November 11, 2009 – Volume 12, Issue 13
I N · T H I S · I S S U E


Dignity, Mass Transit, Cognitive Sets

It’s just past 6:00 AM and the first train pulls into the station. A half dozen buses idle, ready for another big day. Passengers shuffle quietly from train to bus. These are pre-dawn moments. One driver stands at his door; I see him from the platform. Is he greeting every passenger? “Welcome aboard.” He’s shaking hands, looking his regular’s in the eye, welcoming them with dignity. It’s now 6:03.

You save money, help the environment, and interact. Mass transit. Take the train and acknowledge over 30 people before 8:00. Special ones I greet. What an assortment of people. Time to concentrate: Me and my laptop. No interruptions. Its 6:44 and we’re off to Irvine. Cognitive sets: This is a cacophony of color, style, and sounds to relish. Breathe.

Herb Leff: graduate college advisor, psych professor and author who’s left a lasting and powerful impression; his notion of cognitive sets is a tool for those that dare. There you are, sitting in the middle seat of a Southwest 737. Drag? The opportunity to meet two new people.

Need your space? Impatient? At the bank over the weekend, a huge line, all good people coming together to make deposits. I begin to fume over the wasted time. Then a breath. I chuckle with my neighbor in line, an Armenian woman I’d never relate with otherwise. Relish the unfamiliar, the extraordinary, the diversity around us.

Metrolink #609, Friday, it’s packed. A bunch of kids in my car. I’m ashamed to feel my facial muscles scowl. That kid is playing his guitar on our train? His mates love it. An Epiphone and I hear Herb: “Try cognitive sets.” A choice to be uptight or enjoy. These kids are having a ball. And now I feel a smile; thankfully I’m basking in their energy. Grin and relish the moment.

Dispatch from Dunedin, New Zealand.


Speaking at Greening the Bottom Line in Santa Monica at the request of State Senator Fran Pavley, author of AB 32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006

“Drive friendly. It’s contagious.”
Bumper Sticker of the Week

Plugging in: All-Electrics and Plug-in Hybrids

Imagine getting 230 miles per gallon. Imagine no gallons.

The Los Angeles Times reports that, “electron-powered driving finally appears to be on the verge of reality.” In the next three years, Americans will have all sorts of electric choices, with at least a dozen all electric and plug-in hybrids on the market, perhaps making the Toyota Prius look downright “staid.”

In 2008, the Tesla roadster got the ball rolling with a range of 220 miles. It was the first all-electric EV to hit the market since the electric car was killed. Its $109,000 roadster has race-car like acceleration (zero to sixty in four seconds), uses lithium ion batteries (a pack costs $30,000 to replace), and boasts a long waiting list of notables. The soon-to-be-released Tesla S (sedan) will cost $57,400 and will have a range of 160, 230, or 300 miles depending on the battery.

The Nissan Leaf will be launched for fleets in late 2010. It’s an all-electric drive train and gets 100 miles on a charge, all for $25,000 – $33,000. Santa Monica-based Coda is all-electric, gets 90 – 120 miles per charge, is manufactured in China, and will cost $45,000 “but may come down.” Coda hopes to sell 2,000 units in 2010 and 20,000 in 2011. The BYD e6 has a 185-mile range for $40,000. The Aptera 2e, an odd-looking three-wheeler, will come in all-electric and plug-in hybrid configurations when available in 2010.

Then there are plug-ins, like the Prius model said to be available in 2012 at an “unknown price.” Its range will be 12.5 miles when driven all-electric. The Chevy Volt will be available in 2010 at a cost of $40,000. It will get 40 miles on battery alone, and then 300 miles total. Think City has an all-electric drive train and a 110-mile range. The Mitsubishi iMiEV is all-electric, priced at $50,000, has a range of 100 miles, is sold to fleets now, and will be available for the public next spring. The Ford Focus EV is all-electric with a 75-mile range and will be available in 2011.

In related news, Fisker Automotive of Irvine, California has announced that it will buy a dormant automotive manufacturing assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware for $18 million. It was formerly owned and operated by General Motors. The plant will be used to produce the Fisker NINA, a family-sized plug-in hybrid sedan that will cost $39,000 “after tax benefits.” The plant will begin production in 2012 and is projected to provide 2,000 jobs by 2014 when the company plans to be producing 75,000 – 100,000 vehicles per year.

The Water Special: Readers Respond

The water issue got to our readers. Some reacted to the fragile situation, and strongly to my perspectives. Many are more concerned about California’s water. It’s been largely out of mind.

Yes, the issue was totally supply-sided, and I am the consummate “DSM junkie.” Ironic. And yes, the Perpheral Canal was defeated by voters.

Thanks for your comments. A smattering are presented anonymously below:

“You drank the MWD Kool-Aid with that description of the Peripheral Canal! Your punishment is to meet with some of the water enviros to listen to their thinking on how to solve the State’s water problems.”

“The price tag for their Delta fix is over $50 billion -- much of that will be paid by ratepayers and so the cost of water is going to go way up. We have plenty of local water resources that can be gotten from water recycling, more conservation, ground water management.”

“All of the water negotiations happening now in Sacto are without any consideration of future climate change impacts on water supply. You’ve been snookered by the MWD PR machine.”

“Good summary of events and things, though in 1982 the Peripheral Canal was on the statewide ballot, true, but was defeated by the voters, not passed.”

“Ted: Nice Ecomotion issue. I am sending my old Carlsbad Desalination sum rpt FYI only.”

“Your quote: ‘The Peripheral Canal was approved by Californians in 1982, but it has been mired in controversy and in the courts ever since.’ It was not approved. Lost 3 - 2.

“You left out some other recent ground breaking water innovations that the Orange County Water District is doing with reclaiming waste water, purifying it and placing it back into the water tables. This operation is the largest of its kind in the world. The plant is in Fountain Valley and is worth the visit.”

“Ted. I’m running for the Mission Springs Water District Board and have a website – could I post this article to my website?” Yes, with correction.

“Ted, Very interesting news letter on state water issues and history. Tallie and I just had a great tour with presentation by the Irvine Water District. We saw their reclamation system as well as their desalination plant. They also talked about the situation surrounding the Delta. All very informative.”

“Hi Ted. I really enjoyed reading this – thanks.”

“I loved your articles on California water supply. Wow, that is fascinating. Our future issues are sobering. I am going to do my part and cut back on watering my lawn and landscape. Here's to the "Power of the Increment"!

“Just a note to say that your newsletters are pretty damn good!”

“The latest ENN about CA water history I found very interesting.”

Comments provided by Rick Phelps, Susan Munves, Erin Hamant, Mike Peevey, Andy Black, Rick Heede, Jerry McCallister, Ted Bavin, Bill Parrish, Richard Cromwell, and Jim Burke.

Greensburg: 100% Wind

Greensburg, Kansas is rapidly becoming a model green city, far from its roots as a stagecoach and then railroad stop. It’s located in the southwestern part of the state, rebuilding after an“EF-5” tornado hit the town of 1,389 people on May 4, 2007. Less than 10% of the building stock was left standing.

The town was named after DR “Cannonball” Green, legendary stagecoach driver and operator. The town also boasts “Big Well,” the world’s largest, hand-dug well, 109-feet deep and 32 feet in diameter. It was dug in 1887 to provide water for railroad steam engines making their way across the plains.

Within six months of the devastating tornado, the town began a visioning process involving 300 citizens. The result was more than the anticipated Recovery Plan: The community developed a Comprehensive Sustainability Plan that serves as a “framework to ensure that Greensburg enjoys a socially vibrant, economically viable, and environmentally rich future.” The Plan’s sections cover: the Downtown, Walk-ability, Built Environment, Hazard Mitigation (storm preparedness), Economic Development, Energy, Transportation, Carbon, Housing, Infrastructure, Parks and Green Corridors, and Future Land Use and Policy.

In early October, Greensburg Kansas got one step closer to its goal of rebuilding as a green city, “Better, Stronger, and Greener.” A $17.4 million loan from the USDA will complement other funding sources to bring a ten-turbine, 12.5 MW wind project to fruition.

The $23 million Greensburg Wind Farm is expected to help the city reach its goal of being powered exclusively by renewable energy. It will provide power to Greensburg and the surrounding communities thanks to the Kansas Power Pool, the municipal energy agency that serves the area. NativeEnergy will buy the renewable energy credits for about two-thirds of the wind farm’s output. Deere and Company – known for its tractors and farm machinery -- made a $5.8 million equity investment in the farm.

Smart Grids

This week was one of considerable excitement in my home town of Glendale, California. The City received its largest ever grant, a $20 million grant to build the City’s smart grid. Burbank got a similar grant. Anaheim got a much smaller one; SMUD – the Sacramento Municipal Utility District -- took the grand prize in California with a $127 million federal smart grid grant. Glendale will begin by switching out all electric meters in the city to advanced meters that provide two-way communication.

These stimulus funds are really big, and they are herald a new era. Power companies of the future will no longer cast power aimlessly through the grid. Instead, they will strategically and judiciously deliver electrons – some of which will be tagged green and white – through smart grids to smart appliances. Instead of broadcasting like radio stations, they are shifting to delivering electricity in precise doses, working with customers to bring them the best value and service.

Dumb grids just keep on pumping out electrons regardless of market conditions. This will change. Home heating and cooling systems will be interactive or what grid junkies call “addressable,” allowing the utility to optimize power system delivery at all times. The savings will be in the form of increased reliability in congestion periods and consumers’ ability to schedule power use to lower bills.

The City of Austin, Texas has been a smart grid pioneer since 2003. Today, its system encompasses some 200,000 devices that can be controlled to optimize the power system. Alleviating peak periods, flatter load profiles enable better power generation and purchase contracts. This saves consumers money. Austin has a goal of 500,000 smart grid meters, thermostats, and addressable systems on customer premises. Hydro One in Ontario has the continent’s largest scale smart grid deployment to date.

The benefits of smart grids, or smart power delivery, are clear. They will help avoid blackouts, selectively turning off appliances and routing power in optimal ways. They will provide new forms of customer service to maximize the efficiency of the use of the power commodity.

President Barack Obama is firmly supporting a new electricity smart grid, complementing his goal of doubling alternative energy production in three years. He asked Congress to, “Act without delay.” Smart grids provide an intelligent framework for renewables, many of which are intermittent and thus need to be scheduled accordingly.

California RPS Standard Accomplishments

The California Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was signed into law in 2002, established by SB 1078. Its goals were accelerated in 2006 in SB 107, requiring investor-owned electric utilities, electric service providers, and community choice aggregators to procure 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2010.

This past week, the California Public Utilities Commission issued the Fourth Quarter 2009 Report on the RPS. And its findings are very encouraging: As of October 2009, the CPUC has approved 129 contracts contributing 10,271 megawatts towards the RPS goal. The CPUC is currently reviewing an additional 30 contracts for 4605 MW of capacity.

The pace of growth of renewables in the Golden State is impressive: More renewable energy generation came on line than in the entire 2003 – 2007 time period. It is forecasted that new installed capacity in 2009 will almost match the amount that came on line in 2008.

That said, renewables provided 13% of retail electricity in California in 2008. While the 2010 goal will not be met, the CPUC reports that the target is expected to be reached by 2013 – 2014. Others question this assertion, noting that signing contracts with utilities is one thing, delivering renewable energy capacity is another. They note that 75% of the capacity reported is “under development.”

On September 17, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an Executive Order requiring that the power providers reach a 33% RPS by 2020. Some herald the order; others point the intermittent nature of the capacity and that this would require $11 billion in transmission investments.

Other dependent variables are federal loan guarantees, given the current economic crisis and the risk faced by new projects, and the extent to which goals can be achieved by purchasing out-of-state renewable energy credits (RECs).