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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

Green is Dead

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Government, Investments, Stimulus, Sustainability, Tax Stuff No Comments
This week in Coon Valley, where I’ve lived for 15 years, we were hit with frost that ended the growing season for unprotected plants.  I have said for years that the first killing frost is always around the first of October, depending on the timing of cold fronts, but this year was earlier than normal – earlier than its been for many years I think (I’m getting old so I’m becoming a walking almanac like your grandfather is/was). To the point, I thought, the killing frost may be symbolic of the death of “green,” I don’t think the death of…
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Tapeworm or Honeybee?

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Government, Utility Stuff No Comments
Earlier this year I was partaking in an interview for a large project and we were asked a formal list of specific questions, the last of which was, why should we hire your team?  While one possible response would be to ramble on for a few minutes about how great we were as demonstrated by this, that and the other, I thought of a different direction. We are passionate about energy efficiency.  We are passionate about getting it right. We are passionate about making a difference and improving things. If you do not want these things, we are not your…
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Blackouts for a Rounding Error

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Government, Renewable Energy, Utility Stuff One Comment
This week features an overload of potential topics but let’s start with this one: Can we put some adults in charge in certain seats of power in Washington.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the EPA is running wild when it comes to mandating emissions requirements from power plants.  Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA and her cronies make policy in a vacuum sometimes with no regard to implications, at all. People can govern with the carrot – providing incentives to do the right thing; sugar – handouts to politically favored, typically dead end technologies or businesses (see tidbits below); and…
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1984 Was Not Like 1984

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff One Comment
Interestingly, several things collided last week resulting in a loud voice saying, “talk about the fuuuuture”, Yoda style.  First we began by discussing our marketing theme for this fall’s AESP conference in Dallas.  If you don’t have your tickets yet, get with the program!  Next, came the stepping down of Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple.  Finally, it was a follow up email from the IEPEC conference (see last week’s rant for details).   What do these have in common?  Read on. The first topic and actually the theme of this post is change.  Like it or not, we live in globally…
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The Rogue Choir Boy

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Government, Utility Stuff One Comment
I spent last week at the International Energy Program Evaluation Conference, IEPEC, as in, I-E-P-E-C to hard core evaluators or I-Peck for the rest of us. Ninety-five percent of the conference including content and networking was great.  Of course with this being the Energy Rant, I will beat on the remaining 5%. Recapping, there are generally two portions of program evaluation: impact and process.  Impact evaluation, which is what we at Michaels do, involves the assessment of savings (impacts) programs achieve, including what the measure actually saves (gross savings) and what impact the program had on the savings (net savings). …
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Fly High and Jump!

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Investments, Utility Stuff One Comment
Natural gas utilities tend to howl about making EE goals because it is much more difficult to capture savings for natural gas than it is for electricity.  With one giant exception, lighting, this isn’t really true and I do not agree.  Lighting retrofit/replacement is indeed easy for a number of reasons: Utility DSM product managers and account managers understand it. Customers understand it. Lighting upgrades improve lighting brightness and color rendering. Some level of investigative analytical study is NOT required. With the exception of early T8 electronic ballast technologies, maintenance is reduced, at minimum because the customer has new equipment…
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No Policy?

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Government, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Utility Stuff No Comments
As administrations and congresses come and go, one thing remains the same: “there is no clear energy policy”, and “we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil”.  Neither one is ever addressed. First, what the heck is a clear energy policy anyway and are we sure we want one?  When the government messes with any market, the result is always negative for consumers and in some cases bordering on catastrophe.  The only exception I see is utilities, which lend themselves to monopolistic efficiency.  You may need to lie down after that head-spinning oxymoron.  But seriously, in order to have…
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B.A.N.A.N.A.S. – Go Bananas

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Renewable Energy, Sustainability No Comments
This was a dopey high school cheer of my older brother’s and sister’s sporting days in high school.  “Go bananas.  B-A-N-A-N-A-S.  Go bananas!”  How lame.  What does it mean?  I much preferred, “Watermelon.  Watermelon.  Watermelon rind.  Look at the scoreboard and see who’s behind.  You! You! You! You!”  This was always led by the rowdy crowd after the opposing team’s cheerleaders would do a dopey skit, like the banana thing. One of the first posts I wrote was Renewable NIMBY, that people purport to be in favor of renewable energy unless they have to look at it or pay for…
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Don’t Mess with the Stapler

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Government No Comments
We, as an industry, have our work cut out for us in coming years. Months ago an industrial energy efficiency consortium that puts on training events held a two-day workshop on motors.  Motors!  Talking about the common Swingline stapler for two days would be more interesting.  The efficient motor uses less energy in the amount of the difference in the reciprocals of old minus new.  I.e., (1/eff – 1/eff).  Multiply by nameplate horsepower then by 0.5 (don’t ask, just do it) then by annual hours of use.  Bingo!  There are your savings.  Two days! There are more complex issues that…
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