Author Archive | Davis Swan

Creating a True Partnership between Consumers and Utility Companies

Many green energy advocates see established utility companies as the enemy – entrenched in old processes and unwilling to evolve in any significant way. It is important to understand that these  companies have developed in a highly regulated environment which demanded reliability above all and demanded justification for any rate increase. There are examples of […]

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The Hawaiian Electric Company Integrated Resource Plan – Welcome to Fantasy Island

The Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) recently released an Integrated Resource Plan that is intended to provide details on how the utility will meet the electricity needs for the state over the next 5 years while simultaneously making progress towards meeting the Renewable Portfolio Standards defined by law-makers and keeping rate increases under control. Instead, the […]

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Roof-top Solar Panels – Who Pays? Who Saves?

Roof-top solar panels are all the rage these days. There is a general impression that they are helping us move away from a dependence upon coal and natural gas to generate electricity. While the introduction of solar power does reduce the amount of coal and natural gas used it is not reliable enough to allow […]

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The Black Swan Blog – The California Electrodox

In my last blog I discussed the electricity paradox – electrodox is the term I used – that is disrupting the European electrical generating utilities as increasing amounts of renewable generation sources are developed. Perhaps the most dramatic summary of the impact of the European electrodox was the statement by Moody's in November, 2012 that […]

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An Ancient Energy Source Re-imagined

Its time for another of those blog posts that is a bit “out there”.  In this case I would like to propose a new use for an ancient technology. I recently returned from a vacation in France and while there I saw a few things that came together in my mind as a possible source of […]

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The Black Swan Blog: Unpumped Storage

Whenever I launch into one of my frequent rants about the need for utility-scale energy storage to support the rollout of more Solar and Wind generation there are always people that point to pumped storage as a credible solution. And every time that happens I argue very strenuously (and I hope convincingly) that pumped storage […]

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The Black Swan Blog: Your speed 32 mph – Slow Down!

Have you ever driven past one of those radar speed signs that indicates how fast you are going and flashes a warning if you are speeding?  If yes, did it cause you to slow down? If you answered yes to both questions then you are in the majority when it comes to driving behaviour. More […]

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Can we control our addiction to electricity? Should we?

If we really want to make renewable energy a critical component of the electricity generation mix I think we have to honestly face the fact that “instant-on” essentially unlimited power will no longer be the norm. I personally don’t think that is a bad thing, but it is something that deserves thoughtful consideration. We can […]

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I agree with Gail – Consequences are hard to predict

Reading Gail Marcus’s post it struck me that our move towards the use of renewable energy sources often has very unexpected consequences.  Here are a few of the examples that I have run across; In Germany, the mandatory acceptance of renewable energy into the transmission system means that coal and natural gas-fired plants can only […]

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