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Sustainable Business Spotlight

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Sustainable Choices in The news

We're tracking the Sustainable Business Headlines that you don't want to miss

Some of the biggest NSW waste companies broke rules meant to keep contamination out of landscaping products

Exclusive: Facilities owned by Bingo Industries and Aussie Skips Recycling among more than 20 named in NSW parliament for breaching regulationsRecycling fill sold in Sydney stores tests positive for asbestosGet our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcastSome of the best-known waste companies in New South Wales are among those that broke safety rules that led to potentially contaminated soil fill being supplied to backyard landscapers, schools, childcare centres and parks across the state.As part of an investigation into soil contamination, Guardian Australia can reveal that Bingo Industries, Aussie Skips Recycling, Benedict Recycling and KLF Holdings breached state regulations for testing a type of cheap soil made from recycled construction and demolition waste.Companies found in the 2019 investigation to have asked private laboratories to keep retesting samples when they exceeded contaminant thresholds were: Bingo Industries in Auburn, four Benedict Recycling facilities in Sydney, Breen Resources in Kurnell, South Coast Equipment Recycling at Warrawong, Hi-Quality Waste Management at St Marys and Brandown Pty Ltd at Cecil Park. The 2013 investigation also found two Benedict Recycling facilities were retesting samples.Twenty-one facilities were found in the 2019 investigation not to have been meeting EPA sampling rules such as the frequency with which samples should be collected and tested and what they were tested for: eight sites owned by Bingo Industries, four owned by Benedict Industries and one each by Aussie Skips Recycling, KLF Holdings, Breen Resources, Brandown, Hi-Quality Waste Management, Budget Waste Recycling, Rock & Dirt Recycling, South Coast Equipment Recycling and Builders Recycling Operations. Aussie Skips Recycling and Hi-Quality Waste Management were also among 11 facilities found in 2013 to be breaching testing rules.Following the 2019 investigation, the EPA issued prevention notices to six facilities after it detected asbestos in their recovered fines. In at least two instances the product had already been removed for use in the community.In one case identified in the 2019 EPA investigation, 16 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated soil produced by KLF Holdings was supplied to an apartment complex in Bankstown, and the regulator was forced to order a clean-up. Continue reading...

Some of the best-known waste companies in New South Wales are among those that broke safety rules that led to potentially contaminated soil fill being supplied to backyard landscapers, schools, childcare centres and parks across the state.As part of an investigation into soil contamination, Guardian Australia can reveal that Bingo Industries, Aussie Skips Recycling, Benedict Recycling and KLF Holdings breached state regulations for testing a type of cheap soil made from recycled construction and demolition waste.The fill – known as “recovered fines” – is used in place of virgin materials in construction projects, and in public spaces such as sporting fields, but is also sold directly to consumers for home landscaping by landscape and garden stores.Some waste companies also sell the fill in bulk directly from their facilities.A previous Guardian Australia investigation revealed the state’s environmental regulator, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), had known for more than a decade that companies had breached regulations meant to limit the spread of contaminants.Now, more than 20 of those waste and recycling facilities have been named in documents tabled in the NSW parliament.The NSW Greens environment spokesperson, Sue Higginson, asked for the information about the identity of companies that engaged in practices highlighted by EPA investigations to be tabled, following the first Guardian reports.“It is deeply concerning that some of the largest producers of recovered fines have avoided their obligations to ensure their products do not contain harmful contaminants,” Higginson said.Widespread breachesRecovered fines are made from residues found in skip bins at construction and demolition sites.Recycling facilities process the waste, which would otherwise go to rubbish tips, to produce soil fill that is sold under names such as recycled turf underlay, budget fill, crusher dust or recycled road base.Each year facilities in NSW produce about 700,000 tonnes of fill made from recovered fines.They are required under NSW resource recovery regulations to test their products for hazardous contaminants such as lead. If they exceed legislated thresholds, they must dispose of the product and report the results to the EPA.But two EPA investigations, one in 2013 and one in 2019, found widespread breaches of routine sampling and testing requirements in the industry. The 2019 investigation looked at about 50,000 pieces of testing and sampling data taken by facilities in 2017 and 2018.In a second part of the investigations, the EPA itself took samples from waste facilities and tested them for contaminants.The investigations also found that instead of reporting non-compliant results to the EPA and disposing of contaminated products, some companies retested samples until they received a compliant result.Retesting of recovered fines is not prohibited under the regulations. But if any test shows a sample has exceeded a contaminant threshold, the product is considered non-compliant and not suitable for sale and reuse.The regulations do not require producers of recovered fines to test for asbestos, but the recycling and reuse of asbestos in any form is prohibited in NSW. They are required to test for a range of other contaminants including lead and other heavy metals, physical contaminants and pesticides.The regulator has now named the responsible companies in response to the NSW Greens’ questions, and the information was tabled in state parliament.Companies found in the 2019 investigation to have asked private laboratories to keep retesting samples when they exceeded contaminant thresholds were: Bingo Industries in Auburn, four Benedict Recycling facilities in Sydney, Breen Resources in Kurnell, South Coast Equipment Recycling at Warrawong, Hi-Quality Waste Management at St Marys and Brandown Pty Ltd at Cecil Park. The 2013 investigation also found two Benedict Recycling facilities were retesting samples. Twenty-one facilities were found in the 2019 investigation not to have been meeting EPA sampling rules such as the frequency with which samples should be collected and tested and what they were tested for: eight sites owned by Bingo Industries, four owned by Benedict Industries and one each by Aussie Skips Recycling, KLF Holdings, Breen Resources, Brandown, Hi-Quality Waste Management, Budget Waste Recycling, Rock & Dirt Recycling, South Coast Equipment Recycling and Builders Recycling Operations. Aussie Skips Recycling and Hi-Quality Waste Management were also among 11 facilities found in 2013 to be breaching testing rules. In one case identified in the 2019 EPA investigation, 16 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated soil produced by KLF Holdings was supplied to an apartment complex in Bankstown, and the regulator was forced to order a clean-up. Guardian Australia contacted each of the waste companies. One – Builders Recycling Operations – could not be reached. Detailed questions were sent to the other nine. Five – Benedict Industries, KLF Holdings, Aussie Skips Recycling, Breen Resources and South Coast Equipment Recycling – did not respond. Budget Waste Recycling declined to comment.A spokesperson for Rock & Dirt Recyling said the company “does not propose to respond to your questions other than to reject the false premise that Rock & Dirt is supplying contaminated material to members of the public”.A spokesperson for Bingo said the company had long been an advocate for improved standards of compliance across the industry and supported rigorous enforcement of the regulations.How asbestos-contaminated mulch sparked the NSW EPA's biggest investigation - video“In response to the findings from the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) investigations in 2019, BINGO Industries met all requirements and obligations for recovered fines,” they said.skip past newsletter promotionSign up to Afternoon UpdateOur Australian afternoon update breaks down the key stories of the day, telling you what’s happening and why it mattersPrivacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.after newsletter promotion“As part of the investigation, EPA visited and took samples from BINGO’s Kembla Grange facility in 2019, the only BINGO facility producing recovered fines at the time. The EPA subsequently confirmed that the samples taken by the EPA were compliant.”A spokesperson for Hi-Quality Waste Management said the samples of recovered fines taken by the EPA during its 2013 and 2019 investigations were found to meet the regulated thresholds for all contaminants.They said the company “regularly reviews and evolves its practices to ensure it is meeting the highest environmental, safety and operational standards”.“Hi-Quality recognises that recovered products are crucial to creating a more sustainable sector and welcomes the opportunity to work with industry and stakeholders to strengthen regulation and advance the sector.”A spokesperson for Brandown said several changes had been made since the 2019 investigation, including the introduction of new standards by the EPA to improve the management of construction and demolition waste in NSW.“To further strengthen these standards, Brandown has advanced its testing protocols and made operational changes to reduce potential risk.”Samples positive for asbestosThe regulator’s 2019 investigation found only 29% of waste facilities were testing for asbestos – which is not required under the regulations. When the EPA took samples at 14 facilities, it found eight had asbestos in recovered fines, and six of those received prevention notices ordering them to temporarily implement a stricter testing protocol.The facilities that received notices were two owned by Benedict Industries and one each by Aussie Skips Recycling, Brandown, KLF Holdings and Builders Recycling Operations. According to public prevention notices published by the EPA, in the case of KLF Holdings and Builders Recycling Operations, 100% of the samples taken by EPA officials tested positive for asbestos.The EPA said most of the stockpiles where it found asbestos was present in 2019 were kept in storage at the facilities and were either disposed of or broken into smaller batches and reassessed.The EPA also found breaches of the legal thresholds for contaminants other than asbestos in samples it took from Aussie Skips Recycling, Benedict Recycling and KLF Holdings.But despite recommendations from its own officials, the regulator abandoned plans for tougher regulations for recovered fines in 2022, when the Coalition government was in power, after pressure from the waste industry.One of the recommendations made by EPA investigators in 2013 was that recovered fines not be permitted for use in landscaping because of the higher risk for potential human exposure to contamination.The chief executive of the EPA, Tony Chappel, pointed to changes passed by parliament that increase maximum penalties for breaching resource recovery orders from $44,000 to $2m, or $4m where asbestos was involved.“We know we have more to do around recovered fines, which is why we are consulting with industry to make improvements and also finalising a recent compliance campaign to help us work on the areas that need prioritisation,” Chappel said.“Over the next 12 months, we will also conduct targeted programs to assess industry compliance and take enforcement action for identified non-compliance with resource recovery orders.”Higginson said the evidence the EPA had tabled in parliament was shocking.“These potentially contaminated materials may have wound up in consumer products and may also have been sold for use in public areas.“The history and evidence of non-compliance means we may never know how far and wide these companies … spread their potentially contaminated products.”

What Americans get wrong about French food

Cookbook author Carrie Solomon breaks down "Boheme cooking" and common misconceptions about French cuisine

For many, French cuisine is typified by indulgence, richness and a certain nose-in-the-air type of stuffiness. Expensive bistros, hifalutin food and immensely heavy, cream-and-butter-laden dishes, with cheeses and wines galore to round out meals (when I wrote this, I admittedly pictured Kenan Thompson's "Pierre Escargot" circa "All That.") Now, while there is certainly lots of dairy and wine, French food is done a disservice when it's looked at through this lens — oftentimes by Americans unaware of all of the nuances and intricacies inherent in the country's food.  Carrie Solomon, an expat by-way-of-Michigan who has lived in Paris for the past 20 years,  explains to Salon Food what "Boheme cooking" means to her, what Americans actually get wrong about the classic cuisine, dispelling these preconceived notions and much more. The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. Bohème Cooking: French Vegetarian Recipes by Carrie Solomon cover (Photo courtesy of Carrie Solomon / Countryman Press) For those who automatically ascribe rich, heavy, butter-and-cream dense flavors to French food — which, yes, is somewhat true in certain cases — how would you dispel that notion?  Yes, it is true, but when you use the good stuff, you need less of it. I often cook with whole milk, so I need less cream and butter.  And of course, when you’re cooking without meat, you’re already avoiding all of the trans fat especially present in beef and pork.  And as vegetables are naturally virtuous, it  does make sense to occasionally serve a richer condiment with them: It’s all about balance in the end. Especially when those richer condiments or sauces are homemade, I find that I use less of them. Take my aioli recipe for example: It’s so flavorful, and yes it’s dense, but I think you’re likely to use less of it than you would an industrial mayonnaise. Not to mention that it uses a whole egg, making it less calorie-dense than a classic mayonnaise recipe and it also comes together with an immersion blender in just minutes.  Is there a lot of vegetarian cuisine in classic French cuisine? Or is there usually an animal protein in most instances?  Already, classic French cuisine has evolved a lot over the past twenty years, but even before then — when perhaps main dishes did include more meat, there were always the starters and side dishes that were very vegetable-focused.  Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?  Buckwheat galettes are probably the recipe I find goes the furthest — if you make one recipe from the book, make this one — because you’ll actually get two (maybe even three!). You can make a savory crêpe with egg, cheese and asparagus and you can also make oven-baked buckwheat chips.  The latter often graces my kitchen counter at apéro hour — with so much flavor and crunch, they are better than chips and the best vessel for all sorts of dips, whether tapenade or seasonal tartinades. I have even layered them up to make a quick millefeuille dessert with chantilly and fresh fruit.  What stands out for you as a formative moment that got you into cooking or food at large?  My first restaurant job when I was 14: My friend's mom was the pastry chef at what was then the coolest restaurant in town. For a Midwest restaurant at the time, it was by far ahead of the curve, with European cheeses and many vegetarian options. She got her daughter and I both summer jobs there. I tasted many things for the first time there.  What was the development process of the book like?  I took the development with me in everyday life. As I did most of the photos myself, I didn’t have to organize with a photographer. There are recipes and photos from different pop-ups, my kitchen counter, our family house in the south of France and more. Stuffed eggplant (Photo courtesy of Carrie Solomon / Countryman Press) How did your love of French food influence your career before culminating in this cookbook?  It’s the reason I moved to France! It was for love — love of good food. And it has taken me from cooking for an avant-garde French family when I was 22, to the vegetable garden of Michelin-starred chef Alain Passard, to writing for the food pages of French ELLE, to writing cookbooks for a French editor, cooking and consulting in Paris restaurants and to creating vegetarian menus for French school kids. So a few years ago, I started to feel that this story and the recipes along the way might be of interest to others.  I know you've lived in France for 20 years. Do you remember, 21-plus years ago, what you had anticipated about the food prior to moving (and now living there for two decades?) I remember thinking that I could pretty much subsist on baguette, cheese and wine. I knew there was a lot out there to explore — but already the thought that three of my essentials could be had on a student’s budget — I’m not kidding, for 10 euros you really can have all three. And I’m talking about a bottle, not a glass! Want more great food writing and recipes? Subscribe to Salon Food's newsletter, The Bite. How does "brasserie" style cuisine show up in this cookbook?  Two of my go-to brasserie or bistrot plates have always been “oeuf mayo” eggs with mayonnaise and “poireaux vinaigrette” leeks with vinaigrette. They are favorites of mine not just because they are vegetarian, but because they reflect the focus on quality ingredients. Both are enduring bistrot staples that can be served simply or can be more constructed with additional ingredients, pickles, infused oils, crispy toppings such as toasted hazelnuts, toasted buckwheat groats — I often find myself coming back to buckwheat! It’s such an incredible ingredient texture wise, flavor-wise, [etcetera]. Oeuf sandwiches (Photo courtesy of Carrie Solomon / Countryman Press) There's an interesting contrast between classic French fare and more imaginative, modern offerings — how would you say the book straddles that line?  I think I gave space to both without really really thinking about it, to be honest. In the past 20 years, both offerings easily occupy menu space here in Paris — that’s something that the French are quite good at, in my opinion. On the same menu, you can have a humble leek vinaigrette next to more elevated truffle-esque offerings.  I read that the book is a "manifesto for Boheme lifestyle" that blends "rustic charm with elegant fare," mirroring your own journey, personally, professionally, and culinarily. Can you talk a bit about that?  I don’t think one ever intentionally writes a manifesto — at least not a bohème manifesto! I never would have imagined ending up in Paris working as a chef and food writer. It all kind of happened somehow by accident and somewhat not, like much of life, I guess. I always worked restaurant jobs to take me to the next step: As a teenager, those jobs paid for my movie nights; in college, they helped me pay rent and trips to Paris. And once here, they helped me learn French, translating recipes from French ELLE as an au pair. As a side note — while not the case in the U.S., in France, Elle comes out weekly and includes 4 recipes per week on the last page in a sheet card print-out. Most of my French friends tell me their grandmothers had recipe card boxes in which they saved the recipe cards. So when I started writing those recipes on a biweekly basis for the magazine — the significance and weight as an American writing these recipes for a French public, let’s just say, it wasn’t lost on me.  But to come back to how I feel bohème translates to me these days is a little more nuanced. I didn’t have a dinner table after my divorce. Pre-divorce, we entertained often, big dinner parties, a full table, sometimes me alone in the kitchen wanting so hard to get it right. But then divorce threw that all upside down. I found myself hosting my girlfriends last minute, our kids making a mess on the living room floor and us huddled around the kitchen counter — and enjoying it. So much more so than those stiff dinners for which I’d cook for hours and not even have time to finish my plate before I’d jump up and head back to the kitchen to prepare the next course.  Now it all happens at an arms reach or around my constellation of coffee tables for what the French call apero - dinatoire.  You were selected to design the menus at the Roland Garros site in Paris for the Olympic Games this coming summer. How cool — congratulations! How did that come about and how have you been preparing for that?  Yes, that’s true! I am still quite awestruck that I have a role to play in this event.  Carrie Solomon (Photo courtesy of Carrie Solomon / Countryman Press) There's reference to sustainability and environmentalism throughout the book, of course, in tandem with the vegetable-forward ethos. How does that influence your cooking at large? For me, cooking with vegetables is an important decision, the sustainable decision for the future, and one that I feel France, for all of its nose-to-tail ethos, is taking very seriously. School kids now eat twice weekly mandated vegetarian lunches — of which, after some hard nudging from one of my daughters, I’ve participated in some of the recipe development. As a little side note, in French public schools, you don’t have the option of bringing your own lunch. And aside from severe allergies, everyone eats the same hot lunch, and what always shocks foreigners is the pomp about it. It’s a three, and on some days, even four course affair — starter, main, cheese or yogurt, and then fruit or dessert. And what I find particularly touching in the lower grades is that it’s served communal style! For those who are spooked about a dearth of animal protein in their meals, how might they interact with (or even enjoy) this book? What's the best way to "adapt," for a particularly carnivorous diner?  I’m not saying that I would want this book to be seen a collection of side dishes for a carnivorous diner, but I do think that vegetable-focused recipes can go much further in terms of texture, acidity and balance. So whether you eat vegetarian or not, I’m hopeful my recipes might broaden some perspectives What are the top three ingredients a beginner should have on hand if they are looking to get into French food? A hard cheese for grating — a little bit can go a long way, Buckwheat, whether flour for aperitif snacks, sprinkles of it simply toasted, mountain-style pasta or savory brunch crêpes.  Herbs — ideally fresh, but if not, flavorful dried herbs are great, as well.  Read more about this topic

Garden with terracotta 3D-print bricks wins Chelsea flower show green medal

Design created with no concrete and completely sustainable materials is first to win new environmental prizeA garden built with “humble” terracotta made into 3D-printed bricks has won the first green medal at Chelsea flower show for being the most environmentally sustainable design.This year’s show, held in the Royal hospital gardens in south-west London, has a strong environmental theme. At the press day on Monday, Dame Judi Dench was presented with a seedling taken from the Sycamore Gap tree felled in Northumberland. Continue reading...

A garden built with “humble” terracotta made into 3D-printed bricks has won the first green medal at Chelsea flower show for being the most environmentally sustainable design.This year’s show, held in the Royal hospital gardens in south-west London, has a strong environmental theme. At the press day on Monday, Dame Judi Dench was presented with a seedling taken from the Sycamore Gap tree felled in Northumberland.Dench, who has previously said she plants a tree every time one of her friends dies, said: “They let me name him and I named him Antoninus after Hadrian’s adopted son.” The Roman emperor Hadrian built Hadrian’s Wall, where the Sycamore Gap tree stood.The environmental innovation award is the first of its sort at Chelsea, and goes along with the gold, silver gilt, silver and bronze medals awarded to the most attractive and interesting gardens, all of which will be announced on Tuesday.Giulio Giorgi, a first-time Chelsea designer, said he created the green medal-winning World Child Cancer Nurturing Garden with no concrete, and with completely sustainable materials. Most gardens contain concrete in some form or another and the materials they are built from often contain the highest carbon footprint.The design will be relocated to RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, where it will live on after the show as an educational facility. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/ShutterstockWhile the use of pollinator-friendly plants, wild areas and sensible use of water are well-known, easy ways to make a garden more sustainable, Giorgi said it was important to focus on the building materials as their carbon footprint was often forgotten.It was also constructed by hand, with no power tools used, to reduce the carbon emissions of the process.Giorgi said: “Often we use a lot of metal, glues, cement, and then all the energy we have to put in to build the gardens. The material in our garden is low-temperature-fired terracotta, which we made into 3D-printed bricks, connecting ancient tradition with new practices. It’s fired at only 800C so it can be fired by electricity, without gas. So even if there is a little carbon in it, it’s the lowest possible and terracotta stays porous, so it can take in water and release it when there is drought, which is very important.“And it also lets the air in and out which is very good for the root systems. So it’s a really good material for plants, but also for the planet because clay is a resource that can be found pretty much everywhere.”skip past newsletter promotionThe planet's most important stories. Get all the week's environment news - the good, the bad and the essentialPrivacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.after newsletter promotionMalcolm Anderson, the Royal Horticultural Society’s head of sustainability, said: “The garden has been made using products made entirely from soil and timber and in its construction no power tools have been used, only hand tools, so it is a fine example of how we can design and build gardens more sustainably in the future.”Judges considered end-of-life plans for the gardens and whether materials could be reused. The 3D-printed nature of Giorgi’s garden and the way the parts tessellate together mean it can easily be assembled and reassembled. As a result, when it is relocated to RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, where it will live on after the show as an educational facility, the carbon emissions will be low as no materials will be wasted and it can be transferred wholesale.

FERC passed big transmission reforms; now the hard part begins

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved FERC Order 1920 , a 1,300-page regulation that will transform how the U.S. power grid is planned and paid for. Now comes the hard part — turning those reforms into the thousands of miles of power lines the U.S. needs to transition from fossil fuels to…

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved FERC Order 1920, a 1,300-page regulation that will transform how the U.S. power grid is planned and paid for. Now comes the hard part — turning those reforms into the thousands of miles of power lines the U.S. needs to transition from fossil fuels to clean, cheap, and reliable power. Clean energy investors, environmental groups, and grid reliability experts praised FERC’s two-member Democratic majority for crafting new rules that give the country a chance to build power lines at the rate needed to meet climate goals. Republicans in Congress — and at FERC itself — attacked the order as an attempt to force the cost of meeting clean energy policies onto unwilling states and utility customers. Legal challenges are almost certain to emerge. But supporters of FERC Order 1920 warned that roadblocks beyond lawsuits threaten the long-term benefits of the new transmission reforms. Perhaps the bigger challenge, they said, is making sure that the utilities, grid operators, and state regulators tasked with carrying out the reforms actually follow through over the coming years. “There are certainly opportunities for rehearing, and for this to be appealed in the courts, that could delay things,” Christina Hayes, executive director of pro-transmission trade group Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG), said during a Wednesday press conference. But there’s also ​“a lot to be worked out within states and within regions to implement it.” FERC’s order applies most directly to the country’s regional grid operators, which manage transmission networks that provide electricity for about two-thirds of the U.S. population. With the exception of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for most of the state, all these regional grid organizations must craft plans to comply with the order and submit them for FERC review by spring 2025.  NRDC Sustainable FERC project But just how each of these grid operators goes about meeting FERC’s new rules depends greatly on their individual makeup, governance structures, and preexisting regional planning expertise, said Rob Gramlich, president of consultancy Grid Strategies. Some, such as the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and the grid operators for the states of California and New York, have already been active in long-term grid planning and may not face as many novel challenges in complying with FERC’s new order, Gramlich said. But others aren’t as well prepared. In areport last year, ACEG and Grid Strategies gave poor grades to the regional transmission planning and development structures for Independent System Operator (ISO)–New England, which includes six states, and PJM, which serves a 13-state region from the mid-Atlantic to Chicago. That report also gave low marks to the regional transmission planning structures in the parts of the country that aren’t governed by a central grid operator, including the Southeast and the West between California and the Great Plains. The mechanisms for aligning the transmission plans and investment decisions of different state-regulated utilities in those swaths of the country are far less organized than they are for those managed by regional grid operators, further complicating implementation of FERC’s mandates. But several regional grid operators ​“have been bolstering their transmission planning processes” in the two years since FERC began working on its reforms, Hayes said. ISO–New England submitted a proposal to FERC last month. PJM has been working on a regional transmission plan for the past year. SPP, the grid operator serving Oklahoma, Kansas, and parts of 11 other states, is working on a consolidated planning process. And the Western Power Pool, a looser organization of utilities across the U.S. West, has formed the Western Transmission Expansion Coalition to explore joint transmission planning. “There are a lot of exciting things happening in different regions around the country,” Hayes said. FERC’s new order ​“is definitely going to help ensure that they elevate their game.” Just how these different grid regions will gain consensus among the utilities, state regulators, and other decision-makers will depend on a lot of different factors, however — including the clean energy policies of these stakeholders. The big split over who pays — supercharged by clean energy politics Today, solar, wind, and batteries make up the vast majority of power generation projects seeking to be interconnected to transmission grids. At the same time, a growing number of coal-fired power plants are set to close in the coming years, both due to state clean-energy policies and uncompetitive economics. These two variables are vital to consider when planning regional transmission needs — but in many parts of the country, they aren’t part of the equation. In fact, the failure to build new power lines to accommodate these changes over the past decade is a big reason why so many clean-energy projects can’t connect to the grid today, and why the need for grid reliability is preventing some coal plants from being closed down. One reason the transmission buildout has been so slow to date is that it’s hard to accurately assess and apportion the costs and benefits of a given project. The costs of building regional transmission projects are assessed to utilities within these regions and eventually borne by their customers in the form of bill increases. Meanwhile, the benefits of expanding transmission — lower power costs due to less congested grids, reduced threat of grid outages, and increased capacity to bring new generators online — are more diffuse and can be harder to attribute to any one state or utility. These dynamics give utilities and state regulators an incentive to try to avoid paying for projects on the grounds that other states and utility customers might benefit more than their own ratepayers. When taken to its extreme, that causes what energy experts describe as a ​“free rider” problem — individual utilities and states avoiding paying for projects that do, in fact, provide them benefits. In the past decade, these cost-allocation squabbles between states and utilities have been supercharged by the politics of climate goals. States controlled by Republicans are increasingly demanding that they shouldn’t have to pay for regional transmission projects that they say are driven only by other states’ clean energy policies.

Lights, Camera, Action: Cinema Verde's 2023 Festival Films and Sustainable Showcase are a Must-See!

Cinema Verde is hosting a three-day Earth Day celebration from April 21-23, 2023. The celebration includes a community clean-up event, a sustainable showcase, and a celebration dinner to honor the talented filmmakers who showcased their inspiring work during the February Cinema Verde festival.

Cinema Verde is proud to announce its upcoming three-day Earth Day celebration, a series of events designed to inspire, educate and engage the local community in environmental stewardship. The event, which will take place from April 21st to April 23rd, includes a community clean-up, a sustainable showcase, and an awards dinner celebrating the best of green cinema. The first event, a community clean-up at Ashley Creek located just north of NW 19th Lane, will take place on April 21st from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The event is free to attend, and all necessary supplies will be provided by Keep Alachua County Beautiful, including gloves, bags, and tools. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the impact of waste on our environment and the ways we can all make a difference. Swampboil will host a kick-off reception at 6:30 p.m. to celebrate Cinema Verde and our filmmakers. The second event, a sustainable showcase and 2023 Cinema Verde festival films screening at Cypress & Grove, will take place on April 22nd from 4 pm to 7 pm. The event is free to attend and has been organized in partnership with #UNLITTER UF. The showcase will feature organizations and vendors, all with a shared commitment to protecting the environment and promoting social responsibility. Afterward, attendees can wind down at Cypress & Grove with a screening of select 2023 Cinema Verde festival films, which will run until 10 pm. Friends and family are welcome to attend for a great night of fun and learning. The third event, the Cinema Verde Earth Day Celebration Dinner at Passions Field, will take place on April 23rd from 4 to 8 pm. The exclusive event will celebrate the talented filmmakers who showcased their inspiring work during the February Cinema Verde festival. The dinner will be hosted at a beautiful flower farm, providing the perfect setting for an elegant and sustainable dining experience. Tickets are limited, and attendees are encouraged to secure their spot at the table today. As a token of appreciation, all tickets include an annual membership at Cinema Verde valued at $60. Bring a friend, and receive a half-price discount on your second ticket. The three-day Earth Day celebration promises to be an unforgettable experience, providing a platform to raise awareness and promote sustainable practices in the local community. Cinema Verde, with its long-standing commitment to environmental conservation, hopes to inspire individuals to make positive changes and live a more sustainable lifestyle. In conclusion, the upcoming Earth Day celebration hosted by Cinema Verde is a testament to the organization's unwavering commitment to environmental conservation. Through a series of inspiring events, including a community clean-up, a sustainable showcase, and an awards dinner, the organization aims to raise awareness, educate, and encourage individuals to take action in protecting the environment. The events are free to attend, with the exception of the Celebration Dinner, and participants are guaranteed a unique and unforgettable experience. The three-day celebration is a great opportunity to learn and engage with like-minded individuals and organizations committed to environmental sustainability.

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