Monday, August 25, 2008

Blue Party's GREEN-Centric Energy Plan Will Result in Black, Brown and Red for the Red, White & Blue


[GREEN = $$ Costly renewable portfolio standards promoting politically favored energy sources that states can ill-afford to pay rebates on, and that bypass available and less costly energy sources such as clean coal, nuclear energy, liquified natural gas, hydropower, geothermal power and shale and offshore drilling; high cost environmental greenhouse gas cap & trade regulations imposed on businesses & consumers that will filter throughout all sectors of the economy and result in a higher cost of living for all citizens. See, e.g. ; ;; ;
BLACK = Blackouts - due to insufficient energy infrastructure capacity resulting from the GREEN energy policies above which preclude new coal, nuclear builds, shale and offshore oil & natural gas drilling.
BROWN = Brownouts - where the voltage level is below the normal minimum level specified for the system. Some brownouts, called voltage reductions, are made intentionally to prevent a full power outage. See Wikipedia at:
RED = Business interruption/operating losses, business and residential casualty losses, vandalism losses and property theft losses; loss of drinking water, violence in the streets during BLACKOUTS & BROWNOUTS. For example, The Northeast Blackout of 2003 was a massive widespread power outage that occurred throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, and Ontario, Canada on Thursday, August 14, 2003. Although not affecting as many people as the later 2003 Italy blackout, it was the largest blackout in North American history. It affected an estimated 10 million people in the province of Ontario (about one-third of the population of Canada) and 40 million people in eight U.S. states (about one-seventh of the population of the U.S.).[1] Outage-related financial losses were estimated at $6 billion USD. See Wikipedia, at: ; "Northeast Residents Struggle With Effects of Blackout", USA Today (8/14/03) at: During July 1977, the lights went out in New York City...the second blackout in twelve years. The purr of air conditioners, cooling millions of New Yorkers, was replaced by stultifying silence-and then the sound of breaking glass. See "1977 New York Blackout", Blackout History Project, at: ; Robert Klara, "When New York City's Lights All Went Out", Book Review of James Goodman, "Blackout" (Northpoint Press 2005(c) at: ; "1965 Great Northeast Blackout", Blackout History Project at: See also "Heat Wave Nearly Causes Rolling Blackouts in California", New York Times (Aug. 2, 2000) at: ; "Rolling Blackouts Circular", The Los Angeles Police Department, at:
Eugene Tucker, "Crime and Disaster", Business

Recovery Managers Association newsletter (Sep. 2001), at:

Wouldn't a more intelligent Energy Plan permit market forces and individual entrepreneurship to secure offgrid/grid-independent energy sources and other means to ensure the power stays on?? See Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr, "The Real Cause of Blackouts", Ludwig Von Mises Institute (7/27/06) at: ].


Appetite for electricity could bring blackouts back


Washington Times

August 25, 2008


Five years after the worst blackout in North American history, the largest power providers say the problems that turned out the lights on 50 million people have mostly been fixed.

That's not to say the country has stepped back from the brink. Potentially bigger and more damaging outages could be on the way.

Excess capacity in the system is shrinking, and construction, as well as plans for new plants, has slowed as costs to build and operate them have soared.

At the same time, it is estimated that electricity use will increase 29 percent between 2006 to 2030 - much of it driven by residential growth, according to a government report issued in June.

"I'm really not a Chicken Little player, but I worry that no one seems to be focusing in on this," said Michael Morris, chairman, president and chief executive of American Electric Power Co. Inc., which runs the nation's largest electricity transmission system.

Mr. Morris said massive outages this year in South Africa, which forced gold, diamond and platinum mines to stop production for five days, should serve as a warning to the United States.

Industry experts back Mr. Morris and say there is even more resistance to building new plants due to the debate over climate change and opposition to new transmission lines.

"The level of excess capacity has shrunk down in the last few years to a level barely within the planning toleration of the industry," said Marc Chupka, a principal with the Brattle Group, an energy consultant.

The blackout five years ago shut off power to vast swaths of the Northeast and Midwest for as much as four days. Rolling blackouts continued in Ontario for a week.

Hundreds of thousands of people lost access to tap water for days in Ohio, and the mayor of Cleveland accused shop owners of gouging people in need of drinking water.

Millions of New Yorkers, with subways shut down and office towers darkened, left the city on foot.

A U.S.-Canadian government task force largely blamed Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. for allowing a local power failure near Cleveland to cascade to the East Coast and into Canada.

Industry experts say changes have been made to protect against a similar outage that caused as much as $10 billion in damages to the U.S. economy.

But Mr. Morris fears that in 10 to 20 years there may be greater blackouts as demand surpasses supply.

"Just think of the economic hardship that would render," he said.

Rick Sergel, president of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. of Princeton, N.J., the agency that oversees the nation's power grid, agrees with Mr. Morris.

"We're to the point where we need every possible resource: renewables, demand response and energy efficiency, nuclear, clean coal - you name it, we need it," he said. "And we especially need the transmission lines that will bring the power generated by these new resources to consumers."

But even as Americans demand more power to feed flat-screen TVs, video games, surround-sound systems and appliances, there is broad opposition to infrastructure that experts say is needed, and the costs are only going up.

Construction of coal-fired generating plants has almost stopped and new nuclear plants are years away, if they are approved at all, said Arshad Mansoor, vice president of power delivery and utilization for the Electric Power Research Institute. Better efficiency will only go so far, he said.

"If you don't have generation and transmission ... something has to give," he said, and that could be a blackout or brownout.

AEP recently announced efforts to expand the nation's transmission system. It will partner with Duke Energy in a $1 billion proposal to build 240 miles of transmission lines. Similar deals have been announced in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and West Virginia to Maryland, some including the use of wind power.

Yet infrastructure projects take a lot of time. AEP announced a plan for a transmission line in West Virginia and Virginia in 1990 that was not finished until last year, due mostly to the regulatory approval process.

Power plants are an even bigger problem, Mr. Morris said, particularly for coal and nuclear power. In Kansas, for example, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has blocked plans for two coal-fired power plants.

In conjunction with the anniversary of the blackout, FirstEnergy announced several technological improvements and greater efforts to keep its 11,000 miles of high transmission lines free of trees.

A tree brushed a power line in Ohio in 2003, according to the task force report, setting off cascading outages.

The task force also blamed poorly trained grid managers, a lack of communication among power providers. Utilities have spent millions on improvements.

"The event was a major crisis and did probably force something to happen that would have otherwise not happened," Larry Makovich, vice president/senior power adviser for Cambridge Energy Research Associates in Cambridge, Mass.

But Mr. Morris sees a potentially dire situation ahead, including power rationing that occurred in South Africa when that nation, on a 14-year growth spurt following the end of apartheid, virtually turned itself off.

"It would ruin the economy," Mr. Morris said.

Industry experts say it is easy for those in Washington and across the country to forget what happened five years ago, which they say will occur again on a grander scale if nothing is done.

Mr. Makovich said the U.S. had its own warning five years ago.

"It's easy to take the power infrastructure for granted until something goes wrong," he said.

Blue party, green plans for Dem convention

Denver convention hopes to expand on environmentally friendly initiatives in Boston in '04

By Stuart Steers

Rocky Mountain News

June 20, 2007

Blue is the color of Democratic territory on the national map, but green will be the unofficial color of next summer's Democratic National Convention.

Party officials are vowing to make the convention the most environmentally friendly gathering in memory.

Thousands of delegates will be encouraged to ride bicycles between their hotels and the Pepsi Center, to recycle everything from confetti to coffee cups and to buy "carbon offsets" to repair the damage done from travelers flying to Denver from around the world.

"It will be the greenest convention we've ever had," said Leah Daughtry, CEO of the convention.

"We want to incorporate green principles into everything we do."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Seeing Sun Spots and How it Affects Perceptions of Climate Change

Scientists disagree over lack of sunspots

By Mark Lawson

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Australian Financial Review

The current cycle of the sun is taking a long time to start, triggering different explanations

Despite being dismissed by a number of scientists as of little consequence to the present discussion of climate change, the issue of the sun's activity - or apparent lack of it - has been the subject ofconsiderable debate in recent months.

Scientists who concern themselves with the fledgling subject of space weather (changes in the sun's emissions) have been wondering where all the sunspots have gone, when they might come back and what effect this will have on climate.

The sun has a well-recognised, 11-year cycle marked by spots, or cool dark regions with strong magnetic fields, that appear on its surface. At the peak of the cycle, when the sun may be giving off lots of flares andsolar storms that affect satellites, there are lots of spots. At the low part of the cycle there are few to no spots and the sun is calm.

The last solar cycle peaked in 2001 and was pronounced complete by NASA in March 2006. At the same time a team from the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in the US forecast that the next sunspot cycle will be 20 to 50 per cent stronger than the previous one.

Since then some spots from the new cycle have appeared, as well as - confusingly - some spots from the old cycle which appeared in March of this year. (Scientists can tell which cycle the spots belong to by theirmagnetic polarity.)

The next cycle is taking a long time to start, and this lack of activity has prompted observers to invoke the possibility of another Maunder Minimum - a period from 1645 to 1715 with very few sunspots, which isassociated with a sequence of bitter winters known as the little ice age. Scientists have offered two different interpretations for this absence of sunspots, both based on statistical research.

In early July NASA solar physicist David Hathaway pointed out that the solar minimum is still well within historic norms for the solar cycle. He notes that the average solar cycle lasts 131 months, plus or minus 14months. By July, cycle 23 (the one just winding up) had lasted 142 months, but it can last much longer, despite NASA's declaration.

In the early 20th century, the sun was quiet for periods twice as long as the present spell, Hathaway says.The current cycle has lasted 143 months, with another group saying that although there may be only a few spots, this lack of activity will continue until 2014 when the spots will disappear altogether.

William Livingston and Matthew Penn, both at the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, base their forecast on measurements of both the magnetic strength and the temperatures of spots. Livingston tells The Australian Financial Review that in a trend independent of the solar cycle, the magnetic strength of the sunspots had been declining and their temperature increasing. They graphed the magnetic field decline and extrapolated it to reach an end point in 2014.

They have forecast that although there may be more sunspots, the present lack of activity will continue until 2014 when there will be no sunspots at all.

As this forecast is based just on what they read from the graphs, rather than on a physical theory, they cannot say what will happen after that, Livingston says.

The pair submitted a paper to Nature three years ago but it was rejected, Livingston says, because it made a strong statement based solely on statistical trends. Recently, however, the paper has been circulated unofficially as part of the climate debate and also because the sun has been quiet. Livingston says he will wait for the right time before resubmitting it.The role of sun activity in climate is very hotly debated, with the ruling theories emphasising the role of industrial gases, and assigning only a comparatively minor role to the sun in the short term.

But there are dissenters.

Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says he has identified a clear link between the sun's activity - as indicated by its magnetic activity - and temperature variations in the Arctic and Greenland over 130 years. Soon tells The Australian Financial Review he chose this area for study as it has good temperature records and is an area sensitive to climate change, so that the signal from any one climatic influence should be easier to spot. He also says he can point to a physical mechanism in the circulation of the ocean linking the sun's influence on temperature in the region. Soon was due to present his results at the 33rd International Geological Conference in Oslo this week. He was co-chairing a sun-climate connection session with Bob Carter, a professor at the MarineGeophysical Laboratory at James Cook University and a noted Australian climate sceptic.

Another scientist who says he has identified a link between the sun's activity and climate - in particular between rainfall in Australia and sunspots - is Robert Baker, an associate professor at the University ofNew England's School of Human and Environmental Studies. Baker tells the AFR he has identified a strong correlation between sunspots, the sun's magnetic activity and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). He says variations in the earth's magnetic field account for about half of the variation in the SOI, and that changes in sunspot activity as an indicator of magnetic activity can be correlated with rainfall patternsin south-east Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology has rejected Baker's reasoning and a paper by him was not accepted by the Australian Meterological Magazine. But Baker says his analysis has been accepted by the peer-reviewed journal Solar Terrestrial Physics for publication in December.