Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stamford attempts to takes charge of it's electricity needs



Smack dab in the middle of one of the most congested corners of the US electric grid (if not THE most congested), Stamford is considering taking matters into its own hands. This article from the Stamford Times makes a compelling case for distributed generation. Instead of relying on an aged and teetering transmission grid, Stamford (or parts of it) would generate its own power from clean local sources. This would be a very smart move and hopefully other population centers will follow suit.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CL&P seeks another rate incr...wait, does that say reduction?!

CL&P, recognizing reduced congestion charges and favorable new power purchasing contracts, is asking the DPUC for permission to lower rates by 5.5% for residential customers. Sorry commercial customers, your rates are still climbing -- this time up by 1.4%.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A lump of coal for Big Power



Many coal plants, including some in Connecticut, were grandfathered after the passage of the Clean Air Act so that they did not have to meet modern pollution standards. However, when operators made a "modification" to these plants, they would theoretically have to bring them up to code. Depending on who has been sitting in the White House, the term "modification" has been taken to mean different things and many of these plants are still billowing sooty smoke and poison into the air (though in CT we managed to pass our own emission standards). The Supreme Court recently ruled 9-0 that a lower court unjustly allowed these plants to bypass the Clean Air Act with loose definitions of "modification".

What this will do, in my estimation, is level the playing field a bit. In an open market, dirty plants that have not installed pollution control technology have been cheaper to operate and therefore economically preferable to cleaner modern plants.

In a similar Supreme Court decision, it has been decided that CO2 is a pollutant and the EPA has the authority to regulate its emission. We will see where this leads.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Fuel Cell bus in service in CT



A few years back I got to drive one of the fuel cell SUV projects that I worked on, but I didn't exactly live out my Dukes of Hazard fantasies when I learned that I was driving a $6 million car. Apparently this bus cost only half of that -- not a bad drop over 4 years but still quite a ways to go before these can be taken seriously. If fares are proportional to vehicle cost, they're going to have to jack it up to $50 a ride.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Biofuel infrastructure...what's the problem?

Ray Hackett's column in the Norwich Bulletin claims that:
"There are better sources for biofuels, but the bigger problem is we lack the infrastructure to distribute it."
I agree that corn is probably a poor feedstock in the long term, but I don't see where the perceived problem with infrastructure comes from. As far as I know, it can be distributed with the same oil trucks tanks we use today. There may be some material compatibility issues in some cases (long-term storage, for example), but this is not an issue with the low blends that today's market calls for. This is not the same level of difficulty as, say, a Hydrogen distribution infrastructure would entail.

Keep your icky oil out of our Sound...but can you fill up the tanks before you leave?



When an oil tanker delivers its bounty, it needs to take in seawater to replace the weight of the unloaded oil. This seawater mixes with residual oil in the tank and eventually gets jetisoned when the tanker is ready to refill. That makes a mess, but hey -- that's part of the price we pay for using oil. Now, I don't know exactly what happened with this here tanker, but I hope they weren't putting that gooky mess into our sound. Tsk, tsk. Thanks again, New Haven Independent.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Aussies and Farmers



Well folks, I'm up to my neck in boxes but I finally got my internet connection up and running so I should be able to get back to business very soon.

US Sustainable Energy Corp. has partnered with the Central Connecticut Cooperative Farmer's Association to produce a "carbon-based" fertilizer to replace typical fossil fuel fertilizers. One of the downsides of crop-based fuels is, like with any large-scale agricultural process, we still use a large amount of fossil fuels to grow plants. Here's the article.

The Australian gives props to Yale for committing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2020. Where Yale came up with that goal we may never know (why not 40% or 50%? did Harvard commit to 42%?). What this article shows to me is the value of encouraging high-profile institutions to embrace responsible energy practices. While the actions of one university alone can scarcely make a dribble in the bucket, the world is obviously watching and they very well may inspire Australian institutions to follow suit.

(BTW, that really is me in front of the Sidney Opera House.)