The reward is not worth the risk; Just Say No to new driling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The chant of, “Drill baby Drill”  and hungry looks towards the Gulf of Mexico happens a lot more often that what I would like.

In fact, I wish we would not allow any additional drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and would prefer that our current oil producing rigs were up to code in safety regulations and passed the audits of a 3rd party independent agency (something that President Obama should have pushed for  while he held our oil fields on a moratorium; but refused to acknowledge.)

Why, such a strong (and controversial; given my political leanings) statement?

First hand damage assessment of 2 oil spills that affected Florida within a 14 year period

Back during the  Maconda/BP oil spill in 2010 where 4.9 million barrels (read: 260 Olympic swimming pool worth) of oil polluted the Gulf of Mexico, I drew on my journalism strength and became an investigative reporter for my self produced investigative channel,  ClearWater Perspective, and participated in backstage teleconferences with BP, TransOcean, EPA, NOAA, MMS and the Coast Guard.

Additionally, I had close friends fly over and report on the oil spill and encounter harmed, innocent, wildlife who either swam into the oil and toxic dispersant or who ate off the oiled covered shores or were residing in a nearby tree branch when BP engaged their aerial dispersing.  The results were horrifying and something that I truly will never forget.

If you have a moment, please click into this video. A friend of mine made it with pictures of the real damage of the BP oil spill.  Warning: this is not suitable for children.

The reality of the oil spill became very real to me and contrasting and comparing my first hand experience with living near Tampa Bay  back in during the oil spill in 1996 (where 300,000 gallons of heavy oil and another 33,000 gallons of jet fuel spilled after a collision in West Central Florida) convinced me that it is only a matter of time until Florida suffers a backlash comparable to Louisiana.

Seeing the not so lucky wildlife and economic damage and how it negatively impacted the  fishermen, shrimpers, tourism industry, realtors, wedding planners, coastal businesses and coastal communities and wrecked havoc on our innocent wildlife made me vow to not allow a 3rd mistake of reckless and greedy drilling happen in our beautiful Gulf of Mexico.

Its’s like the saying– “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. ” — Fool me thrice and I should have known better than to expect that  big oil’s operations were ‘under control” and being properly scrutinized for safety precautions.

Florida is the most at-risk state in the event of another oil spill. (Economic and residential)

People of NW Florida have seen first hand, how public perception can hamper our local economy.

Florida’s main draw is tourism. When people think that Florida has oil-laden beaches; they will be less likely to come down for vacation or buy Gulf seafood; if they feel that it was tainted with oil and toxic dispersant. This change of perception, as has been proven with the 2010 oil spill, can cause a detrimental effects to the very way of life as Floridians have known to grow and love.

As stated above, many community factors suffer and have the potential to increase unemployment, causing people to vacate their home in search for income; whether it be by selling their home the conventional way or short selling their home; resulting in the housing industry value to decrease directly related to the increase in the unemployment rate.

But the possible oil spill damage doesn’t end there… (Military impact)

As many know, there is a huge military mission off of Tyndall AFB, Eglin AFB, Duke AFB and Hurlburt AFB and Pensacola NAS that run alongside the Gulf of Mexico.

The influx of news reporters and clean up crew would be too invasive for our military zone.

At this point in the game; the US cannot afford to take too many chances with nationals security.

But wait there’s more… (Loop Current, possible oil seepage to South Florida, East Florida and the Eastern Seaboard)

If there was an oil spill off the West Coast of Florida, the oil (and toxic dispersant that big oil will use to sink the oil into the water column so nobody can see it) has a chance of getting swept into the Loop Current which is a current (diagramed left) that transports warm Caribbean water through the Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico.

The current flows northward into the Gulf of Mexico, then loops southeastward just south of the Florida Keys (where it is called the Florida Current), and then just west of the westernmost Bahamas.

Here, the waters of the Loop Current flow northward along the U.S. coast and become the Gulf Stream and run northward, up the East Coast of Florida.

The Loop Current was a big concern of many Floridians during the 2010 oil spill as a handful of times, oil/toxic dispersant became dangerously close to the loop current (some reports show that small traces of oil were pushed into the loop current but weathered before it impacted land) but were swept away by ever changing warm and cold water eddys.

However, next time- we may not be so lucky.

Turn to renewable alternative energy as a primary source for our energy needs

Instead of investing in new equipment and new deep water drilling techniques to search for a resource that will eventually extinguish- let’s put that money towards the wave of the future and a renewable resources that we can draw off of for years to come.

Projects such as  energy efficient constructionoffshore wind farms, solar landfills, geothermal and aqueduct electricity can help us curb our dependence on oil.

If the US reallocated the money they have towards new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and put it towards alternative energy; we could pave the way for a new future where ultimately- we become dependent on ourselves and not at the hand of our Environment, the Middle East or even Brazil (where Obama promised we would be their biggest customer earlier this year).

The reward is not worth the risk

While I understand that drilling is needed and I fully support state’s sovereignty for wanting to drill (and am in support of drilling in places where the general consensus welcomes the drilling).

As a born, raised and currently residing Floridan. I say the reward is NOT worth the risk for new drilling to take place in the Gulf of Mexico. Not when our wildlife, food chain, fisheries, tourism industry, coastal communities, military intelligence and the entire coastline of Florida is at risk.

Especially when it has been proven that there is no way to adequately prepare for a hurricane and the precautions needed to be taken to avoid churning the oil sunken into the water column and spewing the oil onto coastal communities) until only days before the hurricane comes into the Gulf of Mexico (as remembered with the lack of hurricane preparation during the 2010 hurricane season).

If Mexico wants to drill; we cannot stop them but, more than likely, any spill in their area will not travel into the Gulf of Mexico because of the placement of eddys. Let them destroy their own country; if they so desire.

As for the United States,  I advise that we stay on the side of environmental conservation as well as to look to alternative energy as our sustaining life force as that can be renewed so we can pass on our energy capability to our children instead of banking on a non renewable source of energy that will leave our future generations in the dark.

Copyright (c) August 1, 2011. All rights reserved.


Alternative Energy Index

Case in point: Eliminate big oil’s subsidies and invest in alternative energy.

Energy Efficient Construction

Florida to propose a light rail between TIA and Downtown Orlando.

Generating electricity from turbines in aqueducts, Italian style.

Geothermal debate “heats” up

Job creation via 6 yr $53 billion investment in high speed rail.

Offshore wind farms- a dream turned reality

Saving the Planet, One Landfill at a Time.

Slashing big oil tax breaks to fund energy efficient buildings.

The Atlantic Coast and it’s attempt to make Wind Power the new normal.

Wind Farms – Courtesy of China

Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Atlantic Coast and it’s attempt to make Wind Power the new normal.

The potential for capturing wind energy off the coast of Virginia received a huge boost with an announcement from the federal government that energy companies could be allowed to install wind turbines within 3 years.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar appeared with Energy Secretary Steven Chu in Norfolk to detail a quicker permitting process and the availability of $50 million in grants for research and development of the renewable energy source.

“The wind potential of the Atlantic Coast is staggering,” said Salazar, who pointed out that the nation’s only approved offshore wind farm is off the coast of  Cape Code, Massachusetts. A process that was eagerly awaiting approval for almost 10 years.

The Interior Department will issue leases by the end of the year or early 2012 in four zones off the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.  

From there, companies could place turbines in the water, but industry leaders have said it would take longer than that because the turbines are still on the drawing board and the infrastructure, such as transmission lines, are not in place.

The zone under consideration for Virginia is about 12 miles off the coast of Virgina Beach. It’s part of an area a research consortium said could provide 3,200 megawatts of electricity, or roughly 10 percent of the state’s power use.

The turbines would not be visible from shore, much to the delight of residents of Virginia Beach. The area is also outside of NASA’s Wallops’ rocket-launching range and the Navy’s live-ordnance ranges. Two problems the Nantucket wind farm project encountered.

Federal grants for the project will be awarded over the next 5 years to companies that will design turbines and conduct environmental and economic research.

As outlined in my blog, Wind Farms- Courtesy of China, China is a top runner in the renewable energy market but that is no reason why Americans cannot step up to the plate and take control, especially since this project is on American soil.

The wind farm off the Atlantic coast, if it comes to fruition, will have the blessing of the National Wildlife Federation and other environmental groups which is rather significant as opposition parties of wind energy claim that there would be too many birds that would run the risk of being hurt in the endeavor for cleaner energy.

Offshore wind farms holds great potential to create jobs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels. It is time for America to move forward boldly and responsibly with clean energy. I realize that there are more unknowns with green energy than there is with gas/oil production but the benefit far outweighs the speculation and willingness to stay in our comfort zone.

At a time that unemployment is at a whopping 9%, wind power development could prove to be a godsend not just to ease unemployment woes but also for a decrease in energy and gas costs as well as an increase in environmental benefits.

Copyright (c) February 16, 2011. All rights reserved.


Florida to propose a light rail between TIA and Downtown Orlando.

Hillsborough transit planners are proposing a light rail line between Tampa International Airport and downtown that’s smaller and less costly than the one shot down by voters in November.

The proposal, which came up during an agency meeting Monday, hasn’t yet been approved, and funding sources are still being worked out.

Initial estimates peg the 12.4-mile rail line at $825 million — far less than the $1.7 billion system voters were asked to approve last year through a 1-cent sales tax increase.

“I think it’s important that what we put forward not include local taxes, given what happened Nov. 2,” Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority board member and County Commissioner Kevin Beckner said Tuesday.

HART planners recommended the east-west system in part to keep costs down.

Most of the rail line would be built along Interstate 275 between Kennedy Boulevard and Lois Avenue on land already owned by the state Department of Transportation.

Planners recommended keeping most of the line at ground level, instead of elevated, to further control costs.

At Lois Avenue, the line would turn north to a passenger terminal at the airport.

An additional spur would take riders to Linebaugh Avenue.

In downtown, riders would disembark at a new transit hub at Kennedy Boulevard and Marion Street to connect with the proposed Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail line.

“We’ve been looking at two corridors: north from downtown to USF and New Tampa, and the second line was this west line,” said Mary Shavalier, HART’s chief of planning and program development.

“If HART wants a starter line, we had to look at what would be the most feasible, and this west line was more feasible than the north line,” she said.

The proposal came out of a study called an “alternatives analysis” begun about a year and a half ago.

Shavalier said funding could come from federal and state sources, public-private partnerships and lease options.

The exact sources and amounts haven’t been worked out.

Annual operating costs of $8.5 million could come from passenger fares, advertising fees, county gas taxes, and possibly a special assessment district where the line operates.

Copyright (c) February 10, 2011. All rights reserved.

Published in: on February 10, 2011 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Job creation via 6 yr $53 billion investment in high speed rail.

President Obamas calling for a six-year, $53 billion investment in high-speed rail, as he seeks to us infrastructure spending to jumpstart job creation.

An initial $8 billion investment will be part of the budget plan Obama is set to release Monday.

If Congress approves the plan, the money would go toward developing or improving trains that travel up to 250 miles per hour, and connecting existing rail lines to new projects.

The White House wouldn’t say where the money for the rest of the program would come from, though it’s likely Obama would seek funding in future budgets or transportation bills.

I applaud this initiative as I feel, if properly financed, it would not only create a slew of jobs in the short-term but also help the environment reduce its carbon footprint.  If he gets his parts from small businesses, in America that would help out tremendously.

But it’s unlikely the cuts Obama proposes in the budget will be enough to appease the GOP. Republicans now controlling the House have promised to slash domestic agencies’ budgets by nearly 20 percent for the coming year

This new expenditure comes on the back of last years $10 billion federal grants. His administration awarded $10 billion in federal  grants  for high-speed rail projects last year, including $2.3 billion for California to begin work on an 800-mile-long, high-speed rail line tying Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles and San Diego; and $1.25 billion to Florida to build a rail line connecting Tampa on the West Coast with Orlando in the middle of the state, eventually going south to Miami.

Copyright (c) February 8, 2011. All rights reserved.

Case in point: Eliminate big oil’s subsidies and royalties and reap the rewards.

With unleaded gas prices rising into the $4/gallon range; it is no wonder that Exxon and other oil companies are unleashing record 1st Quarter profits.

A Natural Resources staff review of recent earnings announcements by the five largest oil companies operating in the United States shows that this industry has generated outsized profits that undermine the necessity for continued tax subsidies and royalty-free drilling access.

Hugely profitable multi-national oil and gas companies are set to enjoy $53 billion in royalty-free drilling over the next 25 years and $36.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies over the next decade.

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama called for an end to these tax subsidies:

“I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”

Tax Breaks and Royalty Relief Ridiculousness

The President’s remarks have focused renewed attention on the impact that outdated legacies of the tax code and failed royalty-relief policies have on our current energy system.

Most oil and gas subsidies have been on the books in the United States for many decades. They represent an era when oil and gas exploration was in its infancy, and when resources were plentiful but remained largely unexplored.

Intangible costs of exploration generally include wages, costs of using machinery for drilling, and the costs of materials like drilling muds, chemicals, and fuel that get used up during the process of building wells.

Since 1968, this program has cost the U.S. Treasury $78 billion. Ending this tax subsidy would raise nearly $8 billion over the next decade.

Tax breaks that allow oil and gas companies to use the “percentage depletion allowance” were first put in place in 1926. Rather than writing off the actual costs of the property over its useful life, like most businesses must do, some oil companies get to simply deduct a flat percentage of gross revenues.

Under this method of accounting, total deductions regularly exceed the actual capital invested to acquire and develop the reserve.

When this program was started, stimulating massive exploration around the geologically unknown United States was so important that oil and gas companies were allowed—through this preferable tax treatment—to recover amounts in excess of their investment.

Since 1968, this program has cost the U.S. Treasury $111 billion. Ending this tax subsidy would raise more than $10 billion over the next decade.

Subsidies to Oil Companies Do Not Benefit the Public

The oil and gas industry argues that the tax breaks they enjoy encourage them to develop more oil and gas deposits, which lead to increased oil and gas supplies and lower energy prices.

The Natural Resources Committee Staff’s analysis suggests otherwise for two primary reasons:

1. Depending on the reservoir and the physical characteristics of the hydrocarbon, the cost of producing oil can range from as little as $2 per barrel in the Middle East to more than $15 per barrel in some fields in the United States, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The profit incentive to explore and produce new supplies for this lucrative market dwarfs any marginal benefit that existing federal tax breaks for oil exploration or production could provide.

As President George W. Bush said in 2005, “With oil at more than $50 a barrel, by the way, energy companies do not need taxpayers’-funded incentives to explore for oil and gas.”  Now that oil prices have risen to $100 barrel, the same logic still applies.

2. In recent years, higher oil company profits have increasingly been redirected into dividends and stock purchases, not exploration. Among the Big 5 oil companies, less than 10 percent of profits are reinvested into exploration of new oil deposits.

Net profits directed towards dividends and stock repurchases for the Big 5 oil companies were 58 percent in 2005, 73 percent in 2006, and 72 percent in 2007, 71 percent in 2008, and 89 percent in 2009.

Dumping profits into stock buybacks drives up share prices for remaining shareholders by concentrating ownership, and, in the process, acts to increase the values of stock options for executives.

It also reduces the amount of capital available for new exploration and improvements in drilling safety. The current tax treatment does not incentivize oil and gas companies to diversify into clean energy alternatives.

While some oil companies tout their commitment to research into alternative energy resources, a review of actual corporate investments in research and development (R&D) reveal a business model which appears wildly averse to innovation.

While companies in high-tech sectors like pharmaceuticals and semiconductors regularly invest 15-18 percent of their revenues in R&D, U.S. energy companies invest less than one quarter of one percent of revenues in R&D.

Repealing the oil industry’s tax subsidies will not impact gas prices for American consumers. Oil, the main input and primary cost driver of gasoline, is traded in a global market and oil companies get paid the going market price for the oil they produce.

On the oil market, there is no difference between an unsubsidized barrel of oil that costs $10 to produce and a subsidized barrel that costs $9.50 to produce. Each barrel will sell for the same price, almost $100 on the oil market. Oil companies that receive tax subsidies pass on that benefit to their shareholders, not to consumers.

Reduce the Foreign Dependency

American consumers are price takers when it comes to buying oil. When oil markets react negatively to unfavorable political events or when OPEC decides to cut production, American consumers must simply pay more at the pump.

The world has little spare production capacity that can be tapped during supply crunches, and what does exist lies almost entirely in Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries.

Expanded domestic drilling will not significantly change that dynamic, as the United States lacks sufficient oil reserves and production capacity to offset OPEC production decisions.

Put the Oil Profits Back into the Pockets of the Taxpayer

ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell, Conoco Phillips and many other companies are now drilling for free on public land offshore and will continue to do so for the life of these leases no matter how high oil prices climb.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has estimated that the federal government and American taxpayers stand to lose up to $53 billion in foregone royalties over the next 25 years.

Ranking Member Ed Markey has authored legislation that would recover these royalties rightfully owed to the American people.

The House has repeatedly passed Rep. Markey’s legislation, including as part of H.R. 3534 that passed the House on July 30, 2010, but the Senate has never taken action.

Oil Profits lay with the Shareholders, not Big Oil operations.

The oil companies and their representatives frequently suggest that their high publicly reported profit numbers are misunderstood because only 7 cents of every dollar in sales is profit, which is similar to other American industries.

However, intensely competitive industries like retail and food service are lucky to earn 1 or 2 cents of profit per sales dollar. The real measure of the oil industry’s financial health is how much profit they generate with the money shareholders have invested. Over the last two years, the Big 5’s average annual return on equity was 21 percent. The U.S. Treasury bond, in contrast, yielded about 3 percent during this same period.

The oil and gas industry’s very high profitability has provided a financial a bonanza for shareholders over the last decade. A $10,000 investment in the Big 5 in 1990 is worth $100,000 today. In contrast, the same investment in an S&P 500 index fund is now worth $60,000. Big difference.

The oil and gas industry is a mature and highly profitable sector that is no longer in need of generous tax breaks or royalty-free drilling access. The $36.5 billion in subsidies that the industry is set to receive over the next decade will not help consumers with rising energy prices.

These subsidies will not strengthen America’s energy independence or help to develop alternatives to oil. Allowing hundreds of billions of dollars to go to an industry who is clearly not in need of the subsidies is a fiscal misstep that must be corrected.

Redirecting a portion of the money saved from the subsidies and royalties into alternative energy while using the rest to pay down our monstrous national debt, would be the best way to start addressing the the US’s financial and environmental concerns.

Copyright (c) February 5, 2011. All rights reserved.

Slashing big oil tax breaks to fund energy efficient buildings.

President Obama will outline his latest energy policy goal Thursday amid uncertainty in Congress about energy legislation and mounting challenges by Republicans to the administration’s climate change agenda.

In remarks at Penn State University on Thursday, Obama will detail a plan to make commercial buildings more energy efficient. The central goal of the proposal will be reducing by 2020 the overall energy intensity of commercial buildings by 20 percent.

Obama will outline a multi-part plan for making commercial buildings more efficient, which, if completed, would save business owners more than $40 billion per year, according to the White House.

As part of the plan, the Small Business Administration will work to encourage lenders to give more financing for commercial retrofits. In addition, the administration will call on Congress to provide grants for local and state governments that streamline building codes and regulations as well as provide new tax credits for energy efficient buildings.

The president will call on corporate executives and heads of major universities to retrofit their buildings to save energy. He will also announce that he is using existing authorities to establish a program to train workers to retrofit buildings.

Obama will detail the cost of his proposal in his upcoming budget request. A senior administration official and a spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget both refused to give a cost estimate of the proposal.

“There is a lot of information in the budget and it will be out in due course,” the senior administration official said.

A White House plan to eliminate tax breaks for the oil industry will pay for the energy efficiency proposal, the administration official said. The oil industry tax breaks proposal will also be outlined in Obama’s budget request.

A noble idea of the Obama administration but one that I do not feel is concrete or even well thought out.  Before this is implemented, a requirement should be that the Budget is passed and outlined to see how much this is going to cost the tax payers.

While Obama is optimistic that the tax breaks to big oil will fund this new environmental attempt- I would be surprised to see that happen.

Even though I am a Republican, I support Obama in his attempt and appreciate his focus on alternative energy and wish him the best of luck in this endeavor.

Copyright (c) February 3, 2011. All rights reserved.

Saving the Planet, One Landfill at a Time.

Landfills are eyesores, especially in densely populated regions. What to do with all that space, once the landfill is closed?

In Springfield, Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) has announced that it will be turning the local Cottage Street landfill into a solar facility, set to generate up to 4.2 megawatts (MW) of power.

Upon completion, the project will be home to some some 17,000 solar panels,  making it the largest solar facility in New England.

The utility worked with local officials on transforming the ultimate in brownfields- a capped dump–into a large-scale solar resource.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a goal to install 250 megawatts of solar by 2017, and under the Green Communities Act, each Massachusetts electric utility may own up to 50 MW of solar generation, subject to approval by the Department of Public Utilities. S

Currently,  WMECo has received authorization to install 6 MW of solar, which construction of the Springfield facility will complete.

WMECo noted this project reportedly will bring $22M of construction to the region and is expected to contribute several hundred thousand dollars of annual property tax revenue to the city of Springfield.

Local permitting for the project is underway and WMECo expects to begin construction in the second quarter of this year.

An idea that would be beneficial if adopted on a nation wide level.

Copyright (c) January 31, 2011. All rights reserved.

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Generating electricity from turbines in aqueducts, Italian style.

The Pont du Gard in Nîmes, France.  It is 160 feet tall and was built by the Romans by stacking three bridges.  Photographer: Frank Sear

The ancient Romans used water pressure to bring the city’s monumental baths and fountains to life. Today modern Romans Flavio and Valerio Andreoli are using it to produce clean power.

Encouraged by generous renewable energy incentives, their company, Hydrowatt, specializes in generating electricity from turbines in aqueducts.

An aqueduct is a channel or pipe used to transport water from a remote source to a desired location, such as a town, city or agricultural area. The word “aqueduct” is derived from the Latin word aqua (“water”) and ducere (“to lead”).

“Without producing any kind of waste, we use energy that would otherwise be lost,” Flavio Andreoli says as he squeezes his 6-ft., 3-in. frame down the stairs and into a subterranean plant the size of a two-car garage.

Located in the hills of Central Italy, 150 miles northeast of Rome, the room is filled with buzzing turbines that tap into the Ascoli aqueduct to produce 2 million kilowatt-hours a year.

Hydrowatt generates nearly 60 million kWh per year—enough for about 30,000 homes—from 40 plants on aqueducts across Central and Northern Italy, making it the largest producer of its kind in the country.

Ancient Rome was known as Regina Aquarum, or “The Queen of Waters,” reflecting the skill early engineers showed in harnessing water to feed the city’s hundreds of fountains and power the empire’s mills.

They could make water run uphill through the use of gravity and pressure, providing Romans two millennia ago with as much as 250 gallons of water per person daily. The first of the city’s 11 ancient aqueducts opened in 312 BC, and the remains of Roman waterworks can be found from England to North Africa.

The brothers tap into modern water pipelines that typically follow the same routes as the old aqueducts. Much like ancient engineers who studied the land and looked for sources at higher elevations to provide the pressure needed to reach Rome, Hydrowatt’s engineers seek out places where pipelines have valves designed to release excess pressure as the water flows rapidly down the mountainsides.

Once they identify such a site, the brothers offer local authorities that control the aqueducts a deal to replace the valves with Hydrowatt’s turbines.

“We saw there was this excess pressure from water that was lost and could even pose a problem, so we replaced the valves with turbines that could make energy,” Andreoli says. “Around this idea we built a company.”

Andreoli says Hydrowatt is “small but profitable,” with revenue of about €11 million ($14 million) last year. “Incentives certainly allowed us to start off, but profitability is now guaranteed even without them,” says Andreoli,  an engineer and native Roman whose grandfather was deputy mayor of the city in the 1950s.

The brothers recently bought four small hydroelectric plants in New England, and they aim to double production globally in the next 36 months by adding more plants and diversifying into biomass and other renewables.

Each kilowatt of capacity translates into 8,000 kWh of power annually, Andreoli says, at least four times the average output of solar or wind plants which indicates that small hydro is a good alternative to wind and solar while leaving little of a carbon footprint.

Copyright (c) January 21, 2011. All rights reserved.

Energy Efficient Construction

Energy Efficient Construction with Trade Wind Builders
Guest commentary provided by: Brett McMeans

The use of insulated concrete forms (ICFs) is growing rapidly due to its ability to give a building enhanced comfort, solidity, durability, resistance to natural disasters, quietness and energy efficiency.

Buildings constructed with ICF walls have a more even temperature throughout the day and night. They have virtually no “cold spots” and far fewer drafts.

ICF walls have negligible air infiltration. The superior insulation, air tightness and mass of the walls can reduce the cost of operating HVAC in a building by up to 40%.

In addition, ICFs allow the installation of smaller heating and cooling equipment. The high R-value combined with the thermal mass means ICF walls exceed most energy code requirements.

The insulated panels is that of pure genius. Insulated concrete forms (ICF) are hollow “blocks” or “panels” made of expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS) that our professional in-house crew will stack to form the shape of the walls of a building.

After inspection the workers then fill the center cavity with reinforced concrete to create the structure. ICF construction sandwiches a heavy, high strength material (reinforced concrete) between to layers of a light, highly insulated material (EPS). This combination creates a wall with many desirable properties: air tightness, strength, sound, sound attenuation, insulation and mass.

The superior insulation, air tightness and mass of the walls can reduce the cost of operating HVAC in a building by up to 40%. In addition, ICFs allow the installation of smaller heating and cooling equipment.

If the building is like most buildings, it is using fossil fuel. By reducing the building’s fossil fuel requirements, the ICF plays an important role in reducing the negative environmental impacts associated with fossil fuel use.

For more information on energy efficient building options, please visit: