Peter Russo and Brendan Wypich of Stanford University developed the SmartSwitch, a light control with tactile feedback that helps you "see" how much energy is already being used, whenever you try to flick the switch. If the total energy consumption in the house is low, the SmartSwitch is easy to flip. But if the consumption is higher, the SmartSwitch is physically harder to flip, thanks to a brake pad within the mechanism. The idea is that people will use this tactile feedback to decide if they really really need that light on or not.
NRG Energy, one of the United States' most coal-dependent utilities, on Monday signed a deal with California startup eSolar to develop solar power plants. The agreement calls for NRG to invest $10 million in Pasadena-based eSolar for the right to use the startup's technology to develop and operate three solar power projects in California and the Southwest that would generate 500 megawatts of greenhouse gas-free electricity. NRG ranks as one of the nation's dirtiest utilities, spewing 70 million tons of carbon dioxide annually from its coal-fired power plants. eSolar will use fields of mirrors to heat water to create steam that drives electricity-generating turbines.
Los Angeles' 140,000 streetlight fixtures will be replaced with LED units over the next five years with help from the Clinton Climate Initiative in the most extensive municipal green lighting retrofit thus far. The upgraded lighting system is expected to save the city $48 million in energy and maintenance costs and cut carbon emissions by 197,000 tons over a seven-year period. The cost savings accrued during that time are to pay for a loan that will fund the project. After paying back the loan, the city is expect to save about $10 million a year in costs, reduce electricity consumption for lighting by at least 40 percent and cut carbon emissions by about 40,500 tons a year.
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