Among many self-styled “conservatives”, the idea that we could provide for ourselves more cheaply and efficiently, produce energy from the free flow of the sun and wind, or become independent of the giant energy corporations that control our lives, (and fund so many politicians), is considered a dangerous subversion.

We see it at both the Federal, and State level.

Columbus Dispatch:

A state agency paid almost $435,000 for a survey to tally clean-energy jobs in Ohio but never released the results.

The Ohio Development Services Agency says the study went unused because it was based on dubious methods and came to flawed conclusions.

Others, including experts in survey methods, disagree with this assessment and are perplexed by the criticism.

The report, not seen by the public until today, sat on a shelf at a time when its subject matter was relevant to a heated legislative debate about whether to change standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
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Among its findings:

• Ohio had 31,322 jobs in the state’s “alternative energy economy” as of 2012, a number that is larger than other commonly cited studies.

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Above, Skip Pruss served as Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Special Advisor for Renewable Energy and the Environment, Michigan’s Chief Energy Officer, and Chair of the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council.   He is  co-founder and principal of 5 Lakes Energy.

Predicting the future or new energy used to be hard. Now, thanks to the Energy Information Agency, and a host of fossil fuel industry experts, more skillful predictions can be made of renewable energy deployment.
The technique is, you take whatever they say for renewable energy output, multiply the amount by 10, cut the deployment time by half, and there’s your ballpark number.

pruss_slide2

Moreover, what stands out is the arrogant and completely insulated-from-reality mindset of the self styled practical “grown-ups” of the energy establishment.
The quintessential example from the past would be Amory Lovins’ 1976 predictions of future US energy use, which were radically lower than the mainstream view at the time – and rather stunningly accurate.

That pattern has continued to the present day – curiously, (or not), always skewed in the direction of the Oil, Coal, Gas, and Nuclear narrative.

Utility Dive:

(White House Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Dan) Utech referenced a recent chart comparing projections for global wind and solar deployment from Greenpeace, often regarded as too biased to be authoritative, and from the International Energy Agency, long a globally respected source on energy statistics.

“Greenpeace nailed it and the IEA woefully underestimated it,” Utech said. “It is a reminder that though there are significant challenges, the renewables industries have a track record of beating expectations.”

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Wind Turbines offer rural communities a model for development, besides what has normally been the only offering in recent decades, (at least in my state) – new prisons.
Keeping rural communities vital is a valuable hedge against sprawl, preserves valuable farmland, and keeps families and communities intact.  Our small town folk need all the help they can get.

Research is showing that support for wind turbines rises in communities that actually have them.

Michigan’s Thumb:

“That landowner is receiving … $8,000 to $10,000 for that turbine and access road to be there,” The (Michigan Department of Agriculture) looks at $200 an acre as net farm income typically. If they’re getting $8,000 to $10,000 for half an acre, that’s why the farmers are doing it.”

(in a study)Titled “Farming the Wind: Preserving Agriculture through Wind Energy Development,”

(University of Michigan doctoral student Sarah) Mills sought answers to the following questions:

• Do revenues rural landowners receive from wind energy projects change their on-farm investments or long-term succession plans?

• How does proximity to a wind farm impact residential demand for farmland?

• How do zoning ordinances affect availability of developable land in the area surrounding a wind farm?

sunturbine1small

Wind Turbines, Gratiot County, MI

Mills said she also spoke with township supervisors, assessors, realtors and auctioneers. In doing so, she heard a “really interesting” prospect.

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Includes cute arctic squirrels!

In the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow”, warm water from the Gulf Stream get’s shut off in a perverse impact of global warming, leading to worldwide catastrophe.
No in is predicting that – at all. But, there is this weird thing in the North Atlantic right now…

(you’ll have to fullscreen it to see the action)

Below, the 2004 movie “The Day After Tomorrow” took a North Atlantic shutdown as a trigger for global disaster. In this clip, they get a lot wrong, including the backwards circulation of the ocean currents – and science does not consider this scenario very probable any time soon. Still, a mystery unfolding.  A well known oceanographer writes me, “The current big blue blob has been there since mid-2013 if you look at the monthly GISS anomalies, but it is a much longer-term feature also shown in the AR4 and AR5 global temperature trend maps.”

I’m told there is some probably-not-quite-so-dramatic science in the publication pipeline on this.  Read the rest of this entry »

If you have not read the piece right below this one, maybe do that first.

Above, “Mad Money” interview with David Crane, CEO of NRG, one of the nation’s largest electricity producers.  Crane is considered a forward leaning visionary in the normally gray and hidebound utility space.  While taking an aggressive posture in renewable development, planning for a 90 percent reduction in carbon pollution by 2050 – Crane still imagines that fossil fuels will play a role in mid-century.

I predict in 5 years he’ll be mainstream. In 10, he’ll look conservative.

Joe Nocera in the New York Times:

NRG, Crane told an audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival this summer, is the country’s fourth-largest polluter. “We emit 60 or 70 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year,” he said, mainly because a third of its power is generated by coal-fired plants. “I’m not apologetic about that because, right now, owning those plants and operating those plants are critical to keeping the lights on in the United States.”

But then he quickly added, “We have to move away from that.” And he has, reducing the company’s carbon footprint by 40 percent in the decade that he’s run the company. And, on Thursday, as The Times reported, he committed NRG to reducing its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050.

These are terribly ambitious goals, but Crane is not some pie-in-the-sky dreamer. Although he sees climate change as an “intergenerational issue” — a way of ensuring the future for our children and grandchildren — he is also a pragmatic man running a publicly traded company. He firmly believes that the technology exists to make his ambitious goals possible, and that the real problem is the refusal of the rest of the power industry to adapt and change.

Crane likes to say that when he first started hearing about carbon emissions, he didn’t view it all that seriously. “To be frank,” he said in that same Aspen presentation, “I thought this is just the next pollutant that we have to deal with.” But once he got religion — and realized, as he put it, that power producers like NRG are “the biggest part of the problem” — he was determined to make his company a leader in reducing carbon.

More “Mad Money” – an inteview with First Solar Executive James Hughes:

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The Day has come.  If even the New York Times knows, it must be getting pretty obvious.

New York Times:

For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

That day appears to be dawning.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.
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Here, Michigan Public Service Commission’s Julie Baldwin on the drop in Wind Energy prices:


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New York Times again:

Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources.

In Texas, Austin Energy signed a deal this spring for 20 years of output from a solar farm at less than 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. In September, the Grand River Dam Authority in Oklahoma announced its approval of a new agreement to buy power from a new wind farm expected to be completed next year. Grand River estimated the deal would save its customers roughly $50 million from the project.

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