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Ports-to-Plains Alliance


Massachusetts Homeowners Solar Savings

Renewable Energy World

The future of home solar seems to have arrived. Electric customers in Massachusetts are able to sell energy back to the electric companies generated from solar panels on their own roofs. In the article, the customer profiled has been saving several hundred dollars a month on his power bill. He thinks that he will cover his investment cost in 3-4 years. Everything after that will be profit. Sounds nice.

The homeowner is able to do this because Massachusetts has implemented a program that requires energy companies to provide ever increasing amounts of energy from green sources. The companies have to meet certain guidelines set by the state. By setting up tradable credits between the homeowner, power company and state government, Massachusetts has provided the incentive for people to look at alternative energy sources. Now i'm sure there is bureaucracy and rate tape. Lets be honest, it's Massachusetts. However, if the program works as described, then it sounds like a model we can build on.


Clean Energy and Chinas Manipulation of Currency

New York Times

Not being a big fan of Paul Krugman, this may be the first and last time I use his work to discuss an issue that is affecting the Ports-To-Plains Alliance and it's efforts at renewable energy. The article mainly speaks to currency manipulation and the effect it is having on American exports and jobs. Both are very hot topics today. However, I read the quote below and was surprised because I had not thought out the impact in terms of clean energy.

Consider a related issue: the clearly illegal subsidies China provides to its clean-energy industry. These subsidies should have led to a formal complaint from American businesses; in fact, the only organization willing to file a complaint was the steelworkers union. Why? As The Times reported, “multinational companies and trade associations in the clean energy business, as in many other industries, have been wary of filing trade cases, fearing Chinese officials’ reputation for retaliating against joint ventures in their country and potentially denying market access to any company that takes sides against China.” 

At a time when we are trying to promote and increase the R&D for American made clean energy, we are losing traction to companies in China due to government manipulation. Not only are we losing investment and know how, but thousands of potential jobs are getting sent elsewhere. On the one hand, I understand a company not wanting to get on the wrong side of the Chinese government due to their history of heavy handed tactics against those who do, however the beahvior will never change until we stand up and demand a level playing field. If we truly want to be a leader in clean energy and clean energy built and made in the USA, then we need to persuade those in power that allowing China to impose a tax through currency manipulation will not stand.


OPEC Turns 50 

Renewable Energy World

Supporters of American ethanol reminded congress today of a not so glorious milestone. OPEC turns 50 and many wonder how much longer we will allow the cartel to hold sway over the American economy and national security.

“For 50 years, the OPEC oil cartel has had America over a barrel of foreign oil. We have had the opportunity in the past to break this chain. We need to enact policies to ensure we won’t be celebrating another 50 years for OPEC. ”

Between the trillions spent on fighting Middle East wars and the annual tribute of $300 billion in purchases, I think it's time we look at the relationship and do something to change it. We have several different sources right here in the US that can be tapped and help reduce our dependence on the Middle East. From our oil and gas supplies in the continental US, Canada and Alaska to all the renewables such as solar, ethanol and wind. We have what we need here, all we need is the will to use it. Not being a political blog, I am not going to give my opinion on who and what is holding things up. What I will say with a firm voice is that we all need to come together to ensure that DC makes strides in allowing and supporting domestic energy production. Not only could we provide abundant fuel, but also cleaner fuel. To top it all of, we are talking about millions of potential jobs that could be created. Sounds like a win win to me. Lets just hope that those in power see it as well.


Brazil's Petrobas Investing In South Dakota Ethanol Producer


Brazil's Petrobas is investing in South Dakotas KL Energy to help the startup perfect it's method of making ethanol out of wood chips. The cellulose ethanol producer is hoping to use this method to convert millions of dead trees into energy. Why is Petrobas interested? Well, Petrobas who is based in Brazil is sitting on a huge supply of sugar cane. They are hoping to increase the current ethanol output of sugar cane by 40% which would be a huge gain.

I think that the attempt to make ethanol out of dead trees is an awesome idea. If you think of all the dead trees laying around, not to mention the thousands if not millions of acres affected by blight, we are looking at a resource where once there was none. Getting an investment infusion from Petrobas will hopefully help KL perfect it's system so it can be used globally. I can see this technology being used all over the world where a food source such as sugar cane can now have dual purposes. Hopefully KL Energy and Petrobas will be successful in their partnership.  


Bakken Oil Formation


Slide Show

In honor of those attending the 13th annual Ports-To-Plains conference, I wanted to touch on the Bakken formation located in the Dakotas as well as Montana and Canada. This is a formation that quite frankly most Americans probably have no idea exists. Before I started working with Ports-To-Plains, if you had asked me who or what Bakken was, I would have probably said it was a German or Dutch Beer. I doubt I am the only person who would miss that badly. The slide show above gives a nice run down on the formation.

I bring this up because the Bakken is a huge formation holding close to 3.5 billion barrels of recoverable oil. It appears to be the largest continuous oil field in the lower 48. I would like to see those who are in the Bakken footprint  promote their resource to a national audience. My hope is that we will do everything to maximize our usage of this vast resource and provide more energy security for our country. As we have stated before, all energy is good energy and we should not turn our backs on any energy that can be produced here in the US. For that reason I would like to see our fellow citizens educated on what resources we do have. It's not just Alaska or the gulf, but areas like the Bakken that will help our country move into the 21st century with the energy we need.