Friday, February 27, 2009

The Rocky Mountain News Closes: An Op-Ed By A Crusty Blogger Looking Toward the Future

And so it goes. I know newspapers are collapsing all over the country, and that we've known that the industry has been suffering for some time now. But when a large newspaper in your town folds with barely any notice, it is a huge and dramatic event. Jobs are lost, routines completely disrupted, and a way of life gone. However, the newspaper's across the country that have folded and are about to fold are indicative of something at hand that is much bigger.

The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg around 1439. I think it's safe to say that some enterprising individuals made the first newspaper around that time and distributed it to all who could read. So newspapers have been around in various forms for the last 570 years! That's over half a millennium. What a run it's been. Think of how many cups of coffee have been drunk, how many pages crinkled and rubbed between inky fingertips, how many fists pounded on kitchen tables after reading an article, how many crossword puzzles left incomplete, how many comics that generated a laugh. Oh, a heck of a lot. Well, it was a good run.

Now, I'm not ready to put the nail in the coffin of newspapers yet. They must adapt or disappear. I do think that we've had a good thing with newspapers for the last 570 years, but that something new and fresh must come about to rock us out of our complacency, to challenge the way we think, and to allow us to progress as a society. What'll eventually replace the newspaper as we know it today? I have no idea. What I do know is that the future is exciting and the medium I am using now to communicate with y'all is just the beginning.

A blog is not perfect and I believe that most blogs need a bit more journalistic integrity (me included) than we're seeing today. But it's a medium in its infancy and as with anything it will evolve (or perish). I surmise that the first newspapers were probably just rants on whatever topic put a burr in the author's saddle. And I guess that the first newspapers were created and read only by the wealthy. Blogs on the other hand are the great equalizer, a dose of democracy put in the hand's of anybody who has access to an Internet connection (free at the public libraries). I can fire up the series of tubes, surf the Google, and read about how the Iraq war is impacting a family in Iraq. I can't get that kind of perspective in any newspaper, with men and women sitting in the safety of their ivory towers musing on a war thousands of miles away (I think in Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell brought this up about journalists who write about war without having stepped foot on the battlefield. I'd like to think that Orwell would have had an iPhone and posted real-time notes from the trenches on his battle with the Spanish Fascists). Anyway the point is that I can get observations on a topic, undistilled and unfiltered by commercial interests, that is important to me, from somebody half a world away. To this blogger, that is completely mind-blowing and awesome.

There's going going to be a lot of grieving and pain at the loss of the old and hope and growing pains with the new. But I think we'll come out alright in the end. Don't you?

So I'll leave it at that. Rest in peace Rocky Mountain News. We'll miss you.

Colorado State of Mind Talks about Energy

There was a well-rounded discussion on Colorado State of Mind this evening regarding energy. The title of the show was, "Federal Stimulus Package and Energy" and the panel was pretty solid. The conversation weaved through a bunch of issues such as tax credits, base load, free market, lowering carbon emissions, natural gas drilling on the Western Slope, smart grids, internal combustion engine inefficiencies, fuel price risks, local power generation, micro grids, plug-in electric cars, the escalating cost of coal, and much more. Head on over to their website. The video should be up soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Colorado Shares Wind-power Info with Honduras

The folks at NREL hosted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya and shared information on renewable energy. Looks like they went to the National Wind Testing Center and talked about good locations for wind farms in Honduras. Hosting international delegations is a positive thing for Colorado and helps solidify our reputation as a renewable energy thought-leader. More of these please!

$550K in Energy-cost Savings for El Paso County

Now here's an energy plan I can get behind. Close down the building on Friday's, have four day work weeks for your employees, and save the tax-payers $550K. Nice.

A Dose of Reality by the Coen Brothers

The internets are ablaze with another witty video from The Reality Campaign, this time created by the Coen Brothers. Watch it here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Former U.S. Senator to Speak at CRES Meeting, Feb. 26th

Former U.S. Senator Gary Hart is going to speak about President Barack Obama's Energy Plan at the next Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) meeting. The meeting is this Thursday, February 26 at 7:00pm. Location and more information here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Energy Cornucopia: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Here's a good blog post on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 with respect to energy efficiency and renewable energy. Here's some of the meat:

"...$3.2 B for energy efficiency & conservation Block Grants, $5 B for the Weatherization Assistance Program, $3.1 B for state energy programs, $2 B for grants to advanced battery manufacturers in the US, $2.5 B for applied research, development and deployment, along with another billion split among alternative fuel vehicle pilot projects, transportation electrification, and energy efficient appliance rebates and Energy Star."

I look forward to more dissection of this bill in the coming weeks. But for now this is a good start to kick-starting the renewable energy industry.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

BMW Manufacturing Launches Wind Power Study

BMW is going to do a wind feasibility study to gauge whether their manufacturing plant in South Carolina has enough wind to justify some turbines. If the study is positive and they put up some turbines this will be in addition to their methane power from the local landfill. I knew I liked Beemers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

President Obama Signs Stimulus Bill in Denver

President Barack Obama (has a nice ring to it eh?) flew all the way to Denver, Colorado today to sign the stimulus bill into law at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. You may ask yourself, why Colorado and why at a museum? Well, the museum has a PV solar array on the roof and Colorado is the renewable energy thought leader of the world (well I may exaggerate a bit, but one day we will be). Whatever the case, I do believe now that this president is committed to energy efficiency and renewable energy for at least the next 4 (hopefully 8) years. This committment is necessary for the U.S. to remain competitive in the world, for our economy to continue to grow, for the stability of the RE industry, and to help mitigate the effects of global warming.

This is just the beginning however. We now must let out that collective sigh and get to work, because we can't always count on the leadership of President Obama to guarantee centuries of energy production from renewable sources.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Denver Sun Sponge Is One Year Old!

One year ago today was the first post on Denver Sun Sponge. I guess I need to do the obligatory reflection and bask in a wave of nostalgia. But first I'll start with some of my personal goals for the blog.

I started this blog with three goals. One was to educate myself on the renewable energy industry. Two was to educate the public on renewable energy. And three was to improve my writing skills in the blogging forum. I know that I've learned much about the industry through reading, posting, and commenting on news articles. Another supplement to my education (and one that has reduced the amount of posts) has been classes at Red Rocks Community College in their brand new renewable energy program. I've always had a bit of fondness for community colleges. There are people there trying to reinvent themselves as they realize the industries they have worked in for many years is slowly dying. Plus community college teachers all have day jobs and understand the application in the real world. But I must say that a year of educating myself on renewable energy is just the beginning. (Secretly, I wish I started 10 years ago.) I do look forward to many fruitful years of Denver Sun Sponge.

As far as the other goals (educating the public and improving my writing) well that will have to be judged by you folks. I know that my readership has been low over this past year, and it is my desire to increase it far beyond the current state. I've started posting on Twitter to complement the blog. It's been a fascinating exploration of new media and I've met a few interesting people through Twitter. All in all I hope to increase readership through additional new media marketing methods (and some traditional ones as well). It should be an interesting year.

Finally, I'd just like to say thanks to the many unsung heroes (and heroines) of the renewable energy community. There are a lot of people out there working to make Colorado the renewable energy thought-leader of the world. There are also a lot of people around the world who work tirelessly and without much fanfare to make sure that planet Earth starts using renewable energy sources for our electricity, heat, and transportation. To them I say thanks.

Oh and one more thing. I'd like to give a shout out to the person who came up with the name of this blog. DHill, you know who you are.

Thanks for reading everybody.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Harnessing Hamster Power with a Nanogenerator

The MIT folks aren't the only geniuses. Georgia Tech has a few of their own. Looks like the scientists have figured out a way to use body motion to power a nanogenerator and they are testing on a hamster now. Next, we could have jackets that use our body motion to produce electricity. Nice.

MIT Team Creates Shock Absorber That Recharges Your Car

MIT never ceases to amaze me with the ideas they come up with and then apply. Basically, they looked for wasted energy in an automobile and found that there was a tremendous amount of lost energy in the shock absorbers. Then they sought to harness this energy. Now the geniuses at MIT can now convert that energy to electricity and charge car batteries by hitting bumps in the road! Awesome and crazy. I can't wait until this hits the market.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Salazar Rejects Bush Drilling Plan

"Rejects Bush" has a nice ring to it, no? It seems as though Salazar is starting to hit his stride as Secretary of the Interior. Good for him and good for us as a country. He was instrumental in trying to make Colorado a renewable energy hub of the world while he was our Senator, so I anticipate that he will be more RE friendly, in addition to understanding that we still have to use coal, oil, and gas for the foreseeable future. But a pragmatic and balanced approach is refreshing after the last eight years of blind fealty to the oil and gas industry.

Energy-efficiency Advocates Examine, React to Stimulus Bill

Lots of renewable energy initiatives in the stimulus bill. Here's a good article that sums up reactions from some major players in the RE industry. I especially like the weatherization parts of the stimulus package.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunbelievable Sweepstakes by SRE3 in Boulder, Colorado

Check it out! A home energy makeover sweepstakes by Standard Renewable Energy (SRE) in Boulder. You could win a 2 kilowatt PV system, high-efficiency HVAC unit and more. First 1000 entrants get a free energy audit for their home (an important first step in determining how you use energy). This contest for the Denver area ends on March 29th.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

San Francisco Turns Potty Power Green

Just when I start to teter on the brink of despair with respect to the state of renewable energy (note self: stop listening to the naysayers), a company's ingenuity surfaces once again and makes me sigh a bit of relief. In this article, San Fran is going to capture all of the grease that is poured down the sewer drains and convert it to biofuels. Nice.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dark Days for Green Energy

Sigh. Another reason to advocate capital punishment for bankers. As our economy crashes and credit dries up so do our green jobs and small renewable energy businesses. This is going to be a rough time for everybody, but I didn't really think the renewable energy sector would be impacted as much as it is and will be. This shows the importance of President Obama's stimulus plan for the solar, wind, and weatherization/energy audit industries. Call me crazy but to build a better electrical grid, get the U.S. off the foreign oil addiction, meet the growing energy demand of the information highway, and help the frickin' planet we can't afford to wait for the "free market" to decide.

And by the way, where is the swagger, bravado, and PR blitz of T. Boone Pickens? He was listed in the New York Times article as having, "cut back or delayed (his) wind farm plans." Where are all of the commercials we saw around the election last year? Hmmm. Nary a peep from him these days. I wonder what ever happened to his lofty goal of helping the U.S. get off of Middle Eastern oil. Maybe all of that writing and speeches exhausted him and he is taking a break? Hard to say.

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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