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engineers Archives - Michaels Energy

Energy Policy – Stay in Your Lane, Bro

By Energy Rant One Comment
Ohio lawmakers are again at the beck and call of deregulated power producing titans as they pass a nuclear and coal plant bailout at the expense of energy efficiency. They also dumped mandates for renewable resources. Almost simultaneously, the Institute for Energy Research (IER) published this brand new report, which compares levelized cost of electricity from existing nuclear plants to that of new wind and solar generation, transmission, and required backup resources. It may explain why Ohio lawmakers did what they did. The word “may” is used because I am firmly convinced the political class is mostly clueless regarding regulated...
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Energy Efficiency Professionals – FIFA V NFL

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant One Comment
I remind and inform people from time to time that my career in this industry consists of three distinct eras.  In the first era, lasting about five years, I was running, climbing, crawling, and digging around in commercial and industrial facilities for comprehensive energy assessments and studies.  This included gobs of energy analyses, simulations, and fairly complex cost estimating.  The second era included essentially mentoring others to do the same, plus reviewing thousands of calculations and hundreds of reports.  The third includes business development, program development, implementation, and evaluation – with a much grander view of the industry.  In the...
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Dude- Cheap Cookies

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant No Comments
Taking a suggestion from an anonymous rant reader [doesn’t want to get fired], I purchased and have been reading a book called Predictably Irrational.  Figuring out peoples’ decision-making process is my job – to win proposals, design programs that people want, and how to attract and keep the best workforce.  Process evaluation of EE programs contributes a great deal to this as well. Now, I ask you to find a calm state of mind, such as lying in bed on Saturday morning.  Relax.  Hang with me till I explain this.  For worse and better, engineers are more rational than non-engineers. ...
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Lessons from Panhandling

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant No Comments
According to this article from Inc., the ten most important factors for employee satisfaction are: Purpose – to make a difference Goals for sense of purpose Responsibility Autonomy Flexibility Attention Opportunity for innovation Open mindedness Transparency A year before finishing my Bachelor’s degree, I joined the Nuclear Navy.  Nothing could be better.  I was getting paid a decent salary for my last year of school.  Getting up at 4:00 AM, marching, chanting, calisthenics, etc.: not required.  No uniforms.  And get this: I found that I had earned 30 days of vacation while attending my last year of school!  After graduation,...
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Saints Are Marching In

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff No Comments
One of the most rewarding aspects of our business is ensuring people get it right and customers get the legitimate energy and monetary savings they should be receiving.  My answer to “why should we pick you?” is: we are passionate about what we do; we get things right; and we want to make a difference – improve things.  The problem occurs when others don’t give a rip about these things. Michaels’ primary thrust in the evaluation arena is impact evaluation, which is – what difference does the program make?  The questions are (1) what is happening versus what would have...
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Paint by Numbers EE

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant No Comments
True or false: It’s easier to teach Pablo Picasso how to paint a house than it is to make a house painter into a Picasso-grade painter/artist.  For the answer, keep reading. I was sitting in a session at last week’s AESP conference sipping my weak overpriced Starbucks when I almost sprayed a mouthful on the bystanders sitting in front of me.  Not one, but two guys opined that it is easier to teach, for example, a refrigeration expert retrocommissioning than it is to teach a retrocommissioning/energy expert efficient refrigeration.  Allow me to demonstrate with an example, a true story. A...
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Energy Savings Rubbish

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant No Comments
The best thing about working in our industry is the potential for continuous learning, unlike nearly any other field.  There are enough things to learn about buildings, manufacturing, systems, how they are built, as in design, construction and commissioning to fill a 45 year engineering career.  One always finds something “new” even in old buildings – bizarre design concepts for example.  Have you ever seen how Fig Newtons are made?  It isn’t easy. Engineers might think, what else is there to programs besides determining energy savings, simple payback and possibly ROI?  About 75%, if not, more.  There are market assessments,...
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Stalin Lives

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant One Comment
Various areas of the country have various weird oddities.  When we moved to the La Crosse area last decade, or the one before that, we found that apartments come with laundry hookups but no washer and dryer.  What the?  How about a friggin wash machine and dryer to fill that hole and plug into those pipes and wall socket?  So we went to a now defunct appliance joint and picked up an Amana washer and dryer – electric of course because a rental joint isn’t going to provide natural gas. I think I’ve finally talked my wife into getting the...
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Experience Myth

By Energy Efficiency No Comments
Now that I’m an old man, defined as being over 40 years of age, career half over, graduated from college 20 years ago, kids of classmates are graduating from high school, kids born when I was partying in college are graduating from college, and other depressing facts, I can say experience in anything can be almost worthless and in some cases, it is worth less than nothing. At Michaels, we have interfaced with engineers, particularly ones who were in sales and it was stunning how little they knew about buildings, control systems and how equipment and systems use energy.  It...
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Choose Solutions, Not Facts

By Energy Efficiency, Government, Stimulus, Sustainability, Tax Stuff No Comments
State and federal budgets are headed for the cliff to varying degrees with few exceptions.  Here in Wisconsin, we’ve had the Battle Royale fight to the death cage match with the repubs on one side and the unions on the other while the dems were hiding out in a witness protection plan. Meanwhile at the federal level, we are on a dangerous trajectory unseen in my lifetime.  People have whined about the deficit and debt since my adolescence – the Miracle on Ice days against the Soviet Union.  I kept saying, “It’s not a problem.  It’s not a problem.”  Why? ...
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