Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nuclear Power - Rusher's Column

In which Wendy joins the debate, Rich D surfaces again, and energyguy again states his position. Wendy disagrees, and is rather dubious about energyguy's intentions, but is rather vague about what she means. David from Oklahomoa chimes in, stating solar does not work after the sun goes down. Energyguy corrects David's misconception. ModMark has a good question, but energyguy does not have sufficient time to address it tonight.

This is from William Rusher's column on Townhall of July 28, 2008 advocating nuclear power as the solution to the U.S. high energy prices.

Energyguy wrote:
With respect, Mr. Rusher, like many others, you have been deceived.

Some agree with you that nuclear power is safe, efficient, and will forever provide cheap power for the world.

Others, including myself, disagree. I listed 7 reasons not to glow nuclear on Rebecca Hagelin's recent column on this, at: 4/nuclear_power_lighting_the_future

You have not mentioned the two show-stoppers for nuclear power in the U.S.: First, prohibitively high costs to build, with the very long construction times due to lawsuits, and Second, safe handling and disposal of the highly toxic wastes.

Solar power is competitive, and runs 24/7 in the Sun Belt. Wind power investment is booming, with far more than enough wind in the U.S. to shut down all the nukes forever. Wind-energy storage systems will soon make that a reality.

For any who are interested, I posted my thoughts on renewable energy at: rgy.html

I have zero commercial interest in that blog. I created it solely to avoid typing that stuff over and over as more columnists weigh in on the same issues.

-- Roger E. Sowell
Energy Attorney
BS Chemical Engineering

Wendy wrote:
I have already read your "7 reasons" post, and it was just as silly the second time.

1. The reason nuclear plant construction is so expensive is because, as you yourself suggested, there are lawsuit issues, permit delays, environmental regulations, etc. that double the time and expense to build. This suggests that the problem is that our legislatures need to roll back the ridiculous anti-nuclear legislation that is on the books.

2. Safe handling and disposal of waste is only an issue for environmentalist wacko freaks. It is not a prohibitive issue to a serious mind.

Rational minds also do not suggest that wind and solar power are serious alternatives to sustain an industrial civilization, or that lack of brainpower in America makes it impossible to make our civilization nuclear-powered.

By the way, everyone on this board knows what your real interest is, and it is not the well-being of your fellow man.

Nuclear power won't happen overnight and will not replace oil in the near term (and should not), but if we wish to survive, it is our only solution on the horizon for the long-term.

David from Oklahoma wrote:
Subject: energyguy
Energyguy says solar power is available 24/7 in the sun belt. I live in the sun belt. This may surprise you, but the sun does actually set here like any place else. Liberal wingnuts like energyguy is the reason right now that nuclear cost so much to built and takes so long to come online.

Energyguy responded to David:
wrote: "Energyguy says solar power is available 24/7 in the sun belt. I live in the sun belt. This may surprise you, but the sun does actually set here like any place else. Liberal wingnuts like energyguy is the reason right now that nuclear cost so much to built and takes so long to come online."

Take a look at the CSP plant in Phoenix, Arizona. It uses solar power and generates electricity 24/7.

Yes, David, the sun goes down. Every night, even in Phoenix. But geeks and engineers figured it out, and did it with no toxic wastes.

As to nuclear construction costs, actually, you can blame the Chinese and Indians (from India, not the U.S. native groups). Their growing economies caused prices to skyrocket for construction materials like steel, copper, and cement. Nuclear power plants use a lot of those.

-- Roger E. Sowell

Vic tries to bait Energyguy into a response with:
Construction costs are no more for NUke plants than any other large construction. What costs money is delays caused by eco-idiot intervenors and regulators wanting continuous changes in design as you are building it.

Energyguy just ignores Vic; he has demonstrated no ability to use facts and logic but hurls weak insults instead.

Location: NY

Reply # 27
Date: Jul 29, 2008 - 10:45 AM EST
Subject: David
" Liberal wingnuts like energyguy is the reason right now that nuclear cost so much to built and takes so long to come online. "

Now EnergyGuy is a big boy and does not need me to defend him, I am afraid that defend him just make him a liberal in your mind.

I have no doubt that he is quite conservative and nothing worst than a true conservative being labeled a liberal.

But I must ask, why is energy production such a left vs right issue?

Why do you care how those electron flowing into your house is produced? Solar, wind, nukes, NG co-gen or that nasty coal all can produce electrons.

Just a matter which is cheapest for me.

ModMark poses a question to Energyguy:
Now EnergyGuy
" First, prohibitively high costs to build, with the very long construction times due to lawsuits,"

You not going to make any friends by talking lawsuits.

If you do your homework, why should lawyers be able to shut down a new AP1000 nuke plant?

Westinghouse did all the proper work and design, it has been approved by the government and is ready to roll.

Can my AGW lawyers start shutting down NG co-gen systems since they do produce CO2? In fact, those same lawyer may join the nuke side since it does not produce CO2.

Rich D wrote:
Subject: energyguy
Unless I'm mistaken, you left the previous forum where we were having a discussion without responding. Anyway, I just went to the Hagelin article and agree with some others that your seven reason post is not reflective of up-to-date nuclear technology. Just a few miles from Pittsburgh, Westinghouse has been advertising and getting many engineers and technical folks to staff up a new design center. Also, a critical mass of supporters and candle haters would be enough to put the Luddites in their place.

I don't know why you seem to ignore the new designs that produce little or no serious waste after reprocessing and contain considerably fewer components, shutdown safely even without an operator, and can be assembled from prefabricated, tested modules made off site.

Also, I see no response from you on the comparative generation and life-cycle costs of the co-gen plants that you advocate. Why is that? I respect your credentials, but others here are not ignorant of technology.

Energyguy responds to Wendy:
Please, spell out what you believe is my true interest?

I don't know how many, if any, who disagree with me are engineers. Not to make a big deal out of it, but I think I know whereof I speak, after 30-plus years as both an engineer, and an energy attorney.

Everyone is entitled to their views and opinions, but I expect those who want to argue to bring some facts and logic. Unsupported rants or insults are worthless.

I have previously posted the link to my website, so all can view my biography. Not that it matters to some.

I am a realist. I lived through the agonies of the utility companies building the first round of nuclear power plants in the U.S. I followed the litigation, and the delays that were not caused by intervenors. On a different column, I posted what happened at the South Texas Nuclear Plant.

At STNP, part of the problem were engineering errors, completely unrelated to the reactor side. Incompetent management also led to serious delays, thus increasing the final project cost. Things were bad there, including falsified x-rays of critical welds. Who knows why, and who knows if anything like that will happen again. I hope not.

I am intimately familiar with modular construction, indeed, it is the in-vogue style for much modern construction. It can increase quality control, and can reduce costs and time to construct. But, I can assure you it is not foolproof, either. Airbus, the company that makes the A380, is living proof of that. Boeing is having their own issues with the concept in building the Dreamliner.

But, to your first point on Congress removing laws that can be used by anti-nuclear groups. Many of those laws could have a nuclear plant exemption written into them by Congress, and then signed into law by a President. I seriously doubt that will occur. The political fallout would be immense.


-- Roger E. Sowell

energyguy Location: CA
Reply # 61
Date: Jul 30, 2008 - 12:18 AM EST
Subject: Wendy - pt 2
I wish all of you would read what I wrote about the Nuclear Death Spiral. It was real. And it hurt the innocent, the poor, those who had no ability to obtain power elsewhere. It got very little press coverage, but all the engineers I know are keenly aware of it.

I don't want to see that happen again.

Next, about nuclear wastes. Everyone has their opinion on this. I know how to handle toxic wastes, some of the stuff we make in chemical plants is incredibly dangerous stuff. As in cyanide, or phosgene, chromium-6, liquid chlorine, and tetra-ethyl lead (no longer, thankfully). I used to respond to HazMat situations.

The difference with nuclear wastes is that it lasts a very long time. Longer than any of us will be alive. I have heard the arguments pro and con for years, all from experts with serious credentials.

If I am wrong, then I am wrong. But I will not live near a railroad track that ships the stuff for reprocessing. I have seen too many chemical train derailments. No container is strong enough. (that usually gets a storm of disagreement...stay tuned).

-- Roger E. Sowell

energyguy Location: CA
Reply # 62
Date: Jul 30, 2008 - 12:36 AM EST
Wendy - finally
Your point about rational minds not touting wind or solar, and we don't have the brain power to do nuclear again.

You may be right. I just give my opinion, with facts taken from others, and sometimes my own experience.

The fact is that most farmers love a windmill. Just like most ranchers love an oil well on their land. The cattle love to scratch their sides up against it. It also brings more wealth to the rancher.

And, who are you to say that it is irrational to believe the DOE and their measurements on wind velocity and duration? Have you seen the Wind Energy Map of the U.S.? Those guys said there is sufficient wind energy at 20 miles per hour or greater.

And I happen to know that there is far more available wind energy at lower speeds, from 10 to 20 miles per hour. So does the DOE, and the guys at eere. That low-speed technology is in the works, and will be available soon.

I also know that Mr. Hails, PE, who wrote in to the Wall Street Journal the other day has serious credentials.

But, we engineers may all be wrong. There are probably thousands of bright grads out there with the smarts in math and physics and engineering and applied economics who are flipping hamburgers to pay their bills. They are just waiting for the nuclear renaissance to deliver them from a doom of sprinkling salt on french fries.

As to society's survival, just how did we manage for the 10,000 years or so before this past 40-year period of nuclear power?

Nuclear power is not a necessity. It is a luxury.

-- Roger E. Sowell

energyguy Location: CA
Reply # 63
Date: Jul 30, 2008 - 12:52 AM EST
Subject: Rich D
I don't always have time to post, just like everyone else. Tonight I do.

I can assure you, it is not cowardice that keeps me from responding!

As to the new technologies that you and some others speak of so lovingly, fine, great, but remember it is new. Not proven. Not tested.

But it is a way for nuclear design companies to generate more business. Maybe it will work. Maybe the plants can be built to generate 1000 MW at 90 percent or greater. And maybe they can be built for $1 billion each, and in 3 years.

That is a lot of maybes. And once again, speaking as a realist, there will be hordes of anti-nuke groups filing one lawsuit after another to block these things. But not me, that is not my thing.

I am not sure if anyone on TH fully appreciates just how pervasive the enviro-lawsuits are these days. I recently attended a seminar on airport construction, where one topic was a lawsuit filed by an unheard-of group (three members) to block a runway extension at Santa Barbara, California. The runway was needed for improved safety.

The runway was finally built, but it took much more time and money to fight the lawsuit. Yes, that was California, where people are nuts.

But the enviros have done the same in Chicago, specifically Whiting, where BP is expanding a refinery. They want the Whiting refinery to use the same level of technology as is required in California for air emissions controls.

Said that Chicago people are just as valuable as California people. Imagine that.

-- Roger E. Sowell

energyguy Location: CA
Reply # 64
Date: Jul 30, 2008 - 1:17 AM EST
Rich D
This next bit gets a little technical. Oh well. Here goes.

The next argument against nuclear and for combined cycle cogeneration that burns natural gas, is thermal pollution.

The fact is that a fission-based nuclear power plant wastes 75 to 80 percent of the heat generated in the reactor. So, for 1000 MW of power produced, an additional 4000 MW goes out the cooling tower as heat. That is somewhat simplified, for the purists out there.

In contrast, a CCC producing 1000 MW sends only about 250 to 300 MW of heat into the sky.

You can check my facts, and I expect some will do so.

Which is more environmentally sound? 250 MW with a bit of CO2, or 4000 MW with no CO2? Remember that clouds reflect heat as much or better than C02 in the sky. How many nuclear power plants are located in cloudy areas?

(Answer: most of them). I can think of three that are not: Palo Verde, San Onofre, and Diablo Canyon. I have driven past all three of those.

Another argument in favor of CCC over nukes is that no power lines need be built.

Another is that CCC generates valuable heat to the refinery, and nukes do not.

A final argument is that most modern refineries, and many chemical plants, have an excess of waste gases that can easily be burned as fuel in the CCC. The alternative is expensive treatment, or flaring.

The reality is that refineries and big chemical plants considered all their options and concluded (and still do) that CCC beats purchased power. As I wrote earlier, BP just bought a 500 MW CCC for the Whiting refinery.

But, not only refineries and chemical plants. As I posted earlier, the EIA's own figures show that utilities overwhelmingly choose CCC for their new gas-fired generating plants. They choose CCC 90 percent of the time.

-- Roger E. Sowell

End of the comments ----------

Monday, July 28, 2008

Renewable Energy

There is much discussion lately (July-2008) of alternative energy solutions to the high price of gasoline and diesel. I post comments from time to time on, as Energyguy, on these issues.

This blog posting is an attempt to bring to one place the things I know as fact, and the references to support them.

First, we are not running out of oil. Never have, never will. We have run out of cheap oil. There is plenty of oil, but the cost to extract it could be more than our current price of $130 per barrel. As just a few examples, Brazil just discovered a large oil field in deep water. ExxonMobil is developing a large oil field off Sakhalin Island north of Japan. The deep water in the Gulf of Mexico has fairly large fields.

Second, we will always need oil, just not for transportation. A significant part of the oil we refine today goes to non-transportation purposes, including home heating oil, lubricants (crankcase oil in the car), asphalt, and petrochemical feedstocks. Even if every transportation use was converted to another fuel, the need for those just listed will not disappear.

Third, we do not need new refineries, or more refineries in the U.S. My statement goes against some fairly heavy hitters, to use a baseball term. But I stand by my assertion. Our demand for gasoline is decreasing. Here is why.

The U.S. has enjoyed a prolonged period of heavy, large vehicles with poor gas economy. That is changing with gasoline at $4 per gallon (higher in CA and a few other states). Smaller cars, hybrid cars, plug-in hybrid cars, and all-electric vehicles, plus CNG vehicles are reducing the demand for gasoline.

Also, demand is dropping due to consumers changing how they drive. People are driving slower, for one thing. As I drive across Los Angeles, California on weekends when the freeways are fairly uncrowded, many cars are driving no more than 60 or 65 miles per hour. I know, because they are not passing me and I drive 60 or 65.

I believe people are also turning off the engine at red lights rather than letting it idle and waste gas. It takes far less gas to restart than to idle for more than about 5 seconds, especially on a modern, fuel-injected hot engine.

I see people coasting into stop signs and red lights. I don't see people pealing out, or screeching the tires by gunning the engine. I also see more people at the air station in filling stations, putting air in the tires. Finally, the people I talk to have cleaned out the car and the trunk, removing any extra weight.

The evidence for using less fuel can be found each Wednesday morning on the website, then look for the petroleum summary report. That report compares each week's demand to the same period last year. Each week for the past several months, the demand is less than last year. This trend will continue.

Diesel cars are making a comeback. As some may know, sale of new diesel cars were not allowed for the past few years because the air pollution laws were too strict. But the geeks and engineers prevailed, and VW has the first diesel-powered car that meets the emissions rules in all 50 states. Their car is the Jetta TDI. It also gets around 40 miles to the gallon.

In the face of all this, we see no new refineries being built, but a few are being expanded. The list of expansions includes BP at Whiting, Illinois, Motiva in Port Arthur, Texas, and Marathon in Detroit, Michigan. Other refineries have major projects underway including Chevron at Richmond, California, and Alon in Los Angeles, California.

In fact, Shell just cancelled a new refinery that was to be located in Sarnia, Ontario (Canada). Their reasons for cancelling included soaring construction costs, and demand uncertainty. That last is oil-speak for "we don't think there will be the demand for our products in 5 or 6 years when we finally get this thing built."

Furthermore, some refineries are cutting back production even though the summer driving season is not yet over. Total in Port Arthur, Texas, shut down several process units for a few weeks this summer, stating weak demand for gasoline. This is virtually unprecedented.

Finally, the technology to convert a standard car to a plug-in hybrid has arrived. An article on gave the particulars. These after-market conversion systems replace the rear wheels with electric wheel-motors that also serve as generators when braking. An appropriate battery is installed, and a sophisticated computer control system to govern the system. These are not cheap, costing around $9000 installed. But, they pay for themselves in less fuel in just a few years. Also, they increase the value of the vehicle at trade-in or when sold. This is important, because many big SUVs have zero trade-in value at the moment.

For all the above reasons, it is clear that the U.S. will soon be an exporting country, selling gasoline and diesel fuel to India and China. Our gasoline demand will likely be cut by at least a third, probably half, within three years.

Now, to the alternatives. T. Boone Pickens, A Great American, is pushing for more windmills and solar power to generate electricity from wind and solar. He then wants to divert natural gas from power plants and use the natural gas as CNG for vehicles. This is a great plan, and we have been doing each part of it for years in California. As evidence, the mass transit bus system in Los Angeles and surrounding cities are almost entirely fueled by CNG. There are also fleets of city vehicles running on CNG. CNG fueling stations are in several locations. California also has two major wind-generation areas, one in the north at Altamont Pass near San Francisco, and one in the south along the highway leading from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of windmills on those hills.

Some doubters claim that the Pickens Plan is a get-rich quick scheme for Pickens, and places a burden on taxpayers because the government builds the power transmission lines. Big deal.

Some claim that wind power is too unreliable, and we have to run fossil-fueled power plants in stand-by mode to take over the task when the wind fails. That argument does not seem to have effect in California, where we have the second-most wind generation in the U.S., second only to Texas.

Others argue that solar power is too unreliable because of clouds and day/night cycles. There is some truth to that for PV, photo-voltaic, solar power. But for the far more economic CSP, concentrating solar power, operation 24/7 is not only possible it is a reality. There is a large CSP plant operating in Phoenix, Arizona with hot oil storage, generating power 24/7.

Another alternative with great characteristics is wave-power in the oceans. That technology has advanced so that multiple systems using different ideas are practical. One design uses a submerged buoy where the top of the buoy is just below the wave troughs. As a wave passes over the buoy, the buoy is depressed by the added weight of the water above. When the trough passes, the buoy rises a bit. This oscillation generates power.

Another design uses articulated slender floats, with internal pistons to compress a fluid and turn a hydraulic turbine. It works.

The waves in the Pacific are large and almost constant, especially from the Canadian border down to northern California. Anyone can check the wave action on NOAA's website, which is updated each day. As I write this, the forecast off Oregon's coast is for 10 foot waves, combined wind and swell. These are small waves for that area.

An excellent source for news on alternative energy and renewable energy is They send out a weekly email to anyone, free for the asking.

One last observation regarding drilling in ANWR and the OCS, offshore continental shelf. Neither option should be ignored, but economics will dictate whether the oil is drilled. Given our declining demand for gasoline and diesel, as discussed above, we are already using less imported oil. And, we are importing less today, every day, not having to wait however long it may take to drill for the oil, build the pipelines, and bring the oil to refineries. Oil companies are shrewd operators, and cannot afford many economic failures.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nuclear Power in our Future

This entry chronicles comments on a column by Rebecca Hagelin, from July 24, 2008. My comments show up as "energyguy." I sign my name, Roger E. Sowell, and then SOB. Society of Oil Boilers.

SOB is, of course, a play on words. Those of us in the oil refining industry sometimes refer to ourselves as SOBs. The primary operation in a refinery is to boil oil and distill the oil in distillation towers. The other meaning is more obvious.

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: Reasons Not to Glow Nuclear

1. Waste reprocessing, or sequestering toxic radioactives for thousands of years.

2. Shortage of qualified engineers to design and supervise construction.

3. Shortage of skilled workers to construct the plants.

4. Skyrocketing costs of materials: steel, concrete, copper, and others. These plants will cost far more than the last group.

5. Environmental groups and their lawyers are far more numerous, and have far more laws to use in their lawsuits to delay the plants.

6. High-cost nuclear power in the 1970's and 80's provided strong incentives for refineries and large chemical plants to build their own, highly-efficient power plants and go off the grid. Many combined-cycle cogeneration (CCC) plants were built then. The same cycle of build-a-nuke, raise the rates, and watch the customer base shrink will happen again.

7. Distributed Generation: the geeks and engineers have been busy in the past 30 years. This time around, not just refineries and big chemical plants can go off the grid by building a CCC. Smaller versions of these allow small businesses and homeowners to use natural gas to provide power, heating in winter and air conditioning in winter. [should read Summer -- energyguy]

Utility planners should take note before embarking on new nuclear power plants.

Geeks and Engineers. Saviors of Society (TM)

-- Roger E. Sowell, SOB. Society of Oil Boilers

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nuclear Power

More articles on the pros and cons of nuclear power plants for the U.S.

This one from the Wall Street Journal; for comments posted to that article see:

I found two arguments compelling. First, Hails states that there are no longer sufficient engineers to design and build the plants. Second, another writer states we have lost all capability in the U.S. to build the steel containment shell, made of 12-inch thick steel. He says Japan can do it, but can only produce one per year for us.

Third, another writer states we do not have the skilled workforce to build the plants. Fourth, another writer states we have runaway construction costs (as we certainly do in expanding our refineries -- energyguy). The runaway construction costs will make the nuclear plants non-viable.

Hmmm...Hail's argument also states that 69 engineering schools dropped the courses required to train students in designing nuclear power plants. So, even if the students have the interest, there are few places left to teach them.

I wonder about the steel shell fabrication capability. We build nuclear subs, and aircraft carriers. I suspect they bend steel. And if not the 12 inch thick size, then we can build the plants to bend it. Whatever happened to the American Can-Do attitude? I know, who will build a plant to bend the steel, if the nuclear plants are never ordered or built? Chicken and the egg problem.

When we embarked on the Apollo space program, we needed a bunch of people to do the science and engineering on that one. The call went out, and qualified people showed up. Professors began teaching the courses to a new generation.

As to the skilled laborers to build the plants, we can train people as we go.

As to construction costs, there is virtually nothing to be done about that.

But none of this matters, ultimately. I predict (as I have many times in the past) that nuclear power plants will not be built in the U.S. because their power will be far too expensive when they finally start up.

The fuel cost is fairly low, that is certain, but the capital charge rolled into the rates will doom these projects. Reactor designers at GE and Westinghouse currently state that they can build a 1000 MW reactor for $1 billion and construct it in 3 years or so. We have heard this song before, same verse. It will likely cost $5 to $10 billion per plant, after the environmental lawyers have their turn in the courts.

Another poster stated that the U.S. Congress could make the nuclear power plants immune from lawsuits, as they did the Alaska Pipeline.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

ANWR and Not Drilling vs Hybrids and Slowing Down

There has been a lot of talk lately about removing the ban on drilling the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, ANWR.

Here is an excerpt from an article today from

"No one really knows how much oil the coastal plain might contain - no one has ever actually drilled there.

But based on the region's geological features, and it's proximity to the oil rich Prudhoe Bay region, the government's Energy Information Agency said drilling in the reserve might eventually yield, in nearly 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day." is not an oil industry source, but they are quoting the EIA so that is ok in my book.

Now, let's analyze this. We will assume the facts as stated, without demanding proof. After all, it is all guesswork as to how much oil, if any, is there. But, for the sake of argument, I will go with their 800,000 barrels per day of oil.

Compared to our current use of oil at about 15.5 million barrels per day, that represents about 5 percent. That is supposed to be enough to bring down the price of oil by about $30 per barrel. I wonder how they arrived at that number?

So, let us compare this to my proposed means of reducing gasoline prices, that is, driving slower and driving hybrids, or preferably plug-in hybrids, that use CNG as fuel. By the way, I am doing my part. My commuter car, a 1998 Saturn SL2, gets 37 miles to the gallon, average city/highway. It is EPA rated at 27 mpg for city/highway. It is stock, with no modifications, and has 233,000 miles on it. It can be done. I got 30 mpg as of last December. I now drive slower, 60 miles per hour rather than 75, and turn off the engine at red lights. But, I digress.

We know that every two barrels of oil produces about one barrel of gasoline in the U.S. Therefore, those 800,000 barrels per day of ANWR oil would produce about 400,000 barrels per day of gasoline, again representing about 4.5 percent of gasoline demand as of July, 2008.

We have already seen a 2 percent decrease in gasoline demand in the U.S., just this summer and late spring, from either reducing speeds voluntarily, or possibly other driving habit changes. It could also be that the new hybrids hitting the road are doing the job.

It will not take very many more hybrid cars on the road to bring us to the full reduction of 4.5 percent that would be the equivalent of having those 800,000 barrels per day of ANWR oil.

And, we won't have to wait for Nancy Pelosi to get off her $ss and pass a bill. We also won't have to wait for the wells to be drilled, and the pipeline to be built to connect ANWR with the Alaska Pipeline (called TAPS). How many years will that take? I seem to remember that when Prudhoe Bay was drilled, it took a very long time to get the oil flowing. Maybe the oil companies are better at that, now, and won't take so long.

Then again, maybe we can get it done, and without waiting. Maybe we will help ourselves without government intervention, by driving smarter (slower), and buying hybrids. Or, converting existing cars to hybrids with those spiffy after-market hybrid conversion systems.

And, just watch those gasoline prices plummet when demand drops another few percent. It won't take oil companies and gasoline stations long to drop their prices when their sales drop noticeably.

Geeks and Engineers. Saviors of Society. (TM)

Gasoline Prices Drop 3.5 cents on West Coast

I wrote, as energyguy on Townhall, that gasoline prices are dropping in the Los Angeles area.

Another commenter scoffed, and said that gasoline prices are a national issue, not a local one.

I of course disagreed. I have never seen anyone drive across country just to fill up their car. Here are some facts to support my argument.


from the Energy Information Administration, part of the Dept of Energy, this link shows both a table, and a graph, of gasoline prices by different areas of the country for July 14, 2008. That was this past Monday.

The US average price is down 0.1 cents per gallon, not much, agreed, compared to last week.

But the West Coast price is down 2.5 cents, and California price is down 3.5 cents.

Facts are stubborn things. -- energyguy, aka Roger E. Sowell

Geeks and Engineers. Saviors of Society. (TM)

Ann Coulter 7-16-08 This is Not a Drill

These comments ensued. In this edition, Vic calls energyguy a watermelon (green on the outside, red on the inside). Lolo1 gets into a fairly spirited argument with energyguy. George Washington asks some good questions, but energyguy failed to respond (not intentionally, GW, energyguy assures you). Rich D gets into the fray and energyguy disagrees with him factually and logically.

Also, T. Boone Pickens gets picked on by several, and defended by energyguy, Lolo1 accuses energyguy of being a shill for T. Boone, (and I am not by any means), and energyguy explains his opposition to nuclear power.

We also learn that ExxonMobil is about to introduce a breakthrough in automotive battery technology that will make plug-in hybrids commonplace.

This series ends with energyguy's complete refutation (with facts) of Vic's claims that power from gas turbines is uneconomic. What say you, Vic?

All this reminds me of what a tenured, seasoned, professor of chemical engineering told us in our senior year of undergrad:

"Men, you are about to become chemical engineers. You will find yourself outnumbered at times in your career, but you will NEVER be out-gunned."
and then, he smiled. He was always pounding into our thick skulls that arguments are worthless unless backed up by facts. -- energyguy

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did participating. Let's do it again, yall, and soon!

energyguy Location: CA
Ms Coulter

wrote: "Conservation, efficiency and using oil we hold in reserve for emergencies does not get us more energy. It's as if we were running out of food and the Democrats were telling us: "Just eat a little less every day." Great! We'll die a little more slowly. That's not what we call a "plan." We need more energy, not a plan for a slower death."

Great writing, funny, wish I could do that. Ann, you are my kind of woman.

I agree that using our SPR is unwise; that is for supply emergencies. This is not such.

Conservation and greater efficiency, though, are two of our best bets for immediate and long-term solutions.

A vehicle that gets 80 miles per gallon uses one-fourth the gasoline compared to one at 20 miles per gallon. That has the same effect on the driver's wallet as gasoline at $1 per gallon.

Anyone remember those days? And that we were complaining about the high price of gas?

Those 80-mile per gallon vehicles are here, folks. see, also, and just consider a VW Jetta TDI diesel (it gets about 50 mpg) with an add-on plug-in hybrid system. Add-on hybrid systems are here, too.

To Marinaro: Right On.

Since the engineers appear to be introducing themselves, here's my intro:

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

energyguy Location: CA
President Bush

did ask for funding for alternative energy, including hydrogen.

The U.S. government has spent many millions through DOE research into solar, wind, hydrogen, and many others. Take a look at what Sandia National Labs and a few of the other national labs are up to. Also, see the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website, part of the DOE, at

The geeks and engineers are showing us the way out of this high-priced energy mess. Sure, the products are a bit pricey to start with, but so were personal computers in the early days.

I did not hear any whiners back then saying that this is unfair, those damn Republicans are creating a device that only the rich can afford.

Prices for the ultra-high mileage vehicles will come down very fast. There was a time when air conditioning on a car was an add-on, a luxury. I know, because I always wanted AC on long family vacations driving across Arizona in the summer as a kid. Not many years later, AC was not even an option. They were so cheap they were just included.

Geeks and engineers. Gotta love em.

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

The Crawfish Location: PA
Subject: Oil-based fuels

As long as aircraft, trains, large trucks, heavy equipment, and ships run on oil-based fuel, we'll need it. I don't see viable alternative fuels for those machines coming down the pipe anytime soon.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Bubba -- at 7:13 am

wrote about more refineries, and nuclear power.

As some on TH know, I am against both. And here is why.

The democratic party's mantra that we have not built a new refinery in 30 years is dis-information. It misses the entire point, and that is, that we have always had adequate refining capacity, excepting a few weather-related events.

We had 12 million barrels per day refining capacity in about 1983. Today we have 18 million. That is 50 percent increase in 25 years, roughly 2 percent per year. That kept up with the demand for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. The geeks and engineers did this by expanding existing refineries.

We do not need more refineries in the U.S., and here is why. The coming (or more accurately, the existing) decline in gasoline consumption in the U.S., does not indicate building more refineries. Instead, look for the U.S. refineries to begin exporting gasoline and diesel to other countries.

Note that there are a few U.S. refineries with major expansion projects right now. BP in Whiting IN is one, also a big refinery in Port Arthur TX.

There is a lot of talk about a new refinery in the Dakotas for the Bakken oil, but so far no one has written a check for the $8 billion or so that it will cost. I doubt anyone will.

Finally, just last week Shell cancelled their plans to build a new refinery in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. They cited market uncertainty, and surging construction costs as their reasons. Market uncertainty means "we don't think we can sell the products at a high enough price when we finally get this thing built in 4 years."

more on nukes later.

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: ExxonMobil to the Rescue

I will probably get some flak for this.

The CEO of ExxonMobil recently stated in a speech in Europe, that his company will soon unveil a new technology for lithium batteries. Something about a membrane.

That will make the Lithium batteries more desirable for things like cars, especially plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Now, my question to all the Exxon-haters out there, is why would ExxonMobil do something like that?

Those are the smart guys (and gals). They know their stuff, better than anyone, at finding oil, refining oil, making petrochemicals, and making money at it.

Why would they even be performing research in that area, batteries?

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

The Crawfish Location: PA
Robert 12:30AM

What alternative energy sources are viable, or will become viable in the next 25 years, for aircraft? How about trains, large trucks, and heavy equipment? I just can't see any other way to power one of those new huge Airbus planes or an F-35.

Nuclear power is an alternative for ships, but do we want to have those third world crews, many of whom have a hard enough time with routine maintenance that keeps their vessels from becoming dangerous rust buckets, dealing with nuke reactors? Do we really wnat those third world crews to be able to get their hands on nuclear waste that can be used as a weapon? Heck, even using their own ship as a weapon by initiating a reactor runaway when they pull into port in Noo Yawk, Basstun, Newport News, El Lay, Than Franthithco, Seattle, Houston, N'awlins......

orlandocajun Location: FL

"Why would they even be performing research in that area, batteries?"


energyguy Location: CA
Subject: orlandocajun -- BINGO

ExxonMobil sees the light. And the future.

And the future is plug-in hybrid cars with their batteries. This is the smart response, part of If you Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em.

If drilling was the way out of high oil prices, I suspect ExxonMobil would never be working on batteries.

Kinda takes the wind out of the sails of those watermelons who say ExxonMobil is doing nothing for the environment.

Way to fire, Rex! 41-38.

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

killer Location: GA

I am an Attorney in Georgia,no big deal.But,please allow me to help you,in your attempt to assist Exxon.If Exxon had done this in 1950,they would have been good corporate citizens.But, to do it when resources of fuel are dwindling, is self explanatory.Superconductivity is on the rise world-wide.Battery experimentation is being examined by every nation on earth, almost.It is alleged, that by 2012,we will have available to "US" batteries, that could last for 100's of years.Exxon is doing US no favors,believe me.Sir,they are trying to position themselves for the coming cycle,which is their JOB!!!

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: The Crawfish -- at 8:19 am

wrote: "What alternative energy sources are viable, or will become viable in the next 25 years, for aircraft? How about trains, large trucks, and heavy equipment?"

You have a point with aircraft. More fuel-efficient engines are what is working now, as in A380 and Boeing's Dreamliner. Although the Dreamliner uses composite materials to reduce weight, too.

We will need jet fuel for a long time.

For trains, see GE's hybrid train. It was on display in Los Angeles' Union Station a few months ago. Recovers energy from braking. Trains tend to brake a lot.

For trucks, see Eaton Corp's hybrid technology for delivery trucks. On sale in 4th Quarter of this year.

Hybrid technology works for just about anything that has to hit the brakes. That includes heavy equipment.

Big Rigs, for long hauls, are a bit of a problem. They don't have the stop-and-go driving that allows the hybrid to increase mileage. But, geeks and engineers are working on that one, too. One of the technologies reduces drag by increasing air pressure at the end of the trailer.

Good point about nukes on ships. Not to worry, though. Way too expensive.

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

Woody Location: IA
Subject: To energyguy

Though you may be correct in what you're saying, your sign-off,telling everyone about your "degree", is more than slightly arrogant.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Woody

Ok, just for you, I will sign off differently this time.

How's this? You happy now? Anything else you want to whine about?

-- A Cowboy, and beer-drinkin' guitar-player with friends in low places.

Joycey Location: OH
Subject: Energy guy

I don't know about you but My family was already conserving energy. I was raised not to waste. We don't have anymore cutbacks to make. Buying a new car is not a solution for families that can't afford a new car. We are to busy paying college tuition. "Let them eat cake",
"Let them buy a new car". Where are your 80 mpg cars. Best I've seen is around 40 are you talking about dangerous motor scooters. Where are the groceries going that we soon will not be able to afford on a motor scooter. If I have to make 10 trips on a motor scooter I haven't saved a nickle.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Joycey

I predict that gasoline prices will get much lower, and very soon. Here is why.

First, summer driving season ends on Labor Day. Prices historically drop then as demand drops due to school starting.

Second, a very big refinery is starting up in India around Labor Day. This refinery will eventually sell gasoline and diesel to customers in India, but for now will be exporting. That will bring prices down somewhat. see Reliance Industries.

Third, U.S. drivers are cutting gasoline use like never before. We have seen a consistent decrease in gasoline use for the past few months. SUVs and pickup trucks are sitting on auto dealer lots. Meanwhile, hybrids are zooming off the lots. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are shutting down plants that make their gas-guzzlers. Toyota is shutting down the Tundra pickup plant for a few months.

Fourth, gasoline prices are already dropping, at least in Los Angeles. Trends sometimes start in California and infect the whole country.

And last, AFSTrinity demonstrated their 150 mile per gallon SUV in January at the Detroit auto show. It is real. They took a brand new Saturn VUE, a small SUV, and added their plug-in hybrid system to it. Aptera is taking orders now for their car, which gets serious gas mileage.

This is like a snowball rolling down a hill. Gasoline prices will be lower, and soon.

All this is just one guy's opinion.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker.

george washington Location: FL
Energy Guy...

While I am certainly no energy expert, I like to think that I possess a fair amount of common sense.

The use of gasoline to fuel our personal vehicles is a practice whose days are ultimately numbered.
Obviously, we can't continue to burn gasoline indefinitely.

Looking at the alternatives, as far as automobiles are concerned, electric would seem to be the best currently known alternative.

A general conversion to electric cars is not going to happen overnight, however. The practical reality is that turning the fleet over, in all that that entails (including infrastructure for re-charging stations, etc.), may well consume one or two decades, or more.

Assuming that we were to go that route, how would we generate the electricity needed to power the new electric auto fleet?

I note that you oppose additional nuclear powered electrical generation plants. What would you propose? I must admit that I do not know some of the facts needed to assess the feasibility of some of the alternatives.

What would be the requirements of any all-electric auto fleet in kilowatt hours per day? Are wind or solar, as the technologies currently exist, capable of even producing what must surely be a prodigous amount of electricity? At what cost per kilowatt hour?

I am not trying to put you on the spot here. I do not have this information and have seen all manner of contradictory information.

I, for one, would love to see some sort of national emergency conference convened at which the known facts are reliably produced and summarized for the nation to assess.

Your Obedient Servant,

George Washington

CKHustler Location: MN

I noticed something you said...

"ExxonMobil sees the light. And the future. "

Thats just it...the future. What about the present? If our economy tanks because of rising oil prices, well, there goes our economy in the present and those future technologies will have done nothing to help.

We are all for future technologies, but we want a solution that will get us to the future technologies without losing our economy in the process. Open up drilling and refining to any individual who wants to. That would solve our energy crisis immediately as prices would plummet the next day due to future market stability.

Your so busy looking a mile down the road, your missing the bus sideswiping us while we try to get there.

The Crawfish Location: PA
Energy Guy and R-Geek

Energy...good info, and keep up the beer drinkin'!

Geek...thanx for stopping by and giving The Swamp a plug. Once I finish all 17 parts of the series, I'll make a final post that has links to all 17 parts. I'll send a link to THAT post to the McLame and Barr campaigns, since us minor-league bloggers are the only ones who seem to be able to find this ammo that's sitting out in the open.

Some of my fellow bloggers and I came up with our own (currently fictional, but maybe sometime soon a reality) political party, The American Tradition Party. I've got a link to our 2008 Platform as one of the featured posts.

Rich D. Location: PA
Subject: energyguy

"And the future is plug-in hybrid cars with their batteries. This is the smart response, part of If you Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em."

Their is no forseeable improvement to batteries that would increase their energy density, service lifetime, and cost significantly. It is misleading to say that a car gets 150 mpg - a bicycle's mpg is infinite.

As you are against nuclear power for some unexplained reasons (that you promised), how the dickens do you proprose to charge the batteries? Hydro is out, wind is of low availablity, especially when needed most during summer months in the daytime, solar puts hazardous chemicals on your roof just waiting for a fire, hydrogen is only a lossy carrier, ethanol starves poor people and ruins engines, and batteries need to be recycled and replaced at a hugh cost, and will require azmat crews at major accidents.

Rich (Oh, B.S. in B.S.)

Lolo1 Location: CA

interesting comments, but people are still not getting the big picture.

Congress over the last forty years has done nothing to develop our infrastructure, and not just in the realm of energy. Water wars anyone? They cow towed to the environazi's and now we have gridlock. Yes, I can blame the Democrats and Pelosi. Don't give me that Reps had the Congress for 6 years stuff. They campaigned on lowering gas prices and they have since almost doubled. Quite frankly I blame them all!

Currently hybrid technology does not fit the needs of all Americans. And to those who scream about gas mileage remember it is Congress that continually raises and lowers fuel standards. Cop a clue folks, you are taxed per gallon, the more you use the more you pay in taxes.

The world is not going to run out of oil. This dooms day scenario has been predicted since the 1930's. Does that mean we shouldn't pursue other methods? Nope. I like technology and it often does more good than harm. Gonna be interesting to see the creative way they come up with to tax it.

To the engineers on board go to IBD and read Local Fission Hole. Curious as to what you think.

In the mean time while Congress fiddles Rome is burning. If you guys think they are really serious about getting off of foreign oil I have a bridge to sell you.

energyguy Location: CA
Rich D -- at 10:51 am

Brief response, I gotta get some work done, but will be back around 5 PDT.

Wind is one of the best options we have, but there are plenty more. Try a search for Wind Energy Map. The DOE recently completed a wind survey across the U.S. and found more than enough wind is available to supply all our electric power needs. And that was just with 15 mile per hour wind, measured at a height of 50 meters.

Low-speed wind available is much greater. As T. Boone says, America is the Saudi Arabia of wind power. T. Boone is a Great American, IMHO.

And I disagree on the battery point you raised. AFSTrinity is using an ultra-capacitor with nanotechnology from a professor at MIT. Serious geeks and engineers, there. (Is that arrogance to mention that? I am lost as to the protocol around here...)

I are an en-gun-eer. I have a lot of faith in 'em.

More tonight.

-- Roger E. Sowell, with a BS in BD (beer drinkin)

yall crack me up!

Lolo1 Location: CA
Subject: energyguy

And when you come back please explain the economics of wind and it's impact.

Vic Location: SC

EG is against Nuclear Power because he is a closet eco-idiot masquerading as someone who knows something. He claims to be an engineer responsible for building and selling combined cycle gas turbine plants and that they are the “cheapest” form of generation. They are, in fact, cheap to build and very expensive to operate.

If he is in that business then the obvious reason he is against Nuclear Power, besides being a watermelon, is that they would cut into his profit margin and business.

Lolo1 Location: CA

Well that certainly explains the enormous cost of energy here in California! Highest in the nation!

Too many people like energyguy bring their agendas to work and force them on others.

Ron Location: PA
Subject: If government hadn't

taken half of every business and industries' operating capitol every year since WWII, we would have all these things now. Since our industries didn't have that money, they couldn't spend it on research and development that would have resulted in 60-mph cars, NG-powered cars, 500-mile battery cars, etc.

energyguy #145: If we have all the refining capacity we need, WHY ARE WE IMPORTING GASOLINE???

Vic Location: SC

The high cost of electricity in CA is due to a number of reasons, all of which can be laid at the feet of the Democrap Legislator and “reregulation”. First off, about 50% of CA electricity comes from out of State. This places you at the mercy of the other States for what generation mix you get. Home State utilities always provide their own customers with the cheapest generation while they sell the higher price stuff to their neighbors. For example, in short term contracts a neighboring utility will call and ask if a border utility has any spare generation rather than light off a high priced gas IC Turbine. Let’s say the neighbor has $25.00/MW coal while the buying utility has $250.00/MW gas turbine. They will split the difference, i.e. the utility gets the coal generation at $125/MW.

The other reason is that the only thing CA has put on line has been gas turbine generation. Which, as I said, is expensive to operate.

Another reason is that CA has shutdown all of it’s nuclear generation but one plant and it is slated for shutdown. These plants cost a lot of money to build and now you are getting nothing from them but the bill.

And still another reason is the high cost of transmission in CA. You have to build around high priced real-estate, mountains, and deserts with towers that are somewhat earthquake resistant. And let me tell you, one of the first things to go in an earthquake is the power lines.

Lolo1 Location: CA
Subject: Vic

Oh I am well aware of all of you say and then some since my Dad is retired electrical engineer.

Let me add a couple of things. The PUC is made up of appointed people. Every single one of them is a Democrat! These members, as well as PG&E itself, donate heavily to Feinstein. I think you get the picture.

I was pointing out that the logic, or lack there of, from energyguy is precisely how and why this state is in a mess.

I am waiting to hear from him the economic impact of wind energy on the country as a whole.

Bet he has no clue.

I read what T. Boone Pickens is trying to do from his website. It is not a countrywide solution. He is looking to capitalize on the misery of others, which will create even more misery for future generations.

Vic Location: SC

T. Boone Pickens is doing the time-honored tradition of robber barons in getting the government to help pay for his scheme and getting regulations passed that force people to buy his product. He and his investors have invested millions in building a huge wind farm. Now he wants even more government subsidies and some kind of mandate to force people to buy “wind”. In addition, he wants progress on the so-called “grid upgrade” that would allow his wind power to be moved from Texas to places like NY and CA which are grossly underpowered. The last I saw of that plan it would call for each individual utility to pay for it. That means higher prices for the utilities that it passed through so that the NIMBYs, NAMBYs, and NOPEs could get power and he could sell it.

Lolo1 Location: CA
Subject: Vic

On the money!!!

And wasn't it energyguy that called him a Great American?

He must be brown nosing for a job.

Butcher Location: OH
Subject: Vic what a great insight to it.........

Vic Location: SC
Subject: Lolo

T. Boone Pickens is doing the time-honored tradition of robber barons in getting the government to help pay for his scheme and'
I find that we agree here, ol T. Boone Pickens, are we giving him air time every time we mention hids name??? OL TBP is selling the nation a spiel and not doing good at it.
I have grown past the age of Dinosuar auto's and look forward to the days of clean fuel transportation, but I will be long dead. Shhhhh everyone.
I and I mean myself and my company are looking into self electrified homes. Not death chambers but homes powered by Electric wind generators that already exist. A 12-15KWh generator could supply the average three bedroom 2400 sq.ft home of all its electrical needs, 24/7 so there are alternatives.
In transportation, viable alternatives are coming but far off so we need to drill OS. However I do not believe we need to destroy the ANWR at this point in time, because the figures of available oil say's we do not need it.

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: Nice guy Vic

"EG is against Nuclear Power because he is a closet eco-idiot masquerading as someone who knows something. "

EnergyGuy has come to TH offering his opinion to all and not once have I seen him resort to this typical insults so common with you Townies.

So typical of you and the Townies, just destroy the man and ignore his message.

You just sound like a bitter old man.

Marinero Location: WA
energyguy & wiseone

I'm happy to say that American innovation is still alive and well. As energyguy mentioned, AFS Trinity and Aptera, and perhaps more importantly,,, and As long as this spirit of innovation exists, and as long as government can stay out of the way enough not to kill it, America will be able to overcome any obstacle.

Energyguy, respectfully disagree with your opposition to nuclear. I'd like to know why you oppose it.

Rich D. Location: PA

"And I disagree on the battery point you raised. AFSTrinity is using an ultra-capacitor with nanotechnology from a professor at MIT. Serious geeks and engineers, there. (Is that arrogance to mention that? I am lost as to the protocol around here...)"

TYhis hybris is 2-3 years out.Their website says the batteries are shot after 10 years. So what do you disagree with? 300 pounds of stuff to recycle? 12 hour battery recharge time? There have been recent articles in IEEE Spectrum.

ModMark Location: NY

Just a minor point, isn't propane an oil product?

Hopefully EnergyGuy comes back tonight to discuss natual Gas, he is really big on this stuff. No nuke he says.

Thank you very much for your straight forward questions, you have my fullest respect sir!

This reply started about 11 p.m. PDT-- energyguy]

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Replies

ModMark - thanks for coming to my defense in your reply to Vic of 3:31 pm. Vic is rather unhappy, I think, over an exchange he had with me a few days ago re Hugh Hewitt's blog on It's The Oil, Stupid. He advocated nukes, and I did not.

Vic accuses me of being a watermelon, green on the outside, red on the inside! HAH! He is just upset that many refineries built gas-fired, combined cycle cogeneration plants to generate serious power, and took away that business from his beloved utilities. They built nukes, their rates went up, we responded with cogens. Big ones, too, some at 500 megawatts.

Anyone interested, here is the link: s_the_oil,_stupid

Ron at 11:48 am asked, why are we importing gasoline? Answer, it is cheaper. Many refineries in Europe, particularly in Rotterdam, became export refineries to the U.S. rather than shut down when they had over-capacity in EU. We import a lot of unfinished oils, and further refine them into useful products. See EIA. Refiners do a lot of make-or-buy analysis. When it makes sense to buy, we do.

more on next post.

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: By the way Gunny

Shell just canceled a major refinery in Ontario last week. Seems the market condition can't justify a major capital investment.

energyguy Location: CA
Lolo1 at 11:42 a.m.

wrote: "Too many people like energyguy bring their agendas to work and force them on others." -- what agenda? To spread useful information? To draw logical conclusions? To share my experiences? To add ( I hope) to the discussion?

I sorta thought that was a fairly noble purpose of TH blogs.

This forum is a classic example of the marketplace of ideas that our founders so dearly loved. A good idea will withstand scrutiny, and not so good ones will not.

I know I have a target on my back for the positions I take, but I see that as a good thing. Fire away. Vic did. I fired back.

Oh, I forgot to sign off in a Woody-acceptable manner above.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker.

energyguy Location: CA
Marinero at 4 pm

wants to know why I am opposed to nuclear.

I think my debate with Vic on Hewitt's column (see above) put forth my views pretty well. But, here it is in a nutshell:

Nukes are toxic. Non-believers, please do a search on Karen Silkwood -- she was poisoned by plutonium and died after she sued Kerr-McGee. Nukes create toxic wastes that must be sequestered for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Leaving a toxic legacy for future generations is not playing nice.

Second, nukes are too expensive. As I wrote above, refineries, chemical plants, and other large industries found it much more attractive to build cogens and quit buying power from the utilities due to their nukes.

As ModMark wrote above, new refinery was just cancelled, in part due to soaring construction costs. Nuke plants will have the same cost issues.

And this time, smaller companies and homes have a new option they did not have back then: Distributed Generation. These babies burn natural gas, generate power, produce hot water, heat the home in winter, and cool the house in summer. The geeks and engineers have been busy.

New nuclear power plants will be blocked at every turn. As an attorney, I can assure any readers on TH that the environmental legal eagles got a lot smarter in the last 30 years (I am not one of that group). They can tie up a nuke plant in court battles for years.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

energyguy Location: CA
Rich D at 4-something

wrote that hybrid batteries die at 10 years, recycling, etc.

How many cars today last 10 years or longer? 10 years is not a bad life cycle for a battery, I think. And, there are already battery recycling plants, we will just expand their business.

Plus, the geeks and engineers are on it. Better batteries are on the way, the same as with any technology. I point out personal computers (cannot say PC, too many meanings these days). They just get better and better, or cheaper and cheaper for the same performance. Have a little faith in the geeks and engineers. I do. A lot.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

GunnyG Location: VA
Subject: ModMark

"Shell just canceled a major refinery in Ontario last week."

Typical cherry pick Mark.

Cost considerations were given as the reason for the project’s cancellation... (Read that to mean taxes, permit fees, payoffs, etc.) tml

CALGARY -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc. has canceled plans to build a new multibillion-dollar refinery near Sarnia, Ontario, due to poor market conditions and surging construction costs, the oil major said Tuesday.

Riding construction costs? Spell that UNIONS.

So between rising construction costs (Unions) and gov't taxes and fees, Shell took their business elsewhere. Gee, go figure.

Marinero Location: WA
thanks energyguy

... for the explanation. I admit I know very little about all this; however, my understanding is that nuke plants are a lot safer than they used to be. They work in France, so why not here? That's a rhetorical question. Anyway, I'm trying to keep an open mind.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Wind Power

Someone above wanted to know if I am up on wind-generated power costs.

I am on record as supporting T. Boone Pickens, A Great American, in his wind and natural gas project. Someone criticized me for that statement. Ok, I have a pretty thick skin, you have to in order to survive doing what I do.

To my critic, have you read T. Boone's biography? Do you know he started out dead broke in the oil fields, and made his own fortune that is now worth $4 billion? Do you know he also man-handled Wall Street, buying and selling entire corporations? He is a living legend. I would like to see my critic's credentials.

Now, as to wind power.

Here are some links that are pretty useful. / /pdfs/2007_annual_wind_market_report.pdf

This last one was recent, issued May, 2008.

Windmills over a wide area have a fairly good average generation, I have seen numbers (published ones) that state about 30 percent. The costs depend on many factors, how strong the wind is, how big the generator is, and others. They are sufficiently economic that Texas is building them as fast as they can. In a state with more oil and gas than any other.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: EnergyGuy

My concerns of a no nuke policy.

My biggest concern is if we develop to great of dependence on Natural Gas for producing electric.

While there is plenty of supply now with CNG tanker rolling into our ports and major new finds of gas, how long till global demand for NG is equal with supplies.

Any industry which relies too much on a single source is vulnerable. We are screwed right now with transportation ie cars. Price is skyrocketing and what choice do we have.

The challenge for nukes, build them on budget. Short term make be more expensive but once paid for, they can be a stable source of electrons.

Thanks Gianna for those cheap electrons.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: More Links - Cogen

Cogen link - good explanation of these things: =0&rs=0&artid=511

GunnyG: unions may have been part of the problem leading to Shells refinery cancellation, more likely it is the cost of materials. Refinery projects all over the world are seeing doubling and such on costs. I doubt that is due to all the Union workers in the Middle East.

Steel, especially stainless steel, has more than tripled in price recently. Refineries use a lot of it. Concrete, same thing. Copper, same thing. Even the engineering costs are zooming, because of not enough engineers who can design and build a refinery.

Marinero: The French are creating the same toxic legacy with their nukes as we are. Heck, ours work here, too. They run right along, creating toxic radioactives, and putting at least 75 percent of the heat into the air via their cooling towers -- btw, isn't that called Global Warming?

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Gotta run

will check back tomorrow a.m.

It has been fun.

-- Roger E. Sowell, still a beer drinker.

Lolo1 Location: CA

You do bring your agenda into the workplace. Sorry but I have seen it too many times. Because you think or believe one thing you automatically shoot down others.

I also find it strange that T. Boone Pickens starts doing ads and suddenly we have a new blogger at TH advocating for him.

Reminds me of all the RP supporters.

Lolo1 Location: CA
BTW folks

Heard on the radio today, ABC NEWS, that it would take two years to get the oil to market.

ModMark: Not much of a rant dude! The problem with your oil refinery scenario is the you are right for the wrong reasons. Yes the oil market bottoming out caused the combining and closing of refineries because they could not afford the litigation to repair and keep them up to standards. Same with the oil companies. Notice there are now only five? Competition is being systematically removed from the market which hurts consumers. Now we need the refineries, especially in CA due to cafe standards, but cannot get them. Furthermore if you don't want to give the ME the money and want it to stay here at home, why import and give some other country the same opportunity the ME has?

I would like very much to give them the finger too! But remember they don't care because they have huge markets with India and China. They don't need us.

Ralph Location: CA
Subject: Wind generators are no answer

Shoot! Just when I wanted to put a wind generator on my property thinking it would make me energy (at least for our electrical needs) independent, I hear someone pose real life questions about their viability. First of all, you can't put them onto the electrical grid because if there is a significant output from the wind generator, it could throw the grid off, since it is designed to take a specific electrical load. Additionally, there is no continuous wind at a specific velocity, which adds to the problem. There was more, but the idea of using any wind generator larger than that for single family homes is not practical. Like corn based ethanol, this too is a hoax being foisted on the American people. It is important to examine the details associated with all of these "alternative fuels".

energyguy Location: CA

wrote: "You do bring your agenda into the workplace. Sorry but I have seen it too many times. Because you think or believe one thing you automatically shoot down others.

I also find it strange that T. Boone Pickens starts doing ads and suddenly we have a new blogger at TH advocating for him."

Wrong. Do a search on my handle and TH, see how long I have been posting. I have not seen you on TH, either. Does that make you a newbie?

Have I shot down others? By what means? By name calling? By presenting facts, and making an argument? Lolo1, that is what a debate is all about. Marketplace of ideas. Feel free to shoot at mine, only bring some facts and logic.

You do not have to agree with me, obviously many people don't. But, everyone should have the opportunity to weigh your arguments, against all others. ModMark and I disagree amicably over the proper place of nuclear power.

Gotta run again. Back in the a.m.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

energyguy Location: CA

wrote: "Yes the oil market bottoming out caused the combining and closing of refineries because they could not afford the litigation to repair and keep them up to standards. Same with the oil companies. Notice there are now only five? Competition is being systematically removed from the market which hurts consumers. Now we need the refineries, especially in CA due to cafe standards, but cannot get them."

I disagree, and will tell you why. In 1983, there were approximately 300 refineries in the U.S. Today, there are approximately 145. It depends on how we count refineries. Most of the 150 or so that shut down were too small to afford the expense of complying with all the environmental regulations aimed right at refineries. Some of these regulations included full lead removal from gasoline, benzene removal from gasoline, and sulfur removal from diesel. There were others.

The number of oil companies is less due to mergers and acquisitions, for example Exxon with Mobil, Chevron and Texaco. Having fewer refineries, and fewer oil companies are due to completely different reasons.

By your logic, we should never have only three automobile companies, if five oil companies is too few!

Competition to sell a gallon of gasoline is near an all-time high, which helps consumers. Refining companies now exist that were not even here 30 years ago. Alon is one. Others that became major factors include Valero, and Tesoro.

CAFE standards are increasing, which decreases the demand for gasoline if the number of miles driven stays constant. We have an increasing number of cars in California, but many of them do not use gasoline, or are hybrids.

We cannot get refineries? Which gas stations are out of gas in CA? Alon just purchased two refineries in Los Angeles, and will invest mega-millions to run them as one entity. Sounds to me like we are getting them.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Ralph -- at 11:01 pm

You must be kidding, right? If that was satire, very well done! "Windmills are not viable."

If not, then have a look at this site: 24

Note the photo of a wind-generator that is so big it is being installed with a construction crane.

Next, I suggest you do a search on an Images site with keywords Wind Power. Here is one to get you started: um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

These photos show an awful lot of windmills operating, with a large amount of private money invested in them, to be "not viable."

I have a new sign-off, courtesy of some old friends who follow this thread. Thanks, guys!
(the first step in refining is boiling crude oil)

-- Roger E. Sowell, SOB. Society of Oil Boilers.

Rich D. Location: PA
Nuclear Power - energyguy

Where have you been? Are you living in the 60s?

Westinghouse near Pittsburgh has been advertising for engineers at their new facility for months to keep up with the demand for their power plants. Two in South Carolina, two in Georgia, four in China,... NuclearPower/AP1000Reactor.pdf

Construction time is less than 36 months, and generation cost will be 3-3.5 cents/KWhr. It is over 200 times safer than the NRC goals require.

Rich D. Location: PA
Hollyweird, Fonda, and conspiracies

energyguy: Non-believers, please do a search on Karen Silkwood -- she was poisoned by plutonium and died after she sued Kerr-McGee.

Where to start?

She died in a one-car accident. Blood tests performed on Silkwood's body showed that she had 0.35 milligrams of methaqualone (Quaalude) per 100 milliliters of blood at the time of her death. That amount is almost twice the recommended dosage for inducing drowsiness.

NYTimes: "Moreover, as Kerr-McGee officials knew, all fuel rods upon delivery in Washington underwent scrutiny with equipment far more sensitive than that in Oklahoma. To date, according to Westinghouse officials, some 25,000 eight-foot-long fuel rods have been subjected to white-hot temperatures at the core of the reactor. Not one has ruptured."

"In short, the evidence in the case suggests that Miss Silkwood was not a nuclear Joan of Arc but an activist outraged by terrible working conditions who mistook a technician's shortcut for corporate cover-up and eventually became a victim of her own infatuation with drugs. That tale, while not very seductive, at least sticks to the facts."

Regarding fuel:

wiki: "The fuel rods will spend about 3 operational cycles (typically 6 years total now) inside the reactor, generally until about 3% of their uranium has been fissioned, then they will be moved to a spent fuel pool where the short lived isotopes generated by fission can decay away. After about 5 years in a cooling pond, the spent fuel is radioactively and thermally cool enough to handle, and it can be moved to dry storage casks or reprocessed.

Now, energyguy, what modern nuclear plant uses plutonium in the fuel rods?, and how much stock do you have in co-generation companies?

Let them eat darkness.

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: RichD, Nukes

I think EnergyGuy is looking for a debate on this issue, I will even join your side.

I think he is quite conservative, so calling him a lib will not work.

energyguy Location: CA
Rich D

Quoting the NY Times as authority on the Silkwood matter is not persuasive. I read the legal case. There was Plutonium in her urine on repeated occasions. And in her apartment.

Yes, she died alone in a car accident, and a box of papers incriminating her employer, Kerr-McGee, was removed from her car after the accident and never found.

A good summary of the case can be found in the book, "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury."

If spent nuclear fuel rods are so safe, why then are they not sold at Wal-Mart as poles for kids' basketball hoops?

Why are they to be sequestered "forever" in a remote mountain in the desert?

All this debate over toxicity or safety of nuclear plants is useless, or moot. Environmental attorneys are chomping at the bit to file the lawsuits should any of these ever get approval for construction.

Time will tell, let us wait and see.

The point I made is that public utilities should re-consider foisting off horribly expensive nuclear plants on their rate-payers, like they did last time.

Big industries went off the grid, at least in part, by building cogeneration plants. That is a fact, completely apart from any investments I have.

Did you read the point I made about Distributed Generation? And the point I made to Vic (see the Hewitt column) about the Utility Death Spiral?

Last time I checked, nuclear fission using Uranium creates Plutonium, among other toxic things. Please correct me, if I am mistaken.

I am well aware of the nuclear vendors' claims that they have a good design, it is very safe, and it is relatively cheap and quick to build. Of course they will say all that, it is in their best interest to do so. What should we expect, they will say they are unsafe, too damn expensive, and will take forever to build? Hardly.

Time will tell.

-- Roger E. Sowell, SOB. Society of Oil Boilers.

energyguy Location: CA
Re Cogens

This is for Rich D and Vic, should they still be reading this.

In 2007, the EIA website (see below) had this to say about utilities additions of natural-gas fired, combined cycle cogeneration power plants. Sorta confirms my point:

"New generating capacity added during 2006 totaled 12,129 MW, while retirements totaled 3,458 MW. Natural gas-fired generating units accounted for 8,563 MW or 70.6 percent of capacity additions.

Of that amount, 7,374 MW were highly efficient combined-cycle units. [representing roughly 90 percent of all natural gas installations -- energyguy]

Since the late 1990s, natural gas has been the fuel of choice for the majority of new generating units, resulting in a 99.0 percent increase in natural gas-fired capacity since 1999."


Geeks and engineers. Saviors of Society.

-- Roger E. Sowell, SOB. Society of Oil Boilers.

Hugh Hewitt's column Its the Oil, Stupid!

This exchange, from Hugh Hewitt's column of 7-11-08.

"Vic" gets rather heated about halfway through this. This is long, but worth the read.

Note that, as of that date, I had not yet disclosed I am an attorney and a former refinery engineer.

Jay Location: FL
Subject: electric cars

Modmark et al miss the fact that the electric power for charging those electric autos has to come from somewhere,and that is coal-fired power plants and the few nuclear plants we have now.The environuts have blocked a new solar plant out in California,blocked windfarms,and are viciously anti-nuke.
The second point Modmark et al have overlooked is that most everyone in the US DOESNT HAVE an electric car,and cannot replace their current cars,now or in the near future.THEY still have to have gas,and the jetliners and trains run on oil-derived fuel.They also also cannot just switch over to mass-transit.Busses also run on diesel.Diesel also powers out truck fleets,that distribute food and other products.All those "alternative energy" sources are not practical and not price-competitive.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Jay - re Power for Electrics

Power systems have plenty of unused capacity at night, which is when most recharging will occur.

Take a look at the power use chart in CA:

I suspect that every state's electric grid has similar unused capacity at night.

The thing that will increase is fuel consumption -- but no need to build more power plants, and no need to build more power transmission lines.

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: No Need To Panic

Mr. Hewitt, I listen to your show almost daily, and it is a great show. Love it.

But, the entrepreneurs are already here with answers. No need for panic drilling.

This site s-Turn-Any-Car-Into-a-Plug-in-Hybrid

has after-market hybrid conversion kits that turn a gas guzzler into a sweetheart sipper.

Also, no need for more refineries. We have plenty. Shell just this week announced they cancelled their new refinery slated for Sarnia, Ontario (Canada).

Reasons cited by Shell include market uncertainty, and surging construction costs.

Market uncertainty is oil-speak for "we don't believe the demand for our products will be there when we finally get this thing built in about six or seven years."

Could be that Shell keeps up with the declining gasoline demand in the U.S. over the past several weeks. Also, they may have observed that gas guzzlers are not selling well, if at all, but hybrids are zooming off the car dealers' lots.

(apologies if this posts twice, or something similar to it.)

Vic Location: SC
BTW, contrary to the T. Boone Pickens

scam that is going on, electrical generation has nothing to do with the oil woes.

Electrical generation from oil is negligable. It is largely used for emergency generators that only run during testing or emergencies.

energyguy Location: CA

T. Boone Pickens is not running a scam. He has a viable solution that incidentally will make him a fortune. Not that he needs it, he is already a billionaire several times over.

And, we are already implementing his plan, and have been for years. We have wind-generated power in several states, notably Texas and California. We also have thousands if not millions of natural-gas powered vehicles, from buses to cars.

There are plenty of natural-gas filling stations, using CNG. Some use a tank of LNG (liquefied natural gas), pump it to pressure, then vaporize the gas into a storage tank.

I drive by a station near LAX in Los Angeles a few times a month. It is a busy place.

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: Hey EnergyGuy

Great scoop on the issue concerning the tar sands, CNN had a nice article on it today.

Did some reading last night about are Canadian friends. Billions being pump into the production up there.

By 2020, they may be producing 4 million barrels/day.

Hmmm, now where shall I invest my money, wildcatting in the OCS or with the tar sands?

Just because we say drill drill drill, investors may say hold on hold on hold on..

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: LA Steve

wrote: "By opening up drilling offshore and in ANWR, removing ethanol in gasoline, and fast tracking more refineries we could expect to see a reduction if fuel prices by about 40% not to mention reductions in food costs as well."

I disagree. By building more hybrid cars, and more Plug-in hybrids, the demand for gasoline will drop. Prices will plummet.

No new refineries need be built for a long time, if ever. The ones under construction (there are a very few being expanded right now) will be the last ones.

The key to watch is ExxonMobil and their capital expenditures. By any measure, the guys and gals at EM are the best in the business. They are not building new refineries, but are investing mega-billions in natural gas liquefaction, and the crogenic tanker ships to bring it to U.S. shores.

Sounds like a perfect match with the T. Boone plan, to me!

ExxonMobil figured out long ago that finding oil is difficult and getting more so. But, finding natural gas is a snap, the only problem is liquefying it and moving it across oceans on a large scale. They solved both problems with massive LNG plants and LNG tankers.

energyguy Location: CA

great responses. I only just now got to read all this. As usual, some well-intentioned but factually not accurate opinions.

I believe lots of people will buy into this after-market hybrid conversion. For approximately one-fourth the price of a new car, a person can double their gas mileage. Plus, the trade-in value on their modified car will go way up.

Or, just transfer the hybrid parts to the next vehicle. Only have to pay for the labor.

That is a winning combination for a lot of people.

energyguy Location: CA
Trucks and Trains

also have hybrid systems. Eaton (not the baseball bat guys, the other ones) have an industrial-strength version on the market. 18-wheelers will be rolling on these by Thanksgiving.

Same is true for train engines. Apparently, there is a helluva lot of energy that can be recovered by a hybrid system when a train starts a downhill run. As in running from the continental divide all the way to Los Angeles. Or anywhere else there is a downhill grade.

I believe Union Pacific had a locomotive on display in Los Angeles' Union Station earlier this year with the new technology. Saves fuel by a few percent, I think.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: An Idea

just kidding...

The thing to do is annex Cuba. And Haiti.

Then convert their land to growing sugar cane, to produce ethanol. It is too cold in most of the U.S. to grow sugar cane. But, it is a heckuva lot better at making ethanol than corn. (Brazil does this).

This plan frees a bunch of communists, sends the price of corn back down, many countries can afford to eat again, and we get lots of ethanol for cars. Our world image would greatly improve. Liberals might just love it!

And beer prices go back down. Gotta love that bonus!

ModMark Location: NY
Thanks EnergyGuy

But most of my info is from guys like you. I just a parrot :-)

Concerning T. Boone plan, consumer really need other options for their vehicles.

Now no Exxon is evil rant from me but they know they have us by the balls. What else can we do? Walk? Mighty cold here in Western NY during the winter.

LNG as a viable option for vehicles, great option.A free market where consumer have option would be welcomed.

Let Russia with it vast gas reserves and Saudi fight for our dollars.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: CNG with Plug-in Hybrid

is my vehicle of choice.

A bunch of guys I know drive big pickups with CNG as fuel. They are scrambling to call those hybrid after-market guys.

Heavy loads just recharge the batteries faster when they slow down or go down a hill.

I wonder which car company will be the first to offer that combination, CNG with PHEV?

I'm taking bets that it will not be a Detroit outfit.

Bob Lutz, are you reading this?

Somebody, please send it to him.

Bob is Vice Chairman of GM...

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: Bob Lutz is busy now

He is quite worried about that lithium battery they are co-developing. Once that's done..

Sandrob in AZ wrote:
Subject: Hey MadMark

You will have to forgive me, I baby-sat my 7 year old grandson today and my mind is a little frazzeled!
I said:
If you want to compare the U.S. Unemployment numbers, 10.7% to the U.S. at 5% then we can understand why the E.U. as a whole uses less oil.
I should have said:
If you want to compare the E.U. Unemployment numbers, 10.7% to the U.S. at 5% then we can understand why the E.U. as a whole uses less oil.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Energy Use Is Good

Try comparing this.

US: more patents, and more useful inventions than any other country.

US: more Nobel prizes in just about everything, including science, medicine, which lead to energy-consuming industries.

US: more inventions and innovations in oil refining, petrochemicals, patent medicines, than any other country.

US: Saved the world from choking in coal-dust and coal-smoke pollution by discovering and commercializing oil in Pennsylvania, USA.

US: transformed the world by inventing the transistor, later the computer chip, and led the way in computers, digital communications, and internet. Takes a lot of energy to do all that.

US: transformed the world (saved billions from starving) by developing high-yield crops; then the inventor refused to take a patent on it. Yup. You could look it up.

US: mass production -- use of energy and machines rather than human labor to build stuff. Almost any stuff. Result: lots more energy used, but far more productivity.

I could go on, but my fingers need a rest.

USA...damn right we use a lot of energy. To make really nifty things that help the entire world.

ModMark Location: NY

"USA...damn right we use a lot of energy. To make really nifty things that help the entire world."

Yep, I love my electrons! Cute little guys, and quite clean from a near by nuke plant and Niagara falls.

We have the greatest technology in the world, time to use it and lead the world once again!

Stupid patent mistakes, the guy who invented the spreadsheet (VisaCalc), didn't bother to file a patent. Add those numbers, $5 royalty for each excel spreadsheet.

Sandrob wrote:
Hey energyguy

Glad to see you joined in!
What is your opinion of T.Boone Pickens announcement?

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: What Else We Can Do
is what people have always done in a free with your pocketbook.

Buy a vehicle that gets 150 miles per gallon, from It has a 15 gallon fuel tank, and it is an SUV. Or, get their sedan that achieves 250 miles per gallon. With a 12 gallon fuel tank.

Or, send in your deposit and reserve a vehicle at That little jewel gets amazing mileage. Plus, it is allowed to ride in the California carpool lanes with just one occupant.

Or, as I posted earlier, get to your nearest after-market hybrid company and cut your gasoline consumption in half. It beats the heck out of a solar PV system on the house.

With gasoline demand decreasing in the U.S., and large foreign refineries starting up this year, expect to see gasoline prices drop.

We will likely be telling our grandkids what it was like to pay $4 for gasoline, just like we tell them what it was like in 1973 to wait in line to buy gas. They will not believe it.

By the way...I am getting 37 miles per gallon on my commuting car. It is an un-modified 1998 Saturn SL2, four door, manual transmission with 4 cylinder double overhead cam. That is combined city/highway driving in Los Angeles. It has about 230,000 miles on it.

The car is EPA rated at 23/34 city/highway, with 27 combined.

energyguy Location: CA
T Boone

is right on the money. See above post.

We are already executing his plan, he just wants to do it on a grander scale. We have CNG vehicles all over in CA, mostly because our govt mandated it.

We also have (along with Texas) some serious wind-power farms near Palm Springs, and in Altamont Pass near San Francisco.

Some criticize the wind-power idea because wind is erratic. But, over a large enough area, that is a moot point. The wind is blowing somewhere, all the time. Every kilowatt-hour generated by wind reduces the need to burn natural gas. That natural gas then is shifted to CNG for vehicles.

See the Houston Chronicle at, and a columnist named Loren Steffy. He got hammered today in the comments on his column. I comment there as refineryguy.

The fact is that natural gas is the only fuel today that can do double-duty as fuel for vehicles, and for power plants.

Coal cannot. Nuclear cannot. Oil is not burned to generate very much power any more, and is primarily used as back-up fuel in emergencies. Hydrogen might someday, but that day will never arrive IMHO.

T. Boone knows his stuff.

Sandrob wrote:
Subject: Hey energyguy

Doesn't natural gas come from or alongside the oil wells? And don't natural gas cost run parallel with oil? If your answers to these questions are true, why should we be be looking at CNG? Arizona tried, thru a screwed up environmental attempt to utilize LPG. It ended up more expensive than gasoline and the idiots responsible were voted out of office or fired.
If you look at a graph of the cost of oil versus Natural Gas, they run alongside each other. Why change or modify the infrastructure if you are still going to have to drill? Does T. Boone have a lot of Natural Gas Wells?
Keep in mind, most people in this country are not going to be able to cough up 10K to modify a Prius that they couldn't afford to begin with. Most people in this country are stuck with vehicles that run on gasoline. Most people are not going to listen to T.Boone about windmills!
Sounds good on the surface but it's not realistic for the Joe Sixpack or even MadMark who drinks ale. Opps, I take that back, he will go along with anything the Europeans are up for. He's a Moderate you know!

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: Rapier

wrote: "For all the electric car buffs out there, especially CA, THere is not enough juice to go around presently, Air-Conditioners are a right (Life and pursuit of happiness. How many new power plants of any type are under construction today? you can have your electric lawn decorations, now, maybe in 10 years there might be enough new power plants to make a difference. Will not fix problem today, or next 5 years.

btw; Crude oil availability is only part of the problem. REFINING Capability is lacking demand by 30-yrs"

I disagree. With the exception of California temporarily losing its governmental mind a few years ago, there are plenty of power plants with more under construction. Natural gas combined cycle cogeneration is the way to go. Converts at least 70 percent of the fuel to electricity, which is better than coal, nuclear, or conventional gas-fired plants.

Crude oil supply is not the problem, and neither is refining capacity. See my earlier post re Shell cancelling a new refinery.

Demand for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel has declined every week for the past several weeks. See EIA website.

Don't believe all the MSM crap that is spewed daily and continuously. They harp on drill, drill, drill, and more refineries NOW, and it is just not what we need.

The rest of the world will buy high-mpg cars, just like the USA will. Gasoline demand will drop to half or less compared to what it is today, and so will diesel demand. As for jet fuel, well that is a subject for another day. But we have the solution for that, too, with modified refineries.

Demand for crude oil will drop by at least 10 percent by the end of 2009, and another 10 percent per year thereafter until about 2012. We talk about peak oil, but what we are actually seeing is peak oil price.

That is my prediction. Stay tuned, sports fans. This is about to get interesting.

Energyguy wrote:

Good questions. And yes, some natural gas is co-produced along with oil. But, not all. A lot of gas has zero oil in it. There is usually something called condensate, meaning propane and butane, sometimes very light gasoline. These components are removed in the natural gas processing plant.

And yes, T. Boone is a big holder of natural gas interests. Bully for him, wish it were me!

There is no infrastructure to modify or build. Service stations already have natural gas lines in most areas. All they need to install is the compressors. It takes three for reliability.

Wind-powered generators will require power transmission lines, but that is factored in to the cost of construction. The Public Utility Commissions may roll up the electric rates a bit to pay for that.

I think JoeSixPack is a prime customer for the aftermarket hybrid conversion kits. Rather than trade in his giant Suburban SUV, and get virtually zero for it, then buy a smaller SUV with hybrid technology for $40,000, he can just pay $7,000 to get his SUV converted. If his credit is not too screwed up, he will do it.

Doubling his gas mileage from 15 to 30 will save the man $2000 per year if gasoline stays at $4 per gallon, and he drives 15,000 miles per year. His investment pays for itself in only 3 1/2 years. Plus, now his SUV is worth a lot at trade-in time. He may get most of his $7000 back in trade-in value, or re-sale value to a private party.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Out

for now. Will check this thread tomorrow.

Vic wrote: (at 3:32 am)

T. Boone is in fact running a scam if the intent is to make money for him while taking money from everyone else on a false pretense. All of that 700 billion going over seas has NOTHING to do with the electricity generation.

As for using natural gas to run cars that is ludicrous under the current setup. The utilities nationwide for the past 20 years have built nothing but combined cycle gas turbine plants for power in some cases (CA) and peaking power in other cases (everyone else). This has driven the cost of natural gas through the roof. Note that filling my propane tanks went to over $4.00/gal over a year ago. These plants cost a fortune to operate which is one of many reasons why people in CA have the highest electric rates in the country. If the people living on the coast had to use as much electricity as the people here do they would be in open rebellion now.

And finally Lib-Mark's generation of electric cars take far too much power to charge for existing electrical capacity, including night. We, in most of the country, maybe could get by with golf carts, but CA could not.

If the intent is to reduce pollution by going to electric cars, then my solution of eliminating all internal combustion engines from the highways and using golf carts is the answer. That would make the roads quieter and you could get more cars there. All long distance hauling of people and goods would have to go to train.

DavidMac wrote:
Subject: energyguy

T. Boone Pickens never did anything that DIDN'T make him a ton of money; he cares nothing about environment or feel-good solutions. Pickens is the oil patch's equivalent of Gordon Gekko.

I work in the oil patch (oil field service). Business is booming because the world STILL NEEDS OIL. The demand won't evaporate next week because some dumb pol like Obama or McCain says, "we can't drill" or "we must use alternative energy sources".

We need oil. period. To get oil, we drill and the sooner the better.

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: Vic - 3:32 am

I disagree. Combined cycle cogen is the lowest cost to operate. You may be referring to a single gas turbine generator, which is by far the highest cost to operate.

We build and operate the combined cycle cogen in refineries, and have done so for years because they are the lowest cost. Refinery owners are VERY good at selecting the optimum technology.

By combined cycle cogen, I mean two gas-fired turbines each with a generator, where the hot exhaust gases feed a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG). The HRSG may have natural gas added to it, or supplemental firing. High pressure steam is produced in the HRSG, and that steam drives a steam turbine that is connected to a third generator.

So, we have two gas turbines, one steam turbine, and three power generators. Those babies are sweet, clean-burning, and convert nearly 80 percent of the natural gas to electric power. These are the power plants that are being built not only in the USA, but around the world.

As to T. Boone running a scam, HAH! How can it be a scam when it is already working, as I posted earlier?

T. Boone has put his money where his mouth is. He invested his own money in hundreds of wind-powered generators in North Texas. He only gets paid if those things make power.

I would not call that a scam. Sounds like sound business to me!

ModMark wrote:
Subject: energyguy

"T. Boone has put his money where his mouth is."

What people don't understand, the new technolgu of LNG tankers.

Before these came into play, it was impossible for the US to buy NG from overseas.

Now we can and T. Boone knows it.

Wiseone wrote:
For energyguy

Good post (I have worked on the installation of HRSG's, so your post hit home with me).

On T. Boone Pickens:

His investment in wind-driven electric power is not a scam. But wind-driven power is only profitable because the feds have arifically made the cost of nuclear and coal powered electricity prohibitive.

With gasoline already at $4/gallon and natural gas coming from the same sources, how long will it be before combined cycle plants become too expensive to operate?

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: Greyhawk

Perhaps it would be interesting to know that I agree with most of what you wrote. CA does have a dumbed-down segment led by the nose by a liberal elite segment.

But not all of us fall for it. Some of us read and appreciate the writings of Dr. Thomas Sowell, A Great American. Some of us went to engineering school, studied economics and finance, and a few are attorneys.

I see CA as a place of great opportunity, and enjoy the clashes with the liberal elites. It is priceless to watch their faces and listen to their incoherent rants when presented with logical, factual arguments. Baiting Liberals is one of our favorite sports out here!

Yes, we have water problems, traffic congestion, chronic budget deficits, wildfires out of control, gang violence, drug abuse, school incompetence, very high abortion rates, very high rate of unmarried mothers, and a host of other problems.

We have a Spanish-speaking mayor in Los Angeles who wants to be Governor, then President. If you think Obama or McCain are poor choices, just wait for him. Imagine a State of the Union delivered mostly in Spanish. He did that (spoke Spanish) in his first official speech as mayor.

But then we have guys, like me, (and a bunch of gals, too!) who push back against all this. We have normal communities with kids who play little league, soccer, football, and all the other sports. We have home schooling to provide a good education because the govt will not.

Our air is much cleaner compared to 20 years ago.

We have some problems, and we also have some really smart people who are working on them. By the way, our problems are not unique to CA. I seem to recall that Arizona burned pretty bad. Texas (my beloved home state) also has their share of drought, fires, gangs, and traffic congestion. Most cities have problems.

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: ModMark

I disagree with you on the LNG importing. We have been importing LNG into the US, and others have around the world for many years. Japan is a case in point. Gas from Australia is one of their prime sources.

The new fleet of large LNG carriers designed by ExxonMobil simply reduce the unit cost of delivery.

The price of natural gas will actually drop because the importing LNG will increase the supply.

Electric power prices will also drop due to this.

ModMark wrote:

I stand corrected. I thought it was new technology..LNG tankers

A offshore port in Long island got shot down, Broadwater.

My relative told me this, I didn't verify.

Dumb*ss, it is miles off shore in protected waters. Many on the island use oil for heat, going to be a cold winter there.

Baseballdoc wrote:

.....T-BONE was squeezed out of the oil market and now plans to make millions by picking the pockets of us taxpayer with government subsidies for his "clean air" wind mill company ...

.....It is amazing to me how all these alternate energy companies that are going to create so many new green jobs all have to be subsidized with taxpayer money to compete with what we have the most of ...oil, gas and coal .....COLOSSUS

Vic wrote:
Subject: Energyguy

I think we have had this conversation before. No combined cycle gas turbine is NOT the cheapest generation.

The large units that are built for non-peaking power under the last numbers I saw BEFORE ALL THE FUEL INCREASES ran between 21 and 30 mils per kw. The peaking IC Turbines ran in the dollars per KW range, I think it was $150 per MW for the last numbers I saw for those. Conversely, the cheapest units are hydro at about 1.5 mils per kw, old paid off Nukes like the one I worked at at 13 mils per KW. Newer units run around 19 mils unless they are in trouble and shutdown a lot. The coal units in our area run between 19 and 21 mils per KW.

As for oil units we don’t have enough of them to even measure in this area.

Vic Location: SC
pt 2

And the cost of natural gas is more likely to continue increasing than it is go down. When I left the outlook for building more gas turbines was nil for that reason. We had just installed a 200MW unit down the road a piece and it was likely to be the last for a while.

When I left they had just filed a letter of intent to investigate building more Nukes. That is the first step. The SouthEast is in bad need of new base load units of high capacity, at last check so was the Mid-West and those are the two BEST areas of the country for supply. The next in line is the North-East who imports a significant portion of their electricity from Canada and the Mid-West on any given day.

Worst is the CA who NORMALLY gets 50% of its electricity from out of State and the remaining from One left Nuke and the rest gas turbine (the last I saw), The out of State sources are primarily Washington and Nevada. As a result, CA people pay the highest prices in the nation for electricity.

That doesn’t matter to the eco-idiots like Chickpee though. They live on the coast where electricity usage is minimal due to mild summers and winters. If they has out weather the electric bills would be running in the hundreds and thousands of dollars per month range. In fact, back during the drought in Washington State that resulted in the blackouts in CA a friend of mine said that with the added penalties in the Bay Area she was paying $1500/month for a few hundred kw.

Vic wrote:
T. boone - Enron Jr.

Yes T. Boone Pickens has used his own (and investors) money to build his huge wind farm. Too bad that generation from wind is even higher cost than any other methods except solar and IC Peaking Turbines. And that is WITH all the government tax breaks and subsidies he will get from the government.

So in the generation area, he will get a bunch of subsidies from the government that will be paid for by Joe-Sixpack, and that is just to get his power up and on line. Now Mr. Boone has got to get his power to the place where it is needed. To do that he needs a lot of high voltage transmission lines crossing the country. Those cost billions to build and the existing grid is NOT set up to handle that. The last proposal that I saw on that was for each utility to pay the cost of building those lines across the States where the utilities were located. So let’s say that they build a line between Texas and NY through Ohio. All the utilities between TX and NY would have to pay for those lines crossing their service areas. Ohio may not need the power, particularly since it will cost so much. But good old NY who refuses to build anything in their backyard (NAMBY) does need it.

What good old T. Boone is actually advertising for is the get the LAWS changed to make someone else PAY for his power to be transferred and to make people BUY his power at the elevated price.

So ultimately what you get is T. Boone gets richer, NY gets power without building anything or paying for the costs and the people in Ohio (and others) pay for it. This is the same kind of scam Enron used to run, as well as the railroad barons of the 19th century.

Energyguy wrote:
No No and NO

Vic has it wrong.

Some history here, with the facts. I lived this and earned my living as an engineer doing this.

Electric power along the Gulf Coast, where a lot of refineries and chemical plants are located, was generated and supplied by utilities. The power was generated primarily by natural gas in steam plants, some by coal in steam plants, and eventually some by nuclear.

A steam plant uses the Rankine power cycle, to burn the fuel, heat the water to steam in a boiler, shove the steam through a turbine, condense the low pressure steam and recycle the water to the boiler.

Efficiency was about 25 percent.

Refineries and chemical companies found it was much cheaper to build and run their own combined cycle plants as I described above. We invested millions in these plants.

The utilities finally wised up, because they thought that gas turbines were only useful for peaking service, that is, fire that thing up to make the last bit of electricity when demand is very high. They had only stand-alone gas turbines, without the HRSG and without the steam turbine to utilize the waste heat from the exhaust.

Those stand-alone gas turbines were atrocious (and still are) from an efficiency standpoint.

I stand behind my earlier statements, and disagree with Vic. Combined cycle is the cheapest way to make power. Check it out with GE gas turbine, Westinghouse gas turbine, and others. (excepting hydroelectric, of course).

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: ModMark

a small correction. Base load generally does not include hydroelectric. That is usually reserved for peaking power. Base load hydro would typically only be used where the lakes are full to overflowing, and for water management reasons the water had to be released.

And to the person who said CA imports 50 percent of its power, so what? Other states find it attractive to build excess power plants and sell their power to us.

Does that mean that every state must be self-sufficient in everything?

Texas exports a helluva lot of gasoline and diesel fuel. California exports an amazing amount of food to the other states. What is the big deal?

Energyguy wrote:
Vic -- at 12:18 pm

Your argument about transporting electricity has flaws.

We have done exactly the same thing to transfer a resource from an area where it is in excess, to other areas where it is in demand.

Examples include natural gas pipelines, oil pipelines, and petroleum product pipelines.

Other examples include interstate highways, railroads, rivers and canals. Even the intracoastal canal is in this category.

People pay for the infrastructure because it is useful and more economic than any other way to get the power.

If the bluebloods in Massachusetts refuse to build their own windmills, then they can pay to import the power.

Now we have the opportunity to use a renewable, free resource, the wind. We generate the power in the Great Plains, and transmit that power to whoever needs it.

Unfortunately, power does not flow through pipelines, or along interstate highways or on railroads. So we build transmission lines.

Like Brazil did to bring power from the upper Amazon river down to their cities. Thousands of miles. If they can do it, so can we.

Vic Location: SC
Subject: Energyguy

You build plants and are familiar with construction costs, whereas I operated them for 30 years. Your numbers, including costs and efficiency are way off.

As for importing 50% of your electricity if you don’t mind paying anywhere from 20 cents to 30 cents a kw for it and doing without it on a frequent basis I guess it is fine.

Just be prepared for doing without when Las Vegas starts using up all the power from the Boulder Dam. They are already using up all the water.

Vic Location: SC
On the high voltage power

lines you don't know what you are talking about. Give it up.

Energyguy wrote:

Give it up? Why, when I am correct, factual, and accurate? Present your facts and support for them. Until then, I stand by my experience and facts.

I ran our power plants, too. Not just built them. We are always looking at make-or-buy decisions, including electric power. If a refinery could profit from buying electric power from a utility, we would.

If your argument had any merit, refineries would shut down the cogen plants and buy power from the utility. That is not happening. Quite the opposite.

In fact, just this week another U.S. refinery bought an existing cogen plant to supply its power.

And, as a residential consumer of electricity in Los Angeles, I pay 12 cents per kwh. In the summer. That has a 10 percent city tax on it, and some other fees. The actual power price is about 10 cents.

Your 20 to 30 cents is way off.

We could care less about Las Vegas and its problems with Hoover Dam hydroelectric. They don't have enough water to run the thing, anyway. So, we import power from the big nuke in the Arizona desert, its a triple-header. Palo Verde.

Vic Location: SC
Subject: EG

You ran a refinery, I ran a power plant generating electricity. You know NOTHING

energyguy Location: CA
Oil Pipelines

here is a link to a good map of the U.S. oil pipelines. Infrastructure to transport a commodity from A to B.

Notice all the pipelines that move products from Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma to the North East. Nobody whined that it would cost too much, or it would destroy the environment, or it was an unfair burden on taxpayers when we built those.

And that's a fact, Jack!

energyguy wrote:
Subject: Big Words

now, see if you can back them up with facts, logic, and arguments.

I presented facts. You presented insulting words. Are you a liberal? Liberals generally lose their cool when confronted with facts.

BP's announcement on July 1, 2008 for their purchase of a cogen plant for the Whiting refinery said,

"BP Alternative Energy on Tuesday announced that it has acquired the Whiting Clean Energy facility, a 525 megawatt (MW) natural-gas fired combined-cycle cogeneration power plant located in Whiting, Ind."

Here is another one, on the ConocoPhillips refinery in Sweeney, Texas:

"Sweeny Cogeneration is a nominal 450-megawatt cogeneration plant located within ConocoPhillips' Sweeny refinery complex, southwest of Houston. The cogeneration plant started commercial operations in January 1998."

These plants are not toys. 525 megawatts is about half the capacity of a single-reactor nuke. You should see what Dow Chemical has down in Freeport, Tx. And what ExxonMobil has in Baytown.

How many more examples will it take to convince you?

Vic Location: SC
So you have all these refineries

cogen plants from you. So what? How many of them are public utilities?

My numbers are from internal documents that I no longer have access to and 30 years of knowledge in operation and transmission.

You need to continue building high cost generation for refineries and stay out of the transmission and generation discusion.

The numbers I have for CA electrical costs were from discusion with an old friend in the Bay Area during the big crunch about 8 to 10 years ago.

Vic Location: SC
Subject: BTW

The cost of operating a gas turbine is real cheap if you don't have to pay for the gas.

MyOpine Location: CA

Vic is not a Liberal.
He is a proven Conservative.

The subject at hand?
EVERYTHING in our economy is linked directly to the cost of fuel.
If the cost of energy goes up then the cost of everything grown, manufactured or transported goes up.
The cost of heating/cooling your home, driving your car or using your boat or traveling, everything you spend money on.
The value of paychecks, retirement checks, Social Security checks, along with the money in your pocket and your savings account is worth less.

Thank the Democrats for this.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Vic - Cogen

real facts are stubborn things.

Refineries pay for their gas.

If the utilities, that you were a part of, had done their homework and provided power cheaper and more reliably than my refineries could, then we would never have spent the money on cogen plants. We are seriously profit-driven.

That is a fact, Jack.

Btw, one reason utilities quit building nukes along the Gulf Coast was the Death Spiral.

When the nukes were finally built and their exorbitant costs were rolled into the cost to refineries and chemical plants, we took ourselves off the grid and went with cogen to reduce our electric power costs.

The utilities went ballistic in their rage, and promptly received higher rates from the Public Utility Commissions for their remaining customers.

The higher rates made it even more attractive for other manufacturing plants to justify their own cogen plants.

Yall keep it up over there in Utility-Land, Vic. We love it. Give me a combined cycle cogen plant any time. 80 percent efficiency, burning clean natural gas produced right here in the U.S.A. Apparently, BP in Whiting agrees with me. To the tune of big bucks.


energyguy Location: CA
Cogen - more

In fact, the utilities have boxed themselves into a corner in many places.

It is now attractive economically for some businesses to burn natural gas in a small-scale cogeneration plant. These plants burn the gas in a small turbine, and the hot exhaust provides heat to run a thermal chiller to provide air conditioning. Part of the hot exhaust provides hot water. The turbine produces electricity.

see for just one such supplier. Designed and built by geeks and engineers.

Yall keep up the good work over there in Utility-Land, Vic.

Yall build some more nukes, and jack that power price up again. Then, watch even more of your customers disappear, again.

With natural gas prices falling, thanks partly to ExxonMobil and their super LNG tankers, and your construction costs for those nukes skyrocketing, this is a no-brainer.

Vic Location: SC
Subject: EG

Yeah, I guess that’s why we are paying 7.1 cents/kw residential rates here while ya’ll are paying 15 cents plus penalties. It’s those high cost Nukes.

And efficiency really doesn’t mean anything when it comes to the bottom line it is total cost of operation. Gas turbine has been the choice for several decades now simply because they are CHEAP to build. They are expensive as h*ll to operate and getting more expensive every day. Of course what the utilities have done is to roll that into what they call the “fuel adjustment clause” where they tack on a few cents per KW when they run those gas eating monsters.

And BTW, what are you going to do when the feds, like they did with the Nukes, start changing the regulations on a daily basis for CO2?

And none of this addresses T. Boone’s transmission lines (which started this tirade) to get his wind power from Texas to NY.

BTW, the thumb rule for that is a million dollars a mile unless you have to go through mountains, swamp, or high price land.

Vic Location: SC
Natural Gas Price Falling?

Doesn't look that way to me:

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: MyOpine

Vic's liberality or conservatism is not the issue. To quote R. Reagan, a Great American, "It is not that our liberal friends are ignorant, it is just that so much of what they know just isn't so."

To your point about high energy prices, some perspective is in order. We have been through massive oil price shocks before. Crude oil went from roughly $8 to $32 in 1979-80. Earlier, it went from roughly $2 to $8 in 1973. From $2 to $32 in less than a decade, and we all survived, even thrived.

There were outcries back then, too. Unfortunately, our geeks and engineers had not yet developed feasible alternatives. Why should they? Energy was too cheap to bother with it.

This time, it is different to that extent.

Have patience, have a little faith in the profit-driven businessmen.

ModMark Location: NY

"Base load generally does not include hydroelectric. '

Why would Niagara Falls power be considered "base load"?

It provides a cheap and consistent 2,515 megawatts.

Perfect for base load generation.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Vic

keep watching. One day does not a decade make.

Your power from nukes is cheap now only because they were built decades ago and are fully amortized (or dang near it).

And your continued assertion that gas-fired cogens are gas-hogs is absurd, even laughable.

If anything you wrote were accurate, then why would BP spend mega-millions to buy that cogen plant in Whiting? Why would ConocoPhillips spend $80 million to buy out the co-owner of their cogen plant in Sweeny? The BP transaction is not a decades-old event, that happened this week.

If the utilities can supply cheaper power, and make it unattractive for oil companies to operate their cogens, then why won't they?

Remember, these are the big, bad, evil oil companies we are discussing here. They squeeze every penny just to make a profit. Does anyone really believe these evil oil companies have a soft spot for makers of gas turbines? That would be GE, Westinghouse, and Siemens, to name just three. Rolls-Royce also makes a pretty good one.

Can you refute the Death Spiral argument that I made above?

As to natural gas prices, it is expected to fall by roughly 50 percent within a couple of years. From roughly $13 per million today, to about $7.

energyguy Location: CA

is a special case. And, may it always be so. Too beautiful and too commercial to destroy.

At Niagara, there is a soft rock that is eroded by large water volumes over the falls.

Engineers diverted a significant portion of the river flow upstream of the falls, and ran it through the hydroelectric plant. This produces a very stable amount of power, and preserves the falls for future generations (of people, not power).

In a lot of other cases, such as the Sierra Nevada, the hydro is used strictly for peak loading. We also have a few pumped hydroelectric plants, where the flow is reversed at night -- consuming power.

Vic Location: SC
Subject: EG

Every time I start entering a comment this site starts resetting itself and I lose everything.

Anyway, why do you keep referencing oil refineries? Certainly they will make great customers for combined cycle gas turbine. If nothing else, they will at least not have to pay profit margin, federal, and state taxes. That works out to be quite a sum, especially when you are burning wholesale lots of gas.

As I said, the numbers I have seen for bottom line net operating cost for a combined cycle plant ran between 21 mils and 35 mils in the South East. That would be higher or lower elsewhere factoring in labor costs, fuel costs, and other things such as taxes at other locations. That does not include the cost of the overhead of the parent corporation and the cost of transmission. Those generally add about 1 cent per kw of generated electricity, again depending on the location. That last item may be the reason you were seeing high costs in LA with all the swamps transmission costs would be high.

Another factor that does make up the 21 mils is the cost of your initial money. That is typically amortized over 40 years and appears on the balance sheets as a charge.

MyOpine Location: CA

Everytime an alternate energy source is attempted the Watermelons start regulating it out of existence.

The best thing we can do to solve our energy crisis is to round up all the Watermelons and any of the politicians who listen to them and ship them all to the Aleutians.

We don't have an energy crisis, we have a legislation & regulation crisis.

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: Vic

Oh, but refineries do pay profit margin, federal and state taxes. And, we do have to find the capital and that is not free. Each project must support its costs, including the cost of capital, maintenance, fuel, insurance (if applicable), and overhead.

You see, a cogen reduces the operating costs rather significantly. That "goes to the bottom line" and increases profits. That is why we do it. So, profits went up, therefore federal and state taxes go up.

You have a point on transmission lines, though. Refineries do not have to build those because we consume the power internally.

energyguy Location: CA

I think it is the opposite regarding govt legislating or regulating alternative energy out of existence.

Federal incentives exist for alternative energy systems. State incentives exist for them, too. These include solar, wind, and of course the subsidy for ethanol.

California and other states mandated a certain percentage of power generation must be from renewable sources, and that percentage increases over a few years.

CA, and I cannot speak for other states, has mandated that a certain percent of the vehicle fleet must be low-emissions or zero emissions, what they refer to as ZEVs.

CA also encouraged low gas-consuming vehicles by allowing single-occupant cars to drive in the carpool lane, but only for a select group of cars such as a hybrid.

We filled up our carpool lanes in LA with that one, now the other lanes are equally fast during rush hour.

Myopine wrote:

Just as soon as someone starts to develop an alternate energy the Watermelons & Animal Rights Nazis start demanding AND GETTING prohibitive regulations.
That is why oil shales & oil sands are not being developed right now.

AND; Most alternate energy ideas have serious drawbacks, like Ethanol for instance!

I am happy to learn your Car Pool Lanes in the LA Basin are at full capacity.
Our Car Pool Lanes in the Bay Area are virtually empty except for the occasional driver using one illegally.
Leaving a lane empty while traffic is stop & go in other lanes is very wasteful of fuel.

AND; I wish we had a way to communicate with the morons in our DMV and explain that turning on headlights during the day when they are not needed causes an extra load on the engine and wastes fuel.

Vic wrote:

Once again, you miss the point. Not paying taxes etc on the FUEL that is going into the plant whereas a utility would have to.

Wally in Utah wrote:

So you think natural gas prices are falling?

Guess that's why we just got a 40% INCREASE on our natural gas rate (and it would be even higer if it were not for the fact that Questar, our gas supplier here, has several of their own NG wells).

BTW, one of the reason for gas prices rising here is that they can sell it for a little more by piping it to CA.

[Burly requested info on saving fuel for trucks]

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: Burly -- re Hybrid Trucks

I may have to split this into two posts. This is from the weekly email sent out by eere.

"Hybrid technologies are now being incorporated into a number of heavy vehicles. Eaton Corporation is now producing medium-duty hybrid power systems that will be available in 2008 on trucks manufactured by International Truck and Engine Corporation, Kenworth Truck Company, Peterbilt Motors, and Freightliner Corporation. In Canada, Azure Dynamics is producing hybrid delivery vans for Purolator Courier Limited, Canada's largest courier company. Azure has delivered 30 hybrid vehicles to Purolator but has just launched a new hybrid vehicle based on the Ford E-450 van."

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Burly -- re Hybrid Trucks - pt 2

"Purolator has changed an existing order for 85 hybrids to switch to the new hybrid vehicle and has added another 20 vehicles to the order, for a total of 105 vehicles on the Ford E-450 platform. Meanwhile, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is currently testing a new diesel-electric hybrid utility truck that is expected to decrease fuel use by 40% to 60%. Located in northern California, PG&E is one of 14 U.S. utilities participating in the pilot truck program, which is sponsored by WestStart's Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF). The HTUF is a hybrid commercialization project bringing together truck fleet users, truck makers, technology companies, and the U.S. military. See the press releases from Eaton, Azure, and PG&E, as well as the HTUF Web site."

This is from the Aug 22, 2007 email from

The press release references are found at: 30195 3_2007/070808.shtml

energyguy Location: CA
Burly - Big Rigs

Here is another item for cutting fuel use on big rigs. Again, from April 7, 2007, eere website.

"We may be accustomed to seeing the "Energy Star" label on our appliances, but now fuel-efficient tractor-trailer rigs will carry their own label: the SmartWay logo. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that 2007 models of heavy trucks can earn certification from EPA's SmartWay program. SmartWay-approved equipment, like aerodynamic front bumpers and side mirrors, can cut wind resistance and reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 20 percent. Each SmartWay-qualified rig can produce savings of up to 4,000 gallons of diesel per year, which would save truckers more than $11,000 each year at current diesel fuel prices. Well-known truck brands are participating in the program, including Freightliner, International, Kenworth, Mack, Peterbilt, and Volvo. Truckers that buy the rigs and participate in the program can display the SmartWay logo on their tractors and trailers.

The EPA plans to set more ambitious performance targets for the SmartWay rigs in the future. The EPA is also developing guidelines for recognizing other vehicles such as delivery vans, in which hybrid technology can dramatically improve fuel efficiency."

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Burly -- and finally

From Georgia Tech Research Institute: "Use of pressurized air "active flow control" techniques combined with conventional aerodynamic streamlining could improve fuel efficiency by 8 to 12 percent in the heavy trucks used to transport a broad range of products."

see tm

energyguy Location: CA
hm1342 and GTJohns

Ultimately, we will consume oil only for making petrochemicals, making lubricants, and asphalts. There may be some other highly specialized uses, but those are the big three. Electrolytic grade anodes from petroleum coke is another, but in fairly small amounts.

We currently make all those in our refineries. These currently represent about 20 percent of all oil we consume. Precise figures are available at EIA, but take a while to dig out.

Even if we transition completely to non-petroleum sources for transportation and heating, these products will still be in demand.

The question was at what price will oil sell at that time? The answer is that any product with abundant supply sells for the the cost of production plus a small amount for profit. That will likely be in the $20 per barrel range, in current dollars. Inflation will run the actual price up.

The amount for profit is regulated by competition among oil companies. In an abundant supply market, anyone who sets their price too high will not sell very much, if any. That forces them to drop their price to match the competition.

This is based on producing jet fuel from coal liquefaction. Running airplanes on LNG or electricity is not a viable option.

ModMark wrote:
Subject: EnergyGuy kids..

I very much enjoyed read EG comments on why they installed their own Co-gen systems.

Now his kids or grandkids are following in his footsteps and need a source for "high-grade thermal energy".

The Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor from General Atomics is a beautiful solution. A small scale nuke driving a refinery could be a cost effective method.

So EnergyGuy kids may be removing those co-gen system he so proudly installed and replacing it with a GT-MHR.

Good stuff, this is the Apollo style program the US needs.

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: Vic - re Cost Overruns On Nukes

I disagree. Not 100 percent caused be environmentalists opposed to nuclear power.

Case in point: the utter incompetence by the design / build contractor at South Texas Nuclear Plant -- Brown and Root.

Also, same project, falsified inspection records resulted in substantial delays while welds were properly inspected.

The STNP was such a fiasco -- engineering and management incompetence -- that Brown and Root was fired. Bechtel and Ebasco were brought in.

As for building nukes today, they would have the same soaring construction costs as refineries do. Prices of steel, concrete, copper, virtually all materials are many times what they were 10 years ago.

Qualified construction labor is in very short supply and very expensive. Finding the engineers to design the plant is very expensive, also.

Vic Location: SC

Not all of the delays were caused by interveners. Most were caused by the government itself changing the rules.

As for South Texas Project, don't believe everything you read in the papers. In fact, if it is about Nuclear Power don't believe any of it.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: No Need for New Refineries

As I posted earlier, Shell just cancelled their planned new refinery in Ontario, Canada. Uncertainty as to demand was one reason given, and soaring construction costs.

Of course, if any of the whiners who think we need more refineries really want one, then get out your checkbook and go build one. Have at it. Better bring about $8 to $10 billion. Expect to make a product in about 5 years.

The fact is that in the U.S., demand for petroleum products is decreasing, not increasing.

One anecdote as evidence: I drove across LA yesterday, a Saturday afternoon, and returned that night. There was no congestion for most of the way. Typical traffic speed was 60 mph. I drove 60 mph and only a very few cars passed me.

That was unheard of just a year ago. Back then almost everyone drove 70 or 75 mph.

That alone, reducing the top speed, saves several percent on gas consumption.

No govt regulation required, thank you very much. Just ordinary people making intelligent choices about their driving.

I would be interested in reading if anyone else is noticing similar speed reduction.

Greyhawk Location: AL
To Engergyguy in Ca--

Hey Energy Guy in CA. Good post, and I sincerely apologize to you and other Real Americans in California. I do know and realize that not all Californians are the Hazy-Wood bunch, and that, in fact, there are some great Americans in California, and especially the further you get away from Socialist Hot Beds such as San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Every state in the Union, have their hotbeds of Socialism, and are mostly centered in Metropolitan Areas where you have large numbers of people dependent on government. That is why geographically, Democrat Socialists, win very little territory. 6 million people in a city, for example, is a mass concentration of bodies, and potential voters. Of these 6 million people, you have a large percentage of that, who live off government programs, and therefore vote for those who promise they will give them more for nothing.

In Alabama, we have Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham is one of the most corrupt and mis-managed cities in the country, if not the world.
Those thieves and incompetents who run that city now owe 3.2 billion dollars for a sewer system that never got built, and the same incompetents who participated in the screw up and rip off are now charged with coming up with new ways to pay off the bond debt, and of course are looking to The Tax Payers and Land Owners to pay for their scams.

This disease is a National Problem, and we must begin at our Local Levels and take Back Our Communities and Take Back Our Schools, in order to Save Our Children and Our Country. Today's kids are tomorrows leaders.

Vote No To Socialism, at every level.

Energyguy wrote:
Vic - STNP

You are right on that one, I don't believe much of what I read in the papers. Journalists think they are novelists these days, rather than reporters.

But, I was there and saw much of it firsthand. I also had friends and colleagues who worked on and in that plant.

Also, I read the lawsuits that followed. Btw, those are generally pretty accurate.

What do you think happened? Why do you think BR was booted? Why do you think the construction stopped for one year?

Vic wrote:
Subject: EG

I do not know the details of what went on there. I know some of the allegations and outcomes, as well as some of the people that worked there during the Construction Phase. Without actually being there and involved in the actual issues you will probably NEVER know the truth.

Certainly the press will NEVER get it right. In addition, the courts will never get to the truth either. That is not the job of a civil suit. The job of a civil action is to get money. The lawyers on one side work to get their clients big money while the lawyers on the other side work to save their clients money. Usually what happens is the lawyers make money and both of the clients get a ton of bad publicity. This is why big companies like to stay out of court.

Based on events that I am aware of that wound up hitting the newspapers I suspect that there were some infractions of the many thousands of regulations that are there for documentation and those infractions were blown out of proportion. One thing to keep in mind here is that we are talking about whether or not the equipment was right or if it was safe. What we are talking about is the documentation of how it was inspected.

You will note that AFTER all these so-called inspections were re-performed that NOTHING was found wrong with the plant.

energyguy Location: CA
Vic re Conservation and CAFE

I disagree again, and again based on experience. Also, published reports.

Under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, U.S. manufacturers were required to conserve energy -- this included refineries and chemical plants where I worked at the time. So we did.

And we did better than the government mandate. I believe the mandate was 20 percent compared to a base level of 1978, and we achieved something just over 30 percent. This was accomplished by our geeks and engineers finding profitable ways to reduce fuel consumption.

CAFE standards also work. The current U.S. automobile fleet probably achieves around 20 miles per gallon. If we still had cars that only achieved 15, like that sweet 69 Chevelle with a 350 V8 I drove, we would be consuming 12 million barrels per day of gasoline rather than 9. That would mean at least 24 million barrels per day of oil consumed, rather than 20.

And in response to an earlier post, it makes zero difference if a car weighs 6000 pounds or 2000 pounds when crashed into a big rig 18 wheeler. Those things weigh 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. Either way, the car is crushed.

energyguy Location: CA

You stated earlier that refineries do not have to buy natural gas to run in the cogen plants. Just how do you believe that gas gets into the refinery?

Are you suggesting the refineries steal the stuff?

Vic Location: SC

Disagree all you want. It doesn't change the fact that the increase in oil usage worldwide is not from U.S. consumption this time, therefore hopping up CAFE standards is not going to have a significant impact on PRICE.

Vic Location: SC
Subject: EG

You will note that what I said was the average person is not going to feel comfortable driving next to a semi while in a postage stamp.

I did not discuss the surviveability of the car in a collisoon with the truck, although from what I have heard, small cars are more likely to result in death of the occupants than big cars.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Vic

We agree on some things.

But as to STNP, and lawsuits, you are right but only to a certain extent.

First, one major delay in construction was to radiograph the welds. An inspector had falsified records by using the same x-ray, of a good weld, and certifying that x-ray for many other welds. Those welds were not x-rayed. Another worker blew the whistle on him.

And yes, some of the welds were bad and had to be re-done. This took a lot of time.

So the government regulations of which you are so critical, including x-raying each and every critical weld, served the purpose to make the plant safe.

Re lawsuits: it is not always about the money. Far from it. And it is not always about the truth, as the rules of evidence sometimes make the truth inadmissible. Hard to believe, but it is a fact.

But most of the time, somebody's version of the truth gets admitted as evidence and the jury hears it. Then sometimes the jury will not believe it. Ah well. Our court system is the worst in the world, except for all the other systems.

ModMark Location: NY

"There was no congestion for most of the way. Typical traffic speed was 60 mph. I drove 60 mph and only a very few cars passed me. "

You know, I notice the same thing driving to Long Island over the 4th.

It is a 400 mile trip, my old speed was set the cruise to 78 and keep up with traffic.

Now it seem 68 is the flow of traffic, every body is slowly down.

Ahh, free market at work. Conserving fuel will be a powerful economic weapon against high prices.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: ModMark

Good to hear it. I suspect this is a common thing, reducing the top speed to conserve energy. It works for every type of vehicle.

But, as Burly mentioned earlier, truckers get paid by the mile so they have little incentive to slow down. That does present an optimization problem, though, to minimize fuel cost and maximize miles driven. Wonder what speed is optimum?

Different topic, a good article today in Houston Chronicle re natural gas from shale. This is a domestic energy source being drilled and produced now. ml

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: Sad but true

"And in response to an earlier post, it makes zero difference if a car weighs 6000 pounds or 2000 pounds when crashed into a big rig 18 wheeler. "

Last year 5 girls who just graduated from high school hit head on into a big rig. The Yukon I believe burst into flames kill all.

Sad thing, it was a driver error. They passed a car then over compensated and swerved into the truck. But the vehicle with its high center of gravity contributed to the crash.

We see many SUV in the ditch up here when the lake effect snows start blowing.

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: Vic

"Note that they did operate a portable Nuclear Reactor there that was designed for the Army. I haven’t seen the design for that unit because, like all military Nuke stuff"

So you are OK with a military portable nuke which could be anywhere here in the us with little oversight or design approval but..

are concerned about a Gen 4 reactor.

ModMark Location: NY
Thanks EnergyGuy and Vic

I freely admit, I am a "Clive Clavin" concerning energy but I do listen and learn (Niagara is peak power!)

I enjoy these talk and thank all for joining in.

Sorry about a couple attack post I made...

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: MM obsession with GT-MHR nukes

"An inspector had falsified records by using the same x-ray, of a good weld, and certifying that x-ray for many other welds. Those welds were not x-rayed. Another worker blew the whistle on him. "

Yep, I believe Shoreham had the same problems (Vito from the mob was the inspector :-)

The modular construction is very key to these devices, build them under a control environment with the required quality controls in places. They ship them to the site.

Still issues but minimizes the critical work at the site.

Ok, enough of my obsessions :-)

energyguy Location: CA
Oil Demand

What a refreshing change. The world oil consumption may be increasing, but not because of the big, bad, evil U.S. of A. We are actually decreasing our consumption.

Now, this presents a serious problem for the Liberals. Who will they blame now?

Will they verbally attack the billion-plus people in China? How about the billion-plus people in India?

Perhaps the Liberals will scold Mr. Tata in India, for selling his efficient and low-cost cars for $2500 each. After all, if using oil is evil, then Mr. Tata must be condemned by the Liberals to the lowest level of Dante's Hell.

And by the way, I suspect that Mr. Tata's car does not have a catalytic converter. I will check that out with my connections in India.

How about it, Libs? When you get over your attack of apoplexy, zing away. Al Gore? Nancy Pelosi? Dick Durbin? Bueller? Bueller? Anybody home?

hm1342 Location: NC
Subject: To Vic and Energy Guy

Thank you both for your comments and insight. I think the point I was aiming at is the assumption that some pundits have with their "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" mantra. They seem to view it as a panacea and this will significantly reduce our energy costs, particularly at the pump. I am not quite convinced.

I realize that the oil we use goes towards many applications, but my assumption is that the bulk of the oil is for transportation in the form of gasoline and diesel. And I am all in favor of developing every oil deposit we can get our hands on as long as we can be responsible about it. I am definitely in support of free markets and capitalism.

If the oil companies see that we can stomach gas at $3.50 a gallon, they are not going to increase supply to lower the cost, no matter what Newt Gingrich or Sean Hannity say. And if its only profitable to process oil shale if they can sell it at $4.00 a gallon, are they going to do it now or wait until gas goes to $5.00? Are there any deposits that are available now but are not accessed because they can't sell it at current market prices? Thanks again!

energyguy Location: CA

I am with you, due to the ease and rapidity that we can (and will) decrease demand by purchasing cars with high mpg, contrasted with the expense and long time required to drill here, drill now, slogan.

Prices go down when demand decreases. When we have cut our demand by 50 percent in the U.S., that will correspond to a 12 percent decrease world-wide. That is enough to drop prices.

Vic Location: SC
Subject: EG

As I said, my knowledge of what went on there is limited to a few reports which I took with a grain of salt. I had not heard that they found any bad welds. I assume that when you say X-ray you meant that they were radiographing the welds. Note that radiographers are normally subcontracted by the major engineer-architect firm that is in charge of the build. So if Brown and Root had the original contract, normally they would have sub-contracted radiography to someone else. Anyone can get stuck with a bad subcontractor. The question is, did the government prosecute the radiographer who falsified the weld report? Falsifying a report like that is a federal offense and this toad could have gone to jail for a long time.