Compact Fusion Energy for Urban Power Plants

Lockheed Martin’s Skunkworks is designing and building prototypes for a new generation of compact fusion reactors. These reactors would be about the size of a semi-truck yet supply clean continuous power to fill the intermittent and peak power gaps that utilities need to fill grid power demand.

The problem of most renewable energy sources is that they only generate when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. With the availability of continuous power from fusion reactors, utilities will be able to contract and supply clean, emission free power without relying on a supply chain of fossil fuels. Instead of building large, expensive natural gas peaker plants to supply power, compact fusion reactors could provide a cleaner alternative at much lower cost.

Lockheed Martin compact fusion reactor
The Skunk Works’ recent compact fusion reactor design.

Because of its small size relative to the Russian’s tokamak fusion design International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (a huge system being constructed in France), this system is easier to design and rapidly build prototypes  for specialized applications. See the YouTube video.

This technology is not available now but early versions could be marketable in as little as five years. According to the development project manager, Dr. Thomas McGuire:

“We would like to get to a prototype in five generations. If we can meet our plan of doing a design-build-test generation every year, that will put us at about five years, and we’ve already shown we can do that in the lab. So it wouldn’t be at full power, like a working concept reactor, but basically just showing that all the physics works.”

This technology is a strong conceptual response to Amory Lovins (founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute) call for “Reinventing Fire.” Another “arrow in the quiver” for sustainable power.



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USGBC Green Building Tours – October 3-8, 2016



Green Building tours are one of Greenbuild’s most popular and exciting features, providing the opportunity to explore green buildings ranging from government facilities to zoo exhibits. This year in Los Angeles, Greenbuild tours will help attendees learn outside the convention center walls and present the best of the area’s sustainable buildings and neighborhoods.

The Greenbuild Tours Program is developed by the Greenbuild 2016 Host Committee, USGBC-LA.

Descanso Gardens

About Greenbuild International
Conference & Expo – Oct. 5-7, 2016

 Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The ideals and passion of the green building community come alive at Greenbuild. The buzz is contagious.

Greenbuild brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work, and a unique energy is sparked. Participants are invigorated. Inspired. They find themselves equipped to return to their jobs with a renewed passion and purpose.


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LADWP SummerShift Program Increases Incentives July-September 2016

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 7.59.41 PM“With the current moratorium on new injections of natural gas from Aliso Canyon there is a heightened threat of outages this summer, especially during times of extreme heat when gas and electricity are in higher demand. Customer participation in SummerShift will help minimize the risk of rotating outages, which could result in serious health and safety risks, as well as create financial impacts to our customers.”  – Board President Mel Levine.

To avoid power outages this summer, LADWP has announced that the incentives for large commercial customers who decrease their summer demand for energy  has been greatly increased.  The first-of-its-kind program is effective immediately until the end of September 2016.

SummerShift (flyer) is just one of several measures being undertaken by the utility to mitigate the risk of outages caused by the moratorium on gas injections into Aliso Canyon.

SummerShift benefits include:

  1. Receive significant incentives (through a bill credit) of $10 per kW for energy saved or shifted away from the peak period
  2. Avoid cost impacts and inconveniences of electrical service interruptions
  3. Partner with LADWP in preventing power outages this summer affecting all customers

Other measures include:

  • Making operational changes to maximize flexibility of gas-fired power plants to preserve natural gas for critical periods.
  • Maximizing use of alternative fuel sources, including renewable energy.
  • Public outreach to residential customers to reduce their energy use, and participate in Flex Alerts, such as the one issued Monday.
  • Expanding Demand-Response Programs to provide discounts for participating large commercial and industrial customers to reduce and shift their energy use away from peak periods.

To participate in LADWP’s Demand Response Program, businesses must meet these criteria:

  • Have an existing Building Energy Management System
  • Be able to curtail load by 100 kilowatts (kW) for each DR event
  • Be able to adjust operations to participate during the DR season – June 15 to October 15
  • Be able to adjust operations between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. PST
  • Be able to participate with day-ahead or two hour advance notification


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L.A. Natural Gas Leak Leading to Power Blackouts?

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 10.19.50 PMAs early as April of this year, speculation was being widely reported that Los Angeles may suffer numerous blackouts because 17 local natural gas power plants are having a difficult time sourcing sufficient fuel for generating electricity.

Normally, a significant percentage of their natural gas is stored at the Aliso Canyon facility. When the facility sprang its massive,  four months-long leak polluting the air in the north portion of the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County it also depleted the storage tanks that were stockpiling fuel for the peak energy usage months of July through October. They now contain only 20% of what is normal for this time of year!

“How do we make sure we are building the most sustainable city possible?” – Nancy Sutley (LADWP)

As a result, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is scrambling on two fronts to lessen the impact on their ratepayers. First, they are trying to arrange new sources of fuel from neighboring regions. Second, they are appealing to their commercial and residential customers to voluntarily reduce their consumption of power.

Last Thursday (6/30/16) the LADWP hosted a roundtable discussion of their options at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) at their new La Kretz Innovation Center in downtown Los Angeles. LADWP and Southern California Gas each have aggressive incentive campaigns to encourage ratepayers to conserve electricity. In addition, David Hodgins of the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge helped address the key question of the discussion posed by Nancy Sutley (LADWP’s Chief Sustainability and Economic Development Officer) – “How do we make sure we are building the most sustainable city possible?”

This crisis is a wake-up call – a wound that must not be allowed to go untreated or to infect other utility assets. It makes it clear that more preventative solutions must be adopted so we are better prepared for future droughts, heat waves, and infrastructure disasters.

The Mayor’s office has already put into place policies (through his Sustainability pLAn and special office) that help guide Los Angeles to develop a sustainable energy system. Installing innovative energy efficiency technologies in commercial and residential structures must continue to be developed to mitigate the demand growth of the region. At the same time a planned approach must feature: consumption monitoring systems, more incentives for better LEED Certified investments, solar installations and storage expansion, and flexible infrastructure encouraging the new decentralized power generation and storage.



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LACI Host “LaunchPad” Welcoming 25 Israeli GreenTechs

Gov. Brown & PM Netanyahu’s MOU on Israel-CA Cleantech Collaboration in Action

Two exciting collaborations are taking place starting today in Los Angeles – efforts to combat the drought and fight climate change through Israeli-California collaboration – which will build off the landmark MOU signed between Governor Jerry Brown of California and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

A delegation of field-proven Israeli companies will engage in the first-ever Israel California Water (ICWater) Conference. The list of attendees includes an impressive collection of key stakeholders, policy makers, city officials, corporate leaders, and investors.

Immediately following the conference, a select group of pioneering Israeli energy and water technologies will participate in “LaunchPad” at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), an intensive “bootcamp” program designed to help prepare the companies to launch into the California market. LACI will also be hosting a high-level event, where the companies will have the opportunity to pitch their ventures to the LACI Leadership Council.

For background on the Israel-CA Green-Tech Partnership and to sign-up for their blog.


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USGBC-LA Hosts GREEN21 Resources


Between 2014-2016, California’s 25th District Senator Carol Liu sponsored the creation of the GREEN21 information portal. These resource pages have been created to help users from her district (parts of Ventura County and northern Los Angeles County) find information that will lead them to more green, sustainable choices for the 21st Century.

At the culmination of her term of office, Senator Liu decided that it would be a shame to lose these resources with the termination of her own website. USGBC/Los Angeles Chapter Executive Director, Dominique Hargreaves offered to host GREEN21 on the chapter’s website, which is where they now reside. The resources have been reformatted and posted by iPLUG Media to the USGBC site.

The contents of GREEN21 now reside under the About Us menu item, because of USGBC website menu formatting considerations. When GreenBuild 2016 completes, the menu item for GreenBuild will be replaced by Resources with a drop down menu for the following markets:

Additional information more central to the Los Angeles Chapter are being added – for instance, information about the Mayor’s pLAn and the Los Angeles Better Building Challenge (LABBC). Recommendations for new public information and links are requested so that they can be considered for inclusion on the site.

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USGBC Build SMART Trailer Tours Los Angeles


Juliana Luz, Scott Miller, and Fernanda Zuin invite visitors to learn more about sustainable building materials, water conservation, and energy saving innovations in the Build SMART trailer.

What has four wheels, 3 solar panels, a dual flush toilet, and is full of the latest sustainable innovations used in building construction?

The BuildSMART (Sustainable Materials And Resources Trailer) mobile learning exhibit, of course! On loan from the USGBC Central Coast Chapter who constructed it (with the assistance of CalPoly San Luis Obispo and sponsors) it is touring various parks and schools around Los Angeles County between April 2016 and 2017.

The trailer demonstrates sustainable living/working environments, illustrating best practices for green building. BuildSMART is outfitted with a variety of materials and systems, including sustainable flooring, recycled countertops, non-toxic insulation, anti-microbial wallboards, solar PV, tankless water heating, among other efficient energy and water conservation methods.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.52.18 PMThe community interest has been very strong and positive serving an estimated 40,000 visitors per year! It is the first exposure many have had to the USGBC, LEED Certification, and many of new technologies  that might motivate students to pursue careers in the industry.

LEED PlaquesBuildSMART is supported by a Community Partner Grant funded by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. A YouTube video is available to tour the trailer online.

Contact Fernanda Zuin to schedule a visit: or call 213-689-9707.


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Eco-Map-LA Details L.A. LEED Structures


The U.S. Green Building Council of Greater L.A. has provided an interactive map of LEED certified buildings on their website for free! Produced as a special cartography project by concept3D, this extraordinary map provides the user a feature-rich tool for exploring the green side of Los Angeles’ built environment. You can even follow pre-planned walking tours for viewing significant structures!

Many existing 3D models of important landmarks have been inserted into the map. More importantly, clicking on each pin reveals detailed information about each certified building – its location, green feature summary, and a link to more data about its LEED point scores. It will be fun to watch Los Angeles become more environmentally and energy sustainable, turning other cities “green” with envy!

The explanatory copy from the website:

Introducing EcoMapLA, the go-to resource for all things sustainable in Los Angeles. Conduct Research using the drop-down menus to filter the map for LA’s Green Buildings, Green Businesses, and Iconic City Landmarks. Click on a location for a description (with images), the address (with directions), and links to additional information (including the LEED scorecard), where available. Explore the City with self-guided tours, transportation routes, and visitor information to experience LA’s green efforts and follow our sustainability story.

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Energy Efficiency Keeps Electricity Affordable

Fingering Coins


In a story written by Steven Nadel, Executive Director, ACEEE announced two studies that show energy efficiency not only keeps electricity affordable but it reduces environmental compliances costs. On March 18th, they released:

  • “How Much Does Energy Efficiency Cost?” includes results from studies by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ACEEE, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Finds that energy efficiency is consistently a lowest cost option for meeting electric demand. One of the studies finds that the costs of energy efficiency have been level in recent years.
  • Energy Efficiency Lowers the Cost of Clean Power Plan Compliance looks at the results of three studies, all finding that including energy efficiency as part of state compliance plans will lower costs to utility customers. One study finds that an energy efficiency scenario reduced electric bills by 17%. Another study shows that in most states using energy efficiency for compliance with the CPP will reduce bills by more than $10 per month.


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What Can the Next U.S. President Do for Energy Efficiency?

Where do the candidates stand on energy independence and efficiency and what is there vision for both? What role and policies can the executive branch assume to support RE & EE initiatives?
Where do the candidates stand on energy independence and efficiency and what is there vision for both? What role and policies can the executive branch assume to support RE & EE initiatives?

David Caughran of wrote on their blog a brief assessment of the three things the next U.S. President can do to advance energy efficiency. He came up with three broad ideas:

  • Find Common Ground – Rally bipartisan support for energy efficiency
  • Modernize the Grid – Invest in the nation’s infrastructure by modernizing our aging electric power grid.
  • Lead Energy Efficiency Around the Globe – Position the U.S. as the global leader in energy efficiency.


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Digital Media Strategists for SoCal electrical contractors…. dba IPLUG MEDIA