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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

Cure Net Zero with Demand Response

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I lambasted net zero many times, one time calling it an unserious weapon against climate change. Why is that? We’re going to see in this post. What is net zero? Simply, it is a building or property that produces as much renewable energy on-site as it consumes, typically over a year. Some utilities claim their net zero trophies for producing as much renewable energy as their customers buy. Why is Net Zero a Con? To answer this question in one word; exports. When a property or utility generates more electricity than it consumes, it must be exported to someone else....
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

COP27, Elites, and Engineers

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I have run enough marathons to have lost count, most of them in the last ten years, with the total approaching 20. Why would you do that, Jeff? I like the grind, double, especially when I can run negative splits and pass people the entire race rather than being passed the whole race. I’ve done both about equally. I guessed that winning marathon times had not changed much in forty years. Wikipedia confirms this with finishing times at the NYC marathon. Americans Bill Rogers and Alberto Salazar finished with the same times back in the 1970s and early 1980s as...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Renewable Interconnection Chaos

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A couple of weeks ago, I drove across Southern Minnesota, starting in the SW where wind alley is, and therefore, hundreds, or maybe thousands of wind turbines. The following was my observation while cruising I-90. Since the turbines were not spinning, I can only assume that excessive wind forced the Midcontinent Independent System Operator to curtail several hundred megawatts of wind generation. This, for one reason, is why net zero is as worthless as a three-dollar bill[1], but also, utilities have power purchase agreements with these non-spinning resources, right? Who pays? The MISO hub prices were as follows that day....
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Design an Attractive, Cozy Home

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Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams recently published an online article, Things I learned about heat pumps: a homeowner's perspective. I shared this with some folks, and in response, I was asked for general advice on new home construction. I am not a residential efficiency expert, but I performance-specified a new home built for my wife and me back in 2000, and in recent years I side-graded to a smaller home built in 1934. I learned a lot from both experiences. I won’t advise, but I will say what I would do if I were to provide a conceptual design[1] with...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Developing Nations are Going Nuclear – Will the West Follow or Fall Futher Behind?

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Last week I provided an extensive analysis of how Chernobyl’s RBMK reactor design and the chain of reckless events led to its 1986 disaster. The study sets the stage to explain why that won’t happen with power plants in the United States. Let’s take a minute to examine why nuclear power is a good fit for our needs. Nuclear Power’s Plug into Our Grid Commercial nuclear power plants operate continuously at full power for 90-95% of the year. They require an average of three to four weeks a year for maintenance and refueling. One charge of nuclear fuel, about 3%...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Safe Nuclear Power v Chernobyl

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Green and climate change warriors – see how important nuclear power is to CO2 emissions in one chart, courtesy of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). The closure of two nuclear plants wiped out more than twice the carbon-free electricity generated by all renewables in the state. Why is nuclear power overlooked or not an option? I can think of three reasons: 1) it’s scary, and people don’t understand it; 2) it’s too expensive; 3) radioactive waste. Accidents and Disasters Reason #1, it’s scary, is due to prejudice and ignorance. There has only been one nuclear power plant disaster...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Phony Avoided Cost Models in a Free-Agent Market

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The last two posts, Nuclear Power over the White Rabbit and the Clean Power Plan Corpse, demonstrated the fruits of an undiversified baseload fleet of power generation. Electricity prices, which were so low during most of my career that few cared about them, are soaring as natural gas - the basket in which all eggs lie - has become a global fuel. I predicted this as recently as 2017; Reverse Diversification Coming to a Utility Near You. Solar, wind, and storage will never compete with thermal baseload power generation in our lifetimes. I’m covering three things in this post due...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Clean Power Plan – The Corpse Phase

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Last week I cracked open the most recent edition of Public Utilities Fortnightly and discovered an interesting topic worth sharing. It is an attorney’s commentary on the Supreme Court’s 6-3 opinion, West Virginia v EPA. You may not have heard of this directional case because the Dobbs case released a week before West Virginia dominated the news cycle. Upon reading the SCOTUS opinion, I learned that it references the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP). I wrote about the CPP three times, most recently in February of 2016, Clean Power Plan, The Coma Phase. There, I predicted Mitch McConnell would not...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Nuclear Power over White Rabbits for a Reliable, Affordable, Zero-Carbon Future

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I update my electrification slides for the Wisconsin Public Utilities Institute’s Utility Basics course every year with the latest technologies, sales data, and energy, commodity, and equipment/vehicle prices. Year over year, electricity prices at my home have increased 15%, for now, based on fuel alone. That is minuscule compared to what is proposed in the Northeast. EnergyCentral.com linked to a Patch article that said Eversource Massachusetts is filing for a 38% hike on top of a 22% jump last winter. National Grid is filing for an unprecedented (in my world) “increase from last winter's 14.82 cents per kilowatt-hour rate to...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Decarbonization Strategies for Manufacturing

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Last week a Yahoo News reporter headlined an article, Biden Administration Seeks to Lower Industrial Greenhouse Gas Emissions-and-That-Won't Be Easy. My first reaction: It won’t be easy to decarbonize any sector: residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation, although I did see that, like wind energy, the passenger blimp is making a comeback (say whaaat?). Will it replace passenger jets? I don’t think so. I focus on the above-linked article and industrial electrification and decarbonization in this post. The Yahoo author references the chart below for shares of GHG emissions. I assume that emissions from electricity generation are not double counted into...
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