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“When the snow’s blowing, we go to work”: The Linemen Who Keep Your Lights On

On a blustery March morning, an Xcel lineman crew in Denver, Colorado replaces an old transformer. Photo by Brian Malone/Inside Energy

Whether your state gets its energy from coal or wind power, someone has to maintain the miles of power lines that deliver electricity to your home. One of those people is Kevin Hinrichs, a lineman with Xcel Energy in Colorado. He's repaired lines in snowstorms and heat waves -- even under gunfire. Continue Reading →

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“Senseless Exposures”: How Money and Federal Rules Endanger Oilfield Workers

Truck driver Ryan Ehlis checks his tires before heading out for a night of hauling crude oil around the Bakken oilfield. Ehlis says being exposed to petroleum gas is an unavoidable part of his job.

Every day, thousands of oilfield workers are exposed to deadly petroleum gases -- despite the fact that safer technologies exist that could protect them. Inside Energy investigates how federal regulations and financial incentives combine to put workers at risk. Continue Reading →

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Methane Leak Spurs Call For Greater Oversight Nationwide

Signs like these asking for the complete closure of the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage facility, which Southern California Gas considers an essential asset, are beginning to appear at rallies held by residents of Porter Ranch.

The massive methane leak in southern California is spurring calls for greater oversight of natural gas infrastructure nationwide. The Environmental Defense Fund says the federal government should look at a Colorado law that regulates inspection and maintenance. Continue Reading →

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Massive Gas Leak Points To Vast, Aging Natural Gas Infrastructure

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Methane is spewing from an underground natural gas storage field in southern California called Aliso Canyon at a rate of 50,000 kg per hour – the equivalent of 5 million full-grown cows. The leak is causing health problems, air traffic detours, and mass evacuations. And because methane is a potent greenhouse gas, its contribution to global warming is like having three extra coal-fired power plants. This isn’t just California’s problem: In addition to those direct consequences, Aliso Canyon is a wake-up call about the challenges facing our natural gas infrastructure. U.S. energy strategy, as outlined by the new Clean Power Plan, hinges on the idea that burning natural gas has a smaller carbon footprint than burning coal. Continue Reading →

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Southern California Gas: “We’ve Never Had An Escape This Large”

Infrared images like this one taken Dec. 9, are making it possible to see the massive escape of methane and other gases from the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Field in Los Angeles County.

A giant stream of potent climate-warming gas – methane – is blowing hundreds of feet into the air in Los Angeles County for the seventh week. The release cancels out hundreds of smaller efforts over more than a decade to clamp down on escapes of the gas, a priority because in the short term, methane is a far more powerful climate-warming gas than carbon dioxide. Continue Reading →

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Electricity Losses State By State: Interactive

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As part of our IE Questions project, Inside Energy investigated how much energy is lost as electricity travels from a power plant to the plug in your home. In the U.S., five to six percent of the energy in electricity is lost during transmission and distribution, but that varies widely state-to-state and year-to-year. See how your home state measures up. Continue Reading →

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Lost In Transmission: How Much Electricity Disappears Between A Power Plant And Your Plug?

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How much energy is lost along the way as electricity travels from a power plant to the plug in your home? This question comes from Jim Barlow, a Wyoming architect, through our IE Questions project. To find the answer, we need to break it out step by step: first turning raw materials into electricity, next moving that electricity to your neighborhood, and finally sending that electricity through the walls of your home to your outlet. Continue Reading →

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