August 30, 2009

An Application of the Inside Dealing Sniff Test

Justin Katz

And so the method goes: After a nationwide search for a green energy company to utilize as-yet unsecured federal grants... Johnston and North Providence signed agreements with RI Representative Peter Palumbo (D., Cranston):

[Johnston Mayor Joseph] Polisena and [North Providence Council President Joseph] Burchfield signed the agreements with Palumbo's company, which was incorporated in March, without knowing how much the projects would cost and without a comprehensive analysis of other ways their towns might use federal stimulus money to save energy. ...

In North Providence, Burchfield signed the agreement with Palumbo’s company on June 2. He did not inform the Town Council beforehand and more than a month later, Mayor Charles A. Lombardi was not aware of the agreement.

So what do you think? Does it pass?

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They signed the deals "without knowing how much the projects would cost and without a comprehensive analysis...".

Sounds about right ...Mr. Palumbo must be a member of the General Assembly.

Oh that's right, he is! It all makes sense now.

Someone, quick, tell me again how RI ended up in a perinial state of border-line insolvency.

F'ing idiots.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 30, 2009 7:18 PM

It's great to see a social conservative finally get called out on a conservative blog.
Justin, your wariness about working with this guy has been proven correct. If he can push vote buttons for absent legislators, God only knows what sleaze he's capable of.

Posted by: rhody at August 30, 2009 8:00 PM

I found the NEGE website not a single picture of a completed project for reference.

Geothermal systems are best left to those with geothermal experience not those with clam cake experience. They are a service nightmare when installed improperly by someone with no real experience in them. RI has no separate licensing procedure for geothermal expertise so references are the only way to verify. The website tells it all.

Posted by: doughboys at August 30, 2009 8:17 PM

Does RI have any particular geological advantage when it comes to geothermal energy? Or, is this just another "green" pipe dream, like the windmill factory, to attract stimulus money?

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 30, 2009 8:50 PM

We don't know the answer to your question, as there was no analysis performed! Come on, get with the program. :)

Posted by: George Elbow at August 30, 2009 9:15 PM

C'mon, don't you know? Rhode Island, and in particular the Democrat General Assembly, have been pioneers in "green energy."

Let us not forget the pioneering work of RISDIC, which showered green on the General Assembly, and prompted Speaker DeAngelis and Majority Leader Bevilaqua and Bob Bianchini and the rest to go into motion to insulate RI's credit unions from having to obtain federal insurance.

And then we had CVS sprouting green shoots with Irons, Martineau and Celona.

Yes, here in RI we've been an incubator of new forms of "green," and now we're a hub of "green energy" ... before long they'll be calling us Slipitintomypalmcon Valley.

Posted by: Tom W at August 30, 2009 10:23 PM

Very good, TomW.

Actually, to answer Justin's question, in view of the absence of both cost estimates and an analysis of the alternatives, it doesn't sound like this passes the conform-to-the-law test, much less the insider-dealing test.

Posted by: Monique at August 30, 2009 10:42 PM

What appears is that New England Green Energy is trying to position Federal Stimulus Funds coming into the State of RI (by having exploratory projects in writing at “no cost” to either municipality) about 80-100% funding under the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 enacted by President George Bush (R) and funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 enacted by President Barach Obama (D) for application of 2 ea. “demonstration projects” utilizing geothermal heat pump technologies benefiting both municipalities, taxpayers and yes it can greatly reduce operating costs for summer A/C and winter heating. This alternate energy technology has been around since the early 1960s fully documented but not widely commercially or residentially used in New England because of drilling costs. At first glance the arrangement does look fishy however you have to read the full newspaper article, signed agreements and the Federal Government RFP.

Federal Government details and requirements:

I would be more concerned about proposals by Deepwater Wind (with State of RI signing off and accepting proposals) and the proposed RI offshore wind farm and the extra costs that will be added to National Grid’s monthly KW/Hr electric rate for commercial and residential users. Deepwater Wind has not divulged total or estimated costs of offshore wind farm and how much it will charge per KW/Hr to National Grid.

Just like New England Green Energy Deepwater Wind has not built nor has a full size test model wind generator in deep water operational however New England Green Energy costs can be researched via like documented projects. Deepwater Wind has partnered with First Wind, which does have a number of land-based wind farms throughout the nation and Hawaii but Deepwater Wind has not constructed its new technology deep water tower design compatible to New England’s harsh waters or anchored a tower in New England’s outer ocean shelf.

Deepwater Wind is proposing to build RI wind farm 20 miles offshore from Block Island (13 miles from RI mainland for total 33 miles), which will be spread across miles of water providing a proposed 1.3 million megawatts of power to RI via an undersea cable (15% of RI current total electrical needs).

Hawaii is connecting the land based wind farms on the islands of Molokai, Maui and Lanai to island of Oahu with an undersea cable longest run to be 30 miles and capacity is 400 megawatts at a cost currently estimated at $1.5 billion which the State of Hawaii will pay for upgrading the state-wide electrical grid. Of note, because Hawaii has been utilizing wind farms for a great number of years engineers at Hawaii Electric Company successfully received a U.S.A. patent for Electronic Shock Absorber (ABS) which prevents electrical grid-wide trip outs from surges and drops from variable alternate energy provided by wind farms due to changes in wind speeds. In other words, if Deepwater Wind interfaces their wind farm to RI National Grid wrong or without an ABS you living in RI could start experiencing random blackouts due to changes in offshore wind speeds.

State of Hawaii and the electric companies are carefully utilizing all the alternate energy technologies currently available except off shore wind farms to meet the statewide mandate to reduce imported oil usage 70% by year 2030. The largest wind generator in the world is located on the island of Oahu. The Big Island of Hawaii, largest island, over 4028 sq. miles in size (3 times size of RI) is already up to 40% of electricity provided by alternate energy.

Good Luck RI!

Posted by: Ken at August 31, 2009 4:08 AM

Geothermal energy is very practical and economical in places like Iceland and parts of Italy.I was in Iceland overnight once and the hotel utilized geothermal energy for heat and hot water.It's clean and essentially free past the cost of the equipment used to obtain and distribute the hot water.
One small ponit-it REALLY helps to be in a volcanic activity area.Iceland has MT.Hekla,an active volcano,plus other smaller volcanic outlets -the volcanic network honeycombs the island and the surrounding seas.Italy of course has volcanic zones(Etna and Vesuvius)to provide geothermal energy.
I don't think RI has any volcanic activity under the surface.
So,I don't see this as practical.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 31, 2009 10:11 AM

Like the loaves and fishes under Obamessiah, we now have green pork to feed the Democrat Disciples and the prevailing wage masses.

Posted by: Tom W at August 31, 2009 11:14 AM

Since I seem to have been misunderstood above. Here are my main points.

Geothermal energy has been known for at least 1/2 a century. It is simply not prectical unless there is an unusual heat source near the surface. i.e., the volcanoes mentioned above.

Wind is still pie in the sky, at least in terms of a replacement for other sources. There is no spot in the United States where the wind blows with enough consistency for it to be a reliable source. The counter argument is that when it works, it is free and can be fed into the grid. The difficulty with this argument is the inconsistency of wind and the constant demand on the grid. The other sources feeding into the grid cannot not be rapidly ramped up to fill the gap when the wind source fails. To really shorten it, the other sources will have to continue operating at peak because it is unknown when the wind will fail. Consequently, small if any savings. If anyone understands this better, please chime in.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 31, 2009 10:37 PM

Sort of an addendum here. It seems clear that the answer is atomic. I know that "cold fusion" is not quite believed in, but how about a small "Manhatten Project". Probably quite a bit smaller, we might call it the "Welfare Island Project". (Sorry, "Welfare Island" is now named "Roosevelt Island".)

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 31, 2009 10:41 PM

Warrington Faust,

I am a RI transplant to Hawaii. Best move in my life!

The most southernmost point of the United States of America is South Point on the Big Island of Hawaii (Hawaii is the 50th state in the nation). Ka Lae is the Hawaiian name for this location. It is located at 18:54:49 N 155:41:00 W. There is a constant 27 knots per hour wind blowing east to west, 24 hours per day and 365 days per year. There is a very large wind farm located there which I walked around (also the only natural green sand beach in state). The trees are naturally bent over by the wind. The wind farm is currently producing 10% of the island’s electrical needs with future expansion being finalized.

In the north shore of the island is Puna Geothermal Ventures on the slopes of the Big Island’s Kilauea Volcano, produces electrical energy using hot liquid brought up from underground wells. The total facility stands no higher than 24 feet. It is generating 30 megawatts being upgraded to produce 38 megawatts but its max capacity output could be increased to 200 megawatts without additional drilling

You might want to review the following web site Geothermal Resources Counsel for uses of geothermal energy. You do not have to be sitting over a volcano to utilize natural geothermal resources but it does makes for less drilling!

Between the wind farm and Puna Geothermal 40% of the current island needs are being met. Long term expansion will be additional residential solar hot water heaters (as of 1 Jan 2010 any new house must have solar hot water per state law) and Photovoltaic (PV) systems and farms (large business like Wal-Mart are PV farming their large building roofs), Wave Energy Farm (already under testing and producing consistent reliable clean energy), self-sustaining algae biodiesel generating plant (proof of concept full size model completed at National Energy Laboratory and moving to commercial construction and production), Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), Biomass conversion, bringing on line second clean-air 45 megawatt Garbage-to-Energy plant and Deep Sea Water A/C cooling systems for cities and town buildings to name a few alternate energy projects.

The Big Island of Hawaii and Kauai will connect via undersea ocean cable at a later date to the new State of Hawaii smart electrical grid thereby enhancing the statewide initiative of reducing imported oil into the state by 70% and saving the state approximately $7 billion a year.

The above does not include the State of Hawaii partnership signed agreement with Better Place to seed Hawaii with 50,000 to 100,000 solar electrical charging stations in public garages, parking lots, on streets, resident homes, commercial business parking lots and 5 min battery swap out roadside stations to support fleets of new all electric cars with some 5 passenger models getting up to 300 miles on a 45 min charge; battery lasting 10 years or 100,000 miles with top speed of 125 mph and 0-60 in 5.6 sec. Electric cars do not require gasoline, motor oil or the extensive maintenance and are zero pollution. Longest straight line drive in Hawaii on largest island is 100 miles.

State of Hawaii (the most imported oil dependant state in the nation) will be the first state in the nation to reduce imported oil (two refineries in Hawaii) requirements by 70% utilizing combinations of alternate renewable energy means and will become a model to the rest of the nation and world. Oddly the oil companies and electric companies are working hand-in-hand with state, local government, consumers and technology companies to make it happen!

By the way, the current clean renewable geothermal electrical energy output usage in the U.S.A. is equal to building 4 new nuclear power plants and you discount wave energy which is predictable and constant with current power generator technology sticking out of the water only 14 feet at maximum capable of producing 100 megawatts in a small farm array less than 3 miles from shore.

Posted by: Ken at September 1, 2009 2:07 AM


Well, I did learn something here and I thank you for your contribution.

But, you have to admit that Hawaii is unique in the U.S. with regard to geography and geology.

As to geothermal, it is doubtless a good idea where "practical". My understanding is that with current costs it is not practical in may areas.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 1, 2009 9:56 AM

Warrington Faust,

As I also stated it depends on how deep you have to drill to benefit from geothermal resources.

You are right Hawaii is unique in the U.S.A. with regard to geography and geology. Hawaii has the tallest mountain in the world measured from base to peak Mauna Kea is over 300 feet taller than Mt Everest All of the Hawaii islands are tops of volcanoes sticking out of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii has 9 of the 11 weather systems known to man. Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is the world's most active and Haleakala Crater is the world's largest dormant volcano, which you can fit all of NY City’s Manhattan inside. Hawaii has one of the wettest spots in the world receiving over 480 inches of rain a year, Waialeale Mountain, and the tallest sea cliffs in the world. Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. Hawaii is 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.

I think with the current advancements in the design and efficiency of ground source heat pumps, also known as geothermal heat pumps (GHPs), is the reason why U.S. Department of Energy put out the RFP for demonstration or research projects in heating or air conditioning utilizing GHP technology.

The newer designs work with a wider range of temperature differentials meaning you don’t have to drill down as far or be located over a volcano.

If I remember correctly either in North Smithfield or Woonsocket a house was built back in the 70s to demonstrate heating and A/C in New England utilizing GHP technology.

Oh by the way, average daily temperature in Hawaii is 77 degrees year round with a cool trade wind below 3,000 feet above sea level. Living above 3,000 feet you can experience winter blizzard conditions that rival Mt Washington. There is great snow skiing and snowboarding in Hawaii Nov. to Mar. each year with 80 degree beach water temperature.

Like I said before, Good luck to RI!

Posted by: Ken at September 1, 2009 6:48 PM
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