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On Utility Clean Energy Deployment: Do Enough Customers and Stakeholders Care in Virginia?


Look at the Dominion material.  It simply assumes 1000 kWh usage in its comparison.  California has invested, heavily, in energy efficiency and these investments are incorporated (to a large extent) within kWh prices. The average California resident uses fewer kWh due to these investments. Thus, the per kWh cost might be higher but the greater efficiency (less electricity use) can translate into lower total bills.  (Excellent discussion comparing Texas and California here: )  The Dominion slide you link is absolutely not a comparison state electricity bills but of notional bills worked to Dominion's public communications advantage.  

Again, let's ask whose data should be relied on for this discussion:  Dominion public affairs or the Department of Energy?

August 6, 2014    View Comment    

On Utility Clean Energy Deployment: Do Enough Customers and Stakeholders Care in Virginia?

A question re the Dominion state comparison -- to what extent are the domestic fuel mixes similar?  

And, what are Dominion's sources?

According to DOE (excel spreadsheet on state-by-state use accessed via, Connecticut averaged $126.75 per month in electricity use (2012) rather than the $206+ above; and, California was $87.91 rather than the $228.85 reported by Dominion.  According to DOE, Virginia's average bill?  $123.72

August 5, 2014    View Comment    

On Starved for Power, New Indian Government Translates "Chicken in Every Pot" Into “Solar on Every Roof”

There is the averted kerosene cost -- which I have seen at $5-10/month.

And, as to the D-Link, a quick link to something that I wrote several years ago. See, for example, which suggests roughly a $US12 for a solar / LED light combo. 

June 2, 2014    View Comment    

On Starved for Power, New Indian Government Translates "Chicken in Every Pot" Into “Solar on Every Roof”

PS -- by the way, thank you for comment. Good example of thinking/laying out how developing country and developed world energy / electricity challenges both overlap and differ. Importance of taking time to understand commonalities and differences.

June 2, 2014    View Comment    

On Starved for Power, New Indian Government Translates "Chicken in Every Pot" Into “Solar on Every Roof”


Thank you for the substantive engagement.

Agree that a small solar/LED light/phone charger system is still energy poverty compared to developed world's standards. However, as I understand it (seen studies, none at hand), that move up to energy poverty (from extreme energy poverty -- or however it should be termed) has tremendous impacts from indoor pollution to increased educational achievement (especially among girls with all the positive social impacts resulting from that to increase economic activity (using cell phones for transactions) to ...).  A few 10s of watts of solar with some hours of LED lighting is not the equivalent of plugging into the grid ... but it is a meaningful step forward that is achievable rapidly at an affordable cost.

Re nuclear power -- putting aside any other issues, this requires grid -- and many (most?) of the 400 million people that we are talking about are not on -- and typically not near -- the grid.  Should they wait decades to make a leap from zero electricity to unlimited electricity too cheap to meter?

Re the last paragraph, outside the scope of this discussion to me ... 


June 2, 2014    View Comment    

On Starved for Power, New Indian Government Translates "Chicken in Every Pot" Into “Solar on Every Roof”


Might I suggest that there is potential for combo of bottom up and top down.  Cleaning up / strengthening / even expanding 'the' grid can occur even as clean distribution goes in.  

While still leaving people in energy poverty, compared to the United States, small solar can rapidly move in come close to eliminating total absence of electricity. That bump -- from no electricity to limited electricity -- has a huge impact on peoples' lives.

The sort of few solar cells, phone charger, small LED lighting systems aren't appropriate to hook into a grid, however.

June 2, 2014    View Comment    

On How California's K-12 Schools Can Teach Us About Energy Efficiency


Thank you for this excellent discussion with thoughts as how to incorporate data collection/analysis to help inform future investment decision-making.

I would suggest, however, that the thinking needs to broaden. In essence, what I see here is only a bit past the stove-piped ‘we invest in energy efficiency and we will save energy, what is the ROI’ sort of discussion that is too prevalent both in government policy-making and in private business. The rebound effect element that you highlight merits understanding. However, there are very large arenas for additional consideration — arenas that quite likely overwhelm, in robust cost-benefit analysis, the implications of direct energy savings. Let me provide two small examples:

1. In the office environment, ‘greening’ programs can lead to productivity improvements of 5 / 10 / 15+%. (see: As the typical US office spends roughly 100x on people as it does on energy/water resources, a 5% productivity improvement has 25x the value of a 20% reduction in the energy/water costs. While it is a more serious challenge to do a clean before/after with schools (changing cohorts, changing curriculum, etc …), there is strong evidence of similar gains. Thus, the question, what energy efficiency investments might have an impact on student/teacher performance (such as daylighting) and how does one include that improved (or, possible, worsened) performance in the valuation equation of energy efficiency investments?

2. Many school systems are seeking to foster improved STEM education programs and all school systems expend significant resources on textbooks and other tools (for STEM and otherwise). Solar PV panels, for example, are quite easy to integrate into educational programs. (See: To what extent can energy efficiency investments contribute to the educational program and how would one incorporate that ‘learning value’ into the cost-benefit calculation?

For a perspective as to the systems-of-systems benefits from greening schools, see:

October 31, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy COOL: Turning Gurgling into Clean Electricity

John -- see coment above, meant to do it as a reply.  

September 13, 2013    View Comment    

On Energy COOL: Turning Gurgling into Clean Electricity


My explanation/discussion of both systems is/was limited. Perhaps it would make sense to go over to the Natel site to see how they are describing installation/use of their system rather than relying on the very cursory introduction that I provided. Your concern could be 100% on target or, perhaps, their proposed installation/operational concept addresses your concerns.  Either way, I would be interested in your thoughts after you look at their material more closely.


September 13, 2013    View Comment    

On The Elementary Arithmetic of Climate Change

Others' reaction to Nocera:

A carbon tax is essentially a way for policymakers to increase the price of fossil fuels and curb consumer demand without giving producers more incentive to exploit harder-to-reach supplies. There are plenty of arguments for and against a carbon tax, but by itself, it wouldn’t give an added boost to pricey new fossil-fuel sources.

You might think an A-list business reporter for the NY Times would know basic economics. But not in the case of Joe Nocera. ...

Last year, Nocera took exception to my saying he joined “the climate ignorati,” asserting that I was casting him as a “global warming denier.” But as I noted at the time, the ignorati are, as Google reveals, “Elites who, despite their power, wealth, or influence, are prone to making serious errors when discussing science and other technical matters.” The shoe fits.

But Nocera doesn’t seem to be a fan of basic economics, as he proceeds to misunderstand Hansen’s policy proposal and offer the laughably wrong argument that a price on carbon would increase the market viability of the dirtiest oil with the highest production costs.

Pro tip: Raising the price of a commodity does not improve its market position. In fact, raising the price of a commodity reduces demand for that commodity. This principle is known in economics as “supply and demand.”


Highly related


If you want to argue that activists shouldn’t focus on Keystone, you can’t just establish that rallying around and/or blocking Keystone won’t reduce carbon emissions much. So what? Why not try it? Something’s better than nothing, after all. Even if it’s a total waste of time, that may be unproductive, but it’s not counterproductive.


No, you have to establish that the Keystone campaign is impeding or preventing something else better and more effective from happening. That’s what it means to say the Keystone campaign is counterproductive — that it’s detracting from other, superior climate efforts.


What are these other efforts, and how is a focus on Keystone impeding or preventing them? That’s the causal relationship folks like Revkin need to establish to make their case, but they are maddeningly vague about it.

February 22, 2013    View Comment    

On GAO to Congress: Climate Change a Top Risk

1.  As I have said, I don't see Silver Bullet solutions.  I don't see solar as an end-all, be all, but as part of a portfolio of responses that can support mitigation and adaptation.

2.  I have a hard time buying into the infrastructure requirements to create a hydrogen-based economy.  


February 16, 2013    View Comment    

On GAO to Congress: Climate Change a Top Risk

Apologies that I don't have the time to track down material but ...

1. Hawaii, for example, could likely meet its electricity needs w/solar on roofs and offshore wind/wave power.

2. There is a lot of rooftop in the developed world and there are concepts for 'covering' roads with solar -- combine that built environment and one has lots of solar potential.

3.  Offshore wind has minimal 'footprint' implications after some siting issues (such as shipping lanes and aviation safety) are dealt with.

4.  Intermittency is dealt with by balancing, storage, connecting large-scale grid (see Desertec for one concept for balancing).

There is plenty of credible work showing can do significant portions of the task at scale.

February 16, 2013    View Comment