Tag Archive | "California"

25% of Californians support counties wanting to secede

Credit: sfgate.com

Credit: sfgate.com

The mockers may wish to stop ignoring the growing secession movement in California. It’s got legs. Two northern California counties have already voted in favor of secession and several others are considering it. They want to form a new state called Jefferson. A surprising 25% of Californians support them, according to the respected Field Poll. This is no longer a fringe movement.

The counties say the state legislature and state agencies mostly ignore them. They are quite correct. They are ignored.

“This shows that there are people who agree with us,” said Liz Bowen, who lives in Callahan (Siskiyou County) and is a spokeswoman for the movement. “Forming the state of Jefferson is not necessarily liberal versus conservative. It’s just that the people in rural areas feel like they don’t have a voice.

Posted in News

Calif. renewable energy production only 14% of total, and variable

clustered-percentages-of-demand

Wind is by far the biggest producer of renewable energy in California. Sort of. Big hydropower is bigger but Califonia doesn’t count it as renewable, for reasons that are probably more political than related to energy. Also, look at the variability in wind power during the year. Such fluctuations make balancing the grid increasingly difficult. All forms of renewables in California are still just 14% of total energy produced.

Geothermal is the second biggest renewable energy source in California. This generally surprises people. Solar, both PV and thermal, trail geothermal.

California has mandated 33% renewables produced in-state by 2020 and has a long way to go to meet that goal.

Posted in Renewable energy

State of California has a serious water worker shortage

The problem is California state pay for water workers is so much lower than industry standards that state employees with experience immediately get hired for substantially more pay at private utilities. The result is a growing California water worker shortage

This costs the California tens of millions, not just in lost training money, but also because less experienced people get put in charge and not surprisingly, make mistakes.

Posted in Water

California Central Valley water cuts will lead to food lines

California Aqueduct

California Aqueduct

When there’s not enough water to supply everyone, water cutbacks to farms mean unemployment in agricultural areas of California. Central Valley allotments from the Sacramento Delta to the Central Valley were cut to 20%. This does not meant a 20% cut to 80% of allotment. They are receiving 20% of their total allotment, an 80% cut, this for one of the most productive agricultural areas in the country. These Central Valley water cuts will devastate already wobbly local economies.

With severe irrigation water cutbacks this year, food lines again will form with unemployed workers and their families on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side, local leaders said Monday.

Part of the problem is the snow pack is about half what it should be, made worse for Central Valley farmers by federal regulations mandating water be used to protect fish in the Delta, particularly salmon.

There are no easy answers here. There aren’t even difficult answers. Water cuts this severe will mean unemployment will soar and quite possibly that food prices will rise in response because less food is produced.  California Gov. Brown wants to build two huge tunnels to shunt water around the Delta and to the Central Valley and Los Angeles. As you might expect, commerce and residents in the Delta, which also has highly productive farmland as well as fishing, are dead set opposed to this. No one has a clue where the tens of billions to fund the tunnels will come from, especially since voters are leery of funding big projects. The last two attempts at a water bond on the ballot were pulled because the water bond had enough pork in it to fill a Midwest meat packing plant.

One possible solution is desalination. Siemens says they can do it using half the power previously needed. Even with that, a string of desal plants on the California coast would require huge amounts of electricity not readily available.

Calif Central Valley water war sign

Calif Central Valley water war sign

Sacramento Delta

Sacramento Delta

Posted in Water

Mandated renewable energy could trigger blackouts in California

California power plants that will need to retrofit to air-cooling instead of using ocean water

California power plants that will need to retrofit to air-cooling instead of using ocean water

Solar and wind power is variable by nature. To meet the California goal of 33% renewable energy by 2020, backup power is needed, primarily natural gas. But California doesn’t have the right mix of power now, a situation that will worsen because of new federal rules banning use of ocean water for cooling steam turbines. Nineteen power plants will be shut down to retrofit to air-cooling, and some may even close.

At a special meeting of California energy companies and regulators held Feb. 26, Todd Strauss of Pacific Gas & Electric saw the possibility of state power blackouts emerging in 2013 to 2015. The reason is that it has suddenly dawned on state power regulators that green power has resulted in a precarious lack of system flexibility in the state’s power grid.

Posted in Renewable energy

California public pension reform approved by legislature

The California legislature joined together in a bipartisan effort to pass public pension reform.Sometimes pigs really do fly

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign AB 340, a bill enacting landmark California public pension reform. In a rare show of bipartisan cooperation, the bill passed overwhelmingly on Friday with major support from both parties. The Senate vote was 38-1 and the Assembly cleared it by 66-9. Some conservatives felt the bill did not go far enough while public unions opposed it. The huge margin of victory for AB 340 indicates the legislature listened then acted on the growing mandate for public pension reform coming from the citizens of California.

This really is a political earthquake. More on IVN.

Posted in News

California Workers’ Comp overhaul happening in secrecy

Credit: ca.gov

California’s Workers’ Compensation is facing major changes if a bill scheduled for this week comes up for debate and then passes. Veteran Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters says renegotiating of workers’ comp benefits for injured workers happens about every ten years with the current battle no different from the divisive fight in 2004. However, this time, at least part of big labor is supporting reductions in benefits. Further, some stakeholders not allowed at the negotiations.

Workers’ comp lawyers and insurance companies are not part of the negotiations, which are rushed and and being in secret. I discuss this and more and interview a workers’ comp lawyer with decades of experience in my latest IVN article. He has useful insights into the convoluted process that is California workers’ compensation.

And many workers really are injured. He says:

Look at the comments after Dan Walters’ [workers’ comp] article. People are told there are no real work injuries, only people who pretend to be injured because they are lazy. Sit at my desk and interview truly injured people who tell you they are not like those other claimants, they are really injured, to understand how deeply ingrained this attitude has become, due to constant pounding by the insurance industry and the press.

Posted in News

Jerry Brown about to ignite mother of all California water wars

The Sacramento Delta is ground zero for California water wars. California Gov. Jerry Brown will soon announce plans to build massive tunnels to siphon water away from the Delta and to Central Valley cropland and the ever-thirsty Southland.

The tunnels would siphon water using three intakes on the Sacramento River below Freeport, carry it some 60 miles underground to pumping facilities near Tracy, and then use existing canals to move it to farms in the Central Valley and cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego.

California says they’ll have the deepest concern for the health of the Delta and its fish population, including salmon, and will study and ponder this deeply as they build the canal.

Precisely how much water is diverted will depend on what is determined by the scientific studies that will accompany construction, she said.

This approach does not fill me with great hope that the state cares much about the Delta. Environmentalists, commercial fishermen, and Delta farmers say the effect on fish and the environment needs to be determined before the construction starts. I agree.

[Delta farmers] now irrigate with water that is cleansed as it flows through the delta. If the tunnel project moves ahead, they will use water that has more salts and toxins that could kill or damage crops.

The poject, if it happens, will be mostly funded by a $11 billion oft-delayed water bond scheduled to be on the ballot on 2014. Given the vagueness of the current plans it’s a cetainty the project will cost way more than that.

Gentlemen, start your lawsuits.

Posted in Water

19% of electricity consumption in California goes for using water

Graphic by Andy Warner / KQED

KQED links to a 2005 State of California report and has a wonderful and informative infographic about how 19% percent of power in California is involved in using water.

Plus, water is heavily used in generating electricity by steam and also for cooling. Seems a bit of a vicious circle, doesn’t it?

Posted in Water

Pension reform earthquake in California, other cities will follow

Voters in San Jose and San Diego Tuesday overwhelmingly approved public pension reform for their cities. It was beyond a landslide. These results send a clear and unmistakable message to municipalities everywhere that are struggling to meet pension obligations. If pension reform can pass in major California cities, it can pass anywhere. Cities and counties across the country are sure to follow suit and put pension reform on their ballots too.

Some have opined that Tuesday’s California primary was a non-event. Nothing could be less true. The reverberations and impact of these big pension reform wins will be felt for years to come in California and in the nation. California has long been known as being friendly to public unions and the unions have enjoyed enormous political power, but that power is now directly being challenged. What happened Tuesday was an earthquake.

More on the pension reform earthquake at IVN.

Posted in News

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