Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hit the Lights

Fraters resident energy guy (what, you don't have a guy?) Tim from Colorado e-mails on the approach of a new dark age:

So this is how it will all begin.

Xcel Energy is launching a state wide program on December 11th "to promote energy efficiency and the purchase of compact fluorescent bulbs."

"The Lights Out Lunch program was developed to raise awareness among consumers and businesses about small, easy actions they can take that collectively can have a large impact."

Participants will receive discount coupons at participating restaurants for lunch that day.

Do you see what they're doing?

What they're really doing is conditioning us for the day when we will have rolling blackouts every day for several hours because cap-and-trade and renewable energy portfolio standards forced the closing of base-loaded nuclear and coal-fired plants, forcing us to do without lights, heat, AC, and many other conveniences we take for granted today. No lights today again at lunch? That's ok; candlelight actually helps the appearance of my Soylent Green.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for conservation; we should not waste resources of any kind. But the best conservation efforts cannot save enough energy to reduce demand enough to allow a 1000 MW power plant to not be built, especially when you consider the average home today versus the average home of thirty or forty years ago when you grew up (and when many of today's nuclear and coal-fired plants were put into service).

Today's average home is running one, and probably two, home computers; two televisions, maybe three; a cable or satellite TV box for each TV; a home theater system for at least one TV; and an AC system for home comfort. Changing your home over to a few CFLs cannot possibly offset that additional demand. I'm not saying don't put CFLs in your house if that's what you want to do, but you're kidding yourself if you think replacing a 100 watt incandescent with a 100 watt CFL completely offsets the power used by your desktop PC.

Across our country there are many coal-fired, and to some extent a few nuclear plants, that are well beyond their design lives and must be replaced in kind with another power plant. Solar panels and wind farms cannot replace these plants because these are base-load plants that provide power we need without fail 24-7-365.

The problem is that nobody want to say the difficult things, they would rather come up with the silly idea. This Lights Out Lunch program may make some "feel" good, but it really isn't addressing the core issue.

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