Electricity

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

In the movie The Martian, actor Matt Damon's character is stranded on Mars. He’s been left for dead during an evacuation from a dust storm. Unable to communicate with his crewmates, Damon's character is forced to survive alone on the planet for more than a year before he's rescued.

Damon's predicament could have been solved much sooner, however, with help from a new self-healing electrical circut developed at Carnegie Mellon University's Integrated Soft Machines Lab.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburghers have collected and sent millions of pounds of humanitarian supplies to Puerto Rico since the island was struck by hurricanes Irma and Maria last September. Efforts are ongoing, and have been led by Brother's Brother Foundation and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Vaxomatic / flickr

While the wind power industry booms across the United States thanks to favorable federal and state policies, the development of new wind farms has stalled in Pennsylvania.

Cliff Owen / AP

 

It’s been less than a week since U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) announced he’s resigning from Congress, and the field for a special election to fill his seat is already highly contested. Murphy was forced to resign amid revelations of an extramarital affair in which the anti-abortion lawmaker allegedly urged his mistress to get an abortion.

Carnegie Mellon University via Creative Commons

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are hoping a new quarterly report will help policymakers and the public keep track of the carbon dioxide impact of the nation’s electricity industry.

Along with reporting the total amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere by all electricity plants, the quarterly Power Sector Carbon Index will break down the data by the type of generating plant.

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

Anyone attached to their phone knows how frustrating a dead battery can be. But if you need a quick charge, look no further than your shoe.

Pittsburgh-based tech startup Sole Power has created a shoe insert with a battery pack that can charge small electronics such as flashlights, radios and cell phones. Sole Power was founded by Carnegie Mellon University graduate Matthew Stanton, who said it all started with a simple idea for a class project.

Pennsylvanians are more willing than many other Americans when it comes to switching electric suppliers.

According to a North American report, Pennsylvania is the second best state, trailing only Texas, for residential, commercial and industrial electric competition.

The Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS) ranks the 16 states and two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Alberta, that have electric supply markets in terms of competition and consumer awareness of their options.

Powerfund / flickr

It could be a big year for energy decisions; state and federal policies could affect everything from conservation to energy costs:

  • The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is set to unveil the next phase of its Energy Efficiency program, which requires electricity distribution companies to implement energy conservation plans, later this month.
  • Later this year, courts will decide whether conservation programs should be run by the utilities who sell energy or the owners of the grid who distribute it.
  • And, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize new carbon emissions standards this summer.