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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

Inclusive, Bottom-Up Energy Conversations

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According to elites, we mortals need merely 75 gigajoules of energy, aka 75 million Newton-meters per year, to “have a good and healthy life.” Can you tell us what 75 GJ of energy looks like, Jeff? Well, this is the Energy Rant! Sheeyah! Six hundred gallons of gasoline, or 11.5 gallons per week for a year. 4 MWh or 21,400 kWh – a typical home in Wisconsin uses roughly 12,000 kWh before electrification 16,500 Big Mac combo meals – includes Big Mac, medium Coke, and medium fries. That’s 45 meals per day Calories burned by cyclists for 5 Tours de...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Utility Relationships and Hookup Puns

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I attended Peak Load Management Alliance’s 45th Conference in Baltimore last week, where I captured a quote that went something like this: the difference between energy efficiency and demand response is that demand response is a relationship between utility and customer. In contrast, efficiency is a transaction or two followed by the customer and utility parting ways. I thought, hmm, so it’s like renting an apartment versus a hotel for a night or two – or a long-term relationship where two people actually know each other’s names versus a hookup. Ok. Hookups Most of us reading this cannot relate to...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

A Franchise Organization for Decarb

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About every six months, while participating in a strategic planning, leadership, marketing, or business development meeting, I hear “we should be doing decarb,” or “we’ve been talking about decarb for years, and that’s all we do is talk about it.” “We’ll be right back here talking about it a year from now.” Whoa! First, what is decarb? My guess is most people would say reducing the consumption of hydrocarbons in a catalytic process with airborne oxygen to produce heat which may be used for heating, power generation, or locomotion – while producing coproducts of gaseous water, carbon dioxide, and minuscule...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Learning from Energy Mistakes Past

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There are no such things as unintended consequences. There are consequences and ignorance, and as I’ll show in this post, you really have to ask yourself how some people are promoted to their level of incompetence. First, let’s start with an example fellow blogger Joel Gilbert, aka Captain Obvious, posted, Tone Deaf, Are They? The source of the post is an op-ed from The Wall Street Journal in which they describe John Kerry’s concern for climate change as Vladimir Putin is pummeling Ukraine. Kerry is quoted, “I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

P4P’s Incompatibility with DEI

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When I first heard the term “value proposition” years ago, I thought, what the heck does this obtuse phrase mean? In this context, value is a measure of desirability, and proposition means proposal. Google tells us that value proposition is “an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers.” Oh, you mean selling point: “a feature of a product for sale that makes it attractive to customers.” Wikipedia adds another term, “In marketing, the unique selling proposition, also called the unique selling point or the unique value proposition in the business model canvas, is...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Resilience for a Power Grid Green Swan Event

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Last week’s Reckoning post featured findings from a Wall Street Journal article that demonstrated our power grid is becoming less reliable, and I added that this would accelerate in the wrong direction over the next ten years. Like the Texas fiasco of February 2021, the causes of unreliability are smeared over many stakeholders such as regulatory, state, and federal government agencies, power suppliers, and voters. Utilities can be stuck in the middle, attempting to keep prices low while maintaining profits and keeping the pitchforks and torches at bay. Talk of adding an efficient combined-cycle natural gas plant will draw pitchforks...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

The Power Grid’s Glide Path to Reckoning

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“The U.S. electrical system is becoming less dependable. The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.” – The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2022. I can take down another one of my seven predictions for 2022. Some numbers from the WSJ: in 2000, there were fewer than two dozen major disruptions. In 2020 there were more than 180. Customers experienced over eight hours of disruption (on average) in 2020, more than double the number in 2013 when the government began tracking this metric. The Journal reports several reasons for the rickety grid. The Markets’ Disincentives for Reliability...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

100 Years and 50,000 Feet Over Ukraine

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I’m breaking my word from last week’s natural gas shakedown in which I noted I would write about customer intolerance for high energy prices this week. Since then, a kerfuffle has broken out in the Eurasian landmass. I was asked if I might be interested in writing about that, especially regarding energy. No! I don’t know much about it; it won’t impact our energy supply, and we should not get involved. After listening to some podcasts and news clips, my Gallup “strengths” got the best of me. My top four strengths are posted on the left, with a layperson’s definition...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Natural Gas – Shakedown, 1979

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My, how quickly some things can change, almost overnight, like natural gas markets. It seems only a year ago we had more natural gas than we could consume, as far as the eye could see. Barely three years ago, I wrote that Permian Basin oil production resulted in flaring off $1 million worth of natural gas per day, during rock bottom prices even. That was enough to fuel 2,500 MW of electricity generation. Customers are pissed off about soaring heating costs, which are 50% higher than a year ago. The chart below shows the NYMEX commodity price for natural gas...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Specious Beliefs in Code Gods

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I received a lot of feedback on last week’s Code Compliance Villains, which described blunders that occurred as part of my high-efficiency boiler installation. Such mistakes would likely erode 50% of the estimated savings claimed in a deemed savings document. Efficiency issues included: Improper outdoor temperature sensor location giving false inputs to the controls. High boiler water temperature setpoints resulting in lower operating efficiency. Heat exchanger piped in parallel, rather than counterflow, resulting in higher boiler water temperatures and less efficiency. The problem with efficient equipment and energy codes is that equipment is tested in the lab, and hands are...
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