Drumbeat: July 2, 2012

Cheaspeake’s 1% Tax Rate Shows Cost of Drilling Subsidy

Chesapeake Energy Corp. made $5.5 billion in pretax profits since its founding more than two decades ago. So far, the second-largest U.S. natural-gas producer has paid income taxes on almost none of it.

Chesapeake paid $53 million over its 23-year history, or about 1 percent of the cumulative pretax profits during that period, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s less than half of Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon’s compensation, for example, in 2008 alone.

Oil Declines After Biggest Gain Since 2009 on Europe

Oil declined in New York on speculation that last week’s surge, the biggest in three years, may have been excessive amid signs of slowing growth in China and a deepening slump in Europe.

West Texas Intermediate futures lost as much 2.1 percent, paring some of a 9.4 percent rally on June 29 that was crude’s biggest jump since 2009. Manufacturing output in the euro area contracted in May, a Markit Economics index showed. The region’s jobless rate rose to a 17-year high of 11.1 percent, data from the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg showed. An EU embargo on Iranian oil started yesterday.

Russia's first half oil output up despite June slip

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Top oil producer Russia is on course for its highest output in the post-Soviet era this year helped by new fields after a 1.1 percent rise in the first half, Energy Ministry data showed on Monday.

Russia is aiming to increase its overall 2012 crude production by around 1 percent after adding 1.2 percent last year to reach a post-Soviet era high of 10.27 million barrels per day (bpd), or 511 million tonnes.

Pertamina Seeks 430,000 bpd From Iraq to Make Up for Declining Reserves

As Indonesia’s oil reserves dwindle, state oil and gas company Pertamina is moving to acquire petroleum fields in Iraq that would allow the company to bring home at least 430,000 barrels per day.

Iraq's oil revenues drop by 17.6 percent in June

Iraq's oil revenues dropped by 17.6 percent from May to June due to plummeting prices in the international market and the diversion of some production to meet domestic needs, the government said Monday.

Pertamina Claims Sumatra Oil Theft Totals More Than $10m in Losses

Pertamina EP says theft of crude oil piped through the Tempino-Plaju pipeline spanning Jambi and South Sumatra provinces has caused more than 100,000 barrels of oil worth Rp 90 billion to Rp 100 billion ($9.5 million to $10.6 million) to be siphoned away.

Iranian natural gas flow in Turkey to resume soon

Turkish Energy & Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz said that the interrupted natural gas flow from Iran to Turkey would resume on Tuesday.

UAE must create energy policy, experts warn

The UAE needs a comprehensive energy policy if it wants to reduce consumption, say experts.

A two-day workshop in the capital recently discussed the county's energy needs, as well as ways to improve efficiency through technology.

What Happens To Clean Technology Innovation If Oil Prices Drop?

Cheaper gas might be nice for your wallet in the short term, but if oil prices plummet (and it looks like it might) what will it do to the quest for renewable energy?

Iran threatens Israel; new EU sanctions take force

(Reuters) - Iran announced missile tests on Sunday and threatened to wipe Israel "off the face of the earth" if the Jewish state attacked it, brandishing some of its starkest threats on the day Europe began enforcing an oil embargo and harsh new sanctions.

Clinton Says Sanctions Pushing Iran Toward Negotiations

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Iran will face increasing pressure from economic sanctions aimed at its disputed nuclear program.

“The pressure track is our primary focus now, and we believe that the economic sanctions are bringing Iran to the table,” Clinton said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio in Geneva on June 30. “They are going to continue to increase and cause economic difficulties for them.”

Korea may use Iranian oil tankers

Korea is considering accepting Iran’s proposal to supply oil to Seoul using its own oil tankers, a government source said yesterday, after oil imports from Tehran were halted due to the European Union’s ban on insuring Iranian oil shipments.

Iran has proposed that Korean oil refiners use Tehran’s own oil tankers, a move that would allow them to receive crude shipments without concerns over insurance guarantees, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

Kenya agrees to buy Iran oil, silent on sanctions

Kenya has agreed to import 4 million tonnes of Iranian crude oil per year, a senior Kenyan energy official said on Monday.

Patrick Nyoike, permanent secretary at the energy ministry, said the two governments signed the memorandum of understanding on the oil last month. He did not say how many years the agreement covered.

Iran oil minister names OPEC governor as his marketing adviser: report

Tehran (Platts)- Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi Monday appointed OPEC Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi his adviser for hydrocarbon marketing, an unusual move that came as Iran is grappling to cope with the impact on oil exports of US sanctions and an EU import ban that came into effect on Sunday.

Sunoco, Carlyle to keep Phila. plant open

(Reuters) - Sunoco Inc and Carlyle Group LP reached an agreement to keep the largest refinery on the East Coast in operation, sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

Terms of the deal will be announced at a news briefing later Monday morning, sources said.

Statoil makes 'high impact' gas, condensate find offshore Norway

London (Platts)- Norway's Statoil has made a significant gas and condensate discovery in the King Lear prospect in the southern part of the Norwegian North Sea, the company said Monday.

Millions still without power amid record heat wave

(CNN) -- Residents in the central and eastern United States will sweat through another blistering day Monday as power outages from weekend storms continue to plague millions.

The intense early-summer weather has baked areas from Missouri to New York to Georgia with record-breaking heat and unleashed fierce storms that knocked out power over the weekend. At least 16 people were killed from the series of storms.

Why There is No New Coal When Reserves Run Out, And How That Could Help Biofuels

Although peak coal gets less attention than peak oil, the issue is gaining attention. The world consumes 6 billion tons of coal per year (2010 data),with coal consumption trending upward. The largest user of coal, China, faces the imminent depletion of national coal reserves at current use rates, raising disturbing political, social, and environmental issues about neighboring Mongolian coal reserves.

In Japan, First Reactor Is Restarted Since Quake

TOKYO — A two-month shutdown of Japan’s nuclear power plants ended on Sunday when officials at a western plant reactivated a reactor for the first time since the disaster last year in Fukushima.

Shock of Japan disaster still ripples round globe

As the United Kingdom pushes for a bigger presence in the nuclear field, companies in other nations are drawing down their presence.

The effects of last year's meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant sparked a wave of popular anti-nuclear sentiment that led governments to abandon atomic energy in Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Now companies are grappling with the aftermath.

Steel City takes a nuclear rethink

But on the heels of nuclear and financial meltdowns, the United Kingdom's nuclear manufacturing research centre was completed just in time for one of the most uncertain periods in atomic energy's history. The official opening in May came in the same month Hinkley Point C, the first of the new reactors and the centre's first target market, was put on delay.

The reaction of the centre? A shift in focus to sectors such as wind and oil and gas - the very thing nuclear was meant to replace.

The Dam Boom in the Amazon

A confrontation between the insatiable appetite for energy and the enduring need for habitability is under way in Brazil as it moves aggressively to harness the power of its rivers with plans for dozens of hydroelectric dams.

The Tricky Business of Counting Rain

The number of water-monitoring stations around the world has declined steadily over the last quarter-century, and economic doldrums and a lack of resolve on the policy-making front could cause the trend to hold for years to come, researchers warn. This could deprive scientists and practitioners of data essential to immediate and long-term water resource management decisions, many argue.

Small Farmers Creating a New Business Model as Agriculture Goes Local

SEATTLE — The cultivated rusticity of a farmers’ market, where dirt-dusted beets are status symbols and earnest entrepreneurs preside over chunks of cheese, is a part of weekend life in cities across the nation as the high days of the summer harvest approach.

But beyond the familiar mantras about nutrition or reduced fossil fuel use, the movement toward local food is creating a vibrant new economic laboratory for American agriculture. The result, with its growing army of small-scale local farmers, is as much about dollars as dinner: a reworking of old models about how food gets sold and farms get financed, and who gets dirt under their fingernails doing the work.

What are 'Eco Villages?'

There are people seeking a different way of life that are moving into 'Eco Villages' as an alternative to the modern, urban life and they are not crazy hippies or wannabe cult leaders. Professionals from ALL walks of life, ethnicity and social standing are joining or starting 'Eco Villages' all around the world. In the case of Pura Tierra in Costa Rica, groups of people with mixed but essential skills are being hand selected to start a new community. Think of it as a lifestyle job offer!

Time to Get Crazy

ExxonMobil, BP and the coal and natural gas companies—like the colonial buffalo hunters who left thousands of carcasses rotting in the sun after stripping away the hides, and in some cases carrying away only the tongues—will never impose rational limits on themselves. They will exploit, like the hustlers before them who eliminated the animals that sustained the native peoples of the Great Plains, until there is nothing left to exploit. Collective suicide is never factored into quarterly profit reports. Forget all those virtuous words they taught you in school about our system of government. The real words to describe American power are “plunder,” “fraud,” “criminality,” “deceit,” “murder” and “repression.”

Humans and nature turn American West into a tinderbox

Historically, small ground fires would burn through old growth forests every 20 to 30 years, using up the fuel on the forest floor, but leaving the big trees mostly unaffected. Without these small, natural fires, the build-up of undergrowth on the forest floor acts as fuel for more massive fires.

"The ponderosa pine forests that are burning right now in Colorado have all kinds of understory species that historically wouldn't have been there," says Jahnke. "This fuel, combined with the summer's heat and wind, is providing the opportunity for these low-intensity ground fires to become high-intensity crown fires. And that is not good."

Carbon-Price Future Clouded as Gillard Trails in Polls

Australia’s price for carbon emissions will survive whatever happens in elections due next year, the government says. Power markets aren’t so sure.

Peak oil and the lost message of the carbon tax

Whether or not one believes in human-induced climate change, with the Carbon Tax's introduction on Sunday, it is worth remembering the fundamental reasons for its conception. The Carbon Tax debate, which has been memorable for its hyperbole, but not its content, has obscured why we contemplated it in the first place.

The concept of an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has two core aims: firstly, the reduction of carbon emissions with the intention of retarding global warming. and secondly, to shift our economy away from reliance on fossil fuels. This second aim, arguably far more compelling, has been neglected in the national discussion.

'The Eskimo and the Oil Man': the high-stakes race for offshore Arctic oil

In "The Eskimo and the Oil Man," author and former Chicago Tribune reporter Bob Reiss documents the high stakes for drilling in offshore Arctic waters — for the oil industry, for the Inupiat Eskimos and for the world, as the burning of fossil fuel impacts climate change.

Scientists Conclude Rise in Sea Level Cannot Be Stopped

Rising sea levels cannot be stopped over the next several hundred years, even if deep emissions cuts lower global average temperatures, but they can be slowed down, climate scientists said in a study on Sunday.

Pertamina gets oil from Iraq.

Peak oil in Indonesia and production projection


Hi Matt,
Could you update your exports graph on the website?
Looks like your data is from 2009..

EIA export data go only up to 2009


My guess is budget savings

We were lucky that the old International Petroleum Monthly was continued in International Energy Statistics (link above)

Remember this story:

EIA terminates updates of International Energy Statistics

BP has data available for Indonesia that goes through 2011. In MTOE's it shows the following, so consumption seems to be holding up pretty well. Consumption tends to go where the jobs are, in my opinion. People who have jobs can afford to buy things that use oil; businesses making things need it for transportation and sometimes production. If a government is collecting enough taxes, it can afford to buy oil for operating its vehicles and paving roads.

Year Consumption Production
2008 58.7 49.0
2009 60.6 47.9
2010 65.2 48.3
2011 64.4 45.6

“Though sea-level rise cannot be stopped for at least the next several hundred years, with aggressive mitigation it can be slowed down, and this would buy time for adaptation measures to be adopted,” the scientists added.

Looks like things will be changing even faster with ever greater requirement to adapt. Be ready to flex to whatever happens next!

Perk Earl,

Climate change and sea level rise are "what happens to other nations" many seem to think.

There is a paper in Nature - Climate Change that shows that the sea level rise at shores near some of our most populated areas in the U.S. is more pronounced than in some of our less populated areas of the U.S.

Large parts of the coastal US are actually sinking into the ocean, rather than the oceans rising faster in those places. This is a result of plate tectonics. At the same time, much of Canada is rising out of the ocean as a result of isostatic rebound - it is is still rebounding out of the ocean because the weight of a mile or two of glacial ice was removed at the end of the last ice age. Eventually Hudson Bay will disappear if this keeps up. It was created by the weight of the Laurentide Ice Sheet forcing the land below sea level.

The same applies to Britain. Southern England has been sinking into the ocean at about 1 foot per century since the Romans were there, which means London has sunk about 20 feet since Roman times. At the same time, northern Scotland is rising about 2 feet per century due to isostatic rebound.

True and very important.

After all, sinking at a foot per 100 years is something we can easily adapt to if we so choose.

OTOH, oceans rising as a resuslt of AGW at 3 to 9 feet (depending on model used, unknown feedbacks, etc.) in the next 78 years is significantly more challenging.

Nine feet isn't the worst case either, but if I were a betting man, I'd say 9 feet rise in several major population areas is likely (based on models) before 2100. Many places are screwed at 3 feet (1 meter) in terms of infrastructure investment needed.

Sea level rise for the last 20 years has averaged 3.1mm (+/- 0.4mm) per year. Or just over 12 inches per century.


I think the work done since AR4 puts a conservative limit on average sea level rise upper limit 1 meter while higher isn't ruled out. Much isn't known in these estimates, agreed. IPCC, I happen to think, is conservative in AR4 on this particular topic. Lots of literature on that controversy.

My guess is that several critical areas will see that 3 feet / 1 m by 2100. My hope is that it isn't more than that -- but some rate of change that can allow adaptation.

I would hate to see several US cities at 3 feet / 1m + loss of coastal barrier islands, swamps, seagrasses, etc.

The article has 140cm by 2300 as a worst case - only 4.5ft. I'm not sure how that jives with the 150ft rise that will eventually happen. I guess if it really does take 1000's of years for all the ice to melt, but it all sounds pretty optimistic to me - and that's their worst case scenario.

A naive interrogation here : do these models account for potential expansion of water due to local warming of sea water? If so, can these models forecast which coastal zones would be more susceptible to water expansion ? Sorry if the question was a dumb one.

I wouldn't consider it a dumb question. The models account for the global expansion of seawater, which increases the volume of the ocean. I don't think they consider local density changes (if the local density is lower, it would tend to raise the level (but create ocean currents to balance it out)). I think global expansion due to warming water is the biggest current term. Currently there are two roughly equal source terms, glacial melting, and land storage of liquid water. The later term is negative because of groundwater depletion. In AR4, increases in the rate of glacial melt were omitted, as the science was too new for inclusion. That's why the IPCC-4 sea level rise predictions are so low.

If you want to look at regional models things get messier. Changes in sea currents and/or wind currents slosh water around, and that leads to uneven changes around the globe. Changes in the earth's rotation, due to redistribution of mass (high latitude ice being distributed around the ocean), which changes the axis of rotation and the rate of rotation slightly. This means that even before accounting for local geological forces (uplift or subsidence) the distribution of sea level change is nonuniform. That's what makes actually measuring global rise difficult. Also we have short term changes, as floods/droughts change the land storage term.

You can't assume that land levels will always stay the same - over long periods of times things change drastically due to plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanic action. Some of the old Roman ports (e.g. near Pompeii) are under 20 metres of water now - it reportedly makes for interest diving. Some others are miles from the current ocean.

Disconcertingly, some Roman temples that sank into the ocean in ancient times have re-emerged and are now on dry land again.

The legend of Atlantis is not totally mythical. It may be based on one or more ancient cities that did disappear into the ocean. The problem is to figure out which one or ones.

However, it's not totally impossible to deal with. As I said, the City of London has sunk 20 feet since it was founded by the Romans 2000 years ago. On the other hand, the streets have been raised about 20 feet higher than they were back then, so it makes not a lot of difference to most people. It is a little disconcerting to look at some of the old buildings, though, and realize the bottom windows are really a dozen or more feet below street level.

The streets of Rome itself have risen about 40 feet higher than when it was founded - they didn't tear down the old ruins, they just built on top of them. There's an entire ancient city buried under the current streets, a real archaeologist's wonderland.

It's not your run of the mill land erosion which tends to be local. It's a global sea level rise, a different creature.

Global sea levels were already rising before the Industrial Revolution, and the theoretical additional rise caused by greenhouse gases may accelerate this. Local changes in land levels can add quite a bit to this, or may slow it, or may cause the sea level to fall in some places.

I think the key point is that you can't count on sea levels staying the same under any circumstances. You have to take a hard look at all the factors before you start to build something like a sea port.

People worry about what will happened to Holland, but the Dutch have already factored these changes into the design of their dikes. It is areas where they have not designed their cities and seaports to take into account probable changes in sea levels that will suffer more.

The Dutch have also factored their budgets and engineering feasibility into the design of their dikes.

Their Plan B (pack up and learn German) is still very much a possibility.

Or Plan C: floating cities.

I do wonder if we in the US will have a tougher time than most. That's the argument Simon Winchester makes. He says in much of the rest of the world, people have learned the hard way not to build in certain places. The US is too young to have learned those lessons. He says we don't have enough ruins...yet.

US is in a bad spot for climate change, expanding deserts and right beneath two colliding air masses. A lot of us will be migrating north into Canada by end century if BAU happens. Not sure the Canadians will want the immigrants...

Do the US want the immigrants crossing the southern border?

I've already seen floating city subdivisions. Not only was my grandparent's place in Delta, south of Vancouver, 3 feet below sea level and protected by dikes and pumps just like Holland, it also had houses out in the water like the Dutch are proposing. It's not hard to do, you just build the houses on concrete pads with polystyrene foam embedded in them. (In the old days they used to build them on log rafts, but you have to move with the times.)

Some people like this kind of thing because you can park your boat at your back door and go sailing anytime you want, but otherwise it is much like a conventional subdivision. The houses are connected by floating walkways, and the utilities (water, sewer, power, telephone) go under the walkways.

If you have a car (which many people don't) you have to keep in a garage on land because it makes no sense to have a floating garage and roads on the water. However, once you have a boat in a community like this, you can use your boat to go everywhere you want and don't have to drive except to go to some other neighborhood. There are still communities on the BC coast which have very sketchy road systems because everybody uses their boat to go everywhere. Generally speaking it's a lot faster to use a boat (even a rowboat) than a car in them.

The main constraint on floating communities is that the amount of developable water is even more limited than the amount of developable land. You can't simply put floating houses out on the open ocean because the storms would capsize and sink them - you have to put them in a sheltered bay, and there are a limited number of those. If everybody tried it, very soon all the sheltered bays would fill up with houses and there would be nowhere to build new ones.

The legend of Atlantis is not totally mythical. It may be based on one or more ancient cities that did disappear into the ocean. The problem is to figure out which one or ones.

No doubt cities have been lost to the sea, but just to correct this meme: Basically Plato just made the island of Atlantis up as part of a story he was telling... then people that didn't understand greek literature got all over-excited.

Not to underestimate people's capacity for misunderstanding, but surely there are many who go to such literature for the express intent of becoming over-excited..

'When the Garden wearies and fails to satisfy, there is always the Library..'

This is my theory:
When much water was tied up in ice during the ice age, the Persian Gulf was dried out, but thanks to the big river flowing there (Eufrat + Tigris) had water, grass, and a thriving primitive civilisation, based on cattle herding. This was drenched when the ocean rised up. The surviviors moved on, and later founded new civilsations, such as the Sumerian and Babylonian.

This very early lost civilisation is both the base of the Atlantis myth, and the original true story behind Noa and his arch.

You mean that a 700 year old man whose previous woodworking experience was a couple of Adirondack chairs didn't actually build a wooden boat larger than any wooden boat modern history? I'm crused.

Then there is the theory that the Black Sea was a fresh water lake somewhat lower than today's sea level, at the end of the last glacial retreat. As the sea levels rose, the land bridge that separated the Black Sea from the Mediterranean was breached and a gigantic waterfall filled the Black Sea to more or less its current level. The flood drove away people who had settled on the edges of the shallower lake and their diaspora may have given rise to the Noachian deluge myth. See the book "Noah's Flood" by Walter Pittman and Bill Ryan, a couple of geologists.

That was my older candidate. But Noa water proofed his boat with what is basicly crude oil. There are such sources in the Persian Gulf, wich makes it a better candidate to me now. Also, that is where the following civilisations arised.

But the people in the Black Sea area must have had torun FAST. I think about that from time to time.

The Bible said that four rivers rose out of Eden, two of which were the Phrat and Hidekel (Euphrates and Tigris).

THere are two dried out river courses that meet underneath the Persian Gulf, together with the Shat-El-Arab channel.

Prior literary sources would be Akkadian

Wikipedia covers the Black Sea deluge theory. This would have happened about 5600 BCE. There was an earlier, more impressive deluge when the Atlantic broke through the Gates of Gibraltar and filled the dry Mediterranean basin five million years ago. In my youth, I read the Poul Anderson story about this, "Gibraltar Falls," and never forgot it. (Wiki suggests, however, that it was more like major rapids than a straight waterfall.)

This is my theory:
I hit the send button twise, wich is the true and actuall reason behind this double post. The more common known theory that this second post is actually the second stone plate at wich Moses got his ten commandments are just a myth.

Hidden Doggerland underworld uncovered in North Sea

A huge area of land which was swallowed up into the North Sea thousands of years ago has been recreated and put on display by scientists.

Doggerland was an area between Northern Scotland, Denmark and the Channel Islands.

It was believed to have been home to tens of thousands of people before it disappeared underwater.

Now its history has been pieced together by artefacts recovered from the seabed and displayed in London.

The story behind Doggerland, a land that was slowly submerged by water between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC, has been organised by Dr Richard Bates at St Andrews University


Akrotiri is the obvious candidate, although there may well have been more Bronze Age settlement on Santorini that got blown away rather than just covered in ash when the volcano went bang.


I don't think Americans realize this, but their barrier islands are temporary and are going to disappear in any case. The ones on the Gulf Coast are going to disappear particularly fast because the coast is sinking as the sediment in the Gulf compacts. As for the East Coast:

Guide to Coastal North Carolina Barrier Island Dynamics

Barrier Islands in general are highly dynamic, but North Carolina's Barrier Islands are exceptionally so--especially the islands that make up the Outer Banks and Core Banks. Much of eastern North America, from New Jersey southward all the way around Florida and then westward and south again to Mexico, has barrier island ecology characterized by low sandy islands that are easily affected by wind, tides and currents that protect the mainland from those forces. What makes North Carolina's islands unique is their distance from the mainland and their close proximity to the Continental Shelf and the Gulf Stream current.

Formation of the Islands

As geologic features our islands are relatively young. At the close of the last ice-age--about 18,000 years ago-- sea levels were about 300 feet lower than today and the climate was considerabley cooler. Boreal pine/spruce forests similar to those existing today at the highest elevations of the southern Appalachian mountains, like Mt. Mitchell, reached all the way to the present coastal plain. Gradual climatalogical warming brought about a transition to a Hemlock/northern hardwood forest and eventually the Gum/Cypress forest types that are the climax communities of the wet areas of the coastal plain today. With a warmer climate came higher sea levels which are continuing to rise at a rate of about .5' to 1.5' per century. Barrier Islands probably first appeared as sea levels rose and flooded areas behind beach ridges.

The forces of nature truly prevail in the Barrier Islands and our presence there is allowed by grace. Try as we might to protect our property and to manage these dynamic systems, our efforts can only postpone the inevitable when nature has other plans. We must be accepting of the fact that the islands exist today, but may change dramatically tomorrow.

From the article on sea level rise:
"We also examine whether subsidence contributed to the (observation)... vertical land motions were approximately linear and did not significantly affect our calculations..."

Why is there such a strong need to offer land motion as counterpoint to observations of sea-level rise? This makes the third such post in this sub-thread. This is very reminiscent of the recent interjection about natural mercury levels in streams and rivers in response to mention of mercury pollution of the environment.

Oh, and yes, blueberry pancakes with butter and real maple syrup fresh off the campfire are great.


It's got me thinking of that STAND BY ME line again, where Vern asks by the campfire,

Vern: You think Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman?

Teddy: What are you, cracked?

Vern: No, I saw him on TV the other day, he was holding five elephants in one hand.

Teddy: Boy, you don't know nothing. Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman's a real guy. There's no way a cartoon could beat up a real guy.

Vern: I guess you're right. It'd be a good fight though.

.. the point being odd comparisons, I guess.. or 'Different Universes', as the Comic guys would put it.

Peace, Rocky.. I know you just like poking a finger in the eye of the greenies. All good fun!


I made those comments because I think people should know about what is really going on in the world. People hear things in the MSM and assume that these are something new. Geologists know that sea levels have been rising since the last ice age and that the process is ongoing. The only thing new is that climatologists are arguing that the rise will accelerate. This is likely the case. The key problem is that planners (if in fact there is a plan) have not factored in the preexisting rise, nevermind an increase in the rate rise.

I'm one of the few people who reads flood studies before I buy a house. In my previous house, shortly before I sold it, there was a 50-year flood on the nearby river, and people suffered a lot of flood damage. I went down from my abode on the hill and watched them rescue their belongings from the water. If they had read the flood study, they would have known they were on a flood plain and would probably be flooded every 50 years. It's a good thing it wasn't a 100-year flood because they would have found themselves in the middle of the river.

We are having floods in this mountain town I am living in now. Some of my friends are having to deal with the problems of having flooded basements and garages. Sitting here on the hill, I can only offer them sympathy because I knew it would happen. Good thing it wasn't a 100-year flood.

Similarly a friend of my brother had sold a house in the nearby town of High River (what was your first clue that the river floods, Dick Tracy?) After the 100-year flood, the new owner rushed up to him and said, "You won't believe how close the water came to the house!" He shrugged and said, "Ten feet". The new owner, astonished, said "How did you know?" The old owner said, "Before I built the house, I had a flood survey done and raised the lot level. In a 100-year flood, the water stops about ten feet from the house."

If this were not already getting a little verbose I could also talk about my grandfather's house in Delta, BC, which was 3 feet below sea level. People say, "What happens if global warming raises the sea level 3 feet?" Well, his old house which was bulldozed for a McMansion, would be 6 feet below sea level. The dikes are 10 feet high now, they'll bring in some crushed gravel and raise them to 13 feet. They might have to buy bigger lift pumps, too.

Paleoclimate shows sea level rise between 15 and 75 feet at 400 ppm CO2. The problem is that past CO2 increases of the scale we've seen in just one century have occurred on the scale of 1-10 thousand years or more. So even though paleoclimate and models give us some guide to where we'll end up, we don't know how violent the change from the rapid human forcing will be. Even worse, BAU puts us at 850 ppm CO2, a rise of nearly 600 ppm in just two centuries. To our knowledge, this has never happened. What is certain, however, is that no ice caps survive at more than 450 ppm. So you're looking at an eventual increase of more than 200 feet.

Given these facts, it's pretty obvious that a prediction of 1 meter in sea level rise by the end of this century is very, very conservative and assumes only gradual change under a regime of extreme climate forcing. More likely, you will have at least one catastrophic large ice sheet collapse within that time-frame, possibly more, with the result being much higher seas.

The lifting and sinking of plates would only serve to worsen or slightly mitigate such instances of sea level rise, depending on location.

Sea level rise isn't the only problem. Much of the US becomes desert. Heat becomes a real problem. You have huge chunks of the tropical and temperate world experiencing summer time heat equivalent to death valley. One researcher, when asked to describe what it would be like to experience the temperatures predicted by 2100 said "I'm in Oklahoma on a hot summer day. Under a heat lamp. Running. Wrapped in plastic." And if you think the fires and floods we are experiencing now are severe, then think again. Models show a 600 percent increase in the incidence of fire over large swaths of the US and we have already experienced a 2 percent increase in storm and cyclone intensity per decade since the 1990s.

The good news is there is a cure to the forest fire problem: deserts don't burn well.

True. Just a lot of burning to get to that point, I'm afraid.

They're working on it.


"I'm in Oklahoma on a hot summer day. Under a heat lamp. Running. Wrapped in plastic."

Well, I've been in Oklahoma when it was 110°F (43°C) in the shade and had been for two weeks, and I actually did some running, although I wasn't wrapped in plastic.

The thing that astounded me is that the taxi driver in Tulsa didn't have air conditioning in his house, and he said he didn't like having air conditioning in his cab because if he was going to be hot, he preferred to be hot ALL the time. He thought the air conditioning made him feel sick. Meantime, the road paving guys were standing out in the hot sun pouring hot asphalt on the road. I thought they were nuts.

In Baja California Sur (southern Baja Mexico), it got considerably hotter, but the Mexicans paving the road waited until sunset before they started working, and they were finished before dawn. That seemed a lot more rational. They did an amazing amount of work, you can't accuse them of being lazy.

However, on the really extreme end of the scale, the Arab traders ran camel caravans across the middle of the Sahara desert during the height of the Medieval Warm Period. They never stopped no matter how big and hot the Sahara got. The adaptability of human beings is extraordinary. Of course, human beings did originate in Africa so they are fundamentally adapted to the climate.

Last summer I did welding jobs throught the entire summer on the central heating plant in the neigbour city. I was working inside and ontop of the furnaces. They are built to generate and keep the heatas effectivly as possible. Furnace 2 had an unexpected stop, and someone had to go inside and repair something after the furnace was alowed to "cool" for a day. "Someone" was off course yours truly. I am convinced there is a place in Hell were those who did not sin very much end up, wich is cooler that it was in there.

Just inserting this here since it's as good a place as any...

I don't post here much anymore since - despite my affection for many who still post here - it's a less wide-ranging forum than it used to be. People in the oil bidness can drop work anecdotes and be taken seriously, people who've worked for the environment are considered hyperbolic when they do the same. So perhaps my presence here will be to just interject occasionally without worrying about how it's received. And with that said:

Nothing wrong with speculating about how fast the seas will rise, and I don't fault anyone for such speculation. However...

In our current context, the entire "sea level rise" concern - real as it is - strikes me as grotesque, like professed worries about the difficulty of finding a good delicatessen after the holocaust.

Over and above the ongoing mass extinction event from our ancillary activities, we're rendering the atmosphere of the planet we evolved on vastly different than during the period in which we evolved, during which most large extant life evolved. For no rational reason we're setting up a series of catastrophes which could cause our species extinction, WILL cause the extinction of most large or specialized species, and will at the very least cause a wild exacerbation in the human dieoff level in coming centuries. A planet which, without our burning buried carbon with no real sapient rationale, could have probably supported a stable population of hundreds of millions of humans in a temperate world for a hundred-thousand generations or more into the future.

We're acidifying the oceans and giving them a good chance of becoming largely anoxic, doing away with tropical rainforests, kicking off wild positive heating feedbacks... yet most of what is discussed in popular media - and even by climate activists - is the problem of getting the edges of our infrastructure damp due a rise in sea levels so slow that it's measured in mm/year.

I think I'll stick with that word... discussions about sea-level rise outside the larger context of ecocide, the actual stakes, amount a grotesque parody of sentient foresight and diligence. Yep, they're rising, and it's a trivial, transient concern for our species.

Just saying. Energy and our future, y'know.

The problem is, all those other species don't vote. Sure, there are some of us who worry about their loss, but for most people, the only way to get their attention is to describe things which might impact their (or their children's) lives in some direct way. Sea level rise is one such direct impact, as is the spread of deserts, etc. If such problems can't get the attention of the vast majority of people, how can the other impacts to non-humans also be addressed? Even this most recent round of rather hot temperatures doesn't appear to have made much of a dent in the media's presentation of our basic problems. I think the people of the US will have forgotten the heat within 6 months, unless, of course, the heat continues long enough to cause a serious dent in agricultural production, which would lead to sharply higher prices for food. One can only hope...

E. Swanson

I agree with evertything. But...

...we are facing an ever more tightening predicament. In the end of thisprocess, we may very well find an SO2 polluted atmosphere where all land animals simply die from lung burn or something. We don't know this,but it is a possibility. The 6:th mass extinction event may also very well be on the menue.

However, on the way from here to there, we will be facing a series of ever worse events. We are merely discussing some of the first blows that will come in our way. Few here denies that even worse events may or will come down the way.

The US Navy has stated that with a rise in sea-level of 6 feet, every current major seaport in the world will be non-functional. I believe that Dredd posted a video of a presentation by the Admiral who was the head of the US Navy's Meteorology.

Yeah . . . well . . . that's their fault. They have this bad habit of always building their ports at sea level. ;-)

Fools! You'd think they would have planned for this sort of thing! ;-)

Look at the bright side, they will have to dredge less.

In fact, you would think that it would be easier to adjust to a rising sea level than a falling one. Every decade, add a foot to the docks. With the amount of maintenance that is already required to keep anything near an ocean in one piece is high enough it should blend right in.

If you have steep terrain, not too hard, as you say raise the docks. But if the terrain is gentle, then you got lots of other infrastructure, roads warehouse train tracks -cities etc to deal with as well. All that stuff has to be either moved, protected by seawalls Dutch style, or somehow rendered immune to flooding. The Dutch are experimenting with floating houses/building, that rise/fall with the water level. I suspect that once the rate of change becomes rapid enough, that will be the solution taken.

"But if the terrain is gentle,"

Fair point. I'm thinking West coast, where it's cliffs down to the water. Florida now, (only East Coast location I've been to) would be tougher.

Kairo (Egypt) wil become an island after the sea rises 50 more cm. In what direction will they move then?

Will the Swiss Navy have this problem? I don't think they have any sea-level ports.



Oklahoma doesn't have any sea-level ports. Maybe that explains Inhofe's denialism.

Inhofe got seriously ill last year from a heat-related algal bloom he came in contact with swimming in the pond on his OK property.

Money and contrarian stubbornism explains the denialism.

That is what tax payers are for. To buy the military everything it wants and more.

9' would totally total our tourist areas. Beaches, patios and swimming pools underwater. Very large areas of town with water in the streets. Not enough for me (34m) to be a beach side property though :(

Lots of cities just become uninhabitable in this case.

Same in Sweden. North is rising, the very tip of the south is sinking. I live just on the 0-isobar. Tilting but not elevating in any direction. In north Sweden, the rise is dramatic; you can experience it in a life time. Many harbours built a bit up on land, with a more modern one further down.

This is something that has not been raised before in the AGW discussion. Virtually all northern lands and surfaces under shallow water between the northern islands are rising and this will displace a vast amount of water, although slowly, maybe accounting for a cm or three per century. The Big Easy and Venice on the other hand are sinking....
Hudson Bay will not disappear AGW will raise the average ocean level faster than Churchill Manitoba et all are rising. The shipping season is 6+ weeks longer than it used to be so the water isn't getting any fresher.

The shoreline of Hudson Bay is rising about about 1 metre per century, and it still has another 100 metres to go, so it's not really clear whether it will disappear or not. It's going to be 10,000 years or more before it vanishes completely, and a lot can happen in that time.

Right. The same holds true throughout the far north and eventually Antartica- antwhere the ice was/is pushing on the bottom. Greenland will be going up like an elevator next century. Rising shorlines nearly equals rising oceans means the rise will be felt even more somewhere else like S. Carolina. Wait they passed a law so they don't have to worry.
I just don't think this has been dialed in by the UScentric studies.
Anyhow, it's a beautiful day at the bottom of lake Agassiz- +31C(87F), no clouds, no wind and surprisingly no mosquitos.

Mmmm... No mosquitos... wistful sigh

When that land rise, it must "suck in" rock mass from somewhere else. In my understanding,the areas that rise is surrounded buy a ring of sinking land, to conserve the mass balance (rock don't just apear out of nowhere).

Although my website is mainly about crude oil, I have a menu on global warming topics. The following link contains estimates from Prof. Tad Pfeffer, INSTAAR, and Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf, PIK


In One Kansas Town, Even Hotter Than Usual

For five days last week, a brutal heat wave here crested at 115 degrees. Crops wilted. Streets emptied. Farmers fainted in the fields. Air-conditioners gave up.
The grinding drought that transformed much of the West into a tinderbox has all but choked off the growing season here. Farmers say rainfall totals are five to seven inches below normal — a withering deficit — and many have not plowed under their old crops to plant new rows of wheat, corn and milo.
As temperatures soared over the past week, farmers woke at dawn to haul tank after tank of water to their overheated livestock. With the grasses scorched by heat and no rain in sight, many are debating whether to sell their cows quickly, rather than buy expensive feed to sustain them all summer.
“We’ve still got two more months of this crap,” he said.

Do we see a problem here?

E. Swanson

You would think that things like this would be a Come to Jesus Moment for these people but it won't. Ideology can make you refuse to see anything!

I'm sure we'll be seeing many more of these, and the aquifers being pumped down at an increasing rate. The cattle farmers won't be able to adapt as well. The need to feed cattle in the summer when pastures dry up wipes out already marginal profits.

Our mini-drought broke last night with 2.1 inches falling at our place (the fireworks were a few days early), and the storms lowered the temperature into the low 60's for the first time in several nights. Our tomatoes and cucurbits need the lower night temps to ripen; it's the high lows that have hurt the crops the last few years. Beyond that, after a bumper hay harvest, our area has become a corn monocrop it seems. It's all I see anymore. Farmers who used to grow sorghum and other crops now grow only corn. With the heat and drought in the plains/midwest, I expect they'll get a good price.

The area around Hill City, KS looks a bit different than the area of Nebraska on your link. I don't see any crop circle irrigation on the uneven terrain.

We had the fireworks last night, which hit after midnight. There was a line of thunderstorms which passed with a tremendous number of lightning flashes. Quite a show and I headed for the lower deck, thinking of the storm that hit DC on Friday. That storm was the second one within 24 hours, the first left 3 dead as it moved to the east.

Not only were the storms strong, it was quite hot in the area:

Aberdeen, Mississippi recorded a temperature of 104° with a dewpoint of 84° at 3 pm EDT Sunday, resulting in ridiculously high heat index of 136. Goldsboro, NC had a dewpoint of 87° at 11 am Sunday, the highest dewpoint I can recall seeing in the U.S., and something more typical of what is seen in Saudi Arabia along the shores of the Red Sea.

E. Swanson

We had another windstorm yesterday. Sky got really dark, thunder, lightning, 50 mph gusts, and about 3 drops of rain.

We had a few downed trees and tree limbs but nothing like last year.

Only one storm in the last few weeks produced rain, which took the edge off, but it is still dry, dry, dry. Back into the 90's this week.

No honey for the farmer's market :-(

We're doing relatively well here in Eastern Pennsylvania as we had a very wet spring, but I've expected that the summer would be dry. So far it's looking like that may be the case. I think it's looking like we're moving to distinct wet/dry seasons. Although hurricane season could change that. We definitely get a much greater percentage of our rain in torrential downpours, so perhaps it's not defined really defined time periods. I'm trying do dope out the new pattern, and probably too soon as it will likely not settle down in my expected lifetime, but for sure it is changing.

Weather Underground is now part of NBC-Universal, it was just bought by Weather Channel.


Part owner of Weather Channel is Bain Capital.

How long before any mention of climate change is banned?

That was my first thought, too.

Based on how the Weather Channel has evolved over the years, I am more worried about it being dumbed down.

Damn, thanks for the heads up. It was good while it lasted, but things change. I guess we're all going to get a lot more used to that.

We had another windstorm yesterday.

"Windstorm": American expression that referes to a storm in wich it actually blows.


"Wind storm - A storm marked by high wind with little or no precipitation.[4] Windstorm damage often opens the door for massive amounts of water and debris to cause further damage to a structure.[5] European windstorms and derechos are two type of windstorms.[6]"

We had an extremely powerful storm rip through last Friday, knocked the tops right off a bunch of trees. A large chunk of a neighboring condo-building ended up in my condo-complex's pool. I did a little film of some of the local damage and posted it here:



Nebraska Governor declares state of emergency due to drought

Drought conditions in Nebraska have prompted Gov. Dave Heineman to declare a state of emergency.

In making the declaration, Heineman authorizes state personnel and resources to assist with emergency situations and prevention and allows maximum flexibility to use the Nebraska National Guard and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency assets and resources as needed.



also Two Nebraska plants halt ethanol production

Valero has temporarily halted production at its ethanol plant in Albion, becoming the second Nebraska plant to do so in a week.

Valero spokesman Bill Day said the shutdown was caused by shrinking margins, thanks in large part to a recent surge in corn prices.

... "It's more economical to shut down than to lose money," he said.

Valero's move follows a decision June 15 by NEDAK Ethanol to temporarily shut down its plant in Atkinson. NEDAK President and General Manager Jerome Fagerland blamed the shutdown on the same reasons.

Much of the US is under dry or drought conditions. Here's a recent drought map summary:


Due to fire hazard, many fireworks displays have been canceled:


"Do we see a problem here?"

Hey, everything's fine. We'll adapt. We'll move somewhere else. We'll eat something else. We'll drink something else.

(lame attempt at humor)

Stay drunk til it's over. My plan.

What are you going to ferment when nothing grows and there's no water to spare?

There will be water. Just not there. Prepare to be mobile.

"Hey, everything's fine. We'll adapt. We'll move somewhere else. We'll eat something else. We'll drink something else."

Don't apologize, that is exactly how we dealt with climate change for the previous 100,000 years. The problem is moving a couple of billion people in an industrial civilization is much harder than moving a thousand hunter-gatherers, or even 5,000 nomadic herders.

Didn't I read exactly the same article here last year?

The link to the comment (last entry above) on sea level rise, is not to the original source and the linked piece does not do justice to the numbers in the source article, because it focuses on the thermal expansion component. (The original science report is available just now at Nature Climate Change http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1584.html )
From the original's Abstract

... By 2300 a 1.5 °C scenario could peak sea level at a median estimate of 1.5 m above 2000. The 50% probability scenario for 2 °C warming would see sea level reaching 2.7 m above 2000 and still rising at about double the present-day rate. Halting SLR within a few centuries is likely to be achieved only with the large-scale deployment of CO2 removal efforts, for example, combining large-scale bioenergy systems with carbon capture and storage.

The prospects for combined bioenergy and carbon capture following a period of likely substantial de-industrialization strikes me as fanciful in the extreme, ... but there you go.

This makes a lot more sense.

The global warming model scenarios from the 2007 IPCC assessment:


As of this point, the 2 degree C scenario is mostly out. Most new predictions show a 3-6 C increase. Recent models including forcings show as high as 9 degrees C by 2100. Few models show adequate response to forcing, though.

So the above sea level rise scenario assumes cessation of human CO2 output now. It also assumes not amplifying feedbacks are locked in. CCS, at the moment is just greenwash. No one is seriously using it or funding it. The best CCS devices we have at the moment are wind and solar powered. That is, it captures the carbon in the ground before it is burned.

Re: Time to Get Crazy

I think many of us see there's a problem with what's generally called Capitalism.

Here's another side of the problem: Grim UK Factory Data Adds to Pressure for Cash

Trouble is, nobody seems to have an answer yet. It appears that the exploiters will just continue to exploit the Eaarth until there's nothing left to exploit...

E. Swanson

But at the same time, the exploiters can't sustain their own numbers and they dwindle away....get old, so their best exploiting days are over, and can only have few children, who have the same problems only worse, with fewer resources even.

I have a question about oil theft up top:

We keep reading about oil theft in lots of countries but what do the thieves do with the oil? They obviously don't have a tank farm to collect enough to sell to a refinery plus what refinery would buy it (or, maybe, crocked refineries buy small amounts because it would be cheap?). Perhaps they have a retort where they refine it to something like "kerosene". Anyone know?


Interesting article last week on this very topic, regarding oil theft in the Niger delta:


According to the article, options for oil stolen the old-fashioned way include both small bootleg refineries and the practice of carrying stolen oil to larger tankers anchored offshore, eventually bound for distant refineries. But the article claims that the largest source of theft is white-collar fraud, in which the amount of oil loaded onto tankers from export terminals is reported to be lower than it actually was. Sounds like quite an industry (many $billions per year in Nigeria alone).

Edit: to skip registration, enter through a google search on "Jonathan faces challenge to curb oil theft"

Down here they hook up a tanker, to the local infrastructure, with the help of a Pemex employee (money or gun are both incentives). The tanker is loaded and taken to a US refinery, maybe with a transfer in between, where it is sold. Some have been caught recently.



Here is Columbus many are still without power and the prognosis is that things won’t be fully restored for another 6 days- meanwhile we face record breaking heat. Below I have posted an interesting response in the comment section to this news from the Columbus Dispatch. I guess what interested me about the comment is that it raised good points about how utilities are engaging in practices that make the public energy system increasingly prone to disruption- not a good direction in an age of increasing climate extreme events. Here’s the comment, tell me what you think of it:

When New York City and the Northeast experienced a blackout in 1965, (affecting 20 million people), the power was turned on within 24 hours. Again, in 1977, when NYC had another blackout, the power was also turned back on within 24 hours. Even, in 2003, when not only the entire Northeast, but even parts of the Midwest including Ohio, had a massive blackout (which affected about 40 million people), the power was again turned back on within 24 hours. Unfortunately, American Electric Power can't seem to get its act together. Yes, it will use the storm as an excuse. However, it is obvious that its infrastructure has been neglected. Years ago, AEP would routinely send out crews to do preventive maintenance, by clearing trees from the proximity of power lines. It has massively scaled back that program. Following the 2003 blackout, which started near Akron, the power company in that area, as well as others, were criticized for their lack of proactivity in cutting down tree branches near power lines. It should also be noted that in New York City, most if not all of the power lines are buried underground. If all of the telephone companies in the USA (both large and small) have invested billions in burying their telephone lines underground, why can't AEP, as well as other power companies do the same? Hence, whenever another storm occurs, the power lines would be protected, and not subjected to mother nature. Also, I would like to ask AEP a question. Who at AEP decides which areas of Franklin County receive priority, vis-a-vis, restoration of service? In other words, does AEP flip a coin, to decide, that the southeast portion of the county will be at the bottom of the totem pole, in comparison to other areas? Following the ice storm of December, 2004, (when customers went without electricity for over seven days), AEP assured the PUCO, as well as the public, that its performance the next time would be better. Unfortunately, it has not kept its promise. One would think that they were living in a third world country. We can send twelve men to the moon, and bring them safely back to earth. However, we cannot prevent massive power interruptions, because of mother nature. Something is wrong with that scenario. In any event, the residential public is currently being charged about 13 cents per kilowatt hour. AEP won't be happy until the rates reach 20 cents per kilowatt hour. The public should attend any future public meetings at the PUCO, and voice its opposition to any additional rate increases at this time. The electric ratepayers should be given a break for the next three years, and the current rates should be frozen, until 2016!
2012-07-01 14:50:52.0

To me, at least, this raises all sorts of questions:

1. Would it be prohibitively expensive to bury all these lines?
2. Does the capitalistic pressure for utilities to report profits discourage them from taking expensive actions or even basic maintenance actions that would prevent these disasters?
3. Since global warming will cause more of these disasters in the future, does laissez-faire capitalism in utilities put America at risk at having more frequent breakdowns then maybe a more highly regulated nation would have? (I realize utilities are regulated but in this state, at least, the regulators have been taken over by the utilities)
4. How will our basic grid ever survive global warming under these conditions- let alone a smart grid?


From your quote: "One would think that they were living in a third world country..."

Funny that folks ignore many other metrics (health care, education, prison population, more), but only start to get it when their power goes out. Methinks they ain't seen nothin yet :-/

Panem et circenses.

Can't run your entertainment without power these days.

What Makes America the Greatest Country in the World?

Glibly ignores things like starting a civil war to get a better price on the Panama canal, the Vietnam war, and torture.


Hey, that guy only had one sentence to state his case. There have been numerous books saying the same thing over the years. Too bad people have forgotten how to read...

E. Swanson

True, true... I was glad to see it out there in youtube land where it is accessible on the internet and so Truly Exists.

It has become a strange world:

"In order to force themselves to pay attention to each other during dinner at a restaurant this past spring, Dan Rollman, 39, and six friends took their smartphones and stacked them tower-like in the center of the table. They agreed to a rule: The first person to grab for a phone had to pick up the tab."

"When Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, hosted a slumber party for her daughter's 11th birthday two years ago, she was dismayed to see the girls spend the night texting those who weren't at the party—as well as those who were in the same room."

I once hit the square root of 1 on my pocket calculator. Nerd dammage.

Fifteen years ago, I used to converse with a Chinese co-worker by email, whilst she was sitting 8 feet away from me. But then her spoken English was poor, and my Mandarin non-existant.

We are reaping what we sowed in regard to utility deregulation. Once these were quasi-private corporations that were heavily regulated and didn't need to compete much. Their product was electric power and they were not optimized for producing quarterly profits and big bonuses for managers. With the onset of deregulation, which was simply opening what were basically public organizations up for asset stripping by the wealthy, that changed. We've seen a lot of consolidation and acquisition in the electric utilities, a typical strategy. Where once each regional utility had enough lineman for most situations in their territory, now there is only a skeleton staff, and when more are needed they are brought in from often many states away. But in the whole there are not as many crews, so when wider events occur there simply aren't enough crews.

On top of that routine maintenance is deferred as that reduces short term profits, the equipment is aging, the weather events more severe, and the demand for power increases. The pop in the housing bubble and economy really reduced income and new projects at the utilities.

Last, like in other fields the older staff is leaving, to be replaced with younger personnel with different skill sets. For lineman the work may be similar, but in engineering the emphasis is more on IT and less on knowledge of 3-phase power than it used to be. Naturally, a lot of work is now outsourced to consultants and contractors because that appears cheaper to the management from a short term point of view.

This is the real smart grid. How do you like it so far?

We are in the DC area, and we got our power back late yesterday afternoon - about 40 hours outage. The utility has a nice interactive map that shows outages (useless if you have no power or internet, of course) - about 25% of the people in our county are still without power. Some people still don't have phone service yet - those numbers are harder to gauge.

Given the amount of lightening we had on Friday, it wouldn't surprise me if a good number of people have damaged electronic equipment of some sort.

Ice was hard to come by on Saturday - we managed to score about 30 pounds of the stuff, and it was enough to keep things in our fridge cold/frozen until the power came back on. My wife sells food to restaurants for a living, and some of them have been out for long enough that they now have to throw out food.

The "deferred maintenance" program that the utilities have adopted may have reduced their own costs, but it doesn't include direct costs (businesses that simply cannot open without power), or more indirect costs (discarded food). I suppose the utilities have to pay more now in the form of overtime to the crews that are fixing all of the downed lines, but I am sure that the MBA geniuses factored all of that in when they first came up with the plan.

There really isn't any sort of higher rate plan that people could sign up for that would give them priority when there is an outage. Even if such a thing existed, many people would gamble and go with the cheapest.

I should add that the previous outage that we had was during the winter, and that introduced an entirely different set of challenges. The main problem was really keeping the home warm enough (keeping food cold wasn't an issue). But even if you have a gas furnace, you still need electricity to operate the blower motor.

The only thing we have that didn't require electricity is a gas fireplace, but it is fairly small one, and it is one of those models that doesn't have a flue of any sort (the combustion gasses are exhausted into the room). These models are required to have an oxygen sensor, and will cut off the flame if the oxygen levels drop too far. Thus you can kind of use the thing to take the edge off, but you cannot adequately heat the house with the thing.

The other thing we run into when the power goes out is that our tankless water heater is inoperative. This time around it wasn't quite so bad - the cold water in the water mains isn't quite as cold as in the winter, and it feels kind of good. But if the power goes out in the winter, the water temperature is almost unbearably cold. I am tempted to pick up a UPS of some sort that could enable us to have hot water when the power is out.

I have a gas fireplace that could heat the whole house, and a wood fireplace that could heat the whole house. Even without the furnace, I could make it downright tropical in the middle of winter if I wanted to. Actually, when the furnace control unit went out last winter, I did make it downright tropical. I told the furnace repair guy not to hurry because I could wait.

My tankless water heater is gas but would need electricity to operate the control. However, I could heat more than enough water on the gas stove to take baths and wash the dishes.

I also have a portable generator, so in the event of an extended power outage, I could do some creative wiring and provide enough power to bring the gas furnace and water heater back on line, plus a few lights. In case of an electricity outage, I think I have it pretty well covered.

That would be quite the UPS. The to-code solution is a generator with a disconnect/transfer switch allowing it to replace the utility power to the house.

No, the tankless water heater is gas. A small amount of electrical power is needed to drive the blower fan that exhausts the flue gasses, and also to drive the control circuits.

For about the same price as a UPS (or less), you could build a better one. A cycle 27 deep cycle battery, an automatic trickle charger (about 5 amp), and a cheap 750 watt inverter. Leave the battery on trickle charge and turn the inverter on when needed. Most UPS systems have fairly low amp hour storage, and replacement batteries are expensive, sometime hard to find.

This, this, and this. Less than $200.

Be sure to get the DC (deep cycle) battery, not the marine starting battery. In a prolonged outage, your battery can be recharged with a car and jumper cables. Add an extra battery to double your storage for about $80. Left on trickle charge, these batteries can last several years. The inverter can also charge your laptop or run a couple of lights.

BTW, where's Fred? He used to build little carts for portable backup power... Fred? ...Fred?

Anyhow, if you want to get fancy, put your battery in one of these (a good idea anyway), and strap it to one of these. Screw a board to the frame to mount your charger and inverter on.

That's an interesting idea. I would probably want to make sure the inverter was large enough to drive the blower on the gas furnace (and I would need to look up what the current draw would be for that). If the power ever went out in the winter, I could keep the heat going for a bit. Not to continuously run the furnace, but to run it once in a while to bring the house up 10 to 15 degrees or so. That would make a huge difference in terms of comfort.

I worry about these cheap inverters however - do these things make any attempt to generate a sine wave, or is it just a square wave? Some types of equipment are much happier with a sine wave. Maybe I should re-read some of those back-issues of Home Power that I have lying around..

Most inverters are modified sine wave. Some motors make some noise when running on it, but I have never heard of a motor not running or being damaged.

In a modified sine wave the voltage spends some time at zero rather than going straight from negative to positive as a true square wave does.

I just bought a pure sine wave inverter because my computor UPS would not run off a modified sine wave inverter. They cost about 4 times as much per watt.

Square wave: ¯_¯_¯_¯_

Modified sine wave:-¯--_--¯--_--¯-

I guess it isn't so much the motors, but the electronic control circuitry that I wonder about, and the comment about the UPS helps to confirm this. It would kind of suck to have bought all of this stuff only to find out that it didn't work the next time the power went out.

If all I wanted to do was charge a laptop, I could just use a car charger and bypass the inverter completely.

I went to Amazon to look for that inverter and it had only one review, and the review was quite negative.

My electronics seem to be happy with the "pure sine" coming out of this one, which is pretty cheap, though read the reviews on adding battery lugs to hook it up.


Interesting discussion. I plan to set up a marine bat/trickle charger/inverter for my pellet stove. Does a pellet stove require a "pure sine" wave?

I found this one online on a cart with a PV panel a ways back and saved the link. Great UPS idea!


I second the motion. I have a trolling motor battery anyway, so adding the laptop-type inverter makes it able to power the fireplace insert fans (35 W) for a very long time. Or in the summer I can run the freezer for some time too with the bigger inverter I bought 'just in case'.

Fringe benefit; when the 2-stroke weed-whacker died, I bought an electric one, put the battery and the big inverter on the kids wagon, and weed-whacked around the entire yard. One less 2-stroke in the house.

Yep, a ghetto UPS.


Here's my "portable" power source.
GE Elec-Trak Tractor

Tripp-Lite APS3636 Inverter/Charger

I power my electric tiller with it

I picked the inverter up from Amazon as a brand new but "damaged box" special for just $250! I also charge the tractor from a couple of those cheap 200W PV panels that I picked up for $0.85/watt.

Wow, Aug, my kind of guy! Love the tiller, and the Elec-Trak looks great. I see something like it in my future.

I picked up a couple of these from Craigslist and have done a complete restoration on one. I took it apart down into all it's little pieces and de-rusted and primed & painted it and then re-assembled it. I also got two of the mower decks and have refurbished one. This is what the tractors looked like when I got them home. That Tripp-Lite inverter is the only 36V inverter I could find anywhere, it's a real stout piece of equipment, weighs more than my Outback VFX3648 or my Trace DR3624.

I'm jealous enough..

Elec-trak owners club (I joined, but don't own one).. still sends me an automated birthday email every year. Some bits of pure automation can still make me smile! Somebody wrote that into their SOP..

The utility has a nice interactive map that shows outages (useless if you have no power or internet, of course)

I'll bet they do. Doesn't help get the power back on though, does it? A little money to spend on IT/communications/perception management, sure. Real content costs more.

It is certainly the case that they have their own internal database of outages, which they use as they dispatch the work crews - all they really did was expose this to the world. You can see a version of the map here:


There is a more interactive map here:


They have the outages categorized into 5 different levels based upon the number of customers that are out. They generally work the red first, then orange, etc, but once they have all the work crews they need working all of the red outages, they send the others to work on orange.

It isn't absolute however. Our outage was in the green category, and it surprised me a little that we got the power back yesterday. I suspect that there are other things that they consider as well, such as minimizing wasted travel time for the work crews, and they probably make an assessment as to whether the outage is due to a blown fuse or whether it is a blown transformer.

It would only make sense to do the easy repairs first. Some probably only require a reset of a circuit breaker. Others may require new power poles and/or transformers etc. If I were they, my triage proceedure would consider the ease of repair as well as truck miles required.

Yeah, there are probably all kinds of interesting trade-offs. There are some rules which override all of this however - they say that hospitals always get the highest priority for restoration.

In our county, the 911 system was completely down for a day or so.


Authorities in Fairfax and Prince William counties say 911 phone lines are not working properly after Friday night’s storm.

Residents are being told to go to their nearest police or fire station to report an emergency, or to a hospital.


Verizon spokesman Harry Mitchell says 911 calls are going through again in those jurisdictions. In Fairfax, however, operators still aren’t seeing the addresses of people who call. He says the storm was a “historic event” that knocked out both primary and backup power to the 911 routing facility.

Good thing there wasn't a nuclear reactor at that facility.

Other times, nothing much helps. Near here, we lost a 20 mile run of high-tension substation feed line in an ice storm, with all the poles broken like falling dominoes. Just getting the thousands of poles was a major exercise - I think the local utility had 23 on hand, with many thousands needed across the area. Then linemen teams from 10 states worked to rebuild it all. Took about 10 days, and nobody on the downstream end was surprised at the time it took - you could see miles of downed lines each way; on the contrary, they were ecstatic it took only that long.

On the other hand, another community closer to town was out as well. Due to the outage density, a few islands were lower on the list. Some angry citizens confronted the workers tasked with a nearby feeder, and threatened their lives if they didn't fix their area first. Instead, the out of staters elected to stop working entirely, and that whole area got to wait for the locals to come in with police protection working daylight hours. Took weeks for their area to be cleared, despite threatened lawsuits. Sucked for the silent majority in that area, I'm sure.

Moral of the story: greet workers with coffee and donuts, not guns.

We were hit with a so called heat-storm in 2006 -getting almost no power for a 115F weekend. The utility company gave us a $56 credit for the inconvenience. This is almost certainly required by the local PUC, for outages exceeding 24hours. (That roughly covered the cost of spoiled food).

I worked 120 hours that week (salaried). 1998 heat storm was a lot worse from a weather standpoint. We ran out of distribution transformers (over 6000 failed at my company alone) and were airlifting them from the East Coast.

The real cause of most of the 2006 problems was the financial consequences and legal aftermath of the 2000-2001 'energy crisis.' and subsequent rate case, and 2003-2006 economic growth. The Cali money that should have been going into new distribution circuits and customer transformers and distribution substations from 2003 to 2006 was being shipped to Texas gas (merchant generator) companies.

Given the temperature and outage length you mention, I have to ask: you don't happen to be in a certain isolated high desert community between route 66 and 395, do you?

Ice is good for the fridge but add plenty of salt for the freezer. Bottles of water with salt can be pre-frozen for a temperature buffer, 150g salt per litre is good for around 9-10C below zero. Saved me a couple of times.


I hadn't thought of that. A saturated mixture of salt water freezes at -18°C (0°F). A dozen or so 2L bottles filled (almost) with salt water and frozen solid could keep a deep freeze below the freezing point for quite a while.

It would have worked for my sailboat, too, for those long periods when I don't run the diesel and don't have shore power. My brother's sailboat has 13 marine batteries and about 400L of diesel fuel on board, so I don't think it would be as useful.

I chose the -10C as it should be freezable in most freezers and give a temperature hold at a level that will keep most food frozen in good condition. More salt and the mix may not freeze in a weak freezer (The idea is to use the latent heat in the phase change as energy storage) while less may raise the temperature to where things like ice-cream start to loose their texture, wouldn't want that to happen to Rockman's BBIC. Last power cut seemed like it would be extended so I bought some ice, put it inside the freezer and fridge in SS bowels, added a big load of salt to the freezer ice and a little to the fridge, topped off with a few duvets outside. 24hrs - no problem.


So I have four(or more)one litre bottles of salted water in the freezer. I put them in the fridge section in the morning and back in the freezer at night. Will this reduce the time the compressor runs during the day as I open/close the door fifty times? Kill A Watt to the rescue!

You might raise the temperature of the frozen food enough to reduce its storage life. If you have a freezer over the fridge compartment the fridge is likely to be cooled by cold air from the freezer compartment so just leaving the bottles in the freezer will probably do it. Better plan, open <50 times.


Nailed it. Pre deregulation redundancy was a key planning and design parameter, now it is seen as capacity to be optimized ahead of further capital spending. The result is a much less resilient system.

In plain speak that means many more hot/cold dark nights. No wonder emergency generators are a booming business...

I keep hearing about the idea of using the "excess capacity", leveling out the peaks and valleys, eliminating the waste, making the grid more efficient, etc. It's all discussed in the abstract and I never hear the old terminology like "safety margin", etc.

Making something efficient merely means optimizing it for some given set of parameters, and efficiency is opposed to resiliency.

The "excess capacity" is not really waste, it is in fact doing something right now - its function is in preventing catastrophic failure. We could go out and look at a suspension bridge and talk about increasing load factor and eliminating wasted capacity, but perhaps there it might be more obvious what the potential pitfalls might be......

Running it harder means some piece of equipment gets less time to cool off, there's less time to do maintenance on older equipment and fewer people with less experience to do it. And yet we're surprised at the results.

Well . . . some excess capacity is waste and some is reserve/resiliency. For example, most of the excess generating capacity at night is idle capacity that is just wasted. But the peaker generation systems that are excess capacity which is used during peak times or when some other plant being used breaks down is reserve resiliency. So we want to reduce the former and increase the latter.

In most systems there are certainly things that can be improved. Nonetheless we are talking about optimizing a system for different parameters than it was previously, and it's likely that reliability will not be as good as people's expectation left over from the "good old days".

Also, generation is only one part as the power must move through the T&D system to get to loads.

There are different sorts of excess capacity (where is BenA when you need him?). One is excess of power being generated to consumed, that you want to minimize. Others would include more transmission capacity then needed, which means power can be reouted. Also prestaging of spare parts etc.
I'd guess the current outages are just a lot of local grid damage, mostly lines down, rather than a general failure of the grid, which may be trickier, but of an entirely different sort to fixing lots of broken wires scattered all over the place.

Yes, deregulation makes things so much more efficient, right? Love those efficient power outages.

In answer to question #1, yes it is prohibitvly expensive to bury all lines.

IIRC a study done for Florida a few years back showed that it would be cheaper to provide everyone with a whole house backup generator and provide fuel for ten years of expected outages.

In Darwin all new power lines since Cyclone Tracy have been buried, but for the same price you can replace the above ground lines about 3 times. Darwin has had one additional cyclone (with minimal damage) since 1970. So economically it is hard to justify.

Our own BC Hydro connection was $18,000 for 300 meters; estimated $60,000 buried.


In some newer housing developments, the lines within the community are buried, but eventually it ties in to an above ground high(er) voltage line of some sort. I guess they do this for aesthetics - the houses are easier to sell without the unsightly wires. But what it also means is that if the feeder line goes out for some reason, the entire community is out. That can be both good and bad. Bad from the perspective that you can't just go and hang out at the neighbors house for a while.

But good from the perspective that the utility seems to prioritize the repairs based upon the number of customers affected. If you are in a community with 200 homes that are out, then your line gets fixed before some guy out in the woods whose line to the house is knocked down.

And I guess good from the perspective that the odds of an outage are somewhat lower than if you had above-ground wires leading up to the house.

Buried lines are no guarantee of troublefree service. In low-lying areas, a flood can take out a buried line, and repairs are harder in that it isn't as easy to diagnose what the problem actually is.

Some years ago I was driving home late at night during a heavy storm. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an explosion and a purple flame off to my left, and then turned my head in time to see a manhole cover go flying in the air.

My previous home was in a nice neighborhood with underground wires. Aesthetically it was nice and I liked that. But the cable TV and (more importantly) cable modem would often go on the fritz in the rainy season.

Underground wiring looks nice . . . but it is much more expensive and causes difficulties.

In low-lying areas, a flood can take out a buried line

Shoot, they just turn off the power at any threat of flooding for safety.
Those pad mounted transformers around the neighborhood and water don't mix well at all.

I asked this question of a controller at one of the UK's power companies during a storm that was knocking out lines left, right and centre. The problem is the JCB. They get more disruptions due to cable damage by workers than the storms cause.


Also I believe the power companies around here are doing less preventive maintenance now knowing that the next time a hurricane hits, FEMA will pay for all the repairs.

It should also be noted that in New York City, most if not all of the power lines are buried underground. If all of the telephone companies in the USA (both large and small) have invested billions in burying their telephone lines underground, why can't AEP, as well as other power companies do the same? Hence, whenever another storm occurs, the power lines would be protected, and not subjected to mother nature.

Give me more ...

In any event, the residential public is currently being charged about 13 cents per kilowatt hour. AEP won't be happy until the rates reach 20 cents per kilowatt hour. The public should attend any future public meetings at the PUCO, and voice its opposition to any additional rate increases at this time. The electric ratepayers should be given a break for the next three years, and the current rates should be frozen, until 2016!

... but don't charge me more.

Entitlement society.

I strongly suspect that burying the cables is the correct long term answer, but if consumers won't pay more and power companies can sucessfully shuck the repair costs off onto federal tax paxers, there is no incentive to do the job right. Short term gain; long term pain.

Perhaps it is just coincidence; but with respect to my previous post the electricity rates are about 3 times as high in Darwin compared to BC. And yes, people complain about the price here.

"7 cents per kW/h! Outrageous!"


We can send twelve men to the moon, and bring them safely back to earth. However, we cannot prevent massive power interruptions, because of mother nature. Something is wrong with that scenario.

They (the US) can't actually, they have to ask the Russians to borrow their shuttles.

Resting on our laurels. The space program, the electric grid, the highway system - all things done by previous generations before the US peaked in oil production. Now we cannot afford even to maintain them.

I have read that 80-90% of everything man-made on this earth was manufactured in just the past 60 years...at an average oil price of $10.00 per barrel, or less. Stands to reason it can not be maintained at $100.

The lack of infrastructure building is very true and people just don't want to admit it. But it has many causes that are not just 'resting on our laurels'.

Some of it is 'resting on our laurels' in the fact that we have an aging population with many more retired people that are literally resting on their laurels.

Another aspect is that in an increasingly crowded country and is ever more litigious, it is now extremely difficult to do any infrastructure project due to right-of-way issues. Try to build railroad line, a freeway, power lines, a power plant, a wind turbine, a concentrating solar power plant . . . anything and you have to deal with NIMBY folks, the difficulties of eminent domain these days, environmental reports, etc. The conservatives will point toward environmentalists but they just protest and file suits that can often be dismissed . . . the rich landowners abusing the system to get the most money for their land probably make things even more difficult since they have actual leverage.

And of course we have just changed our priorities . . . we feel it is more important for rich people to pay 15% tax rates than it is do fund federal infrastructure projects. It seems the only time we can find unlimited federal money is when it comes to bombing foreigners.

But it is sad. We probably should do lots of infrastructure projects right now since it would be good timing. Borrowing rates for the government are very low, real estate values are low so it is probably a good time to exercise some eminent domain, and lord knows we need the jobs!

Your missing one other component in the infrastructure picture and that is the incremental cost of adding additional capacity. In the developed world, most of the best locations or available land for a project is already in use so the cost to add the next 10% of capacity tends to be much higher than the last 10%. Governments and corporations have been masking this affect by issuing bonds with the idea that future growth will somehow pay off the bonds but the reality is that the growth will come at the expense of reduced living standards for the current residents. This process has been going on for quite awhile and has already resulted in lower living standards as utility rates have increased to cover the cost of new projects. From the perspective of a current resident, you end up paying more for the same or even lower level of service.

The higher cost of energy and the accumulated costs of paying off previous debt (acquired in the attempt to maintain access to oil after the US peak in the early 1970's) means we can't afford it. We must direct more of our resources toward keeping the energy flowing, including our military adventures, leaving less available for other uses. IMO this is the most straightforward way of looking at it, these other things are mostly just symptoms of the same driving force.

I would go to a more basic level that the driving force has more to do with growth for growths sake. Which in reality is growth for the benefit of the wealthy who tend to benefit disproportionately from growth.

The top marginal tax rate was over 70 percent when we had the moon program...

The US could send 12 men to the moon, but it can't any more because it hasn't built any moon-capable spaceships for 40 years, and it has scrapped all the manufacturing facilities and lost the plans for most of the equipment in the interim.

It could also fix the electricity grid to be almost totally reliable, if it really wanted to. If it had a choice, I would recommend fixing the grid. At this point in time it is doing neither.

Happily SpaceX can get you to the moon and back cheaper and faster than the government. And Mars.

Yeah, great to see all those SpaceX spaceships sitting on the launch pad ready to take me to the moon for five hundred bucks ;)

No they can not. Nice sound bite but not true in reality, no private concern is ever going to build the world wide communications and tracking network NASA used when running the Apollo program, let alone fund and staff it 24-7 for over a week. Not a money maker, which the government never had to worry about. That is only one problem a private concern would face attempting to try to replicate the moon landings the US government achieved over 40 years ago.

Space tourist trips to the moon may fly on recycled spaceships

Space tourists may soon be able to pay their own way to the moon onboard old Russian spacecraft retrofitted by a company based in the British Isles.

The spaceflight firm Excalibur Almaz estimates that it can sell about 30 seats between 2015 and 2025, for $150 million each, aboard moon-bound missions on a Salyut-class space station driven by electric hall-effect thrusters.

Excalibur Almaz founder and chief executive officer Art Dula estimates it will take 24 to 30 months to develop the remaining technology needed and to refurbish the ex-Soviet spacecraft and space stations the company already owns. It bought four 1970s-era Soviet Almaz program three-crew capsules and two Russian Salyut-class 63,800-pound (29,000 kilograms) space station pressure vessels.

Dmitry Orlov regularly writes about the dilapidated power infrastructure and it's future consequences.

IBM Fishkill, New York has a two million gallon storage tank for the diesel fuel for their backup generators. The beauty of third world nations is the lack of laws and law enforcement.

A few weeks ago my neighborhood did lose power but we seem OK so far in the latest round of storms. I have already signed the financing and have the plans for a solar-powered carport which will cut my grid electric bill to virtually $0.
But the grid tie-in does not allow solar powered homes or facilities to cut off from the grid and just provide their own power while the sun is shining. This seems like a major flaw in the possible use of distributed solar power as a backup to the increasing grid outages. I can understand that solar power production needs to be shut off from the grid during outages so that electricians doing maintenance do not get electrocuted from distributed solar sources which they cannot just shut off. But it seems that IF
the grid is down then solar systems should be able to flip a manual switch to just supply their own power independently of the grid.
Any experts here have more info on that?

Of course I could get batteries but if the sun is shining then why should people have
to use batteries?

Congratulations on going to solar, but you are right about the problem of using it when your utility company cannot provide power. That is a failing of the current operating procedures of the electric grid in our country (not sure if it applies elsewhere).

I have been using solar for the last 15 years, but it is on my fifth-wheel RV. One of the things I learned early is that batteries are a fundamental part of a stand-alone solar system. The sun pours the power into the batteries, then you take what you need when you need it from those batteries, even into the night. FWIW, I have one battery (golf cart size) for each 75W solar panel.

My retirement community in southern California ran into the problem of no option to run independently of the power company during a power outage. We looked into have a small solar farm to save on electricity costs in addition to providing power to run the pumps in our water wells during a power outage. It was when SoCal could not provide power (like after an earthquake or during a forest fire) that we needed the independence. But SoCal Edison would not allow the tie-in of a solar system to their lines that could run independently, and the subsidies would not apply to a standalone system.

Maybe there is some engineering reason for this restriction with our present grid, but good engineering should be able to find a way to make it work. Without being able to operate independently, we cannot build the kind of self-sustaining systems we need. Suggestions welcome - it is still a problem.


"but good engineering should be able to find a way to make it work. "

Automatic disconnect, and or an automatic bus transfer. Power goes out, the switch automatically transfers the PV modules to the batteries. And does not automatically switch back, which is a very important part.

It's doable, getting the permit past the building inspector is harder, you'll probably need a PE to sign off on it.

Anybody who wants to do that in Washington State, I am a PE and I do engineering reviews of solar projects. I am in fact the only PE north of Seattle (and south of the border) who consults on solar projects.

What about Jokuhl's idea below: leave all of the A.C. wiring and inverters that tie to the utility alone, leave them in-place and in communication with the utility, and swipe the D.C. bus from the solar panels and batteries away and give it to another set of inverters that runs the home through a disconnect/transfer switch like one would use for a generator. Does this get around the legal problems of not being allowed to disconnect the grid-tie?

Another fun one is the use of a balun transformer. Many solar power systems use two separate inverters, one for each 110V leg of the 220V feed. There then ensues a long warning about needing to take care with what loads are turned on on a single leg... washing the clothes and using the microwave might be beyond the single inverter running a leg. But, each inverter can drive a 110V winding on a transformer that also has two 110V output windings... or a single center-tapped 220V winding. Since there is only one magnetic flux circuit within the transformer, the load on either output leg is evenly shared by the two inverters: the current meters on both inverters will always read the same. The full power of both inverters is available everywhere with any mix of loads.

No different than a genset switch. There are manual and automatic variants available, and I doubt there are any states that prevent those. Whether your "generator" is a fueled genset, a battery bank, or a solar system shouldn't matter.

Even those installations may require approval though. My manual system is a backfed breaker with a lock-out for the mains switch. It's a standard option from the switch panel manufacturer, but it's not approved in all locales. Some areas require an external switch so a lineman can see the disconnect state himself.

Unless there are some arcane laws that would give you pause, you shouldn't have any reason not to create some level of direct use of the panels. Personally, I'd look to bypassing the Grid Inverter altogether, (grabbing the DC before it hits the inverter inputs).. while this means either using DC appliances, or having an alternate inverter available for these situations, I see those as pieces of a resilient system which leave you with some parallel paths available.

If your PV is going to be set up as a high-voltage series run which is more and more common, you might opt to just tap into a couple of individual panels with a bypass switch, so you can use them at a more accessible 12 or 24 volts. This would still generlly mean 200-300 watts, which can do a good bit of helpful work.. keep a couple car or marine Batts topped off and run a little 150w car inverter or something.

Why Batts?
Even using your PV during the sunny hours, a battery will steady your system for you.. everything won't be subjected to constant voltage variations as loads change, and then slump off with any random cloud passing.. and as we've gotten so spoiled with it. It's nice to have a little bit of 'savings'.. I use some very small batts to run a few of my lights around the house, and I can turn them on whenever I need to. 'Making hay while the sun shines' isn't really a JIT philosophy, after all. It's stashing up that hay for the critters all winter. Savings, Storage and Staying power really are a key to a lot of our problems.

I think the idea of having so minimal extra capacity makes sense. Full system backup (of off grid) is very expensive as you need lots of storage -and if you have ten days of no sun at all? So maybe just a couple of batteries than can be charged of one or two panels, and a small invereter so you can run a few crucial things off them sounds like a good compromise.

Outback's 'Grid Interactive' inverters seem to be the best of both worlds. They give you the option of having a battery backup while being grid connected ("tied" seems to describe a condition of utter reliance, something I'm surprised more of you aren't balking at, at this point). These inverters give you priority, can be programmed to sell power to the grid during peak rate periods, and can even fully charge your batteries up (from the grid) during off peak hours, so you can resell it during peak. Of course, most utilities don't want you to have that level of control, but there are ways around this.

Virtually all inverters approved for grid connection have anti-islanding transfer switches that prevent your solar/battery system from charging the grid during outages. There is also the manual main disconnect which I urge folks to turn off during outages until they are sure the grid is up and stable, mainly to protect their own systems from surges, etc.

My divorce from the utilities was completed long ago. They miss me much more than I miss them. Remember, any electricity that you produce and consume on site is (thus far) tax free income. I suggest more of you start paying some resilience forward. It's clear that the corporate controlled infrastructure barons don't take your best interests to heart.

The grid-interactive inverters sound interesting. I'm looking at putting in solar PV with batteries; not using grid-tie but keeping the grid connection while gradually shifting my load over to PV via transfer switches. I still have electric range/oven and small central A/C system so would keep the grid connection for those for now. The idea of storing power at night in batteries and selling it back to the utility during the day is a new one to me. But would that be a good idea just in terms of the additional wear it would place on the batteries?

"...But would that be a good idea just in terms of the additional wear it would place on the batteries?

Probably not, but it would depend on the peak/off-peak/differential in your area, and the size of your battery.

Your plan seems like a good one; install a subpanel for the off grid loads, and transfer circuits as you build the system, interconnect the breaker panels with a transfer switch so you can use grid power or off grid power, but never both at the same time (bad) on your off grid panel. Use an inverter/charger to keep your batteries topped off when PV isn't sufficient. My inverters have inputs for generator and grid connections, and can be programmed to keep the batteries topped off during off-peak periods. Being off grid, we use a generator to keep the batteries happy when needed. The inverters will even start the genny at a specified battery voltage, but I prefer to do it myself. The inverters also have temperature sensors to compensate for battery temps, as do the solar charge controllers. Outback stuff can all be networked to cooperate on these different functions, synchronize multiple inverters, and have aux relays to control the battery vent fan, dump loads, relays, whatever you dream up, even log data to a PC. Other brands have similar stuff. When my batteries are fully charged, my system will pump water, or dump DC (PV) power to an element in the hot water tank. Nothing gets wasted (except by my wife's big screen perhaps). It's all simpler than it sounds if one has some electrical knowledge.

These guys sell complete systems that would be a good starting point; a bit pricey, but it doesn't seem they've overlooked much. I'm sure other vendors do the same. These systems can be easily expanded as you wish. BTW, good inverter/chargers have the x-fer switches built in, can be programmed to buy and sell, all sorts of things.

"Battery life is directly related to how deep the battery is cycled each time. If a battery is discharged to 50% every day, it will last about twice as long as if it is cycled to 80% DOD."


So, if you can set the controller to keep the battery over 50% of charge, the impact of selling power back to the utility on your battery's lifetime should be cost effective.

Your controller doesn't regulate the depth of discharge, just the top end voltage. You'd need to set the inverter to shut down at a certain voltage to prevent over-discharging the batteries. That's around 12.5 volts for 50% I think in a 12 volt system, not sure from memory. You could add another controller maybe, set on "load control" to only permit use above that point, but the inverter is already capable of being set.

Bill Hammack (EngineerGuy) has a recently released video, How a Battery Works, that is a nice complement to the Windsun source.

Yes. The problem is many people get fed up with their electric bill and call some installer. The salesman shows up, and outlines a grid connected system. Then the prospect screams -but I want absolutely nothing to do with the utility, -it has to be an offgrid system. Of course that requires an oversized battery, and PV (for less then ideal weather), and a much larger inverter -in case you try to use the electric range, and the electric dryer, and the AC all at the same time. So the system price now becomes ridiculous, and the prospect feels that the poor installer has tried to cheat them -you said it would be cheap. The installer has wasted his time/money, and the prospect now believes all solar companies are scam artists and never ever again contacts one.

Exactly. I'd rather avoid that kind of interaction. For the hardcore, the people willing to cut back their usage as much as they have to, the technically adept . . . a stand-alone system can be thing of self-reliance beauty. But for most people, it would be an incomprehensible Rube Goldberg machine. But those people can still have a zero (or near zero) electrical bill with almost no maintenance and no change in lifestyle by just getting a nice grid-tied system.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

But, psychologically they are paranoid, they figure if the power company has a wire going to their house, that they will find some way to screw-em big-time. Hence the insistence for all or nothing. You can't reason with paranoia.

Meh! There is no "they". Folks have many reasons for going off the grid. One big one is that they choose to not contribute to YOUR NASTY, PLANET POLLUTING, HYPER-COMPLEX, CENTRALIZED, LARGELY FOSSIL FUEL ENABLED, DECLINING BEAST OF A POWER SOURCE. Get that?

Further, even if one is grid-tied and producing all of their power renewably, they still are contributing to a false promise: That growth can continue indefinitely. Why should I feed the grid so my neighbors can enjoy their jacuzzi, their under-counter ice maker, and the countless other gadgets that they think they need. Being off grid is understanding limits that most people have no concept of. Being off grid is a micro-example of where we're all headed; the big powerdown,,, you know, the one most folks fear so much.

The recent NREL study projected an 80% adoption of renewables while growth continues and energy consumption rises significantly? Nuts...

People need to change their whole way of thinking. Living off grid does that, if only on a micro scale. /rant

good rant! me like.

Being off-grid makes you change your whole way of thinking about the energy you use. Helps in a lot of ways to see what is excessive.

It's also interesting when getting calls from the neighbors saying that the power is out or the water is out and having to catch-up with that fact.

It wasn't aimed at you. But, we have a lot of people who are pretty clueless, and haven't done their homework, and they can get pretty disillusioned when they discover their expectations are unrealistic. Usually they attribute it to malfeasence rather than simple facts of physics/engineering.

Saving to go off-grid at this point. Hope to be able to make it happen in another year or two. Will need to find a decent place first, though.

Quite a rant-how does one go from retired military to that? I'm serious.

In case no ones been watching, there's been some horrendous wildfires out west. Before July. Montana, Dakota, Utah, New Mexico. Worst ever for Colorado, 'course some will say it's due to changed forest eco from fire suppression-bs. Can you imagine those fires without retardant helicopters, water planes, dozers, well trained personnel and logistics and command support, etc?

Like the mesquite fires of 2003 in CA, these were so intense that fire retardant walls and roofs were pointless. Those homes imploded, or burnt from the inside out.

It's precisely the off grid most at risk, those of exurbia, as the fire folks call it. I admire your spunk, and dedication, but solar panels won't survive wildfire. I know, not your fault, you work to combat CC, why should you burn for the sins of others?

Ghung's to be admired for both his service, his rugged pluck, and his conviction to not do harm. A good guy all around. BTW, I served in the USARNG for 8 years -- infantry, FO, intel. So yeah, you can be green through and through ;).

There's a lot of time to think, standing watches, especially in the belly of a billion dollar beast designed to do, basically, one thing. At least we were listening to the whales instead of eating them...

Even using your PV during the sunny hours, a battery will steady your system for you.

Agree I haven't heard of many others doing it this way, but I like using batteries to even out the flow while basically just running things while the sun shines. This takes hugely less battery capacity than if you're trying to store it all.

Water pumps, freezers, etc work fine only powered in the daytime. As do fans, computers, etc off a small bit of storage. PV is cheap now; you just need a charge controller to keep the input voltage stable (and limit it) and an inverter (if using AC). If you're using the batteries to handle startup surges and clouds briefly blocking the sun, etc, then your inverter may give you a usable % of the wattage falling on your panels, enabling a fusion-powered house.

I'm still doing a grid-tie system to try zero-ing out the power used by our downstairs rental rooms, but the small off-grid system (1.2kw) is quite useful and economical. If used as I'm describing here, such a system would NOT require many batteries.

My small off-grid system (500W) currently runs some outdoor lights, my internet modem, some chargers, and (soon) the "TV/media" center. This keeps me in comms and lights when the power is out. I am slowly expanding it. It has 2 T105s on it now; another two this fall. I am slowly expanding both collection and storage.

My little dead-end road of 5 families has been power and water deprived for, so far, 5 days and counting. The other folks are running around trying to cope with noisy generators and water runs to town. I am sitting pretty even with my mere 1kW of PV and a small battery pack that runs the fridge, freezer, well and cistern water pumps and lights for about 4kW-hr per day, and a solar water heater that takes almost no power and puts out gobs of hot water.

I have switches to throw any of my 8 circuits on either solar or grid- no grid tie.

PS- I would love to say that I have got my wood fired stirling running and giving me twice the power that I need, as I have said it would, but I have slid into a gooey pit of frustration trying to get it to work consistently with just wood. So now, in my hours of need, I have fallen from grace and gone back to a propane pilot burner, that I hope will at last allow steady operation regardless of the treachery of the wood feed. Then, having passed the crisis of the moment, I shall have time to do the instrumentation which will tell me at last what is goofing up my lovely mental image of that perfectly functioning system which would at last give me the heavy duty bragging rights I have sought for so long..

Glad to see your post. You implied earlier that you were gassifying wood pellets. Yes, wood pellets present problems to gassifiers... I forget the details... ran some myself. But, why gassify at all? The process burns a lot of the wood's energy to drive the resins out of the rest so that they can be plumbed into an engine. But, since you have an external combustion engine, why not construct the pellet-burning grate right below it? The propane burner could be distributed on either side of the air-blown wood-pellet grate.

Right, right, right. That's just what I did, thinking it a simple sure bet. No such luck. The pellets tried every trick you would ever think up, and then some- carbonizing into a lump of coal, gumming the sides of the chute so no slide, bypassing air to kill the flame temp, getting wet and swelling up, and on and on.

The infuriating thing about this is that I did the same job 20 years ago and everything worked perfectly! I took the same hardware and could not replicate the earlier success. Have I committed some kinda sin that I have not confessed?

But anyhow, now I am using a little pilot jet of propane, not as much as a soldering torch, and that seems to have shamed the pellets into right behavior. Data soon (?).

Bad pellets? Are they old and damp?

Keep plugging, W! .. and keep that Image in a hallowed spot in your brain!

"Imagination is more important than knowledge" -Einstein

Just logging back on after a passing thunderstorm knocked-out our power. Down for a couple hours so no great hardship, and it allowed me to tackle my stack of unread Globe and Mails (always a bright side). Even so, I couldn't help but think of your sage (and timely) advice.


We just had that storm too. We lost traffic lights for a little bit, but people were behaving nicely.

And the PV just got a power wash!

Well, we're back up again after our second power cut, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It's been a rather bizarre day, weather-wise, with a mix of just about everything imaginable this time of year, and it doesn't appear to be over quite yet. Environment Canada has issued another Severe Thunderstorm Warning as at 19h10 local time.

Halifax Metro and Halifax County West
7:17 PM ADT Monday 02 July 2012
Severe thunderstorm warning for
Halifax Metro and Halifax County West continued

At 7:10 PM ADT radar is detecting an area of strong thunderstorms along a line from Grand Lake to Sackville. The line is moving eastward at 30 km/h and should continue to affect the region during the next hour. These storms are producing heavy downpours and large hail and possibly gusty winds.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/07/02/ns-thundersto...

Might be time to test run the generator.


My limited experience is that after the first 12 hours of outage, you have a lot of "spare" time. Even if you just had some components laying around, you'll have some time available to rework the system when it becomes critical.

If you're electrically clever, car inverters, old UPSs from computer systems, and car batteries all can contribute to some useful energy projects.

You can add batteries to a PV solar system but it generally isn't worth the cost. It adds cost and maintenance to the system and will not be used 99% of the time. Yes, when there are outages you can be all proud, laugh at everyone else. But in a couple days, the grid will be fixed and everything will be back up and running. These current east coast outages will be forgotten in a week or two.

So unless you are in a place with notoriously unreliable power or are a hardcore doomer, I'd recommend against spending the money on battery system.

Now, cue all the TOD doomers to explain how wrong I am.

You're not wrong, per se.
You just value money more than independence or resilience.

Different values; different plans; different outcomes.

Yeah, I agree with that.

I just don't see it worth the money for the 1 or 2 days you lose power a year in most of modern America. Of course, if the Zombie Apocalypse (or other collapse) happens, I'll certainly be in the wrong. Place your bets.

Zombie Apocalypse on the one hand; Green Smug on the other; and Jefferson's Freehold in the middle.

I can't lose. ;)

Also, I think it is useful to point out that you can add batteries to an existing grid-tied system at a later date.

From my understand (please correct me if I am wrong) but if you get a SMA Sunny Boy grid-tied inverter, you can later
add a Sunny Island system and batteries if you want to add back-up capability at a later point. You'll need to add
a subpanel with your critical circuits on it.

I just think it is better for people to get a grid-tied PV system than to be discouraged by the cost & complexity of a stand alone PV system and thus get nothing at all.

Just lurking...[shakes his head]

How much it costs depends on what you set up.
If you don't attempt to run your home at anything like normal power, then the costs should be reasonable.
A 1kw solar system in the South, or a very small generator in the north as emergencies are not guaranteed to happen in the winter, can provide enough power to make you considerably more comfortable in an outage.
All I've got are emergency battery LEDs and a camping stove, but it's enough.
I would like to be able to power my freezer, but the equipment is worth more than throwing the stuff away.

Of course, here in the Northern US, I get a lot of clear sunny winter days, great for Electric and Hot Water collecting, and I don't need to worry about the frozen goods nearly as much if it's a winter outage, in any case.

The Japanese after discovering how useful they were after the tsunami are now selling systems so that you can use your electric car as backup for your house.
Most people in the US who buy an EV will probably have another car in the family, so they could if something like a hurricane is approaching make sure their EV is topped up and power stuff like the freezer for several days from the EV, whilst their petrol car is their get the hell out of here backup in case the situation gets really grim.

Most people in the US who buy an EV will probably have another car in the family

You're assuming that most families in the US will be able to afford two cars. In the post-peak-oil era, this may not be true. Many of them may not be able to afford even one car.

However, I just had a thought. Picture this scenario. A big hurricane makes a sharp turn and bears down on a big city. The warning goes out on the radio. Everybody drives home, realizes that their batteries are discharged, and plugs in their EV on maximum charge at the same time. *ZAP* the electrical grid goes down.

You're creating a single point of failure in the system. I would buy a portable generator in addition to having a gasoline car on standby.

I'm simply looking at the situation right now.
Presently around two thirds of families in the US have more than one car, with around a third having three or more.
EV's are new, so the market is further confined to those who can afford a new car.

You are extrapolating that to some hypothetical future, where an oil crunch has ruined the economy, and electric cars are just common enough to ruin the grid, but not common enough to provide any relief from such an oil crunch.

It doesn't make much sense to me to pile hypothesis on hypothesis to arrive at a conclusion where nothing can be done so you might as well give up.

What is happening right now is peak oil, not peak energy, which is a totally separate issue, as is the undetermined issue of how much economic damage peak oil will do.

As a technical note EV chargers in areas where they are the most popular are getting all sorts of controls on them, so that for instance they can be set for time of use charging.
The utilities are also pretty aware of the issue of overload from EV's being set to charge all at once, and it is likely that the utilities will simply be able to stop the charge.

EV drivers are only going to be doing the average mileage of around 33 miles per day anyway, so even if the timing of any cut is the least favourable possible most people will have a pretty good charge left in their car for emergency power.

I can't see any possible way in which the adoption of electric cars won't help to both mitigate the effects of peak oil, including economic, and provide a very useful emergency power source amounting to millions of kilowatt hours without going to the expense of buying the back up especially for the purpose.

You are extrapolating that to some hypothetical future, where an oil crunch has ruined the economy, and electric cars are just common enough to ruin the grid, but not common enough to provide any relief from such an oil crunch.

Yes, that's the future I'm extrapolating to. It's not all that hypothetical, it's becoming reality for a lot of people (except there aren't any electric cars except golf carts.)

You can't reasonably assume that you will always have enough fuel to drive everywhere you want to go, you can't assume that you will always be able to afford two cars, you can't assume the grid will always be up 24/7, and you can't assume the government will somehow make things work regardless of circumstances.

A few failures in these assumptions would make the United States a lot like most other countries. You can't assume you will always be better off than people in other countries, because they are working on building themselves a better lifestyle than you have. This may not necessarily involve a lot of driving.

EV's are a hypothetical solution to the peak oil problem because at this point in time there aren't enough of them to make any kind of difference. Will there be so in future? I don't know, but I'm not going to risk any money betting on it.

'there aren't any electric cars except golf carts'

Ah, but there are. If the subject is getting more security against disasters at reasonable cost and also insulating against future oil price rises, then at the individual level if you buy an electric car you have diversified your power sources, which always helps.
A relatively small outlay on transferring the electric into your home in the event of an outage and your security is much improved.
You also gain the other utility of an electric vehicle, in that you can get to work if oil shortages occur, and in any case after the initial outlay are paying far less for fuel.

You may think it is a stone cold certainty that everything breaks down anyway as oil price rises destroy society, but in that case you have lost nothing in preparing as best you can.

In my view you are making unwarranted assumptions about the speed and possible responses to difficulties in oil supplies.
I find that as unwarranted as the converse, the assumption that human ingenuity will triumph over ever obstacle.

In the long run we are all dead, but that doesn't mean that it is bound to happen tomorrow, and I am going to carry on under the working hypothesis that it won't.

In the event of a big disaster, usually the electric grid is the first thing to go. If it goes out for a week or more, an electric car is not going to be of much use. A portable gasoline generator, though, would be extremely handy.

Having a gasoline car on standby in addition to the EV strikes me as being somewhat redundant. However, I have found that when things get really bad, a 4WD truck with high ground clearance is just the thing to have. You can drive through deep snowdrifts, over small fallen trees, and over flooded roads. With a winch and a chainsaw you can get big trees out of the way, too.

I'm retired now, but I never drove to work. I found light rail, bicycling, and walking worked for me. A power outage, flood, or some kind of disaster involving the tracks could stop the light rail, but the mountain bike and the hiking boots still worked fine. Sometimes I needed the 4x4 to get other people to work, though.

Ah, I've taken your words to heart and will now buy an electric car. Wait, I'm young and unemployed, so I don't actually have the required capital. Not only would it be foolish to go into debt to get one, I'm not sure it is even possible. Oh yes, and as one of those mythical rural-dwellers which desperately needs a car I don't actually have access to the infrastructure that would benefit the electric car. And my middle-class parents who I live with don't see the utility of the electric car, since they can still pay for the gasoline quite easily.

Meanwhile, the crisis (economic, energetic, environmental, etc.) is slowly but surely sending my country on the path towards bankruptcy, as none of the usual tricks (neokeynesianism) seems to work.

We used to swim around in our own little fish-tank. People worked making things other people used. The owners of the means of production were local and paid large, 70%, takes on excessive profits. The financial industry was restrained from gambling with banking deposits. The oil for transportation came from local sources. If money was thrown into the tank, it stayed in the tank. But then, with globalization, financial deregulation and no staunching of the growing dependence on oil, the walls of the tank were removed and all of the fish fell out. Now, if you throw money in, it just flows right back out again to China, the oil producing countries, financial shenanigans, and untapped record-breaking profits. There are way too many leaks that have been opened-up by vandals. Open up some leaks in them: tax those static trillions and tax the zillions of transactions that make the likes of Maxwell's Broker* (high-speed trading) work.

Maxwell's Demon
The financial version of this does no market assessment of the worth of an enterprise, it just blindly sorts trends into cash. While the investment advisers are talking the peons into holding for the long term, the average investment positions of these enrichment schemes are held for 11 seconds.

I thought 'Peak' meant as good as it gets; that is probably around now +/- 20 years. so I'm not sure why this is not a good time to do this sort of thing. People with less knowledge of Peak Oil might still be interested in a new electric car Volt Focus Transit BYD Tata iMiEV Tesla Think Zenn. For a two car family this is exactly the opportunity to get an electric car; a far better choice than a new ICE.

I agree that all of this is unsustainable; but I'm going to assume things like pavement will last 20 more years after the entire system collapses. I choose to live in a solar house close to a hydro-powered small town with a good cargo bike; but the 'average' American suburb does not meet those conditions.

Not everyone will be able to have a shiny new solar electric car. But a few electric cars (or better - vans) running around town would sure make everyone's life more pleasant for a while longer. Of course if you prefer walking to the railway station to pick up food that will take the pressure off the rest of the infrastructure.

I'm not sure what time line you are planning with, but the collapse has been running since ~1980 and most people have not noticed yet. I suspect like Cuban taxis a few small pieces of technology will survive. I can imagine bicycle tires will be produced long after haul trucks run out of rubber. I'm hoping I'll be able to oil my chain even after the collapse - I have a gallon of chain oil & currently use about 50 ml/yr.

We may end up banging rocks together to burn yak dung, but I suspect that won't happen in the next 50 years.

On the other hand, I am planting acres of food and have lots of hand tools just in case. But I'm not planning for an unsurvivable future cause, well, we'll all be dead.

I'm not sure I would call what has gone on in the developed countries since 1980 collapse. More like consumption and population overshoot fueled by debt that is in the process of correcting itself. Maybe not the population part, it is still going up, but the consumption part is definitely reverting to a more financially sustainable level. In the near term, demand destruction could easily outpace reductions in the supply of raw materials. The problem will be the ability to pay rather than inadequate supply.

Merlin: Looking at the cake is like looking at the future, until you've tasted it what do you really know? And then, of course, it's too late.
[Arthur takes a bite]
Merlin: Too late.

Excalibur, 1981

I don't think it takes a doomer necessarily to consider the possibility that we're in for some weather on the horizon, as well as some variety in Grid Pricing and Availability.

You could equate it maybe to the expenses involved in having some emergency supplies and tools available.. but for my own part, any power that I have when we're all in a dark spot will be shared with neighbors in any way possible, and not for mere gloating and one-upsmanship.

Just because these ones will be forgotten doesn't mean more aren't still on the way.. while the funds needed for overall grid maintenance are likely being softly reallocated to company survival costs elsewhere.

The grid is less resilient and the storms are getting worse. Not doom, just a fact.

I have observed something eerily similar here (systemic collapse), dams were constructed based on catchment data for past 100-200 years, now the rainfall patterns have changed so we have less hydro power, this means that one cannot count on excess power generation during rainy season, this is essential since the coal plants go into maintenance mode when it rains. Now they can't, this means frequent breakdowns.

This is what a real collapse scenario looks like, our industrial civilization is indeed a pack of cards. I guess as we become less industrialized we will become more resilient but the old economy ain't coming back.

I think the current approach for dealing with this is to install more nat gas fired plants. In the western US, the portion of the electrical supply coming from hydro has been in decline for years as population growth has outstripped the resource base. The PNW used to have aluminum smelters to use the excess hydro but they have been gone for years.

As jokuhl mentions above, batteries are an important buffer in any off-grid or grid-down situation, as they function much like a pressure tank in your water system if you have a well. It's not good to run a washing machine that draws say 400 watts, while your array is only producing 300 watts. The inverter needs to be able to access the amount of energy that the appliance demands at the moment. Assuming a 12 volt system, I'd say the minimum-sized battery bank would be 4 golf cart batteries or equivalent, partly to prevent drawing them down too far during use. This will help make them last longer. With this in mind, of course you would do your heavy consumption (load of laundry, etc) while the sun is shining & leave the nighttime capacity for the laptop, cell phone, etc.

Edit: This didn't even address starting surge requirement of electric motors, ie the washer, which might need 3,000 watts for a couple of seconds. You can also add a start capacitor to the washer to reduce that demand to around 900 watts for a typical 1/2 horse washer motor. But an inverter by itself cannot handle these demands without a battery bank to draw from, at least the kind I use (trace/xantrex DR 1524 for my 24 volt system).

You can get a grid-tie inverter with battery backup. It costs more, so many people don't do it.

We have 12 KW of PV solar, dual Xantrex XW 6048 inverters, and 12 KWH worth of batteries. Another important system component is a very efficient refrigerator, about 1 KWH per day.

Most of the house is on backup power, and is automatically switched over in 1 millisecond, so fast that you and your TV don't notice. The big things (A/C, dryer, stove, electric backup of solar water heater) are not on the battery backup, so of course those won't work. Electric cars can be charged more slowly at 110 v.

The last time we had a power outage, the only way we noticed was that my wife asked, "Why isn't the clock on the stove working?" I went outside and a couple of square miles of neighborhood were dark, except for our house. Neighbors were out in the street, wondering why we had power but nobody else did.

I figure that our system gives essentially unlimited backup, whereas a gasoline or diesel generator gives a finite and rather limited backup. I'd rather spend my money on solar.


There is much more to producing, distributing and maintaining our aging electric infrastructure then people think. Especially when the power companies is run by economists and everybody wants to live in the city and work in the service sector. ;) I guess in the future we have to ration some of the oil to the chainsaws for cutting trees under and around the power lines otherwise you could use an electric chainsaw.

But people would maybe happily help to cut trees in the future to get free heating.

These are interesting questions you are asking. I believe only focusing on profit is not good for business or happiness. As it’s sad: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”. ;)

One can ask oneself is a power company successful, if it always goes breakeven but sustainably delivers electricity and jobs to a country. I guess the answer is if the goal was to make profit it was not successful but if the goal was to provide power it was.

"If all of the telephone companies in the USA (both large and small) have invested billions in burying their telephone lines underground, why can't AEP, as well as other power companies do the same? "

There is a substantial difference between burying a low voltage telephone cable underground (they just plow it in, no conduit) and burying a 13 kv distribution line.

Power lines are much more expensive to bury. That said, the lower maintenance costs should erase much of the difference over time, but anything over 7 years and the accountants generally tell you to forget it.

JCB's, see my reply to Turnbull FL above.


"Would it be prohibitively expensive to bury all these lines?"

I think each power pole costs $20,000. The range is from $2,000 to $200,000.

The power distribution system is an antique. In Europe, I understand that a lot of it is underground.

Your basic wooden pole is a couple hundred dollars.

Take one out in a dui crash and the bill is around 1500.00, and that is hooked up and repaired.

Pole way more than 200. Rated and to specs as per knots, etc.

They make em here...peeled and hauled away....US company

No easy fix to outages that swept East Coast
Choices are repair an aging system or ante up to bury vulnerable lines.

From the article:

To bury power lines, utilities need to take over city streets so they can cut trenches into the asphalt, lay down plastic conduits and then the power lines. Manholes must be created to connect the lines together. The overall cost is between $5 million and $15 million per mile, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., a nonprofit research and development group funded by electric utilities.

Power lines are already underground in parts of Washington, but initial estimates are that it would cost as much as $5.8 billion to bury them throughout the entire city and would cost customers an additional $107 per month

North Carolina considered burying its lines in 2003, after a winter storm knocked out power to 2 million utility customers. The North Carolina Public Staff Utilities Commission eventually concluded it was "prohibitively expensive" and time-consuming. The project would have cost $41 billion and taken 25 years to complete -- and it would have raised residential electric bills by 125 percent.

Using the numbers 40 poles per mile and $5-$15 million to bury, each pole is worth $25,000 to $75,000 towards estimating the cost of burying the distribution system.


A friend in the electric utility industry was talking about poles about a year ago. The installed price was astonishing.

Europe is different. Density is far higher. That minimizes cost of cable, though usually it makes right of way expensive. More importantly, though, there is a high density of consumers paying higher rates to pay for it all.

For telecom, pole mount is cheap compared to buried. Permitting, right of way attainment, materials, construction, and maintenance are all cheaper. I'm sure for electric the picture is similar.

In the end, people get what they are willing to pay for. We don't want to pay for robust, reliable service, so we get to complain about frail, outage prone service. No problem, per se.

Ahhh... I see.

There is a whole lot of empty here in the States. The big flat distant suburbs and long stretches of nothing change the picture for cars, too.

4. How will our basic grid ever survive global warming under these conditions- let alone a smart grid?

I can answer this one: it will fare better than a dumb grid.

Solar powered government buildings coming for Barbados

Barbados will shortly be replacing almost all its public street lights with energy efficient lamps, retrofitting at least 12 government buildings with solar power systems, and deploying energy efficiency and conservation technologies throughout the public sector.


Nearly 90 percent of the energy consumed in Barbados comes from imported oil. According to government data, the fuel import bill is about six percent of Gross Domestic Product, equivalent to the country’s spending on education.

See: http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/news/barbados_news/593384.html


Good for Barbados. That GDP sink has got to hurt.

Regarding field density in a region, I found this interesting excerpt from Richard Nehring and MK Hubbert: "World petroleum availability 1980-2000":

However,  drilling  experience in the United States does not in fact support the  criticism  of the emphasis on large fields. If the U.S. had been forced to  turn to small fields because of the depletion of larger areas, it would be expected that the significance of smaller fields in the U.S. would be increasing. This is not the case. The proportion of oil found in smaller fields (less then 100 million barrels of known recovery) in the U.S. was 30.0%  between  1961-1976 compared to 29.5% since 1859.

It appears instead that the relatively high production from small fields in the U.S. results primarily from the unique geology of the Gulf Coast Syncline which consists of several adjacent major and intermediate size provinces with large numbers of small fields. Most of the larger provinces in the world have been explored sufficiently to eliminate the possibility of this type of reoccurrence elsewhere.

KLR - "Most of the larger provinces in the world have been explored sufficiently to eliminate the possibility of this type of reoccurrence elsewhere."

I can't toss out any supporting data since I've primarily only worked the Gulf Coast geosyncline. But I have a bit of trouble buying into that statement. First, I'm not sure I can go along with defining a small field as one producing less than 100 million bo. A 70 million bbl oil field in the GC would be considered large by anyone's metric.

But that's not the bigger issue IMHO. I've made the point many times before that the most unique aspect of hydrocarbon development in the US is the role of small independent companies. I've drilled wells in areas in the last 30 years where no large company has drilled a well since the 50's or 60's. And by large I don't just mean the majors. I could offer a list of 150 independent companies which vitally no one on TOD every heard of or could find doing a web search. Yet they've drilled many tens of thousands of wells in this country in the last 40 years.

And just as important not only drilled new wells but maintained production in old fields including the very large ones. If it were up to ExxonMobils et al the average US wouldn't be producing less than 10 bopd. It would be much higher but the total production would be far less and this country probably wouldn't be the third largest oil producer on the plane IMHO. Today, outside the US, the global oil patch is dominated by the NOC's. And the great majority of oil/NG rights are owned by govts and not individual citizens. It's much easier for me to believe this dynamic better explains the lack of global small field development than geology. There may not be that many great petroleum provinces like the Gulf Coast geosyncline but there are hundreds of basins similar to those found in the midcontinent US. And those areas in this country are as dominated by small fields just as is the GC.

Hey ROCK, well, keep in mind that Nehring (of Nehring Associates, who provide databases for the industry covering field info) and Hubbert were writing 32 years ago, so the game has likely changed a titch - how much I'd be interested to know. But they're talking about giants, i.e., >100 mb. None of this small fry bizwax.

But I kinda doubt things have changed much in the interim; of course we haven't found much in the way of giants+ in the years since, excepting offshore. Have we really found that much in the way of, uh, midgets? Normal fields? A mere million b? Whatever you call them. I can fish out how many wells are operating, but that isn't really indicative of much, since it includes injectors in Midway-Sunset etc.

I've always figured what you say rings true in re: operator economics. NOCs seem to not even bother with these dinky pools; I always wonder what would happen if they did, too.

KLR - I'll dig for those distribution numbers. Generally field size distribites itself in a log normal fashion. I'll try to dig the facts up but my instincts tell me that all those crappy little fields may have cumuluative produced as much or more than all the big boys added up. I once did find this to be true amongst the population of small NG fields in coastal Texas. I had never seen such a perfect straight line log/normal plot of unedited natural data.

Rock, just to expand on a couple of points you raised.

In a large number of cases, what has happened is that when larger fields go into decline, the big guys often sell these to smaller indepentent companaies. Small companies, lacking the overhead costs of a major, can profitably operate a field at lower rates of production than a major can. Often in these fields the small guys can can, with carefull geologic work, find by-passed pay zones, small undrilled fault blocks, etc. These things might have been noted in the early days of field development by the major, but were were ignored at the time because there were more lucrative parts of the field to develop. Later they were effectively forgottten.

Another factor that makes it possible and profitable for little companies to find and drill new small accumulations is the availability of existing infrastructure. Particularly pipelines. Correct me if I'm wrong but I doubt there are many places on the Gulf Coast where you are more than a couple of miles from someplace to take your oil. Easy access by road also makes it economic to drill very small prospects.

It has been interesting for me, over the last 30 years to see this trend develop in Alaska. The first significant oil production in the state was in Cook Inlet, with the discovery of Swanson River Field in the late 50's. The big offshore Cook Inlet fields came soon after in the 60's. Cook Inlet assests have changed several times over the years, and most of the production is now run by some rather small companies. And, with the availability of infrastructure, little companies have been testing some very small prospects.

The same thing has been happening, although more slowly, on the N Slope. When I first came up in the 80's, the big guys were the only game in town. These days onshore COP, BP, and XOM (as a non operator partner) are still the big players. But independents such as Pioneer and ENI have small fields in production. However, an number of very small companies have started to drill exploration wells, such as Brooks Range Petroleum, Weeks, Linc, and a number of others. The little guys can only explore close to existing pipelines, but they can go after some really small (by N Slope standards) accumulations.

The paper by Magueri everyone's ripping apart here spends about 20% of its time going on about tight oil; he points out that TX has more potential for the very reason you cite, i.e., access to distribution infrastructure. They are jumping of ND YOY, I notice.

Here's a little table I came across just now:

Volume And Production In Mb And Mbpd
(Production Vol.) Fields Prod <1950 50s 60s 70s 80s 90s 2000s 2010s
1,000+ 4 8000 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
500-1,000 10 5900 2 3 3 1 1 0 0 0
300-500 12 4100 3 1 6 1 1 0 0 0
200-300 31 6450 8 4 6 9 1 1 1 1
100-200 83 7900 5 8 13 13 11 11 11 11
0-100 4400 36200 900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200
Total 4540 38550 920 817 728 625 514 412 312 212

src: "Twilight in the desert" in the appendix B (p. 374 and 375)
Posted on TOD by Sam Foucher, January 9, 2006

Sorry about the crap formatting - can't figure out how to make it readable. At the 2006 post it's readable.

Last week I passed on Ivanhoe's figure of 31,385 fields in the US in 1989, according to WorldOil. Opening up the EIA's Oil and Gas Field Code Master List I get 65,512 entries - so we've grown by 34,127. Presumably. Throw out your Thunder and Crazy Horsies and that's a lot of stripper wells.

That Field list is fun. Going to make some eyepopping charts with that puppy.

Like this one:


Twin Peaks!

Going nuts in the early 80s I understand, but late 50s? Technology hitting its stride I suppose.

The Master List has columns for Oil, NG, Associated. This is just counting fields with an "O," many of which have some gas too; and those which don't have an "O," i.e., the remainder. Almost all of those look to be what you'd expected, i.e., non-associated fields. There were about 1600 fields that didn't have discovery years entered too, for some reason.

KLR - I can only comment on Texas discoveries in the 50's but it wasn't really due to a big tech jump. Just a lot of companies drilling a lot of wells. Post war (1945 -1955) trends of huge fields were discovered at depths of 4,000' to 8,000' along just the Texas coast. These fields are the same ones I'll be trying to pull residual oil from with my hz wells. To date just this trend alone has produced 4.5 billion bo. As far as the 80's just an educated guess but the drilling of the Austin Chalk (a fractured shale made out of carbonate material and not quartz/clays) was the hottest play in the country during that time period. that may be part of that surge. Of course the oil price increases of the late 70's would account for many of the new wells.

I haven't been able to search oil field size distribution yet but have seen some of the post. One problem may be separating "fields" from "reservoirs' from 'wells" in the stats. Some fields may be made up of dozens of different reservoirs. Or just one big one. A big field may have 100's of wells drilled in it. OTOH there are hundreds of one well oil fields in Texas. And some "fields", as they are typically classified, aren't fields at all. have you ever heard of these fields: Los Cuatros, Glenewinkle, Quitman, Junco, Sugarkane? I can name dozens more you wouldn't recognize. Nor would I expect any of the other TODsters to recognize them despite the fact we talk often talk about the play. These are Eagle Ford shale fields. The "Eagle Ford' is not a field. It is a formation. The wells are being drilled in the Eagle Ford trend.

These are just some of the problems trying to understand various stats folks throw out. And that even assumes they aren't cooking the numbers to benefit their position in the first place.

During WWII a lot of progress was made in seismic technology. At the end of the war, oil companies started applying it to finding oil fields. Companies found an awful lot of oil fields using it during the 50's and 60's. Unfortunately, in the 70's, they ran out of big oil fields to find, and had to look for smaller oil fields.

In Canada, companies started applying seismic shortly after the end of the war. The biggest oil company, an Esso (i.e. Exxon) subsidiary called Imperial Oil ran surveys all over the country. They drilled about 133 consecutive dry holes using conventional geology, but they noticed that there were hundreds of peculiar anomalies on the seismic surveys they had run.

So, they drilled into one of them to see what it was, and it was the first really BIG oil field discovered in Canada - the Leduc Devonian Reef (actually, there were several reefs stacked vertically, and the D2 and D3 reefs were the big ones.) Reefs don't really show up on seismic except as peculiar anomalies, but there were hundreds of them, so they just went crazy drilling them.

Canada is unusual in that most of its conventional oil is in a large number of small oil fields. In most countries, most of the oil is in one or two GIANT oil fields, two or three BIG oil fields, and then there dozens or hundreds of smaller fields which don't amount to much.

The GIANT oil fields are the ones that jump out on the seismic plots, with big, red, flashing "Drill Here" signs on them, and these are the ones that they found in the 50's and 60's. The trouble now is that the rest of the fields don't have nearly the same amount of oil and it costs a lot more money to find them.

Do you know why the last years in the graph point towards zero? Is it a moving average? I heard Rockman complained about not enough available prospects but this picture does not look good at all.

Oh that is just brutal. No other words. Brutal.

No wonder enhanced extraction gets such high billing. If this chart is anywhere near to truth, then EE is the only game in town.

Robert - And has been brutal in the US for much longer than many appreciate. If you haven’t heard my tale before: when I started with Mobil Oil in 1975 my first mentor explained the reality of PO. Which we never called PO but the “reserve replacement problem”. It wasn’t about a question of being profitable. MO had huge heritage fields that were creating huge cash flow as oil prices rose beyond anyone’s expectation. Profits didn’t matter that much to investors as long as they kept getting their little dividend checks. What they wanted to see was the stock price to increase. And to do so Wall Street wanted to see the reserve base increase y-o-y.

Given the huge reserves developed in the US during the 50’s and 60’s that was going to be impossible for the major oils to do it just within the US. That’s why many were consolidated: Exxon + Mobil, Chevron + Texaco, etc. That was the only way to increase a reserve base quick enough. But that also increased the problem of replacing even more reserves. They were left with going to extreme environments, like the North Slope, and overseas concessions. Hubbert understood this years before and I would bet that was part of his motivation behind his research. He wasn’t so much worried about production decline per se but the inability to replace those depleting reserves domestically. His message to Big Oil at the time seemed clear IMHO: get out of the US as quickly as possible at least in the case of exploration. And it appears they heard him.

There was a very good reason when my company, formed 3 years ago, focused on deep NG prospects in the onshore Gulf Coast: for the most part that was all that was left. And we had to use the highest 3d seismic tech to do it. But we weren’t looking for giant deep NG fields for the most part…not many of those left either. In 1975 I was drilling 12,000’ wells to test 2,000 acre potential structural traps. Since we’ve started I’ve drilled a number of 16,000’ wells to test 100 acre potential stratigraphic traps. We had a high success rate that was working until NG prices fell. And thus we sh*t canned almost all of our NG prospects. And since our company’s time line only runs another 2 or 3 years I doubt that NG will rise enough to put them back on the board.

I do have 3 shallow (5,000’) oil prospect to drill in the next few months. With the high oil prices they should provide a nice ROR. The bad news: if they work each will be a one well field. Thus why my owner wants to try my hz redevelopment of a series of 60 year old nearly dead shallow oil fields. And the possibility of my idea working and drilling a few profitable wells wasn’t what sold him on the idea. It was the possibility of drilling 70 to 100 such wells. He can’t justify our overhead with drilling just a handful of good wells.

Which is the same motivation, but for a different reason IMHO, why the pubcos are so hot after the shales plays. If Chesapeake and every other shale player made a 100% ROR on every well they drilled their stock price would go into the toilet…IF their new wells didn’t replace/increase their production y-o-y. It’s easy to understand: would you buy stock in a company with a decreasing asset base? You might get that nice little dividend check every year but why would you expect the stock price to increase? You paid what you thought it was worth based on the dividend and their proven asset value. So if the dividend stays the same and the asset base declines why would you ever expect someone to buy your stock from you for what you paid let alone pay more. As a stock broker told me many years ago: he sells the sizzle…not the steak. Expanding reserve base is the sizzle…the profits/dividends are the steak. As that character said many years ago:”Greed is good”. At least for the guy working on commission. LOL

In a sense the shale plays might be called enhance oil recovery projects. As I’ve said before I drilled and frac’d my first Eagle Ford well over 25 years ago. Mediocre results. And we’ve known about the oil in that formation long before that. And even when we developed horizontal drilling and went after other fractured reservoirs, like the Austin Chalk (which is very close to and at a similar depth to the Eagle Ford) the companies didn’t go after the EFS. They instead went after the Haynesville Shale in E Texas and other NG shale plays because of a simple reason: NG prices. The NG in these formations had also been known decades earlier. We studied all these formations in great detail because they were the source rocks for our big conventional fields. At the height of this drilling boom NG was selling for more than $13/mcf. But when NG prices crashed in late ’08 so did most of the drilling boom.

But fortunately for the pubcos oil began its price rise at about the same time. So they went to the play they had known existed for decades and deployed technology that had been developed many years before. So the oily shale plays are driven by higher oil prices. Just like my idea about drilling hz wells in the middle of old oil fields. I had originally generated my idea back in the mid 90’s. Exact same model I sold my owner on 3 months ago. So why didn’t I get someone to give it a try back in the 90’s? Obviously oil selling for less than $40/bbl is the answer. Same reason all the companies who knew about the Eagle Ford oil and hz drilling weren’t chasing that EOR project either. After thousands of hz wells were drilled in the Austin Chalk and depleted one operator made a proposal to all the service companies like Halliburton. If any service company could develop an ECONOMIC method (based on current oil/NG prices) to sidetrack all those soon to be abandoned AC wells into the Eagle Ford, Buda, Georgetown or any other hydrocarbon rich shale they would award them a contract to do it with over 600 of their wells. Hundreds of $millions in profit could be made by any service company that could pull it off. None of them could.

That’s the common factor with nearly all EOR plays: everyone knows the oil is there and they know the tech to recover it. But everyone has to wait for the right price to chase them. The “new” Bakken play? Heck, I was drilling hz wells in WY for ExxonMobil over 12 years ago. But in a different formation. But my DD’s (directional drillers) had been working in the Bakken for many years. The DD’s taught me a good bit about the Bakken on those long frozen nights. And what they taught me was that you could make a lot of money drilling the Bakken…if oil prices got high enough. But even more important for the pubcos was the ability add a lot of proven reserves to the books year after year…as long as oil prices stay high. Of course what idiot would expect oil prices to ever fall enough to kill these EOR plays? Probably the same idiots that didn’t expect NG prices would fall enough to kill those enhanced NG recovery projects back in ‘08.

Just my WAG but I don’t think oil prices will fall enough to put too big a crimp into the Eagle Ford et al plays. I think the inability to generate enough capex to continually expand drilling efforts will be the limiting factor. And if that kicks in maybe Wall Street will back away. And IF that happens it could push a lot of pubcos out of the game. Or not. Predictions are still difficult…especially about the future. LOL.

Volume And Production In Mb And Mbpd
(Production Vol.) Fields Prod <1950 50s 60s 70s 80s 90s 2000s 2010s
1,000+ 4 8000 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
500-1,000 10 5900 2 3 3 1 1 0 0 0
300-500 12 4100 3 1 6 1 1 0 0 0
200-300 31 6450 8 4 6 9 1 1 1 1
100-200 83 7900 5 8 13 13 11 11 11 11
0-100 4400 36200 900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200
Total 4540 38550 920 817 728 625 514 412 312 212

Thanks, BT. Did you do that with HTML? I just used the code tag, which didn't work at all, obviously. Tried the table tag but that didn't fly, either.

There's a 1978 paper by Nehring on Giant Oil Fields and World Oil Resources, with a pretty comprehensive listing. I've messed about in the past with using OCR software to dump it all into a spreadsheet, which you have to do as it's a scanned document. All of which is quite paltry compared to what real researchers like Laherrère have on tap, of course. But it's fun to see what can be done with the numbers, you can flesh out charts like Campbell's Growing Gap.

Incidentally see what Jean has for US discoveries:

This would illustrate the primacy of giant fields, that the multitude of minor fields found at the peaks on my chart don't even register on Jean's. Or there's something else at work here. Chart taken from here: THE HUBBERT CURVE : ITS STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

I used the HTML table tag, but there are other tags and modifiers that are used with it. The tags table row, <tr>, surrounds rows and table data, <td>, surrounds the cells. The tag modifier align= specifies the alignment of the table on the page. The options are left, right and center. The tag modifier border= specifies the width of the border lines around the table and cells in units of pixels. A value of 2 means the border lines are 2 pixels wide. A value of 0 means no border lines.

<table align="center" border="2">
<tr><td>row 1, cell 1</td><td>row 1, cell 2</td></tr>
<tr><td>row 2, cell 1</td><td>row 2, cell 2</td></tr>


row 1, cell 1 row 1, cell 2
row 2, cell 1 row 2, cell 2

Energy Efficiency Investment Slow to Catch On

A new report out from the New Hampshire Energy and Climate Collaborative finds that NH may not be doing enough to make homes more energy efficient.

Three years ago Governor John Lynch put forth his climate action plan, a roadmap for how to reduce the states carbon emissions. Number one on the list of strategies: maximize energy efficiency in buildings. But getting homeowners to invest in efficiency has been harder than policymakers had hoped.

See: http://www.nhpr.org/post/energy-efficiency-investment-slow-catch


A young architectural technologist friend of mine, who teaches at the local community college and designs houses to the Passive House standard, sent me the link to this press release...

Zehnder America, Inc. is Recognized for its Cutting-edge Residential Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) Technology Used in Energy-efficient Homes

This breakthrough is the confirmation that Zehnder America is leading the way of the next generation of Heat and Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems in North America. Zehnder’s ComfoAir 350 HRV with its counter flow heat-exchanger recovers over 90% of the room temperature. As a result, during a cold winter day, the incoming fresh air into the house is within 2-3 degrees from the inside temperature. This results in a significant reduction in heating and cooling energy use, while also noticeably improving indoor comfort. With over 90% of apparent sensible effectiveness and a power consumption as low as .30 watts per cfm, efficient HVAC design will be dramatically impacted. This translates into bringing quietly and continuously tempered fresh air into an air-tight energy-efficient house for the energy consumption of a 30 watt low-energy light bulb. In addition to HVI certification, Zehnder America currently offers the only Passive House Institute certified Heat Recovery Ventilator solutions in the US Market.

aws - Very interesting. Wonder how well such a system would work with a monolithic home. If you aren't familiar with such designs they are super insulated structures but also virtually air tight. Thus good news/bad news. But if this system is as efficient exchanging interior air volumes it would be a great addition. If I were 20 years younger I might build a monolithic home but just too dang old and worn out now. LOL.

Hi Rock,

With a super air tight home, like Passive House, well actually even a moderately air tight home in a cold climate needs a ventilation system. And it's a bit of a shame to not recover the energy in the air that is being exhausted from the house, hence the need for heat recovery ventilators. In the south, down your way, the better term is Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) as it helps to keep the house cool.

They are pretty straightforward to install, but probably best to get an HVAC guy to do it. The Zehnder HRV meets Passive House requirements which are considered far for more challenging than HVI's certification standard, so it would be what I'd be looking for when shopping for an HRV.

Green Building Advisor has lots of discussion about HRV, ERV, and ventilation which is worth reading up on.

For example...

Designing a Good Ventilation System
Ventilating is easy — it’s ventilating right that’s hard



Our house is quite tight, burn 4 cords of wood per Maine winter and have to feed outside air to the stove. Our best ventilation system is named Kismet, our four legged plott hound, who always needs to go out just when we need a burst of fresh air. Get a dog, get love and constant air change.

Don in Maine


The point of the HRV is to recover the heat in the air being exhausted and to put it back into the incoming fresh air.

Of course your dog probably makes up for the heat he lets escape from the house by curling up and keeping your feet warm when you are reading the drumbeat.

We'll leave the cost of pet food out of the equation, it's part of that love and affection thing!



We need to abandon the silly idea of heating the air (and thus the total volume) of a home (or other space) and return to the older concept of radiant heat in specific local zones in the house. Fresh air is no longer a problem, it's going to be vastly more affordable (especially in that such designs do not need so much fancy fabrication but can be mae onsite by only moderately skilled workers with local materials) to install and more efficient to operate and maintain.

The high-tech solutions might appeal to the modern mentality which revels in anything 'advanced', and they certainly appeal to vendors who can actually capitalize on them, but the low-tech solutions are the answer (vendors don't get any economies of scale or 'investability' in low tech solutions though, so theres no advertising push for them, and a lot of people still think it must
be as complex as a spaceship if it is to be effective)

keep it simple: 1, thermal mass. thick masonry walls within and without, thick roofing materials, thick floors of masonry. 2, not air or vapor tight. eliminate all the ventilation and moisture management problems right there. 3, proper use of solar radiation to store heat in that thermal mass. 4, radiant heating (by whatever head sources one employs) in particular areas of the place. 5, pattern of use does change seasonally (omg how terrible!!)

Thanks, zurisee. You just described my house... add a simple hot water storage tank and you're there.

z - Along these lines, eh? http://www.monolithic.com/topics/homes They're in the little town of Italy, Texas close to Dallas. Drove by their shop years ago and was immediately impressed. As I said elsewhere if I were still young enough to take it on I would build one.

Hi Rock,

You'd definitely need a ventilation system for the homes Monolithic builds. And an ERV or HRV would be the sensible thing to use for ventilation.

As for the implication that HRV's are complicated up the thread, I have encountered this before, and am bemused by the suggestion. They are pretty straightforward,; fresh air comes in from outside, stale air from kitchen and bathrooms is exhausted, the two air streams pass by each other separated by a conductive barrier and heat moves from the hot to the cold air stream. There is not too much too it.

Here's some info on HRVs and ERVs... HRV or ERV?



A modern spin on a very old design: Natural Building with Earth

Simone Swan and her students at the Adobe Alliance are applying North African earthen building techniques to adobe buildings in the southwestern United States...

...The secrets of Near Eastern and North African domed, arched and vaulted architecture had nearly been lost to history, but Fathy managed to locate builders who had not lost the skill of constructing Nubian catenary vaults that do not require wooden form work to support the construction. Fathy’s designs integrated natural cooling strategies, and he applied his art to homes,..

For my wife's Permaculture Design Workshop, we just started watching 'Garbage Warrior', which follows Michael Reynolds building various kinds of Earthships in the Taos area over the last few decades, and 'doing the dance' with the local building codes, etc.


He uses much of the thinking of these African designs, it seems.

I was looking at these in the UK 15 years ago.


Steam Punk Smart Grid

An early drawing of the first prototype built by Danielle Fong and LightSail — a device that uses excess electrical power to compress and store large amounts of air in a small space. This compress air can then be used to generate energy when it’s actually needed. According to LightSail, the prototype can reproduce about 70 percent of the energy put in to it.

Real or pie-in-the-sky? It's really difficult to tell from such an obnoxious puff piece.

"...a device that uses excess electrical power to compress and store large amounts of air in a small space."

That is a redundant phrase. "Compress" means to squeeze larger amounts into a smaller space.

A system like this can work, it's just that to store large amounts of energy you need a large volume to store it in.

Guys, this is a brilliant idea. The whole issue is the heat not the compression. If you throw any the heat you throw away most of the energy. They have found a way to smartly deal with the heat with 20 degree C water rather than with 1000 degree C air. It is simple and it works. One could worry about corrosion issues but I would guess they are manageable. Heck, I want to work for these folks.

So where does that "excess electric power" come from. All my electricity comes from the local public utility, at roughly $0.17 per kWh. We don't even have excess electric power at night, since most of our electricity now comes from natural gas fired turbines, which are easily started and stopped as needed.

The lack of cost-effective efficient energy storage is a huge problem for renewables. Having a way to capture excess wind/solar when it is available and provide it at a later time when it is needed would be a HUGE help in renewable energy adoption.

It requires a considerable spread of prices to make storage pay. Maybe $.10 per KWhour diference for most battery storage systems. If time of use rates don't vary that much, it is a money losing proposition. Also if you don't get enough cycles (cheap power charge, expensive power discharge) per year you won't be able to recoup the capital cost.

When they say "can reproduce about 70 percent of the energy put in to it". does that mean they can get 70% back as electricity? If so, that could be a good deal, especially if they can recover the other 30% as heat someplace where it is needed.

Of course, there must be a significant difference between the cost for peak vs. off peak electricity, in order to justify the initial costs for the compressor, storage tanks, the extra building space, etc.

If the wind is blowing during off-peak, the instantaneous spot price for electricity can go negative. Grid operators can even order wind turbines to shut down if there is not enough transmission capacity. Storing wind power in an energy efficient manner for even a few hours can be hugely beneficial to wind power operators.

Like I said above, you need enough events where you can profitably store power for sale later to pay off your sunk capital costs. A few nights of ultra cheap power won't cut it.

Spray water into the compressed air to aid in heat storage. Elegant in its simplicity. Clever in application. Powerful in potential usefulness. That, my friends, is a sign of genius. Thank goodness this girl didn't have to wait to use her talents.

Will be researching this application with interest. And you can bet the IOCs and other FF companies will be gunning for it just like they did the Volt and other potential solutions.

Spray water into the compressed air??????

Most compressed air tanks, on big trucks, railroad locomotives, etc., have drain valves for draining water from the bottom of tanks. Why would you want to add more water???


Just restating the idea without critical thinking:

Compressed air energy storage is less than 50% efficient. In compressed air cars, when the stored air is expanded, its temperature drops: you get air conditioning for free! In an internal combustion engine, there is waste heat: you get a heater for free. When the air is compressed, it gets hot. The idea is: rather than shedding this heat with intercoolers, radiators, and just letting the tank cool, the heat is stored separately from the newly compressed air. The heat is added back in when the time comes to use the compressed air to do work. In the proposal, the heat is captured by spraying water into the air... perhaps even within the compressor.

Militarising education in Israeli schools

Programmes run jointly by the Israeli education ministry and the Israeli army have existed in Israel for years. A new programme, named Derekh Erekh ["Path of Values"], was unveiled in mid-June and is meant to instil a sense of duty and allegiance to the state and to strengthen ties between Israeli schools and the army.

... According to a 2011 study conducted by the German Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung research institute, Israeli youth displayed increasingly nationalistic views, and put more importance on the Jewish character of the state than on upholding democratic or liberal values.

Some 1,600 young people, aged 15-18 and 21-22 years old, were surveyed in the study, and most identified as right-wing. Approximately 70 per cent of Jewish-Israeli teenagers between 15 and 18 years old said that, in cases where state security and democracy were at odds, security should take precedence above all else.

Religious Jewish youth in particular, the study found, exhibited a "lack of trust in the institutions that are entrusted with maintaining democratic principles" and tended "to side with methods such as civil resistance (including violent civil resistance), to prefer strong leadership above the rule of law, to support the denial of basic political rights of the Arab citizens of Israel, and underrate the importance of democracy and peace as national goals".

... 'Cause it's a hard life, it's a hard life, it's a very hard life
It's a hard life wherever you go
And if we poison our children with hatred
Then the hard life is all that they'll know

It's a Hard Life - Nanci Griffith

They sound just like Americans.

We've taught them well. ;-) (Or maybe they taught us? I dunno.)

Bill Maher pointed out the other day that there is almost no other country that our conservatives can seem to be friends with anymore besides Israel and maybe Singapore.

Japan - Dorky pacifists with too much debt.
Southern Europe - a bunch of lazy debtors.
Scandinavia - a bunch of commie socialists.
Germans - anti-nuke and into solar panels? Tree-huggers!
Africa - (You can fill in this one.)
France - Don't get them started
Russia - They think they are still the USSR
Mid-East & south Asia - All a bunch of crazy Muslims
South & Central America - A bunch of Che Guevara loving leftists and drug smugglers!
Canada - so smug with their socialized medicine and peace-keeping

Yes, because Bill Maher is an expert on conservatism. :eyeroll:

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

The Development of High Speed Rail in the United States: Issues and Recent Events

... Much of the federal funding for HSR to date has focused on improving existing lines in five corridors: Seattle-Portland; Chicago-St. Louis; Chicago-Detroit; the Northeast Corridor (NEC); and Charlotte-Washington, DC. Most of the rest of the money is being used for a largely new system dedicated to passenger trains between San Francisco and Los Angeles, on which speeds could reach up to 220 mph. Plans for HSR in some states were shelved by political leaders opposed to the substantial risks such projects entail, particularly the capital and operating costs; the federal funds allocated to those projects were subsequently redirected to other HSR projects.

Estimates of the cost of constructing HSR vary according to train speed, the topography of the corridor, the cost of right-of-way, and other factors. Few if any HSR lines anywhere in the world have earned enough revenue to cover both their construction and operating costs, even where population density is far greater than anywhere in the United States. Typically, governments have paid the construction costs, and in many cases have subsidized the operating costs as well. These subsidies are often justified by the social benefits ascribed to HSR in relieving congestion, reducing pollution, increasing energy efficiency, and contributing to employment and economic development. It is unclear whether these potential social benefits are commensurate with the likely costs of constructing and operating HSR.

Lack of long-term funding represents a significant obstacle to HSR development in the United States. The federal government does not have a dedicated funding source for HSR, making projects that can take years to build vulnerable to year-to-year changes in discretionary budget allocations.

... there is evidence that transportation project costs are routinely underestimated. One study examined 258 transportation infrastructure projects around the world and found that in almost 90% of the cases costs were underestimated, that actual costs on average were 28% higher than estimated, and that rail projects in particular were the most severely underestimated, costing on average 45% more than estimated

... Few if any passenger rail operations anywhere in the world generate sufficient revenue to cover all capital as well as operating costs.

The organizational structure of passenger rail is not conducive to a market environment in which competition among carriers exerts downward pressure on operating costs. The “low-cost carrier” phenomenon in the airline and intercity bus industries, in which multiple carriers compete with one another over the same infrastructure, is not practicable in the passenger rail industry.

Operating costs aside, the other key determinant of whether high speed rail can be profitable without subsidies is fare revenue, which is dependent on ridership levels and how much riders would be willing to pay for the service. The cost-effectiveness of higher speed and very high speed rail depends on achieving high ridership levels. Estimates of the level of ridership needed to justify the cost of a high speed line similar to those in other countries range from 6 million to 9 million riders in the first year. To put that figure in context, Amtrak’s current high speed service, the Acela, which began operating in 2000 in the most densely populated corridor in the United States, carried 3.4 million passengers in FY2011.

I would be happy if US rail service could get back to the speeds it had in 1905 say 90 miles per hour.

1940 would be blissful.

When considering the cost of passenger rail, both HSR and conventional rail, we should look beyond the initial cost for these rail systems, and compare the yearly costs over a reasonable life span, to the cost for likely alternatives, which is typically privately owned automobiles operating on publicly funded highways. Since the total cost for our current automobile and highway based transportation system is somewhere around $2 Trillion per year in the US, the comparison could be very interesting.

Measuring the uncertainties of pandemic influenza

A major collaboration between US research centers has highlighted three factors that could ultimately determine whether an outbreak of influenza becomes a serious epidemic that threatens national health. Their use of data from past pandemics as well as information on potential viral evolution demonstrates that current response planning may underestimate the pandemic consequences significantly.

They suggest that a future worst-case influenza pandemic might be up to four times as lethal as the pandemic that occurred towards the end of the Great War. Moreover, their simulation suggests that the use of antiviral drugs may not be as effective as healthcare authorities would hope. On a positive note, they have found that social distancing could be the most effective way to contain the spread of infection, usefully reducing symptoms by an average of 16% although it will cost 50% more than antiviral use through lost working days and commerce.

Two Views of Our Future

Mainstream economists see the 2008–09 global economic recession and near-collapse of the international financial system as a bump in the road, albeit an unusually big one, before a return to growth as usual. Projections of economic growth, whether by the World Bank, Goldman Sachs, or Deutsche Bank, typically show the global economy expanding by roughly 3 percent a year. At this rate the 2010 economy would easily double in size by 2035. With these projections, economic growth in the decades ahead is more or less an extrapolation of the growth of recent decades.

But natural scientists see that as the world economy expanded some 20-fold over the last century, it has revealed a flaw—a flaw so serious that if it is not corrected it will spell the end of civilization as we know it. At some point, what had been excessive local demands on environmental systems when the economy was small became global in scope.

As the list of failing states grows longer each year, it raises a disturbing question: How many states must fail before our global civilization begins to unravel?

How much longer can we remain in the decline phase, whether measured in natural asset liquidation, spreading hunger, or failing states, before our global civilization begins to break down?

Iraq Says June Oil Exports Fall; Pipeline Sabotage Cited

Iraq's crude oil exports in June fell 2% on-month after sabotage to a pipeline cut shipments of its crude from the northern Kirkuk fields.

Iraq exported 2.403 million barrels of crude a day in June, from 2.452 million barrels a day in May, according to an Iraqi Oil Ministry spokesman, with Kirkuk crude sales falling to 318,000 barrels a day from 366,000 barrels a day in May.

Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said that the exports earned Iraq some $6.453 billion in June, compared with $7.831 billion in May--a slide of 17.6% due mainly to falling oil prices.

Iraq sold its oil at an average $90 a barrel in June, compared with an average $103.039 a barrel in May,

US Cities Growing Faster Than Suburbs

I see this as hopeful news, increasing gas prices and long boring car commutes combining with a cultural shift away from the suburban ideal, especially among young people (but the article notes that boomers are also moving to urban cores). In Denver metro, it seems to me that suburban/exurban residential construction has nearly ground to a halt, but multi-family construction in the urban core is booming (mostly for rental, but condos and mixed-use too). This could be part of the most oil-dependent nation on Earth shifting towards a lower consumption way of life. Not only do urban multi-family buildings generate many fewer vehicle-miles-traveled per occupant, but the shared walls also reduce heating/cooling energy use very substantially.


I’ve been following real estate industry analyses and forecasts for about 15 years, and most have been remarkably consistent with a slowing of sprawl and gains in centrally located, walkable, amenity-rich neighborhoods. The Urban Land Institute’s lengthy report, What’s Next? Real Estate in the New Economy, for example, was published late last year. It predicts that employers will favor 24-hour urban centers over more remote suburban workplaces; that the Millennial generation (also sometimes called Generation Y, now in their teens through early 30s, “are comfortable with smaller homes and will happily trade living space for an easier commute and better lifestyle”; that seniors will increasingly seek homes near medical services and integrated into neighborhoods with shops, restaurants and services; and that sustainable design will become an increasingly necessary attribute to avoid property obsolescence.

While I am pleased by the new census data - strong cities and a growing portion of the market interested in alternatives to sprawl are great for the environment - I am not really surprised. The signs have been pointing in this direction for quite a while. And, although the numbers might shift a few percentage points one way or another as the economy recovers, expect central locations and walkable neighborhoods to continue to be on the rise for a long time.

When I see articles like these it makes me wonder how much of this trend is a reaction of generation Y deciding that they want a different life from what they grew up with, at least until they have kids, and how much is a response to economic necessities. It would also be interesting to see how much of this trend is immigrants who may be more comfortable in urban settings.

Walkable communities are definitely desirable but they can be built in lower density areas along with transit oriented developments.

While it seems strange to people who have lived their whole lives in car culture, in some sense I think the US is just reverting towards the global norm. While China and India are developing a car culture of their own, financial and logistical reality are forcing the US to roll back at least some of the extremes of car dependence that have developed over the last few decades.
But really, walking around our neighborhoods is how humans have always lived, except for a tiny blip where the American Dream seemed like it was the future instead of the past.

Where the American Dream of development went a bit astray IMHO is when it deviated from the small town model of local retail, restaurants, schools and other services and went to the large mall and big box shopping areas. There is a big push to recreate walkable communities with local grocery stores and other services. There seems to be a lot of demand for housing in those areas.

I guess what does seem different is the emphasis on high density urban growth. Who knew that Americans were actually starved for culture?

don't leave the boomers out of that equation- many of them no longer in need of good schools (and the high property taxes that go with them), large homes to accommodate families and looking to relieve themselves of the daily chores of suburban home ownership are also moving back into the cities.

As an analyst so aptly put it -"the current housing stock is a reflection of the preferences of a previous generation." I expect that apartment prices in functioning cities will continue to increase while we simultaneously see declining values for a large McMansions". This is not even taking into consideration costs associated with increased energy prices- just demographics.

Aaaaarg! George Monbiot in the Guardian swallows Magueri's paper hook line and sinker!!! Peak oil we were wrong.


Its very disappointing to see some one supposidly of Monbiot's abilities get tripped up like this - but maybe he never understood what Peakoil was?

California Public Utilities Commission Study Evaluating Integration Of PV Up To 100% Of Local Demand

The study discussed and linked in the article below evaluated the technical and financial consequences of distributed PV connected to the California grid at levels up to 100% of local electrical demand, using a "no backflow" limit. Net system costs were significantly reduced because adding PV resulted in avoided costs for transmission and distribution. PV at this volume would also shift the timing and level of California's peak demand, eventually shifting peak enough the California's Time Of Day rates for power would also shift, potentially reducing PV owner's income because peak rates would no longer occur on summer afternoons.


A new study for the California Public Utilities Commission explores the “Technical Potential for Local Distributed Photovoltaics in California.” Basically, it’s one of the more in-depth analyses of local solar power in the country, suggesting that California has the capacity to add 15 gigawatts (GW) of local solar (20 megawatts and smaller) to its grid by 2020. The study pushes the boundaries of distributed generation by assuming that local solar can be installed sufficient to meet 100% of local demand, far beyond the conservative “15% rule” that utilities typically apply....

I don't think this got any coverage in Drumbeat, though I may have missed it :

Nickel-Iron Battery gets a nanotech upgrade to Lithium Ion capabilities

Thanks to a redesign, Edison’s battery can now store almost as much energy, gram for gram, as the lithium-ion battery in Nissan’s all-electric car, the Leaf. But the redesigned battery charges faster and promises to be cheaper and safer ... Dai and colleagues reshaped its electrodes at nanometer scales. Instead of simply mixing iron and carbon, the researchers grew iron pellets on top of atom-thick sheets of carbon chicken wire called graphene. Tiny plates of nickel perched atop carbon tubes formed the other electrode ... A small prototype battery charged in about two minutes and discharged within 30 seconds, nearly 1,000 times faster than traditional nickel-iron designs.

Not quite possible to build one at home, unless someone knows how to do the chemistry DIY, but a workable tech that isn't as patent encumbered and doesn't require the rare earths. Assuming it maintains the long rechargability characteristics of Nickel Iron - it could be a fit and forget solution to EV vehicles.

Don't assume it is not patent protected . . . they may have filed on their system of growing iron pellets on top of atom-thick sheets of carbon.

What is the energy density? I hear Iron and Nickel and I think heavy.

I'd bet all the high tech improvements are patented. The basic idea of the Iron battery would be off patent, but without the high tech improvements it is almost worthless.

"What is the energy density? I hear Iron and Nickel and I think heavy."

It will be heavy, but not as heavy as lead-acid. But for a stationary source, who cares? You only move it for installation, then every X years depending on how long it lasts.

I'm really interested in mobile applications. Sounds great for frequency regulation and that sort of thing though.

But they could also be used in mobile . . . maybe. I've been wondering if EVs should use a mix of batteries to handle different aspects of the job. You want high energy density to a get a decent range. But you also want some high C rate in order to handle fast incoming dumps from the regen system and to provide lots of amps for acceleration. I wonder if EV makers will start doing that eventually . . . a mixed battery system.

Or maybe a battery plus an ultra capacitor. The later could absorb the stop/starts with very little energy loss. Might be great for commercial applications with lots of start/stops, such as buses and garbage trucks.

Here's the link:

More technical:

Stanford press release:

Oildrum coverage, round 1:

Not much response. I looked around for images of a prototype. I couldn't find the article in Nature. PVguy pointed out that potassium hydroxide, used in alkaline batteries, is caustic.

The revelation seems to be about the nature of graphene and nano-fabricated structures or composites. They are quoting charging times orders of magnitude faster than batteries fabricated from common bulk materials. This particular lab does not have a cased battery with optimized characteristics, terminals and a nameplate... but, just knowing such performance could be had at all will figure into other efforts.

Thomas Edison put three million dollars into the development of the nickle-iron battery for his electric cars. They were also used in fork-lifts.

"In contrast to lead acid, the NiFe battery can be overcharged for decades at a time without damage and can be left discharged for years at a time and will still work perfectly when needed."

Nickel Iron Battery Association HomePage


A salesman's pitch:

No wonder I didn't spot it.

It seems to me that many of these recent battery, solar cell, etc. developments are simply using nanometric engineering to create a 'thin' fractal coating to the anode - maximising active contact/capture area and minimising charge distance to the main conductor. As such, it doesn't sound as if graphene is important, it's just a nanometric fractal scaffolding that's also conducting.

The same basic techniques are getting applied across a range of areas, and if memory serves there are ways of creating/promoting the type of growth you want relatively easily. Might be possible DIY.

As such, I'm wondering if it can be applied to lithium ion or similar to significantly boost the capacity/charge rate/resilience of that technology. A quick search suggests yes.

Maybe we will end up with workable EV.

Graphene is fairly magic. It is more conductive than metal. It is a carbon allotrope, a family of materials. What gets "boring" is that almost every new breakthrough involves these carbon structures in optics, solar power conversion, sensors, thermal management... There's a machine-shop worth of tools standing right behind me backed-up by woods, metals, plastics, paper, cloth, glass, oils, paints, solvents, and glues: I'm not set up to deal with these new revelations by just whipping one up with what I've got... so I feel an excitement, but also an empty disconnect when I read of a new one. You CAN buy jars of nanotubes and quantum dots... There IS hope!

I went to find references... and was simply overwhelmed. Graphene offers unique properties for almost any application. Here, they've discovered that it can be optically pumped and exhibit optical gain... properties of a lasing medium:

Yes, an aspect of nano-fabrication is to make composite materials with intimate, minute, textured connectivity among the components. This is different than taking uniform bulk materials and bringing them close to each-other within a case.

There are so many different flavors of hope coming out of these daily discoveries that profoundly new batteries and solar panels do seem to be in the works.

Someone posted a link this weekend. This sounds more like a capacitor than a battery; high discharge/recharge rate and a high self-discharge rate as well. Not so good at medium or long term storage, and not ready for prime time.

Personal caveat: Any time I see "nano technology", "nanotubes", etc., I cringe a bit. A basic lead-acid or nickle-iron battery is fairly simple technology, not reliant on highly complex manufacturing processes. Most of the components are easily recycled/re-manufactured. Generally not so with these 'improved' concepts. There's an elegance in simple-but-good-enough.

Think of it as the difference between using a tree trunk to bridge a gap, and turning that wood into beams from which you construct fully braced and stressed structure.

The first might be nice and rustic, but the second is lighter, stronger, more flexible, etc.

You might also be interested in the fact than many of the properties of Damascus Steel arise from carbon nanotubes, and it was first made in 300BC.

Time to Get Crazy
By Chris Hedges

"Native Americans’ resistance to the westward expansion of Europeans took two forms. One was violence. The other was accommodation. Neither worked. Their land was stolen, their communities were decimated, their women and children were gunned down and the environment was ravaged. There was no legal recourse. There was no justice. There never is for the oppressed. And as we face similar forces of predatory, unchecked corporate power intent on ruthless exploitation and stripping us of legal and physical protection, we must confront how we will respond.

The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite. They dismiss calls for equitable distribution as unnecessary. They say that all will soon share in the “expanding” wealth, which in fact is swiftly diminishing. And as the whole demented project unravels, the elites flee like roaches to their sanctuaries."

What fun. He, too, sees that the modern American population now gets to play the role of indigenous. See, before the discovery of The Great Frontier, the game was 'ravage the peasant'.


World-wide banking manipulation of LIBOR
Municipal bond rigging

The bomb hidden in the supreme court decision

The annoying peasant


This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be so much heat trapped in the atmosphere that any attempt to scale back carbon emissions will make no difference. Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Killer hurricanes and tornados. Power outages. Freak weather. Rising sea levels. Crop destruction. Food shortages. Plagues.

I had stopped bothering to read Hedges because, like a lot of political writers who see the world purely from that angle he seemed to have a massive blind spot in regard to resource limits. Failing to see the powerful force stemming from a simple lack of energy and raw materials results in a distorted perception of the power of elites and political foes. So it's good to see him at least recognizing resource and environmental limitations.

However, when one has spent a lifetime immersed in the political struggle and is now getting older, only to find that in fact there are other, stronger forces driving events, it tends to make people nihilistic. Sometimes we fail to separate the arc of our own lives from what we see happening around us, and old men start to believe the world will end when they do. I don't really disagree with the paragraph I block quoted, but the tone kind of bothers me.

Fareed Zakaria has the same issue. He is so into the political aspects of everything but he often misses the larger resource story. He is smart enough to know that there are resource issues but on those issues, he gets all his opinions from industry big-wigs and thus gets the cornucopian viewpoint.

They're not alone. Most of the old political battles are at heart about how to best distribute the spoils of fossil fuel driven industrial society, but that has become an irrelevant discussion. It does appear at first look that the liberals progressives have lost and the wealthy and corporations have won, and for a time they have. However, what is really happening is that the society is collapsing, and whatever occurs in this time of transition will be temporary by definition. It's not going to be what most expect.

The Americans of today are in no better power position than the Native Americans were back then. It's unfortunate, but it's called the 'Golden Rule' - the one with the gold rules, and in most cases it is ruthless and with no remorse. The falsehood premise that elections somehow brings power to the people, (as they choose between different candidates beholden to corporation campaign contributers), are no different than the falsehood promise of written agreements between the settlers and the indians. Both are instruments of exploitation.

An interesting and inspiring talk covering a history of corporate power:
David Cobb

Re: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2012/07/02/254025.htm above (Scientists Conclude Rise in Sea Level Cannot Be Stopped):

The scientists calculated that if the deepest emissions cuts were made and global temperatures cooled to 0.83°C [app 1.5°F] degrees in 2100 – forecast based on the 1986-2005 average – and 0.55 degrees by 2300, the sea level rise due to thermal expansion would continue to increase – from 14.2 cm [5.9 inches] in 2100 to 24.2 cm [10.08 inches] in 2300.

If the weakest emissions cuts were made, temperatures could rise to 3.91 degrees Celsius [7.038°F] in 2100 and the sea level rise could increase to 32.3 cm [13.758 inches], increasing to 139.4 cm [ 4.84 feet] by 2300.

It looks like this group of scientists are not paying attention. Based on the current CO2 levels, a sea level rise of 1.5 meters by end of century is already programmed into the system. Where have they been the last few years? They apear to only calculate thermal expansion, and exclude ice melt from their models.

The contribution from Trillions of tonnes of water pumped up from deep underground reservoirs is greater than glacier melt.

That is at this point in time, I expect it to reverse.

You may be right. If you look at the diagrams at this NASA web site

http://climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/ (scroll down to the sea level rise diagrams)

it apears the speed of sea level change took a step up by the turn of the century, and another one at the turn of the millennia. The last step up have somewhat coincided with when we stopped increasing water dam capacity faster than we increased aquafier depletion.

However, ice melt is increasing more or less every year. Once we have depleted our water resources, melting and calving ice masses will more than have compensated for the "loss" of water depletion.

But as stated elsewhere: this article was a summary of the real article, in wich a much more reality based assessment were made.

I asked about this a while ago, but got little response. I was looking for a chart that showed the depletion of global oil production, in terms of minimum required price to produce. The idea goes like this: Simple land wells (like in Texas and Louisiana) can produce oil at a profit when the oil price is somewhere around $30. But, deep water rigs require $60-$70, Canadian oil sands need $70-$80, Russia needs $100 for other reasons, etc.

So, each of these oil sources, when broken down into their cost to produce would make an interesting chart, if you could see it over time. It would show how each moment in time puts a price "floor" on production at a specific required output.

I am already familiar with the concept that once a project has started, the tendency is to go ahead and pump it dry, because cash flow is king(Thanks Rockman). But, over longer periods, investments in projects that require high oil prices to break even are harder to fund. It now looks, to me, that any project that requires over $100 oil prices to return your investment plus a profit is a limit on the top side. And, the $20 oil production is in the final depletion years.

There are many charts that show accumulated oil production from all producing countries, and their depletion over the years. I'm just saying that a similar type chart, showing depletion of the $20 wells, stacked under the $30 wells, then the $40 wells, and so on, would be illuminating. I just don't have the skill to produce such a chart.

eastie - I think I understand your point but let's be sure we're using the same terminology. I went into detail above but the short of it: the cost to produce a well is the LOE...lease operating expense. That's how much I spent to keep my well producing last month. If I spent $5,000 to produce 500 bbls of "net oil" my production cost (LOE) was $10 per bbl. Net oil is how much I produced less the amount I have to give to the mineral owner as royalty and less what I have to give the state/county in severance tax. Royalty can run from 17% to 25% typically. Tax in Texas on oil is 4.6%...in La. 12.5%.

So what's a good weighted average for LOE for just of Texas oil wells let alone the rest of the world? I have no freaking idea. LOL. And no one else does IMHO. But I can point to many thousands on wells in Texas that were still producing profitably when oil dropped to $20/bbl in the late 90's. And many of those wells were still producing when oil went over $100/bbl. Needless to say profit margins were huge even for such wells making just several bopd. Remember the average well in the country is making less than 10 bopd. And most of those wells kept producing when oil hit $20/bbl just a dozen years ago. And that's gross bbls...not net bbls as I described above. So a well making 9 gross bbls may only be netting the operator income on 6 bopd. And those wells were still being commercially produced even at much lower prices than we have today. And that's the average production...less than 10 bopd. Which means a lot of wells are producing much less than 10 bopd and were still commercial when prices fell. During low price periods an operator might shut a well in if the LOE exceeds the net income from an individual well. But if he shuts in all the wells on a lease many leases will automatically expire if a well is shut in for more than 30 days. In some cases an operator might produce a well 1 day a month but many modern lease agreements don't allow such games.

I think the metric you might be referring to is "finding cost". Generally that the cost to drill and complete a well plus the LOE over its life time. The finding costs divided by the URR (of only net production) gives you the $/bbl to create that production. So if I spend $4.5 million to drill a well and another $500,000 in life time LOE and the well produces 100,000 bbls of net oil then my finding cost is $50/bbl. So if I'm selling oil for $100/bbl I'll make 2X the money as long as oil prices don't change. In this case my LOE is $10/bbl. So even if oil drops from $100/bbl to $20/bbl I still have positive cash flow even though I'm selling my oil for less than it cost to develop it. So OTOH I'm making a $10/bbl "profit" by producing a well that I'm losing $30/bbl of my original investment.

But if you're talking about exploratory wells, and even lower risk development wells, you don't know with certainty how much oil you will find...if any. So an operator doesn't decide to drill for $50 oil or $20 oil or $100 oil. He drills for a specific amount of POTENTIAL oil reserves with some X probability of success and expects to spend $Y in total drilling costs. He also makes a projection of future prices he'll receive for his yet unproven reserves. After the well is drilled (although it actually takes a number of years producing to be truly certain) an operator learns what his finding costs is. He can't calculate it before hand except on a purely theoretical basis. He may calculate a potential of 5 million bo of oil yielding a finding cost of $20/bbl. Then he drills the well and finds twice as much and thus his FC is only $10/bbl. Or he only finds 500,000 bo and his finding FC is $200/bbl. And maybe he drills a dry hole: what's the finding cost of oil you don't produce? Do you add the cost of your dry holes to the cost of your successful wells and calculate a FC for your entire drilling program?

No operator can select what actual FC he's going to end up with. He can try to put some probability context into the decision making process but that's as close as he can come.

Thanks for the "inside baseball" view of the traditional drilling business. But, you seem to imply that the a drilling company has almost no business plan, because their expected profits are so varied. So they just drill and depending on what they find, they either make $10 or $50 profit per barrel.

I was more looking for statistical averages for regional drilling costs for total investment. An example would be the Texas land drilling region. In this region, well defined by historical data, you could plot the probability of your average costs for continuing to drill at some dollar value. My goal was to show that, over time, the floor for oil production would need to rise because the expected volumes of oil coming from relatively cheap drilling regions would not cover the demand. We already know this, but I was looking for a new kind of graphical representation based on these different classes of production, with those different "finding cost".

I understand that this is not easy, but it doesn't hurt to ask. I thought the visual would be interesting. Imagine that some people think we can just go back to $20 oil. They would need to understand that this means discontinuing all deep water and Canadian sands, etc. Then what?

Chrysler June sales hit 5-year high

From the tiny Fiat 500 to the Ram pickup truck, sales of Chrysler vehicles charged higher in June, despite concerns that buyers would be turned off by slower hiring.

Chrysler U.S. sales rose 20 per cent — its best June in five years — thanks to demand across its lineup.


There continues to be a lot of demand from buyers who bought cars in the middle of the last decade and need to replace them. Annual sales hit a high of 17 million in 2005, and those cars are now seven years old.

Low interest rates and better credit availability could also lure buyers. The average interest rate on a 60-month new-car loan is now 4.5 per cent, down from 6.98 per cent two years ago, according to Bankrate.com.

"The affordability of cars is probably at an all-time high," Chrysler Group sales chief Reid Bigland said last week.

See: www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/07/03/chrysler-auto-sales.html

Yee-haw, the glory days are back once more... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfzBj2LsgA8


"The affordability of cars is probably at an all time high."

Just can't possibly see how that works out with the average price of a new car (I'm assuming they are talking new cars in the affordability comment) higher than ever.

Couple that with long stagnant wages - for those that still do have a job - and I'm not sure that comment really applies across the board.

Probably more like: "The affordability of cars is probably at an all time high for those that don't really much need to concern themselves with affordability anyways or can write off most of the purchase price..."

I'm guessing the comments regarding affordability are in relation to the reduction in financing charges, as financing is obviously a large portion of the overall cost.


They are most likely just looking at the payments and with interest rates near 0, the payments are lower then ever.

This is exactly why I argued that ZIRP can extend BAU for longer than most people on this board expect.

More anecdotal evidence....just today as I was riding my motorcycle to work and made my daily drive past the local Ford dealer, I saw a 2012 Focus 5-door on the lot. It was available 0% for 60 months and no money down, all for $9,995. Cheaper than my former new *2002* Suzuki Hayabusa. They're basically giving that car away. So yeah I tend to agree with the article.

"The affordability of cars is probably at an all-time high," Chrysler Group sales chief Reid Bigland said last week.

"Not really" - the poorly paid/unemployed masses

His name sounds like it was made up from a bad Scrabble draw.
Anyone really think that this guy checks that his statements have an iota of truthiness to them?
No, Coporatespeak 101: say whatever you want, move on.

For those who can afford a new vehicle....

I used my bank's personal loan calculator to compare the cost of borrowing $20,000.00 (cgi.scotiabank.com/cgi-bin/Scotiabank/Lending/PersonalLoan.cgi). At 7 per cent, the total cost of the loan over a 60 month term is said to be $23,761.42, and my monthly payment is $396.02; at 4.5 per cent, that drops to $22,371.62 and $372.86, for a net savings of $1,389.81 and $23.16 a month respectively.

Using the Dodge RAM as our example, the 2011 MSRP on the RAM 1500 was $21,785.00 and in 2012 that dropped to $20,323.00, so the current model is priced $1,462.00 below that of its predecessor. So, if we combine the reduction in finance charges and the lower sticker price, I'm some $2,851.81 ahead of the game.


And speaking of car prices and operating expenses: I notice the 'help wanted' ads for jobs in the building/repair trades insisting that any applicant MUST have a 'reliable vehicle'. The wages for these jobs are pretty much what they were 25 years ago (if one adjusts for inflation, the wages are much lower), while the price and operating expenses of vehicles are much higher.

Meh. Chrysler makes a lot of low MPG cars so that is a bit worrying. Hopefully the Fiat 500 is raising up their sales average MPG. Otherwise, this may be just digging our problem deeper if a lot of low MPG cars are sold and then gasoline goes back up to $5/gallon.

Of course, the current low oil prices may last a while. I guess a lot of people are optimistic on that front. I'd rather take a conservative approach and get a high MPG car . . . if gas prices rise then I'm not paying huge amounts for gas and if gas remains cheap, I've got a nice pile of money I've saved.

Oh good, let's make more cars. Wonderful. Pass me that shovel, we gotta keep digging.

5 Signs of the Chinese Economic Apocalypse

The lights are flickering in the world's economic powerhouse.

Although China's outlook may still be positive by, say, European standards, the numbers show that the country's storied growth engine has slipped out of gear. Businesses are taking fewer loans. Manufacturing output has tanked. Interest rates have unexpectedly been cut. Imports are flat. GDP growth projections are down, with some arguing that China might already be in recession. In March, Premier Wen Jiabao put the 2012 growth target at 7.5 percent; then seen as conservative, it's now viewed as prescient. If realized, it would be China's lowest annual growth rate since 1990, when the country faced international isolation after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Did Jim Rogers make thr right move?

The large provincial debts in China are a quite overlooked problem: http://chinaworker.info/en/content/news/1771/

‘Cat-and-mouse game’

Diana: It’s an intentional government policy isn’t it, to try and bring down the housing prices and control property speculation? Do you think the government’s efforts have been effective and will it stave off a crisis?

Vincent: Well, it’s interesting. It shows you the realities of how the different wings of the Chinese state work. Because what’s going on is described as a ‘cat-and-mouse game’. Beijing, the central government, has since 2010 been trying to slow down the increases in the property prices. They’ve imposed curbs on who can actually buy a house. They’ve tried to restrict speculation; stopping people from buying a second, third, and multiple houses, which is common for the rich in China and for big companies.

So, those polices have been in force for two years now. But local governments have been resisting it, because the local governments – the city governments, the province-level governments – they’re dependent on land sales for half their income. And, of course, falling land prices is bad news for them and their spending plans. And many of them now are up to their neck in debt, because in the stimulus plan that was launched four years ago the local governments bore the brunt of the spending. They splashed out on expressways, on bridges, on new hydroelectric power projects, and so on. But also a lot of wasteful prestige projects like multi-storey police stations, golf courses, seven-star hotels, conference centres.

And within this you’ve also got the phenomenon of the ghost cities, like the city of Kangbashi. It’s very famous in China. It’s in the province of Inner Mongolia. It’s housing could provide accommodation for half a million people, but only 20,000 people live there. The sports stadium, which is state-of-the-art, can hold 30,000 people. So that if everyone in the whole city turned out to watch a sporting event, they would not be able to fill the seats in the stadium – it’s that bad! And there are ghost cities all over China. And the local governments have got into extreme problems of indebtedness as a result of this.

Local government debt crisis

Diana: And you explained at a meeting in Melbourne [the national conference of the Socialist Party] last week how this represents a change in policy in China. That previously the local governments were not allowed by the central government to go into debt. Is that true?

Vincent: Yes. By law they are not allowed to incur debt and they’d been kept on a tight rein previously. But the government hit the panic button in 2008. It could see that the global capitalist crisis in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse was going to hit China hard. Unemployment was going to explode, particularly among the migrant workers who have no job protection – they are casual workers. There are 200 million of them in China, and when I say migrants, I don’t mean foreign imported labour, I mean they are Chinese workers from the poorer provinces.

So the government hit the panic button and they allowed the local governments to spend, but the way they’ve done it is they’ve actually copied a lot of the Wall Street ‘witch doctory’. They’ve set up local government finance vehicles (LGFVs) using land as collateral and borrowed heavily from the banks, which of course are also government-owned in China. And this has resulted in a collective debt – the government says that the local government debt, from almost nothing four years ago, is now 10.7 trillion RMB, which in Australian dollars is around A$1.65 trillion, which is significantly more than entire GDP of Australia. So, there is a major local government debt problem. One Chinese professor said, “Every province of China is Greece”.

All those stories about what a wonderful job the Canadian government has done managing the nations finances overlook the fact that many Canadian provinces have a significant amount of debt. Unlike American states, which typically are significantly restricted in their ability to accumulate debt, Canadian provinces are restricted only by their ability to find new lenders. The total Federal/Provincial debt as a percentage of GDP is in the same ballpark as a lot of other countries that are considered to be in deep trouble.

Personal indebtedness in Canada is extremely high by historical standards -- basically, for every dollar we earn, $1.53 is owed. And we always ranked among the world's top savers but that's all in the distant past. Consequently, most Canadians are tapped to the max and have no cushion to fall back upon.

BTW, there's federal and provincial debt, but there's also something Scotiabank refers to as "HUMS", namely Hospitals, Universities, Municipalities and Schools. CIBC calls this "MUSH" (Municipalities, Universities, Schools and Hospitals). However you wish to name it, don't forget to add this to your list.

Edit: For a quick overview of our financial health, see: http://www.leaderpost.com/business/Snapshot+Canada+finances/6865669/stor...


Oh, it just warms my heart to see Canada imitating us so much. ;-)

I'm sure there's at least one Canadian member of this forum who will assure you everything is just fine, but I'm not buying it. Canadians are standing at the edge of the debt precipice and the underlying ground ain't no terra firma.


I live in Alberta, which doesn't have a net government debt, it has net assets, so I tend not to worry about it. The federal government net debt as a percentage of GDP is about half of what it was 20 years ago, so the feds generally have things under control.

If I lived in Ontario or Quebec I might be more concerned because they definitely are not keeping their eye on the financial ball and they account for over half the Canadian population.

The Western provinces (exclusive of Alberta which has no debt) on average have government debt to GDP ratios half the size of the Eastern provinces. In reality the problem is Ontario and everything east of it. It's kind of up to their voters what kind of government they elect, and apparently they like ones that spend a lot and don't tax much.

Healthy savings : Should Alberta keep running down its wealth?

The most important financial assets are held in the Alberta Sustainability and Heritage funds. The former is used to provide short-term financing when the province is in deficit, while the latter is used for longer-term financing, at least in principle.

At its peak in the fiscal year 2009-10, when a “capital fund” was rolled into the Alberta Sustainability Fund, the province had about $17-billion to cover spending in deficit times. Today’s Sustainability Fund is at $11-billion, after being pumped up by a couple of billion dollars through some creative accounting with surplus funds. This adjustment has been offset by close to a $2.3-billion reduction in other financial assets this year.

At the same time, the province is operating at a consolidated deficit in 2010-11 of $4.7-billion. However, this masks the cash deficit, which is higher by at least $2-billion since capital spending is more than amortization and certain consolidated funds cannot be used to finance program or capital spending. Even with more robust oil prices (and rather flat natural gas prices), it won’t be surprising if the Sustainability Fund is further depleted in the next couple of years.

Why bother saving for a rainy day?

A reminder...

The Alberta “economy is increasingly a one-trick pony, and it will get crushed. And finding ways to improve the process of getting heavy oil out will not help us one iota,” said David Keith, a former University of Calgary professor who now teaches at Harvard.

(link to above quote)

The funds you mentioned are financial stabilization funds, intended to compensate for the unpredictable nature of Alberta's revenues. The Alberta government runs a surplus in good years and a deficit in bad years, with the average being more toward surpluses than deficits. They are rainy-day funds, and it's been raining since 2008, so the Alberta government is drawing on the funds now and will refill them later when things improve.

Alberta has a AAA credit rating from the rating houses (the US government is only rated AA+). Here is Standard and Poors Report (PDF)

Alberta fits well in the 'AAA' category, both relative to similarly rated regional governments in its peer group and with the category median (see table 1). Overall, the province's current economic prospects seem brighter than those of European peers (and about the same as Australian peers), its free cash and liquid assets far stronger than all peers, and debt amongst the lowest. Alberta's strong financial risk profile is the result of years of buoyant natural resource revenues and very strong operating and after-capital surpluses, which the province used to lower debt and accumulate assets.

However, on a related note, I should post this news item from today's Calgary Herald for people who were concerned by Stockton, California's recent bankruptcy:

Calgary’s fiscal stability reserve fund growing at unanticipated rate

Calgary’s rainy-day fund continues to grow much more quickly than aldermen can tap it for their various spending ambitions.

According to a reserve analysis a city committee debated Tuesday, the fiscal stability reserve ended last year worth $241 million. That’s triple what it was in 2006, when council first approved plans to build it up, and it now amounts to 8.8 per cent of what city hall spends every year on transit, policing and all other operations.

In fact, the emergency fund is now lucrative enough to fund the entire fire department and the 911 call operation for an entire year, with enough left over to pay for all expenses and salaries in the mayor’s office and council offices.

The link you posted was to Redford pledges $3-billion in oil-sands environmental research. The original Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA) spent about $1 billion and developed techniques which allowed Alberta to book about 170 billion barrels of additional proven oil reserves, worth about $17 trillion if oil is $100/bbl. She decided to revive AOSTRA and toss another $3 billion into it to see what happens this time.

Your quote was a bit extraneous to that. Maybe Dr. Keith is bitter because none of the $3 billion will be going his way now that he's at Harvard.

The State of Alaska has some experience with boom and bust cycles. One of the smarter things that was done in the early days of the N Slope oil boom was the establishment of the Alaska Permanent Fund. This was established under the administration of Jay Hammond, the "Bush Rat Governor". A portion of state revenue from state oil lease sales and royalties is set aside. The current value of the Alaska Permanent Fund is $41,292,700,000, as of July 2, 2012. this is our rainy day fund.

One very smart thing done when the Alaska Permanent Fund was established was to pay a yearly dividend to each qualified state resident. This creates strong pressure to insure that the legislature keeps its grubby hands off the prinicple. In 2011, the Permanent Fund Dividend was $1,174, which was distributed to each qualified resident. Note that the current population of Alaska is about 722,190.

So the government hit the panic button and they allowed the local governments to spend, but the way they’ve done it is they’ve actually copied a lot of the Wall Street ‘witch doctory’.

Welcome to bubble business cycle, China! Not all of capitalism is great . . . you get some bad with the good.

API Inventory Reports Hints at Increasing Gasoline/Diesel Demand

Late Tuesday, the API’s weekly inventory was released indicating falls in oil, diesel, and gasoline inventories last week. The US Government’s EIA report will not be available until Thursday, and MasterCard won’t release their next retail gasoline sales report for one week.

Lacking any other data, the API report appears to indicate that gasoline/diesel demand increased over last week’s levels. In various prior week reports, gasoline demand was reported to have fallen at a rate of about 3 to 4% per year, and it’s likely that US gasoline demand is still about 2 to 3% less this week than the comparable period one year ago.

So it appears that gasoline/diesel demand is increasing, although still mired in a slump. At first glance, this fact has lead some in the media to report about a coming gasoline ‘glut’ where prices will keep falling. However refiners have stepped up output to a utilization level not seen for four years to try to keep up demand – a phenomenon which I call the great energy supply paradox of 2012. The reason behind the paradox (falling demand and falling supplies) is relatively simple, but not obvious: oil product exports (like gasoline, diesel, ethanol). The US has flipped from being a product importer to a product exporter over the last year - and in dramatic fashion too.

A more accurate reading of supply/demand trends should be clearer in Thursday’s EIA report.


U.S. crude oil stocks fell 3 million barrels last week, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said in a weekly report released late on Tuesday, more than the drop expected by analysts.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, oil hub rose 247,000 barrels, while U.S. gasoline stocks fell 1.4 million barrels and distillate stocks fell 1.1 million barrels, the API said.


Canadian hydro workers join painstaking U.S. power restoration efforts

Working in sweltering heat, nearly 300 utility workers from Ontario and Quebec have joined the massive, painstaking effort to restore electricity to millions of Americans left without power in a heat wave after violent storms hit the eastern seaboard Friday.

About 200 employees from Ontario’s Hydro One - mostly power line maintainers, mechanics - left for Maryland, West Virginia., and Washington D.C.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/hydro-workers-from-quebec-onta...

And anyone living in the greater Washington area who spots one of the following logos on the side of a truck, give a smile and a wave to one of your neighbours to the north.

Good luck to all.


Always our good friend to the North. It annoys me how many people don't know that Canada graciously took in all US-bound international flights back on 9/11/2001 in case any of those flights had terrorists on board.

Thanks for the link to this page. I'm getting a little misty-eyed reading through the comments. Without a doubt, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador did us proud, and I can assure you that the citizens of this great province are the most generous and kind-hearted souls you'll find anywhere.

The CBC's Neil MacDonald used some extraordinarily harsh language to describe PEPCO and their efforts to restore power.

Click on the video "U.S. east powerless" at: www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/07/03/us-heat-storms-power-outages.html

I had always understood PEPCO's reputation was less than stellar but, whoa, what a paddy-wack.

Best hopes for a speedy restoration of service.


We saw not a few US-bound flights here in Alberta, too - Flights coming over the pole from Europe to California. People took them in, showed them around, and tried to make it seem more like the vacation they were intending to take in California, or more like home for people going back to California.