Drought cuts power production of California dams

Shasta Dam, looming more than 600 feet tall and gatekeeper of the largest man-made lake in California, was designed to perform two crucial functions: Store water and generate power.

And for decades, the massive concrete structure has channeled water to cities and farms while generating up to 710 megawatts of hydropower, enough to provide electricity for more than 532,000 homes.

But amid four years of drought, the reservoir is drained to 50% of capacity, cutting the dam’s power production by about a third, according to federal reclamation officials. Continue reading

Germany Considers Coal Phase Out

In 2011, Germany decided to shut down its nuclear reactors within a decade, a bold response in the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdown. The so-called energiewende – or energy transition – is an audacious plan to rapidly switch from large baseload nuclear power to renewable energy, primarily from solar and wind.

A second energy transition is being considered in Berlin. The German government is negotiating with utilities to close coal-fired power plants in order to slash carbon emissions by 22 million tons by 2020, according to Reuters. That could lead to the closure of 8 gigawatts of coal capacity. Continue reading

President Obama’s big carbon crackdown readies for launch

Prepare for energy prices to skyrocket as regulation costs are always passed on to the consumer.

The EPA will launch the most dramatic anti-pollution regulation in a generation early next month, a sweeping crackdown on carbon that offers President Barack Obama his last real shot at a legacy on climate change — while causing significant political peril for red-state Democrats.

The move could produce a dramatic makeover of the power industry, shifting it away from coal-burning plants toward natural gas, solar and wind. While this is the big move environmentalists have been yearning for, it also has major political implications in November for a president already under fire for what the GOP is branding a job-killing “War on Coal,” and promises to be an election issue in energy-producing states such as West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana. Continue reading