Smart Grid Green Displays Lack Of Understanding

I’m reading a post….. U.S. Drop In Energy Use: It’s A Feature, Not a Bug!

Well, it happens more often than not.   As I’ve stated in the past, I implement smart-grid technology for a small electric utility.  I’m a network administrator by trade.  And, the author of that post has a difficulty many “smart grid” people have.  They don’t understand the implications of the technology we implement and develop.  It took me a few months to learn that while some of the stuff we do is really incredible stuff, no one asks if we should implement it or not.  The prevalent thought is, because we can, we should.  The author makes several errors which are not uncommon in this profession.

It seems the author discovered that one of the key economic indicators is energy use.  And, some financial wizards are concerned that in spite of our GDP moving in the right direction that there’s some underlying weaknesses in our recovery.  No kidding.  He found some misleading graphs and posted them in an attempt to show this is a good thing.


I couldn’t find the source of electric graph nor the source of the data, but given the time ended, I’d say it is estimated.  Further, it gives the impression that we’re using less electricity than we did in 1969…….. no, that’s idiotic.  His source for the U.S. GDP is the same as mine that I’ll show soon…..  But here’s the U.S. electricity consumption since 1969 ending in 2010.image                        Here is some more views…



The GDP is less in error but just as misleading…..using the same source, here’s a different graph…..



Our GDP is growing because of our personal consumption and expenses are growing.  That’s typically a good sign, but when you look at the numbers, about 1/3 of that is fueled by Govt. consumption and gross investment…… printed money.

He states….

Those of us who read green tech news, of course, know that decoupling energy use from GDP is the holy grail of an advanced low-carbon economythat the world’s climate-conscious nations are striving to achieve. There’s even a pretty common name for it, “reducing energy intensity.”

You can not decouple GDP from energy or fuel use.  It is how we build and manufacture things.  The author seems to think CAFÉ standards effect this.  He also advocates

……in many of the states with climate policies that incentivize itoffer some of their big commercial customers a break on their utility bills if they allow the utility to cycle off their A/C, for example, for perhaps a minute every half hour during peak hours.

Damn, I hate it when the authors make it apparent they don’t know what their talking about.  Electric motors highest demand occurs when starting.  Further, apparently the author doesn’t understand that most large commercial accounts are shutting down during the peak hours of the day.  Residential use is the largest electric user.


Graph is of Boston’s use curve… source:

I suppose we could as commercial operations such as Wal Mart to shut off their AC during the peak hours, but I think the idea is to make patrons comfortable in the place where they are engaging in commerce.

If you read the rest of the article, you’ll see a term “demand response“.  What this means is when the utilities are experiencing peak demand, they want you to respond by shutting down some of your high usage appliances, such as electric hot water heaters, ACs, and electric stoves.  And, all that would be fine….. if there were more hours in a day.  But, workers have to sleep, and when they get home from a rough, hot day at work, they have things to do.  And, they want to be comfortable in their homes.  Supper needs cooked, laundry needs washed, showers need taken…….   today, if you let us, we can control your appliances from the office.

Now, here’s an idea, instead of guys like me intruding into your home, why don’t we try something sensible which doesn’t require a heavy investment in draconian technology?  Given the recent increase of natural gas supply, why don’t we just move many of our appliances to gas?  Hot water heaters and cook stoves being the easiest and obvious choice, but we can even have AC’s run from nat gas.  Home heating, where optional, should never be provided by electric.  Simple common sense steps would solve the biggest problems.  But then, I wouldn’t have a chance to run your home.


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6 Responses to Smart Grid Green Displays Lack Of Understanding

  1. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    The remarkably tight correlation between total energy use and GDP has not changed. There’re two countries above the correlation line – Hong Kong and Peru, neither of which are environmental paragons.

  2. Greg Locke says:

    Better than switching over appliances to run on natural gas, let’s start building natural gas electrical generation plants to increase the capacity of the grid, and perhaps replace some older coal fired plants. Gas is plentiful and, judging from the reserve estimates of deep gas and shale plays will remain so for the forseeable future. Gas burns cleaner than coal without the need for scrubbers or other tools to remove particulate matter from the exhaust. It is easier to transport as well. No “death trains” for Dr. Hanson to rail at. I’ve been told gas plants can start up quicker than coal or nuclear plants, and are therefore easier to take on and off line as demand dictates. Finally, i’m in the business and want to see the price get over $4mcf, greedy bastard that I am.

    • suyts says:

      lol, Yeh, I get swiped at from time to time from the NG people…… what you’ve stated, is true…… however, when one considers the energy lost by first converting the gas fuel to electricity ….. it just makes more sense to move the mentioned appliances to burn the gas. While I can appreciate the desire to see your commodity raise in value, I don’t see demand being hard to maintain for nat gas.

      But, there are a couple of problems with NG supplanting coal….. while it is true Gas plants are a lot more flexible in their out put, the more modern efficientbaseload plants are less so.

      Further, even if coal were to become entirely eliminated, those lunatic carbonphobes would turn on nat gas in a second. To them, it really isn’t about CO2 or a warming planet, it is about their belief that mankind is an aberration to nature. Being as such, anything which benefits mankind must cause harm to nature in their view.

      Thanks for the comment, Greg.

  3. Greg Locke says:

    I’m curious about your “energy lost” statement. i assume you are talking about NG to electricity efficiency. I’ve been led to believe that in the newer combined cycle generating plants, the efficiency of NG exceeds that of coal for electricity generation. Of course as you note, they loose flexibility in the process. In any case, I’m in the drilling business, not generation like you, so i defer to your knowledge on this. More information would be welcome though.

    I can’t do anything about the misanthropes. They have always been with us, and always will. One can only hope that we progress despite their efforts to drag us back to the stone age. History teaches that they rarely ever gain control of things, and when they do, people catch on pretty fast and trow da bums out. We’ll see that with the CAGW crowd in the next ten years. I think we are seeing the beginning of the end of their reign of terror.

  4. suyts says:

    “I’m curious about your “energy lost” statement. i assume you are talking about NG to electricity efficiency…..”

    No, sorry, I wasn’t clear. I was referring to the energy vs work potential in the natural gas. With nat gas, we have various methods to harness it’s potential. We can, strike a match to it and have it turn turbines or whatever to generate electricity, then send down a line, making several step changes in voltage etc….. and eventually wind up in a business or home. And then the electricity produced by the gas can then be used to warm, cool or do work. It’s quite a process, with each step, we loose quite a lot of energy. Or, we could pipe it to the home or business, light it, and watch it do its thing. I occasionally get calls asking me to advise people on “what’s better”? Gas/propane stove or electric…..and so on….. I always answer, what’s the best way to warm water? Place it directly over a fire. When you pipe the gas directly to the source, one gets a much better bang for the buck. An easy test…. in a gas heated house, have them turn it down and warm the house with energy star electric heaters…… if they know the cost of both gas and electricity on their meters, it will take them exactly one cold night to turn the gas on.

    For clarification, I’m not in the generation business, I work for a small rural electric coop. We just buy what’s generated. …. well, we do have some small shares in some generation plants.

    One of the reasons the comparison of nat gas to coal is a bit distasteful to me, is that in both, the U.S. has a great abundance, and a huge energy/fuel potential. But, it becomes much less if one was to supplant the other instead of utilizing both of these huge resources we have. I don’t view them as that they should be competitive, but, complimentary. Coal essentially serves one function,…… base load electricity. Gas……. well, just think of all the great stuff one can do with that!

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