“Green groups” continue effort to return Georgia to the 18th century

Environmental groups filed new challenges Monday in hopes of blocking an ambitious $2 billion plan to build the state’s first new coal-fired plant in more than two decades in southwest Georgia and a separate, smaller project designed for the central part of the state.

The coalition of environmental advocates said they filed the five challenges in a bid to stop what they see as an unprecedented wave of new permits for coal-fired power plants at a time when environmental regulators in other states are supporting alternative energy proposals.

More here and here.

121 comments

  1. strident_hack says:

    We need to remember that most of these “advocates” are really “green entrepreneurs” looking to foreclose development of tradtional projects in the hopes of requiring power purchasers to pay more for wind, solar and other alternative power. And, interestingly enough, they will have a phone number handy of their affiiliates/friends that just happen to be in the green energy business who would be more than happy to sell consumers energy at rates 50% higher than could be produced from traditional means. If they really wanted clean energy, they would all be “pro-nuclear.”

    • Three Mile Island and Chernobyl come to mind…

      I’m all for alternative energy. However, I’m also all for free markets. If the electric company can burn coal without creating a smog cloud that hangs over the area, then great. If not, then perhaps other forms of electricity should be given a higher priority.

      I’d also like to see a higher priority put on conservation efforts. If people would simply ensure that they’re using electricity efficiently, perhaps there wouldn’t even be a need for another power plant. Insulating a house and changing light bulbs can go a long way towards cutting your electricity usage. Imagine if every Georgian simply used one less kilowatt-hour per month… over 8 million kilowatt-hours saved. Take a 100 watt bulb and change it to a 25 watt CFL… that’s 75 watts saved for every hour that bulb is on. For every 13 hours that bulb burns, that’s one less kilowatt-hour of electricity that has to be created.

      • strident_hack says:

        The Chicago Fire comes to mind also.

        Interesting, though, not a single person was harmed by the Three Mile Island incident, yet it is a convenient rallying cry for those who want to pretend that wind and solar is a smart, affordable alternative to nuclear power. The TMI containment systems worked. But, I am sure that Jane Fonda would be proud of you.

        • The point was, accidents happen. I don’t think South Georgia is a very good area for wind, unless you’re talking about the coastal areas. As for solar, it’s getting cheaper and cheaper as new solar technologies are developed. I’m even considering completely powering the barn on the property we’re purchasing with solar if I can make the numbers work.

          • B Balz says:

            Good for you Mr. Staples. Everyone else needs to power the 52″ flat screen, the PC’s, two ‘fridges, and every other device, not including the electric car hook-up.

            Big business and the ‘green’ initiative got us natural gas deregulation, or as others call it, cost shifting to residential.

            What can green do for me? Don’t help would be a start.

            • bowersville says:

              “not including the electric car hook-up.” Now there’s a good one, how much fossil fuel is used to manufacture, maintain and recharge that boondoggle without a wealth redistribution?

              Oh, yeah I remember. I just plug it up.

            • You insinuate that I as well don’t have electrical needs. I work as a geek for a living. I understand the multiple flatscreen tvs, the video projector, multiple refrigerators, multiple deep freezers, stack of laptops, wifi router and extra switch, stereo receiver, blu-ray player, etc. That doesn’t mean I can’t be smart about it. My tvs are energy star rated. My MacBook Pro uses roughly 65 watts according to the Kill-A-Watt I have hooked up to it. And I have a house full of CFLs. When I’m not watching a movie, the stereo receiver gets turned off by my Logitech Harmony remote as part of the Watch TV activity macro.

              My wife runs our eco friendly horse farm full time. I’m having to plan an electrical load for every stall having a fan, lights for the barn, air conditioning unit for the lounge in the barn, hot water heater for the wash stalls, etc. I didn’t say the solar installation was going to be cheap. But standard power to it isn’t cheap either, at $7k just to trench a replacement line from the pole to the barn.

              So what can green do for you? Probably more than you’d like to admit. As for your electrical car hookup, good luck with that. I run B100 biodiesel in both our trucks and don’t have to worry about finding an outlet to plug in 300 miles down the road for 8 hours.

              • Lady Thinker says:

                David,

                What do you see as the pros and cons of solar power and the cost effectiveness of of that energy as compared to the traditional method? Would you consider a windmill at some point?

                Benevolus gave me a site to look up and I am surprised at how many businesses and organizations are using some type of solar/windmill power, including Emory University.

                I would imagine the sunk costs would pay for itself over a relatively short time, say seven to ten years, and that operational costs would nearly zero out at some future point. What say you based on your experience?

                • Lady Thinker – unfortunately wind isn’t a very good option for probably 99 percent of Cobb county. That area just doesn’t get enough constant wind to support even a windmill that is efficient at just a few miles per hour. I’d love to do some hydro power as well, as the property has roughly 1200 feet on Sweetwater Creek, but the creek is about half a mile from the barn and house. So that leaves solar.

                  The pros of solar are that you can have a totally off the grid electrical system, which means I don’t have to worry about electrical lines having a tree fall on them, leading to possibly electrocuting a horse or person. I can trench the line instead, but that’s rather expensive too.

                  There are plenty of cons to solar though, depending on how much load you require. It can be expensive if you need a lot of electricity. If not, it can be somewhat cheap. Most people work during the day, which means most of your electrical load will be after sundown. So that means you need to plan for enough capacity in batteries to last throughout the evening and overnight for any air conditioning, ceiling fans, night lights, alarm clocks and water heaters (so you have warm water for your morning shower) to run. Batteries only last so long, and will need to be replaced every so many years. But you also need to plan for cloudy days. What if it’s cloudy for a few days? Will you have enough electricity stored up to last you through the storm or other weather conditions?

                  You also have to take into consideration how much your peak usage is going to be. You’ll need to make sure you have an inverter that can output enough power to power your refrigerator, air conditioner, lights, tv, stereo, microwave, and anything else you plan to use all at the same time. The larger output inverters get rather expensive. Especially when you’re talking about the ones that put out clean electricity (pure sine wave I think they’re called).

                  Personally, I support the alternative electricity methods not necessarily for the costs though… I do it for other reasons…

                  1 – it’s more eco friendly. I’m not talking about climate change here. I’m not a scientist and don’t have an opinion on that topic one way or the other. I’m talking about that nice layer of smog that we see hovering over Atlanta on those warm summer afternoons. That’s the same air we breathe. I think it’s great that the exhaust from coal plants is scrubbed and cleaned… but I think we have more progress to make. Additionally, you have to think about the amount of fuel burned to transport the coal and the fuel burned to mine the coal.

                  2 – it supports solar and other alternative electricity developments. Think about how much copper and aluminum and other metals could be saved by not running electrical lines to every street lamp, every traffic light, and every other form of small device out there that needs electricity.

                  I could talk about this stuff for quite a while, but I’ll go ahead and wrap up… I fully support the eco friendly options… just not for the same reasons as some other people.

                  • Lady Thinker says:

                    David,

                    That is very informative and practial information. Thanks for your thoughts. I think we are at the fork in the road because no matter what energy solutions we pursue, they all have pros and cons and expenses.

                    It is a hard decision to make, especially with tax dollars but we have to do something. Coal mine explosions and oil leaks in the ocean are as expensive if not more so than solar and windmill power failures.

                    Coal and oil have a finite end date, depending on which expert one believes but solar and wind could be harnessed once we learn how. That’s my two-cents anyway.

            • Magaroni says:

              Everyone forgets geothermal.

              I live in a four-story four-bedroom building that is toasty in winter and cool in summer, yet the whole power bill is _never_ over $170.

              Got geothermal on the top three levels, that’s why!!

              If the downstairs were off electric, bet it’d never be over $100.

              I heart geothermal.

              • ByteMe says:

                I certainly don’t forget it. I’ve mentioned to Mrs. ByteMe that the next time the a/c or heater goes, we’re looking into that. It’s a high initial cost and the current payback is something like 15 years, so we still might not do it, but if the tax incentives are right….

        • Mad Dog says:

          Hack,

          The containment failed. Actually, the idiots intentionally released it. So radiation was released. Over 13 million curies. As a gas. And the collected data on those releases did not cover the first few minutes of the ‘accident.’

          There is still a dispute about cancer rates in the general population that lived near the radiation release.

          Over 140,000 people fled the area. I guess ‘terror’ isn’t a harm to people unless it’s caused by Islamic extremists, eh?

          You’ll welcome to convince my wife that her mother’s fatal cancer was the work of God, punishment of some sort. As good things happen to good people and bad things only happen to bad people. i.e. there are no accidents.

          Suggest you pull your head out of that dark, smelly place it’s in.

          • Doug Deal says:

            Anyone who would use his mother-in-laws anecdotal cancer death to support his arguments on a political blog have a screw or two loose.

    • benevolus says:

      I suspect burning coal would be 50% higher if the true cost were accounted for.
      CO, CO2, SO2, NOx, mercury, arsenic, lead, acidifying oceans and lakes, acid rain, bronchitis, asthma, killing fish and their food chain… who pays for all that? We do, but it’s not counted as part of the cost of burning the coal.

      • bowersville says:

        Scrap the coal plants, replace them with nuclear.

        Coal is so 19th century(not the current associated technology).

        Go nuclear.

          • Doug Deal says:

            There is so much Uranium in our planet and Thorium that we have enough fissile material to last several billion years. When something is plentiful beyond any hope of consuming it in the remaining habitable life of our planet, it is as good as renewable.

            • benevolus says:

              OK, well I learned a little something here. I always thought it was rare, and in a way, it is:
              “Economic uranium resources will last for over 100 years at 2006 consumption rates”
              but…
              “With reprocessing and recycling, the reserves are good for thousands of years.”

              Still, no denying that this is dangerous material even in small quantities. I just would think that if we devote the billions of dollars we spend on building and handling nuclear plants and material on other, safer, renewable sources, we could make it more efficient too.

              • Doug Deal says:

                The problem with any estimates about “economic” recovery of any mineral is that they assume the current status quo is maintained. Uranium is so cheap and the demand so low, geologists do not spend a whole lot of time trying to find new sources, so the “proven reserves” stay relatively constant.

                Higher demand of uranium would drive up the price and the economics would drive the search for more searches. The funny thing is that they would not have to look very far. The world’s oceans are 3 ppb uranium. That’s 3 mg/m^3. This does not sound like much, but the oceans have a volume of 1.35 billion km^3. That is over a billion CUBIC kilometers. There are 1 billion cubic meters in a cubic kilometer.

                The total mass of uranium in the oceans alone is then on the order of 4 billion metric tons. The current level of uranium mining is about 40,000 tons a year. If you only recover 1/2 of the ocean content before increasing “scarcity” becomes a problem, there is 100,000 years worth right there.

                This assumes that we do not use breeder reactors to increase the fissile material available out of natural uranium. Right now, only about 1% of the uranium undergoes fission. With a breeder reactor, we can use about 30%, which will mean that number becomes 3,000,000 years.

                This is just the abundant supplies of the ocean. In reality, uranium is 500 times more common than gold in the earth’s crust, about the same amount as tin or zinc.

                Every place we look we find uranium, we just aren’t looking. Do you know what drives plate tectonics? Volcanism? It’s the heat generated by the breakdown of uranium in the Earth’s core and mantle. This uranium eventually becomes radon, which is why some homes have radon gas problems.

                There is more energy in the uranium discarded in the burning of coal than there is energy in the coal. In other words, we are not too much unlike primitives burning books on modern technology for the warmth.

                When all sources of recoverable uranium with increased technology, the number is easily increased to hundreds of millions of years at current usage, but there is more.

                Breeder reactors also enable us to use thorium as a fuel. Thorium is not fissile, but it is easily converted to U232 and then becomes a nuclear fuel. Thorium is 10 times more abundant than uranium, so multiply the hundreds of millions of years of supply of uranium and you have billions. We probably only need a thousand or so at most.

                The fear of running out of nuclear fuel is for completely ridiculous.

              • Doug Deal says:

                Now to answer your dangerous comment.

                Natural uranium is about as harmless as a heavy metal can get. People hear the word “half-life” and think the bigger the number, the worse it is. Even neutrons (a particle found in almost all normal matter except for hydrogen) have a half-life.

                Uranium is so common because it has a huge one. It’s half-life is as old as the age of the earth, about 4.6 billion years. This means that almost no radiation is given off at an period of exposure. Also, most radiation is in the form of alpha particles (a helium nucleus), which cannot penetrate skin. If you swallow uranium, however, it is chemically poisonous, but not much more than a number of other things we mine out of the earth or produce in chemical plants in much greater quantities.

                A material with a very short half-life, on the other hand, gives off a huge amount of radiation and is very dangerous. But it is only very dangerous for a short period of time. These things are the “fission products” produced when uranium is brought to chain reaction (different from natural decay). Most are second or less in the half-life department and after a period of even a hour, they have undergone so many half-lives that there is almost none of the material left.

                The worst case are moderate period half-lives like strontium 90 (28 years) give off a fair amount of radiation, but do not decay all that quickly. But, since the amount of uranium fuel used is so small, the amount of such material is tiny as waste goes and is easily contained for safe handling.

              • Doug Deal says:

                Now onto “safe, renewable” sources of energy.

                All of the “alternative” sources of energy are pretty much hoaxes to coax money out of tax-payers pockets into sharletons like T. Boone Pickens.

                There are these things called the laws of physics that no amount of research will ever get around. The biggest one is that there solar power is only available when the sun shines, and wind is only available when the wind blows (at the right speed, not too fast or too slow).

                Solar is only available during (at best) half a day and really maybe 1/3 since low incident radiation is greatly scattered by the atmosphere and blocked by the landscape. (Also geometrically it is spread over a greater area of ground, meaning less energy per unit area.)

                Anyway, you are also limited by the amout of energy striking the ground. At 100% efficiency, which is about 3-4 times the best you can hope for from solar power, you cannot exceed the average 250 Watts/m^2 that the ground gets from the sun. Factor in efficiencies and that comes to about 75 Watts from an area of about 10 sq ft. To equal the performance of one 1.5 GW nuclear reactor, that would take 200,000,000 sq ft of panel area or about 5,000 acres or nearly 10 sq miles. That is to replace ONE reactor. A single nuclear plant can have mutiple reactors, as one plant in Georgia will soon have 4.

                To fufill the electrical needs of our country, you would need about 500 nuclear reactors or about 5,000 sqare miles of panels, or about 1/10 the total area of Georgia.

                Wind power is another joke. One fragile wind turbine in the best of conditions can average max about 1 MW. You need about 1,500 of them to equal one nuclear plant. These monstrocities are also about 250-300 feet tall and have a bladespan of about 200 feet. Image 1,500 skyscaper high wind turbines, then imagine 500 times that number to meet our needs. That’s 750,000 of them.

                But that is for ideal condititions. Too fast, and the turbines have to be shut down because the stresses will rip them apart. If it is too low, the power generation goes down by (if i remember correctly) the third or fourth power. Half the wind speed and you get 1/8 to 1/16 the power generation.

                Further, for both cases, the power is unreliable. When the sun is down, solar is not working and when the wind is calm, you are out of luck. At day break, it is almost always the case that there is no wind or sun, yet energy needs peak as people start to wake up and turn on lights and power hungry indistrial systems.

                Where does the power come from during these times. If you are using solar and wind power, there is only one choice, backup natural gas plants. You have to have a 100% redundant natural gas system, the only type of power that can go on and off line quickly. So, to have these “alternative” power sources, you need a fossil fuel source with enough capacity to meet full power demand.

                Solar and wind have there uses, particularly for local, remote sources of power, and especially for low power consumption (like LED lighting) where batteries are practical. For the backbone of our power system, they are completely worthless.

                  • Doug Deal says:

                    Thats all in the efficency calculation. Solar energy is all types of wavelengths from infared through visible light through ultra-violet to x-rays to gamma. Most except for visible light, near infrared and ultraviolet, is absorbed by the atmosphere.

                    An efficient solar cell will work in a wide band of light frequencies.

                    • Lady Thinker says:

                      Like I said somewhere in an earlier post, I am researching this and I don’t know enough about it to make an informed decision. I appreciate you and the other posters giving me your points of view.

                      I am trying to find Holland’s statistical records to see why they chose to build windmills, how long the country has had them, and what problems as well as successes they have recorded.

                    • Doug Deal says:

                      Energy is a very complicated thing, but sadly, too many of our so called experts take a point of view based more in their own interest and less on what’s good for the country.

                • ByteMe says:

                  Solar and wind have there uses, particularly for local, remote sources of power,

                  So here’s the multi-billion dollar question: assume that the technology continues on its current path for a few years with solar — which is to say that the efficiency per inch (and per pound) continues to climb — how much would we be able to shrink the electrical backbone by having solar cells as everyone’s roof tiles? That’s also assuming, of course, that batteries get more efficient along with it (which appears to be happening a little slower, but I think we’ll get the tech “leap” we need in the next 10 years).

                  • Doug Deal says:

                    I’m all for that. It does 2 things, saves the conversion to AC. You could just have it provide DC power and also lowers your own demand, but that “selling it back” nonsense does not work and is just a form of welfare.

                    Still, current solar installations have a payback of that is at least 50 longer than the expected life of the unit.

                    Also keep in mind that it does not eliminate the problem of power availability and would not really work for heavy industrial uses.

                    • ByteMe says:

                      The “selling it back” resolves the issue with waiting for battery technology. Since the bulk of solar power occurs while people are at work and not consuming much power at home, without battery technology to store it, it’s wasted energy. Better to put it out on the grid — let’s have it roll back the meter reading! — and then get it back later when we’re home and it’s dark.

                      Still, current solar installations have a payback of that is at least 50 longer than the expected life of the unit.

                      But this is the same mistake you’re claiming other people are making about uranium availability. You’re assuming that the technology isn’t going to get significantly better with wider adoption.

                    • Doug Deal says:

                      You misunderstood me on two counts.

                      Number 1, selling back is not selling back, it is getting paid for something that has no value to anyone. Electrical transmition does not happen by accident, it is a highly coordinated process. DC is not tranmittable with any efficiency, so it has to be converted to AC. AC has a phase and frequency that have to be matched or the power just degrades the power already being provided. It is not really feasible on a house to house basis.

                      Further, you need to read my long post above about why intermittent power does not work. Coal and nuclear cannot be started and stopped on a whim, they provide base power. Natural gas gets to operating conditions rapidly and can be used for fluctuating conditions. But, this means we would have to build and maintain the capacity that your solar panel scheme anyway with fossil fuel burning plants anyway, so there is no savings, even if it were possible in the first place.

                      The second part was that I was talking about current installations. If I had meant to imply in any way that the price would never get down to shorter break even time, I would not have supported it, since it would be foolish. And besides that was the premise you made in tyour question.

                    • ByteMe says:

                      Net-metering is used in many states now, so you can’t say it’s not feasible.

                      As far as needing peak capacity… maybe. But peak usage tends to occur around here on bright sunny hot days, which are also prime days for solar generation. So our peak usage would also coincide with excess availability from solar generation. So perhaps peak isn’t really peak if we don’t need it from the grid. Which means maybe the next coal plant (or the one after that) doesn’t need to be brought online so quickly.

                      I think there’s a few too many negatives in your last paragraph, because it’s not making enough sense to me this morning. Sorry.

                    • Doug Deal says:

                      I am not saying that it can’t be measured. I am saying the power company is not getting a marketable product. The government is forcing them to take something that is a burden to their system and worthless to them as a welfare payment to people who have installed solar equipment.

                      They aren’t buying anything, the rest of us are subsidizing people with solar cells.

                      I am not against alternative power, I am against waisting money on gestures. We can all join a cargo cult and pretend to usher in airplanes as if they were rewards from the gods, or we can do real things.

                      Real things would be to get community geo-moderated cooling/heating systems (this is my name for them) down to a price where they become a viable economic alternative. Further, I would love for solar to come down in price so that people can use it to reduce their energy bills and also have independent power they can rely on when public utilties fail during disasters and other emergencies.

                      Another thing for high capacity “battery” storage, the answer is probably hydrogen. An idle nuclear plant (which likes to run at operating conditions perpetually) can use excess night capacity to create hyrdogen for on-site storage (with losses of course) that can be burnt for peak demand. Hydrogen is not a fuel, as there is no free hydrogen and the only way to recover it is to waste some other combustable material and just recover the hydrogen portion. But, as an energy storage device it is incredibly simple and the technical challenges are already met.

                    • ByteMe says:

                      I’m still a bit confused about net-metering. Are you saying that the meter is rolling backward, but the energy is going nowhere? Or that the electric company doesn’t have the technical know-how to re-direct that energy to where it’s needed or what?

                      It seems that if it wasn’t being used, there would be more push-back from the utilities about it. I realize it can’t be easily stored, so I get that the energy either needs to get somewhere for use or be lost, but it seems like there are a lot of folks in places like California who are putting their excess electricity on the grid and the utilities are accepting that and in some instances are embracing it as they look for models that don’t involve only making money via electrical generation.

                    • Doug Deal says:

                      Ah, I see what you mean in your question now. It’s a good question and like everything in energy it’s more complicated than it appears.

                      Electricity distribution is not about moving electrons like you would pump water through a pipe, its more like waves on the coast. To make more electrical energy you have to build a bigger and oscillation.

                      That means the energy needs to oscillate in phase with the bulk current or it will actually reduce the power being transmitted.

                      Plus, there are a number of consideration about sub stations and overall power management that takes a lot more into consideration than most of understand or know about. I once heard a radio interview with a power engineer about the troubles of buyback programs, and one of the biggest problems was phasing, and merging these home brew generators into a professionally run power grid.

                      He said it cost his company more to incorporate their power without even paying them than it would to just let them free-load off the system.

                    • I don’t know enough about the grid and electricity distribution on a large scale to be able to intelligently comment on selling back to the utility. The main thing I advocate for is either using solar or other technologies to reduce your demand on the grid, or to go off the grid. I don’t see it being a good idea fiscally to think you can run your own profitable business selling alternative energy back to the electric company.

                    • Doug Deal says:

                      David, I agree with you. But right now it is more or less just a novelty as if one is doing it for just the economics, its just not there yet.

                      The same goes with geo-moderated heating and cooling.

                    • ByteMe says:

                      Thanks, Doug. I’d like to hope there’s a way to accomplish what I think would be a great societal change — producing some of our own electricity by day and consuming some of the leftover by night without needing our own battery units occupying a closet in our house — that reduces our demand for new carbon-based power plants.

                      You’d think the power engineers would be smart enough to figure out how to make private-power generation work with the public grid in a standardized way that would then lower the costs and increase its effectiveness.

                      On the other hand, given a choice between a coal-fired plant and 100,000 more gas-powered cars on the road, I vote for the coal-fired plant.

      • Lady Thinker says:

        Don’t forget the cancers of people living in the mined area and explosions like the one that occurred a month ago as well as the near poverty and low education levels like some of those in West Virginia.

    • ByteMe says:

      Add a tax on carbon emissions that get into the air or water — for the corporate use of the public commons — and then we’ll actually get to see how things shake out. But nooooooo, that’d be bad for “bidness”.

      • Game Fan says:

        This “carbon” stuff is too globalistic for moi. We don’t need more taxes we need fines and prison. IMHO the “gubment” needs to stick to protecting the land and water. And they’ve done a sorry job at that. Protecting the “air” and adressing “climate” is far too dangerous for these billionaire sociopaths.

        • ByteMe says:

          Acid rain is on the decline because of the actions of “gubment”. It’s not all scary bad, just some of it.

          As for climate… I’m leaving that for another day. I’d rather talk about the increasing incidences of childhood asthma in cities.

      • strident_hack says:

        Not even close. What is bad for the energy business is to sell less energy. What’s bad for business is for “tax advocates” to raise taxes, then stop consuming.

        An ALGORE/Obama tax on Carbon emissions will raise your electric bill by over $2000 per year, assuming you live in a small house. Are your ready to pay that much more for nothing new? Let’s not stop there – your grocery store, your dry cleaners, your fast food restaurant, your sporting goods store, your movie theatre will all pay more to keep the lights on, so you will pay more to remain a customer. Are you willing to pay that much more on top of your own bills just to buy the same things you buy now?

        • ByteMe says:

          You made all that up, of course. No one has any idea what the true cost will be once other non-polluting energy producers get an incentive to compete with the government-sponsored utility monopolies that are allowed to pollute without cost. You can guess, but you can also guess that the cost of renewable energy will come down 10x as acceptance increases — just like most technologies are lower cost as their market penetration increases.

          • strident_hack says:

            Your speculation trumps my speculation. Why does something so good and so promising as “non-polluting energy” need incentives? Go out right now and put up solar panels on your home and your barn. Then, disconnect from the grid so that those nasty polluting utiliies are required by your beloved government regulators to “stand-by” to provide you with back up power when your system fails. If its right, lead by example, and the world will admire you.

            Even the NRDC estimates average consumers will pay several thousand dollars more under the Byte-me/ALGORE/Obama tax plan, and get nothing new for it. I did not make that up.

            • ByteMe says:

              Why did something so cool as cars need an incentive like “government paved roads”? Why does airplane travel need an incentive like “a network of government-sponsored airports and radar”?

              Because we move forward to the next greatest idea, not get stuck on the last one as being the endpoint of the curve.

              Oil/coal companies are already subsidized with your hard tax dollars and their free use of the public commons to pollute. Give similar financial incentives to the alternatives and see who wins.

              • Junius says:

                You can add government-sponsored airline and automotive industry bailouts to the list of status-quo incentives.

                • ByteMe says:

                  I could, but I consider that more of an anti-unemployment program than anything systemic for a particular technology. AIG also got gobs of money, but few would claim the government is bailing out the insurance industry.

            • benevolus says:

              You don’t have to “disconnect from the grid” to make this viable. If 10% of us reduced our grid consumption by 10% by using solar or wind or something, it would make building a few new polluting plants unnecessary. And the existing grid can stay in place and provide electricity when it’s needed. It’s all good.

              • ByteMe says:

                I’d like to see a readily available plan to allow consumers to sell excess electricity to the grid. Do that and you might interest more people in putting solar panels on their roof.

                • Actually, consumers can already sell excess electricity to the electrical companies. You just have to install a certain type of disconnect so that if a tree falls on the power lines or some other event causes a power outage, your electrical generation won’t try to power up the lines around your area shocking electrical workers trying to restore power.

                  • ByteMe says:

                    If I go to their web site, there’s nothing about this program in an obvious place where c0nsumers would look.

                    Surprising? Nope. Consider who sits on the PSC and the way some of them consistently vote against consumers.

                • Junius says:

                  It is being done now. Under Georgia law, all utilities have to reduce your bill, dollar for dollar, for any power you generate. However, if you ever generate more than you consume for the month (ie. are a net provider), they only have to pay you a rate they determine. The law should be changed to require the rate they pay to be the same rate they generally pay on the grid.

                  • benevolus says:

                    There is a limit here in Georgia as to how much they have to take, and they always meet their quota in January, so there’s no one new who gets reimbursed. Other states are better, particularly North Caroline if I recall.
                    As long as Georgia Power makes more money by selling more power, we can’t expect them to help us use less of their power.

                  • Technocrat says:

                    The problem is coal power generation costs < 3 cents per KWH, the rest is made up of infrastructure [HV lines, tower, substations, then local grid to home, parts inventory, and local employees.

                    You could sell power to neighbors if you ran your own big extension cords and assummed all liabilities.

                    Maintaining voltage, sync, and phase in a mixed system is challenging for non BSEE.

        • Junius says:

          $166.67 more per month more for energy is coming to your bill regardless. It will happen either as part of a structured process to price energy vis a vis its impact on the public good or, under the status quo, as a result of the escalating cost of increasingly expensive to reach fossil fuels in a market without viable alternatives.

    • Junius says:

      Excellent point. We are so far from a free energy market that it is almost academic to discuss it. Nuclear (which I fully support) gets limited liablity protection. The market price of fossil fuels in no way even approximates the actual cost to the public commons (air and water), cost of US Navy protection of shipping lanes, etc. Subsidies to infant green energies …. every technology has its built in government subsidies. We do desperately need a rational energy policy that recognizes that we have to transition away from oil consumption while recognizing that we will need the stuff, and lots of it, for quite some time and better to get it from here than enriching despots. I do fear that the current spill may kill all domestic off-shore consumption for decades. Imagine how much better shape we would be in had we not frozen nuclear power generation growth for 30 years following Three Mile Island. Also agree with Byte Me that a carbon tax (with the permits actually auctioned, not given away to those with the best lobbyist) would be a great move towards more accurate pricing of the cost of various technologies. Also agree that it ain’t likely.

      • Game Fan says:

        There’s lots of technology out there. There’s no telling what would really be viable as far as “alternative” or “cutting edge” because the “big producers” are subsidized. However this stuff makes for good reading: The Pogue carbeurator, stirling engine, Tesla coil, Wankel rotor, ect…

          • Game Fan says:

            “Government” would have it’s hands full enforcing existing rules and regs, busting up energy conglomerates, separating the car industry from the oil industry, and setting aside some of these Soviet-Style “plans”, not regulating the innovators out of existence, trying to “capture” all the best research under the guise of “national security” at taxpayer expense, and then turning around and taking a bow for the great job they’re all doing. What’s really scary is how so many folks thing the “government” is how “we” solve the energy mess. The same government which has us “stuck in Iraq” for a “war for oil” with a 3 trillion dollar price tag. I doubt if some of these politicians even know how to tie their own shoe.

      • B Balz says:

        “Nuke the baby whales” and you have the trifecta: Anti-nuke, anti-choice, anti-green. It was a college motto designed to incense the libs… (Funny since it was a Liberal Arts school…)

        30 years of teaching kids liberal puke and now we are gonna all pay for it. I am not happy about a meatless, tobacco free, world filled with schmushed up cars that look absurd.

        Green my butt! Thanks to the collective advocacy efforts of a few, new and ridiculous ‘green’ building ordinances for Atlanta were avoided. And the cost would have been staggering. Classic example of taking a few good ideas, going way overboard, and trying to sell a package in a city with some of the most energy efficient buildings in it.

        Do not get me wrong, there are many excellent measures to conserve. And many others that add cost with dubious results.

        That said, screw BP.

  2. Technocrat says:

    People don’t realize that energy created at a plant is only 33% of their retail delivered cost [infrastructure, interest , meter reading, billing, and bad debt-thief.

    China “coal bubble” will destroy any green plans. In 2000 China and US consumed equal amounts TODAY China uses 3x as much as US.

    The whole thing will crumble in less than 10 years [2020].
    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6434#more

  3. Bucky Plyler says:

    The volcano in Iceland is spewing out more 10x Co2. It’s a natural thing that government doesn’t understand..

    • benevolus says:

      So what are you saying? It’s futile? We shouldn’t do anything? High tide is natural too, but we build seawalls. Cancer is natural but we treat it.
      I don’t have kids, so I shouldn’t care, but if we don’t work towards making a better world-or at least maintaining the one we have, what’s the point? We’re just killing time here?

    • ByteMe says:

      You’re saying “you don’t understand it”. Scientists do. And they also get that it occurs naturally and unnaturally. You can’t do much to control the “naturally”, but the “unnaturally” is most definitely in our hands.

        • ByteMe says:

          Which part of You can’t do much to control the “naturally” was not comprehended?

          • Bucky Plyler says:

            If “un-natural” CO2 is a problem (I don’t accept that premise) then “natural” CO2 is a problem. Natural CO2 from volcanos, trees, & the ocean is exponentially more than the “un-natural”. Soooooooooooooo..stay with me here, since I’m a simpleton. What would you do about it?

              • ByteMe says:

                Which is the first step and one we’re already taking: provide financial incentives to stop deforestation in under-developed countries, which is where prime “old growth forests” still remain. These are nature’s long-term antidote to natural CO2 build-up.

                However, trees are natural, volcanos are natural. They can handle themselves given time. Eventually volcanoes stop erupting.

                Can the same be said for mankind’s unnatural pumping of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere? If not, then we need to start ourselves on a path to bring our activities into balance with our surroundings… either by increasing foliage — the calculation of how much is basic bio, I don’t have the number handy — or by decreasing the CO2 output from our activities.

                But as I said before: I’m not going into the whole “climate change” argument. I’d rather focus on simpler things like reducing the incidence of childhood asthma, which has been on the rise as we’ve been less tolerant of polluters.

  4. kturnerga says:

    It’s been thirty years since Three Mile Island and Chernobyl was a Fifties-technology reactor. Research has enabled reactors as small as 12x50ft (approx) to power 700 houses. Just figure up how many got cancer from working with nuclear power vs. coal power. Or for that matter look at ALL diseases. Only three people died in a nuclear accident and that was in Idaho in 1961. That was from pulling a rod out of a reactor much too far.

    • MSBassSinger says:

      I saw the government film on that back when it was classified. I also rode the bus out to the National Reactor Testing Site every day for 8 months, right by the site of that Army reactor. Aside from the three operators who got killed in the explosion or subsequent radiation, the only people exposed to serious radiation were the ambulance/hearse drivers that took the dead bodies out in lead-lined caskets.

      Although it has been 34 years since I last operated a nuclear power plant, I still remember almost all the math, physics, metallurgy, etc. I had to learn to get qualified to operate a nuclear power plant.

      Nuclear power, done with light water reactors, is incredibly safe, and technologically simpler than you think. Plant Mitchell, a coal plant outside Albany, GA emits more radiation than Plant Vogtle (near Savannah) because coal has a small percentage of carbon that is naturally radioactive. 4 years working in nuclear power plants, and I got zero measurable radiation. They guys on the flight deck, when we had daily flight ops, sometimes got their maximum allowable monthly dose in 3 weeks.

      As for CO2, show me one bit of science (not scientism) that says atmospheric CO2 is harmful. It is basic middle school science – CO2 increases, the existing green plants absorb more, and grow better. More O2 is released. Man is absolutely incapable of creating more CO2 than nature can regenerate into growth and O2. That, and nature makes many times more CO2 – enough, in fact, that the man-made portion is negligible.

      The #1 greenhouse gas is water, and even methane is more of an issue than CO2. So enough with the CO2 scam.

      Whenever I hear someone say something is “green”, I think snake oil and user cars. “Green” means there is a scam somewhere in the lie.

  5. Lady Thinker says:

    In the seventies, I had a Toyota Corona (no, it wasn’t a beer) that g0t 30 – 33 miles to the gallon and I drove it until it completely died. While others were in gas lines because of the gasoline shortage, I was driving 10 miles a day between work, the sitters, and college. A tank of gas lasted me nearly a month. Think of the progress we could have made 35 years later if we had looked for green solutions back then.

    While building a coal facility would put people to work and would cost less than trying to implement green technologies, the long term costs could be three to four times higher if not more in the long run, making the coal facility a poor choice of dollars investments at this junction.

    • Icarus says:

      That toyota corona didn’t have airbags, anti-lock brakes, side impact standard compliant doors nor a rollover standard roof. It didn’t have (I’m guessing) power door locks, power windows, or a 6 disc stereo with surround sound speakers. It sat 4, but not by today’s standards, as there was very little legroom in the front or back. The tires weren’t run flats and didn’t have tire pressure monitors. It had neither XM radio, On-Star, Nav System, nor an I-pod adapter. If it had a sunroof, it was probably something the dealer installed by cutting a hole in the roof of the car, and it leaked. And the small carborated engine in that car probably went from zero to 60 in over 11 seconds while emitting more than 10 times the exhaust of todays worst environmental offenders.

      Almost all of those advancements added weight, but also increased the cars safety, comfort, utility, and performance.

      There have been a lot of advances, but the laws of physics haven’t changed. Your car weighed just under 2,000 pounds. Even a decent compact today weighs around 3,500 or more. It still takes a certain amount of energy to send a certain amount of mass in motion. You just get that motion a lot more comfortable, quick, and safe.

      I’m calling that progress.

      • Lady Thinker says:

        Icarus,

        Okay, you are right in that regard, however, the technology was there then to make changes and we as a society did not take advantage of it. Computers used to fit in a large room and had no screen back in the fifties. Now, one can access the Internet on a Blackberry. Again, technology made those changes in a relatively short period of time, especially when Bill Gates came on the scene. All I am saying is that we could have done that with gasoline powered engines morphed into cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles. What say you?

      • Lady Thinker says:

        Also, look at the medical advances from the seventies to current day from identifying new diseases to the eradication of others and the production of miracle drugs. All I am saying is that with all the changes in every field over the years I feel we could have done better on the fuel front.

        • MSBassSinger says:

          In your examples, the progress was made because 1) it was technologically feasible, 2) there was a competitive market for doing so, and 3) the government didn’t demand any of it.

          Wind, solar, and geo-thermal are not viable sources of anything but tiny amounts of power, and then they are very expensive and unreliable. There are the limitations of physical laws that simply won’t change no matter how much some might wish, or how many laws Congress passes demanding it.

          Biomass fuels can be competitive. The current bio-diesel coagulates in cold weather, so it is not as feasible as it sounds. The only biomass fuels that are economically competitive are created by using genetically selected bacteria to, in a nutshell, create oil from biomass. However, the “greenie meanies” oppose it because it is still the use of carbon-based fuel, and they are too stupid to know the difference between safe genetic selection of naturally occurring bacteria for creating these fuels and the stuff they see in science fiction movies. Georgia’s Bell BioEnergy (http://www.bellbioenergy.com/) is one example of this technology already in place and working.

          Why should cars get higher mileage when 1) it doesn’t make anything any better, and 2) it makes them less safe? For lovers of irony who want to dare death, get a “Smart Car”. 🙂

          In short, if there is a real prospect of “green” stuff being created, it will happen when it is possible and there is a market for it.

          Oh, and Bill Gates is a software dude. He didn’t have anything to do with making electronics smaller, though I do enjoy my Windows Phone. The private sector did that in response to an initial market demand by NASA and the military – both of which the Obamacrats and Rockefeller Republican’ts are willing to cut.

          • Lady Thinker says:

            That is true, Bill Gates is the software person and he advanced that technology exponentionally in a short time. Although he did not make the electronics smaller, it was two separate areas that merged and gelled over time.

            While I understand your energy argument, I still believe that MPG’s can be improved upon whether the system is total gas, or a hybrid, or other type fuels. Cars have been made safer and that is a good thing, but as long as oil and coal are in the ground, why look for alternative methods? I feel we are at the point that we must look for alternatives now rather than another 35 years in the future.

            • MSBassSinger says:

              We’ve been looking for alternative methods for decades. Nuclear and coal power plants were alternative sources of energy to coal, oil, and kerosene in the home. We never stopped looking for alternatives – it is just that the wind/solar/geothermal alternatives are not viable alternatives. We’re still looking.

              The alternative sources pushed by the left are not capable of ever generating enough power to be usable. The left is using the public gullibility to get political and personal power, trying to put the masses in some 18th or 19th century technologies while they (the elite) get to keep the modern technologies. The Green movement is not about the environment – it is about socialists & fascists finding a way to take over since they could never be elected without the subterfuge.

              Look at who is fighting the only viable, cost-effective “alternative” energy solutions (biomass into oil, nuclear power) – the left! Rockefeller Republican’ts will be in the left’s corner because they cater to the folks who pad their election coffers that would be harmed by having somewhere else to go for oil and oil products. While looking after one’s own business interests is not wrong, I wonder to what degree the government (run by liberals and Rockefeller Republican’ts ) will get in the way of some American investor building and operating alternative energy sources that really work and lower costs.

              • Lady Thinker says:

                This is a new area I am researching and I appreciate your input. What is your opinion of the windmill systems like the one Holland uses as well as some of the western states? I realize this has nothing to do with oil and coal but it is intriguing to me.

                • MSBassSinger says:

                  They are unreliable and expensive. They produce little power relative to what is used. Further, there are few areas of the country that have enough constant air flow to make them usable.

                  In addition, you have to have conventional power plants available to back them up when wind is low or non-existent. They kill a lot of birds, and are extrememly loud.

                  Wind (meaning windmills), solar, and geothermal are bogus (and very expensive and unreliable) sources for commercial power generation.

                  • benevolus says:

                    Not sure about the reliability.
                    Expense would come down with more widespread use.
                    Efficiency would increase as technology matures.
                    So what if you need conventional power plants to back them up? We already have them. it’s a good use for them.
                    They don’t kill a lot of birds.
                    The are not extremely loud.
                    They don’t need to be “commercial” power generation. It can small scale and short distance. A supplement to the existing grid to slow down the rate we need to build giant new expensive and polluting power plants. Short distance eliminates the requirement for high voltage, and big transmission lines, and transformers.
                    A few decades ago many farms had their own windmills to pump their water. If windmills can do that work, surely we can utilize them to generate a little electricity.
                    Six Feet Under restaurant in Atlanta has a windmill. Here’s some info on it (for some reason this is a slow loading file):
                    http://www.sixfeetunderatlanta.com/docs/newsletter_turbine.pdf

                    • Lady Thinker says:

                      Benevolus,

                      So based on what you are saying, you think windmills could become cost efficient over time? As you know, they have been around for generations in Holland and I really got interested when I saw a special on them as an alternative energy source on either the Discovery or the Learning Channel.

                      If a developer wanted to build a windmill community with a backup power grid, do you know if he/she would need one windmill per home or one per community? Thanks for the link, I’m going to download it now.

                    • Lady Thinker says:

                      Benevolus,

                      I couldn’t access your link so I typed it in and from there, went all over the map. Although the wind turbine aka windmill is made in Flagstaff, Arizona, the company is in Marietta. Their products, including Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Modules and Solar Thermal Water Heating Systems, are all over Metro Atlanta.

                      While you and MSBassSinger have differing views on some aspects of the technology, I think economic studies need to be done so that local, state, and federal elected officials can make informed decisions in determining the pros and cons of this alternative energy solution.

                      Thank-you for the link you furnished. Here is a link to the company that installed the windmill at the Six Feet Under restaurant.

                      http://www.soenso.com/Home.html

                    • benevolus says:

                      I do believe they can become more efficient over time. But that is not the same as saying it would be competitive with coal. Maybe it will, I don’t know. But you can’t calculate the costs in dollars only. Coal mining is a process that is often devastating to the environment, as is gas drilling. Nuclear has it’s own issues too. Between strip mining, mountaintop removal, watershed fill-in, acid runoff, air pollution, safety issues, how much does it really cost to generate electricity with these methods?
                      It just seems that we have a lot of other possible resources that don’t have the extra costs involved. They have used windmills in the Midwest for decades to pump water and generate electricity in isolated areas. There is hydro power, and wave power, and geo-thermal, and other stuff too. Some combination of those might be able to reduce our need to burn coal and gas to boil water to spin a motor to generate electricity. Boil water! Really!
                      It’s frustrating to think that we pay to build a giant plant to generate electricity and then we pay to have someone deliver it to us, when we could just pay to have our own personal electrical generating device and get the electricity for free.

      • Technocrat says:

        If people would wear nomex flame suits, crash helmets, 4 point safety harness and install a light carbon fiber/ steel roll bar………..none of these expensive and heavy safety gadgets would be necessary.
        Find a light weight 1985 or older vehicle redesign it for better economy/pollution [add a modern junk yard cat]……..exempt from emission and safety testing.

  6. Game Fan says:

    My point with politicians and energy policy is the best thing, if you really want innovation to reach the consumer is don’t play their game (panick politics) don’t look to politicians and government for solutions, because if they actually know anything about energy production it’s from the business side and not from the technology side (not that there’s anything wrong with it) but they’re going to go with their corporate sponsors, not the innovators. The politician will go for the big chunk-0-money, not what works best. The greater the involvement of the politician the less likely the best technology will make it to the forefront.

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