Los Angeles Times: Minority Groups Back Energy Companies in Fight Against Solar Power

When Florida officials pulled the plug on a significant incentive for rooftop solar systems, the move came at the urging of big power companies with a heavy reliance on fossil fuels -- and of the state chapter of the NAACP.

The Florida chapter is one of a number of minority organizations that have aligned with utilities. Their backing has given power companies a potent ally in their fight to slow the spread of solar energy installations.

The groups are pressing their case aggressively even as the national NAACP and other large civil rights organizations back solar incentives, arguing they are key to shutting down dirty power plants that contribute to elevated rates of asthma and other diseases in low-income communities.

Scientific American: Why We Don’t Have Battery Breakthroughs

The Powerhouse, a new book by journalist Steve LeVine, chronicles the story behind one of the most dramatic battery announcements of recent years and explains how it came to nothing. The announcement was made in February 2012, at a conference in Washington, D.C., where a crowd of researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors had come to hear the likes of Bill Gates and Bill Clinton expound on the importance of new energy technology -- and also to tap into one of the newest funding sources in Washington, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E.

Within months, GM licensed the technology and signed an agreement to support its development, gaining the right to use any resulting batteries. The deal was potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Envia, LeVine writes. But soon Envia was getting frustrated messages from GM engineers who couldn’t reproduce the startup’s results. The year after the announcement, the deal was scuttled. Envia’s impressive battery had been a fluke.

NPR: The Great Solar Panel Debate: To Lease or To Buy?

More than 600,000 homes in the U.S. have solar panels today -- up dramatically from just a few years ago, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. A key reason for that growth is leasing programs that require little or no money upfront.

But here's a question for homeowners: Is it better to lease or buy?

In Maplewood, in northern New Jersey, two next-door neighbors with similar houses arrived at different answers. Elizabeth Ebinger bought her panels, while Tim Roebuck signed a 20-year lease.

Ames Tribune: Critics Say Koch-Backed Group With Ties to Liberal Causes Is a Charade

When a small green-energy company in Connecticut feared that entrenched competitors would box it out of the electricity business, it turned to a surprising, some might say shocking, ally -- a nonprofit legal group with ties to the conservative Koch brothers.

It is an unusual alliance. Fuel Cell Energy, the maker of a costly next-generation technology that converts hydrogen into power, depends on the very government subsidies and price supports against which Charles and David Koch and their network of allied groups typically campaign.

But Cause of Action, a small group of lawyers funded by the Koch network, has taken up the green-energy company’s case free of charge.

CBS News: Biofuel Goals Could Require All the World's Crops

From the United States to Europe, biofuels have been championed as a way to help combat global warming and reduce dependence imported oil. But a new report is reviving a long-simmering debate over whether an increased dependence on crops for fuel is worth the impact it could have on the world's food supply.

The World Resources Institute report Thursday concluded that in order to ramp up biofuel production as much as many governments would like would take all the crops, grass and wood harvested today.

That would leave no resources to keep up with demand for timber, as well as for meat and dairy products, which the report suggests could surge by 80 percent as more and more people in places like China become wealthier.