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I'm packing to go to Kentucky - a real honest to god vacation with the family. It's been years. Anyway, the point is, I'm going to make this fast because I don't have much time...

The business model of US utilities is on the rocks. Bottom line: they're realizing we don't need them anymore. Or at least not for much longer.

Before you think that's the ramblings of some naive rust-belt native, consider this:

NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), the biggest power provider to U.S. utilities, has become a renegade in the $370 billion energy-distribution industry by providing electricity directly to consumers.

Bypassing its utility clients, NRG is installing solar panels on rooftops of homes and businesses and in the future will offer natural gas-fired generators to customers to kick in when the sun goes down, Chief Executive Officer David Crane said in an interview.

Translation: Utilities can be cut out of the loop with current technology that makes distributed power systems ever more viable.

Here's what Duke Energy has to say about that

“It is obviously a potential threat to us over the long term,” said Jim Rogers, chairman and chief executive officer of Duke Energy Corp. (DUK), the largest U.S. utility owner.
The floodgates are just about to open.

Originally posted to Muskegon Critic on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 08:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kosowatt and Climate Hawks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Alms (tips) (215+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ericlewis0, Lujane, Gooserock, Hammerhand, wilderness voice, Odysseus, ichibon, jayden, joedemocrat, cotterperson, Mr Robert, Losty, JML9999, Keone Michaels, quiet in NC, blueoasis, fixxit, HeyMikey, Words In Action, yoduuuh do or do not, tonyahky, Lonely Texan, patbahn, JeffW, David54, Nulwee, cfk, Shippo1776, tofumagoo, peachcreek, JesseCW, Susan from 29, Jim P, James Wells, SolarMom, Joe Bob, LamontCranston, Bule Betawi, KenBee, basquebob, outragedinSF, MichiganGirl, VTCC73, happymisanthropy, pat bunny, frisco, dotsright, Gemina13, chimene, Chaddiwicker, jan4insight, eeff, Egalitare, Noodles, Alumbrados, Just Bob, WheninRome, defluxion10, Sandino, ovals49, melo, Meteor Blades, kurt, dot farmer, AllisonInSeattle, Carol in San Antonio, rat racer, Horace Boothroyd III, Don midwest, Texknight, CwV, blueoregon, Sychotic1, DWG, leu2500, worldlotus, Bob Friend, cordgrass, rapala, sodalis, Bisbonian, marleycat, DefendOurConstitution, tampaedski, StrayCat, Dr Arcadia, Richard Cranium, CharlieHipHop, northsylvania, mofembot, PeterHug, Onomastic, enemy of the people, Preston S, One Pissed Off Liberal, Sark Svemes, Cronesense, cybersaur, jnhobbs, Loudoun County Dem, Leftcandid, yuriwho, Bronx59, sea note, llellet, OldSoldier99, zerelda, ItsSimpleSimon, Mayfly, Joieau, mikeconwell, US Blues, citizen dan, kaliope, wader, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, happy camper, J M F, middleagedhousewife, ferg, sunny skies, Mistral Wind, ruleoflaw, RUNDOWN, Ice Blue, zukesgirl64, Siri, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, ChemBob, profewalt, badscience, Maximilien Robespierre, cocinero, Gowrie Gal, decisivemoment, Simplify, just another vet, Sun Tzu, nzanne, eOz, semiot, countwebb, maybeeso in michigan, JDWolverton, RLMiller, NJpeach, SeaTurtle, UncleCharlie, Bluehawk, bronte17, OIL GUY, Maverick80229, Aaa T Tudeattack, MartyM, Syoho, Edward Adams, SingerInTheChoir, Involuntary Exile, ModerateJosh, wblynch, Eddie L, cynndara, kevinpdx, GAS, bleeding blue, Sam Sara, squarewheel, profundo, radarlady, Angie in WA State, FindingMyVoice, tardis10, SteveLCo, roses, Jim R, JekyllnHyde, elwior, congenitalefty, kirbybruno, Hirodog, glitterscale, mythatsme, Dobber, mrsgoo, davelf2, samddobermann, n8rboy, PrometheusUnbound, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, deltadoc, bluedust, 1BQ, No one gets out alive, BlackSheep1, camlbacker, Fishgrease, Debs2, JamieG from Md, nomandates, terabytes, petulans, BYw, jennifree2bme, Mindful Nature, jasan, Nebraskablue, Thunder, linkage, Chi, nailbender, deha, Vico, radical simplicity, Larsstephens, ivote2004
    •  i did an article along this for solarfeeds.com (31+ / 0-)

      http://www.solarfeeds.com/...

      I think the big utilities realize they are in desperate danger and may have to retire a lot of nuclear plants, many coal plants and then build fast switching gas turbines.

      •  Over many decades, but it's not imminent. (10+ / 0-)

        "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

        by Neuroptimalian on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:56:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Disagree (24+ / 0-)

          There is a true sea change just around the corner in the electric utility industry.  I've known for at least 10 years that this moment was going to arrive sooner than later.  At this point, it's just a matter of scaling up production to meet demand.

          The days of centralized power generation facilities, as well as the current electricity distribution infrastructure, will morph dramatically in the next decade.  I didn't honestly think I'd have enough time left in this mortal coil to actually witness that future, but it's nearly here.

          "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

          by Richard Cranium on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:58:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The math doesn't work out (12+ / 0-)

            you don't provide any evidence for you claim, and I think it's too optimistic for several reasons:

            1) the rate of installation of distributed generation capacity would have to increase massively to have DG displace central distribution
            2) renewable energy systems need a lot of overcapacity and transmission in order to deliver reliability, which means a DG energy grid has a higher bar to meet than the current total capacity
            3) Even in NRG's model, that natural gas firming and shaping power needs to be generated offsite and transmitted over lines that are still owned by the utilities.

            So, if you are talking about individuals being able to contract on the wholesale market for power, that may be coming, but it will be a slow regulatory process since the last time that kind of deregulation was tried, it was a fucking disaster (see, Enron).  

            Utilities control a MASSIVE proportion of the generation and transmisssion.  Also, they'll largely still own the transmission capacity.

            Thus, I think a solution that incorporates utilities makes a lot more sense.  Keep in mind that utilities are among the most highly regulated industries in the country, which means their business can be pushed by regulators in the public interest.  The renewable portfolio standards are a great example.

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:12:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Have you been reading Jerome a Paris here? (15+ / 0-)

              If you want to talk about the economics of renewable and distributed powerI'd suggest you read his diaries here:

              http://jerome-a-paris.dailykos.com

              in particular, this diary from last week:

              http://www.dailykos.com/...

              Listen to Netroots Radio or to our pods on Stitcher. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

              by yuriwho on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:19:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Apples and oranges (10+ / 0-)

                Jerome is talking almost entirely about utility scale renewable generation here, and wholesale markets, not distributed generation.  The dynamic he describes here depends a tremendous amount on the structure of that wholesale market and the status of independent generators within it, rather than the increase in production by users close to load.  

                It may surprise you, but Jerome isn't the only person on dailykos who works in the energy industry.  ;)

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:33:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It does not surprise me at all (7+ / 0-)

                  nor did I ever suggest that.

                  Your commentary on the subject is welcome. But please explain yourself more thoroughly or write more diaries on the topic. From your comments in this diary, it's hard to understand exactly what your points are.

                  Listen to Netroots Radio or to our pods on Stitcher. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

                  by yuriwho on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:43:43 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  but it's a massive business model change (9+ / 0-)

                  as described by Jerome, in an industry which isn't known for quick thinking. It's not as much a technical change.

                  If utilities make most of their money in the peak market, but the peak market goes away because solar happens to be most effectively at the same time, that change disrupts the whole business model.

                  It's not that Germany has replaced the baseline power (it hasn't), but it has eliminated the peak. The games is different.

                  It becomes a new challenge, and the old pricing models become obsolete. What happens next is unknown. I'd dismiss anyone who is certain what will happen.

                  •  Definitely true (6+ / 0-)

                    It's a major challenge to the utilities business model, but it isn't one that's coming from DG, but rather from utility scale renewables.  My point was that the notion that utilities are going away in the next ten years because of DG is somewhat premature.  By 2050, we may have that kind of system, or a hybrid between DG and utility scale.  

                    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                    by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:49:04 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  the difference between DG and Utility renewables (3+ / 0-)

                      is just size.

                      a residential PV install is going to be 5-10 KW
                      while a Utility scale PV farm will be 50-100 MW

                      so, 10,000 residential rooftop arrays matches one utility scale plant.

                      Consider a small town like Scottsdale AZ.

                      200,000 people,  125,000 housing units.

                      If the people choose to invest into PV, say 40% of the population,  at 7 KW,  that's close to 280 MW of solar power.

                      how is that different on a production basis from APS putting in a big array outside of town?

                      The homeowners make their own power and then need power at night or surge power.  

                      now for APS to do a big array, they need to get an EIS, get PUC approval, arrange financing, do community outreach,  it's a 2-3 year process.

                      If Mr Jones wants a rooftop array, he calls an installer, writes a check and gets it on the roof in a month.

                      •  In theory yes, but in practice not really (0+ / 0-)

                        Do you see all 125,000 people or 40% putting on solar panels now?  That's the issue.  (Grandma needs planning approval often too.  Not two years though.).   It is the rate at issue. We could see a massive surge of installation, but it isn't happening just yet.
                        (And a number of utility scale plants can hit 500MW to 1 GW)

                        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                        by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:54:31 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  australia has seen an explosion of installs. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          radical simplicity

                          it scales well,  a 3 person team can install a PV system on a roof in 2 days.  You can train a team of experienced roofers in 4 weeks.  

                          rinse lather repeat, you can scale up installs 10X in a year.

                          and Grandma can get a permit in a week.

                          •  Not where I live (0+ / 0-)

                            Many municipalities control this.  It varies though.  In Texas you can build anything without permits.  California can be longer

                            Still, it all boils down to the rate of uptake.  You could well be right that the requisite billions of dollars will flow into solar.  I don't see any analysts predicting a 1000% year in year increase (if I understand what you meant). More typical projections seem to run in the 14% to 20% growth range.  At that rate, utilities will be with us for a few more years yet.

                            I wonder who would take a bet that utility companies will still exist in ten years time?

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:41:08 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  the current projections (0+ / 0-)

                            are 40-70% growth in installs.

                            at that rate, we will see, massive conversions.

                          •  Again (0+ / 0-)

                            Sources?

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:20:40 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This is good (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            patbahn

                            TOTAL PV installs in 2012 were up 76% over 2011 although that includes utility scale as well. The same report says 82,000 homes nationwide installed in 2012.  So, at that rate, it'll take a while, but residential installs are a clearly big chunk of that growth. 2008 and 2009 were pretty much the same, 2010 was a decline in the rate of installation, and 2011 and 2012 were big jumps.

                            A lot of this is driven by oversupply and incentives, both of which are likely to tail off.

                            Still, it's a better out look than I'd thought

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:47:29 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  over the last 5 years we've seen a (0+ / 0-)

                            doubling period of about 18 months in terms of installed base.

                            that's really working out to a phenomenal growth rate,

                            and the biggest indicator to installation is seeing another install in your neighborhood.

                            Each install in a zip code drops the period to the next install by 1%.  

                          •  dude you are looking at the knee of the curve (0+ / 0-)

                            once a momentum starts like that it doesn't stop.

                            i think we are way off the early adopters and now into
                            the early majority.

                            Installing PV is purely a pragmatic decision.

                            If you know you will be somewhere for 5 years, why not install a PV array.

                          •  Maybe (0+ / 0-)

                            This boom is driven by falling prices caused by over supply.  Manufacturers are undergoing contraction with several big ones going under.   The oversupply looks to correct itself in another couple of years, in which point the residential rate is not likely to continue at quite such a pace.  

                            Most of that doubling you've seen is from utility scale solar which is rushing to break ground before the ARRA tax credits expire.

                            I think solar is here to stay and will continue to grow, but when a boom is the result of factors we know are temporary, it would seem unwise to predict that a two year trend will continue indefinitely.  

                            However, even if we see 70% annual increases, or even doubling, it take a while to get from 82,000 homes to say 65 million homes (half the US stock)

                            I agree it will be important, but it won't kill utilities within five years or even ten

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:21:30 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  12 years using your numbers. (0+ / 0-)

                            82,000 12 years, 76% CAGR, is 70,million houses.

                            now, if the utilities and the big commercial players are installing, then we will see really fast adoption.

                            Walmart doesn't install this because it's PR, they install it because it's a big driver on their business model.

                            It's really stopping to be newsworth when companies install PV,
                            at which point it's just like a new boiler.

                            I suspect the whole thing will just keep accelerating.

                          •  And the drivers of current trends (0+ / 0-)

                            We just ignore what is driving an unusual two year period, ignore everything else and extrapolate wildly?  Pardon me if I find that pretty in compelling reasoning.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:26:27 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  if you have trouble with simple arithmetic (0+ / 0-)

                            i'm not surprised you have issues with complex geometric growth.

                            The nice thing is it's happening no matter how you feel about it.  Look at Germany,  huge growth of renewables, they are the signal market.  Big rich society, rapidly converting.

                            They have lousy sun too.

                            Australia is close behind.

                          •  last one (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm about ready to start HRing you for your persistent insults to someone who clearly has a stronger grasp of both the facts and math than you do.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 07:35:28 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  for reference (0+ / 0-)

                            there appears to be around 1,000 MW of total installed residential capacity in the US, total, maybe a little more.

                            For comparison, just two of the utility scale projects I have personally worked on represent 500 MW and up to 850 MW capacity.  By themselves, just these two projects alone would outstrip all of the residential solar capacity installed to date in the US.  THat's just two.

                            Residential solar could be massive, but when Wall Street plunks down $2 billion a pop to put up solar capacity, that's a LOT of power that takes a LOT of houses to match.  So, no, I don't see that utility scale solar and utilities as irrelevant or going away or being replaced by DG.  

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 06:35:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you seem to love utility grade solar (0+ / 0-)

                            and denigrate residential PV,

                            much like people used to denigrate PCs'

                          •  Not at all (0+ / 0-)

                            I am just realistic about the rate of the installation of DG and what the pace of conversion to renewables will be if people insist on denigrating utility scale renewables because they like DG better.  IN the process of putting these projects up, I encountered a number of "environmentalists" who opposed putting in the solar capacity because it wasn't as good as distributed generation.  My feeling is that we are in a planetary emergency and if you are going to turn away literally billions of dollars of Wall Street investment to put in renewable energy just because you are squeamish about the economic model, then you clearly don't understand the scale or nature of the emergency.  It absolutely floors me that people would make such an argument at all.  

                            Similarly, the scope and ability to install local storage makes me understand that large scale dispatchable storage is extremely unlikely to be installed at anywhere near the levels required to make a purely renewable electricity system functional.  We simply don't have that much pumped storage (or the renewable capacity to use it, since pumped storage is quite inefficient). Therefore, I recognize that until 2025 at least, we MUST rely on some form of conventional source. I wish that weren't so, but I'm afraid it is.

                             Since coal is absolutely the worst, worst, worst, that is clean out.  Natural gas isn't much better since any leakage eliminated climate change benefits, and local pollution effects are not insignificant.  Thus, what is standing?  I'm afraid I don't see any actually practicable solution except nuclear.  Having looked at the data (admittedly with faulty memory, which I should know not to rely on), even with a worst case Fukushima style disaster, the levels of disease, death and environmental damage are STILL better than widespread use of coal or gas.

                            SO, given the urgency of the problem, I think that shooting down what will work because other options that don't yet work might be better is playing into the hands of the coal companies.

                            Yes, DG will be important, but let's face it, it is tiny.  Even with MASSIVE and sustained uptake, it still won't eliminate the need for other solutions. It won't be able to do it on its own.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 08:57:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  DG vs Utility solar (0+ / 0-)

                            is the same basic tech, it's a matter of who is in control of it.

                            i think once people start controlling their own power they will start becoming very different.

                            And what you call a worst case Fukushima event is playing out.

                            When Chernobyl exploded it destroyed the Soviet union.

                            Fukushima is destroying japans economy and culture.

                            we have one of those things explode here?  It's likely game over for us.

                            Einstein said "It's a hell of a way to boil water".  

                            I think we will figure out much more easily to improve wind turbine yields, and do that fast.  Now Wind doesn't scale down well, it wants to be bigger.  MW or larger, so that's either going to be Metropollitan or Utility size.

                            but back on point,  There is no difference between DG and utility solar.  The Utilities get a nice price advantage  (Buying in Bulk),  but People get speed install advantages.

                            Now you think the Baseload problem is intractable, i think it will get fixed by real time pricing, real fast.

                            President obama went and pushed a lot of enabling technology.
                            That's going to cut in faster then we think.

                          •  Well those are not insignificant (0+ / 0-)

                            Economies of scale are pretty freaking important.  And it is a lot easier to install capacity in a farm than on a zillion independent separate installations

                            So, yes utility scale will continue to outpace DG.  Maybe you crystal ball is right, but I am not going to bet the future of life on earth on it.  Show me what works and how.  Vague starts about relying on unproven future technologies and cherry picked trends does pass the serious analysis test. (75% growth for twelve years?  Has any industry every matched that?).

                            Both your statements on Chernobyl and Japan are pretty ignorant of wider trends. For example, the Soviet Union had a lot of other problems, and the impact of the tsunami itself was incomparably larger.  

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:32:34 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Micro-electronics has risen (0+ / 0-)

                            some 50%CAGR  for 50 years?

                            and PV is riding the Silicon curve.

                            Inverters? Mostly electronics.

                            Panels?  Mostly SIlicon.

                            if they start mandating all houses and buildings have PV Roof mounts at construction, that will make later PV installs super cheap.

                          •  LOL! (0+ / 0-)

                            oh, yeah, consumer electronics sales have been growing at 50% a year for 50 years.  Let's see, so if there were 1,000 transitor radios sold in 1963, that would mean that at that rate, the US would purchase the equivalent some 637 BILLION radios!  I suppose that means that every man woman and child would have to spend the equivalent of 2,100 radios this year.  

                            Great news if you are Bestbuy!

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 09:12:11 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  either you are poor at math or you (0+ / 0-)

                            have trouble reading

                            micro-electronics has been rising at aboout 50%/year CAGR, it's why the Doubling period is about 18 months (See Moore's law).

                            This hasn't resulted in more devices but it sure has resulted in a lot more transistors in a device.  

                            In 1954 the TR-1 Transistor radio had 4 transistors  in it.
                            The XM Satellite radio in my car, has probably a dozen chips in it with i'd ballpark maybe 40 million transistors in them each

                            That 64 GB Music stick i use to store my driving tunes and lectures?  What 2 Gates per bit, 8 transistors per NAND gate. 8 bits per byte plus ECC circuits?
                             Probably 2 trillion transistors in there.

                            really, you should practice your analysis skills.

                          •  You were suggesting (0+ / 0-)

                            That there would be a 70% year on year growth in installations over the next twelve years.  That isn't about improvements per panel (which have not improved in keeping with Moore's law, by the way) so yes this is the comparable analysis. The rate of miniaturization in an unrelated technology is not particularly relevant.

                            Since you missed this point, and basically are clueless about the solar industry, you ought not be lecturing anyone about analytical skills. But I guess you can't help but insult people.  It seems to be all you know

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 02:34:46 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  $/watt vs $/transistor (0+ / 0-)

                            moores law reflected a massive decline in cost per transistor which enabled new apps and new markets

                            the steady relentless decrease in $/watt in PV is driving massive install rates.

                            Deutsche thinks we are at the knee of the curve for cost parity in PV.  

                          •  First (0+ / 0-)

                            1) Moore's law doesn't apply to PV, which has decreased in price much more slowly.  (Otherwise my PV startup that I tried launching in 2005 would still be around).  PV is not a mass of transistors
                            2) the drop in price is driving installation, but that's been driven by excess capacity in CHina.  THere's a consolidation going on now, so that will be going away.  
                            3) The utility scale installations (which make up the bulk of PV) is being driven by tax code changes that are coming up.  I talk with utility developers regularly on this point.

                            Yes, it will continue to increase, but at nothing like 70% a year.  Those are just the facts.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 07:42:52 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  lets see what happens. (0+ / 0-)

                            give it 2 years.

                          •  sure (0+ / 0-)

                            sounds good.

                            I just got off the phone with a solar generation investor.  His quote made me think of you:  "PV prices have bottomed out."  I was a little shocked at that assessment.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 03:20:36 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Even if cells bottom out at 50c/watt, (0+ / 0-)

                            what will modules bottom out at?

                            What will Inverters bottom out at?

                            What will install costs bottom out at?

                          •  was he talking Poly crystal silicon (0+ / 0-)

                            monocrystal?  Thin Film?
                            CdTe? CIGS?  Organics?
                            Flex film?

                            I remember intensely how people would explain to me
                            that "X" tech was bottomed out in Silicon Memory,
                            and a year later, line sizes would be down.

                            SemaTech and DoD spent a fortune trying to make XRay
                            lasers for etching and we never needed to get there.

                            UV drove feature sizes down below anything every dreamed
                            of in simple physics.

                          •  actually (0+ / 0-)

                            it was a comment in passing in the context of issues he's looking at in his decision to work on residential and commercial projects rather than utility scale.    I would guess thin film, though.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 04:57:53 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  not a lot of Thin Film (0+ / 0-)

                            manufacturing most of the Chinese production
                            is Poly Crystal PV

                            Most analysts have been hoping that Thin Film takes off, or
                            printed materials, but so far Poly Crystal has been  dominating the market.

                            I think Nano dots and nano wire and improved use of silcon leaves another 2X on the table for that, long before they jump to CIGS or CdTe.  

                            CMOS and NiCMOS stayed with aluminum lithography decades longer then i ever thought, it's only recently silicon CPUs went to copper and they've never gone to SIlver or Gold, despite the better conductivity.  

                            I think given the size of the market, anyone who can figure out  ways to edge it on either Watts/Panel, $/Watt or $/KWH will change the game.

                          •  Here's another interesting fact (0+ / 0-)

                            from this chart by July 2011, radiation levels across Japan were markedly lower (~450 uSv) than background levels in newYork (800) or London (2000). Even shortly after the accident Tokyo barely pipped NY and was still at half of Londons backgtound. I guess the culture in NY and London must have been destroyed by background radiation!

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:47:56 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The Japanese Gvt and Nuclear industry lied (0+ / 0-)

                            badly in the months after the accident.

                            levels were 1000 times what they were releasing.

                            http://fukushima-diary.com/...

                            can you explain how people are seeing these levels of dust? 2 years later?

                            The JPG was setting up rigged counters all around the country.

                          •  oh (0+ / 0-)

                            I see, it's all a conspiracy.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 07:33:38 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  if you can't see the Major players lying (0+ / 0-)

                            well, that speaks more to you, then you think.

                            In broad strokes, what do you think happened at Fukushima?

                            what was the damage to the reactors at Dai-ichi, Dai-ini and Tokai?

                            How much radiation was released and when did they know it?

                          •  I see (0+ / 0-)

                            well, this is why you are so confident.  Any actual data that contradicts your preconceptions must be a lie!

                            I think that there were a series of serious fires that released a good deal of radiation, but by the time this dispersed, the actual levels in the wider environment were relatively low, and the actual health impacts are anticipated to be commensurately low to non existent.

                            I also think that the scientifically semi-literate paranoid anti-nuclear community has pushed a ton of misinformation and crap out there, much the same way the fossil fuel industry attacks climate science.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 09:15:17 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  okay lets be specific (0+ / 0-)

                            whats the damage and status at:

                            Fukushima Daichi Unit 1?
                             FD Unit 1 Store Fuel Pool?

                            FD Unit 2?
                            FD Unit 2 SFP?

                            FD Unit 3?
                            FD Unit 3 SFP?

                            FD Unit 4?
                            FD Unit 4 SFP?

                            FD Unit 5?
                            FD Unit 5 SFP?

                            FD Unit 6?
                            FD Unit 6 SFP

                            Common Fuel Pool Fuku Daichi?

                            Fuku Dainin Unit 1
                            F Daini U1  SFP?

                            Fuku Daini Unit 2?
                            F Daini Unit 2 SFP?

                            F Daini Unit 3?  
                            F Daini U3 SFP?

                            F Daini Unit 4?
                            F Daini U4 SFP?

                            Tokai Unit 1
                            Tokai Unit 2?

                            How many curies of radiation were released by the incident at the above reactors?

                            Answering I don't know is a reasonable answer, by the way.

                          •  Relevant how? (0+ / 0-)

                            Answer: not enough to pose a significant health impact, according to, you know, actual scientists who understand epidemiology

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 02:37:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  so you dislike specifics (0+ / 0-)

                            well, that's just sad.

                            because the numbers matter here.

                            Why don't you take a look at the sea lions turning up dead on the California coast.  

                            the numbers aren't looking good for them

                          •  maybe (0+ / 0-)

                            they were poisoned by unicorn farts? HOnestly, of all the ridiculous things you've come up with, that's up there.  I'm sure that Fukushima explains the increase in ADHD too, amirite? /snark

                             Seriously, no one has a clue what is driving that.  Your lack of interest in the actual science, and your interest in blaming everything on Fukushima shows that you really are not serious in delving into the reality of this.  

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 08:06:50 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  if you can't say how many curies were released (0+ / 0-)

                            there is no scientific discussion with you.

                          •  We established that (0+ / 0-)

                            I think you quoted 60 million.  Which, after being analyzed by scientists, gave rise to a risk assessment, which is what actually matters.  

                            But yeah, if you don't have the atomic weight of K-40 memorized, there's no having a scientific discussion with you either.  (I'm not convinced you know what the word "Scientific" actually means)

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 03:22:31 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  so you are comfortable with the number 60 million (0+ / 0-)

                            for the total curies released?

                            we can discuss the isotopic spectra of what that was next,
                            but, I feel like I have to walk you like a 4th grader through the math.

                          •  whatevs (0+ / 0-)

                            it is an estimate, since of course know one actually knows.  HOwever, there's no need to talk about isotopes here, since people who actually do that for a living have actually already done that.  And, no, you don't really need to walk me through it, since I've mostly already recognized what is actually relevant, and it isn't that.  I don't see any reason to sit through a lecture on stuff that I already know, already understand isn't relevant, and probably understand better than you do.   I'm going to hazard that I probably understand those key epidemiological models well enough, seeing as I have a PhD in population biology.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 05:01:34 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  so you aren't comfortable with 60 million curies (0+ / 0-)

                            released.

                            What number are you comfortable with?

                          •  So the models (0+ / 0-)

                            Are what you believe in?

                          •  could you tell this guy it was Unicorn Farts? (0+ / 0-)

                            http://www.youtube.com/...

                            85 KM from the explosion, living and eating locally?

                          •  ZOMG! (0+ / 0-)

                            The WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION IS IN ON IT TOO!  It's all Agenda 21 I tell you!

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 07:43:01 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  and (0+ / 0-)

                            you do yourself and your credibility no favors by peppering every statement with more insults.  It gives the impression of immaturity and makes me think you haven't given this serious thought.  Just FYI.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 08:58:18 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  I don't think so. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JeffW, radical simplicity
                    It's not that Germany has replaced the baseline power (it hasn't), but it has eliminated the peak.
                    The peak is lower, and shifted in time from midday in summer to (probably) early evening in winter, but if electrical demand varies at all, there's a peak somewhere.  

                    Changing from fossil fuel electricity to renewable electricity is not going to be easy, and it means that owners of fossil fuel burning generators are not going to make the money they expected to.  Sorry, tough.  

                    Someday soon, almost all fossil fuel generation is going to have to end.  If a few gas-burning generators need to be kept on standby for emergencies, then they will have to be paid a sort of "retainer", like keeping a lawyer on retainer.  But coal and gas "baseline" power is going to have to stop if humanity is to survive.  

                    Renewable energy brings national global security.     

                    by Calamity Jean on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:26:46 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  That's always the case with disruptive tech (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Richard Cranium

                    Just ask the makers of floppy disks, or mainframe office computers. No one thought those markets could be kicked to the curb in just a couple of years. They were very, very wrong.

                    See if your library has "The Innovator's Dilemma" - a fascinating history of the impact of disruptive technologies on industries that expected inertia to keep the status quo (and their profits) in place.

                    The assumption that it's too hard to switch technologies has been proved wrong time and again, because the market is rarely patient with what "is," seeing instead what is more in line with the real needs. And people have decided that the real need is to bypass the roadblocks to renewables.

            •  On this point: "Utilities are among ... (13+ / 0-)

              ... the most highly regulated industries..."

              Here in North Carolina our governor retired from a 28 year career with Duke Energy, where he was "a senior adviser with Duke Energy's Business and Economic Development Group"(1).  He and our Republican legislature want to fire all current members of our utilities commission and replace them with members who "are more like-minded and willing to carry out the philosophy of the new administration"(2).  So, at least here in this state, there might be some question as to who is regulating who.

              One interesting thing about energy regulation is that propane is apparently not regulated.  One spring day, after a particularly warm winter, a year or two ago, the propane truck came by to refill my tank.  I was expecting the price to have dropped since it was such a warm winter; instead the price had climbed significantly.  I asked the driver why; and he said that "they" decided not to make as much propane.  They purposely cut supplies so that prices would continue to rise even though demand had dropped significantly.

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              Love one another

              by davehouck on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:42:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Right on both counts (6+ / 0-)

                As with all regulation, capture by the regulated industry is always a big big big concern.  Those folks with the experience are typically from the industry.  In red states, those will be the folks who are appointed.  In bluer states, you'll see more rate payer advocates and non profit representatives.

                and when I say "energy markets" I'm being really lazy.  I mean electricity markets. Propane ain't in it, you are right.

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:36:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Individuals might want better control and access (8+ / 0-)

              to energy. The sun is for everyone.  It makes more sense to make distributed solar affordable.  It would be like lowering taxes if people had a few extra dollars every month to put into the economy instead of into corrupt utilities' pockets.

              As far as utilities being regulated, that is not the case in Florida.  The regulatory agency, Public Service Commission of the State of Florida, is OWNED by Florida Power and Light.  So corrupt.  The Commission approved a monthly charge to all customers to pay for new power plants that FPL MIGHT build.  What a joke!  

              •  I've got to say, we LOVE not losing power (0+ / 0-)

                When a big storm hits, we are completely unaware of the local outages. We have to be a little more aware of our usage than we'd like, but only because, being off-grid, we don't qualify for a whole host of subsidies/rebates, so we had to get a smaller system than we'd like, and partly because we don't have an auto-failover generators. We may be able to remedy the latter some time this spring by being a test site for an experimental use of a reconditioned, used telecommunications tower generator.

            •  Meh. (3+ / 0-)

              There have been a number of reported technology improvements over the last few years that will seriously increase capacity even in cloudy weather and allow home storage easily and cheaply.  A few years to finish working things out and get them into production, and most transmission issues simply go away.

            •  I spent 15+ years working for an electric utility (17+ / 0-)

              ...in systems engineering on the production side of the business.  Ok, with that out of the way:

              I don't have the time or desire today to dig into EIA stats and other industry trend indicators (particularly on the renewables side) to prove my point.

              What I can tell you for sure is that the electric utility industry is scrambling to get a foot hold in the distributed generation side of the business.  Actually, what's happening (and will continue to happen) is that small upstarts will gain the foot hold, and then the TBTF utilities will start buying up the little guys.

              Happens all the time in every industry.

              And yes, a sea change is truly coming in the industry.  There hasn't been this much executive scrambling since the early 80's and the deregulation drumbeat.  

              "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

              by Richard Cranium on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:31:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Just like with ISP's (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                patbahn
                Actually, what's happening (and will continue to happen) is that small upstarts will gain the foot hold, and then the TBTF utilities will start buying up the little guys.

                “I used to be disgusted....Now I try to be amused" --Elvis-- My first attempt at a diary.. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/03/28/1197573/-Park-Avenue

                by PlinytheWelder on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:26:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  the point i've been evolving to (5+ / 0-)

              is that the premium price comes in the daytime peak

              so PV attacks that market.

              that means you have to make money on the shoulders when PV is dying off

            •  get utilities out of the generation business (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DocGonzo, radical simplicity

              as with cable and broadband and a host of other industries you don't want the content generators in charge of the distribution.

              the utilities should be in charge of distribution infrastructure.

              unconnected companies or we the people should be the generators.

              big badda boom : GRB 090423

              by squarewheel on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 01:58:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  well, it's 20 years late (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                linkage

                but it's sort of the vision of the Free Marketers,
                from the 80's.

                They made the big integrated utilities, sell off their generators
                and become owners of local grid and customers and
                they had the state start running the grid.

                this model may start working now.

            •  Working Math (3+ / 0-)

              1. Distributed generation can be built faster per KW than centralized, because it's built in parallel rather than bottlenecking through a giant central project.

              2. Distributed generation is more reliable than centralized because it doesn't have a "single failurepoint" architecture. It can route around problems, if the connecting network is big and interconnected enough.

              We have a proven model for this working: the Internet. What differs is that the Internet flourished in the decade after AT&T was forced to loosen control over the telecommunications network. To allow customers to attach whatever equipment met open standards, to allow anyone initiating, processing or receiving calls to run their own telcos over that network. This is obviously where power corps continue to be AT&T, and obviously they must be stopped, just as AT&T was stopped. Power corps realize this, which is why they've lobbied to continue to own the transmission network, even as they often get out of the generating business.

              AT&T and other network operators have made even more money, gotten even more power since AT&T was "broken up" and the network forced open to competition. The power corps will probably do the same. But we have to force them. It was ever thus.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 02:58:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Rebuttal: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Richard Cranium
              1) the rate of installation of distributed generation capacity would have to increase massively to have DG displace central distribution
              Nobody said it would be instant, however exponential growth will see DG dominate sooner rather than later. Why exponential growth? Why would you pay a central provider so much more than your neighbor, who's paying very little (just hardware and installation costs) while getting paid for the excess they feed back to the grid? AKA 'Keeping up with the Jonses'.
              2) renewable energy systems need a lot of overcapacity and transmission in order to deliver reliability, which means a DG energy grid has a higher bar to meet than the current total capacity
              DG means Distributed Generation. Individuals generate their own power, so there's minimal loss. The only loss comes with feeding back to the grid. Since that loss is already factored into the current system, there's no added loss.
              Regarding reliability, if an individual's system fails, they automatically switch over to the central provider until it's fixed. Think 'Internet'.
              3) Even in NRG's model, that natural gas firming and shaping power needs to be generated offsite and transmitted over lines that are still owned by the utilities.
              I have no opinion on this other than 'Think Internet'.
              So, if you are talking about individuals being able to contract on the wholesale market for power, that may be coming, but it will be a slow regulatory process since the last time that kind of deregulation was tried, it was a fucking disaster (see, Enron).
              Contract on the wholesale market for power? Who's talking about that? We're talking about individuals providing their own power. Large, power hungry industries do the wholesale power contracting thing, not homeowners. If anything, industry will benefit from discounted power once domestic demand drops and power generators suddenly find themselves with overcapacity.

              Oh, yeah. Fuck Enron and the horse they rode in on. They had precisely the business model which will come to a crashing end, come the DG revolution.

              Utilities control a MASSIVE proportion of the generation and transmisssion.  Also, they'll largely still own the transmission capacity.
              Utterly irrelevant once the tipping point for DG arrives. Those utilities are going to have to find a new market for their soon to be ended monopoly on power production.

              Regarding transmission capacity, that will still be in place, gathering excess power, for which they pay the homeowner. The function of that transmission capacity will essentially be reversed.

              Thus, I think a solution that incorporates utilities makes a lot more sense.  Keep in mind that utilities are among the most highly regulated industries in the country, which means their business can be pushed by regulators in the public interest.  The renewable portfolio standards are a great example.
              I agree. The function of the power companies will be to gather the excess power generated by the DG, and sell it to industries. They will finally be able to shut down the environmentally damaging coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear plants, since they will no longer be needed.

              Think of the expanded bottom line when they no longer have to feed the beasts!

              'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

              by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:21:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  some utilities (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nzanne, patbahn, elwior

            are funding 'big solar' projects. (Not all of them are run by people with closed minds.)

            (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

            by PJEvans on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:00:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I'd love to read the article (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JamieG from Md

        but that site is unreadable.  TINY typeface, will not enlarge via browser text size.  Pale grey on white text.  Lots of RED all over everywhere except said TINY, PALE, NO-CONTRAST text.  The site designer should be shot.

    •  Unfortunately (0+ / 0-)

      I work in the utility industry. At 51 not sure what I'm going to do-oh well.

      •  Electric utilities will still be needed. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW

        You will be paid to shift power from sunny areas to cloudy ones, from places where it's windy to places where it's not.  Then the next day you will maybe send the power somewhere else, as weather patterns change.  Absent some huge technical breakthrough in small-scale electrical storage, you are going to be needed for a long time.  

        Renewable energy brings national global security.     

        by Calamity Jean on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:46:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is Why I Insist Climate Change Activists (58+ / 0-)

    including top scientists need to be approaching top-end economy ownership who are not tied to --or like these people who may be oppositional to-- big dirty energy, to recruit them to make common cause with we the people.

    We need to aggressively encourage not merely passively applaud these kinds of developments.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:13:27 PM PDT

  •  This could get interesting... (40+ / 0-)

    a society that fully accepts powerlines strung like a spider web as far as the eye can see, will they trade wind turbines for power poles?  (Lets ask the Kennedy's about that.)
    I myself am getting all tingly at the prospect of a decentralized power grid.

    The more you learn the less you know.

    by quiet in NC on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:28:17 PM PDT

    •   They won't trade for wind turbines, ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest, Roadbed Guy, Simplify, elwior

      they're turning out to be too noisy and have other problems which are causing communities to reject them.  Other substitutions are possible, though.

      "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

      by Neuroptimalian on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 11:00:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe so, maybe not. Compared to no (15+ / 0-)

        electricity? Maybe not so awful.

        Problem now is that the environmental pain is being borne somewhere else: much electricity is from coal, which means someone elses valleys are being filled with mountain tops. The whole NIMBY thing you describe really isn't moral.

        This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

        by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:56:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The BIG wind turbines are an attempt by the (9+ / 0-)

        Energy companies to reatin control.  They do not replace powerlines...they feed into power lines.  This diary is talking about decentralized power generation.  Wind wasn't specifically mentioned in the diary, but can also be decentralized throu much smaller wind turbines, not the giants that are so objectionable.

        "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

        by Bisbonian on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:51:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wind Generating Capacity (9+ / 0-)

          scales as the square of the area swept by the blades, while structural costs for wind generation facilities scale by an exponent smaller than that.

        •  Large vs small wind turbines (13+ / 0-)

          Large wind turbines operate at tip heights up to 500 feet. Small wind turbines rarely operate with tip heights above 100 feet. When atmospheric mixing all but disappears with sunset there a boundary layer that effectively stops the small wind turbines, but the large ones can remain operating if there is sufficient wind aloft.

          A Large wind turbine can be installed to feed a community, which maintains the idea of distributed power generation. In my experience here in the thumb of Michigan, with lots of large wind turbines, I have never heard any noise from the turbines (noise = inefficiency). Many small turbines are very noisy.

          The plural of anecdote is NOT data

          by Dr Arcadia on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:29:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wind turbines of a mere (6+ / 0-)

            ~500 kW to 1 mW, or that much hydro power from pumped during the day set-ups could easily supply all the overnight power most rural and semi-rural counties need for after dark lighting, home and business climate control, etc. These could be set up like RECs, where the counties actually own the reserve generating facilities, and purchase excess capacity site-generated during the day from solar installations on roofs of homes, outbuildings, strip malls, metal churches, irrigation canal and parking lot coverings, and factories. If there's a lot of that, the REC could re-sell excess to neighboring more urban counties, which can be pooled regionally to supply cities.

            Why, someday those REC-type systems could even modernize transmission capabilities (partially subsidized to build, then owned by the counties), finally at long last doing what should have been done all along but for-profits like Duke never bothered with - underground lines just like gas lines and cable lines and phone lines have been put underground over the years. Surely that would offset anybody's personal distaste for the sight of a windmill somewhere near town.

          •  I'm confused. (0+ / 0-)

            You're saying the wind doesn't blow at night?  I find that hard to reconcile with personal experience.

            •  Not consistently or as strongly (0+ / 0-)

              Near the surface as a couple hundred feet up.

              Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

              by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:13:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Small scale wind is deeply uneconomic. (10+ / 0-)
          Wind wasn't specifically mentioned in the diary, but can also be decentralized throu much smaller wind turbines, not the giants that are so objectionable.
          Available wind power scales as the cube of the average wind speed.  Winds are steadier and stronger hundreds of feet up.  A couple of hundred meter tower may be literally 100x as efficient at generation as a 10ft yard windmill.

          Individualized wind generation is a waste of time, effort, and money.  Pool your money and and buy the entire town a tower.

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:10:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree, especially with that last part...buy the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            patbahn

            town a tower. Unfortunately, most of the big wind farms are being put in by big energy...to maintain control.  A recent one near Ocotillo, CA came with a new giant powerline that follows a route so tortured and circuitous that it wrecks the views in every direction in many parts of southeastern San Diego County, most especially by surrounding the Desert View Tower at ridiculously close range.

            "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

            by Bisbonian on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 11:37:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i wonder if you could combine a water tower (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bisbonian, Odysseus

              into a wind turbine.

              you need to build tall water towers for towns anyways,  why not put an array of vertical wind turbines on it, or carry the legs up through the tank and mount a large turbine on that.

              it would make a wonderful energy source for the needed pumping gear anyways.

              if you ran the tower pumps on DC and had some batteries you could save a lot of operating costs on the tower.

        •  Large turbines (0+ / 0-)

          Are vastly more efficient

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:12:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  No one is rejecting wind turbines (7+ / 0-)

        in my rural area. I haven't heard any complaints about noise, especially from the farmers who make money by leasing a couple of acres for a turbine as part of a wind farm. I can see 100 turbines on the horizon from my back window. I think they look cool, especially at night when their red lights are blinking.

        Wind power provides about 20% of my electricity. It is supplied by my REC via power lines. Iowa's largest investor-owned utility now generates about 30% of its power by wind.

    •  It would solve so many problems. (5+ / 0-)
      I myself am getting all tingly at the prospect of a decentralized power grid.

      "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 04:04:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It isn't a matter of "if" (8+ / 0-)

      It's a matter of "when".

      I said upthread that I didn't really think I'd see a decentralized power grid (both production and transmission / distribution) in my lifetime, but we're a very short distance from reaching that goal right now.

      I can predict with some degree of certainty that there will never again be another major ( > 250MwE ), non-peak load centralized power plant approved and actually built in this country.  

      "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

      by Richard Cranium on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:06:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Decentralized, but still utility owned (3+ / 0-)

        and provided with wind farms and natural gas plants.

        I'm all for roof-top solar as a supplement to utility-provided electricity, but it's a lot more efficient to have shared power distribution than everyone having their own little back-up generator. That's especially true for wind power.

      •  Yes. Germany has proved (0+ / 0-)

        that we don't need large "baseload" power plants.

        What we will need, at least for a few decades, is "back-up" power that can come on and go off quickly to make up for gaps in the production/demand ratio. Natural gas turbine peaker plants can do that.

        In fact, according to the German energy experts, the presence of large baseline power plants is blocking the installation of more wind and solar energy infrastucture.

        And if we can develop wave energy, we might not need many peaker plants.

    •  Not so fast (4+ / 0-)

      I'd point out that a decentralized grid is unlikely to do a good job of the very large scale geographic integration needed to keep power quality up.  (Think, the wind is always blowing somewhere, but that implies getting the power from where the wind is blowing to your house, which may be a long way away).  Utilities exist in the first place because they really require local monopolies to be effective, because you really don't want 10 different companies stringing powerlines around your neighborhood.  Better to have one, then regulate it to allow competition.

      Also, keep in mind also that the experiments in deregulating energy markets have ended in disaster in some cases.  A decentralized grid sounds like it would imply many market actors, which requires deregulation.

      I'm far from convinced that this cheerleading for the end of utilities is carefully thought out.  

      For the record, I have a strong interest in energy regulation as a lawyer, but don't yet work for an energy company.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:18:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What does that mean, "a strong interest in (0+ / 0-)

        energy regulation"?  Pretty vague.  

        Also, utilities have sucked at maintaining their grids.  Regulation has failed.  The utilities milk every penny out of the consumer without setting aside any reserves for upgrades.  Look at Florida after the hurricanes.  People should have been much more pissed off.  When electricity is off for weeks it is because the grid was not maintained and because the utility didn't put the money into an emergency plan and trained repair people.

        I have to wonder how much of the tab for repairs is picked up by the taxpayer.

        •  They've "sucked"? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          just another vet, offgrid

          Power is pretty reliable most places in the US. I mean, sure, you'll get outages during and after storms, but storm-proofing power lines and such is a horrendously expensive proposition. It's better and more economical to just take and fix the odd power outage here and there.

          But in general I think they've done excellently. Power is pretty reliable most places most of the time.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:39:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If utilities want the benefit of being a (4+ / 0-)

            monopoly, they should be required to maintain and update their equipment.  Instead, they let it get run down and use power outages as an excuse for hiking rates.

            The CEO of Florida Power and Light made $14.8 million in 2011.  That's expensive.  

          •  you don't stormproof (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            but you have to have enough crews that you can fix a major outage in 72 hours.

            You have to size the work force and the spares such that you can model a Cat 3 hurricane blowing into your area and you can replace all your High Voltage grid towers and wires in 72 hours and you can get secondary grid up in ten days and you can get all your customers back up in 21 days.

            So that means you need to stormproof your baseload generation and you probably want to stormproof your peaker plants ut you need to be able to replace 100 miles of 750KV towers in a day.  

            When Maine had big ice storms, they got the national guard to chopper in towers intact and they borrowed crews from all over the east coast.  

            if Hurricane Andrew hit Philidelphia you need to be able to get power to critical services within 72 hours, you want comms, police, hospitals, Fire departments and shelters up and running ASAP.

            then you work outwards, fixing road systems, water systems, trains,

            and then you have to get power to Gas Stations, pharmacies, banks, grocery stores,  big apartment buildings,,,,,

            etc...

          •  Any country in Europe (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DocGonzo, Calamity Jean, RUNDOWN

            would laugh derisively at electricity delivered by wires running overhead from wooden poles!  Even in Hungary and Romania, they cast the poles out of concrete.  Most of Western Europe uses buried cables that don't go out during storms, let alone any other time unless the plant itself fails.  Nor would they dream of allowing something like the Enron debacle to occur.  Power itself has traditionally been run entirely by the government, and although there has been some privatization, regulation remains draconian by American standards.  Regulatory capture by private interests is less common than government "capture" by the vested bureaucracies and unions of power agencies.

          •  Suburban NYC (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean, RUNDOWN

            I live in an NYC suburb, with a nuke plant practically in my backyard. I pay the highest electric rates in the country.

            Every month or two I get a power outage that lasts from 2-30 minutes. A couple times a year I get an hour outage. Plus the outages about half the time there's a big hurricane-related storm or 3'+ snowstorm or ice storm, which is about twice every three years. For which I'm paying more for just the network/delivery than half the country pays for their entire electric service.

            The US grid is held together with duct tape and twine (and lots of electrical engineer and line worker overtime). Mostly the network is easy (demand response is hard, but that's generating), especially after over a century buildout. Watching the NYC area for the weeks after Sandy (while a single downed pole/transformer in the neighborhood kept our power off for a week and a half) made it clear that the utility's ongoing maintenance sucked, their disaster plans nonexistent or worse, and their emergency skills more Keystone Kops than Captain Sully.

            So yes, "sucked" is the right word. Especially considering the huge profits they make most of the time while they're merely blah, without paying penalties for failing us during the inevitable crises.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:07:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  um (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          just another vet, nzanne, patbahn, RUNDOWN

          that's pretty far off.  If utility rates weren't set, we would be paying VASTLY higher rates.  Check out the history of utilities in the late 1800's and early 1900s for the comparison.

          Yes, there's been underinvestment in transmisstion, but it still mostly serves customers.  We don't have frequent brown or black outs from transmission failures, so that doesn't wash.  ANything after a hurricane will be a mess.

          Ultimately, the tab is not picked up by the tax payers, but the rate payers.  That's how the rate cases work.  The utility says "we need X amount of money for Y" and if it's reasonable the energy commission approves a rate increase to cover it.

          I am an environmental lawyer who also works on the energy side, so I keep track of the energy regulatory developments.  However, I don't work for an energy companies at the moment.  I am hoping to land a spot with NRG solar, though.

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:42:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Baloney on several counts. I have seen first hand (5+ / 0-)

            the after effects of a hurricane.  The utility, FPL, was utterly clueless.  The repairs trucks drove around lost and unable to figure out where problems were.  Several weeks without power, I called FPL to check on the status of the outage and the customer service person assured me that my power was back on.  I was pretty certain it wasn't.  It was a joke.  And, no, everything shouldn't be a mess after a hurricane if equipment is in good order.

            Your quaint explanation of how rates are set is amusing.  Maybe you aren't from Florida and don't understand the culture of corruption.  FPL has handpicked the people sitting on the Public Service Commission.  It should perhaps be renamed the Utility Service Commission.  It truly serves the utilities and not the public.

          •  NRG Solar (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean, JamieG from Md

            is a leader in Utility bypass.

            their big growth prospect is selling systems direct to large users.  

            We won't get to a true distributed grid for a long time, but
            we could see a lot of big utilities collapse in a few years if their business models fail and they need to get state aid to keep the grid running.

      •  As someone who isn't fond (9+ / 0-)

        of cities, most of the smaller towns and rural areas I've lived in my life could quite easily set up entirely workable systems along the REC model. In Oklahoma, for instance, most of the hard work of building the storage capacity to generate steady 'trons when the wind isn't blowing and the sun's not shining has already been done. Back in the 1930s 'dust bowl' days when the Corps and CCC built earthen dams to provide every town and county with reservoirs. Many hydro dams were built as well, owned and operated by the county's RECs, with hundreds more existing reservoirs fully capable of providing overnight capacity with proper retrofit.

        There's no need for serious deregulation, just a roll-back on more recent ALEC-like big utility sponsored legislation designed to PREVENT decentralization. i.e., here in the mountainous west of NC, Duke had its pet legislators make it illegal a few years ago to install wind turbines on the ridges where wind blows 24-7. Duke also will get a 17% overall rate hike this session over its already way too expensive electricity to help pay for new nukes we the customer base don't want or need. Duke comes right out and says it needs those new nukes so it can sell the electricity to New England and Canada. New England and Canada will not pay for those, WE will.

        ...unless we decide to do something quite else and cut Duke out of the indentured servitude business. That is happening quite quickly, bottom up. As of course it must because Duke and its pet corrupto-crats act as a Great Wall against it ever happening top-down.

      •  More like cheerleading (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        patbahn, Calamity Jean

        the end of corporate energy oligopolies.

        I for one - have thought about it thoroughly.

        And this is one issue that crosses otherwise political lines.

        In a capitalist democracy - every dollar is a "vote" ... spend wisely ...

        by RUNDOWN on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:30:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Good or not, there's a vicious cycle here. (0+ / 0-)

        Any sort of movement toward decentralization means utilities will have to charge more for power.

        A 200 million dollar power plant costs 200 million dollars no matter how many buyers there are. Once built, the fewer buyers there are, the more the cost per user....not NRG's problem. It's the utilities' problem.

        Each time NRG cuts the utilities out of the loop for profit motive, the utilities need to charge a little more for power, and are less competitive vs an offgrid solution.

        In Michigan the utilities are BEGGING not to deregulate the market and not to allow more competition for this very reason.

        It's a problem. And it won't end well for the utilities unless they make some huge changes soon.

  •  I say, cut out the power company too. (21+ / 0-)

    Do-it-yourself solar costs are coming steadily down.

    I just saw this 100 watt collector that used to be $800 for $260 with free shipping.  You can save another $20 if you buy it from Amazon, but who wants to do that?

    These are good quality collectors with aluminum frames, not PVC like some of the cheaper ones.  You can buy one or some and hook them together.  Obviously it's a bit more complicated than that, but not bad.

    I think they are made in the US but couldn't find that on their website.  I might be confusing it with another one I looked at.

  •  Hey, have a great vacation! (9+ / 0-)

    What's the point of letting neoliberals into the tent when neoliberalism is burning down the campground?

    by Words In Action on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:39:03 PM PDT

  •  Promising... (16+ / 0-)

    but they still have to get the natural gas for the generators from somewhere...

    Anyway, I think in the future, utilities will be one of many options.

    Companies like Duke Energy would be wise not to see this as a "threat" but as an opportunity. All businesses change with time, and those who adapt win. Why doesn't Duke go get into the business of providing other types of energy? Though, from what I know of them, they're a bunch of asses, so good riddance.

    Freedom isn't free. So quit whining and pay your taxes.

    by walk2live on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:40:10 PM PDT

    •  Buy them out and change the policy. (4+ / 0-)

      Every publicly traded company is a takeover target.

      It's hard to argue that Green policies are bad for shareholders when they pass a majority vote.

      Green America: 2012 Energy Proxy Chart

      Shareholders are taking the lead in pushing energy companies and their financial backers to pursue a cleaner energy future. If you own stock in one of the companies listed below, be sure to vote your proxies in favor of clean energy. Our ally, Moxy Vote, makes it easy. Click through to Moxy Vote here, or on any linked companies below to register with Moxy Vote and vote your proxies. (We'll be adding links for voting as they become available through Moxy Vote.)
      Shareholder advocacy could be used to require the corporation to stand down on lobbying efforts, push for policies like net metering, or even simply eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:25:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Right now they can dump a bunch of nasty (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cynndara, Calamity Jean

      externalities on the public land, water and air. That's how they "earn" those fat salaries - they steal them from the future.

      Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

      by semiot on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 11:38:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  that's why they love nukes (34+ / 0-)

    they get to pretend it's clean, while keeping the source centralized. solar threatens their very existence.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:43:40 PM PDT

    •  All you have to do is ignore mining, processing, (26+ / 0-)

      transportation, reprocessing, construction, and decommissioning and disposal and nukes are perfectly clean.

      income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

      by JesseCW on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:17:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Especially disposal. n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean, JesseCW

        "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

        by Bisbonian on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:52:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  even with that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, squarewheel

        they are still vastly, vastly cleaner than coal.  Depending on how you weight climate change, cleaner than natural gas too.

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:20:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, right like the nuclear plant in Fukushima. (5+ / 0-)

          Nuke plants are usually "vastly, vastly cleaner" until there's a coastal disaster.  Then the utilities run for the hills.

          Here, have a little radioactive cesium with your fish.

          •  actually (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, TheDuckManCometh

            coal production releases far more radiation than Fukushima did, once all is accounted for.

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:46:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  dude, you are way, way wrong. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DocGonzo

              wrong enough to either doubt all future things you say or that you are a paid troll.  I'm not sure  but

              http://www.gdr.org/...

              but according to Alex Gabbard at ORNL, a Gigawatt class
              coal station releases about 60 curies of radio-isotopes (Thorium and Uranium ) per year, which seems about right.

              http://enenews.com/...

              according to Robert Alvarez, former DoE policy adviser,
              Fukushima released 60 million curies.

              you are off by a million.

              Game over.

              •  Environmental Lawyer (0+ / 0-)

                The poster you're disagreeing with is an environmental lawyer. In the US there's a lot more coal plants to sue than nuke plants (so far).

                "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:32:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Like most environmental lawyers (0+ / 0-)

                  I deal with permitting. I've done several endangered species BiOps and other things.  However I have also worked on getting California to expand the official list of carcinogens, LA storm water, various regulations, and smelt listings. However, one things is clear: most people don't have a clue how the grid works or how it is regulated.   This I am correcting the stuff that just ain't so

                  I am not an engineer, so I could well be wrong on the nuke data

                  Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                  by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:14:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Yet You Say It (0+ / 0-)

                    So you have no actual standing to be making pronouncements on relative radioactive harm from a coal plant vs a nuke plant. As you just admitted.

                    You don't need to be an engineer to look up the facts on radioactive plant emissions. You don't have to be anything except honest to be silent when you're ignorant, instead of making random assertions that suit your preferences.

                    Please stop talking like you know what you're talking about. A decent lawyer wouldn't have to be told.

                    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                    by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:47:58 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  And what (0+ / 0-)

                  Is your technical background?

                  Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                  by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:40:13 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Energy Management (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JesseCW, patbahn

                    I'm the CTO of an NYC firm that designs, builds, installs and operates Energy Management Systems (computers) in thousands of buildings from DC to Boston. We reduce our buildings' energy consumption an average of 20%, and big commercial buildings up to 38%+.

                    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                    by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:45:25 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Very very cool (0+ / 0-)

                      That is some pretty awesome work.  Nothing is as good as negawatts

                      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                      by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:15:11 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  The word I just read was "lawyer". That's a (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  patbahn

                  person who makes a living distorting the truth as fits the needs of a client.

                  income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

                  by JesseCW on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 12:01:38 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Some Yes, Some No (0+ / 0-)

                    This lawyer uses their construction environmental impact statement work to speak as an authority on power plant emissions, even though they're wrong. And responds to statements with which they disagree with straw men and non sequiturs.

                    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                    by DocGonzo on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:42:16 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Mining and ash? (0+ / 0-)

                Ash is the big source

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:10:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  how many curies in the waste stream (0+ / 0-)

                  of a coal plant?

                  According to my reference at ORNL, it's 60 curies.

                  Unless you can show it's 60 million, you completely
                  utterly, totally failed to comprehend the problem.

                  I'll assume you graduated from a fourth rate school and
                  nobody bothered teaching you math before you went to law school, but,

                  you need references if you wish to play.

                  so again, with citations, how many curies are in the waste
                  stream of the average coal plant?

                  •  That's emissions, not ash (0+ / 0-)

                    See below   The average coal plant emits about three time the radiation of a typical nuclear plant.   Lightning is more dangerous than either

                    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                    by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:41:23 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Nice (0+ / 0-)

                    Typical ad homonym. Those fourth rate schools: Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley. I remembered the totals wrong.  Congrats.

                    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                    by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:47:29 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  did you learn math there? (0+ / 0-)

                      or in grade school?

                      you said something awfully preposterous,  and then
                      started waving around credentials.

                      Now I think modesty and honesty requires you either withdraw your assertion that a coal plant releases as much radiation as Fukushima or you prove it.

                      •  You obviously missed my comments (0+ / 0-)

                        Right below where I concede that Fukushima real eases about twenty times as much as the coal industry has.  

                        I also provide links that also show that the typical coal plant releases three times the radiation of a typical nuclear plant.   So yes, I was wrong

                        Oh, and for the record math has nothing to do with it.  Empirical measurement is the phrase you are looking for

                        And you an your friend were the ones who started casting aspersions about my training, so I provided that answers.   Dont want people waving credentials?  Then don't start insulting people about them.

                        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                        by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:44:59 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  i never saw your post (0+ / 0-)

                          but, you are still wrong.

                          Fukushima released over a million times what a coal plant does.

                          so you are still wrong.

                          when you are wrong by 6 orders of magnitude, well,
                          it appears as if  you are deficient on basic arithmetic.

                          •  Ok here you go (0+ / 0-)

                            Here is the comment woth sources  (which I wil note you did not provide)

                            And if I'd made the comparison you said, that'd be wrong but I referred to the coal industry, in which case the factor is twenty. ( I won't comment about reading comprehension or research skills)

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:18:08 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  You are right by a factor of twenty. (0+ / 0-)

                [http://www.scientificamerican.com/...]. Clearly it isn't a comparison to Fukuhima but rather industry to industry, particularly since fly ash is much less tightly controlled. Now comparing the industry wide coal ash releases to Fukushima is obviously tricky.  coal ash releases on the order of 20,000 curies a year, for a total of 3 million curies., so you are right by a factor of   20.

                Still, the larger principle is that radioactivity from either is pretty minor, especially compared to the PM10.  People who advocate coal over nuclear are unaware of the main facts.  

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:39:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  from that cite (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  melo

                  "Thus, combustion of 5,100 million tons of coal in 1991 released about 22,000 Curies of radioactivity that year alone. Since one Curie equals 3.7 x 1010 nuclear disintegrations each second, this quantity of radioactivity is quite large. Integrated over the century in question, coal combustion is predicted to release at least 480,000 Ci of radioactivity in the US and more than 2.7 million Curies world-wide by the year 2037."

                  if i read this correctly, it says the Coal Industry will release 2.7 MCu over a century.

                  Lets see Fukushima,  60 MCu,  Chernobyl about 15 MCu,
                  TMI about 2 MCu. Then various smaller incidents (Chelyabinsk, Chalk River, ) and numerous industrial accidents,,,

                  nuclear plants end up leaking a lot more then they let on.

              •  Dude (0+ / 0-)

                You cite to a blog comment? Seriously?

                Still you have it right about Fukushima.  The overall industry however, coal releases more

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:43:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  i cite to a blog post of the guy (0+ / 0-)

                  who'se article you cite.

                  •  Yep (0+ / 0-)

                    So cite the article itself.  Standard practice

                    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                    by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:21:31 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  because i didn't find his article you did (0+ / 0-)

                      i found his blog post where he said the average 1 GWe coal plant produces 60 Curies of radiation every year.

                      i also found a blog post to Alvarez saying Fukushima Dai-ichi
                      released 60 million curies of radiation into the environment.

                      Now the nuclear industry likes to say a nuclear plant
                      releases almost no radiation but in reality as these plants age, they start leaking radiation like a sieve.

                      underground pipes go bad, seals go bad, equipment needs to be pulled from service.

                      they generate thousands of tons of low level waste.

                      frankly nuclear is a biol-logical and economic disaster.

                      they aren't building these plants without massive government subsidy.

                      •  Hmm (0+ / 0-)

                        The measurements taken dont show leaking like a sieve that I have been able to find.   The actual measurements show significantly more radiation from ash.  An this isn't taking into account coal's other terrible effects that nuclear does not have.

                        Also, you already know fossil fuels get trillions in subsidies also but with much worse environmental effects

                        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                        by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:37:49 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

            •  Please Reply (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW

              I too am very interested in your response to the documented claims that a coal plant releases 60 curies annually while Fukushima released 60 million curies. Please reply to that post. I want to continue reading your posts, but if you're off by a millionfold...

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:35:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  you know it still may be (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mindful Nature

            why does everyone on this site underplay the immense amount of environmental damage that coal does ?

            there's a reason every single tuna you pull out of the ocean has mercury in it you know.

            and Hg doesn't have a 1/2 life - it's forever.

            big badda boom : GRB 090423

            by squarewheel on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 02:03:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Everyone? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              squarewheel, JesseCW

              The consensus of this site's community is that coal plants are the worst and must go, with no redeeming virtues. I don't know why you don't notice that.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:36:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes but in the context of comparison to nuclear (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mindful Nature

                the evaluation is always qualitative and not quantative.  it basically goes, "omg, nuclear, we're all going to die !".

                as in nuclear is so much worse than anything, ever.

                quantitatively that's false.  coal is the worst thing ever.

                coal has killed and is killing much more many people than nuclear, fukushima included.  future fatalities due to fukushima also included.
                chernobyl included.

                if you have to choose between coal and nuclear, nuclear is a valid choice.

                but saying that you have to choose between coal and nuclear is a false choice.  we can make wind and PV work in the long term.

                sadly, we're out of time and there's no leadership in sight.

                400 ppm and climbing and china and india are about to send us over the cliff.  the U.S., of course, put us on the edge of the cliff.

                big badda boom : GRB 090423

                by squarewheel on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:28:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  They're vastly, vastly dirtier and more expensive (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cynndara, Calamity Jean

          than solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal.

          income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

          by JesseCW on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:26:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  sure (4+ / 0-)

            but I don't see that we are goign to be building these at anywhere near the fast enough rate to be able to take up base load power in the next twenty years.  Maybe if we'd spent that two trillion on renewables instead of pissing it down a rat hole in Iraq, but we didn't.

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:47:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Duke just bought Progress Energy (9+ / 0-)

      Want to see how Progress Energy handles nukes?  Do a Google for "Progress Energy Crystal River".  Then do another Google for "Progress Energy Levy County".

      (snicker)

    •  and when the sun isn't shining? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, Laurence Lewis, cynndara

      what do you do for baseload power?  If you can't allow nukes, and don't want an extensive grid, what is the solution here?

      I've thought about this a lot, and I think that nukes are probably the best option we have for the interim (that is, we need to keep what we have, but building new ones is not likely worth it since they take so damn long to build)

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:20:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're arguing that nukes are the best way to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        patbahn, squarewheel

        avoid a grid?

        Batteries certainly have their downside, but I'll take them over home nuclear plants any day.

        income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

        by JesseCW on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:27:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  no, not al all (4+ / 0-)

          I'm saying that a grid is an absolute must for a zero carbon energy infrastructure.

          Batteries have many downsides, but they'll get better.  This is why I say nuclear is good in the medium term. Once storage is mature, ditch 'em.

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:44:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Medium term doesn't work well for nukes, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            patbahn, JesseCW, JamieG from Md

            IMO. To bring on more nuclear plants is not a medium term timeframe - it takes a couple decades.

            In that period, the improvements in energy storage (batteries, salts, etc) could very well have surpassed the need for nukes.

            "Only a Vulcan mind meld will help with this congress." Leonard Nimoy, 3/1/13

            by nzanne on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 10:05:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why? (0+ / 0-)
              To bring on more nuclear plants is not a medium term timeframe - it takes a couple decades.
              From the time they cut the first check to the time they cut the ribbon at Hoover Dam was 4 years.

              Why are large projects so much more extended now?  There MUST be a standard which all sane parties can agree on which they can meet to streamline acceptance, review, and building.

              The idea that something must be a 20-year project is ridiculous.

              -7.75 -4.67

              "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

              There are no Christians in foxholes.

              by Odysseus on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 11:07:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  no EPA, No EIS, No PLA, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JesseCW

                when we build new dams we try not to wipe out the
                salmon or to cause earthquakes.

              •  Most of the extension (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus

                comes from somebody on the environmental side fighting tooth and nail against them because there pretty much isn't any kind of  ginormous power plant that doesn't impose significant "externalities" on the community or environment.  So until we come up with a way to pay for those externalities with upfront funding for amelioration in a truly proportionate and just manner (as opposed to throwing a sop of broken meat to the beggars), that cost is going to come out of both sides to the conflict in wasted time.  After we come up with that, of course, there will be very few power plants proposed at all, because if they had to actually pay the full pricetag for these monsters, they'd become a lot less attractive as investments.

                •  They're Really Dangerous (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JesseCW

                  The idea that we take a decade or two now to build a nuke plant (that shouldn't be built at all) is really contrary to our usual stupidity of building something quickly that dooms us, and asking questions only when it's too late. These plants are really dangerous, and should take a long time if they're built at all.

                  "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                  by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:41:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The data suggests otherwise. (0+ / 0-)

                    Coal and oil have claimed vastly more lives and polluted much wider areas than nuclear

                    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                    by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 04:20:34 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  They're Really Dangerous Too (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      JesseCW

                      What otherwise do the data suggest? It should take a lot longer to decide to build a coal plant than it does, except to usually decide not to.

                      That's another boondoggle logic you've posed here. Are you really an environmental lawyer? What kind of achievements have you got to your credit?

                      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                      by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 04:43:44 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Coal (0+ / 0-)

                        Produces PM10, which is vastly more dangerous than radioactivity.

                        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                        by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:20:43 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Non Sequitur (0+ / 0-)

                          I stated that it should take many years to build nuke plants because they're dangerous. You said "the data suggests otherwise". How does a coal plant producing fine particulates suggest that it shouldn't take a long time to build a nuke plant?

                          You are beating a straw man so unilaterally that your responses don't even make sense anymore. Nobody ever said we should build more coal plants, so stop arguing that we shouldn't.

                          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                          by DocGonzo on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 08:10:55 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Two points (0+ / 0-)

                            The result of blocking nuclear is more coal, from Germany to Japan.  Thus, we need to evaluate compared to that alternative

                            Second, we need to compare risks to what we already seem acceptable.  Hospitals, cars, and other power plants are all more dangerous in aggregate.  

                            Admittedly I didn't lay that out

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:51:28 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  For a study of relative dangers (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Odysseus

                            New Scientist has a review. coal is roughly three times more dangerous even with Chernobyl included. Natural gas is 50% more deadly.  At 13,000 deaths per year in the US all are dwarfed by cars and guns.  So should we also take decades to build more roads, because if nuclear plants are dangerous, then highways are super super extra dangerous!

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:04:21 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Time for Safety, But Not for False Choices (0+ / 0-)

                            In fact we should take time, money and effort to reduce those other threats to life and limb. We should build more railroads and many more measures to reduce car accidents. Because we have an alternative. Of course we should also remove the hundreds of millions of guns in this country. I'm for repealing the 2nd Amendment and confiscation, however long it takes - and until then, as much time and effort to reduce guns and their use as it takes.

                            Likewise we should take the time to build nuke and coal plants that their danger represents. In fact, as I've been saying, we shouldn't even build them. We don't have as many alternatives as we do with car travel, but we have some, which I've explained.

                            In fact, I've already said all this stuff. You've got an agenda, and you won't drop it. It doesn't matter that you're a million times off base with your comparison of coal to nukes; it doesn't matter that your're in extended overtime arguing a straw man; it doesn't matter that you post non sequitur responses to get back on the track of your agenda. Some lawyer.

                            But it does matter to me. This discussion is boring, because it's repetitive, nonsensical and I'm not learning anything. Since it doesn't seem you are either, I'm done with it.

                            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                            by DocGonzo on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 02:14:47 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  no, I wouldn't expect you to (0+ / 0-)

                            I wouldn't expect you to learn anything.

                            As I pointed out, Fukushima released roughly twenty times as much as the coal industry (which the other guy also ignores) has, not a million.

                            Too bad you don't take climate change seriously as a threat at all, since that won't wait the decades for your time line, nor will it wait for the theoretical development of new technologies.  I mostly find that the "but wait, there will be better technologies later!" argument just a merely more sophisticated form of denialism.  So, yes, I do have an agenda: combating climate change denialism, whether in hard or soft form.

                            Facts are stubborn things and the reality is that the risks of nuclear are dramatically less than you've made them out to be (lightning is more dangerous).  I don't hold with making policy based on superstition when there are actual facts to be had.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 02:37:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  One More thing (0+ / 0-)
                            Too bad you don't take climate change seriously as a threat at all

                            I just explained to you that I'm responsible for cutting 20%+ of the energy consumed in thousands of NYC buildings and beyond.

                            You just explained to me that you're a lawyer doing environmental impact statements, and demonstrated that logic is a stranger to you.

                            I don't take climate change seriously? Fuck you. Seriously, fuck you and your (supposed) lawyer logic.

                            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                            by DocGonzo on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 05:29:25 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Hey (0+ / 0-)

                            You're the one defending coal and natural gas.

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 05:30:15 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Look (0+ / 0-)

                            For all I know you maintain the IT networks, because you have demonstrates little understanding of how energy dispatch and delivery works.  As for logic nearly all your posts have involved insults but nothing in the way of references or serious analysis.  Instead you have presented analysis that simply doesn't hold water at the current moment. You are in no position at all to lecture anyone

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 05:38:57 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  OK, Have Some More (0+ / 0-)

                            It's not every day that I can continue telling a fool lawyer what a fool they are. Of course several of my posts insulted you: I pointed out that you're a terrible lawyer who's incapable of either logic or shutting up when you're caught making up BS.

                            You're the one defending coal and natural gas.

                            I never did any such thing. You have been saying that kind of BS over and over to me in this thread, and it's never been true. I have explicitly condemned coal in response to BS like that from you, but that doesn't stop you from saying it.

                            You should be disbarred. And shackled to Fukushima, which doesn't give off as many curies as a coal plant, right? What a complete poser you are.

                            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                            by DocGonzo on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 12:26:32 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  And FYI (0+ / 0-)

                            That environmental permitting work I do?  It includes getting construction permits for over 2.3 GW nameplate capacity of concentrated solar projects.  

                            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                            by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 05:49:27 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

            •  He/she just said (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Calamity Jean

              not to build MORE nukes, just keep the ones already in service through their scheduled retirement dates while the better technology shakes out.  Those costs are already sunk and the majority of the damage done -- we might as well get as much use out of what we've sacrificed as possible.  Unlike coal, which should be retired as quickly as possible and absitively, posolutely should not have a single 'nother one built.
               

        •  do you we have enough materials to make (0+ / 0-)

          100 GW-hrs worth of batteries ?

          that's a lot of lithium.

          we really need a battery made of silicon or some other material truly common enough not to be a resource constraint.

          oh, never mind, I forgot about all that lithium that's in Afghanistan.

          big badda boom : GRB 090423

          by squarewheel on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 02:05:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why would we use lithium batteries for home (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            squarewheel

            storage?  Weight is not at a premium in that application.

            income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

            by JesseCW on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:12:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  good point - lead acid would probably work (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW

              but, still the numbers are incredible, so we still need a material that's readily available, readily recyclable and won't cause an environmental disaster when we start mining gigatons of it.

              big badda boom : GRB 090423

              by squarewheel on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:20:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  As long as people actually recycle them, lead (0+ / 0-)

                acid batteries aren't too bad.

                I'm not actually an advocate of doing away with the grid - I'm all for making sure it's owned and run by the people and for the people.

                That said, there are probably a million homes in the US it just doesn't make sense to run mile upon mile of line to serve.

                income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

                by JesseCW on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:18:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

                I read an analysis that that much lead would consume all known supplies, just for the US.  Not sure that it was correct though and now I can't find it again

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:20:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  as long as we agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        that building more is not part of the solution, we have a stong baseline. the next question is how do we replace both existing dirty technologies, in the interim. i'd have the government get involved in csp- centralized, but socialized.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:09:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Totally (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laurence Lewis

          My take on nuclear is just that, we probably need to retain existing capacity as backup and retire fossil fuel plants first. By the time those are retired we should have alternative built

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:53:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Need for "baseload" power is a fallacy (0+ / 0-)

        as I explained in a comment above.

        We won't need baseload, but we will need backup power.

        •  Um (0+ / 0-)

          What do you think base load is?  So after the semantic switch, what do you do for backup?  Natural gas?  Coal? Lead batteries?  

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:49:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Baseload" (0+ / 0-)

            is a constant power source running 24/7

            "Backup" is a power source that just comes online only when needed.

            Big difference.

            For the forseeable future, gas turbines can provide backup duties.

            Pumped storage can also work.

            Batteries, flywheels, and hydrogen fuel cells might be viable in the future. Millions of electric cars can be a distributed storage base if connected to a smart grid.

            •  gas turbines? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              offgrid

              whether baseload or backup power, it doesn't avoid the main problem of how to provide power consistently.  You realize that natural gas is very dangerous and releases significant quantities of greenhouse gases?

              Pumped storage capacity might work, but is remarkably inefficient and, well, we'd have to build that, although it sure is a good plan.

              Of course, that only works with an extensive grid and at large scales (given the physics of hydro power), which again gets you back to this notion that there will continue to be a need for utility scale facilities and likely, therefore, utilities and transmission.  IN fact, the same problem applies with natural gas turbines, since you can't exactly run those efficiently in your basement either.

              Even if you dispense with nuclear for more environmentally damaging and dealier alternatives like natural gas, you are still not going to get away from the very practical reasons why an extensive grid is a smart idea when trying to use renewables.

              Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

              by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 02:43:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Absolutely (0+ / 0-)

                I never said that we won't need an extensive grid infrastructure, or utility-scale power. In fact, without the grid, and a "smart" one at that, it won't be possible to switch to renewables.

                Just that the power can be from renewables like wind, PV, solar-thermal, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave and tidal energy, with natural gas, methane from digesters, pumped storage, flywheels, batteries, and hydrogen fuel cells providing the backup power.

                Gas turbines in your basement is a lousy idea, unless you are actually off-grid, and even there it can easily be reduced to a very small fraction of usage.

      •  wind power. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        University of Delaware did a study on Delaware state
        and found between Wind, Offshore wind, Solar, small hydro and bio-mass, they could cover 99% of Delaware's electrical needs.

        •  Not just the state of Delaware. The University (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mindful Nature, JeffW

          of Delaware did the study, but the study covered multiple states in the Northeast, going west as far as Illinois.  Here's a link to the University of Delaware website: http://www.udel.edu/...  .  And it's relatively cheap!  

          “Aiming for 90 percent or more renewable energy in 2030, in order to achieve climate change targets of 80 to 90 percent reduction of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the power sector, leads to economic savings,” the authors observe.

          Renewable energy brings national global security.     

          by Calamity Jean on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:23:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Or to emphasize a key point (0+ / 0-)
            this study, reliability was achieved by: expanding the geographic area of renewable generation
            An all renewable strategy requires storage, wide scale integration or both.  Since storage is still a ways off, transmission based strategies seem the first step

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 10:21:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Bingo (0+ / 0-)

          And that study relied on massive over capacity and large scale regional transmission integration.  This is precisely the approach I am alluding to when I say that a bunch in tiny non connected systems won't work practically.  

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:47:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Geothermal Generation (0+ / 0-)

        Geothermal power is even more reliable than nukes or coal, emits practically nothing once started up, is scalable to larger than nukes even centrally. And the plants are mostly the same infrastructure as nukes, which also just boil water. Plus geothermal plants can be built in a couple of years instead of a decade and more, don't die after 30-40 years, don't store lethal byproducts onsite forever, etc etc. And in fact using CO2 as a working fluid is a way to sequester the stuff under monitoring that can even recover CO2 if some leaks by cracking water if necessary when demand is low - the energy is super cheap.

        So geothermal instead of nukes is the obvious choice. There is no room for nukes anywhere.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:39:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes! Yes! Yes! (0+ / 0-)

          Geothermal would be beyond fabulous.  However it's seems to be really limited as to where you have the resources.   Unless I am mistaken, the eastern US doesn't have much resource.  

          You know the other possibility is solar thermal with molten salt storage.  

          Both require a lot of build out, so those are some ways off, sadly

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:51:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  geothermal causes earthquakes (0+ / 0-)

            molten salt or molten salt batteries looks a lot more promising.

            i suspect we will see a lot of clever solutions coming up, wether it's the growth of plug in cars, integrated to the grid, pumped water storage, molten solar, compressed air, renewable ammonia, biomass, ultra-caps, batteries, etc...

            •  Provide data (0+ / 0-)

              We were discussing what to use right now. Clever future solutions don't cut it.  What do you have in place at a large scale by 2020?

              Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

              by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:20:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  base load energy (0+ / 0-)

                1) we will continue to grow wind.

                2) we will need a much smarter grid. (Right now grid management tools are based upon 1950's relay technology.)

                3) molten salt battery looks useful for small drop outs.

                4) much of the wind access to the grid is driven by poor forecasting and requirements for the MWH sale to the grid.
                we will either need to shorten grid purchases to 15 minute blocks or improve wind forecast accuracy.  There is some exciting work in lidar to get micro scale wind forecasting.

                5) Bio-fuels or renewable fuels make a potential burnable standby when wind drops out

                6) we can develope smarter loads, and instead of always supplying power, we start managing load as well.  In areas with smart meters and variable pricing, load shedding is done by customers on a price metric.  If we stop selling flat rate power and start selling spot power, we could see tremendous flexibility in loads.

                7) i suspect we could really improve the efficiency of large hydro. New raceways, new turbines, all CFD optimized would easily add 10-30% in the efficiency. It's pricy and it's work, but, we could do that.

                8) Small hydro.  Lots of small rivers easily tapped.

                9) Vehicle 2 Grid.  If we had 100 million plug in hybrids on the roads, that's also a couple of quadrillion KWH of motive storage.

                10) i suspect a lot of municipal water towers could be converted to wind pump driven and used as short term
                surge power.  Have a wind turbine atop the tank pumping water up and when you need a quick shot of power, dump some percent down a generator to provide surge.

                i suspect wind will become the new base load, the trick is managing those 15% of the time when it's dropping out.
                Moving that yield from 30% to 85% will consume a lot of engineering hours.

                It's been done before.  Nuclear plants used to have only 40% uptime, now they are 96% uptime.

                •  I think we have the same vision (0+ / 0-)

                  I think this is close to the list we will end up with.  A lot of these will involve utility scale generation and utility scale transmission.  Part of my reaction to the diary is that it rejects this approach of integrating wind regionally and rejects concentrated solar technologies (which can only be done on a utility scale).  I think that until this is fully built out we face a question of what back up sources we should use.  The full storage molten salt has not been deployed yet (existing plants extend the peak into the evening, but not overnight).   Thus, we have a gap to fill with either coal, gas or nuclear.  Of the three, which do you choose?  I prioritize climate change and public health, so gas and coal are out.

                  (And smart meters are critical, but the cuckoo nimbys are in full freak out mode on that. It seems to be the new target of the antivaxer crowd. Don't get me started)

                  Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                  by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:34:13 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Earthquakes of ricther 3.4 (0+ / 0-)

              Again, we find a complete lack of scale.  swarms of small earthquakes are not a particularly large concern.  

              Climate change and PM10 are both more serious.

              Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

              by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:52:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  the Oklahoma 5.6 (0+ / 0-)

                was driven by groundwater injection

                http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                if we scale Geothermal we will have this same problem.

                •  To quote your source (0+ / 0-)
                  In November 2011 several geologists with the USGS that were contacted by Huffington Post said that the 5.6 magnitude quake was not due to the mechanical process of hydraulic fracturing itself, which they said causes tremors on a much smaller scale.[10]
                  Maybe there a contribution, maybe not.  As a Californian, I am a lot more scared of climate change and particulate pollution for fossil fuels than a 5.6 earthquake that may or may not have anything to do with a process that may or may not be similar to geothermal effects (note: injection across a whole oil field over decades is rather different in scale than a geothermal plant, I would expect).

                  Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                  by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:26:04 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  read ref 11 (0+ / 0-)

                    http://geology.gsapubs.org/...

                    Significant earthquakes are increasingly occurring within the continental interior of the United States, including five of moment magnitude (Mw) ≥ 5.0 in 2011 alone. Concurrently, the volume of fluid injected into the subsurface related to the production of unconventional resources continues to rise. Here we identify the largest earthquake potentially related to injection, an Mw 5.7 earthquake in November 2011 in Oklahoma. The earthquake was felt in at least 17 states and caused damage in the epicentral region. It occurred in a sequence, with 2 earthquakes of Mw 5.0 and a prolific sequence of aftershocks. We use the aftershocks to illuminate the faults that ruptured in the sequence, and show that the tip of the initial rupture plane is within ∼200 m of active injection wells and within ∼1 km of the surface; 30% of early aftershocks occur within the sedimentary section. Subsurface data indicate that fluid was injected into effectively sealed compartments, and we interpret that a net fluid volume increase after 18 yr of injection lowered effective stress on reservoir-bounding faults. Significantly, this case indicates that decades-long lags between the commencement of fluid injection and the onset of induced earthquakes are possible, and modifies our common criteria for fluid-induced events. The progressive rupture of three fault planes in this sequence suggests that stress changes from the initial rupture triggered the successive earthquakes, including one larger than the first.

                    and you may not be impressed by a 5.7 MM EQ but in seismically dead regions it a big shaker.  we had one of these about a quarter mile from the Lake Anna nuclear station,  Shook the bejeesus of the station and dropped the lake level 1.5 meters.  if that lake failed the rac looses it's cooling sink,

                    •  Still doesn't address the other issues (0+ / 0-)

                      One is that there is significant disagreement on this mechanism, and second there is a matter of scale.  A single geothermal plant has a lot less injection that widespread oilfields operating over the course of a century. What is the scale here

                      Finally, I still think minor earthquakes are a lot less bad than having hundreds of millions die from climate change. Relying solely as yet undeveloped perfect technologies at some undetermined date in the future is pretty unwise

                      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                      by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:23:11 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  And how can Oklahoma be called seismically dead (0+ / 0-)

                      You do realize the biggest quake in Us history was in Missouri?

                      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                      by Mindful Nature on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:24:08 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Earthquakes (0+ / 0-)

              Forced fluid injection at some faults can cause earthquakes. Too bad, since those are some of the best places to reach geothermal sources. But they're far from the only places. We're routinely drilling many miles into the crust far from faults. There's plenty of geothermal far from faults.

              And indeed more research might find that removing lubricating oil/gas and even slippery coal from faults risks earthquakes that are mitigated by replacing the mined fuel with geothermal working fluid.

              "Batteries" (energy storage) are the most urgent energy research right now. But they're not generation - they're storage. Yes, better batteries will let us use the energy we already receive but at inconvenient times. But geothermal and other baseload generation (like wave/tide/current) is necessary. Any storage will have inefficiencies (starting with the energy invested in building, maintaining and recycling the storage system), while geothermal generation is on-demand retrieval from storage in the ground.

              Also consider that geothermal plants are mostly the same infrastructure as coal and nuke plants, differing only in the component that generates heat (and which requires no supply or storage of fuel or waste). We can directly replace most coal and nuke plants on site with geothermal generation. Existing plants can even use their off-peak capacities while in legacy operation to drill and build geothermal. So probably under 2 years construction, with possibly only weeks or months dowtime to switch. This is ideal. And any nuke plant on a fault should just be shut down anyway, without building geothermal there.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:37:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Jerome a Paris made this point this week (15+ / 0-)

    and we are seeing places that are really getting this to work for them.  One of the things I read is that it is quite effective for homes but it is not going to power plants and manufacturing nor travel long distances.

    The future will be smaller cities and more local production.  The reason they stirr up the locals against speed rail is that will speed up this happening.  Cheap incress and egress into the cities allows a lot of close remote to develope.  But it is smaller to be sustainable and less profitable to big corps and no more tract housing etc.

    •  between wind and PV (6+ / 0-)

      i suspect it will work out for factory work. The parking lots are high potential collector areas.

    •  Can you link to that article? Thx. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yuriwho, Words In Action

      This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

      by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:59:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  this is contradictory (5+ / 0-)

      first, utilities aren't particularly opposed to high speed rail.  Mostly, it is NIMBYs and deficit scolds (read, anti-environmentalists generally).

      Second, I am seeing a lot of people who don't seem to be understanding that switching to renewables requires wider geographical integration, not more local.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:23:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nonsense. Again, look to the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, patbahn, DocGonzo

        REC model. County and several county systems, with access to the main grid to feed in and out when needed. Rural installations to power farms, metal churches, strip malls and factories directly during their peak daylight usage, village to mid-size town distributed installations on roofs and common acreage as well.

        All that needs is overnight supply if the wind's not blowing, and that can be accomplished by using a little of the daytime excess to pump water if necessary for hydro generation. Which doesn't have to be big time, just has to be enough to power the lowest demand time period.

        Cities will always need a lot of power, though even they could turn off some lights at night - worked out okay for Japan when they lost nearly half their generating capacity one day in 2011 (and a quarter of it isn't ever coming back). Demand is its lowest in many decades right now due to the engineered depression. Which also means people aren't able to pay ever-increasing utility rates and surcharges for new capacity nobody needs.

        Try thinking outside the Megalopolis box. This can be done, now is the perfect time to do it.

        •  Cities could cut LOTS (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joieau, Mindful Nature, Calamity Jean

          of power.  Drive through one at night, and look at all the stupid advertising, signs, flashing lights and digital billboards wasting power and lighting the night sky WHILE NO ONE IS EVEN AWAKE to see them.  Cities could conserve a LOT of power, but businesses see all that fancy lighting as a marketing necessity, locked in competition with their neighbors who are similarly ratcheted up in excess spending.  Simple regulations that imposed uniform rules on all the glitz could do wonders, and have been used in just about every highly-developed civilization since Babylon.

        •  If you build vast storage capacity (0+ / 0-)

          That could work.  Otherwise a renewable system with limited storage requires large scale integration.  It could be integration of small legal entities, but it would need to integrate production over large areas if you don't dam every river in the country, etc.

          Ultimately good storage will address a ton of these issues

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:23:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Congressman to Utilities: And what am I bid (8+ / 0-)

    to give my vote to hinder alternatives?

    Well, not one congress person, but a few hundred. What the heck, the Utilities can put the payments into our bills.

    But, in the end, they're still going to lose. I wonder how long they'll delay things, if at all. And then I wonder how we can move things along more quickly.


    If Republicans said every 3rd person named "Smith" should hang, we'd bargain them to every 7th. Then we'll see apologia written praising this most pragmatic compromise. There's our losing formula.

    by Jim P on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:18:37 PM PDT

    •  I don't think the utilities can hinder any longer (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, Jim P, patbahn, Calamity Jean

      That particular horse is out of the barn.

      There will probably always be large industrial customers tethered to the grid, but even the largest among those have been seeing the benefits of going with local cogeneration plants for the past decade or two.

      The electric utility monopoly business model that's been in place for over 100 years is truly a dinosaur on the verge of extinction, and there's no turning back the clock.

      "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

      by Richard Cranium on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:13:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The economic model has to change. (6+ / 0-)

    Profit = exploitation.

    Exploitation = something for nothing.

    Exploitation has to end.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 12:30:40 AM PDT

  •  There would still be a use for utilities (23+ / 0-)

    The power grid is very useful in a distributed solar power generation system.

    Ideally, every building would have enough photovoltaics to meet its net energy needs but making sure there isn't any times of shortage and that energy from excess power isn't wasted makes the grid very useful and someone has to maintain those transmission lines and provide some utility scale energy storage and maybe some backup utility scale power plants.

    That said however, this sort of power utility wouldn't be profitable since they would no longer be in the business of selling electricity but rather of storing and transmitting energy produced by others for the sake of efficiency.

    The good news for me is that I live in Nebraska with our socialized public power.  NPPD already doesn't make any profit and exists solely to serve the public good so its no skin off their backs if we change to a distributed solar power system.  All you poor saps who don't have socialized electricity might be seeing some push back though.

    PS, it have always found it strange the Nebraska, one the most conservative States in the country, is the only State to have 100% public power.

    "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

    by Quanta on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 12:46:35 AM PDT

    •  That is strange. But in a good way. n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheDuckManCometh, Calamity Jean

      "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

      by Bisbonian on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 05:54:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not so strange (6+ / 0-)

      A true conservative doesn't have a problem with publicly managed resources and services.

      The people who call themselves conservatives now are actually reactionaries.

    •  But is currently limited to about 15% (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mindful Nature, offgrid

      wind and solar input in the USA (which is already saturated in parts of California and Hawaii).

      To get around this, utilities will have to NOT become obsolete, but instead much more sophisticated with greatly updated infrastructure.

    •  Socialized Public Power (6+ / 0-)

      Our power grid and it's energy sources are the foundation of our economic system and our literal survival, leaving them in the hands of for-profit companies is insane. John Lennon's idea of "Power To The People" should mean we all have a socialized, intelligent energy grid that is re-structred for massive wind/solar inputs.

      "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

      by US Blues on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:24:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We need a different word. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean, linkage

        Americans have been taught to run in terror at the words "socialism" or "socialist", to the point where it isn't even worth it to fight the fnord any more.  "Community" works much better.  Even if the "community" gets fairly extended.  "Public" isn't too awful, as long as you can avoid admitting that it's "government", which has been captured by the 1% for so long that ordinary people have good justifications not to trust it.

        But yes, public infrastructure should be publicly owned and operated for the public good.  That's why Washington set up the US Postal Service.  Why FDR originally set up Rural Electrification.  It's why Eisenhower signed off on the Interstate System.  Large-scale public works are useful tools for supporting the entire national enterprise.  Even the Romans built roads and set up a "post" system on the public bill.  Transport and communications are essential to a functioning nation and can't be trusted to grow ad hoc according to the profits of individual investors.  Health, education, and public safety are essential goods that don't respond well to market forces.  Military defense works lousy on a contract basis.  These are all things that should be handled by the government if it wants to stay "in business".

    •  left over populist era legislation (0+ / 0-)

      ALEC hasn't gotten around to destroying that yet.

  •  If their business model is good utilities (4+ / 0-)

    will do just fine.

    Let the market decide.

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 04:00:20 AM PDT

    •  it won't decide (2+ / 0-)

      because the energy industry is super super regulated. (This is because utilities are natural monopolies). A huge amount of investment and so forth is driven by the policies and laws we pursue.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:26:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And here you are telling us (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, patbahn, cynndara, Calamity Jean

        that for-profit utility megaliths (such as Duke/Progress) and public ones (like TVA) have no say in what the regulations are and whether or not they're enforced, and can't buy their way to big rate hikes whenever they want. That's total garbage, well understood from here inside a state with energy policies completely controlled by one such megalith.

        I live in a 28-foot square cabin on acreage as far into the wilderness as people are allowed to live. No AC, we heat with wood. It's not like we're big consumers, but our electric bill averages $250 a month. And now they're getting 17% more. People in my region simply can't afford that, and are busily installing alternatives. I can install a 5 kW plug-n-play solar system on my roof for a total of $15K right now, less than the price of a decent used car. Even with a higher interest type 5-year loan (like for a decent used car), it would make its own payments all the way through just in savings on the monthly bill from Duke. That is well worth it, and will be done when the 'stead is finally paid for free and clear this time next year. When it'll cost even less.

        •  you can lease a system (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joieau, Calamity Jean

          from Solar City also

          but I like owning my system

        •  No (0+ / 0-)

          Notice even you concede that they have to get rate increases from regulators and that retail prices are not set on a market. Maybe the regulators are captured, maybe the rates are too generous, but they are still set by regulators.  

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:08:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Photovoltaics and even wind together aren't enough (6+ / 0-)

    for high density living spaces (i.e. large cities) especially in the dark of winter far north (or south in the southern hemisphere). Someone will still have to deliver energy from further out to the cities. And someone will have to maintain the distribution infrastructure in the cities.

    An entitiy independent of the energy producer is necessary to prevent production monopoly. Utilites are regulated to prevent gouging of the customers.

    Some people may be able to go off grid, but certainly not poor people.

    •  In practice, impractical... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      just another vet

      There isn't enough wind in most metro areas to be viable. A solar array big enough to power a house (when the sun is shining) will set you back $30k at least. Figure on at least $10k for a natural gas fueled generator for backup, and that'll have to be tied to a different utility grid, the gas distribution system.

    •  We're borderline 'poor' (6+ / 0-)

      (and still supporting others), we get no breaks on our electric bill for that. Rather, it goes up and up - never down - and it's the biggest bill other than mortgage we have to pay.

      But our mortgage is paid off in April of next year. That's a big monthly expense we'll no longer have, will invest in solar, micro-hydro and wind immediately. That will more than supply our usage, Duke will have to pay us for the rest. Two big-money birds slain with one stone!

      Don't bet the farm that this won't happen all over the country so quickly it'll make Duke-ly heads spin.

      •  when things go exponential (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, Calamity Jean

        it happens faster then you can imagine.

        People are looking at 5-10 year pay backs and
        if they are motivated, that's a real simple thing.

        We rebuilt this country during WW2 and did it again
        afterwards, and before during both the new deal and the Interstate era.  

        If we pour it on and people decide to stop consuming carbon, 80% can vanish in the blink of an eye.

        •  Absolutely. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          patbahn

          And while Duke, et al. can have their pet legislators pass dumb laws and stop offering tax credits and feed-ins, people will STILL purchase and install alternative energy systems just so they don't have to remain forever indentured to Duke, et al.

          For my situation, simply eliminating the electric bill is plenty good reason enough to go for it as soon as possible. And because we were foresighted enough to purchase our 'stead on a 15-year plan with mortgage held by the previous owner, that 'soon' is very quickly approaching. Plans are laid, means will be available.

          Duke, et al. can't stop us because they do not control us. They do top-down. We'll go bottom-up and pull the rug right out from under them. Long before their new nuclear pipe dreams even get construction permits for what will in truth never be built.

          •  i suspect any nuke station (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau, melo

            without a funding commitment in 2 years will never get built.

            The compounded price drop in PV is something spectacular, and if we see the trend continue in wind turbines, i think the
            renewable industry will just dominate.

            I saw a chart that back in the 70's a PV array was $75/watt,
            jsut for cells,  now we are 60 cents/watt and that's for modules.  

            The real costs are now people driven, and as jurisdictions continue to learn, these costs will decline.  

            Any financier who is not aware of the danger faced by their investments will soon be out of the business.

            I am optimistic this change will happen soon, wether it's soon enough to protect the polar caps is unknown.

            •  No new nukes will (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              patbahn, melo

              come on line, and those filthy antiques we've already got will steadily diminish by attrition or sudden sanity. Not one commercial reactor in this country has ever come in on time or on budget, and it's been 30+ years since new ones were even a twinkle in any utilities magnate's eye. The less than handful of new ones recently ordered have already more than doubled in cost and they haven't really gotten started building yet. Every year that goes by adds another ~700 tons of high level waste per plant, and they still don't have a safe place to put it during the 250,000 years or so that it'll remain deadly to humans and other living things. Which is longer, just so you know, than modern humans have existed on this planet.

              GE's getting out of the business altogether, even Exelon's recently ex-CEO admits nukes make zero economic sense. The money's tight - by design - and what there is of it is going into renewables.

              Apart from the nuke's usual annual lion's share of goodies from the gub'ment teat, that is. Without which the industry wouldn't exist at all. There's about $50 billion a year that could be cut from the budget over the next couple of decades if the pols were serious about deficit control. Or it could be re-invested wisely in decentralized kinetic energy sources and solar, modernization of the grid. Which right now loses up a third of the electricity that does get generated, any source.

              But just as drug decriminalization won't happen so long as there's dirty money to be made in cartels and drug wars, energy independence won't happen so long as there's money to be made from fossil fuels and their associated wars.

              We the people will just have to do it anyway, without them.

  •  I buy 100% utility wind green electricity from AEP (5+ / 0-)

    The goal should be to reduce greenhouse gases the most
    and for the next two decades that is more utility grade wind.

  •  Large utilities only go away if they choose to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    It is up to them whether they take their very substantial place in a renewable-based power system with distributed generation.  

    That place includes some very large, and potentially profitable parts. Transmission of power to densely populated areas that can't support themselves on wind, tides, and solar, transmission network management (including coordination of backup power), and project finance or site leasing for renewable systems won't go away.

    I recognize the history of large centralized companies making these types of basic business changes is not encouraging, but nothing says they can't.

  •  Best news I've heard (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cynndara, Calamity Jean, melo

    in a while.

    When the dinosaurs start getting worried, you know the message is reaching their brains.

    What's the point of letting neoliberals into the tent when neoliberalism is burning down the campground?

    by Words In Action on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:47:55 AM PDT

  •  Our home is 90% renewable energy. (9+ / 0-)

    Wind and solar.  My husband did all the work himself (self aught) and we have happily cut our utility bill to a mere fragment of what it once was.  The only things left on the grid are my stove, ovens, and dryer.  We plan to convert them to gas in the near future.  It is SO worth it!

    being mindful and keepin' it real

    by Raggedy Ann on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:51:56 AM PDT

  •  As someone who works in the transmission side (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nzanne, cynndara

    of the industry I am very curious about this. First off, it still seems to rely on natural gas to a large degree. This means more drilling (which is causing lots of problems), the use of another part of our infrastructure which needs major improvement and upkeep (the pipes), and of course the pollution made by burning natural gas.

    You will still need a distribution network of lines to spread this power out. I also wonder about redundancy in the system.

    I am not in any way against any of this; what I do wonder about is the nuts and bolts of making it work.

    "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

    by just another vet on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:57:32 AM PDT

    •  There probably will be considerable reliance on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, just another vet
      First off, it still seems to rely on natural gas to a large degree.
      natural gas during the transition period, but once complete gas should be no more than 1% of power produced.  
      You will still need a distribution network of lines to spread this power out.
      Absolutely!  Spreading wind and solar generation over a large geographic area reduces the "intermittent" nature by putting the generating equipment under different weather conditions.

      Renewable energy brings national global security.     

      by Calamity Jean on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:41:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It'll be interesting, for sure. (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think this transition is all good or all bad. I just think it's a thing that's going to happen. So the nuts and bolts are something I'm curious about, too.

      The down side of all this is...it's going to make electricity more expensive for poor people.

      As folks leave centralized power, the utilities will need to charge more per person to cover the cost of the huge power plants. Poor people will be the last adopters of decentrlalized systems.

      We need to be careful to be sure they have options

  •  I see the (mostly usual) (4+ / 0-)

    nuclear loving crowd is busily poo-pooing in the comments.

    Same old same old 'but what about when the sun doesn't shine' and 'we'll still need transmission!' comments.

    •  I see a small amount (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nzanne, Calamity Jean

      of comments supporting nuclear (I don't). As to transmission, of course we need some way to spread this power out. Either distribution of natural gas, or distribution of the power generated by solar cells to places that can't generate enough on their own.

      "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

      by just another vet on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:21:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There have been some pretty spiffy improvements in (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        just another vet, patbahn

        battery technology of late (last few years) that haven't made it to the production stage yet.  Way things are going, 'transmission' might end up meaning battery deliveries rather than expensive to maintain, easy to disrupt power lines in a lot of places.

        •  The holy grail (4+ / 0-)

          as it were. Batteries that is. I am all for it if and when that becomes the norm.

          I guess for me it comes down to having heard this all talked about for some time now. Right now I am designing transmission lines for wind farms. Hope one day solar farms are added to the production side.

          Have felt for a long time that every roof should have panels on them. Those panels should all be connected to a grid so that excess power from one location can be spread to places that need more than they can produce themselves.

          Its a long game that we have to stay committed to. Nothing happens overnight. But it can happen if the will and drive are there and are maintained.

          "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

          by just another vet on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:39:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

          But they aren't close to market yet.  Those of us who know something about he grid understand that transmission is a big issue that has to be considered when trying to figure out how to provide reliable zero carbon power.  No amount of hippy dippy wishful thinking changes that basic reality.  

          In the interim until effective storage is deployed at a large scale, what the hell do you do for nighttime base load power?  Answer that without resorting to storage capacity that does not exist yet, please

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:34:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  BTW, regardless of the renewable bonus of PV (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DocGonzo, Calamity Jean, melo

    I've always been a big fan of PV because it decentralizes the power grid and helps to erode the monopoly of the utilities.

    so "micro-generation" is a good thing.

    the utilities should be maintainers of the grid, we should shift them out of the power generation business.

    big badda boom : GRB 090423

    by squarewheel on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 02:09:16 PM PDT

  •  Gas Generator Heats the House (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo

    Just switching from the electric grid to an onsite gas (natgas, propane) generator can save money on your bill. But if you run the generator's radiator through your water heater, or space heater, you can capture the other 70%+ of the energy from the gas. You'd be cutting your electric bill in half (during heating season). You might even be able to run the generator to make excess electricity you sell back to the grid at full price, depending on your state. And if using propane, you'd have it stored onsite so you'd be independent when storms or incompetence breaks the grid.

    Unfortunately, that setup makes more emissions than centralized "Combined Cycle Gas Turbines", which do the same thing but overall become highly efficient. Not just during heating season, but year-round when the heat makes steam that powers other electric generation - to 85% of the gas energy coming out as electricity.

    Which is why it's an excellent support to solar: the solar cuts the consumption of gas while it's running, especially outside heating season, and so not only cuts costs, but cuts emissions, too.

    To go whole hog, replace your heating/cooling system with radiant floors or ceilings, which are more efficient (probably cut your energy consumption by 25%+ from straight fuel), powered by geothermal heat pumps, which are powered by solar. With the gas generator for backup. Yes it's complex, but that's because it's tailored to how we actually get and use energy rather than the wasteful 20th Century one size fits all. And yes it'll take 5-7 years to break even on a 5 figure investment, but that means you're getting 14-20% return on investment even at current utility prices - on a principal that's already a good seed for retirement savings. After 20 years you'd turn $50K spent into something like $700K to almost $2M, plus adding $60K+ (nontaxable) value to your home by completing the project.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 02:48:46 PM PDT

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