Archive for Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kansas loses steam on energy efficiency

State ranks 46th in its policies and programs

October 19, 2010


Kansas can do better.

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What have you done to make your home more energy efficient?

I try to keep my thermostat set pretty high and leave it there all the time, don’t bump it up and down a lot.

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That’s the message state officials are sending after Kansas ranked 46th in its energy-efficiency policies and programs. In the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s state scorecard, Kansas fell seven places in 2010.

Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma joined Kansas on the list of the 10 worst states for energy efficiency. North Dakota was at the worst and California ranked best.

“Everybody recognizes there is room for improvement,” said Cara Sloan-Ramos, spokeswoman for the Kansas Corporation Commission, about the ranking.

Kansas lagged behind the 27 states that have established targets for reducing energy consumption in the coming years and the 20 states that have adopted or made significant progress toward implementing energy-saving building codes.

“Other states are taking a lot of action on energy-efficiency policies. And we have not done that yet in Kansas,” said Eileen Horn, the Douglas County and Lawrence Sustainability Coordinator.

Along with establishing a long-range policy to reduce energy consumption, Horn said the state would make progress if it would decouple energy generation from the revenue that utility companies bring in. That would entice utilities to take steps to conserve energy.

“Utilities can recover some of the lost revenue by becoming more efficient,” Horn said.

Ramos also noted that the state needs to do a better job of just providing the ACEEE with up-to-date information on what Kansas has been doing in terms of energy-efficiency programs.

Both Horn and Ramos noted the state is continuously offering programs that promote energy efficiency.

Horn pointed to the State Energy Office’s rebate for a $100 energy audit, something that typically costs several hundred dollars. The state also received more than $34 million in stimulus dollars for homeowners and small businesses to use for improvements that would lower energy bills. That money is available through loans from banks or utility companies.

“We have room to grow with the ranking of 46th, but I don’t want everyone to feel hopeless. There are already great programs at the State Energy Office,” Horn said.

She also noted that the energy-efficiency programs being implemented in the city of Lawrence and Douglas County can also help convince the state that it works.

“I really hope that cities like Lawrence can show the state what is possible,” she said.


LogicMan 7 years, 5 months ago

Is it by chance that this state by state ranking of energy efficiency programs is almost the same as for states that are in financial trouble? #1 California, for example, is bankrupt.

If you look at lifestyles and personal habits toward energy use, maybe you'd find that the people in the lowest ranked states are already quite frugal, on average, and don't need or want the energy welfare handouts or their future tax liabilities.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

On a per capita basis, Kansas's financial troubles are nearly identical to those of California.

LogicMan 7 years, 5 months ago

That was true earlier, but our fine, level-headed Governor, and our legislature, stepped up and increased taxes and cut spending. So in theory our budget is balanced, but we'll see at year's end after the revenue is counted. California, like MyName says, is dysfunctional and running further into the red every day. And has double our unemployment and foreclosure rates.

Once all the Federal aid dries up, I'm confident that we can balance the budget again. Not so in California. They are heading deeper into the abyss.

MyName 7 years, 5 months ago

The problem with California is they have a disfunctional government. They require a 2/3 majority to pass a budget, they gerrymander their districts so there is little middle to compromise with in either party, and the public can add all kinds of wacky initiatives and get them passed as laws.

Also them and Florida were the two biggest losers in the real estate bubble.

devobrun 7 years, 5 months ago

"Horn said the state would make progress if it would decouple energy generation from the revenue that utility companies bring in. That would entice utilities to take steps to conserve energy"

Huh? Decouple energy generation from revenue? So the utility company would get revenue from where?

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

The decoupling idea is that the utility companies get a certain amount of revenue, regardless of how much energy they provide.

It's a way for them to ensure their profits, even if we all use less energy.

Jimo 7 years, 5 months ago

Like many traditionally regulated industries, the system guarantees revenues to both cover expenses and profit at any and all activity levels. Such as system provides no constraint or incentive for the utility to work to limit energy demand/generation. As any laissez faire capitalist should know, any system to fails to reward the efficient and punish inefficient will inevitably be and remain less than efficient than it would otherwise be.

"So the utility would get revenue from where" Answer: they wouldn't. Bingo. If your marginal unit of production is generated at a loss, you have a strong incentive to not produce that last megawatt. And if you're yet obligated to generate energy to meet any demand, then you will be taking action to lower demand (that is, finding and implementing demand efficiencies).

devobrun 7 years, 5 months ago

As a laissez-faire capitalist, I don't understand your explanation in the least. If supply is limited, profit increases because prices increase. If supply is limited, then prices rise and people will be inclined to spend more money on mitigation, such as insulation, or turning the air conditioning down.

What you are describing is a kludge.

We engineers look at both the regulation of the industry and the subsequent manipulation of the market as a kludge. It works but it is inelegant, cumbersome and ripe for political tomfoolery.

The above article defines energy efficiency rating as the amount of government interference in the market. It doesn't define the efficiency as energy saved due to insulation, recycling, or anything that would use a joule as a figure of merit. Therefore the whole definition of efficiency is an exercise in transfer of control to the government.

So the words energy efficiency are defined as government programs. Political tomfoolery. Aided by the LJW and its reporter. Shameful support of subterfuge.

Why does Kansas due poorly in the redefined government program category? Because the majority of people in Kansas are farmers and other small-town dwellers. They pay for stuff. They earn a wage and pay for stuff.

I'm sure that Michigan is better than Kansas in the government-sponsored "energy efficiency" category. That's because Detroit is so big. People in Detroit have all lost their jobs and are grubbin' for any money they can get. Since the Detroit area is so full of government programs, people are quite comfortable drawing money from the program that puts in new windows for their run-down building. Just another handout, no biggie.

People in Elsworth Kansas aren't so sanguine about going to the government office for a handout. Therefore Kansas is lower on the list. All of this has nothing to do with energy. Kansas uses less government handouts than most. That's it, Ms. Metz. That's your story. I'll bet Ms. Metz could define energy without looking it up.

Jimo 7 years, 5 months ago

Profit doesn't increase as prices increase in a regulated utility because the prices don't get approval to increase. If prices rise, penniless retirees freeze. I guess that would "mitigate" use well enough for you.

You seem duplicitous or ignorant of the non-competitive nature of natural monopolies of which an electricity supplier is a classic example. No company (no, not even incompetent laissez-faire bankers) are going to invest the enormous sums of upfront money necessary to build competing generation plants and run duplicate transmission lines house-by-house where there's already an existing provider. It is economically inefficient to do this. There will be NO competition. Luckily, our laissez-faire ancestors figured this out over a CENTURY ago (when large scale utilities came into being) and snipped that little price gouging, something for nothing, scheme off at its root.

Even laissez-faire capitalism rewards successful competition not "rent seeking" monopolistic non-competition.

KUnlv13 7 years, 5 months ago

For example...

In Kansas, Climate Skeptics Embrace Cleaner Energy NYTimes 10/18/10

Kinda odd to find this article today after the Times article was posted last night. It was interesting to see the alternative tactics used in order to get folks interested in clean(er) energy.

ralphralph 7 years, 5 months ago

Kinda hope Kansas falls to 50th, because we have created so many new businesses and jobs that the power plants are whirring 24/7 .... or, we could go Third World and shut things down and go to sleep on the floors of our communal huts each evening at sundown.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

Since KS is, and has been, for some time, a strongly Republican dominated state, your post makes little to no sense.

devobrun 7 years, 5 months ago

Wow jafs, sarcasm is a form of writing that eluded you?

mcmandy 7 years, 5 months ago

Maybe you bought a bad brand? I replaced all the bulbs in my house with energy efficient bulbs and haven't had a single one burn out in a year and a half. My electric bill didn't go down, but my then fiance moved in with me about the same time and it didn't increase like I assumed it would.

mcmandy 7 years, 5 months ago

Maybe you bought a bad brand? I replaced all the bulbs in my house with energy efficient bulbs and haven't had a single one burn out in a year and a half. My electric bill didn't go down, but my then fiance moved in with me about the same time and it didn't increase like I assumed it would.

mbulicz 7 years, 5 months ago

Haha, sorry, I was asking ksfbcoach. See why lower in this thread -

Maybe he got cheap ones, and installed them at the beginning of summer, then blamed his higher electric bill on the bulbs instead of, y'know, AC.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, that doesn't make any sense.

Compact flourescent bulbs use about 1/4 as much energy as incandescent, and last much longer - I've only had to replace a few in many years, compared with numerous incandescents in one year.

Unless you're talking about some other sort of bulb.

mbulicz 7 years, 5 months ago

Maybe he got cheap ones, and installed them at the beginning of summer, then blamed his higher electric bill on the bulbs instead of, y'know, AC.

Because, obviously, the only electrical device in that house is the light bulbs so they MUST be to blame.

gphawk89 7 years, 5 months ago

The very first time I bought a CFL, I dropped it about 3 feet onto a carpeted floor (something that an incandescent bulb would easily survive). It shattered and I spent the next couple of hours trying to get all of the little slivers out of the carpet. Took me a long time to get over that and try another one. Still don't like them. Can't stand the warm-up time. Don't care for the color temperature. I use them in closets and that's about it.

MyName 7 years, 5 months ago

They do last longer, and use less energy but they also have a microchip inside them to regulate the timing of the spark that they put into the fluorescent tube. This chip doesn't respond very well to turning the lights on for a short period then turning them back off again, which can cause it to last less than the 2-3 years they usually do.

As far as electricity bills go, your heater, AC, water heater, refrigerator and big screen TVs are more of an effect on your bill than light bulbs do. I know mine has been lower when I don't need to use my heater (something like $35 / mo.) but it got up to $100 a month over the winter.

madameX 7 years, 5 months ago

How long ago was that? I bought some when they first came (early 2000's) and wasn't impressed, but in the past couple years I've been using them and I've had to replace like two in my whole house since 2006. I've never used any other kind in this house so I don't know if they've lowered the energy use, but I have a mental block against buying lightbulbs so having ones that last a long time is reason enough for me. Also, since they use less watts you can get a brighter bulb in a fixture that might have to take a dimmer incandesent bulb. A lamp that's limited to, say, 60 watts can take the 100 watt equivilant of the low energy bulb.

And I am not trying to control your life. I am trying to share with you the awesomeness of the squiggly bulbs.

devobrun 7 years, 5 months ago

So, as I read the comments from people to Ksfbcoach's original, it was clear to me that none of you are engineers. So here goes.

CFLs are compact fluorescent lights. That is, they are fluorescent lights, but smaller.

They come with a built-in ballast/starter system.

The usual 4 foot shop lights and schoolroom lights are the same thing, but long and linear and have separate control circuitry. You've been underneath them all your life.

The old-style control circuitry was bulky, and inefficient. The new stuff is smaller and cooler. But it is electronic. What that means to you is that it is not as big, hot, or reliable. Power surges, lightening strikes, and such can cause these electronically controlled CFLs to pop when the old style didn't.

The effort to miniaturize the whole thing has resulted in a bulb that isn't your father's fluorescent bulb. It is more efficient than an incandescent. It is less reliable than a traditional fluorescent.
As always, you get what you pay for.
Engineering and production is different than science. Scientifically, you think they are great. Implemented, they are what they are.

Good quality is good quality no matter what it is. Implemented designs are never as pristine and marvelous as they are advertised.....yes greenies, that means you too.

Light from CFLs increases for about 30 seconds. Incandescents actually dim over the first few seconds. If you are willing to wait and don't care about color, then CFLs are for you. If you think they are perfect, then you need to read Mother Earth News some more, or do some more mantras, or pray to Gaea some more. I can't help you.

Here's my solution: Get two bulb fixtures. Put in an incandescent bulb, and an equal rated CFL. That way, the light comes on fast, and the light is a good color, and the wattage is reduced.
Got a two-bulb 60 watt overhead fixture? One each draws about 75 watts, but gives you the light of a 120 watt incandescent. You save 45/120 (37.5%) of the energy. Each bulb will fail at different times. You do a lot for reducing energy use, while not changing your life hardly at all. Last weekend I visited my daughter in Chicago. I did just this to her kitchen and dining area fixtures. Worked great. One each.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

"So, as I read the comments from people to Ksfbcoach's original, it was clear to me that none of you are engineers."

Oh silly stupid everybody but you, cause you're an engineer!!!

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

Kansas inefficient? But we have so many green programs and mass transit options available. How could this happen?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, and if we let the looney lefties squash the new electrical plants we will not be causing any efficiency problems, we will be using candles and living under blankets in the dark. The looney left and their fraudulant campaign against coal-fired electrical generating plants will bring us to wrack and ruin if they are allowed to gain a foothold and it is beginning to look like the people are being taken in by these extremist fools.

mbulicz 7 years, 5 months ago

Posited in post: -Dems want to stop all new electric coal plants, not just regulate them -Refusal to build new plants will result in not having any electricity -The campaign & science against coal-fired electricity is an outright fabrication -Refusal to build new plants or build de-regulated plants will result in "wrack and ruin" -The public opinion is shifting against coal -Anyone who opposed coal-fired electricity as proposed is an extremist

Substantiated: -

George Lippencott 7 years, 5 months ago

maybe not. See:

Perhaps Lawrence could learn somthing and use the carrot rather than the stick in the future.

gphawk89 7 years, 5 months ago

So a state's energy efficiency is judged by the number of related policies, mandates, laws, etc.? In that case, wouldn't being ranked near the bottom be a good thing?

George Lippencott 7 years, 5 months ago

Wait until we have energy prices related to demand - only residential properties will pay them. At 3PM on a given August Day when the outside temperature is 110 the plant shift worker trying to sleep for the night shift will pay the price for the highest kilowatt on the system while executives at work at Westar will pay nothing and be cooled according to the needs of their computers (68?) . This will all get better with time as the "climate change theocrats" demand more and more worship of their god with no regard to who gets hurt.

gudpoynt 7 years, 5 months ago

Why do Republicans let their hatred of liberals transfer over to a hatred of environmentalism?

Don't the words conservatism and conservation have the same root?

mbulicz 7 years, 5 months ago

It's because of the global warming debate, which is a crock. No, I'm not referring to the science, I'm referring to the entire debate. It's a red herring.

You see, without global warming's existence being debated, we would be left with a series of points on which we all agree. We like saving money, and this can be done in the form of energy costs. We agree that our natural resources shouldn't be squandered or pushed to the brink of extinction / depletion. We agree that the more smog and exhaust we produce, the quality of the air gets lower, and that has health implications. We agree that dumping toxins into our environment is bad and should be curbed.

Because we are all busy debating Al Gore and cow farts, we don't want to lose that debate. So, many continue to live a wasteful lifestyle simply because they believe the most prolific and debatable of the negative consequences does not exist, completely ignoring all the other things we have to gain by re-examining our consumer waste culture.

gudpoynt 7 years, 5 months ago

excellent point.

I'm reposting the nytimes article because it's worth quick read.

I think their approach is noble. Instead of relentlessly continuing the political debate of climate change, they encourage energy saving measures by pointing to conservative values that go hand in hand with conservationism.

Rather than telling conservatives they're stupid for being skeptical, they're focusing on the parts of energy conservation that can make sense to anybody, regardless of political affiliation. I think that's what it's going to take to diffuse the climate change debate, which you aptly call a "crock".

devobrun 7 years, 5 months ago

Because environmentalism is a religion and alternative religions threaten Christianity, the conservative religion. Of course, neither is effective in a rational world of energy, but we are humans.

And humans create reality.

And if your created reality challenges my created reality, then the fight is on.

Oh, and doesn't liberal and progressive suggest a new, mindful approach to the world? Not if it means emotional things like death and destruction of animals, air, Gaea, etc. Nope, we live in a world of irrational Christians and irrational Environmentalists.

And science and engineering simply don't exist anymore. They are a slave to the human spirit. Don't get me wrong. I love the human spirit. But thought shouldn't be pushed aside by the "want to" or the "should be" or the "but it isn't fair".

But in today's rendition of "the emperor has no clothes", we invoke these emotions all the time.

Witness bio-fuel.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

You have your religion, too. And you just happen to be the Godhead of that religion.

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