With November fast approaching I decided to put down two proposals for changes to
energy policy that actually will work. Not a list of pie in the sky renewable
utopia concepts that have no chance of ever impacting the energy position of
the United States in the global economy…
Step 1: Natural Gas
Pass the new Pickens plan to convert commercial fleet vehicles to natural gas.
Pickens’ Plan proposes that the natural gas that is currently used to fuel power plants be used as a fuel for class 7 and 8 semis.
The technology needed for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles such as City buses, fork lifts and passenger cars with CNG drivetrains is available now. Honda sells the Civic GX, with a 170-mile (270 km) range. In addition, it is possible to convert vehicles to run on CNG in addition to leaving the conventional fuel injection intact, allowing the driver to switch back and forth at will. Kits are available for the do-it-yourselfer. One can buy a CNG
compressor called Phill that hooks up to the city natural gas line making it possible to refuel a CNG car at home.
- Natural gas prices are at record lows and the sector is beginning to slow. What people may not understand is this does not just impact natural gas companies. Equipment manufacturers and other material suppliers for the industry are also hurt by the suppressed gas prices. A new demand source would strengthen the demand for equipment and services to support the industry.
- Significant reduction in the reliance on foreign oil. A 10 – 20% reduction, roughly $300 billion would change the dynamic between the US and foreign sources of oil. The US would move from being a hostage to a valued customer.
- Infrastructure job creation would also be a secondary benefit. Additional midstream and distribution infrastructure would need to be built to support additional point of delivery for natural gas.
Step 2: Solar
There are landfills across the country operated by both private and public entities. Many of these have been capped and are impermeable. This land can never be rezoned or used for any other purpose. This leaves hundreds if not thousand of acres of land in proximity to cities and towns just sitting there with refuse underneath and nothing happening on top.
Regional renewable power generation
- Local and county governments need to form partnerships right now with providers to build solar arrays that can supply power to the cities and towns that own these tracts of land. Operating agreements can be put in place that will reduce the overall spend of tax payer dollars and potentially create sources of revenue for the local governments by selling excess power generated on the open market.
- Private providers of waste management services, such as Waste Management are already
making the transition to use their landfills as sources of power generation with both solar and methane for from biofuel.
- Reduce the power costs to operate local government buildings and facilities.
- Job creation. People will be needed to build, operate, and maintain the solar
plants and the electric infrastructure to carry the power.
These steps are not silver bullets to permanently fix US energy challenges but they are incremental steps that are achievable and once in place will have a direct impact on jobs and energy. Common sense incremental steps are the only reasonable way to fix the energy
hole the US has been digging for the past 30 years.