The Austin Business Journal has shared the news of Tesla’s latest project in Austin. It is nicknamed the “Bobcat Project,” but there are not a lot of details out yet. The article (which is paywalled) noted that there is a new site plan with an additional facility nearby.
KXAN added a bit more detail in its report, noting that Tesla’s “Bobcat Project” pointed to another industrial building rising off Harold Green road near Giga Texas. The video below also shares some clues.
Tesmanian reports that construction work on the new facility has already begun and shared drone footage provided by Terafactory Texas on YouTube (video above) of the construction site. The footage shows that the land preparation is already happening — east of the factory building. For now, part of the site has a cover prepared for the start of construction while another part still has a pond. Tesmanian pointed out that it’s worth considering that this section was prepared for the construction of a road and not a building and plans to monitor the progress of the construction.
The original story from the Austin Business Journal stated that Tesla’s Colorado River Project LLC already purchased more than 2,500 acres outside of Austin. Andy Linseisen, assistant director of Austin’s Development Services Department, told ABJ that Tesla has been conducting restoration work since last year. This was to limit its mining operations on the land.
We don’t know much right now, but hopefully soon more details will come to light as to what Tesla has planned for “Project Bobcat.”
New Tesla Model S Plaid Owner Shares Yoke Driving Experience: “Embrace the yoke for what it is”
Omar Sultan, who took delivery of his new Tesla Model S Plaid a few days ago, has been sharing some of his experiences. In his latest video, he talks about his continued yoke adventures and how they are helping him to break old habits while building new muscle memory. For those who may not realize, the yoke is a new Tesla steering wheel design that was first seen during the Cybertruck reveal.
Second video: my continued yoke adventures. Less than 72 hrs and things are looking better–breaking old habits, building new muscle memory. Still a work in progress, tho 🤣 #PlaidLifehttps://t.co/jJzbE6Zg93
— Omar #BLM Sultan (@omarsultan) June 13, 2021
In his video, you can clearly see the details of Tesla’s new steering wheel design — with the logo right in the center. To me, the yoke wheel looks very similar to the Tesla logo — in shape, at least.
“Overall, I feel it’s getting easier and I have to think about it less,” Omar said in his video. He was referring to the switch from driving with a regular, round steering wheel to the new yoke design. He noted that one of the tricks is to stop trying round wheel steering techniques and to “embrace the yoke for what it is.”
As he drives up to a traffic circle, he effortlessly steers the yoke and navigates the circle. With a flick of his thumb, he turns on the turn signal. This was something many were wondering about. How could you use the turn signal without the stalk? Omar demonstrated this perfectly in the video.
In a parking lot, he performs a U-turn and then goes around in a circle and then heads home. He said it was still a work in process. Perhaps it’s the turn signal buttons being located on the wheel instead of on a stalk, or the simple design of the yoke itself, but I feel like I would actually have a better time learning to drive with the yoke than with a circular wheel.
Overall, Omar’s video shows how easy it is to use the yoke steering to drive a car. “I know yokes are not going to be for everyone, but I definitely think: give it a try,” Omar said just before his video ended.
Another thing I noticed in the video was how quiet the vehicle was. While in the test ride at the event, I honestly wasn’t paying attention to the sound. I was kind of caught up in the excitement.
AutoShift & The Clear UI
In his first video, Omar talked mostly about his new vehicle’s AutoShift feature and the clear UI.
A couple of quick videos–first is AutoShift–as I said, the clear UI won me over. I should add, if you don’t want to use AutoShift (i.e. you need to pull you car up a bit) you can manually shift without needing to belt in–the shifter is on screen https://t.co/MNslOSv4Pi
— Omar #BLM Sultan (@omarsultan) June 13, 2021
To enable AutoShift, you need to have your seatbelt fastened, he noted. “Once you do that, you see it asks you to tap the brake pedal, the car comes on and it tells you what it’s going to do. It’s very clear — it’s going to back up.”
He panned the camera to the display and pointed out that the screen shifter was up. If the car was to choose to shift into an area that isn’t wise (like, into a building), you can easily take over and have it shift forward.
Another tweeter, @maddass1218, wanted to know what would happen when Omar was finished reversing or let off the pedal. Omar explained that if you let off the pedal, the car stops moving and the hold function kicks in. As to the answer to the first part of the question, Omar swiped on the screen shifter once he was done backing out and just headed on his drive.
If you let off the pedal, it stops moving and the hold function kicks in. In my case, once I am done backing out, I swipe on the screen shifter and head on my way. The screen shifter (and “park” button) are visible when the car is not moving.
— Omar #BLM Sultan (@omarsultan) June 13, 2021
Omar also has a gallery of photos of his new 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid. The tweet by me below includes a video of the display as well — it’s short and loud so enjoy.
Video of the display inside the Model S Plaid. Eli want the only one who couldn’t get out of the car 😀🤣 pic.twitter.com/KfnyAbYQwJ
— Johnna Crider (@JohnnaCrider1) June 11, 2021
ERCOT Is Having Problems With Electricity In Texas Again, And Summer Has Only Begun
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) isn’t so reliable these days, and it recently announced that it has some tight grid conditions due to many forced generation outages. During the winter storm that froze most of the Deep South, Texas Governor Greg Abbott claimed that frozen wind turbines were the cause of ERCOT’s mass outages — when, in fact, it was frozen natural gas pipes.
To solve this newest problem, ERCOT wants Texans to reduce their electric use as much as possible through June 18. The statement touched upon forced generation outages mixed with potential record electric. High electricity use in the month of June is the reason for these tight grid conditions, which is especially brought on by hot temperatures.
Texas gets hot — very hot. So, telling Texans to reduce their electricity is pointless. They are going to use their air conditioning, and if they lose power, lives could be lost. This is a deadly heat that those not from the Deep South can’t imagine. Drinking water and staying cool is the only way to beat this kind of heat.
The press release says that it’s only through Friday, June 18, but let’s look at the five-day forecast just to show you how impossible this task ERCOT gave its customers is. In Houston, the highest temperature was 100 degrees today. It will bounce in the mid-90s until Friday when a storm rolls in. It’s also been similar to those temps here. These numbers are before you factor in the humidity — which makes these temps feel hotter than what they are.
Here in Baton Rouge, the high was 93 and the heat index was expected to hit 105 degrees. Personally, I prefer this type of heat to the bone-chilling cold we had back in February. However, we need electricity to stay cool — or warm for the cold temps.
Unless Texans aren’t going to be using the electricity — perhaps going on a week-long vacation — I don’t see them reducing their usage. Not while it’s so hot. ERCOT stated that those who own generators have reported around 11,000 MW of generation being forced outage for repairs. Of that number, around 8,000 MW is thermal and the rest is intermittent resources. The summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy noted that a normal range of thermal generation outages on hot summer days is around 3,600 MW. This should tell you how hot it is.
“We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service,” said ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson. “This is unusual for this early in the summer season.”
One key step that ERCOT wants homeowners to take is to set the thermostat to 78 degrees or higher and noted that every degree of cooling increases the energy usage by 6–8%. However, many homes, such as mine, may not have central air and heat. Window units are common (I have two of them). I’m using myself as an example here to show another reason why some Texans may not be able to set the thermostat. Depending on the type of window unit one may have, the options may just be turning it on or off. Or any adjustment to the temperature could cause the home to be warmer. I have mine set on 69 (the coolest it can go).
The other two steps are ones I’ve been doing. Turning off your lights and avoiding using the oven and other large appliances that generate heat. One way to stay cool that they didn’t mention was to eat cooling foods. Fruits such as watermelon chilled in the fridge is definitely a treat.
Tesla’s Presence in Texas Could Help ERCOT Serve Its Customers
Tesla having a presence in the state’s capital city of Austin could be the start of a path to cleaner energy that would provide relief to the grid. A clear example of this is the recent coal plant explosion in Australia. A coal-fired plant in Queensland exploded, which resulted in mass power outages affecting over 470,000 customers. However, the Hornsdale Power Reserve, which is a Tesla Powerpack system in South Australia, stepped in and saved the day in seconds.
It was reported that the response was instantaneous and that it took two seconds for a Tesla Powerpack to respond to a national crisis. Tesla’s presence in Austin should inspire the state’s leaders to consider integrating a Tesla Powerpack with ERCOT’s energy mix. It would definitely nudge the state away from fossil fuels.
A Deeper Look at the Health Costs of Climate Hazards
Originally published on NRDC Expert Blog.
NRDC and partners released a report last month on the staggering financial toll of fossil fuel air pollution and climate change on human health in the United States. Following up on the launch, we are providing here some more information to clarify our findings and take a deeper dive into our report methods.
Specifically, some headlines and stories generated from the report’s initial release suggested or directly stated that climate change is tied to more than $820 billion in health care costs per year. prompted us to provide the following information, in which we highlight four points with a more detailed description of the cost estimates and clarification on the nature of the costs we report (these clarifications are also included in an updated version of the report itself).
A new report reveals enormous cost to public health from fossil fuel air pollution and climate change. Learn what health professionals and policymakers can do to fix this urgent problem now. ➡️ https://t.co/uIA0iFmpU1 #ClimateChangesHealth
— NRDC 🌎🏡 (@NRDC) May 29, 2021
1. Differentiating between the economics of reducing mortality risk vs. health care costs to treat illness
Overall, the vast majority of the health costs identified in our report come from a method that provides a valuation of reducing premature mortality risk, known as the “Value of a Statistical Life (VSL).” These mortality-related cost estimates are not the same as those related to traditional health care that are typically incurred to treat illnesses. The VSL estimates comprise the vast majority of the total damages identified in our report and provide an important way to represent premature loss of life in economic terms.
When we discuss the costs of premature mortality measured by this VSL, our cited publications applied an estimation method for the economic valuation of premature death, rather than an out-of-pocket cost or medical bill for health services. For example, one could say that the VSL indicates how much a large group of people would be willing to pay to avoid or reduce the risk of premature death from health harms caused by environmental conditions. There is more information online about how EPA explains the VSL method here. To emphasize this distinction again: the overwhelming majority of the costs estimated in our report are those associated with premature mortality, via the VSL method.
2. Who is paying for the health care costs we identified?
For the illness-related costs, the expected payer can sometimes be determined from the datasets used to assemble the cost estimates. The report does not intend to imply that all of the estimated costs are borne by vulnerable people, nor by the general public through Medicare and Medicaid premiums, to which taxpayers contribute. The VSL estimates associated with premature deaths are not out-of-pocket expenses being directly paid by individuals, and those costs comprise the vast majority of the total economic burden identified in the report.
3. The difference between fossil fuel-generated air pollution and climate change-related costs
This report includes both the health costs of fossil fuel-related air pollution, and the health costs related to events sensitive to climate change, to varying degrees. Today, fossil fuel-related air pollution generates the majority of these costs, largely derived from the economic value of air pollution-related premature deaths. For example, the $820 billion per year figure highlighted in our report refers exclusively to the economic impact of premature deaths associated with fossil fuel-generated air pollution. Other cost estimates identified in our report (above and beyond the $820 billion) encompass both premature mortality and illness-related costs for specific types of climate-related events. We did not sum together the other cost estimates presented in each exposure category, because they are derived from different studies over different years that employed distinct methodologies.
But in the future, say, 30 years from now and assuming that cleaner, non-polluting energy sources are more prevalent, fossil fuel-related health harms would decline. However, climate change-related health costs are projected to rise to tens to hundreds of billions annually by the end of this century, greater than those same costs today. The good news is, if we move away from reliance on fossil fuels now, we can limit both types of costs – both today’s fossil fuel air pollution costs; and the future costs from a range of climate change-sensitive health hazards exacerbated by the impact of fossil fuel-related greenhouse gas emissions on climate change.
4. The difference between climate change-related and climate change-caused health impacts
The report might seem to suggest that people are directly paying out over $800 billion dollars from their pockets every year, for health costs caused by climate change. This interpretation, however, blurs the distinction between climate-attributable (caused) health outcomes and what the report identifies as “climate change-related” (elsewhere referred to as “climate-sensitive”) health outcomes. To help avert confusion, we’re providing this clarification.
The report combined findings from prior studies that were not causal climate change “attribution” analyses. Here we get into some further important details and distinctions. Climate attribution studies apply statistical modeling techniques in order to quantitatively examine the link between climate change’s influence on a particular event and associated health harms. Rather, this report compiled information from prior studies on a range of climate-sensitive health problems — those expected to worsen in frequency, intensity, duration, or areal extent in the future, due to climate change. For example, in the report, substantial costs are associated with vector-borne diseases whose climate change attribution is unknown, and likely limited at this time. To be clear, climate change is not currently responsible for 100% of the costs that were tallied in the report. While research in attributing climate change’s contribution to specific environmental events is advancing rapidly, that attribution is not the focus of the studies compiled in this report.
From Evidence to Action
Overall, our report findings indicate that fossil fuel-generated air pollution triggers a significant health and financial burden across the country right now, including a massive toll of premature death, and the available evidence indicates that the health costs of climate hazards will continue to mount in the future, unless we take decisive action to reduce climate pollution and improve community preparedness. As our understanding of the health harms of fossil fuels and climate change deepens even further, we can and should do a better job of identifying, tracking, and reducing health risks and costs from these interlinked dangers that are burdening our most vulnerable neighbors.
“Climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’ that is worsening existing health and economic burdens, particularly for the most vulnerable among us, including children, low-income communities, and people of color” https://t.co/xqDyypiJsE
— Amy Coopes (@coopesdetat) May 24, 2021
G7 & SEC: Mandatory Climate Risk Disclosure Needed Now
G7 leaders met in the UK last week, and climate was high on the agenda, as it must be. One of the areas of agreement among the leaders of the world’s largest economies might seem new but has been in the works for years: mandatory climate disclosures from companies.
The US has broad disclosure laws, which allow the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as a regulator of stock exchanges and stock sales, to require companies to provide the public with information that can help us make decisions, like about a company’s finances, operations, how it compensates executives, and how it is run. Climate change is an issue on which the SEC needs to require more disclosure — and the Chair of the SEC has indicated he and the Commission intend to require companies to disclose how climate change affects the risks and opportunities they face. The SEC is expected to issue a rule later this year. We think it is about time: NRDC has been pushing for more disclosure on environmental issues since 1971. And, it matters to investors with a recent CFA Institute survey finding 40 percent of investment professionals already incorporating climate risk to inform their investment decisions.
As part of our advocacy for mandatory climate disclosure, NRDC submitted comments to the SEC’s recent request for information. Only mandatory disclosures will allow the SEC to meet its mandate: “to protect investors; maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitate capital formation.” If investors do not know the climate risks — and opportunities — that the companies they are invested in may face, it’s hard to see how investors can be protected and markets can function efficiently.
As we explained in our comments, new rules need to require each company to disclose:
- the full scope of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This includes GHG emissions from assets that it owns, like factories, buildings, or transportation fleets; GHG emissions from the power is uses to run its factories and buildings; and GHG emissions from using the products it makes (in the case of manufacturers) or the investments it makes (in the case of banks or investment companies).
- the company’s projections about how realistic climate change scenarios will affect the company. Climate change is likely to result in more widespread flooding, wildfires, and more powerful hurricanes. Those events can damage property, disrupt supply chains, and hurt employees. But climate change may also lead to a shift to more sustainable products, alternative energy sources, and new business opportunities. Investors need to know how companies are planning for these possibilities.
- how the company’s operations affect communities vulnerable to climate change.
These disclosures would give investors information that’s useful for their decisions, allowing investors to identify companies (and industries) taking the risks of climate change seriously and planning accordingly. Investors would be better able to allocate capital efficiently to companies that are responsibly planning for the physical risks climate change is already creating — like wildfires and sea-level rise — as well as the transitions risks — changes in policy, consumer preferences, prices, and the like — that our collective response to climate change is likely to impose. And as we know, the costs of climate change will be — and are already — borne disproportionately by low-income communities and communities of color. Disclosures could provide information and insights into how different stakeholders may be impacted by climate change, including vulnerable communities. Additionally, shifting financial incentives away from climate-harming investments is one step towards alleviating those burdens on vulnerable communities.
A voluntary system, which has been in effect for about 15 years, was a good start. But voluntary disclosure has not generated important information nor made it easy to compare between companies. Requiring that companies disclose the risks their businesses face from, and contribute to, climate change will produce information comparable across companies and industries, allowing investors and the public to make better-informed decisions.
In their communique summarizing the G7 meeting, the G7 leaders highlighted their agreement on the importance of climate disclosures:
“We emphasise the need to green the global financial system so that financial decisions take climate considerations into account. We support moving towards mandatory climate-related financial disclosures that provide consistent and decision-useful information for market participants and that are based on the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework, in line with domestic regulatory frameworks.”
Ensuring that investors know the climate risks of the companies they own or may consider purchasing is an obvious first step to greening the global financial system. We are glad the G7 leaders agree and are working to make it happen in the world’s largest economies.
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