February 09, 2009 | | Comments 1

Stimulus Plan Energy Review

us-senate-logoI spent some time reviewing the current version of the Senate Stimulus bill.  This is the ‘compromise’ version led by Ben Nelson and Susan Collins.  They have proposed a reduced bill size of approximately 780B dollars.

I will ignore the huge amount of waste and non stimulative items in here, (as will most of congress) and focus on the supposed investments in either Clean Energy or ‘Green Jobs’.

Weatherization Assistance Program $2,900,000 – Mostly supported by Northern State Senators including Susan Collins, previous year spending was about $240M, so 10 times the funding for this program.

The Weatherization Assistance Program is the government’s largest residential energy conservation program, and provides important assistance to low-income families facing high energy bills.  Since the program’s inception, more than 5.8 million homes have been weatherized using federal, state, utility and other monies.  Each of these households now has more money to spend on other necessities that it would have spent on heating and cooling an inefficient house.  According to the National Association for State Community Services Programs, for every dollar spent, WAP returns $2.72 in energy and non-energy benefits over the life of the weatherized home.

ReviewLooks like an effective program, which will save energy.  I think the amount is a little much, not sure the program will be able to ramp up that quickly.

Advanced Battery Manufacturing   $2,000,000 – A big push from Carl Levin and the automakers.  The automakers will receive the tax credit for the purchase of a new car, a replacement of government vehicles with more efficient, worth 1.5B, but also support for this spend.  A123 in Massachusetts had asked for a 1.8B grant to build manufacturing facilities in Michigan and other places, it supports that.

Review - Would actually create jobs

FutureGen – $2,000,000 – Dick Durbin who has been involved directly in the negotiations, slipped this one in there.  The project site is in Mattoon, Illinois.

ReviewCAN IT – This is a carbon sequestration project.  An attempt to build a zero emission coal based plant.  Please don’t waste are time, there are better more efficient ways to spend our money.  This is an Illinois boondoggle.  Oh, by the way, the plant startup is scheduled for 2012.  How is that for ‘timely’ ?

Renewable Energy R&D through the EERE – $2,648,000

Review – CUT in HALF – No idea what is in here, other than support for the Federal bureaucracy of the Energy Department.  They have 11 stated programs ranging from a Biomass program to a ‘FreedomCar’.    I am sure there are specifics, but there is the potential for overlap of programs here, with the Weatherization project for example and other than it is another department I am not sure the goals differ.

BPA Borrowing Authority – $3,350,000 – Pushed by the Northwest senators, Patty Murray in Washington.

ReviewCAN IT – This is the Bonneville Power Administration.  A group of utility companies that want loans to rebuild transmission lines, projects at the Grand Coulee dam and other projects.  They talk about hundreds of jobs and there ability to repay the previous loans. Hopefully this money on grids is done per the guidelines in the SmartGrid initiative.  I am sure it is not…If these Utilities are such a good risk and repay their loans why do they need the government?  Can’t they issue bonds?

WAPA Borrowing Authority – $3,230,000 – Pushed by the Western senators, seems like abuy off of many republican senators in the West.

ReviewCAN IT – Again, another agency of the US Energy Department.  Transmission line and education focused, they rent equipment to Utilities.  It is business as usual.  Government in bed with the Utilities.  There has to be a better way to use this money.  How many jobs?

SmartGrid – $4,400,000 – Pushed by the lots of people, who think they are high-tech.

ReviewINCREASE  IT – This spend needs focus first.  Is it for smart meters at households, new better transmission lines, or renewable generation ?  Focus this project into the grid management technologies only.  Install monitors at homes, power distribution center monitoring, transmission line monitoring and measure, and manage the current use of power.  Monitors in 40M homes would cost more like $10B.  This should be a national goal and an incentive for all Utilities.  The previous line items for borrowing by large utilities and consortium, should be granted on the bases of what percent of their transmission network is ‘smart’

These are the major items in the current stimulus bill.  There are some continuation of tax incentives or new ones for efficient vehicle purchase, but overall this is disappointing.

I don’t see the change.  The rhetoric is there, but when push comes to shove we support the industries that lobby, such as Coal, Automobile, and Utilities.  We support pet projects  for Senators, who think locally and not nationally.  Lastly, we support the bloated, inefficient federal government.  This is not change.

This is a lot of money and it does not support the objectives of job creation, alternative energy production, and timely investment.

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  1. It’s nice to see that Mr. Chu and the energy Dept.
    are moving quickly to fund alternative energy projects.
    However most of what you see is the obvious and well known programs. We need to concentrate more on break thru technologies! Otherwise we will never really change the world! I recently discovered a company called Energetics Technologies. They have a process called SuperWaveFusion, which could be a possible breakthrough in Cold Fusion. Using an interaction between palladium and deuterium they have reported an excess heat reaction. I am trying to learn more about this process and would like to hear from others about what they think.
    Their website is, let me know your thoughts.

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