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demand

Michaels Energy and The Boom Years of Energy Efficiency

By Energy Rant No Comments
This week, we are continuing with 40 years of Michaels Energy and energy efficiency history, focusing on the years of growth. As alluded to in the last post, The Great Depression of energy efficiency hit in 1999, or to be a bit more precise, 1998. Data from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s most recent state efficiency scorecard confirm my case. While The Great Depression of energy efficiency raged, utilities got caught up in the dot.com stock market bubble. They bought telecom companies, home security, resort properties, and power generation overseas. Those ventures ended poorly, taking some to the…
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Michaels Energy – The Early Years Through Deregulation

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1984 This year is our company's 40th anniversary. Michaels Engineering launched on Friday, March 23, 1984. What else was going on in 1984? Apple launched the Macintosh, the first computer on sale with a mouse and a graphical user interface; sale price: $2500, which has the purchasing power of $7,700 today. I'm surprised Steve Jobs allowed that ugly disk drive slot in the front of the machine. C'mon, Steve. Jobs produced the greatest television ad of all time to promote Macintosh in a one-minute Super Bowl ad. "You'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984." Soviet bloc nations boycotted the…
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Reporting from the Mid-America Regulatory Conference

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I attended the Mid-America Regulator Conference in Minneapolis last week. This post features issues of the day presented by utilities, commissioners, intervenors, technology providers, and sundry stakeholders. Load Growth Back in the day, we canoed the rivers and streams of Northern Virginia, especially after significant rainfall, when the water was high and running fast, which made it interesting. Let's just say my canoeing skills would be the equivalent of graduating from the bunny slope on a ski resort. For the latter, I learned to snowplow to slow down, and for the former, don't take the paddle out of the water…
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Full Spectrum Virtual Power Plants

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A couple timely articles and posts have dropped since I reintroduced virtual power plants (VPPs) last week. First, I'll share a LinkedIn post from Matt Golden, CEO of Recurve. He wrote:  "VPPs being defined as dispatchable loads only, is just plain wrong. Just like the grid is supplied primarily by load following and base load power plants, with a small but important amount of peak dispatchable emergency power, VPPs are a combination of long-term load modification and dispatch.  The vast majority of the potential to shape load with virtual power plants comes from things like heat pumps that provide better air conditioning and attic insulation…
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Modern Electric Rates from the Slide Rule Era

By Energy Rant No Comments
Last week, we looked at Total Resource Cost (TRC) tests that were developed decades ago to put a high value on avoided source energy costs. That was right for the time, but not today. I demonstrated that energy costs, mostly dominated by natural gas, are near historic lows, while zero-energy-cost renewables supply more electricity than coal-fired generation. Of course, renewable sources have zero source-energy consumption. Yet, utility commissioners are laser-focused on keeping electricity prices in check and maintaining the reliability of the electric grid. Electric Rate Basics Like the TRC, most utility rates (tariffs) are stuck in the 1970s. I…
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Case Study in Energy Transition

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No one will confuse me with Simon Sinek, a great speaker, but one thing I can do is nail my timeslot. If I’m mindful of the time I have available, 20 minutes, etc., I will nail it – except one time. That was last fall as I was doing my fourth rendition of electrification for the Wisconsin Public Utilities Institute. I update my presentation every year for current data and trends because the audience deserves it. But I tried too much stuffing for that bird. After several practice runs, I was consistently 10 minutes over the time limit. I thought…
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energy industry predictions

Soothsayer Says: Eight Predictions for the Energy Industry

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If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing now. That quasi-cliché is why I have never had a New Year’s resolution, and I’m not going to start in 2021, but I can review the past and forecast (guess) the future. Soothsaying is part of my job, and I’m at least as accurate as next week’s weather forecast. At the start of 2020, we had just reorganized, defined who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Sounds simple, right? What is your personal purpose? What do you value? What makes you tick? Keeping it concise is very hard. Our…
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Deregulation – The Hindenburg and Deregulation

By Energy Rant One Comment
The Rant: to boldly go where no man has gone before. Watch what you wish for. You might get it. Now that I’ve ripped off a line from a TV and movie series I’ve never watched and plopped down a cliché, it’s time to answer where I’m coming from. Politics on the day before Election Day. Associated government policy. The play I’ve seen in multiple forms, like a 1970s cop show where Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch, Cannon, Barnaby Jones , CHiPs, et al, always get their guy in the end of every episode. The opposite happens to corporations as…
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demand

Learning Calculus via Demand and Energy

By Energy Rant 2 Comments
Last week, I was commenting on some retro-commissioning findings, and I was considering demand savings estimates versus energy savings estimates. A colleague asked, “If you are aware of any energy versus demand papers I would like to know more.” I was informed that the Association of Energy Engineers coursework for becoming a Certified Energy Manager only skims the surface, using a garden hose as a metaphor, for demand and energy. The flow of water represents the flow of power (kilowatts), and the water represents energy – the sum of power over time. This is a disservice because demand charges can…
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