Archive for Friday, May 31, 2013

Letter: Solar power

May 31, 2013


To the editor:

According to a recent (April 9) article in the New York Times, the city of Lancaster, Calif., is the new solar capital of America with an ambitious goal: producing more electricity from solar energy than it consumes! Currently, it has reached 40 percent of its goal. Although the electricity produced will cost about 15 percent more than electricity from the grid, it will be much cleaner and make the community and homeowners energy independent.

Part of this transformation has been accomplished by creating a municipal utility to buy and install solar panels. Plus, the city requires that new homes come equipped with solar panels. Lawrence receives sufficient sunshine to make it the solar capital of the Midwest if the community adopts and implements this visionary goal.


Liberty275 3 years, 1 month ago

"city requires that new homes come equipped with solar panels"

Additional barriers to home ownership is something we don't need while the market is depressed.

Solar outside of the southwest is a waste of resources because there is less sun and a wetter atmosphere to block sunlight. Are you willing to waste solar panels which are neither cheap nor very common just so you can have them next to your house? Also, do you think the panels are going to last forever? In 30 years they will all be a blight. And the batteries to store the energy created? There's some pretty nasty stuff in batteries these days. It isn't just good old sulfuric acid and lead anymore. What are we going to do with the cadmium and lithium? Are we going to burn more energy to keep those from getting into the ground water?

That doesn't sound environmentally friendly at all.

You need to think things through a little better.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Actually, KS is a pretty good place for solar, according to some sites I've looked at.

And, according to some in the industry, although output declines over time, you still have usable panels 20-30 years out (and newer technology may be even better in that regard).

Most solar systems are "grid tie", so they don't need batteries for storage.

There are environmental costs to producing solar panels, of course, and it would be good to do a "life cycle" comparison with other forms of production, including disposal of old panels, to really understand the benefits.

Liberty275 3 years, 1 month ago

Is it as good a Phoenix? Why waste solar panels to run at 80% efficiency when you can get 95%?

If you are going to keep conventional and nuclear powerplants to run at night or during week-long streaks of overcast skies, then you can skip the batteries. That isn't a bad idea, but we need to have the panels where they can do the most good, not where they are pretty good.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

That makes no sense. We live in Kansas, not Phoenix. The amount of sunshine there is irrelevant to the need to produce electricity here, for those who live here. And the loss of efficiency in transmitting electricity generated there all the way to Kansas would be considerably greater than 15%.

Liberty275 3 years ago

We need another nuclear plant, solar won't cut it in Kansas. They would just be a waste of solar cells that can actually help more suitable locations reduce pollution.

3 years, 1 month ago

Solar is actually poised for an amazing leap forward. The cost is going down while the energy production is going up. Advances in battery technology are also making them safer, lighter and more efficient than before. Moore's Law states that technology doubles it's capability every 18 months and the photovoltaic revolution is going to prove that. Solar is not a blight. It's not a pipe dream. It's not a moneypit. It is the future of energy and it's here to stay.

Liberty275 3 years, 1 month ago

Fusion is the energy of the future.

"Solar is not a blight."

We've been there. People put solar water heaters on their roofs 30 years ago. They turned into a blight and are all but gone now.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"Fusion is the energy of the future."

Possibly, but a distant future. In the meantime, the state of the art of solar energy has moved well beyond that of 30 years ago that you wish to fixate on.

Liberty275 3 years ago

30 years ago, it had moved well beyond that of 60 years ago. That didn't make any difference then and it won't make any difference now. We need fission for another 100 years then we can move on to fusion. These fads like solar and wind are just wasting time and money.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 1 month ago

Completely agree with your energy efficiency points, but as far as not having solar panels in Lawrence because it's better in Liberal is pretty limited thinking. Germany has the most solar power penetration in the world even though it's much cloudier there than here in Lawrence. If we used your rationale for cars, we'd never use them in snowy parts of the country because they require expensive upgrades in tires and maybe even 4 wheel drive transmission, which reduces mileage, right? And if you live in an area where you need air conditioning in your car, that takes the edge off your mileage, too, so forget using them in Kansas and any point south of here, right?

Ken Lassman 3 years ago

Sounds like we're on the same page, more or less, then. I think most communities will work best if there is a mix of all of the options available, with the ratio shifting to the optimal mix for that particular area, with maximizing energy efficiency being a key component wherever you are. It will be interesting to see how Lawrence develops this sustainable mix.

Liberty275 3 years ago

Arizona looks the most promising to me.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Spoken like a true renter with no "dog in the fight" It is not cheap to put solar panels on every roof. If the government does it half of us will pay for it in our taxes. If it is demanded of homeowners and builders it will add thousands to the cost of the home. Does an owner with two years left in the home have an expectation of recovering the costs?

Neat idea but ....

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Well, yea, it would cost money to do it. We live in a moneyed economy, so anything we do will have monetary cost associated with it.

But doing nothing, which appears to be your preference, would cost orders of magnitude more.

That said, looked at another way, with the collapse of civilization that global warming/climate change could bring about, everything would be free!! Hallelujah!! Bring on the Law of the Jungle that all the Randians clamor for!!

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

No Bozo I operate on the premise that somebody has to pay for everything we want. If you make me spend a bunch of money to put panels on my roof that is money I can not use for something else. If there is no recovery because the time line is too long or it just does not pay I am out that money I might have used to pay my mortgage.

Thai is why I want a national program to address climate change so that everyone gets to pay and we prioritize what we spend it on. Just putting panels on some buildings here in Lawrence may not reduce carbon as much as say replacing one of our coal fired power plants with say a gas turbine.

I am sorry, but I was part of the 1% that served the country and now expect further service to be a shared experience.

I might also observe that I will not be alive for the day of cataclysmic reckoning you paint. So maybe you should be the big contributor to whatever notion moves you this week.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

" If you make me spend a bunch of money to put panels on my roof that is money I can not use for something else. If there is no recovery because the time line is too long or it just does not pay I am out that money I might have used to pay my mortgage."

First, no one is going to make you spend money on panels. I don't know where you got that idea. Regardless, this is precisely what the tax and dividend program is intended to address.

You say you don't expect to live long enough for an investment in solar or other alternative energy source to pay off. No problem-- you can use your dividend check to cover the increased costs of using fossil fuels as you always have, at no net increase in overall costs to you.

But your 40 something neighbors can choose to spend their dividend check on installing a solar panel system, and/or energy efficiency measures, or any number of other things that will reduce their carbon footprint, not only lowering their present and future energy costs, but reducing the likelihood that global warming will create a less habitable world in their later years, or their kids' and grandkids' prime years.

For you, it's a wash, while for them, it's win-win-win-win....

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, Bozo I just do not believe from the facts available (lots of smoke on carbon taxes) that it will not cost me far more than I will ever get back. The whole concept resonates to income transfer and government edicts.

As I read the article future homes must have solar while current homes will be converted by some mechanism where either I pay to install or I pay taxes to have installed the solar solution - regardless of how much it contributes to carbon reduction and alternate solutions that might contribute more.

Exactly what are you willing to give up? Perhaps you could move early towards our future more limited society that looks much like the soviet society of the 50's. I might note that only the children of elites got to go to college.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 1 month ago

George, I know you keep bringing up the idea of a centralized national program as the means to make the transition to a more low carbon based energy and transportation grid, and you know that I favor a more decentralized approach, at least when it comes to energy. The CAFE standards that the feds have set are stimulating the auto industry to provide more energy efficient vehicles, and I believe that a similar revision of federal, state and local policies can remove the existing barriers to greater implementation of solar in our communities. There is an excellent summary of what these barriers are and how to get rid of them in the link below to the Institute for Self Reliance that I recommend you listening to from start to end to get an idea of what I'm talking about:

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

The analogy with CAFE standards would be for the federal government to simply require that all energy producers lower emissions to an acceptable level (if that can be determined).

It's a very good idea, as far as I can tell, and much better than a tax/dividend program.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

To me he CAFE standards are not a good example. Buying a car is voluntary. tHE CHOICE OF WHAT TO BUy IS VOLUNTARY. (unintended caps). The choice to drive is voluntary.

With energy I have no choice. If Westar must pay a lot more to feed the coal plants we have the cost of that energy to me will increase significantly and I do not have attractive alternatives in the short term. For them to address that cost increase they will have to tax me to install alternate generation technologies all of which are very expensive. Additionally I do not accept the argument that I will get back a dividend. I have lived too long to believe that the tax collected will not be diverted by the Congress to some other purpose starting with offsetting the costs to the poorer elements of our society.

While I am thrilled that progress is being made with solar solutions and that perhaps other solutions may become more attractive, the bottom line is that the advocates just can not articulate where we are going and how we will know when we get there. A thousand points of power may appear an attractive solution but I am far from convinced that it is.

If we need to make significant progress quickly then I opt for a Manhattan project style solution The very fact that you want some diffused and uncoordinated solution suggests to me that you really do not see the crisis as severe as you articulate it.

I am convinced we have a problem and I am convinced we have a large problem. I am not convinced that we have a systemic approach as to how to address the problem and I am appalled that we do not know how to define success.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 1 month ago

Do you have a choice what kind of fuel you put into your vehicle? Have you ever been to California or Oregon for that matter, and paid those gas prices? Does it cost more to operate a car in California than in Kansas? For that matter, the EIA tells me that it costs 12.81 cents to buy a kilowatt of electricity in Los Angeles, whereas it only costs 9.93 cents from Westar, or 10.8 cents/kwh in Portland, OR.

In other words, there are already regional differences in every form of energy out there. The carbon fee and dividend program would create an economic incentive in ALL regions to conserve energy, regardless of where that energy comes from, relative to what folks are used to paying. It will be more effective in spurring change in area where a higher percentage of energy is derived from fossil fuels, but even this can be levelized through differential regional reimbursement rates if that bothers you.

Did you look at the presentation about what kind of barriers exist for greater implementation of solar that I provided for you above? These can be very important in determining how quickly renewables can be adopted and should be a critical part of any program.

Finally, your concern about how difficult it is to identify the end point in the energy transformation process is really an artificial concern. Have we ever been at a "we are now done with our energy grid--we can now stop worrying about it" point in our history? When? Can you identify this point in our communication network, in our transportation network, in our military sector, or anywhere else? None of these other things stand still, so why should we expect that in our energy sector?

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Bozo I have lived in thirty four states and visited all the rest.

There are a number of attractive solutions to include solar. I want someone other than the academic community involved to play the devils advocate. If that is the best solution by all men as fund it appropriately as a national priority.

I feel your confidence in all the many neat idea. Again, I have lived too long to buy in so easily. I want the coal industry, big oil, the budding wind community and so on to put forward their great ideas. Then I want hard bitten businessmen that know how to get things done to evaluate those options and pick winners and losers in an open process. I am tired of the "we know what is best for you" hoard dismissing anyone who questions them while in the end having no responsibility for the consequences.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

If you wish to advocate major changes to our life styles then you bet your bibby that you need to articulate a plan with an end point. Any other advocacy simply reflects a lack of understanding of the problem and the not unusual desire by some communities in our world to drive the train without any responsibility for the consequences.

Who died for Solyndra

Ken Lassman 3 years, 1 month ago

Setting goals is very different from setting end points. If you mean setting goals, then many states have set either mandatory renewable energy standards or RPS goals. Kansas, for instance has set 20% peak energy production by renewables by 2020 as their standards. This varies from state to state, and presumably when the standard is met, new goals will be set. Here's a link to a state-by-state summary:

The long term renewables goal that I've seen kicked around is 80% renewables by the end of the century. So you see, your end point concerns are just not a big concern for the industry as it has wisely taken a step-by-step process of goal setting, taking stock along the way and adjusting accordingly. By the way, Iowa set its goal of 20% by 2020 and they've already surpassed it. We could learn a lot from our neighbors to the northeast.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Why 50% or 80%.. What do those goals contribute to reversing our carbon problam? Are they enough to stall massive climate change?

Goals are way points to end points. Cheap shot: If you do not know where you are going any road will get you there - but will it solve the problem

What will my life look like when we get to those goals?

Ken Lassman 3 years, 1 month ago

If we cut carbon emissions 50 or 80% then yes, that will have a major effect and go a long ways toward turning the global warming ship around. There is a decades long lag between stopping the emissions and reabsorbing the greenhouse gases, and entire landscapes have a pesky habit of becoming net carbon emitters instead of net carbon absorbers when they get too dry, so because of these and other uncertainties, we don't know exactly what will be needed. This is part of the reason setting series of goals makes more sense than putting all our eggs in one federal basket like you suggest. As far as what your life will look like, or your grandchildren's grandchildren's, I suspect that they will be using far less energy than you but doing it in ways that are far more efficiently, and producing it in much more sustainable ways. Let's certainly cross our fingers that this is the case.

George Lippencott 3 years ago

And what does cutting carbon 50% or 80% do to our standard of living?

If you do not have a plan and if these way points are anecdotallly associated with better, how do we know that it is just not a politically motivated effort to restructure our society?

You continue to avoid any sincere effort to quantify what is necessary to achieve measurable goals or to specify the consequences of unsupported goals.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"Spoken like a true renter"

What does that even mean? Do you truly believe that anyone who rents has no interest in the future of the planet?

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

They will not have to pay the cost of putting panels on their roof.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Right, the solar panel stormtroopers are going to come in and force everyone to put a couple or a dozen on their roofs, and landlords will be required to cover all of those costs and prohibited from passing them on to the freeloading, lardbutt slacker renters (aren't they all, don't you know?)

It's downright sociamalistic. Sure glad you got that crystal danged ball to warn us all of this approaching calamity.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Well, the lte does say that "new homes" must be equipped with solar panels, which would raise the costs of those, etc.

At least in that city.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"Well, the lte does say that "new homes" must be equipped with solar panels, which would raise the costs of those, etc."

That'd be no different from any other new building code requirement, and existing structures are rarely required to be retrofitted to meet new code requirements.

So George's current home would likely never be required to install solar panels.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Why Bozo, I though you were all for communal solutions. In the community mentioned somehow panels proliferated - sounded like through community (tax) investment.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm not against any solution. Why are you so dead set against a market-based tax-and-divident program?

Liberty275 3 years ago

It means it is easy to cheer for a flawed idea you don't have to pay for.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

In this forum, lots of flawed ideas are cheered for by those who don't have to pay for them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Report: Solar Could Meet All The World’s Electricity Needs In 2050 Using Under One Percent Of World’s Land By Jeff Spross on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm


"Highlighting the fact that a global switch to renewable energy is not just necessary, but doable, a new report released by the WWF concludes that the solar arrays necessary to meet all the world’s projected energy needs in 2050 would cover under one percent of global land area. Obviously this is a theoretical exercise, and 100 percent of the planet’s electricity needs are not actually going to be filled through solar. But several credible scenarios suggest that solar could provide about 30 percent of global total electricity in 2050, up from the 0.1 percent it provides now."

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Neat report summary. Kind of like the coal industry issuing a report on investing in coal.

There were no costs. No discussion of material availability. No discussion as to who pays. No discussion as to land use or acquisition - who gets dispossessed.

I grow weary of your argument that civilization will end if we don't destroy civilization to convert to green energy in the next 10 years.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"I grow weary of your argument that civilization will end if we don't destroy civilization to convert to green energy in the next 10 years."

It's not an argument. It's a real possibility-- no, make that probability. But since you've already indicated you don't give a whit what happens to this world once you're dead, why are you even involved in this discussion?

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Good then you support a Manhattan Project style national solution where we focus the academic community toward preferred solutions and affordable and manageable implementation. None of this every man for himself stuff for you. We protect the weak and make sure sacrifice is shared.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 1 month ago

Your problem is that you see a host of innovative projects taking place all over the place as a sign of every man for himself. I think it is much wiser to see it as a rich field of innovation where the winners have not yet been picked, unlike the usual no-bid/stacked deck of federal contract that your federal program. Your federal program is almost guaranteed to pick the winners from those already in charge, and they will find a way to make folks as dependent on them with renewables as they have with fossil fuels.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately, the changes in the environment seem to be occurring even faster than predicted by scientists even recently.

It is an alarming fact.

I know that it's a difficult thing to deal with, in any number of ways, but it's a real threat. We all depend on the environment for our existence, and yet human beings have been destroying that for years, which seems crazy.

It may or may not affect us quickly enough that you are forced to deal with it, but I probably will have to, at least if I live as long as I'd like to live. And, if you have children, or nieces, etc. then they will certainly have to deal with it.

Your last comment is off - nobody's arguing that we need to "destroy civilization" to save it. There are some good questions you've asked that seem hard to answer, and I'd like them answered as well - how much and how quickly to we have to reduce emissions? What sort of lifestyle can be supported sustainably? What's the best way to deal with the issue?

But sometimes you seem to be using a much narrower lens as well, which is too bad.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeh, you ,are right. Bozo gets my goat with his one note samba. I am all out of trust me cards. I want answers. If we are so positive about the imminence of disaster why are we unable to quantify remedial actions and the sacrifice expected of the citizens.

To me they want me to jump into the warm water in the pot while they turn up the temperature gradually until I am cooked.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

My guess is that because it's a global issue, it may be very hard to quantify locally. In other words, we can't possibly know exactly how much and how quickly we need to reduce emissions locally, given the variation in those around the world that affect the issue.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

I am not talking locally but nationally an internationally. Just think of the pressure created if we set up a Manhattan Project style entity to address the problem.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Even nationally, it still may be difficult, since it's a global problem.

I like your idea, although others have pointed out that given our political system, a large scale national program might be very flawed, because of the influence of industry.

George Lippencott 3 years ago

How are o going to do it without induistry?

The Sierra Club co-opted westar (who could care less on what they spend as long as they get profits from it). Now they testify together on environmental issues. Stop presuming that industry is the enemy and use its skills to accomplish what is needed.

jafs 3 years ago

I didn't say we could "do it" without industry.

But, if industry and business interests are allowed to shape policy, we won't get policy that is good for the environment, we'll get policy that is good for business.

So, we need policy set by those who actually care about the environment, and we need business to carry it out.

deec 3 years, 1 month ago

Maybe Congress could divert the billions it allots for carbon fuel subsidies to alternative energy for a few decades. After all, oil, gas and coal have had 100 years of government welfare to the detriment of the planet.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

There's a thought!

But, it's much too simple, and has too much common sense, for it to ever happen :-)

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

I am all for it if we really are spending billions subsidizing big coal and big oil. Great idea. Who is pushing it?

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Generally speaking, it's the D who talk about eliminating those subsidies, and the R who oppose doing that.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago


You keep coming back to numbers and arguments for which there is no justification in terms of contributions to what we need to do to actually solve the problem. You essentially argue that we charge off relatively undirected in the direction of goodness and let the chips (our life style and standard of living) fall where it may..

I have stated my case and raised some important points. I have offered another solution that elevates the problem to a clear national priority and asks everyone to share equitably in the sacrifice to get there.

I have no more to say.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Major aspects of the extremely energy and resource intensive western (especially US) lifestyle and standard of living are completely unsustainable. Period. Arguing against doing what needs to be done for human civilization to survive because it might cause changes to lifestyle and standard of living (which you define strictly from your own very narrow perspective) is just so much rearranging of the deck chairs. Lifestyles and standards of living ARE going to change. It's just a matter of whether it's done sanely and rationally, or whether we twiddle our thumbs as you prefer until we crash and burn.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 1 month ago

Mod, I'll have to concede the truth of your last sentence. If you don't see the role that Renewable Standards Portfolios have had in speeding up the adoption of mostly wind but increasingly solar power; if you don't see the value of reducing the structural and institutional barriers that inhibit attracting capital investors from setting up wind and solar, or of the caps that have been set up in many states that prevents utilities from putting more renewables online; if you don't see how adoption of feed in tariffs has turbocharged the adoption of solar in Germany; if you don't see how a carbon fee and dividend program, warts and all, can help folks make the investment to improve the efficiencies of their homes and adopt renewable energy sources more quickly than any other plan out there, then yes, you're right--you really don't have any more to say.

George Lippencott 3 years ago

But you sure do - none of it addressing my concerns. More of a "just do something" argument. As I said -great, I still want priorities and focus and I still want equity in shared sacrifice. Reducing me to a dinosaur contributes nothing to your cause.

To me you are just throwing money at whatever neat idea comes along. It is similar to the Madagascar notion. We can get there but no indication of costs. If somebody argues costs they are rebuffed with the simple slogan that the alternative is worse.

I respect the science but increasingly reject the zeal with which instant action is demanded at an unknown cost, unknown impact on the citizenry and an unknown contribution to solving the problem

It sounds like petulant children. I want my toys whine, whine. The likely consequence of going without food gets lost.

I am not your enemy but I am increasingly becoming radicalized to the notion that you have to be stopped, rewound to focus on realistic trades and divorced from any argument about resources. There is absolutely no recognition in your argument as to how people might be impacted in the short haul. AS I noted, half the population has little impact from your doomsday argument. If you want them on board (and you do need them if you want anything much to happen) you need to be able to address some of my questions in a manner better than it will be worse otherwise.

Now the above exchange added nothing to the real issues and as I said I have nothing more to say.

Ken Lassman 3 years ago

The policy change recommendations that I gave you have proven to stimulate immediate boosts in both improved energy efficiency and sped up adoption of renewables. They are not flavor-of-the-minute recommendations at all; they are very concrete with clear outcomes with proven track records and you're smart enough to recognize that. Contrast that with your "levy a federal tax, let them come up with solutions, and have them give it to all of us equitably" idea, which is very vague, does not have a track record (this is not the interstate highway system), clearly chooses winners, is politically impossible and could result in a boondoggle of historic proportions.

And as far as your cost argument goes, we both know that the cost of power is going up and will continue to go up even if we stick to fossil fuels. And you can be assured that your federal program will not end up with cheaper energy prices either, or do you actually think it will result in cheaper energy?? Dream on.

I still don't know why you think that your grand federal solution is the gradual, incremental solution while changing policies, incentives and removing barriers to innovation coupled with a carbon fee and dividend initiative to help finance it is seen as impulsive, impatient and ill conceived. You refuse to provide anything new in response to this question, so you're right--you have nothing more to say.

It's sad to think that even though you acknowledge the reality of the issue, you have tied yourself to a "solution" which will never have a chance in today's political and economic realities, and yet you are quick to attack any other alternatives. Keep us posted on your efforts to get the country interested in your grand scheme for the feds to come to the rescue and save us all.

George Lippencott 3 years ago

Yes, they improve energy efficiency - a good thing. Is that the best place for my incremental dollar?

Dream on if you think a manipulated market will ever be a driver. Already in response to the rising costs of energy we are making changes and adding green generation. The price is assuredly going up. How fast is my concern - the ability of people to adjust without undue hardship So your grand federal solution of having the feds raise taxes will solve the problem efficiently and without other federal input. Dream on. Any solution will have federal involvement. I want buy in by the people and my solution assures that.

Now when you became the great determiner of what is politically possible is interesting. If you have t e people it will happen. If you don't it will not. Being unable to explain consequence of your efforts to the people is almost assuredly going to not gain you the support you need.

It sounds like another "Obama Care" Because we do not trustt the people we put it together in a dark room and impose it on a reluctant majority. "Once they see the benefits (as you do) they will assuredly be on board. " Three years and counting and still not on board by a two to one majority.

Exactly why are you so focused on an inequitable solution that lacks central focus on issues so as to address the greatest contributors.?

I have presumed you to be an academic with credentials in environmental science with a focus on solar. Now if the tax you proposed pushed us toward a much grater reliance on solar might you benefit? A nice cushy job running a company producing solar cells might round things out for you in comfort.

I want dialogue with a bi-partisan panel of energy business executives running a n national program that prioritizes our efforts and competes in the never ending battle for resources. To accommodate the costs of your not a bit revenue neutral solution do we eliminate Social Security or Family Assistance? Maybe we rely on third world militias for our defense.

No, as I said, we need people with financial and technical skills working to focus a program paid for by all of us that has measurable goals leading to identified solutions - people who are accountable. There is no accountability in your solution - it is just a big playpen for the environmental hoard - like Solyndra.

Ken Lassman 3 years ago

Yes, Mod, investing in energy efficiency is the gift that keeps paying for itself over and over in a "penny saved is a penny earned" type of way. There have been many state and regional utilities who have decided to invest in providing financial incentives for customers to reduce energy waste because it is a much better investment than building a new power plant to address middle of the summer peak energy needs, for instance. Furthermore, if you cut energy demand, it is easier to replace conventional fossil fuel based energy production with energy produced with renewables.

The energy market has always been driven by the price of the product, which has had all kinds of incentives, subsidies, tax credits and the like along the way. Not sure what you even mean when you say that a manipulated market will never be a driver since that's all we've ever had. I think one of the main reasons coal has been losing favor of late is that it is being increasingly held accountable for the deleterious collateral damages it has had all along, i.e. mercury, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide pollution, coal ash, and now carbon dioxide emissions. When these "externalized costs" are included in the cost of energy production, it is no longer the artifically cheap energy source it has traditionally been. I don't think including these externalized costs is an unpopular measure being shoved down the throats of citizens, who have consistently voiced their preference for clean air and water when asked.

Similarly, the push for a carbon fee and dividend bill to be passed thru congress has been almost entirely a grassroots project, largely led by the Citizens Climate Lobby, which uses time tested local organizing techniques to tell their local, state and federal legislators to get on the stick and address the issues they would not otherwise touch because it might threaten their fossil fuel and party political contributions that help keep them in office. I can't think of a more democratic, grassroots effort that has been so successful in so quick a time--maybe you should check them out before you accuse the effort of being undemocratic. The push for a carbon fee and dividend program has certainly demonstrated much more political attention than your top-down federal "consensus" plan, which, as far as I can tell, has you as its sole proponent. If you think it's such a great idea, why don't you start organizing around it like the individual who started CCL did and see how far you get? (continued below)

Ken Lassman 3 years ago


There is nothing inherently inequitable about a carbon fee and dividend program and I'll just leave it to say that we flatly disagree with each other on that point, so no reason to touch that. And no, I'm a regular citizen with no direct financial ties to any renewable industry so I have no reason to be saying these things just so I can get rich off of it. But what if I did? People make investments with the idea of making money, last time I checked. Folks invest in oil and utilities for exactly that reason, and if they think they can make money in renewables, they'll invest in those too. That's not a dirty ulterior motive; it's the American Way.

The bipartisan idea is a great one, but bipartisanship isn't very healthy these days, especially when it comes to discussing climate change and energy policy. It might be worth noting that one of the few bright spots in this arena has been due to the efforts of the carbon fee and dividend proponents who are slowly but steadily lining up support on both sides of thee aisle. When you can show that in the current political environment, then I think that shows that you're onto something.

George Lippencott 3 years ago

As I said there are winners and losers. Winners sign on and loser do not. Simple - no trick - no groundswell.

I offered a national program as an alternative to your carbon tax to address equity issues.. We also have the current approach where by hit and miss change is effected.

There is a lot of woe is me in your argument directed at the malfunctioning political system We use to compromise. Now we call our opponents dinosaurs. To the mattresses!

If you are lobbying people it is not grass roots but well organized and financed. I bet if we turn over rocks we will find large lobbying groups - maybe even a piece of Mr. Moore''s empire.

Every time you publish that the carbon tax is revenue neutral I will argue my case that it is not.

CMike 3 years ago

Anyone who is serious about reducing carbon emissions needs to watch

verity 3 years ago

Sigh, another orphan. What happened to 75x55's comment to which I was replying?

verity 3 years ago

There was a NOVA on PBS Sunday evening called Power Surge. Usually they run these again and you can probably watch it on their website. Addresses the issues discussed here.

Since I live on a cul-de-sac, I can't help but notice my neighbor's garbage. I probably put out a bag a month---sometimes not that much, way less than the neighbors. Kitchen scrapes go to compost, so I don't have to buy fertilizer and we are required to recycle paper, glass, plastic and metal. I don't go to any great lengths to make less garbage---it's just not that hard. I have also found that my plants do better when I water less. My lawn didn't die when I didn't water at all and many who watered frequently lost their grass.

It's going to take embracing and experimenting with any promising technology AND cutting back on what we use, but we all have to get on board. Whether serious climate change happens or not, I don't want to leave a pigsty for those to come.

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