In late January, the Select Board in Bennington, Vermont, voted unanimously to ban stores over 75,000 square feet and to require retail development projects larger than 30,000 square feet to pass a community impact review. Town officials said the measure was needed to ensure adequate review of the economic and community impacts of large-scale retail development, protect the viability of Bennington’s existing commercial areas, and maintain competition by preventing a single retailer from dominating the local market. Continue reading
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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is scheduled to vote tomorrow (1/27/05) on who will control about $400 million in state energy efficiency funds [see CPUC proceeding R0108028] Community aggregation advocate groups including Local Power and Women’s Energy Matters are demanding that the CPUC let community choice aggregators (CCAs) control and administer their own efficiency programs rather than give all the money and co Continue reading
Hundreds of communities around the country have committed financial resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency improvements and through purchases of renewable fueled electricity from their local utilities. A new trend appears to be emerging as part of these efforts – some communities are investigating direct ownership of energy projects and recent actions in Portland, Oregon illustrate this nicely.
Nearly one-quarter of Wal-Mart’s 37,000 workers in Tennessee rely on Medicaid, according to state officials who released the figures at the request of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.The data show that Wal-Mart has more employees enrolled in TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, than any other company. Other states have also found that Wal-Mart’s labor practices are placing a heavy burden on public assistance programs. Continue reading
The California Energy Commission (CEC) began an investigation in April 2004 via a diverse working group to explore a variety of issues associated with the deployment of distributed generation (DG) including interconnection rules – formally referred to as Rule 21. Implementation of California’s standardized interconnection rules issued in 2000 have been an important priority for California because it eliminated a significant barrier to the safe and cost-effective deployment of DG in the State.
Many state legislators around the country have returned to their respective capitol buildings for another year of debate. We’ve run across a few interesting proposals involving distributed generation. A Connecticut proposal would provide an increased rate of return for distribution utilities to build distributed generation projects rather than new transmission lines. Continue reading
Independent business owners in Portland, Oregon, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, have launched a multi-year educational campaigns to persuade residents to "think local first" when shopping.
"We’re looking to achieve a percentage change in behavior," said Paul Needham, a founding board member of the Sustainable Business Network of Portland (SBNP), which organized the buy-local initiative.
An effort spearheaded by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance resulted in a coalition of groups petitioning the MN Public Utilities Commission requesting that they establish the rules and technological infrastructure to allow citizens to easily monitor and participate in energy decisionmaking. This is an example of Democratic Energy in action. Minnesota isn’t the only state behind the curve either. A quick survey of other state regulatory agencies that oversee energy issues indicates that groups in many states may want to replicate the petition filed in Minnesota.
Under pressure from Ikea, Wal-Mart, and Costco, the Irish government has relaxed its seven-year-old cap on the size of retail stores. The changes apply to certain areas of Dublin and eight other towns.
The cap, which was adopted on a temporary basis in 1998 and made permanent in 2001, restricted stores selling food (including hypermarkets, which sell both food and non-food merchandise) to no more than 3,500 square meters (38,000 square feet) in Dublin and 3,000 square meters (32,000 square feet) throughout the rest of the country.
Since enactment of the nation’s first state mandate for nearly all diesel fuel sold in the state to contain a small percentage of biodiesel, there was always some uncertainty whether or not production facilities would be built to meet the goal in the law. Language in the law would have allowed the mandate to never take effect unless the in-state production reached 8,000,000 gallons per year. With the opening of one plant in December and two more under construction, the mandate is expected to come into force at the end of June 2005.