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Utility Rate Database

Lithium-Ion Batteries for Commercial Buildings – Pass the Schnapps

By Energy Rant No Comments
The batteries are coming! Maybe. I recently participated in an EPA-sponsored webinar to explore the results of a couple of case studies of lithium-ion batteries used to shave and shape building electrical loads. The technology is more nascent or even embryonic than I would have guessed. Interestingly, I’ve read a lot about systems approaches to fighting the COVID – that is, our bodies’ systems to take on and ward off attacks by viruses effectively. I thought, wow, this is where we (Michaels) differentiate ourselves by thinking holistically, beyond the widget. Like many other technologies, such as combined heat and power,...
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electric vehicle (EV)

Electric Vehicle (EV) Sales Swoon – Easy Remedies

By Energy Rant No Comments
The electric car (or vehicle / EV) may be the most captivating technology of my career. I panned EVs ten years ago with a Frivolous Novelty[1]. I implore you to go back and read that. Almost nothing has changed in ten years! The iPhone launched 13 years ago. Everyone has an iPhone or an iPhone wannabe. By contrast, the EV has gone from zero to 0.02 in the same period. This week I will cover market challenges and pain points. Next week, we will look at some mitigating solutions, some of which are stupendously simple. The Wall Street Journal reports...
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Petroleum Fascinations and Price Drivers

By Energy Rant No Comments
Last week, we explored ethanol carbon content, carbon caps and markets, and refiner profits on gasoline and diesel fuel. Wasn’t it fantastic stuff? This week, we describe precisely how the fluids you use to fuel and lubricate your vehicle are manufactured, what drives their costs, and how they impact efficiency. Feeling tingly? Let’s go! Diverging Gasoline and Diesel Costs – Why? Referring back to the article I mentioned last week from The Wall Street Journal: Gas Prices are Falling, but Refiners Keep Making More, believe me when I say, you are getting more analysis and insight from this blog than...
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Percent GHG Savings

Ethanol – Where Physics, Politics, and Emission Limits Collide

By Energy Rant One Comment
I recently researched many attributes and market effects for liquid fuels for a project we are working on, and like my digging into the wind and climate studies, this research results in several findings. This post covers ethanol and gasoline blends. A future post will cover fuel cost and impacts on electric vehicles and utilities. My journey began with the ethanol market. We produce a lot of corn-derived ethanol here in the northern plains. By 2020 there may be a big demand for Midwest ethanol as California caps the carbon intensity of its liquid fuels. The cap, part of their...
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Renewables Killed the Nuclear Star, And Other Price Oddities

By Energy Rant One Comment
In April of this year, I commented on the Center of the American Experiment’s report, Energy Policy in Minnesota: The High Cost of Failure. That post is here. As a wee lad, I liked Curious George, so let us dig in and see if we can tweeze the fibers that drive the cost of electricity. Wind and Electricity Prices American Experiment’s claim is that wind energy with near-zero marginal cost of production does not result in lower energy prices for consumers. In fact, they say it increases electricity prices. This is where I began. Data for this post come from...
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CAFE Standards, Chicken Taxes, and Tin Can Coopers

By Energy Rant One Comment
We’re headed off-road in this edition of the Rant to discuss fuel mileage standards. Last Monday, April 2, the EPA rolled back Obama era EPA fuel mileage standards, also known as corporate average fuel economy standards, or CAFE standards. There are many opinions on this, from ACEEE to The Wall Street Journal and thousands of others. I will stick with facts and reality and stay out of that muck. It would be great if the efficiency in buildings and cost of energy were as transparent as they are for vehicles. I think everyone knows how many gallons of gasoline or...
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Valuing ENERGY STAR in Trump’s Budget

By Energy Rant No Comments
I think nearly everyone reading this knows Trump’s budget blueprint calls for eliminating the popular ENERGY STAR® program. This is an enormous topic, so let’s dive in and see where Jeff takes us. Absurdities I have no idea what Trump is thinking – that eliminating this program will do anything for profligate, runaway, candy-for-all federal spending. The Huffy Post and NPR both claim the program costs about $50 million a year to administer. I could not confirm this with a conservative news source, in 15 minutes of precious research time. Perhaps the reason is the budget cut is so absurdly...
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Paris: The Bumbling Abominable Snow Monster

By Energy Rant 4 Comments
June 1, 2017.  Does that ring a bell?  To many, it is a day of infamy – the day Trump bid adieu to the Paris climate deal, accord, treaty, or whatever (Paris).  Since then, I have read many an article, LinkedIn posts, and Tweets filled with wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Was Paris that good?  Does anyone reading this know the details?  I decided to dig in and synthesize it to hors devours, which seems kind of French.  Right? The broad objectives of the agreement include three things: Hold temperatures to well within 2 degrees C relative to pre-industrial temperatures....
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Benchmarking Flaws and Best Practices; Pot Growers Discover Sunshine

By Energy Rant No Comments
The City of Chicago recently issued its annual report on commercial building benchmarking. I pick on Chicago because (1) its upper-Midwest location has a climate like that of many of our readers, and (2) because it uses ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, which I addressed several times before. With Portfolio Manager, everybody seems to get a trophy, and results are troublesome to me. Also, for reference, I published this post last fall, pointing out the failures of energy codes to move the energy intensity[1] needle. Using data from the Energy Information Administration, that post showed that buildings built in the past...
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natural gas

Natural Gas is a Wonderful Fuel, Btu, er But,,,

By Energy Rant No Comments
New ideas are great, but there is no replacement for accumulated experience to assess the landscape ahead and see potential trouble on the horizon. This is one of my most important responsibilities for our company. I am no mountain climber, but I am reminded of mountaineering documentaries about summiting Everest and getting past the treacherous Hillary Step. Just last week, I met with a team of engineers cautioning them about crucial steps in the progression of a project that would make or break the project. It involved a combination of technical factors and human factors. Too bad there is no...
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