Stanford Says No To Investing In Coal

Stanford University recently announced it will no longer directly invest in publicly traded companies that mine for coal for energy generation. There are about 100 such companies and Stanford will no longer invest any of its $18.7 billion endowment in any of them. The university will also divest any funds currently invested in them. “Stanford

Stanford Says No To Investing In Coal was originally published on CleanTechnica.

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Iowa Solar Tax Credit Tripling Passed by State Senate

A new solar tax bill in the Iowa legislature was approved by the Ways and Means Committee that would triple the annual solar tax credit from $1.5 million to $4.5 million. The proposed legislation would increase the homeowner solar tax credit from $3,000 to $5,000. Business owners would be eligible for $20,000 instead of the

Iowa Solar Tax Credit Tripling Passed by State Senate was originally published on CleanTechnica.

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Kia To Launch EV Soul In Summer Of 2015

Kia will be launching the EV Soul this summer — most likely in California and Oregon first, then in some eastern states such as New Jersey, New York, and Maryland. Here are some quick facts about the coming electric vehicle:

  • air-cooled 27-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
  • 81-kilowatt (109-horsepower) liquid-cooled electric motor
  • top speed — 90 mph
  • 0-60 MPH in 11 seconds
  • range is estimated to be 200 kilometers (~120 miles) per charge (in Europe — the US rating will likely be 80–100 miles)
  • price = $30,000-$35,000 before federal and/or state rebates
  • bio-based organic compounds in about 10% of its interior materials

Kia has done a smart thing by creating the Soul EV, a crossover vehicle with urban appeal. The gas-powered version has been successful with the niche it was targeted towards. With its distinctive styling, frontrunner crossover status, and affordable price, Kia positioned the Soul to be a hit with young urban adults.

The Soul was introduced in 2009 and sales have increased over time. In 2012-2013, it was the #2 seller for Kia. The new Soul EV should do well because it is the same vehicle that is already popular, just with an electric motor and a battery pack. In other words, it already has brand awareness in the top 20 markets in the United States, but also has sold successfully internationally.

EVs sometimes are new, standalone vehicles the public hasn’t heard about it, so creating some awareness with consumers can be very challenging. Doing so with an already popular model can help.

The name Soul is also appealing to young people who have identified with being real and expressive, so adding an electric, environmentally aware version only seems to cement that identification process. Soul might also have an association with free-spiritedness, music and soon, being green.

Launching the vehicle in the summer on the West Coast is also smart, because an eco-friendly vehicle is exactly what will be welcome during the period when so many people are enjoying the outdoors and taking trips to natural parks for camping and recreation.

Overall, the Tesla Model S is much more impressive with its larger range, better acceleration, and very high safety rating, but that’s not really the upscale market the Soul EV will competing in. The much greater affordability and styling of the EV Soul will allow a lot more people to go electric while getting a good vehicle and plenty of range. The Soul EV could really compete with the slightly cheaper but lower-range Nissan LEAF, which is currently the top-selling car in the US. If Kia is willing to manufacture enough of these, at $30,000 to $35,000 before EV incentives, and the specs listed above, the Soul EV might be a real contender at the top of the EV sales charts.

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Nuclear Power Plant Operator Suspended for Cocaine Use

A senior reactor operator employed at the Salem Nuclear Power Plant allegedly tested positive for cocaine after a random drug test. He was working as a control room supervisor. According to Career Zone, a person  working in this capacity, “Operate or control nuclear reactors. Move control rods, start and  stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, and record data in logs.  Implement emergency procedures when needed. May respond to abnormalities,  determine cause, and recommend corrective action.” In other words, the individual runs the plant when it is online.

Image Credit: Public Domain

The employee, whose identity has not been revealed for the sake of privacy, has been suspended indefinitely. PSEG Nuclear followed procedure and reported the incident to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A spokesman from the NRC said, “It’s less material to us whether its cocaine, marijuana or alcohol.  It’s that they are impaired in any way and unable to perform their duties.” (Source: No impairment was observed in the suspended employees work. Cocaine usage has been documented to disrupt motor control and judgement. Salem Nuclear plant has two reactors and has been running at full capacity with no problems during the operator’s suspension. About 52,000 people live within a ten mile radius of the plant.

In 2012, 205 nuclear power plant employees tested positive for drugs or alcohol. Marijuana, alcohol and cocaine were the top three substances identified in those employees. Given the potential for human error and mechanical breakdowns in the nuclear industry, it seems very reasonable that nuclear plant employees are tested randomly and consistently for substances.

Occupations with the highest rates of substance abuse are construction, food service, entertainment and sales, according to an LA rehab center.

One of the most well known nuclear power plant accidents — Three Mile Island — resulted from operator error, but no employees were impaired by any substances in that incident. Incidents at nuclear plants in Alabama and Ohio were also related to operator error.

One of the many advantages of solar power plants is that operator error could not cause a radiation leak of any sort.  In theory, a solar plant operator could be impaired by a substance but still unable to do much damage to the public health, though he or she could
disrupt the production of electricity.

Nuclear Power Plant Operator Suspended for Cocaine Use was originally published on CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 50,000 other subscribers: Google+ | Email | Facebook | RSS | Twitter.