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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

PBR Me, and Spare the Ham

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Last week we explored the mélange of combinations of energy efficiency portfolio administration, delivery, and evaluation among stakeholders, including public utilities’ commissions, utilities, for-profit and non-profit administrators, and program implementers. No two states are alike. This week we will discuss a few more things from the article in Public Utilities Fortnightly, Top Performing States in Energy Efficiency. Impact of Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS) States have everything from carrots, sticks, both, or neither for meeting efficiency goals. Some states have energy efficiency resource standards. The map below, courtesy of ACEEE, shows recent EERS across the fruited plain. An EERS “is...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Efficiency in Your State – Hulk Hogan v Rowdy Roddy Piper?

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What are the key ingredients to high-performing energy efficiency programs? That is the question that came to mind as I randomly grabbed an old edition of Public Utilities Fortnightly out of my six-inch stack of unread stuff. The article is entitled Top-Performing States in Energy Efficiency by Sanem Sergici with the Brattle Group. You can read that yourself, but I only got about three paragraphs in and realized how broadly one must observe to answer the question at hand. Administrators and Delivery Contractors What is an administrator? They are responsible for the results of a portfolio of programs for a...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Know Grid History and the MOPR

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The electric grid is the most complex beast on the planet, ever. Let’s set the table. Electricity has been inexpensive and very reliable in the US for the better part of 100 years. At first, electric utilities were hub and spoke systems that sent power from the hub (power plant) to customers around its service territory. Then, high voltage transmission systems were used to interconnect the hubs for reliability-sake, redundancy, and likely lower prices. Neighboring utilities cut deals to buy and sell power to each other to further keep prices low for their customers. And, of course, electricity sales kept...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Does Green Investing Work? Expert Says No

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I’m just a mechanical systems[1] engineer but assume for a moment that I was a structural or civil engineer, and you asked me what it would take to build a bridge from Los Angeles to Honolulu. We can build anything, including that bridge. If the Golden Gate Bridge could be built in the 1930s, a nuclear submarine in the 1950s, and we put a man on the moon in the 1960s, we can sure as heck build a bridge to Hawaii in the 2020s. The bridge would be easier than zeroing out carbon emissions from the energy sector. See, I’m...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Maximize Grid Battery Value with Smart Deployment

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Time flies even during pandemics. Two years ago, I found the quote, “Casual observers are often wrong” by Charles Bayless with Public Utilities Fortnightly. Back then, the Rant topic was that battery storage increases carbon emissions – because “Batteries, or any storage, only swap dispatchable, conventional resources; never renewable resources. Result: increased emissions.” Whenever energy is converted from electricity to battery and back to electricity, the nasty second law of thermodynamics intervenes to steal some energy. The result is more source energy consumption and more GHG emissions. That introduction leads to today’s edition of “casual observers are often wrong.” This...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Amazing Refrigerant Facts

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Does anyone make ice cream at home these days? That was one of our favorite treats as kids – back when we had three network channels and no recording devices. I’m not going to look into modern ice cream makers for home, but I’ll bet they have cheaters that don’t require ice and salt. Why is salt used with ice to freeze ice cream? Read on to find out. Anyway, I found an early-patented “refrigeration system” (1793) that used ice and salt with charcoal and blankets for insulation. The simple mechanical refrigeration cycle was invented in the early 1900s. Mechanical...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Civics Lesson in Federal Carbon Policymaking

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As the weeks, webinars, conferences, and workshops click by, I contemplate the barriers to decarbonization policy. Next week in our decarbonization course through AESP (register while there is still time) we will discuss policy on the state and regional levels. This post describes federal policy. This next chapter of the discussion comes via the EE Global Forum, an online conference presented by the Alliance to Save Energy last week. That provided more fertile soil to consider issues and barriers with decarbonization policy. The Alliance is rooted in the Washington area and is committed to efficiency at the national level. The...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Think Like a Scientist – Let it Go, Hey Oh

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The more I see, the less I know, the more I like to let it go – hey oh. That would be from one of my five favorite bands, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and their hard-driving genius lead singer, Anthony Kiedis. That is what came to mind when I read this article, Why Thinking Like a Scientist is Good for You. The feedback I get from this blog is that it’s honest, critical, discernment of facts and science without bias or emotion. It’s a breath of fresh air – or maybe bad breath from your beloved dog or child...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

China Holds the Climate Cards

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This week’s post is prompted by further research developing my decarbonization course scheduled for May 19, 2021, via AESP, and information provided by the American Energy Society. Would you believe the course is filling up? Just asking. I like and respect the American Energy Society for its no-spin reporting. Again, this week we are looking at carbon emissions. Last week I reported that the carbon intensity of US-generated electricity fell by 40% from 1.45 lb/kWh to 0.89 lb/kWh. This week, via Energy Society’s newsletter, Energy Matters[1], the Lawrence Berkeley Lab reported that carbon emissions are down 40% in absolute tonnage...
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