Top Energy Stories Of 2009 – The end of the Naughties

Ok we are 14 hours away from the year 2010 so I am going to have to post several top 10 lists. It seems that everyone has to have one. Since that is the case I will use theirs. But first I have to say:


Community Energy Systems is a nonprofit 501c3 organization chartered in Illinois in Sangamon County. As such we are dependent on public donations for our continued existence. We also use Adsense as a fundraiser. Please click on the ads that you see on this page, on our main page and on our Bulletin Board (Refrigerator Magnets) and you will be raising money for CES. We say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who do.


Our First top 10 is from the Energy Tribune but actually originates with:

Posted on Dec. 28, 2009

The Top Ten Energy Stories of 2009 Ed. note: This item originally ran in Robert Rapier’s R-Squared Energy Blog.

Here are my choices for the Top 10 energy related stories of 2009. Previously I listed how I voted in Platt’s Top 10 poll, but my list is a bit different from theirs. I have a couple of stories here that they didn’t list, and I combined some topics. And don’t get too hung up on the relative rankings. You can make arguments that some stories should be higher than others, but I gave less consideration to whether 6 should be ahead of 7 (for example) than just making sure the important stories were listed.

  1. Volatility in the oil marketsMy top choice for this year is the same as my top choice from last year. While not as dramatic as last year’s action when oil prices ran from $100 to $147 and then collapsed back to $30, oil prices still more than doubled from where they began 2009. That happened without the benefit of an economic recovery, so I continue to wonder how long it will take to come out of recession when oil prices are at recession-inducing levels. Further, coming out of recession will spur demand, which will keep upward pressure on oil prices. That’s why I say we may be in The Long Recession.
  2. The year of natural gasThis could have easily been my top story, because there were so many natural gas-related stories this year. There were stories of shale gas in such abundance that it would make peak oil irrelevant, stories of shale gas skeptics, and stories of big companies making major investments into converting their fleets to natural gas.Whether the abundance ultimately pans out, the appearance of abundance is certainly helping to keep a lid on natural gas prices. By failing to keep up with rising oil prices, an unprecedented oil price/natural gas price ratio developed. If you look at prices on the NYMEX in the years ahead, the markets are anticipating that this ratio will continue to be high. And as I write this, you can pick up a natural gas contract in 2019 for under $5/MMBtu.
  3. U.S. demand for oil continues to declineAs crude oil prices skyrocketed in 2008, demand for crude oil and petroleum products fell from 20.7 million barrels per day in 2007 to 19.5 million bpd in 2008 (Source: EIA). Through September 2009, year-to-date demand is averaging 18.6 million bpd – the lowest level since 1997. Globally, demand was on a downward trend as well, but at a less dramatic pace partially due to demand growth in both China and India.


Then there is Greentech Media:

Top Ten Energy Storage of 2009

Electric vehicles boost lithium-ion batteries, DOE dollars for grid storage, ice-making air conditioners, and a smart grid to rule them all.

Energy storage – you can’t do electric vehicles without it, and it sure would make renewable solar and wind energy a lot more useful.

That’s the imperative behind 2009’s push into energy storage – from the fast-moving world of batteries for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to the slower development of a variety of technologies for storing power on the electricity grid.

1. A123, Green Tech’s First IPO of 2009: A123 Systems broke the green tech IPO drought in September, when it debuted its shares to the public markets and was immediately rewarded with a doubling of their price. But the lithium-ion battery maker has since seen shares fall to close to their initial offering price of $13.50, perhaps linked to the scaling back of electric vehicle plans by customer Chrysler. A123 is also making batteries for grid energy storage, bridging two worlds that have until now been mostly separate.

2. The Government Boosts Vehicle Batteries” Next-generation batteries wouldn’t be where they are today without the billions of stimulus dollars the federal government has aimed at the sector. In August, the Department of Energy handed out $2.4 billion to such companies as EnerG2, A123 Systems, Johnson Controls, eTec, EnerDel, Saft and Chrysler and General Motors, most of it to build battery factories in the United States – a key goal of the grants, given Asia’s dominance in battery technology and manufacturing.

3. Fuel Cells’ Waning Fortunes? What the federal government has given to batteries, it has taken away from a once-favored alternative – fuel cells. Technologies to convert hydrogen into electricity and water are clean, but they also require a massive infrastructure to deliver hydrogen – which is mostly made today by cracking natural gas – to millions of vehicles. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said he will cut back drastically on DOE funding for vehicular fuel cell research, which he described as decades away from commercial viability. In the meantime, fuel cells soldier on in the stationary power generation market, and are finding niches in forklifts and other short-range heavy vehicles, as well as in military applications.

But wait? Panasonic has started to deliver fuel cells that burn natural gas to produce heat and electricity in Japan and Bloom Energy is expected to come out of its hidey hole soon to talk about devices that pretty much do the same thing for industrial customers. By exploiting heat and power, these fuel cells can be 80 plus percent efficient.


What better way to end the new year but with the Department of Defense:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Year in Review: Top 10 DOD Energy Events of 2009

Not sure if you’ll agree, but from my vantage point, this was the first year that merits a DOD Energy top ten. Folks who’ve been at this enterprise a long time, like Tom Morehouse and Chris DiPetto at OSD (and a small handful of others in the Services), have been doing energy grunt work without a heck of a lot of support or credit (that’s my take, not theirs). Over the past decade there have been isolated wins and signs of improvement, but nothing sustained.

But this year something changed, and I have to give credit to the increasing strength of the convoy connection. It’s finally shown everyone that being smart and proactive on energy issues isn’t the domain of Birkenstock wearing, granola eating, tree hugging peace-nicks. The clear (and easy to understand and communicate) link between fuel convoys and 1) causalities, 2) costs, and 3) mission degradation.

I’m sure I’m leaving a lot out (that’s a good thing). But without further adieu, here’s the list for the year, in no particular order:

  1. Gigantic Army solar installation off the ground at Fort Irwin in California’s Mojave Desert to advance conversation beyond Nellis. Score – Fort Irwin: 500+ Megawatts, Nellis AFB: 14 Megawatts
  2. Boeing’s high tech, super efficient 787 Dreamliner finally flew. Basis for future tanker/transport?
  3. Convoy lessons brought the concept of proactive energy planning fully out of its Birkenstock phase … for everyone.
  4. Energy audits in Afghanistan commence with Marines. It’s called MEAT, for Marine Energy Assessment Team, see here and here.
  5. Like DARPA to advance US space tech post Sputnik, ARPA-E‘s mission is to turbocharge US competitiveness in energy tech (ET).
  6. 3 of the 4 Services hold major confs exclsively on energy issues. The Navy version in particular generated a huge amount of great info




2009 Was A Very Busy Year For Energy Conservation – And other Environmental Endeavors

The Top 9 Stories in Environmental Politics of 2009

From Copenhagen to Climategate, 2009 was a busy year for those of us at ecopolitology and anyone else interested in environmental politics. Here’s a rundown of what we saw as the year’s biggest environmental politics stories.

Van Jones’ Resignation

Van Jones, one of the people who was fighting hardest to create jobs in a green economy resigned his job at the White House as Special Adviser to President Obama for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the Council on Environmental Quality. Jones was the target of a coordinated attack spearheaded by conservative media pundit, Glen Beck, for what Beck claimed was Jones’ communist leanings.


From that to Number 5:

Economic Downturn and its Impact on Environment

One of the biggest stories in 2009–environmental or otherwise– was the massive economic downturn that gripped the U.S. and many other parts of the world. A tanking housing market, collapsing banks, and folding financial institutions all but dried up the available credit. As a result, homes were foreclosed, people lost their jobs and a general reluctance to invest in clean energy and pass legislation for the betterment of the environment permeated nearly every environmental debate in the country. The renewables sector was hit particularly hard for most of the year as banks were not lending up-front capital required for many renewable energy projects. Despite the economic slump, the wind industry continued to grow through the 3rd quarter, but suffered much more in Q4 of 2009.:}

From that to number 1:

Inauguration of Barack Obama as President

On January 20, 2009, the world watched as Barrack Hussein Obama was sworn-in as the 44th President of the United States. Throughout his campaign, Obama promised renewed attention to energy efficiency and renewables and a return to science-based policymaking. Many argue that Obama’s unprecedented commitment to science stands in stark contrast to the previous administration’s tampering with and dismissal of scientific findings that were not in line with its political agenda.


There is much much more in this article including, Cash for Clunkers; ClimateGate, Copenhagen, cccccChanges…oh sorry got carried away with the Cs.


What A Year For Energy And Related Fields – Cash for Clunkers, Caulk for Clunkers

Everywhere you look there are things a poppin.

The Year in Energy

Liquid batteries, giant lasers, and vast new reserves of natural gas highlight the fundamental energy advances of the past 12 months.

By Kevin Bullis

Monday, December 28, 2009

With many renewable energy companies facing hard financial times (“Weeding Out Solar Companies“), a lot of the big energy news this year was coming out of Washington, DC, with massive federal stimulus funding for batteries and renewable energy and programs such as Energy Frontier Research Centers and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (“A Year of Stimulus for High Tech“).

Credit: Roy Ritchie

But there was still plenty of action outside the beltway, both in the United States and around the world. One of the most dramatic developments (“Natural Gas Changes the Energy Map“) was the rush to exploit a vast new resource; new drilling technologies have made it possible to economically recover natural gas from shale deposits scattered throughout the country, including in Texas and parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Advances in drilling technology have increased available natural gas by 39 percent, according to an estimate released in June. The relatively clean-burning fuel could cut greenhouse gas emissions by becoming a substitute for coal. Natural gas might even provide an alternative to petroleum in transportation, especially for buses and taxis–if only policymakers could take advantage of the new opportunity.

Meanwhile a number of technologies promise to cut down on emissions from coal plants. Feeding heat from the sun into coal plants could at once increase the amount of power that can be generated from a given amount of coal and reduce the cost of solar power (“Mixing Solar with Coal to Cut Costs“). And technology for capturing carbon dioxide (“Scrubbing CO2 Cheaply“) and storing it (“An Ocean Trap for Carbon Dioxide“) is finally emerging from the lab and small-scale projects into larger demonstrations at power plants, even while researchers explore potentially cheaper carbon-capture techniques (“Using Rust to Capture CO2 from Coal Plants“).


I hate to Post The Whole Thing, but it’s so good.

This year was also the year of the smart grid, as numerous test projects for improving the reliability of the grid and enabling the use of large amounts of renewable energy got underway (“Technology Overview: Intelligent Electricity“). The smart grid will be enabled by key advances, such as superconductors for high-energy transmission lines (“Superconductors to Wire a Smarter Grid“) and smart networks being developed by companies such as GE (“Q&A: Mark Little, Head of GE Global Research“).

Cellulosic ethanol–made from biomass such as grass rather than corn grain–moved closer to commercialization, with announcements of demonstration plant openings (“Commercializing Garbage to Ethanol“) and scientific breakthroughs that could make the process cheaper (“Cellulosic Ethanol on the Cheap“). But at the same time, a number of companies are moving beyond cellulosic ethanol to the production of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from biomass–fuels that can be used much more readily in existing infrastructure and in existing vehicles. Exxon-Mobil announced substantial investments in algae-based fuels (“Big Oil Turns to Algae“). Remarkably, one startup declared its process–based on synthetic genomics and algae–could allow biofuels to replace all of transportation fuels without overwhelming farmland (“A Biofuel Process to Replace All Fossil Fuels“).


So? It’s the end of the year – sue me…

Still, most people think biofuels will only supply a fraction of our transportation needs (“Briefing: Transportation“). To eliminate carbon emissions and drastically curtail petroleum consumption will require plug-in hybrids (“Driving the Volt“) and other electricity-powered vehicles (“Nissan’s Leaf: Charged with Information“). Advances that could double (or more) the energy capacity of batteries and lower their costs could one day make such vehicles affordable to the masses. These include new formulations such as lithium-sulfur batteries (“Revisiting Lithium-Sulfur Batteries“), metal-air batteries (“High-Energy Batteries Coming to Market“) such as lithium-air batteries (“IBM Invests in Battery Research“), and batteries that rely on nanowires and silicon (“More Energy in Batteries“). A novel concept for super-fast charge stations at bus stops could make electric buses practical (“Next Stop: Ultracapacitor Buses“).

Getting the electricity to charge these vehicles–without releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide–could be made easier by a number of advances this year. A new liquid battery could cheaply store energy from wind turbines and solar panels for use when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing (“TR10: Liquid Battery“), making it practical to rely on large amounts of renewable electricity. Vast arrays of mirrors (“Solar Thermal Heats Up“) are being assembled in the desert to convert solar heat into electricity, and photovoltaic solar farms for converting light directly into electricity (“Chasing the Sun“) are getting a boost from the federal stimulus money. And researchers are finding ways to increase the efficiency of solar cells (“More Efficient, and Cheaper, Solar Cells“) and are discovering new photovoltaic materials to make solar power cheaper (“Mining Fool’s Gold for Solar“). And although progress on nuclear power is moving slowly, some advances on the horizon could help this low-carbon source replace fossil fuels (“TR10: Traveling-Wave Reactor“). Researchers even fired up the world’s largest laser system–one that’s the size of a football stadium–for experiments that could lead to a new form of fusion (“Igniting Fusion“).

Last, and almost certainly least, researchers have decided to look beyond the conventional sources of renewable energy–solar, wind, and waves–to hamsters. Researchers at Georgia Tech fitted the rodents with zinc-oxide nanowire jackets (“Harnessing Hamster Power with a Nanogenerator“), and watched as they generated an electrical current while scratching themselves and running on a wheel. See a video of the powerful hamsters here.


Kevin Bullis is a journalistic GOD


The Best Shopping Day Of The Year – But what if our economy wasn’t based on money

As I promised the second part of the Basil Economy…It is everything a holiday should be happy, joyous, warm and wonderful…Enjoy.

Anatomy of a community garden: The riveting 2nd installment of building a basil economy

by North of Center | December 23, 2009 – 9:55am [Originally published June 17.]

by Danny Mayer

It’s 11 o’clock in the morning and I’m sitting on a stump in a shady spot of London Ferrell Community Garden, located in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. There’s no other way to say it. I stink. Bad. For the past several weeks I have been trying to meet up for an interview with Ryan Koch, co-founder of Seedleaf, a non-profit created to help establish community gardens throughout Lexington. Although he’d never fess up to it, Ryan is a busy dude.

Thirty minutes earlier, in hopes of catching Ryan on my way home from a morning jog, I had detoured through the fenced-in, rectangular patch of urban community farmland that is London Ferrell. He was there—he’s always there on Saturdays, it seems—and relatively available so I quickly proceeded home, grabbed my recorder for an interview, and made haste back to the half-acre patch of newly productive land, where Ryan was busy negotiating a collection of citizen community gardeners, student volunteers, bitter salad greens, weeds, some donated extra tomato plants, and now one seriously smelly amateur journalist/jogger.

Ryan wasn’t always this busy. A little over a year ago I recall working several Saturday and Thursday mornings alone with him, both at London Ferrell and at a garden Seedleaf helped establish next to Al’s Bar. (Produce from the Al’s garden helped offset food costs at Stella’s Kentucky Deli and Al’s Bar—and to provide its customers with fresh veggies.) Ryan appreciated the morning conversation and at times even the semblance of work I offered.


“I see gardening as a long, slow conversion for me,” Ryan began between sips of coffee as he grabbed a stump next to me in the shade. “I was 18 and in a college lecture. A professor whose name I couldn’t tell you—and I couldn’t tell you about any of his lectures—read ‘Mad Farmer Liberation Front,’ that Wendell Berry poem. And he read it in the beginning of class and said ‘that doesn’t have anything to do with today’s lecture. I just liked the poem.’” While remaining an intermittent fan of Berry’s work, it wasn’t until 2004 when he married Jodi that the two “committed to trying to do a garden whenever we could as one of our habits of marriage. I thought lettuce was hard to grow. In our first year, I don’t know if we grew any lettuce, but we had a tomato. So we called it goal achieved for year one.”

Before I could get around to asking Ryan how he saw his connection to gardening as an intimate “habit of marriage,” a dog barked behind us in the old Episcopal Burial grounds located at the approximate east flank of London Ferrell. The two neighbors from Campsie who owned the dog began chatting with Ryan; meanwhile, my friend Andrew arrived, the first time I”d seen him since he returned from a two-week sojourn to western Canada and back. Before I noticed it, Ryan had slipped off to help out some other volunteers and neighbors, who asked questions, told stories and awaited directions as to what should be picked,what mulched, what turned under.

Although I never recaptured that Right moment to follow up, Ryan’s comments resonated with me. Two weeks earlier I sat in the kitchen of Sherry and Geoff Maddock discussing a range of topics that circled around the ins and outs of what I clumsily call “a basil economy” and they called “food systems.” Through the course of our conversation, I asked Sherry about how she viewed her position as head of the North Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association (NMLKNA). Sherry explained that she viewed the neighborhood association as “as a civic unit for change. The capacity to work out change in our lives,” she continued, “starts in our own households and then with who we live next to.” Her position as NMLKNA head was simply a considered outgrowth of her everyday life.

Understood in this context, London Ferrell—which owes much of its rebirth as a productive space to the creative social energy of Sherry Maddock—seems like a logical next step. The plot sits less than two blocks from the Maddocks’ house. Its redevelopment as a community agricultural space reflects the Maddocks’ commitment to working out change alongside their neighbors.


“If you want to care for the earth more,” Ryan observes before ditching me, “put a basil plant in a pot and watch how much you care about when it rains. That’s been very real in my life. I really stress out after four dry days in a row. I never used to be that kind of guy. I’m irritable. I pray more. I’ve never prayed so much for rain. It’s changing me; it’s part of how gardening is converting me.”

Imagination and Action
I recall being mildly surprised when Sherry told me that, as a producer of food, London Ferrell does little to effect the larger presence of hunger in the greater Lexington area—our most immediate neighbors. It “doesn’t even make a dent in…the provision of local food,” she says. It’s too small; for it to have a tangible impact, London Ferrell would have to scale up its production, its volunteers, its space. All of these things have consequences of course—more labor, more dialogue about best use of the communal space, more places ready to receive and process the increased amount of food coming in. These things take time, Ferrell is a limited space, and meanwhile people are still hungry. Instead, Sherry talks about the garden’s main function residing “at the level of the imagination…it begins to stimulate people’s minds to possibilities.”

I’m normally skeptical of these assertions because they tend to ride into the more politically passive realm of symbol. As in, that London Ferrell garden is a “symbol” of change in the community. However true that may be, I tend to add more value to even the smallest material changes in people’s lives. Did anyone get fed because of the garden’s existence? If so, for me that outweighs any symbolic meaning that, like money, we can’t use to sustain ourselves for long. It’s a little like Obama’s message of “hope” in that way.

But I must admit, as important as those food routes may be for the nourishment of at least some North side residents, viewing its chief work as working “at the level of the imagination” makes a lot of sense. If taken correctly, London Ferrell is both model and challenge for action; Seedleaf is both an invitation to imagine gardens sprouting in most any place and a working pamphlet guiding us along through spring, summer, and fall plantings. One can already see people answering the call of Seadleaf and Ferrells’ challenge of our imagination. Seedleaf is up from three to ten gardens this year; some of the gardeners tending plots last year took the knowledge learned from watching things develop at London Ferrell and moved on to other lots—some no doubt at home, some in a friend’s yard, some at other community lots.

This year Ryan seems finally able to have a go at Seedleaf fulltime. He’s secured a little city money that will pay him to scale up his compost retrieval from area restaurants who would otherwise dispose of it. The increased amount of decomposing vegetable matter will ultimately overwhelm London Ferrell, so he will soon bring his scraps out to PeaceMeal Gardens, a twenty acre patch of rolling hillside at the back of the Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s (BCTC) Leestown campus that is being converted into a working suburban farm. Jessica Ballard, the farm manager at PeaceMeal, worked with her UK sustainable agriculture class to help Ryan develop good composting practices to more quickly and beneficially turn the scraps into usable compost and soil. Both Ryan and the sustainable ag class had their imaginations sparked by a visit paid by urban farmer and activist Will Allen. Some of Jessica’s salary is provided by the Catholic Action Center, who in conjunction with Rebecca have plowed under an acre of soil to grow things that will feed into their food kitchens for the hungry who show at their Godsnet location. Another portion of Jessica’s salary will be paid for through a market garden that will provide BCTC students a dearly needed dash of fresh produce in what is otherwise an educational food desert.

To paraphrase Sherry, there are a lot of imaginations being stoked here, a lot of new configurations of of power and productivity arising through these new food systems. Importantly, several people have done the hard work of translating the imagination into the realm of possibility and eventually actuality.

We need more of that.

Is it too early to say have a HAPPY NEW YEAR? nawww never is.


Merry Christmas Everyone – Good luck with work on Monday

Yes Yes I know….if you look to the left you will see that it is the 27th and fully 2 days after Christmas. I have all kinds of excuses…My brother from Florida came in on Thursday and wanted to spend the day with me.

Then on Friday after wrapping presents all the night before, we got up and drove through a bad snow storm to the hills outside of Mason City to have our first Christmas with Cate’s family.

Then we went into Mason City and dropped off our presents at my parents house. We had decided with great regret that we could not stay much passed dark because of the weather. Dinner was not until 6, we left at 5:30 :-{

We battled back through the wind, the snow and slick roads and settled in for our Christmas night alone…You would say – well that was perfect time to post BUT we watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince which I had gotten for Cate for Christmas…after that we went to bed.

The next day I thought “shoot” I failed to post but quickly things like calling people I know to wish them a merry Christmas and to find out if anyone had already read the books that I gave as gifts. I was 28 to 1 in that one. I helped set up Cate’s puzzle folding table and she puzzled all day while I did laundry and such. Posting completely slipped my mind.

So today I woke up (we had to watch the Harry Potter Movie again because it was so confusing) and said “Damn it, I am going to post. So after a hearty breakfast I did. Merry Christmas to all and to all a….well end of the weekend.


Yes I know…It IS Jam Band Friday:


How To Start Your Own Economy – Grow Basil MERRY CHRISTMAS To ALL

This is part 1 of a 2 part post that was published by the Smirking Monkey (God I love that name) on a Blog called North of Center…It has everything that a good Christmas has in it. Joy, Good Cheer, Love of one another, and warmth. But first I must say:


Community Energy Systems is a nonprofit 501c3 organization chartered in Illinois in Sangamon County. As such we are dependent on public donations for our continued existence. We also use Adsense as a fundraiser. Please click on the ads that you see on this page, on our main page and on our Bulletin Board (Refrigerator Magnets) and you will be raising money for CES. We say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who do.


Building a Basil Economy: Growing, Gleaning, Gifting

by North of Center | December 22, 2009 – 11:33amby Danny Mayer

[Originally published June 3 as “Building a Basil Economy: Part 1 of a 2 part series.”]

Last summer I was awash in basil. Mostly genovese, but also a sweet, a cinnamon, a purple, and a strikingly pungent lemon variety.

My basil crops were the result of a frantic burst of what might best be described as a month of youthful teenage exuberance germinating over a dozen years late. I spread my basil seed everywhere. I scattered it in a tiered garden tucked in the back corner of the Trinity Baptist Church parking lot (behind our former home) and in a hardscrabble spot hastily dug on an empty lot off MLK (next to our current home). I spread my seed in a hops garden, a lettuce garden, and a poorly tended garden in nearby Keene, KY, and I laid it down in a private double plot in the even more proximate London Ferrill Garden. I even spread some seeds in a couple of guerrilla garden beds around town.

My basil sprouted around squash, above watermelon vines, and between tomato plants. Some of it shaded late-season lettuce. One particular plant I recall growing to a size of three feet and looking like a great sticky pot plant. I imagined myself re-scenting the greater Lexington area, and in some spots, after a particularly unexpected breeze or a casual hand bent and teased the fields of leaves, I swear that scent took hold. I was a regular Johnny Basil-seed.

By late June, I had a curious and not wholly unexpected dilemma: how might I utilize or otherwise dispose of all that scent and flavor?

I say not wholly unexpected because the year before I had a similar need to get rid of basil—though not nearly so much—when I guerrilla gardened some roma tomatoes and basil at the top lip of a drainage ditch behind a stripmall on Winchester Road. I wound up bringing my excess basil to Enza’s Italian Eatery, now unfortunately closed but at the time only a short walk down Winchester from my guerrilla garden plot. Though I intended the basil as a gift born of seasonal excess, on occasion I ended up receiving balls of homemade mozzarella in exchange. It was an eye-opening process for me: come with basil, give it to Curtis to use in sandwiches, eat a caprese sandwich for lunch with my just-picked basil shredded on top, pay for the meal, and leave with an extra two or three or four balls of fresh mozzarella floating in a container of mozzarella water.

So when the great basil crunch hit me last summer, I was partially prepared. I began to harvest different plots weekly and and give my excess green freely away to interested restaurants that I often found myself eating at. And in return, I received from these restaurants more mozzarella balls, the occasional free meal, gift certificates to distribute to friends and dogsitters, and much good will. Not bad for about an $8 investment in seeds.

Growing a Different Economy
Much has been made, in print and on air, of Lexingtonians’ budding interest in growing and consuming fresh and local produce. We eat fresher food. We get to sample a greater variety of food. We grow community by gathering in groups at places like Farmer’s Markets to chat, eat, and purchase food for home. We nourish and reconnect to the earth. We support local farmers. We get outside and away from the television and the computer.

DOT DOT DOT as they say

Gleaning Networks and Free Stores: Giving Away Abundance
In a nation that has its own hunger problems, growing your own food ensures you will know abundance. Or as John Walker put it during our chat over tea at his Hamilton Park home, “I can guarantee that you will at some time have more than you know what do with.”

Walker, a native of England, has been gardening in the same Lexington backyard for fifteen years, so he knows something about abundance. Along with his work through Kitchen Gardeners Bluegrass teaching people how to prepare home-grown and home-cooked food, Walker has organized a loosely affiliated group of gleaners, the Lexington Urban Gleaning Network (LUGN), who this summer and fall will collect that agricultural abundance before it rots away. LUGN’s goal is to identify unused fruit trees and overwhelmed backyard gardeners in order to gather, or glean, unused food. From the gleaners hands, the food will pass through a number of food banks large and small for distribution to those needing food.

dot dot dot

I recall the trepidation with which passersby and “customers” initially approached my beaten down Nissan pickup truck. “You’re just giving this away?” they’d ask incredulously. “Sure, why not,” I’d reply casually. “Otherwise it’s in my compost.”

No doubt the measured first inquiries had much to do with me—a white boy—giving away the food, but I think something else was also at play. There’s a certain psychic barrier or socialized hurdle that we must all leap over or dig under before something like the Lexington Free Store makes sense. In that it emphasizes giving over buying, the distribution of excess rather than the selling of surplus, the store seemingly defies all rules for being a store. I can sustain myself for the very reason that the store depends on something that I can replenish for very little money. In other words, for the most part I can use food to cut money out of my economic transactions that represent my labor.

In return, at the Lexington Free Store I received as much as I gave. We exchanged no money and yet the transactions were fair. I met new faces, learned new recipes for using the produce I was giving away, and at times even had meals cooked for me. Without money, this was a different form of economic efficiency, one that saw both me and my “customers” mutually enriched by our transaction.

When food is your main currency, it becomes difficult to be a good capitalist.

Please read the whole article, IT’S INCREDIBLE


Renewable Energy To Replace Coal And Oil – If they keep going like this they will

They are starting to build steam – oh what a mixed metaphor. But first I must say…


Community Energy Systems is a nonprofit 501c3 organization chartered in Illinois in Sangamon County. As such we are dependent on public donations for our continued existence. We also use Adsense as a fundraiser. Please click on the ads that you see on this page, on our main page and on our Bulletin Board (Refrigerator Magnets) and you will be raising money for CES. We say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who do.


World’s largest solar project prompts environmental debate


Updated: 12/23/2009 07:24:46 AM P

Panoche Valley is known mostly for cattle and barbed wire, a treeless landscape in eastern San Benito County that turns green every spring but for much of the year looks like rural Nevada.

A posse of lawmen gunned down the famous Gold Rush bandit Joaquin Murrieta, an inspiration for the fictional character Zorro, near here in 1853. Nothing that exciting has happened since.

But now the remote valley 25 miles south of Hollister is finding itself at the center of a new showdown. A Silicon Valley company is proposing to build here what would be the world’s largest solar farm — 1.2 million solar panels spread across an area roughly the size of 3,500 football fields.

“This is renewable energy. It doesn’t


cause pollution, it doesn’t use coal or foreign oil, and it emits no greenhouse gases,” said Mike Peterson, CEO of Solargen Energy, the Cupertino company behind the $1.8 billion project.But critics — including some environmentalists — say green energy isn’t always green. In a refrain being heard increasingly across California, they contend the plan to cover this ranch land with a huge solar project would harm a unique landscape and its wildlife.

From the Bay Area to the Mojave Desert, green energy supporters are frustrated that a state that wants to lead the green revolution is facing roadblocks.

Peterson, a former vice president of Goldman Sachs, looked across the Panoche Valley last week and noted its attributes.

t sits 20 miles from the nearest town. It has 90 percent of the solar intensity of the Mojave Desert. Five willing sellers, mostly longtime ranching families, have signed options to sell his company 18,000 acres. And huge transmission lines run through the site, negating the need to build the kind of costly and controversial new power lines that have stalled similar projects.”From our standpoint, this is a perfect place,” he said. “If not here, where?”

Opposition mounts

The project would produce 420 megawatts of electricity, roughly the same as a medium-sized natural gas power plant, and enough to power 315,000 homes.


Wind made huge strides too.

Wind Energy Industry Highlights of 2009

23 de diciembre de 2009

Reflecting on a year that opened with high expectations for renewable energy from the new Obama Administration and was buffeted by economic storms, AWEA identified the wind industry’s top accomplishments in 2009.

Wind Energy Industry Highlights of 2009

“Wind power is a symbol of hope in our economy and supports thousands of jobs, but U.S. wind turbine manufacturing is lagging at the very time that the global clean energy race is heating up,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “One of the most urgent measures that our government can enact is a national Renewable Electricity Standard, which will unleash in the U.S. a wave of manufacturing investment that will otherwise go overseas. Many companies are eager to enter or ramp up their activities in this sector, as this year’s highlights show, but all need to see a long-term commitment with hard targets to renewable energy in order to be able to invest.”

The top accomplishments and developments include:

* American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 Funds a Lifeline: The ARRA included several provisions to spur development of wind and other renewable energy industries along with the Treasury Grant Program, which by year end had supplied over $1.5 billion in crucial capital. Since the early July announcement to implement the stimulus bill, at least 37 different wind projects, using large and small turbines, have been recipients of the grant program, powering the equivalent of 800,000 homes and providing a lifeline for the industry and sustaining wind power as a bright spot in the economy.

* … But Manufacturing Still Lags: Wind turbine manufacturing, however, has fallen behind 2008 levels in both announcements and in production activity. While this is bad news, the good news is that a solution is readily available: A strong national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) will create the market certainty that manufacturers need in order to invest, enabling the U.S. to become a wind turbine manufacturing powerhouse creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

* Strong Support for a National Renewable Electricity Standard (RES): An RES is included in the House version of climate legislation passed this spring and in pending Senate energy legislation. The wind industry, backed by popular support, continues to advocate for swift passage of a strong RES. A poll released by AWEA in May showed that over 75% of Americans, including 71% of independents and 62% of Republicans, support an RES requiring that 25% of the nation’s electricity be generated from renewable energy by 2025.

* COP15: AWEA sent a delegation to the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen this month. AWEA’s participation at the conference is another indication of America’s reengagement in the international climate change process and of the key role that wind power plays today in the transition to a clean energy economy.


There is much more to the article please read it


THAT’S Amazing


Smart Car By Bizzaro – Dan Piraro

I post about 4 of Dan’s cartoons a year because:

a. he’s hilarious

2. he’s brilliant

[]. he is good for the environment

b. his wife is gorgious

5. all of the above

You decide.



In The Wake Of Copenhagen The Future May Be In Natural Gas – It could be a cross over to sustainable energy sources

Could it be that T. Boone Pickens was right. I mean not HIS natural gas as he presented it but the whole world’s natural gas…?

Gas could be the answer in global warming fight

An unlikely source of energy has emerged to meet international demands that the United States do more to fight global warming: It’s cleaner than coal, cheaper than oil and a 90-year supply is under our feet.

It’s natural gas, the same fossil fuel that was in such short supply a decade ago that it was deemed unreliable. It’s now being uncovered at such a rapid pace that its price is near a seven-year low. Long used to heat half the nation’s homes, it’s becoming the fuel of choice when building new power plants. Someday, it may win wider acceptance as a replacement for gasoline in our cars and trucks.

Natural gas’ abundance and low price come as governments around the world debate how to curtail carbon dioxide and other pollution that contribute to global warming. The likely outcome is a tax on companies that spew excessive greenhouse gases. Utilities and other companies see natural gas as a way to lower emissions — and their costs. Yet politicians aren’t stumping for it.

In June, President Barack Obama lumped natural gas with oil and coal as energy sources the nation must move away from. He touts alternative sources — solar, wind and biofuels derived from corn and other plants. In Congress, the energy debate has focused on finding cleaner coal and saving thousands of mining jobs from West Virginia to Wyoming.

Utilities in the U.S. aren’t waiting for Washington to jump on the gas bandwagon. Looming climate legislation has altered the calculus that they use to determine the cheapest way to deliver power. Coal may still be cheaper, but natural gas emits half as much carbon when burned to generate the same amount electricity.

Today, about 27 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions come from coal-fired power plants, which generate 44 percent of the electricity used in the U.S. Just under 25 percent of power comes from burning natural gas, more than double its share a decade ago but still with room to grow.

But the fuel has to be plentiful and its price stable — and that has not always been the case with natural gas. In the 1990s, factories that wanted to burn gas instead of coal had to install equipment that did both because the gas supply was uncertain and wild price swings were common. In some states, because of feared shortages, homebuilders were told new gas hookups were banned.

It’s a different story today. Energy experts believe that the huge volume of supply now will ease price swings and supply worries.

Gas now trades on futures markets for about $5.50 per 1,000 cubic feet. While that’s up from a recent low of $2.41 in September as the recession reduced demand and storage caverns filled to overflowing, it’s less than half what it was in the summer of 2008 when oil prices surged close to $150 a barrel.

Oil and gas prices trends have since diverged, due to the recession and the growing realization of just how much gas has been discovered in the last three years. That’s thanks to the introduction of horizontal drilling technology that has unlocked stunning amounts of gas in what were before off-limits shale formations. Estimates of total gas reserves have jumped 58 percent from 2004 to 2008, giving the U.S. a 90-year supply at the current usage rate of about 23 trillion cubic feet of year.

The only question is whether enough gas can be delivered at affordable enough prices for these trends to accelerate.

The world’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil Corp., gave its answer last Monday when it announced a $30 billion deal to acquire XTO Energy Inc. The move will make it the country’s No. 1 producer of natural gas.

Exxon expects to be able to dramatically boost natural gas sales to electric utilities. In fact, CEO Rex Tillerson says that’s why the deal is such a smart investment.

Tillerson says he sees demand for natural gas growing 50 percent by 2030, much of it for electricity generation and running factories. Decisions being made by executives at power companies lend credence to that forecast.

Consider Progress Energy Inc., which scrapped a $2 billion plan this month to add scrubbers needed to reduce sulfur emmissions at 4 older coal-fired power plants in North Carolina. Instead, it will phase out those plants and redirect a portion of those funds toward cleaner burning gas-fired plants


For the REAL RAW raws try this sight:

Or will it?

The Future of Natural Gas Drilling

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica

ProPublica Images

Tomorrow a House Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee will hold its first hearing of 2009 on controversial issues related to the burgeoning natural gas drilling industry, which ProPublica has been covering for the last year. The committee is expected to grill a handful of state regulators and industry representatives about the environmental risks of drilling for shale gas and about the use of hydraulic fracturing, a process where water and chemicals are pumped underground at high pressure.

That fracturing process was exempted from federal environmental oversight in 2005 and now – amidst emerging evidence that it is damaging water resources across the country – Congress is preparing legislation that would reverse the exemptions and require the industry to identify the toxic chemicals it pumps underground. Last week ProPublica wrote in detail about that political effort.

Before the subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources could convene its quorum, the American Petroleum Institute gathered reporters for a conference call to explain why it is prepared to fight such legislation to the grave. Natural gas is the key to the country’s energy independence, representatives of the trade and lobbying group said, adding unequivocally that hydraulic fracturing is the critical process required to get those resources.

The Institute says state regulations are sufficient to keep water supplies safe, and that returning authority to the Environmental Protection Agency – which the bill being written by Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette would do – amounts to a cumbersome additional layer of regulation. The API repeatedly referenced a recent study claiming that federal oversight of the drilling process would cost the industry more than $100,000 per new well and threatened that thousands of jobs will be lost if tougher regulation is passed. It maintains that fracturing has been used reliably for over 50 years, and that is a safe technology proven not to harm water.

Asked what recent scientific studies support that notion, however, the Institute’s senior policy analyst, Richard Ranger, answered: “That’s a good question. I’m not aware of any.”

Abrahm Lustgarten is a reporter for ProPublica, America’s largest investigative newsroom.

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Related News On Huffington Post:

Pennsylvania Faces A Tainted Wastewater Onslaught Due To Natural Gas Drilling Workers at a steel mill and a power plant were the first to notice something strange about the Monongahela River last summer. The water that…


Copenhagen Wraps Up With An Agreement As Thin As Gruel – Cold gruel at that

First it is Jam Band Friday –

Things have gone pretty dismally in Copenhagen. The Developed Countries tried to bully the Developing Countries. The Newly Industrializing Countries sniffed at the DeIndustrializing Countries. The US yelled at China and China yelled back and jingled the coins in its pockets. After all that excitement I must say:


Community Energy Systems is a nonprofit 501c3 organization chartered in Illinois in Sangamon County. As such we are dependent on public donations for our continued existence. We also use Adsense as a fundraiser. Please click on the ads that you see on this page, on our main page and on our Bulletin Board (Refrigerator Magnets) and you will be raising money for CES. We say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who do.



Gruel is a food preparation consisting of some type of cereal— oat, wheat or rye flour, or also rice— boiled in water or milk. It is a thinner version of porridge that may be more often drunk than eaten and need not even be cooked. Historically, gruel, often made from millet or barley, or in hard times of chestnut flour and even the less tannic acorns of some oaks, has been the staple of the human diet, especially that of the peasantry. The importance of gruel as a form of sustenance is especially noted for invalids[1] and recently weaned children.

Gruel consumption has traditionally been associated with poverty. Gruel is a colloquial expression of any slop that is of unknown character, e.g. pea soup; soup is derived from sop, the slice of bread which was soaked with broth or thin gruel.[2


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Copenhagen climate change summit – final day live blog

World leaders are still trying to thrash out a last minute compromise climate deal. These are the final day’s main developments:
• In a disappointing speech Obama admitted that the talks are in the balance.
• Leaked documents showed a draft agreement is extremely weak.
• Obama held two crucial talks with the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.

Greenpeace has expressed its disgust at the draft Copenhagen accord currently doing the rounds.

Its climate campaigner Joss Garman said:

This latest draft is so weak as to be meaningless. It’s more like a G8 communique than the legally binding agreement we need. It doesn’t even include a timeline to give it legal standing or an explicit temperature target. It’s hard to imagine our leaders will try to present this document to the world and keep a straight face.


All this haggling is going to get us right where the top 500 POLLUTERS want us, sucking up their soot and poisons:

A third draft of the climate is agreement being considered by world leaders, according to AP. But they are some way off the pace, according to our environment editor John Vidal – he’s looking at sixth version.

For what its worth the third version reinstates targets omitted from earlier ones. It says rich countries should reduce their greenhouse emissions by at least 80% by the year 2050.

It adds that developing countries’ emissions should be 15-30% below “business as usual”.

Stay tuned for more details on that later version.


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This not the way that JESUS would have acted:

Tim Jones climate policy officer from World Development Movement, joins the chorus of disgust.

This summit has been in complete disarray from start to finish, and now appears to be culminating in a shameful and monumental failure that will condemn millions of people around the world to untold suffering. The leaders of rich countries have refused to lead and instead sought to bribe and bully developing nations to sign up to the equivalent of a death warrant. The best outcome now is no deal. Leaders of rich countries should go home and adopt new year resolutions to become low carbon economies and pay their climate debt. Then we may have a chance of a properly just and effective agreement in 2010.


On A Happier Front:

Energy-thrifty White House turns deeper shade of green 

WASHINGTON — The White House complex and the federal government are going green — and not just with Christmas trees and holly.

As President Obama meets with world leaders at the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen today, the government he runs at home is quietly engaged in an unprecedented effort to reduce its carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, cut waste and more.

In the complex that includes the White House, that means more efficient heating and cooling systems as well as organic paint, low-flow toilets and lights that turn off by themselves. Even the 800 Christmas ornaments adorning the 18-foot tree in the White House Blue Room were recycled from previous administrations in a nod to the environment and the bad economy.


GREEN HOUSE: Eco-friendly living tips

In many of the federal government’s other 500,000 buildings, the effort to go green includes cutting the amount of garbage produced in half and installing more efficient lights.

“This is a big leap forward for the federal government,” says Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of Obama’s White House Council on Environmental Quality. And the effort will be “sustainable itself beyond this president.”

Sutley says the federal government is the country’s single largest energy consumer, using 1.6% of all the power used nationwide, so reducing energy consumption will mean big savings.

The nation is the world’s second-largest producer of greenhouse gases, behind China, and the cuts could help there, as well, environmentalists say.

Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth says, “There are many economies of scale that President Obama can achieve by forcing the federal government to rethink its energy habits.Dot Dot Dot (as they say)

Environmental groups say Obama’s efforts go far beyond what’s been done before. “There’s real substance behind the rhetoric,” says Joel Makower, editor of, which reports on the greening of mainstream business.

Under a 15-page executive order Obama signed in October, government agencies must implement a host of changes, Sutley says. Among the requirements:

• Agencies must reduce waste by 50% by 2015.

• Agencies must show a 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020.

• All new buildings and any major renovations to existing buildings must be eligible for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification given by the U.S. Green Building Council to environmentally responsible buildings. In and around Washington, the Pentagon and the ornate 121-year-old Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House are in the process of becoming LEED-certified.

• The government’s 600,000 vehicles must operate with 30% less petroleum by 2020.

Pentagon officials, Sutley says, are “thinking about how they can power their vehicles in different ways, so they don’t have to transport as much fuel,” a change that would save money and improve safety for servicemembers.


So Copenhagen was pretty much a bust but it’s Christmas so let’s rock out!