More than 40 percent of the towns surveyed for a new report by the London-based New Economics Foundation are so overrun by chain stores that they have lost their local identity and become little more than "clone towns." Continue reading
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Preferring the term “gas-optional” vehicles rather than plug-in electric hybrids, Austin Energy has adopted a strategy to diversify and grow its electric utility operations and hopes to convince cities nationwide to follow their lead.
Roger Duncan at Austin Energy is traveling the country promoting the idea that the time is ripe for a convergence of municipally owned electrical operations with the transportation sector. The fit becomes natural through the increased use of gas-optional vehicles (GOVs).
Grassroots groups that form to fight big-box development proposals often dissolve after winning or losing on that particular project. But a citizens group in Charlevoix, Michigan, called This is Our Town, kept on working. Now, one year after successfully pressuring Wal-Mart to drop plans for a supercenter, the group is celebrating new zoning rules that will limit future big-box development. Continue reading
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has adopted standard rules for interconnecting distributed generation (DG) projects of 20 MW or less with the electricity grid. These new rules will operate alongside FERC’s previously issued rules that govern interconnections of DG projects larger than 20 MW. FERC also has an ongoing proceeding that is developing special rules for interconnecting wind energy projects with the grid [see FERC's Generation Interconnection web site].
Two proposals unanimously passed by the legislature and signed into law earlier this month by Washington’s Governor, Christine Gregoire, should put distributed generation and renewable energy on the fast track in the state. The first bill (SB 5101) establishes a renewable energy production incentive that is larger if the equipment comes from in-state manufacturers. The second bill (SB 5111) provides corporate tax breaks for solar energy businesses in the state based on their sales.
On May 10th, Minnesota’s Governor signed a bill into law that could result in a requirement that the state’s gasoline supplies contain 20 percent ethanol (E-20). If the rules go into effect, it would double the current 10 percent ethanol blends that are now standard throughout the state.
Under the legislation, a new E-20 mandate would take effect in 2013 unless ethanol has already replaced 20 percent of the state’s motor vehicle fuel by 2010. The rule would expire at the end of 2010 if Minnesota is not granted federal approval to use E-20 gasoline blends.
The entry of Wal-Mart into New York City is the biggest challenge to neighborhood businesses and local communities in our city’s history, contends the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, which has been an advocate for New York City’s locally owned businesses for the past twenty years. Continue reading
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has presented its 2005 Main Street Civic Leadership Award to the New Rules Project, a program of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the commercial district revitalization movement by an organization or individual working in the public policy arena. Continue reading
At the request of independent movie theaters across the state, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is investigating claims that major movie theater chains use their clout with distributors to prevent independent theaters from showing many of the most popular first-run films. At issue is a common industry practice called clearance, whereby theaters are given exclusive rights to show a film within a certain radius around their theaters. Continue reading
In March 2005, the Energy Foundation released a study prepared for them by Navigant Consulting and Clean Energy Research. The study was completed in September 2004 and claims to be the first of its kind to do an assessement and estimate of the rooftop solar photovoltaic market potential on a state-by-state basis.