Archive for July, 2009

Toward a Low-Cost, Clean Energy Policy

Friday, July 31st, 2009

is the title of a luncheon seminar held at the American Enterprise Institute on July 29, which I attended.  The announcement from AEI is as follows:

Current proposals in Congress would transition the United States toward a less carbon-intensive energy future by using mandatory caps on fossil fuel energy production. Yet renewable energy sources—often touted by policymakers as the panacea for resource scarcity and global warming—currently provide only 3 percent of the energy Americans consume. The role of nuclear power as a source of emissions-free electricity is often ignored. Do we have the technology to meet our energy needs with renewables? Are renewables realistic replacements for coal, petroleum, and natural gas? Can renewable energy alternatives—such as wind, solar, and geothermal energy—be practical and economically reasonable by midcentury? And what are the consequences of using renewable energy production that must occupy vast areas of the American landscape? Policymakers must weigh the potential environmental and economic costs of transitioning to clean and renewable energy sources.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) will discuss his ideas on how to provide affordable, clean energy for Americans, which include doubling the number of nuclear power plants, electrifying new vehicles, and creating a series of mini Manhattan Projects to develop cost-effective and reliable renewables. Professor emeritus Daniel B. Botkin of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and AEI resident scholar Kenneth P. Green will offer comments.

The event was recorded.  If it is not already published on the AEI website (, it soon will be.  I will discuss some of the issues that were presented at this luncheon shortly, but I highly recommend the video.


Dominion Pilot Smart Grid Project in Charlottesville, VA

Monday, July 6th, 2009

According to Dominion:

Charlottesville is the first city in Virginia and one of the first in the nation where homes and businesses will be equipped with “smart meters” that will make the delivery of electricity more efficient and less costly and will lay the groundwork for a “smart grid.”

On June 16, 2009, Dominion Virginia Power executives joined Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and local officials to announce the company is launching an approximately $20 million program – SmartGrid Charlottesville – to install about 46,500 “smart meters” in the city of Charlottesville and Albermarle County by the end of the year (

My reaction is, “it’s about time,” having seen that there was the technology to provide such metering in the 1970s, albeit at a much less advanced stage than current capabilities.  There are some interesting rate base and pricing issues that I will cover in another post.