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View Diary: Energize America: FESA not FISA! (44 comments)

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  •  Has anyone done a cost-benefits... (2+ / 0-)
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    Trendar, A Siegel

    analysis? I'm wondering just what kind of benefits we'd get from these investments. For example, how much does a typical post office spend per year in, say, electricity costs that ESMS would attempt to address, and what would be the expected savings as a result of ESMS?

    I'm also suspicious that you're not thinking big enough. For example, Connecticut has five CDs and 169 towns, almost all (if not all) of which have a post office. So $1M spread across 169 post offices works out to $5,917.16 per post office. This might buy each one a more energy efficient coffee pot, but it won't stretch very far beyond that.


    -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

    by EquationDoc on Wed Jul 09, 2008 at 07:53:46 PM PDT

    •  Couple points ... (1+ / 0-)
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      1.  Numbers are crunched on a number of these (such as ESCB, which actually suggests that Federal costs would likely be recouped due to increased tax revenues on the economic activity; and that energy savings would exceed local costs), but not as clearly crunched on all of them.
      1. I agree that these are not panaceas, with necessarily enough reach to have massive change. Part of purpose, however, is to spark knowledge.  Consider that $1 million as $6k per year per post office, but that is $30k for some limited action at each US Post Office via the taxpayer additional above other resources for a probject within a five year period.  $30k:  Skylighting + some limited solar?  $30k: New lighting?  And, in this case, the energy savings would free up operating costs that could be reinvested in new projects.  And, not necessarily every post office ...
      1.  Serious about trying to have a limited financial level.  But, a limited financial level that would have demonstrable impacts across the country that would have educational and capacity building impacts in addition to the direct energy savings benefits.
      1.  By the way, good points.  Would you want to come up with a better suggested path for ESMS?
      •  Let me think about that some more... (2+ / 0-)
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        Trendar, A Siegel

        but what came to mind first in your fantastic and detailed reply was that it might make more sense, at least in some cases, to give all $30K at once rather than $6K a year for 5 years. That is, with $30K I might be able to convert our post office fully to solar, but it might be harder to do in five $6K chunks. Maybe each year give 1/5 of the states the full $6M, either randomly or prioritized by average annual energy expenditures or some other metric.

        Bigger chunks could have bigger impact, and if smaller chunks would make more sense they can still break the bigger chunk into smaller chunks.

        The $50M for USPS EV/PHEV is a no-brainer--a perfect application for EV/PHEV with an easily calculable return on investment.

        Oh, the other thing I forgot to ask: in the PHESBs idea, did you consider that many or most school systems no longer do their own transpo? Most, if not all, school districts in Connecticut contract out their busing (our school system uses DattCo,

        If you didn't consider this, you might check out how many schools still do their own transpo--I bet few do, it's so damn expensive, and it's not exactly related to their core mission, so it's a good choice for outsourcing.

        I'm going to keep thinking about this. I love the idea of helping arm freshmen with a portfolio of great ideas like these, ideas that make sense and can easily be turned into legislation.


        -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

        by EquationDoc on Wed Jul 09, 2008 at 09:34:29 PM PDT

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        •  Re the school buses ... (1+ / 0-)
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          it is a real challenge. Yes, they are outsourced. But, in the end, the taxpayers pay for the diesel fuel. And, for the health impacts on the children.

          The challenge is how to secure some of the secondary benefits if these buses are being subsidized for private companies.

          But, in terms of the 'system-of-system' value of going PHESBs, the value is still there even with private school bus services. The challenge becomes how to account for/manage what will be a more complicated issue.

          •  OK good...then we're on the same page. (1+ / 0-)
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            A Siegel

            Generally I have a problem with giving public money to private companies/corporations in order to present them with incentives to do what should be obviously in the best interests of their profits. Remember the $13 or $14 billion Congress gave the oil energy companies to research energy? That said, I think it's worth it for the reasons you point out. Also worth keeping in mind that it's not just buses, there are also vans used in a lot of cases.

            Just to throw numbers out--our town of 17,000 residents has three grade schools, one middle school and one high school, with about 1,300 students and an annual budget of about $31M, and $1.5M is for transportation. If we reduced those costs by a few hundred thousand dollars...I wonder how much oil and carbon emissions and pollution we'd eliminate?

            Also, I don't recall solar power and heating being a big part of the 21st Century Green Schools Act, but I think this is worth pursuing nationally. Heating costs are going up (a big deal in cold winter climates like CT), and every little bit counts. To this end, one of our grade schools is being refurbished, and this is part of the refurbishing:
            Of course there are already tons of solar incentive programs, but more investment in this area would promote wider adoption.


            -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

            by EquationDoc on Wed Jul 09, 2008 at 11:34:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Appreciate this interaction / engagement ... (0+ / 0-)

              The money for the PHESBs is to provide enough funding so that we can foster enough of an industrial line that PHESBs become a natural choice over traditional diesel buses.

              Very roughly:

              * Current school bus purchase: $80k * PHESB, individual purchase: $200k (last I saw, only 17 built and in operation) * Purchase of 100 reportedly enough to drive that $200k to under $140k.  $140k is the breakeven, with traditional bus patterns, for diesel cost savings with diesel at $2/gallon * A program with 1000+ PHESBs would drive this cost differential down, reportedly, in the $20k range * The proposed program would provide enough funding for multiple companies to develop PHESB lines

              Note that for the private school buses, it simply does not make any financial/business sense to go buy a PHESB at $200k.  If they were running $100k (or such) with, lets say, a two/three-year payback period in terms of saved fuel and other costs?  Then it becomes a compelling business case to buy PHESB rather than traditional diesel bus.  

              Re 21st Century Green Schools: my understanding is that the solar power/heating/hot water is implicit in the LEED/Energy Star/other standards written into the bill but, to be honest, I didn't read the legislation section by section.  An interesting little piece of Silver Dust (not big enough to be a Silver BB) related to that: every single public swimming pool that is heated should have solar hot water to support that heating. This is an incredibly fast payback period (under two years) for a renewable energy project -- faster than many energy efficiency projects.

              •  Enjoying the interaction as well... (0+ / 0-)

                So buy 100 outright (from multiple companies) and distribute them to districts who still do their own transpo (100 x $200K = $20M), driving down the price to break-even point at $140K. The expected increase in the price of diesel (even today, I doubt anyone is buying diesel for $2/gallon even with locked-in volume discounts--it's $4.50/gallon here at Citgo) will shift that $140K upward, making $140K much more attractive for private bus companies, but it might still be useful to provide additional but small tax incentives to private bus companies to induce them to replace buses that might not be scheduled for replacement. My thinking is if you want to get production to 1,000 PHSEBs, a $10K tax incentive for each PHSEB would only cost us another $10M and would accelerate PHSEB purchases and the decline in price.

                100 PHSEBs bought outright at $200K each + 1,000 tax incentives at $10K each = $30M total. And PHSEBs would be cheaper than diesel. Seven cents per year per American for two years seems like a very tiny price to pay to make PHSEBs cheaper to purchase AND cheaper to run than diesel considering the return on investment:  if this eventually saved each school district in CT even $1K per year, that would be $170K per year state-wide. Multiply that by 85 (CT is about 1/85 of the US population), and you recoup that $20M in about two years. It's a no-brainer.

                This has GOT to happen and fast. Most schools have already trimmed everything they can just to adapt to the economy (reduced tax revenues), yet have not started to feel the impact of recent gas prices because they tend to lock into multi-year bus contracts, one or two year fuel contracts, or both. When those contracts come up for renewal, the increased transpo costs will force very real and deep cuts into more critical aspects of their mission.

                I'm taking the rugrats to our public pool in an hour, I'll see if I can find out what their costs are for heating. But this seems like such a cheap no-brainer, I have to wonder if towns (or, perhaps, states) could address it locally all by themselves. I'm actually wondering if our town has already done it, and if not, why not. Solar pool heating is so yesterday.

                BTW, these are parts of that eroding infrastructure we have overlooked, and it might be useful (politically) to discuss them in that context.


                -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

                by EquationDoc on Thu Jul 10, 2008 at 10:12:36 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Honestly (0+ / 0-)

                  I don't see the requirement to pay 100%. That is why the first year is 50%.  The companies say that a purchase order of 100+ pushes them down into the $140k range and that 1000+ drives them down further (perhaps halving+ difference between 'regular' and PHESB for the Cost-to-Buy).

                  With the 50%, if the buses are at $160k (which large orders or expectation of orders seems reasonable), it is now cheaper for a school district to buy a PHESB than to buy a regular diesel.  

                  Idea of tax credit as path for getting private suppliers to turn this path seems sensible.  

                  Note that a lot of school systems are feeling the diesel prices, heavily, for example, here are just two stories from hundreds (1000s) out there ...

                  Feeling pain at the pump, agencies downsize, scale back  the effect is not confined to the pocketbook. The Clark County School District, for example, has reduced bus routes and stops, forcing many students to walk longer distances.  Although it’s paying at least 80 cents per gallon less for diesel fuel than the $4.50 price charged the general public, the School District saw its monthly fuel bill soar from $750,000 to roughly $1.3 million over the past year, Transportation Director Doug Geller said.

                  "Our cost was up 62 percent over just the past four months," said Geller, who oversees a fleet of 1,470 school buses and 1,270 other vehicles. "We’ve had to cut back in a lot of areas." If fuel prices continue their ascent, the district may be forced to reevaluate the use of buses for after-school activities, including travel by sports teams,

                  Cost for fueling bus fleets hit Ann Arbor area school districts hard  With the surge in fuel costs over the past year, school transportation officials say it's getting harder to figure out how much to budget for fuel expenses. Ann Arbor budgeted about $500,000 this year for fuel costs.

                  "Last year, we went over budget almost a quarter of a million dollars," said Mellor, who oversees the bus maintenance shop. "This year, we can't project how much we'll be over budget. I'm sure we'll have to adjust the budget by the end of the year."

                  Ann Arbor Schools last year used 269,000 gallons of diesel fuel to drive nearly 1.7 million miles, Mellor said. The buses get about 6.7 miles to the gallon. .... Administrators at Ypsilanti Public Schools have watched their fuel expenses rise nearly 59 percent over last year's costs. The district paid about $178,000 in diesel fuel in 2007, said John Fulton, Ypsilanti Schools' executive director of human resources. So far this year, the district has paid $283,000 for fuel.

                  Etc ...

                  RE solar pool heating: my belief is that they (a) just don't get it and (b) have separate capital and operating cost lines, with the "investment" of $10,000+ for a solar heating system much harder to deal with bureaucratically than simply paying the monthly utility bills.

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