Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Smart Car Coming to the USA in 2008

Via digg, today I learned that reservations for the extremely fuel-efficient Smart Car are a go in the USA.

Early reservations for the US Smart Car have just started and already people are lining up to purchase this tiny energy efficient vehicle. The Smart Car is a tiny subcompact vehicle, only about 9 feet long and 5 feet wide. The 3-cylinder engine has fantastic fuel consumption, 42 miles per gallon, and has a top speed of 90 mph. And while it is tiny - one feels as though you can lift it yourself - it is, in fact, surprisingly roomy for something that size. Though granted, your main concern would likely be what happens in the event of a crash. According to the company, the Smart Car gets a 4 star-crash rating, surprisingly good for a vehicle of its size. The Smart Car will cost between $11,000 to $17,000. It is available in three different models, including a gorgeous little convertible.

I am seriously considering making this my next car purchase. The price range certainly is right! And could you imagine what a hybrid version of these could get in terms of gas mileage?

Vernon’s Car Stereo at 34th and Memphis has a Smart Car manufactured by Mercedes that they are using as a show car. Believe me, it’s worth the stop to check out this incredible ride (not to mention the sound system they put in it!).

Zoom!

Zero-Energy Housing in Lubbock

I am one of those people who likes to arrive at a movie theater right as the trailers are finishing and the regular movie starts. My girlfriend is just the opposite: she enjoys waiting in line to be the first inside to pick the very best seats in the whole theater. Last night, we saw “I am Legend,” which is brand-new, so we had to do it her way. And I’m glad we did, because I saw an ad on the big screen for a local architectural firm that specializes in zero-energy homes.

The Lubbock-based Universal Design Consortium confirms what I have believed for years: there is a strong business case for sustainability. The folks at UDC can design you a zero-energy home that may even make you money each month. From their website:

WHY PAY FOR ELECTRICITY WHEN YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN?

The series 007 Zero-Energy House is designed specifically to reduce or completely eliminate the home owners utility bills, provide handicap accessibility, provide emergency protection from storms or terrorist attack, and produce a high resale return to the home owner.

The series 007 Zero-Energy Prototype takes the nations best selling residential floor plan and makes it a zero-energy home. Want to customize your house plan- No problem, virtually any house plan can be adopted to be a zero-energy home if the architect addresses energy conservation and energy production at the design stage.

How is this done? The architect must address the geographic location of the project, soil conditions, average environmental effects, energy needs of the client and the budget of the client. It may be possible to advance beyond zero-energy to a point where your home actually makes you money each month by producing more electricity than you can consume.

Their zero-energy housing page is a great place to start learning about all the technologies available today that can lower your energy costs and decrease your carbon footprint: insulated concrete forms, geothermal heating/cooling, grey water return system, automatic irrigation, solar panels, and energy-efficient lighting are covered. Their most popular design even includes a shelter room that can withstand an F3 tornado.

If you or someone you know in the Lubbock area is in the market to build a new home, be sure to check out UDC and consider the zero-energy approach!

Coming Soon: LubbockLeft Energy Series

I am beginning work on a research and advocacy project in which I will examine different types of energy production and various modes of energy consumption. This project is one that I have wanted to work on for a long time, but credit for the impetus goes, in part, to the Mr. Conservative blog. Dr. May’s stubborn defense of coal and nuclear, curious view of rationing as a Marxist conspiracy, and lack of excitement over clean+renewable energy sources really threw me for a loop.

Below, in no particular order, is a rough sketch of what I want to cover.

Energy Production:

  • biomass
  • ethanol
  • hydro
  • wind
  • coal
  • hydrogen
  • fusion
  • geothermal
  • solar
  • nuclear
  • petroleum-based
  • tidal

Energy Consumption and Sustainability:

  • Conservation
  • Home Design
  • Recycling
  • Transportation

Each post will feature:

  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Business Case
  • Social Case
  • Local Impact
  • Prediction
  • LubbockLeft Recommends

I’m excited to begin this work, but there’s a lot going on in my life these days. (Hey, it’s the Holidays — everyone is busy!) So, expect roughly one of these energy posts per week, plus my usual banter. And, any contributing bloggers out there — hint, hint.

Onward!

About the Lubbock Power and Light $1mil Gift

The Lubbock City Budget that passed on Thursday with a split Council includes a one million dollar transfer from Lubbock Power and Light to the City.

Abel Cruz over at El Editor has, I believe, the correct perspective on the million dollar transfer in his editorial. The voters already spoke clearly about the separation of LP&L from the City Council and the manner in which franchise fees will be paid to the city. What happened Tuesday at the LP&L Board meeting and Thursday at the City Council meeting was not what voters had in mind, and it smacks of a time when the City would raid the coffers of LP&L whenever it was politically convenient.

All I can say is that I hope this is a one-time incident. The City Council and the LP&L Board should work out an equitable franchise fee system that makes economic sense and respects the wishes of Lubbock voters.

Dallas Morning News Catches on… Will the A-J?

Looks like the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board published an editorial about the need to change course in Iraq. In the past, they have been big supporters of the Bush foreign policy; critics agree that this is a significant reversal in position. Color me surprised!

From the editorial:

Americans are being asked for a level of patience that they do not have and that the White House has not earned. It is time for Iraqi troops to take over this fight, even if it means risking full-blown civil war.

And wow, they also have an editorial urging Congress to pass a “20 percent renewable energy standard.”

Did this newspaper dinosaur evolve while I wasn’t looking, or what?

Briscoe County: 3,000 MW Wind Farm?

The Amarillo Globe-News ran a story yesterday about a new wind farm planned in Briscoe County (registation required) that could generate around 3,000 megawatts. We’re talking about a project on the order of 1,500 or so wind turbines that could power about 3/4 million homes. This will absolutely dwarf the current “world’s largest wind farm” near Abilene, which puts out about 735 megawatts. The big players involved are ShellEnergy and Luminant (a TXU company).

What was interesting to me about this news is why TXU says they got involved. They claim that they currently purchase 705 megawatts of wind power to deliver to their customers and are about to purchase 209 megawatts more. That means that consumers can put pressure on energy companies to pursue green sources of energy. Check out tools like carbonfund.org/, which you can use to offset your non-green power consumption by purchasing green blocks of power. If consumers everywhere demand that a reasonable portion of their power come from green sources, it just might happen.

The Amarillo Globe-News article mentions an interesting twist to this whole project: a silver lining for our depleting Ogallala Aquifer. The turbines could be used to pump air underground, which will compress it. From the article:

The compressed air is then released to turn generators, producing power when the wind is not blowing or demand is too great for the wind to keep up with.

With major wind energy projects popping up in every direction, Lubbock will have to make serious progress on wind energy just to catch up. We need to get on the ERCOT grid ASAP and get our (many, many) local developers on board with investing in wind farms. It’s a guaranteed winning investment!


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