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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

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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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Strategic Energy Planning

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I don’t think my mom played football, but she thought she knew how to take down a ball carrier. “Hit them low! Take out their legs.” This was her solution to arm tackling up high where the defender grabs on around the shoulder pads and goes for a ride – like a weakling trying to take down a steer. Bulldoggin, I think it’s called. Why would you bulldog rather than say, use a lariat? Boys will be boys, I suppose. Come to think of it - I don’t think bull riding accomplished anything useful down on the ranch either. I...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Channeling Patton for Energy Policy

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Of 34 personality characteristics, my top strength, according to Gallup CliftonStrengths®, is “context.” What does context mean, according to Gallup? History. Gallup describes the history strength: “You look back. You look back because that is where the answers lie. You look back to understand the present. From your vantage point, the present is unstable, a confusing clamor of competing voices. It is only by casting your mind back to an earlier time when the plans were being drawn up that the present regains its stability. The earlier time was a simpler time. It was a time of blueprints.” Hmm. This...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Champion Elements for Energy and Demand Management Programs

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This is the finale of better than best commercial and industrial program practices – including a summary cheat sheet for program administrators. Energy Analyses Utilities want to build efficiency businesses in their service territories, which is very important. However, few service providers, designers, or contractors are proficient with energy calculations, especially for complex measures. Moreover, they don’t live in our goofy world of arbitrary baselines and will likely determine actual savings or some other goalposts to give their project a better shine. If you have reviewed papers, articles, or maybe some reports, you know what I mean when I say,...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Program Secrets for Large Commercial and Industrial

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Maybe it’s the Implementation Contractor Classic golden opportunities in retro-commissioning include fixing the root cause of the problem rather than trying to treat the symptoms. For example, it may be too cold in a space, so what should be done? Turn up the hot water temperature, of course! No. The problem could be any number of things like a new partition (wall) being installed, isolating one space with a diffuser from another space that has the thermostat. Or my favorite – parking a 1 kW printer under the temperature sensor. We were RCx geniuses in ha school. When our room...
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Energy Rant, Michaels Energy

Better than Best Programs with Market Transformation

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Last week I couldn’t resist responding to the ISO New England’s report, 2021 Economic Study: Future Grid Reliability Study Phase 1 because it paralleled what I wrote a couple of weeks earlier in Electrification At Scale. This week, we’re back to better than best practices in efficiency programs. Last time I described how downstream rebates are often wealth transfers because they are downstream of key decision points and barriers. As I replied to a job candidate who asked me how I would approach a utility to try to persuade them of this, I described how our purpose for being in...
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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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