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A satellite night view taken during the Northeast Blackout of 2003. The blackout caused 50 million people in northeastern USA and central Canada to lose power, and much of the blame has since been assigned to the aging grid.  (Source: NOAA)

The Maple Ridge Wind Farm, located in Lowville, N.Y., has had to shut down multiple times during windy periods, due to congestions on the decrepit grid in the area.  (Source: AP)
While costs are dropping for alternative energy production, difficulty in bring it to market is not

The news here at DailyTech is filled with lots of good news on breakthroughs in efficiency and costs for solar and wind technology, particularly advances in solar cells.  Yet today, these forms of power are still more expensive than fossil fuel energy.  If there's so much good news, why can't these alternative energy sources hold their own?

Part of the problem, of course, is that some of these technologies remain years away from the market and need new manufacturing processes.  However, the fact of the matter is that production and installation costs are falling dramatically, and with it costs per kWh for all these energy sources.  So why are they still not on par with fossil fuels?

A key problem, according to recent reports is location.  There's plentiful, free land that's an ideal spot for alternative energy sources.  From mountainsides getting gusty winds to sunny swatches of desert, there are plenty of possibilities.  Better yet, many of these areas have relatively low wildlife and little human habitation, eliminating key concerns.  However, one critical problem is crippling power in these regions and slowing expansion according to the New York Times -- the aging power grid.

The power grid is the system conceived by utilities a century ago, which pumps power from plants to cities and towns along a series of power lines similar to the road system in the U.S.  There are big lines and small lines just as there are highways, surface streets, and dirt roads.  The grid has for many years allowed small scale sharing of power, and prevents blackouts. 

However, experts say today the grid's infrastructure is aging badly, not only jeopardizing alternative energy, but building a risk of brownouts, under the country's increasing energy demands.  Suedeen G. Kelly, a member of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, states, "We need an interstate transmission superhighway system."

While today, wind power only provides 1 percent of the country's electricity, that's expected to grow to as much as 20 percent within a couple decades.  Even today, wind farms, such as the Maple Ridge Wind farm -- a 200 turbine, $320M USD installation -- have been forced to shut down on windy days, due to the grid being overwhelmed.  And the problems are only expected to get worse.

Horizon Wind Energy, which owns the Maple Ridge Wind farm, says that areas of Wyoming could generate 50 percent more electricity than turbines in New York or Texas, the current wind leader of the U.S.  However, much of Wyoming is off the grid or lightly covered, making such projects impractical.  Gabriel Alonso, chief development officer of the company states, "The windiest sites have not been built, because there is no way to move that electricity from there to the load centers."

Companies currently have to pay fees to pump power into the power lines, due to the lines being overwhelmed by traffic.  The problem is there, but no one wants to do anything about it.  State governments don't want to spend large amounts of money to push grid updates that would benefit their neighbors.  And the national government, which acknowledges the grid problems, doesn't want to pull rank on the state governments. 

T. Boone Pickens, an oil billionaire investing massively in green gold -- wind -- wants to use a right of way he obtained for a water pipeline between Texas and the Florida panhandle to develop a massive high-power transmission line to carry power from his wind farms.  He is urging the national government to act to help his project.  He states, "If you want to do it on a national scale, where the transmission line distances will be much longer, and utility regulations are different, Congress must act."

One problem is the feudal state of the grid.  The grid's 200,000 miles of power lines are divided among 500 different owners.  To advance a project, typically the approval of multiple companies, many state governments and numerous permits must be obtained.  The situation is so awkward, after a series of brownouts, Congress in 2005 passed the energy law which gives the federal Energy Department the right to step in if the states are not acting.  It designated two areas -- the Middle Atlantic States and one in the Southwest -- as critical action areas, at risk of failure.

Kevin M. Kolevar, assistant secretary for electricity delivery and energy reliability stated in a speech last year, "Modernizing the electric infrastructure is an urgent national problem, and one we all share."

In order to achieve 20 percent wind capacity, 2,100 miles of new high voltage lines would be needed.  While this is not a huge amount compared to the national grid, it would cost nearly $60B USD.  However, the states are unwilling to cooperate or invest in such a multi-state initiative, largely.

A few state leaders are calling for change and cohesive leadership, though. Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico and a former energy secretary under President Bill Clinton states, "We still have a third-world grid.  With the federal government not investing, not setting good regulatory mechanisms, and basically taking a back seat on everything except drilling and fossil fuels, the grid has not been modernized, especially for wind energy."

While Mr. Pickens and Mr. Richardson seem to be in the minority, demanding immediate action, most seem to agree that the state of the grid is a problem.  Between threatening consumer prosperity via power outages to blocking the expansion of alternative energy expansion, the elderly grid is a serious concern, but a difficult problem to fix.  According to reports, it may require national level intervention, to fix this complex system before it collapse under its own weight.

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Not involved
By djc208 on 8/29/2008 9:24:33 AM , Rating: 2
I find it strange that our federal government doesn't want to get involved in something. Of all the crap they shouldn't have any involvement in and do, this sounds like one that actually should have Federal regulation and backing and now the government doesn't want to step on the state's toes? Where's that coming from?

RE: Not involved
By mdogs444 on 8/29/2008 9:31:25 AM , Rating: 1
Do you want (for example) a liberal congress passing laws to push wind or solar power down your republican state's throat while not allowing you to use coal or nuclear if you so choose?

RE: Not involved
By djc208 on 8/29/2008 9:41:47 AM , Rating: 2
Aren't they already doing that?

Seriously the article was about upgrading the power grid. I find it strange that the government will mandate fuel efficiency standards, emissions standards, education standards, construction standards. They regulate transportation, communication, and commerce but doesn't want to get involved in the national distribution of electricity.

Why not allow the utilities to run distribution lines down the medians of the Federal higway system? Or along the rail system? Rather than subsidise the wind turbine, subsidize the electrical lines that would service it.

RE: Not involved
By mdogs444 on 8/29/2008 9:44:40 AM , Rating: 1
I'm not disagreeing with you - I think they already do it. I'm just prefer the outlook of a federalist in giving each state their own powers. I'm not a big fan of federal oversight on everything, and federal government using their powers to cripple individual states.

RE: Not involved
By croc on 8/29/2008 8:47:07 PM , Rating: 3
I take it that you are not then in favour if your interstate highway system? Maybe your federal government should privatise it then. Shareholders would demand a healthy return on their profits, maintenance costs would eat into those profits... So a 'maintenance surcharge' would be added to the toll. And the toll will be whatever the shareholders think that the market will bear. Of course, many of the exits will have to be closed off, and some traffic diversions to funnel users into the system will have to happen.

RE: Not involved
By Solandri on 8/30/2008 7:08:25 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, the Interstate Highway System is a good example of how government intervention can distort markets to arrive at inefficient solutions. The IHS effectively subsidizes trucking as a means of transportation. Trucks do 90%-99% of the damage to the highways (cars just don't weigh enough to damage the underlying road structure), but they pay for only a fraction of its maintenance cost in the form of fuel taxes. The bulk of the maintenance is paid for by all the passenger vehicles in use.

As a consequence, in the U.S., trucks replaced trains as the primary mode of long-distance land transport. This despite trucks needing to consume nearly 4x as much fuel to haul one ton of goods the same distance as a train.

A private highway system would've quickly recognized that most of their maintenance costs were due to trucks, and charged them a correspondingly increased toll fee. But because it's government, the trucking lobby convinces government to maintain the status quo, while passenger car lobbies like AAA are smaller in size due to public ignorance.

Without a government-run highway system, we would probably see trains used for long-haul routes, while trucks were used for short hauls from the railyard to the final destination. It would've cost us a lot less money, put out a lot less pollution, and resulted in much fewer transportation fatalities. It would have lessened the impact of rising fuel prices on our economy (since fuel costs would've been a smaller portion of total manufacturing costs). But because the government thought a highway system would be cool thing to build without fully considering its consequences (or perhaps deliberately ignoring them), we now have a huge segment of our economy dependent upon the more inefficient, more dangerous, and more polluting form of transport of goods.

Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that government intervention is needed in some cases (e.g. pollution, where the costs are externalized onto the public rather than internalized onto the business doing the polluting). But likewise government can wind up doing some really screwy things with the best of intentions, and the IHS is a good example of that.

RE: Not involved
By gamerk2 on 9/2/2008 8:09:57 AM , Rating: 1
Theres a few flaws in your argument though:

First off: Do you really think private industry would have stepped in to front the costs of any type of highway system, especially when a pre-existing rail structure was already in place? Its no coincidence that car ownership took off AFTER the IHS was established.

Secondly: One of the advantages of the IHS, is that all the roads are a uniform standard, something you would not get if the system was privately owned. Also, roads in genearal are in bad enough disrepair as it is (especially state owned roads), but the IHS roads are generally kept in good shape. If you had seperate entities controlling diffrent sections of roads, you would end up with a highway system with various standards, and in various states of disrepair.

Finally: Because no improvememnts have been made to rail lines in a quarter century, you would end up with a state of gridlock if all the trucking was moved to freight, especially around the old rail hubs (detroit, chicago, etc.). This would lead to longer devlivery times, and extra cost of goods, which would of course, be passed on to the consumer. You will probably try to counter-argue that if the IHS was never established, that the rail lines would have been upgraded, but the fact remains that the old rail hubs (where all the privately owned railroads meet) would cause gridlock to the entire system.

BTW, large quantities of industrial goods are still shipped by train; Small shipments and non-industrial goods are the goods that are shipped by truck. Also, because the rates for shipping by truck are far cheaper than the rates needed to ship by train, goods are transported for cheaper, leading to cheaper prices.

In short, while what you wrote does have some merit, you forgot to account for cost of shipping and the lack of an updated rail structure, both which would lead to increased prices on the consumer side.

RE: Not involved
By Maturin on 8/29/2008 11:52:01 AM , Rating: 2
Govt does not create anything. It only restricts others from doing as they wish. That is what "govern" means.

Powerlines cost huge dollars to build, and somebody has to pay for it. Passing laws to tell others what they can or cannot do costs nothing, in comparison. All the Federal govt can do is tell others how to spend their money, or take their money from them to spend as it wishes. It cannot make the money magically appear to solve the problem.

RE: Not involved
By masher2 (blog) on 8/29/08, Rating: -1
RE: Not involved
By Solandri on 8/30/2008 7:31:40 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that government does not create anything. But one of the most powerful and effective things government can do is manage. A free market does not work 100% of the time. There are sets of mathematically definable situations where a free market actually arrives at a worse or the worst possible outcome. In those situations, a government acting to prevent those choices can yield a better outcome. The government doesn't directly create anything, but by sensible management it allows private entities to create more.

A good example is the fishery in Alaska. Corresponding fisheries in other areas of the U.S. (e.g. the cod fishery off New England*, the sardine fishery off California) were unregulated. In such an environment, each fisherman only had an incentive to catch as many fish as he could. Eventually they caught so many fish that the fisheries collapsed. The cod and sardine fisheries have never recovered, and now those fisherman catch practically zero cod and sardines.

Alaska OTOH manages its fisheries with almost draconian regulations. Sometimes fishing seasons are as short as weeks, and each fisherman's catch is closely monitored and regulated to insure the health of the fishery. In any one season, each individual fisherman catches fewer fish than he would if the government weren't regulating it. But over the span of several years each fisherman catches more fish than he would if the government weren't regulating it and the fishery collapsed.

I don't know if government-regulated or government-funded power lines would be a good or bad thing. But you can't just dismiss the concept by claiming the government can't do something that works for the greater economic good.

* The cod fishery's history is actually more sinister. The NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) tried to regulate it before it's collapse. But the fishermen were able to lobby and get the proposed cod catch limits raised or lifted entirely. Which made the fishermen happy for a few years. Then the fishery collapsed and now they're even worse off than they would've been with the proposed limits. Now it looks like the cod will never return - their ecological niche has been replaced by other (less desirable) fish, which simply eat the cod before they can grow to a harvestable size.

RE: Not involved
By Bruneauinfo on 8/29/2008 10:54:25 AM , Rating: 2
no money to be made in it for them...

RE: Not involved
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 11:19:50 AM , Rating: 2
The Federal government can and will always find ways to make money from any project...

RE: Not involved
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 11:18:33 AM , Rating: 2
Federal regulation and backing and now the government doesn't want to step on the state's toes? Where's that coming from?

Where from? A thing called the civil war from about 150 years ago. It really was one of the biggest issues of the day. What and how much influence and control the Federal government could/should have over the state government. Of course not saying this current issue would lead to a civil war, just that the lines that could and could not be crossed were drawn up from the civil war.

RE: Not involved
By Oregonian2 on 8/29/2008 7:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
Federal regulation and backing and now the government doesn't want to step on the state's toes? Where's that coming from?

Yes, exactly. The federal government has essentially staged a revolution usurping power from the states little by little step by step. The USA is supposed to be a relatively loose federation of states (almost like the EU is now, although a little further along than that), but the Feds take power at every opportunity they can (to Europeans on this site -- take note that history tends to repeat).

No *!#$.
By Amiga500 on 8/29/2008 10:15:06 AM , Rating: 3
This was predicted years ago by the engineers that work on the grid.

Variability and remote supply render renewables useless above approx 20% of total grid contribution.

Were they listened to - were they f**k. The tree huggers ploughed ahead and went nowhere fast... as usual.

RE: No *!#$.
By masher2 (blog) on 8/29/2008 10:47:28 AM , Rating: 2
You are certainly correct. Matching a variable supply (wind and solar) to a variable demand is essentially impossible with current technology.

The world leader in wind power (Denmark) only generates 19% of its power from wind. . . and they're only able to meet that figure by selling most of their wind power to the European grid, because their own can't absorb it.

RE: No *!#$.
By nah on 8/29/08, Rating: 0
RE: No *!#$.
By masher2 (blog) on 8/29/2008 2:13:34 PM , Rating: 5
> "would that the U.S. had dealt with its energy problems so decisively."

This is funny. Denmark "decisively" dealt with its energy problems by discovering that, no matter how hard it tried, it couldn't fill even 20% of its energy demands from Wind.

Even that effort alone resulted in Denmark having the most expensive electricity rates in all of Europe, rates more than THREE TIMES as expensive as the US pays:

If you want your energy bills to triple, without doing much to reduce fossil fuel emissions -- by all means, follow the Danish model.

RE: No *!#$.
By masher2 (blog) on 8/29/2008 2:14:32 PM , Rating: 2
Trying to corect whoever left the unclosed bold....

RE: No *!#$.
By nah on 8/30/2008 7:53:29 AM , Rating: 2
If you want your energy bills to triple,

Again, this should not necessarily happen--the DOE estimates as much as 600 GW of wind energy for USD 60-100 per MW-hr, including the cost of connecting to the existing delivery system

RE: No *!#$.
By masher2 (blog) on 8/30/2008 10:48:04 AM , Rating: 1
Err, $60-$100 per MW-hr is 0.60-1.00 per kW-h. That's about eight times more expensive than what we currently pay for electricity.

RE: No *!#$.
By nah on 8/30/2008 12:19:10 PM , Rating: 1
That's about eight times more expensive than what we currently pay for electricity.

But this is in 2030--not now.Read the DOEs pdf--links above.

RE: No *!#$.
By nah on 8/30/2008 12:22:32 PM , Rating: 2
That's about eight times more expensive than what we currently pay for electricity.

Also, your maths is just a wee off. 1 MW-hr is 1000 KW-hrs--therefore 60 USD is about 6000 cents, divided by 1000 is 6 US cents--not 60. SO the ranger is between 6-10 cents in 2030--not bad at all.

RE: No *!#$.
By masher2 (blog) on 8/30/2008 12:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
Whoops; more than a wee bit off. Thanks for the correction, and I apologize for the slip.

Still, the DOE and many other people have been hypothesizing that the costs for wind and solar will drop sharply for decades. In 1980, the DOE said that, by 2010, solar would be competitive with coal. Today, it's 4X as expensive, not much cheaper than it was then.

In short, I'll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, squandering billions on sub-optimal solutions makes poor sense.

RE: No *!#$.
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 12:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
I think you mis-spelled *!#$ shouldn't it be "no $#!+"? :)

Maybe next president
By Regs on 8/29/2008 8:14:03 AM , Rating: 1
Instead of cutting taxes that goes back anyway on to fuel or student loans, maybe we can use taxes to actually benefit the economy and our infrastructure. Subsidize it. Give these companys tax breaks. Like Verizon for fios!

RE: Maybe next president
By therealnickdanger on 8/29/2008 8:28:30 AM , Rating: 2
I would rather keep more money that I earn than waste $60B to accomodate wind. That doesn't save ANYONE money. Subsidizing isn't some magic wand that makes debt go away or poor alternatives operate any more efficiently. I would still rather keep more money that I earn than spend it on nuclear.

Nuclear doesn't need subsidy, it just needs federal fast-track support to bypass all these damned regulations, those are the costs that bind. The technology is tried and true. Way more power, dramatically better efficiency, and I don't have to see my favorite Montana vacation spots ruined by fugly windmills.

RE: Maybe next president
By theoflow on 8/29/2008 11:46:29 AM , Rating: 3
Not everything needs to be measured in currency to make it a beneficial investment. We are investing in infrastructure which doesn't save everyone money, but surely benefits everyone.

I'm pretty surprised people haven't brought up past federal infrastructure programs as some sort of reference. The one that gleams out to me is the Eisenhower Interstate program that was instituted. I'm pretty sure in adjusted dollars that program is equal to, if not exceeds 60B dollars. We pretty much take our highways for granted, but I wasn't born in that time period to understand the sacrifices Americans made to pay for the interstate system. Again, the highway didn't really save anyone money, in the short term, but it paid off huge in the past 4-5 decades?

A upgraded power grid and/or broadband system would pay off huge in the future. It is just really hard for everyone (including myself) to fathom the cost savings. I wouldn't mind paying $250 over five year for a stable grid for my kids (when I eventually have them).

I think it is a mistake to say that wind doesn't save anyone money. I'm assuming people who live right next to a wind farm pay a slightly lower price for energy then a traditional power plant. If someone in that area can enlighten me on that, I think everyone would appreciate the information.

I'm also for Nuclear as a sort of stopgap solution. As of right now I believe Nuclear to be safe. However, over a 20 year period I'm still a little uncomfortable with wear and tear on equipment. Over a 100 year period I would definitely accept Nuclear, but at that point we should come up with something better.

Solar is a mixed bag for me. I don't like that solar cells aren't all that efficient and they can only really produce in the daytime. Yes, there can be energy storage at night, but batteries have shelf lives and the chemicals I'm not too fond of.

RE: Maybe next president
By Ringold on 8/30/2008 5:46:51 PM , Rating: 2
Not everything needs to be measured in currency to make it a beneficial investment. We are investing in infrastructure which doesn't save everyone money, but surely benefits everyone.

Not accusing you of it necessarily, but some people have this warm-hearted notion that, golly, some things just can't be put in to dollar terms!

Sorry, but unless we're talking about how much we love/hate the color blue, most things certainly can. The benefits a highway system provides can be estimated, not easily for a nation so large as our own but it's definitely not impossible. Likewise, the cost/benefit of any infrastructure expenditure can be analyzed and compared to analysis done on other options.

Attempting appeals to the common good or trying to dismiss such analysis forces the debate in to the ideological trenches, with politicians looking for 50% + 1 vote to advance their private agendas. It also almost assures the best choice isn't made.

RE: Maybe next president
By mdogs444 on 8/29/2008 8:35:37 AM , Rating: 1
maybe we can use taxes to actually benefit the economy and our infrastructure.

Perhaps we could if we decreased the amount of social programs and eliminated pork barrel spending, you wouldn't have to increase taxes. There is no substitute for being fiscally conservative.
Subsidize it.

Is that an honest answer? Subsidize it? How ridiculous. I hope you realize there is a big difference between tax breaks and subsidies. Subsidies take hard earned tax money from civilians and use it to pay partially for overpriced items. If something is so expensive that it needs to be subsidized to make it look attractive (Ethanol?), then chances are its not worth it in the first place. Without the subsidies, Ethanol would cost roughly $5-6/gal (I read), while producing roughly 20% less efficiency.

Now tax breaks, sure. That is just an enticement for a company to enter the market, or invest more of its assets into the market. And a great strategy to keep costs lower, while maintaining profit. Its exactly why they do it for oil companies. Granted, they make a huge bottom line profit, but without the tax breaks, you can bet those additional moneys would be added to the price of gasoline at the pump.
Like Verizon for fios!

I think you'd be hard pressed to find the average American willing to give a subsidy for an internet line, when they already have other options available. That's not exactly tax dollars wisely spent.

RE: Maybe next president
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 9:02:28 AM , Rating: 2
Does Verizon even get any subsidies or tax breaks for FiOS deployment? I haven't heard about it. And a quick search doesn't reveal anything.

I definitely agree that the grid needs to get updated regardless of wind power. It's decades old and horribly inefficient. But yeah subsidies aren't the answer. Give the power companies some tax breaks and that would free up money to pay for this.

I am a little mixed on government involvement here. I don't think they should be mandating anything. But I think they should maybe help the states and power companies work together. Power generation is a nation-wide issue. The main reason the state government's don't want to get involved is because they're broke as it is.

Of course eventually the Supreme Court probably will come in and mandate something since they think they're the all powerful Oz.

RE: Maybe next president
By Digimonkey on 8/29/2008 11:30:42 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure of the precise guide lines for this, but I do know ISPs are subsidized for installing a fiber infrastructure where no other broadband option is available. I doubt this was the case for Verizon and FiOS where it's mostly served in heavier populated areas.

Catch 22
By djc208 on 8/29/2008 9:33:28 AM , Rating: 2
There's plentiful, free land that's an ideal spot for alternative energy sources. From mountainsides getting gusty winds to sunny swatches of desert, there are plenty of possibilities. Better yet, many of these areas have relatively low wildlife and little human habitation, eliminating key concerns.

Except that environmentalists will most likely still protest these projects over the corruption of this land due to the access roads and new power lines that would be required to support these "green" energy sources.

Then there's the not in-my-back-yard mentality. "The subsidized, tax free wind turbines are OK, but I don't want any power lines going to them, that's just tacky and dangerous, and could hurt my house value."

RE: Catch 22
By The Irish Patient on 8/29/2008 1:09:43 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly correct. The article blames industry and government for the sorry state of the grid. Maybe somewhere else, but the environmentalists are the biggest problem in my area.

Every plan for a new power line has gotten shot down by the environmentalists for years. More recently, the environmentalists derailed an industry plan to overhaul our existing but ancient power lines. Forget about building a new natural gas pipeline. And a very well thought out project to bring liquefied natural gas to an offshore terminal got killed last Summer.

The environmentalists need to figure out what it is that they are in favor of, instead of just saying "no" to everything. A two year old can do that. The worst outcome of all is to let the grid collapse.

RE: Catch 22
By Spuke on 8/29/2008 1:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
The worst outcome of all is to let the grid collapse.
That's what they are in favor of.

Easy one Jason
By kbehrens on 8/29/2008 10:51:05 AM , Rating: 2
why can't these alternative energy sources hold their own?
Because they cost way too much, and they don't work 100% of the time.

By bill3 on 8/30/2008 6:17:24 AM , Rating: 2
Just the picture accompanying this article of the people enjoying an outdoor day in the pool with those massive windmills in the background is sickening.

Who knows how many millions of wilderness acres windmills would need to destroy. Imagine going to the historic dusty plains of Texas and instead seeing windmills everywhere. It just isnt right.

It highlights what a solution-less joke the enviromental movement is. They're all against fossil fuels, but the alternatives they tout have HUGE issues, and are typically MORE harmful for the enviroment as well.

I've heard that wind at best can provide 5-7% of our power needs according to estimates. I've heard wind has been tried and deemed to be a failure already in Europe. And I've heard T Boone Pickens, one of the proponents of wind so you can bet he's giving a best case scenario, say up to 22% of our power can one day be generated by wind. This doesnt sound very impressive to me, especially given that to have any kind of vibrant growing economy and growing population as youd like, power needs increase, and I'm betting that 22% today is more like half that in a decade or two.

But it is funny that windmills are far more destructive to the enviroment than many other forms of powe generation, but since it's acceptable to liberals, and liberals with guns (aka the gub'mnt) tell us what to do in America, it seems to be ok to build massive windfarms.

It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By Mithan on 8/29/08, Rating: -1
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 9:06:27 AM , Rating: 2
Do you tell that story to your kids at bedtime?

Gotta love you doom and gloom people.

By BloodSquirrel on 8/29/2008 9:11:13 AM , Rating: 2
What's really sad is that I cannot guarantee that the above post is sarcasm.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By Mithan on 8/29/08, Rating: -1
RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By Spuke on 8/29/2008 4:22:14 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone actually know anything outside of what happens in their own generation?

Dude, if you're going to spread doom and gloom, at least make it funny. LOL! Oh wait, I'm laughing.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By Mithan on 8/29/2008 4:43:10 PM , Rating: 2
Of course I do.

Read about what lead up to the Great Depression. It is happening right now.

Same thing, except it will be much worse this time.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By andrinoaa on 8/29/08, Rating: 0
RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By Mithan on 8/29/2008 5:12:44 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't even need to be a Nuclear War, economic armageddon will do it.

By Ringold on 8/30/2008 6:10:39 PM , Rating: 2
Read about what lead up to the Great Depression. It is happening right now.

Okay tool, lets see.

Step 1: Recession.

Look at durable goods numbers, ex-auto's to throw out the epic individual failures of GM, Ford and Chrysler. Durable goods numbers are good. Exports are strong. Inventory numbers are amazing. Job losses are primarily restricted to areas directly impacted by construction and the multi-decade trend in low-skill jobs being replaced by a need for high-skill labor, as well as teenagers, possibly due to the weak environment and higher minimum wages. This looks nothing like what lead up to the Great Depression, except for a few data points which taken in isolation look disconcerting but when placed in the wider context mean little. Unemployment is also still very low. If you don't think its low, you would just betraying your age and/or ignorance of historical rates. Indeed, there's a line of thought that says with our inventory to sales ratio being what it is, a deep recession is almost impossible. What, cut capacity just to have to spool it back up next month? Not cost efficient to have mass layoffs.

Step 2: Tight monetary policy.

Woops. The Federal Reserve figured out after the G.D. that it's not a commercial bank, and thus should not act like one. Monetary policy is expansionary, and core inflation is contained. Indeed, falling home prices is deflationary. This is actually a mixed bag, it may lead to lower long term growth, but it also pretty much rules out total collapse in the short term.

Step 3: Government policies, FUBAR.

Smoot-Hawley, where is the 21st century equivalent? Do you see it? I don't. I hear Obama whine in front of the unwashed masses about NAFTA, and then I hear him get behind closed doors with Prime Minister Brown and say enough that gets foreign leaders to walk away and state their belief he is committed to free trade. Government is spinning its wheels, making a lot of sound and fury that amounts to nothing, which is actually better than if they'd attempt to find "solutions."

Step 4: Tax hikes and massive ditch-digging.

Obama has reversed a lot of his earlier rhetoric, and openly says that raising taxes in this environment is dangerous. I'm confident that neither candidate would lead to anything like what you suggest. Everybody does seem to be talking about "green collar jobs," which is the 21st century equivalent of paying one group of people to dig a ditch and then another to follow behind them and fill it back up, but oh well. That won't take us down, the sums involved are too tiny compared to our total output.

In short, we fail to meet any of the precursors to the Great Depression.

Nice try, though.

By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 5:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
Even if it did. Unlike Europe, we wouldn't go crying to everyone else to fix our problems.

By JasonMick (blog) on 8/29/2008 9:50:45 AM , Rating: 5
Good thing I got my Vault City Innoculations perk. 10% rad and poison resistance ftw! And its free...

Now me and my fatboy laugh at your pathetic nuclear war!

Now where's Dogmeat at....

(Wait... is this on topic...)

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 11:59:29 AM , Rating: 2
Minus the nuclear war part. This type of scenario ALWAYS happens (million starving) when a country goes to far left (socialist), ALWAYS. Socialism and communism have never worked, short runs of 20 to 60 years but never over 100 years. Socialism and communism gives to much power to to few checks and balances.
If you are voting for president of the USA this election, just keep that thought in mind when you pick your candidate and ask yourself – who's going to push this country further left? Then do you want your country to move in that direction?

The US businesses survived the recession years of the late 1990. The US now needs to bring home some if not most of the work it sent over seas. That is why many think we are in bad economic times now, when we are not. Really we are just not seeing good levels of growth, which is what this country is used to having. Our growth is 1 to 3 percent which sucks, but better then negative growth of the late 90's which killed a lot of businesses (therefor people lost their jobs). If we bring home some or most of the jobs we sent over seas you will see no depression. We just need politicians in office that will not bleed this countries wealth dry, by going with status quo of the past 16 years of leadership. This is not one mans or one parties mess.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By teldar on 8/29/2008 12:27:55 PM , Rating: 2
Someone else who realizes that this mess is not all the fault of one person or party?

But I am going to disagree about our economy a little.
The problem with it now is that our energy expenditures for gasoline are untenable. We need home grown guel alternatives as soon as possible. We need to start spending a little more of that money inside our own borders and then we will be in great shape.
We do have some issues right now.


By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 12:45:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well bring home some jobs will let us and cause us to spend more money inside our borders. By people earning money inside the border then have a little extra money in their pocket (assuming the average take home pay will increase). With more money in their pocket, they will spend more inside the border, (unless traveling internationally).
You are correct, energy expenditures is an issue...but so is illegal immigrants (not to be confused with legal immigrants whom are not an issue), Wealth fare, bad budgeting and several other things. Never just one thing to blame.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 1:22:41 PM , Rating: 2
Luckily illegal immigrants are leaving in record numbers. So much so that Mexico is complaining because their social services are getting overtaxed. Tough. They're your citizens. You take care of them.

We just need to keep up the strong enforcement in the states that are doing it and get the rest of the states going on it as well. In the recent raid that yielded 600 arrests, the legal workers at the company where it happened cheered as the illegals were being taken away. As they should. That means those jobs will go to honest, tax paying Americans.

I say the government cut off Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid funding to states or cities that support illegal immigration. They want those criminals there (Illegal immigration is a crime. That makes them ALL criminals.) in their town, let them try to pay for all the services those people suck out of the system without giving anything back.

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 3:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
Amen to that brother FITCamaro. Most people I talk with do not understand the economic difficulties illegal immigrants bring to a country. A few (couple hundred thousand) would not be a big deal.... but most reports have the count as low as 12 million more realistic number of 40 million illegals, that is a major problem.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By Spuke on 8/29/2008 4:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's more like 20 million or so.

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 4:53:01 PM , Rating: 2
No, actually the high end has it around 60 to 70 million so and average of the two would be 35 to 40 million. Again, most do not understand how bad we are being hurt by illegals.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By andrinoaa on 8/29/08, Rating: 0
RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 5:24:57 PM , Rating: 2
Our country did just fine and prospered significantly without them here. We will again. Might it cost more to get our lawn mowed? Maybe. But illegal immigration costs this country billions a year in government assistance (don't ask me why they get it), health care, and lost wages.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By andrinoaa on 8/29/08, Rating: -1
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 6:39:13 PM , Rating: 2
Uh...they cost our economy. Billions. It lowers wages because honest Americans who pay taxes have to compete. It costs us tax revenue because they don't pay anything. It's a drain on our health care, social services, they commit crimes, they cause accidents and are uninsured, etc. Do I need to go on.

And what does illegal immigration have to do with exporting goods?

Take your crap to your Reverend Wright support group.

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 5:42:29 PM , Rating: 1
You missed one of the first point I stated. Legal immigrant are not a of matter of fact they are very much welcomed to the USA. However, illegal immigrants hurt our economy and are never considered “guest workers” they are consider illegals. I would add historically when the US economy hurts, other countries tend to follow and usually their economy suffers more. So, for the well being of the Global economy you better hope we keep cleaning up are illegal immigrant issue...Dude..

P.S. Yanks hirer others to help shovel their shit, not to shovel their shit...big difference.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By andrinoaa on 8/29/08, Rating: 0
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 6:19:40 PM , Rating: 2
It's very clear you have little to no education back ground in Economics. No I do not have conflicting arguments. You may not understand because it is not a field you have studied (maybe 1 or 2 class but that is not studying a field). It would be like me jumping in on a Medical Doctors blog and trying to tell him abut medicine when I have no background in this field. He will know I'm full of BS. You are guessing...very poorly at that too. I just don't feel like explaining all the errors you have typed, from an economic point of view.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 6:42:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yes because those jobs were never done before illegals were here in the numbers they are today. No an American cannot do a certain job for $10 a day. We pay taxes, don't live 10 to a 1 bedroom apartment, and don't live every day of our lives as criminals.

Go back to your bong.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 5:30:06 PM , Rating: 2
You might count it at that if you consider all the children those illegal immigrants have had. But I don't think its quite that high. Of course in my mind, all those children are illegals too. If neither of your parents are citizens, being born here shouldn't make you one.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By andrinoaa on 8/29/08, Rating: -1
By masher2 (blog) on 8/29/2008 5:55:54 PM , Rating: 3
So are you -- regardless of what country you hail from -- and everyone else on the planet. Every inch of soil has been fought over, and had its ownership established through violence many, many times.

Be that as it may, every nation, including yours, limits immigration by some sort of criteria. You're letting your anti-Americanism get the better of you.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By andrinoaa on 8/29/2008 6:09:53 PM , Rating: 1
No , masher2, we had this arguement here too. Its not just an american problem. I don't dislike america, just fustrated at a system that only sees as far as its nose. We have had governments that have had the same desease.
And yes we are all illegals, thats my point. We should be analysing and fixing the root cause, not creating misery for the illegals who by and large are only after the same "dream" as you. If the free market economy was perfect, there would be no economic immigration. You cannot have it both ways. Either you try to improve the free market structure or you accept the illegals as a byproduct.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 11:49:32 PM , Rating: 2
There's nothing wrong with them seeking the American dream. Except they aren't Americans. I have no problem with legal immigrants. But why should someone who jumps a fence be allowed to stay when those who come through the system legally have to fight tooth and nail to stay here legally and spend as much time, effort, and money as they do to become citizens? Why should they get to sit there and suck off the system while contributing nothing back and have no interest in learning our language, becoming citizens, and driving down the wages for legitimate workers here doing the same thing?

And what the f*ck are you talking about? What does the free market have to do with illegal immigration? Just because one country has a well functioning economy based on the free market, that doesn't mean everyone else will as well. Did you even graduate from high school? Ever even take an economics class? A market may be free of government intervention but that doesn't include the freedom to break the laws of the nation you're operating in by hiring illegal immigrants.

The root problem is that we have not enforced our border and have not cracked down on illegal immigration. We are slowly fixing that problem and as such, illegals are leaving.

By andrinoaa on 8/30/2008 12:27:39 AM , Rating: 1
What does the market have to do.....
Supply and demand. You guys keep harping on about government intervention getting in the way of business, then when it doesn't suit you you claim foul. Are you not social enginnering. By letting services cost more (ie less cheap labour )are you not subsidising the community.?
Crikey, communists!!!!!

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By TheKoz on 8/30/2008 4:13:35 AM , Rating: 2
What language is that? The United States doesn't have an official language.

By FITCamaro on 8/31/2008 12:11:25 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps not. But the vast majority of people in America speak English. Always have since this country was founded. Just because politicians are too afraid of losing votes to actually set an official language doesn't mean there isn't a majority language in the country.

I don't care what Obama says. I'm not learning Spanish to cater to immigrants. Legal or illegal.

By nah on 8/30/2008 7:57:10 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps a quote from Kal-EL (as mild-mannered Clark Kent, teenager, to his mother, in Smallville)--

But, mom, I'm also an illegal immigrant

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 6:50:35 PM , Rating: 2
Land is just land. Who rules it will change over time. Always has always will. When the settlers of Northern American came in they bought, took, and traded land from the American Indians who never considered the land theirs. However, when the USA was created the people living under this government were all legal citizen of the USA. My 5 times back great grandparents (about 130 year ago) went through all the paper work to become US Citizen and my other side of the family my direct grandparents went through all the paper work to become Citizen. My Grandfather had to work for someone (railroad) for free for 7 years to get on the boat and come over here to become a citizen. He left all his brothers and other family members. He was to be the first as the eldest son. He work his butt off to earn money to give the rest of his family a chance to come over to the USA. Unfortunately, they were not allowed in. He only only saw 2 of his brothers ever again some 50 years later on a weeks vacation...he had 4 or 5 brothers total I believe.
My family has done everything properly to be legal citizen of the USA. All that I ask, is that others do the same. It's a fair request? Yes. Do we need better immigration laws? Maybe. So sometime in the future this land I live on may be owned by China, Russia, Canada....whoever, then no, I would not be a citizen, if you time machine jumped me into that “new” country. However, as of today, I'm a legal citizen of the USA.

By andrinoaa on 8/29/2008 9:29:00 PM , Rating: 2
Seemonkey, first you slag the government then you use the government instruments to push your arguement. You don't find your self in conflict?

By andrinoaa on 8/30/2008 12:33:37 AM , Rating: 1
And you don't see the injustice in all this arbitrary exclusion? What you are saying is, my life was fucked so everyonelse can suffer the same fate. Where is the empathy, man? We have a saying, "I'm allright jack, fuck you "
And you can't see this?

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 6:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
No, there are several reports out there with a wide range of numbers the lowest are around 12 million illegals. The highest around 60 to 70 million, I've read one that was over 100 million. The Government and media only talk about the lowest number so people do not freak out. Think about it there is 400,000,000 million people in the USA add another (using a high number) 70,000,000 illegal. That would mean close to 1 in 5 people are illegal. Now keep that in mind as you walk around and listen to all the different languages you hear spoken. I live in Illinois, almost 50% of what I hear is Spanish not English.
And before anyone says something goofy... Of course you can speak any language and be a legal citizen of the US. However, go back 20 years and you would never hear any other language other than English unless in a foreign restaurant, foreign language class room, or an immigrants home.
Illegals tend not to know English or very, very poor English speaking skills. So, you can lay down good odds that person or the people they are speaking to are illegal.

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/29/2008 6:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
Think about it there is 400,000,000 million people..
Sorry 400 million bad typing....

By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 5:22:02 PM , Rating: 2
The media has been reporting the number around 12 million for the past 8 years. Because they want to act like the problem isn't growing.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 1:17:42 PM , Rating: 2
Oil is not the problem with our economy. We prospered for decades importing oil. The problem with oil right now is that we don't have the refining capacity so we're importing both unrefined oil (expensive) and refined gas (absurdly expensive). If we built several new refineries to alleviate this bottleneck, the price of gas would go down because we wouldn't have to import it. Just the unrefined oil. And if we start drilling now in a few years we'll have to import very little.

As far as our economy, the problem is that high corporate taxes, a high minimum wage, and high wages from unions have driven many manufacturing and other industries out of the country. If we lowered our corporate taxes and stopped raising our minimum wage (it's going to rise again next year as well as this year and last!), we wouldn't have this problem. Then we need to stop our government from just printing money for all these "stimulus checks" and other social programs so that our currency doesn't devalue.

People on minimum wage or near it complain that their wages aren't high enough. Then the minimum wage rises and they complain that their hours are cut. Of course they are. A large company can't afford to pay all those people a higher wage and maintain the same hours. Hence why service in many stores has become nonexistent because the stores are struggling enough and can't afford the proper staff due to higher wages. So all those people complaining they weren't making enough are still making the same (assuming they weren't let go to save costs) just in less time. And those unskilled people can't find a second job because stores can't afford to hire anyone else.

The new minimum wage (which went into effect in July) is now $7.25. First of all many states were already at this or higher. It going to $7.65 (I believe) will just continue employees getting their hours cut or them being let go so the rest of the people can work. When I was in college I had a work study job that made minimum wage. When Florida's minimum wage went up, I still had the same amount of money budgeted for my job so I just worked less. I didn't really care cause the job was just for extra money but I understood why my hours were cut.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By Spuke on 8/29/2008 1:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
Besides, who plans to work a minimum wage job forever? I sure as hell didn't. It was a stopgap to get me from point A to point B. I needed to work while I was in school. School finished and I got a real job.

Before you give me that "They got kids" rant, keep your schlong in your pants and your legs closed until you're settled in a good job (good jobs don't pay minimum wage). You're doing nothing good for yourself or your future children.

RE: It will get done after the nuclear holocaust
By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 5:37:54 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Yes there are exceptions for rape victims. But yes, minimum wage jobs were never supposed to be for an adult to do for their entire life. It was just to ensure temporary and part time workers were paid an honest wage. Not one that was capable of supporting themselves, their 6 kids, and their lazy husband/wife who sits at home all day.

This idea that working at Walmart is supposed to give someone the same quality of life as someone who is an engineer is absurd. I mean we have single mothers out there with 2-3 kids who aren't even 25 yet. Some of them aren't even 20! Didn't they learn to keep their legs shut, go on the pill, or tell the guy to use a condom after the first one? Or better yet from the start? Then they expect society to take care of them because "they've got it rough". Well no one made it rough for them but themselves.

By andrinoaa on 8/29/2008 5:44:33 PM , Rating: 2
Can't you see were this is heading? Engineers will soon be on "minimum wages", then what?
The problem is not as simple as you present it. If the majority of new jobs is on minimum wages, it doesn't take long before the majority of the population is on minimum wages. I assume this is not the senario you want.

Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By BloodSquirrel on 8/29/08, Rating: -1
RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By FITCamaro on 8/29/08, Rating: -1
By therealnickdanger on 8/29/2008 9:51:02 AM , Rating: 3
T. Boone Pickens, an oil billionaire investing massively in green gold - wind

"Investing" should be replaced with "stealing from taxpayers".

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By Maturin on 8/29/2008 11:43:06 AM , Rating: 4
What anybody who advocates central governmental solutions to technological problems, at taxpayer cost, is failing to appreciate, is the amazing rate of technological innovation our free market economy drives.

The solution is decentralization and free market solutions. Currently, the electrical system is based on generating the electricity at some government sanctioned and subsidized central facility, and sending out along inefficient 20th century technology. Huge windmill farms are just more of the same.

By the time the govt gets around to sinking $60 billion into putting up powerlines that nobody wants in their backyard, we will have cheaper and more efficient solar panels and cheap rooftop wind turbines that each homeowner can put on their building (entrepreneurs have already developed these things), and sell the power they don't need back into the grid. That would be an infinitely more elegant and cost effective solution, driven by the individual's desire for saving or making money, rather than the government's desire to run our lives for us.

And just as cell phone technology is rapidly replacing hardwired land line phone systems, and WiFi has pretty much done away with the need to plug your laptop or handheld into a hardwired network when you are out and about, I am guessing that microwave power distribution using satellites will one day replace much of those ugly wires. None of these things have required the government to pass a law mandating that they occur. They were driven by the market.

Why is it that apparently intelligent people cannot understand this? Pickens is pickin our pockets through government lobbying in the name of "innovation and progress," to make loads more money out of taxpayer subsidies, to build something that won't work and is already obsolete technology!

By andrinoaa on 8/29/2008 9:16:51 PM , Rating: 2
so what you are saying isn't propaganda or mantra? The reality is the two HAVE to coexist. FREE MARKET and GOOD GOVERNMENT. One extreeme or the other will not lead to a happy society. You need to make the levers work not disregard them alltogether. If your government was so bad, why all the innovation? I think you live in a cocoon, you need to get out of the country and see the world a bit. You might find it broadens your horizons. Not so maturin?

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By FITCamaro on 8/29/08, Rating: 0
By sigilscience on 8/29/2008 1:15:23 PM , Rating: 4
Does ANYONE really think T. Boone is spending all that money on TV ads just to get a warm fuzzy? The guy is trying to make billions of a government-sponsored windfall.

By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 5:44:29 PM , Rating: 1
Gotta love getting rated down for the truth.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By nah on 8/29/2008 10:00:41 AM , Rating: 2
Combined US Electricity production rose from 3357487 thousand MW-hrs in 1995 to 4064702 thousand MW-hrs in 2006.

Assuming the same average growth--total electricity production in 2019 should be around
5200000 thousand MW-hrs. IF wind were to provide around 20 % of this it would come to around 1100 thousand MW-hrs or 1100 million KW-hrs. Assuming the 60 billion were spent, this would amount to the average costs per Kw-hr increasing by 545 cents per year. Assuming that the system would last for around 80-100 years, this would amount to costs increasing by around 5.5 cents per KW-hr per year (@100 years ). This is not quite practical--as it would almost double the costs of wind production--from 3-5 cents to almost 9-11 cents per KW-hr. The use of wind has to be double that (@ 40%) for costs to come down. Even then it would be around 2.75 cents ( in constant 2008 USD)--but this may be feasible.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By Spuke on 8/29/2008 11:07:44 AM , Rating: 2
Can you factor in wind availability or did you already do that?

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By nah on 8/29/2008 11:42:46 AM , Rating: 2
Can you factor in wind availability or did you already do that?

Wind availability is implicitly factored in when they talk about producing 20 % of US electricity needs. Of course I kept things simple--I didn't factor in the EREOI for the lines--I'm assuming this is factored in the 60 Billion, and I'm keeping costs in constant USD 2008--of course electricity prices will go up--and so will production costs ( in nominal terms, perhaps not in real terms based on past trends)

By FITCamaro on 8/29/2008 1:01:23 PM , Rating: 1
That 20% is assuming all those wind mills are outputting their rated capacity. It's not counting the actual output.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By nah on 8/29/2008 11:45:40 AM , Rating: 2

Interestingly, this is the first topic which comes in goole when EREOI is searched

By Spuke on 8/29/2008 12:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the info.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By nah on 8/29/2008 12:03:20 PM , Rating: 2

Factsheets and the DOEs Report--they claim 500000 jobs will be created in the decade prior to 2030, plus other stuff--I'm not sure about their level of accuracy

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By masher2 (blog) on 8/29/2008 1:28:19 PM , Rating: 4
"Creating jobs" isn't a goal in of itself. Switching to a less efficient process creates jobs -- more labor must be done. A natural disaster creates jobs. War creates jobs.

The overall goal should be productivity, because ultimately that is what determines standards of living and economic strength.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By 306maxi on 8/29/2008 3:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. Cost is such a stupid way of looking at things. Gas and oil are only going to go up in price and there are finite supplies of both of these resources. Perhaps it will last another 100 years but I don't see that as being the point. At some point we will run out of both of those things so why not achieve a good level of gas/oil independance sooner rather than later? If the US and Europe do this then Russia can have all the oil and gas reserves it wants to and they won't be worth anything which will mean Tsars Medvdev and Putin won't be able to force the rest of the world to live through another cold war again.

Wind and Solar may be expensive in monetary terms but it's VERY cheap in regards to the strings that come with dealing with the middle east and the USSR. All that money that gets sent to Russia and the Middle East doesn't go towards beer and women. Some of it comes back in the form of terrorist attacks on the US, it's allies and the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as financing the cold war with Russia that seems imminent.

By Spuke on 8/29/2008 4:16:25 PM , Rating: 2
Cost is such a stupid way of looking at things.
It really is silly. I mean, why should we worry about how things cost anyways? Just spend, spend, spend. Price is irrelevant. Economic growth is irrelevant. Bang for the buck is irrelevant.

I don't need to eat nor do I need a place to sleep. Why do I even need to work?

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By masher2 (blog) on 8/29/2008 4:20:49 PM , Rating: 3
To point out a few of the problems in your statements. First, by the logic that "it'll run out one day", we should never have started using oil and coal in the first place. Doing so, however, would have prevented the Industrial Revolution, and all the its resultant wealth and standard-of-living increases that in turn led to the technology we have today.

Another problem is that, no matter how emotionally we may wish it, wind and solar can *not* eliminate or even substantially reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Even if we're willing to pay 4X as much on our power bills, these sources still just don't work beyond a certain small percentage of demand. And until we've made quantum advances in both energy storage and transmission technologies, they never will.

The only alternative source that fits the bill today is nuclear power. If you want to replace fossil fuels anytime in the next few decades, that's your only choice. But stamping your feet and demanding that wind work for us, regardless of the technological barriers, isn't going to solve any problems.

By Spuke on 8/29/2008 4:36:13 PM , Rating: 2
But stamping your feet and demanding
I had a friend like this a long time ago. We used to call him Hammer. Some people can ONLY learn the hard way. I prefer to learn from the experience of others. Reinventing the wheel is ignorant. It would be nice if we could be this way collectively.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By 306maxi on 8/29/2008 5:49:34 PM , Rating: 2
I agree nuclear is part of the solution. But I think that solar and wind can be a part of the solution depending on where you live. Where I live here in North Wales we have a couple of offshore wind farms and a few ones on land too. I would say about 75% of the time all the turbines are spinning at a fairly good speed. Of course this is not the same for all areas but for areas where it is viable it should be done. Same with solar power.

Storage, OK that can be a problem but here in North Wales they use pumped storage so when there is plenty of capacity on the network at night they pump water uphill and then at peak times they can spin up the turbines in as little as 12 seconds and be up to full generating capacity. Of course as always this won't work for everywhere as not all places have water to spare or a mountain which they're happy to have hollowed out for a hydro-electric plant. I know it's not efficient but it is a practical solution for storage if you have the topography and the water.

All I'm trying to say is that renewables can be a big part of the solution. I'm very much a believer in Nuclear as well but I don't see the point in Nuclear IF you can generate usable electricity from renewables then why not? If you can't then don't burn coal, oil and gas and use nuclear.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By masher2 (blog) on 8/29/2008 6:06:28 PM , Rating: 1
> "IF you can generate usable electricity from renewables then why not?"

Because it costs far more than nuclear -- and you still need those nuclear reactors anyway. We CAN produce useable electricity from many sources. In theory, enough potatoes and zinc rods could power the whole planet. But how much would it cost? Remember that "cost" is simply another way of measuring the amount of consumed reasources.

As for environmental impact, mining and producing tens of millions of tons of steel and concrete for wind turbines bears an enormous cost. Per-MWh generated, nuclear is a far more efficient use of those resources.

> "but here in North Wales they use pumped storage "

Pumped storage is indeed the best alternative we have. But still there are plenty of problems with it. Firstly, you're going to lose at least 20% of your total power -- mostly through evaporative losses. Secondly, there are major siting issues as you point's pretty much only economic where you already have a hydro plant. Third, environmentalists oppose it for the same reasons they oppose hydro -- those large reservoirs have quite an impact on the surrounding regions.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By 306maxi on 8/29/2008 7:11:18 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with what you're saying but no government will ever convince people in the current climate to dump renewables and move solely to Nuclear. It just isn't going to happen.

Yes hydro can have a big impact on the land but Electric Mountain here in North Wales has very little impact. They literally have a lake at the top of the mountain and the power station in the mountain. It's not your typical build a dam on a big river situation where lots of land gets flooded. With pumped storage you don't need such a high volume of water upstream of the dam as with a normal hydro dam anyway so the impact will be a lot less. Those pesky shortsighted enviro-tards will have to realise that sometimes for the greater good of the environment some bits will have to take a hit.

There is also the advantage of quick spinup times. 12 seconds from nothing to full power is pretty darn good and beats anything Nuclear can do AFAIK. Which brings me to another point which is the fact that there is the need for different sources of power to cope with peak demand. In the UK it's very common for millions of people to be watching the same program on TV and when the ad break comes on they will all walk over to the kettle and turn it on which places a huge strain on the grid. Nuclear is not up to this sort of thing.

You're right, pumped storage is not for everyone. Energy solutions will be different for different locations. Solar isn't for everyone, wind isn't for everyone and despite what you say Nuclear will not be for everyone either. Live in a place where you have endless amounts of sun? Then use solar, live where it's fairly constantly windy? Use wind power and if you live in a big city then nuclear is really the only option.

I think perhaps renewables are not the best option at the moment but as efficiency and reliability are worked on wind and solar will become more and more viable but they will never move on without large scale tests being down out in the wide world.

By masher2 (blog) on 8/29/2008 11:03:35 PM , Rating: 1
> "but no government will ever convince people in the current climate to dump renewables and move solely to Nuclear"

The latest Zogby poll shows US citizens favor nuclear by a 3:1 margin, with substantially more support than wind or solar.

> "12 seconds from nothing to full power is pretty darn good and beats anything Nuclear can do AFAIK"

What you're referring to here is known as load following. Most current US nuclear reactors weren't designed for it, but that's not a restriction on the technology. The newer Gen III reactors are quite good at load following.

BTW, if by "Electric Mountain" you're referring to Dinorwig, your figures are wrong. Startup time is around a minute and a quarter. Still better than a nuclear plant, however Dinorwig does not **generate** power. It's essentially nothing more than a big battery, so comparisons between it and nuclear are a bit off.

Also, Dinorwig used over a million tons of concrete to build -- enough to build six 900-MW nuclear reactors.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By nah on 8/30/2008 7:50:04 AM , Rating: 2
Per-MWh generated, nuclear is a far more efficient use of those resources.

This is not necessarily true--jst to give one example--nuclear uses 0.62 gallons/KWhr of electricity generated; by comparison, wind uses 0.01 and solar 0.03. So it's not necessarily ALL resources

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By masher2 (blog) on 8/30/2008 10:46:05 AM , Rating: 2
Red Herring. Nuclear uses water, but it doesn't consume it. The water so used is heated as it cools the reactor, then rereleased.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By foolsgambit11 on 8/30/2008 3:33:32 PM , Rating: 2
Red herring isn't accurate here. A red herring would be a true line of argumentation that doesn't actually apply to topic in question. I think you're arguing that it's an "apples and oranges" comparison in water usage, i.e. a fallacious line of argumentation because it's two different kinds of water usage being quoted.

Either way, there are concerns about the warmer water from a nuclear plant having adverse affects on the environment. Additionally, cooling water intakes kill trillions of fish annually, according to the EPA. So in truth, it's overly simplistic to say that the water usage statistics that nah quoted are inaccurate or irrelevant because the water is rereleased.

Even if you took out cooling water, I fail to see how nuclear, which uses steam turbines for generation, could best wind, which uses no water for regular operation, or PV solar, when it comes to water usage. The difference may not be as extreme, and therefore the argument may carry less weight under your definition of water usage, but still does exist. Unfortunately, I can't find numbers to back up this assertion.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By masher2 (blog) on 8/30/2008 4:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
> "Red herring isn't accurate here"

Oops - it most certainly is. A red herring is a statement that, while prima facie correct, is irrelevant to the argument at hand. We were discussing consumption of resources. He stated that nuclear reactors use water. This is true, but they do not consume water. The argument is a red herring.

Furthermore, as alread pointed out, nuclear power in general does't even require the use of water. It's simply the most convenient cooling mechanism at hand. Were we a little less idiotic about nuclear power in this country, we'd be using that as a free source of hot water in urban areas (nearly doubling the actual efficiency of the reactor itself), rather than simply wasting all that energy by dumping it back into the sea.

> " cooling water intakes kill trillions of fish annually, according to the EPA"

Oops again; the EPA says no such thing. Their own estimates are that 200 million pounds of aquatic organisims are affected. (note: a million is one-millionth of a trillion). That figure isn't just fish, though -- it includes larvae, jellyfish, shellfish -- anything in the water.

In any case, it's not a problem. Compared to the number of such organism which die annually through natural causes, it's not even a trillionth of one percent (and in this case, trillion **is** correct).

By JustTom on 8/30/2008 7:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
While I would agree that nuclear power plants certainly have limited gross effects on aquatic organisms world wide it does not necessarily follow that a plant can't have extremely detrimental local effects. A badly designed plant discharging overly warm water back into the ecosystem will certainly be impactful on a local level.

RE: Another propaganda piece by Jason Mick...
By rudolphna on 8/30/2008 10:31:23 PM , Rating: 2
Because. A nuclear plant, in theory, if designed properly, should be able to operate for 20 years between refuelings. If you dont beleive me, look it up. The Los Angeles Class (688i) Attack submarine can go for 20 years between nuclear refueling. While I agree, the cooling water is a problem, A nuclear plant can output far more electricity than a wind farm. Its basically a Coal power plant-minus the coal. Its also far less expensive. The main problem with Nucelear, is they REQUIRE electricity to startup and operate. They require electicity to power the cooling pumps, operate the Control rods, not to mention numerous backup systems. A nuclear plant is a complicated thing, but in the long term, highly profitable. Not to mention, hopefully we will find a suitable use for the "leftovers" which is nothing less than Plutonium. If we can get Fusion to work, and use plutonium, we are in buisness. To the people that will bring up 3-mile island, or Chernobyl, we have come a long way since then. Chernobyl was operator error. They were refueling, while running a drill that made it impossible to shut down the reactor. Chernobyls Reactor was revolutionary, in that it could continue to operate during refueling. Something happened, and the plant could not be shut down. Human error. 3mile island, was a tech problem, but now there are even more fail-safe redundancies. Just about everything is computerized, isolated from any outside source. Nuclear, is the answer.

By masher2 (blog) on 8/30/2008 11:05:53 PM , Rating: 2
> "hopefully we will find a suitable use for the "leftovers" which is nothing less than Plutonium.
We already have. It's called the Fast Breeder Reactor...and if you don't like that approach, there's always Rubbiatron-like solutions like the so-called 'energy amplifier'.

> "If we can get Fusion to work, and use plutonium, we are in buisness."

Whatever would we use Pu for in a fusion reactor? You can fission Pu atoms, but fusing them would consume energy, not release it.

> "Chernobyl was operator error"

Chernobyl was also a reactor with a positive void coefficient. Loss of cooling increases the power output, generating even more heat. The Western world **never** built such a reactor -- it was considered far too dangerous.

By Donkeyshins on 8/30/2008 7:59:20 PM , Rating: 2
Part of the problem is that we have a centralized power grid, so we have to build giant wind farms and solar farms to mimic the large capacity generation (coal, gas, nuclear, hydro) facilities which can only work well in a centralized manner. Solar, and to a lesser extent wind, power actually work best in a distributed system (e.g. every home and business has solar panels and/or wind turbines to provide power and/or feed power back into the grid).

An ideal replacement (at least for the near term) for our aging (and yes, it is aging - the blackouts of a few years ago are pretty good hallmarks of this) power grid would be to encourage micro-generation of solar and wind power (via generous government subsidies) and invest heavily in nuclear (pebble bed perhaps) plant construction (again via generous government subsidies).

Perhaps this can be afforded by cutting all the current generous subsidies to the coal and oil industries? Surely they'll be able to compete without any government intervention in the free market.

By tallredeye on 8/31/2008 5:22:38 AM , Rating: 2

so why not achieve a good level of gas/oil independance sooner rather than later?

Only 1.6% of electricity in the U.S. is generated by oil. I don't think wind/solar can do much to help with oil imports.

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