Friday, August 31, 2007

Paint fumes into energy

Torrington's FuelCell Energy will increase production by the end of this year by more than double. Part of this anticipated demand comes from Ford Motor Company's move to capture fumes from their painting facilities and turn them into energy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

ConocoPhillips asks CT residents to speak up about energy

(Update 8/20/07) Due to hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico, THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL 10/23/07. Click here for more info.

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ConocoPhillips is holding a series of community meetings across the US. New Haven's will be this coming Tuesday, Aug 21, at 7PM in the Omni Hotel.

From the ConocoPhillips website, "...the company will engage area residents and energy users, and local community and business leaders, to discuss energy solutions that are reliable, available and environmentally friendly. Local citizens are invited to ask questions and offer suggestions, while discussing supply/demand issues and energy alternatives with industry experts. "

New Haven's panel of speakers wilThe panel of speakers will include :
  • Bob Ridge, ConocoPhillips’ vice president of health, safety and environment
  • Sabrina Watkins, the energy company’s manager of environmental technology, ConocoPhillips
  • Eric Brown, associate counsel for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association
  • John A. Mengacci, undersecretary with the state Office of Policy & Management’s Energy Policy Unit
  • Robert B. Wall, director of energy market initiatives for the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.
Don't forget to RSVP if you plan to attend. Click here to read some of ConocoPhillips' responses to selected questions from the community.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Rebound Effect

Someone recently suggested to me that by conserving energy and boosting efficiency, we are likely to lower prices to the point that we will end up using more energy resources than we do now. This is actually an extreme condition of a well-known phenomena called the "rebound effect". The concept is that if we increase efficiency by 50%, we will not see a 50% reduction in fuel consumption because people will tend to use more (rebound). Jevons Paradox goes further to say that final consumption could actually be higher than initial consumption in some cases.

Here is a table of typical rebound effects for different markets.


The theory that boosting energy efficiency will inevitably end up increasing energy demand is, in my opinion, unrealistic. One reason is that energy markets are much more complicated than simple supply/demand. Some energy markets seem largely unaffected by cost -- people continue to use what they want regardless of the cost. For example, if our cars could get twice as many miles per gallon, would we really drive twice as much as we do now? There aren't enough hours in a day. Conversely, when gas prices doubled recently, did people use half as much fuel? Of course not, we kept buying more and more and just lived without other less necessary things (food, clothing, etc.).




The graphs above show the effect that gasoline prices have on fuel consumption. Doesn't seem to really make any difference what it costs -- we just keep buying more. Cost is normalized to 2006 dollars and all data comes from EIA. I'll post some electricity graphs in a bit, but they show the same story.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Perspective on electricity rates

USA Today, America's comic-book newspaper, published this report looking at electricity prices in "de-regulated" states compared to "regulated" states. While CT is clearly near the top of the stack (2006 figures), it is not the highest in rates or percentage increase -- a claim I have heard frequently. USA doesn't mention whether taxes or rapayer-funded programs are included in these figures.

New CT Innovations chair

Edward Bowman, a former Cheshire town councilman, is stepping away from building a biodiesel facility so that he can serve as chairman of Connecticut Innovations. The appointment has garnered some criticism as Mr. Bowman does not appear to have a background in technology innovation. On the other hand, sometimes it takes an outsider to stir things up.

Connecticut Innovations was set up by the state legislature almost two decades ago and for the last decade has been running on returns from its investments, largely in pharmaceutical and biomedical start-ups. In addition to these investments, CI also administers the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, which is fueled by money from our electricity bills.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Business New Haven Interview


Business New Haven interviewed me about this blog and my thoughts on renewable energy. I am very pleased with the results, though I wish there was room to expand some of the answers. I am curious to hear feedback.

Also, click here for an interview with Roger Smith of Clean Water Action.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Efficient home for the holidays

If you've been considering buying an energy-efficient appliance, now is the time to pull out your wallet. CT has enacted a sales tax holiday through Sept 30th on these items.