energy

If you think about why you fiddle with your clock twice a year, there are probably two things that spring to mind: farmers and energy savings. Neither are the reasons why we have Daylight Saving Time, so I called Michael Downing, the author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, and asked him why these myths persist.

Two legislative committees today held simultaneous public hearings on bills that would implement recommendations of a task force created after the Newtown school massacre to balance the privacy of crime victims with the public’s right to know. The task force recommended that lawmakers allow only restricted access to certain crime scene photos, 911 audio tapes and other information from homicides.

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Connecticut's independent electric suppliers have come in for some stiff criticism this winter, after it was revealed that some were charging customers astronomical rates for power. But the suppliers themselves claim there's another side to the story.

While watching the turmoil in Ukraine unfold, you may feel as though it has little to do with the United States, but the conflict is stirring a contentious debate in Europe over a topic familiar to many Americans: fracking.

Much of the continent depends on Russian natural gas that flows through pipelines in Ukraine. European countries are asking themselves whether to follow the U.S. example and drill for shale gas.

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As America witnesses a record boom in gas production, Connecticut lawmakers are once again trying to figure out what to do with fracking waste.

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Connecticut is about to receive about 1.3 million potassium iodide pills to be distributed to towns in a ten-mile emergency planning zone around Millstone Power Station in Waterford. The pills protect against radiation in a severe nuclear plant accident.

Just how big a deal is the "gigafactory" that Tesla Motors says it's going to build to make batteries for its electric cars?

-- It's projected to cost $5 billion between now and the year 2020. Tesla expects to invest about $2 billion. Partners — who it's rumored could include Apple and Panasonic — would invest the rest.

The company in charge of the Keystone XL extension said Thursday that it is considering its next move now that a Nebraska judge has struck down a law that allowed the pipeline to be routed through that state.

"We are disappointed and disagree with the decision of the Nebraska district court and will now analyze the judgment and decide what next steps may be taken," TransCanada Corp. said in a statement. "Nebraska's attorney general has filed an appeal."

Residents, businesses, state and local governments are preparing for another snow day. Up to 12 inches of heavy, wet snow is expected to fall. Officials with Connecticut Light and Power say the storm could threaten power lines as well as equipment. CL&P will activate its emergency response plan tomorrow morning and will have crews standing by across the state.

Researchers at a laboratory in California say they've had a breakthrough in producing fusion reactions with a giant laser. The success comes after years of struggling to get the laser to work and is another step in the decades-long quest for fusion energy.

Omar Hurricane, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says that for the first time, they've produced significant amounts of fusion by zapping a target with their laser. "We've gotten more energy out of the fusion fuel than we put into the fusion fuel," he says.

_J_D_R_ / Creative Commons

A recent move by 17 foundations to stop investing in fossil fuels has added to a growing debate about "green portfolios."

The Intellectual and Developmental Disability Caucus met in Hartford on Friday to gather comments from state residents concerned about the long-term care of their adult developmentally disabled children. State  lawmakers  heard from many residents who worry about what will happen when they are no longer able to care for their children with autism and other disabilities. 

A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.

North Dakota's oil boom isn't just about oil; a lot of natural gas comes out of the ground at the same time. But there's a problem with that: The state doesn't have the pipelines needed to transport all of that gas to market. There's also no place to store it.

If you've seen any coverage of North Dakota's oil boom, you've seen the images — oil rigs, truck traffic, "man camps," miles of temporary housing.

But there is something about this place that just can't be captured by a still photograph. It's a feeling you get when you cruise down an endless highway under a vast, big sky — until suddenly: BOOM. You're wedged between semitrucks dwarfing what was once a quiet farm town.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

As we began working on a Colin McEnroe Show about composting, Colin made sure we included Susannah Castle, who runs Blue Earth Compost. She provides pails to subscribers in the Hartford area, and for a monthly fee, picks up the pails full of food scraps and other compostable materials from the household once a week. 

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A new UConn report looked at more than 120,000 Massachusetts home sales and found wind turbines have little impact on prices. Carol Atkinson-Palombo is co-author of the paper, which tracked the data spanning a 14-year period.

On the side of a mountain road in Pennsylvania's Tiadaghton State Forest, I'm trying to avoid a steady stream of heavy truck traffic. Acres of freshly cut tree stumps stretch out in front of me.

Kevin Heatley lives in the area and has come to these woods for years to hike. He's an ecologist by trade and he's concerned about what he's seeing.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Okay, so it's not Frost/Nixon. But over the last few years, I've been having an ongoing, at times entertaining, occasionally frustrating, and always interesting conversation on air and on stage with Dan Esty about "fracking" and natural gas. 

Tucker Ives / WNPR

Dan Esty, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, has a plan for energy security that includes a huge investment in natural gas. But what about the effects of natural gas extraction methods like fracking and the uncertainty of future low prices? What about the need for renewable sources of energy?

National Institute of Standards and Technology

A Connecticut company was among those at the White House Thursday for a summit about the emerging Internet of Things. 

Oil giant BP is challenging hundreds of millions of dollars in claims that were filed by businesses after the company's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The total price tag for BP's oil spill is huge — $42.5 billion. At issue here is a fraction of that — but still a lot of money. BP says $540 million has been awarded to businesses for losses that "are either nonexistent, exaggerated or have nothing to do with the Deepwater Horizon accident."

Fracking Lawyer / Creative Commons

More than half of Americans surveyed by a new Yale study reported knowing little to nothing about hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking." Minimal shale deposits mean fracking wells aren't likely to come to Connecticut, but the state is facing another concern: what to do with fracking waste.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

Representatives from the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA), a trash agency responsible for waste management in more than 50 Connecticut municipalities, said they're facing a $7.6 million budget gap for the next three fiscal years. The gap was revealed to members of a state task force on Tuesday. The reveal comes on the heels of a state-sponsored audit of CRRA released earlier this month that projects a much bigger shortfall: around $23 million. 

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

The town of Tolland said two of its schools will switch to geothermal technology in the coming months. According to the Connecticut Geothermal Association, that project will join a list of nearly 60 active projects in Connecticut.

One of those projects is in South Windham, at Horizons, a camp for developmentally disabled children and adults. I met up with Guy Wanegar, President of the Connecticut Geothermal Association, as a crew dug a hole for geothermal piping outside a new dining hall. The ground was muddy, and gallons of water spewed up as the drill worked its way vertically through hundreds of feet of dirt and bedrock.

James Riden / Creative Commons

Connecticut's gas utilities are asking regulators to lower the amount they'd have to charge businesses that sign up for new gas service. The request comes as regulators debate the final shape of the state's new comprehensive energy plan.

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The gap between fuel prices and what low-income people can afford to pay to heat their homes in Connecticut has more than tripled in recent years. Operation Fuel, the nonprofit which provides energy assistance to thousands of households in the state, said the number of residents in need is growing. 

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As concerns over the security of America's electrical infrastructure continue to grow, Connecticut Light & Power and the United Illuminating Company said they will both take part in a multi-national security exercise this week. The drill will be run by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (also known as NERC) and will include Homeland Security, FBI officials, and hundreds of utilities. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Heating oil dealers said a decision by regulators to allow a massive expansion of natural gas usage in Connecticut will cost thousands of jobs. The state’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority this week issued a draft decision giving the go-ahead to Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposal. 

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The electrical grid has been described as the glass jaw of American industry. According to some reports, we’re just one solar flare or cyber-attack away from massive, cascading power failures. This has happened before. In 2012, a cascading power failure in India plunged around 680 million into darkness. And in 2011, some Connecticut residents found themselves without power for more than a week thanks to a freak October snowstorm. We’ll chat with energy experts about how to strengthen the electrical grid.

Greenpeace

The main investigative agency in Russia says it has dropped piracy charges against jailed Greenpeace activists. Captain Peter Willcox of Norwalk and 27 other activists have been charged with "hooliganism" instead.

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