1. I noticed the ads this last weekend (a week ago). I watch a lot of TV and have become used to the red-eyed spokesperson (she does look stoned, BTW, I’m not making this up) tout natural gas. When I saw the coal ad, I sat up and took note.

    I’ve seen the oxymoronic “Clean Coal” ads for years, usually just a touting of “America’s energy source”. Fairly innocuous. But this new one had bite. It was an attack on current, yet unspecified “regulations” that somehow hinder the more massive use of dirty coal. It was above all a direct political advertisement attacking the few gains over dirty coal for the past 40 years!.

    The coal industry is feeling it’s inner Milton Friedman and attempting to piggey-back onto the Tea Party and general conservative “No Big Government” sentiment it believes can help them cut down the regulations that have prevented the grossest of pollutions from coal burning.


  2. Rod – thanks for the post and the link to the Vancouver Sun article. I live in Calgary, Alberta and hadn’t been hit with a blackout, so I didn’t realize this was going on. I may be on a grid area that has a hospital in it and thus avoided getting blacked out.

    The article goes on to say

    (Opposition MLAs) demanded a full investigation into what went wrong, calling the simultaneous failure of four major generators “really suspicious.”

    Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin noted there has been reports in the past of power companies allegedly gaming the system by deliberately causing “unexpected” shutdowns. As the theory goes, the reduction of supply causes prices to spike, thereby allowing a company’s other generating plants to take in more profit.

    Last fall, TransAlta Corp. was hit with a recommended $370,000 fine after admitting it manipulated electricity prices by blocking cheaper hydroelectric imports from B.C. over a 31-hour period in November 2010. The scheme created an artificial shortage of power, causing consumers to pay an estimated $5.5 million extra in inflated costs.

    “Gaming the system” – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. But my “justice” antenna has put my back up and I want to punish the managers who “gamed the system”. Not jail – maybe by making them linemen in our Alberta winters. A “punishment to fit the crime”, as the Mikado put it.

  3. Latest news from the EIA is that natural gas is displacing coal, its electric generation share estimated to drop below 40% for 2012 and natural gas to surpass 30% for the first time ever:

    “Recently published electric power data show that, for the first time since EIA began collecting the data, generation from natural gas-fired plants is virtually equal to generation from coal-fired plants, with each fuel providing 32% of total generation.”
    –EIA Today in Energy

    Apart from the economic desire of the oil & gas majors to keep the two separate and keep us pumping $80-100 oil into our cars, I do not understand why there is not a greater public relations effort besides Boone Pickens — on the part of the present administration, for example — to promote natural gas in the transportation sector and transition away from petroleum in transport. The amount of natural gas that is now burned (increasingly as baseload) for electricity generation in the US would now completely displace all petroleum imports (making the Keystone pipeline obsolete, along with Canadian oil sands btw) if used directly as CNG in automobiles. CNG vehicles are the cleanest on the road, cleaner than the vaunted Toyota Prius or Nissan Leaf or Tesla. Dual fuel autos can have the same 16 gallon gasoline tank in addition to the typical 8 GGE CNG capacity affording 150% of the range of gasoline-only vehicles at prices for natural gas of <$1 therm/GGE at most competitive early adopter filling stations. CAFE standards (2015's, 35.5 MPG) could be waved for models in exchange for OEM installation of dual-fuel tanks, esp in SUVs.

  4. Great post, Rod. Nobody ever remembers the natgas pipeline explosions or the stalling of wind turbines during every major heat wave. This happened in CA several years ago, for instance.

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