Archive for the ‘Green Energy’ Category

The Hill: ”R.I.P. Green New Deal”

July 11, 2022

The 3 reasons that AOC’s Green New Deal is staggering

Interesting opinion piece in left-leaning The Hill

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the  Institute for Policy Innovation which professes itself to be “a non-profit, non-partisan public policy think tank.”

Merrill opines:

“We had such high hopes (that the Green New Deal) would save our planet; save our economy; and, most of all, save our party from the coming November red tsunami.”

Note: Doesn’t sound non-partisan to me.

But he concedes that: “There is very little chance of resurrecting the Green New Deal (now or after the November elections.”

He asks rhetorically: “Where did things go off track?”

Speaking some quiet truth out loud, Merrill soberly cites 2 strategic miscalculations that climate controllers have made:

  1. Pushing for higher gas prices
  2. Relying on unelected bureaucrats & courts

Taking those one at a time…


High gas prices

One of the necessary ingredients for the Green New Deal was high gasoline prices.

We need those high prices to push millions of reluctant Americans to embrace electric vehicles.

When we surveyed the pubic over the years, many people (44 percent in a 2018 survey) said they would be willing to pay somewhat higher gasoline prices to fight climate change.

So, we thought the recent jump in gasoline prices would be, if not welcomed, at least tolerated.

But we were dead wrong.

It turns out that high gasoline prices hit low-income families the hardest — the very people we progressives claim we want to help.

More importantly, those high prices have enraged most voters.


Unelected Bureaucrats & Courts

We thought that we could still depend on federal agencies and the Supreme Court to impose what couldn’t pass Congress.

We knew it would be difficult getting the Green New Deal through Congress, even with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

Especially since we included so many items that aren’t actually related to the environment, like higher wages and social justice and equity demands.

For years it seemed the Supreme Court was willing to interpret the law favorably for us. That era appears to be over.

As Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “The Court does not purport to pass on the wisdom of the EPA’s course. It acknowledges only that agency officials have sought to resolve a major policy question without clear legislative authorization to do so.”


The “so what?”

Merrill says:

If we want sweeping environmental reforms, we will have to turn to our democratically elected representatives in Congress or the state legislatures to pass them.

That means if we’re to make progress on our environmental agenda, we will have to sit down with the other side and see where we can find common ground.

That’s a tall order.

But if we really think the environment is important, maybe we should try to do it the way the framers of the Constitution envisioned and rely on the legislative branch rather than the judicial branch to make our laws.


My take:

None of the above is surprising “new news”.

But, I credit Merrill with speaking the truth out loud … that sky high gas prices and circumventing legislative processes were (are?) part of the plan … all along.

Sometimes, you reap what you sow…

What’s the fundamental difference between oil prices and electricity rates?

June 29, 2022

Hint: Who (or what) sets the prices?

This week, the G7 leaders reached “an agreement in principle to begin the process of imposing price caps on Russian oil.”

The agreement on oil, would aim to limit how much money Russia can earn from each barrel of oil it sells on the global market, reducing the fossil fuel revenues Russia is relying on to finance its war effort.

It would also attempt to stabilize global oil markets — and hopefully bring down prices.

It remains unclear how caps would work, and there is more speculation than specifics. NY Times


Coupled with my recent digging on EVs, the G-7 agreement lit my light bulb, so to speak.

I asked myself: “What’s the fundamental difference between oil prices and electricity rates?”

Well, oil prices are set “by the market” … largely driven by supply and demand … subject to some governmental supply policies (e.g. OPEC supply agreements and capped pipelines) … and short-lived price controls (that invariably backfire).

Electricity rates (i.e. “prices) are controlled by state regulatory agencies… electric companies submit pricing plans that must be approved by government bureaucrats.


So, under the umbrella of climate control — less oil, more electricity — governments intend to wrest near total control of energy prices away from “the market”.

Is that a good idea?

The economist side of me says: “Nope”.

I’m surprised that pundits haven’t explored this “wrinkle” in Biden’s “incredible transition” plan.

An unintended second-order consequence or part of the plan.

Draw your own conclusion.

How to double the time it takes to take a car trip…

June 14, 2022

Simple: Buy an EV and download a charger-finder app.

Last year, my wife and son took their annual weekend trip to Cleveland to visit some relatives and go to an Indians’ (err, Guardians’) baseball game.

In prior years, the trip from DC to Cleveland took under 6 hours.

Last year it was over 10.

What changed?

Her gas-efficient Audi A4 was left in the garage.

His Tesla hit the road … and  the hunt for EV chargers started.

Apparently, their experience is neither unique nor time-obsoleted.


A recent WSJ article chronicled a writer’s EV travel from New Orleans to Chicago and back in a shiny new EV.

The Goal: Roundtrip from New Orleans to Chicago and back (2,000 miles) in 4 “leisurely” days.


The plan:

Given our battery range of up to 310 miles, I plotted a meticulous route, splitting our days into four chunks of roughly 7½-hours each.

We’d need to charge once or twice each day and plug in near our hotel overnight.

While we’d be fine overnight, we required fast chargers during the days.


Charging Stops – The Dream 

Fast chargers tend to be located in parking lots of suburban shopping malls, or tethered to gas stations or car dealerships.

ChargePoint — which manufactures and maintains many fast-charging stations — promises an 80% charge in 20 to 30 minutes.

That’s  longer than stopping for gas — but, on the bright side, “it’s good for a bite or bathroom break.”


Charging Stops – The Reality

It turns out not all “fast chargers” live up to the name.

At our dealer’s fast-charging station, our dashboard tells us a full charge, from 18% to 100%, will take 3-plus hours.

Fastest charge: 25 minutes.

Longest “fast” charge : 3 hours

While there are already thousands of charging options between New Orleans and Chicago, most were are classified as Level 2, requiring up to 8 hours for a full charge.

And sometimes, charging stations are only open during business hours at, say, gas stations or car dealerships … or, may require an attendant to turn it on.

And sometimes, you get beat to an advertised “open” charging station by another driver — or get shocked by an unexpected “out of service” sign


The Economics

Over four days, we spent $175 on charging.

We estimated the equivalent cost for gas  would have been $275.

That $100 savings cost us many hours in waiting time.

A gas-fueled 2-day trip can be EVed in 4 days, with some white-knuckle situations along the way.


The Urban Divide

This was a surprise to me…

The car’s highway range actually was worse than its range in cities.

Indeed, highway driving doesn’t benefit as much from the car’s regenerative-braking technology which uses energy generated in slowing down to help a car recharge its battery

But, a battery’s charge can be stretched by using cruise control to  reduce inadvertent acceleration and deceleration … and by:

Turning off the car’s cooling system and the radio, unplugging phones and other devices and lowering the windshield wipers to the lowest possible setting while still being able to see in the rain.

In other words, shelve all of the car’s creature comforts.



PS For added color, read the whole article:

I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping.

Scroll down the article for an accompanying video The Electric Vehicle Road Test..

“KENNETH HOMA, do you drive an EV?”

June 13, 2022

That’s the subject line of an email I got from BGE – our electric company”

I opened the email expecting either:

(a) a lecture that I will be personally responsible for high gas prices and the climate-induced end of the world because I drive a mid-sized SUV, or

(b) a congratulatory note profiling me (post-grad degree, blue state resident) as a likely Tesla owner.

Neither was the case.

It was an emergency alert that my electricity usage had spiked … and my relative efficiency had dropped from the “good-great” borderline, all the way down to the orange “fair” category.

“BGE is sending you this alert to let you know that you are using more energy than usual and may be trending towards a higher bill.”


As the subject line indicated, they naturally assumed — since temps have been COOLER than average (i.e. relatively low A/C usage) — that the likely suspect for a drop that drastic had to be in-home EV charging.

Interesting, right?

Well, in fact, my Tesla-owning son had had been visiting and occasionally overnite charging the car’s battery.

Not a big deal once we ID’ed an outlet that wouldn’t trip a circuit breaker or dim the house lights.

Recollecting, I did get one “What the hell is going on at your house?” email from BGE … but, I didn’t connect the dots.

BGE’s EV email did that for me.

Interesting that BGE assumed that EV charging was a likely suspect of high energy use.


What does that suggest we’re in for this summer when temps finally rise above average and HVACs are running full-steam.

Blackout warnings are already being headlined.

Add EV charging to the mix, and Biden have his next “Putin’s fault, nothing I can do”  crisis.

That may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back re: Biden’s “incredible transition from fossil fuels”…


PS Remember when red used to be the color assigned to the lowest performing category?  Now, to be politically correct, it’s orange


Wonder how orange became synonymous with “bad”?

Think about it…

Biden: “Say goodbye to your cars”

October 22, 2021

Shades of Hillary’s promise to “put coal miners out of business”

First, some history…

In her book, “What Happened“, Hillary Clinton wrote that her biggest regret from her ill-fated presidential campaign was saying she would “put coal miners out of business.”

Clinton made the remark during a town hall in March 2016 when she touted her plan to replace fossil-fuel-based energy production with renewable alternatives.

The remark sparked a backlash against Clinton and haunted her throughout the campaign when it was widely interpreted as her being  non-empathetic to  the suffering of white working-class Americans with a particular focus on struggling coal miners.

She later lost every county in West Virginia — the country’s premier coal-mining state.  Source

Will history repeat?


In a speech this week in Scranton, Biden tried to rally support for his Build Back Better Human Infrastructure Plan.

Included in the proposed $3.5 trillion  bill are climate change provisions intended to curtail fossil-fuel-based energy usage.

Sound familiar?

As part of that program, Biden told the audience: “Here’s the deal”…

“We will take, literally, millions of automobiles off the road. Off the road.”


No joke, not kidding, the God’s truth, etc.

That may resonate among elite urbanites and folks in the Acela corridor… but, I’m not so sure that the idea (threat?) will play well in Middle America, rural communities (or even Scranton) … or among suburban soccer parents and people whose livelihood  depends on their cars & trucks.

Of course, Joe doesn’t have to worry about re-election but, with his job approval dipping below 40%, I wouldn’t think that poking folks in the eye is a way to win back love…

“Making dishwashers great again”

August 16, 2019

For years, my wife has been justifiably complaining about how  dishwasher performance has gotten way worse because of goofy environmental rules enacted by the Feds.

Ostensibly, DOE rules were put in place to reduce energy and water consumption.


While well-intended (maybe) , from the get-go, consumers started complaining that dishwashers made under the new rules don’t clean very well — dishes come out dirty and smelly … and take forever to run … often requiring follow-on runs to finish the job.

DOE itself has acknowledged this is caused by its regulations, saying: “To help compensate for the negative impact on cleaning performance associated with decreasing water use and water temperature, manufacturers will typically increase the cycle time.” Source

The news: help may be on the way….


23 and counting …

November 2, 2012

No, it’s not the number of consecutive weeks that the BLS has under-reported initial unemployment claims … it’s the number of taxpayer-funded green energy companies that have failed so far … another 27 are reported to have very short financial runways..

Would you invest in this venture capitalist’s next fund?

* * * * *

  1. Solyndra*: Received $535 million DOE loan and $25.1 million in California tax credit. Bankrupt: September 2011
  2. Abound Solar*: Received part of a $60 million grant under the Bush administration, and was awarded a $400 million loan under Obama in December of 2010. Abound was awarded a $9.2-million loan from the Export-Import Bank in July 2011. Bankrupt: June 2012
  3. Beacon Power*: Received more than $25 million in DOE grants and a DOE loan for $43 million. Bankrupt: October 2011
  4. A123 Systems*: Received $390 million, of which $249 million of it was a Recovery Act Grant. Filed for Bankruptcy October 16, 2012, and two companies are seeking to buy A123; Johnson Controls and the Chinese firm Wanxiang Group Corp.
  5. AES Eastern Energy/Energy Storage*: Received $17.1 million DOE conditional commitment on August 2, 2010. Bankrupt: December 31, 2011.
  6. Amonix*: Received $6 million in federal tax credits a $15.6 million grant from the DOE for research and development. Bankrupt: July 18, 2012.
  7. Azure Dynamics*: Received millions in stimulus funds and over $1.7 million in Michigan state tax credits. Bankrupt: March 27, 2012
  8. Babcock & Brown: Received $178 million in the largest federal (1603) stimulus wind grant in December 2009. Placed into voluntary liquidation: March 13, 2009
  9. Energy Conversion Devices Inc./Uni-Solar: Received a $13.3 million Stimulus tax credit. Bankrupt: February 2011.
  10. Ener1*: Received a $118.5 million DOE Stimulus grant. Bankrupt: January 26, 2011.
  11. Evergreen Solar, Inc.*: Received Stimulus funds, grants, tax-credits, low-interest loans and subsidies. Bankrupt: August 15, 2011
  12. Konarka Technologies Inc.: Received $20 million in grants from government agencies such as the DOE and the Pentagon. Bankrupt: June 4, 2012.
  13. ADDITION Range Fuels*: Range Fuels: $162.25 million in government commitments since 2007, of which $64 million came from a USDA Biofuel loan in 2010 alone, despite financial and technical difficulties, and opposition inside the USDA.
  14. Raser Technologies: Received $33 million Treasury Department Stimulus grant. Bankrupt: May 2, 2011.
  15. SpectraWatt*: Received $500,000 grant from the Renewable Energy Lab via the Stimulus. Bankrupt: August 23, 2011
  16. Stirling Energy Systems: Received $7 million from a federal renewable-energy grant and was eligible for nearly $10.5 million in manufacturing September 28, 2011.
  17. Thompson River Power LLC: Received $6.5 million in Stimulus funds from Section 1603. Bankrupt: July 2, 2012.
  18. Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)
  19. Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million);
  20. Nordic Windpower* ($16 million)
  21. Satcon ($3 million) As reported by the Heritage Foundation October 18, 2012, “A solar company that got a multi-million-dollar grant from the Department of Energy earlier this year announced Wednesday that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, making it the second taxpayer-backed green energy company to file for bankruptcy this week.”
  22.  Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($700,981) ($6 million); in our unconfirmed bankrupt list
  23. Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co.: Received $480,000 through the Section 48C Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit Program. During Obama’s visit to Cardinal Fastener, he took a “green Recovery Act victory lap,” and touted it as means for “Made-In-America Jobs” for Ohio. Yet, just two weeks after the Obama visit, Cardinal laid off 12 percent of its staff, and in June 2011, Cardinal Fastener filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Lastly, in January 2012, Cardinal Fastener was acquired by Germany’s Wurth Group for just $3.9 Million.

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Just in time for tonite’s debate … battery maker A123 files for bankruptcy.

October 16, 2012

Hot off the wires from Bloomberg

A123 Systems —  the electric car battery maker that received a $249 million federal grant —  filed for bankruptcy protection after failing to make a debt payment that was due yesterday.

There is “no assurance” that A123 will be able to find a way to continue to operate its business as a going concern, the company said.


For those keeping score,  Solyndra left taxpayers holding a  $535 million loan guarantee granted by the U.S. Energy Department.

Another gov’t funded green energy company bites the dust …

September 2, 2011

Punch line: A big chunk of the Stimulus money was thrown at the development of green energy technology. Unfortunately, the recipients have proven to be non-competitive.

Excerpted from Solyndra closes Fremont plant – stimulus hopes dim

Solyndra received $535 million of stimulus money in 2009 to build a solar panel plant.

This week, Solyndra announced that it will close its last remaining factory, lay off its 1,100 employees and file for bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy also represents a high-profile failure for a federal stimulus program that gives loan guarantees to green-tech manufacturers.

Solyndra, whose solar modules are thin tubes rather than flat panels, struggled to compete against a flood of low-priced solar cells pouring out of China.

Solar module prices have plunged more than 40 percent in recent years, squeezing companies’ profit margins even as sales of solar systems grow. Two other U.S. solar companies, Evergreen Solar and SpectraWatt, filed for bankruptcy protection in August.

The administration’s response: “We have always recognized that not every one of the innovative companies supported by our loans and loan guarantees would succeed, but we can’t stop investing in game-changing technologies that are key to America’s leadership in the global economy,”

Full article: Solyndra closes Fremont plant – stimulus hopes dim

Ken’s Take: I’m all for green energy alternatives, but I certainly don’t think that the Feds should be in the venture capital business.

There’s a reason that these companies couldn’t raise private capital: they’re not competitive in the world market.

Think about it: Would you put your company’s manufacturing plant in China or California?

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