Letters to the Editor

Energy change

July 17, 2008


To the editor:

Awaken, people. Your local, state and federal politicians have failed you. We can't count on presidential candidates or political parties to move us forward. It's time for us, the people, to take action. Enough of "environmental" groups who have vilified nuclear power and demonized coal, but have not put their money where their mouth is. Enough of those who love alternative energy projects, but just not here.

The days of cheap energy are over. Biofuels, ethanol, electric vehicles and other options are less cost-effective than petroleum-based fuels. Wind and solar energy projects are very expensive and require a huge investment of money, time and land to come on line.

Right now, there is a plan to change the way we create and use energy in this country. It may not be perfect, but it is a realistic plan that is moving forward. Already, the naysayers are lining up to put roadblocks in front of the plan. But we, as ordinary citizens, can have a strong voice. Learn more about the plans of T. Boone Pickens. If you agree that Kansas can be an integral part of this change, then contact your federal and state representative and ask what they are going to do reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources.

We can be the force moving this country away from the energy policies of the past. Kansas has the resources to become a leader in changing the face of energy production in this country. We need to be a part of that change.

Ken Meyer,


Brent Garner 9 years, 8 months ago

If windpower is so "good" why then are environmentalists fighting the effort to build a wind farm in the Flint Hills area? Why then is Ted Kennedy fighting a wind farm near his home in Martha's Vineyard? Why, then, does most of the literature from the manufacturers of these windmills project payback on investment in terms of 10 years or longer? Yes, Daytrader23, that is probably a good note to yourself. Reminds me of something my father told me, not that it was original with him. He said, "Make sure your brain is running before you engage your mouth."

devobrun 9 years, 8 months ago

Energy is the ability to do work.Work is defined as a force operating over a distance.The SI units of work and energy is joules.Joules per second is watts.A thousand watts is a kilowatt, kw.A kw-hr is a thousand joules per second operated over 3600 seconds, 3.6 megajoules.It costs you about 8 cents.The price you pay is negotiated between the power companies and the state corporation commissions. It is composed of capital costs, energy costs,salaries, etc. It also reflects taxes, profits, and environmental expenses. 8 cents for 3.6 megajoules.If the energy required to build and operate these coal-fired plants was greater than the energy produced, we would not be an energy-based society. Because the energy required to convert coal into electricity is energy efficient, we have built a society that uses energy on a massive scale.The currency is joules, not $, not political power. Joules for .....sake.Last night I heard a speech by Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering. He sited the state of the union address of Bush two years ago regarding the emerging and exciting hydrogen energy economy. The NAE followed the Bush speech with a study on hydrogen. Vest said the conclusion is that 5 miracles must happen for hydrogen to become a viable energy storage technology.Daytrader, put in stop losses now. The bubble is about to burst. As soon as journalists see that the "new", "emerging", "alternative energy" ideas are not energy viable, it will be ugly.

Jerry Stubbs 9 years, 8 months ago

One thing we should all consider is that buying wind/solar etc costs money but it also translates into jobs for Americans, while simply burning petroleum is money that is sent overseas to our enemies.Americans with jobs will spend that money and our economey will florish. Oil money will buy gold and mansions for Arabs.

Satirical 9 years, 8 months ago

I agree that wind power is a good idea, dispite the impact on bird populations, but there are a few problems with the plan that need to be considered.(1) There is not enough supply. Wind turbines cannot be produced fast enough to meet the world demand. However, I am not sure why more manufacturing facilities can't be opened, maybe because of government regulation.(2) Installing wind turbines is extremely expensive and new roads have to be built just to transport them from the manufacturer to the site. Once they are up and running they are cheap, but getting to that point is expensive.(3) If you put wind turbines in the areas of Kansas that would produce the greatest amout of energy, you still have the problem of the infrastructure to move the energy to where it needs to go. T Boone Pickens had a similar problem with his plan. It would be extremely expensive to create the infrastrure needed (this is not saying it couldn't be done, but it would be a high price to pay today when the energy wouldn't be generated for a while.)

cowboy 9 years, 8 months ago

If any of these blowhards were serious , which they aren't , they could easily develop a solar panel factory that could cut the cost of the systems in half right out of the gate. Heck , we went to the moon and we can't figure out how to build a cost effective , affordable solar panel.The game is transfer of wealth , the players are your gov't and big corps , the victim is you.

chet_larock 9 years, 8 months ago

Once again, Ms. Nancy demonstrates her ability to think in the most simplistic and narrow-minded way possible. Why does she hate America so much?

Daytrader23 9 years, 8 months ago

Anonymous userdevobrun (Anonymous) says: Daytrader and other alternative investors are making $ on speculation and subsidies.--------------------------------------It's called a free market, or capitalism. And it has raised and continues to raise the standard of living throughout the world where ever there is a free market. So what's the problem with making money? And making money off of something that is good for the planet that we live on only makes it sweeter.Texas just approved a 5 billion dollar wind farm saying that they can become the world leader of wind and renewable energy in the next 100 years. Exxon, Shell, BP and other oil giants are investing billions in natural gas, Hydrogen, and renewable energy, this is not hype this is for real.

gr 9 years, 8 months ago

Did you catch this?"I am heavily invested in wind, solar, geothermal and some small H2 companies."If I were heavily invested in those companies, I would be pushing for everyone to buy in. I don't notice anything about he having a windmill and solar panels on his house. Everyone who is saying that's the answer, even if it costs 3-6 times higher, should be asked how their own personal wind and solar generation is going for their own house. They won't put their money where their mouth is as they want everyone else to pay for it.

Daytrader23 9 years, 8 months ago

Yes there are a few hurdles to over come in order to make hydrogen the new petroleum. . H2 is a long term investment and the bubble has not even started to be formed yet. The investment is there in order to rebuild the infrastructure but we must wait on a few kinks in the technology aspect of it. And that technology gets better everyday. As far as wind and solar its only a matter of time before we can implement them into the American energy grid. You also have to remember that most new construction is based on making the house/ apartment complex/ sky scraper almost completely energy independent thus reducing the overall demand for joules.I will be adding to my positions not putting in stop losses. This is the beginning of a large trend and you can either join the bus or wait until it's too late, Like all the suckers that bought google when it hit 700, Thats when I sold.

devobrun 9 years, 8 months ago

Daytrader, I'm all for making money. Even making money by being clever when the other guy isn't. Even making money through speculation and taking risk. Investing in a free market is absolutely the best economic system ever devised.Don't lie.Solar panels are green only if you ignore the the hydrofluoric acid, the energy required to heat and smelt the minerals used to make the device. I could go on. Great technology, if you lie to yourself. Good for the planet? Burning 10 joules of energy to make 9 joules is not good for the planet. As Texas transitions from natural gas to wind, the existing power plants will be required to maintain a level of generating capacity sufficient to make up for days when the wind doesn't blow, like last February.http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/DN-wind_06bus.ART0.State.Edition1.4e033eb.htmlCapital investment in both wind and natural gas generation facilities is expensive, both in $ and joules. The more wind generating capacity, the more gas backup required. Unless you produce hydrogen as backup. But hydrogen generation is a clear violation of the energy budget requirement. So, let us demand of our government the repeal of the first and second law of thermodynamics. If I was a manufacturer with large electricity requirements (like Alcoa), I would not move to Texas. From now on "non-essential" energy users will regularly be asked to shut down plants to follow the pattern of the wind. More idle capital. As they say in Texas, this dog don't hunt.So good for you daytrader, make $. But I have to tell ya that there are a lot of plans and partly constructed buildings at small colleges and art venues in California that didn't happen because Joe Interweb promised millions when he was worth hundreds of millions because his site, abstractionsareus.com was hot in 1999. As for me, I'll invest long term in Exxon and buy gas at their stations, knowing that for all the hype and subsidies, somebody actually makes a real profit from actually producing a product.

Trobs 9 years, 8 months ago

Ted Kennedy is fighting the wind plant because it's an eyesore. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/story?id=49585I think the daily show nailed it.

hornhunter 9 years, 8 months ago

belexus73, Its sounds like you don't under stand that the more wind energy that is available the same needs to be available in gas, coal or nuke.Wind turbines run in a window, a min. to max wind speed period...Wind turbines are not variable speed units they CAN NOT put out .5 MW of power to 3MW, they are either all or nothing.So if you and Daytrader want to put all of your eggs in the 'green basket' then go right on ahead, just don't come running to others looking for the much needed joule.Daytrader do you live in this country or not make up your mind. You use the word, WE a lot and it sounds like your in the US but you said you live overseas. Which is it?

Sigmund 9 years, 8 months ago

All the "alternative" energy sources are "alternative" precisely because they are more expensive than traditional sources. This country is in a self imposed crisis because of the US governments own regulations and the rest of the world is laughing all the way to the bank because of it. The US doesn't lack energy resources, we lack the money to pay for the Ecomentalist agenda. The real question is how much more are you willing to pay for your energy? With gas at $4.00/gallon the citizens are willing to relax those drilling constraints and when gas reaches $8.00/gallon, they will demand it.

Daytrader23 9 years, 8 months ago

My companies are growing at 35% per year, are recording record profits, opening up several new factories and have contracts all over the world. All in a time when the economy is tanking and stocks are falling through the floor. If you call that throwing your money away, then go ahead and keep your job as a janitor. "Alternatives" will be one the main sources of energy in the next 30 years. We already have the technology to build affordable solar panels however demand is keeping the price high until the new factories come on line. Wind turbines is also a booming industry as factories and jobs cannot keep pace with demand. There are literally thousands of places in America that can produce geothermal energy. But yet some idiots only care about filling up their V8's and think that drilling is a long term solution.

devobrun 9 years, 8 months ago

A budget is a list of revenues and expenses.An energy budget is a list of energy revenues and energy expenses.Large scale replacement of fossil fuel energy by any of the alternatives violates the energy budget. It is like a watch spring unwinding.The present obstacles to wind and photo-voltaic are the laws of thermodynamics. Hurdles are to be jumped over. Laws of thermodynamics are not hurdles, they are barriers."If it is so faulty, why so much investment by private industry? " Answer: subsidies and hype. Daytrader and other alternative investors are making $ on speculation and subsidies. There exists such a desire in the wide community of the world for alternative energy technologies that people will send their money into any stupid thing.If there was a truly viable energy alternative, one that could compete in terms of the budget for energy, Exxon would be all over it.They made $33 billion last year. They could invest in replacement technologies tomorrow. They employ engineers along with marketers. The engineers prepare things like energy budget evaluations for their managers and their findings are that laws of thermodynamics limit the alternative technologies.You're dealing with energy here Daytrader, et.al. Ultimately, the joules will out.Did you hang onto buggywhips.com after Jan 2000? Or did you recognize that the hype built into the dotcom market just didn't match the substance?Both money and energy are abstractions. Money is an abstraction in the world of humans. Energy is an abstraction in the world of physics. Energy is the ability to do work. It is one step from actually being the physical action of moving heat and moisture out of my house to make it comfortable in here. Money operates in the world of humans in the sense that it has no intrinsic value itself, but has meaning to other humans. So if you are willing to spend more $ for alternative energy than for fossil fuel energy, then that energy is worth more $, but does no more or less work. That is why the economics of alternative energy is presently good. Hype and subsidies (political hype).

gccs14r 9 years, 8 months ago

We have about 5% of the world's population, but use 25% of the energy. The trick is to use less energy, not find more of it to burn. Nuclear isn't the answer, because Uranium is a non-renewable resource, too. We have to learn to live on the energy the Sun provides, because that is our only consistent source of energy.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 8 months ago

Devobrun falls for the fallacy that the more wind power that is installed the more back up generation is needed. This is a easily misunderstood falsehood. If wind turbines are spread out through many wind farms they tend to balance out the variations in wind speeds over the total number of turbines. Also wind speeds can now be predicted down to minutes, therefore saving on backup fuels. Wind power is best thought of as variable as opposed to intermitent. Intermitent is more to the tune of when Wolf Creek goes down for two weeks, or LaCygne goes off line as it is so apt to do. I would be interested in knowing the amount of joules used for nanosolar technology as opposed to the numbers that get quoted over and over based on older tecnology reliant on purely silicon manufacturing.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 8 months ago

I have viewed some comments on this topic that are not backed by valid numbers. First, most, but not all posters understand that the oil and electricity fuels are different fuels for the most part in the United States. Pickens plan would move natural gas out of electricity production and into transportation. The easiest part of his plan is to build wind farms as the transmission puzzle is becoming much clearer fairly quickly (See Texas PUC rulings, FERC chair comments, and SPP machinations). The toughest part will be having natural gas as a fuel choice for most consumers, since the auto manufacturers are quickly becoming enamored with plug-in/hybrids and electric vehicles. As far as the cheapest form of electricity, the correct order as of now is energy efficiency (which no one mentioned) at about 2 cents per kwh (wholesale), large scale wind at about 4 cents, new coal coming in over 7 cents, natural gas (varies due to fuel costs), and solar thermal and nuclear at around 9 or 10 cents wholesale per kilowatt hour. To the wind power skeptics I would point out that it has been and continues to be the largest form of new electricity growth in the world and the United States. If it is so faulty, why so much investment by private industry? By the way my numbers above will change when a cap and trade system is passed by Congress and signed by either McCain or Obama. Coal and natural gas numbers will go up. Construction or serious plans for 3 new wind farms in Kansas are occurring now and to my knowledge they are receiving very little backlash from the environmental community. The Tradewinds site (by Lincoln, Kansas and I-70) was opposed by the Nature Conservancy, but KWF, Sierra Club, CEP, Rural Center, and KNRC did not oppose it. I would like to have a further conversation on some posting on the reasons for building nuclear power plants. Is it to mitigate climate change, energy security, or what? Depending on the value selected we could come up with wildly different ideas on how many we need, how many the Indians or Chinese need, etc.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 8 months ago

Pickens plan made great gains towards reality today as the Texas PUC ok'd plans to build transmission lines that will be able to carry up to 13,000 more megawatts of wind from western Texas to the eastern part of the state and beyond. Texas now has over 5,000 megawatts of electricity generated by windpower. The lines will be up and running in 4-5 years according to Texas officials. States to the east of Texas with weaker wind regimes will probably purchase some of the power in the near future when Congress passes a Renewable Energy Standard next year (it failed by one vote this year). As far as the subsidy argument goes, the PTC is worth about 2.8 cents and wind power in the Great Plains region is about 4 cents. This makes wind power still cheaper than building a new coal plant. The subsidy can not be devalued as it is a reality in the system as of now and will be lengthened, probably considerably, very soon. Nuclear subsidies will probably continue as well. The ones that are in jeopardy are the oil subsidies which we have had to factor in to our investments, pensions, and vehicle choice in the past. Whether we will in the future remains to be seen.

Sigmund 9 years, 8 months ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says: "We have about 5% of the world's population, but use 25% of the energy. The trick is to use less energy not find more of it to burn. Nuclear isn't the answer, because Uranium is a non-renewable resource, too. We have to learn to live on the energy the Sun provides, because that is our only consistent source of energy."The "trick" for you is to find an affordable alternative, otherwise the "trick" is to convince the world (not just the US) to commit economic suicide in support of the Ecomentalist agenda of "saving the planet."

Sigmund 9 years, 8 months ago

hornhunter (Anonymous) says: "Daytrader do you live in this country or not make up your mind. You use the word, WE a lot and it sounds like your in the US but you said you live overseas. Which is it?"He lives in his own secret world where he and everyone he knows is smarter than you, me, everyone in Kansas, and everyone in the US. They heat their homes for pennies a month on cheap wind generated electric power, where public transportation goes directly where he wants to go when he wants to go for the prices of a pack of bubble gum.At the age of thirteen he mastered economics and quantum physics and because of a paper he wrote while making a fortune day trading oil futures perfectly hedged against currency futures, Merrill Lynch, Big Oil, George W. Bush, and George Soros all want him and his wife, Morgan Fairchild killed. Yeah, yeah thats the ticket!

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

T.Boone Pickens says wind power. Natural gas for vehicles except we run out of natural gas. Who has lots of natural gas...Iran. Kansas has a fair amount of natural gas and his considered 3rd in the USA as a wind power source.Wind and solar pay back quickly. Amory Louvins says nobody wants to finance nukes because it is expensive energy as is so called clean coal.http://www.charlierose.com/shows/2006/11/28/1/a-conversation-about-energy-with-amory-lovins-founder-of-the-rocky-mountain-instituteWind,Solar,Hydropower and geo-thermal are all local sources to Kansas as is natural gas.http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/It is up to the consumers to demand new energy not the politicians and energy executives to dictate. Our dollars are the power and control. It is the consumers job to determine our choices. Since when can politicans at local,state and federal levels be trusted with our money?Face it fuel efficient automobiles are one huge part of the solution. During the Jimmy Carter years oil demand actually went down in large part because consumers were buying fuel efficient means of travel. It can be done again. The Carter policy was the best yet.

Daytrader23 9 years, 8 months ago

WOW, Merrill. I actually agree with you.Yes we are moving to the hydrogen economy. But it will take time to build the infrastructure and it will take even more money. I am heavily invested in wind, solar, geothermal and some small H2 companies. But yes we need to pressure the local, state, and federal gov't to do their part. But you can also do your part as well. How? Buy solar panels and put them on your house, buy a wind mill and put it in your yard ( if you receive a fair amount of wind) They do make smaller wind mills for the average house you know. So instead of waiting for the gov't to make the change, you can do it yourself today.You Can Do It!!!!!!

chet_larock 9 years, 8 months ago

"otherwise the "trick" is to convince the world (not just the US) to commit economic suicide in support of the Ecomentalist agenda of "saving the planet."Sure, no way that more jobs can be created as we move away from petroleum-based energy. No way that new industries can be created as alternatives become more cost effective. Let's just use what we have til it's gone and worry about it then. We'll probably be dead anyway, so who cares! Brilliant!

zzgoeb 9 years, 8 months ago

Where is the call for conservation by the writer? Carpool, walk to the Kwikshop, drive slower, ride the bus....if 10 percent of the public would do ONE of these things daily, our energy needs would plunge! Where has the President been to lead this call to conserve? Oh, oops, he and Tricky Dick are in the energy biz...wow, no wonder. As for solar and wind, these are great at the local level for now, but will take much longer to reach an ability to provide for big cities.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 8 months ago

Hornhunter, I clearly understand that the more wind power that is available over an expanded land surface the less natural gas as a percentage of back up is needed. That is because the wind may be blowing less in one class 3 or 4 spot but be blowing more in another. This smooths out the variability of wind power. Check the professional literature on this topic.

Sigmund 9 years, 8 months ago

chet_larock (Anonymous) says: "Sure, no way that more jobs can be created as we move away from petroleum-based energy. No way that new industries can be created as alternatives become more cost effective. Let's just use what we have til it's gone and worry about it then. We'll probably be dead anyway, so who cares! Brilliant!"I didn't say no new jobs would be created, what I said clearly is that the alternatives are far more costly, otherwise they wouldn't be alternative. When you double the cost of energy it isn't just your electric bill and gas at the pump that goes up in price, it is the same for every business who have to raise their prices to you. All goods and services from health care to play stations will increase in price, everything.Now the rich will simply pay the extra costs and be slightly poorer for it, but they will still be rich. It is the middle class and poor who can least afford it and will be hurt the hardest. And for what? So you can continue in your delusion that you can "save the planet" from some imagined future apocalypse? As I said, the "trick" is convincing the US and the worlds middle classes and poor to commit economic suicide by not using the energy resources they have. It is like telling a the slowly starving not to eat the food they have because you're afraid there won't be any more corn in the future.Good luck with that!

Daytrader23 9 years, 8 months ago

opps sorry, It's marion who I never seem to agree with. I almost gave him undue credit. Sorry, it was before the first cup of coffee ( note to self, do not post before caffeine has been introduced into the blood stream)

salad 9 years, 8 months ago

"Awaken, people. Your local, state and federal politicians have failed you. We can't count on presidential candidates or political parties to move us forward. It's time for us, the people, to take action."I so tire of this rhetoric. Dude, I AM awake, so's everyone else. People either don't care or know they can't make a difference. To quote David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap, "It's just a problem, it's gets solved."

Ken Lassman 9 years, 8 months ago

Belexus is correct on this, hornhunter and devo: here's just one link: http://www.cana.net.au/documents/Diesendorf_TheBaseLoadFallacy_FS16.pdf"Computer simulations and modelling show that the integration of wind power into an electricity grid changes the optimal mix of conventional base-load and peak-load power stations. Wind power replaces base-load with the same annual average power output. However, to maintain the reliability of the generating system at the same level as before the substitution, some additional peak-load plant may be needed. This back-up does not have to have the same capacity as the group of wind farms. For widely dispersed wind farms, the back-up capacity only has to be one-fifth to one-third of the wind capacity. In the special case when all the wind power is concentrated at a single site, the required back-up is about half the wind capacity. (Martin & Diesendorf 1982; Grubb 1988a & b; ILEX 2002; Carbon Trust & DTI 2004; Dale et al. 2004; UKERC 2006).""Furthermore, because the back-up is peak-load plant, it does not have to be run continuously while the wind is blowing. Instead the gas turbines can be switched on and off quickly when necessary. Since the gas turbine has low capital cost and low fuel use, it may be considered to be reliability insurance with a small premium."So in other words, the individual intermittent nature of wind power disappears when the number of generators is larger and spread out over several wind farms. Seems that I read that the number of farms is around 7 in this part of the country.

Ken Lassman 9 years, 8 months ago

Here's another study recently completed that shows that a combination of wind and solar, if designed well, actually reduces the grid's instability by 55% for 9 upper midwestern states. Maybe Kansas would be interested in working with Oklahoma and Texas about creating a similar type of stable wind/solar grid to meet its needs without having to resort to coal or nukes:http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid518.php

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