Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In the small Kern County community of Tupman, the 2013 pistachio harvest is well underway. 

Chris Romanini's family has been farming this land, just west of Interstate 5, where the valley's fields meet the Elk Hills for decades. 

It's probably not the first place you'd think of when it comes to the effort to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming. But just a few hundred yards away from this orchard, plans for a $4 billion power plant and fertilizer factory could soon make the Tupman area known for a lot more than those pistachios. 

Electric Bill Increase or Fairer California Power Rates?

Aug 29, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Legislation that could add a flat fee of up to 10 dollars a month on some California electric bills is up for a key committee vote Friday.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure has support from utilities and consumer groups – but it’s sparking pushback from environmental advocates.

Feds, State to Study Fracking in California

Aug 5, 2013

The federal government has announced a sweeping study of fracking and other oil and gas extraction techniques in California.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will lead the study.  BLM California State Director Jim Kenna says it’s in response to lawsuits attempting to block oil and gas development on public lands.

“Certainly, the intent would be to reduce legal challenges – hopefully because people trust the information and are more aware of what is going on.  But the bottom line is, the science will find out what it finds out,” says Kenna.

Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers want to know how the state is going to make up for the loss of a major electricity source. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, a State Senate committee will hold a hearing on the issue Wednesday.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was the largest source of electricity for Southern California. But the plant is permanently closing after a series of maintenance and safety problems.

Kathleen Masterson / Capital Public Radio

Could California be on the verge of a new gold rush? That’s the finding of a new study from USC about the potential economic impact of oil that lies deep beneath the Central Valley, known as the Monterey Shale. But extracting that oil isn’t easy, and it would require the use of a number of advanced techniques, including hydraulic fracturing.  And that’s attracted concerns from environmental groups and state regulators. Valley Public Radio’s Joe Moore reports on some recent developments in the fracking debate.


The operator of California’s power grid says a single-day record amount of energy was harvested from the sun not once, but twice in the past month.   The California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO)  reports solar production exceeded the one-gigawatt plateau twice in August.  Stephanie McCorkle with Cal ISO says higher production coincides with decreasing costs. “It’s just like with any of these breakthrough technologies, whether it’s cell phones or, in fact, I can remember when calculators came down in the cost the more they were produced and sold.

Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user moominsean /

California is working on a plan to balance goals of developing renewable energy projects on desert lands and protect the endangered species that live there. Californians can weigh in at a public meeting on Wednesday

Remote desert areas may seem like the perfect place for wind and solar energy projects. But some projects have already stalled because they threaten endangered species such as the desert tortoise or bighorn sheep.

The state and the federal government are working on a plan to balance those two goals.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

People use more energy when it’s hot, and California’s power grid operator has issued a Flex Alert because of the current heat wave.

Cal-ISO is the state’s Independent System Operator. When the forecast for demand gets close to the state’s power generating capacity, the operator calls a Flex Alert. Stephanie McCorkle with Cal-ISO says it’s most important to conserve during the peak usage hours between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

"Electricity is not something you can bottle up and store on a shelf. It is basically consumed the instant it is produced.”

Segment I Nuclear Power In the Valley? - The State of California has a long love-hate relationship with nuclear power. It's now been 26 years since Diablo Canyon, the state's newest nuclear power plant, came online on the Central Coast. In the intervening years, reactors at Rancho Seco, near Sacramento, and San Onofre near San Diego have been decommissioned, and the state's moratorium on the construction of new plants still remains in effect.