Bacon Bits: Monday Morning Kick-Starter

No limits to human ingenuity, er, depravity.

The developers of flying drones promised all manner of wonderful things, from saving lives to home deliveries. I doubt any of them considered the latest use for drones highlighted in the news: sneaking drugs into prison. In August, security staff of the Buckingham Correctional Center found a small white drone by the side of the road stuffed with $500 worth of marijuana, an eight ball of cocaine, a cell phone, three SIM cards and a handcuff key. That was only one of 33 drone sightings near prisons since January 2018, reports The Daily Press. Never forget Bacon’s Rule of Technology: for every beneficial use of a new technology conceived by the inventer, bad guys can think of a malevolent use.

$100 Million Gift for UVa Scholarships. David Walentas, a University of Virginia undergraduate and business school alumnus and New York real estate developer, is giving $75 million to the university in support of a $100 million Jefferson Scholars Foundation initiative to provide financial support to first-generation students from Virginia and New York. The gift will serve as “a cornerstone” for a larger $5 billion university fund-raising campaign, the university says. Walentas is to be admired for his generosity and for using his money to address the manifest injustice of the rising cost of attendance at UVa. Question: Does Walentas’ benefaction take pressure off the General Assembly to maintain financial support of the university and off the UVa administration to rein in runaway spending?

Oops, Virginia did it again. Ivy Main, an energy/environment blogger for the Virginia Sierra Club, is distressed by the latest electricity usage for Virginia, which showed a 2% increase last year, continuing a three-year upward trend and (something she doesn’t mention) confirming Dominion Energy’s forecast of continuing electricity demand growth for the state despite assurances from many quarters that electricity consumption would decline. Writing in the Virginia Mercury, she attributes growing electricity consumption to the proliferation of energy-intensive data centers and a failure to invest in energy efficiency.

But there’s more to the story to expanding energy consumption than just data centers. The Ports of Virginia, an economic driver in the Hampton Roads regional economy, has purchased 85 electric-powered cranes to replace diesel -powered cranes, according to a column in Virginia Business. By substituting electricity for diesel fuel, the move advances the goal of clean air and reduced CO2 emissions. Meanwhile cold-storage companies, also big energy users, are expanding operations in Virginia. including a $60 million warehouse in Portsmouth and a $41 million facility in Rockingham County. Bryan K. Stephens, CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, author of the column, cites growing demand for electricity and natural gas as justification for building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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14 responses to “Bacon Bits: Monday Morning Kick-Starter”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Just think what drones could do for North Anna or Surry or other critical infrastructure – like a bridge or a dam !!!

    Worse than that – look at this:

    But HEY – sounds like GOOD jobs to set up drone defenses!

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Data cherry picking Part 1. According to that same EIA.Gov, more than 80 percent of heating oil is used in the Northeast. Don’t you think that needs to be factored in when comparing energy use in households? Hmmmm? And of course there just might be some elasticity at work here, with a higher incentive to reduce electricity consumption in the highest cost states…..

    The utilities perhaps can take the credit/blame, but in VA it is largely about heat pumps, with little use of heating oil or propane for winter heating. Still a fair amount of natural gas. You really have to combine it all if you want to compare states….or to track the CO2, for that matter.

    Energy = money = wealth. Something too few seem to get. But then, this is a political party where Sanders just attacked Warren as a capitalist.

  3. Correct the other RGGI states are using much heating oil and naural gas, direct to their homes, as part of the reason they are OK with promising lower carbon electric generation.

    Virginia is heat-pump -based, and although carbon footprint and energy use may be lower than say NJ, we Virginia need to use some natural gas power plants to make the energy to heat homes.

    If we are going to promise carbon-free energy to Conpanies, we need find some way segregate them from them electrons the rest of us get, or we need to make all households in Virginia heat their homes by themselves via nat gas or fuel oil, so we can pull carbon sources out of our electric grid.

  4. So-called “heat-pump” heat is really two stages: the heat pump for high efficiency heating when the outside temp is less than ~30 degrees below inside, and electric resistance heat or some other source (propane, nat. gas, oil) when it gets colder. The electric heating consumption per household mainly depends on that second stage. Most homes are built (the cheapest way) poorly insulated with electric resistance secondary heat and they are electricity hogs. But for highest efficiency keep the heat pump, just add lots of insulation and secondary nat. gas heat. The heat pump itself is not the problem; in fact a heat pump is by far more efficient than nat. gas when the outside temp is in the 60s, still very good relatively even in the 50s, advantage falls off in the 40s.

    I agree, there’s a lot of oil heat in the New England region, but that’s mostly historical preference.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Back in the late Jimmy Carter days when we “had no oil or gas,” I was transferred to Des Moines and every new home had heat pumps. I bought half of a side-by-side duplex with a heat pump. The winter heating bills were outrageous in the early 1980s.

      The Sierra Club once again proves it is off the deep end. If we want to move away from diesel and gasoline, we move to electricity. When people are teleworking, don’t they shift from gasoline to electricity? MWCOG celebrates the increase in teleworking for multiple reasons. Shouldn’t an increase in electric consumption be a sign we are making progress?

      Hypothetically, if we moved all base generation to nuclear, with solar and wind where feasible, and phased out vehicles powered by fossil fuels, could this be less expensive to society than the crazed path the radical enviros want? Of course, we would still be pushed to change our diets.

  5. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

    When are we going to consider methane’s impact? In the next 20 years, it will have the most impact, far worse than carbon. At this moment we are putting more and more methane into the environment – and not even measuring it!

  6. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
    Jane Twitmyer

    Good point that increased electricity demand can come from replacing diesel fueled machines and cold storage companies, and good to know that replacement is happening. Increased demand will also come from replacing cars and buses with electricity powered vehicles, also a very good thing for the Global Climate.

    BUT that increase doesn’t mean that more natural gas is needed. Three issues make the case: energy efficient buildings, distributed energy potential including Demand Response and offshore wind potential.

    The Solutions project, out of Stanford Univ projects that VA could reduce demand by 42% by 2050. I am trying to find out the basis of that calculation but buildings use 77% of our electricity, and while net-zero new buildings will only happen slowly, the potential for retrofitting a 30-50% reduction in building usage is possible with lighting, heating, AC, windows and insulation according to the DOE. Even 20% of 77% would be significant.

    Onsite-PV is valued at 25% of Virginia’s total demand by NREL. Here we have barely scratched the surface. Generation on-site reduces central generation demand and demand shifting can meet peak power issues and therefore require less capacity.

    Finally, Dominion is talking about building out their 2000MW lease offshore, but no one is talking about the technical potential of Virginia’s coast as a wind generation resource. Looking at the old numbers, Virginia was listed as having 45GWs of offshore capacity on her coast. I am seeking more recent numbers. Some areas were discarded as needed for military use, and output calculations for each turbine have increased with the design of larger blades.

    We simply do not need more gas. Choosing gas will increase the destructive effects of climate change we have begun to see. VAConsumer Advocate is right about the methane … 85 times worse than CO2 over the next 20 years.

  7. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    New England has been a heating oil user for decades. It dates long before renewables. Oil was a better logistical option there back when no one really cared much about carbon emissions. Many homes and businesses are still wedded to oil furnaces. The supply chain has been there forever. These would be hard to be replaced. For an example of the oil-orientation, back in 1973 and 1974, I was finishing my last year at a Boston area university. The Yom Kippur War struck that fall and there were huge spikes on global oil prices. They were so huge that my college decided it could not pay for an extra month of heating, so it extended our winter study period from one month to two months. It didn’t affect me much since I already had enough credits to graduate. I spent the extra time working on a newspaper in North Carolina.
    In an irrelevant historical note, VEPCO was likewise impacted by the 70s era wars and global price spikes as it scrambled to convert generating stations from oil to coal.

  8. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
    Jane Twitmyer

    I grew up on Main Line Phila. with oil heat, lived in CT for 20 years, also with oil heat, in a barn I renovated into a home in 1973. Electric heat was way too expensive back then. The big deal was to bury your oil tank far away from the well!
    One thing that some with land are trying up North is small geothermal systems if land is available. A German Co with headquarters in Loudoun County started selling systems there 5-6 years ago.

  9. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Thirty or so years ago when I bought this house, I had no idea that it would be considered a saver of CO2. It has electric baseboard heat–no burning of heating oil or natural gas. And, unlike a heat pump, I don’t have to heat the whole house at one time; I can heat only the rooms I am in and shut off the rest of the house.

  10. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Who is going to pay for the retrofitting of older homes? MWCOG has released a new report and adopted a new housing policy that calls for an extra 75,000 new homes to be constructed in the next 20 years, 75% in activity centers and 75% for low and moderate income people. The policy also calls for preserving existing lower-cost housing.

    Do we help people buy/rent affordable housing or retrofit homes? How do we preserve existing dwellings if we have to spend millions of dollars retrofitting them? The problem with the left is that they have no priorities. What can we stop doing?

  11. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
    Jane Twitmyer

    TMT …. “The problem with the left is that they have no priorities. “

    GEEZ …The problem with the Right is they can’t see past is their own pocketbooks. Why are you not exercised by things like … “the three wealthiest people in the US now own more wealth than the bottom 160 million Americans?”

    Retrofitting doesn’t require tax monies. It requires changes in policy though. Retrofits reduce demand and therefore utility profits as we are currently regulated, so efficient buildings just aren’t happening in VA.

    One program is ‘on-bill’ financing where the utility puts up the retrofit monies and gets its return on regular utility bills. Good for the lower level income home owners. Dominion isn’t about to do this.

    Property Assessed Clean Energy … PACE … loans are currently on set up for commercial buildings but the loans, defined by the taxing district, are collected with tax bills. They don’t rely on anything but a good credit rating, not on equity levels. These loan were originally designed for residential loans too, but that was blocked by banks. In some areas with high end homes residential PACE is available. Both of those loans, PACE and on-bill, usually reduce monthly utility bills. The savings more than pay for the improvements with a low interest, right-termed loan.

    Fanny Mae has a ‘green loan’ as part of their mortgages. It does have a ‘less than 15%’ of retrofitted value restriction. They also have a multifamily Green Mortgage loan. These are relatively new and I am not familiar with them in action.

    So the only priority needed is the commitment to change old policy and a willingness to help both people and the climate.

  12. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Jane – a problem is that residents who make major investments to retrofit their homes are not going to see long-term energy bill savings as high as projected. Electric and, to some degree, natural gas utilities will likely hike the rates for their services to recover their fixed costs on lower demand. Today’s $150 monthly bill may dip to $100 but rate increases will push it back to say $135. Your monthly savings in my hypothetical are not $50 but only $15. The payback time increases significantly.

    Interestingly, the Board of MWCOG, pretty green, voted some years back not to include retrofitting homes as a solution to greenhouse gases because of the extremely high costs and inability for so many people to pay more for housing. I think they also realized that the utility bill savings would be a lot less than projected.

    1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
      Jane Twitmyer

      Sorry … that is pretty funny math you have done. The saving is the saving whether or not the cost goes up. The increase in rates would make the bill without fixes $185.
      I don’t kno0w about the DC choice. The PACE loans are not available to homes in DC and I don’t know where their utility stood on doing on-bill loans, or if their regulations hinder the idea of reducing demand.

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