Tag: Energy

National Grid Sucks

There I said it. They should be broken up post haste.

For example they want another double digit increase in the price of electricity in Rhode Island. They say it’s restricted gas supply from the two pipelines that supply us. I call bullshit as the Port of Providence gets regular deliveries of Compressed Natural Gas.

So try again National Grid. I’m lobbying my elected representatives to take another look at re-regulating you guys at National Grid. And I’m encouraging friends to do the same. I want SERIOUS regulation of the incumbent power provider.

But I think the real reason for your rate increases is due to the adoption of clean energy projects all over the state. For example – I see a number of wind turbines up as I drive along I-95 between Providence and Warwick, RI. Each of those turbines produces approximately 1 megawatt. There are about a dozen of those babies now dotting the highway, the biggest installation is the three turbines at Fields Point sewage processing plant.

Plus I see a lot more solar going up on houses. This all chips away at National Grid’s revenue stream. So much so that the leading investment houses see a very dim future for incumbent power providers like National Grid. I guess National Grid is in a tough spot – declining revenue and declining investment spell fire sale sooner than later.

And I have to say it, the “Here with you, here for you!” campaign is only so much bovine effluent.

So in the end I want to see National Grid fully regulated. It may be the only way they can stave off their own demise.

Maybe it’s time to think differently

I’m not a big fan of fracking – I see it as environmentally too expensive and security destabilizing. Plus there is what we do with those fossil fuels right now as in burn them – releasing tons of CO2 into the air along with all sorts of other nastiness.

And most recently I’ve read that Oklahoma is experiencing an increased number of earthquakes. They suspect it’s due to oil and gas mining operations.

Here’s my proposal. It’s going to sound far fetched but the technology currently exists to do this, if only we diverted say $100 billion or so away from the U.S. Military machine each year.

Build robotic spacecraft to mine Saturn VI aka Titan. It’s a hyrdrocarbon aka Methane world. Suck up the liquid product transport it back to orbit and retro it back to Earth. Only don’t burn it – use it to energize fuel cells – the byproduct of which would be electricity and water. Then if you want burn it. But extract as much as you can out of it before doing so. Imagine spacecraft the size of ocean going ships that currently carry natural gas. Ion propulsion would work too. And with that Ion propulsion the cost of getting it back to Earth would be relatively inexpensive.

The Obama hatred

I cannot understand the people who will CONTINUALLY attack President Obama. I had posted this on facebook:

Rmoney Refund

And here’s the comment thing:

Now you have to understand, Carol is my aunt on my fathers side.

But if there is one thing I cannot tolerate – never make a statement without solid evidence to back it up. I don’t tolerate “Because I said so!” gladly. I’m one for calling people out, throwing down the gauntlet, you know if you read this blog I’m not a shrinking violet. I don’t care who you are, be you poet, priest or politician or even relative. When you make ridiculous statements, I’m going to call you out on it.

My reply got truncated but my last bon mot to my Aunt was this:

And not for anything Carol, you don’t get to be EDITOR of the Harvard Law Review if you’re a bad student. It’s becoming painfully obvious that you have something against President Obama because he’s black. I’ve called on your veiled racism before. Yet you will continue to insist that isn’t the case. From where I see it, you’re getting pretty full of it.

The other thing my aunt refuses to acknowledge is that we are in fact running out of oil. When you have to start drilling on a horizontal plane to extract oil from shale, it’s getting scarce. That’s why I support solar, wind, tidal, you name it. And why I want to change the United States and the world for the better, by developing energy storage systems, my primary target being motor vehicles.

But my aunt, she seems to think she knows it all. She won’t admit that she’s watching Fox News. But based on her posts on facebook, I’m pretty sure she does.

Maybe it’s something in the water in Florida.

When the U.S. was capable of greatness and how we can get there again

I think one of the shining moments of human achievement happened during the 1960’s with the space program.

I’ve been watching the Moon Machines series on YouTube.  For example, here’s part 1 of the Lunar Rover:

The Apollo program employed, as the program likes to say, over 400,000 engineers and technicians spread across hundreds of companies. Think about that for a moment.

Tell me, what projects and ideas could we use to push the United States firmly into the 21st and 22nd century?

I’ve written a lot about what I consider to be a disruptive change that we could accomplish and I’ll elaborate:

We need alternative energy sources but the key factor is that all of them have to produce electricity. If there is one thing we have learned over time is that electric power is the most efficient energy transmission method. So in that vein I am focusing on a common object that nearly everyone has or uses. It’s the motor vehicle.

Put it this way, there were over 60 million cars produced in 2011. As to the number of them on the road, it’s just shy of a billion cars. With an  average of 12,500 miles per year and you get the following emissions per vehicle:

  • Carbon Dioxide: 11,450lbs
  • Carbon Monoxide: 575lbs
  • Nitrous Oxide: 38.2lbs
  • Hydrocarbons: 77.1 lbs

Now let’s exten those out by the billion cars:

  • Carbon Dioxide:  11,450,000,000,000lbs – 11.45 Trillion Pounds of CO2
  • Carbon Monoxide: 575,000,000,000lbs – 575 Billion Pounds of CO
  • Nitrous Oxide:  38,200,000,000 – 38 Billion Pounds of NO2
  • Hydrocarbons: 77,100,000,000 – 77.1 Billion Pounds of Hydrocarbons

Those are the four main pollutant groups for land based motor vehicles and excludes ships that use bunker oil.

13 Trillion pounds of pollutants. We can do better.

Now imagine if we put the money and talent behind electric energy storage devices. This is a game changer in a few respects as cars require about 20kW at a minimum. Your house on average uses about 1kW per hour.

So how do we pay for this? It’s simple, cut the military and Pentagon budgets by 33% to 50%. But don’t just put the money aside. Instead put it into advance research and development. Shore up the electric vehicles. Because I truly believe that we can create a battery of sorts that can store enough energy to propel a motor vehicle for 500+ miles between charges, and that we can also charge that battery pack withing 15 to 20 minutes.

Then of course there are government incentives to ditch internal combustion machines and change out for electric vehicles. Massive subsidies – again all of the money won’t go into R&D.

The positive impacts:

1) You no longer need a large military machine to protect the oil lifeline. Instead they can be purely for the defense of the country only. No foreign misadventure anymore.

2) The environmental benefits would be astounding.  Imagine 13 Trillion pounds of pollutants and contaminants removed from our atmosphere. Incidence of asthma and other respiratory diseases would decrease. And then there’s noise, internal combustion engines waste a lot of energy as noise.

3) The Middle East radicals would be denied money to propagate their twisted views. Foreign policy gets a lot easier when we’re not subsidizing radicalism.

In essence, it would be another moon shot program of sorts, only this time one that directly benefits EVERYONE in the world.



Future Wind Energy Could Meet All Our Needs

There is an article in the LA Times about wind power. The best area for wind just happens to be off the Atlantic coast of the U.S.

Shallow water wind projects could provide 20% of our energy needs. Going into deeper water would provide ALL of it.

I think we should plow straight ahead on wind and solar projects. Wind projects for the eastern half of the country, solar projects for the western half. We need to begin moving away from using coal, oil and natural gas to generate electricity.

The electrical generators in this country are only 2.45% that are fueled by oil. The rest are king coal and natural gas. Was use 1.053 billion tons of coal a year. We use 6.6 trillion cubic feet of gas per year to generate electricity. 23 trillion cubic feet overall going for heating water, spaces and industrial processes.

But the environmental benefit of cutting use of coal, gas and oil would be spectacular.

Then of course we’re seeing progress being made with electric vehicles. Ranges are popping up toward the 200 mile mark, and prices are still a bit high. I think we need strong government subsidies to stimulate the electric car market.

And look at this. This little1973 Datsun 1200. It smokes EVERYTHING. That is because right off the line, electric motors deliver 100% of their power, most of all torque is constant. They call the car the White Zombie.

An 11.554 quarter mile? And this thing does 0-60 in < 3 seconds. How freakin awesome is that. Now electric cars on the roads of course won’t be doing 11 second quarter miles. So the gear heads don’t need to worry, they’ll still be able to connect a batter to an electric motor and pretty much wipe out any competition.

The video lets you see the power of electricity over internal combustion. Why else do you think railroads use a diesel power generator to send current to the drive wheels? Phenomenal torque and power!

I do note our local transit authority is putting in for hybridized buses, these employ the same scheme as the trains, not the bizarro method used in motor vehicles. Not to mention, the average transit bus gets maybe 10MPG, hybridizing them quadruples it to 40MPG. Consider most buses ply city streets and you can add up the fuel savings.

And lets face it, most of our commutes are generally 40 miles round trip. Electric cars with ranges of even 150 miles would make perfect sense for us.

The real truth about gas prices

Check out this article and tell me that the oil companies and refiners aren’t colluding to push prices up. Tell me there isn’t price fixing going on.

The relevant paragraph comes about 10 paragraphs in:

Refineries have cut the number of barrels of crude oil they processed weekly to 14.5 million during December, from 15.4 million, according to the Energy Department. The tighter supplies are putting pressure on retail prices.

If you remember supply and demand from your macroeconomics classes you recall that if you tighten supply, price rises. The point at which the price and supply cross is called equilibrium where you’re getting the best price for the production.

But now we have the refineries playing games. I wonder who owns the refineries. Could it be the oil companies? Maybe even OPEC? Now that would make sense if you think about it. Control oil at the point of production and the point of processing.

This is why we must invest in technologies to get us off oil and we must do so promptly.

I truly believe we could have an electric car that costs anywhere from $15,000 up to $25,000 and gets 200 to 300 mpc (miles per charge) using super capacitors or advanced battery technology that can be recharged in minutes rather than hours.

More to the point we could ramp up production of these vehicles within two years. There will be opposition though, do you think entrenched oil will go down that easily?

But I think heavy government subsidies are going to be necessary to push the electric vehicle.

Then the despots of the world like the Saudi’s, Venezuelans and the like can go pound fucking sand.

Someone gets it! The ludicrous nature of National Grid requests

There seems to be a general sense of outrage against corporate interference in our lives and our government. it’s not something you’ll ever see in the mainstream media, you have to be able to think for yourself and realize that all this time we’ve never had control of our government during the last century and a half. Instead, we’ve seen the ascendancy of the corporation as ruler.

Read up on the history of what General Motors did to striking workers in the 1920’s. They essentially paid thugs to beat the crap out of those seeking better working conditions and pay. Nice huh? People say you can’t battle a nameless, faceless corporation. Not true, those corporations have two things that we can use to control them.

The first is that the officers of the company have liability. We’ve seen this over and again when the heads of corporations have been put on trial, sentenced, and served their time. But I don’t think this is quite good enough as the corporation goes on and on, barely buffeted by the event.

Instead, I’d like to see revocation of corporate charter. Without that you can’t hide behind the false legal identity of a corporation. Without that charter it would be necessary to liquidate corporate assets. Maybe take the money that was gained from liquidation and roll it into government coffers and use it to pay for universal health care, or maybe fix our crumbling infrastructure.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen far too many instances of utility and energy companies shitting upon their customers, and the customers paying for the ‘privilege’.

National Grid’s request for a rate increase to cover losses incurred through conservation efforts, when also coupled with their request that the ratepayers finance their advertising campaign to get more customers to switch to natural gas is just the icing on the cake.

It goes back to when it was Narragansett Electric. They were just beginning the I-195 relocation project and it involved moving high tension electric wires that ran over India Point Park. A long and lengthy battle ensued with the end result being that we the customer paid to bury those ugly cables.

How about the wasted effort and energy expenditure by the chief counsel for environmental affairs at the Department of Attorney General. I wouldn’t want to see Mike Rubin out of a job, but the crap he goes through just to get what was then PG&E to install scrubbers and water coolers is ridiculous.

It’s been proven time and again that installing scrubbers and other technologies would be a small cost for utility and energy companies. But through their insipid resistance, we see a change in our ecosystem. Cold water fish are migrating further out from Narragansett bay, all because a power plant operator doesn’t want to spend a little cash.

Put it this way, go down by National Grid’s power plant in downtown Providence and look at the water near it in the dead of January. Notice it’s still liquid and flowing? That’s the waste heat from the power plant. Even they won’t cool the water down before discharge.

Of course corporations in general don’t realize that if you keep stretching people, they’re going to break at some point and when they do, there go the profits.

I was talking to my father about this. He wants to go off grid with solar and wind but I explained to him that he should keep a close eye on the actions of the incumbent energy provider. Why? Read what I’ve written above about revenue protection measures for National Grid. Lets say my father goes off-grid and sells power BACK to the power company.

No way in hell he’d get from the company what he pays them for electricity. He’d be lucky if he got half. And I told him that he shouldn’t put it past the company to enact a tax the penalizes those going off grid. At least not when they have the stones that National Grid has where they asked for more money because of a revenue drop off due to conservation.

It’s similar to friends of ours. They have a cute house in the southern half of RI that uses a cesspool. Yet they still pay a sewer assessment because the pipe for the sewer runs past their house. I find it hard to believe the employees of the Warwick water board can keep a straight face when they tell people that even though they aren’t hooked up to the system, they still have to pay for it.

Anyhow I’m not the only one who gets it. Apparently Mr. Charles Pinning gets it too. This is why you have to read the editorial sections of the newspapers. Sometimes a gem like this pops up. But Pinning does have a reputation for being a crank, as evidenced in this google search.

Charles Pinning: What to tell National Squid

01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, September 20, 2008


THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT time of the year for me,” she said. “Don’t mind it if I buy you a box of crayons.”

It was Labor Day weekend, and she looked across to him. Her eyes were red and wet. Her daughters were grown-up and off on their own, but she talked about how much she had enjoyed getting them ready for school each year.

Fresh tears rolled forth. “Shall we visit them?” he asked.

She shook her head. “It’s not that. . . . I was at the Shaw’s in East Providence today . . . and the people — oh my God!”

“Just horrible-looking?”

She nodded.

“I don’t see these people. . . . I go to Whole Foods . . . East Side Market. God! They just looked — Aaaah! . . . ”


She nodded again. “They were so skinny. . . .This one little man, his jeans were all bunched up behind,” and she pressed the heels of her palms together to show how small his bottom was. “Or they’re so fat!” she said, spreading her hands apart. “And their faces. . . . I have never seen faces like that. And they were filling their baskets with crappy food, and paying out their dollars one at a time. But they had their re-usable bags. That has been drummed into them. They are trying . . . but they don’t know where to begin. Go to Shaw’s — that’s where the rubber really meets the road.”

“I know, darlin’, ” he sympathized. “I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life living on the west side of Providence, seeing it every day.” “And the children crying and the mother’s slapping them and screaming at them and cursing and saying, ‘C’mon!’ ”

“I know, sweetheart. . . . It’s about education . . . and parents raising their children responsibly. Being home with them. Spending time with them. Reading to them. Guiding them responsibly. And being given a chance. They just. . . .” and she held her hands out, palms up, shifting them back and forth.

“Right — they’re always kept off-balance. It is the goal of corporations to do this. Deny traction, and you keep people herky-jerky, running in place and churning profits for you. Listen to this:” (He picked up the newspaper.)

“August 27, Business section, front page, headline: ‘National Grid asks rate hike of about 5 percent.’ It goes on to say . . . ‘National Grid also wants the Public Utilities Commission to restructure distribution rates in a way that would protect the company from revenue losses that result from the conservation efforts of its customers.’

“Got that? The raping has been so blatant for so long that National Squid feels it can come straight out and essentially say, ‘You can conserve all you want. We’re still going to squeeze the same amount of money out of you! We’re just shifting the charges to another area.’

“It’s the same thing that the Narragansett Bay Commission is trying to pull by asking the PUC to raise rates because of revenue loss due to customers’ conserving water over the past three years. People logically think they’re going to save a few bucks by using less water or less natural gas — but no! The utilities . . . Narragansett Bay . . . they’re petitioning the PUC to get the same level of bucks they want no matter how much water or gas you use. Where’s the incentive to conserve? We might as well keep nice and cozy and warm, or use as much water as we want because they’re gonna get the same amount of money, whether you use five therms of gas or five hundred; a thimbleful of water or a hundred gallons a day!

“How do I make it clear to people that these corporations have people on a gerbil wheel? That instead of being rewarded for doing the right thing, you will be punished.”

“Say it just the way you said it.”

“But will people hear it? Will they see that we are taking a screwing, so that Grid can show profits to its shareholders and pay its CEO Steve Holliday $3.6 million a year . . . so that Narragansett Bay can continue to funnel hundreds of millions to construction companies to dig a billion-dollar hole in the ground?”

“Just keep on telling it. Also, try to mention that natural gas belongs to everybody — National Grid only delivers it.”

“Oh, sweetheart — the Cherokee in you is coming out.” That brought the tears afresh.

Charles Pinning is a Providence-based writer.

Falling energy prices

How come diesel fuel and heating oil prices are still up over $4 per gallon. Don’t give me the shit that it’s because the fuel today was bought on futures. That’s bullshit and we all know it. But what this article does prove is that the price of a barrel of oil is manipulated by speculative bidding. That’s a serious no-no in most trading circles but because of the Enron Loophole, they don’t have to report transaction in the oil spot markets.

Nice huh? That’s the other thing, recently National Grid asked to drop an increase in natural gas prices by 4.6%, but then they want to increase the distribution charge by 5.4%. I’m just a little miffed on that one because I have to question, what the fuck have I been paying distribution charges for over these years that National Grid has owned the energy market in Rhode Island?

Sort of how we’re all paying for the burial of high tension lines that once stood over India Park. National Grid fought tooth and nail not to have to pay the cost, but yet they kept collecting distribution network charges from us like they’d done for years prior.

As I’ve said before, the deregulation of the energy markets in Rhode Island were from the perspective of the consumer a very stupid move. It gets worse, even though National Grid does business in Rhode Island they’re a NATIONAL company, so who regulates it? It certainly isn’t our Pubic Utilities Commission since they have no enforcement teeth when it comes to electricity and natural gas distribution.

Push the pendulum back, eliminate the Enron loophole and put the regulation of electricity and natural gas suppliers back in the hands of the state regulators. Don’t stop there, give the regulators the power to impose enormous fines for screwing over the ratepayers.

NEW YORK – Oil prices sank below $106 a barrel Friday as a jump in the U.S. unemployment rate signaled to traders that Americans might keep paring back their energy use to save money.

The Labor Department said the economy lost jobs in August for the eighth consecutive month — and at a faster-than-expected pace. The unemployment rate spiked to 6.1 percent from 5.7 percent in July, above the 5.8 percent rate that analysts forecast.

“There’s been a terrific amount of growing concern about the outlook for demand globally,” said John Kilduff, senior vice president of risk management at MF Global LLC. “Today’s employment report emboldened that concern.”

Light, sweet crude for October delivery fell $1.93 to $105.96 a barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after falling to $105.13, its lowest trading level since early April. Since surging to a record $147.27 a barrel on July 11, crude has dropped by over $40, or more than 27 percent.

What could possibly stanch the drop is a cutback in production. Investors are waiting to see if OPEC decides to restrict oil output at its meeting next week in Vienna in response to the two-month plunge in prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has indicated it may take action to defend the $100-a-barrel level for crude.

But with the dollar on the rebound, many analysts say even a production cutback could prove ineffectual in boosting oil prices.

The dollar weakened modestly against the euro and pound on Friday after the employment report, but rose against the yen. The dollar’s recent comeback has helped accelerate oil’s price decline. Commodities were bought by many funds to hedge against inflation and weakness in the U.S. currency, so when the dollar rebounded, funds unwound those hedges, thereby driving commodities prices lower.

The jump in the dollar and the decline in oil has also been driven by signs of economic weakness in developing countries around the world — particularly those in Western Europe.

“It’s sort of a race to the bottom among the leading economies — Europe is ahead at the moment. That’s pumping up the dollar, or making the dollar economy seem much less worse,” Kilduff said.

Heating oil futures fell 5.59 cents to $2.9678 a gallon on the Nymex, where gasoline prices dropped 6.19 cents to $2.6785 a gallon. Natural gas for October delivery edged up by 4.1 cents to $7.363 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, October Brent crude fell $2.25 to $104.14 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

In addition to economic indicators and OPEC, traders are keeping an eye on storms developing in the Atlantic. Forecasters do not expect Hanna, Ike or Josephine to head for key oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, but the hurricane season is not officially over until the end of November.

The Energy Department’s weekly U.S. oil inventory report released Thursday showed a decline in gasoline inventories last week that was smaller than expected. But the report also showed surprising drops in stockpiles of crude and distillates, which include diesel fuel and heating oil; analysts had expected increases.

U.S. gasoline demand has been hovering about 1.6 percent to 3.1 percent lower than a year ago, but demand for distillates is still higher than a year ago, according to Peter Beutel, head of the energy risk management firm Cameron Hanover.

Meanwhile, distillate imports are at their lowest level in years, he wrote in his research note.

“If any rally gets going, distillate is likely to lead it,” Beutel wrote.


Associated Press Writers Alex Kennedy in Singapore, Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Hungary, and Joe Bel Bruno in New York contributed to this report.

Getting to the post petro-fuel era

This is a fantastic analysis of what the obstacles are to reducing our dependence upon fossil fuels.

Jose Etcheverry doesn’t dance around the main obstacle, entrenched corporate interests. It is said that Tesla figured out how to transmit power without wires and that Westinghouse and Edison officials at that time didn’t like the idea because they couldn’t slap a meter on it. Based on what I’ve been able to glean from my electric bill and the occasional newsletter inserts is that the cost to produce and distribute the power is far less than the 14 cents per kWh I pay. And energy usage is fairly consistent throughout the year. So explain why we couldn’t shift our electricity to a subscription usage, where for $x you get y kWH usage per month. Hell if you ask they’ll put you on a budget plan and you pay a fixed amount each month.

The entrenched corporations have the money to pay for big shot lobbyists. That much should be clear to all of us.

But we need to start moving past this. There are many encouraging discoveries being made, things like Thermal De Polymerization (TDP), using plant cellulose to generate gasoline, wind and solar systems to name just a few.

One of the main fields that is lacking is energy storage. In the case of TDP and cellulose fuels they are closest to what we do now.

Wind and solar have a drawback. During sustained winds and full daylight they produce a huge amount of electricity. But storing that electricity is a problem.

Current battery technology isn’t showing much progress. The students at M.I.T. did figure out that with solar or wind you could generate and capture hydrogen from water during the day when usage is light, then run the hydrogen through a fuel cell at night to provide power. That might work.

The Unlimited Game

Tonight I was talking about the question of why is it that net and phone packages are going full unlimited for a fee, while things like natural gas, electric etc. aren’t. Then it hit me, the utilities we rely on for the most part use fossil fuels.

That said, why can’t you just take cost the utilities incur for the entire generating capacity and divide it by the number of consumers. That way you could set a flat fee for all you can eat. It’s said that Westinghouse didn’t like Tesla’s wireless power distribution because they couldn’t put a meter on it. I suspect that much of what we pay for something like electricity and even natural gas is wildly inflated specifically because it IS metered.

But here’s another thing. Most of our oil consumption in the United States, more than 90% in fact goes to motor vehicles. I would love to see one of the candidates for President step forward with a plan to take about $50,000,000,000 (Yes, that’s $50 Billion with a B if you ever watched The Pentagon Wars) from the military budget and plow it into research and development projects to get fossil fuel burning vehicles off the road withing 5 to 10 years.

I don’t think it’s impossible. The United States has when necessary whipped up all the equipment necessary to fight in two theaters of war, why the hell can’t we dedicate some of our tax money to the task of ending our dependence on oil.

There’s an indirect benefit to doing what I’ve suggested above. By reducing or nearly eliminating our need to import oil we would instantly cut off the religious fundamentalists, the dictators, and all the other unsavory characters. Because without money from petro-dollars or petro-euros those of Al Qaeda would have a hard time financing their global terrorist jaunts.

And the Wahabists could have Saudi Arabia and make it a stinking shit hole for all I’m concerned about them. They could literally go and pound sand.

There have been some encouraging developments particularly in the area of hydrogen. They’ve figured out how to achieve 85 to 90 percent efficient conversion of water into it’s Hydrogen and Oxygen components.

Hydrogen is interesting, you can burn it and the combustion byproduct is water, or you can use a method I’d prefer. Use it to power a fuel cell that powers electric motors at each wheel. Talk about power.