Tag Archives: california

Massive wind farm comes online in Oregon – 845 megawatts of clean wind energy

The world’s third largest wind farm just started spinning its turbines in Oregon. Covering more than a thousand acres the 338 wind turbines will create 845 megawatts of clean energy. All of that will be sent down to California for 20 years as part of an agreement with Southern California Edison – who is in need of clean energy to comply with state energy standards, 33% clean energy by 2020.

The name of the project is Caithness Shepherds Flat and it cost $1.9 billion. During construction the project employed more than 400 workers and 45 of those will become permanent full-time positions.

The wind farm will create enough energy to power 235,000 homes. Adding to the growing number of homes powered through clean energy. Recently, wind power in the United States passed the 50 gigawatt milestone, and this project should put that at 51 gigawatts.

A substantial achievement but we still have a long way to go, the United States uses 3,900,000 gigawatts of energy.

 

More information:

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California bans employers from demanding your password for Email, Twitter, Facebook

From California Governor Jerry Brown:

“Today I am signing Assembly Bill 1844 and Senate Bill 1349, which prohibit universities and employers from demanding your email and social media passwords,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “California pioneered the social media revolution. These laws protect Californians from unwarranted invasions of their social media accounts.”

I didn’t know this was a problem, companies demanding passwords from employees for their email, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. I can’t imagine how this would come up and how I would react. Though, I have heard stories and there are, from c|net, “more than 100 cases currently before the National Labor Relations Board that involve employer workplace policies around social media.”

Good to see this practice banned before it becomes more widespread.

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Californians create record-low trash in 2011 – still more than national average

From a high of 6.3 pounds of trash per day in 2005, Californians have lowered their output in 2011 to a record-low of 4.4 pounds/day. Good news for the state with the highest population, and yet compared to the national average – 4.4 pounds – that’s not much of a drop, more like stopping the excess.

But don’t count out Californians yet – the numbers show strong a downward trend that may leave the rest of the country behind. The state diversion rate (recycling, compost) is 65% – among the highest in the country – with plans for 75% by 2020. In comparison, the country is only at 34% – meaning some states must have horribly low rates.

There is also a strong downward trend among Californians and their trash. The drop was 30% – 1.9 pounds – in the last 5 years, while the rest of the country dropped 0.24 pounds in that same time. And the government is hoping to continue this decline – as the economy bounces back – by signing into law AB 341.

Which among many new rules, forces businesses to start recycling – the only sore spot in this story. At work Californians produce 11.3 pounds of trash – much more than at home. This is largely due to workplace practices that don’t promote recycling and state laws that let office buildings avoid recycling. This new law should remedy that.

 

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Join 600,000 global volunteers – Coastal Cleanup Day, Sep 15, 2012

For 25 years volunteers have gathered together for Coastal Cleanup Day. The annual event takes place this year on the morning of September 15, 2012.

To volunteer in California visit the California Coastal Commission. For anywhere else visit International Coastal Cleanup.

You can also take a pledge to keep our waters trash free, and follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.

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Have you tried opah? A sustainable, locally caught fish

My new favorite locally caught fish, the opah (also called moonfish), is a mystery. We know they weight 100+ pounds, are beautiful, and are becoming very popular. From Mike Lee:

Opah have something of a cult following partly because of their tasty meat and partly because of their odd appearance.

But, they are such a rare catch for fishermen that little is known about them, again from Mike Lee:

What little scientists know about opah suggests they are a highly migratory species that can quickly travel long distances. Research also shows opah dive hundreds of meters deep during the day, then come closer to the surface at night. Various opah species are found in the world’s oceans, and Owyn Snodgrass said they may live off California’s coast year round.

They are fascinating and, for now, a sustainable source of seafood. To try it stop by your local sustainable seafood store.

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Snorkeling at Fisherman’s Cove in Lagune Beach, CA – where, what, how, & when

This morning I went snorkeling at Fisherman’s Cove in Laguna Beach for the third time. I like this spot a lot and so I want share it with my readers. I’ll include a description, photos, maps, marine life, and links to other dive sites.

The cove is right off PCH in Laguna Beach, turn onto Cliff Drive and immediately look for street parking. Most of the time I find a spot, but, if not, metered parking is available if you take the first left and go about 200 feet. That is also where the entrance to the Cove is.

Suit up, grab your gear, and head towards the entrance. Go down the steps and take the concrete path all the way to the sand. There you will find a nice secluded beachfront with a lifeguard tower, a few beachgoers, SUP’ers, and a nice rocky landscape for you to explore.

On the left, is a sheer rock face that you can launch in front of on small days. Keep a good distance away from the bluff and follow it out to sea. It’s pretty shallow and you can see tons of fish, mollusks, anemones, and more.

In the middle, a bit offshore, is a rock cluster that is great to swim around. You can see it from the shore with waves crashing against it. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to swim around and even dive into. Plus, it’s a great middle-point as you snorkel around the perimeter.

On the right, are a series or rocky outcroppings, like little peninsulas, that continue to jut out farther and farther as you swim out. These are ideal for snorkeling because an abundance of marine life hides in all of those mini-coves. Follow the outcroppings all the way around to the next cove, which is my favorite route, or you can head over to the middle rock cluster mentioned above.

It is usually best to go when the waves are small and the sunlight is good. This often changes but I’ve gone out at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm and had a blast. It all depends on the conditions. You can scope it out before you go using Surfline for wave size, wind speed, and water temperature. Rockpile as the nearest spot.

The amount of wildlife is amazing. I’ve seen nearly everything you can in Southern California waters from the famous Garibaldi to a huge stingray, octopus, and colorful snails. For list of species you will find check out Cabrillo Aquarium’s marine life profiles.

Here are a few other sites with good coverage of Fisherman’s Cove:

 

Maps/Photos:

Here is a link to the site in Google Maps, and below are screenshots of the site. There is no official address for the place but you can put this one into your phone, for the neighboring Heisler Park:

  • 375 Cliff Drive - Laguna Beach, California 92651

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West Coast Great White Sharks are endangered – population around 340

A group of environmentalists have petitioned the federal government to put West Coast Great White Sharks as an endangered species. From an L.A. Times article:

The northeastern Pacific Ocean population of great whites is genetically distinct and in danger of extinction, according to the petition. Researchers have estimated that there are about 340 individuals in the group that are mature or nearly so.

“There could be fewer than 100 breeding females left,” said Geoff Shester, the California program director of Oceana, an international group focused on protecting the world’s oceans.

 

Wow, just a few hundred of these guys out there. Even though the ocean is a huge place, that small number would probably still inspire enormous fear in people, despite the extreme rarity of shark attacks.

 

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Future of clean energy in California – part renewable, part natural gas, and lots of changes

Living in California means power plants on the beach. It’s a fact of life driving up and down the coast. When you enter Los Angeles driving north there is a line of smokestacks so dense that some refer to it as “the apocalyptic city of the future.” Then as you enter San Diego driving south you pass along the “Betty Boop monument,” two giant domes with a small cap on top, which are the two nuclear generators of San Onofre.

They are all facing an uncertain future as California state law requires 33% renewable energy by 2020. Plus, an “upgrade law” which establishes higher standards for air pollution and environmental impact. That second law is the most far-reaching, and somewhat sneaky, because it directly attacks the existing power plants.

It forces all the existing plants to pay for expensive upgrades or be decommissioned, and many will be decommissioned.

As that happens you can see the future of energy in California start to take shape. 1 out of every 3 plants will be shut down and replaced by renewable energy. Another one-third will be upgraded, and the final third will be a mix. For Southern California that could mean nuclear energy, but it is more likely to be several lower-emission natural gas plants.

There is also a hope that renewable energy can take on up to half of the energy needs by 2020, but only time will tell.

To hit this point home, my local power plant, just a few miles away, is facing the decommission or upgrade dilemma. According to the owners, AES, the plant is a critical supplier in an ideal location so it won’t be shut down. The plant, a natural gas user, will be upgraded.

The plan they have put forward involves a much more modern set-up, including: replacing the industrial smokestack profile with an office building look, using air cooling instead of water (a big win for local ocean groups), much more efficient and powerful generators, quick start capabilities (from 12 hours to 10 minutes), and a reduced emission output.

For locals, like me, this is a partial win. We get rid of the ugly smokestacks and get cleaner energy, but still have a local plant giving off emissions and using fossil fuel.

The Orange County Register did a feature on what this change means for the community and the state – H.B. to lose landmark stacks for cleaner energy project

So, that image of driving along the California coast may soon change. Maybe those industrial smokestacks will turn into windmills, parks, or knowing how the state works, new million dollar homes.

 

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