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Sun About To Flip

Courtesy of Big Bear Solar Observatory

Relax! It happens every 11 years.. This time we can see it because we’ve positioned the right equipment. One can follow the magnetic bands and see they are in the position of flipping. (Normally the bands would stretch from North to South).

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Today before the General Assembly on the Senate side, a bill introduced yesterday in McDowell’s Energy Committee is being laid on the desk… In essence it changes a few words…

Here is the old…

Except as herein noted, no county or municipal building or plumbing code shall contain any provision which shall be materially at variance with the International Code Council (ICC), International Energy Conservation Code, 2000 Edition (IECC 2000) jointly prepared by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) and the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI). In effect, IECC 2000 shall be the referenced energy code for all new detached 1- and 2-story family dwellings and all other new residential buildings 3 stories or less in height. Energy standards for all other new buildings, to include high-rise residential, shall be established in accordance with the 2001 supplement to IECC 2000 that references the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers/Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (ASHRAE/IESNA) Standard 90.1 — 1999; provided, however, that the respective county or municipal government shall exclude agricultural structures from these provisions.

And here is the new…

Except as herein noted, no county or municipal building or plumbing code shall contain any provision which shall be materially at variance with most recent version of the International Code Council (ICC), International Energy Conservation Code, jointly prepared by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) and the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI). In effect, the highest available energy conservation code as determined by the Delaware Energy Office shall be the referenced energy code for all new detached 1 and 2-story family dwellings and all other new residential buildings 3 stories or less in height. Energy standards for all other new buildings, to include high-rise residential, shall be established to meet the latest available standard of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers/Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (ASHRAE/IESNA) as determined by the Delaware Energy Office; provided, however, the respective county or municipal government may exclude agricultural structures from these provisions.

That little change is designed with this purpose, also included in tonight’s Senate Bill 59…

The Delaware Energy Office, or its successor, shall establish programs to promote the construction of zero net energy capable homes. A zero net energy capable home is defined as a commercial building or residence that annually, through the use of energy efficient construction, lighting, appliances, and on site renewable energy generation uses no more energy than is produced on site (zero net energy consumption from the utility provider). As of December 31, 2025 all new residential building construction in the state of Delaware Shall be zero net energy capable. As of December 31, 2030 all new commercial building construction must also be zero net energy capable.

These small changes are allegedly required in order to receive stimulus funding being offered to revitalize the economy… The concept is grand that every house in Delaware will be energy self sufficient, producing as much or more energy than it consumes….

Although it seem like years away, it is the equivalent of a bill passed in 1993 affecting us now… It really wasn’t that long ago that Pearl Jam was popular…..

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Senate will decide this week whether to follow in California’s footsteps and pass legislation requiring cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.

Lawmakers are set to vote Monday to begin debate on a bill that could reshape the U.S. economy by requiring industry to pay to emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

Opponents call it a new tax on industry that could raise gas prices and energy bills for consumers.

Now before I knew anything about wind power coming to Delaware, I would be apprehensive about taxing carbon and “increasing the costs to power plants, distributors, and consumers…….

But knowing what I now know, that all carbon prices are about to go ballistic as did our automobile and truck fuel, the faster we leave a carbon based economy, the faster we will pull out of this recession.

Congess just cannot slap the tax on carbon immediately. My recommendation is to start the tax in 2014, giving America 5 years to wean itself off carbon based electricity. Five years could do it…

Wind, particularly offshore wind, if built large enough is the cheapest form of energy available to us today. If solar improves to where it crosses the 10 cents/kwh barrier, it too can become a player….

There is enough wind power capacity in North Dakota to fuel the entire grid of North America…..

The financials show it could be done today for 2.3 cents per kwh… Imagine, all of the US energy needs met at 2.3 cents per kwh. Your $200 monthly electric bill would instead be $40 dollars. Which is right about where it needs to be…….

But not all the wind needs to come from North Dakota, even though it has tremendous potential……Up and down the Eastern seaboard, giant wind farms could drop our prices and save on long distance transmission costs…. From Texas to North Dakota, the wind belt could drive America’s mid section energy prices down to a tolerable level…..

By dropping worldwide demand, we could stop our dependence on energy coming from the Mid East. Being the sole planetary source of 2.3 cents per kwh of electricity, our manufacturing base could again begin to grow in places where it once walked away from union labor……Ohio and Michigan. What automobile company could pass up savings of 20 cents per kwh over what the paid in their home country?

Back to Carbon caps and taxes…..Taxing something that is bad for you at a rather high rate, is ironically a very good thing. It forces you to wean yourself off its toxic properties and seek another solution. It does so expediently. Forcing you to move quickly before your money disappears..unlike a government directive facing appeal after appeal after appeal…….

So raising the price of carbon is in the cards…..the higher the tax, the faster we move to a really cheap source of energy and power…..cheaper than all but the oldest of you can remember……

And if timed right, it won’t cost us a penny. For paying a million dollars for a kwh of coal fired electricity is moot, it there is no kwh of coal fired electricity left to be taxed…. …..

Because that……. is what we do.

Wind power for Dummies

Myths and Mothballs:

There are several myths out there that need debunked in order to have a clear understanding of offshore wind.

We will start with the first which goes right to the heart of why we have a handful of legislators blocking Bluewater from going through.

For reference here is the copy of the Act that started it all. If you could, click in and check out the co-sponsors of that bill. More about them later.

What about SEU as an option to drive down demand and lower prices?

Many answers to your questions can be found here, in the report to Governor Minner that predated the passage of House Bill 6, the EURCSA. The clarity of the report, ie how well it was written, can be demonstrated by the signing by the Governor on the day the act cleared the last hurdle in the General Assembly. In other words, after reading this comprehensive report, there were no other questions. Essentially this report is the equivalent of a State of the State Address on Energy Affairs, and until now, has been seen by only a handful of people.

First some background. One can understand Delmarva’s motives better if one understands how they get paid. Here is how their price structure works. There are different costs depending on which fuels are used. Nuclear is cheapest, although offshore wind may be a close second, then comes coal, and finally natural gas. Under current PJM rules (the local grid which sets both pricing and the rules for that pricing) the price that is set for the next hours fuel, is based on the price of the last bid that meets the demand set for that hour.

Let’s say the hour’s demand is anticipated to be 600 MW’s. Nuclear provides 300MW quite cheaply, and coal provides 275 at slightly more. There is still a deficit of 25MW’s that need to be acquired to meet the goal set. Gas bids on the remaining 25MW’s and since that is the bid that pushes it over the top, that is the price for all energy from all sources for that hour. That means gas gets a fair profit. Coal and nuclear get a windfall of tremendous profit since they cost far less than gas to generate electricity.

Back in the olden days, under regulation, nuclear was guaranteed a fair profit, coal was guaranteed a fair profit, and likewise gas, based on the costs of both fuel and operating expenses. You added those up together, and you get cheaper than we pay now.

Energy Prices Before and After Deregulation
Imagine standing in a line at Wal*Mart where the rules dictated that whatever the last person paid for everything in his cart, everyone else paid. Of course if someone was buying a box of tissues, we with full shopping carts would hand our receipts to the door checker while smiling….real big. But imagine if Wal*Mart got to determine who was the last person to stand in that line? Incredibly they would always placed someone with the most expensive items they could find to shore up that cart…..Bet you that tissue buyer wasn’t smiling this time as he left the store?

Again before deregulation, if our price was based more on old style economics, Delmarva got a percentage over whatever was its cost for making our electricity…..So with deregulation, we lost out.

Along with deregulation came the divestiture by Delmarva of all its generating producing facilities. Connectiv kept them, and Delmarva became nothing more than a broker. Before deregulation we paid lower costs because Delmarva actually produced and charged us cost plus percentage, which was closely regulated by the Public Service Commission. Now for all our electrical needs, we pay whatever the high price of gas determines, no matter where our energy would come from…including wind farms in Pennsylvania. Even though that wind farm might generate energy at 2.3 cents per MW, we would still have to pay the frozen winter spiked gas price of 23 cents per MW, with someone within the PJM grid keeping the difference. That by the way is why Stockbridge insists on Pennsylvania wind farms.

Bluewater would change all that. Under contract Bluewater Wind would supply a regulated rate to Delmarva, one regulated for twenty five years. This rate would not be manipulated by the PJM. This means Delmarva over the course of twenty five years could stand to lose billions, which of course would then remain right in our wallets where, since we are the ones paying them,… it belongs.

Trust me. Delmarva still stands to make a lot on selling us Bluewater’s Wind. They just can’t gouge us as much as they had anticipated once deregulation took effect. How much do they intend to raise prices? Just look at the 59% increase in 06 if you want proof for your answer. Which is why Delmarva is acting like a recalcitrant groom who pines for his future bride’s booty, without having to commit to anything in order to get it.

A third issue that forces up our rates, is interestingly enough, our geography. We are Delmarva, a long skinny peninsula with few transmission access points. Compared to a land-based market with thousands of interconnecting points surrounding it, we have but a few. That adds costs because a lot of energy is taken up and lost as heat. As much as 7 to 10 percent of electricity is lost over transmission. Since our peninsula has lots of distance top to bottom, we lose a lot. This can be fixed with a generation facility off the coast of Rehoboth. Supplying the Middle of Delmarva with less cost and more efficiency, means at least for that sector, their overall cost could drop 7 to 10 percent. That means a household paying $200 a month in summer, will be paying $180 instead, just by cutting down on transmission costs. So instead of paying Delmarva, you can afford an additional 6 and a half gallons of gasoline…..Wow. (I’d still rather have it in gasoline.)

Thus there were three reasons prices jumped with deregulation. One, PJM uses the most expensive form of energy to price the whole lot; two, Delmarva became solely a broker, divesting its generating capacity; and three, our geography conspires against us in long transmission lines from the source to the power receiver.

So now we are ready for our question:

What about SEU as an option to drive down demand and lower prices?

What is the SEU and how does it have anything to do with energy prices? Here is a copy of the meeting minutes last February just as wind power was getting under way. Again, pay attention to the list of players near the top. Who was that new member? A test will be given at the end…….

On principal the SEU is a good idea.

Just to Show You Saving On Demand is Not Just Chump Change

By making several technological boosts thorough out every household or small business in Delaware, the demand, or the amount of energy required to be supplied to Delaware, will be reduced. This is good for cutting down the amount of energy and green house gases, but does not have sufficient clout to pull down prices.

One could compare it to buying a Prius and hoping gasoline drops back to $2. As you use less, the price climbs higher so you are still paying the same to fill your tank, only now using less. Of course you would pay a lot more if you drove a 67 Camaro so there is some incentive for upgrading to a more efficient vehicle. But thinking that prices will always stay the same because of what we purchase, won’t happen. However if everyone follows suit, then some leverage can indeed be made on price, as actually happened during the nineties as cars became much more fuel efficient. Then some knucklehead came up with gas eating SUV’s. Why not? Gas was under a dollar. A fifty dollar fill-up? No problem.

The only thing that brings actual prices down when dealing with a monopoly is competition. Having Bluewater sell electricity using new technology at prices lower than that of Carbon fuels, with or without a Carbon tax in place, keeps the price lower on the supplier side. The best scenario for Delaware is to pursue both plans simultaneously. Build a wind farm off the coast, and provide energy efficient incentives to every Delawarean. Do both!

It is ironical that individual legislators who sponsor the SEU package, are the very ones holding up the Bluewater deal, which provides the same benefit to Delaware consumers: lower energy bills, less carbon dioxide, less toxic pollution.

A one-two punch using two types of technologies would go a long way to insulate Delaware from the tidal wave of Carbon fueled high prices.

Our states long term goal, needs to include both cutting down our usage, or demand for energy, and for what little energy needs we have leftover, supply them with as much offshore wind as is possible.

We have this ideal scenario almost in the palm of our hand with only a handful of legislators blocking the way………….

Wind power for Dummies

No one knows everything about offshore wind, not even me. But since many of you have asked for a primer that is a relatively quick read, and because there are many mis-perceptions floating around Legislative Hall and the educated public, most of which were intentionally floated by one company to sow seeds of confusion, ……….here is what we know so far.

It started with a rate hike that in the common lexicon became know as the “Damn! A 60% increase!” To create some form of relief, the Delaware General Assembly passed a sweeping bill that is called House Bill 6 or EURCSA, which is short for ” Electric Utility Retail Customer Supply Act”

Most of the bill concerned itself with allowing Delmarva customers to spread the utility increase over the space of a year. But embedded in that document, was one paragraph, that explicitly states that Delmarva should seek out a new local source of energy that was low cost and environmentally friendly. At that time everybody and everyone thought the only bid would come from Connectiv who would bid on a new gas fired turbine to be built at Fox Point, which releases far less carbon than NRG’s Coal. Thus, Delmarva or more appropriately its holding company, Pepco, was thrown a big, juicy bone by several well connected legislators. But NRG, the state’s other large national utility company, did not take kindly to losing its market share, and came up with a coal sequestration plan which takes the pollution going out their stacks, and pumps it deep underground. Just one small problem with that concept. No one has tested it yet. It was theoretical bid at best.

So on the surface we had at least a two way race with the edge going to Delmarva’s sister Connectiv, for their gas turbine. Things looked rosy for Delmarva, as well as those legislators who were about to benefit from smoothing things through for the company that had just shocked Delaware by jumping rates 60%.

Then things took an unexpected twist. Encouraged by William Kempton and Jeremy Firestone, two University of Delaware professors, Bluewater Wind put forth a proposal to build an offshore wind farm off the southern coast of Delaware. It seemed to tailor exactly what was called for by EURISCA. Here in this proposal, we had clean energy with no pollution, from a facility that was built right here locally, that would create electricity with no contribution to global warming. The News Journal front paged the story with a picture showing the wind farm off Rehoboth, and the public snapped it up.

Suddenly Delmarva/Connectiv was a shoo in no longer. They would have to pull out all stops to effectively kill a proposal that 94% of Delawareans openly supported. They filed a lawsuit to stop the process from going forward.

But Delaware’s Public Service Commission was bound to no sentimental ties to Delmarva. Used to dealing with that whining company, they rather liked the positives that Bluewater Wind had to offer. After much discussion, and much debate, in which many of you participated by letting them know your support, they acted independent of those few legislators, and ordered Delmarva and Bluewater Wind to negotiate. Delmarva/ Connectiv decided to postpone both court cases until they could see what hand Bluewater Wind held. Then, if losing, they would play the Justice System card. The negotiations between Bluewater and Delmarva continued though out the summer of 2007 behind closed doors, with final reports being filed before the commission as evidence.

As expected, independent commissions closely tied to Delmarva and Connectiv, painted wind in a bad light, and those completely independent of Delmarva painted wind in a good light. And with so many confusing testimonies, it was up to independent researchers to delve through the documents and publish the results for public consumption.

Here is what they found. Everybody and everyone is getting into wind. China, Australia, India, all of Europe, Texas, the Midwest, were all building wind farms like they were going out of style. Most of these were being built by large corporations, not small independent operators. Royal Dutch Shell is building the largest one off England’s Thames River that will have over a thousand offshore generators! Wind power has gone mainstream. There is nothing experimental about offshore wind.

Denmark has had offshore wind for years. They also build most of the world’s wind turbines. But looking too close at Denmark brough up the one problem with wind. We don’t control it. Sometimes it blows, and sometimes it doesn’t. Therefore we always need another method of creating power, or risk brownouts. Hence the concept was floated by the Public Service Commission that a gas turbine would be built in Bridgeville (Thurman Adams home) to kick in whenever the wind failed to blow. That would increase the cost of the overall project, over that of just wind power alone.

Another issue that occurred in Europe was the lack of high density transmission lines. When the wind surged and created excess electricity, there was no way that power could get to the urban markets where it was needed. Often the turbines had to be taken off-line, just as they reached their peak efficiency. Northern Germany is forced to route its power to Southern Germany though Holland, since its own power distribution system is incapable of handling the load. Denmark has to send power to Norway and Sweden, since no transmission lines run from rural western Denmark to the populous urban centers on the islands. Most of Denmark’s cities’ electricity is fired by gas, simply because the inability to pipe in wind generated power to where it is needed.

What about cost? To truly determine the cost of wind, one must divide the calculations into three groups. The first is the cost of wind itself. The second, is the cost of not going with wind and using alternative sources of power, and the third is calculating environmental and secondary costs into each proposal.

America grew up on cheap energy. Originally covered coast to coast with forests, wood was our first fuel. Then cheap coal became our bread and butter. Towards the end of the Nineteenth Century we begin drilling for liquid gold, and as we found we had to burn off natural gas as waste, we began supplying that waste to make electricity. Gas was cheap, since it was being burnt off anyway. There was no end in sight to our power generating capabilities. Not to mention nuclear; build a plant and keep it running 24/7. It costs the same whether it is running full capacity or not.

Then two oil men took over the White House. Whether that had consequential effect or was just a coincidence in rising worldwide energy costs, is as debatable as global warming.

So how much does wind cost? Before we tell you let’s examine how wind cost is procedurally different from conventional carbon burning utility costs. Wind is costed similarly to hydroelectric, solar, and geothermal power. There is no cost for the fuel. The cost is determined by taking the estimated capital cost of the infrastructure, adding maintenance costs, and spreading that over the length of the contract, in this case twenty five years. That differs from investing in a gas turbine plant, because not only does one have to determine the cost of the metal and the labor needed to put it together, but they need to add the cost of a volatile fuel that could change immensely day to day, month to month, year to year. That is why there are no twenty five year contracts for gas and coal. Imagine the poor sucker who guaranteed $1 a gallon for gasoline over the last fifteen years. Guaranteed, he is out of business now. But wind does exactly that. It guarantees the current price for twenty five years….and it will not go out of business. It will do quite well financially, which of course is why Shell and other big oil companies are jumping into offshore wind power with both feet.

So how much will wind cost? The first estimate was for a 600 MW. When that was trimmed by the PSC to 450MW, the cost jumped because the fewer the number of turbines, the higher the per turbine cost will be. Then as controversy swirled over the potential for an increased commodity cost, by including those rare metals, the costs shot up even more. This time it was too high even for Bluewater, and that option was taken off of the table by Bluewater Wind. They decided to bite the bullet on that cost itself should they materialize.

In fact Bluewater Wind is footing the bill for all costs of construction. Unlike Delmarva who whines about every little expense and raises our rates to compensate, the Bluewater Wind Farm will not cost the state a single penny. But it will save quite a few billions for the state over what Delmarva will be charging for electricity.

Bluewater originally proposed 9.82 cents kWh, then it rose to 10.59 cents, higher to 11.44 cents, and then the final price dropped back to $9.89 cents per kWh. Compare this to Delmarva’s actual SOS bids in 2006 which ranged from 9.96 cents kWh to 11.76 cents, which averaged to 10.30 per kWh spread over the next 37 months or 3 years. Note that Bluewater’s future contracted price is lower than what Delmarva is paying for energy today. When Delmarva says Bluewater will cost more, ask them to show you what they pay! Then ask them how 9.89 cents per kWh costs more than 10.30 cents per kWh? (It doesn’t. just curious as to what they would say.)

So what will Delmarva charge? Now this is the fun part. Did you ever ask a child a question and if he wants you to know the truth he comes right out and tells you, and if he doesn’t he kind of talks in circles, without really saying anything? That is how Delmarva comes across whenever it finds itself predicting how much its energy will someday cost you.

Here is one example. Currently they tell you wind power will cost more than what they provide. “You can’t afford to take the chance.” So what do you got, we asked…..”well, trust us, until will give you our figures…we are still working on them right now…..etc. etc.” Well, after paying 60% more for my electricity, if there is anyone out I will trust less than Thurman Adams, it is Delmarva. Finally if you break down their cost analysis, they anticipate the cost of natural gas will go down. Tongue in cheek, I replied that if they are so confident, why don’t they guarantee it for the next twenty five years, eating any incremental cost increases of that commodity out of their shareholder’s dividends. That’s what Bluewater did. They declined, because they didn’t believe it themselves. Natural Gas has tripled in cost over the last ten years. During cold spells, the price has spiked over forty times the price current ten years ago. Why will Natural Gas climb, as did our gasoline prices? Because we are running out! When you hear about our excessive amounts of Gas reserves, remember that the Federal Government outlawed most of them off the Florida coast as being environmentally unsound. If one takes those reserves off the table, we produce less natural gas than we use. We import the rest. Most will come on Liquid Natural Gas ships from the Mid East. We know what the Mid East does for energy prices…….

We are running out of coal as well. A hundred years ago we estimated we had 11,000 years left. Now we say maybe 250. But the coal that is left, is not easily extracted. Most is under National Park, municipal boundaries, or other lands that would be almost impossible to exploit, and should not be disturbed. Probably we are down to a 30 years supply. And that is if we do not build any more power plants. Oops…too late. Especially if one counts China. One new coal burning power plant goes on line every week…..So will gas go down, or up? Will coal go down…..or up?

At today’s prices wind is competitive. If the price of Gas and coal soars, which every living human being who is not connected to Delmarva expects it to, Wind becomes not only cheaper, but a basement bargain.

So is Delmarva lying? I will let you be the judge of that. But would you lie if you had legislators working for you, doing your bidding against the wishes of 94% of Delaware’s population? You would do everything to spin it, to confuse the public , so those legislators could continue doing what they are doing, wouldn’t you?

If you want an explanation of why Delmarva estimates the cost of natural gas will go down, I just gave it to you.

Finally one should take other supplemental costs that one incurs by switching suppliers. There is a less pollution health benefit, estimated to be 100 million. There is a global warming cost to combat the oncoming rising sea level expected to begin shortly. There is the possible benefit from incoming sports fishermen wanting to catch the bounty that will relocate under the offshore wind platforms. There is the benefit of some tourists, there is the beneifit of good jobs being added to the economy. There is residual benefit of new manufacturing business relocating into Delaware to get away from the high cost of other states electricity.

If we stay with Delmarva power, we get no benefits.

Most likely Delmarva is putting up a fuss, because Bluewater Wind is another competitor moving in on its turf. Obviously it would like to remove itself from the costs of generating electricity, and shift its focus to that of Enron, and just buy, up charge, and sell electricity. But that system is what put California in such an energy crises back in the early Bush years. We found out later that shortages were created to jack up prices. There was plenty of electricity available, it just wasn’t being sold. The only ones who were insulated from that type of manipulation, were those communities that had their own wind farms. As surrounding communities lost power, they were unaffected.

Delaware needs to be wiser. Delmarva is the Eva Longoria of utilities. Caught in so may lies already, only those hearing them for the first time believe anything they have to say. Delmarva may spin truth extraordinaire, but they still have two cards left. One is the before mentioned court case. The other card being played is a tiny minority of legislators moving behind the scenes who are willing to let us suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous pricing, so they can continue being friends with Delmarva.

Thurman Adams, Tony DeLuca, Harris McDowell, and Charlie Copeland. Kick all four of these out in November, and we will have wind power. Make enough noise so they see the inevitable threat, we may get it sooner.

Other questions:

What about SES as an option to drive down demand and lower prices?

What about buying Land based wind power which costs less that offshore?

What about letting other companies such as Connectiv bid on an off shore wind farm?

What if the off shore wind farm goes under before it is built?

Why do we need a contract at all? Why can’t we build an off shore wind farm and then sell electricity on the open market?

Why does the cost have to be borne by homeowners and small businesses? Why can’t everyone share in on the cost of Bluewater Wind, especially big business and the state itself?

If wind power is so good, why can’t we drop our costs further by extending the size of the wind farm. Why limit it to 450MWs ?

How much carbon will a wind farm save?

How soon will the seas really rise due to global warming?

How much does it cost to make a kw from wind?

These and other questions will be answered in Chapter 2 of Wind Power for Dummies

Whether it is nobler in mind to suffer the slings and arrow of outragous energy fortunes, or to establish regulations against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.

Regulated States/ June07 ——Deregulated States/ June 07

  • Alabama 9.49————————— Alaska 15.26
  • Colorado 9.65————————— Arizona 9.93
  • Florida 11.13 ————————–Arkansas 8.62
  • Georga 9.63————————– California 14.59
  • Idaho 6.96————————- Connecticut 19.43
  • Indiana 8.25 ————————- Delaware 13.73
  • Iowa 9.95 ——————————-Hawaii 23.54
  • Kansas 9.09 —————————–Illinois 11.05
  • Kentucky 7.45 ————————Maryland 13.60
  • Louisiana 9.57 ——————- Massachusetts 16.49
  • Minnesota 9.72 —————————Maine 15.10
  • Mississippi 9.61 ———————– Michigan 10.76
  • Missouri 8.90 —————————Montana 9.39
  • Nebraska 8.64 ————————– Nevada 11.54
  • North Carolina 9.22 ———— New Hampshire 14.96
  • North Dakota 8.37 ——————-New Jersey 15.87
  • South Carolina 9.28 ——————New Mexico 9.33
  • South Dakota 8.70 ———————New York 18.12
  • Tennessee 7.85 —————————–Ohio 10.36
  • Utah 8.65 ——————————Oklahoma 8.71
  • Vermont 14.56 —————————-Oregon 8.33
  • Washington 7.34 ——————- Pennsylvania 11.69
  • West Virginia 6.64 —————–Rhode Island 14.27
  • Wisconsin 11.07 —————————Texas 12.74
  • Wyoming 8.19 —————————-Virginia 9.28

So for a reference here is a handy dandy little chart which cross references the latest prices from June 07 with those states who are or are not regulated……..

I guess whereas regulations may not have a lot of impact on the low end, they do seem to constrain excessive pricing on the high end……..  In other words they do tend to damper price gouging…….

Delaware’s number one lobbyist, Charlie Copeland, does not believe in Global Warming. To him it is just some mumbo jumbo pattering designed to steal profits from his number one client, Delmarva Power. Since Charlie believes it, it must be so. Since when has a Dupont ever been wrong in Delaware?

Let us look at what little we know of Global warming. Let us see if those liberal detractors of Delmarva Power have any evidence supporting their lovely wind farm?

Today there are 8 billion metric tons of carbon spewed into our atmosphere per year. That means nothing to me. What’s a metric ton? How much is too much? It would be relevant to note, that in Ike’s years, 1957, the world put out 2 billion metric tons of carbon. Ok….so we are producing carbon at a rate four times more per year, just 50 years later? What does that mean in terms I can understand?

Good question. Let’s go small.

Throughout most of the history of man, carbon in the air, hung at 280 parts per million. When we started burning coal, gas, and oil for our energy it started to rise. In 1957 it hung around the 315 level. It is now at 380 and is increasing by 2ppm annually. Now if you think of a million then an additional 65 ppm doesn’t sound like much…….. but it turns out that the watt of heat that that subtle change traps per square meter of the earth’s surface, times the immense number of square meters covering the planet, creates a big number…… enough to raise the temperature 1 degree already.

One degree! Is that all? With all that liberal talk and Gore(y) movies of rising oceans, you would have thought the world was ending…..One degree, There is no way I am changing my energy habits for one measly degree, no way, no how……..

But that one degree over fifty years so far has set everything frozen to start melting. It has changed seasons, and growing patterns, it has set the sea to rising…… all that from one degree?

Alas, the genie is out of the bag. No matter what we do, global warming will increase for now. The question is how much, by our actions, will it increase before it levels off and starts to drop? Apparently our task is rather boring; it is to contain the damage and keep thing from getting out of control. But exactly where, at what point, does it suddenly go out of control? Until recently we had no way of guessing where global warming would reach a critical point.

The standard consensus is that around 450 ppm is where things heat up real quick. That is 70 more ppm and is a goal we are estimated to hit around thirty years from now……. At 450 ppm, Greenland and Antarctica’s icecaps melt and seas swell catastrophically. So we got some time left…..so what do we do with it?

So far only the Europeans and Japanese have tried to trim their carbon emissions and it looks like that they will not even meet their own modest targets. The genie is definitely out of the bottle. So dependent on Carbon are we, that weaning ourselves from its mixture, seems now only a remote possibility. The US, China, and India, will all be producing much more carbon in ten years, than they currently do today……….

The one answer, the only way for the oceans to stay level, is for the technologically superior nations to cut back drastically, then transfer their technology to developing countries as soon as possible. But are they even capable of such sacrifices?

Every clarion call rolls out a new technology. Hydrogen is the savior; no it is nuclear; no it is ethanol; no it is solar; no it wind………In essence not one of these technologies can single handedly make the dents in carbon usage we need……

Three years ago a Princeton team, just up the road, consisting of Stephan Pacala and Robert Socolow published in Science a paper that gave us 15 wedges which we could choose to minimize carbon warming. Sort of a smörgåsbord of ideas from which we could mix and match and reach partial, if not all reduction to our global warming. Here they are:

1) Improve fuel economy in all cars on the road to 60 mph.

2) Reduce miles traveled by car per year from 10,000 to 5,000.

3) Increase electrical effieicncy in heating, cooling, lighting, appliances by 25% .

4) Raise coal power plant efficiency to 80% up from 40 %.

5) Sequester carbon from coal fired and gas fired power plants.

6) Use capture systems at coal power plants to capture hydrogen to be used in electric fuel cells cars.

7) Use capture systems at coal plants to make diesel fuel from coal residue.

8. Replace 1400 coal fired power plants with natural gas fired ones.

9) Displace coal by increasing nuclear power generation to three times its current rate.

10) Increase wind power to 25 times its current capacity.

11) Increase solar power to 700 times current capacity.

12) Increase wind power to 50 times its current capacity to generate hydrogen for fuel celled cars.

13) Increase ethanol production 50 times its current capacity, requiring 1/6 of the worlds cropland.

14) Stop all deforestation

15) Expand conservation tillage to all cropland. Normal plowing releases carbon by speeding decomposition of organic matter.

We are currently at 380 ppm. Hell begins to be real at 450 ppm. We have fifteen options before us….What do we do?

Obviously we have three pursuits. We can do nothing and let ppm climb. We can employ Draconian measures and try to hold the line steady at 8 metric tons a year, or we can use worse than Draconian measures and try reducing the the amount of carbon we are exhaling.

If we do nothing, then by 2057 we will stand at 800 ppm and witness a global temperature 9 degree F higher than what we experience now. If we implement 8 of the wedges mentioned above, and we hold emissions at todays rate, then over the next fifty years we will sit at 525 ppm and have a temperature increase of a quaint 5.4 degrees F. But if we chose to reduce emissions by half over the next 50 years and cutting 4 more wedges, then in 50 years we will sit at the 450 ppm threshold with only a 3.6 degree increase in global temperature. Remember, we said the 450 level was the edge where the big “things” started to happen.

So here is the scary truth. Even if we cut our emissions in half during the next 50 years, and produce only 4 billion metric tons of carbon a year by 2057, instead of today’s 8, we will still sit on the 450 ppm threshold and be sweating under climatic changes of 3.5 degrees F. Remember all the changes we have experienced so far, have come from a measly one degree increase of global temperature.

So our children will never see the snows of Kilimanjaro. They will wonder how Glacier National Park ever got its name…….But if we try absolutely everything possibly to stem the rise of carbon into the air, it is just possible that our children may still get to know Rehoboth Beach, which without our help, is due to submerge under 20 feet of seawater.

Therefore it stands that anyone who stands in the way of moving Delaware forwards to a less carbon energy diet, is putting our state’s physical geography in danger. The sooner Blue Water Wind goes on line, the less carbon our electrical usage puts into the air. We apparently do not have time to lose.

If the delaying tactics of Gary Stockbridge and his chief lobbyist Charlie Copeland, set back Blue Water Wind of one or two years, than the whole planet hangs in balance…..literally.

Perhaps it is time for a new personification of evil in this post modern world………… If we do, then it is a good bet that anyone who blocks wind power from coming to Delaware, would certainly be a good candidate for taking that position on………….

And as future waves come crashing through Mike Castle’s Rehoboth residence, one can almost hear his ghostly murmur, in that special tone of his……………….”Thanks Charlie…….”

The headline grabs your attention: what you ask, save 1000 dollars a year on energy costs?

Although this sounds like a late night sales pitch, this comparison was made by the SEU task force, which compared Delaware’s energy household consumption intensity to those in other states that have already progressively attempted to diminish demand for electricity.

So with bated breath along with the rest of Delaware, we anxiously await Tommywonks‘ expert analysis. Until then here are a few items of interest.

Amazingly Delaware households use twice as much energy as a household in New York.

Graph showing comparisons between Delaware and other states.

Prepared for the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility Task Force by the Center for Energy & Environmental Policy.
Figure 5.1 Comparison of State Residential Sector Electricity Intensities (DE = 1.000)
The results are sobering: Delaware has the highest residential sector electricity intensity among the eight states. New York, California, Massachusetts and New Jersey households use one-half or less of the electricity used by Delaware homes, thanks to well-funded and broad-based energy efficiency and conservation policy regimens. Because their programs were more recently created, Connecticut and Vermont residences use more electricity than those in the four best-performing states. Still, their homes consume only 55-70% of the electricity of their Delaware counterparts. Only Pennsylvania is statistically near the rate of energy inefficiency of the Delaware residential electricity sector.

The basic philosophy of this plan is this. Instead of investing gigantic sums in large scale power generation schemes, the focus shifts to assisting individual homeowners who invest in solar, wind, and geothermal technology to generate electricity for their own use and cut down on what the grid provides them now.

Money is also spent to conserve energy, through new appliances, new insulation, new housing designs. etc.

Based on the results of neighboring states, it appears to work.

Particularly interesting is it’s analysis of here-to-unmentioned California’s bounce back from the Enron-induced blackouts earlier this decade. Completely unable to invest in any NEW energy generation facilities, by REDUCING DEMAND, the state of California, was able to reduce peak power demand and lower prices.

The other states have also made serious inroads in the amount of power used by each household on an individual basis. And with a deduction in power usage, a subsequent deduction in CO2 gases expended is also realized. So much that it may be possible to offset the amount of CO2 generated by coal by as much or maybe more than a wind farm could.

On a political perspective, this bodes well for hard working families dependent on household construction to keep from starving. More jobs will be created by installing household applications on every house in Delaware than in building a Giant Coal Dinosaur, that will be extinct in five to ten years.

Not to mention great entrepreneurial opportunities for anyone willing to jump into this business. This segment, which has exploded next door in New Jersey, should find funds to sustain itself, particularly since it could pay for itself with future energy savings within a few short years. So it is hopeful that this proposal woos our state’s labor’s support away from the political suicide pact it has made in its support of NRG’s proposal.

Unfortunately, the Democratic hopeful in the 41st district has just put a bullet through his head by declaring his support for the new NRG plant. I will be interested if my theories that what should have been a slam dunk shoo-in Democratic victory, won’t be, because of the old guard failure to account for wind’s appeal among 94% of the electorate.

But having investigated the future price structure, the anticipated amounts of carbon energy available, the potential for shortages both real and fabricated, I have in my research been led to determine the best new resource for Delaware’s energy needs, is some type of DIRECT COMPETITION against fossil fuels…………….Perhaps it may be some of the genetic republican residue, still attached to one of my chromosomes, that lead me to believe that the 400 Trillion market has more powerto make changes than any resolution proposed by handful of men within a state capacity.

However, again in this SEU report, little mention was made of future energy prices. The anticipated future savings were again made on the assumption that energy prices would remain consistent where they are today.

But if energy costs continue to rise through either speculation or panic over future supply shortages, then despite that savings may pay off faster, our total costs will continue to rise. This is similar to the way our cars gas mileage climbs each time the price of gasoline goes up. (At ten miles to a gallon, a three hundred mile trip would cost $30 at a dollar a gallon. Increasing the miles per gallon by 150% to twenty five miles per gallon, the same trip costs would rise to $36 at prices approaching today’s $3 a gallon.) The cost to us still rises!

My concern is that if we decide to conserve and cut demand, solely as our source, we have done nothing to stop coal from being burned. On the other hand, a wind farm acts like a great energy price stabilizer. The wind is free. therefore the cost is controlled by interest payments and repairs, that is all.

Without some type of competition against fossil fuels that will force the price of energy downward, the inevitable rise of energy costs will, even with the anticipate conservation benefits, result in the same out of pocket expenses despite the fact that less energy used.

But…………. if this SEU plan is coupled with Blue Water Winds proposal, then Delaware has stepped to the plate, connected with a home run, and started its own win streak, all the way towards the pennant ……….this time.

In Characteristic Ineptness, The President's Plane Took Off and Promptly Fkew Into A Tree

As the two toned 747 lifted its nose and slowly climbed over I95 and executed a slow left roll towards its next destination, I thought I would jot a few comments that came to mind.

Some of you support the president. Some of you don’t. Listening to Al (1150am) some of you were glad he was here, and some of you weren’t. Someone on the radio show asked how much does this visit cost us?

Off duty policeman used to charge $40 per hour. Around the New Castle airport, I counted a total of 10 marked State Trooper vehicles, 2 NCC police vehicles, 3 Airport Security, and 3 unmarked cars. The net result was good security. I found only one spot missed that could have afforded an opportunity for a security risk. That is good. But what bothered me was the unsavory character who was parked there watching the entire operation. At least I got a license number. There were also two Deldot sign trucks, the kind with the blinking arrows. All of these remained on premise throughout the length of the visit.

The Dupont speech was good, but would have been better had it had been offered 6 years ago. Considering how the same ideas have been in place during the entire time of his administration, one can only surmise that this new found sincerity is probably due to the loss of the Republican control of both houses.

But still, if we can gasify coal, if we can continue ethanol additives, if we can drive to work in little energy generators that give energy back to the grid when not in use, we are moving forward instead of backwards. Hydrogen is the ultimate way to go. It’s waste is simply water. Makes one want to build a hydrogen generating plant in the middle of the Sonoran desert, doesn’t it?

Was anything accomplished during this brief stop? Well Delaware may be mentioned on the 3 nightly news broadcasts. Let’s hope DEDO gets some mileage out of that. Even so we will be lucky if our state’s fifteen seconds of fame does fall our way.

Oh, yes, and for two hours, Delaware got to host one of the best commercial airplanes ever made…………………………….