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Solar Eclipse Will Test Stability of California’s Power Grid

The Ivanpah solar thermal power plant in California's Mojave Desert.

The Ivanpah solar thermal power plant in California's Mojave Desert. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Oregon city asks people not to use eclipse glasses it gave away; Boston police praised for keeping the peace; and an Idaho lawmaker says an Obama plot for Charlottesville violence is “completely plausible.”

Our weekend roundup of state and local government news is compiled by Route Fifty’s staff and edited by Michael Grass. Help us crowdsource link gathering: Flag state and local government news using the Twitter hashtags #localgovwire and #stategovwire.

Leading our roundup, Monday’s highly-anticipated astronomical event …

SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017 | Electric grid operators in California have been preparing for more than a year for Monday’s solar eclipse and are confident in the stability of the state’s power infrastructure, which supports 40 percent of the nation’s solar energy production. An unusual challenge the energy sector faces from the eclipse: Solar power “will drop off and re-emerge more quickly than during usual conditions involving clouds or nightfall.” Now that renewable sources make up a larger share of the nation’s energy portfolio, the eclipse is being viewed as a major test for grid managers. In California, that means replacing about 6,000 megawatts of capacity during the peak of the three-hour eclipse. "It has been tested before, just not at this magnitude," a spokesman for the California Independent System Operator, which manages the grid in the Golden State and for part of Nevada. [Southern California Public Radio / KPCC; Reuters]

Yikes! Local officials in Lake Oswego, Oregon, are urging people not to use the eclipse-viewing glasses it distributed during a recent free giveaway, saying in a statement that it “has not received confirmation from the supplier that the free solar eclipse glasses were sourced from a recommended manufacturer who used the correct ISO testing method and standard.” [Willamette Week]

In Madras, Oregon, many vendors who set up shop at the municipal airport expecting an influx of out-of-state visitors were disappointed when “only a fraction of the estimated crowd” had showed up by Saturday morning. At Solartown, a “loosely connected collection of tents and RVs spanning miles” about five miles north of Madras, “campers from all over the world played lawn games, took turns riding a red-and-yellow hot air balloon in the center of the campsite and counted down the final 24 hours until the celestial event.” Also in the area: A wildfire burning near Sisters has prompted local evacuations and sent smoke over Central Oregon. [The Register-Guard; Bend Bulletin; KXL-FM]

The Nebraska Department of Transportation is urging eclipse visitors and residents in the state about the risk of wildfires. [@NebraskaDOT]

Near the eastern end of the path of totality across the United States, law enforcement in Lexington County, South Carolina have set up eclipse-related traffic safety checkpoints. [The State]

LAW ENFORCEMENT | Police in Boston were praised for their ability to maintain the peace and manage 40,000 counter-protesters who surrounded a so-called “free speech” rally where there were fears of potential major clashes between white supremacists and antifascists. There were 27 arrests, most for disorderly conduct. “99.9 percent of people were here for the right reason, and that’s to fight bigotry,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said. [Boston Herald; The Washington Post]

Everett Glenn Miller, the 45-year-old man accused of shooting and killing two police offices in Kissimmee, Florida on Friday night, faced a judge on Sunday afternoon and has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest without violence. On Saturday, Sgt. Matt Koski scrubbed blood from the street where his colleagues were gunned down. "I just don't want to see this every time I drive by." [Orlando Sentinel; @KMTorralva; WFTV-TV]

#STATEGOVWIRE

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: The state’s Department of Environmental Protection has hired two new drinking water inspectors since December, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned that understaffing in the department “risked serious public health implications.” [PennLive.com]

Idaho Falls, Idaho: Republican State Rep. Bryan Zollinger, who represents a district in eastern Idaho, is facing criticism for a Facebook comment where he said it’s “completely plausible” that former President Barack Obama may have planned the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. [Post Register via Idaho Statesman]

Raleigh, North Carolina: New proposed legislative maps for the North Carolina House were released on Saturday. [@NCCapitol / WRAL-TV]

Springfield, Illinois: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner seems likely to approve legislation that would offer protection to undocumented immigrants who report crimes or are crime victims. Rauner called the proposed Illinois TRUST Act “very reasonable” in a recent radio interview. [WLS-TV / ABC7]

#LOCALGOVWIRE

According to Brooks Rainwater, the director of the City Solutions and Applied Research Center at the National League of Cities: “With white nationalists planning more demonstrations and hundreds of Confederate monuments still saturating our country’s shared civic space, it is time for cities to take a stand. While we must reflect on how to best respect the right to free speech, it must be known–and known loudly–that hate and racist violence on our city streets is unacceptable.” [Fast Company via @MayorBliss]

Asheville, North Carolina: A case study on how the city “started Mobile311 as a way to reduce expenses and increase efficiency,” starting with reducing fuel expenses in the sanitation division. [EfficientGov, h/t @MartinLindLA]

Orrington, Maine: A federal judge is expected to make a ruling next year in how toxic mercury deposits should be removed from a 30-mile section of the Penobscot River, which is no easy task since “[r]ivers cannot be turned off like a faucet, or drained like a bathtub.” Seasonal river flows and tidal action complicate the situation and limit options for remediation. The mercury in question had been dumped into the river by the operators of the now-closed HoltraChem plant. [Bangor Daily News]

El Cajon, California: Police officers in this San Diego County city have launched an online fundraiser to help pay for the medical expenses of one of their department’s canines, Duke, who is suffering from an aggressive form of cancer. [San Diego Union Tribune]

Jacksonville, Florida: The mayor of the Sunshine State’s largest city has stepped in to try to cool some “oven-hot rhetoric” in a tense dispute between a commercial developer trying to renovate a long-vacant downtown building and the Jacksonville Electric Authority, where there are concerns that underground infrastructure and equipment adjacent to the historic building may damage the foundations. [Florida Times Union / Jacksonville.com]