Category Archives: Transportation

Berkshire Buying Burlington Northern Railroad

posted by GeoT

“An Investemnt in the Future of America”

Geo T Note: This is a play on railroads becoming the “green” mode of commercial transport, supplanting trucking. The near future will see new track laid and faster more efficient shipping methods developed…

Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) — Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to buy railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. in the company’s biggest takeover under Warren Buffett.

Warren Buffett

Buffett’s firm will buy the 77.4 percent of the railroad it doesn’t already own for $100 a share in cash and stock, valuing the transaction at about $44 billion, including $10 billion in outstanding debt, Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire said in a statement today distributed by Business Wire. That compares with the railroad’s closing price yesterday of $76.07.

“It’s an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States,” Buffett said in the statement.

Berkshire has been building a stake in the Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad for more than two years as Buffett looked for what he called an “elephant”-sized acquisition in which he could deploy his company’s cash hoard, valued at more than $24 billion as of the end of June. Trains stand to become more competitive against trucks with fuel prices high, he has said.

“As oil prices go up, higher diesel fuel raises costs for rails, but it raises costs for its competitors, truckers, roughly by a factor of four,” Buffett told shareholders in 2007 at his company’s annual meeting. “There could be a lot more business there than there was in the past.”

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Over 1,000 GreenGov Ideas and Counting!

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Message from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu

Earlier this week, we launched the GreenGov Challenge – a new way for federal employees and military personnel to help green our government. The response thus far has been tremendous, but I know there are many more of you that we still need to hear from.

Energy efficiency is an issue I’m passionate about, and it is a major focus for the Department of Energy. For the next few decades, energy efficiency will be our most effective tool for reducing our carbon emissions, and the best way to reduce energy bills for America’s families. Specific ideas on how to save money and energy are especially welcome.

chu-and-obamaI know many federal employees share my passion and have great ideas for how to help the government become greener. Many have shared great ideas already on my Facebook page.

The GreenGov Challenge is a way for you to have your ideas heard. Ideas can be submitted through October 31st. We recognize that some of the best ideas on how to save energy may not be new, but they are simply not widely adopted. I want to hear from you what you think are the most cost-effective ways to save energy and money as well as new ideas. The top ideas will be evaluated and put into action shortly thereafter.

I hope you will take a moment to think about the energy saving opportunities around you, to dream up new ways to solve them, and to be a part of making this effort a success. I look forward to reviewing your ideas and tackling this challenge with you.

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A Bottom-Up Approach to Greening Government: Take the Greengov Challenge

Posted by TheLCster

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On Monday, October 5th, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order on Federal Sustainability – and in doing so, committed the Federal government to lead by example, practice what we preach and help build a clean energy economy through how we operate.

To harness the collective wisdom of the more than 1.8 million civilian employees and our men and women in uniform, we’re launching the GreenGov Challenge, an online participatory way for Federal employees to suggest clean energy ideas and vote on others.

Some of the top ideas will be presented to the Steering Committee on Federal Sustainability – a group comprised of a senior official from each agency who is responsible for delivering among other things, each agency’s sustainability plan.

Though anyone can see your ideas, only Federal employees can participate – so this is your chance to positively impact how your agency will meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

Be part of the GreenGov Challenge and help green our government!

The GreenGov challenge runs from Oct. 19th — 31st

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Will E-Bikes Be the New ‘Commuter Cool‘?

Posted by TheLCstergoinggreen

Keith and Mary Felch have cut their driving in half by using e-bikes.

Keith and Mary Felch have cut their driving in half by using e-bikes.

CNN —Keith Felch is admittedly a big guy, but more than a few super-fit cyclists in Southern California have been left wondering how that dude just went flying by. And then his wife, Mary, comes motoring past.

They stare, like how can a girl go past me,” she says, laughing. It takes the other riders a few seconds but then they figure it out.

They have electric motors.

The Felches, who live in Aliso Viejo, California, used to drive everywhere, except when they used their bikes for recreation.

That changed when they got their new e-bikes, made by a company called Optibike. Now, they ride to go shopping and to go to breakfast — but mostly they ride to work.

Keith Felch says the couple has cut 50 percent of their car-use since they started electric biking.

And there are other benefits. Keith Felch dropped 30 pounds and his blood pressure fell 10 points in the first six months he owned the bike, he says.

The Felches don’t exactly classify themselves as “environmentalists,” although Mary said it is important to have a positive effect on the planet.

I learned that the worst amount of smog that you put out [in an automobile] is in the first mile, so if we can make even some of those shorter trips on our bicycles, it makes a big difference,” she says.

What’s an ‘e-bike’?

E-bikes run on 1 horsepower motors, or good old-fashioned pedal-power.

E-bikes run on 1 horsepower motors, or good old-fashioned pedal-power.

By law, electric bikes must have no more than 1 horsepower and go no faster than 20 mph (on motor power alone).

Basically they are much like traditional bicycles with small motors that power the bike or assist a rider with pedaling. Many have gears like a regular bike.

It’s just adding the throttle aspect, other than that it handles like a regular bicycle,” Keith Felch said. He says he uses the throttle all the time, choosing one of two modes — eco [half power] or fast [full power].

He says he once tried a regular bike for his 4 ½-mile ride to one of his music studios where he teaches jazz improvisation.

But the hills nearly got him. He calls his electric bike a “hill eraser.”

It also makes the ride to his farthest studio — 22 miles away — seem much closer. He says he gets about 35 miles on his primary battery and has an additional one for long rides.

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Watsonville solar project to power thousands of homes

WATSONVILLE — A plan to install solar panels at the city dump to provide enough power for 4,700 homes (10% of the city population) is moving forward with the blessing of the City Council.

Solar Panels in Watsonville, CA

Solar Panels in Watsonville, CA

Construction of more than 6,500 panels could start at the end of March and be generating 2.3 megawatts of power before the end of 2010, according to Steve Schumer of San Jose-based Cupertino Electric Inc.

The city would lease the land to Cupertino Electric at a price yet to be negotiated. The council, which approved the project Tuesday in a 6-0 vote with Councilman Greg Caput absent, must still approve the lease agreement.

Schumer said a third party, whose name he declined to disclose, has signed a letter of intent to buy the electricity if the price is right.

“We’re close,” Schumer said.

The city also is working with Cupertino Electric to install solar panels at the Watsonville Municipal Airport to produce another megawatt of power. Don French, general manager of the airport, said the deal will go before the City Council after engineering studies are completed. He supports the project.

“I like the idea of solar panels, and if the airport can make a few bucks, I’m all for it,” French said.

A third project in the works would put solar panels on rooftops of city buildings.

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Sinautec to Showcase America’s First Zero-Carbon Mass Transit Vehicle in Washington

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Electric Shuttle Featuring Solar Charging and New Ultracapacitor Technology

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WORLD-WIRE/– Sinautec Automobile Technologies, LLC and the American University (AU) will showcase America’s first ultracapacitor electric vehicle during a press conference and demonstration on October 21, 2009 from 10 AM to 5PM on AU’s campus in Washington, DC.

Sinautec will display and demonstrate an eleven-seat minibus, powered by state-of-the-art ultracapacitors, and charged by a 5,000 watt mobile solar unit. Ultracapacitor vehicles consume no fossil fuels, produce no tailpipe emissions, and are cost competitive compared to similar buses running on conventional fuels.

With a combination of advanced solar and ultracapacitor technologies, Sinautec seeks to demonstrate the certainty of a zero-carbon future for the US public transportation sector,” said Dan Ye, Sinautec’s CEO. Unlike battery-powered vehicles, ultracapacitor vehicles can be charged within minutes, and have important applications in municipal and campus transportation, shuttle services, tourism and recreation, he added.

Sinautec is an Arlington, Virginia-based company that develops high energy density ultracapacitors in the transportation and utility energy storage markets. With its research partner, Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Company, Sinautec successfully developed a series of ultracapacitor municipal buses that have been in commercial use in the greater Shanghai area since 2006. “It is our goal to contribute to the Obama Administration’s efforts to improve the environment and to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil,” said Mr. Ye.

More @ Sinautec

Related story: Lisa Ling builds green in Santa Monica

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From ABC-7 Los Angeles: She’s going green, building a carbon-neutral home in Santa Monica.

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