Sunday, July 24, 2016

EPEC Drops Solar Charge

 The best story that I've seen about the PUC settlement between El Paso Electric and a coalition from the solar community and environmentalists was written by Naveena Sadasivam for the Texas Observer this past Friday. Do read El Paso Electric Agrees to Kill Solar Fee for Customers. Do note that EPEC is not giving up its cause against rooftop solar. They'll go after the solar surcharge in the future according to Eddie Gutierrez, an El Paso Electric vice president. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Trost Treasure Popular To Be Restored

Popular Dry Goods Building. Photo by Marc Stone.

On its Facebook page, the El Paso County Historical Commission reports that a Henry Trost treasure, the Popular Dry Goods Building, in El Paso will be restored. "Owner Fallas Paredes will hire a contractor in Los Angeles and undertake the restoration of both the interior and exterior! The Popular is one of the most beautiful and significant buildings in Texas and is number 4 on our list of the most endangered buildings in Downtown El Paso. Its restoration is extremely welcome news!" 

Popular Dry Goods Building 1917

The building was completed in 1917. Fallas Discount Stores now occupies the bottom 3 floors. The rest of the building is vacant. After restoring a similar building in Los Angeles, Paredes saw the value of restoring historical buildings. Since the Popular is already on the National Register, he can receive federal and state monies for the restoration. A higher end store will occupy the bottom floors with apartments in the upper floors.

Robbie Gray breaks the story today in the El Paso Inc.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mary Kipp

From Kipp takes over as EP Electric CEO by Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times
Photo by Victor Calzada

Earlier this week I met with the CEO of El Paso Electric, Mary Kipp. The time with her was not just informative but delightful. She has a very spontaneous, often perverse (in a fun way) sense of humor. I told her why I thought that EPEC was wrong regarding their policy toward rooftop solar and she shared her perspective.

The exchange was something akin to a Biology 101 student (me) speaking with a neurosurgeon (her). What I really discovered was that I was discussing solar energy with a fellow environmentalist - not a clandestine agent for the nefarious oil tycoons. (I also learned that Tom Shockley was not the evil minion of the Koch boys. Sorry, Tom.)

From PSEG El Paso Electric Solar Farm Inauguration,
El Paso Inc.
Photo from photo collection by Melody Parra

To be sure, we do have some differences of opinion. To solve the problem of carbon emissions (and, therefore, climate change), Kipp sees flaws in the rooftop solar approach. I was impressed with her sincerity and didn't see her thoughts on rooftop as being excuses to crush the competitors. Saying that she is an advocate of solar energy is an understatement.

If there was a flaw in her argument, it may have been because she was talking about solar in the context of the continuing existence of electrical utilities. (If I'm wrong, she can correct me the next time that we speak.) I still maintain that electric utilities are dinosaurian and already selected for extinction. More localized systems (perhaps as local as a single residence itself), are the future IMHO.

She did recommend that I read Bill McKibben's book, eaarth. I promised her that I would order it rightaway which I did. Thanks to Amazon Prime, it was at my doorstep this morning.

There is no doubt that EPEC's becoming coal free is the work of Shockley and the CEO whom he mentored: Mary Kipp. EPEC will even celebrate becoming coal free in a public event on Wednesday, August 3rd at 9:30 AM in the San Jacinto Plaza. It's a must attend.

Click on image to enlarge.

During our meeting Ms. Kipp was pleasantly straight forward. However, I do think that she misinformed me about one thing. She claimed that on her last birthday that she is older than she really is. I'm pretty sure that her Board would still approve of a 30ish CEO and take her knowledge, experience and expertise and not her age as the reasons to have made her CEO of EPEC.

Monday, July 18, 2016

TPWD Won't Survey Quarry; Gives away Responsibility to Cemex

Elpasonaturally has previously noted that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has no idea whether Cemex has encroached on state land at their quarry at McKelligon Canyon. TPWD as well as the Franklin Mountains State Park were urged to do a boundary survey.

We have now learned that neither TPWD nor FMSP are willing to go to the expense of a survey and will defer to Cemex. In other words, as one astute environmentalist points out: citizens and TPWD have abrogated their responsibility. 

Efforts have begun to determine whether the State will buy the land and close the quarry and end the destruction of the Franklins once and for all. The hitch may be that the General Land Office probably will fight any such efforts because it wants the royalties from mining (and destroying) the Franklins. 

It had previously been thought that the new FMSP headquarters might hold up efforts to get the quarried land from Cemex. There was some fear that the $3Million for the headquarters might vanish. However, new efforts to re-locate the headquarters to Tom Mays from the proposed site at Wilderness Park next to the Archaeological Museum may have saved the day. Although Tom Mays has neither water nor electricity, it seems that both John Balliew of El Paso Water and officials at EPEC are willing to make the new plan work.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Friday Video: Ron Coleman Trail

From the west side of the Franklins you can look at the east side from the "window" on the Ron Coleman Trail

There are some great videos on the Franklin Mountains State Park Facebook videos page. You will have to go to the link because there is no embed code that I can use to put any of the videos on this blog. The first video about the Ron Coleman Trail is especially fun. It's done tongue in cheek but gives you the basic sweep of the hike.

Be sure to visit the Franklin Mountains State Park page and like it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

With Triple Digit Temperatures, Time to Conserve Electricity

From Blue Planet Green Living

Today will be our eleventh straight day of triple digit temperatures. The weather prognosticators are already telling us that we are on our way to breaking the earlier record of 21 straight days. With such high temperatures, El Paso Electric is concerned about making up for the increased load and are asking for all of us to conserve energy. Wouldn't it be terrible if we have a blackout and we are stuck without air conditioning in 100+ degree weather? The toll on the elderly, the poor and our workplaces would be horrendous.

Alejandra Chavira, the El Paso Electric Company Coordinator of External and Public Affairs, sent out this message yesterday: "As our region continues to experience triple digit temperature days this week and into the next, El Paso Electric is encouraging the conservation of energy and other methods of energy efficiency across our service area." 

You can read EPEC's energy conservation tips HERE.

For more ideas and more comprehensive lists, check out the following:

100 Ways to Save Energy at Home

21 Tips: No-Cost Ways to Save Electricity

Why Choose ENERGY STAR Qualified LED Lighting (LEDs are much more energy efficient than CFLs)

I should point out that EPEC could really encourage energy savings by promoting rather than thwarting the rooftop solar energy industry.

Friday, July 8, 2016