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Nearly half of San Diego Gas & Electric’s renewable energy comes from Imperial County.

We get that electricity but most of us don’t see what it takes to make it. Our neighbor to the east has been blanketed with 9,000 acres of solar panels and wind turbines that cover 12,000 acres.

The increased reliance on Imperial County has long been part of SDG&E’s game plan, reports Lisa Halverstadt. The company needs to increase the amount of power it’s getting from renewable sources.

Another 9,600 acres of Imperial have also gotten the go-ahead for solar projects, though it’s unclear if all of them will actually be built.

An accompanying map will help you see where all this stuff is. Our tech guy, Tristan Loper, made the map.

Opera Takes a Risk on a Risk-Taker

Just months after David Bennett left the Gotham Chamber Opera in New York to lead the San Diego Opera, the Gotham Chamber Opera is dead.

Bennett’s job is to bring the San Diego Opera back from the brink of death. An aging and dying-off audience helped nearly end the San Diego Opera last year. After making cuts and raising millions, the 50-year-old opera company chose Bennett, a leader who tries to appeal to a wider, younger audience, reports Kinsee Morlan.

But his former colleagues in New York say Bennett left behind a half million dollars in debt. Bennett’s successor said it didn’t take long to discover invoices, debts to unions, theater fees and other financial obligations that had gone unpaid.

Here, the San Diego Opera’s board is unfazed by the news from New York and does not expect history to repeat itself.

A spokesman for the San Diego Opera said hiring Bennett “was not a risk but a bold opportunity.”

Bennett said he still loves doing big, showy, grand operas. But the near-death of San Diego Opera was a clear signal that expensive traditional opera couldn’t be the only thing it did.

Bennett told Kinsee he’s bubbling with ideas. For instance, he’d love to see Oliver Sacks’ “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat” staged at the Salk Institute.

At Schools, This is Not Cool

It’s been hot, but about a fifth of schools in San Diego Unified have no air-conditioners. There are hundreds of classrooms without A/C, as well as 33 schools that have not a single air-conditioned classroom, according inewsource.

Of course, you and your fellow taxpayers may remember being asked to pony up money to fix such problems. But, as our Mario Koran reported, the school district has preferred to use your money to build stadiums, because they’re sexier than repairs. Earlier this year, before the current heatwave hit, Superintendent Cindy Marten toured a school one morning. Mario followed along and wrote that”sweat dripped onto my notebook and bled my writing. The air was thick and smelled like a musty gym shirt. I spent only a few minutes at a time in classrooms. I didn’t want to imagine what it was like for kids or teachers who cook in those hotboxes for an entire day.”

News Roundup

• The Union-Tribune finds hope for a rebound in the region’s cruise ship industry. A bit part of the reason is “rekindled interest in the much-maligned Mexican Riviera.” The story also notes “it will still be years, if at all, before there is a return to the ports’ heyday in the mid- to late 2000s when as many as many as 900,000 passengers came through San Diego and more than a million at the San Pedro port.”

• Tony Perry, The Los Angeles Times’ longtime bureau chief in San Diego, is taking a buyout. The buyouts are part of ongoing convulsions at the Tribune Publishing Company and its two Southern California papers, the Times and the Union-Tribune.

 Speaking of convulsions and the Times, a tweet from our own Scott Lewis found its way into an illustration that accompanies the second of two Times columns attempting to critique millennials, which we thought was a market elegantly cornered by David Brooks. There’re people of all sorts in every generation and each of us know some bums and heroes. So, one is reminded of a John Prine song, “Dear Abby” – which comes from a time when people did turn to newspaper columnists for life advice: “You are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t.”

• Speaking of the power of the pen, a CityBeat columnist hangs out with the corporate mascot for Target — a dog with a bull’s eye painted around one eye — and then writes, “Nothing I write would stop you from going to South Park’s Target Express.

Obama Swings by Wedding After Round of Golf

President Obama was in town over the weekend, just in time for the sort of heat that he and Gov. Jerry Brown warn will become ever more common and that must have made the president’s rounds of golf uncomfortable and his Secret Service guards opt for t-shirts. On Sunday, after a round at Torrey Pines Golf Course, the president greeted a wedding party, all of which is captured on camera and in writing by the happy couple’s wedding photographer. Obama played again on Monday, which was the federal holiday of Columbus Day, at Crosby National Golf Club, before departing the state on Air Force One from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Pee on a Tree

While golf courses may not be the best use of the region’s water, there are certain joys in life and each has its price.  Might beer also be subject to drought-shaming if the sky stays dry but people don’t? At a sustainable food event downtown on Sunday, a few local brewers talked about what they’re doing to save water when they make beer. Some advice for all of us came from Jordan Brownwood, a farmer at Nopalito Farm & Hopyard: If you’re drinking beer outside, pee on a tree.

He got a laugh, but he also has a point: besides recycling water, human urine also has “many of the chemical elements plants need,” Modern Farmer found in a story that wondered how much chemical fertilizer it could replace. The article details Vermont-based Rich Earth, which is a one-of-a-kind outfit that accepts urine donations. Since it may not make sense to import water into San Diego only to send it to Vermont as pee, perhaps local tree peeing could someday be seen as a civic good rather than a public menace. Or you could just wait for the city’s project to make reused wastewater drinkable.

Ry Rivard

Ry Rivard was formerly a reporter for Voice of San Diego. He wrote about water and power.

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