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Comment Responding to a below average AC post (Score 1) 109

Are modern coal plants really all that harmful to the environment?

Yes. Perhaps you've heard of climate change?

I thought they were able to capture the emissions at these big plants.

The cost of carbon capture for coal plants makes the operation far more expensive (per MWh and per MW) than nuclear or renewables. As a result, a tiny fraction of one percent of coal-fired generators in first world nations are capturing the carbon emissions and sequestering them.

As for your second paragraph -- it's one thing to be ignorant of a specific industry and its technologies and economics. That's your first paragraph, and that's fine. That's how we learn. But the ignorance exhibited in your second paragraph indicates a different kind of ignorance altogether. Please go back to the kiddie table.

Comment Re:Hipsters fight over "free stuff" (Score 1) 554

What is interesting is that most EV drivers probably don't need the charge to get home and carry out their daily errands. If they do then they probably made the wrong vehicle choice. They just want to charge up on someone else's dime.

TFA actually addresses this very issue. There seems to be an assumed, implied pecking order. If you've got an all electric car that gets less than 100 miles/charge, you're at the top. Below that are gas-elec hybrids. Below that are the 250+ miles/charge Teslas.

I do think (as it seems you do) that making the folks pay for the charge would help sort this quickly. Tesla owners might be less inclined as they don't need it to get home, whereas folks with smaller battery packs might be willing to pay a premium. Etc.

Comment Re:Flawed research, garbage in garbage out (Score 1) 188

There has not been much change in coal plant output since 2010/2012

"Some in the know" -- like the Energy Information Administration -- disagree. Have a look at Electricity Generation by Fuel Type, 2000-2013, and know that coal generation has fallen since then -- in April 2015, natural gas fired plants generated more electricity than coal fired plants since, well, since ever.

or at least not enough to significantly change the conclusions

Nonsense. The decline in coal-fired generation comes in two ways. In the first way, all plants reduce their output some. For "average" coal plants, that's what's happened everywhere in the country, and it might not be enough to significantly change the conclusions. For a number of coal plants, however, they were generating electricity in 2010 and they have since retired. For the region in which those particular plants operated, the conclusions may be very different now.

The trend will continue for a while. Another 20 percent of coal-fired electric generating capacity is scheduled to retire in the next few years, to be replaced by renewables, natural gas, energy efficiency, and in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, nuclear power (in the early 2020s).

Comment Donate to your university (Score 1) 268

You're a recent college grad. Donate to your university.

Could be to its general fund. Could be to a specific scholarship. Could be to a department. Could be to a specific professor chair. Could be to benefit smart kids, poor kids, kids from a particular place, whatever.

Help your alma mater become a better school for the next kid. Help humanity too -- education lifts individual people out of poverty, and advancements in knowledge lift humanity out of poverty -- financial or otherwise.

Comment Article 1, Section 8, sentence 1. (Score 1) 235

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States

In addition to the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, pay the debts, and provide for the common defense, the Congress shall have the power to provide for the general Welfare of the United States.

Yes, Virginia, the United States government has the Constitutional power to tax and to spend for general welfare, and no amount of libtarded "taxes are theft" nonsense changes that.

Comment Re:So what's news about this? (Score 4, Insightful) 356

And the interesting thing, while junior teachers might make $10 an hour (which is barely livable), senior teachers will be salaried at $150k+ per year.

Oh cut the crap. High level school administrators in wealthy communities in the Northeast, Chicagoland, or West Coast might get $150k/yr. Teachers don't. You state that your eyes were opened with the help of a friend and google? Put up or shut up. Link to some teachers making $150k/yr. Open our eyes. Until then, I'll just know that you're just making things up -- I review my own (rather wealthy) town's budget every year; our teachers don't sniff that kind of wage.

Comment This is a headline, but not for those reasons (Score 2) 213

The headline is: noooklear boogity boogity boogity.

It should be: large steam units have forced outages, and the grid is designed to handle them.

My point is this: we hear all the time "what good is solar power at night? Wind turbines when it's not windy?" I ask you: what good is a nuclear power station when the transformer blows up and it safely disengages from the grid for hours, days, or weeks? Think of this incident next time folks talk about how some renewable generator is unreliable. No generating unit is 100% reliable, and because big ones break, the grid must have substantial capacity available as backup. Far more than is necessary when it's unexpectedly cloudy or not windy.

Comment Re:Alternative to batteries (Score 1) 281

This is still done, because large commercial sites don't have rates in the same structure as residential. Large commercial and industrial have demand charges -- they pay for energy (kWh) but also a rate according to their peak demand in the month (kW). By making ice at night, they help reduce their peak demand (kW), and so even if they don't have time-based energy charges, they make their savings by saving on the demand charge.

Comment Re:Going off the grid completeletly is stupid (Score 1) 281

> A few days ago I saw a nice graph showing PG&E's averaged output power during a typical 24h. It's a slanted U-shape, with the bottom somewhere around noon, then a sharp increase between 6PM and 9PM, tapering off after midnight and dropping slightly after 7AM.

No you didn't. That's not their curve. What you may have seen is the so-called California Duck, which is a different thing entirely -- a projection of a March weekend day in 2022 where there's tons more solar and no other changes to the generating capacity (which, of course, doesn't match reality). The CAISO (most of California -- PG&E, SoCal Ed, SDG&E, but not LADWP) daily demand curve can be found at:

Careful -- today is Saturday, where demand is far lower than M-F workdays. Notice that on a Spring weekend, there's a local maximum at around 11am-noon, and then the daily peak in the late evening. On a weekday, you'll see a big peak in the late afternoon, sometimes before 5pm, sometimes after. Nevetheless, it never bottoms out around noon.

Comment Re:Going off the grid completeletly is stupid (Score 1) 281

> The problem is that many utilities pay far less per kWh than they charge you.

In the US, something like 44 states have net metering, and a few others have voluntary programs. Now it's true, munis and coops are generally not obligated to participate. For the vast majority of Americans, however, their utility pays them exactly the same $/kWh for surplus as it charges them for sales.

There are some other nuances: some tiny charges aren't reversible in some states (like $0.00034/kWh for enviro fee or somesuch), and utilities seem to be moving in the direction of lower $/kWh fees and higher fixed fees.

If you're thinking about putting PV on your roof, go talk to an installer. Don't get your payback advice from Guspaz or stomv.

Comment Re:But....Profits! (Score 2) 281

With due respect inqrorken, your post is full of inaccuracies about the power system in the United States. (I have no idea about other countries).

> Regular electricity is generated. It's then sold wholesale

This is true for everywhere except the Southeast, AK, HI, and the non-California land west of the North Dakota-to-Texas set of states.

> where the local utilities then buy it and sell it at a regulated (5-10%) profit.

Absolutely wrong. In the areas where there is a wholesale market and in the areas where there is not, the profit does not come from the purchase and sale of energy. 0%. In wholesale regions, the utilities purchase the energy on behalf of customers and sell it to those customers with no markup on the energy. In regions without wholesale, the utilities purchase the fuel and chemicals necessary to generate the power, and recapture those costs with no markup.

Utilities make their profits on the expenditure of capital. Utilities recover "of and on" -- they recover the cost of the capital investment and they recover a rate of return on that investment, on the order of 10%. Only, of course, if the public utility commission rules the investment prudent. And only, of course, for investor owned utilities (IOUs) -- neither munis nor coops collect recovery "on".

> If users of rooftop solar get net zero pricing, then they shift all of the upkeep costs to those without rooftop solar - as PV prices go down, these costs will be borne more and more by the poor and/or those who rent (in many cases, one and the same.)

There are a number of implicit assumptions. First, you're assuming that the net benefit of PV is less than the net cost, from a utility operations perspective. This assumption proves true in some places, but not true in others (including Minnesota, Maine, and a number of other states. Authors include E3, Bob Grace, Karl Rabago, and Crossborder). If the Value of Solar exceeds retail rates, then non-participants are actually better off because of the net metered customers. This happens because while it's true, the wires have to be maintained, it's also true that PV energy is produced when hourly prices are high, so the utility avoids procuring higher priced energy. It also avoids building some of the necessary generating capacity, it avoids transmission line losses, it avoids needing to buy hedges on as much fuel, it avoids having to comply (as much) with state RPS policies, it avoids having to purchase allowances for SO2 and NOx, etc.

> hen realize the traditional model costs less to you.

On this much, we certainly agree. Society has already paid to install lots of wires. Why wouldn't we use them? Large renewables (wind farms, solar farms, geothermal, etc) can be built at lower $/kWh prices, so let's use 'em. But lets also use distributed PV, distributed storage, more detailed and comprehensive demand response (DR), and keep pushing for far higher energy standards and energy efficiency (EE) deployment.

Comment Re: Energy storage in the grid is 100% efficient! (Score 1) 281

> Grid transmission has losses of about 7% from the power station to you, but will likely be higher if it is peer-to-peer.

Methinks your second statement is dead wrong. If my neighbor is producing more electricity with his PV than he's using right now, it flows on the local distribution wire 100' from his house to the street, 100' down the street, and 100' to my home. That 300' of relatively little electricity a very short distance has virtually no line losses. You save both on the transmission and on the vast majority of the distribution losses.

Now, at some point, the peer-to-peer gets saturated without distributed storage because most surplus happens at the same time of day in the same neighborhood. But, with the exception of parts of Hawai'i, this is not yet an issue anywhere in tUSA.

Comment Re:The energy industry should not be a jobs progra (Score 1) 69

> The goal of the energy industry should be to produce boatloads of dirt-cheap energy with almost nobody working at it, so we can all go off and do something more fun with that manpower and energy.

I disagree. The goal of the US energy policy should be to produce boatloads of clean and safe energy, as cheaply as we can. The goal of the energy industry should be to maximize profits while abiding by the law and minimizing worker injury.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson