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Energy Rant

This is a satirical and at times humorous but critical commentary on energy efficiency issues of the day.

“Keep up the good work! I like the variety of topics; never boring. It's like a Box of Energy Chocolates.... you never know what you're gonna get!”

Mike MernickSenior Vice President, ICF
Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Profiles in Decarb – I Call Ham

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When I started at Michaels millennia ago, we had a brilliant walking encyclopedia of knowledge and engineering know-how. His name was Dave Hamilton, or Ham for short. He was probably 30 years older than me. My boss at the time said Ham knew the answer to any problem. Younger engineers would spend a few weeks to prove he was right. Scaling Electrification A couple of weeks ago, in the final of a series on electrification prompted by the EPRI conference in Charlotte, I wrote in Electrification at Scale that decarb fans need to 1) brace for consequences such as 9,000...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Better than Best Program Practices

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When Val Jenson talks, I listen. When he writes, I read. His recent article in Energy Central triggered an avalanche of ideas for a program, portfolio, and industry overhaul needed to get us there, which is the next level of savings equal to the last 25 years of lighting replacements and retrofits. Those days are gone, and unfortunately, the line of thinking that got us here (light bulbs) won’t get us there. Downstream Days are Numbered Let’s start with my favorite need for an overhaul, which is my greatest peeve – rebates and cash incentives to customers, known as a...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Electrification at Scale

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Two weeks ago, I wrote the “electric storage industry that is grabbing all they can before someone figures out that will never be the answer to bridging gaps of intermittent renewables.” Time’s up. Utility Dive last week quoted a North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) spokesman: “Batteries aren’t going to do it, and we’re going to need a backup fuel for wind and solar. So this [natural gas] is important to invest in.” The rest of this post includes a dive into consumer choice and what things might look like at scale. Consumer News In fresh news from Holman Jenkins...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Rant Revelations Unleashed

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This week in concert with critical thought prompted by the EPRI electrification conference, I introduce Rant Revelations. Some are not new, but it is time to start a list. Profit Rules Decarbonization can only happen if it is profitable. That is how we decarbonized to current levels. Whether it’s production tax credits for wind energy that make coal not competitive or high natural gas prices that make coal competitive, profit wins. In time the piper will be paid as intermittent and subsidized renewable energy will run out its string of lowering energy prices requiring new thermal generation to avoid grid...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Electrification – Damn the Torpedo

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I attended Electric Power Research Institute’s Electrification 2022 Conference in Charlotte a couple of weeks ago. As a critical thinker and engineer, I often listened and thought, what about this or that, what does that look like at scale, or what you really need to do is ___. Silos of Excellence Everyone seems to think about an endpoint where the entire country will run on solar panels, windmills, heat pumps, and electric vehicles. No one talks about what must happen between here and there. The silos of excellence include: Our industry and associated tiny departments representing utilities expect a 100%...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Process Optimization – Elvis Gets It

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When I was a kid, maybe in junior high, we were assigned a project to describe, step by step, how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After moment of, “huh,” I understood the task and purpose of the assignment. There isn’t enough of this type of assignment in efficiency programs or business today. On many occasions in recent years, I’ve had to explain how the utility business works, how we handle aspects of our business, or how a program process works. When the receiving end is fully invested in understanding these things as well as they can, both...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

S&P ESG, Tells of a Scam

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I knew a little about ESG – environmental, social, and corporate governance. I even saved a few articles to my pile, but when Tesla was recently booted from the index and Elon Musk called it a scam, I thought, this is a good time to investigate. Musk took to Twitter, “Exxon is rated top ten best in the world for environment, social & governance (ESG) by S&P 500[1], while Tesla didn’t make the list!” And later, he added, “ESG is a scam,” followed by “It has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors.” Raarrr! Let’s take a look. I wrote...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Energy Inflation and Resetting the Dislocated Shoulder

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As of last week, year-to-date energy prices are up 58% for NYMEX crude oil, 91% for NYMEX gasoline, and only 39% for retail gasoline. Retail prices seem to have a long way to climb as the high NYMEX prices make their way to the local gasoline pump. This week we look at how inflation is hitting our industry of efficiency and electrification and what might lie ahead. Let’s start with one-year price changes for a basket of commodities and roll forward with that[1]. Diesel Fuel is Food Diesel fuel is used to transport seed, chemicals, fertilizers, and equipment to the...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Jack Linked on Gasoline Markets

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I drove the 3.5-hour route to see my mother last weekend. In preparation, I decided to fill my little tank the night before. And besides, I thought, prices are likely to be higher tomorrow. It was $4.149 per gallon. The next day, about 45 miles down the road on I-90 in Southern Minnesota, Love’s posted price was $4.599. WHAT? I thought I slept through a timewarp, but it was confirmed by sign after sign. Petty Games How are you dealing with high energy prices? I have filled my tanks on multiple occasions before I otherwise would in order to buy...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Managing Utility Bills with Automation and Information

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Another week and we have two more dire warning shots of forecast blackouts this summer. These come from The Wall Street Journal and describe challenges from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region to California. Michigan’s Palisades Nuclear Generating Station shut down permanently on May 20th taking out 6.5% (800 MW) of the state’s electricity supply (gulp). The Journal notes it is part of Michigan’s transition to all renewable energy. They also write that it was slated for closure for five years, but Governor Whitmer waited to throw a last-minute Hail Mary just one month before closure to the federal...
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