Category Archives: conservation

Gas Tax Scam (Dot COM)

Clinton’s and McSame McCain’s energy dumb and dumber song-and-dance act about a ‘gas tax holiday’ is not getting any support from independent people who actually understand energy issues and/or economics.    As per GasTaxScam DOT com, the merit of this idea is about the merit of setting out on a long voyage with an empty tank.

A secret and confidential letter from energy dumb and dumber provides some details:

We are top officials of the United States Senate Government who are interested in importation of oil into our country with funds that are presently trapped in the FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND dedicated to improving transportation. We wish to send this money to overseas accounts in the MIDDLE EAST but cannot due to restrictions in Congress Transportation Equity Act requiring that this money must be spent to build roads, bridges and high speed trains.

If you accept we will deliver to your a sum of 30 DOLLARS in the summer 2008 in form of a “GAS TAX HOLIDAY”.  You will then deliver this money to accounts of our friends in Middle East by taking it to your nearby gasoline station where they have information to forward the money. 

Sure, this is a parody but parodies often hit the mark.  After all, does the ‘gas tax holiday’ concept have any more merit than that latest Nigerian oil scam or Dutch lottery winner e-mail that hit your inbox.  And, just as with those fraud emails, Hillary’s and McSame McCain’s energy dumb and energy dumber proposal merits filing in the spam folder.

Hopefully, the American public is developing the filters to filter such political spam into the ‘junk’ folder without wasting time and energy on them.

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Energy Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest …

My six-year old son is addicted to the Berenstein Bears. One of his first successfully read books: Ready, Get Set, Go which teaches adjectives and suggests that no one is best at everything. How many times read between us? 10? 25? Maybe 50? As any parent can tell you, a favored book like that becomes imprinted in your brain.

“Good, Better, Best …” is the tag line in Ready, Get Set, Go. Well, in the past few days, we’ve seen an example of this in reverse, something more from the film world. When it comes to politics and energy, we’ve had a display of Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest.

Clinton, McCain, Bush.

Energy Dumb. Energy Dumber, Energy Dumbest.

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Musings on the crises we face … and the need for capital

The news isn’t good. There is discussion of a US recession and its impacts globally when the appropriate analogy might be depression (financial and otherwise).  Energy prices (partially driven by Peak Oil and other Peaking elements) are continuing their upwards path that might only be stunted by that global recession.  Food prices are escalating, across the board, while supplies are falling.  The financial meltdowns are freezing credit markets.  The economic situation, for many countries and communities and businesses and individuals, is driving people toward an ever greater focus on the immediate challenges rather than longer-term horizons. And, then there is that pesky little thing: Global Warming.

To navigate a course through the Perfect Storm of Peak Oil and Global Warming will require significant investment. Investment in revamped and new infrastructure (energy efficiency and renewable energy). Investment in research. Investment … And, while that investment offers tremendous opportunity for “gain” (energy savings, profit from renewable energy, societal benefits through reduced pollution, avoided costs due to Global Warming), the financial crunch and other pressures make it that much harder to set aside the resources for that capital investment.

There is an adage on energy efficiency infrastructure investments:

  • Those who can afford energy efficiency can afford to be wasteful on energy.
  • Those who can’t afford the costs of being wasteful on energy can’t afford the costs to become energy efficient.

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Electrical Disruption South African Style: Options looking forward

Today’s Washington Post had a long story about electricity supply disruption in South Africa.  Reading it, a clear conclusion: South Africa hasn’t been building coal-fired electricity plants fast enough to keep up with growing demand. 

The blackouts are the result of surging demand and stagnant supply, exacerbated by a failed push toward privatization that made it difficult for Eskom to build the power plants needed to serve new customers in this country of 44 million. 

Yes, demand has been rising faster than supply, but the problem identified is not enough privatization.   

But, the article has not a word about demand destruction (controlling demand), efficiency, or renewable power.  There are tremendous opportunities for these in South Africa.

To the extent that distributed power generation made the discussion, it was about commercial establishments buying generators.

Again, whether solar power or small-scale wind, there are real opportunities for creating sustainable local systems to backup the grid.

The good news in the story: white and black, rich and poor, are all suffering disruptions in their electrical power supply, with rotating blackouts hitting all neighborhoods. Continue reading

Power Line: Questions to Ask Before Construction

Today is the last day for placing questions and comments before the Virginia State Corporation Commission (VSCC)  (comments) about two major issues from Dominion Virginia Power.

  1. Wise County coal-fired power plant (application, 14 page pdfPUE-2007-0066
  2. A 500 kV transmission line to bring coal electricity to Northern Virginia from Ohio (application, 29 page pdfPUE-2007-00033

Green Miles posted, yesterday, Help Stop the Wise County Coal Power Plant.  Excellent discussion. Highly recommended.

Thus, let’s turn to the Power Line question.  Quite simply, there has been no efficiency focus in the power line debate, with too much NIMBYite focus.  Public officials, before rushing forward with approval of Dominion’s proposal, should ask the questions that follow and consider potential responses.

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WashPost Business Section worth a look

Monday’s Washington Post business section has an excellent set of articles examining local green businesses.   They provide a window on those pursuing green productivity for, it seems, ethical/moral issues first (and financial as corollary) as per Honest Tea and those who started entirely with financial reasons (with any environmental/ethical/moral issues secondary, a corollary) as per Marriott (article subtitle: “Marriott Transforms Its Penny-Pinching Measures Into a Conservation Ethos”).

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Energy COOL: Top Building products

When people speak of the need for an energy version of the Manhattan Project, for the Apollo Project for Energy, the analogy is far from perfect. What is often missed, when conceiving this, is the client issue (who buys the nuclear weapons or the lunar landing module, eg, not your average homeowner) and the question of development. Truth be told, a tremendous amount of what we required to turn around our reckless rush over the Global Warming tipping point to catastrophic climate change already exist, they’re on the shelf: whether literally at your local hardware store or figuratively in having completed testing and available for deployment.  Renewable power systems; smart growth; public transport; energy efficiency; so much is already on the shelf to be taken advantage of to provide a more Energy Smart society and economy.  And, well, every day there are new things added to the shelf.

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