Newsletter: How do you like our new home?

A guided tour around the brand-new Canary Media digital platform.
By Julian Spector

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Hi readers, I hope you enjoyed Day 1 of the new and improved Canary Media.

In true scrappy-startup form, we launched really fast in April, and you can’t build a proper news site overnight. The calculation then was that it was more important to publish crucial news on the energy transition as it was happening than to wait for the ideal web design. So while we sent out daily newsletters and chased down stories this summer, we ran a secret process behind the scenes to build a much more robust home for this journalism.

The point of all this is not so we journalists can brag about the shape of our serifs. It’s to give you, the reader, the most helpful and satisfying experience of consuming our news. To that end, I wanted to reiterate what Eric Wesoff said yesterday:

Over the coming days, our team will give you an opportunity to put the new site through its paces. Let us know what you think. Comment on our articles. Tweet at us. Talk back on LinkedIn and Facebook. Email us at [email protected]. And if you see a bug, turn your device off and back on again. That should fix it.

We really mean that! As General Manager Nick Rinaldi told us, after the launch, we iterate. We want to hear about your pain points so we can fix them.

I also wanted to highlight a few features that I think are the opposite of pain points:

  • The homepage showcases way more stories, so you can scan it and get a quick visual sense of all the news that’s coming out right now.

  • The top navigation bar lets you home in on your favorite topics within our key coverage areas. 

  • If you want to dive deeper, check out the Categories page for a few dozen specific tags.

  • Now we have dedicated homes for our podcasts and original video content. This is Canary Media, not Canary Medium!

Speaking of videos, I’ve got a new one up for the launch that I think you’ll enjoy. It features my first selfie footage taken within an electric vehicle. More importantly, it’s an investigation of a groundbreaking use of second-life EV batteries to serve real commercial needs for California’s solar-heavy grid. 

Repurposing used car batteries is one of those mythical cleantech breakthroughs that could really shake things up if it materializes years down the road — at least according to the conventional narrative. So when B2U Storage Solutions told me they’ve been running a used battery plant for a year and making money on it, I had to see it with my own eyes.

Now you can see it with your own eyes. The novelty is significant because it proves a concept that, if scaled up, could supply the grid with reams of cheap but safe batteries while cutting down on waste from the electric vehicle revolution.

We also kicked off with a Q&A David Roberts did with Minnesota Senator Tina Smith (D), who sponsored the crucial policy to clean up the U.S. electricity sector by 80 percent by 2030. This is still moving through Congress; if passed, it would reward utilities for cleaning up their power supply and fine those that refused to do so.

Smith explains how the program is tailored to be fair to super clean and super dirty utilities alike. They aren’t held to the same standard, but they are asked to make incremental improvements from where they are now.

And Smith has clearly thought a lot about how to make this policy not just palatable but desirable to coal regions, like politically vital West Virginia, where people feel the economy is passing them by.

First of all, clean power, including renewable energy, is rural energy. That’s where it is most likely developed. In fact, West Virginia has abundant renewable energy assets that are waiting to be developed. If you care about wanting to be a part of this clean energy transition — which is going to happen — the question is: Do you want to lead? Do you want to be at the forefront of that? Or do you want to be left behind? 

We also published a timely op-ed from Puerto Rico, where billions of federal aid dollars could go to rebuilding the same expensive and fossil-fueled grid that failed catastrophically when Hurricane Maria hit in 2017.

Advocates Yesenia Rivera and Ruth Santiago make the case that the Biden administration should support local efforts to power Puerto Rico with distributed clean energy.

We can no longer cling to fossil-fueled power. Nor should we prop it up with government dollars. Puerto Ricans have spent too many years paying too much for imported fossil fuels that contribute to the very climate crisis that is making hurricanes stronger. 

The argument also resonates in New Orleans, where a hurricane just knocked out the centralized, fossil-dependent grid, and where greater adoption of distributed energy could have kept more lights on when the legacy system crumbled.

That’s it for today, but I promise the website will still look gorgeous tomorrow.

Julian Spector is a senior reporter at Canary Media. He reports on batteries, long-duration energy storage, low-carbon hydrogen and clean energy breakthroughs around the world.