Plan to Guide Smart and Sustainable Development

A draft of the long-awaited Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) will be released any day now. The DRECP is intended to provide a landscape-level assessment of the most appropriate and inappropriate places to build large-scale renewable energy projects in the California portions of the Mojave and Colorado deserts to minimize impacts on wildlife habitats and desert ecosystems. By identifying the most suitable locations for renewable energy projects, the DRECP will bring more efficiency and certainty to the project permitting process and help us meet our clean energy goals. Read More

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How Many Homes Have Rooftop Solar? The Number is Growing…

Remember when the most likely place to glimpse solar in action was the little strip attached to a pocket calculator? Well, fortunately solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies have come a long way, and now it’s common to see PV panels on residential and commercial rooftops around the country. This dramatic rise in residential solar PV installations is depicted below in UCS’s new solar infographic. From 2006 to 2013, the number of homes with solar grew by more than 1,000 percent.
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Categories: Energy, Global Warming  

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Birds, Solar Power, and the Future of Renewable Energy in California

It’s an exciting time for solar, as UCS recently communicated its new report, Solar Power on the Rise. But with any strong surge in an emerging industry, unintended consequences crop up that must be addressed. Read More

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Will California Go Green or Go Gas?

When one of California’s two nuclear plants–the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS)–unexpectedly closed last year because of damage to its steam tubes, many clean energy advocates including UCS hoped that the state would replace much of that electricity with generation from renewable resources, as well as increased investments in other carbon-free energy resources, such as energy efficiency, demand response, and energy storage devices. Unfortunately, plans are now in the works to replace most of the SONGS electricity with a new natural gas plant, without a process that gives clean energy resources a chance to compete. Read More

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Basking in the Rays of the Summer Solstice, California Positioned to Break Solar Generation Record

Since we are approaching the summer solstice (June 21), the longest day of the year and the official start of summer, I thought it was a good time to look at how longer days and more sunshine are translating into more clean electricity. The bottom line: solar is starting to pull its weight on the grid. Read More

Categories: Energy  

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Court Protects California’s Largest Program for Clean Energy Research and Development

California’s track record as a leader for developing cutting-edge clean energy and energy savings technologies was not created overnight.  For over a decade, a nominal charge on monthly electricity bills has funded research and development efforts to bring technologies to the marketplace that have helped Californians save electricity (and money on our electricity bills) and improve the ways in which we generate electricity from renewable energy resources to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Read More

Categories: Energy  

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How Green is your Data? Tech Companies and Energy Use

Tech companies may be savvy innovators, but the electricity they need to power their businesses can also make them energy hogs. The giant data centers that store all of our e-mails, process our search requests, and stream our favorite movies rely on whopping amounts of electricity — often generated by coal and natural gas. Cloud computing may be making our lives easier and more entertaining, but it’s taking a toll on the planet. Read More

Categories: Energy  

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Which Electricity Source Will Best Weather the Drought in California?

The late-March storms in California gave the Sierra snowpack a belated boost, but the state is still bracing for dry times ahead. This was confirmed by the Department of Water Resource’s April 1 snow survey, one of the closest watched of the year because it marks the expected end of the wet season. Read More

Categories: Energy  

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Will Tesla be a Game-Changer for Battery Energy Storage?

Last week Tesla, an electric car manufacturer based in Palo Alto, made national news by announcing it intends to launch a “Gigafactory” to produce lithium-ion batteries for at least 500,000 vehicles by 2020. This is no small potatoes. The level of battery production Tesla envisions is equivalent to the lithium ion batteries produced worldwide last year. Read More

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