July 28, 2005
US House Of Representatives Passes Big Energy Bill

After 5 years of trying the US House Of Representatives voted to approve an energy bill deal worked out with Senate negotiators. Cost estimates range from $13 to $14.5 billion over 10 years.

Efficiency and conservation programs would get about $1.3 billion (euro1.1 billion) of the more than $14.1 billion (euro11.8 billion) in total tax breaks over 10 years, according to lawmakers who have been briefed on the legislation worked out in negotiations between the House and Senate. About $3 billion (euro2.5 billion) in tax breaks would go for renewable energy source, mostly to subsidize wind energy.

It is hard for non-nuclear renewable tax credits to go to anything other than wind. The other options all cost way too much.

New nuclear power plants get tax credits just like wind turbines but will contribute no electricity at least for the next 10 years.

Nuclear power will also be a hedge against the possibility that the price of natural gas - which fires some of Entergy’s other plants - will continue to rise. The downside, Hebert said, is that the plants take a long time to permit and build. If Entergy is first in line to build a new plant, as he hopes, the process could take a decade or more.

That’s where the energy bill comes in. It extends the coverage of the Price-Anderson Act, which limits the liability for current nuclear-power-plant accidents to $9 billion each, to new plants. Its "standby support insurance" will ensure the first six plants to go through federal and state licensing processes can recover up to $500 million for delays caused by regulatory logjams or lengthy legal challenges during construction.

It also provides production tax credits for the first half-dozen plants, giving them the same incentives as power produced by wind turbines, and it has $1.2 billion in tax write-offs to help offset the costs of funds needed to ensure that the plants can be safely torn down, or "decommissioned."

How much of that 10+ years of delay in putting up nuclear plants comes from the regulatory approval period and how much from the construction period? Anyone know? Surely it should not take 10 years to build something.

New nuclear plants get a tax credit on electric power for the first 8 years of operation.

* Offers $2 billion in federal insurance to cover delays in building 6 new nuclear power reactors.

* Creates production tax credit for new nuclear plants at a rate of 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced over an eight-year period.

Wind gets a similar per kilowatt hour tax credit. the 1.9 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for renewables in this bill will cut the cost of a Maine wind farm by 30%.

Without the tax credit, the $68 million wind development project would be 30 percent more expensive, according to Peter Gish, managing director of UPC Wind Partners, Evergreen's parent company.

The wind farms have to get built between the beginning of 2006 and the end of 2008 to qualify. Apparently this extends a tax credit that had just expired. So all those existing wind farms that people point to as examples of the competitiveness of wind were built with hefty tax credits. I wonder how many of the reports comparing costs of different energy sources (e.g. the recent report in The Economist that someone brought up in comments of a another post) assume those tax credits in their calculations.

Of course, to be fair to wind power the coal burners are allowed to emit pollutants that produce external costs that do not show up in the price of coal burner electricity.

Also, how long does wind's tax credit last? 8 years for nuclear is not that long since nuclear's capital cost takes decades to pay back and nuclear plants can last for 50 or more years. My guess is that wind is getting the bigger tax credit.

Most of the costs come in the form of tax credits and deductions.

The $11 billion net cost of the tax package plus the $2 billion direct spending comes to a relatively modest (for an energy bill) $13 billion over 10 years, with further costs depending on future appropriations.

Production credits for a large assortment of industries are to be expected since industries make donations in elections and employ people back in districts. By in my view funding of energy research would provide much bigger pay-offs in the long run.

Why should coal plant operators get a tax credit for not polluting us?

In pursuing that goal, Boucher said more than $3 billion dollars in tax benefits and incentives will be utilized to encourage electric utilities to use a new generation of clean-coal technologies that will enable coal to be burned almost as cleanly as natural gas.

US House Speaker Dennis Hastert enthuses about the prospects of producing ethanol that probably takes more energy to produce than exists in the resulting ethanol.

"In addition, this bill helps us reduce our dependence on foreign oil by unleashing the power of the American farmer.

"This legislation includes an historic Renewable Fuel Standard, which will result in the doubling of the use of clean- burning and renewable ethanol. The production and use of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol by 2012 will displace over 2 billion barrels of crude oil. America has a strategic reserve of motor fuels in the cornfields of Illinois, the rice fields in California, and the cane fields of Florida, and it's time we tap it.

"This legislation also helps alleviate the hidden tax on American consumers, farmers, small businesses and manufacturers that comes in the form of higher natural gas prices. Increased natural gas prices have had an adverse impact on the American economy for too long. Several provisions in H.R. 6, including the streamlining of the LNG infrastructure permitting process and the inventory of America's off-shore resources, are significant steps toward ensuring that our Nation has an adequate and affordable supply of natural gas.

Ethanol production will rise to 7.5 billion gallons per year from the current 4 billion per year. More waste. More happy corn farmers. Archer Daniels Midland's board of directors must be happy. Refiners get the mandate to buy the ethanol. You'll pay at the pump.

Aside: I like the extension of daylights savings time by a month because I'd rather have more sunlight at the end of the day than at the beginning of it. So I've always disliked turning back the clock in the fall.

One energy investment banker expects little difference on the supply side as a result of this bill.

"The energy bill is not going to make a meaningful difference in U.S. supplies," said Steve Enger, an analyst at Petrie Parkman & Co., an energy investment bank in Denver.

Measures in the bill to increase fossil fuels energy production will make little difference in the long run. Oil not extracted now will sit there waiting for future use. Therefore the deletion of an opening of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge probably doesn't hurt much. ANWR probably will be opened eventually as oil becomes more scarce.

Only measures that accelerate the development of sustainable energy sources (wind, nuclear, solar, etc) provide a long term benefit. Therefore the bill's subsidies for the nuclear power industry will make a difference by bringing nuclear power back to life. Also, the wind power subsidies might make a difference in the growth of wind power. But the bill strikes me as a big opportunity loss for accelerating research on 4th generation nuclear plants, photovoltaics research, and battery research.

The bill imposes requirements for more efficient appliances. That'll help on the demand side. But passive solar building designs and better insulation do do much more to lower demand.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2005 July 28 04:30 PM  Energy Policy


Comments
Paul Garnier said at July 28, 2005 4:55 PM:

A brand-new nuclear power plant ought to take about 40 - 48 months to erect and perform hot tests, though perhaps not be quite ready for full-time commercial operation in that time frame. When you add in the 5 - 6 years of siting studies, regulatory permitting, hearings, decisions, lawsuits, appeals, etc., the estimated 10-year lead time doesn't seem too odd.

Invisible Scientist said at July 28, 2005 11:37 PM:

It seems to me that the best tax credit for the nuclear industry is financial help from the government for the invention and development of improved nuclear technologies. There are many evolving reactor designs that are designed to burn the long term nuclear waste as fuel, so that not only the nuclear waste problem would be solved, but equally importantly, the uranium fuel efficiency would go up by a factor of 100 (there would otherwise be a shortage of uranium in the world, similar to the coming oil shortage, if hundreds of new reactors are built with the same old efficiency for uranium fuel.) The current nuclear technologies are NOT sufficient for the world to go nuclear in a big way, the new designs must be commercialized, which would take probably $100 billion, which is big money, big enough to require help from the government, but peanuts in comparison to the cost of oil and the cost of the current oil-war.

AA2 said at July 29, 2005 12:43 AM:

I think the best thing would be to remove 99% of this useless bureaucracy. To me if it takes even 48 months to construct a plant, the regulatory process should be maybe 2 weeks.

Michael said at July 29, 2005 8:23 AM:

"A brand-new nuclear power plant ought to take about 40 - 48 months to erect and perform hot tests"

And about 6 to 7 years of litigation between errection and performance of hot tests.

Brett said at July 29, 2005 8:31 AM:

Well, at least ConAgra and ADM got something out of this. You can always count on the government to triple the cost and quadruple the production time of anything it touches.

tim said at July 29, 2005 8:47 AM:

Why can we not use geothermal energy? Has anyone seen old faithful? There is a unlimited clean power supply directly under are feet. I know it would hurt are enconomy, all those truck drivers & coal miners would lose there jobs. And who would want a enconomy watch is not dependent on foreign supplies of non renewable fossil fuels. And one with a unlimited clean power supply. We can't live in a world like that it would make sense not cents!

Joseph said at July 29, 2005 4:07 PM:

Michael

Good point, ALL forms of energy generation have their baggage, there's no free ride.

I will have to pay special attention to the mentioned windfarm in Maine. I have a bet with myself that there will be at least 5 major reasons not to do it proposed by the variouse "special" (read wacko) interest groups. Seriously it will happen. Going back to the mention of geothermal if memory serves me there was a truly boneheaded objection in California. The geothermal fields had been decreasing in output due to the lower level of fluids in the steam producing strata. A municipality proposed piping "treated" waste water to the site for injection. To my knowledge the immediate enviromental challenges still has that project stalled. I think someday if large segments were forced to go cold and lightless (or the California equivalent) for a month or two there might be a bit more common sense arising.

gmoke said at July 29, 2005 6:01 PM:

According to Senator Feingold and the Washington Post, the energy bill also lowers controls on the export of weapons grade nuclear materials (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/7/29/131925/860). Way to fight terrorism, nukesters!

According to James C. Cross III, Vice President of Technology, Nuvera Fuel Cells, Inc. at a presentation sponsored by WGBH Nova Now, the annual US energy budget is on the order of 97 quadrillion btu's and the waste in the system accounts for about 56 quads. And on PBS Newhour reportage of the energy bill, Philip Clapp said that US automobile fuel efficiency peaked in 1988 at about 22 mpg and has now declined to about 20 mpg.

We really bit the bullet and made the hard choices with this energy bill, didn't we.

Yeah, right.

Randall Parker said at July 29, 2005 6:48 PM:

gmoke,

Russ Feingold at that Daily Kos link complained that the energy bill won't make gasoline prices lower. Well, when a hard core liberal like Feingold likes lower gasoline prices the prospects for higher fuel efficiency in cars are obviously dim. Politicians want to do what the masses want. The masses do not want to pay more in order to curb their driving habits and encourage them to get more fuel efficient cars. They want cheap fuel.

As for energy waste: But how much of that is theoretical waste and how much avoidable with today's technology and at what cost? Whenever I come across a figure like that it strikes me as useless unless a lot of the assumptions that go into it are laid out.

Buildings and not vehicles are the biggest consumers of energy. How much waste is due to old buildings that leak heat or let in heat during the summer? What would be the cost of retrofitting them? It is cheaper to make a new building more efficient when it is built. So we have this problem with an existing large installed base of buildings.

Andy Imboden said at July 30, 2005 8:10 AM:

40-48 months is an absurdly short period to construct a new reactor. The concrete wouldn't even have cured yet. Even if there was no regulatory oversight, it will take years. I don't think I need to say it, but building a plant is extremely complicated. The logistics alone necessitate a multi-year project, regardless of governmental inspection procedures. You can't just order everything, have all the parts show up tomorrow, and put them in your lay-down yard and start building.
For one, the parts can't be ordered tomorrow because the necessary quality for some parts -- for physical purposes, not just regulatory compliance -- needs to be extremely pure, well beyond "commercial grade" materials. Regardless of regulatory oversight, you need time yourself to inspect the critical parts, or the reactor won't work right.
Secondly, you need just-in-time delivery because you can't set some of these materials outside for two years and expect them not to corrode/degrade. Also, I doubt there is a lay-down yard big enough to do that.
Finally, it's stupid to pay for expensive parts any earlier than you need to. There is no point in buying your reactor vessel head when you haven't even prepped the site yet.
MIT's "The Future of Nuclear Power" (2003) estimates 5 years. The University of Chicago's "The Economic Future of Nuclear Power" estimates 5-7 years. From another perspective, The U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering "The Cost of Generating Electricity" estimates 5 years.

Stick with 5 years.

gmoke said at July 30, 2005 4:16 PM:

Randall Parker, I guess you don't want to talk about the new rules for export of weapons grade nuclear materials because it is inconvenient while you are supporting the fast track for nuclear reactors. I guess it is more "logical" and "factual" to talk about automobile fuel efficiency instead. Do you support reducing the controls on the export of weapons grade nuclear materials as Senator Feingold and the NYTimes report the new energy bill does?

The nuclear cowboys here want to see nukes erected as quickly as possible, even if it means that the concrete is not completely cured, if Andy Imboden is correct. Yet, energy conservation - you know, like insulating those drafty, leaky buildings you complain about - is about the only thing we can do in the next 24 hours that will result in greater energy supply (through loss reduction) in the next 48 hours. But it ain't dramatic and it ain't macho and it don't involve big tech and I sincerely doubt that there's much money appropriated for it in the present energy bill. I'm sure you will be happy to go through the reported 1700 pages of the bill and tell me I'm wrong.

As for waste, you want it broken out into greater detail. That's a good idea if we are really interested in doing something about fixing what can be fixed. The Bush II administration has given no sign that they are actually interested in doing that. The last President who actually was interested in such a prospect was a nuclear engineer, Jimmy Carter. You know as well as I do that the overall energy efficiency of our economy, all our tools and machines is certainly less than 50% and more likely close to 30% or lower. If I am not mistaken, the most efficient machine human beans have invented is still the bicycle.

(BTW, rule of thumb for energy use, so I've been told, is 1/3 transportation, 1/3 residential, and 1/3 commercial and industrial.)

Too bad that the ultra-liberal Senator Feingold is the only legislator who is playing both ends against the middle when it comes to fuel prices and fuel efficiency. If only he hadn't stopped Mr Bush and Mr Cheney from raising fuel efficiency standards and doing away with the tax breaks for small businesses when they buy an SUV. Amazing what one Democrat can do when there's a Republican President, a Republican Senate, a Republican House, and a Republican Judiciary but then those liberal Dems are really sneaky.

As for what the masses want, I would venture to say that the masses don't really want cheap fuel. What they want is cheap transportation. Right now that means low gasoline prices and massive subsidies for roads and highways as there is no other option. Public transportation is tantamount to being un-American, according to many of the Republicans I have talked to, because the ultimate expression of American freedom is four-wheeling alone through a wilderness preserve or something like that according to the commercials on the T and V. When you go through the fine print of the energy bill, please let us know how much is to support cars and trucks and how much for mass transit. Let me make a guess, the vast majority of the monies go to cars over trains, buses, and subways. Feel free to prove me wrong.

Randall Parker said at July 30, 2005 4:47 PM:

Gmoke,

When people ascribe motives to me that I do not possess and are really quick and eager to do it and do so repeatedly at some point I decide they are assholes.

I went and read the article about the uranium export rules. The article wasn't clear. If the Canadian company was exporting medical isotopes then by the time the material gets exported from Canada is it still enriched uranium? Kinda seems unlikely. Most of the medical isotopes I'm aware of are injected or embedded as pellets to fight cancer. But I admit to not knowing much about the supply chain for medical isotope handling. I doubt you know much about it. I doubt most of the US Senators who voted on it (or the NY Times editors) know much about it either. So I didn't know what to say about that article and hence refrained from commenting?

Would the Senate bill clause really affect whether large sizes weapons grade uranium moves across borders? How much was involved? Or was it the goal to make that Canadian company to stop storing weapons grade isotopes at their own manufacturing site? If so, again, how much was involved? Enough for a tenth of a Hiroshima style bomb? Or enough for 20 bombs? Do tell. You seem to know all the answers.

No, I don't have time to go thru the 1700 page bill. You keep hold of whatever beliefs you have about the bill. I'm sure you are sure you are right. And that is what matters.

You come here with a lot more sarcastic attitude than facts. I therefore am not inclined to be persuaded by your arguments and suspect I'm not alone on that score.

gmoke said at July 30, 2005 10:01 PM:

This asshole believes that sarcasm is the proper response to someone who thinks a reply to weapons grade nuclear materials rules is a declamation about automobile fuel efficiency.

AA2 said at July 31, 2005 2:23 AM:

Raising prices for fuel is not rational. If oil stays cheap then in fact there is no reason to switch away from it. If it rises then the market will work to find alternative, and perhaps even more efficient ways. Of course the governmetn can help by financing early research before it is commercially viable to fund that research. And from that research no doubt promising technologies developed will form into spin off companies.

Conservation in general is a fools game. All throughout human development we have seen energy useage rise with standard of living. There is no reason to suspect that that will change. And every reason to think that will continue. The Europeans have opted to limit energy useage and not surprisingly their economies are grinding to a halt.

AA2 said at July 31, 2005 2:28 AM:

5 years for the building of nuclear plants makes no sense to me. I mean we put up the empire states building in the 30's in like 10 months. There is no reason in my mind that every component has to be beyond commercial standards. And every reactor has to be a custom unit, built on a custom site.

Build mass clusters of identical plants. With heavy equipment things should not take that long to construct. As for waiting for materials, that is only an issue because there is very little building going on, AND the governments want custom materials for each plant. So it takes a very long time.

Even the 48 months as an average is slow to me. And like everything with time we should be getting FASTER at building these things. Faster, cheaper and more powerful. That is what technology allows. But it seems at the moment we are actually slowing down and having increased costs per mwh.

Andy Imboden said at July 31, 2005 10:44 AM:

AA2-
It's not an issue of "custom" materials. Some parts of a nuclear reactor requires materials that need to be of a specific purity down to the atomic level. To check on this quality, you need sophisticated inspection techniques to detect impurities (labs, instruments, etc.). Literally, a few wrong atoms here and there will change the neutron cross-section of the cladding. It's not a matter of WANTING to be beyond commercial standards, it MUST be beyond commercial standards, or else it won't work. You can't make fiber optic glass with regular commercial processes, and it's the same thing with some of these materials.

This is absolutely nothing like the empire state building, or any such construction, where you can hire a journeyman pipefitter to do the inspection. It's not even like building another type of power plant, any more than a 747 is like the space shuttle.

There are pre-certified reactor designs already approved for production by the government. I believe there are three of them.

Some things just take certain amounts of time. Nine women can't make a baby in one month.

Andy

gmoke said at July 31, 2005 4:25 PM:

Well, I guess AA2 leaves all his windows and doors open throughout the winter since conservation is a fool's game. Maybe he hauls water in a leaky bucket too.

Transportation bill spends about 80% of its $286.4 billion for highway projects and only "most of the rest" for mass transit according to today's papers. Duke Energy VP, in one story I read, complains that new energy bill includes little or no monies for nuclear waste provisions. That's thinking ahead. I wonder if these things can be called "facts." I also wonder if a logical conclusion from them is that the Bush administration thinks cars and trucks are four times as important as buses and trains and that the nuclear waste situation is worth little or no consideration.

Randall Parker said at July 31, 2005 7:59 PM:

gmoke,

I explained why I didn't respond to the report about enriched nuclear weapons materials for nuclear medicine. I don't know enough about it. Apparently that is not a satisfactory response for you. I also think the handling of weapons grade uranium in the nuclear medcine industry is irrelevant to debates about nuclear energy for electric power. But you have to go on with your pointless and counter-productive sarcasm.

Your link also contained comments about gasoline prices. I responded to those comments because I know enough to say and the comments are relevant to a debate about energy policy. I'm very interested in energy policy.

The highway trust fund money comes from gasoline taxes on cars and trucks. The vast bulk of the population does not want to ride mass transit. Even most of its advocates do not use mass transit where available because they want to get to work and stores quicker without having to walk to bus stops and wait or ride and park at train stations and wait. You want to blame someone? Blame the vast bulk of the US population for their preferences.

Nuclear waste and the Bush Administration: My impression is that the lack of money for Yucca Mountina is the result of the Congressional delegation from Nevada opposing it. You should not confuse your ability to make sarcastic comments for real knowledge. I'd be happy to be enlightened with real facts about the Bush Administration's fiscal proposals in past budgets for Yucca. I'm not at all inclined to defend the Bush Administration for partisan reasons since I happen to think that Bush is a bad President on a number of scores. But I'm not prepared to automatically blame them on every issue without evidence. Remember, Congress is a separate independent branch of the government and they write the spending bills.

AA2 said at August 1, 2005 2:14 AM:

Mass transit might work, but the same Americans who want mass transit, also are opposed to ultra dense cities. Its in those ultra-dense cities where mass transit really thrives.

And if in the rest of America mass transit was viable, you wouldn't need to subsidize it. People would gladly pay for it. And next, just because we are using busses doesn't mean that the fuel useage goes down. Those busses are extremely heavy and not always riding at near full capacity. They are also starting and stopping often.

And lastly conservation of energy like that, isn't a longterm strategy. Energy useage is going to keep increasing as our standard of living increases. It always has, and there is no reason to think that is going to stop. So maybe you really sacrifice and cut 5% of the useage. Well that is only a couple years growth in total energy demand. So you've sacrificed a lot, for only a small time gain.

AA2 said at August 1, 2005 2:26 AM:

Randall I like that you aren't talking of cutting energy useage, or even trying to slow future energy useage. A great example of the fallacy of the anti-energy thinkers, was specializing towards the new economy to save power. We really went for programming, biotech, the internet, and things that were 'low impact industries'..

Or so we thought.. But look at things like server farms. These things actually need upgraded power delivery systems to their buildings. As those buildings weren't designed for that heavy of power useage. We are seeing in biotech companies starting to get huge data sets, requiring many harddrives and computers to manage them. And its growing rapidly their use of information. In the future they are going to use massive processing power to simulate biological processes. That is going to take super computers, entire buildings packed with computers like the server farms. Finance is another area. Companies need huge amounts of computers to manage all of the data. And stock trading companies automate a lot of work, getting the computers to look for trends.

So these new economy industries will also begin moving to areas where there is cheap and plentiful power. And away from nations trying to discourage power useage.

Jim said at August 1, 2005 6:24 AM:

andy - your concerns about the 'purity' of nuclear reactor materials is unfounded. i take it you're not a metallurgist. the industry to produce this stuff is no different than for producing steel for aerospace, just different alloy specs. wet chemical analysis to ppm levels is routine for aerospace heats, and in most cases less critical than for most aerospace steel. these specialty steel companies are quite robust, with a few domestic and a few international competitors.

Randall Parker said at August 1, 2005 8:14 AM:

AA2,

No new ultra-dense cities have been built since the advent of the car. The high density cities are all old. This is why I think mass transit is such a non-starter.

Portland Oregon has spent majorly on light rail and if memory serves it runs at an operating loss (to say nothing of a capital loss). They've tried to zone lots of housing and shopping and office buildings near rail stops. But most people go to those businesses and apartments using cars.

Zoning that allows much greater mixing of building types (e.g. apartments, stores, office buildings) would allow more people to walk to stores and work. But planners usually oppose that sort of thing. Such zoning would do more than mass transit subsidies. Simply reduce the need to go anywhere and people will travel less.

I'm actually a supporter of acceleration of technological developments that will increase energy efficiency. So I argue for more battery research in order to make hybrid cars cost effective. Similarly, I think we could make large gains in efficiency by constructing more efficient buildings. But I think arguing for lifestyle changes toward more energy efficient ways of living are pointless.

Also, the arguments annoy me at times because I've had SUV-driving environmentalists lecture me on my lack of sensitivity toward the environment. I know one guy who lectured me on why I should recycle right before telling me about his planned flight to Nepal. I pointed out the amount of fuel that would get burned to carry him to Nepal.

As for the new economy industries that guzzle electricity to run computers: Yes. Home appliances are another big source of growing demand. Check out the projected increase in residential demand due to more HDTV and other home electronics:

Already, televisions account for about 4 percent of annual residential electricity use in the United States - enough to power all of the homes in the state of New York for a year, according to a new NRDC study. Today there are about 266 million TVs, and that number is growing by 3.5 million per year. By 2009, when half of all new TV sales are expected to be extended- or high-definition digital sets with big screens, TV energy use will reach about 70 billion kilowatt-hours per year nationwide - about 50 percent higher than at present. Throw in a DVD and VCR player, a pair of high-definition set-top boxes, and other household TVs, and the total TV-related energy use for the home rises to about 10 percent, the NRDC estimates.

...

He'd also like the agency to set mandatory minimum-efficiency standards for cable and satellite set-top boxes. These boxes could use more than 20 billion kWh per year, at a cost of about $2 billion, another NRDC study says. In that scenario, five 500-megawatt power plants would be needed to run these boxes, emitting 15 million tons per year of carbon dioxide, a global-warming pollutant.

So we are looking at the construction of probably a dozen more coal burner plants to run more home appliances.

AMac said at August 1, 2005 1:34 PM:

Mr. Parker, your sensible approach to complex subjects does come through to much of your audience. And is appreciated. Since you don't throw out comments on every issue that comes down the pike, I can pay more attention to what you say, when you do have insights to offer.

AA2 said at August 1, 2005 10:52 PM:

Good example, I didn't even think about the tv/entertainment system increase in energy. Those things are on a lot of the day too, in family households. I think the natural order is for greater and greater energy consumption.

On the issue of energy efficiency, I thinkt he market can handle that. Forcing companies to spend on efficiency for systems, may redirect resources in the market. For example it might be far cheaper in man power terms to simply build a couple more reactors, then to have many thousands of scientists working on efficiency.

But there again, I think naturally things do get more energy efficient over time. We are seeing in computers they are getting more energy efficient, as a way to combat the heat problems.

The only time I can see it is with coal, and you are trying to stop pollution. But again I don't see it buying a substantial amount of time.

Don said at August 2, 2005 9:25 AM:

Hey gmoke, screw mass public transportation. Who wants to ride mass transportation? Especially here in Texas where a short trip can be 50 miles. Besides, public transportation is a socialist concept from the beginning to the end. Besides, who ever said people have a right to publicly funded transportation? (I know, obviously someone did.) Just because we are free to go wherever we wish, doesn't mean it should also be free (or subsidized) to get there.

It doesn't take a hugely expensive, pork-laden energy bill to reduce consumption of fuel. It would just take a change in the way we do business. For example, what would happen if 80% of the good people who are blamed for urban sprawl no longer needed to commute to the dense urban areas to earn a living? We already have the technology to do this sitting on most everyone's desk and are wired through existing infrastructure.

As a side benefit, a huge reduction in the number of daily commuters would make a large dent in the pollution problem as well. How much money and freedom do we lose to clean air boondoggle? And I wont even start on all the social problems that could be solved by ending the estrangement of one or both parents from the family.

So. How exactly does more funding for mass public transportation help anything? Would not the government then have to require that everyone use it?

Jim said at August 2, 2005 3:16 PM:

between my wife and I, we only have one car, because we can both take the train to work. we live in chicago. this isn't at all motivated by environmental/energy/whatever political concerns, just practicality. the train is cheaper, faster, more predictable, and less stressful. housing near train stations reflects this inherent value with a price premium.

this probably only works for nyc, chicago, philly, boston, ..... list gets pretty short after that.

and let's not pretend that trains are subsidized more than cars in this country.

Jeff Wallin said at October 10, 2005 9:42 AM:

I am looking for guidance on tax incentives for commercial buildings in California commencing in 2006. It is my understanding a $1.80 incentive per square foot is available upon the achievement of a 50% energy savings and $.60 per square foot incentive available when less than 50% energy savings have been achieved. Does anyone have information from the IRS to corroborate?

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