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Month: April 2009

Fact Versus Fiction on Energy Storage Systems

Fact Versus Fiction on Energy Storage Systems

Often, important emerging technologies get caught up in misconstrued facts and misunderstandings of capacities and roles in an already technology-driven and confusing world. An example of this can be found in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, "Getting Real on Wind and Solar" by James Schlesinger and Robert Hirsch. It's great they included a reference to energy storage systems (ESS) as a necessary component of the smart grid architecture for renewable energy. And they're right Read more [...]
Copper – the new Gold Standard?

Copper – the new Gold Standard?

Copper prices are at a 6 month high, so is this an indicator of economic recovery?  Analysts are not so sure.   China has been buying up copper at well beyond its current needs leading to speculation that the copper is going into long term stockpiles rather than to manufacturing.  This has led others to speculate that China is disenchanted with the dollar; so it is replacing the old “gold standard” with a new ”copper standard”.  Instead of buying US treasuries and dollar Read more [...]
More Leftward Leaning…and Now for Panama

More Leftward Leaning…and Now for Panama

Further to this trend I was pointing out a few weeks ago, now we see that el presidente Rafael Correa won reelection in Ecuador, the first such repeat in three decades.  So the people must like him.  A close associate of president-for-life hopeful Hugo Chávez, Correa is seeking a constitutional amendment that will set him up to be president until 2017.  Meanwhile he continues to refuse to pay his country's bills to outside suppliers whom he deems illegitimate, threatens to give Read more [...]
Winter May Be Over, but a Killer Still Lurks

Winter May Be Over, but a Killer Still Lurks

Life safety advocates have a lot to celebrate this year.  Since the beginning of 2009, at least two states (Colorado and Montana) have enacted laws that seek to protect residents and tourists from the dangers posed by carbon monoxide poisoning and another (Washington) is poised to do so in the next few weeks.  California, Oregon, and New Hampshire also are on track to adopt laws this year to require the installation of CO detection devices in various residential and commercial occupancies. Read more [...]
The American Public and Capitalism

The American Public and Capitalism

American business may be in more trouble than it presently thinks. I'm not talking about the economic collapse, which has manufacturers and other businesses on edge, wondering when we'll see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I'm not talking about the emergence of an activist Congress, whose leaders are talking about such bogeys as higher corporate tax rates, elimination of secret union ballots, and a cap and trade system that may add substantially to the cost of to Read more [...]
California Gets the Smart Grid: Lead the Country without Going Alone

California Gets the Smart Grid: Lead the Country without Going Alone

At last week’s Smart Grid Symposium, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) invited several industry representatives to provide insights on smart grid systems. From their opening statements, Commissioners Chong and Grueneich clearly understand how not to compound the difficulty of system integration. Chong held the symposium because she felt it was “important for the main players [for the smart grid] in California to hear the national perspective.” Speakers from NIST, EPRI, NEMA and other Read more [...]
FOX – Misleading viewers on batteries

FOX – Misleading viewers on batteries

The FOX media network’s “Green It-Mean It” video campaign took a turn for the bizarre recently with a segment on single-use batteries.   Entitled “Batteries,” the video asserts that most batteries sold each year are disposed in landfills where they “leak toxic chemicals into our land and air.”  Behind a menacing figure of a skull and crossbones (not much subtlety there), the voiceover concludes with a suggestion that viewers “check to see if your favorite brands make rechargeable Read more [...]
What Caused the Recession Again?

What Caused the Recession Again?

Conventional wisdom has pretty much established the idea that the housing market crash pushed the U.S. economy into a mild recession at the end of 2007, which then snowballed into what is now one of the deepest recessions in the post-WWII era. However, what if that view turns out to be wrong? In a recent paper, economist/blogger James Hamilton suggests that the energy shock of 2007-08 was actually a (if not, THE) major precipitating factor in sending the economy over the cliff. While his paper is Read more [...]
Five minutes of fame …

Five minutes of fame …

Is about the only thing the assembled leaders of the Americas could walk away with from President Obama at the recently concluded Summit of the Americas.  Except for Hugo Chavez, who turned three minutes of face time into endless new press coverage, to say nothing of the new life he breathed into Eduardo Galeano's book Open Veins of Latin America (the second time Mr. Chavez has boosted the fortunes of an otherwise dormant book). But what of the Summit itself?  Was anything of value Read more [...]
Ghosts of Elections Past, Present and Yet to Come

Ghosts of Elections Past, Present and Yet to Come

I keep seeing these ads on TV for the upcoming movie "Ghost of Girlfriends Past" which seems to be about some commitment-phobic guy coming to the realization that he let the love of his life get away and he needs to get her back.  The Dickensian look at relationships from the "what was, what is, what could be" viewpoint - an oft-used plot device in film ("It's a Wonderful Life," anyone?) - focuses on the big question, "What If...?". Read more [...]