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It's my profound and absolute belief that Democrats can take back control of the congress in 2006.  But if you think we can sit back for the next 13 months and let the Republicans engineer their own downfall... prepare to face the return of "The Hammer," backed by an even stronger conservative majority come November after next.  Given enough rope, they will manage to hang us, not them.  Count on it.

We can not coast (or snark) our way to victory.

And while we can and should point out that we'll do better, the American public's tolerance for vague hand waving and nonsensical platitudes is getting very thin (see Bush's poll ratings).  We have to offer something more than hollow rhetoric and political posturing.

We need to pick an issue where we can clearly delineate our approach from the Republican mismanagement.  Something that has a broad effect on the public, and something that allows us to be both bold and visionary.

Only one such issue is available: energy.

We've had dozens of good diaries on energy.  Chief among them the long running series by Jerome a Paris.  Even aside from Jerome's insightful dissection of the industry, we've been blessed with many other diaries, from as many authors, who have brought forward new ideas, keen technologies, and forward-looking visions.

My intention in this diary is not to give more statistics on the energy industry, or to bring out the latest in hybrid cars, or even to talk about alternative sources of fuel.  Instead, I'd like to take a crack at turning ideas into policy.  

We know what we want.  Now how do we get it?

At a high level, it's easy enough for us to state the things we want in an energy policy.  An ideal policy would provide better national security by limiting our dependence on increasing scarce foreign supplies of oil.  It would protect the environment, by reducing emissions of pollutants (including greenhouse gases) and not require the sacrifice of all our wild places on the altar of a few weeks more energy.  And ideal policy would actually generate capital and new jobs, by encouraging companies to develop new technologies and techniques to both create and conserve energy.

Can we all agree that's a good start for a policy: improve national security, preserve the environment, create jobs?  

But what does this policy look like?  It can't resemble the Bush energy plan, which does nothing but perpetuate the status quo.  In fact, the Bush plan is a loser on all three points.  By their own admission, it will actually increase our dependence on foreign oil, target more wild spaces for development, and do little to develop new alternative energy industries.  It's a lose-lose-lose proposition.

There are many preferable plans available.  For example, The Apollo Alliance has lined up a staggering amount of support behind the idea of alternative energy sources.  You want a real shocker?  Go watch their video of The Unite Mine Workers president(.WMV) voicing his support for alternative sources.  There are even lessons to be learned from Set America Free, no matter what you think about some of their founders.  In fact, the existence of both organizations shows how the idea of real reform in our energy policy is now something that spans the ideological spectrum -- regardless of Bush's "please sir, more of the same" approach.

The trouble, even with these two, is that their approach is still too broad.  Yes, 9 in 10 Americans support a crash effort to reduce demand for Middle East oil.  That's great, but what does it mean?  What are the real proposals on the table that will meet the goals we set out above: better security, better environment, better jobs.

So, forget the broad statements.  Forget your personal favorite gadget.   And forget the unrealistic diatribes about how if we'd just roll back 50 years of suburban flight, everything would be okay.  Think instead about how you would write legislation to successfully, realistically, move the nation forward.

I'll give you my ideas.  I'd very much appreciate seeing yours in return.

1) The Automotive Mileage Credit Act  
Forget CAFE standards.  Forget them. First off, Republicans have been able to hammer any attempt to change the CAFE standards as an attempt to limit what vehicles Americans can buy.  Secondly, auto makers have been able to rejigger the numbers by creative classification of their vehicles (that's how car sales in the United States managed to decline from 11 million to fewer than 8 million in the last five years, while "vehicle" sales topped 15 million).  So stop playing a losing game of trying to make the manufacturers do what they want to do.  Instead, put the carrot directly in front of the consumers and let them set the pace.  

Here's how it works: an immediate and direct rebate of $200 to the consumer for every MPG their new vehicle falls above the national average.  Right now, the combined fleet gets in the neighborhood of 19 MPG.  So, you go out and buy a new Ford 500 or Hyundai Sonata, you get nada.  Opt instead for a Chevy Malibu LS, that's $600 off the top.  A Saturn Ion (note that I'm making no statement on the quality of the cars) nets a $1200 rebate.   Go for a Honda Civic DX getting 32 MPG, and you'll see a fat $2600 off the price.  Make that a Civic hybrid at 48MPG, and you'll see $5800 -- enough to make up the initial difference in hybrid cost.

So what's so good about this program that makes it better than current rebates on hybrids?  First, it doesn't discriminate.  You got a cool turbo-biodiesel that gets 60MPG?  That'll work.  Roll out those fuel cells, boys, the water's fine (though we may have to set a cap on the rebate).  The current program on hybrids requires artificial distinctions on what's good technology and what's bad.  It also doesn't discriminate by body style.  You want to roam in a rolling barcolounger backed by three tons of steel, that's your own beeswax, but you're paying for it.  Pay for the results, not the gadget, and let's see how creative people can be.  Finally, this is a program that can be run endlessly without losing its value.  Just adjust the numbers at the start of each year and let people shoot at the new (hopefully higher) target.

Estimated cost for this program: $5 billion per year.  This assumes 2/3rds of cars sold are above average and that those cars average 5MPG over the national average.  If everyone went out and bought only vehicles that got great mileage, we'd pay more -- and be very glad to do so.

Bonus points: If you want to add a stick to this carrot, you could start penalizing people who buy vehicles that fall below the average.  However, I'm agin' it.  I don't think it will effect behavior (someone who is going to spend $60,000 on a Hummer is not about to be deterred by a $1200 penalty), it won't raise enough money to fund the program, and it will be used by the right to hammer this program as an attack on "soccer moms," or "security moms," or whatever they're calling them this week.

2) The Federal 55 Act
This one is just what it sounds like: restore the 55MPH speed limit for all vehicles on federal interstate highways.

I know you hate it.  I hate it.  We all hate it.  However, this one act would immediately cut almost 10% off our oil consumption. If you've got something else that can do that without requiring billions of investment and years of development, I'd like to hear it.

Want to see OPEC shake in their boots?  Want to see the price of gas plummet?  Bring back the 55MPH speed limit.   Of course, it's not a long term solution (or even a short term solution), but it is an effective, immediate step to cut consumption.

Americans have said they're willing to sacrifice.  This is a visible, tangible, example of sacrifice.  It something that everyone in the automotive public shares.  It's tough minded, but fair.  Do it.

Bonus points: allow vehicles that get above a certain MPG (say, 30MPG above the national average) to go 65MPH.  Tons of people who wouldn't buy a high mileage car because of the rebate, would line up to buy one if it let them go faster than those slugs in the right lane.  Laugh at the Cadillac Escalade as you slide past in your Smart ForTwo.

3) The Clean Generation Act
This one comes in several parts.  First, reverse the effect of the Bush "Clear Skies" program by enforcing regulations that require older coal-burning plants to either clean up their acts, or close.  Re-introduce the strict timetable for future reductions in emissions.   If they don't make it: fine the hell out of them.

Then require that all utility companies generate 10% of all their power from renewable, non-polluting sources by 2020.  Make it 20% by 2040.  Don't tell them it has to be wind, or solar, or tidal.  Just that it has to be clean.  Let them figure out what works best in their area.  If they don't make it: see above.

Institute a trading system for "renewable source credits," as is now done for SO2 certificates.  However, limit the trade of clean energy credits to a region so that we don't end up with clean energy sources near the big population centers and a "dirty middle."  This is the carrot in a program that's more stick-driven.  Companies that get really clean can profit from their lazier neighbors.

Bonus points: add biofuels to the mix by allowing burning of fuels sourced from rapidly replenished biological sources.  Don't give these sources the same credit as wind, solar, or hydro, but rate them significantly below fossil fuels.

4) The Standard Nuclear Power Act
Expand nuclear power by allowing only plants conforming to a standard, intrinsically safe design.  Ensure that uniform planning, site evaluation, disposal, and operations are carried out to best ensure environmental, worker safety, and general public safety.  

As a carrot, promise utilities that follow the strict guidelines accelerated plant approval.  It's possible these plants could even become "commodities."

Bonus points: allow nuclear plants to play in the "clean energy exchange," but rate their total waste production, including low yield waste, as toxic discharge.

There you go.  There's absolutely nothing new in what I've written -- and that's exactly the point.  If we want a real "Apollo Program" for energy, we won't get there by either setting vague goals, or by trying to define the process and hoping it leads to the solution.  These are four ideas that don't demand the use of any one technology, but which encourage innovation.  Four ways to drive results instead of getting lost in the journey.

I think all four ideas would be terrific improvements for the nation.  Better than that, I think candidates who embraced such ideas would go a long way to proving that they have substance, and aren't just mouthing "we can do better."  I'll take one good energy plan over 1,000 repetitions of "a culture of corruption," no matter how keen you think the later looks on a T-shirt.

Now, nitpick away, and give me some of your own ways to turn our energy dreams into both public good, and Election Day gold.  Please.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 09:40 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My thanks (4.00)
    To those that have given me encouragement on earlier energy diaries.  Both comments and emails have been much appreciated.

    I'm working a long one on details of what should expect, and what should be done, about the coal industry.  Expect it soon.

  •  2 Good Ideas (none)
    which implies 2 not so good ideas.

    First - 55MPH speed limit. Are we going to have to listen to fucking Sammy Hagar (I Can't Drive 55) again? That's a non-starter right there. Plus you don't propose things that are going to be unpopular to get elected (see Walter Mondale, 1984), and neither a Sammy Hagar comeback nor driving 55 are likely to be popular.

    (Disclaimer: I don't drive over 55 much anyway - the highest speed limit between my house and town is 50, and that's 90% of the miles I drive).

    As far as nukes - I'm not sure, but I tend opposed. Electorally, that may actually be in your favor, because I'm a tree-hugging environmentalist in some respects.

    The biggest difficulty I see is lack of immediate payback, except in the rebate proposal. Some kind of insulation or heating efficiency credits would be nice, or subsidies for homeowners who install solar/wind generation.

    It's a feasible approach to energy, but some of it isn't that exciting electorally. I think it's possibly going to be an issue that gets voter's attention though if gas, natural gas and fuel oil prices stay high for very long.

    We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

    by badger on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 10:22:52 AM PDT

  •  DT - great programme (none)
    I'll certainly use some ideas for my "Dem statement on energy" draft, to be unveiled tomorrow. Sorry to see that this diary did not make it to the rec list.

    European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
    in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

    by Jerome a Paris on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 11:32:09 AM PDT

  •  Apollo Alliance (none)
    I love the Mileage Credit idea.  

    But I swear to you, the first serious Presidential contender that places the Apollo Alliance, and a Manhattan Project-sized national investment in energy independence at the center of their public policy platters will win, win and win.

    The next six or eight months will be a time of incredible challenges that will put the deadly realities of oil dependence on the front pages of every newspaper around the world. Natural gas shortages will kill people this winter.  Rising gasoline prices will raise the costs of everything.  Businesses will fail...  

    Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Hilary Clinton.  She just seems to be led more by personal ambition than anything else, to me.  I could be wrong about that, but that's just my take on her. (She kind of reminds me of a relative of mine that I've never particularly liked)

    But if she stood up and pledged herself to this issue, and showed herself knowledgeable about the facts, I would give her every dime and breath I have.  

    All of our issues-- education, health care, justice, the environment, civil rights-- all of them, depend on a sustainable economy.  The only way to achieve a sustainable economy is to create not only energy independence, but a surplus of energy that can provide the foundation of a new American industry, one that helps to supply the energy needs, not only of Americans, but of the world.

    We need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to accomplish this.

  •  Scrolled outta sight before ... (none)
    ...the morning was over. Probably inevitable on a day like today, with all the chortling over Mr. DeLay's troubles and the confirmation of John Roberts. I think you should try again in a few days because this is exactly what we need to be doing, tying political gain to policy wonkery when it comes to energy (among other policies - like, whatever happened to the health care discussion?).

    I like the Clean Generation Act, but I think your renewables portfolio figure is too low. Make the floor 10% with tax incentives or other benefits for every percentage point above 10 that the utility achieves.

    I like the auto credit act idea a lot. This seems a great way to go, far better than providing manufacturers with subsidies for building cars that get better mileage, a la the Kerry-Edwards plan.

    But I disagree with you on penalties. Don't make it a one-time deal, make it an annual tax. Even those with the dough to buy a low-mileage Leviathan will think thrice if they have to pay $1200 a year for their vehicle.

    Like badger, I've got a problem with the 55 mph speed limit idea because it's a political loser tailor-made for late-night comedians to rip. Moreover, it'll get trashed by some of the newly emergent Democrats in states like Colorado and Montana where 55 mph on a long stretch of highway feels like a trip to Mars. I do like the concept of your high mpg differential, but unless you want cops to have to memorize the mileage ratings of every car on the road - the way World War II era American kids memorized silhouettes of German planes in case they came to bomb us - you'll need stickers with some kind of identifying mark:

    You know, like a big red circle for gas guzzlers and a green one for gas misers pasted in the window. Or differently colored license plates. Somehow, that kind of visible division seems like a hard sell to me.

    As for nukes, well, I'm not adamantly opposed. But, despite all the talk about pebble-bed reactors and intrinsically safe designs, we haven't actually seen a single one built yet. When one is built, say the South African one, and operates for a few years, get back to me.

    One thing missing from your proposals: a focus on non-transportation conservation. During the energy "crisis" generated by deregulatory gaming three years ago, Californians saved more than 10% of the energy they had been using merely because the governor said conservation was a good idea and backed it up with some advertising of the benefits. If this can be done voluntarily, think of what incentivized legislation could do.

     

    Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

    by Meteor Blades on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 12:20:22 PM PDT

    •  I like the silhouettes idea (none)
      Heck, when I was a kid, we practically did exactly that.  

      We'd stand around the side of the road, squinting at cars coming in a cloud of gravel dust.  Oldsmobile?  
      '58 Chevy?  Desoto Firedome!  Nothing like growing up in a small town in the 60's.

      The thing that keeps drawing me back to the 55 MPH speed limit is the sheer effectiveness of the thing (much as I am one of those who used to drive the length of Montana regularly and know all too well how even at 95 you seem pinned in place against a landscape that never moves).  But the both you may be right.  It may just be plain old political suicide.  Maybe it's just one those things you can only institute when you're already in office.  As president.  In a second term.

      Badger was right on another thing, as well: we need some kind of program that provides incentives for home conservation and local clean generation.  We need to establish those programs before the price of energy at the home, or the lack of energy at the home, does it for us.  But I don't know what such a program would look like.


      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 12:48:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have this little dream ... (4.00)
        ...that you and I and Jerome and SW and half a dozen others who post on energy topics all get together and come up with a plan we all agree on and present it as a group Diary where it can be ripped and fine-tuned, and then we present it to a big state - New York, Illinois, California - to implement as a state energy plan. I mean Denmark has a good plan and there are only 5 million Danes.

        Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

        by Meteor Blades on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Put me down for it (none)
          I'm constantly frustrated by the plans that originate in D.C. -- even those that came along before the Republicans gained absolute suzerainty.  They always seem to emphasize options that can't be implemented within the next decade and investments in specific areas of R&D.  

          Which always makes me think that the real goal of said plans is to insure that no real progress is made.


          TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

          by Mark Sumner on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 01:38:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Incremental incrementalism (none)
            That is how I felt about it under Clinton.  During his administration, I mean. Concessions galore to the coal industry, no public campaigns for conservation of any sort, just a continuation of Reaganism, as far as I could tell, with a spurt of environmental edicts at the end basically intended to embarass Bush when he rolled them back.

            How to overcome the plutocratic inertia?

            "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." --President Eisenhower

            by rhubarb on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 06:21:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oil for Health (none)
          If you haven't done your daily diary, you might want to look at this proposal from Obama, in which he suggests taking over health care obligations from the Big 3 in exchange for an agreement to improve fuel economy by 3% a year.

          You have to give the man credit for thinking out of the box.


          TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

          by Mark Sumner on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 01:48:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's a giveaway (none)
            Not because I'm rabidly anti-corporate (well, OK, I'm that too), but because the auto industry is in the midst of switching from 12v (they call it 14v) to 42v electrical systems, which allow you to use electric motors instead of fan-belt-attaching stuff (the A/C compressor only runs when you turn it on, same with power steering, pumps, etc), combining the alternator and starter right on the crankshaft (no flywheel, I believe, plus stuff like regenerative braking, idle off - the engine shuts off as you approach a red light, starts again instantly), and other things.

            If done right they'll pick up 3% a year for the next few years as is, and some wilder estimates claim as much as 50% improvement in mpg overall are possible.

            Your incentive idea is MUCH better, as it encourages people to get the older hogs off the road and switch to the newer cars, plus more demand = more jobs - it's a Keynesian stimulus. Kerry made the mistake of incentivizing corps instead of incentivizing people on health care and other issues. We shouldn't do it again.

            We ought to go to universal health care anyway as a measure to bolster all industries and reduce the cost of domestic labor (and of course because it's the Right Thing to do).

            We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

            by badger on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 09:24:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Or look outside my box. (none)
            We will nationalize the oil companies.
            We will stop being prostituted, It's a national security issue at heart.

            It's out "There" just OPEN your eyes.

            by Clzwld on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 02:55:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's my intent (none)
          I'll give a first shot tonight for tomorrow's "slot". We discuss it to death until we have something to show to the outside world (i.e. those that don't go deep in these diaries). Let's use the power of this community.

          We need this to be semi-directive to be effective, but with a way to get smart collective input and feed it through. My diaries, and/or yours, MB,  seem to be the best vehicle to get a lot of attention.

          Let me work on what I have in mind, I'll email it to the two of you, and we'll put it up to the community once we agree on the process.

          Mored later.

          European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
          in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

          by Jerome a Paris on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 01:49:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The wisdom of the aging (none)
        I lived through the energy crisis of the 70s, so I can just rattle off some of the stuff from back then.

        There was a significant tax incentive (tax credit, I believe, not deduction against income) for upgrading home insulation - I used it on my first house (insulated the attic, insulated the basement, caulked and weatherstripped, etc). A credit for upgrading inefficient furnaces or changing fuels would be good too.

        Electric utilities did a lot of stuff to play with demand (actually commercial/industrial load-shedding was a hot topic for a while too) - the idea being capacity is designed for peak demand which occurs during the day, and nighttime demand is very low. Balancing demand saves energy. So they offered controllers for water heaters and A/C that allowed the utility to turn them off to lower daytime demand. We also had "time-of-use" rates - double the normal rate from 6AM to 6PM and half the normal rate at night and on weekends. And of course fluorescents are a big energy saver too.

        Utilities (in WI anyway) used to incentivize people to participate in those kinds of programs (even fluorescents - sent us some for free). If they're not doing it, you could have government incentivize the utilities to pass through the incentive to consumers.

        Another thing that used to exist (but probably doesn't any more) is that the utilities used to employ "consultants" who would assess your home and recommend energy saving steps. They offered low cost loans for implementation. I'd like to see something like that or a Peace Corps/Americorps approach to energy savings (voluntary for the consumer though).

        The "EnergyWise" type of program for new homes was still alive a few years ago (neighbors were in it) even here in hydro-powered WA State. It basically provides incentives (again, from utilities) for more energy efficient new construction.

        Building codes could also be updated - I suspect most have energy requirements now, but they're often based on surface cross-section more than entire-building standards. They usually let you trade off things like more window area for thicker insulation in walls, but things like "aspect ratio" make a difference too. A square building has less surface area (and therefore less heat loss) than a long, narrow building, for example. Often building codes don't differentiate between south facing and north facing glass (makes a big difference both up north and in the opposite direction down south).

        Planting shade trees is another small saver, as are things like awnings (summer) or window treatments (winter).

        Especially for an electoral plan, I'd like to see direct incentives to voters emphasized (but your longer term plans are important too). Besides the obvious "people like to get ponies" quality of it, it enlists people as participants in the cause, and even if the savings are minimal for them, participants feel better and become advocates. Just the opposite of the Bush-Cheney approach.

        We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

        by badger on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 09:57:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sur tax (none)
        If the pain can go high enough then we can accelerate the change.
         All income from the surtax goes to the infrastructure of the energy policy/implementation. Fines and other allocations all go to the great god of energy.
        Looking at a program such as the refrigerator recycling program in SLC,Ut. Very successfully, you get 40$ to turn in your old refrigerator. They pick it up and in the process they look to eliminate the old energy hogs.
        When they first started it you would get a pickup in less then a week, last time I used it it was over 3 week backlog.
        I'm thinking to use a similar structure in a couple of areas.
        And this is a national security/existence issue.

        It's out "There" just OPEN your eyes.

        by Clzwld on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 03:16:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Re: Clean Generation Act (none)
      I think the power company prevalent in my area of Wisconsin does get 10% of its power from wind, possibly more.  Apparently it's a way to make a few "virtue dollars."  Yet Wisconsin is the most coal-hungry state there is.

      So I agree with Meteor Blades about 10% possibly being too meager.

      I agree that 55 mph is a stillborn idea--for now.  I love the idea of a differential sticker and think it's a lot easier sell than a 55-mph ceiling.  Mileage stickers could be used many ways, from carpool-style preference in traffic, to far lighter fines for traffic violations, especially speeding.  Registration fees, too.

      Re: non-transportation conservation.  How can we incentivize building smaller dwellings?  Are we not sick of houses looking like gargantuan, broken-backed horse carcasses littering every hilltop?

      And how can it be made easier/more affordable for people to acquire wind generators or whatever other kind of energy alternative for their homes?  My husband and I live in a place with a high average wind speed and are eager to generate our own power and sell some of it back to the co-op.  Yet we don't even know where to begin (besides by throwing out our 1930s vintage generator and looking for a new one).

      "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." --President Eisenhower

      by rhubarb on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 06:13:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wisconsin Electric (none)
        or whatever they call themselves now used to back a company in East Troy that was doing wind machines and things like the transfer switches and other stuff to allow them to dump power back into the grid safely. I'm not sure if that's still around - it was about 20 yrs ago, and I've forgotten the company's name.

        WI Elec also used to do (and maybe still does) time of use rates - double during the day, half at night and on weekends (more or less). I thought that was a common thing (we loved it), but from another diary a while ago, I got the impression it hasn't been done widely.

        We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

        by badger on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 09:29:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are you talking about Alliant? (none)
          Northern States Power, Now Excel, also did a lot of time-of-use stuff.  Back in the late 1980s we installed a switch with our hot water heater and let them switch it on and off, according to their peak use schedule . . . but it never saved us anything obvious.

          Another question: why doesn't anyone buy demand water heaters here?  They are small, wall-mounted and very efficient.  I think they are called "Agers" in the UK and have been popular for a long time.

           

          "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." --President Eisenhower

          by rhubarb on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:13:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wisconsin Electric (none)
            would pay you for installing the water heater switch they could control - something like a one-time credit of $15 or $25 on your bill - otherwise you're right, it didn't directly save customers anything.

            Our time-of-use was a fancy meter that kept track of both usage and when you used it. We paid something like 12 cents/kWh during the day and 4 cents/kWh at night and on weekends. The meter read needed a special "gun" to download the statistics from the meter. Since originally we weren't home most of the day, it was a great deal.

            Later we worked out of the house and were home 24/7, but we had timers on the water heaters so they only ran at night, and only did laundry, cooked roasts, etc (Thanksgiving was at the lower rate too) off-peak. We probably saved 30% on bills. The house was also well-insulated, passive solar and wood heat, which helped a lot. I think the electric company gave us one of the timers (we had two water heaters so we could heat enough water overnight to last through the day - water heaters are cheap).

            The wind generation company I was thinking of was "Windworks" or something like that. Might not exist any more.

            We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

            by badger on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:33:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  bonus on the 55mph limit (none)
    reducing the speed of cars on the highway reduces the percieved need to be surrounded by a sherman tank's worth of protection from a crash.  of course, i will still be nervous in my geo metro going 55 next to a semi, BUT, not quite as nervous as going 70.

    one question though, what effect on shipping costs would this have, seeing as you'd be increasing truck shipping times by 15% - 30%?

    anyway, no matter, its necessary

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