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Years of Dominos Fall in Texas

By Energy Rant No Comments
Last week when the Rant “went to press,” which is to say, when I wrote it Saturday, the arctic blast was merely a cold shot of weather like I have experienced dozens of times. I didn’t start seeing the chaos in the south until Monday. It was an avoidable tragedy caused by many things over many years. Some places lost water supply and wastewater treatment. A colleague sent me the first picture below from a friend in the Dallas area. Here in the Midwest, we might think that’s an innovative way to keep beer cold at a house party. In…
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Lithium is Not Nirvana

By Energy Rant No Comments
I am typically afforded the freedom to chase rabbits as I write these posts, but last week my mission was to reflect on 2020 and forecast 2021. In the process of starting that, I chased a rabbit that is the subject of this post. It is as easy to shoot down ideas as it is to be negative because humans have a negativity bias, which means negative events have a greater impact on brains than positive ones. For example, I recently read that the joy of finding $20 in a coat pocket, say from a year ago, is overwhelmed by…
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Are Electric Utilities in for a Taxi Ride?

By Energy Rant No Comments
I spent part of last week at the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s Grid Evolution Summit. In my notes I wrote, SEPA is out of the closet. They are full-throated in support of decarbonization of the grid. A carbon-free grid brings a limitless stream of what-ifs. This post features a few of those. Regulated Vertical Markets In regulated, vertically-integrated electricity markets, utilities drive decarbonization in collaboration with stakeholders across the board – cities, communities, industry, landowners, consumer advocates, regulators, legislators, and economic development authorities. I realized from Summit presentations that some utilities do better than others managing and lining up all…
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Baseload Generation Cost

Stage 4 Climate Change and the National Debt

By Energy Rant 4 Comments
You are not reading the Rant for a weekly dose of pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers. You read it for the spicy beef jerky – even vegetarians. I mean, vegetarians can’t resist the beef jerky. Nobody wants to eat a vegetarian. Anyway, the Rant is a dose of what you need to hear and what you want to hear. This week is no exception. Confession But first, I have a confession to make. Exactly one year ago, I wrote about the Paris climate accord in The Abominable Snowman (inferring that it was toothless). I had only…
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Atmospheric Cooling = Strong Tornadoes

By Energy Efficiency One Comment
We interrupt this rant for this special announcement.  Our cold spring in the northern plains is wreaking havoc in the form of tornadoes in the southern and middle parts of the country. I think the weather phenomena had a lot to do with my interest in mechanical engineering.  Growing up on the farm in the flatlands, I had seen a great many black clouds approaching on the horizon.  As they drew closer, they would either brighten to a lighter gray and rain, or they get ugly.  If the approach is led by a dark band of clouds followed by blue-green…
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Cabbage Patch iPad

By Energy Efficiency, Government, Renewable Energy, Sustainability No Comments
The thing that pushed me over the edge this week was a fine blog  post by Elisa Wood.  My comment was that Gavin Newsom’s list of jobs created by resources including coal, nuclear, wind, solar, and EE, does not include return on investment.  Only EE has return on investment for the end user.  All other sources cost the end user, not save the end user money.  But this is not the topic of the day. I am not a tech geek.  I just want things that are stable, reliable, and relatively fast and snappy.  I will pay for it.  I…
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Sane Personal Transportation

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, LEED, Renewable Energy, Sustainability No Comments
A couple weeks ago I beat up electric automobiles for being overpriced and unpractical due to their short driving ranges and cripplingly long charge times.  This week I present a saner approach to substantial energy and emissions reductions. The electric car is the equivalent of installing renewable energy sources before making conventional systems and technologies as efficient as possible in buildings.  Like buildings, we can cost effectively cut personal transportation energy consumption substantially, without sacrificing anything with readily available technologies - rather than pouring gobs of money into technologies that are just five years away from prime time; like they…
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Wind Energy and the Utility Business Model

By Energy Rant, Government, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Utility Stuff One Comment
The masses want power on demand without interruption or failure.  They want it at a practically negligible cost and more so every year, they want it without emissions or other unpleasant byproducts. In the upper Midwest, energy without emissions means wind energy.  Wind energy sounds great.  It’s “free”.  No emissions.  But it comes with a load of drawbacks compared to conventional sources of coal, nuclear, and natural gas. First, utilities can’t count on it for peak load generation.  I searched a while for this and found nothing but the bottom line is there is no guarantee there will be any…
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