Friday, May 25, 2012

Can we build a New world in 150yrs?

I am basically re-posting this article from Grist but I narrowed it down to critical components.   

Me: So what the article below brings up is the real question, at some point in the very near future we will have to admit that the pastoral, 19th century version of America will change.  It already has but allof us have memories of how it was when we were young and they are often fond memories.  I believe with smart planning all the good things can be preserved; green spaces, hunting, fishing, wildlife, camping, community and independence.  It will take tremendous effort and coordination and investment, the alternative is to stick our head's in the sand and hope its all fixed by someone else.  I grew up loving horsepower and dirt roads, I am not taking this lightly, if anything I'm involved because not enough other pragmatists are.  See the well articulated points from Grist:


"...As Nelder says, our entire $6 trillion infrastructure was built around the assumption of cheap oil. It is utterly unsuited to a world of peak oil and climate pressure. Forgive me as I quote him at length:

In this context, the current debate over energy subsidies seems entirely misbegotten. What’s the point in arguing over some $4 billion per year in oil industry subsidies (which I have long opposed) when we’re already on the hook for $1.6 trillion per year to remain with our current transportation regime? …
This context also demonstrates why the US High Speed Rail Association’s newly-updated $600 billion price tag for a system that would cover all our major metropolitan cities is decidedly cheap. The $40 billion or so we’ve spent on Amtrak is peanuts. Who wouldn’t think it makes sense to spend a bit more than one-third of our existing annual transportation commitment to permanently retire a substantial portion of our unsustainable air and road traffic?
Instead of incremental spending on an effectively dead transportation regime, we should be thinking about one that can survive the challenges ahead, and deliver more economic benefits than costs. ( Me: I disagree somewhat here, America is neither willing nor ready to move away from personal transportation, but electric cars can and will replace 'once and done' gas burning cars.)  We should be setting an ambitious target, like replacing all commercial passenger air flights with high speed rail for trips under 1,000 miles, replacing 90 percent of our city street traffic with light rail, and moving all long-haul freight traffic to rail. Even if the cost of all that rail infrastructure were in the range of $3 trillion, it would be a fantastic investment.

… Would you rather spend another $32 trillion over the next 20 years just to maintain our outmoded, unscalable, aged, unhealthy system, plus another $2.8 trillion in lost productivity due to delays and gridlock, only to wind up out of gas? Or would you rather spend $25 trillion to repair our existing infrastructure, transition transportation to rail, transition the power grid to renewables, upgrade the entire grid, and solve the carbon problem, to have free fuel forever? 
I can’t say it better than that. I’ll just add that while Nelder focuses on transportation, the same basic political-economy framework applies to electricity. We built our houses and industries on the assumption of cheap electricity; those practices, codes, and regulations are still embedded in our construction and manufacturing sectors. We built our power transmission lines on the assumption of large, remote power plants. Coal has plenty of lobbying muscle in its own right, but it’s nothing compared to the heavy lifting that utillites, heavy industry, and construction & manufacturing industries do for it.
The simple fact is that modern industrial society was built by, around, and for fossil fuels. The assumption of cheap, concentrated sources of energy is embedded into all of our institutions and practices. Maintaining our status quo industrial infrastructure — a cost that absolutely dwarfs direct subsidies to fossil fuels — is an investment in fossil-fuel dominance. And we pay it every year, even as we pay the rising costs it imposes on us.
Viewed in this light, fossil fuels and renewables are not really “competing” on some common “playing field.” Fossil fuels built the field; it is designed for their game. Renewables don’t just have to produce energy at competitive prices, they must bring along with them new applications, new infrastructure, new institutions and practices. To switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy is not like going from Coke to Pepsi; it is to build a new world.
Comparisons of direct subsidies capture only the tip of a giant iceburg — most of fossil fuels’ big advantages are invisible, beneath the surface, and entirely taken for granted." Grist

Me: The thing is the change they and I are advocating is so huge, incremental and foundation shaking that today's power brokers are resisting it when they should be embracing it.  We have the opportunity to enrich human experience, and create unprecedented economic activity.  With a 95% fossil fuel economy today even if we launched a 'Manhattan project' on transportation and energy infrastructure today the changes would take decades,this would coincide nicely with $12gal gasoline and wars over energy resources.  So let's start building a new world today and hope we get it done in time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Keeping SC money in SC

South Carolina has the chance to pass an incentive for businesses who outlay capital expenses now, today, to reduce operating expenses and use South Carolina produced energy over energy where the fuel source comes from out of state.

If this bill passes $30m in federal tax debt will stay with business owners in SC to be re-invested.

$24.5m dollars of Federal equipment depreciation dollars will stay in SC.

$3,648,000 will be saved in energy costs over 5yrs if this bill is passed.

Between 300-500 jobs will be created by this incentive.  Not one penny will go to anyone until they spend  their own money upfront.

The credit is a one time incentive, it is not a revolving door.

The credit can only go to someone who owns a business in SC and has a building here in SC or who leases a building in SC.

The credit will sunset after five years.

If you are a fiscal conservative or a pro-government progressive this is sound business policy.

This incentive will promote public private partnerships around the state and attract more high profile businesses to SC both big and small.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Inverter Company Opens Shop in Greenville SC

RefuSOL Operation Targets Alternative Energy, Launches New Greenville County Operations

GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC,  - PRETTL Electronics Greenville Inc., a new enterprise, will launch operations this summer to produce inverters for the fast-growing solar panel industry. The new operation will be housed at PRETTL Electric Corporation's existing Greenville County facility, company officials and representatives of the South Carolina Department of Commerce and Greenville Area Development Corporation announced today.

The new business initiative and addition of a custom production line will account for the addition of 80 new jobs and investment of upwards of $1.5 million in specialty equipment and space upfitting over the next three years at PRETTL's facility at 1721 White Horse Road in Greenville. Hiring for at least a dozen positions to launch the effort will begin immediately, officials announced.

Founded in Germany in 1953, PRETTL has grown to encompass over 5,000 employees at 33 locations in 19 countries around the world, through four primary business units: Automotive, Consumer, Home Appliances and Electronics. PRETTL operations were originally established in Greenville in 1988, where upwards of 100 associates are employed.

PRETTL's Electronics Division is a leading end-to-end supplier for electronics providers, offering services ranging from research and development to manufacturing and service after the sale. PRETTL products are found in such diverse industries as medical engineering, telecommunications, automotive and lighting, with the company's diverse product portfolio including electronic components for wireless systems, wireless communication modules, and inverters for photovoltaic and drive system applications.

PRETTL Electronics Greenville Inc. represents the electronics division's first presence in the U.S. marketplace and will result in the assembly of inverters for solar energy producers, with distribution handled by PRETTL's sister company REFUsol. Inverters are electrical devices that convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) at any required voltage and frequency with the use of appropriate transformers, switching, and control circuits. Inverters are commonly used to supply AC power from DC sources such as solar panels or wind turbines.

"Our goal with this initiative is to provide outstanding customer service, product quality, high value, and rapid delivery to meet the needs of customers in the growing alternative energy space," said Rainer Koschate, chief operations manager of PRETTL Electronics Greenville, Inc. "We are pleased to establish operations here in Greenville County, are very appreciative for the support of the Greenville Area Development Corporation, readySC, South Carolina Department of Commerce, and everyone who assisted in making this announcement a reality."

The jobs being added include assemblers, quality support positions, planners, warehousing and related positions, Koschate noted. To fill the positions, PRETTL is working with readySC in the recruiting and training of associates. All positions being recruited for will pay "competitive market wages with full benefits based on experience," he added. Applications for PRETTL Electronics are being accepted at the One Stop/Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) Office at McAlister Square in Greenville. The jobs are also posted on the Virtual One Stop system where individuals can apply online from anywhere in the state (

"PRETTL has been part of our state's business community for years and we look forward to the company expanding its presence in South Carolina with this new initiative. The announcement of the new jobs and investment serves as another indication that our state is doing the right things to attract business from around the globe," said Gov. Nikki Haley.

"South Carolina has a strong trade relationship with Germany, with a number of Germany-based companies investing in our state. PRETTL's decision to further invest in our state will certainly help strengthen that relationship as well as create new jobs for South Carolinians. We appreciate PRETTL's decision to continue doing business in the Palmetto State," said Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Commerce.

"PRETTL is a wonderful example of a company that combines world-class technology, lean processes and local talent to succeed here in the Upstate," said Chris Riley, Chairman of the Greenville Area Development Corporation. "The company is an important member of our international business community and adds to the economic vitality to be found here in Greenville County."

About Greenville Area Development Corporation
The Greenville Area Development Corporation is a non-profit organization established by Greenville County Council to promote and enhance the economic growth and development of Greenville County. Since its founding in 2001, GADC efforts have resulted in the creation of more than 12,000 new jobs and more than $2.3 billion in capital investment in Greenville County. To learn more, visit or call (864) 235-2008.

Quick Links


Greenville County


SC Dept. of Commerce

SC OneStop

Harry Reid Should GO.

20% of our national electricity usage is now generated by Nuclear power.  104 power plants across the nation provide 790 billion kWh every year.  We each use about 12,000kWh at our homes each year.  For over a decade Nevada has enjoyed the benefits of Federal and private largesse in the form of a federally managed $30billion dollar fund that utilities have been paying up to $500 million dollars a year for a long term nuclear waste,storage facility.  

Yucca mountain was chosen from three potential sites after a ten year study by the DOE and NRC.  
If you have been to Nevada you know that it is one of the least populated places in America, Nye county, where Yucca is located, is a former Nuclear test site and it is surrounded by Nellis AFB, Yucca gets 5-7in of rain per year, the US average is 37.  Nevada enjoyed $12 Billion dollars of construction and site study before the site was closed by Harry Reid, when he became majority leader in the House.  President Obama allowed Yucca to be closed for short term gain.  Secretary Chu said,

"So the real thing is, let's get some really wise heads together and figure out how you want to deal with the interim and long-term storage. Yucca was supposed to be everything to everybody, and I think, knowing what we know today, there's going to have to be several regional areas."

Billions spent, construction 2/3rd's underway and NOW its closed.  Yucca was an interim storage facility, since nuclear waste is deadly for 1000's of years having one central, safe, repository was the interim solution.  In 100 or 200 years maybe we will know how to make the spent fuel inert.

Currently in South Carolina the Savannah River site sits within 2hrs of over 1 million people.  SRS is also on the Savannah river supplying drinking water to large parts of Georgia and South Carolina.  It's time that Harry Reid should go and Yucca mountain should be re-opened.  Even if you hate Nuclear energy,you can see the logic behind safe storage of the nations spent fuel at a remote location instead of peppered around the country in less secure facilities while the stockpiles continue to grow and new power plant applications are being approved by the NRC.  I fully support the President, I think he has done a decent job under dire circumstances and Mitt Romney will do very little to benefit the American public but on this issue I think he dropped the ball.  Finish the job started a decade ago and lets get nuclear storage moving to Yucca.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Eliminate the EPA

South Carolina has weakened the constituency of its Department of Health and Environmental Control or DHEC.  Many people are calling for reeling back the regulatory power of the EPA, or federal Environmental Protection agency.  Wall Street is weakening the regulations put in place after the catastrophe that was 2008. The thought is, there is too much regulation and it is stifling business.  I can't say whether this is true or not but I would like specific examples of regulations that are hurting American business instead of sound bites and rhetoric.  

However until I see these crippling regulations I have an alternative proposal, lets eliminate EPA, SEC and DHEC completely!  I have one caveat to this proposal.  Any business practice that leads to emissions harmful to humans or chemical spills that might endanger anyone, should be dealt with by immediately executing the CEO, CFO and COO of the company at fault.  The same idea should be applied to financial deals.  While this may sound draconian think about it.  No pesky regulations, no hindrance to business, everyone can go about the business of making money efficiently and directly.  CEO's and other top management are not all criminals in fact it is the less than 1% we have to worry about so we won't miss them, we only ever see them on TV when it is too late.

If we do have the occasional mishap where our hunting, fishing, drinking or living areas are damaged  irreparably we can quickly have the executive management team commit public Harikari and make way for more efficient management to run the company. Stock prices will be protected, the public can have peace of mind and profits will soar.  So you ask me,"What if small amounts of pollution are released over time and it not obvious that our overall health and beautiful surroundings are impacted?"

Easy, any new CEO must agree to live within 500ft of their largest facility and executive management must agree to have any emissions from their facilities pumped into their homes before emitting to the atmosphere.  Any dumping of waste must go to the CEO's drinking well or % added to their food directly.
The same thing can go for Wall St.  Any contract of employment will have compensation tied directly to performance.  If the company makes money and continues to do well after the CEO's reign they will be supremely re-numerated.  If performance does not improve then all top management and their families down to second cousins once removed will have all of their possessions confiscated,  Cayman Island accounts and US citizenship (or tax sheltered foreign citizenship's) too.

What a simple and purely 'market driven' idea.  I am sure this is something we can all get behind. Because as we all know when huge amounts of money and questions of morality and legacy are at stake our benevolent CEO's always make the right decisions, take full responsibility and quickly resolve any issues without lengthy and frivolous litigation or political manipulation.  So how about it?  Complete removal of hindrance to business in exchange for a paltry executive performance clause in contracts going forward!
Jonathan Swift had a similar proposal almost 300yrs ago when English nobility allowed the Irish to starve.  He was no more serious than I am now.  The problem today is we have sound bites and 30 second segments to address complicated issues and it doesn't work.  I believe people genuinely want more jobs and a simpler America that is safe and secure.  This is something all of us want.  As our society has grown and the world become a more inter-dependent mechanism you can't make sweeping statements that sound promising on the surface but completely ignore the relationships that hold the American Economic engine and our well-being together.  No one wants inefficient regulators hampering progress and ingenuity but we also don't want our rivers posioned, our land stripped of resources, no long term planning and the majority of people left behind for quarterly profits.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Solar, 2012, SC, A good choice

Could it be that 2012 will be the year South Carolina begins to actively promote solar energy mining?  I have spent a fair amount of time trying to explain the benefits of solar to legislators and people around the state.  There was so much more I could have done, so many missteps, lost opportunities to forcefully argue what is clear to me, solar is a safe bet.  As much time as I've spent at the state house, ( I believe I could give tours now) I still have no idea if we'll get it done.  Despite many meetings and requests to be on the calendar we're not there yet?  I have literally talked to 100's if not thousands of people in South Carolina ALL of whom like the idea of solar but were reticent to invest because of the cost.  Cost is what prompted me to work on making it more affordable and widely available.  I can't manufacture solar panels (yet) so I worked on the straightest line I could see, State policy.  For three years I have gone to the state house any time I could to make the case and its a good one.  Economic development, local jobs, domestic energy, stronger grid, sustainable.  Now it comes down to thirteen legislative days.  If we pass out of committee we still have the full senate vote needed, back to the house for amendment consolidation and then the Governor's signature.  We have 13 legislative days left.  This is such a tall order.  I hope one day to look back on this post and ask myself why I ever doubted the right decision will be made.  Wish us luck.  So you know,George Carlin had a hilarious comedy routine about how we pamper kids.  He was right to some degree but he was wrong in that without leaving a solid legacy of caring for each other and our home and hunting grounds we are denying ourselves the enjoyment of "I tried hard, I left nothing on the table and I can leave in peace."