Batteries and Transmission Lines - Bill Clinton Comes to My Small Town

Imagine my surprise, by happenstance, to find Former President Bill Clinton making a campaign stop in my small town. I live on the Oregon coast. Rugged, rural and even to get out here is no trivial travel matter. So, the prospect of seeing a former President speak in person, in an area I knew didn't have the population to draw thousands of people, I flew out the door and stood in the damp foggy weather. Oops, I forgot my coat.

So, I won't bother you with the speech on the Presidential campaign but Bill went into some detail on a couple of issues with alternative energy that really caught my ear.

That is batteries and transmission lines. Right now there are experimental plug-in cars which can get 105 mpg and the roadblock in getting them into mass production is batteries. Lithium Ion Batteries to be exact.

We also have massive unharnessed wind power in both Eastern Oregon and Texas and guess what the issue is with that? No transmission lines to move that power from the geographical wind zones to population areas.

Now that's some pretty amazing details for a stump speech on some grueling but assuredly gorgeous road trip Bill Clinton was engaged in. Instead of the usual platitudes and posturing, we actually heard some real, on the ground, specifics on what is causing a couple of critical technologies not being deployed, the roadblocks to getting those technologies into mass production as fast as possible, and policy generated to solve these specific roadblocks in alternative energy.

The first was lithium ion batteries for plug-in hybrids (PHEV). Here are some of the current problems which were also presented before a Senate committee hearing. This is actually a naysayer commentary. One thing I believe is strongly needed by our Congress as well as Administrative branch is to engage, hire many more objective Scientists and Engineers to evaluate and monitor R&D projects. So often, special interests cloud the feasibility on emerging technologies through their own experts and conflicting business agendas. In fact open source appears to be moving into these areas, which if government funded, would be quite a leveler in this problem of conflicting expert opinion.

One thing I noticed is Hillary took the time to verify the facts about this topic versus just announce a particular technology should be invested in (let's talk hydrogen).

Bill Clinton asked why is it the United States could go to the moon in a matter of years yet somehow solving the lithium ion battery technical and manufacturing problems are now insurmountable?

Another issue is the high infrastructure costs of transmission lines to areas where wind power can be harnessed. In Texas alone, the costs are $5.7B

Clinton talked about these specifics as technologies Hillary would create federal funding for. It has been known for some time the US power grid is antiquated. Like the 1930's, the United States must reinvest in infrastructure deployment, critical manufacturing and emerging technologies.

Now ya all remember, this is a small rural town by the raging sea where I'm hearing about this.

Bill also rattled off economic statistics like baseball scores, which was a lovely change from pundit banter. President Clinton missed the obvious behind him in his scenic backdrop, Oregon has some of the most powerful waves, a source of wave energy, in the United States.

But while this election insanity goes on, I found it most interesting that Hillary and Bill had the time to even evaluate such specifics and bring them up on the campaign trail. Especially interesting in a small rural town by the raging coastal sea.

If only the rest of us would do the same.

I found a great blog, The Energy Blog, which is covering experimental technologies.

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and another thing

Nice Note. Bill Clinton is a political policy wonk genius, who unfortunately couldn't restrain himself from getting the world's most expensive b*** **b.

Anyway, whenever yours truly is sitting in a slowly moving parking lot called the freeway during the morning commute, I can't help thinking that if computer chips can now keep cars a safe distance from the car in front of them (as is available on some higher end cars), why couldn't the chips be programmed to move traffic along these expressways with minimum delays (taking advantage of computer programs already in existence), to their destinations preprogrammed into their nav systems?

For the price of embedding the chip in lower end cars, and some extra programming, we could probably save $millions in wasted fuel from rush hour commutes daily.

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telecommuting, stagggered hours

There are so many companies who insist, when it's not necessary, everyone come in at the same time, leave at the same time. They do use timing on some of the highway routing, and some custom GPS will give you alternative routes when the traffic is backed up.

But, I agree the long commutes are an obvious situation costing people frustration, time, money, fuel and employers are one of the worst causes.

On the most expensive BJ in history, Bill mentioned his wife shouldn't have married him, like he has guilt that he destroyed her political career.

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Good catch...

And if you are really interested in the solution, and I do mean the solution, to our transportation fuel costs zip on over to:

The Solar Grand Plan

100% of all our electrical energy needs, 90% of all our energy needs, uses off the shelf tech, costs $420 Billion.

Why have I never heard of this you ask?

Why do you think?

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'When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck to crush him.'

CNBC's Bob Pisani's explanation

Here's what Bob Pisani of CNBC had to say:

The government reported that gasoline prices in April were down 2 percent when "seasonally adjusted." How could this be, when we know prices went up at the pump?

Here's how it happened:

1) The actual increase in gasoline prices was 5.6%.

2) But the government statistics indicate that gasoline tends to rise by 7.6% in April.

3) But because they rose less than that--5.6%--gasoline was reported to be down 2 percent "seasonally adjusted"

It has to do with the phrase "seasonally adjusted." The government adjusts numbers to remove the impact of regular events that occur at the same time every year--like increases in gas prices in April, or the effect of cold weather on housing starts.

What Pisani says makes perfect sense if it's true. Is it? Well, I went to the BLS site and calculated the average change in the CPI for energy alone (note: this is not specifically gas)in the 10 previous years. The average change in April was +3.1%. The change this year was +4.2%. If I find the information for gasoline specifically, I'll post it.

When I look at CPI, I ignore the seasonally adjusted numbers, and usually I just want to know the year-over-year comparisons.

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Ok found the gas statistics, Pisani is right

The statistics come from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

For the 10 year period of 1998-2007, calculated the first week of April vs. first week of March, gasoline prices averaged a monthly increase of 7.3%. In 2008 in the same period they rose 5.4%. Thus on this calculation 1.9% less than average.

So, Pisani has correctly explained the "seasonally adjusted" issue. But again, for "real" purposes year-over-year calculations are generally what you want to look at.

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