Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Going Cold Turkey: Fossil Fuel Addiction

Kurt Vonnegut has a way a skating around the pretense and dodging the artful chimpanzee posturing to get to the pure, beating heart of an idea. Cold Turkey, from In These Times, makes the point as only Vonnegut can.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Don't Let the Beer Go Bad

Businesses trying to keep operations going during California's rolling blackouts in 2000 learned to distrust the mainstream electricity grid. Among those most sensitive to a continuous supply of power, Sierra Nevada Brewing, based in Chico, California, took advantage of incentives offered by the California Public Utilities Commission to install fuel cells. The goal is to achieve an energy-neutral brewing operation, where the company creates as much energy as it consumes.

Even a short interruption in the electrical supply can ruin a batch of beer. And the summer temperatures in the Chico area, which push beyond the century mark for days at a time, make it critical that the power keep flowing along with the suds. Business incentives can help companies like Sierra Nevada Brewing free their operations from a fickle electricity grid. The article from Wired, Business Buys Into Fuel Cells, illustrates some other innovative business uses of renewable energy as well.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Energy Politics at Work

In any open society, if democracy is to be given a reasonable chance to flourish, the machinations of government at every level should be visible to the citizens. Leaders who are obviously beholden to special interests or not representing the expectations of their constituents can be removed from office. Bad policies can be rejected by rejecting the leaders who initiate them. A growing problem, however, particularly in terms of energy policy, is that key decisions are being made behind closed doors in virtual secrecy. And a growing body of evidence is pointing to the fact that energy policies are being crafted to benefit the bottom line of the mainstream energy producers, the petroleum and nuclear industries, to the detriment of any advances in renewable energy systems. The pattern of secrecy that was established by Dick Cheney in creating national energy policy is now apparently being emulated by California's Governor Schwarzenegger as examined in this Common Dreams article, Schwarzenegger Pulls a Cheney. Only by finding out who is pulling the strings behind the scenes do we have any chance to turn the current energy juggernaut around and move toward a future where sustainable energy practices can take hold.