“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Carbon Blues

It's interesting to see the finger pointing in regard to high energy prices. Congress blames the automakers. The automakers say that's what the market wanted. NGO's blame biofuels for the run-up in food prices. Conservatives blame liberals for blocking everything. Alternative energy proponents blame the carbon gluttens. Watermelons blame the evil capitalists. And it goes on and on.

All I know is that it costs me over $4.00 a gallon to feed my wonderful, comfortable, reasonably safe Tahoe which can get as much as 21-22 mpg on the highway if I keep it around 60-65 mph.

I recently paid my latest utility bill and did some quick calculations to see what my local community owned utility was gouging me for these days. It's just the wife and I plus two dogs and a bird in a three-year old, 2600 SF home.

For the period 5/16/2008-6/16/2008, the bill breakdown is as follows:
Electric Billed Usage 1501 KWH $231.69

0 CCF $10.45

Water Service
54 CGAl $13.62
Sewer $30.79
Refuse Service $15.30
Stormwater $7.27
Fire Service $13.00

Total Charges $322.32

Turns out, the city is ripping me for 15.45 cents per KWH compared to the national average of 9 cents. How's it look in your neck of the woods? BTW - A friend told me the other day his bill runs about two grand a month.


  1. What city are you in whit? That 15.45 cents per KWH is outrageous.

    Your utility is either long on green power (averages 30 cents/KWH) or has lots of freakin' overhead.

    Bad news though, the whole country is about to get a beating on their electric bills.

    Our national electrical infrastructure is in decay and materials costs are through the roof to build more plants and infrastructure.

    A nuke plant that cost $3B-$6B ten years ago will cost $18B-$20B today.

    The grid is going through a digital upgrade, which is a multi-billion dollar investment. We have operations in five states, and in one state alone the initial cost of the implementation is about $4B.

    Coal plants are being killed by the carbon / climate change cult and utilities are being forced to build natural gas plants to placate them. These plants will get hammered on fuel costs, as natural gas production is peaking in the US, which will mean we'll have to import liquefied natural gas to terminals that the greenies are ensuring never get built. This is a mess waiting to happen.

    Low-sulfur coal has doubled in price in the past year, so that fuel cost is going to hit everyone hard over the next year. With talk of coal gassification and Fischer-Topf, that will create even more upward pressure on current supplies. What is 6 cents/KWH should be 12 cents by winter.

    Wind and solar average 30 cents/KWH, so they are still economically unfeasible on their own. As part of a mix of generation (like nuclear - which is 2 cents/KWH) they can be absorbed and averaged into the base rate, but their output just does not beat a nuke in terms of power output from a square mile footprint.

    Best thing to do is figure out how to weatherproof the hell out of your house. This country can easily reduce demand by changing the way it builds things.

    My gut tells me that LEED certification is going to become a building code mandate in cities very soon. The era of buildings that bleed heat in the winter and lose their cool in the summer are over for good.

    You can still take a hot shower and have cold beer in an on-the-grid house that uses half to three-fourths the electricity it currently does. We just haven't been building them. "Value engineering" was the guiding principle for homebuilders in the go-go '90s and early '00s. The cheapest, most minimally-efficient houses money could buy.

    Think long term in how you can get your house buttoned up, because the uncertainty in the fossil-fuels markets combined with idiotic policy are going to cause energy price shocks in the utility sector over the next few years.

  2. Yo Bro!
    I live in a Democratic controlled, socially progressive city in Florida where we have no state income taxes and a 22 mil property tax in my particular county.

    The Progressives use the utility company to supplement their out of control spending.

    My "wonderful" city is also in the process of spending tens of millions of dollars to upgrade to digital electric meters.

    Some years back, the greenies convinced the city to move to mostly natural gas for electrical generation. Last year, the locals voted down participating in a new regional coal plant.

    I am familiar with LEEDS. There is some good in the program but so far, it looks like a cash cow for the LEEDS organization more than anything.

    I hate to hear your gloomy forecast for our energy future although it reinforces the urge to sell out, cash out, and get out.

  3. This is a mess waiting to happen.

    That would be “miserable mess.”

    I would add two points.

    First, ain’t nobody gonna be crying no alligator tears for U.S. and

    Second, this is not a temporary crisis that will blow away like Christie Brinkley’s divorce. It is reality being consistently ignored because nobody really understands economics.

    That’s about to change.

    Or not.

  4. Down to the Banana Republic
    Down to the tropical sun
    Go the expatriated Americans
    Hoping to find some fun

    Some of them go for the sailn'
    Called by the lure of the sea
    Trying to find what is ailing
    From living in the land of the free

    Some of them are running from lovers
    Leaving no forward address
    Some of them are running tons of ganga
    Some are running from the IRS

    And late at night you will find them
    In the cheap hotels & bars
    Hustling the senoritas while they dance beneath the stars

    Spending those renegade pesos
    On a bottle of rum & a lime
    Singing, give me some words I can dance to
    Or a melody that rhymes

    First you learn the native customs
    Soon a word of Spanish or two

  5. That's an option, Rat.

  6. Read a lot about Bud Day over July 4 holiday - bunked with McCain at Hanoi Hilton and sued Clinton government for taking away medical benefits from military veterans.

    The story of the kind of people who used to comprise this country.

    Contrasted with something like Fischer-Tropsch being just too complicated to build. Yeah, all those mechanical pipes running around. Just too complicated to contemplate.

  7. Whit,

    I think I know where you are coming from. I would guess the area is on the Atlantic coast of FL.

    Grew up in west-central FL and schooled at UF, so I am familiar with the terrain.

    Thanks for correcting my spelling on Fischer-Tropsch. Read somewhere that the USAF did a test run with an engine on a B-52 with F-T coal fuel. It was $35 a gal. to produce.

    No panacea there.

    Shell Oil has that nifty way of boiling the oil out of shale, except you need giant electrodes and three barrels of fresh water for each barrel of oil you get out of it.

    Sounds like a great concept, but the water piece makes it a non-starter.


    In other good news, the marxist running for president is pushing for a security apparatus only marxists can love:

    "We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set," he said Wednesday. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

    Send your kids to Commissar school now so they can get a high-up slot in the internal security forces.

    Excuse me while I go and load mags.

  8. From

    Value Engineering


    Environmental Footprints



    And the end-game:

    Creative Capitalism

  9. Gentlemen, the court has ruled here, that your hut in the National Forests is your home, protected by the
    Constitution. There is always that option.

  10. Price History

    If I did my arithmetic right, price of F-T fuel in South Africa is around $5/gal.

    One liter = 0.264 gallons

    One U.S. dollar = 7.7 SA rands = 100 cents.

  11. 30 Cents/kwh and rising on Maui:
    Diesel Turbine Generators plus 9% wind, soon to be more.

    Turned off my old P-4 Dell and saved 40 bucks, down to a measely $240/month.

    Hawaii could halve it's use with proper insulation, solar water for all.

  12. Oahu is 20 cents, they have a refuse powered plant, but that's just one of many, not sure where the 10 cent saving all comes from.

  13. Just paid PG&E bill for 5-9-08 thru 6-9-08: 480 kwh @ $0.119 per plus "customer charges" of $13.17. Base cost of electricity = $50.04, but the bullshit raises the bill to $63.21, or effectively $0.1511/kwh in my case.

    This bill was maybe 20% higher than it needed to be. I forgot I'd turned the well pump on, and wasted some juice for a week or two.

    This is central Sierra Nevadas, about 4500 feet elev. Wood stove is sole source of heat, air conditioning by Mother Gaia. I need to put in some gas fired space heating one of these days as fire wood is becoming more scarce, and gathering costs are goin' up. Broke down and bought a splitter last summer. At 65 I can still swing a maul, but the shock was taking its toll on my shoulders. I finally figured out the physics there.

    Here's what PG&E treats us to by way of explanation (gobbledeegook):

    [some power comes from Dept of Water Resources which leads to this gem]...DWR is collecting 7.123 cents per kwh from Bundled customers for each kwh it provides plus the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment component of the Cost Responsibility Surcharge from the Direct Access and Transitional Bundled Service customers.

    Oh. Thank you. I feel better now.

    There's more, but I'll spare y'all.


  14. Thanks.

    Set 'em up. Drinks are on me.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. "DWR is collecting 7.123 cents per kwh from Bundled customers for each kwh it provides plus the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment component of the Cost Responsibility Surcharge from the Direct Access and Transitional Bundled Service customers."
    I always wondered how that works.
    Did you ever try the (often different) brew from the Nev City Brewery?
    ol Gene grew up w/me, two years ahead, actually.
    Helped him build the place.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Proving the old Sixties Slogan:

    "White is Beautiful"

    or, not.

  20. "Obamacon" with impeccable GOP credentials: "The Republican Party is a dead rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of 'Weekend at Bernie,' handcuffed to a corpse."

    These Obama supporters hold no illusions about Obama's liberalism, but they are so angry at the GOP, Novak writes, that they seek a "therapeutic electoral bloodbath."

  21. BAGHDAD (Associated Press) -- Iraqi police and medical officials say a bomb has killed the head of a U.S.-allied Sunni group south of Baghdad.

    The police officer says Ali Abdul Ridha al-Badri was the head of an awakening council in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, and was killed Sunday after meeting with U.S. forces.

    The officer says the bomb was attached to al-Badri's car.

  22. BILLINGS, Mont. (Associated Press) -- Federal officials are considering a tentative proposal that calls for capturing or killing infected elk in Yellowstone National Park to eliminate a serious livestock disease carried by animals in the area.

    Government agencies have killed more than 6,000 wild bison leaving Yellowstone over the last two decades in an attempt to contain brucellosis, which causes pregnant cattle to abort their young.

    Cattle in parts of Wyoming and Montana where bison haven't roamed for decades are being infected, and livestock officials in both states are now targeting elk as the cause.

    "We've got way too many elk," said John Scully, a rancher living in Montana's Madison Valley. "Clearly with so many elk, the risk rises. We need to reduce their numbers."

  23. Ted Nugent says hunters have raised 6 Billion Bucks for habitat preservation.

  24. " From an electoral standpoint, the tree of reform must be refreshed occasionally with the bitter defeat of corrupt, craven, unprincipled and brain-dead politicians. The GOP has the worst offenders these days, so off with their heads – figuratively speaking, of course.

    President Bush has increased the size of the federal government faster than even LBJ.
    Right, Harry and Nancy are Virgins and Daisly Fresh.
    Bush sucks, but he ain't runnin.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Bush signed the budgets and the spending bills, without a single veto for the first six years of his tenure. The same six years that the GOP controlled the Congress.
    Trent Lott, Maverick & Lindsey Graham hand in hand, running the Senate, spending compassionately.

    Maverick is running

  27. Glory Days for the Republic.
    Of the Americas.

  28. Welcome Linear dude. With Rufus, that makes 3 of us near 60, the old wise ones of the joint. And by the way, not so long ago some one posted an article, proving how much smarter old folks are.

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. What's that make me, al-Bop?
    A freakin Petroglyph?

  31. So this is the last big push againts aQ, in Iraq.

    Obama will get there, after that fact, but before Maverick.

    First up, best dressed
    Victory will be declared
    To the winner goes the spoils...

    American and Iraqi forces are driving Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.

    After being forced from its strongholds in the west and centre of Iraq in the past two years, Al-Qaeda’s dwindling band of fighters has made a defiant “last stand” in the northern city of Mosul.

    A huge operation to crush the 1,200 fighters who remained from a terrorist force once estimated at more than 12,000 began on May 10.

    Operation Lion’s Roar, in which the Iraqi army combined forces with the Americans’ 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, has already resulted in the death of Abu Khalaf, the Al-Qaeda leader, and the capture of more than 1,000 suspects.

    The group has been reduced to hit-and-run attacks, including one that killed two off-duty policemen yesterday, and sporadic bombings aimed at killing large numbers of officials and civilians.

    Let Maverick sputter on, about how the US military has not won, how it may well take 100 years, for US to win.

    He's climbed out on a limb, now it's about to be cut off. We know Maverick trusts in his parachute, it's part of his life experience.

  32. It's also, golden

    Like a fine lager

  33. Wife and myself. 3 bedroom/2 bathroom townhouse. Electricity $110/month. Not sure per hour.

  34. Doug,
    If that's Sierra Nevada Pale you mentioned, I've tried it and it's too sweet, or green, or something for me. My kids like it, though. I like most of the Oregon microbrews. Those progressive socialists do one thing right, anyhow.

    Al Bob,
    More combine stories. You can never know too much about combines.

    I'm in the middle of some chores. Be back later.

  35. No accounting for Taste!
    Sierra Nevada's one of my favs.

    But I was talking about Nevada City Brew.
    Doubt if Gene's still in Business, as he must be 66 or so.

  36. Gene distributed Agent Orange to the needy Vietnames.

  37. By the time I'd gotten out of farming, I'd gotten to the point, I never wanted to see another combine.

    They look great in a picture, coming over the hill, say three in a row, but, the guy in the cab is probably cursing, prices are down, the air conditioner don't work....

    But, it beats Harvesting With Horses

    I have an old old photo of my grandfather, looks a lot like that. Ten, twelve men, as many horses, out in the hot sun.

  38. Mat did you catch this from Brother D Day--

    Wind and solar average 30 cents/KWH, so they are still economically unfeasible on their own. As part of a mix of generation (like nuclear - which is 2 cents/KWH)

  39. The header was different than any other farming implement at the time because it was pushed, not pulled, by 6 or 8 horses...
    The owner and man we were working for, Don Waters, was working as a spike pitcher. To describe a spike pitcher you have to say they were some of the hardest-working men of the era. They stayed in the field with pitchforks to load the wagons. The drivers did not help load the wagons, they were only responsible for unloading into the thresher. The weather was always hot and the work was hard. There was always competition between the spike pitchers, since we drivers always drove between two shocks and one spike pitcher loaded on each side. They always raced to see who could load his shock the fastest. Don overdid himself one hot afternoon and had a sunstroke. He spent the rest of that harvest in bed. He did get up and around again but could never work. He died in his early thirties as a result of that stroke.
    Jeeze, and we thot cotton pickin was hot work.

  40. Too bad they don't show the pushing arangement.

  41. At the end of August 2007, American Electric Power CEO Michael Morris said that because of construction delays and high costs, the company wasn't planning to build any new nuclear plants. Also, builders would have to queue for certain parts and face "realistic" costs of about $4,000 a kilowatt. "I'm not convinced we'll see a new nuclear station before probably the 2020 timeline," Morris said.

    So much for being a near-term, cost-effective solution to our climate problem. But if $4,000 per kilowatt was starting to price nuclear out of the marketplace, imagine what prices 50 percent to 100 percent higher will do.
    Construction costs seem a wee bit high!

  42. (Thats from the Salon article)

  43. It's been my observation that most of the people over at Daily Kos are pretty good at throwing words around, but none of them can actually do anything.

  44. In January, MidAmerican Nuclear Energy Co. said prices were so high it was ending its pursuit of a nuclear power plant in Payette County, Idaho, after spending $13 million researching its economic feasibility. Company president Bill Fehrman said, "Consumers expect reasonably priced energy, and the company's due diligence process has led to the conclusion that it does not make economic sense to pursue the project at this time."

    MidAmerican is owned by famed investor Warren Buffett. When Buffett pulls the plug on a potential investment after spending $13 million analyzing the deal, that should give everyone pause.

  45. "Over the past three decades, California efficiency programs have cut total electricity demand by about 40,000 gigawatt hours for an average 2 to 3 cents per kilowatt-hour"

  46. Is the huge BHP Billiton bid for rival Rio Tinto dead after the European Commission expressed 'doubts' about the transaction?


    The takeover also needs agreement from Australia and South Africa. They are considered not to be important hindrances.

    The move by Aluminum Corp of China (Chinalco) and Alcoa to snap up a 9% in Rio in early February could end up a very expensive plunge.

    Rio Tinto

  47. PG&E was ahead of the pack on that one.

  48. The header was different than any other farming implement at the time because it was pushed, not pulled, by 6 or 8 horses...

    hmmm...That doesn't ring any bell with me. For a long time--it's kind of gone out of style now--all the barber shops, banks, etc, would have a picture or two of the old harvest crews on the walls, here. I can't remember any header being pushed. That's a new one, to me. And how the heck does a horse push?

  49. We've got to get our energy problems solved or we're at risk of dropping back into tribalism, violence and horror. I'm worried.

  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. Yeah, I quess you just push Reverse Button, come to think of it:)

  52. "cali_woman0117/5/2008 8:48:53 PM

    Wait and see, California will be known as Calimexica by 2010 and and all original Americans living in Calimexica who were born before 2000 will be required to be registered and carry papers to prove that they have a job and can stay there. The illegals will be running the show.

  53. In the six-and-a-half years that the U.S. government has been fingerprinting insurgents, detainees and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, hundreds have turned out to share an unexpected background, FBI and military officials said. They have criminal arrest records in the United States.


    "The bottom line is we're locking people up," said Thomas E. Bush III, FBI assistant director of the Criminal Justice Information Services division. "Stopping people coming into this country.


    Civil libertarians, however, worry that the systems are not transparent enough for outsiders to tell how the government decides who belongs on a watch list and how that information is handled.

    Turning Up Surprises

  54. That was the Secret Sam.
    Guy kept selecting steeds w/the backwards gene, and culling the rest.

  55. Doug at 8:36

    I got to check that out. That must be something other than the one I've reported on. I got to get up to speed on this. So I can make an intelligent statement.

  56. As Mat would say:
    "There's a First Time for Everything!"


  57. "If California's effort were reproduced nationwide, efficiency would deliver 130 gigawatts by 2020, which is more than enough energy savings to avoid the need to build any new power plants through 2020 (and beyond). And that means any new renewable plants built could displace existing fossil fuel plants and begin to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the utility sector. "
    ...but "conservatives" continue to spout the mantra that conservation don't do shit.

  58. MORONS!

    What: An introduction to the nationwide Carbon-free and Nuclear-free Campaign including a panel of renewable energy experts and a family-style, vegetarian dinner.

    Where: The Basque Center, 601 Grove Street

  59. a family-style, vegetarian dinner.

    And, after the entree, you eat grandfather.

  60. My grandpa ran a steam engine operation around central Nebraska about a hundred years ago. Someplace I've got a sepia print of the crew and engine. Dad and I did some share cropping for a neighbor when I was 15. Used his equipment, which was mostly junk except for the big Farmall MD. How Dad ever kept the old AC combine working still amazes me.

  61. Linear, one of the things I kind of like around here is, here and there on the landscape you can still see an old combine, rusting away, where it gave up the ghost. I've got an old International 403, dead as the ancient Romans, out on the place, for instance.

  62. Obama Strikes First
    By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

    "The campaign of 2008 started on July 1 when Obama launched his first national advertising buy of the season. How McCain responds and whether or not he does, will have a big impact in determining whether Obama can solidify or expand his current lead in the polls. As always, the media fails to cover the significant events of the campaign -- but this is one of the most critical.

    The Obama ad, which introduces him as someone who worked his way through college, fights for American jobs, and battles for health care also seeks to move him to the center by taking credit for welfare reform in Illinois which, the ad proclaims, reduced the rolls by 80%.

    But there's one problem - Obama opposed the 1996 welfare reform act at the time. The Illinois law for which he takes credit, was merely the local implementing law the state was required to pass, and it did, almost unanimously. Obama's implication -- that he backed "moving people from welfare to work" -- is just not true.

    With Obama running the ad in all the swing states (Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia), this gross usurpation of credit affords the McCain campaign an incredible opportunity for rebuttal.

    For the past two weeks, Obama has moved quickly toward the center. He has reversed his previous positions for gun control, against using faith based institutions to deliver public services, against immunity for tele-communications companies that turn records over to the government in terror investigations, for raising Social Security taxes, for imposing the fairness doctrine on talk radio, and a host of other issues.

    McCain has watched passively as his rival repositions himself for November. Indeed, he has watched from afar as he took the time out to travel to Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil, even though they have no electoral votes.

    But now, there is a heaven-sent opportunity for McCain to strike. In his effort to move to the center, Obama has distorted his own record, meager though it may be, and is taking credit for a program he strongly opposed. McCain should immediately run an ad in all of the states in which his opponent is advertising setting forth the facts and explaining Obama's distortion.

    A good tag line for the ad would be: "John McCain: when you have real experience, you don't need to exaggerate."

    But, if McCain doesn't answer, or just replies with his own positive ad, he will let Obama move to the center, a key mistake from which he may never recover. If Obama can hold his 5-10 point lead until the conventions, he will have set in place a pattern that will be very hard to change. With his new ad, Obama could even elevate his lead to double digits.

    On the other hand, if McCain calls him on his distortion, he can do grave damage to Obama on three fronts: credibility, centrism, and experience. By catching Obama in a lie, he can undermine the effectiveness of any subsequent ads the Democrat runs. By showing that he opposed welfare reform, McCain can do much to force Obama back to the left and cast doubt on his efforts to move to the middle. And by emphasizing Obama's limited experience, he can strike at a soft spot --- made softer by Hillary's attacks in the primary.

    The move is right there for McCain. Now lets see how good his campaign really is."

  63. If America elects this charlatan we deserve what we get. All the hours of mid day tv will have done their work.

  64. Amen to that Al-Bob.
    As Rush says,
    "We can't afford it."

  65. Leno's daily drive is a Model-T.
    $230 New, Rebuilt in the '60's, gets 23 mpg.
    According to Jay.

  66. I'd love to have his Fiat Topolino.

  67. I'd like to have a model T on some of the logging roads around here, they wouldn't bottom out, and they were built for those kind of roads anyway.

  68. Not even a hat tip from Deuce for citing the Morris piece first. I didn't even clog up the bar by pasting the whole thing.

  69. Doug, that's hardly bigger than a motorcycle with some metal around it. Jay drives around in that? There's not much to protect you there, if you get in an accident.

    With his money, I'd buy a limo, and a driver.

  70. T., truth is, there is nothing better than a four wheel drive pickup truck, for everything. Lady, I can tell you, I have had some great times, with a good pickup truck. Man's best invention, other than the Space Shuttle, in my view.

  71. This comment has been removed by the author.

  72. ...but "conservatives" continue to spout the mantra that conservation don't do shit.

    Distinction between construction-related efficiencies and all the rest - transportation, planning, site selection, brownfields, resource utilization, mitigation, etc.

    California’s reduced energy bill results from construction-related improvements, certainly not changes in transportation patterns or modalities or toilet paper.** It’s the same problem as the existing car fleet - old houses not built to code. Retrofitting is productive, but it needs to be subsidized, as per below.

    And the conservation has been subsidized by the regulatory structure:


    It also benefits from the way California regulates its utilities. Their sales are separated, or "decoupled," from revenue, so they neither earn more by selling more energy nor lose money by promoting efficiency measures that reduce those sales.

    Instead, California's utilities make a guaranteed profit on all their investments - $2.8 billionthis year for PG&E. The regulators have also approved big budgets for energy efficiency, something that has helped PG&E's top business clients save money, while boosting PG&E's bottom line. The $300 million PG&E set aside for energy efficiency in 2007 includes a lot of "customer education," which often doubles as public relations for the company.

    "This is not a normal business, like the bubble-gum business, where you can make money by selling more gum. If a regulator will let you, you can make money by selling less of the product," notes David Victor, director of Stanford's Program on Energy and Sustainable Development. "The single most important relationship is with the regulators."


    Conservation is more effective when used in combination with improvements in technology:


    So the heat is on PG&E - and it's getting hotter. State officials recently approved a new target of 33 percent renewables by 2020. And earlier this year, regulators banned utilities from signing long-term contracts with out-of-state coal-fired power plants - the source of 20 percent of California's electricity.

    That's why PG&E is turning for help to Silicon Valley, where there's a boom in new clean-energy technology fueled by venture capital. To be sure, it's a brave entrepreneur who will chase this holy grail and risk failure at the hands of a lumbering corporate bureaucracy and the numerous government agencies that regulate the industry. "They're opening the door," Pimentel says, "but there's still a thick forest to walk through."


    Conservation must be subsidized and it must be coupled with structural changes. Too often it is a stand-alone feel-good solution because the business community is risk-averse. Retrofitting seems like a nifty emerging cottage industry.

    **I am skeptical of the numbers - all of them. Resource economics is complicated. As noted, Warren Buffet spent $13M on due diligence. So throwing out a number that says Happy Days are Here Again if only we behave ourselves is irresponsible.

    But there’s a lot of that going around.

  73. My very first question re reliability of numbers - would be how much has conservation lowered the CO2 level which we can apparently measure or estimate with such great accuracy?

    Or is that a Politically Incorrect trendline?

  74. Kind of the way I look at this energy situation is, like I remember old Mr. Westberg and us, sitting around, debating what kind of seed to plant. Finally, he got fed up with all the talk, and said, "Fuck it, let's get some damned seed in the ground." Which we did, and, it worked out.

  75. That's why this "nonononono" mantra from the Democrats is disturbing.

    Maggie's Farm is tracking the "biofuels increase carbon emissions" story line.

    What could have been a reasonable and quick buffer is slowing twisting in the wind, dying on the vine, with or without the food "crisis".

    Risk - the four-letter word of the post-modern world.

  76. But Mr Westburg ain't around, and neither is the PG&E that I once knew.
    I'd bet the measures PG&E had in place in 1970 were alot more workable than the mish-mash they got now w/socialist govt of CA.
    PG&E used to be more of a private, regulated business back then.
    The first conservation policies they put in place definitely produced results.

  77. Like bro d-day started the thread with, properly insulated homes make a difference, I didn't know they were still building them any other way.
    The big builders here are doing it right.

  78. To me it is so simple.

    Even that poster-child State - California - is goal-setting renewals quotents for 10-20 years out.

    So the interim remains. What are we supposed to do with it? Conservation of structural energy usage is a start but conservation won't impact gasoline consumption. The SMART Growth people have been trying to social engineer urban habits since God. Their visions haven't worked yet in this country - the physical size. Portland is classic example - housing prices were out of the ceiling after the SMART Growth people finished.

    The wildcatters are back in business because of cost. My gut tells me there will be some short-term relief from the various options but time-to-pump minimum of 5 years.

    I don't have the numbers to back this up but my guess would be that buildings in U.S. are more energy-efficient than buildings in Europe. It is the transportation habits that differ and the economic productivity that influences GDP.

    That's my take.

  79. Doug, on my little 800 ft of street in Moscow that I built, you wouldn't believe what nice units the builders have built. I don't know about the energy efficiency and that, but, man oh man, are they really nice, and, the students still come to rent. Some are condos, and they sell. When I went to the U of Washington, I lived in a run down motel. I tell you, Doug, these students today don't have anything to complain about.

  80. Bush: Boycotting Olympics would be 'affront' to ChineseUSA Today - 4 hours agoBy Evan Vucci, AP By Paul Wiseman, USA TODAY TOYAKO, Japan - President Bush on Sunday defended his decision to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games next month, saying that skipping the event "would be an affront to the Chinese ...


    FDR: Boycotting Olympics would be 'affront' to Nazis.

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  82. FDR: Boycotting Olympics would be 'affront' to Nazis.

    That's right. But, I don't know what we can do about the Chinese. That seems a problem too big and too hard, thinking of bringing our idea of human rights to China. It's a bummer, but if there is a country that we can't influence, I quess it would be China.

  83. - California's fiscal woes largely of its own making -

    Calif last in fiscal responsibility.
    Stupid article hardly mentions biggest problem:
    Esp spending on illegals.

  84. We coulda influenced them by not granting them permanent most favored trading status.
    ...given that it is a slave labor state.
    But Corrupt DC Politicos let Bubba do just that.
    And Globalist George sure ain't gonna change anything.

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  86. Well, yes, maybe, but would it have changed anything on the ground there in China? I just don't know.

  87. They'd have fewer of our dollars to build a military and hoard to hold over our head.
    Shoulda put it in Mexico, So. America w/conditions preventing continued increases in disparity of wealth.
    ...and to require pigs that fly.

  88. I'm not saying you're wrong, Doug. In fact I think you're right.

    Here's one for Ash to translate for us when he gets back from his voyage out there on Ocean, helping the poor.

  89. From Slade at Sun Jul 06, 10:18:00 PM EDT:

    The $300 million PG&E set aside for energy efficiency in 2007 includes a lot of "customer education," which often doubles as public relations for the company.

    8.1% of my electric bill quoted earlier goes toward this energy efficiency scam as well as state mandated collections for assistance for low income customers. I can't comprehend most of the gibberish in the definitions, but bottom line is 79% of my bill is for electricity and 21% is for state mandated feel good programs, debt service on state issued bonds (Gray Davis), welfare for needy customers, deposits for nuclear decommissioning, and some payments for "PG&E's emergence from bankruptcy."

    BTW the "Power Charge Indifference Adjustment" quoted earlier is not a typo or embellishment. They really have such a critter. I couldn't dream that shit up.

  90. Obama's Racist Rant Against Whites

    Laura at Atlas Shrugs investigated Barack Obama's work and made some startling observations:
    Obama probably did not think about the presidential office possibility when he wrote the book "Dreams From My Father" as it is laden with racist categorizations.

    Obama catagorizes people according to skin tone, as some are olive, pale, walnut, etc. Almost to the point of being laughable, if it was not so pathetic and scary. The last person to be that race obsessed in power started freakin' WWII and murdered millions of innocent people.

    My husband and I sat down one night and began counting how many times Obama used racial catagorization or referred to race in his book Dreams From My Father.

    There are racial references made 179 times in the first 110 pages.

    We got sick of counting at page 110 and sick of reading Obama's racial trashing.

    The results from their study are listed here.And, HERE is another lengthy compilation of the many racist attacks against whitey by Barack Obama.

    In related news... Obama is less popular with democrats today than when he won the nomination a month ago.
    ...and did I mention:
    He's a selfish, self-centered, narcissistic, lying race-baiting Marxist a-hole?

  91. "Power Charge Indifference Adjustment"

    Lin, why should anybody give a shit about that?

  92. Crow has joined the throng of celebrities supporting Obama’s run for the White House against Republican leader John McCain.

    The singer, who blends rock, country, pop, folk and blues into one mainstream sound, revealed that she is trying to fit campaign dates into her touring schedule.

    “I know my manager’s been talking to them. We’re just putting schedules together and figuring out where we can be useful and what they need us for,” Contactmusic quoted her as saying.

    Campaign Trail

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  94. Maverick, he'll be comin' soon, and with a resume of success, at limiting free speech.

    JOHN MCCAIN: “Now we’ve got the cables. We’ve got talk radio. We’ve got the bloggers. I hate the bloggers. We’ve got all kinds of sources of information.”

    He hates us, he;s not afraid to admit it and it's a laugh line at this meeting, last December

    Hate is such a funny thing.

  95. This is funny stuff, referencing Mr Obama and his accomplishments, or lack there of.

    Mathews: "He was here to defend Obama, he had nothing to say"

  96. I hate the bloggers.

    Je-sus CHRIST!

    That's the way not to win my vote. Rat, does that redoubt of yours take folk from Idaho?

  97. Rat, that's a great clip about Obama.

    It seems, Sir, all we can do is live our own lives, and try to have a good time doing it.

  98. LT makes an excellent point about subsidizing the retrofitting for low income. The "existing fleet" - whatever the fleet - is a pivotal issue in conservation (it has both a backward component as well as a forward component). I remember when CA was pushing the low-flush toilets as a major conservation effort. The largest component of the cost breakdown was getting them into older structures and houses in low to lower income communities.

    The CA legislature has been dominated by Tom Haydn Democrats since forever - a long time.

  99. Just to close the circle, the obvious follow-up to leak-proofing as a form of conservation is the specter of the decay of subsidized public housing.

    In the context of tax cuts for the poor.