VOTE! Today’s the day!

November 8th, 2016



Wednesday there are two public hearings scheduled for the MERC Rochester Natural Gas Pipeline, PUC Docket number G-011/GP-15-858.  You can look up the filings on this PUC docket — GO HERE — and search for 15-858 (15 is the year, 858 is the docket number).

Show up!  Very few people commented on the environmental review, and this is the routing case, where comments are needed — the environmental review scoping and CEA comments will not necessarily be taken into account.  Everyone needs to bring them to the judge’s attention!

This project is a high pressure natural gas connector line around the south, southwest and western edge of Rochester, with the purpose of providing natural gas to a new natural gas generating plant at the Westside Energy Station.  This would involve routing a pipeline near existing homes and planned developments.  This is an existing problem in Kasson and Byron, where that huge line paralleling Hwy. 14 runs right through people’s yards — communities platted over it, homes were built, and for new homes, there’s no disclosure requirement!  That is obscene, and should be crminal.  Rochester and Olmsted Counties should not put themselves in a similar situation.


Those supporting Trump, do consider the words and advice of Republican Ohio Gov. Kasich and the Pope, links below.

The Republicans could have had a viable candidate in Ohio Gov. Kasich, but noooooooo.  The good news is that Drumpf doesn’t have the votes to win tomorrow. Yesterday, he showed his hateful rejection of refugees, his plan to stop immigration, and it elicited cheers from the crowd — what would those supporters’ grandparents think of his vitrolic statements. I listened to the entire speech, if you could call it that — he used such disjointed, repetitive hook-laden inflammatory words, started with a bashing of the organizers of the event, outright lies saying Clinton wants to cut Social Security and Medicare — where does he get these ideas? It was also painful to listen to because he cannot speak, it was stream of (un)consciousness where he’d jump on one topic and just throw words out, and suddenly jump to another. I wish there were transcripts of his “speeches” to analyze, because I’d think, I’d hope, that supporters would try to make sense of what he says, because it can’t be done. There’s no substance. Only incendiary jumbled rhetoric of code words repeated over and over.

The Pope had a few things to say about this candidate recently:

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” the Pope told journalists who asked his opinion on Trump’s proposals to halt illegal immigration.

“I say only that this man is not a Christian if he thinks like that.”

Trump’s responded, of course, he is unable to restrain himself, and he responded lashing out, not an ounce of reflection.

From Time on yesterday’s Trump visit:

“Here in Minnesota you have seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state, without your knowledge, without your support or approval,” Trump said at a Minneapolis rally Sunday afternoon.He said his administration would suspend the Syrian refugee program and not resettle refugees anywhere in the United States without support from the communities, while Hillary Clinton’s “plan will import generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism into your schools and throughout your communities.”

Kasich has for a while been alerting voters about Trump’s failings, his shortcomings, and how unqualified and dangerous Trump is — that he is not fit or qualified to be President. A former POW says it well in this new Kasich ad about Drumpf:

Alan Muller on Bloomgate

November 5th, 2016

Bloomgate is distraction from Del.’s energy challenges

The Oct. 30 feature on Bloomgate and the responses generated have been informative, but not so much about the central purpose of subsidizing “renewable energy.”

The point of renewable energy quotas and subsidies is to increase the use of low-carbon electricity sources. This should be an urgent policy goal for Delaware, as carbon emissions to the atmosphere drive climate change and the resulting sea-level rise. Delaware, one of the two lowest-lying states and with climate dependent industries such as agriculture and tourism, is extra vulnerable to the effects of global warming. For a long time, Green Delaware has been arguing that our state should be a leader in pushing for solutions to climate change, but there has been little response from Delaware leaders, in thrall as most of them seem to be to industrial special interests.

The Bloom fuel cells are fueled by natural gas, a fossil, not a renewable fuel. Their efficiency in generating electricity from natural gas appears to be roughly comparable to the best combined-cycle thermal power plants. Bloom claims its fuel cell emissions are lower carbon than the coal-dominated “PJM” grid energy mix. The flaw in this argument is that natural gas, while lower carbon emitting at the point of use, is probably not lower carbon than coal overall, unless we disregard the emissions associated with extracting and transporting natural gas, not to mention the nightmare that fracking has created for many communities.

It also appears that, contrary to claims made during Coastal Zone Act permitting, that the Bloom fuel cells produce significant amounts of hazardous waste. The state of New Jersey has withdrawn subsidies for fuel cell electricity generation, and the California Public Utilities Commission staff recommended likewise.

To the extent that Bloomgate enables Delmarva Power to meet its renewable quotas with fossil fuels, instead of fuels that are truly low carbon, such as wind and solar, the point of the renewable quota is defeated and climate change at least slightly accelerated. I do not know how aware the Markell administration was of these underlying realities, or if it cared, as the administration has not displayed great technical sophistication or procedural transparency. The General Assembly and the Public Service Commission have done no better.

What is certain is that Mother Nature does not care about Delaware politics – or Delaware schemes and scams. Our planet will keep on heating up regardless, unless and until we take meaningful steps to reduce climate-forcing emissions to the atmosphere.

Green Delaware has been following energy policy in Delaware since the early 1990s. It appears that Delmarva Power is making less of a contribution now than it was then. The so-called Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility appears to have been cooked up primarily to get Delmarva Power off the hook. It is possible that the SEU is finally beginning to function effectively. We hope so, but critical years of progress have been lost.

The critical need is to transition to very low carbon energy systems. The good news is that we can do it. The wholesale cost of wind power is on the order of 2-3 cents for a kilowatt hour. The cost of solar electricity is still higher than on-shore wind but dropping steadily. Storage systems can address the wind and solar generation. Investment on the demand side is an available and cost-effective option, but will not be widely implemented if energy policy remains under the control of utilities in the business of selling more, not less, electricity.

The good news for utilities is that the widespread use of electric vehicles is on the near-term horizon and this has great potential to increase electricity use while curtailing the use of diesel fuel and gasoline. This is the most credible scenario for leaving the oil and the gas in the ground, where it needs to stay while maintaining a transportation infrastructure.

Bloomgate is a ripoff of Delmarva Power ratepayers and bad energy policy. Worse, it is a distraction from what we need to be doing. The Bloomgate utility bill surcharges should be removed and the existing installations made to stand on their own if they can. It is not so hard to envision an energy policy for Delaware that would put the long-term future of the state – and the interests of residents – first. But how to get there from here, given the limitations of our political system, is less obvious.

Alan Muller is the executive director of Green Delaware.

4 days…

November 4th, 2016


As this election approaches, I’m thinking of my mother, a forever Democrat who supported Shirley Chisholm’s presidential run, Harry Davis for Mayor, and who would have loved to be able to vote for a woman for president, although “voting for a woman” wouldn’t be the determining factor.  She was independent long before that was accepted in polite society, struggled against societal constraints, joined the army and worked her way through college, a B.S. in nursing, licensed R.N., and was working towards her Masters in Nursing Administration (until my father said “No wife of mine is going to work,” which stopped her for a while, to long.).  She organized the hospital for a mining company out east after the war ended, and then moved back to the Midwest and back to the U of M.  She would joyfully vote for Clinton.


My father, on the other hand, was an old school Republican, who supported Nixon, who loved Reagan, but maybe our 70s dinner-table “discussions” had some impact, because during Bush II, he took up giving the finger to the TV every time Bush was on.  He so disliked Bush’s war, both of the Bush’s wars, and thought Bush II was an idiot.  The 2016 election?  There is no way my Republican father would have supported Trump, just too crass, hateful, and hypocritical.  I’m sure dear ol’ dad would hold his nose and vote for Clinton, because “NO TRUMP” is not an option on the ballot. And I’m sure that many dyed-in-the-wool Republicans will do the same.

David Overland, what do you think?