Electrifying in a 100-year-old neighborhood
Plus: An electric car share in the Midwest and a Louisiana election surprise.
A brief scheduling note: I’m taking next week off and the final week of the year will be a resource edition for paid members. I’ll see you in 2023 with lots more climate action stories – let me know what you want to read more about next year by replying to this email.
Data brought them to the neighborhood, but relationships needed to grow
We’re starting today in Gardenland, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Sacramento. The neighborhood formed about 100 years ago and some residents have lived there for decades, often not having the money to update their homes to be more energy efficient. Sacramento’s municipal utility has its own “carbon zero” goal by 2030, and part of that is electrifying some of the oldest, least efficient homes in the city. Sacramento’s Cap Radio reports on the work it takes to get there.
Erik Krause, SMUD’s director of customer service delivery, said the utility district has made efforts to electrify low-income homes since 2018, but this is the first time they’ve targeted a specific neighborhood. Progress towards getting people on board has been slow in Gardenland, but he said that it’s slow for a reason.
“What we learned was it does take time to build those relationships,” Krause said. “We identified the potential for 100 homes or more in a neighborhood, but it’s taken us a while to bring those forward.”
Listening to the neighbors also made them realize why residents were reticence, even when much of the upgrades were being offered free of charge. Cap Radio’s story is a good but not exhausting look into how electrification programs can help poorer residents as wealthier towns are increasingly moving to get fossil fuels out of buildings entirely.
One electric car share feels good about their 2022
Half-way across the country, car-sharing company Evie is feeling good about its growth in St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2022. Despite a forced pause because of recall issues with their fleet of Chevy Bolts, they’ve hit their projections this year for overall use and drivers signing up that qualify as low-income.
It’s not supposed to be a car replacement, according to the Energy News article. Evie customers tend to use them for errands, averaging less than 10 miles per trip and the company sees itself as part of a larger public transit system.
“Evie free-flow car share is never going to be your 100% replacement for owning a car without having other systems supporting it like Metro Transit, bikes and scooters,” Vierling said. “It takes an entire network to get rid of car ownership.”
Kansas’ oil spill & Pennsylvania’s methane leak
One of the largest crude oil spills in a decade happened near a creek in Kansas this month, according to Reuters:
Canada’s TC Energy shut its Keystone pipeline in the United States after more than 14,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into a creek in Kansas…The cause of the leak, which occurred in Kansas about 20 miles (32 km) south of a key junction in Steele City, Nebraska, is unknown. It is the third spill of several thousand barrels of crude on the pipeline since it first opened in 2010.
So far, it doesn’t look like drinking water has been affected but indeed, this is that Keystone. The expansion of this existing pipeline known as Keystone XL was the central focus of years of protest, and ultimately the project was shelved last year. Part of the pushback on Keystone XL was the existing pipeline’s safety record – now seven spills in 12 years.
This week, we also found out more about the giant methane leak from natural gas storage in Pennsylvania. In January, I’ll look at this more in depth.
The Yates family is part of New Mexico’s oil history; now their patriarch owns a local newspaper.
By Alicia Inez Guzmán:
“Do you consider yourself a land baron,” I ask while looking out the window at acre after acre of sagebrush, desert clay and rolling foothills, much of them his. “Some call me an oil magnate,” he responds, as if the term has a sour taste to it. “People sure do like to put labels on you, don’t they?”
More local climate action stories:
- I was doubly-wrong about the outcome of Louisiana’s public utility regulator election: Davante Lewis, supported by a super PAC largely funded by the Environmental Defense Fund, easily ousts incumbent in run-off election. He’s calling for big shakeups in the commission’s priorities.
- More light rail coming to Phoenix
- Colorado aims for 100% EV without the gasoline-power car bans
- Study: Maine is a leader in New England when it comes to preparing for climate change
- As Hilcorp drills for more natural gas, some Alaska neighbors refuse to sign on