Skip to main content

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

Electric Vehicle Discoveries & Trajectories

By Energy Rant No Comments
The depth of decarbonization will ride the line where the net of cost and convenience meets that of conventional alternatives. Polling from the University of Chicago indicates 38% of Americans are willing to chip in one (1) dollar per month to fight climate change, down fourteen percentage points from 2021 (presumably, that 14% are willing to pay nothing now). Or, as one Wall Street Journal article noted in November, “Someone has to pay for it, and shareholders and consumers decided this year it wouldn’t be them.” For instance, I like to cut, split, stack, haul, and burn wood for heat. It must burn hot…
Read More

Seven Chicken Bones for 2024

By Energy Rant No Comments
I was going to skip predictions for 2024, but due to popular demand, I’ll throw some chicken bones at the tarot card enthusiasts. Like other things in my life, I don’t make safe bets or set goals of high probability. If my guesses aren’t 50% wrong, I’m not sufficiently aggressive. Clean Energy Investment Curtailment Inflation will continue to chop block the economy, including clean energy investment. I have a saying that many have heard in recent months: inflation is no problem for those of us who don’t need food or shelter. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that manufacturing in…
Read More

Twelve Pack Lookback

By Energy Rant No Comments
This post features my predictions from a year ago and what has happened since. Forecast #1: “The Ukraine war will not end peacefully with a desirable outcome as long as the bipartisan U.S. Congress keeps laundering money through the military-industrial complex (and others) in this proxy war with Russia.” The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2023: “Nearly two years into the war, Putin’s gamble that Russia can outlast Kyiv’s Western backers appears to be paying off.” That was after Ukrainian President Zelensky visited Washington in December to urge Congress to send more weapons, to no avail. The average Ukrainian soldier…
Read More

Load Flexibility vs Indeterminate Supply and Demand

By Energy Rant No Comments
Two weeks ago, I roasted the federal government’s solution to 24/7 renewable energy: buy renewable energy locally. That can work to some degree for locating new-build data centers, which are significant loads on the grid. Most other sectors and subsectors need access to ports, rail, supply chains, and people – i.e., cities and military bases. For the most part, they are not geographically positioned with local access to significant renewable energy generation and, therefore, need electron superhighways known as transmission lines to receive bulk power sources hundreds of miles away and in different time zones in many cases. Pole and…
Read More

Decarbonize and Reduce Costs with Dynamic Pricing

By Energy Rant No Comments
Market Prices Continuing from last week, how do we cost-effectively decarbonize the grid at a continental scale? Start with baseload nuclear power and, from there, load management. To achieve optimal load management to keep electricity costs low for customers, customers must see market prices in short-term forecasts, like weekly, day-ahead, or even near-real-time pricing. Tariffs, or rates today, are relics of the analog days when utilities deployed armies of people in pickup trucks to run around and manually read meters. When I was a kid, my dad tasked me with reading meters on building sites away from the home site.…
Read More
Image of broken mirror with text that reads '24-7 carbon-free energy hall of mirrors'

24-7 Carbon-Free Energy Hall of Mirrors

By Energy Rant No Comments
The ESG cabal seems to be drawing up another hall of mirrors to persuade credulous stakeholders and bystanders that they are siphoning only carbon-free energy (CFE) from the electric grid. The Electric Power Research Institute calls it 24-7 carbon-free energy, oddly enough. “Large companies from Starbucks to eBay have pledged 100% renewable energy targets to offset greenhouse gas emissions from their electricity use. Recently, several large companies, including Google, Microsoft, and others, have started procuring something called carbon-free energy that more closely matches their corporate electricity load on a 24/7 hourly basis. This is known as 24/7 carbon-free energy.” Unquestionably,…
Read More

Dive Into Cement Manufacturing Emissions

By Energy Rant No Comments
Over the years, I’ve seen numerous mentions of decarbonizing concrete or cement. Random articles describing the need and means to decarbonize cement include this McKinsey article, this DOE post, and this Canary Media article. Those don’t cut it for me. I set out to explore cement making and why it is so carbon-intensive. But first, some terminology review is advised to differentiate cement from concrete. Growing up, in college, and even post-college, we used the term cement synonymously with concrete. E.g., “cement hands” to describe a guy who couldn’t catch a basketball or football or “cement head” to tell civil engineers. Each of…
Read More

Case Studies in Decarbed Electricity

By Energy Rant No Comments
A colleague recommended a podcast, The Diary of a CEO, with Steven Bartlett. I especially resonated with the message from the “Savings Expert” episode dated November 6, 2023. The guest is an author who said, “I write for an audience of one, and that is me.” He calls it selfish writing. “I don’t write for this person or that person or group. I write what I’m interested in and in a way that I think is interesting. I try to solve my own problems. If it will help me, maybe it will help somebody else.” He said the traditional writing…
Read More

Freeze on Nuclear Power is Thawing

By Energy Rant No Comments
It seems the laggards are finally realizing the planned energy transition to renewables and battery storage – maybe even throwing in a few million miles of 345 kV transmission lines – will not deliver reliable, affordable power. Miami Herald headline: Half of US at risk of losing power in winter due to strains on power grid. The article notes that “half” is up from a quarter just a year ago. It also reports that during last year’s Christmas Cliffhanger known as Elliot, natural gas generators (the bridge to nowhere) broke down or couldn’t get fuel. I called this shot reverse…
Read More

Transparency and Messaging Rate Cases

By Energy Rant No Comments
Over the years, I’ve collected a few business phrases that resonate: Profit is an opinion Balance sheets are opinions Cash is truth Debt is truth Cash flow is a truth Price is truth Profit is an opinion because there are billions of ways to calculate it, including millions of ways to calculate gross and net profit and millions of ways to manipulate the data. There may be quadrillions of ways to calculate balance sheets based on asset values alone. Enough said. Cash and debt are concrete, real numbers we can look at every day. The change in cash and debt…
Read More