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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 28, 2011 | By Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times
The Obama administration on Thursday unveiled its road map for solar energy development, directing large-scale industrial projects to 285,000 acres of desert land in the western U.S. while opening 20 million acres of the Mojave for new development. The Bureau of Land Management's long-awaited "solar energy zones" are intended to make some of the desert's most sensitive landscapes less desirable for solar prospecting by identifying "sweet spots" that have already passed environmental requirements and therefore promise expedited permitting, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.
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BUSINESS
September 13, 2011 | By Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times
Solar energy equipment maker Solyndra Inc., reeling from a recent bankruptcy filing and FBI raids last week on its Bay Area office and executives' homes, faces a public and probably embarrassing reckoning before a House subcommittee. The hearings Wednesday are the latest step by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its oversight arm to push an investigation it launched in February into the Energy Department's decision to give Solyndra a $535-million loan guarantee under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The committee wants to explore, in particular, questions about whether the loan from the $787-billion stimulus fund was granted because of Solyndra's financial ties to a major Democratic fundraiser, George Kaiser.
BUSINESS
September 8, 2011 | By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
SolarCity, one of the country's largest residential solar energy system providers, plans to double the amount of rooftop installations across the country by setting up sun-powered systems on 160,000 homes and other buildings on military bases. The five-year, $1-billion SolarStrong project targets rooftop solar installations at 124 military housing developments in 33 states. SolarCity has already lined up a conditional commitment for a $344-million loan guarantee from the federal government.
NEWS
September 2, 2011 | By Kim Geiger
House Republicans are pressing forward with a probe into a $535-million loan guarantee to a California-based solar panel manufacturer, charging that the Obama administration may have improperly awarded the loan to a company whose major investor was a bundler for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. The company, Solyndra Inc., announced earlier this week that it will file for bankruptcy, putting 1,100 employees out of work and likely leaving taxpayers on the hook for much of the massive loan.
OPINION
May 18, 2011 | By Erica Rosenberg and Janine Blaeloch
Is it possible that solar energy — clean, renewable, virtually infinite — could have a downside? As it's being pursued on our public lands, yes. In the name of greening America, the Obama administration is about to open up as much as 21.5 million acres of mostly undisturbed, fragile desert land for potential industrial-scale solar energy development. That means huge swaths of public land in the West could be developed, degraded and effectively privatized. But such degradation isn't necessary.
BUSINESS
January 14, 2011 | By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
Iron pyrite ? also known as fool's gold ? may be worthless to treasure hunters, but it could become a bonanza to the solar industry. The mineral, among the most abundant in the earth's crust, is usually discarded by coal miners or sold as nuggets in novelty stores. But researchers at UC Irvine said they could soon turn fool's gold into a cheaper alternative to the rare and expensive materials now used in making solar panels. "With alternative energy and climate-change issues, we're always in a race against time," said lead researcher Matt Law. "With some insight and a little bit of luck, we could find a good solution with something that's now disposed of as useless garbage.
WORLD
December 1, 2010 | By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
The problem: African hunger. In a nutshell, 250 million Africans are undernourished, a quarter of the population and an increase of 100 million in the last 20 years. Yet 70% of Africans are farmers growing food. The hope: Within one generation, Africa will grow enough to feed itself. But how? According to Calestous Juma, a Harvard professor and Kenyan development scientist, Africa can turn its fortunes around by improving roads and transportation, training an army of engineers and using irrigation, solar energy and more technology.
BUSINESS
November 24, 2010 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors denied a request from Northrop Grumman Corp. to delay final approval of a major solar project in the Antelope Valley near the military contractor's facility for testing radar-evading stealth aircraft. On a voice vote, supervisors rejected Northrop's appeal Tuesday, opting to let plans for the 2,100-acre complex of photovoltaic solar panels proceed. Final approval is expected Dec. 7. The company argued that the project would "adversely impact the military mission" of the sensitive, 1970s-era testing center, just south of the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County.
BUSINESS
November 23, 2010 | By Marc Lifsher and Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
Approval for the first of what could be at least a dozen large solar energy projects planned for the high desert near the Los Angeles-Kern County line is under threat from an unlikely source: the military industry. Northrop Grumman Corp. contends that a proposed 230-megawatt plant near Rosamond to be built by First Solar Inc. could impair operations at a sensitive installation for testing radar-evading stealth technology on aircraft. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other supporters fear that if Northrop succeeds in blocking the project, the state would be hobbled in its efforts to create tens of thousands of green-tech jobs and fight global warming by building renewable power plants in the sun-drenched desert of Southern California.
BUSINESS
October 12, 2010 | By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
Despite being barely one-20th the size of the U.S. and more often overcast, Germany still manages to produce four times as much solar-generated power. That's because, according to green-tech analysts, Germany has a government-mandated program that requires utilities there to pay homeowners, warehouse operators and companies for power from their rooftop solar installations. Called a feed-in tariff, it's an arrangement that clean-tech proponents are pushing California to replicate, hoping that such programs can boost alternative energy production in the state.
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