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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

Save Energy – Get Out of Jail

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Stimulus, Sustainability One Comment
Unless you were living in a cave four or five years ago, you know Wal-Mart was under relentless assault by, I’ll just call them activists.  Complaints included: They weren’t providing health care to enough people.  They weren’t paying overtime.  Their goods were manufactured in sweat shops overseas.  When unions tried to organize their meat cutting operations, Wal-Mart exited the meat cutting business.  Their executives were making too much money.  The company was making too much money.  Part of the real gripe was that Wal-Mart had saturated the rural and small town markets and they had started to impinge into larger...
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Policy to Curb Carbon

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Stimulus, Tax Stuff No Comments
Any carbon-reduction policy that includes paying Washington for permits to emit carbon is the wrong way to go.  Why?  Two words.  Social Security. Washington has no spending restraint.  Earmark nation is alive and thriving.  Everyone has heard of the Social Security Trust Fund; Al Gore’s “lock box”.  Social Security has been running surpluses in the hundreds of billions of dollars per year for a long time.  If you think your payroll taxes are piling up for your retirement in a bunker under Washington somewhere, you are sorely mistaken.  Our profligate government has been taking the surplus and spending it on...
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What’s the Game?

By Energy Rant, Renewable Energy One Comment
Hypothetical:  Our company has about 40 employees.  We’re going to split into 4 teams and have a tournament.  What’s the game?  We have cyclists, runners, a guy who thinks he can play golf, a guy who throws hammer but not when I’m around, skiers, people who fish, people who hunt, play cards, Sudoku, video games, Frisbee golf, and play board games.  We’ve played softball games (poorly) when the economy was good. We have people who were born when I was in college.  We have people who were in college before I was in the first grade.  Female, male, burley, squirrelly,...
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Energy Efficiency Stimulus and Oversight

By Energy Rant, LEED, Stimulus One Comment
Most energy efficiency programs are required by regulators to be evaluated to ensure ratepayer money is being spent wisely and reported savings are being achieved.  If only such oversight were to happen for the millions/billions/gazillions being shelled out to state and local governments in the name of energy efficiency. State and local governments have Amazon-wide budget gaps to fill, and I can assure you that earmarks (dirty word) for energy efficiency will find their way to plug budget holes to keep buildings open, replace roofs, buy new lawn mowers and pickup trucks, and avoid staff reductions. We in Wisconsin have...
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The More You Spend, The More You Save

By Energy Rant, LEED, Retrocommissioning (RCx) 2 Comments
Talk about an oxymoron.  Years ago this was a favorite saying of my roommate and I as we lambasted dopey ads on TV, on paper, or over the airwaves. Fewer years ago, once I got into this energy efficiency profession, I was speaking with a utility energy-efficiency program guy who frequently interacts with regulators.  This was during a stakeholder meeting for quantifying energy saving potential by sector and by technology.  (technology = lighting, furnaces, chillers, etc.)  Knowing buildings systems rarely work as they are supposed to, I asked, “Have you considered retrocommissioning (RCx) as an energy efficiency program?”  His answer...
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LEED and the NOT Happenin’ Savings

By Energy Rant, LEED No Comments
Studies have shown that LEED buildings are no more efficient and have no less of a “carbon footprint” than the average building of its peers.  I remember reading an old guy’s rant in one of the 20 building engineering and architecture magazines I get.  He was grousing that the reason is because there tends to be a lot more glazing and over-ventilation of LEED facilities, along with some other stuff I don’t remember.  Apparently, the guy was a proponent of living and working in igloo coolers with no connection the outdoors, which is a big deal for me and everyone...
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Tax Deduction Pennies

By Energy Rant, Tax Stuff No Comments
Recently, we received our umpteenth “request for proposal” (RFP) to provide the engineering required to capture the elusive $1.80 tax deduction on new or remodeled buildings.  We spend a lot of time, money and effort to drive business through our doors but I’m not sure I want to see another one of these. Like the rest of the universally incomprehensible tax code, the engineering piece of this is relatively complex.  If we did this all the time, it wouldn’t be a problem.  But it seems we get the next RFP just as the rules are overwritten in my long-term memory...
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Renewable NIMBY

By Energy Rant, Renewable Energy 2 Comments
"There should be a place for these -- someplace that isn't going to impact families quite so much."  This was a quote regarding wind turbines from a woman in the Wall Street Journal article Renewable Energy, Meet the New Nimby. I laughed out loud for a while when I read this California has a mandate for 33% renewable energy consumption by 2020.  New York: 25% by 2013.  Oregon: 25% by 2025.  These states and similar ones have meager interim targets and/or have meager portfolios today.  Some serious ramp up is required. However, it seems people claim to want it but...
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Ah, the Energy Rant

By Energy Rant No Comments
My mother used to tell me I ought to be a lawyer because I would argue and/or complain about everything.  I think I still get under her skin sometimes, even as she has passed her 75th birthday.  She SAYS she still likes me to visit anyway.  The thing is, my brain is hardwired to make everything as efficient as possible.  Perhaps this is due to my growing up on a large farming operation where there was always more things to do than time to do it.  Let’s see…, sounds like my present job. Some past and present obsessions: Save as...
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