[GWSG] Utilities & solar power; President's health inititiative; bark beetles aiding adaptation; past a tipping point?

Tilley, Al atilley at unf.edu
Wed Apr 8 10:39:08 EDT 2015

1.  Twenty-three states changed their net metering laws at the end of 2014.  Many of those changes were the result of initiatives by utilities and ALEC which serve to obstruct the development of renewable power.  Many utilities do not have a business plan which includes significant distributed generation.    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2015/04/questionable-cost-concerns-slow-net-metering?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-April8-2015   Utility sales in the NE US could drop by half in the next fifteen years as customers install rooftop solar.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-07/utility-sales-could-drop-by-half-as-homes-make-their-own-power   While solar provides only 1% of power globally, it has already disrupted many markets and is poised to upset many more.  http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/solar-makes-its-mark-on-unsuspecting-global-energy-markets-17181   Many utilities are attempting to make it more expensive for customers to generate power with rooftop solar, but that will result in driving more people off the grid.  The Rocky Mountain Institute foresees an alternative future in which solar-plus-battery customers would remain on the grid, which will benefit from the new flexibility and a two-way flow of resources.  In this model the utilities' revenue stream would not be impaired.  http://ecowatch.com/2015/04/07/solar-energy-grid-battery-storage/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=4c391d350d-Top_News_4_6_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-4c391d350d-85965093
The Washington Post story on the RMI report adds info on the economics of the energy transition in the five US cities modeled.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/04/07/study-the-way-we-get-electricity-may-be-on-the-verge-of-a-major-change/

2.  President Obama has announced a series of initiatives to deal with the health impacts of climate disruption.  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/04/07/3643682/white-house-climate-health-initiatives/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cptop3

3.  Bark beetles appear to destroy those trees which are less well suited to a warming world and to spare those which are more resilient.  The forest service, under the influence of the timber industry, has been attempting (and failing) to deal with the beetles by thinning forests.  They should be thinning only those trees most susceptible to warming.   http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/bark-pine-beetles-climate-change-diana-six

4.  Positive feedback in the context of climate science implies the appearance of self-reinforcing disruptive effects, which are typically negative in their implications.  An example of positive feedback is that melting sea ice reduces the reflectivity of the water's surface, storing more heat which melts more ice.  In this Guardian piece, a positive tipping point for climate, which we may well have reached, comes when we turn toward solutions adequate to the problem-that is, to a transition to renewable energy.  That would create (is?) a self-reinforcing effect positive in its implications.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/07/are-we-reaching-a-positive-climate-change-tipping-point
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