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power plants Archives - Michaels Energy

Regulation v Deregulation in True Color

By Energy Rant 3 Comments
Recent projects have led me to examine how deregulated electricity markets work. Since I am naturally curious, I wanted to investigate differences between electricity price performance of deregulated states versus those of regulated states. This week we examine the impacts of regulation/deregulation on pricing, and next week, we will look at the impacts that renewable energy has on pricing. Data used come from the Energy Information Administration[1]. Figures lie, liars figure, but Jeff merely presents all data available for you to decide, pound your chest, or cry. That is your prerogative. Often data which do not support a narrative is...
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Excess Power

Electricity Storage by the Other NWA; Chum v Beluga

By Energy Rant No Comments
Energy storage is easy and cheap. Grid-grade electricity storage is complex and expensive. Definitions of energy storage vary. Some consider hot water, chilled water, or ice to be stored energy. It’s really storing the benefits of energy consumption. For phenomenal refreshers and mental strolls down memory lane, see Storing Energy v Storing Benefits and Something Old, Something Old. Why is grid-scale electricity storage so expensive? To answer this question, let’s consider the forms of storage and the hurdles that must be overcome to make it cost effective. Electricity Storage Challenge #1 = Inefficiency First, we have the storage of potential...
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Question: Carbon and Benefits? Answer: Efficiency

By Energy Rant 3 Comments
“Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” and being as objective as possible are how I roll. If you feel otherwise, by all means, let me know. Driving across Southern Minnesota recently, a billboard like the image nearby caught my eye. I thought this would be worth looking into to see what they have to say. As I expected, the paper it promotes is jaded against wind energy. But what arguments do they make? Are they legitimate? [vc_single_image image="14020" img_size="full"] Wind is Fuel When thinking about wind-driven power generation, it has a lot of hurdles to overcome to be cost-effective. One near the...
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Powering Lives at Lowest, Convenient Cost

By Energy Rant No Comments
I spent last week at the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) National Conference in New Orleans. Our industry is in transition once again. Substantial changes are on the horizon. Let’s recap some highlights and lowlights in the utility and demand side management industries the past few decades. As nuclear power was going to be too cheap to meter in the 1970s, the oil embargo, Jimmy Carter sweater speech, and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident resulted in a radically different direction for our energy future. On the heels of the above, and the global cooling threat (check out the...
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Efficiency by Baby Steps and Giant Bounds

By Energy Rant 2 Comments
This post features concepts everyone can use to identify terrific savings opportunities, even if you did not take beloved calculus and thermodynamics. Let’s review a general hierarchy of typical energy efficiency families: 1. Shut it off 2. Slow it down, set it back (temperature, etc.) 3. Reduce waste 4. Retrofit or replace with efficient equipment Those are all wonderful and probably capture over 98% of portfolio savings. Even newer programs like behavioral, retro-commissioning, and strategic energy management merely pursue these items. What’s left? Smart design. I.e., 5. Don’t be stupid Or for the glass half full message, it would be...
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Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

Exergy, Easy – Heavy Savings

By Energy Rant No Comments
Exergy is a sexy word (maybe only to energy nerds), but it represents a vital class of measures and opportunities as we sprint head-on into the game changer (cliché alert) that will be the post-gravy-train-of-lighting-retrofit-era of energy efficiency. Pay attention! [vc_single_image image="13381" img_size="full" onclick="link_image"] Exergy, also known as availability, is the total useful energy that can be captured before a system comes into equilibrium with the surroundings. Equilibrium can be as simple as a mass coming to rest. Potential Energy Consider a hydropower plant. The potential energy is in the form of elevated water on one side, the reservoir, and...
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DoGooder Equity

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant 2 Comments
Upon reading some manager/principal/owner interviews in business publications, the publisher asks, “What keeps you awake at night?”  My answer to that would be: Nothing.  The reason for this is utilities are regulated monopolies and the energy efficiency program portfolios they run are cost effective.  I.e., we, as an industry, are contributing to net wealth generation for consumers and not just redistributing it – it’s EE or power plants, poles and wires and either way, the consumer pays, and we are helping them pay less. A major reason I am a huge advocate of EE programs is that they are cost...
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Dodging the Absurd

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant No Comments
In Stalin Lives, I mentioned our plan for securing an ENERGY STAR® clothes washer and dryer for our house.  What I did not mention was that the local appliance stores do not even stock gas-heated dryers. Think about how stupid it is to generate electricity with maybe 35% thermal efficiency, lose 10% of it to line losses, as discussed last week, in it’s transport to the home and then use this high-value energy as a toaster coil to dry clothes.  We, as well as I am sure millions of households, use “gas”, natural gas in our case and propane in...
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No Pain? No pain.

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant No Comments
This will blow your mind.  How many large power plants (500 MW) does it take to cook the thanksgiving turkey across the nation – just the ones cooked with electricity?  Answer is provided below.  Guess.  Don’t be a loser.  Guess. I’ve seen perhaps 100 ads for dust collecting contraptions that everyone including the buyers know will end up under the bed, in the closet, or basement, and finally onto the garage sale to somebody else who will decycle it.  These include the things like the Ab Buster 5000 (just made it up), junk you sit on, junk you rock on,...
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TGTBT You Can Believe In

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff 2 Comments
In 1984 was not like 1984, I talked about greeting change with gusto to win the future but with few specifics.  This post will cover one such “innovative” way for all stakeholders to benefit from energy efficiency. The typical utility-sponsored energy efficiency portfolio works like this: A small percentage of billed energy consumption, aka a rider is paid by customers to fund EE programs. Programs provide incentives for energy efficient equipment and in some cases services such as studies. Evaluators determine impacts attributable to programs and make recommendations for improvement. Regulators oversee it all to help ensure consumers aren’t being...
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