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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
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AI – Where Tech Ends and Winning Begins

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McDonald’s McNuggets I picked up an iPhone at the Verizon store for my mother last week as I visited her in Northwest Iowa. She’s wheelchair-bound with one good hand for daily functions such as eating. After the iPhone pickup, I decided to get some lunch for us at McDonald’s, and although I love McDonald’s hamburgers, I hadn’t been in one of their stores for a while. I guess the machines have mostly taken over – order at the in-store kiosk or online with an app. As I navigated that process, I thought, this is fantastic – another brick in the…
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Planes, Bikes, Automobiles, and the Deceptive LCOE

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Lazard recently released its 16th levelized cost of energy or LCOE report. The LCOE represents the total cost of generating (or storing) electricity over the asset’s life divided by the total MWh or kWh delivered. The total cost includes construction, land, operations, maintenance, fuel, interest, etc. Questionable Comparisons The LCOE can be misleading, it's like comparing the levelized cost of transportation (LCOT) of a bicycle, automobile, and passenger jet. The LCOE only applies when comparing automobiles against automobiles, bikes against bikes, etc., for obvious reasons. Similarly, LCOE for electricity storage is mostly reasonable. However, comparing LCOE of renewable power generation…
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Image shows a graphic displaying CO2 with a down arrow down to plants and text "Ambient CO2 Scrubbing Grifters."

Ambient CO2 Scrubbing Grifters

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The origin of this post is a spicy Zerohedge article, The Phony Climate Change Catastrophe, specifically, carbon capture from ambient air. That reminded me of an April article in The Wall Street Journal that referenced the same redonkulous effort by Occidental Petroleum to self-absolve its CO2 emission contributions by vacuuming CO2 from ambient air. If this sounds absurd, you have my company. Incidentally, chief investors in this technology include Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway), the largest shareholder of Occidental stock, and Bill Gates. These grifters are always first in line with their golden tin cups when there is tax money available…
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Image shows graphic of a portfolio and text "Reorganize Portfolios and Redirect Incentives for 10X Impacts."

Reorganize Portfolios and Redirect Incentives for 10X Impacts

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A couple weeks ago, I quickly read this article, Cracking the Code - Aligned Incentives, on EnergyCentral.com. It concerns incentives for high-performance employees, but my read was about incentives for efficiency programs. It applies to that too.  Myopic Focus I wrote about short-term focus many times, including last week – if your lips are chapped, stop licking them – short-term gain for longer-term pain. Efficiency portfolio administrators, typically utilities, want long-lived measures, deep energy savings, and instant savings. The demand for instant savings is like harvesting the carrots at day 30 rather than at day 70 maturity. SEM Myopathy As…
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Electricity Market Manipulation – Higher Costs, More Emergencies

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East of the Mississippi, we haven’t had a heat-induced stress test of the electric grid for a long time. I don’t remember names, but I remember weather events, places, and numbers well. The hottest summer of my life was 1988, with many days over 100F throughout the summer (every month). Many records fell, and several times on consecutive days. It was relentless. The next steamiest summer was 1995, while I was in graduate school in Madison. The temperature peaked at around 117F with a staggering dewpoint over 80F. It's bad when sunglasses and bicycles fog over when you take them…
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Energy Transition – Four Factors to Watch

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We open this week’s Energy Rant with a called shot. Michael and Chantell Sackett are enjoying fresh mulch provided by the SCOTUS as they sent the EPA’s interpretation of “navigable waterways” to the woodchipper as predicted here last October. The energy transition is having problems, as this blog has often predicted. The message is hitting the mainstream. For example, last Friday, The Wall Street Journal featured three articles on the sputtering and wheezing transition in one edition. The first was global with the headline, Your Coming Summer of Blackouts. Faulty Power Markets Some things are working in reliability’s favor. The…
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Four Steps for Energy Transition

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I spent last week in California, where the energy transition is being jammed at a breakneck pace like a square peg in a round hole. I’ll set the stage with just a few things. First, the duck curve, a feature of excessive solar generation that began overgenerating a year or two ago, is now the “canyon” curve. Overgeneration occurs around 10 GW of net load – the amount needed to keep hot resources spinning in case of a fault in the system. The image below shows the current and forecast net loads on CAISO as of Saturday, May 20, 2023.…
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CO2 Pipelines and Ethanol – Entropy Factories

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Now and then, a seemingly dumb idea flies through my neocortex like a bat at dusk. Bats have Mr. Magoovian eyesight and rely on radar technology to catch bugs. They are silent in flight. A few weeks ago, one such metaphorical flying rodent got too close for me to ignore. That bat was carbon dioxide pipelines used to sequester CO2. This could be the dumbest idea I have investigated. The pipeline would carry liquid CO2 from ethanol, fertilizer, and “other agricultural industrial plants” from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, to be sequestered under North Dakota or Illinois. Developers…
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Chevron Going Down

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Last year I wrote that the Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS, ruling in the West Virginia case, is a sign of things to come. That case buried a fork in the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The legislative and executive branches would have to modify the Clean Air Act to pass such limits. In response to the ruling, Politico quoted SCOTUS Chief Justice Roberts: “Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day. But…
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If We Are Serious About Environmental Justice

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This week’s Energy Rant was guest written by Teri Lutz, Director of Sales & Marketing at Michaels Energy. Teri believes in a fair and just energy economy and hopes this Rant edition will inspire our readers to get involved and advocate for environmental justice here and abroad. Please do not be silent in the face of injustice and inequity. Make your voice heard and your actions matter. If we are serious about environmental justice – and the very survival of Earth - the supply chain matters. "We shouldn't be transitioning to the use of electric vehicles at the cost of…
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