Recycle old Electronics

Electronic RecyclingMost of us are surrounded by electronics in o­ur homes — computers, peripherals, MP3 players, game consoles and countless other digital gadgets. And each time we upgrade to the latest model, we’ve got an electronic device on our hands that, as far as our own needs are concerned, is obsolete. So where does it go, if not to the growing pile of logoed plastic and metal in the basement? Why not just throw it out?

There are lots of reasons why something like your old computer shouldn’t go out with the trash. First, it may not be trash at all. Sure, if it’s pre-1995, it’s not going to do anyone much good. But if you bought it in the last 10 years or so, it can possibly be upgraded or refurbished and be of great use to someone who doesn’t have the money to buy a new one. And if you do have a relic on your hands, tossing it is still not the best way to go. If you throw out your old electronics, not only are you taking up increasingly scarce landfill space with valuable resources like plastic, metal and glass that could be made into new devices using less energy than it takes with virgin resources, but you’re also putting potentially toxic materials in the ground. Lead, mercury and other substances can leech from old monitors and circuit boards into the air and ground water and possibly affect people’s health. In some countries and many U.S. states, particular electronic components are regulated as hazardous waste.

So, if you’re not going to put your old computer in the dumpster, you’re down to two choices: reuse or recycle. If the device is in good working order, reuse is the better option. Refurbishing is easier on the environment than recycling. Recycling uses energy, and the longer you can keep the non-recyclable parts out of a landfill, the better. You can donate a working electronic device for reuse in any number of ways. Cell phones are easy — the store where you buy your new one will usually donate your old one for you at little or no cost. And if you want to choose which charity gets to have your old phone, a simple Web search will point you to a selection of charities in your area that want it. For example, many cities have women’s shelters that accept unwanted, working cell phones and give them to women in domestic-abuse situations so they can dial 9-1-1 anywhere, any time. If your unwanted device is a fairly modern, working computer, many school districts will gladly take it. And if you’ve got an old computer, scanner, Webcam or other device that’s not in working order, you can post it to an online message board like Craig’s List or a listserv like Freecycle™, and you’ll likely find some who at least wants it for parts.

Of course, that last option requires that you deal with other human beings and multiple e-mail exchanges in order to get your non-working electronic device into new hands. If you want to get rid of a broken or extremely old piece of electronics with minimal effort, recycling may be the way to go. Many computers are built to be easily demanufactured into their component parts for easy recycling. Some devices may require more energy to recycle, but it’s still better than tossing them into a landfill.

Electronics recycling is a fairly new industry, and it’s far from centralized at this point. Many people end up throwing their old electronics in the trash out of frustration alone. It can take a good deal of research to figure out how to properly recycle this stuff. Going to the manufacturer’s Web site or to the store where you bought the device is often a good bet. Many electronics manufacturers and retailers have instituted collection programs that make recycling your old gadgets pretty easy.

Save the Earth, Things You Can Do

save earthPay attention to how you use water. The little things can make a big difference. Every time you turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth, you’re doing something good. Got a leaky toilet? You might be wasting 200 gallons of water a day [Source: EPA]. Try drinking tap water instead of bottled water, so you aren’t wasting all that packaging as well. Wash your clothes in cold water when you can.

  • Leave your car at home. If you can stay off the road just two days a week, you’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,590 pounds per year [Source: EPA]. Combine your errands — hit the post office, grocery store and shoe repair place in one trip. It will save you gas and time.
  • Walk or ride your bike to work, school and anywhere you can. You can reduce greenhouse gases while burning some calories and improving your health. If you can’t walk or bike, use mass transit or carpool. Every car not on the road makes a difference.
  • Recycle.You can help reduce pollution just by putting that soda can in a different bin. If you’re trying to choose between two products, pick the one with the least packaging. If an office building of 7,000 workers recycled all of its office paper waste for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking almost 400 cars off the road [Source: EPA].
  • Compost. Think about how much trash you make in a year. Reducing the amount of solid waste you produce in a year means taking up less space in landfills, so your tax dollars can work somewhere else. Plus, compost makes a great natural fertilizer. Composting is easier than you think.
  • Change your light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) last 10 times longer than a standard bulb and use at least two-thirds less energy. If you’re shopping for new appliances or even home electronics, look for ENERGY STAR products, which have met EPA and U.S. Department of Energy guidelines for energy efficiency. In 2006, the ENERGY STAR program saved energy equivalent to taking 25 million cars off the road and saved Americans $14 billion in utility costs [Source: ENERGY STAR]. (Learn more about proper disposal of CFLs.)
  • Make your home more energy efficient (and save money). Clean your air filters so your system doesn’t have to work overtime. Get a programmable thermostat so you aren’t wasting energy when you aren’t home. When you go to bed, reduce the thermostat setting — you won’t miss those extra degrees of heat or air conditioning while you’re asleep.
  • Maintain your car. Underinflated tires decrease fuel economy by up to three percent and lead to increased pollution and higher greenhouse gas emissions [Source: EPA]. Underinflation also increases tire wear, so it will save you money in the long run if you’re good about checking your tire pressure.
  • Drive smarter. Slow down — driving 60 miles per hour instead of 70 mph on the highway will save you up 4 miles per gallon. [Source: Consumer Guide Automotive]. Accelerating and braking too hard can actually reduce your fuel economy, so take it easy on the brakes and gas pedal.
  • Turn off lights when you’re not in the room and unplug appliances when you’re not using them. It only takes a second to be environmentally conscious.

New Mild Hybrid Powertrain, 7-speed DCT, from KIA

new mild hybrid powertrain, 7-speed DCT, from KIAKia revealed a new mild hybrid powertrain as well as its new 7-speed DCT at the Geneva Motor Show. (Earlier post.) Developed by Kia’s European R&D centre, the new hybrid system employs a 48V lead-carbon battery, which powers a small electric motor to increase the engine’s power output and cut exhaust emissions. The mild hybrid powertrain will be available on new diesel and gasoline production cars from Kia in the near future.

The development team behind the mild hybrid powertrain selected lead-carbon batteries over lithium-ion equivalents as they require no active cooling, are more easily recyclable at the end of the vehicle’s life and can function much more efficiently in sub-zero temperatures.

Kia’s mild hybrid system will enable a car to be driven in an electric-only mode at low speeds and when cruising, while the battery is recharged under deceleration at all speeds. In heavy traffic and on urban roads, the powertrain will also feature a stop-start system. Using a belt-driven starter generator—replacing the conventional alternator—the engine is able to restart with almost no noise or vibration.

new mild hybrid powertrain, 7-speed DCT, from KIA a1The battery also supplies energy to an electric supercharger, which increases torque and power at low engine speeds. Engineers behind the development of the powertrain see the electric supercharger supporting a larger conventional turbocharger, which would seamlessly take over to provide greater power and torque as engine speeds rise.

The new hybrid system could also be fitted without the electric supercharger for a simpler powertrain layout in smaller models.

In applying the technology to production cars, Kia engineers are targeting reductions in CO2 emissions of up to 15%, while the electric supercharger is designed to deliver power increases of 15 to 20% depending on its application.

The new powertrain would also allow vehicle development engineers to reduce the size of a vehicle’s existing battery and starter motor.

7-speed DCT. The new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT)—the first of its type from Kia—was engineered to balance greater fuel efficiency with improved performance and to deliver a sportier driving experience.

Designed as a more fuel efficient replacement for Kia’s existing six-speed automatic transmission, currently available as an option on the majority of Kia models, the new DCT combines the advantages of both manual and automatic transmissions while allowing for faster gear changes than both.

Throughout the development process, engineers have been targeting a 7% improvement in fuel efficiency and a 5% improvement in acceleration (0-100 km/h / 62 mph) over the existing six-speed DCT transmission.

NVH has also been a key focus for the team behind the DCT’s development, with an external damper providing a high level of refinement for the new transmission.

The DCT is made up of two dry clutches, each fitted with an electric motor-driven clutch actuator to improve fuel economy, and a pair of gear input shafts, one each for the odd and even gear ratios. This set-up enables the DCT to operate sequentially or to jump immediately to any of its seven forward gears (and reverse) depending on the driver’s requirements.

The continuous power delivery offered by the DCT minimizes the loss of torque by the powertrain during gear shifting and ensures a smoother drive in all conditions. The wide ratio coverage afforded to the engine by the seven-speed gearbox results in improved fuel efficiency and performance over rival six-speed DCTs.

The new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will start to appear on production Kia cars in 2015.

Fuel-Efficient 9-speed 9G-TRONIC from Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz’ new 9-speed 9G-TRONIC, the first rear-wheel drive nine-speed automatic transmission with torque converter, is making its debut in the E 350 BlueTEC as the standard transmission paired with the 185 kW (252 hp) V6 diesel. Announced in 2013 (earlier post), the 9G-TRONIC represents the seventh automatic transmission generation from Mercedes-Benz.

fuel-efficient 9-speed 9G-TRONIC from Mercedes-BenzThe E 350 BlueTEC offers an average NEDC fuel consumption (sedan model) of 5.3 liters of diesel per 100 km (44.4 mpg US). While an overall reduction in engine speed improves NVH comfort and also cuts down external noise by up to 4 dB(A), the reduced fuel consumption of the E 350 BlueTEC with 9G-TRONIC has primarily been achieved as a result of the high efficiency level of the transmission, Mercedes says.

As part of this, the broad ratio spread of 9.15 for gears one to nine allows a clearly perceptible reduction in engine speed and is a decisive factor behind the high level of energy efficiency and ride comfort. Shortened shift and reaction times ensure optimum spontaneity combined with ease of shifting. In manual mode and S mode in particular, the 9G-TRONIC responds significantly more spontaneously and enhances driving pleasure.

The ease of shifting of the new 9G-TRONIC—a focal point during development—comes from a comprehensive package of measures. These include the novel direct control system (more below) which enables short, barely perceptible gear changes. The combination of twin-turbine torsional damper and centrifugal pendulum technology in the torque converter ensures outstanding drive comfort. Together with the extended gear ratio spread, higher speeds can now be driven at lower engine speeds for even greater comfort. In practice this translates into being able to drive at 120 km/h (75 mph) in 9th gear with an engine speed of around only 1350 rpm, for example.

The 9G-TRONIC can support a range of drive configurations including: rear-wheel drive; 4MATIC all-wheel drive; hybrid drive; and plug-in hybrid drive. ECO start/stop is standard. Suitable engines for the 9-speed are 4, 6, 8, 12/in-line and V engines.

Lightweight. The development engineers also focused on the area of “compact lightweight construction”. Despite two additional gears and a maximum transferable torque of up to 1000 N·m (738 lb-ft), the new automatic transmission requires as little installation space as its 7-speed predecessor and is also lighter in weight. The two-piece housing design has been retained: the torque converter housing is made of lightweight aluminium, while the transmission housing with weight-optimized plastic oil pan is made of an even lighter magnesium alloy.

New gearing concept. Another goal was to implement the nine gears with a minimal number of planetary gear sets and shift elements. Computer-based system analysis and mock-up made it possible to realize this goal with only four simple planetary gear sets and six shift elements. Mercedes-Benz has secured a worldwide patent for this specific configuration, which the engineers consider to be the best possible.

A planetary gear set consists of the outer ring gear, the inner center gear and between them the planetary carrier with the four planetary gears and their bearings. Four planetary gears are required in the 9G-TRONIC so that the expected torque of up to 1000N·m can be reliably transferred in future engine/transmission combinations.

The ring gear, planetary carrier and center gear in a planetary gear set are connected by carriers and multi-disc clutches, or braked by the multi-disc brakes which are supported by the transmission housing. This enables the planetary gears to transfer drive torque to the inner teeth of the outer ring gear or to the outer teeth of the inner center gear. The result is several gear ratios, and at the same time it is possible to reverse the direction of rotation for e.g. reverse gear.

The gear ratio is the ratio between the number of gear teeth on the driving and transferring gears. Depending which planetary gear sets are connected in series, blocked or separated, multiplying the part ratios produces the overall ratio for the relevant transmission gear.

In the 9G-TRONIC, the individual gears are engaged by three multi-disc clutches and three multi-disc brakes. The purpose of the multi-disc clutches is to transfer the drive torque between two components as a friction connection. The ratio configuration of gears one to nine allows the wide ratio spread of 9.15. For the same performance compared to preceding transmissions, the rpm level is considerably lowered as a decisive factor for the high energy efficiency and NVH comfort of models equipped with the 9G-TRONIC.

Three speed sensors monitor operation and provide the transmission control system with corresponding data for effective shifting. Here it is possible for several gears to be jumped when accelerating or decelerating, should the driving conditions call for it.

Twin turbine torsion damper and centrifugal pendulum. One of the most comfort-enhancing and at the same time fuel-saving features of the 9-speed is the torsion damper, which compensates even more effectively for eccentricities and vibrations within the transmission.

A basic physical law operates in this case: the lower the rpm and road speed, and the lower the number of cylinders, the more pronounced these can be. This results in a conflict of aims between comfort and fuel-efficient operation. It is resolved by the use of a twin turbine torsion damper additionally fitted with a centrifugal pendulum. Depending on the rpm, this shifts the center of gravity and also allows comfortable vehicle operation in the most fuel-efficient operating range.

Moreover, the optimized damping enables slip in the torque converter lockup clutch to be reduced considerably, which likewise contributes to fuel economy. For the first time, a return spring has been integrated into the torque converter lockup clutch of the 9G-TRONIC. The multi-disc lockup clutch was previously only hydraulically controlled. Use of the return pressure spring allows reliable and comfortable activation even at very low rpm.

Torque converter. The drive element of a classic automatic transmission is the hydrodynamic torque converter. In the new 9G-TRONIC, the engineers have improved the hydraulic circuit in the torque converter and increased its efficiency to up to 92%. This extraordinarily good figure is important for fuel economy, as the losses imposed by physics when transferring the engine torque to the transmission’s input shaft are kept to a minimum. In the first-generation 7G-TRONIC dating from 2003, the efficiency of this component was only 85%.

The heat generated during operation is reliably dissipated via the transmission oil cooler. Conversely, the 9G-TRONIC requires no additional radiator to warm the cold transmission oil when cold-starting under Arctic conditions. The second-generation, synthetic Fuel Economy low-friction oil also performs reliably at extremely low temperatures.

Oil supply concept accounts for 54% of fuel savings potential. To ensure the reliable and at the same time highly efficient supply of the durable and shear-resistant 2nd-generation synthetic fuel economy engine oil, the 9G-TRONIC is fitted with two pumps. The considerably size-reduced, mechanical main pump installed “off-axis” lies next to the main shaft and is driven via a chain.

In an automatic transmission such as 7G-TRONIC, the main oil pump previously ringed the transmission shaft and was directly driven. This meant that the diameter of the transmission shaft prevented the pump from being reduced in size as desired. For this reason the highly efficient vane cell pump is now placed alongside the main shaft (“off-axis”), and is reduced in size to suit requirements.

The mechanical main pump, which ensures the oil supply to the electrohydraulically controlled automatic transmission when the internal combustion engine is running, is backed up by a separate electric auxiliary pump.

On the one hand this design enables the flow of lubrication and coolant to be controlled actively on demand, and at the same time also means that the 9G-TRONIC can benefit from a start/stop system. In subsequent hybrid applications, this additional oil delivery also allows so-called “sailing”, i.e. maintaining a constant speed without using the internal combustion engine.

When the engine is off—for example at a red traffic light in start/stop mode—the electric auxiliary pump is actuated, ensuring a defined basic pressure and guaranteeing that all necessary functions are maintained. When the driver wishes to move off on a green light, oil delivery by the electric pump after engine-starting guarantees immediate and agile acceleration. In certain operating states with the engine running, the auxiliary pump also assists the main pump, for example at very low engine speeds or in very high temperatures. In this case the flow of oil is added as needed to ensure smooth gear shifts or when there is a higher cooling requirement.

This innovative oil supply concept using a mechanical main pump and electric auxiliary pump, as well as demand-related control, accounts for around 54% of the total fuel-saving potential of the 9G-TRONIC. The less oil that has to be moved within the transmission by more efficient pumps, the higher the overall efficiency. The fully synthetic Fuel Economy low-friction oil also contributes to this.

Main transmission shaft with three deep-drilled holes. The main transmission shaft is another technical highlight of the 9G-TRONIC. First, at 550.9 millimeters, it is one of the longest shafts in the entire automotive industry. Second, it performs other functions in addition to its main purpose of power transmission: using a sophisticated internal ducting system, the shaft also performs various lubricating, cooling and control functions.

On the engine side, a large axial hollow-drilled hole measuring a few centimeters supplies the front planetary gear set with oil, which reaches the right places via smaller transverse holes. The drilled holes on the output side of the main shaft are far more interesting, however. Three parallel holes each measuring 6.1 millimeters are deep-drilled into the transmission shaft with a core diameter of 16 millimeters to a depth of up to 361.5 millimeters. These three deep-drilled holes have various functions in the 9G-TRONIC: via transverse holes, they ensure a defined oil flow rate to lubricate and cool the planetary gear sets and shift elements. They also perform an important control function, and transfer the set gearshift pressure to the multi-disc clutches and brakes.

The machining of such a shaft is a masterpiece of production engineering. The requirements are particularly exacting when drilling the three deep holes. To date no other automotive manufacturer or machine tool producer has undertaken such a task, with such a ratio between shaft diameter and hole depth.

Over their entire length of up to 361.5 millimeters, the deep-drilled holes must precisely meet the requirements to just a few thousandths of a millimeter. Machining must follow precisely defined geometrical specifications:

  •     Distance and parallelity of the holes versus each other;
  •     Distance and parallelity of the holes versus the outer surface of the shaft avoidance of twisting during the drilling process;
  •     Radial positioning of the three drilled holes to ensure a free flow to the transverse holes;
  •     Correct depth of the individual holes; and
  •     Residue-free drilling with no microfine swarf remaining in the holes.

The machining operation is carried out with the minimum quantity of cooling lubricants. In addition, complex guidance of the 370-millimeter long drill bits was to be avoided and the processing time was to be considerably reduced.

To achieve this, Mercedes-Benz dispensed with conventional cooling lubricants are completely dispensed with when producing the 9G-TRONIC drive shaft. During the drilling process, a fine oil/air mist is sufficient for lubrication; this reaches the drilling face through a duct in the single-fluted drills. The generated heat and swarf are conducted away with no residue via a bead in the side of these single-fluted drills.

The savings made possible by this so-called mist-cooling technology are enormous. The requirement is reduced by 99.9% compared with conventional production processes. Whereas around 18,000 liters of cooling lubricant per hour were previously needed, the mist-cooling technology requires only 0.3 liters. In other terms: rather than the capacity of an entire road tanker, the content of a household drinking glass is sufficient to ensure the high quality of the machining process.

The processing time per shaft has also been shortened, while improving production quality. To minimize cycle times in the production process, the production engineers eliminated the usual guide sleeves when spot-drilling. The machines drill the deep holes “free-hand”, so to speak, while maintaining absolute dimensional accuracy. In addition, the single-fluted drills of cemented carbide allow high working speeds.

Whereas the figure was around 125 millimeters per minute in the case of 7G-TRONIC PLUS, the new drills allow a speed of over 250 millimeters per minute. The net result is that it takes just under three minutes to process the main transmission shaft—around 63% less than the cycle time during the production of the 7G-TRONIC PLUS.

Fully integrated transmission control. All the components for gearshifting, lubricating and control processes are fully integrated into the transmission housing, improving the control quality and reliability of the 9G-TRONIC. The advantage of this new direct control is more efficient use of the hydraulic power.

In this direct control system, the hydraulic gearshifting element is directly linked to the electromagnetic valve. The hydraulic control slides now only have one third of their original diameter. This means that control of the six shift elements (three multi-disc clutches and three multi-disc brakes) can be much faster and more efficient.

The actuating unit for the electric transmission oil pump, the control unit, all the electro-magnets, as well as the complete sensor system comprising rpm, temperature, pressure and position sensors, are combined together on a single mounting bracket. The control unit becomes the command center for the 9G-TRONIC, and is incorporated into the electronics architecture of the vehicle.

Apart from data obtained from the transmission itself, the integrated 9G-TRONIC control system uses information from the drive control (e.g. engine speed, accelerator position), the dynamic control systems (steering angle, linear and lateral dynamics) and the safety systems (interventions by ABS, BAS Plus, Collision Prevention Assist, DISTRONIC), and is able to control all shift processes optimally using these data.

There are also advantages in terms of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), as mutual influencing by various electronic components is avoided. Extensive tests in the EMC laboratory showed this to be the case.

The software necessary for all control processes was developed in-house, at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center (MTC). Only the control units, i.e. the hardware, come from a supplier.

In addition to the temperature, pressure and position sensors, three rpm sensors continuously monitor the operating state of the 9G-TRONIC and provide the transmission control system with the following data for effective gear shifts: internal transmission rpm (rpm of the main transmission shaft); rpm of the turbine (output rpm of the torque converter); and output speed.

The extensive, networked sensor system with its continuous comparison of all rpm values makes it possible for several gears to be skipped when accelerating or decelerating, should the driving situation call for it.

  • The inner center gear of the 1st gear set is part of the drive shaft, and therefore permanently connected to it.
  • The planetary carrier of the 1st gear set is connected to the outer ring gear of the 2nd gear set via the 2nd multi-disc clutch.
  • The multi-disc brake A brakes the inner center gear of the 2nd gear set. This increases the torque while reducing the rpm.
  • The outer ring gear of the 2nd gear set has a mechanical connection to the inner center gear of the 3rd gear set.
  • The planetary gears of the 3rd gear set rotate in the outer ring gear braked by multi-disc brake B, and transfer the increased torque at reduced rpm to the drive shaft.
  • The output shaft rotates with reduced input rpm and a significant torque increase in the engine’s direction of rotation.

Power transfer follows the following principles:

  •  The output rpm is reduced in the lower gears. This leads to lower speeds at the drive wheels while increasing tractive power and drive torque.
  •  Conversely, the output rpm is much higher in the higher gears. This leads to higher speeds at the drive wheels, accompanied by lower drive torque.
  • Three modes. The three transmission modes of the 9G-TRONIC allow an individual control strategy depending on the traffic situation or the driver’s personal preferences.

In ECO mode the control is equivalent to a very economical driving style: upshifts are performed sooner, and the handling is gentler overall to support an economical driving style at lower engine speeds. In SPORT or MANUAL modes the response and shift times are shortened, and there is higher revving in the gears to support a dynamic and sporty driving style.

Like the 7G-TRONIC PLUS before it, the 9G-TRONIC also has the automatic mode “short-term M”, which makes operation even easier and more comfortable. The driver can now also engage the required gear using the shift paddles in ECO and SPORT mode, without first activating MANUAL mode. “Short-term M” remains active if there are repeated manual gear shifts or a sporty driving style is maintained with higher linear and lateral acceleration levels. In contrast to permanently activated MANUAL mode, however, “Short-term M” is deactivated after a certain period without higher power requirements, and the transmission reverts to the original mode.

Operation of the 9G-TRONIC is unchanged compared with the preceding 7G-TRONIC: R, N and D are selected using the DIRECT SELECT lever on the right of the steering column, while the three transmission modes ECO, SPORT and MANUAL are activated with a switch on the center console. The well-proven positioning and operation of the steering wheel shift paddles are also unchanged. The central display in the center dial instrument reliably informs the driver which gear is engaged, and which transmission mode is active (e.g. “D9 E” = ninth gear, ECO mode).

Renewable Energy Standards

rewableenergistandartRenewable energy is very rampant discussed, this is a very hot topic related to global warming. So to make environmentally friendly energy that can extend the life of the earth, a lot of research done to be able to find a replacement energy is environmentally friendly. Here’s an excerpt from the article abqjournal dot com that may be useful to us all.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved substantial changes Wednesday to the way utilities calculate costs for complying with the state’s renewable portfolio standard.

The commission voted 3-2 to retain diversity requirements that obligate utilities to include solar and other types of energy on their system in addition to less expensive wind generation.

But to make compliance easier, utilities now will receive double the credit for every kilowatt hour of solar they procure, and triple the credit for other types of energy, such as geothermal or biomass.

The commission also broadened the list of potential costs and savings that must be considered when calculating the price tag for renewable energy procurements to better determine if utilities are staying within a cost cap, or reasonable cost threshold, that aims to protect ratepayers.

Commissioners Patrick Lyons and Ben Hall, both Republicans, and Democrat Theresa Becenti-Aguilar, supported the changes. Commissioners Valerie Espinoza and Karen Montoya, both Democrats, opposed them.

The changes drew praise from some groups that energetically had pushed for reforms to ease the renewable portfolio standard’s impact on consumers.

But some environmentalists and clean-energy advocates said the changes will weaken the portfolio standard significantly by restricting diversity on the grid and by lowering the overall amount of clean electricity utilities will need to generate.

Under the RPS, public utilities must derive at least 10 percent of their total electricity from renewable sources this year, 15 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. In addition, under the PRC’s diversity rules, at least 30 percent of their renewable energy must come from wind generation, 20 percent from solar and 5 percent from “other” sources.

But by doubling the credits that utilities receive for solar and tripling what they earn for things like geothermal, companies now will need to add much less of those resources to their systems, and they will be held to a lower renewable standard overall, said Chuck Noble, attorney for the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy.

“The commission essentially said that utilities now only have to generate half as much solar energy than they otherwise would, and one-third as much electricity from ‘other’ sources,” Noble told the Journal. “Apart from weakening diversity, that means reducing the amount of renewable energy utilities actually need to produce to meet the renewable portfolio standard.”

Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, said the commission ignored public demands to leave the renewable cost rule intact. About 100 residents and small businesses participated in public hearings this year opposing proposed changes, and about 1,300 others submitted written comments to commissioners, she said.

“This was an end run around public opinion,” Feibelman told the Journal. “They will now give more credits to the utilities for less renewable energy. It will hurt the state’s solar industry in particular.”

Supporters, however, said the rule changes will help ratepayers, because utilities no longer will be forced to impose expensive resources on consumers.

“We’ve been fighting for this for the last four years,” said Peter Gould, general counsel for industrial consumers. “The changes in the diversity rules will allow the market to operate efficiently, because utilities can now make decisions based on economics rather than arbitrary formulas and quotas.”

Gould said the commission’s decision to expand the factors used to calculate the cost of renewables also will benefit consumers.

Until now, utilities were required to include savings from avoided purchases of fossil fuels, plus avoided costs of building new fossil fuel plants, when tabulating the end-cost of establishing a new renewable generation facility.

Now, however, they must consider both the savings and potential increased costs caused by changes to the entire system. That includes everything from existing generation, transmission and distribution to operation and maintenance expenses and costs of keeping backup energy available for when the wind and solar facilities aren’t producing electricity.

“It will now be more difficult to calculate, but I’m in favor of the new language so that we account for everything to know the full costs of renewable energy,” Gould said.

Feibelman and Noble said their organizations need to study the new cost-calculation language before analyzing its impact.